Alaska Airlines plane becomes emergency airline after losing window

Alaska Airlines plane becomes emergency airline after losing window

Alaska Airlines grounded its fleet of Boeing 737 Max 9s on Friday after a flight operated by the airline made an emergency landing at Portland International Airport in Oregon that evening due to an in-flight pressure problem which, according to passengers, caused a piece of the fuselage to explode.

The airline said Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 made a safe emergency landing carrying 171 passengers and six crew members at Portland Airport shortly after taking off for Ontario, California. In a few hours, the company said that it was grounding its 65 Boeing 737 Max 9s until it could inspect each plane. These plans represent about a fifth of its fleet. He said in a declarations that it should complete the inspections within a few days.

Boeing’s Max planes have a storied history. After two Max 8 plane crashes killed hundreds of people over several months in 2018 and 2019, the Max was grounded worldwide.

Passengers on Friday’s flight described a disconcerting experience during the roughly 15 minutes the plane returned to the airport. As yellow oxygen masks hung above their heads, a powerful wind blew through a gaping hole that showed the night sky and city lights below.

The crew reported a “pressurization problem” before the emergency landing, the Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement. Alaska Airlines Flight Attendants Association said that the decompression was “explosive” and that one of the attendants had been slightly injured.

One passenger, Vi Nguyen of Portland, said she woke up to a loud noise during the flight. Then she saw a large hole in the side of the plane.

“I open my eyes and the first thing I see is the oxygen mask right in front of me,” Ms. Nguyen, 22, said. “And I look to the left and the wall on the side of the plane is gone.”

“The first thing I thought was, ‘I’m going to die,’” she added.

Her friend Elizabeth Le, 20, said she also heard “an extremely loud pop”. When she looked up, she saw a large hole in the wall of the plane, about two or three rows away, she said.

Ms told him that no one was sitting in the window seat next to the missing fuselage, but that a teenager and his mother were sitting in the middle and aisle seats. Flight attendants helped them to the other side of the plane a few minutes later, she said. The boy seemed to have lost his shirt and her skin was red and irritated, she became angry.

“Honestly, it was horrible,” she said. “I almost collapsed, but I realized I had to stay calm.”

There were announcements over the speaker system, but none were audible because the wind blowing through the plane was so strong, she said. After the plane landed, paramedics came on board to ask if anyone had been injured, she added. A man sitting in the row immediately behind the hole said he had injured his foot.

Ms Le said passengers were not given an explanation of what happened. In a video she took of the flight, passengers can be heard clapping after landing. “Oh my God,” someone said.

After landing, Ms. told him that she and her friends were boarding another flight to Ontario later that night.

Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 took off for Ontario International Airport at 5:07 p.m. and was diverted to Portland six minutes later, according to Aware of theft, to the flight tracking website. It reached a maximum altitude of approximately 16,000 feet, when its speed was recorded at over 440 miles per hour, and landed in Portland at 5:27 p.m.

The cause of the in-flight problem was unclear Saturday morning. Keith Tonkin, managing director of Aviation Projects, an aviation consultancy based in Brisbane, Australia, said an excessive difference in air pressure inside and outside the cabin could have caused the rupture from the wall.

The passengers were likely able to breathe normally even when the plane was at its highest altitude, Tonkin added.

The plane was new, having been certified in November, according to the FAA Register of planes. It entered commercial service that month and has since logged 145 flights, according to Flight radar24another flight tracking site.

Representatives from Alaska Airlines, the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board said they were investigating what happened.

Boeing said in a statement that it was “aware of the incident involving Alaska Airlines Flight 1282,” adding: “We are working to gather more information and are in contact with our airline customer.”

In 2018, Lion Air Flight 610, a 737 Max 8, crashed into the ocean off the coast of Indonesia, killing all 189 passengers and crew. Less than five months later, in 2019, Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crashed shortly after leaving the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, killing all 157 people on board.

The Max plans were dashed after the second crash. Boeing made changes to the plane, including the flight control system that caused the crashes, and the FAA cleared it to fly again in late 2020. In 2021, the company agreed to a $2 settlement $.5 billion with the Justice Department, resolving a criminal charge that Boeing conspired to defraud the agency.

In December, Boeing urged airlines to inspect all 737 Max planes for a possible loose bolt in the rudder control system after an international airline discovered a bolt with a nut missing when routine maintenance. Alaska Airlines said at the time that it expected to complete inspections of its fleet in the first half of January.

Marc Walker reports contributed.

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David B.Otero

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