Lawsuit expands with new allegations against Boeing, Alaska Airlines over 737 Max 9 panel blowout

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An attorney representing a group of passengers on Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 that suffered a depressurization after a door plug panel blew off a Boeing 737 Max 9 midflight has expanded the lawsuit with new allegations about the incident.

Mark Lindquist, an attorney representing 22 passengers who were on Flight 1282 when the emergency occurred in a lawsuit against Alaska Airlines and Boeing, said the newly amended lawsuit includes a new allegation that passengers on a prior flight of the aircraft heard a whistling sound.

The updated lawsuit says “there was a whistling sound coming from the vicinity of the door plug on a previous flight of the subject plane. Passengers apparently noticed the whistling sound and brought it to the attention of flight attendants who reportedly informed the pilot or first officer.”

It alleges that no known further action was taken “After the pilot checked cockpit instruments, which purportedly read normal.”

NTSB REPORT: MISSING BOLTS FROM DOOR PLUG PLAYED FACTOR IN MIDAIR BLOWOUT OF ALASKA AIRLINES FLIGHT

The expanded lawsuit also cites the preliminary report released by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) on Tuesday, which found the cockpit door was designed to blow out in a depressurization situation and that pilots and crew weren’t informed of this design feature.

“The resulting shock, noise, and communication difficulties contributed to a lack of proper communication between the flight crew and passengers, thereby intensifying confusion and stress,” according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit includes allegations of emotional and physical injuries, including severe stress, anxiety, trauma and hearing damage. More passengers were added to the lawsuit in the amended filing.

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Alaska Airlines and Boeing declined to comment on the pending litigation. 

The door plug blowout and depressurization incident occurred on Jan. 5, when Flight 1282 was climbing after takeoff from Oregon’s Portland International Airport en route to Ontario, California. At about 16,000 feet, the door plug panel – which covers an emergency exit that’s deactivated on planes with lower passenger capacity layouts – blew out, causing the cabin to depressurize.

Some passengers’ items were blown out of the airliner due to the depressurization and empty seats near the hole in the fuselage sustained damage. The plane safely returned to Portland for an emergency landing and no serious injuries were reported.

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After the incident, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grounded 737 Max 9s for further inspections that the regulator carried out with the two U.S. carriers that operate the variant, Alaska and United Airlines.

In late January, Boeing and the FAA finalized inspection protocols that had to be completed prior to the planes returning to service.

The FAA said Monday that 78 of 79 United Alaska Airlines Max 9 planes have been inspected and returned to service. At that time, 57 of 65 Alaska Airlines Max 9 planes had been returned to service, though the airline indicated that inspections were expected to be completed on all of its Max 9 planes – except for the one involved in the emergency – by Tuesday.

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