Alaska and United Airlines have grounded their entire Boeing 737-9 Max fleets after a section of a plane blew out mid-flight and the plane was forced to make an emergency landing.
Alaska Airlines flight 1282 took off at 4:52 p.m. on Friday and was traveling to Ontario, California, from the Portland International Airport. The flight was transporting six crew members and 174 passengers.
According to a statement from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the plane was in the air for 20 minutes until the crew reported a “pressurization issue.”
During the flight, a section of the wall of the plane fell off, as seen in pictures and videos.
— Kyle Rinker (@Kyrinker) January 6, 2024
“It was really abrupt. Just got to altitude, and the window/wall just popped off and didn’t notice it until the oxygen masks came off,” passenger Kyle Rinker told CNN.
Another passenger, Evan Smith, told KPTV, “There was a really loud bang toward the rear of the plane, and a whoosh noise, and all of the masks dropped.”
Passenger Nicolas Hoch told Fortune that “The captain never came on the microphone until we actually landed,” continuing, “That was part of the thing that made this more terrifying and intense.”
As reported by Fox12, several individuals’ belongings were sucked out of the plane and a young child near the missing section of the plane had to be held down in his seat by his mom. That same child also lost his shirt in the incident.
The plane made an emergency landing at the Portland International Airport at 5:27 p.m., according to flight tracker FlightAware.
According to a statement from Alaska Airline, “Several guests onboard experienced injuries that required medical attention. All guests have now been medically cleared.”
A few hours after the incident, Alaska Airlines announced that it would be grounding its entire fleet of Boeing 737-9 Max planes for “full maintenance and safety inspections,” noting that they expect all inspections to be completed in a few days.
In a statement, Alaska Airlines CEO Ben Minicucci said, “My heart goes out to those who were on this flight – I am so sorry for what you experienced.”
On Saturday, the FAA ordered the temporary grounding of all Boeing 737 Max 9 aircraft, which will impact 171 Boeing 737 Max 9 planes. The FAA said that the inspections will “take around four to eight hours per aircraft.”
The FAA is requiring immediate inspections of certain Boeing 737 MAX 9 planes before they can return to flight.
— The FAA ✈️ (@FAANews) January 6, 2024
Shortly after, United Airlines announced that it would temporarily be suspending service on its Boeing 737 Max 9 jets in order to conduct the required FAA investigation.
— United Airlines (@united) January 6, 2024
Just last month, Boeing asked airlines to inspect all of their 737 Max planes for a potential loose bolt after a problem was discovered on two jets.
In 2019, the Trump Administration ordered the grounding of all Boeing 737 Max planes after two crashes of 737-8 Max jets killed all 346 people on board the flights. The planes returned to the air 20 months later, but have encountered other problems.
In April, Boeing announced an issue with select 737 Max planes after they discovered a “non-standard manufacturing process” used by a supplier to install two fittings in the rear fuselage. The company said that the problem was not “an immediate safety of flight issue” and allowed the jets to continue flying during ongoing inspections, which was “validated” by the FAA.