Alaska Airlines
File photo: Alaska Airlines commercial airplanes are shown parked off to the side of the airport in San Diego, California. Image Credit: REUTERS

Seattle: Alaska Airlines on Saturday said it has completed inspections on the first group of its Boeing 737 MAX 9 aircraft, clearing the carrier to put the MAX 9 back in service after an in-flight cabin blowout earlier this month.

The carrier resumed some MAX 9 operations, starting with Flight 1146 from Seattle to San Diego.

Alaska said it had begun inspections of its first MAX 9s on Wednesday night, after the Federal Aviation Administration approved inspection criteria.

"We expect inspections on our 737-9 MAX to be completed by the end of next week, allowing us to operate our full flight schedule," said the airline, adding that inspections take about 12 hours per aircraft.

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After the landing of the Alaska Airlines flight, Boeing Commercial Airlines President Stan Deal released a letter to employees stating that the team had "worked diligently" to create inspection criteria that would allow aircraft to be put back in service, and Boeing is now in the process of evaluating "hundreds" of ideas submitted by employees for quality improvements.

"Our long-term focus is on improving our quality so that we can regain the confidence of our customers, our regulator and the flying public," he said. "We own these issues and will make them right.

A Copa Airlines jet became the first MAX 9 to return to service on Thursday.

Alaska and United Airlines, the two US carriers that fly the MAX 9, have cancelled thousands of flights this month since the January 6 grounding of 171 MAX 9s.