B737-9MAX Grounded Again

It is an emergency exit door. It just wasn’t an operational one.

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Thank you for correcting me. I was not aware of that.

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It’s a human problem. Airbus just happens to have people who are better at what they’re doing. If Boeing had those kinds of people, the company would have less issues overall.

The point being that Americans are just terrible.

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Cough Cough Starliner.

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The crisis reached to other countries already.

In Panama, Copa Airlines has 96 airplanes, all 737s. They have 29 MAX 9s currently in fleet. The airline ordered 61 MAX jets in 2015. The airline announced they’ll withdraw temporarily the aircraft from service for inspections. Delays and cancelations are already happening.

(Note that the article says Copa Airlines has 21 MAX jets, but in reality they have 29, unless they meant they’ll take out 21 of the 29 737 MAXs from service for the time being.)

https://www.planespotters.net/airline/COPA

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If the FAA did their job likely this wouldn’t have happened imo

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Just saw this on Instagram from the user @ Flyingreport

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Good image: the external view shows it’s cleanly the door space. Apparently these doors always open inwards so that the thousands of pounds of pressurization force make them impossible to blow out(?) So since it is missing, the door collapsed in shape enough to reduce its profile dimensions to be ejected though the smaller opening(?) How odd.

edit: I’ve read some back and forth about possible alternatives: 1)a “plug door” used for some configurations rather than an actual door, 2)a possible alternative “open out” door designed to alleviate passenger difficulty with opening emergency doors inwards.

None of the above is confirmed though.

Also, the aircraft was well below cruise altitude or not (I read some conflicting things)?? update: 16,325 feet apparently. Good they weren’t higher for cruise. And psi differential much lower (pressurization cabin altitude is up towards 10,000)

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This would be right. Alaska’s MAX 9 and 900 aircraft have the door plugged as their aircraft are low-capacity enough to not necessitate it. The door, when installed, does open outward as there would otherwise be no space for it to open inward…I think. Using my memory for reference so I could be wrong.

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Rumors circulating suggest that AS removed the 18 aircraft that returned to service earlier today after they were determined to be in compliance with the EAD.

Makes me wonder what they found…

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My guy has gotta get that extra juice in his phone while enjoying the views of Portland!

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Key little legal detail I want to highlight here, because the parallels are so obvious I just want to highlight this difference, when the 737-8 and 737-9 were grounded because of the MCAS issue that was a “Emergency Order of Prohibition” whereas this is an “Emergency Airworthiness Directive.” This is a pretty key detail because these aircraft aren’t indefinitely grounded awaiting a to be determined fix like they were in the now infamous grounding due to the two crashes from MCAS. While the Emergency Order of Prohibition basically said this aircraft is banned from US airspace until further notice (and then provided a lot of details on the logistics of that) the Emergency Airworthiness Directive lists what the issue is, what is needed to fix it, and after it is complied with the aircraft is free to return to normal operations. I’m not trying to minimize this issue, but airworthiness directives are not exactly an uncommon thing, as new issues are identified they are corrected and while this is a serious issue this is all part of the process of continuous improvement of safety in aviation. I think labeling this as a “grounding” is a touch dramatic, but that is also the FAA’s wording so I won’t argue that.

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This is confirmed by the airline. It sounds like all of this was maybe just a little confusion around what actually needed to be done. Alaska continued to use those aircraft because they had gone in for “heavy maintenance” and as part of that the door had been inspected. Worth remembering that Alaskan airlines voluntarily grounded their fleet of max 9s last night before the EAD came out. I read the EAD and unless I missed it no mention of previous checks counting as compliance is mentioned. I suspect that in working with the FAA and from the wording of the EAD they are being forced to once again inspect those 18 aircraft. I don’t think this is anything dramatic that they “regrounded” those aircraft because they were never really grounded.

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This aircraft (and most 737-9 MAXs not being operated by a low cost airline) have a door plug instead of a real door in that spot. The door is to allow for seating capacity up to 220 but the door can also be plugged which caps the seating capacity but is more simple from a maintenance perspective (usually). I believe the door would also have to open outwards because there is a normal row of seats there, not an extra wide one like the over wing exits, but this could be different on aircraft where the door is active. Not sure how the design of the plug is impacted by the doors opening direction or how permanent the plug is. Only these aircraft with the plugged door are impacted by the EAD that was issued, under section “(c) applicability” of the AD: “This AD applies to The Boeing Company Model 737-9 airplanes, certificated in any category, with a mid cabin door plug installed.”

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This is where I’m confused by the various descriptions of the plug door being plugged from in to out for pressure to hold it. It becomes harder to justify the failure if that were true.

There’s lots of repeat of this: Relax, Passengers: Aircraft Doors Can’t Open In Flight (forbes.com) though that is from 2013.

But then there’s also this:


on an older 737 model, which are electrically latch secured and automatically released without inside handle in an emergency (If I understood correctly).

And, of course, cargo hold doors open out. They’re just not as fail safe when they open out because it works against pressurization.

It will be interesting to see when someone is able to pin down how that plug door is inserted and opens.

Like you implied, opening out seems to make sense for now.

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Those look like overwing exits so they could be different. Regardless the plug is probably engineered differently and doesn’t really open in either direction, so probably a moot point which way the door would open if it wasn’t a plug.

Yes, I believe they are overwing exits, and I agree the plugs are probably engineered differently. The main point I was making is that there is all this assurance in reporting that doors are impossible to open because pressurization holds them in place. The “wonderful” engineering redundancy that is implied. But it increasingly seems that’s mostly retained to keep anyone on the inside from being able to open a door with an inside manual latch mid-flight.

They might have figured, cargo doors and outward opening overwing doors open out, so why not add plug doors to that list (maybe makes maintenance easier with seats there, etc., like you said).

As far as the op’s:

about Boeing’s recovery from highly publicized issues.

I agree with:

Boeing has the spotlight on it, plus it’s probably too big to fail.

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Here in Mexico there is also delays and cancelations. Aeromexico has also grounded their 19 B79M planes.

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I am starting to lose confidence in the B737 max series. I mean not sure if it’s a coincidence that in recent years it’s always the max series with serious problems…

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They’re grounding all? Just odd choice since Copa’s -9s are a mix of ones with doors and ones with the plug.

Not exactly right, it’s a wall panel that is placed where the door would be, from the inside the plug looks like a normal wall with a misaligned window.

This is true. On -9s with the plug, it’s a normal row of seats. On ones with the full door, the row has extra legroom (required for emergency evacuations) and only 2 seats in the row because there has to be an extra flight attendant jump seat.

Also something I haven’t seen in this thread:

The specific frame had pressurization issues already before the incident. Why Alaska kept it flying without grounding it for maintenance is interesting.

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