NewsBoeing crisis deepens as FAA orders inspection of 170 planes following terrifying mid-air incident

Boeing crisis deepens as FAA orders inspection of 170 planes following terrifying mid‑air incident

Boeing crisis deepens as FAA orders inspection of 170 planes following terrifying mid-air incident
Images source: © GETTY | Stephen Brashear
8:26 AM EST, January 7, 2024

The incident occurred during a Friday flight from Portland to California. A portion of the fuselage and a window detached from an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 Max 9 when the aircraft was almost 16,405 feet in the air—according to Flightradar24, the airplane, which made an emergency landing after about 20 minutes, had 171 passengers and six crew members on board.

Disturbing footage from the incident surfaced on social media, showing a gaping hole in the side of the plane adjacent to where passengers were seated. Passenger Evan Smith told KATU-TV that the wind had whipped a shirt out of another passenger's hands.

"We heard a loud bang from the back on the left side. A hissing sound ensued, and all the oxygen masks were deployed immediately. Everyone put them on," he recounted.

The affected aircraft, a Boeing 737 MAX 9, had been delivered to Alaska Airlines in late October of the previous year. Flightradar24 reports that a panel used as the aircraft’s rear exit door was the piece that detached. 'The Oregonian' highlighted that, fortunately, no one was seated next to the detached fuselage part.

Anthony Brickhouse, an aviation safety professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, noted to CNN that such an incident is sporadic.

Airlines grounding planes

Alaska Airlines announced that it had taken "a precautionary step and temporarily grounded our fleet of 65 Boeing Max-9 aircraft." Other American airlines, including United Airlines, have also suspended their flights involving 737 MAX 9 planes.

In response to these actions, the FAA ordered the grounding and inspection of more than 170 Boeing 737 Max 9s, either currently in use by US airlines or located on US soil. The FAA estimates that each aircraft inspection will take approximately 4 to 8 hours.

The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has investigated the incident. They have dispatched a team to Portland to determine the cause of the failure.

"The NTSB and the FAA must thoroughly investigate this incident to address this alarming safety breach," said Senator Ted Cruz, a prominent Republican on the FAA oversight commission.

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