Boeing Max 9 Plane Had Been Barred From Long Flights Over Water

The Alaska Airlines plane that lost a piece of its fuselage in midair on Friday was not being used in long flights over water because a pressurization warning light had gone off during three recent flights, the National Transportation Safety Board said on Sunday.

Jennifer Homendy, the board’s chairwoman, said it was too soon to say whether the issue had played a role in the Friday incident, which led to the grounding of 171 Boeing 737 Max 9 planes in the United States. “It is certainly a concern and it’s one that we want to dig into,” Ms. Homendy said at a news conference in Portland, Ore.

She said Alaska Airlines maintenance workers had been instructed to determine why the warning light had repeatedly gone off, but the work was not done before the flight on Friday. Instead, Ms. Homendy said, workers reset the system and the plane was put back into service, though the airline restricted it from being used on flights to destinations like Hawaii.

She said the safety board was trying to get more information about what had happened during the three flights when the light went off, all of which had taken place since Dec. 7.

The Friday incident on Alaska Airlines Flight 1282, bound for Ontario, Calif., occurred at an altitude of 16,000 feet and forced the pilots to return to Portland International Airport soon after takeoff. None of the 171 passengers and six crew members aboard were seriously hurt, but they were exposed to howling winds from the hole in the fuselage as pilots made the emergency landing.


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