Alaska Airlines flight makes emergency landing after pressure issue

WASHINGTON – An Alaska Airlines flight with 177 people onboard made an emergency landing in the US state of Oregon on Friday, the airline said, with passengers reporting a plane window panel blown out after takeoff.

Flight 1282 took off from Portland International Airport at around 5pm (0100 GMT Saturday) before returning safely “after the crew reported a pressurization issue,” the Federal Aviation Administration wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

Images posted on social media showed the window panel of a plane blown out, with emergency oxygen masks hanging from the ceiling.

Kyle Rinker, a passenger on the flight, told CNN that a window popped off soon after takeoff.

“It was really abrupt. Just got to altitude, and the window/wall just popped off and didn’t notice it until the oxygen masks came off,” he told the broadcaster.

Another passenger, Vi Nguyen, told The New York Times that a loud noise during the flight had woken her. 

“I open up my eyes and the first thing I see is the oxygen mask right in front of me,” Nguyen told the newspaper. “And I look to the left and the wall on the side of the plane is gone.”

“The first thing I thought was, ‘I’m going to die,’” she added.

The National Transportation Safety Board, FAA and Alaska Airlines each said they were investigating the incident.

“The aircraft landed safely back at Portland International Airport with 171 guests and 6 crew members,” the airline said in a statement.

“While this type of occurrence is rare, our flight crew was trained and prepared to safely manage the situation,” it said.

The Boeing 737 Max 9 plane took off at 5:07pm, heading to Ontario, California, before returning to the airport around 20 minutes later, according to the flight tracking website FlightAware.

It was certified airworthy in October, according to the FAA registry website.

Boeing wrote on X that it was gathering more information and a technical team stood ready to support the investigation. – AFP / pic TMR FILE