The Federal Aviation Administration announced Thursday it’s investigating whether Boeing failed to ensure its planes were safe for flying after a a “plug” door fell off a 737 Max 9 plane flying from Portland, Oregon.
The FAA said it notified Boeing of the investigation, saying it was prompted by the Alaska Airlines 1282 flight, where a “plug” type passenger door blew off the Boeing Model 737 Max 9 plane mid-air, prompting an emergency landing.
Every Boeing 737 Max 9 with a “plug” door has been grounded since Saturday.
The FAA said that the “incident should have never happened and it cannot happen again.”
In a statement Thursday, Boeing said it would cooperate “fully and transparently” in both the FAA investigation and an ongoing National Transportation Safety Board investigation.
Safety concerns regarding Boeing’s 737 Max 9 planes have continued since the Jan. 5 incident. Both Alaska Airlines and United Airlines—the two U.S. airlines that use the 737 Max 9 planes—have reported finding loose parts on grounded Max 9 aircraft. And Wednesday, Alaska Airlines canceled all flights using Boeing 737 Max 9 planes, awaiting instruction from the FAA. It represents the latest major safety setback for Boeing, which garnered international scrutiny in 2019, two Boeing 737 Max 8 planes were involved in fatal crashes within the span of less than a year. The National Transportation Safety Board is also conducting an investigation into the Alaska Airlines incident, and has since found the plane door, which landed in an Oregon school teacher’s backyard.
Elon Musk has used the Boeing incident to continue his attacks on diversity, equity and inclusion corporate policies, implying without evidence on X in recent days that the plane-maker’s pursuit of diversity may have made air travel less safe. The posts drew rebuke from civil rights groups.
WHAT WE DON’T KNOW
When the grounding of Boeing planes with “plug” doors may end. The FAA said in its Jan. 9 announcement that “the safety of the flying public, not speed, will determine the timeline for returning the Boeing 737-9 Max to service.”