A 737-9 MAX, N941AK (c/n 44101), was performing flight AS801 from the Washington state capital to Kona in Hawaii. While departing runway 16L, the crew noticed a bump and cabin crew heard scratching noises upon rotation. The jet stopped its climb at 14,000ft and returned to the airport for a safe landing around 40 minutes later.
Approximately six minutes after the first incident, another of the carrier’s aircraft – this time 737-900 N468AS (c/n 41735) bound for Honolulu as AS887– also bumped the runway upon rotation, with the flight and cabin crew reporting a similar experience. The narrowbody levelled at 3,000ft and returned to Seattle around 20 minutes after departure.
“Upon learning of two tail touches on Jan 26, 2023, we paused our entire operation to quickly identify safety mitigations,” an Alaska Airlines spokesperson told Key.Aero in a statement.