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Tue, Jan 09, 2024

Alaska Begins Dealing with MAX 9 Fallout

Canceled Flights Disrupt Entire Alaskan Network

Pre-empting the FAA’s issuance of an Emergency Airworthiness Directive, Alaska Airlines announced it would be grounding its collection of Boeing 737-9s or MAX 9s, until a raft of inspections. 


That is essentially what was directed by the FAA, too, which ordered that all MAX 9s with a ‘plugged’mid-cabin exit undergo inspections before being returned to service. Headlines were made when one such aircraft suffered an uncommanded and shocking decompression even in-flight while it was climbing out of 16,000 feet. Reacting quickly, Alaska grounded all MAX 9 planes, canceling 170 Sunday night flights on January 7th and affecting the travel of 25,000 passengers. They warned that additional cancellations were expected throughout the week to follow.

“Each aircraft will be returned to service only after completion of full maintenance and safety inspections,” said Alaska CEO Ben Minicucci. “We anticipate all inspections will be completed in the next few days.” While the FAA has now issued an Airworthiness Directive regarding the planes, at 14:40 pacific on January 7th, Alaska said “we are awaiting further instruction from both the FAA and Boeing to begin the required inspections on the door plug of our 737-9 MAX fleet and will share the information as we’re able.”

Rumor has it that the affected aircraft had thrown a few pressurization issues in recent weeks, which led to it being removed from ETOPS routes per Alaska’s maintenance policy. The aircraft was delivered to Alaska on October 31st of 2023, making it only a few months old at the time of decompression. That undoubtedly adds pressure to Boeing as it tries to nail down the plugged door issue - if there’s one thing the company doesn’t need, it’s another MAX fiasco.



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