The US Federal Aviation Administration says the first 40 inspections of Boeing 737 MAX 9 aircraft have been completed.

Written by David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Inspections of an initial batch of 40 Boeing 737 MAX 9 planes have been completed, the Federal Aviation Administration said on Wednesday, a major hurdle to eventually grounding the planes after a cabin panel broke off mid-flight on June 5. January. .

The Federal Aviation Administration said Friday that 40 of the 171 grounded planes need to be re-inspected before the agency can review the results and determine whether it is safe to allow the Boeing Max 9 planes to resume flying.

The Federal Aviation Administration said Wednesday that it “will conduct a comprehensive review of the data” from the inspections before deciding whether planes can resume flights.

Alaska Airlines and United Airlines, the two US airlines that use the plane and have completed inspections, have had to cancel hundreds of flights since last week and have canceled all Max 9 flights as of Wednesday. United declined to comment. Alaska and Boeing did not immediately comment.

Boeing on Tuesday appointed retired US Navy Admiral Kirkland H. Donald to advise the CEO of an aircraft manufacturer on improving quality control.

Boeing's production operations have been under scrutiny since it tore off a panel from an Alaska Airlines plane while in flight this month, leaving a hole in the side of the plane. The accident raised renewed concerns about Boeing aircraft, a few years after two crashes that killed 346 people. Investors are also concerned about potential delays in aircraft deliveries.

The head of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the safety chief of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will brief senators on the investigation on Wednesday. Kirkland Donald will lead a team of outside experts in evaluating Boeing Commercial Airplanes' quality practices and its supply chain and make recommendations to Boeing CEO David Calhoun and the Board of Directors.

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Calhoun will visit Spirit AeroSystems' production facilities in Wichita, Kansas, on Wednesday to speak with employees alongside that company's CEO, Pat Shanahan.

(Reporting by David Shepherdson; Editing by Jason Neely and Elaine Hardcastle)

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