The US Federal Aviation Administration - FAA has ordered the temporary grounding of certain B737-9s operated by US carriers or in US territory after an Alaska Airlines (AS, Seattle Tacoma International) MAX 9, N704AL (msn 67501), saw its left-hand rear mid-cabin plugged exit door separate mid-flight, resulting in an explosive decompression on Friday, January 5.

“The FAA is requiring immediate inspections of certain Boeing 737 MAX 9 planes before they can return to flight,” FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker said in a statement. “Safety will continue to drive our decision-making as we assist the NTSB’s investigation into Alaska Airlines Flight 1282.”

An Emergency Airworthiness Directive (EAD) issued by the FAA is requiring operators to inspect affected aircraft before further flight. The required inspections will take around four to eight hours per aircraft. The EAD will affect approximately 171 airplanes worldwide.

Alaska Airlines has now grounded its fleet of 65 MAX 9s despite having carried out in-depth inspections on 18 of the jets prior to receiving the FAA’s EAD.

"We have cancelled 160 total flights, affecting roughly 23,000 guests. We are identifying necessary cancellations for tomorrow and expect the disruption to last through at least mid-week," it said.

Other carriers that have taken similar steps include United Airlines (UA, Chicago O'Hare) which will carry out inspections on its fleet of 79 MAX 9s. Turkish Airlines (TK, Istanbul Airport) will also carry out inspections on its five aircraft of the type, spokesman Yahya Üstün said. Copa Airlines (CM, Panamá City Tocumen International) has also grounded its fleet of 21 MAX 9s while Aeroméxico (AM, México City International) has taken its 19 of the type out of service.

"Copa has initiated the necessary technical inspections and expects to return these aircraft safely and reliably to the flight schedule within the next 24 hours. The airline’s team is working to minimise the impact on our passengers, although some delays and cancellations are expected due to this situation beyond the airline’s control," Copa said.

Other MAX 9 operators around the world include SCAT Airlines (five), Icelandair (four), Lion Air (three), flydubai (three), Corendon Dutch Airlines (two), Air Tanzania (one), Reliance Commercial Dealers (one), Thai Lion Air (one), and one private operator.

Meanwhile India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has ordered precautionary one-time inspections on the emergency exits of all B737-8s operated by three airlines in the country. Air India Express has nine of the planes while Akasa Air has 22, and SpiceJet twelve.