(CTN News) – The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has advised airlines to inspect door plugs on Boeing 737-900ER jets following a blowout this month on another kind of aircraft with a similar mid-cabin exit.
The aviation agency said in a statement late on Sunday that operators “are encouraged to conduct a visual inspection to ensure the door plug is restrained from any movements”.
According to the FAA, certain airlines conducted further inspections on the 737-900ER mid-cabin exit door plugs and discovered “findings with bolts during the maintenance inspections”.
Boeing has come under increased scrutiny from regulators after a cabin panel blew off midair during an Alaska Airlines 737 MAX 9 flight on January 5, creating a gaping hole in the fuselage and prompting an emergency landing.
Following the incident, the FAA grounded 171 Boeing 737 MAX 9 planes.
On Wednesday, the FAA announced that inspections of an initial group of 40 Boeing 737 MAX 9 jets had been completed, a significant step towards removing the model’s grounding.
Boeing attempted to mitigate the impact by recruiting an independent adviser to investigate quality control in its manufacturing operations.
A Boeing representative stated, “We fully support the FAA and our customers in this action.”
The 737-900ER is more commonly used than the 737 MAX 9. It is an earlier model, but it has the same optional door plug design, which allows carriers to add an additional emergency exit door when installing more seats.
Cirium data shows that there are 490 Boeing 737-900ER jets in service, with at least 79 having an active door rather than a plug since they are operated by low-cost airlines with tighter cabins.
In contrast to the new MAX 9, which encountered the door-plug issue, Boeing 737-900ER aircraft have more than 11 million hours of service and 3.9 million flight cycles, and the FAA stated that the door plug “has not been an issue with this model”.