The US Federal Aviation Administration has grounded all Boeing 737 Max 9 jetliners currently in service with domestic airlines while an investigation is carried out into the mechanical fault that forced a flight heading to California to make an emergency landing in Portland, Oregon, on Friday 5 January.
Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 had 171 customers and six crew members on board when a door panel blew out, a terrifying incident that caused a large part of the fuselage to be ripped off and the cabin to depressurise at three miles above the surface, requiring immediate action from the pilot to avert tragedy.
Cabin crew and passengers alike have since been praised for keeping calm during the ordeal, with everyone putting on their oxgyen masks in good time as instructed and only minor injuries sustained as the jet made its dramatic return to Portland International Airport.
For its part, Boeing has said of the episode: “As operators conduct the required inspections, we are staying in close contact with them and will help address any and all findings.
“We are committed to ensuring every Boeing airplane meets design specifications and the highest safety and quality standards.
“We regret the impact this has had on our customers and their passengers.”
The situation has understandably left many people anxious about their own upcoming air travel and wondering how they might be able to determine in advance what kind of plane they are about to board.
Travel writer Stephen Au has written an extensive guide for the Upgraded Points website advising passengers on how they can use publicly-available information to make sure they are in the know before flying.
The writer stresses, as so many others have before him, that air travel is statistically the safest mode of travel available but advises that you can use sites like FlightRadar24, Seat Guru, FlightAware and Google Flights to determine beforehand precisely what model of plane has been assigned to your journey.