One month ago, Alaska Airlines flight 1282 made an emergency landing in Portland, Oregon after a doorplug, a panel of the fuselage near the rear of the aircraft, blew out midair as the plane reached 16,000 feet.
Several passengers onboard were injured but later cleared by medical professionals, the airline said. Debris from the aircraft, including iPhones and the doorplug, were found on the side of the streets and in a school teacher’s yard intact.
The 5 January 2024 incident forced the grounding of all Boeing 737 Max 9s and prompted investigations by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), into the aircraft manufacturer and Spirit AeroSystems, which made the doorplug.
The grounding led to hundreds of flight cancellations. A preliminary report for the NTSB investigation is set to come out this week.
Boeing CEO David Calhoun addressed the company in a town hall after the emergency, saying that the corporation would address the incident “acknowledging our mistake”.
It’s now believed that the plane did not have the critical bolts it needed to keep the doorplug in place when it left the factory, according to reports. Following the incident, Alaska Airlines and United Airlines, which operates 79 of the planes, said they, too, found loose bolts on some of their aircrafts.
Models of the planes only began flying again at the end of January, once they underwent extensive inspections overseen by the FAA.
However, Boeing officials also discovered a problem with their planes that will require the rework of 50 undelivered aircrafts.
Here’s everything we know about the saga:
What exactly happened on board
During a news conference following the incident, NTSB chair Jennifer Homendy said that the auto depressurisation light for the airplane, which was on its way to Ontario, California, lit up shortly after takeoff.
The doorplug later blew out, resulting in rapid decompression. The cockpit door subsequently flew open, to the surprise of the two captains on board. There was a lot of damage to panelling, trim and windows, Ms Homendy said.
At some point, the oxygen masks on the plane dropped down. Four minors were on board and four flight attendants immediately went to check if they were ok. Passengers reported being scared for their lives and calling their loved ones.
The plane then returned to Portland…