Alaska Airlines plans to return its Boeing 737 Max 9 aircraft to service as early as today (26 January).
In a statement released on 25 January, the airline said that it is now performing detailed inspections of its planes, and that it expects “to bring our first few planes back into scheduled commercial service on Friday, 26 January”.
The news follows an announcement from the FAA that the planes would be allowed to fly again after passing a new inspection process. Boeing 737 Max 9s had been grounded since 6 January, after the door plug blew out on an Alaska Airlines plane mid-flight on 5 January.
The Alaska Airlines statement said: “Each of our aircraft will only return to service once the rigorous inspections are completed and each aircraft is deemed airworthy according to the FAA requirements.
“We have 65 737-9 MAX in our fleet. The inspections are expected to take up to 12 hours for each plane.
“With the first of our 737-9 MAX set to resume flying on Friday, we’ll add more planes back into service 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 the next week.”
The statement then goes on to summarise the inspection process, including confirming that mid-cabin door plugs are “properly installed”, inspecting for “any damages or abnormalities to the door and seal components” and re-securing each door plug.
The announcement came on the same day that United Airlines, another major operator of 737 Max 9 planes, said that it would return the aircraft to service on 28 January.