Alaska Airlines grounds 737 Max 9 fleet after window blows out on flight from Oregon
By The Associated Press |
Alaska Airlines grounded all of its Boeing 737-9 aircraft late Friday, hours after a window and piece of fuselage on one such plane blew out in midair and forced an emergency landing in Portland, Oregon. No one was seriously hurt.
The incident occurred shortly after takeoff and the gaping hole caused the cabin to depressurize. Flight data showed the plane climbed to 16,000 feet (4,876 meters) before returning to Portland International Airport. The airline said the plane landed safely with 174 passengers and six crew members.
“Following tonight’s event on Flight 1282, we have decided to take the precautionary step of temporarily grounding our fleet of 65 Boeing 737-9 aircraft.” Alaska Airlines CEO Ben Minicucci said in a statement. “My heart goes out to those who were on this flight – I am so sorry for what you experienced.”
Each of the aircraft will be returned to service after full maintenance and safety inspections, which Minicucci said the airline anticipated completing within days.
“We are working with Boeing and regulators to understand what occurred tonight, and will share updates as more information is available,” he said.
The airline provided no immediate information about injuries. However, KPTV reported that according to the Port of Portland, the fire department responded and treated minor injuries at the scene. One person was taken for more treatment but wasn’t seriously hurt.
The plane was diverted about about six minutes after taking off at 5:07 p.m., according to flight tracking data from the FlightAware website. It landed at 5:26 p.m. The pilot told Portland air traffic controllers the plane had an emergency, was depressurized and needed to return to the airport, according to a recording made by the website LiveATC.net.
A passenger sent KATU-TV a photo showing the hole in the side of the airplane next to passenger seats. Video shared with the station showed people wearing oxygen masks and passengers clapping as the plane landed.
Passenger Evan Smith was on the flight and described the moment the blowout occurred.