Alaska Airlines Resumes Boeing 737 MAX 9 Operations Post Safety Checks
Alaska Airlines has recently resumed the operation of their Boeing 737 MAX 9 aircraft, following a brief grounding period due to a safety incident involving a door plug. The recommencement of flights marks a significant step for the airline, with the first MAX 9 flight post-grounding taking off from Seattle to San Diego.
This development comes after a concerning episode on January 5th, when a door plug detached from an Alaska Airlines jet during Flight 1282 over Portland. In response, the airline grounded its entire MAX 9 fleet for thorough inspections. According to simpleflying, on Friday, the reintroduced service, Alaska Flight 1146, faced a delay but successfully completed its journey from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport to San Diego International Airport.
Adding to the airline's show of faith in the aircraft's safety, Alaska Airlines' Chief Operating Officer, Constance von Muehlen, boarded the inaugural flight, seating herself near the previously problematic door. This gesture underscores the airline's confidence in the Boeing 737 MAX 9's airworthiness.
The aircraft, identified as N929AK, has been in service for two years and underwent a detailed inspection at Will Rogers Airport in Oklahoma City following its grounding in Denver. After the FAA's approval of Boeing's revised maintenance protocols, Alaska Airlines has actively started reintegrating the MAX 9 into its fleet, with additional flights from Seattle to Ontario and Las Vegas to Portland taking place on the same day.
Alaska Airlines has been methodical in its approach, stating that each 737-9 MAX will only return to service after passing rigorous inspections and meeting FAA airworthiness standards. The airline anticipates completing these inspections across its fleet by the end of next week, enabling a return to their full flight schedule.
This incident has not only impacted Alaska Airlines but also led to increased scrutiny of Boeing's manufacturing processes. An investigation into the incident by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) revealed that the problematic door plug, installed by Boeing mechanics rather than Spirit Aerospace, was missing essential bolts at delivery. This revelation adds another layer of concern regarding Boeing's quality control measures.
In a proactive move addressing passenger apprehensions, both Alaska and United Airlines, which plans to resume its MAX 9 operations soon, have offered passengers the option to change flights without additional costs if they prefer not to fly on the MAX. These efforts reflect the airlines' commitment to ensuring passenger confidence and safety in their fleets.