Boeing 737 MAX 9: What You Need to Know
The Boeing 737 MAX 9 is a narrow-body, twin-engine jet airliner manufactured by Boeing. It is a member of the 737 MAX family of aircraft, which also includes the 737 MAX 7, 737 MAX 8, and 737 MAX 10. The 737 MAX 9 has a range of up to 3,850 nautical miles and can seat up to 220 passengers in a typical two-class configuration.
Boeing 737 MAX 9: Features and Specifications
The 737 MAX 9 features a spot for an extra emergency exit, which is required on aircraft models with certain higher-density seating configurations. Airlines that put fewer seats on the aircraft, such as Alaska Airlines and United Airlines, can choose to install a plug in its place instead. The plug is installed by Spirit AeroSystems, which manufactures the fuselage for Boeing’s 737 MAX aircraft in Witchita, Kansas, and ships the completed bodies to Boeing’s Renton, Washington, factory for final assembly.
The 737 MAX 9 also has larger and more efficient engines, improved aerodynamics, and advanced avionics compared to previous 737 models. The aircraft is designed to be more fuel efficient than earlier 737s, making them more economical for airlines to operate.
Some of the main specifications of the 737 MAX 9 are:
|Maximum takeoff weight
|Maximum landing weight
|178 (two-class) / 220 (one-class)
Boeing 737 MAX 9: Safety Issues and Grounding
The Boeing 737 MAX line has a troubled history, with two fatal crashes of the MAX 8 model within five months of each other, in 2018 and 2019. The first crash, in October 2018, involved a 737 MAX 8 operated by Indonesia’s Lion Air that killed 189. The second incident was in March 2019, when an Ethiopian Airlines flight, also a 737 MAX 8, crashed minutes after take off, killing 157 passengers.
In response to those crashes, the FAA in 2019 grounded the 737 MAX 8 and MAX 9 while it investigated. Boeing changed an automated flight control system implicated in the crashes. Last year, the FAA told pilots to limit use of an anti-ice system on the MAX in dry conditions because of concern that inlets around the engines could overheat and break away, possibly striking the plane. And in December, Boeing told airlines to inspect the planes for a possible loose bolt in the rudder-control system.
However, those past issues are unrelated to the latest incident, which occurred on January 5, 2024, when an Alaska Airlines flight departing Portland International Airport (PDX) experienced a sudden cabin decompression as a fitting on its fuselage shot away from the plane, leaving a gaping hole in the airplane as frightened passengers scrambled to put on emergency oxygen masks. The flight, AS 1282, bound for Ontario, California, safely returned to Portland with 171 passengers and six crew members, the airline said. Only a few minor injuries were reported.
The NTSB found that the door plug had become unsecured on the Alaska Airlines flight, causing it to shoot off the jet and fall to the sky as the cabin rapidly decompressed. The NTSB said that the plugs are effectively secured by just four bolts, along with other hardware.
On January 13, 2024, the FAA ordered the grounding of all 737 MAX 9 aircraft outfitted with a door plug aft of the wing. The NTSB also said it will audit Boeing’s production line for that plane model and its suppliers to evaluate Boeing’s compliance with its approved quality procedures.
United Airlines, the other major U.S. airline operating the aircraft subtype, said on January 15, 2024, that it had found installation defects during its inspections of the door plugs on Boeing 737 MAX 9 jets, including loose bolts. The Air Current reported that at least five United aircraft had been found to have defects. Alaska Airlines, the other major U.S. airline operating the aircraft subtype, said later on January 15, 2024, that it had found similar loose hardware while preparing its planes for the formal inspections.
The Boeing 737 MAX 9 is a modern and efficient aircraft that offers improved performance and comfort for passengers and airlines. However, the aircraft has also faced several safety issues and groundings, most recently due to a faulty door plug that caused a mid-air emergency. The FAA and the NTSB are investigating the incident and conducting audits of Boeing and its suppliers to ensure the safety of the aircraft and its passengers.