N704AL, the aircraft involved
N704AL, the Boeing 737 MAX 9 aircraft involved in Friday's mishap, seen in Seattle on October 28th, 2023 (Photo: Nick Dean, reproduced under a Creative Commons license)

An almost brand new Boe­ing 737 MAX 9 (reg­is­tra­tion num­ber N704AL) owned by Alas­ka Air­lines suf­fered mod­er­ate dam­age yes­ter­day when a door-sized plug sep­a­rat­ed from the body of the jet after take­off, prompt­ing an NTSB inves­ti­ga­tion and an FAA-ordered ground­ing of all MAX air­craft of the same type.

Thank­ful­ly, the crew of Alas­ka Air­lines Flight 1282 was able to get their plane and pas­sen­gers suc­cess­ful­ly back to Port­land Inter­na­tion­al Air­port with­in min­utes. There were no fatal­i­ties or seri­ous injuries. How­ev­er, the acci­dent has once again put Boe­ing’s trou­bled 737 MAX pro­gram back under the spot­light and raised ques­tions as to whether cor­ners are being cut in the assem­bly process.

Our team has put togeth­er a col­lec­tion of arti­cles that explain what we know so far and how it’s impact­ing avi­a­tion in the Pacif­ic North­west and beyond.

From The Seat­tle Times:

Boe­ing 737 MAX 9s ground­ed after Alas­ka Air­lines in-flight blowout

by Dominic Gates and Tay­lor Blatchford

An emer­gency aboard Alas­ka Air­lines Flight 1282 may have long-last­ing impli­ca­tions for 737 MAX mak­er Boe­ing, as well as Alaska.

From KOIN:

NTSB: Blown door from Alas­ka flight near Barnes Road

by Tim Steele

The door that blew off Alas­ka Air­lines Flight 1282 short­ly after take­off from Port­land Fri­day night is believed to be around Barnes Road near Hwy 217 and the Cedar Hills neighborhood.

From The Wall Street Journal:

‘Is It OK if I Hold Your Hand?’: Inside the Cab­in of Alas­ka Air­lines Flight 1282

by Patience Hag­gin and Alli­son Pohle

Pas­sen­gers recount har­row­ing expe­ri­ence after a chunk of the plane broke off midair

From The Asso­ci­at­ed Press:

Hear how a pilot calm­ly led her Alas­ka Air­lines flight to safe­ty dur­ing an emergency

by AP editors

Audio of the pilot com­mu­ni­cat­ing with air traf­fic con­trol as the emer­gency was unfold­ing shows how she calm­ly nav­i­gat­ed the plane to safety.

From Bloomberg:

Boe­ing 737 Max Blowout Points to Per­va­sive Flaws

by Brooke Sutherland

The ground­ing of a Boe­ing Max vari­ant after a fuse­lage sec­tion came apart midair on an Alas­ka Air­lines flight adds to the planemaker’s long list of problems.

From Politi­co:

Boe­ing 737 MAX again under scrutiny

by Ori­ana Pawlyk

The Nation­al Trans­porta­tion Safe­ty Board will inves­ti­gate Fri­day night’s inci­dent where an exit door blew out of an Alas­ka Air­lines plane mid-flight. No one was injured.

From Forbes:

Ground­ing Of Boe­ing 737 MAX 9 Planes Is A Key Cri­sis Man­age­ment Lesson

by Edward Segal

The deci­sion by FAA to ground Boe­ing 737 MAX 9 air­craft tem­porar­i­ly pro­vides busi­ness lead­ers with an impor­tant cri­sis man­age­ment les­son: as soon as you know some­thing, do something.

From Reuters:

Boe­ing’s ongo­ing 737 MAX crisis

by Reuters staff

Read a time­line of recent issues sur­round­ing Boe­ing’s MAX planes.

Read­ers may also want to view this video from the Boe­ing 737 Tech­ni­cal Chan­nel on YouTube. “In it I cov­er the rea­son for the mid-cab­in exit door, its con­struc­tion and oper­a­tion, Door Warn­ings & Flight­locks, the SPSEU, MAX PSEU Dif­fer­ences and Alaskan [sic] 1282,” vlog­ger Chris Brady writes.

Video of NTS­B’s Jan­u­ary 6th brief­ing is avail­able for on demand view­ing as well.

The ini­tial state­ment released by Alas­ka Air­lines is below.

A state­ment from Alas­ka Air­lines CEO, Ben Minicucci:

At Alas­ka Air­lines, safe­ty is our foun­da­tion­al val­ue and the most impor­tant thing we focus on every day. 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.

And here’s the state­ment Boe­ing released today:

“Safe­ty is our top pri­or­i­ty and we deeply regret the impact this event has had on our cus­tomers and their pas­sen­gers. We agree with and ful­ly sup­port the FAA’s deci­sion to require imme­di­ate inspec­tions of 737–9 air­planes with the same con­fig­u­ra­tion as the affect­ed air­plane. In addi­tion, a Boe­ing tech­ni­cal team is sup­port­ing the NTS­B’s inves­ti­ga­tion into last night’s event. We will remain in close con­tact with our reg­u­la­tor and customers.”

Book­mark this Alas­ka Air­lines page if you’re inter­est­ed in fur­ther updates. Go here to learn about the sys­temwide flex­i­ble trav­el pol­i­cy Alas­ka has imple­ment­ed due to Boe­ing 737–9 air­craft inspec­tions and win­ter weath­er in the Northeast.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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