An Alaska Airlines flight made an emergency landing at Portland International Airport in Oregon on Friday night after experiencing what federal authorities described as an air pressure problem that passengers said caused a piece of air to explode. of the fuselage.

The airline said Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 had made a safe emergency landing with 171 passengers and six crew members after returning to Portland airport shortly after takeoff for Ontario, California. The crew reported a “pressurization issue” before landing, the Federal Aviation Administration said. he said in a separate statement.

One passenger, Vi Nguyen of Portland, said she woke up to a loud sound during the flight. She then saw a large hole in the side of the plane.

“I open my eyes and the first thing I see is the oxygen mask right in front of me,” said Nguyen, 22. “And I look to the left and the wall on the side of the plane is gone.”

“The first thing I thought was: ‘I’m going to die,’” he added.

Her friend, Elizabeth Le, 20, said she had also heard “an extremely loud pop.” When she looked up, she saw a huge hole in the wall of the plane about two or three rows away, she said.

He told her that no one was sitting in the window seat next to the missing fuselage, but that a teenager and his mother were sitting in the middle and aisle seats. Flight attendants helped them to the other side of the plane a few minutes later, she said. The boy seemed to have lost his shirt somehow. and his skin looked red and irritated, he added.

“It was honestly horrible, I almost broke down, but I realized I needed to stay calm,” she said.

There were announcements over the public address system, but none were audible because the wind hitting the plane was so strong, he said. After the plane landed, paramedics came aboard to ask if anyone was injured, she added. A man sitting in the row immediately behind the hole said he had hurt his foot.

Ms Le said the passengers were not given an explanation of what had happened. In a video she took of the flight, she can hear passengers applauding after landing. “Oh my God,” someone says.

The plane was a Boeing 737 Max 9, according to Flight reported, a flight tracking website. The airline, the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board said they were investigating what happened.

Ms. Nguyen, who was traveling with her friends, said that after landing they had been told they could board another flight to Ontario that same night.

Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 took off for Ontario International Airport at 5:07 p.m., according to Flight reported, and was diverted back to Portland six minutes later. She reached a maximum altitude of about 16,000 feet, when her speed was recorded at more than 440 miles per hour, and she landed in Portland at 5:27 p.m.

Boeing said in a statement that it was “aware of the incident involving Alaska Airlines Flight 1282,” adding: “We are working to gather more information and are in contact with our airline customer.”

The 737 Max has come under scrutiny by authorities in recent years. In December, Boeing urged airlines to inspect all 737 Max planes for a possible loose bolt in the rudder control system after an international airline discovered a bolt with a missing nut during routine maintenance. Alaska Airlines said at the time that it expected to complete inspections of its fleet in the first half of January.

That was another development in what has been a troubled history for the plane, a single-aisle cargo plane that was designed for short and intermediate distances.

In 2018, Lion Air Flight 610 crashed into the ocean off the coast of Indonesia, killing all 189 passengers and crew members. Less than five months later, in 2019, Ethiopian Flight 302 crashed shortly after taking off from the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, killing all 157 people on board.

The two accidents led regulators around the world to ground the Max. Boeing made changes to the plane, including the flight control system behind the crashes, and the Federal Aviation Administration cleared it to fly again in late 2020. In 2021, the company agreed to a $2.5 billion settlement with the Department of Justice, resolving a criminal case. allegation that Boeing conspired to defraud the FAA

Mark Walker contributed with reports.