FAA clears path for Boeing Max 9 jets to fly, but blocks production expansion

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More than a hundred Boeing 737 Max 9 jets that were grounded following a near-disaster onboard a recent Alaska Airlines flight have been cleared to resume flying following an inspection and maintenance process, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced on Wednesday.  

The FAA also informed Boeing on Wednesday it will not grant any production expansion of the MAX, including the 737-9 MAX. This action comes on top of the FAA’s investigation and ramped-up oversight of Boeing and its suppliers. 

The FAA also approved a thorough inspection and maintenance process that must be performed on each of the grounded 171 Boeing 737-9 MAX aircraft. Upon successful completion, the aircraft will be eligible to return to service. 

“We grounded the Boeing 737-9 MAX within hours of the incident over Portland and made clear this aircraft would not go back into service until it was safe,” FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker said. “The exhaustive, enhanced review our team completed after several weeks of information gathering gives me and the FAA confidence to proceed to the inspection and maintenance phase. 

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Whitaker added that this still isn’t a green light for Boeing.

“However, let me be clear: This won’t be back to business as usual for Boeing. 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.”

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