Alaska Airlines Resumes Flying Boeing 737 Max 9 Plane After Door Plug Blowout
Alaska Airlines has resumed flying the Boeing 737 Max 9 after conducting inspections following a door plug blowout incident. The fleet inspections were completed and the airline's first Max 9 flight departed on Friday.
Alaska Airlines Resumes Max 9 Flights
Alaska Airlines has resumed flying the Boeing 737 Max 9 following fleet inspections for the first time on Friday after a door plug fell off one of its planes mid-air three weeks ago.
Alaska Flight 1146 -- the airline's first Max 9 flight since the aircraft was grounded -- departed Seattle-Tacoma International Airport Friday afternoon, bound for San Diego.
Two other Max 9 flights are expected to depart Friday afternoon -- one from Las Vegas to Portland, Oregon, and another from Seattle to Ontario, Canada -- according to the airline.
FAA's Approval and Inspection Process
The service return comes two days after the Federal Aviation Administration released final instructions to airlines to begin conducting inspections of their 737 Max 9 planes.
Alaska confirmed in a statement on Wednesday that it planned to return some of its 737 MAX-9 aircraft back to the skies on Friday following a thorough inspection.
"Each of our 737-9 MAX will return to service only after the rigorous inspections are completed and each plane is deemed airworthy according to FAA requirements," the airline said Friday. "The individual inspections are expected to take up to 12 hours per aircraft."
Background on the Door Plug Blowout Incident
The FAA had grounded approximately 171 Max 9s worldwide after the door plug fell off a few minutes after Alaska Flight 1282 took off from Portland International Airport on Jan. 5. Passengers captured footage showing a hole where the door plug came loose. No one was seriously injured and the plane made an emergency landing safely.
The incident remains under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board.
Alaska Airlines Expects Full Service by February
Alaska's fleet is expected to be back to full service in the first week of February, CEO Ben Minicucci said during an earnings call on Thursday. The airline has 65 737 Max 9 planes in its fleet.