Ramp worker dents plane, causes emergency landing

A foot-long hole in the fuselage of an Alaska Airlines jet caused the plane to lose cabin pressure, forcing the crew to make an emergency descent from 26,000 feet and return to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, authorities said Tuesday.

“There was a bang and the oxygen masks fell down… and I knew at that point that something was wrong,’ [passenger Damon] Zwicker said.

The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration were investigating, along with the airline and the Port of Seattle.

A ramp worker has acknowledged he failed to immediately report striking the plane at the gate Monday with a baggage cart or baggage-belt machine, NTSB spokesman Jim Struhsaker said.

The worker told the agency that although the vehicle touched the plane, he was not aware he had dented it, Struhsaker said.

The bump created a crease in the plane’s aluminum skin, which opened up into a 12- by 6-inch gash as the plane came under increased pressure at 26,000 feet, Struhsaker said.

Alaska Flight 536 left the airport for Burbank just before 4 p.m. Monday. The flight crew reported a loss of cabin pressure about 20 minutes later, Boren said. Oxygen masks deployed for passengers and the plane made a rapid descent, landing at Sea-Tac just before 5 p.m., she said. — KOMO

The unnamed ramp worker is today’s stupid person of the day for causing fear, panic, an emergency landing, and repairs (and subsequently, passenger delays) all because he failed to do his job.

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