Transportation

Passengers’ attorney says Alaska Airlines plane was ‘time bomb’

FILE - An Alaska Airlines Boeing 737-9 Max flies above Paine Field near Boeing's manufacturing facility in Everett, Wash., Monday, March 23, 2020, north of Seattle. A window panel blew out on a similar Alaska Airlines Boeing 737-9 Max seven minutes after takeoff from Portland, Ore., on Friday, Jan. 5, 2023. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
An Alaska Airlines Boeing 737-9 Max flies above Paine Field near Boeing’s manufacturing facility in Everett, Wash., Monday, March 23, 2020, north of Seattle. A window panel blew out on a similar Alaska Airlines Boeing 737-9 Max seven minutes after takeoff from Portland, Ore., on Friday, Jan. 5, 2023. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

An attorney for more than 20 passengers who were on board the Alaska Airlines flight that suffered a midair blowout last month said the plane was “essentially a time bomb” following the National Transportation Safety Board’s (NTSB) preliminary report that found bolts were missing from the jet.

“A plane was delivered by Boeing to Alaska Airlines without four critical bolts, which means the plane was essentially a time bomb. This door plug could have blown off at any time,” attorney Mark Lindquist told Fox News’s “Fox and Friends.”

The NTSB’s preliminary report, released Tuesday, came after a nearly monthlong investigation into what caused a fuselage panel — or door plug — on the Boeing 737 Max 9 aircraft to blow off minutes after the flight took off from Portland, Ore. The report found four bolts used to secure the door plug were missing before the blowout on Jan. 5, NTSB said.

The blowout left a gaping hole on the side of the plane while it was 16,000 feet above Oregon and pilots were forced to make an emergency landing at Portland International Airport.

The pilots on the plane also allegedly did not know how Boeing built the plane and the risks associated with a door plug blowout, Fox News anchor Steve Doocy noted in the segment.

“This is like the Max 8 disaster in that sense, meaning that there was critical information about the plane that pilots did not know. And pilots need to know everything about the plane they’re flying,” Lindquist said.

He was referencing two separate Boeing 737 Max 8 crashes in 2018 that killed everyone on board. Lindquist represented dozens of the victims’ families in those cases.

No serious injuries were reported on the January flight, though several passengers claimed they experienced “havoc, fear, trauma, [and] severe and extreme distress” from the incident, according to Lindquist’s lawsuit against Alaska Airlines and Boeing.

“You’re seeing some common issues like sleeplessness, nightmares, flashbacks,” Lindquist told Fox News. “Some of them have physical injuries, hearing damage. They’ve all been impacted pretty severely to one extent or another. This was a near-death experience for people on the plane.”

Lindquist shared an anecdote from one of his clients, who recently attended a birthday party where a balloon was popped, prompting her to “break down and start sobbing.”

“Trauma like this affects the mind and body in strange ways,” he added. “… People on the plane thought they might be sending their last texts.”

Lindquist initially filed suit on behalf of four passengers last month, seeking damages for personal injuries. More passengers have since joined the suit, bringing his total number of clients to 22.

Lindquist on Wednesday filed an amended lawsuit adding the passengers along with a new claim that there was a “whistling sound” coming from the area of the door plug on a previous flight.

“Passengers apparently noticed the whistling sound and brought it to the attention of flight attendants who reportedly informed the pilot or first officer,” he wrote in a statement, adding no known further action was taken after a pilot checked the cockpit instrument, which read as normal.

The blowout prompted the Federal Aviation Administration to ground the entire 737 Max 9 fleet in the U.S. — 171 aircraft — and launch a probe into the incident in the days that followed the blowout.

The agency last month approved a “thorough inspection and maintenance process” to be performed on each of the grounded aircraft and Alaska Airlines has begun flying some of the jetliners following some completed inspections.

Boeing is also facing a separate suit from shareholders over allegations the company misled them about potential “serious safety lapses,” along with a class-action suit on behalf of six passengers for causing physical and “emotional distress.”

Tags Alaska Airlines Boeing Boeing 737 Max 8 Boeing 737 Max 9 Boeing Max 9

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