Alaska Airlines has grounded all of its Boeing 737-9 MAX aircraft after Flight 1282 from Portland to Ontario, California, experienced a blowout of a section of the plane in the passenger cabin on Friday evening. Pilots turned the jet around and landed back at Portland, and all 180 people including six crew on board were unharmed.
The incident happened not long after the plane took off at 5:07 pm and had climbed to about 16,000 feet. The section that blew out was not an emergency door per se, but was an area that is built for a door; however, it was plugged. There was no passenger sitting next to it at the time of the incident.
Ben Minicucci, Alaska Airlines CEO, issued a statement:
“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. Each aircraft will be returned to service only after completion of full maintenance and safety inspections. We anticipate all inspections will be completed in the next few days.
“I am personally committed to doing everything we can to conduct this review in a timely and transparent way.We are working with Boeing and regulators to understand what occurred tonight, and will share updates as more information is available. The NTSB is investigating this event and we will fully support their investigation. 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 has a fleet of 65 of the 737-9 MAX.