REVEALED: National Transportation Safety Board says panel blowout on new Boeing 737-9 MAX could’ve brought ‘tragic’ results if passengers were in the nearest seats

"You would not see those as doors unless you are outside of the aircraft." 


A National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation into Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 from Portland, Oregon, to Ontario, California, revealed that the section of the plane that blew off was determined to be a mid-cabin door plug. 

In a press conference on Saturday evening, NTSB chair Jennifer Homendy said because the configuration of the Alaska plane is certified for under 215 passengers, it is not required to have an exit door in that location. 

"There's one on the left and one on the right. They are not operational," she said. "What you would see in the cabin if you were a passenger is a window and just part of the cabin. You would not see those as doors unless you are outside of the aircraft." 

Homendy also noted, "We are very, very fortunate here that this didn't end up in something more tragic." She added, "All passengers deplaned. We are not aware of any serious injuries. We are aware of reports of minor injuries." 

"No one was seated in 26A and B, where that door, that door plug is," Homendy said. "The aircraft was around 16,000 feet and only 10 minutes out from the airport when the door blew." 

"Fortunately, they were not at cruise altitude of 30,000 or 35,000 feet," she continued. "You're in cruise everybody is up and walking, folks don't have seat belts on, they're going to the restrooms, The flight attendants are providing service to the passengers. We could have ended up with something so much more tragic, and really fortunate that did not occur here." 

In the wake of the accident, the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) grounded "certain Boeing 737 Max aircraft operated by US airlines or in US territory." It said the Emergency Airworthiness Directive (EAD) "will require all operators to inspect aircraft before further flight" and "will affect approximately 171 airplanes worldwide." 

On Friday, the Alaska Airlines flight was forced to make an emergency landing after the door plug blew off the side of the two-month-old Boeing 737-9 MAX aircraft that had just been certified for use in November. 

The airline announced immediately that it was taking "the precautionary step of temporarily grounding our fleet of 65 Boeing 737-9 aircraft." It said, "Each aircraft will be returned to service only after completion of full maintenance and safety inspections. We anticipate all inspections will be completed in the next few days."

One passenger Elizabeth Le told Oregon Live, "It sounded like your ears were popping like normally on a plane, but 10 times louder." She added, “I couldn’t believe it was real.”

“I was just praying that everything would be OK,” Le added. “We were all calm, but I did feel like I was about to cry because who knows this could be my last few moments.”

Another passenger, Kyle Rinker said, "It was deathly silent. Nobody made a noise." He noted, "You could feel the plane shake a little because of the air pressure difference.”

The NTSB is asking for the public's help in finding the door plug from the plane. Homendy said they believe it is "around Barnes Rd, near I-217 and the Cedar Hills neighborhood," and to contact local law enforcement if found. 

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