F.A.A. to Increase Oversight of Boeing and Audit 737 Max 9 Production

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The heightened scrutiny comes a day after the agency opened an investigation into whether Boeing failed to ensure that its 737 Max 9 plane was safe.

The Federal Aviation Administration said on Friday that it was expanding its scrutiny of Boeing, increasing oversight of the company with an audit of production of the 737 Max 9, a week after a panel in the body of one of those planes was blown out during flight.

Later Friday night, the F.A.A. said it was mandating an initial round of inspections of the panel — a plug where an exit door would go in a different configuration — on 40 Max 9 planes before it would approve Boeing’s proposed inspection and maintenance instructions for all grounded Max 9s. The agency said it needed more information on the inspection process before it could approve Boeing’s guidance for distribution.

The grounded planes, 171 in total in the United States, will be not be cleared to fly again until they are inspected, which could take several days, though possibly a lot longer, once the F.A.A. has approved an inspection process.

About 20 percent of Alaska Airlines’ fleet is made up of Max 9 jets, and the company has already had to cancel roughly that many of its flights in recent days as a result of the grounding. United Airlines is the biggest U.S. user of the plane, though the jet makes up just 8 percent of the larger company’s fleet.

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