Boeing Jetliner’s Inflight Blowout Prompts Grounding and Maintenance Investigations by Major Airlines

PORTLAND, Ore. — A warning light indicating a possible pressurization problem on a Boeing jetliner led Alaska Airlines to restrict the aircraft from long flights over water. The decision was made after the warning light lit up on three different flights, according to National Transportation Safety Board Chair Jennifer Homendy. The pressurization light may or may not be related to the inflight blowout that occurred on the Boeing 737 Max 9 over Oregon. The incident involved a plug covering an unused exit door blowing off the plane, leaving a gap in the side of the aircraft. Fortunately, no one was injured and the plane landed safely back in Portland.

Homendy provided additional details about the chaotic scene on the plane during the blowout. The cockpit door flew open, causing depressurization, which resulted in the first officer’s headset being ripped off and the captain losing part of her headset. A quick reference checklist also flew out the door. It was described as a violent and chaotic event.

In response to Friday’s incident, Alaska Airlines and United Airlines grounded all of their Boeing 737 Max 9 jetliners again. They are waiting for guidance on how to inspect the planes and prevent similar blowouts. Alaska Airlines had returned 18 of its 65 737 Max 9 aircraft to service, but they were pulled from service again after receiving notice from the Federal Aviation Administration that additional maintenance work might be required. As a result of the groundings, both airlines have had to cancel numerous flights.

Boeing is currently working on a bulletin but has not yet submitted it to the FAA. The bulletin will provide instructions for airlines to perform similar work on the affected planes. The investigation into the blowout is expected to take months.

The incident highlights concerns surrounding the Boeing 737 Max. Two Max 8 jets crashed in 2018 and 2019, resulting in the grounding of all Max 8 and Max 9 planes worldwide. Changes were made to an automated flight control system that was implicated in the crashes. However, the Max has faced additional issues, including manufacturing flaws, concerns about overheating, and potential problems with the rudder system.

Flight 1282, which experienced the blowout, took off from Portland and was bound for Ontario, California. The fuselage blew out shortly after takeoff, but the plane was able to safely return to the airport. Passengers on board captured videos of the damaged area and the plane’s descent. The investigation into the incident continues.

The safety and inspection of the Boeing 737 Max are crucial, especially considering the previous crashes involving the aircraft. The NTSB and FAA will continue to investigate the blowout in order to prevent similar incidents in the future.