The NTSB chair said the Alaska Airlines flight that had a door rip off could have been "more tragic."
NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy said the passengers were "fortunate" no one was seated next to the door.
Homendy also noted that the plane was not at cruising altitude yet, so most people were seated.
The National Transportation Safety Board said the Alaska Airlines flight that lost a door mid-flight could have been "much more tragic."
At a news conference on Saturday, NTSB chair Jennifer Homendy said things could have gone much worse during the flight if people were seated next to the door that dislodged from the plane.
"We are very, very fortunate here that this didn't end up in something more tragic," the NTSB chair said. "No one was seated in 26A and 26B, where that door plug is."
Alaska Airlines flight 1282 from Portland to Ontario, California Jennifer Homendy returned to the airport in Portland after a "mid-cabin door plug" broke away from the plane, resulting in "rapid decompression," according to Homendy.
Homendy added that this was a "pretty terrifying event" for those on board, noting that "we don't often talk about psychological injury, but I'm sure that occurred here."
"The masks r down; I am so scared right now; Please pray for me; Please I don't want to die," she messaged them, according to the now-deleted TikTok.
Homendy said the passengers were fortunate that the plane was at only around 16,000 feet in the air and only 10 minutes from the airport when the door blew, so most people were still seated.
"Think about what's happening when you're up in cruise," Homendy said. "Everybody's up and walking, folks don't have seatbelts on, they're going to restrooms, the flight attendants are providing service to passengers. We could have ended up with something so much more tragic."
The NTSB is investigating what went wrong that caused the chunk of the plane to break away, headed by lead investigator John Lovell.
"Our goal, always, is to save lives so at the end of our investigation we issue safety recommendations that are aimed at preventing tragedies from reoccurring," Homendy said.
The Federal Aviation Administration announced on Saturday that it is grounding 171 Boeing 737 Max 9 planes until they can be inspected. Each inspection will take around eight hours to complete, the agency said in a statement on X, formerly known as Twitter.
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