When the six-member crew of the 178-seat Alaska Airlines flight 1282 left Portland headed to Ontario, California, on Jan. 5, they had no idea they would be testing out their emergency training in a real situation.
But when the flight reached about 16,000 feet, the door plug next to seat 26A flew off the Boeing 737-9 Max jet and left a gaping hole in the side of the plane.
All crew members and the 171 passengers on board, including three babies and four unaccompanied minors, survived the harrowing experience with reportedly no major injuries.
The Feb. 6 preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board states four key bolts were missing from the affected area before the plane returned to the airline from the Boeing factory, where work had been done on the door plug.
Boeing’s president and CEO, Dave Calhoun, has taken full responsibility for the accident since the moment it happened.
“We’re going to approach this number one acknowledging our mistake,” he said Jan. 5. “We’re going to approach it with 100% complete transparency every step of the way.”
On Feb. 6, he acknowledged again that Boeing “is accountable for what happened,” adding, “An event like this must not happen on an airplane that leaves our factory. We simply must do better for our customers and their passengers.”
What can we glean from this unusual accident?
- We can express gratitude to the Lord for protecting the passengers because with only seven empty seats on the flight, seat 26A was one of those seven. The result would have been fatal for a passenger sitting in that seat, but it was not assigned to anyone. One reporter said, “It was by sheer luck no one was in that seat.” We know better though; luck had nothing to do with it.
- We can appreciate how Boeing’s CEO took responsibility for the accident without making excuses or passing the blame. While he wasn’t the one who failed to replace the missing bolts — nor the one who failed to inspect the plane carefully enough to realize they were missing — he still took ownership for the mistakes because he is the leader of those who made the mistakes.
- We can realize the importance of our purposes and roles.
In all aspects of life, we matter. Neglecting our responsibilities could be detrimental.