PORTLAND, Oregon – Boeing is facing a class-action lawsuit filed on Thursday over an emergency landing incident involving an Alaska Airlines flight last week. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of six passengers and a relative in King County Superior Court in Washington state, where Boeing is headquartered. The lawsuit alleges that the incident physically injured some passengers and emotionally traumatized all onboard.
On January 5, Alaska Airlines Flight 1282, a Boeing 737 Max 9, was forced to make an emergency landing in Portland, Oregon, after a portion of the fuselage blew out midair just minutes after takeoff. The plane was able to return safely to Portland International Airport, and while several people sustained minor injuries, there were no serious injuries reported.
According to the lawsuit, the cockpit door blew open during the event, causing a flight attendant to rush and try to close it. The rapid pressure change resulted in bleeding ears, low oxygen, loud wind noise, and severe headaches for passengers. The lawsuit describes the experience as a waking nightmare, as passengers were shocked, terrorized, and confused.
The lawsuit holds Boeing responsible for the safety of the design and maintenance instructions of the aircraft. It also references comments made by Boeing CEO David Calhoun, who admitted that the company made a mistake regarding the incident. The lawsuit alleges that the plug covering the door was not properly secured to the fuselage during manufacturing.
Spirit AeroSystems, the manufacturer of the blown-out door plug, which was a former manufacturing unit of Boeing, is facing a separate federal class-action lawsuit for sustained quality failures in its products. All 171 Boeing 737 Max 9s with a plug door have been grounded by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) until they can be deemed safe to return to operation.
In response to the incident, the FAA announced that it was launching an investigation into whether Boeing failed to ensure the jet conformed to its design and whether its aircraft were in a condition for safe operation. Despite the severity of the event, NTSB chair Jennifer Homendy stated that no one was seated in the two adjoining seats closest to the detached door plug.
The lost door plug was discovered in the backyard of a high school physics teacher, and two cell phones that were sucked out of the plane were also found on the ground. NTSB investigators are focusing on four unaccounted-for bolts that should have kept the door panel from flying off during the flight.
United Airlines and Alaska Airlines, the only U.S. carriers operating the 737 Max 9, have reported loose hardware on their grounded planes. United believes the loose hardware is an installation issue, which would be the manufacturer’s responsibility.
In conclusion, Boeing is facing a class-action lawsuit over the emergency landing incident involving an Alaska Airlines flight. The lawsuit alleges physical injuries and emotional trauma for the passengers. The investigation into the incident by both the FAA and NTSB is ongoing.