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IPFS News Link • Transportation: Air Travel

Fatal crashes, a grounded fleet and claims of missed safety checks...


Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 was only six minutes into its journey from PortlandOregon, to the small city of Ontario, California. It was still climbing when disaster struck at 16,000 ft.

With a loud bang, a door 'plug' — a section of the fuselage that 'plugged' the space where an emergency exit would be — suddenly and violently blew out, leaving a gaping hole in the side of the plane.

As freezing winds whipped into the cabin of the plane, a Boeing 737 Max 9, the rapid loss of pressure was enough to blow open the cockpit door and jolt the first officer forward, knocking off her headset.

Back in the cabin, a 15-year-old boy sitting near the hole lost the shirt off his back, sucked out of the plane as his mother clung to him. Phones, earbuds and hats as well as seat headrests followed.

Terrified, the 171 passengers struggled to put on oxygen masks that had dropped down as the plane lurched unsteadily and the pilot headed back to Portland for an emergency landing.

Nicholas Hoch, 33, an architect going to meet his girlfriend, was among many passengers who had no idea what had occurred last month. 'Something bad's happening, something wrong is going on, it's not right,' he said later. 'That's where the fear set in, and I started getting really scared.'

An 'eerie silence' descended on the cabin, he added, as the masks prevented anyone from talking. Many, convinced they were going to die, used the plane's wifi to send hurried farewell messages to loved ones.

Incredibly, nobody was seriously injured, but it had very nearly been a catastrophe.

If the flight had been further into the journey and at a higher altitude, the 'pressure differential' between the cabin and outside would have been much greater. Passengers would also have been walking around the cabin. Many would have been sucked out of the hole or failed to get back to their seats in time to breathe oxygen.

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