The FAA has approved a pathway for Boeing MAX 9s to return to service. The inspection process is expected to take 12 to 24 hours and both Alaska Airlines and United have announced their MAX 9s will begin returning to service on Friday (Alaska) and Sunday (United). In addition, Copa Airlines, the national flag carrier of Panama, has announced its 21 MAX 9s will be inspected according to the FAA criteria and some will resume flying starting today and through the weekend.
The inspection process will cover bolts, fittings and guide tracks for the door plug and “detailed inspections of … dozens of associated components,” according to the FAA statement. FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker said, “The exhaustive, enhanced review our team completed after several weeks of information gathering gives me and the FAA confidence to proceed with the inspection and maintenance phase.”
The FAA ruling came with a sharply worded warning to Boeing from Whitaker that began: “The January 5 Boeing 737 MAX incident must never happen again.” His statement continued: “Let me be clear: This won’t be back to business as usual for Boeing. We will not agree to any request from Boeing for an expansion in production or approve additional production lines for the 737-9 MAX until we are satisfied that the quality control issues uncovered during this process are resolved.”