The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration on Saturday
temporarily grounded certain Boeing Max 737-9 aircraft “operated by U.S.
airlines or in U.S. territory” following an Alaska Airlines incident on
Friday in which a piece of fuselage came off a plane after take-off from
Portland, Ore. The plane turned around and made a safe emergency landing,
according to multiple reports.


We are working with Boeing and regulators to understand what occurred tonight, and will share updates as more information is available. The [National Transport Safety Board] is investigating this event, and we will fully support their investigation.”

– Alaska Airlines CEO Ben Minicucci


Prior to the FAA’s announcement, Alaska already had grounded
its fleet of 65 Boeing Max 737-9 aircraft after the incident to begin full
maintenance and safety inspections. The carrier anticipated the inspections
would be completed “in the next few days.” 

“We are working with Boeing and regulators to
understand what occurred tonight, and will share updates as more information is
available,” said Alaska CEO Ben Minicucci in a Friday evening statement.
“The [National Transport Safety Board] is investigating this event, and we
will fully support their investigation.” 

As of Saturday morning, Alaska had completed inspections on
more than a quarter of its Max 737-9 fleet “with no concerning
findings.”

United Airlines anticipated that removing certain Max 737-9
aircraft would cause about 60 cancellations on Saturday, the carrier said in a
statement. United has 79 of the airplanes affected, including 33 that have
already received the necessary inspection required by the FAA, according to the
carrier.

“We are working directly with impacted customers to
find them alternative travel options,” United said.

“Safety is our top priority, and we deeply regret the
impact this event has had on our customers and their passengers,” Boeing
said in a statement. “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.”

Saturday’s FAA decision to temporarily ground the Boeing Max
737-9 aircraft is less severe than the indefinite
grounding of all Max-8 and -9 jets that began in March 2019. That order
followed two deadly crashes of the Max-8 aircraft in flights operated by
Ethiopian Airlines and Indonesian’s Lion Air. The indefinite grounding lasted
about 20 month and was lifted
in November 2020.

End

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