Grounding of Boeing 737 MAX9s Disrupts Panamanian Copa Airlines’ Operations

Copa Airlines suspends 21 Boeing 737 MAX9s, affecting more than 20% of operations, pending FAA approval for safety inspections following a grounding order following an Alaska Airlines incident.

Copa Airlines Affected by 20%

The suspension of 21 Boeing 737 MAX9 aircraft affects more than 20% of Copa Airlines’ operations, which are waiting for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to approve technical documentation to begin the inspection process that allows their safe return, said the company’s executive director, Pedro Heilbron.

The Panamanian flag airline suspended the operations of the 21 aircraft on January 6 after the FAA ordered the measure for 171 aircraft operated in the United States and other countries, following an incident that occurred the day before with a plane. Alaska Airlines 737 MAX9, which lost part of its fuselage in mid-flight.

Emergency Measures Implemented by Copa

“This measure implied for Copa the temporary suspension of 21 of our aircraft, which has forced us to cancel around 80 daily flights or more than 20% of our operation, affecting thousands of passengers,” Heilbron said in a statement released by video.

Copa is waiting for the FAA to approve the necessary technical documentation to begin the mandatory aircraft inspection process, as explained by the leader of Panama’s flagship airline.

Uncertainty over Operational Future: FAA Review Underway

This review by the US authority “is scheduled to take place this week,” added Heilbron, who however clarified that Copa is not certain “about its duration or when the operation of the affected aircraft would be authorized again.”

In any case, the airline’s technical operations team has conducted a preliminary inspection of the 21 MAX9s and is prepared to comply with FAA guidelines, to return to operations “as soon as safely possible.” and reliable,” he said.

Copa has implemented measures such as rearranging those affected on new flights as close as possible to the original travel date and has eliminated charges for changing the flight date or its definitive cancellation, to face this “complex reality” derived from a situation outside the airline’s control, its representatives said.

Government Actions: Grounding of All Boeing 737 Max 9

The Secretary of Transportation of the United States, Pete Buttigieg, ordered on January 19 the immobilization of all Boeing 737 Max 9 “until they are safe”, a measure that followed the one issued on January 6 by the FAA and that affected to 171 devices.

“There is no specific date” for when these planes will return to the skies, Buttigieg said then, while the FAA also announced the opening of an investigation into Boeing for the Alaska Airlines incident, which left no victims.

Also read: Shares of Brazilian airline Gol plummet amid bankruptcy rumors

According to data from the specialized aviation analysis company Cirium, there are 215 MAX9 aircraft in service worldwide.

According to official information, since 2015, Copa Airlines has ordered 86 737 MAX aircraft from Boeing, as part of a plan to modernize its fleet.

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