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Multiple countries ground Boeing planes due to safety concerns

Xinhua | Updated: 2024-01-08 09:30
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A United Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 9 jetliner is grounded at Luis Munoz Marin International Airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico Jan 7, 2024. [Photo/Agencies]

SAN FRANCISCO - The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Saturday ordered the temporary grounding of some Boeing 737 MAX 9 aircraft operated by US airlines or in US territory.

The order was issued following a serious mid-air incident on Friday when a part of a Boeing 737 MAX 9 fuselage blew out on an Alaska Airlines flight out of Portland, US state of Oregon.

The plane had been in service for just eight weeks.

"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 National Transportation Safety Board's investigation into Alaska Airlines Flight 1282."

The FAA said its Emergency Airworthiness Directive will affect approximately 171 airplanes. Boeing has delivered a total of 218 MAX 9s worldwide.

Turkish Airlines also removed its fleet of five Boeing 737 MAX 9 aircraft from operation for examination, company spokesperson Yahya Ustun stated on social media platform X, formerly Twitter.

According to local reports, Copa Airlines and Aeromexico, the flag carriers of Panama and Mexico, together grounded about 40 Boeing 737 Max 9s after the depressurization incident of the Alaska Airlines aircraft.

Copa Airlines, which temporarily suspended 21 737 MAX 9 aircraft, expressed confidence in returning them to the flight schedule safely and reliably within the next 24 hours. The airline also acknowledged potential delays and cancellations during this period.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency has embraced the FAA's MAX 9 directive, although it emphasized that no airlines from EU member states are currently utilizing an aircraft in the specified configuration. A British air safety regulator stated that any 737 MAX 9 operator must adhere to the FAA directive to gain access to its airspace.

Numerous blemishes mar the history of Boeing aircraft.

On Oct 29, 2018, a new Boeing aircraft with 189 passengers took off from Jakarta, Indonesia, bound for Pangkal Pinang on a one-hour flight. Twelve minutes following takeoff, the Lion Air-operated plane crashed into Jakarta Bay at an almost vertical angle, traveling at 500 mph. There were no survivors.

After five months, an eerie coincidence: A Boeing 737 Max 8, identical to the one involved in the Lion Air tragedy, departed from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, en route to Kenya. Just six minutes into the flight, it plummeted to the ground, claiming the lives of all 157 passengers.

The impact was so intense that a significant portion of the aircraft disintegrated, leaving investigators to scour the area around the resulting crater for clues, evidence and human remains.

On Jan 9, 2021, a Boeing 737-500 tragically plunged into the Java Sea shortly after departing from Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia. The ill-fated Sriwijaya Air Flight, en route from Jakarta to Pontianak on the island of Borneo, carried 62 individuals, comprising six crew members and 56 passengers. The devastating incident resulted in the loss of all lives on board, with all reported fatalities being Indonesian nationals.

In October of that year, a former Boeing test pilot named Mark Forkner was charged by a federal grand jury. He was accused of misleading the FAA and engaging in a plot to defraud airlines during the development of the 737 Max, which suffered two fatal crashes within five months, resulting in the deaths of 346 people.

Alaska Airlines announced Friday night that it is temporarily grounding all 65 of its Boeing 737 Max 9 aircraft for inspections.

According to multiple reports, a piece of the fuselage blew out on an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 Max 9 Friday, leaving a large hole and decompressing the passenger cabin.

The plane, destined for Ontario, California, made an emergency landing back in Portland 20 minutes after taking off.

"All 171 passengers and 6 crew were safe, with only some minor injuries," Alaska Airlines said.

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