Boeing Faces Class Action Lawsuit For “Terrified Passengers” on Alaska Airlines Flight 1282

Cellphones, headrests and even a boy's shirt were ripped out of the plane when a door plug suddenly failed, traumatizing passengers both physically and mentally, according to a class action lawsuit against Boeing.

A group of passengers who were on Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 last week, when part of the fuselage on the Boeing 737 Max 9 blew out mid-flight, have filed a class action lawsuit against the plane’s manufacturer, after federal regulators grounded part of the air fleet due to safety concerns.

On January 5, just a few minutes after taking off from Portland, Oregon, a door plug on Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 blew off the side of the plane, depressurizing the cabin. Oxygen masks dropped from the ceiling and some passengers’ ears began to bleed, causing intense fear and anxiety until the plane made an emergency landing, according to the recently filed lawsuit.

Shortly after the incident, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grounded the entire 737 Max 9 fleet until it could determine if the planes were safe for air travel, and serious concerns have been raised about the safety of the aircraft.

Class Action Lawsuit For Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 Passengers

Seven passengers of Flight 1282 filed a complaint (PDF) in Washington State Superior Court in King County on January 11, naming The Boeing Company as the defendant, and seeking class action status against the aerospace company to pursue damages for all passengers.

Subsequent evaluations of similar aircraft have revealed a number of planes that appear to have loose bolts in the area where the door blew out, which may have contributed to the Alaska Airlines accident. In response, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued an Emergency Airworthiness Directive (AD), grounding more than 170 planes.

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According to the lawsuit, there were 171 passengers and six crew aboard the flight when the door plug blew out, and the plane violently depressurized. The change in air pressure ripped a shirt off of a boy, sucked cellphones out into midair, damaged seats and left passengers physically and emotionally traumatized, the lawsuit states.

“The pressure change made ears bleed and combined with low oxygen, loud wind noise and traumatic stress made heads ache severely,” the lawsuit states. “Passengers were shocked, terrorized and confused, thrust into a waking nightmare, hoping they would live long enough to walk the earth again.”

The lawsuit claims that Boeing delivered the plane to Alaska Airlines without properly securing the plug to the airframe, and one or more of the bolts may have been defective from the time the aircraft was manufactured.

Just days before, on December 28, the FAA had announced it was “closely monitoring targeted inspections” of the Boeing 737 Max planes due to concerns about possible loose bolts on the rudder control system.

After the incident, the FAA grounded all of the planes, and they currently remain out of service.

The lawsuit comes despite a $1,500 payment made by Alaska Airlines to all Flight 1282 passengers. However, plaintiffs say it is Boeing that bears responsibility for the accident, their injuries and their trauma.

Plaintiffs present a claim against Boeing of construction defect, seeking relief for all passengers on board.

Boeing 737 Max Problems

This is not the first time the Boeing 737 Max has been linked to serious problems.

Boeing’s 737 MAX jet was introduced as a passenger airliner in January 2016, but was temporarily grounded by the FAA in March  2019, following two deadly crashes within a five months, which killed 346 passengers and crew members combined.

The first Boeing 737 accident occurred on October 29, 2018, when Lion Air Flight 610 went down after departing from Jakarta, Indonesia airport, killing all passengers and crew.  Investigators determined that the pilots struggled for 11 minutes to keep the plane in the air, likely due to a problem with the plane’s Angle of Attack sensor, which kept forcing the nose of the plane down, with the pilots unable to shut it off.

A second crash occurred involving another Boeing 737 Max which crashed just minutes into its flight on March 10, 2019, killing all 157 passengers and crew on board Ethiopian Airline Flight 302. The entire 737 Max fleet was grounded worldwide shortly after.

Both crashes were initially attributed to the aircrafts’ angle of attack system, which is the attitude of the wings in relation to airflow. When air flows over the wings at the correct angle, you get lift, which is what makes a plane fly. If the air is not flowing over the wings properly, the plane can stall, which occurs when it loses lift and begins to fall out of the sky.

In court documents, Boeing admitted it deceived the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) about the 737 Max’s Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), which led to a lack of information about the system. This resulted in a corresponding lack of information in airplane and pilot training manuals which could have been key in preventing both accidents, federal prosecutors claimed.

Boeing agreed to pay the Justice Department a $243.6 million criminal penalty, as well as $1.77 billion in compensation for airline customers and a $500 million fund for families of individuals who died in the crashes.

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