The FAA has revised its Airworthiness Directive following the grounding of Boeing 737-9s, and Alaska Airlines is extending flight cancellations amid uncertainty over a return to service for the MAX.
New Airworthiness Directive
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued another revised Airworthiness Directive for the Boeing 737-9. The updated AD hardly reveals groundbreaking details but does focus on some return-to-service news.
In the updated AD, the FAA has said it estimates that for the 144 aircraft on the U.S. registry, work will take up to 8 hours; this is related to the inspections.
The AD continues to prohibit further flights of the affected aircraft. The plane can only return to service once it has been deemed safe, inspected and found to have met all the applicable corrective actions.
Additionally, while these ADs are essential, the FAA says this is an interim action. If further findings come to light, the regulator says it won’t hesitate to consider further rulemaking.
Ultimately, this is another essential step for all related parties in slowly getting the grounded Boeing 737-9s back into service.
No Process For Investigation
Despite this revised Airworthiness Directive from the FAA, the process to recertify and inspect the aircraft has yet to be released. Airlines and relevant parties will likely keep this close to their chest.
Recently, preliminary inspections were conducted on 40 affected aircraft, with the data being sent to Boeing and the FAA for review. From here, the pair will work diligently to determine the best action for formal inspections.
Alaska Airlines Extends Cancellations
Alaska Airlines has announced extended flight cancellations on its Boeing 737-9s through Sunday, January 21st. This extension represents another change and pushback to the timeline for the eventual return of the 737-9.
The FAA has remained firm that there’s no timeline for the Boeing 737-9 return with a focus on safety rather than speed.
Alaska Airlines is one of the most impacted customers, with the 737-9s accounting for nearly 20% of their active fleet. The variant represents 65 of the 231 active planes they have.
The airline says that, on average, 110-150 flights per day are being cancelled due to the groundings. While the company does everything it can to help those impacted, there’s only so much it can do. Alaska Airlines says the cancellations are having a tremendous impact on their operations.