Boeing CEO to meet with senators amid 737 Max 9 grounding

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Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun is planning to meet with a group of senators on Capitol Hill this week as the company deals with the 737 Max 9 grounding in the wake of an accident in which a plane’s plug door panel blew off in mid-air earlier this month, according to a report by Reuters.

Calhoun will meet with Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Mark Warner, D-Va., their offices confirmed to FOX Business. Sources told Reuters that Calhoun will also meet with other lawmakers in Congress.

Cruz is a member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation which has jurisdiction over the aviation industry. 

DELTA BOEING PLANE LOSES NOSE TIRE MOMENTS BEFORE TAKEOFF: ‘ROLLED OFF THE RUNWAY’

The latest issues with the Boeing 737 Max arose after a Max 9 jet operated by Alaska Airlines had its plug door blow off in mid-air at 16,000 feet of altitude as it climbed out of Portland, Oregon, en route to Ontario, California, on Jan. 5. 

No serious injuries were reported and the airliner safely returned to Portland for an emergency landing. During the incident, the cabin depressurized rapidly and some cellphones were sucked out of the plane as well as a child’s shirt that was ripped off his body. 

Some of the passengers on the flight have filed a lawsuit against Alaska and Boeing in the wake of the incident.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
BA THE BOEING CO. 211.48 -3.45 -1.60%
AAL AMERICAN AIRLINES GROUP INC. 14.00 +0.38 +2.79%
UAL UNITED AIRLINES HOLDINGS INC. 40.49 +2.04 +5.31%

Boeing installs plug doors on the 737 Max 9 and other aircraft for airlines that choose layouts which do not maximize the cabin seating capacity, which negates the need for the door to be available as an emergency exit. 

FAA TELLS AIRLINES TO CHECK DOOR PLUGS ON SECOND BOEING PLANE

Alaska Airlines blowout

Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grounded the 737 Max 9 so that inspections could be carried out to ensure that plug doors are securely installed on the aircraft. 

Alaska and United Airlines are the only U.S. carriers that fly the 737 Max 9, though several overseas carriers also operate that variant of the plane.

Last Wednesday, the FAA said it completed inspections on 40 737 Max 9 airliners and was reviewing data it gathered during those inspections. The regulator reiterated that 737 Max 9 planes with door plugs will remain grounded “pending the FAA’s review and final approval of an inspection and maintenance process that satisfies all FAA safety requirements.”

FAA FINISHES 40 BOEING 737 MAX 9 INSPECTIONS, REVIEWING DATA

Alaska Boeing 737 Max 9

“Once the FAA approves an inspection and maintenance process, it will be required on every grounded 737-9 Max prior to future operation,” the FAA said at the time. “The safety of the flying public, not speed, will determine the timeline for returning these aircraft to service.”

The FAA previously announced it was investigating Boeing’s manufacturing processes and production lines, “including those involving subcontractor Spirit AeroSystems, bolstering its oversight of Boeing, and examining potential system change.”

The National Transportation Safety Board is also investigating what caused the door plug on Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 to blow off.

On Monday, the FAA told airlines to check door plugs on Boeing 737-900ER aircraft while its review of the 737 Max 9 door plugs continues. The regulator said it was making the recommendation “as an added layer of safety” to “ensure the door is properly secured” and added, “The Boeing 737-900ER is not part of the newer Max fleet but has the same door plug design.”

The Boeing 737-900ER is also known as the Boeing 737 Next Generation and was an upgraded version of earlier 737s. It was developed into the 737 Max.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

FOX Business’s Daniella Genovese and Reuters contributed to this report.

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