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Alaska Airlines grounds its Boeing 737-9 after taking off from a window

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A window of the Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 9 separated from the cabin shortly after takeoff from Portland International Airport, Oregon, on Friday, January 5, 2024.

Radio-Canada

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Great emotion for the passengers of Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 on Friday, January 5 evening. A window on their plane, a Boeing 737 MAX 9, came loose from the cabin shortly after takeoff from Portland International Airport in Oregon. In response to the incident, Alaska Airlines grounded its entire fleet of 65 Boeing 737 MAX 9 aircraft.

This incident reignites questions about the safety of the 737 MAX. At the end of December, American aircraft manufacturer Boeing warned of a risk of loose bolts on its airliners.

It has also requested an exemption from a safety standard from the American federal authorities for its new 737 MAX model.

No casualties were reported among the 171 passengers and six crew members of Alaska Airlines Flight 1282, said a statement from the airline.

After the window was detached and the crew reported a pressurization problem, the aircraft returned to its starting point for a emergency landing.

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Even though this type of incident is rare, our on-board personnel were trained and prepared to safely handle this situation, the press release specifies.

According to the specialist site FlightAware, the Boeing 737 MAX 9 took off precisely at 5:07 p.m., heading towards Ontario, California before returning to the airport around twenty minutes later.

Images posted on social media showed the window blown out, with oxygen masks hanging from the ceiling of the aircraft.

A passenger on the flight, Kyle Rinker, explained to American television CNN that the window had blown off just after takeoff.

It was really brutal. Barely at altitude, the front of the window just came off and I only noticed it when the oxygen masks came down, he said.

Another passenger, Vi Nguyen, told the American daily The New York Times that she was awakened by a loud noise during the flight.

I opened my eyes and the first thing What I saw was the oxygen mask right in front of me. I looked to the left and the side panel was gone.

A quote from Vi Nguyen, passenger on Alaska Airlines Flight 1282

Vi Nguyen said she thought she was going to die.

The aircraft was certified in October, according to the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) registry, available online .

The manufacturer of the aircraft, the American aircraft manufacturer Boeing, wrote on X (formerly Twitter) that it was gathering more information and that a technical team was standing by. available to investigators. The National Transportation Safety Board, the FAA and Alaska Airlines each said they were investigating the incident.

This is not the first time that Boeing's 737 MAX has been involved in accidents that call its safety into question.

While it entered service in 2017, two of these planes crashed in 2018 and 2019, killing 346 people.

Around the world, 737 MAX planes were grounded for nearly two years while the company made changes to one automated flight control system that pushed the plane's nose down based on readings from faulty sensors.

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An investigator walks among the debris of Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302, which crashed on March 10, 2019. This crash, the second of a Boeing 737 Max in less than five months, had the effect of grounding all of these aircraft on the ground for two years. (File photo)

At the end of December, Boeing asked airlines that own 737 MAXs to carry out checks because of a risk of Loose bolt on rudder control system.

Separately, The Canadian Press reported today that Boeing has asked U.S. federal authorities to exempt a new 737 MAX model from a safety standard designed to prevent part of the engine housing from overheating and break during flight until 2026.

Boeing is working to address the hazard, U.S. federal officials said, while asking pilots to limit the use of an anti-icing system in dry weather to avoid damage that could lead to loss of control of the aircraft.

Otherwise, warns the FAA, air intakes around the Engines could become too hot and parts of the casing could come loose and strike the aircraft, possibly breaking windows and causing rapid decompression.

This is what happened when an engine fan blade broke on an older 737 during of a Southwest Airlines flight in 2018. A piece of the loose engine housing struck and shattered a window, and a woman sitting next to the window was killed.

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Debris caused by the explosion of one of the engines on the left side of the aircraft shattered a porthole and damaged the fuselage. (File photo)

The overheating issue only affects the MAX model, which has carbon composite engine inlets rather than metal.

Boeing needs the exemption to begin delivering the new, smaller MAX 7 to airlines.

But some observers have sounded the alarm The alarm that safety rests with pilots, who must remember when to limit the use of the anti-icing system.

You get our attention when you say people could be killed, Dennis Tajer, a spokesman for American Airlines pilots, told Seattle Times, which reported the exemption request Friday.

We are not interested in memory-dependent exemptions and accommodations human… There simply has to be a better way.

A quote from Dennis Tajer, spokesperson for American Airlines pilots

Boeing, for its part, says it is developing a long-term solution that will undergo extensive testing and FAA review before being introduced into the 737 MAX fleet.

With information from Agence France-Presse and The Canadian Press

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