- On Friday, January 5th, 2024, Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 departed from Portland, OR, bound for Ontatrio, CA.
- Approximately six minutes after takeoff, the door plug (see photo below), on the Boeing 737-9 MAX blew out from the aircraft.
- The blow out resulted in an uncontrolled and immediate decompression of the aircraft.
- The pilots made an emergency descent to 10,000 feet to return to Portland.
- There were six crew members and 171 passengers aboard the flight.
Alaska Airlines Flight 1282, a Boeing 737 aircraft, experienced a rapid cabin depressurization incident at approximately 14,830 feet. This event, akin to a sudden and dangerous loss of air inside the aircraft, triggered alarms in the cockpit and was accompanied by a loud bang and the cockpit door opening unexpectedly.
The attendants struggled with visibility in the cabin and communication difficulties amidst the noisy and chaotic environment. Flight attendants have limited supervision from some areas of the plane, which is what made it difficult to understand what was happening.
Despite these challenges, the aircraft successfully returned and landed at Portland International Airport.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is conducting an investigation to determine the cause of the incident. The displacement of a component known as the "door plug," was what led to the rapid depressurization of the cabin. What caused the displacement of the door plug is still being investigated.
Timeline of what happened on Alaska Airlines Flight 1282
Timeline of Events - as reported by NTSB
All times are in Pacific Standard Time (PST).
17:06:47 - The aircraft departed runway 28 Left at Portland International Airport
17:12:33 - The recorded cabin pressure dropped from 14.09 to 11.64 psi when the aircraft was at approximately 14,830 ft and 271 knots. The 'Cabin Altitude Greater than 10,000 ft Warning' activated.
17:12:34 - The 'Master Caution' activated. The cabin pressure dropped to 9.08 psi at approximately 14,850 ft and 271 knots.
17:12:52 - The 'Master Caution' deactivated.
17:13:41 - The aircraft continued to climb and reached a maximum altitude of 16,320 feet and began to descend. The air speed was 276 knots.
17:13:56 - The selected altitude changed from 23,000 feet to 10,000 feet.
17:14:35 - The 'Master Caution' activated for 3 seconds.
17:16:56 - The aircraft began a left turn from 121 degrees. The altitude was approximately 10,120 feet.
17:17:00 - The aircraft descended below 10,000 feet
17:18:05 - The aircraft altitude was approximately 9,050 feet. The airspeed was 271 knots. The 'Cabin Altitude Greater than 10,000 feet Warning' deactivated. The cabin pressure was 10.48 psi.
17:26:46 - The aircraft landed at 28 Left at Portland International Airport.
How did Alaska Airlines respond?
- Immediately following the incident on Jan. 5, Alaska Airlines grounded its fleet of 65 Boeing 737-9 aircraft. The airline initiated detailed inspections of these aircraft, with a focus on the mid exit door plugs, in compliance with FAA directives.
- Alaska Airlines worked closely with Boeing and the FAA to conduct thorough inspections and ensure compliance with safety standards.
- The grounding of the 737-9 MAX fleet led to significant flight cancellations, impacting thousands of passengers. The airline canceled flights through January 19th, 2024 and worked to re-accommodate affected guests.
- In response to the incident, Alaska Airlines enhanced its quality oversight, including a review of Boeing’s production quality and control systems. The airline expanded its team to validate work and quality on the Boeing 737 production line.
- Throughout the response, Alaska Airlines emphasized its commitment to safety and transparency. The airline's CEO, Ben Minicucci, expressed dedication to conducting the review thoroughly and keeping passengers informed.
An official detailed release with ongoing updates from Alaska Airlines can be found on their website here: https://news.alaskaair.com/alaska-airlines/operations/as-1282/
How did other Airlines respond?
Alaska Airlines and United Airlines are the only US Air Carriers that use the Boeing 737-9 MAX in their fleet. At the time of publishing this article, Delta, American, and Southwest Airlines do not use the Boeing 737-9 MAX.
Following the January 5th incident, United Airlines canceled all flights that used the Boeing 737-9 MAX through at least January 19th. This was done to allow time for the planes to be re-inspected.
How has the US government responded?
- On January 6th, the FAA took immediate action to ground approximately 171 Boeing 737-9 MAX planes following the January 5th incident.
- On January 12th, the FAA required Boeing to provide additional data before the agency can approve and complete its inspections.Additionally, the FAA notified Boeing that it has launched an investigation into the company audit Boeing's compliance with approved quality procedures, monitoring of 737-9 MAX in-service events, and further assess the safety risks and quality oversight.
- The FAA stated on January 17th that 40 inspections of the Boeing 737 MAX 9 planes have been complete.
Ongoing updates from the FAA can be found from their website here: https://www.faa.gov/newsroom/updates-grounding-boeing-737-max-9-aircraft