FAA gives the go-ahead for Boeing 737 Max 9 to resume operations

The agency also halted production of the entire Max line, including the model whose emergency window depressurized mid-flight. Alaska Airlines estimated that the grounding will cost it $150 million.

The Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) suspended the order Wednesday which kept Boeing 737 Max 9 models grounded. FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker announced in a statement that after an "exhaustive, enhanced review," the planes could return to normal operation, as they did not present substantial problems that endangered passengers:

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. 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

As Whitaker explained, the investigation began after a Boeing 737 Max 9 had an accident in early January. Specifically, one of the emergency windows on the plane, operated by Alaska Airlines, depressurized and blew out mid-flight, causing the plane to return to the Portland airport, where it had taken off from 20 minutes earlier.

Fortunately, there were no fatalities, but the aviation company began to receive demands from passengers, and an investigation was initiated that affected not only Alaska Airlines planes but also the models operated by United Airlines. All of them were ordered to remain grounded while the FAA investigated what happened and determined whether these planes could resume operation.

FAA halts production of the Max line

Weeks later, the FAA gave its approval for the planes to take to the skies again, and both United and Alaska Airlines assured that they would resume flights of this model:

It was not all good news for Boeing. The federal agency also assured that the company had to stop manufacturing the entire Max line since they would not approve production until they were completely sure that the all the problems detected during the investigation had been repaired:

However, 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 Max until we are satisfied that the quality control issues uncovered during this process are resolved.

A million-dollar grounding

Alaska Airlines estimated that grounding its Boeing 737-9 Max cost it $150 million. This was detailed in a report filed with the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) on Thursday, which also detailed that it had earned $583 million in revenue for the full year.

United Airlines estimated in its SEC report on Monday that it would record losses in the first quarter of 2024 due to the immobilization of part of its fleet. According to the company, its share price would fall between 35 and 95 cents.