Boeing, one of the world’s largest aerospace manufacturers, has faced significant scrutiny due to safety concerns surrounding its 737 Max 9 aircraft. On January 5th, an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 Max 9 took off from Portland, Oregon. It was gaining altitude, when suddenly it happened – a loud boom – an explosion – then a rush of air as a huge hole was left in the side of the 220-passenger plane.
Understanding the recent 737 Max 9 issue
Luckily, the plane landed back in Portland safely, and all passengers and crew made it home. Not all were unscathed however, with some needing medical attention. Not to mention the mental and psychological toll of thinking you’re going to die.
So, should you be worried? Should you avoid the 737 Max 9?
To be fair, this isn’t the first time Boeing has had an issue with a 737 Max aircraft. The issues with the Alaska Airlines flight follow the grounding of another 737 Max model after two tragic accidents: Lion Air Flight 610 in October 2018 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 in March 2019.
Investigations there pointed to flaws in the aircraft’s Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), which was designed to stabilize the plane during flight.
The January near disaster was a different issue. A door plug, or a panel that fills in an unused emergency exit, blew off due to loose bolts. By a stroke of luck, the two seats closest to the panel that blew off the plane were empty. And the plane had not yet reached cruising altitude of more than 30,000 feet, when passengers and flight attendants might have been walking around instead of being belted into their seats.
Airlines found problems on other planes. Alaska CEO Ben Minicucci told NBC that “many” of the planes they inspected had loose bolts that are supposed to help secure the door plug to the airframe of the jet. United Airlines made similar findings.
Following January 5th, all 737 Max 9s were grounded and subjected to inspections. The planes returned to the sky Friday afternoon. The Federal Aviation Administration has approved the 737 Max 9 being put back into service, subject to a rigorous inspection protocol.
Boeing has accepted responsibility for the door plug blowout and is following the FAA’s guidelines. It remains to be seen whether Boeing will accept responsibility for the strife this preventable incident had on those passengers.
If you're scheduled to fly on a 737 Max 9
If you have booked a 737 Max 9 and are feeling apprehensive, the below may help:
- Switch Planes: Both Alaska Airlines and United Airlines are allowing passengers to switch planes at no additional cost.
- Educate Yourself: Being informed can often alleviate anxiety.
- Consult with Aviation Professionals: Sometimes, talking to an expert, like a pilot or an aviation engineer, can help ease fears by providing an informed perspective.
- Focus on the Statistics: Remember that air travel remains one of the safest modes of transportation. The likelihood of an incident is extremely low.
- Seek Professional Help if Necessary: If your fear of flying is overwhelming, consider speaking to a mental health professional who specializes in phobias.
Boeing is one of Washington’s, and the world’s, great companies. It has had some significant issues in the past decade, and plane passengers have been put at unnecessary risk. What happened on January 5th underscores the importance of rigorous testing, transparent communication, and putting passenger safety above all else. As the 737 Max 9 returns to service, all indications are that Boeing continues to work closely with airlines and regulatory bodies to ensure the highest safety standards.
The incident is still under investigation by the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board.
When does an attorney get involved?
The January 5th incident didn’t take any lives, but it did cause harm. Some passengers are speaking out and hiring lawyers who will seek to hold any responsible companies accountable.
If you were on that January 5th flight, or any flight where a safety issue caused you physical or mental anguish, it’s important to talk to an experienced personal injury trial attorney.
While the events surrounding the Boeing 737 Max 9 has raised concerns, it’s crucial to recognize the extensive measures taken to address these issues. If you’re scheduled to fly on a 737 Max 9 and feeling uneasy, remember that you have options.
If you have any questions or concerns, contact us any time for a free consultation.