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Alaska Airlines lets Virgin America’s Planes Fall Apart, Causes Many Emergencies

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Update: Alaska Airlines has issued a response to our article below by way of a video message acknowledging “cabin air quality” issues over the last few months to its employees. Watch the video and see our update here: Alaska Airlines Confirms Cabin Air Contamination.

Since Alaska Air Group acquired Virgin America and began operating under one certificate the Airbus fleet has seen a different kind of mood lighting: flashes of colored lights from emergency response vehicles during their many unplanned emergency and precautionary landings.

Many of the airlines’ flight attendants and pilots are reporting safety concerns with the Airbus fleet and in some instances are refusing to operate aircraft because of write-ups and maintenance issues that are left unresolved. In the last seven days the airline has experienced two emergency landings due to pressurization issues, on two different aircraft. Additionally, two more aircraft have suffered cabin air contamination just yesterday where passengers are crew are rushed to the hospital and test positive for carbon monoxide poisoning.

Alaska Airlines Flight 1097 departing Washington Dulles bound for Los Angeles diverted to Kansas City citing “acid[sp] smell in rear of cabin.” The flight deck crew explains they tried to remedy the situation by shutting down air-conditioning pack 1, the smell dissipated but then returned causing their diversion. Also yesterday Alaska Airlines flight 1174 from Newark Liberty to San Francisco cancelled because “Crew reported cabin odor on decent. History on this aircraft.” The flight crew reports an incident on the inbound flight 1193 two days prior where the contamination was reported but never looked at and fixed. The same aircraft operating flight 1174 from EWR to SFO also recently experienced a cabin pressure issue in which the airline differed the situation and opted to have the crew fly the aircraft bound for Fort Lauderdale “at a lower altitude.”

It’s unclear why maintenance issues and write ups are being ignored, although Alaska Airlines has made it clear they don’t intend on keeping the Airbus fleet. Sources at the airline disclosed a running list of maintenance problems by aircraft tail number that crews are updating between each other to keep themselves and their co-workers safe (we’ve removed the tail numbers.. for now):

  • Broken Radar
  • Smoke in Cabin
  • Engine Failure
  • Broken Speed Brakes
  • Pressurization Issue, Carbon Monoxide Positive
  • Fume Event
  • Broken Engine (now fixed)
  • Acid Smell
  • Landing Gear Wouldn’t Retract
  • Overwing Exit Missing Screws
  • Burning Plastic Smell in Aft Galley
  • Fume Event (3 Flight Attendants hospitalized)

Report from crews indicate that after a flight crew refuses an aircraft due to safety reasons although the airline honors their request, the airline swaps the aircraft in question to another flight in hopes the crew accepts it for flight. However, due to the running list of issues and concerns above and communication between the crews, the aircraft is usually declined a second time..

Alaska Airlines passengers have taken social media to report the incidents as well:

 

Hopefully the outcry from their passengers and dedicated safety-conscious crewmembers will prompt the airline to look deeper into this concerns and begin to repair the Airbus fleet.

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