Alaska Airlines grounds Boeing 737 Max 9 fleet after section blows out midair

Alaska Airlines grounds Boeing 737 Max 9 fleet after section blows out midair

An Alaska Airlines plane takes off from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) on December 4, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. 

Mario Tama | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Alaska Airlines will temporarily ground its fleet of 65 Boeing 737 Max 9 planes after a section of the plane blew out midflight on Friday, forcing the crew to make an emergency landing.

“Each aircraft will be returned to service only after completion of full maintenance and safety inspections,” CEO Ben Minicucci said. “We anticipate all inspections will be completed in the next few days.”

Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 was heading to Ontario, California, from Portland when it returned shortly after departure with 171 passengers and six crew aboard, the airline said.

Images and video of the new Boeing 737 Max 9 shared on social media showed a gaping hole on the side of the plane and passengers using oxygen masks. It landed back in Portland at 5:26 p.m. local time, according to Flightradar24. It had reached an altitude of more than 16,000 feet.

The National Transportation Safety Board said it is investigating the incident. The Federal Aviation Administration also said it plans to investigate.

“While this type of occurrence is rare, our flight crew was trained and prepared to safely manage the situation,” Alaska said.

The plane was certified in November, according to flight-tracking site FlightAware.

Boeing also said it was aware of the incident.

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