Dubai carrier flydubai said Sunday that the three Boeing 737 MAX 9 planes in its fleet were unaffected after US regulators temporarily grounded 171 Boeing 737 MAX 9 jetliners for safety checks.
“Following The Emergency Airworthiness Directive (EAD) issued by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on January 6, 2024, we can confirm that the three Boeing 737 MAX 9 aircraft in our fleet are not affected,” said a flydubai spokesperson.
“Flydubai operates Boeing 737 MAX 9 aircraft with a deactivated mid-aft exit door configuration, which is not referenced in the directive,” the spokesperson explained.
On Saturday, the FAA temporarily grounded 171 Boeing 737 MAX 9 jetliners for safety checks following a cabin panel blowout that forced a new Alaska Airlines jet carrying passengers to make an emergency landing. The plane was in service for eight weeks, according to Reuters.
The Dubai carrier operates 29 of Boeing’s 737-800 aircraft, including three MAX 9 and 13 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft that joined its fleet last year. At the Dubai Airshow last year, the Dubai-based carrier placed its first wide-body order for 30 Boeing 787-9s, diversifying its current fleet of all-Boeing 737 aircraft.
215 Boeing MAX 9 aeroplanes in service globally
According to aviation analytics company Cirium, about 215 Boeing MAX 9 aeroplanes are in service globally. American carrier United Airlines operates 79, and Alaska Airlines has 65. Their combined fleets represent about 70 per cent of the jets in service.
Other operators relying on the MAX 9 include Panama’s Copa Airlines, Aeromexico, and Iceland Air. In the region, flydubai and Turkish Airlines use the aircraft. Turkish Airlines, however, has grounded five of its Boeing 737 MAX 9 jets in its fleet for inspections following the US incident.
Depending on seating configuration, the MAX 9 can transport as many as 220 passengers.
Boeing’s MAX planes are familiar with such catastrophes. Boeing Max planes faced a series of disasters in 2018 and 2019, with two MAX 8 crashes claiming hundreds of lives. This led to a global grounding of all MAX aircraft for nearly two years as company engineers sought to pinpoint and address the underlying issues.
In response to the catastrophe, Boeing has issued a statement supporting the FAA's decision to ground the MAXs. The aircraft manufacturer said, "Safety is our top priority and we deeply regret the impact this event has had on our customers and their passengers. We agree with and fully support the FAA’s decision to require immediate inspections of 737-9 airplanes with the same configuration as the affected airplane.” The American manufacturer said, “In addition, a Boeing technical team is supporting the NTSB’s investigation into last night’s event.”