Cockpit audio from Alaska Air jet erased after mid-air panel blow out

 “We have nothing," the National Transportation Safety Board Chair said to reporters.


The audio recorded on the black box device that is customary on all commercial flights on the Alaska Airlines flight that had a panel blow off has been completely erased.  

National Transportation Safety Board Chair Jennifer Homendy said during a press briefing that the audio of the chaotic flight incident had been lost amid the emergency landing at Portland's International Airport with the 737 Max 9 model plane.

"The cockpit voice recorder was completely overwritten. There was nothing on the cockpit voice recorder," Homendy told reporters. “We have nothing." 

Homendy noted that the emergency landing had been a "very chaotic event" when officials came and set up an emergency center. 

"The maintenance team went out to get [the cockpit voice recorder], but it was right at about the two-hour mark," she said. She then added that the whole recording had been lost.  

She went on to explain that the recording could have given insight into what happened the moment that the panel blew off. The flight had reached 16,000 feet by the time the incident occurred.  

"If that communication is not recorded, that is unfortunately a loss for us and a loss for FAA and a loss for safety," she continued, "because that information is key." 

Alaska Airlines grounded its planes in the hours following the panel being blown out. Other 737 Max 9 plane models were grounded and inspected. United Airlines subsequently found "loose bolts" in several of them.  

United said in a statement in response to the findings on its Boeing Max 9 aircraft, "Since we began preliminary inspections on Saturday, we have found instances that appear to relate to installation issues in the door plug -- for example, bolts that needed additional tightening." 

The airline industry has faced scrutiny from the public as a result. This follows controversy from reports of multiple airlines transporting illegal immigrants around the country earlier in December.  

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