Alaska Airlines says each of its 737-9 MAX will return to service only after the rigorous inspections are completed and each plane is deemed airworthy according to FAA requirements. The individual inspections are expected to take up to 12 hours per aircraft.
After Alaska Airlines completed final inspections on its first group of 737-9 MAX aircraft on Jan. 26, the airline said, "We remain extremely grateful to our skilled Maintenance and Engineering team that is shouldering the inspection work and safely returning the planes to service, along with gratitude to all our employees who continue to help support our guests."
The airline shared photos taken by Ingrid Barrentine / Alaska Airlines of maintenance technicians in action.
For the inspection process, the 737-9 MAX has two door plugs – one on the left-hand side of the plane and one on the right in the middle of the cabin. Both door plugs must be inspected according to the FAA-approved inspection guidance.
Alaska Airlines shared a summary of the inspection checklist:
- Before opening the mid-cabin door plug, we will confirm it was properly installed by ensuring all hardware is in place and all clearances are measured and recorded.
- We will then open the door plug and inspect for any damages or abnormalities to the door and seal components, including the guide fittings, roller guides and hinges, and inspect nut plates and fasteners.
- We will resecure each door plug and ensure it is sealed properly per approved FAA guidance before the aircraft is returned to service.
- Each inspection, including recording detailed measurements of hardware location, could take at least 12 hours for each aircraft.
How often will door plugs be inspected in the future?
Alaska Airlines: Our Maintenance and Engineering teams will continue to inspect the two door plugs at least every 24 months when each plane undergoes heavy maintenance checks as part of our standard protocol. In addition, we will inspect the door plugs on new 737-9 MAX aircraft we receive right after delivery.