For the Safety of American Travelers the FAA Will Keep the Boeing 737-9 MAX Grounded Until Extensive Inspection and Maintenance is Conducted and Data from Inspections is Reviewed

Friday, January 12, 2024

WASHINGTON – The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is requiring Boeing to provide additional data before the agency approves an extensive and rigorous inspection and maintenance process for returning 737 MAX-9 aircraft to service.

“We are working to make sure nothing like this happens again,” FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker said. “Our only concern is the safety of American travelers and the Boeing 737-9 MAX will not return to the skies until we are entirely satisfied it is safe.”

After reviewing Boeing’s proposed inspection and maintenance instructions, the FAA determined it needed additional data before approving them. Accordingly, the FAA is requiring plug-door inspections of 40 aircraft. 

The FAA is encouraged by the exhaustive nature of Boeing’s instructions for inspections and maintenance. However, in the interest of maintaining the highest standard of safety the agency will not approve the inspection and maintenance process until it reviews data from the initial round of 40 inspections. 

Upon a full review of the data the FAA will make a determination whether the instructions satisfy compliance with the highest standard of safety. If the FAA approves Boeing’s inspection and maintenance instructions, operators will be required to perform that regimen on every aircraft before it is returned to service.

On January 6, the FAA took decisive and immediate action to ground approximately 171 Boeing 737-9 MAX planes after an aircraft lost mid-cabin exit door plug while in flight.

The FAA also immediately increased its oversight of Boeing production and manufacturing. Additionally, the agency launched an investigation to determine if Boeing failed to ensure completed products conformed to its approved design and were in a condition for safe operation in compliance with FAA regulations. 

The FAA will continue to support the National Transportation Safety Board’s (NTSB) investigation into Alaska Airlines Flight 1282. The NTSB is in charge of the investigation and will provide any updates.

See the FAA's statements on the grounding of certain Boeing 737-9 MAX aircraft here.