O Alaska Airlines’ Boeing 737 Max 9 had already had problems during flights days before Friday’s incident, in which it lost a window and part of the fuselage, which led the company to impose restrictions on flights with that aircraft, an investigation reveals.
According to the National Transport Safety Board (NTSB), cited by the BBC, pilots reported that depressurization warning lights were activated on three flights prior to the incident.
Thus, Alaska Airlines stopped using the aircraft on long-haul flights that flew over water. This decision allowed the plane “to be able to very quickly return to an airport” if the warnings happened again, added Jennifer Homendy, NTSB agency leader.
Homendy added, however, that it is unclear whether there is a link between the issues that led to these warnings and what caused the January 5 explosion.
It is recalled that an Alaska Airlines plane made an emergency landing on Friday night in Portland, in the northwest of the United States, after a window and a piece of the fuselage fell out.
The airline said the plane landed safely with 174 passengers and six crew members.
The hole caused the cabin to depressurize, but the company did not provide information on whether anyone was injured or the possible cause.
It should also be noted that Alaska Airlines said it canceled 170 flights scheduled with Boeing 737 Max 9 planes, more than a fifth of the planned connections, while United Airlines indicated the cancellation of 180 flights on Sunday, despite having managed to use another type of devices.
The 737 Max 9″ have been removed from service until confirmed with the FAA [Administração Federal da Aviação] details on possible additional maintenance work,” Alaska Airlines said in a statement.
Alaska Airlines and United Airlines are the only U.S. airlines using Boeing Max 9 aircraft.
On Saturday, the FAA had issued a directive ordering 171 737 Max 9 planes to undergo an “immediate inspection” by the airlines that use them “before undertaking a new flight”, with the operation estimated to take between four and eight hours per aircraft.
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