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HomeGeneralNew Details Emerge as Investigators Look Into Alaska Airlines Plane Fuselage Explosion

New Details Emerge as Investigators Look Into Alaska Airlines Plane Fuselage Explosion

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A picture of an Alaska Airplane
Source: jacobin/Twitter

Federal officials are investigating the mid-flight blowout of part of an Alaska Airlines aircraft’s fuselage. They tested the detached piece for clues regarding the events leading up to the plane’s “explosive decompression.” The missing piece was discovered in an Oregon backyard.

National Transportation Safety Board Chair Jennifer Homendy told CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360” that the fuselage plug that blew out of the plane mid-flight Friday and was recovered from the yard last week Monday has “quite a lot” it can tell investigators and “really was the missing piece in the investigation.”

Investigators have identified the components that may have been involved in the refrigerator-sized door plug coming loose. However, they have not yet determined why it blew out. 

The door plug is usually secured by a series of stop fittings and bolts to prevent it from moving up and potentially detaching during a flight. The fuselage plugs that separated from the aircraft created a sizable hole in the side of the plane.

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It tore headrests off seats while the plane flew at 16,000 feet shortly after departing from Portland, Oregon. The incident occurred while the aircraft was carrying 177 people.

A Portland school teacher discovered the door plug in his backyard and contacted the NTSB. After speaking to reporters, physics teacher Bob Sauer described finding the door plug intact in a tree’s lower branches, with one edge against the ground.

As investigators examine the plug door, lingering questions persist about prior warnings regarding the plane’s pressurization and the safety of other Boeing aircraft for flight.

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United Airlines has confirmed the discovery of loose bolts on an undisclosed number of its 737 Max 9 aircraft. The revelation comes as the airline is conducting FAA-mandated inspections in the aftermath of the incident.

The formal inspection process of Alaska Airlines’ fleet hasn’t started yet as they wait for final documentation from Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration. Boeing agreed with the Federal Aviation Administration’s decision to ground the 737 Max 9 planes for inspection. This order affects approximately 171 aircraft “with a mid-cabin door plug installed.” 

The FAA has mandated that the planes remain parked until emergency inspections are conducted, with each inspection expected to take approximately “four to eight hours per aircraft.”

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Alaska Airlines has stated that it is collaborating with Boeing to investigate the events of Flight 1282.

United Airlines, the U.S. carrier with the most significant number of Max 9s, has canceled over 470 flights since Saturday due to the inspections. The inspection process involves removing two rows of seats and interior aircraft panels, requiring five technicians’ assistance, as United specified.

Following the incident, the airline had imposed restrictions on the aircraft, preventing them from flying over the ocean to Hawaii. This measure aimed to ensure that the plane could swiftly “return very quickly to an airport” in case any warning lights were triggered in the aircraft.

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