An Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 Max 9 suffered a “pressurisation issue” after a window and parts of the fuselage blew out shortly after take-off.
The incident occurred shortly after the aircraft (N704AL) departed Portland, Oregon on 5 January as flight 1282 bound for Ontario, California.
According to flight tracking data, the aircraft, which was carrying 171 passengers and six crew members, took off from Portland at around 17:06 local time, reaching a maximum altitude of around 16,300ft. It made an emergency landing back at Portland at around 17:26.
Alaska says the aircraft landed safely and that there were no reports of injuries. It adds: “The safety of our guests and employees is always our primary priority, so while this type of occurrence is rare, our flight crew was trained and prepared to safely manage the situation.”
Social media footage shows a chunk of the aircraft’s left side wall missing, with oxygen masks deployed. Local media footage suggest it was the aircraft’s deactivated mid-aft door that blew out.
In separate statements, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) are investigating the incident.
The FAA adds that the aircraft “returned safely…after the crew reported a pressurisation issue”.
Boeing says it is “working to gather more information” and is contact with Alaska. The airframer adds: “A Boeing technical team stands ready to support the investigation.”
According to Cirium fleets data, the aircraft (MSN67501) is less than three months old, having been delivered to Alaska in mid-October 2023. The jet, which seats 178 passengers, is powered by two CFM International Leap-1B28 engines.
Alaska has a fleet of 65 Max 9s in service, with another 27 examples on order. The airline also has a sole Max 8 in service, as well as commitments for nine Max 8s and 43 Max 10s.
The incident comes about a week after Boeing urged airlines to inspect 737 Max jets for a potentially loose bolt in the type’s rudder control system. The FAA, which is closely monitoring the inspections, said it would consider taking further actions “based on any discovery of loose or missing hardware”.