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Alaska Airlines flight forced to make emergency landing after window blows out in mid-air

Alaska Airlines flight makes emergency landing after panel blows out mid-air
Alaska Airlines flight makes emergency landing after panel blows out mid-air 02:29

An Alaska Airlines flight traveling from Portland, Oregon, to Ontario, California, had to make an emergency landing Friday night after a portion of the aircraft blew out mid-air. 

Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 left Portland International Airport at 4:52 p.m. Pacific Standard Time, according to the public flight tracking website FlightAware. The aircraft returned to Portland and landed safely a little before 5:30 p.m.

Social media video obtained by CBS News appeared to show that one of the passenger window panels had been blown out.

Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 was forced to return to Portland, Oregon after what authorities described as a "pressurization issue." strawberrvy | Instagram

The aircraft reached approximately 16,000 feet about six minutes into the flight before beginning its descent, according to FlightAware.

The jet had 174 passengers and six crew members aboard. In a statement provided to CBS News, Alaska Airlines said that Flight No. 1282 "experienced an incident this evening soon after departure" and "landed safely back" in Portland but did not elaborate.

Immediately after the incident, the pilot radioed to the air traffic controller, declaring that the flight had depressurized.

"We're declaring an emergency," the pilot said. "We do need to come down to 10,000."

The Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement that the crew reported a "pressurization issue." Both the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board said they were launching investigations.   

CBS News learned that the plane, a Boeing 737-MAX 9, had been recently delivered to the airline in October. 

This type of aircraft comes equipped with a rear emergency exit door, used mainly by international airlines, and has a seat configuration that allows for more passengers on the plane. Most U.S. airliners don't use that configuration and design the area to appear as a window from the inside of the aircraft.

In a statement sent to CBS News, Boeing was "working to gather more information" and was in contact with Alaska Airlines.

Late Friday, the airline issued a statement to address the issue, noting their plans to ground all of their Boeing 737-9 aircraft for further inspection. 

"At Alaska Airlines, safety is our foundational value and the most important thing we focus on every day. Following tonight's event on Flight 1282, we have decided to take the precautionary step of temporarily grounding our fleet of 65 Boeing 737-9 aircraft," the statement read. "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."

Boeing said it has a technical team standing by to support the investigation. Alaska Airlines issued a statement on Saturday morning saying they've conducted inspections on a quarter of their 737-9 fleet with "no concerning findings." Aircraft will return to service "as their inspections are completed with our full confidence," the statement said. 

Alaska Airlines chartered a replacement flight following the ordeal to bring passengers from Portland to Ontario. Their flight landed early Saturday at the Ontario International Airport, where they reacted to the jarring incident

"All of a sudden I heard, like, a big bang. I didn't know exactly what was going on," said one woman aboard the flight. "I look up and the oxygen masks were hanging from the ceiling and then I look to my left and there's this huge chunk, part of the airplane just missing. The wind is just extremely loud, there's wind blowing everywhere."

Passengers say that one of the people sitting in the row where the panel blew out was a child. 

"There was a kid in that row, his shirt was sucked off him and out of the plane. His mother was holding onto him to make sure he didn't go with it," a man on the first flight said. 

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