Travel Updates

​Part blows out mid-flight, 65 planes grounded ​

user avatar Author: Editors Desk Source: News Corp Australia Network:
January 6, 2024 at 05:10
The hole on the side of the plane is seen after the Alaskan Airlines flight returned to Portland on Friday night.
The hole on the side of the plane is seen after the Alaskan Airlines flight returned to Portland on Friday night.

An airline has grounded 65 aircraft after part of a plane blew out midair in a terrifying ordeal where passengers reportedly had their belongings sucked out.

Shocking videos and photos show a gaping hole in the side of a passenger plane after a section blew out during a flight in the US.

Passengers’ belongings were reportedly sucked out of the Alaska Airlines plane during the scary ordeal and the airline has decided to ground its entire fleet of 65 Boeing 737 MAX-9 aircraft.

There were 171 passengers and six crew members aboard Flight 1282, which was travelling to Ontario International Airport in California from Portland International Airport on Friday evening (Saturday AEDT).

It took off at 4.52pm on Friday, local time, but returned just 35 minutes later, according to data from flight tracking website Flight Aware, NY Post reports.

Part of the fuselage blew out mid-flight. Picture: KPTV
Part of the fuselage blew out mid-flight. Picture: KPTV

Alaska Airlines released an initial statement acknowledging the flight “experienced an incident”, without divulging further details.

Alaska Airlines CEO Ben Minicucci later released a statement announcing the company had grounded the fleet as a “precautionary step” and promised “each aircraft will be returned to service only after completion of full maintenance and safety inspections”.

The US Federal Aviation Administration said “the crew reported a pressurisation issue” and that the flight returned safely to Portland.

“The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will investigate,” a statement said.

Passengers reportedly has belongings sucked out of the plane. Picture: Kyle Rinker via Pete Muntean / Twitter
Passengers reportedly has belongings sucked out of the plane. Picture: Kyle Rinker via Pete Muntean / Twitter

Passenger Kyle Rinker told CNN “it was really abrupt, just got to altitude and the window/wall just popped off.”

CNN correspondent Pete Muntean, who covers aviation is also a pilot and flight instructor, said the part of the fuselage that was missing was a “plug” in place of an optional emergency exit.

One passenger told local television station KPTV that people’s phones were sucked out of the plane and a child had to be held down in his seat by his mother. He also reportedly lost his shirt.

Photos obtained by KTPV show the massive chunk missing in the plane’s fuselage.

Immediately after the piece blew off, oxygen masks were deployed and used by passengers as they waited for the plane to land, several on board who declined to give their names told the outlet.

People were reportedly treated for minor injuries.

Mr Minicucci said Alaska Airlines was working with Boeing and regulators “to understand what occurred tonight”, and would share updates as more information is available.

“My heart goes out to those who were on this flight – I am so sorry for what you experienced,” he said.

“I am so grateful for the response of our pilots and flight attendants. We have teams on the ground in Portland assisting passengers and are working to support guests who are travelling in the days ahead.”

Boeing said it was aware of the incident and was “working to gather more information”.

“A Boeing technical team stands ready to support the investigation,” a statement said.

Boeing 737 MAX troubled history

Only a week ago airlines across the world were told to inspect their Boeing 737 Max jets after one unnamed airline discovered a missing part on the plane.

The aviation giant instructed operators to look for a possible loose bolt in the rudder control system, according to the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The rudder controls movement of the aircraft about its vertical axis while in flight.

The inspections were prompted by an airline finding a bolt with a missing nut while performing routine maintenance.

FAA said it was an international operator that made the discovery.

A nut that was not properly tightened was also found on a second undelivered aircraft.

“The FAA will consider additional action based on any further discovery of loose or missing hardware,” the regulator said.

Virgin Australia has three and Bonza has six of the aircraft, which they started flying this year.

Both airlines confirmed to they would carry out the inspections and there would be no impact to operations.

The aircraft has a troubled history.

Two 737 Max planes – Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 and Indonesian carrier Lion Air flight 610 – crashed in October 2018 and March 2019, killing 346 people.

The jets were grounded until they were cleared to fly again in the US in 2020 and in the UK and EU in 2021.

It cost Boeing more than $US20 billion, making it one of the most expensive corporate tragedies in history, according to CNN.

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