The Federal Aviation Administration on Saturday ordered U.S. airlines to ground some Boeing 737 Max 9 planes until they are inspected, less than a day after one of the planes lost a part of its body in midair. Due to which the passengers remained frightened until the plane landed safely.
Alaska and United Airlines began canceling dozens of flights after grounding their Max 9 fleets on Saturday so the planes could undergo federally mandated inspections.
Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 touched down Friday in Portland, Ore. It took off from Ontario, California, but was diverted back to Portland six minutes later. flight Aware, a flight tracking website. People on board the plane described an unnerving experience, with air blowing through an open hole that revealed the night sky and city lights below. The plane landed about 20 minutes after takeoff, and no one aboard was seriously injured.
Vi Nguyen, a passenger from Portland, said she woke up to a loud noise during the flight. “I open my eyes and the first thing I see is an oxygen mask right in front of me,” said Ms Nguyen, 22. “And I look to the left and the wall on the side of the plane has disappeared.”
She added, “The first thing I thought was, ‘I’m going to die.’
The National Transportation Safety Board sent a team to Portland to begin investigating the incident.
Although the FAA has not yet publicly discussed what caused the incident, it ordered airlines to inspect the “mid cabin door plug”. Some of the Boeing 737 Max 9 are configured with fewer seats and, therefore, do not require all the exits originally designed for the aircraft. Unnecessary doors are filled with plugs. Alaska Air aircraft had two redundant doors, located between the rear of the aircraft and the wing emergency exits, which were “plugged”.
The FAA order affects approximately 171 aircraft. The agency said it should take four to eight hours per aircraft to complete the required inspections.
“Safety will continue to drive our decision-making,” agency Administrator Mike Whitaker said in a statement. FAA working with NTSB
Boeing released a statement shortly after the FAA’s grounding order. “Safety is our top priority and we deeply regret the impact this incident has had on our customers and their passengers,” Boeing spokeswoman Jessica Koval said in the statement. “We agree with and fully support the FAA’s decision to require immediate inspection of 737-9 airplanes with the same configuration as the affected airplanes.”
Alaska Airlines confirmed in a statement Saturday afternoon that it has begun inspecting door plugs and has cleared 18 of its 65 Max 9s to return to service. The airline said it expected to complete the inspection in the next few days. As of Saturday afternoon, the airline had canceled nearly 100 flights, or 13 percent of those scheduled for the day, according to FlightAware. Dozens more flights were delayed.
According to aviation data provider Cirium, United Airlines operates more Max 9s than any other airline. Of the 79 Max 9s in service with United, 33 have already been inspected, the airline said in a statement Saturday. The airline said the decommissioning is expected to result in the cancellation of about 60 flights a day.
“We are working directly with affected customers to find alternative travel options,” the airline said in a statement.
Dave Spero, president of the Association of Professional Aviation Safety Experts, a union that represents more than 11,000 federal aviation workers, including safety inspectors, said Saturday that aviation safety experts from his union will be on the ground with the NTSB and help them determine whether Will that’s how the plug would have caused the plane to be blown up by covering the unnecessary door.
“From our perspective, there is no acceptable situation where this kind of thing could happen, this kind of risk should not be presented,” Mr Spero said. “They have to find out how this happened and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
The aircraft was certified only in November, according to FAA Registry Of the plane. Accordingly, it entered commercial service that month and has since logged 145 flights. flightradar24Another flight tracking site.
Keith Tonkin, managing director of Aviation Projects, an aviation consultancy company in Brisbane, Australia, said the extreme difference in air pressure inside and outside the cabin could have caused the piece to break.
“The passengers were probably still able to breathe normally when the plane was at its highest altitude,” Mr Tonkin said.
Elizabeth Le, 20, a friend of Ms Nguyen’s, said she heard “a very loud pop”. When he looked up, he said, he saw a large hole in the wall of the plane about two or three rows away.
Ms Le said no one was sitting in the window seat next to the hole in the wall, but a teenage boy and his mother were sitting in the middle and aisle seats. The flight attendant helped him to the other side of the plane after a few minutes, he said. The boy appeared to have lost his shirt and his skin looked red and irritated, he said.
“It was really scary,” she said. “I almost broke down, but I realized I needed to stay calm.”
Announcements were being made over the speaker system, but no one could be heard because the wind blowing in the plane was so strong, he said.
Evan Smith, 72, an attorney who was returning to his home in Murrieta, California, after visiting his daughter and son-in-law who live in Portland, said he heard a loud “bang” and saw some “blurry, blurry things” “Seen. Walking around the cabin.
Mr Smith said his experience as a military police officer taught him it was important to keep a cool head in these situations. Also, he said: “The plane was stable. It was not moving. This wasn’t some weird trick. It was just flying steadily.
He added, “I was confident that the plane was fine and that we would land fine.”
Travelers were crowding Alaska Airlines phone lines Saturday to rebook canceled flights and determine whether upcoming flights would be affected by the grounding. Passengers were saying on social media that the customer service hold time had exceeded seven hours.
Sarah Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants, the union that represents flight attendants at Alaska, United and other airlines, said in a statement Saturday that she welcomes the oversight required by the FAA.
“This is an important step forward in ensuring the safety of all crew and passengers, as well as confidence in aviation safety,” he said. “Life should always come first.”
The Air Line Pilots Association, a union that represents pilots at Alaska, United and other airlines, echoed that sentiment in a statement Saturday, saying it called for the grounding to ensure the safety of the crew and those flying. Appreciated the FAA for ordering the.
Boeing’s Max plane has had a troubled history. After two crashes of Max 8 jets within several months in 2018 and 2019 killed hundreds of people, the Max was grounded worldwide.
In 2018, Lion Air Flight 610, a 737 Max 8, crashed into the sea off the coast of Indonesia, killing all 189 passengers and crew on board. Less than five months later in 2019, Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crashed shortly after takeoff from the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, killing all 157 people on board.
Max planes were grounded after the second crash. Boeing made changes to the plane, including the flight control system behind the crashes, and the FAA cleared it to fly again in late 2020. In 2021, the company agreed to a $2.5 billion settlement with the Justice Department, resolving a criminal charge. Boeing conspired to defraud the agency.
In December, Boeing urged airlines to inspect all 737 MAX airplanes for possible loose bolts in the rudder-control system, after an international airline discovered bolts with missing nuts during routine maintenance. Alaska Airlines said at the time that it expected to complete inspections of its fleet in the first half of January.
MAX aircraft are in widespread use. Of the approximately 2.9 million flights scheduled globally in January, 4.3 percent are planned to be completed using Max 8 aircraft, while 0.7 percent are planned to use Max 9.
The Max is the most popular plane in Boeing’s history, accounting for a fifth of all orders placed since 1955, according to company data.
john yoon, Victoria Kim, orlando mayorquin, Rebecca Carballo And Christine Chung Contributed to the reporting.