Alaska Airlines Quickly Cleared 18 B737-Max 9 After FAA Grounding

Flyers Rights rejects FAA secrecy in Boeing 737 MAX FOIA litigation filing

Read the exact emergency airworthiness directive issued by the The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the United States directed to airlines operating the B 737-9 Max. Also read Alaska Airlines response.

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The Alaska Airlines CEO said, his airline is already allowing 18 of its Boeing 737 Max Model 9 to start flying again.

This is after the FAA issued this directive to all U.S. carriers owning the Boeing 737 Max -9 aircraft, to ground these planes immediately.

The FAA ordered the temporary grounding of certain Boeing 737 MAX 9 aircraft operated by U.S. airlines or in U.S. territory.
 
“The FAA is requiring immediate inspections of certain Boeing 737 MAX 9 planes before they can return to flight,” FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker said. “Safety will continue to drive our decision-making as we assist the NTSB’s investigation into Alaska Airlines Flight 1282.”

Alaska Airlines managers most likely are nervous, owning 65 of these planes, and this growing company is trying to avoid a PR and economic meltdown in this unfolding safety and security situation.

Flyers Rights 2020 concern about ungrounding the B737 Max

In 2020 FlyersRights.org court appealed the FAA’s ungrounding of the Boeing 737 MAX, based on secret testing and refusal to reveal the technical details of the MAX fix, preventing independent experts from evaluating its safety.

For Alaska Airlines now taking the step to allow 18 of its planes to fly again is surprising.

The FAA directive (AD #: 2024-02-51) states:

Emergency Airworthiness Directive (AD) 2024-02-51 is sent to owners and operators of The Boeing Company Model 737-9 airplanes.

Background

This emergency AD was prompted by a report of an in-flight departure of a mid-cabin door plug, which resulted in a rapid decompression of the airplane.

The FAA is issuing this AD to address the potential in-flight loss of a mid-cabin door plug, which could result in injury to passengers and crew, the door impacting the airplane, and/or loss of control of the airplane.

FAA’s Determination

The FAA is issuing this AD because the agency has determined the unsafe condition described previously is likely to exist or develop in other products of the same type of design.

AD Requirements

This AD prohibits further flight of affected airplanes, until the airplane is inspected and all applicable corrective actions have been performed using a method approved by the Manager, AIR-520, Continued Operational Safety Branch, FAA.

Interim Action

The FAA considers this AD to be an interim action. If final action is later identified, the FAA might consider further rulemaking then.

Authority for this Rulemaking

Title 49 of the United States Code specifies the FAA’s authority to issue rules on aviation safety. Subtitle I, Section 106, describes the authority of the FAA Administrator. Subtitle VII, Aviation Programs, describes in more detail the scope of the Agency’s authority.

The FAA is issuing this rulemaking under the authority described in Subtitle VII, Part A, Subpart III, Section 44701, General Requirements. Under that section, Congress charges the FAA with promoting the safe flight of civil aircraft in air commerce by prescribing regulations for practices, methods, and procedures the Administrator finds necessary for safety in air commerce. This regulation is within the scope of that authority because it addresses an unsafe condition that is likely to exist or develop on products identified in this rulemaking action.

Presentation of the Actual AD

The FAA is issuing this AD under 49 U.S.C. Section 44701 according to the authority delegated to me by the Administrator.

2024-02-51 The Boeing Company: Project Identifier AD-2024-00021-T.

(a) Effective Date: This emergency AD is effective upon receipt.

(b) Affected Ads: None.

(c) Applicability: This AD applies to The Boeing Company Model 737-9 airplanes, certificated in any category, with a mid-cabin door plug installed.

(d) Subject: Air Transport Association (ATA) of America Code 52, Doors.

(e) Unsafe Condition

This emergency AD was prompted by a report of an in-flight departure of a mid-cabin door plug, which resulted in a rapid decompression of the airplane. The FAA is issuing this AD to address the potential in-flight loss of a mid-cabin door plug, which could result in injury to passengers and crew, the door impacting the airplane, and/or loss of control of the airplane.

(f) Compliance: Comply with this emergency AD within the compliance times specified, unless already done.

(g) Inspection or Other Action: As of receipt of this emergency AD, further flight is prohibited until the airplane is inspected and all applicable corrective actions have been performed using a method approved by the Manager, AIR-520, Continued Operational Safety Branch, FAA.

(h) Special Flight Permits: Special flight permits, as described in 14 CFR 21.197 and 21.199, are allowed only for unpressurized flights.

(i) Alternative Methods of Compliance (AMOCs): (1) The Manager, AIR-520, Continued Operational Safety Branch, FAA, has the authority to approve AMOCs for this AD, if requested using the procedures found in 14 CFR 39.19. In accordance with 14 CFR 39.19, send your request to your principal inspector or local Flight Standards District Office, as appropriate. If sending information directly to the manager of the 3 certification office, send it to the attention of the person identified in paragraph (j) of this AD. Information may be emailed.

(2) Before using any approved AMOC, notify your appropriate principal inspector, or lacking a principal inspector, the manager of the local flight standards district office/certificate holding district office.

(3) An AMOC that provides an acceptable level of safety may be used for any repair, modification, or alteration required by this AD if it is approved by The Boeing Company Organization Designation Authorization (ODA) that has been authorized by the Manager, AIR-520, Continued Operational Safety Branch, FAA, to make those findings. To be approved, the repair method, modification deviation, or alteration deviation must meet the certification basis of the airplane, and the approval must specifically refer to this AD.

(j) Related Information: For further information about this AD, contact Michael Linegang, Manager, Operational Safety Branch, FAA Caitlin Locke, Director, Compliance & Airworthiness Division, Aircraft Certification Service.

The Statement issued by Alaska Airlines today responds by saying:

Early this morning, our maintenance team began a detailed inspection process in connection with our decision to temporarily ground our fleet of Boeing 737-9 aircraft. Of the 65 737-9 aircraft in our fleet, it was determined that 18 had in-depth and thorough plug door inspections performed as part of a recent heavy maintenance visit. These 18 aircraft were cleared to return to service today.  

The inspection process of the remaining 737-9 aircraft is expected to be completed in the next few days. We will provide additional updates on the progress of our inspections. 

Impacted Alaska Airlines Travelers: 

A flexible travel policy is in place systemwide. You may change or cancel your flight. If your flight has been canceled, please follow these rebooking instructions. 

Boeing also today issued the following statement:

“Safety is our top priority and we deeply regret the impact this event has had on our customers and their passengers. We agree with and fully support the FAA’s decision to require immediate inspections of 737-9 airplanes with the same configuration as the affected airplane. In addition, a Boeing technical team is supporting the NTSB’s investigation into last night’s event. We will remain in close contact with our regulator and customers.”

Law Firm alleges Boeing more interested in profits than safety

 “This incident forces the aviation community, particularly government regulators, to determine if the Boeing MAX8 was allowed to fly again too hastily in Boeing’s efforts to get those planes back in the air,” said Robert A. Clifford, founder and senior partner of Clifford Law Offices in Chicago. 

He is the Lead Counsel in the litigation involving the tragic crash of a Boeing MAX8 aircraft shortly after takeoff in March 2019 in Ethiopia that killed all 157 on board. It was the second crash of the MAX8 within five months and led to the nearly two-year worldwide grounding of the plane before it was allowed to fly again. 

“Documents have proven that Boeing was more interested in profits over safety, particularly when Airbus had just released a new aircraft. 

Were FAA and Boeing to quickly allow the return of the B737 MAX?

Attorney Robert A. Clifford seems to think allowing B737 Max to return to service in 2019 was a decision made too quickly. he asks:

Were the problems and defects on the MAX just quickly worked out in balancing revenues instead of putting safety first in order to get those planes back in the air?

Litigation against Boeing in Chicago ongoing

While the civil litigation is pending in federal district court in Chicago, a conspiracy to commit fraud case against Boeing is pending in Texas.  That case questions the Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA) that was entered into by the U.S. Department of Justice to resolve all criminal charges against Boeing executives in the two MAX8 crashes to determine if the misrepresentations about the aircraft while seeking safety regulation exemptions made by Boeing executives amounted to fraud.

The public interest in safe travel requires a closer look at Boeing’s priorities and processes. 

It must have been completely frightening for all of those passengers on Flight 1282 not knowing if those were their last moments of life,” Clifford said. 

Clifford Law Offices represents the families of some 70 victims who were on Flight ET302 that crashed shortly after takeoff nearly five years ago in Ethiopia.  It was reported that a mother and a small boy sitting in the row of the blown-out window caused the boy’s shirt to be sucked off of him and out of the plane in the Portland incident.

WHAT TO TAKE AWAY FROM THIS ARTICLE:

  • The FAA is issuing this AD to address the potential in-flight loss of a mid-cabin door plug, which could result in injury to passengers and crew, the door impacting the airplane, and/or loss of control of the airplane.
  • The FAA is issuing this AD to address the potential in-flight loss of a mid-cabin door plug, which could result in injury to passengers and crew, the door impacting the airplane, and/or loss of control of the airplane.
  • The FAA is issuing this AD because the agency has determined the unsafe condition described previously is likely to exist or develop in other products of the same type of design.

About the author

Juergen T Steinmetz

Juergen Thomas Steinmetz has continuously worked in the travel and tourism industry since he was a teenager in Germany (1977).
He founded eTurboNews in 1999 as the first online newsletter for the global travel tourism industry.

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