FAA grounds roughly 171 Boeing 737 Max 9 planes after a cabin panel blew out during flight

FAA grounds roughly 171 Boeing 737 Max 9 planes after a cabin panel blew out during flight

An Alaska Airlines flight had to make an emergency landing Friday night after a mid-air blowout left a gaping hole in its fuselage.

FAA grounds roughly 171 Boeing 737 Max 9 planes after a cabin panel blew out during flight | DeviceDaily.com
Stephen Brashear via Getty Images

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has ordered airlines to temporarily ground some Boeing 737 Max 9 planes for safety inspections after an Alaska Airlines plane lost a cabin panel during a flight on Friday with about 180 people on board. The plane, which had only been in service since November, according to the New York Times, was able to safely land back at Portland International Airport in Oregon, where it had taken off from. There were no major injuries, though the Alaska division of the Association of Flight Attendants said workers described “explosive” decompression in the cabin and reported one flight attendant sustained minor injuries.

“The FAA is requiring immediate inspections of certain Boeing 737 Max 9 planes before they can return to flight,” FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker said. “Safety will continue to drive our decision-making as we assist the NTSB’s investigation into Alaska Airlines Flight 1282.”

Immediately following the incident, Alaska Airlines CEO Ben Minicucci put out a statement saying the company would be grounding its fleet of 65 Boeing 737-9 aircraft for what it expects to be a few days as it conducts safety checks. “Each aircraft will be returned to service only after completion of full maintenance and safety inspections,” Minicucci. The FAA order extends the grounding to “approximately 171 airplanes worldwide” that are either operated by US airlines or in US territory.

Minicucci also said that the National Transportation Safety Board is investigating what happened with Flight 1282 and “we will fully support their investigation.” The plane had been on its way to Ontario, California. Reuters, citing FlightRadar24, reported that the blowout occurred at around 16,000 feet. In social media posts shared with Reuters and the NYT, passengers can be seen sitting right next to the gaping hole and the fully exposed sky.

Boeing’s 737 Max was previously grounded for almost two years after fatal crashes in 2018 and 2019. All 189 people on board the plane were killed in the 2018 crash in Indonesia, and another 157 died in the 2019 crash in Ethiopia. In 2021, Boeing agreed to pay $2.5 billion in a settlement with the Department of Justice to avoid criminal charges over the crashes.

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