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Alaska Airlines grounds all Boeing 737 Max 9s after serious incident

Xinhua | Updated: 2024-01-06 16:25

SAN FRANCISCO - Alaska Airlines announced Friday night that it is temporarily grounding all 65 of its Boeing 737 Max 9 aircraft for inspection after a serious incident in Portland, in the US state of Oregon.

According to multiple reports, a piece of the fuselage blew out on an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 Max 9 at an elevation of 16,000 feet, leaving a large hole and decompressing the passenger cabin.

The plane, destined for Ontario, California, made an emergency landing back in Portland 20 minutes after taking off.

"All 171 passengers and 6 crew were safe, with only some minor injuries," Alaska Airlines said.

In a statement, Alaska Air Group CEO Ben Minicucci said the Boeing 737 MAX 9s would be grounded and inspected to ensure safety.

"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," Minicucci said. "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," he added.

The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) had begun to review the damaged aircraft. No information about a possible cause has been provided.

Online FAA record shows that the MAX 9 involved in the incident was delivered to Alaska in October.

Photos shared on social media showed a large hole in the plane's side with oxygen masks dangling from the ceiling.

The FlightAware data shows the plane descended to 10,000 feet within four minutes, then turned back toward Portland. The flight that had taken off at 5:07 pm landed back at 5:27 pm.

"We are working with Boeing and regulators to understand what occurred tonight, and will share updates as more information is available," Minicucci said.

In a statement, Boeing said it is "working to gather more information," adding that its "technical team stands ready to support the investigation."

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