Technology

iPhone survives 16,000-foot fall from Alaska Airlines flight

Published January 9, 2024
Passenger oxygen masks hang from the roof next to a missing window and a portion of a side wall of an Alaska Airlines Flight 1282, which had been bound for Ontario, California and suffered depressurization soon after departing, in Portland, Oregon, U.S.  REUTERS
Passenger oxygen masks hang from the roof next to a missing window and a portion of a side wall of an Alaska Airlines Flight 1282, which had been bound for Ontario, California and suffered depressurization soon after departing, in Portland, Oregon, U.S. REUTERS

WASHINGTON: Now that’s what you call airplane mode – an iPhone that plummeted 16,000 feet (5,000 meters) from an Alaska Airlines flight landed without a single crack in the screen and even a battery still half-charged.

The phone was sucked out of Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 on Friday when a fuselage panel blew off, leaving a gaping hole. The passenger plane made an emergency landing shortly after, with all aboard safe.

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A few items, reportedly including AirPods and a boy’s shirt, made more dramatic landings after shooting out of the suddenly depressurized cabin.

Amid a search for debris, a man named Sean Bates in the northwestern state of Washington found an iPhone on the side of the road, appearing to belong to one of the passengers.

A photo of the device posted on X, formerly Twitter, on Sunday showed the intact screen and an emailed $70 baggage receipt. The battery is shown charged to 44 percent and the smartphone remains on flight mode.

Aside from the port, where the terminal of the charger protrudes after being ripped from the rest of the cord, the phone appears untouched.

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In a follow up TikTok post, Bates said he’d found the phone “pretty clean, no scratches on it, sitting under a bush.”

Bates said he contacted the National Transportation Safety Board, which told him it was the second phone from the flight to have been found.

NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy replied to his post on X thanking him and offering to meet.

In a briefing on Sunday, Homendy told reporters that “We’ll look through [the phones] and then return them,” adding that it was “very, very fortunate” that the incident had not ended in tragedy.

In response to the incident, regulatory bodies swiftly grounded some versions of Boeing’s 737 MAX 9 jet, pending inspections. Boeing shares plunged in trading on Monday.

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