Airlines Forced To Cancel Many Flights Due To Groundings

Airlines Forced To Cancel Many Flights Due To Groundings

( – On January 5, a fuselage panel blew out seven minutes after taking off from Portland, Oregon, leaving a gaping hole on the side of Alaska Airlines’ Boeing 737 Max 9. None of the 177 people on board were injured, and the pilot was able to get everyone on the ground safely. However, the incident prompted the FAA to issue an emergency order, grounding all Boeing 737-9s worldwide for inspection.

Three days later, The Hill reported that Alaska Airlines said it canceled 170 flights on the West Coast because of the debacle, representing over one-fifth of its entire schedule. However, the airline reportedly returned nearly 28% of its 737 Max 9 aircraft to service less than a day after the blowout. In addition, the source reported that United Airlines canceled around 180 flights on January 7 and scrambled to get passengers on other planes that were still allowed to fly.

Simple Flying reported that United Airlines and Alaska Airlines are the two largest operators of the Boeing 737 Max 9 — by far — followed by Aeromexico, Turkish Airlines, and flydubai.

According to NPR, National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Chair Jennifer Homendy said the incident could have ended in tragedy had the plane “been at its cruising altitude of 35,000 feet.” Luckily, the door flew off “only 10 minutes” outside the airport. Homendy called the event “truly terrifying.” She said they were still searching for the panel from flight 1282, stating it likely landed in the Cedar Hills area near Route 217. The chair asked the public to contact law enforcement if they find it.

Boeing spokesperson Jessica Kowal also commented about the incident, stating the company supported the FAA’s decision to ground the planes. She said, “Safety is [Boeing’s] top priority,” and the company was sorry about any impact on the airlines and travelers.

The Hill reported this wasn’t the first problem with the Max planes. The NTSB is investigating the incident, which could take months.

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