The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has completed the first set of inspections of the Boeing 737 Max 9 aircraft involved in the Alaska Airlines incident in which a side panel exploded mid-flight on Jan. 5.
The FAA suspended the entire fleet of more than 170 aircraft until the door latches, which are reportedly the focus of the investigation, could be inspected.
Alaska Airlines and United Airlines are the only domestic carriers using that model. With the suspension of service, they have been forced to cancel hundreds of flights.
The Administration also said it has inspected 40 aircraft and will review the data before proceeding. In addition to FAA inspectors, Alaska Airlines said it will send its own inspectors to the Boeing plants where the Max 9 was manufactured.
The airframe of the plane is manufactured by Spirit AeroSystems, which is its own company and not affiliated with Spirit Airlines.
The FAA is investigating both Boeing and Spirit AeroSystems. The National Transportation Safety Board is conducting its own investigation. The two government agencies are seeking an answer as to why the door latches were loose on the unused exit.
Boeing also hired an outside auditor to review its quality control programs. The FAA said it will be deliberate in its investigation and does not have a timeline for the plane’s return.
Meanwhile, Alaska Airlines said it is still mulling its next step.