The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued a directive urging airlines to conduct inspections on the mid-exit door plugs of Boeing 737-900ER jets, a move prompted by a recent incident where a door plug blew out during an Alaska Airlines flight.
The advisory comes weeks after a similar occurrence involving a Boeing 737 Max 9 jet. The FAA, in a statement released on Sunday, recommended airlines visually inspect the door plugs to ensure proper securing.
Despite the Boeing 737-900ER’s nearly two-decade history, the FAA highlighted its shared door plug design with the problematic Boeing 737 Max 9 involved in the Alaska Airlines incident. Alaska Airlines has promptly initiated inspections on its fleet of 737-900ER planes, emphasizing their commitment to safety. The carrier reported no findings to date and anticipates completing inspections on the remaining -900ER fleet without operational disruptions.
United Airlines has also taken a proactive stance, conducting inspections on its Boeing 737-900ER aircraft. The airline assured customers that the inspections, initiated last week, would conclude in the next few days without causing disruptions. Boeing expressed full support for the FAA’s directive and underscored its commitment to working collaboratively with regulatory authorities and customers.
The Alaska Airlines incident involved a Boeing 737 Max 9, a model introduced in 2016 and plagued with safety concerns. Door plugs, which cover unneeded exit doors, converting them into windows, were identified as the focal point of the issue. Following the incident, both United Airlines and Alaska Airlines, operators of Boeing 737 Max 9 aircraft, discovered loose bolts on door plugs in several of their grounded jets.
In response to the Alaska Airlines incident, U.S. regulators have grounded 171 jets from the 737 Max 9 fleet sharing the same configuration as the involved plane. The FAA has outlined a plan to return the 737-9 Max to service once safety verification is complete.