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FAA increases oversight of Boeing 737 Max 9 jets following Alaska Airlines near-disaster

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The Federal Aviation Administration announced that it will start taking a closer look at Boeing 737 Max 9 jets in a news briefing Monday.

“The FAA is increasing its oversight of Boeing’s production lines and suppliers, and limiting certain approvals until we are satisfied that the quality control issues uncovered during this process are resolved,” the administration said.

This comes in the wake of a near-disaster that saw a door panel on an Alaska Airlines jet carrying 177 people blow out midair on Jan. 5. Last month, Alaska Airlines CEO Ben Minicucci said new, in-house inspections of the carrier’s Boeing 737 Max 9 planes following the incident revealed that “many” of the aircraft were found to have loose bolts.

Following the incident, the FAA temporarily grounded about 171 out of 218 Boeing 737 Max 9 airplanes used by U.S. airlines and announced an investigation into Boeing.

Since then, Alaska Airlines and United Airlines both confirmed plans to return their fleet of Boeing 737 Max 9 planes to service.

The FAA has already inspected existing Alaska and United Airlines jets and returned 93.75% — or 135 out of 144 of them — to service, according to FAA Deputy Associate Administrator for Aviation Safety Jodi Baker.

However, the administration is only three weeks into its increased oversight of the aircraft and “it’s too early to draw any conclusions,” Baker said at the news briefing. The FAA “will address concerns as they come up,” she added.

“This is not new work, understanding how aircraft are manufactured, and we have the expertise to do that,” Baker said.

The door plug from Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 on is recovered on Jan. 8, 2024, in Portland, Ore.
The door plug from Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 is recovered on Jan. 8 in Portland. National Transportation Safety Board via AP

The FAA is focusing on hiring more employees to help with the oversight at the Boeing Renton Factory, and streamline the data collection process.

Baker said the administration wants “to step up more interaction and more direct observation of work that’s being accomplished” at Boeing.

The administration expects the oversight to be a six-week process.



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