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What to know about the Alaska Airlines 737 Max 9 jet that suffered a blowout

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NEW YORK — An emergency landing by an Alaska Airlines jetliner has prompted U.S. federal authorities to ground some Boeing 737 Max 9 aircraft, adding another episode to the troubled history of Boeing’s Max lineup of jets.

Here is what to know about the Max 9 plane involved, and what comes next.

WHAT HAPPENED?

An Alaska Airlines jetliner blew out a portion of its fuselage seven minutes after takeoff 3 miles (4.8 kilometers) above Oregon Friday night, forcing the pilots to make an emergency landing. None of the 171 passengers or six crew were seriously injured but the rapid loss of cabin pressure caused oxygen masks to drop from the ceiling. National Transportation Safety Board Chair Jennifer Homendy said the two seats next to the part that tore off were unoccupied.

HOW ARE FEDERAL AUTHORITIES RESPONDING?

The Federal Aviation Administration ordered the grounding of some Boeing Max 9 operated by U.S. airlines or flown into the country by foreign carriers until they are inspected. The emergency order affects about 171 planes worldwide.

The NTSB has begun an investigation that is likely to last months and focus on the paneled-over exit door that blew off. The so-called door plug is installed on some jets with fewer seats instead of an emergency exit panel. The jets ordered grounded by the FAA all have those panels installed.

Authorities are still searching for the door plug, which likely landed near Oregon Route 217 and Barnes Road in the Cedar Hills area west of Portland.

HOW ARE AIRLINES RESPONDING?

Alaska Airlines has grounded its entire fleet of 65 Max 9s for inspections and maintenance. The airline initially kept 18 of its Max 9s in service Saturday because they had received in-depth inspections as part of recent maintenance checks. But the airline pulled those jets from service Saturday night to comply with an FAA directive for all operators of Max 9s to conduct specific inspections.

Alaska Airlines said the groundings said it had canceled 170 Sunday flights, affecting 25,000 passengers, and expects cancelations to continue through the first half of the week. The airline has said passengers whose flights are canceled will be moved the next available flight but they can also request a change or a refund without incurring fees under a flexible travel policy.

United Airlines, the world’s biggest operator of Max 9s, grounded its entire fleet of 79 Max 9s and is seeking to “clarify the inspection process and requirements for returning” them to service….

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