Airplane Accident Attorney
You have probably heard in the news about the Alaska Airlines incident, where the door plug fell off of a commercial airplane. A recent development in the situation is that some of the passengers who were aboard at the time are filing a class action lawsuit against both Alaska Airlines and Boeing.
On January 5th, 2024, Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 (a Boeing 737 Max 9 model) departed from the Portland International Airport. A few minutes after takeoff, while the plane was still climbing in altitude, the door plug for the fuselage blew off. Passengers heard a loud bang, the plane jolted, and there was a strong whoosh of air. When this shocking event occurred, it immediately depressurized the cabin. Oxygen masks dropped down, and the passengers had to put them on to breathe. The passengers on the plane were exposed to the frigid, open-air 16,000 feet above the ground, according to a statement from the National Transportation Safety Board.
The plane was forced to make an emergency landing at the Portland, Oregon International Airport. Thankfully, it was able to land safely.
Although none of the passengers were seriously injured in the incident, four passengers (two Washingtonians and two Californians) are being represented in a complaint against both Alaska Airlines and Boeing. Although nobody was physically injured, the trauma and terror from the door flying off the plane cannot be understated. The victims who are suing the companies allege that they suffered from intense anxiety, fear, distress, physical pain, and trauma. The complaint says, “Plaintiffs feared the gaping hole in the fuselage, rapid depressurization, and general havoc was a prelude to the plane’s destruction and their own likely death.”
It is no exaggeration to say that many people aboard the plane thought that they were going to die. Passengers on the plane were texting their family members and friends to tell them that they loved them in case they couldn’t talk to them again. One plaintiff reported thinking that it was the end for them. It’s likely that many of the passengers on Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 will be unable to travel by plane again.
The lawsuit claims that the plane had a faulty door plug, and although management from Alaska Airlines knew that it was unsafe, they kept flying it anyway. ABC News conducted an interview on January 7th, 2024, with the NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy. She said that Alaska Airlines pilots had reported three times that the plane had pressurization alerts. However, the problem was brushed off as being benign. Although maintenance tests were carried out, the plane was put back into use again. However, the aircraft was restricted from flying over water. The plane had been operating since Halloween, October 31st.
Although it is too soon to know exactly what caused the door plug to fail, NTSB’s investigation continues. At the end of the day, Boeing is responsible for making sure their planes are safe, and airlines are responsible for making sure their passengers are safe on their flights. Because of this, the lawsuit is seeking damages for negligence against the two companies. The suit also cites the Washington Product Liability Act, saying that Boeing’s plane was unreasonably defective and dangerous.
After the incident happened, Alaska Airlines grounded its Max 9 planes. The company had no comments about the lawsuit. Boeing also had no comment. However, the Federal Aviation Administration is increasing oversight over Boeing production in the wake of the incident. They grounded about 171 Boeing 737 Max 9 planes all over the world. They began an audit of Boeing’s manufacturing and production.
The company that produces the fuselage (main body of the aircraft) for Boeing 737 Max 9 planes is Spirit AeroSystems. They were not named as a defendant in the class-action lawsuit. Spirit AeroSystems says that they are committed to supporting the audit of Boeing’s suppliers and production lines to ensure that everything is in compliance with the FAA Quality Management System. Spirit Aerosystems stated that they prioritize quality, compliance, and product integrity.
The CEO of Boeing, Dave Calhoun, said that the company acknowledges their mistake. In a meeting with employees at the production facility in Renton, Washington, he said that they are going to approach what happened with transparency at every step of the process. They are also going to work with NTSB while they investigate what caused the accident.
The fact of the matter is that the accident could have ended up being much worse. If the conditions were slightly different, people could have easily died. The two seats right next to the dog plug that flew off were empty. There were only five other seats on the whole plane that didn’t have passengers in them.
Another factor that prevented the incident from being catastrophic was that the plane was still climbing and was only 16,000 feet in the air. This was about ten minutes into the flight, and passengers were still wearing their seatbelts. The pressure difference at 16,000 feet is very different from 35,000 feet, an altitude at which planes frequently fly. If the door came off at that height, passengers could have been seriously injured or sucked out of the plane.
Alaska Airlines offered refunds to the passengers that were on the flight, as well as an additional $1,500 to cover any inconveniences the incident caused. However, this likely won’t be enough to compensate for a lifetime of trauma from what happened. In cases such as this, it is important that the at-fault parties are held accountable. If they are allowed to get off with a slap on the wrist, then they could continue to act in a negligent manner and hurt more people.
Seattle Injury Law handles a wide variety of cases, from common car accidents to even aircraft accidents. When someone causes harm with their negligent actions (such as ignoring issues and continuing to operate a commercial airplane), justice needs to be pursued. It’s important to remember that damages don’t just include physical injuries but also emotional harm that the accident caused. Seattle Injury Law’s personal injury attorneys recover full compensation for our clients’ damages.
Contact Our Offices Now!