Boeing 737 Max Returns Despite Safety Concerns — ‘I Think They’re Rushing These Planes Into the Sky’

By: Lauren | Published: Feb 05, 2024

On Jan. 5, 2024, a 60-pound door of an Alaskan Airlines plane flew off during flight. Luckily, no one was hurt, but since the incident, all Boeing 737 Max 9 aircraft have been grounded due to safety concerns. 

The Federal Aviation Administration just announced that only a month after the terrifying accident, these planes will start flying again this week. And now many agree that it’s the right decision. 

The Terrifying Incident

The incident on Jan. 5, when the door of one of Boeing’s 737 Max 9 planes blew off while the aircraft was cruising at 16,000 feet, was absolutely terrifying for those on board.

In this National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) handout, plastic covers the exterior of the fuselage plug area of Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 9

Source: NTSB/Getty Images

One passenger explained that her 15-year-old son’s shirt was ripped off his body and expelled from the plane as his seat slowly moved toward the hole where the door used to be. And Sieysoar Un told the press, “We literally thought that we were going to die” (via ABC News).


Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun Made a Statement Almost Immediately

Directly after the plane landed, Boeing CEO and president Dave Calhoun made a statement to the press.

Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun speaks briefly with reporters as he arrives for a meeting

Source: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

He said, “We’re going to approach this number one, acknowledging our mistake. We’re going to approach it with 100% complete transparency every step of the way.”

The FAA Grounded All Boeing 737 Max 9s

And almost immediately, the Federal Aviation Administration grounded every single one of the 171 Boeing 737 Max 9s currently in service. 

Logo for the Federal Aviation Administration

Source: @FAA/Facebook

For three weeks, the FAA has been working alongside the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to test each and every plane to find out if this was a freak accident or a manufacturing problem. 

The Testing Hasn’t Been as 'Transparent' as the FAA Promised

Although the FAA promised the world that its investigation would be completely “transparent,” that hasn’t really been the case. 

United Airlines Boeing 737 Max 9 aircraft lands at San Francisco International Airport

Source: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Mike Whitaker from the FAA defended the organization in a statement: “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.” But many people, specifically American politicians, are arguing that they are rushing the inspection. 

Sen. Richard Blumenthal Has Several Question for the FAA

Sen. Richard Blumenthal from Connecticut said that he believes the FAA needs to give potential passengers much more information regarding the tests they are conducting. 

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) speaks during a news conference

Source: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Sen. Blumenthal said in a recent statement, “I think we need to know more about how the inspection is being done, who is doing it, and how the results will be made public. I think they’re rushing these planes into the sky without sufficient assurance to the American public” (via Politico).


This Process Should Not Be Rushed

Blumenthal certainly isn’t alone in his concerns. Sen. J.D. Vance of Ohio said, “I’m extremely skeptical that the Max 9 should be brought back into service until we know a lot more about what happened.”

An Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 9 plane sits at a gate at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport

Source: Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

While Sen. Ted Cruz from Texas said he trusts the FAA to make the call, he tiptoed around the idea that it might be too soon. Cruz said, “We need to do everything necessary to prevent a similar accident from happening.”


Sen. Tammy Duckworth Has Mixed Feelings About Boeing’s Safety

Of course, not every senator who commented on the FAA’s tentative decision to get the Boeing 737 Max 9s back into the air is against the plan. Sen. Tammy Duckworth from Illinois said, “I don’t think it’s too soon.”

Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) speaks during a news conference

Source: Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

However, Sen. Duckworth did bring up Boeing’s previous quality control issues and called out the company’s “insistence on getting special exemptions in order to put aircraft into service.”


Boeing Has Fought for Safety Exemptions Before

In her statement, Duckworth talks about how Boeing has requested that the FAA give their 737 Max 7 aircraft an exemption when it comes to de-icing standards.

Airline mechanics de-ice a Northwest Airlines plane at the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport in Minneapolis

Source: Ralf-Finn Hestoft/Corbis/Getty Images

Essentially, Boeing says that while the Mx 7 models currently don’t meet the safety standards, the company wants the FAA to approve them for flight anyway while they work out the issue. 


This Isn’t the First Incident Regarding Boeing’s 737 Aircrafts

From special requests to planes literally falling apart in the air, Boeing is not proving itself to be a quality aircraft manufacturer. But these instances aren’t even the worst examples of Boeing’s quality control.

The members of Indonesia Search and Rescue Agency prepare to search inside the wreckage of the Lion Airplane

Source: Sayoga/Getty Images

In 2018 and 2019, two separate Boeing 737 Max 8 planes crashed, killing a total of 346 people, in Ethiopia and Indonesia.


Boeing’s Safety Is 'Deeply Troubled'

Kivanc Avrenli, a professor at Syracuse University who studies commercial aviation safety, explained, “The quality control problems at Boeing date back to the 1980s,” and that Boeing’s overall safety is “deeply troubled” (via Politico).

The National Transportation Safety Board in a meeting

Source: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Robert Sumwalt, former chair of the NTSB and current executive director of safety at The Boeing Center for Aviation and Aerospace Safety, said that while he is sure Boeing will fix what needs fixing, he also knows that real change has to be made. Sumwalt said in a statement, “To those [who] are saying they can fix the issues without drastic change, my question to Boeing would be, ‘How’s that working for you?’”


Will Boeing’s 737 Max 9s Be Flying Again This Week?

Whether or not United and American Airlines pilots will take to the air in a Boeing 737 Max 9 this week is still yet to be decided.

Several airline pilots in a line

Source: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

However, with politicians, pilots, and the American people furious with Boeing’s numerous safety mistakes, it’s likely that the FAA and NTSB will have to rescind their go-ahead for the planes in question until they can fully prove they are safe for use.