FAA order grounds two US aircraft in Jamaica
AT least two United Airlines aircraft were grounded in Jamaica on Saturday after the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) ordered US airlines to stop using some Boeing 737 Max 9 planes until they are inspected.
This came less than a day after one of those planes lost a chunk of its body in mid-air “with an extremely loud pop”, terrifying passengers before the jet safely returned to ground.
Late Saturday, Jamaica Observer sources confirmed that a United Airlines flight which arrived in the island had been grounded. Another flight, which was scheduled to land last night, was also grounded.
Flights scheduled from Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay to Newark and Denver in the US were cancelled, awaiting clearance for the two United aircraft.
According to the sources, United was to determine if it would ferry a crew to Jamaica to check the two aircraft or if it would take the planes back to the US without passengers.
The people who were scheduled to leave the island on Saturday on two United Airlines flights were accommodated at hotels at the airline’s expense and they are expected to be airlifted out today on emergency flights.
The FAA’s order was expected to affect about 171 planes worldwide.
Up to late Saturday the FAA was yet to publicly discuss the incident on Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 which passengers described as an unnerving experience during the 20 minutes of the flight, which was destined for Ontario, California, but returned to Portland International Airport in Oregon on Friday night.
No one aboard the plane was seriously injured but in its grounding order to the airlines, the FAA asked that they inspect what it called a “mid cabin door plug.”
Some of the Boeing 737 Max 9s are configured with fewer seats and, therefore, do not need all the emergency exits originally designed for the plane. The unneeded exits are filled with a plug.
Alaska Airlines confirmed in a statement on Saturday afternoon that it had started inspecting the door plugs and cleared 18 of its 65 Max 9s to return to service. The airline said it expected to complete the inspections in the next few days.
United Airlines said on Saturday that it would be suspending the use of certain Boeing 737 Max 9s it operates as a result of the FAA’s order. Of the airline’s 79 Max 9s in service, 33 have already been inspected, the airline said in a statement.
The airline said the removal of the planes from service was expected to be the cause of about 60 cancellations on Saturday.