Alaska Airlines has canceled all flights on Boeing 737-8 MAX aircraft through January 13 after a mid-air blowout forced an emergency landing in Portland as startled passengers clutched oxygen masks with a gaping hole in the plane.
"We regret the significant disruption that has been caused for our guests by cancelations due to these aircraft being out of service. However, the safety of our employees and guests is our highest priority and we will only return these aircraft to service when all findings have been fully resolved and meet all FAA and Alaska’s stringent standards," the update shared online said.
"As of this morning, we have made the decision to cancel all flights on 737-9 MAX aircraft through Saturday, Jan. 13 while we conduct inspections and prepare fully for return to service," Alaska Airlines continued. "This equates to between 110-150 flights per day. We hope this action provides guests with a little more certainty, and we are working around the clock to reaccommodate impacted guests on other flights."
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This comes after Alaska Airlines already temporarily grounded its fleet of 65 737-9 MAX on January 5 after a door plug detached during flight 1282 from Portland, Oregon, to Ontario, Canada.
"This was a harrowing flight for our guests and crew, and we’re grateful that all individuals have been medically cleared," the airline said.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) spearheaing the investigation of the incident, with the support of Alaska’s safety and technical teams and Boeing representatives.
Alaska Airlines reiterated that three things must be in place prior to beginning inspections: A final Multi-Operator Message (MOM) provided by Boeing, providing inspection details for the 737-9 MAX aircraft as approved by the FAA; and an Alternate Methods of Compliance (AMOC) published by the FAA with details for approval of operators’ inspection processes to ensure compliance with their Airworthiness Directive.
The airline notes as a party to the NTSB investigation, the FAA works to ensure that inspection details address findings that may have surfaced during this process, even if not yet shared with the public. The third item listed is, "Detailed inspection instructions and processes developed by Alaska Airlines for our maintenance technicians to follow to conduct thorough inspections per the FAA’s specifications."