The emergency landing of an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 Max 9 jet on Friday in Portland, Oregon caused the company to ground dozens of similar models of aircraft in its fleet. But it has also raised troubling new questions about the safety of a workhorse aircraft design plagued by years of problems and several fatal crashes.
No one was seriously injured in Friday’s incident, which saw the jetliner return to the airport in Portland, shortly after the plane’s fuselage broke up in midair, leaving a door-sized hole in the side of the plane .
Within hours of the episode, Alaska Airlines Said It will ground all 65 Boeing 737 Max 9 planes in its fleet until mechanics can carefully inspect each plane.
Federal Aviation Administration And this National Transportation Safety Board They also said that they are investigating the cause of the incident. Boeing acknowledged the incident a brief statementAnd said the company has a technical team that is “ready to support the investigation.”
And while the particular technical problem that caused the scare Friday appeared to be unique, Boeing’s 737 Max airliner has perhaps the most worrisome history of any modern jetliner currently in service.
What happened on Friday?
Alaska Airlines Flight 1282, which was carrying 171 passengers and six crew members to Ontario, California, made an emergency landing at Portland Airport on Friday evening, shortly after takeoff.
Passengers on the plane said they heard a loud noise and saw that a portion of the plane had opened up in the air.
In the minutes before the emergency landing, with oxygen masks hanging from the ceiling and air blowing through holes in the wall, passengers could not hear announcements made over the public address system.
The aircraft involved in Friday’s incident was virtually new by commercial airline standards. It was first registered in November and only 145 flights were recorded.
What is the history of the 737 Max?
A total of 346 people died in two crashes involving Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft in less than five months in 2018 and 2019. Both crashes were later linked to a broken malfunctioning sensor and device, known as MCAS, which overrides pilot commands.
Those crashes led to the global grounding of Boeing 737 Max planes, leaving hundreds of planes parked on tarmac around the world for nearly two years while engineers worked to identify and resolve the problem so regulators could re-certify the planes. Can do.
The first accident occurred in October 2018, when a jetliner carrying 189 people from Jakarta, Indonesia, plunged into the Java Sea just minutes after takeoff. Four months later, another 737 Max, flown by Ethiopian Airlines, crashed shortly after takeoff en route to Addis Ababa, killing all 157 people on board, including the flight’s eight crew members.
A few days later, President Donald J. Trump announced that US regulators would temporarily ground all flights of the Boeing 737 Max while investigators and Boeing tried to determine how a software system that was meant to make the plane safe played a role in the disasters. . ,
US regulators were among the last to shut down the model, but did so after pressure mounted and 42 other countries took drastic action to prevent further accidents.
Reporting by The New York Times and others ultimately revealed that competitive pressures, flawed design, and problematic oversight had played a role in the plane’s troubled history, making it Boeing’s best-selling jet ever, and raking in hundreds of billions from airlines. It was a dollar pre-ordered plane. around the world when it was shut down.
What was the result?
Boeing agreed to pay $2.5 billion in a settlement with the Justice Department in 2021 to resolve a criminal charge that it conspired to defraud the Federal Aviation Administration, which regulates the company and Evaluates his planes.
In 2022, Boeing paid $200 million more in a deal with US securities regulators over allegations that the company had misled investors by suggesting that human error was responsible for two fatal crashes, and about the plane. I ignored the company’s concerns.
By the time the planes were recertified 20 months after the crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia, Boeing estimated that the crisis had cost the company $20.7 billion.
What does Alaska Airlines’ closure mean for air travelers?
The grounding of one of the industry’s main workhorses — which until now was limited only to Alaska Airlines planes — could put a strain on travelers as airlines sometimes have to cancel flights because they don’t have the planes to replace grounded models. There is a shortage. In the case of Alaska Airlines, the 65 737 Max 9s that are pending inspection represent 28 percent of the company’s fleet of Boeing 737 aircraft. The company also flies the smaller Embraer E175, but with less than half the seats of the Boeing 737, it is unlikely to be able to fill the entire shortfall.