PORTLAND, Ore. – Alaska Airlines C.E.O. Ben Minicucci told NBC in his first interview, since a panel blew out in the sky, causing a plane to have to turn around and landed Portland International Airport, “It makes you mad that we’re finding issues like that on brand new airplanes.”
The Alaska Airlines leader says many of the airline’s Boeing 737 MAX 9 aircraft were found to have loose bolts. They’ve inspected the aircraft since the incident on January 5th, when a flight took off from Portland intended to go to Ontario, California. Instead had to make an emergency landing because a door plug on the plane blew out about 15 minutes into the flight. That left a gaping hole and causing rapid decompression.
There were no serious injuries.
“There were only seven open seats. We had a guardian angel, honestly, on that airplane, and I just want to take, a moment here to say how sorry I am for our guests on Flight 1282 for what they experienced. It was just a terrifying flight. And also to thank our crew, the amazing professionalism and skill of our crew,” said Minicucci.
The FAA grounded all 737 MAX 9s and launched a safety investigation. So did the National Transportation Safety Board. Its investigators came to Portland shortly after the incident.