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Home Travel FAA Clears Way for Boeing’s MAX 9 Jet to Resume Flying. Here’s the Bad News.

FAA Clears Way for Boeing’s MAX 9 Jet to Resume Flying. Here’s the Bad News.

by Staff

The Federal Aviation Administration has, effectively, ungrounded the 737 MAX 9 jet it grounded on Jan. 6 after an emergency door plug blew out of an

Alaska Air

flight midair.

The FAA said on Wednesday that 737 MAX 9 planes that complete an enhanced inspection process, confirming compliance with the original design, can return to service.

There is work to do, but the announcement clears a path for United Airlines, Alaska Air, and other airlines operating MAX 9 jets to get their planes flying again. That is the good news.

But the FAA also had some strong words about

Boeing
’s

production.

“We will not agree to any request from Boeing for an expansion in production or approve additional production lines for the 737 MAX until we are satisfied that the quality control issues uncovered during this process are resolved,” the agency said. “This action comes on top of the FAA’s investigation and ramped up oversight of Boeing and its suppliers.”  

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Boeing planned to ramp up 737 MAX production to 38 a month by the end of 2023. The goal is to reach 50 a month by 2025 or 2026.

No production expansion sounds bad. Boeing stock was down 2.8% in premarket trading Thursday to $209.73. Shares rose 1.2% in regular trading on Wednesday while the


S&P 500

and


Nasdaq Composite

gained 0.1% and 0.4%, respectively.

“We will continue to cooperate fully and transparently with the FAA and follow their direction as we take action to strengthen safety and quality at Boeing,” the company said in an emailed statement. “We will also work closely with our airline customers as they complete the required inspection procedures to safely return their 737-9 airplanes to service.”

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Since the MAX 9 door plug blowout on Jan. 5, Boeing stock, including after-hours trading Wednesday, is off roughly $40 a share, wiping out some $25 billion in market value.

The incident has been another black eye for Boeing and investors are sensitive to safety and FAA-oversight-related issues. Still, the FAA statement doesn’t mean Boeing will never ramp up production of 737 MAX jets. Boeing will just have a more rigorous regulator path to production increases.

At this point, after all the MAX problems, more oversight from the FAA really isn’t a bad thing.

Write to Al Root at [email protected]

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