Alaska Airlines recently resumed limited flights on its Max 9 fleet, with United planning to do the same soon. These two airlines are the only ones in the United States that operate this Boeing model. The planes had been grounded after an incident involving the panels, or ‘door plugs’, used to cover additional doors required for safety reasons due to a high number of seats.
FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker expressed confidence in the safety of the planes, stating that with the information collected since the incident, including inspections of the panels on 40 other planes, they will be safe to fly as long as new inspection protocols are followed. The FAA has asked airlines to conduct detailed visual inspections of the panels and other components, adjust locks, and make any necessary repairs before flying the Max 9 planes again.
United described the inspection process, which involved removing interior panels, seats, and cabin wall covers to inspect and repair the door plugs. Alaska Airlines reported a loss in sales among travelers who had booked flights on the Max 9, and expects this behavior to continue for several more weeks. However, they believe that over time, people will regain trust in the safety of these planes.
The Boeing 737 Max 8 faced similar challenges after two fatal accidents in 2018 and 2019, resulting in a 20-month grounding. Many people do not check the type of plane they will be flying on when purchasing tickets, but some may become more cautious following incidents like the one involving Alaska Airlines.
To check the type of plane for a flight, airline websites usually provide this information, although the location of the details may vary. It is generally found at the top of the results page when searching on American Airlines’ website, under “details” on Alaska Airlines’ website, and by clicking on the flight number on Southwest Airlines’ website.
Despite recent incidents, flying is still considered much safer than driving or traveling by train, according to data from the Department of Transportation. Airlines have not experienced any fatal accidents since 2009, although there has been an increase in cases close to becoming accidents that are currently under investigation.
In conclusion, while the recent incidents involving the Max 9 fleet have raised concerns among travelers, airlines and regulators are working to ensure the safety of these planes. With proper inspections and repairs, it is expected that trust in the safety of these aircraft will be restored over time.
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