Boeing 737 Max 9 returns to skies first time after 3-week grounding

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Alaska Airlines commercial aeroplanes are shown parked off to the side of the airport in San Diego, California, US January 18, 2024. — Reuters
Alaska Airlines commercial aeroplanes are shown parked off to the side of the airport in San Diego, California, US January 18, 2024. — Reuters

Boeing's 737 Max 9 model returned to the skies on Alaska Airlines flight 1146, marking the first revenue flight for this model since the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grounded the jets three weeks ago due to a door plug blowout on flight 1282.

The plane took off Friday afternoon when from Seattle at approximately 3:51pm local time (6:51pm ET) bound for San Diego, CNN reported.

Additionally, this time, Alaska Airlines COO Constance von Muehlen took the flight and sat in the seat next to the door plug, saying she had "full confidence" in the aircraft.

Alaska Airlines COO Constance von Muehlen onboard the first Boeing 737 Max 9 to fly with passengers after a three-week grounding on January 26, 2024. — CNN
Alaska Airlines COO Constance von Muehlen onboard the first Boeing 737 Max 9 to fly with passengers after a three-week grounding on January 26, 2024. — CNN

Sarah Edgbert, a passenger on a 737 Max 9 flight, was unaware of the situation until she encountered news crews at her gate, causing her to feel anxious.

"But then realising it’s probably the safest plane out there right now, it’s been through lots of tests since then," Edgbert said.

The flight left with a delay because the plane itself was late arriving in Seattle.

Alaska and United Airlines, US carriers operating Boeing's latest 737 generation, have been cancelling hundreds of flights daily since the Max 9 was grounded.

The airlines provided data to help the FAA and Boeing refine inspection procedures and began performing actual inspections after the FAA issued instructions late Wednesday.

Alaska Airlines scheduled three Max 9 jet flights for Friday, while United Airlines said that it has its first flight scheduled for Sunday.

Boeing Commercial Airlines President Stan Deal announced that the team has "worked diligently" to create inspection criteria for aircraft to be put back in service after the Alaska Airlines flight.

The deal also said the aircraft manufacturing company is now evaluating hundreds of employee-submitted ideas 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."