Major carriers such as Alaska Airlines, Copa Airlines and United Airlines are returning to service Boeing 737 Max 9s grounded following the 5 January de-pressurisation emergency involving Alaska flight 1282.
Alaska plans for some of its 65 grounded Max 9s to resume passenger flights on 26 January, operating one of the jets as flight 1146 from Seattle to San Diego. The aircraft is scheduled to depart Seattle at 15:34 and land in San Diego at 18:09 local time, according to flight-tracking website FlightAware.
Alaska has completed final inspections on its first group of Max 9s following the Federal Aviation Administration’s recent approval of the inspection and maintenance steps required to resume flying the Boeing narrowbody jets.
”Each of our [Max 9s] will return to service only after the rigorous inspections are completed and each plane is deemed airworthy according to FAA requirements,” Alaska says.
Alaska says inspections of its full fleet of Max 9s will be completed the end of next week, when it expects to have resumed its regular flight schedule. The carrier has been cancelling 110-150 daily flights in the absence of its Max 9s.
Panama’s Copa resumed flying the first of its 21 grounded Max 9s on 25 January, and expects to be flying its full schedule by 28 January.
Meanwhile, United Airlines’ chief operations officer Tony Enqvist said in a 24 January message to employees that the Chicago-headquartered company is planning for its Max 9s to return to service on 28 January.
United has 79 Max 9s grounded for door-plug inspections.
“To access each door plug, our tech-ops teams remove the inner panel, two rows of seats and the side-wall liner,” Enqvist says. “They then open the doors and inspect and verify the proper installation of the door and frame hardware, as well as the area around the door and seal.”
“We will only return each Max 9 aircraft to service once this thorough inspection process is compete,” he adds.
United has also completed inspections of older 737-900ERs, as recommended by the FAA.
On 24 January, the FAA ordered Boeing to stop expanding production of its 737 Max as the civil aviation regulator undertakes a large-scale investigation of the aircraft’s production safety.