Alaska Airlines Boeing MD-80 Hole Forces Landing
Wire services are reporting that a 12 inch hole in the fuselage of an Alaska Airlines Boeing MD-80 caused the plane to decompress and the crew to execute a precautionary landing on Monday, December 26, 2005.
The incident flight, Alaska Airlines flight 536, is normally scheduled for a 3:00 pm (local) departure from Seattle, Washington (SEA), with arrival in Burbank, California (BUR), at 5:22 pm (local).
The wire reports state that 20 minutes into the flight classic signs of cabin pressure loss began with ears popping and oxygen masks deploying. Airline spokeswoman Caroline Boren was quoted as saying that none of the 140 passengers or 5 crew were hurt.
Jim Struhsaker, a spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), is quoted as saying a ramp worker admitted striking the aircraft with baggage handling equipment at Seattle-Tacoma but claiming he (the worker) was unaware of causing any serious damage.
Struhsaker said that impact area failed under pressure while the aircraft was at 26,000 feet, opening a 12 inch by 6 inch hole. The ramp worker was not employed directly by Alaska Airlines, according to the wire story.
As one might expect, the hole was located in the cargo compartment, well below the passenger cabin. Alaska's spokeswoman Boren said the plane was being repaired and should be back in service in a few days.
Alaska Airlines operates a fleet of 26 Boeing MD-80 aircraft.