FAA Asks Airlines To Inspect Door Plug On Another Boeing 737 Aircraft After Mid-Air Blowout

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is asking airlines inspect another type of Boeing 737 aircraft that also has mid-exit door plugs, as Bloomberg stated. On January 5, Alaska Airlines’ Boeing 737 MAX-9 aircraft in the US suffered a mid-air cabin panel blowout incident. According to Bloomberg, the US aviation regulator on late Sunday said that it was “recommending that operators of Boeing 737-900ER aircraft visually inspect mid-exit door plugs to ensure the door is properly secured.”

In a statement, Boeing said it “fully supports the FAA and our customers in this action”. The 737-900ER is an older generation aircraft type that’s not part of the MAX family but has the same door plug design. The FAA ultimately grounded 171 MAX 9 jets that contained mid-exit door plugs after a panel on the Alaska Air jet blew out mid-flight earlier this month, leaving a gaping hole that fortunately didn’t suck anyone out of the plane.

According to Boeing data, 505 of the 737-900ER type of planes have been delivered to airlines globally. The major operators of the 900ER include United Airlines Holdings Inc., Alaska Airlines and Delta Air Lines Inc. Some 900 ER operators have “noted findings with bolts” during inspections, the FAA said in a separate statement.

United, which has 136 737-900ERs in its fleet, said it started “proactive inspections” earlier this week, and expects them to be completed in the next few days. Meanwhile, its Max 9s will continue to be grounded through Friday.

The call to widen the inspection of the door plugs comes after the FAA said it would increase its oversight of Boeing’s production and manufacturing operations. Federal regulators had already stepped up oversight of Boeing since a pair of 737 MAX crashes in 2018 and 2019 killing 346 passengers and crew.

FAA inspectors are required to sign off on every 737 and 787 prior to delivery, work it had previously delegated to employees of the planemaker. Not all models of the planes have the door plugs, depending on the seating configuration.