Alaska Airlines Boeing jetliner grounded due to warning lights

Portland, Ore. (AP) – A Boeing jetliner that took off in Oregon was not used for Hawaii-bound flights after warning lights on three separate planes indicating pressurization problems flared up, a federal official said Sunday.

Alaska Airlines decided to stop the plane from flying over the water for too long so that if the warning light reappeared, the plane would “return to the airport very quickly,” National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Jennifer Homandy said Sunday night.

Homendi cautioned that the pressurization light was unrelated to the incident when a plug covering an unused exit door blew off the Boeing 737 Max 9 about three miles (4.8 kilometers) into Oregon.

The NTSB said a school teacher found the missing door plug in her backyard near Portland, Oregon, on Sunday night, she said.

At a news conference Sunday night, Homandy also offered new details about the disturbing scene on the plane. As the plug flew through the plane and into the cockpit, there was a gap in the side of the plane. No one was injured and the plane landed safely in Portland.

The cockpit door opened and the stress tore off the first officer's headset and the captain lost part of his headset. A quick reference checklist was also flown out the door for the flight crew to easily reach, Homandy said.

“It was described as chaotic and very loud between the wind and everything around it, it was very violent,” he said.

This is a breaking news update. AP's previous story is below.

Portland, Ore. (AP) — Alaska Airlines and United Airlines grounded their Boeing 737 Max 9 jetliners again on Sunday. Aircraft explosion Like when Alaska damaged the jet.

Alaska Airlines returned 18 of its 65 737 Max 9 planes to service Saturday, less than 24 hours after part of the fuselage on another plane exploded three miles (4.8 kilometers) above Oregon.

The relief was short-lived.

The airline said on Sunday it had received notice from the Federal Aviation Administration that 18 of those planes may need additional work.

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Alaska said it had canceled 170 flights — more than a fifth of its schedule — on the West Coast by mid-afternoon because of the grounding.

“These aircraft are also now out of service until details of additional maintenance work are confirmed with the FAA,” the airline said in a statement. “We are in contact with the FAA to determine what, if any, further work is needed.”

United Airlines said it had canceled about 180 flights on Sunday, while finding and saving others that were not covered by the grounding.

Alaska and United are the only US airlines flying the Max 9.

United said it was waiting for Boeing to issue a so-called multi-operator message, a service bulletin used when multiple airlines need to perform similar work on a particular type of aircraft.

Boeing is working on a bulletin but has not yet submitted it to the FAA, according to a person familiar with the situation. A detailed, technical bulletin often takes two days to prepare, the person said. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the company and regulators have not discussed the process publicly.

Boeing declined to comment.

A panel used to plug in an exit door on Max 9 exploded Friday night shortly after Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 took off from Portland, Oregon. The depressurized plane with 171 passengers and 6 crew members returned safely to Portland International Airport without serious injuries.

Hours after the incident, the FAA ordered 171 Max 9 flights operated by Alaska and United to be grounded pending an inspection. The inspections take four to eight hours, the FAA said.

Boeing has delivered 218 Max 9s worldwide, but not all of them fall under the FAA order. They are among more than 1,300 Max jetliners sold by the plane maker – mostly the Max 8 type. The Max 8 and other versions of the Boeing 737 were not affected by the grounding.

U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., chairwoman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, said she agreed with the decision to ground the Max 9s.

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“Safety is paramount. Aviation products must meet the gold standard, including quality control inspections and strong FAA oversight,” he said in a statement.

Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board searched the paneled exit door from Flight 1282 on Sunday. They know exactly where it landed near Oregon Route 217 and Barnes Road in the Cedar Hills area west of Portland. President Jennifer Homendi said at a news conference late Saturday.

“If you see it, please contact local law enforcement,” he said.

On Sunday afternoon, some locals were roaming around a patch of thickly bushed land between busy roads and a light rail station. The area is located across from the sprawling hospital complex.

Searcher Adam Birkle said he drove 14 miles (22 kilometers). “I was looking at the runway, I was looking at the wind,” he said. “I try to focus on wooded areas.”

Daniel Feldt hiked the same brambles with binoculars after searching the area from a parking lot roof. “No holes were found in the bushes, it was clear that something had fallen there,” he said.

Lisa Helderup, director of communications at Providence St. Vincent, a hospital in southwest Portland, said the NTSB said two NTSB agents toured the hospital campus Sunday with members of the hospital's security team.

There hasn't been a fatal crash involving a US passenger carrier domestically since the 2009 Colgan Air crash near Buffalo, New York, which killed 49 people on board and one on the ground. In 2013, an Asiana Airlines flight from South Korea crashed at San Francisco International Airport, killing three of the 307 people on board.

Flight 1282 departed Portland at 5:07pm on Friday for a two-hour flight to Ontario, California. About six minutes later, the plane was at an altitude of about 16,000 feet (4.8 kilometers) when the fuselage exploded. One of the pilots declared an emergency and requested permission to descend below 10,000 feet (3 kilometers), where the air would contain enough oxygen to breathe safely.

Videos posted online by passengers showed a gap in the panel-over exit and passengers wearing masks. They applauded when the plane landed safely 13 minutes after the explosion. The firemen then came down and asked the passengers to remain in their seats as they were treating the injured.

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As passengers and flight attendants walked around the cabin, Homandy said it was very fortunate that the plane had not yet reached cruising altitude.

“No one was sitting in 26A and B where that door plug was, the plane was at about 16,000 feet and only 10 minutes from the airport when the door blew,” he said. The trial is expected to take several months.

The aircraft in question rolled off the assembly line and received its certification two months ago Online FAA registrations. Another tracking service, FlightRadar24, reported 145 flights since entering commercial service on November 11. The flight from Portland was the third day of that flight.

Aviation experts were shocked when a new plane took off. Anthony Brickhouse, a professor of aerospace defense at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, said he saw fuselage panels coming off the planes, but couldn't recall any passengers “seeing the lights of the city.”

The MAX is a new version of Boeing's venerable 737, the twin-engine single-aisle airliner most frequently used by US domestic airlines. The aircraft entered service in May 2017.

Two Max 8 jet crashes in 2018 and 2019 killed 346 people. All Max 8 and Max 9 aircraft The entire world is grounded Until nearly two years ago, Boeing made changes to the automatic flight control system that had been plagued by plane crashes.

The Max has been plagued by manufacturing defects and other issues, including concerns about overheating, which led the FAA to tell pilots to Application Limitation An anti-ice system, and possible Loose bolt In the rudder system.


Koenig reports from Dallas. Borer reported from Juneau, Alaska. Associated Press reporters Terry Spencer in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and Audrey McAvoy in Honolulu, Hawaii, contributed.

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