Federal Aviation Administration Clears Boeing 737-9 Max Planes To Resume Flying, Halts Production Expansion

(Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)

Hailey Gomez General Assignment Reporter
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The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) cleared Boeing’s 737-9 MAX plane for return to service Wednesday, but will not grant production expansion for the model. 

The FAA plans to take “additional actions to ensure every aircraft is safe” and will clear the Boeing 737 MAX 9 for return to service upon inspection, the agency announced in a press release. However, the agency said companies will not be allowed to expand production of the MAX planes until companies resolve the ongoing quality control issues. (RELATED: Biden’s FAA Seeks Employees With ‘Severe Intellectual’ Disabilities For DEI Initiative)

“The FAA today informed Boeing it will not grant any production expansion of the MAX, including the 737-9 MAX. This action comes on top of the FAA’s investigation and ramped up oversight of Boeing and its suppliers,” the press release stated. “The FAA today also approved a thorough inspection and maintenance process that must be performed on each of the grounded 171 Boeing 737-9 MAX aircraft. Upon successful completion, the aircraft will be eligible to return to service.”

Issues regarding the Boeing 737-9 Max planes began in early January after footage circulated online of an Alaska Airlines plane missing a large window section, which had ejected shortly after take off. The FAA released a statement the day after the incident, stating that the Boeing planes would be “temporarily grounded” worldwide. 

The Alaska Airlines flight had been heading to Ontario, California from Portland, Oregon before the incident occurred roughly 20 minutes after take off. Video footage of the gaping hole in the plane circulated on Twitter showed what appeared to be a massive chunk of the plane missing as oxygen masks dangled in front of passengers. (RELATED: Crack Found On Cockpit Window Forces Boeing 737 To Return To Airport In Japan)

FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker said after “several weeks of information gathering” the administration will be proceeding to the “inspection and maintenance phase,” according to the Jan. 24 press release. Whitaker, however, emphasized that it would not be “back to business” for Boeing, stating that “any request” from the company regarding a production expansion would not be cleared until the “quality control issues” are satisfactory. 

“We grounded the Boeing 737-9 MAX within hours of the incident over Portland and made clear this aircraft would not go back into service until it was safe,” Whitaker said in the press release. “The exhaustive, enhanced review our team completed after several weeks of information gathering gives me and the FAA confidence to proceed to the inspection and maintenance phase.”

“However, let me be clear: This won’t be back to business as usual for Boeing,” Whitaker added. “We will not agree to any request from Boeing for an expansion in production or approve additional production lines for the 737 MAX until we are satisfied that the quality control issues uncovered during this process are resolved.”

Since the Alaska Airlines incident, four passengers from the dramatic flight are suing both the airline and Boeing for the “terror” experience, ABC News reported.