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Alaska Grounds All 737 MAX 9 Jets

The airline says it is inspecting each aircraft following an explosive decompression incident on Friday evening.

An Alaska Airlines 737 MAX 9. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Katie Zera)

Alaska is temporarily grounding its fleet of 65 Boeing 737 MAX 9 aircraft after a serious decompression and structural failure incident on Friday evening. Flight 1282 from Portland (PDX) to Ontario, Calif. (ONT) made an emergency landing at PDX at approximately 5:30 p.m. local time.

The aircraft – N704AL – had 174 passengers and six crew members onboard. It had been delivered to Alaska on Oct. 31, 2023, according to data from AirFleets.net. Reporting from The Air Current indicates that N704AL was removed from over-water operations (or ETOPs) as a result of recent pressurization issues.

Images from onboard the aircraft show significant structural damage, including the loss of the mid-aft door and interior paneling. No serious injuries were reported.

The 737 MAX 9 Fleet Worldwide

Boeing’s 737 MAX 9 variant is the largest currently certified version of the MAX product. According to data from Cirium, there are 215 737 MAX 9 aircraft in service globally with Alaska being the second largest operator of the type.

Schedule data from Cirium Diio shows that the MAX 9 variant is slated to operate roughly a quarter of Alaska’s total planned flights in January 2024. The aircraft is used on a variety of routes in the carrier’s network, including over-water operations to Hawaii from the West Coast.

In a statement, the airline said it expects the inspections to take a ‘few days’ to complete.

“I am personally committed to doing everything we can to conduct this review in a timely and transparent way,” Alaska CEO Ben Minicucci shared as part of the statement.

The NTSB says it is sending a ‘go team’ to Portland to investigate the incident, which includes the board’s chair Jennifer Homendy.

Ryan Ewing
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  • Ryan Ewing

    Ryan founded AirlineGeeks.com back in February 2013 and has amassed considerable experience in the aviation sector. His work has been featured in several publications and news outlets, including CNN, WJLA, CNET, and Business Insider. During his time in the industry, he's worked in roles pertaining to airport/airline operations while holding a B.S. in Air Transportation Management from Arizona State University along with an MBA. Ryan has experience in several facets of the industry from behind the yoke of a Cessna 172 to interviewing airline industry executives. Ryan works for AirlineGeeks' owner FLYING Media, spearheading coverage in the commercial aviation space.

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