The US FAA has launched an investigation into the Boeing 737 MAX 9 following a mid-air panel issue

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has announced that it is conducting a formal investigation into the Boeing 737 MAX 9 after a cabin panel blew off an Alaska Airlines flight while in mid-air last week, forcing an emergency landing. The incident has raised new questions about the safety and quality of the aircraft manufacturer's best-selling jet family.


According to the FAA, the incident "should have never happened and it cannot happen again". The agency said it grounded 171 Boeing jets installed with the same panel, most of which are operated by US carriers Alaska Airlines and United Airlines, pending safety inspections. It is still unclear when the planes will be cleared to fly again, and the incident is the latest in a series of events that have shaken the industry's confidence in Boeing. The FAA said it learned of "additional discrepancies" after reviewing preliminary reports from Alaska Airlines and United Airlines. The agency said it will cooperate fully and transparently with Boeing and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) on their investigations.

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Boeing said in a statement that it is committed to ensuring the safety of its products and customers. The company said it will work closely with the FAA and NTSB to address any issues identified in their investigations. Boeing also said it has notified all affected customers of its actions and is providing them with updates as they become available. Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun told CNBC on Wednesday that a "quality escape" was at issue in the MAX 9 cabin blowout. He said Boeing has identified a potential root cause for the problem and is taking corrective actions to prevent it from happening again. He also said Boeing has implemented additional checks and tests on its production processes to ensure quality standards are met.

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The MAX 9 is a variant of Boeing's popular 737 MAX jet family, which was grounded worldwide for almost two years after two fatal crashes involving similar models in 2018 and 2019. The crashes killed 346 people and led to widespread scrutiny of Boeing's design, engineering, and certification practices. The MAX 9 returned to service in November 2020 after receiving approval from regulators in several countries. However, since then, several incidents involving loose parts or engine failures have occurred on some of the grounded planes. Both Alaska Airlines and United Airlines have canceled numerous flights with the planes grounded due to these issues. The FAA's investigation comes as Boeing faces increasing pressure from lawmakers, regulators, customers, and investors over its handling of the crisis. The company has already paid billions of dollars in fines, settlements, compensation claims, and legal fees related to its past problems with its jets. It has also faced criticism for its slow response to fixing software glitches that were linked to some of the crashes. Boeing shares were down by more than 1% on Thursday as investors reacted to news of the FAA probe. Analysts say that while Boeing may be able to restore some trust among customers if it can prove that its jets are safe again, it may face long-term challenges in regaining market share from rivals such as Airbus.

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