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Flight 261 Special Report



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Tacoma News Tribune



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RELEASED     March 24, 2000
Alaska Airlines Names Aviation Experts To Conduct Safety Audit

Alaska Airlines has named two independent aviation experts with nearly 100 years of combined experience to lead a comprehensive safety audit of all aspects of the airline's operations.

"Each has impeccable credentials and extensive experience," said John F. Kelly, Alaska Airlines chairman and CEO. "I have asked them to go beyond just a traditional audit of records and procedures to ensure we maximize the benefit of their safety expertise. So they will also be looking at what are termed 'best practices' in addition to their detailed review of operations."

Jack Enders, former manager of Aviation Safety Research for NASA and past president and vice chairman of the Flight Safety Foundation, will oversee the audit team. He is president of enders Associates International, an engineering consulting firm that will coordinate all aspects of the audit. The Firm specializes in aviation safety, technology, air traffic control and human factors issues.

Bill Hendricks, a former director of accident investigation for both the FAA and NTSB, will serve as day-to-day project director.

Another ten independent experts will be brought in to provide specific expertise in each of the operating areas -- flight operations, and maintenance & engineering -- as well as in security and hazardous materials handling. In addition, the team has requested that several Alaska Airlines employees from Flight Operations, Maintenance & Engineering, and Customer Services serve as liaisons and provide assistance to the team.

Work is already underway. Team leaders believe they will finalize their report in about eight weeks.

"The team will provide ongoing status reports to me as they proceed, and will then issue a comprehensive summary at the end of the audit," said Kelly of the auditors. "Alaska Airlines has an excellent track record and is blessed with talented, committed people, but we are a firm believer in continuous improvement. And while I think these highly respected experts will find that safety is our number one critical success factor, if they do recommend changes or additions we will act decisively on those recommendations."

Enders has 48 years experience in aviation safety. He is a former Air Force pilot and research engineer and has won numerous awards and citations for his work in research management, safety technology and worldwide aviation safety improvement. He was a NASA research pilot and, subsequently, manager of Aviation Safety Research for NASA for more then 17 years. He also was associated with the Flight Safety Foundation for 15 years. Recently he has been involved in a study of airport landing safety for the Dutch government; and a study of domestic airline safety for the Taiwanese government.

Hendricks, with 47 years experience in avaition, is an independent aviation safety consultant engaged in all aspects of air carrier safety. He is also a pilot certfied to fly multi-engine jet aircraft, indluding the DC-9. He was with the FAA for eight years, serving as director of the Office of Accident Investigation and deputy associate administrator Aviation Standards. Prior to that, he was with the NTSB for 23 years, the last 10 of which he was the chief of the Aviation Accident Division responsible for the investigation of all major aviation accidents in the U.S. Hendricks was a Naval Aviator who commanded four units, including two transport squadrons and a Naval Air Station.

"We're looking for a no-holds-barred examination of everything we do related to the safety of our customers and crews," Kelly said. "And this team will give us that."


RELEASED     March 20, 2000
Alaska CEO John F. Kelly announces new initiatives in light of recent questions regarding maintenance

Alaska Airlines Chairman and Chief Executive Officer John F. Kelly today announced several new initiatives he has ordered in light of recent concerns about the carrier’s maintenance practices.

"Last Thursday, I was shocked to learn that 64 employees had written to tell me that they felt pressured, threatened and intimidated," Kelly said. "They also raised serious allegations regarding maintenance practices here at Alaska Airlines."

"That’s why I have personally ordered these initiatives to address the concerns," he added. "While I’m confident in the system of checks and balances we have in place, if we uncover a problem, I’m going to make sure it gets fixed."

Kelly said the airline and the FAA are continuing to investigate the allegations raised by the 64 maintenance employees in Seattle. Fifty one (51) employees have been interviewed so far, and not a single safety concern warranting any action involving any of our aircraft has been uncovered, he said.

"We have found no evidence that any aircraft was returned to service in an unsafe or unairworthy condition or in violation of any Federal Aviation Regulation," Kelly said. "Despite this scrutiny, I am confident that Alaska Airlines is one of the safest airlines in the business and that its maintenance program is one of the best in the industry."

Kelly announced the following actions:

  • An audit of all operational areas by an independent team of outside safety experts. Members of that team, who will be announced later this week, will report directly to Kelly.
  • The hiring of a vice president of safety who will report directly to Kelly. The process of identifying qualified candidates for the position will begin immediately, he said.
  • Establishment of a "safety hotline" for employees to contact the chairman’s office directly regarding any safety concern.

In addition to those initiatives, Kelly said the airline fully embraces the FAA’s announcement of a comprehensive "white glove" audit, which is scheduled to begin April 3. And he said the carrier will continue to fully cooperate with all federal agencies.

On a parallel front, Kelly said the airline also plans to take steps to address a range of customer service issues that have arisen since the Flight 261 tragedy.

"I want to apologize to our customers for the inconveniences they’ve experienced in recent weeks," Kelly said. "Rest assured, we’re working hard to get things back on track."


RELEASED     March 20, 2000
Recent Third-Party Commentary About Alaska Airlines' Commitment to Excellence

  • The Department of Defense conducts biennial white glove audits of all commercial airlines that have contracts to carry military personnel. In it's most recent audit of Alaska, DOD gave the carrier high marks in all areas. The report, issued in September 1998, stated, "Alaska's continuous analysis and surveillance program provides strong oversight of all maintenance activities. Excellent supervision of the company's internal maintenance functions is provided through a formal internal audit program."
  • In December 1999, the FAA recognized 142 Alaska Airlines aircraft technicians at the carrier's Oakland Maintenance Base for the extensive amount of training they received in 1999. Said Donald Green, the FAA's regional safety program manager, "For a maintenance base with less than 200 employees to complete more than 10,000 hours of training in a single year is truly remarkable. It's a tribute to your dedication to quality and concern for the safety of the traveling public."
  • At the famed Paris Air Show, Alaska Airlines was co-honored with Smith's Industries with the 1999 Flight International Aerospace Industry Air Transport award of excellence for our first-in-the-world integration of advanced avionics systems that expand safety margins, improve schedule reliability, and shorten flight times.
  • In July 1999, NASA's Ames Research Center presented Alaska Airlines with its Group Achievement Award for developing and implementing software that will enhance quality assurance programs of all airlines.
  • Forbes magazine in 1999 selected Alaska Air Group as one of America's "Most Admired Companies."
  • Last week, Alaska Air Group was named one of America's best corporate citizens by Business Ethics magazine. In the March/April issue, the magazine offers up its annual list of what it considers the nation's 100 most socially responsible companies. Companies are evaluated on how they serve four stakeholder groups: employees, stockholders, customers and the community at large. The publication focuses on corporate social responsibility and progressive management practices. Rankings are done by researchers at the Boston College Carroll School of Management using data compiled by the research firm of Kinder, Lydenberg, Domini & Company.
  • In late 1999, readers of Conde Nast Traveler and Travel & Leisure magazines rated Alaska tops in customer service. Travel & Leisure named Alaska "world's best domestic airline," and Traveler - for the 10th straight year - named Alaska best major U.S. carrier.

RELEASED     February 24, 2000
FACTS REGARDING ALASKA’S JACKSCREW LUBRICATION SCHEDULE

In response to questions about a recent Seattle Times article regarding jackscrew lubrication schedules of U.S. MD-80 operators, here are the facts:

  • In May 1996, the manufacturer recommended that new MD-80 operators lubricate the jackscrew every 3,600 flight hours, or every C-check.
  • Carriers that had been MD-80 operators prior to May 1996 fell under a previous set of manufacturer recommendations, which called for lubricating the jackscrew every 600-900 hours. Given that the recommended interval had changed, carriers were allowed to extend the interval based on their maintenance reliability program and provided that the change was approved by the FAA. That’s exactly what Alaska did, and the FAA approved increasing our interval to 2,500 hours.
  • There are 51 MD-80 operators worldwide. The Seattle Times, however, was only able to document jackscrew lubrication intervals for 5 of the 21 U.S. operators. Both Alaska Airlines and US Airways reported intervals of 2,500 hours, while 3 carriers (which the Times misleadingly characterized as "many" carriers) reported intervals of 500 (Airborne Express), 900 (American) and 1,000 (Hawaiian) hours respectively. Meanwhile, one foreign carrier, SAS, reported an interval of 600 hours.
  • Unfortunately, The Times did not provide all the information readers needed to put the lubrication interval in context. First, The Times failed to mention that the interval recommended by the manufacturer for new operators had been 3,600 hours, even though we provided reporters with that information. And second, the paper intimated that "many" operators were lubricating the jackscrew more frequently than Alaska, when the fact is that only four carriers out of 51 reported intervals shorter than Alaska's.
  • In the aftermath of Flight 261, the FAA issued an Airworthiness Directive requiring all U.S. operators to increase the lubrication interval to every 650 hours. However, it’s important to note that neither the NTSB or the FAA have made any determination yet on the cause of the accident. And even The Times itself admits that based on the findings of jackscrew inspections by U.S. carriers, “longer lubrication intervals don’t necessarily relate to increased wear.”

RELEASED     February 17, 2000
LETTER TO THE EDITOR, USA TODAY

Brian Gallagher
Editorial Page Editor
USA TODAY
1000 Wilson Blvd.
Arlington, VA 22209-3901

Dear Mr. Gallagher:

I can’t comprehend what could motivate someone to draw, let alone publish, the cartoon you ran about Alaska Airlines on February 17.

It shows tremendous insensitivity and displays incredibly poor taste. Moreover, it’s just plain inaccurate.

Safety and integrity are at the core of every action we take at Alaska. Not profit. Not schedule reliability. Not now. Not ever. What’s the economic incentive of any airline to operate in an unsafe manner? There isn’t one.

Sadly, the old maxim is true. Your pen is mightier than the sword; it has wounded all 10,040 Alaska Airlines employees, as well as the families and friends of those who perished on Flight 261.

Your cartoon discounts our sterling reputation within the airline industry -- a reputation which has been frequently chronicled on your pages. Our pioneering efforts to develop pinpoint accuracy in navigation using the Global Positioning System is just one example.

Moreover, the cartoon mocks others who have recognized our commitment to flight safety. Our maintenance program has received high marks during white glove audits by the FAA and the Department of Defense.

Your editorial page proclaims "USA TODAY hopes to serve as a forum for better understanding." Yet you have betrayed that standard by deciding to run this cold, cruel and callously unfair cartoon.

Sincerely,

Bill Ayer
President


RELEASED AT 2:15P.M.     February 14, 2000
STABILIZER CHECK ON ALASKA AIRLINES PLANE FOUND EQUIPMENT WELL WITHIN REQUIRED WEAR LIMITS

Contrary to misleading reports in the media, the horizontal stabilizer mechanism of the Alaska Airlines MD-83 involved in the Flight 261 accident was found to be well within wear limit tolerances in a 1997 heavy maintenance check.

A C-5 check was performed on the aircraft (tail number N963AS) on September 29, 1997 at the Alaska Airlines maintenance facility in Oakland. The initial examination of the jackscrew and gimbal nut assembly of the horizontal stabilizer indicated that the endplay of the jackscrew was .040 inch, within allowable limits prescribed by Boeing, the plane's manufacturer who sets those limits.

Boeing's instructions for mechanics performing this check state: "Check that endplay limits are between .003 and .040 inch. Readings in excess of above are cause for replacement of acme jackscrew and nut."

The instructions also state that the measurements should be repeated "several times to ensure consistent results."

The assembly was re-examined on September 30, 1997, indicating that the endplay was .033 -- well within standards. This test was rechecked five additional times to ensure consistency of results and each time the results indicated the endplay was well within standards.

Under the maintenance schedule approved by the FAA and recommended by Boeing, the endplay of the aircraft's jackscrew and gimbal nut assembly is conducted every other C-check and was scheduled to be reexamined on this aircraft in June 2000. The tolerances provided by the manufacturer are designed so that the aircraft can fly safely until its next scheduled inspection.

The instructions for this check are included in Boeing's maintenance manual, and their step-by-step instructions for mechanics. Alaska Airlines used those instructions in its maintenance task card.

This test is one that is routinely signed off on by both a mechanic and an inspector to provide an extra level of scrutiny.

Since the multiple rechecks of the jackscrew and gimbal nut assembly found it to be within specifications, no action was necessary under Boeing's maintenance manual which is approved by the FAA.


RELEASED AT 12:45 P.M.     February 14, 2000
FACTS REGARDING OAKLAND MAINTENANCE INVESTIGATIONS

In recent days, a number of questions have been asked regarding the FAA and U.S. Attorney's Office investigations into maintenance practices in Oakland, Calif.

The following information is meant to clarify Alaska's position on these investigations and reiterate that they have not involved the Alaska Airlines' aircraft involved with Flight 261 on Jan. 31, 2000.

OVERVIEW

  • The Oakland Maintenance Base is the primary location where Alaska performs heavy checks on its Boeing MD-80 fleet. Heavy checks on its Boeing 737 fleet are primarily performed in Seattle.
  • There are two parallel investigations into maintenance practices at Oakland. One was conducted by the Federal Aviation Administration and another is continuing by the U.S. Attorney's Office.
  • Alaska has fully cooperated with both the FAA and the U.S. Attorney's Office in their investigations and has provided all maintenance records either agency has requested during their investigations.
  • When these investigations began, Alaska asked the FAA specifically if any of its aircraft should be grounded and was told by the FAA that it was not necessary.

THE SOURCE OF THE ALLEGATIONS

  • The source of the allegations leveled at the airline is John Liotine, a lead A&P mechanic (Airframe and Powerplant) for Alaska in Oakland. Mr. Liotine is currently on administrative leave, receiving full pay and benefits. He was placed on leave because his presence in the workplace has been disruptive to operations.
  • Mr. Liotine served briefly as president of the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association local in Oakland until he was removed from office by mechanics. Mr. Liotine was passed over for promotion by two of the supervisors he has accused, one of whom started work for Alaska on the same day Mr. Liotine began his employment with the company.
  • Mr. Liotine's allegations generally focus on a final check known as the Post Maintenance Final Run Checklist (PMFRC). This check was developed specifically by Alaska and is above and beyond the manufacturer's required maintenance program. Mr. Liotine did complain to Alaska that the PMRFC should be performed later in the heavy check process. Alaska Airlines was investigating his complaint when the government investigations began.
  • Contrary to Mr. Liotine's assertions, he did not report alleged falsification of documents to the company before going to the FAA.
  • Mr. Liotine contends that Alaska employs too few mechanics and that they are under-compensated. Those claims are untrue.

THE FAA INVESTIGATION

  • Based on Mr. Liotine's allegations, the FAA in Los Angeles has conducted an administrative investigation and proposed a $44,000 fine, alleging that Alaska operated two of its aircraft in an "unairworthy" manner.
  • Alaska learned later from the media that the fine proposed by the FAA investigator contacted by Mr. Liotine was $8.72 million, but was overridden by FAA supervisors and ultimately reduced.
  • Alaska has challenged the proposed fine. The FAA has taken no subsequent action since hearing Alaska's side of the story.

THE U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE INVESTIGATION

  • Based on Mr. Liotine's allegations, the U.S. Attorney's Office in San Francisco is conducting a grand jury investigation related to the allegations reviewed by the FAA. Assisting with the investigation are the FBI and the DOT Office of Inspector General.
  • Two subpoena's have been issued by the U.S. Attorney's Office to date.
  • The first subpoena was issued Dec. 22, 1998 requesting records pertaining to three specific MD-80 aircraft.
  • The second subpoena was issued Nov. 23, 1999 requesting records pertaining to eight additional MD-80 aircraft.

SUMMARY OF ALLEGATIONS

  • Oakland Lead Mechanic John Liotine alleges that during a C-check in November 1998 he discovered a throttle split on an aircraft that was greater than allowed. (A throttle split is the difference between the position of the throttle knobs for the No. 1 and No. 2 engines. A split of up to ½ knob is permitted by the manufacturer.) Records, however, indicate that the throttles were checked twice before Mr. Liotine claimed to find a split and were twice found to be within limits, as reflected on two separate work cards. Mr. Liotine still insisted the throttle split was out of tolerance, but was overruled based on the previous two work cards. Later records confirm that there was no excess throttle split when the aircraft was released into service.
  • Mr. Liotine alleges that the Post Maintenance Final Run Checklist (PMFRC) was falsified during a C-check for an aircraft in October 1998. However, shortly after the check was performed, the PMFRC work card disappeared. A replacement card was prepared. Later, the U.S. Attorney's Office provided Alaska with a copy of the original card, thereby proving that the original card existed and supporting Alaska's belief that the card was illegally removed from the hangar by Mr. Liotine. Almost all information on the replacement card is identical to the original except for a few minor discrepancies.
  • John Gustafson, formerly an Alaska mechanic, alleges that several years ago he was pressured to release an aircraft after it experienced mechanical problems in Spokane, Wash. Mr. Gustafson waited six months to make his allegations, which he asserted for the first time in a letter announcing his departure from the company. An internal investigation conducted in 1997 at the time of his complaint failed to corroborate his allegations.
  • Aside from these instances, Alaska has carefully reviewed the records subpoenaed for the other eight aircraft and has not been able to ascertain from the U.S. Attorney's office why these records were requested.

ALASKA'S SAFETY RECORD

  • Alaska underwent its last National Aviation Safety Inspection Program (NASIP) review by the FAA in 1995. The white glove audit reviewed maintenance, airworthiness, flight operations, security, and hazardous material handling by the airline. The program has since been replaced for the 10 major carriers by the Aviation Transportation Oversight System (ATOS), a program that provides continual assessment of compliance as well as risk assessment.
  • In the fall of 1998, the Department of Defense conducted its biennial safety survey of Alaska's maintenance, engineering, and flight operations divisions and found them to be performing an "exceptional" job. (Alaska is a contract carrier for the U.S. military.)
  • Alaska has received high marks from the FAA Aircraft Certification Office for its level of compliance with the Aircraft Certification Systems Evaluation Program (ACSEP), which reviews major repair data. The last two reviews were conducted in 1997 and 1999.
  • In the February 6 edition of The Los Angeles Times, the newspaper conducted an independent analysis of FAA enforcement actions against the 10 major carriers during the past two decades. According to The Times analysis, Alaska - the 10th largest carrier - had the fewest number of fines for maintenance violations. The carrier also ranked ninth in the total amount of fines paid and sixth in the average amount of fine, according to The Times findings.
  • Alaska has invested heavily in new technology to make flying even safer over the past two decades, and continues to do so today. For instance, in 1989, Alaska became the first airline to use head-up guidance systems during a passenger-carrying flight to improve safety during takeoffs and landings in fog. The central component of the system is the head-up display, which superimposes a holographic image of the approaching runway on a transparent screen positioned between the pilot and the cockpit windshield. And in 1996, Alaska became the first airline in the world to integrate the Global Positioning System (GPS) with the latest in Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System (EGWPS) technology. Together, these two technologies improve navigation approaching pinpoint accuracy and allow pilots to be continuously updated on their location relative to any nearby land mass.

A HIGHLY SKILLED WORKFORCE

  • Aircraft Maintenance Technicians at Alaska Airlines are represented by the Aircraft Mechanics' Fraternal Association (AMFA). Despite Mr. Liotine's allegations that mechanics are not appropriately compensated, Alaska and AMFA officials signed a collective bargaining agreement in June 1999 that assures that their wages and benefits are competitive with those of mechanics at other major U.S. airlines. Although Alaska is the smallest of the 10 major carriers, its mechanics rank fifth overall in starting pay. This agreement also assures that Alaska can continue to afford and retain the highest caliber employees in the industry.
  • Mr. Liotine also alleges that Alaska has been unable to attract and hire additional mechanics in recent years. However, the number of mechanics per aircraft has actually increased. In 1995, Alaska operated 74 aircraft and employed 626 mechanics, or 8.46 mechanics per aircraft. Today, Alaska operates 88 aircraft and employs 775 mechanics, or 8.81 mechanics per aircraft.
  • Additionally, Mr. Liotine alleges that some Alaska mechanics are under qualified. The fact is, Alaska mechanics must hold specific licenses as per the FAA, as well as a requisite level of experience determined by the airline. For example, an A&P mechanic must have an A&P license and at least three years of commercial aircraft experience, while an avionics technician must have an FCC license and three years commercial aircraft experience.

CONCLUSION

Alaska strongly believes these allegations lack substance and that these investigations are unwarranted. While it's absolutely true that Alaska asks all its employees to do their jobs effectively and efficiently, no amount of time saved is worth compromising safety.



RELEASED AT 2:30 P.M.     February 12, 2000
ALASKA COMPLETES FIRST PHASE OF BOEING MD-80 INSPECTIONS

SEATTLE - Alaska Airlines announced today that it has inspected all 34 of its Boeing MD-80 aircraft and released 21 of the planes back into service this morning.

"All 21 aircraft that we've returned to service have been inspected not once but twice, and given a clean bill of health," said Bill Ayer, Alaska's president.

Thirteen aircraft remain out of service for the following reasons:

· Five aircraft that Alaska previously reported were undergoing scheduled heavy maintenance have been inspected. No irregularities were found.

· Two aircraft remain grounded after discrepancies with the jackscrews were discovered Thursday morning. Those discrepancies included metal shavings or filings in and around the jackscrew assembly.

· Six aircraft, including one undergoing scheduled heavy maintenance, were inspected and found to have metallic dust or residue in and around the jackscrew assembly, which could be the result of normal wear.

According to the aircraft manufacturer, the jackscrew assembly is designed to wear over time, leaving only a powder residue. Alaska's interpretation of the FAA directive is that it does not allow any non-ferrous material, including dust or residue, in the area. As a precaution, Alaska has notified the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board of its findings, and will take any corrective action required before releasing aircraft back to service.

The latest round of inspections are part of an FAA Airworthiness Directive requiring a two-phase inspection of the jackscrew assembly of the tails of all 1,100 MD-80, DC-9 and B717 series aircraft operated by domestic carriers. They follow voluntary inspections by Alaska made earlier in the week.

The first phase of the FAA Airworthiness Directive calls for a visual inspection of the jackscrew assembly, while the second phase calls for measuring the play between the jackscrew and related hardware. Alaska expects to complete the second phase of the inspection within the next week. The FAA has required all carriers to comply with the second phase of the directive within the next 30 days.

Alaska's schedule is likely to be impacted by upwards of 10 percent of its 500 daily departures today, and may result in additional cancellations Sunday and Monday. However, because it is the low travel season, passenger loads are relatively light and the airline expects to be able to accommodate all passengers on other Alaska flights or on other carriers.

While Alaska is attempting to contact as many passengers affected by these cancellations in advance, customers can also check on the status of their flights by going to Alaska Airlines' website at www.alaskaair.com, or by calling the airline directly.

At this time, it has not been determined how long the two aircraft grounded earlier this week or the six additional aircraft will be on the ground. Two of the aircraft are currently located in Seattle, three in Portland, two in Oakland, and one in Anchorage.

The jackscrew is a mechanism that drives the airplane's horizontal stabilizer up and down and limits its range of travel. At this time, NTSB investigators have made no determination whether the damage to the jackscrew recovered after the accident contributed to the tragedy of Flight 261 on January 31.


RELEASED AT 11:30 A.M.     February 11, 2000
ALASKA AIRLINES RECEIVES AIRWORTHINESS DIRECTIVE FROM FAA;
LAUNCHES AGGRESSIVE SCHEDULE TO COMPLY WITH INSPECTIONS

Alaska Airlines announced today that it has received an airworthiness directive from the FAA specifying an inspection program for the jackscrew assembly on all Boeing MD-80 series aircraft.

"All our MD-80s will be inspected or will be in the process of being inspected by midnight tonight, well ahead of the 72 hours required by the FAA," said Bill Ayer, the carrier's president. "No plane will be released back into service on Saturday morning until we've repeated the visual inspections called for under this new directive."

The directive, that applies to all domestic DC-9 and MD-80 series operators, was received this morning from the FAA and calls for a two-phase inspection of the jackscrew assembly.

The first phase essentially repeats the voluntary visual inspections of the assembly that Alaska completed Thursday. Alaska has cancelled 12 of its approximately 500 daily flights to accommodate the inspections today. Previously, a total of 13 flights were cancelled Wednesday and Thursday to complete the voluntary inspections.

The second phase calls for measuring the tolerance and play between the jackscrew and related hardware. Alaska expects to complete the second phase of the inspection within the next week; the FAA has required all carriers to comply with that phase of the directive within the next 30 days.

During Alaska's voluntary inspection program, the carrier inspected 31 of its 34 MD-80 aircraft and released 26 planes back into service after the inspections revealed no problems.

Of the remaining five aircraft that were voluntarily inspected, no problems were found with three that are currently undergoing regularly scheduled heavy maintenance, while two aircraft were grounded after discrepancies with the jackscrews were discovered Thursday morning.

Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board have been on site to inspect the two aircraft with discrepancies. One aircraft is located in Seattle, the other in Portland.

Only three aircraft were not inspected earlier this week because all are undergoing regularly scheduled heavy maintenance. Alaska will inspect those aircraft before they are released back into service after that maintenance is completed.

Alaska began voluntary inspections Wednesday as a precaution after the NTSB reported that the jackscrew from the aircraft involved in the tragedy of Flight 261 on January 31 has been recovered and was found to be damaged.

The jackscrew is a mechanism that drives the airplane's horizontal stabilizer up and down and limits its range of travel.


RELEASED AT 12:30 P.M.     February 10, 2000
ALASKA COMPLETES INSPECTIONS OF 31 BOEING MD-80s

Alaska Airlines announced today that it has inspected 31 of its 34 Boeing MD-80 aircraft and released 26 of the planes back into service after inspections of their jackscrews revealed no problems.

"The 26 aircraft that have been released back into service have been thoroughly checked and given a clean bill of health," said Bill Ayer, Alaska's president. "We want to assure the flying public that no aircraft will be released back into service until this check is completed."

Of the remaining five aircraft that have been inspected, no problems were found with three that are currently undergoing regularly scheduled heavy maintenance, while two aircraft have been grounded after discrepancies with the jackscrews were discovered this morning.

Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board are en route to look at the two aircraft with discrepancies. One aircraft is located in Seattle, the other in Portland.

Three aircraft remain to be inspected. All three are undergoing regularly scheduled heavy maintenance checks and will be thoroughly checked before they are released back into service.

Alaska began voluntary inspections Wednesday as a precaution after the NTSB reported that the jackscrew from the aircraft involved in the tragedy of Flight 261 on January 31 had been recovered and was found to be damaged.

The jackscrew is a mechanism that drives the airplane's horizontal stabilizer up and down and limits its range of travel.


INSPECTION BREAKDOWN
Total number of planes inspected and released 26
Total number of planes inspected but still undergoing regularly scheduled maintenance 3
Total number of planes inspected and found to have discrepencies 2
Total number of planes undergoing regularly scheduled maintenance and will be inspected before they are released 3
Total number of MD-80s 34


RELEASED AT 2:15 P.M.     February 9, 2000
ALASKA AIRLINES TO INSPECT MD-80 FLEET

As a precaution, Alaska Airlines announced today that it has begun an inspection program of all of the MD-80 aircraft in its fleet. The inspections will be fully completed by the end of the day.

The inspections were prompted by National Transportation Safety Board comments today that the jack screw from the aircraft involved in the tragedy of Flight 261 on January 31 has been recovered and was found damaged.

Inspected will be the jack screws on each of the aircraft. A jack screw is a mechanism that drives the airplane's horizontal stabilizer up and down and limits its range of travel. A visual inspection will be made of each unit and related hardware.

The impact on the airline's schedule is expected to be limited.

Alaska Airlines operates 34 MD-80 aircraft among the 88 airplanes in its fleet.


RELEASED AT 10:00 A.M.     February 7, 2000
UPDATED LIST OF PASSENGERS ON ALASKA AIRLINES FLIGHT 261

Following is an updated list of the names of the passengers on Alaska Airlines Flight 261. Included on this updated list is the hometowns of many of the passengers. We'll make public more hometowns as they become available. At the request of one family, two passenger names are not being released at this time. All the passengers' families, as well as the families of the five crew members, have been notified. It is important to note that some of the passengers' first names may be incomplete. Of the 83 passengers on Flight 261, 32 were bound for San Francisco, CA., 47 for Seattle, WA, three for Eugene, OR., and one for Fairbanks, AK. To note: these were final destinations, not necessarily hometowns. Members of the Alaska Airlines CARE team have been dispatched to various locations to help assist family members in this very difficult time. All of our thoughts and prayers are with our passengers, their families, friends and loved ones.

1. Baldridge/Larry Jr., Novato, CA
2. Bermudez/Renato, San Francisco, CA
3. Bernard/Michael, Seattle, WA
4. Branson/Malcolm, Ketchikan, AK
5. Bryant/William, San Francisco, CA
6. Busche/Ryan, Seattle, WA
7. Busche/Abigail, Seattle, WA
8. Chavez/Gabriela, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico (Mexican National)
9. Choate/Jacquelyn, Santa Cruz, CA
10. Choate/Toni, San Francisco, CA
11. Christensen/Sheri, Federal Way, WA
12-13. Clemetson/Carolyn and infant son Spencer, Seattle, WA
14. Clemetson/David, Seattle, WA
15. Clemetson/Blake, Seattle, WA
16. Clemetson/Miles, Seattle,WA
17. Clemetson/Coriander, Seattle, WA
18. Cuthbertson/John, Danville, CA (British)
19. Deo/Avinesh, Seattle, WA
20. Donaldson/Monte, Seattle, WA
21. Forshee/Dean, Benicia, CA
22. Fosmire/Jerri, Eugene, OR
23. Friedmann/Allen, Round Lake Beach, IL
24. Gandesbery/Jean, Davis, CA
25. Gandesbery/Robert, Davis, CA
26. Hall/Meghann, Enumclaw, WA
27. Han/Aloysius, Oakland, CA
28. Hatleberg/Barbara, Eugene, OR
29. Hatleberg/Glenn, Eugene, OR
30. Hovey/Robert, San Francisco, CA
31. Ing/Russell, Seattle, WA
32. Janosik/Rachel, Bellevue, WA
33. Karlsson/Karl, Petaluma, CA
34. Karlsson/Carol, Petaluma, CA
35. Knight/Joseph, Monroe, WA
36. Knight/Linda, Monroe, WA
37. Knudson/William, Sacramento, CA
38. Laigo/Rodrigo, Fairfield, CA
39. Laigo/Naomi, Fairfield, CA
40. Long/Bradley, Sacramento, CA
41. Luque/James, San Francisco, CA
42. Marquez/Juan, San Francisco, CA
43-44. Ost/Ileana and infant daughter Emily, San Bruno, CA
45. Ost/Bob, San Bruno, CA
46. Oti/Cynthia, Oakland, CA
47-48. Pearson/Sarah and infant daughter Grace, Seattle, WA
49. Pearson/Rodney, Seattle, WA
50. Pearson/Rachel, Seattle, WA
51. Penna/Deborah, Seattle, WA
52. Permison/Jean, Scotts Valley, CA
53. Poll/Stanford, Mercer Island, WA
54. Prasad/Anjesh, Burien, WA
55. Prasad/Avinesh, Burien, WA
56. Pulanco "Clarke"/Paul, Seattle, WA
57. Russell/Charles, Hayward, CA
58. Ryan/Barbara, Redmond, WA
59. Ryan/Bradford, Redmond, WA
60. Ryan/James, Redmond, WA
61. Ryan/Terry, Redmond, WA
62. Salyer/Ellen, Sebastopol, CA
63. Schuyler/Stacy, Federal Way, WA
64. Shaw/Donald, Shelton, WA
65. Sipe/Charlene, Brier, WA
66. Smith/Joan, Belmont, CA
67. Sparks/Ryan, Enumclaw, WA
68. Stasinos/Harry, Brier, WA
69. Stockley/Thomas, Seattle, WA
70. Stockley/Margaret, Seattle, WA
71. Stokes/Janice, Ketchikan, AK
72. Thompson/Morrie, Fairbanks, AK
73. Thompson/Thelma, Fairbanks, AK
74. Thompson/Sheryl, Valdez, AK
75. Thorgrimson/Robert, Poulsbo, WA
76. Thorgrimson/Lorna, Poulsbo, WA
77. Voronoff/Nina, San Francisco, CA
78. Whorley/Colleen, Seattle, WA
79. Wilkie/Steve, San Francisco, CA
80. Williams/Bob, Poulsbo, WA
81. Williams/Patty, Poulsbo, WA


RELEASED AT 4:00 P.M.     February 5, 2000
SEATTLE TIMES APOLOGIZES FOR ERRONEOUS ARTICLE

The Seattle Times took the unusual step Friday, Feb. 4, of issuing a front-page apology for a copyrighted article that erroneously suggested that the aircraft that went down Monday had experienced mechanical problems on the way to Mexico.

The erroneous article - which appeared on the front page of the Feb. 2 edition of the paper and was picked up nationally by other media outlets - was authored by Times reporters Chuck Taylor, Steve Miletich and David Postman, who cited an anonymous source as the provider of their information.

Alaska Airlines officials have no record of The Times attempting to confirm the bogus account with the airline before it was published.

When contacted by The Times after the story was published, airline officials insisted that there were no reports of mechanical trouble on the previous leg flown by the aircraft. Alaska officials also questioned The Times' reliance on an unidentified source, a practice which the newspaper has relied on frequently in previous coverage of the airline.

The apology came after the NTSB interviewed the pilots who flew the aircraft to Mexico and they denied reports of mechanical problems. The NTSB also clarified that the erroneous account emanated from The Times itself and not from independent sources.

"We misunderstood the information we received from the investigators," explained Alex MacLeod, managing editor of The Times. "We apologize to our readers and to the employees of Alaska Airlines."

Although The Times published the apology, Alaska Airlines officials have yet to receive a formal apology from either MacLeod or the three reporters.

And the paper's published apology failed to mention the grieving families and friends of the passengers on Flight 261 who may have been traumatized by the erroneous article.


RELEASED AT 6:00 P.M.     February 3, 2000
THE ROLE OF THE NTSB

In recent days, a number of questions have been raised about the role the NTSB plays in an accident investigation, and what role the airline plays.

The NTSB controls every facet of the investigation. Alaska Airlines plays a supporting role, assisting the NTSB in developing a complete and accurate factual record of the accident. By working together, it enables a small agency like the NTSB to leverage and maximize its resources.

The NTSB limits party participation to those persons, government agencies, companies, and associations whose employees, functions, activities, or products were involved in the accident. The main role of party participants is to provide qualified technical personnel to assist in the field investigation. In addition to Alaska Airlines, there are a number of other participating parties involved in the NTSB's investigation of Alaska Flight 261. Among them are: FAA, Boeing, Pratt and Whitney, the Airline Pilots Association, the Association of Flight Attendants, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association and Ventura County.

When the investigation is complete, the NTSB is responsible for writing the final analysis. However, Alaska Airlines and all other parties involved will be able to give input. The final determination of probable cause will ultimately be determined by the NTSB.


RELEASED AT 5:00 P.M.     February 3, 2000
FUNDS ESTABLISHED TO AID THE FAMILIES OF THOSE LOST ON FLIGHT 261

SEATTLE -- Two funds have been established to help the families who lost loved ones on Flight 261.

The Alaska Airlines Friends and Family Fund has been set-up for individuals who wish to send donations to assist the family members of the passengers and crew of Alaska Airlines Flight 261. Donations to this fund can be sent to:

The Alaska Airlines Friends And Family Fund
PO Box 68900
Seattle WA 98168-0900

Additionally, donations can be made at Bank of America banking centers in Washington, Oregon, or Idaho. All donations will be used to assist the family members of Flight 261's passengers and crew during this tragic time.

Alaska Airlines has established a second, internal fund for employees who would like to assist the families of their coworkers lost in Monday's tragedy. Donations to the Alaska & Horizon Employee Flight 261 Fund will be divided equally among the 12 Alaska and Horizon employees onboard Flight 261. Employees who wish to contribute to this fund can contact Blyth McFaul at 1-888-870-2988 for more information.

Two fraudulent web sites have been created on the World Wide Web soliciting donations. These sites are not in any way associated with Alaska Airlines.

The only official site for Alaska Airlines information about Flight 261 and benevolent fund raising efforts for the passengers and crew is www.alaskaair.com.


RELEASED AT 3:15 P.M.     February 3, 2000
ALASKA AIRLINES RETIRES FLIGHT #261

Alaska Airlines announced today that it has officially retired flight number 261 in honor of the 88 passengers and crew members who were lost in Monday's accident off the California coast. The number 261 will never again be used to designate any of Alaska Airlines' flights.

The 3:29 P.M. departure from Puerto Vallarta to San Francisco and on to Seattle will now be designated flight #289. Flight 289 arrives in San Francisco at 5:14 P.M. The flight then departs San Francisco at 6:34 P.M. arriving in Seattle at 8:32 P.M.

All of Alaska's flight information will be changed to reflect the new flight number.


RELEASED AT 7:00 A.M.     February 3, 2000
FACTS REGARDING FAA'S STABILIZER A.D.

SEATTLE -- In recent days, a number of questions have been asked regarding an FAA Airworthiness Directive pertaining to horizontal stabilizers on MD-80 aircraft. The following information is to clarify the history of this directive and its relationship to the Alaska Airlines aircraft (tail #N963AS) involved with Flight 261 on Jan. 31, 2000.

· Service Bulletin MD80-55-054 was issued by the Boeing Company on March 3, 1998 regarding possible issues with corrosion on horizontal stabilizer hinges of MD-80 aircraft. This was advisory in nature.

· In June of 1998, the FAA issued an NPRM (Notice of Proposed Rule Making) and asked the nation's airlines to comment on the proposed Airworthiness Directive.

· Knowing an AD was coming, Alaska Airlines began drafting the Engineering Order that guides the maintenance division on exactly how the work is to be done. That paperwork was completed in April of 1999, one month before the Airworthiness Directive was issued by the FAA.

· Aircraft N963AS was in "C" check in January of 1999 - before the directive was ever issued and before the engineering order had been completed. The aircraft was not scheduled for the maintenance ordered by the directive. A "C" check does not normally cover the inspection required by the directive.

· The work required by the directive requires two days of down time for the aircraft and approximately 125 man hours of work.

· The directive, AD99-07-14, was issued on May 6, 1999 requiring accomplishment in 18 months. Alaska began inspecting its MD-80s immediately. As of Jan. 31, 2000, the date of the accident with Flight 261, ten of the airline's 35 MD-80s had been checked. Nothing of significance was found.

· Aircraft N963AS was scheduled for its check in June.


RELEASED AT 3:45 P.M.     February 2, 2000
ALASKA AIRLINES AND HORIZON AIR EMPLOYEES BEGIN OBSERVANCES AND MEMORIALS OF FLIGHT 261 TRAGEDY

On Thursday, February 3, 2000 at 4:36 p.m., Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air employees will observe a moment of silence in memorial of the Flight 261 tragedy.

One of many observances and memorials to come, the moment of silence will be observed around the systems of both airlines in a manner that is personally appropriate for each employee. Employees are wearing ribbons of various colors in observance of the tragedy and as a symbol of their losses, the losses of others, and their dedication to a response effort that reflects sympathy, dedication and dignity. Wearing of the ribbons was initiated by employees at different locations and rapidly caught on elsewhere as employees worked closely together in the aftermath of the accident.

Plans are also underway for memorial services to be held concurrently around the system.


RELEASED AT 12:00 P.M.     February 2, 2000
ALASKA ALERTS PUBLIC TO FRAUDULENT SOLICITATION FOR FAMILY MEMBERS

It is with great regret that Alaska Airlines must alert Internet users that a fraudulent Web site has been created on the World Wide Web soliciting donations for the families of the passengers and crew of Alaska Airlines Flight 261. The site is not sanctioned in any way by Alaska Airlines. Further, the fraudulent site may also cause further damage by the spreading of a computer virus to those who visit the site.

The only official site for information about Flight 261 and benevolent fund raising efforts for the passengers and crew is www.alaskaair.com. Alaska Airlines has mobilized its own specially trained team of employees to support and care for the family of the passengers and crew on Flight 261. The airline will continue to help loved ones and families through this difficult time.


RELEASED AT 3:30 P.M.     February 1, 2000
CEO JOHN KELLY'S MESSAGE TO ALL EMPLOYEES

Words fail me. Emotions flood. It still seems unbelievable. With our excellent safety record, we haven't had to deal with an accident such as this in over a quarter of a century, so this is new to the vast majority of us. But we're forced to deal with this difficult reality, and you need to know that first and foremost, our efforts have been focused on the search efforts underway off Port Hueneme for our passengers and crew - hoping and praying that there will be survivors. Unfortunately, as the hours go by, prospects dim.

In addition, our people have done all possible to assist family and friends of the passengers. And as you know, a number of those passengers were our family: Alaska and Horizon employees and their family and friends. I can assure you that in the days ahead we will continue to do all possible to provide care, assistance, and support for all. In fact, we have Alaska Airlines' Care Team members that are being assigned to each family in order to provide personal assistance.

Obviously, we will do all possible to partner with the National Transportation Safety Board to uncover the cause of this accident. After all, our number one Critical Success Factor is Safety - we live it daily. Our people are proven professionals, a value that we hold near and dear. Over the past twenty four hours I have witnessed that professionalism at all levels, and I thank each of you for all you have done and will continue to do in the days and weeks ahead. Your caring, professional, heartfelt support is deeply appreciated.

Sincerely,
John F. Kelly
Chairman & CEO


RELEASED AT 1:00 P.M.     February 1, 2000
ALASKA AIRLINES STATEMENT ON OAKLAND MAINTENANCE INVESTIGATION

There is a maintenance investigation in Oakland and we have fully cooperated with the federal authorities. We have also conducted our own thorough investigation and strongly believe that we have the best and safest maintenance organization in the industry. The Oakland investigation is mainly focused on a final check known as the Post Maintenance Final Run Checklist. This check is unique to Alaska and is above and beyond the manufacturer's required maintenance program. This aircraft is not involved in any aspect of the Oakland investigation.


RELEASED AT 12:00 P.M.     February 1, 2000
ALASKA AIRLINES SAYS THANK YOU FOR EXPRESSIONS OF SUPPORT AND CONDOLENCE

In the past 20 hours since Alaska Airlines Flight 261 went down off the coast of California, we have received hundreds of very kind emails from our friends at other airlines, our business partners, loyal customers, elected officials, and so many other sympathetic people throughout the world. All of us are shaken and deeply saddened by this tragic event. We thank everyone for the outpouring of support as we work to ease the burden of the families who lost loved ones on Flight 261.


RELEASED AT 5:10 A.M.     February 1, 2000
ALASKA AIRLINES CARE TEAMS DISPATCHED TO AID FAMILIES

SEATTLE - Employee volunteers of the Alaska Airlines Compassionate Assistance Relief Effort (CARE) Program were dispatched to assist family members and loved ones of passengers and crew on Flight 261 shortly after it was learned that communications were lost at about 4:36 p.m. PST on January 31. Seattle-based CARE members left immediately for Sea-Tac International Airport near Alaska's headquarters. An initial group of 30 team members were dispatched from around the system to San Francisco, Los Angeles and other locations where the families of passengers were waiting. Established 11 years ago, the CARE Program provides assistance in the event of an aircraft accident. More than 600 Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air employees from across the company are readily available to provide support for the loved ones of passengers and crew. A CARE volunteer is assigned to each family. Team members receive two days of training and are coached by professionals in providing practical and emotional support for family members. Family and friends of people affected by other air accidents are also brought in to train volunteers based on their experiences. Team members also receive annual recurrent training.


RELEASED AT 12:30 A.M.     February 1, 2000
ALASKA AIRLINES AND HORIZON AIR EMPLOYEES FRIENDS AND FAMILY TRAVELING NON-REVENUE ON FLIGHT 261

It is with great sorrow that we report that, in addition to the five crew members on Flight 261, three Alaska Airlines employees, and four Horizon Air employees, were among the non-revenue passengers on the flight. A number of these employees' family members and friends were also on the flight. The Alaska Airlines employees are: Sarah Pearson, (hometown Seattle, WA) a flight attendant based in Seattle hired on May 19, 1990, who was traveling with her husband Rodney, her daughter Rachel, and an infant child. James J. Ryan, (Redmond, WA) a Portland-based flight attendant hired on May 19, 1990, who was traveling with his parents, and brother. Ileana Ost, (San Bruno, CA) a San Francisco-based customer service agent hired in November, 1996, who was traveling with her husband Bob and an infant child. The Horizon Air employees, all based in Seattle, are: Sheri Christensen, 25, (Federal Way, WA) a ground service agent; Rachel Janosik, 20, (Bellevue, WA) a food and beverage agent, and her companions Ryan Sparks and Megan Hall; Anjesh Prasad, 19, (Seattle, WA) a ground service agent, and his cousins Avinesh Prasad and Avines Deo; and Stacy Schuyler, 20, (Federal Way, WA) a ground service agent. The remaining 25 non-revenue travelers are believed to be either family members or friends of those seven employees or the five crew members aboard Alaska Airlines flight 261. All our thoughts and prayers are with them, their families, friends and coworkers.


RELEASED AT 11:25 P.M.     January 31, 2000
Alaska Airlines Flight 261 Crew and Non-Revenue Travelers

Five valued friends and coworkers made up the crew of Alaska Airlines Flight 261. We extend our deepest sympathies to their loved ones.

Captain Ted Thompson, age 53, (hometown, Redlands, CA) was hired by Alaska Airlines on August 16, 1982, and based in Los Angeles. Captain Thompson totaled 10,400 DC-9 hours with Alaska Airlines. DC-9 hours is an aviation rating which encompasses both the MD-80 and the MD-90 aircraft. In addition, Captain Thompson spent eight years flying C141 aircraft in the U.S. Air Force and has served as a flight safety instructor.

First Officer William Tansky, age 57, (Alameda, CA) was hired on July 17, 1985, and also based in Los Angeles. First Officer Tansky has totaled 8,047 DC-9 hours with Alaska Airlines. In addition, he spent 20 years flying transport aircraft in the U.S. Navy.

Flight Attendant Allison Shanks, age 33, (Seattle, WA) was hired on December 10, 1988, and based in Seattle.

Flight Attendant Craig Pulanco, age 30, (Seattle, WA) was hired on July 1, 1996, and based in Seattle.

Flight Attendant Kristin Mills, age 26, (Las Vegas, NV) was hired May 31, 1999, also based in Seattle.

Of the 83 passengers on Flight 261, 30 are non-revenue travelers. Non-revenue travelers fly as a benefit to airline employees on a space-available, reduced-rate basis. Of the 30 non-revenue travelers, three are Alaska Airlines employees and four are Horizon Air employees. The remaining 23 non-revenue travelers are believed to be either family members or friends of those seven employees or five crewmembers onboard Alaska Airlines Flight 261.

Alaska Airlines has been in contact with 75 percent of the passengers' families and hopes to release the Flight 261 passenger manifest shortly, once all families have been contacted.

Alaska Airlines will continue to fully cooperate with accident investigators.


RELEASED AT 9:20 P.M.     January 31, 2000
UPDATED INFORMATION ON ALASKA AIRLINES FLIGHT 261

SEATTLE - Alaska Airlines Flight 261, which departed at 3:30 p.m. CST from Puerto Vallarta enroute to San Francisco, went down in the water late this afternoon approximately 20 miles off Point Mugu, Calif. Alaska Airlines extends its deepest sympathy to the families of the passengers and crew. The flight carried 83 passengers and 5 crew (two pilots based in Los Angeles and three flight attendants based in Seattle). Thirty-two of the passengers were bound for San Francisco, CA., 47 for Seattle, WA., three to Eugene, OR., and one to Fairbanks, AK. The crew radioed a problem with stabilizer trim and the plane was diverted to Los Angeles. Flight controllers lost radio contact with the crew at approximately 4:36 p.m. PST. The plane, a Boeing MD-80, has no history of stabilizer trim problems. The tail number is 963. It was manufactured in 1992 and powered by two JT8D Pratt and Whitney engines. Recent maintenance on the aircraft included routine servicing on Jan. 30, 2000; an 'A' check on Jan. 11, 2000; and a 'C' check on Jan. 13, 1999. C-Checks are focused on extensive structural inspection, which involve opening access panels and looking at major structures such as wing spars, ribs and frames for any indications of corrosion, cracking or other wear. The aircraft had 26,584 hours of flight time and had completed 14,315 cycles. A cycle is defined as one takeoff and one landing. Not including this afternoon's accident, the MD-80 accident rate is 0.41 accidents per 1 million departures, which is less than one-quarter the industry average for all airplanes. The airline will be releasing a passenger manifest as soon as possible. Alaska Airlines is cooperating fully with accident investigators. Alaska Airlines is a Seattle-based jet carrier that operates 89 aircraft, including 35 MD-80s. Alaska is the nation's 10th largest airline. Alaska has established a hotline for friends and family at 1-800-553-5117.


RELEASED AT 8:10 P.M.     January 31, 2000
FATAL EVENTS SINCE 1970 FOR ALASKA AIRLINES

SEATTLE - Alaska Airlines has experienced two fatal accidents since 1970. Both involved Boeing 727 aircraft:

  • Sept. 4, 1971: A Boeing 727 operated by Alaska Airlines suffered a controlled flight into the slopes of a mountain near Juneau, Alaska, about 28 miles west of the airport. All seven crew members and 104 passengers were killed.
  • April 5, 1976: A Boeing 727 operated by Alaska Airlines overran the runway after landing in Ketchikan, Alaska. Of the 50 passengers on board, one passenger died.
Three additional incidents also appear in databases listing Alaska Airlines accidents during the modern jet age. The first occurred in June 1987, when Alaska experienced a "total hull loss" when a Boeing 727 being taxied empty by two mechanics was destroyed by fire after striking a jetway at the Anchorage International Airport. Neither mechanic was injured. The second event occurred in the early 1990s, when an individual jumped the perimeter fence at Phoenix International Airport and ran in front of a Boeing 727 operated by Alaska Airlines during takeoff. It was later determined by authorities that the individual had planned to commit suicide. In September 1997 the nose gear collapsed on a Boeing MD-80 on landing in Seattle causing minor injuries.


RELEASED AT 6:45 P.M.     January 31, 2000
ALASKA AIRLINES AIRCRAFT INVOLVED IN AN ACCIDENT

Alaska Airlines Flight 261 from Puerto Vallarta to San Francisco went down in the water late this afternoon approximately 20 miles off Point Mugu, Calif. Alaska Airlines extends its deepest sympathies to the families of the passengers and crew on Flight 261. The flight carried 80 passengers and 5 crew (two pilots and three flight attendants). The crew radioed a problem with stabilizer trim and the plane was diverted to Los Angeles. Flight controllers lost radio contact with the crew at approximately 4:36 p.m. PST. The Coast Guard has been dispatched. The plane, a Boeing MD-80, has no history of stabilizer trim problems. The tail number is 963. It was manufactured in 1992. The flight was enroute from Puerto Vallarta to San Francisco continuing to Seattle when the pilot radioed with the problem. The plane was diverting to Los Angeles International Airport when contact was lost. The airline will be releasing a passenger manifest as soon as possible. Alaska has established a hotline for friends and family at 1-800-553-5117.


RELEASED AT 6:45 P.M.     January 31, 2000
AIRCRAFT PROFILE FOR FLIGHT 261

Alaska Airlines Flight 261 was involved in an accident today at approximately at 4:36 p.m. PST off Point Mugu, Calif. Our heartfelt sympathies go out to the families of the passengers and crew on Flight 261. The aircraft involved is a Boeing MD-80, tail number 963. It was manufactured in 1992. A company spokesman said the pilot radioed a problem with stabilizer trim and the plane was diverted to Los Angeles. The aircraft had no history of stabilizer trim problems. The aircraft is powered by two JT8D Pratt & Whitney engines. Recent maintenance on the aircraft included servicing on Jan. 30, 2000; an 'A' Check on Jan. 11, 2000; and a 'C' Check on Jan. 13, 1999. The aircraft had 26,584 hours of flight time and had completed 14,315 cycles. A cycle is defined as one takeoff and one landing. Alaska Airlines is a Seattle-based jet carrier that operates 89 aircraft, including 35 MD-80s. Alaska is the nation's 10th largest airline. Alaska has established a hotline for friends and family at 1-800-553-5117.


RELEASED AT 6:00 P.M.     January 31, 2000
ALASKA AIRLINES AIRCRAFT INVOLVED IN AN ACCIDENT

Alaska Airlines Flight 261 from Puerto Vallarta to San Francisco went down in the water late this afternoon approximately 20 miles off Point Mugu, Calif. The flight carried 80 passengers and 5 crew (two pilots and three flight attendants). Everyone at Alaska Airlines is deeply saddened by this tragic accident. Our deepest sympathies go out to the families of the passengers and crew on Flight 261. Pilots radioed a problem with stabilizer trim and the plane was diverted to Los Angeles. The plane, an MD-80, has no history of stabilizer trim problems. The Coast Guard has been dispatched. The flight was enroute from Puerto Vallarta to San Francisco continuing to Seattle when the pilot radioed with the problem. The plane was diverting to Los Angeles International Airport when contact was lost. The airline will be releasing a passenger manifest as soon as possible. Alaska has established a hotline for friends and family at 1-800-553-5117.


RELEASED AT 5:30 P.M.     January 31, 2000
Alaska Airlines Flight 261 from Puerto Vallarta to San Francisco is reported to have fallen off the radar scope late this afternoon approximately 20 miles north of Point Mugu, California. The Coast Guard has been dispatched. Details are not available at this time. As soon as information is available it will be posted here on the Alaska Airlines web site.


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