The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has issued a statement regarding the grounding of selected Boeing 737 MAX 9 aircraft, following an incident on an Alaska Airlines flight on Friday.

The aircraft suffered a blowout of part of its fuselage during a flight between Portland, Oregon and Ontario, California, and was forced to make an emergency landing back at Portland airport.

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) subsequently issued an Emergency Airworthiness Directive requiring the grounding of 171 Boeing 737 MAX 9 aircraft which operate with a so-called “plug-in panel” for their mid-cabin exit.

The bulk of the grounded aircraft are operated by Alaska Airlines and United Airlines, and the EASA said that it had adopted the FAA’s Emergency Airworthiness Directive “despite the fact that, to the Agency’s knowledge and also on the basis of statements from the FAA and Boeing, no airline in an EASA Member State currently operates an aircraft in the relevant configuration”.

The agency said that the “This configuration is typically adopted by airlines flying lower-density operations (with lower passenger capacity) where this additional exit is not required to meet evacuation safety requirements”, adding that “the 737-9 aircraft operating in Europe do not have this configuration and are therefore not grounded by the EAD and can continue to operate normally”.

According to the FAA, the Emergency Airworthiness Directive requires operators to inspect affected aircraft before further flight, with these inspections expected to take around four to eight hours per aircraft.

Boeing’s 737 MAX Family of aircraft has had a chequered past, with all MAX aircraft worldwide previously having been grounded for nearly two years following two fatal crashes in 2019 which killed 346 people.,