US FAA recommends door plug checks for Boeing 737-900ER jets By Reuters

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The fuselage plug area of Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 Boeing 737-9 MAX, which was forced to make an emergency landing with a gap in the fuselage, is seen during its investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in Portland,

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By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) late on Sunday recommended operators of Boeing (NYSE:) 737-900ER aircraft visually inspect mid-exit door plugs to ensure the component is properly secured.

The FAA on Jan. 6 grounded 171 Boeing 737 MAX 9 planes following the mid-air cabin blowout of a door plug on an eight-week old Alaska Airlines jet. The FAA said the Boeing 737-900ER is not part of the newer MAX fleet but has the same door plug design.

The FAA issued a “Safety Alert for Operators” Sunday disclosing some airlines have conducted additional inspections on the 737-900ER mid-exit door plugs “and have noted findings with bolts during the maintenance inspections.”

A Boeing spokesperson said in an email that “we fully support the FAA and our customers in this action.”

The Boeing 737-900ER has over 11 million hours of operation and 3.9 million flight cycles. The FAA said the door plug has not been an issue with this model.

The FAA is encouraging airlines to conduct a visual inspection to ensure the door plug is secured.

The 737-900 and MAX 9 have a door plug or an optional extra emergency exit door when carriers opt to install additional seats.

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