FAA Grounds 171 Boeing Planes After Mid-Air Incident


The aviation industry was rocked when a part of an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 Max 9 jet dislodged mid-flight, prompting the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to mandate inspections affecting 171 planes. This directive and the ensuing inspections have resulted in disruptions and cancellations across various airlines in the United States.

The Incident: What Happened?

The Alaska Airlines flight from Portland to Ontario experienced a harrowing ordeal when, after takeoff, part of the plane’s structure failed, necessitating an emergency descent and landing. The aircraft was fortunate to return safely, with no reported injuries among the 177 passengers and crew aboard.

Impact on Aviation Operations

The FAA’s directive to ground specific Boeing 737 Max 9 jets for immediate inspections has sparked disruptions across airlines, with United Airlines and Turkish Airlines confirming compliance with the mandated checks. These inspections, ranging from four to eight hours per aircraft, have led to a cascade of flight cancellations, causing inconvenience to passengers and financial strains on airlines.

The Fallout: Grounding and Inspections

Following this alarming incident, the FAA swiftly ordered the grounding of select Boeing 737 Max 9 aircraft for urgent inspections, a move echoed by United Airlines and Turkish Airlines. These inspections, estimated to take several hours per aircraft, have impacted flight schedules, leading to approximately 60 cancellations.

Investigating the Cause

Amid the ongoing National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation, details emerged that the affected section was unoccupied during the incident. Jennifer Homendy, NTSB chair, expressed gratitude that the incident didn’t result in a tragic outcome. The search for the detached section continues, urging local authorities’ involvement.

Passenger’s Accounts and Safety Concerns

Passengers on the affected flight recounted distressing moments of a loud bang, sudden depressurization, and air masks dropping. Reports suggested a section of the fuselage, usually sealed or used as an emergency exit, had come loose, posing a risk to nearby passengers. Experts underscored the critical need for securing such areas, highlighting potential risks to cabin occupants.

Consumer Confidence and Industry Reputation

The incident has once again drawn attention to the Boeing 737 Max series, which faced previous challenges resulting in extensive groundings post-2018 and 2019 crashes. Restoration of consumer trust in this aircraft model and the broader aviation industry remains imperative. Transparency, swift corrective actions, and adherence to safety regulations are crucial in rebuilding passenger confidence in air travel.

Industry Response and Boeing’s Assurance

Airlines like Alaska Airlines committed to comprehensive inspections before reinstating aircraft into service. Boeing affirmed its cooperation with the investigation, prioritizing safety and expressing regret over the incident’s impact on passengers. This episode comes after previous challenges with the Boeing 737 Max, leading to extensive groundings earlier.


The recent mid-air incident has raised pertinent safety concerns within the aviation sector, necessitating stringent inspections and prompt action to ensure passenger safety and confidence in air travel. As investigations continue, airlines and regulators remain vigilant, prioritizing safety above all else in an ever-evolving aviation landscape.

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