Due to safety concerns, Alaska Airlines has temporarily suspended the use of the Boeing 737 MAX 9 aircraft in order to conduct necessary checks following a recent blowout incident.
Alaska Airlines has grounded dozens of Boeing 737 MAX 9 jets for safety checks after a cabin panel blowout forced a newer airplane loaded with passengers to make an emergency landing.
The section of the plane’s body separated from the left side as it ascended from Portland, Oregon towards Ontario, California on Friday. This caused the pilots to turn back and successfully land with 171 passengers and six crew members on board.
Boeing’s most popular model has faced another recent incident, following a two-year suspension after crashes in 2018 and 2019. This adds to the ongoing challenges faced by Boeing and one of its main suppliers, who are dealing with a series of issues related to production and quality control.
At the moment, there are no clear signs of what caused the structural failure and there have been no reports of any injuries.
The CEO of the airline, Ben Minicucci, stated that their fleet of 65 identical planes will only resume service after undergoing precautionary maintenance and safety checks. He anticipates these checks to be finished within the “upcoming days.”
The U.S. aviation regulatory agency declared a probe.
On Saturday, the National Transportation Safety Board announced that a group of specialists in structures, operations, and systems will be arriving at the location later in the day.
Additionally, Boeing stated that they were investigating the occurrence.
Boeing stated that they are currently gathering more information and maintaining communication with their airline client.
“We would like to descend.”
According to FlightRadar24, Flight 1282 experienced a blowout at an altitude of approximately 4,000 meters (13,100 feet).
According to a recording on liveatc.net, the pilot communicated to air traffic control that they would like to descend.
“I am announcing an emergency situation. We must descend to 10,000 feet,” stated the pilot, referring to the standard altitude for emergency protocols. At this level, it is believed that individuals in good health can breathe without the aid of supplemental oxygen.
Posts on social media displayed the deployment of oxygen masks and a section of the plane’s side wall being absent.
Images from passengers revealed that a portion of the aircraft’s main body, which is typically utilized as an alternative rear midcabin exit point, had been ripped off, creating a void in the shape of a door.
Low-cost airlines typically add an additional door to accommodate extra seats and ensure adequate evacuation routes.
Unfortunately, the doors on Alaska Airlines jets that are permanently “plugged,” or deactivated, cannot be used.
According to data from the FAA, the MAX 9 was delivered to Alaska Airlines in late October and received certification in early November.
Anthony Brickhouse, an expert in air safety from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, stated that a rapid decompression like this is a significant safety occurrence.
He expressed his sympathy for the passengers, saying he couldn’t fathom the ordeal they went through. The noise would have been intense and the rush of wind in the cabin would have been overwhelming. The situation was most likely chaotic and undoubtedly frightening.
According to Brickhouse, the event highlights the significance of passengers staying buckled in their seats on airplanes, even when the seatbelt light is turned off. He also mentioned that the oxygen mask system seemed to have operated correctly.
According to reports, the seat next to the left panel, which has a regular passenger window, was empty.
He stated that this is an extremely grave circumstance and it could have been much more severe. If there had been someone sitting in that seat without a seatbelt, the outcome would have been different.
The 737 MAX experienced a worldwide suspension that lasted for 20 months due to two deadly accidents in 2018 and 2019. These crashes, which were caused by inadequately designed cockpit software, resulted in the deaths of 346 individuals in Ethiopia and Indonesia. Boeing is currently waiting for approval for its smaller 737 MAX 7 and larger MAX 10 models.
According to Bloomberg news, the aviation authority in China is holding an urgent meeting to discuss how to handle the situation, which may involve grounding all Boeing MAX aircraft in the country.
In 2019, China was the initial country to halt the use of MAX and has only recently begun receiving new shipments. However, domestic flights utilizing the aircraft resumed in January of last year.
Boeing recently advised airlines to conduct inspections of all 737 MAX aircraft for a potential loose bolt in the rudder control mechanism.
The Federal Aviation Administration stated that they were closely overseeing the inspections of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft and would take further action if any more instances of loose or missing hardware were discovered.