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 January 6, 2024

Alaska Airlines plane makes emergency landing after window blows out during flight

An Alaska Airlines pilot urgently radioed for assistance when a window on its Boeing 737 Max aircraft shattered shortly after takeoff.

The alarming audio recording captured the pilot declaring an emergency, stating, 'Aircraft is now leveling 12,000 in a left turn heading three four zero,' and emphasizing the need for a diversion due to depressurization.

The details

The Boeing 737-9 MAX, operating as Alaska Flight 1282 en route to Ontario, California, experienced a catastrophic failure at 16,000 feet when a deactivated emergency door, used as a regular cabin window, blew out.

The sudden failure led to the cabin's depressurization, causing one boy's shirt to be torn off by the force of rushing air. Passengers witnessed their phones being sucked out into the night sky.

Terrifying footage revealed fliers peering through the exposed fuselage onto the city lights of Portland below in the cabin.

The emergency landing

Despite the dramatic turn of events, all 171 passengers and six crew members on the flight, which had entered service just in November 2023,  escaped injuries.

Boeing, Alaska Airlines and the National Transportation Safety Board have initiated investigations into the incident.

The plane made an emergency landing back in Portland around 40 minutes after takeoff.

Passengers react

Passengers described hearing a loud boom before an unsettling silence fell over the cabin during the emergency landing.

One 20-year-old passenger mentioned the intense noise, resembling ears popping but much louder. While passengers remained calm, the uncertainty of the situation led some to contemplate the possibility of their last moments.

Reports indicate that the seat next to the blown-out window was unoccupied, and the deactivated emergency door, designed to open inwardly, seemed intact.

The Boeing 737, a design originating from the 1960s, faced criticism for integrating large engines onto an outdated airframe instead of opting for a new "clean sheet design." The aircraft's Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) came under scrutiny when faults were discovered. Both the Lion Air and Ethiopian Air crashes revealed that the MCAS erroneously directed the nose downward, leaving pilots unable to override the system.

The latest incident startled the crew and passengers, but the crew's quick response and careful adjustment helped lead to a safe landing. The investigation hopes to determine the cause of the problem, seeking a solution to keep a similar incident from occurring in future flights.

Written By:
Dillon Burroughs

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