NTSB: Blown door from Alaska flight near Barnes Road

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The door that blew off Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 shortly after takeoff from Portland Friday night is believed to be around Barnes Road near Hwy 217 and the Cedar Hills neighborhood.

That’s the information from NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy during a press conference Saturday night that is the first of likely many public briefings over the “terrifying” accident that happened on a Boeing 737 Max 9 with 171 passenger and 6 crew.

Since the NTSB has now assumed the lead role in the investigation, anyone who spots anything is urged to email: witness@ntsb.gov

Shortly after takeoff from Portland to Ontario, California, Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 lost a door mid-cabin at 16,000 feet. The pilot requested an emergency landing back at PDX, and safely landed the plane around 5:30 p.m.

Pilot calmly landed her Alaska Air flight during emergency

Homendy said their first full day of investigation will be Sunday and she said she would not speculate on what caused the mid-cabin door to blow out.

She said “no one was seated in 26A and 26B,” the seats immediately next to the non-operational door. That door, Homendy said, can be opened from the outside but was not operational on this aircraft because of the customer’s request, which is to provide for a little more comfort for travelers.

The headrests are gone from seats 25A and 26A, she said, and there was some clothing in the area.

“It was a very chaotic scene” inside the plane, she said. Although it may not seem this way from the video, “it was very loud” as well.

“Fortunately they were not at cruise altitude of 35,000 feet,” she said. At that altitude, people have unbuckled their seat belts and could have been walking around.

Alaska Air passenger describes ‘trip from Hell’

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg reached out to Homedy to offer help and coordination, and she went out of her way to thank the first responders at the scene, including the Port of Portland and the Portland police.

The lead investigator is John Lovell.

NTSB lead investigator John Lovell, NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy at a press briefing regarding the door that blew off Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 out of Portland, January 6, 2024 (KOIN)
NTSB lead investigator John Lovell, NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy at a press briefing regarding the door that blew off Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 out of Portland, January 6, 2024 (KOIN)

As the investigation begins with other parties including the FAA, Boeing, Alaska Airlines and the pilot and flight attendants associations, Homendy said their focus — at this time — is this particular aircraft.

But she added, “At this stage of the investigation, everything is in. As we are gathering information, we could go very broad or we could hone in on certain aspects.”

There will likely be another press briefing on Sunday and Homendy said she hopes to have more detail on the pressurization, locks and hinges around the door along with safety briefings.

At this time, Homendy said they do not suspect a design flaw.

“We are only focused on this investigation and this airplane. But, again, nothing is out and we will go where the investigation takes us.”

The Associated Press reports the plane involved in Friday’s incident is brand-new — it began carrying passengers in November and has made only 145 flights, according to Flightradar24, a flight-tracking service.

In a statement late Saturday afternoon, Alaska Airlines said, “The aircraft involved in flight 1282 was delivered to us on Oct. 31, 2023. The part of the aircraft involved in this event is called a plug door – a specific panel of the fuselage near the rear of the aircraft.”

  • Alaska Airlines flight headed for Ontario, Calif. diverted back to PDX after a window blew out (Courtesy to KOIN from passenger who want to remain anonymous)
    Alaska Airlines flight headed for Ontario, Calif. diverted back to PDX after a window blew out (Courtesy to KOIN from passenger who want to remain anonymous)
  • Alaska Airlines flight headed for Ontario diverts back to PDX
    Alaska Airlines flight headed for Ontario diverts back to PDX

Alaska Airlines added, “As of 4pm PT today (Saturday), we have cancelled 160 total flights, affecting roughly 23,000 guests. We are identifying necessary cancellations for tomorrow and expect the disruption to last through at least mid-week. A flexible travel policy is in place for guests to change or cancel their flights. Guests should visit alaskaair.com for rebooking options. We are deeply sorry for the disruption this has caused our guests. 

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