Alaska Airlines plans to resume scheduled commercial service with its Boeing 737 MAX 9 on Friday, January 26, the carrier announced.
The prediction was made on Wednesday after the airline had the inspection and maintenance process for its jets’ door plugs approved by the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration).
According to the company, inspections should take 12 hours on each of the 65 737-9s in the fleet.
If confirmed, the resumption of flights with the 178-seat aircraft will occur exactly three weeks after the incident in which the panel covering a disabled emergency exit was blown out of the N704AL jet.
“The first of our 737-9 MAX will resume flying on Friday, Jan. 26, with more planes added every day as inspections are completed and each aircraft is deemed airworthy. We expect inspections on all our 737-9 MAX to be completed over next week,” said Alaska.
FAA halts 737 MAX production expansion
The largest operator of the 737 MAX 9, United Airlines, also announced a date to return the aircraft to service, next Sunday, January 28.
The airline has 79 aircraft of the type, which have all been grounded since the day after the Alaska incident.
At the same time that it cleared the aircraft to return to flying, the FAA announced that Boeing will not be able to expand production of the 737 MAX family until the company “ensures accountability and full compliance with required quality control procedures”.
“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,” said Mike Whitaker, FAA Administrator.