The Federal Aviation Administration has ordered the temporary grounding of some Boeing 737 Max 9 fleet aircraft after an Alaska Airlines flight made an emergency landing at Portland International Airport in Oregon on Friday night.
The plane had 171 passengers and 6 crew members on board when a door plug blew off the plane, leaving a gaping hole in the side of the fuselage.
Images show door plug blown off Alaska Airlines plane midflight
Update 3:30 p.m. EST Jan. 8: Officials with the National Transportation Safety Board shared images Monday showing investigators examining a door plug from Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 that was found in a backyard near Portland.
Officials earlier said two cellphones believed to have fallen from the plane have also been recovered in nearby Beaverton, KGW-TV reported. Sean Bates, who found one of the phones, shared images of his find on social media.
— Theresa Seiger, Cox Media Group National Content Desk
NTSB locates missing door plug
Update 6:47 a.m. EST Jan 8: The National Transportation Safety Board announced that the missing door plug from the 737 Max 9 has been found. It was located near Portland, Oregon in the backyard of a school teacher known only as Bob.
He took photos of it to the NTSB, which will examine the 63-pound, 26-inch by 48-inch piece of the plane to try to figure out how it broke off the aircraft, The Associated Press reported.
Meanwhile, new information is being released concerning the plane and the issues it had before Friday’s incident.
A warning light came on during three different flights — on Dec. 7, Jan. 3 and Jan. 4, the AP reported. Not all details have been released, but NTSB chairperson Jennifer Homendy said the light came on during a flight on Jan. 3 and after the plane landed on Jan. 4, the day before the plug blew out of the plane. No details have been released about the Dec. 7 flight.
The plane was not being used for flights between Oregon and Hawaii because of the light, which indicated a pressurization issue. Homendy said that the light coming on may not be related to Friday’s mid-flight incident.
— Natalie Dreier, Cox Media Group National Content Desk
NTSB still looking for door
Update 12:03 a.m. EST Jan. 7: During a news conference late Saturday, Jennifer Homendy, chair of the National Transportation Safety Board, said the door plug and window of the Alaska Airlines flight blew out shortly after takeoff, with the aircraft at about 16,000 feet.
Homendy told reporters that authorities are still looking for the door from the paneled-over exit, The Associated Press reported. She added that investigators had a good idea where it might have landed.
“If you find that, please, please contact local law enforcement,” she said.
Homendy said it was fortunate that the aircraft had not reached cruising altitude, when passengers would be allowed to take off their seatbelts.
“No one was seated in 26A and B where that door plug is, the aircraft was around 16,000 feet and only 10 minutes out from the airport when the door blew,” Homendy told reporters. “Fortunately, they were not a cruise altitude of 30,000 or 35,000 feet.”
— Bob D’Angelo, Cox Media Group National Content Desk
Alaska Airlines cancels 160 flights
Update 11:39 p.m. EST Jan. 6: Alaska Airlines canceled 160 flights on Saturday after one of the airline’s Boeing 737-9 Max aircraft lost a piece of its fuselage and a window blew out, forcing an emergency landing after leaving Portland, Oregon, on Friday, The Oregonian reported.
According to the flight-tracking website FlightAware, Alaska Airlines’ cancellations impacted 23,000 passengers as of Saturday evening.
The airline grounded 65 flights, but 18 were cleared to fly by noon PST because they had already been inspected in a recent maintenance check.
Alaska Airlines said the damaged part of the plane was a plug door, which is a panel of the fuselage near the rear of the aircraft, KPTV reported.
— Bob D’Angelo, Cox Media Group National Content Desk
“Safety will always be the top priority for our Department and for FAA. Administrator (Michael) Whitaker has acted to order these aircraft grounded pending the inspections necessary to ensure that they are safe to operate,” Buttigieg said.
Update 1:35 p.m. EST Jan. 6: The Federal Aviation Administration on X, formerly known as Twitter said that it is requiring immediate inspection of some Boeing 737 Max 9 planes before they fly following the incident with Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 on Friday. The National Transportation Safety Board is leading the investigation.
The FAA said the inspection will affect about 171 airplanes worldwide.
“Safety will continue to drive our decision-making,” the agency’s administrator, Michael Whitaker, said in a statement obtained by The New York Times.
Original story: The emergency landing was due to a midair pressure issue after a window and chunk of its fuselage blew out midflight, according to The New York Times.
Alaska Airlines said that its Flight 1282 made a safe emergency landing in Portland after taking off from Ontario, California, the Times reported. The plane was carrying 171 passengers and six crew members.
Hours after the emergency landing, the airline grounded all 65 of its Boeing 727 Max 9 aircraft so each plane could be inspected, the newspaper reported. The inspection process is expected to take a few days.
“My heart goes out to those who were on this flight – I am so sorry for what you experienced. I am so grateful for the response of our pilots and flight attendants. We have teams on the ground in Portland assisting passengers and are working to support guests who are traveling in the days ahead,” Alaska Airlines CEO Ben Minicucci said in a statement.
Minicucci said that the National Transportation Safety Board is aware of the incident and the airline is supporting their investigation. Federal Aviation Administration is also investigating, according to The Associated Press.
The airline did not provide information about injuries but KPTV reported, per the Port of Portland, that fire crews were called and had treated minor injuries, according to the AP. One person was transported for treatment but injuries are not believed to be serious.
A passenger sent KATU a photo showing the hole in the side of the airplane, according to the AP. The station also received a video of people wearing oxygen masks. It also showed passengers clapping once the plane had landed.
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