Following Alaska Airlines flight 1282, Boeing has been forced to temporarily ground some of its 737-9 aircraft to allow critical checks to occur.
The Alaska Airlines incident saw the rear mid-cabin exit door separate from the aircraft shortly after departing Portland. As a result, Alaska Airlines was the first to announce a mass grounding of all their 737-9s.
A grounding can only be described for Boeing as yet another blow to their 737 MAX series, which they’ve been attempting to recover following the incidents in 2018 and 2019 and all subsequent findings.
Importantly, Alaska Airlines revealed that it wasn’t forced to ground the 737-9s regarding the said decision. It did so voluntarily, with the FAA following on a stricter note.
As a result of the groundings, Alaska Airlines will cancel flights across its network as inspections take place. The carrier says it’s completed over a quarter of the Boeing 737-9 inspections.
While these aircraft were initially set to return to service, an AD was issued by the FAA, and as a result, the units will remain grounded until further clarity can be provided. The airline has received public criticism as many believe the 737 MAX is unsafe, and an unknown comes from the inspections.
The counter-argument to that has been that the general public is not an expert in the field and thus doesn’t know the whole process undertaken by the airline to deem what is suitable and what is not.
Ultimately, The 737 MAX continues to feel the lingering effects of the crisis towards the backend of the 2010s; thus, people’s faith and trust in the product is minimal.
Safety is our top priority and we deeply regret the impact this event has had on our customers and their passengers. We agree with and fully support the FAA’s decision to require immediate inspections of 737-9 airplanes with the same configuration as the affected airplane. In addition, a Boeing technical team is supporting the NTSB’s investigation into last night’s event. We will remain in close contact with our regulator and customers.Boeing Statement
Who Flies The 737-9?
Based on current data, the only airlines within the United States that fly the Boeing 737-9 are Alaska Airlines and United Airlines. While Alaska Airlines grounds temporarily all their 737-9s, United Airlines says it had only grounded just over half.
The related groundings at United are expected to see 60 flight cancellations as they work their way through the fleet and precise more aircraft hour by hour.
Boeing’s 737 MAX is their best-selling model and the driver for their production and delivery targets; however, the -9, unlike the -8, isn’t as globally seen.
Data away from the United States indicates a handful of other operators. Copa Airlines and Aeromexico, close neighbours, have 29 and 19 of the type in service, respectively. This is followed by Turkish Airlines and SCAT, who both fly five units.
Icelandair has four in-service, with Lion Air and Fly Dubai operating three each. The final two operators of the 737-9 currently are Corendoin Dutch Airlines and Air Tanzania.
Ciruim data 215 737-9s can be labelled as in-service per estimates, excluding the recent groundings.
The Alaska Airlines Incident
Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 operated with scheduled service between Portland and Ontario in California on January 6, 2024, before it was forced to return to Portland.
The aircraft barely reached a maximum flying altitude of 16,000 feet per data from Flightradar24 following a massive pressurisation issue. This issue stemmed directly from the rear mid-cabin exit door blowing out during the early stages of the flight.
This rear mid-cabin exit door does not look like a door. Maybe only from the outside, but it is sealed before delivery. The door can be an option for airlines seeking a higher capacity on their aircraft, say for a customer such as Ryanair.
As a result, the blowout was clean, with it being related to almost a Lego piece perfectly becoming detached from its core structure.