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Alaska Airlines grounds 737 Max 9 planes after section blows out mid-air [VIDEO]

On Friday, a passenger plane in the US state of Oregon had to make an emergency landing after losing a portion of its fuselage in midair.

Thirty-five minutes into the Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 Max 9 flight to California, an outside portion, including a window, fell, forcing the aircraft to return to Portland.

According to Alaska, all 177 passengers and crew members “landed safely” on board.

The airline announced that in order to do inspections, it would “temporarily” halt all 65 of its 737 Max 9 aircraft.

Alaska Airlines grounds 737 Max 9 planes after section blows out mid-air

CEO of Alaska Airlines Ben Minicucci stated in a statement that “each aircraft will be returned to service only after completion of full maintenance and safety inspections.”

Mr. Minicucci commended the six crew members for their efforts on the flight, which had increased to over 16,000ft (4,876m) when it began its emergency descent, according to flight tracking data.

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Images sent to news outlets show the night sky visible through the gap in the aircraft’s fuselage, with insulation material and other debris also seen.

Other pictures show the seat closest to the affected section, a window seat that passengers said was unoccupied, leaning forward without its cushion.

“My heart goes out to those who were on this flight – I am so sorry for what you experienced,” Mr Minicucci said.

“I am so grateful for the response of our pilots and flight attendants.”

Oxygen masks deployed during the incident, which began at 16,000 feet shortly after take off
According to photograph on social media of the outside of the plane, the affected area was in the back third of the plane, behind the wing and engines.

The section of fuselage involved appears to be an area that can be used as an additional emergency exit door by some operators of the aircraft type, but not by Alaska.

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The US Federal Aviation Agency confirmed the Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 “returned safely… after the crew reported a pressurization issue”.

Boeing said it was aware of the incident and was “working to gather more information”.

“A Boeing technical team stands ready to support the investigation,” it said.

National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) confirmed it is investigating the incident.

The Boeing 737 Max has been described as “the most scrutinized transport aircraft in history” after a series of safety issues and investigations.

The Max was grounded in March 2019 for a year-and-a-half after two of the type crashed in similar circumstances, killing those on board.

To fly again, each Max plane underwent significant modifications, although the changes would not be visible from the outside and passengers would not notice any difference.

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More recently, Boeing said it would increase the pace of 737 Max deliveries after resolving a supply error that required it to conduct lengthy inspections of new planes and its inventory, Reuters news agency reported.

About 1,300 737 Max aircraft have been delivered to customers, Boeing data shows.

Last month, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) urged airlines to inspect Max models for a possible loose bolt in rudder control systems

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