New Safety Alert Emerges for Earlier Generation of Boeing 737s

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The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued a safety warning urging airlines to check door stoppers on Boeing 737-900ER planes following an incident where one exploded on an Alaska Airlines flight earlier this month. Although not part of the newer Max fleet, the 737-900ER shares the same door stopper design. The FAA recommends a visual inspection of the center exit blinds to ensure proper safety.

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Boeing shares fell nearly 3% in premarket trading on Monday in response to the safety alert. This is another setback for the company, which has faced constant quality and safety issues with its aircraft, leading to groundings and delayed deliveries.

Since the recent incident, the airline has been conducting inspections of previously manufactured Boeing aircraft and revealed findings related to the screws holding the door stoppers in place. However, the FAA did not specify the nature of these findings. United Airlines and Alaska Airlines also reported loose bolts after inspecting the newer Max 9s.

Boeing fully supported the FAA’s action and assured its commitment to address the safety issues. The FAA notice does not ground the earlier generation of aircraft but recommends a quick check of the door blanks and bolts.

The Max 9 aircraft remain grounded in the United States as the FAA continues to review data from inspections of 40 sample aircraft to determine their safety for future flights.

In response to the FAA’s safety warning, airlines are conducting proactive inspections of their Boeing 737-900ER aircraft. The FAA emphasized that the move is an “added layer of safety” and acknowledged that no issues have been reported with the 737-900ER. However, it shares the same panel design as the aircraft involved in the January 5 incident.

The FAA’s ongoing investigation into Boeing’s manufacturing practices includes an inspection of the subcontractor Spirit AeroSystems that supplied the panel in question. Boeing is committed to increasing quality controls in its manufacturing process.

Despite the inspections and safety measures, the FAA has not ordered the older 737-900ERs to be grounded, allowing operators to perform visual inspections without disrupting normal operations. The agency stresses that the safety of the flying public will determine when these aircraft can return to service.