Alaska Airlines Boeing 737-900 Returns To Boston After Tail Strike

Alaska Airlines’ flight AS-840 had a delay after a tail strike while departing from Boston.

On Thursday, an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737-900 had a tail strike while departing from runway 22R at Boston Logan International Airport (BOS). The plane took off safely and flew for nearly 30 minutes before returning to the airport.

What happened?

Yesterday, Alaska Airlines deployed a Boeing 737-900, registration N238AK, to operate flight AS-840 between Boston and Seattle in the United States.

The flight departed from Boston Logan International at 14:59 UTC on Thursday, according to data from As the plane accelerated down runway 22R and began to rotate, the aircraft suffered a tail strike. A tail strike is when the tail of the jet comes into contact with the runway surface.

Depiste this, the plane departed successfully, and climbed to a height of 10,000 feet. Then the crew flew around the Boston, Salem, and Newburyport areas for 30 minutes before returning to the airport. Flight AS-840 safely landed on runway 22L.

The FAA reported,

“Aircraft incurred a tail strike on departure and returned to airport, Boston, MA.”.

Moreover, the FAA stated that it didn’t know if the aircraft sustained any damage due to the incident.

No damage

Returning to the airport is a standard safety protocol after a tail strike. Nonetheless, the incident proved uneventful; Alaska Airlines checked its Boeing 737-900 and cleared it for departure a few hours later.

Flight AS-840 departed at 18:18 UTC onboard the same Boeing 737-900 and landed in Seattle at 00:22 UTC.

Since that incident, Alaska Airlines has used N238AK on five additional flights. The aircraft flew the routes Seattle-Houston (AS262), Houston-Seattle (AS2633), Seattle-San José del Cabo (AS144), San José del Cabo-Seattle (AS144), and Seattle-Charleston (AS787), according to, the online flight tracking platform.

About the aircraft

N238AK is a Boeing 737-900(ER) first delivered to Alaska Airlines on May 25, 2016. The aircraft has a capacity to carry 178 passengers in a three-class configuration. It can carry 138 people in economy, 24 in economy plus, and 16 in business.

Alaska Airlines owns the aircraft, which is powered by CFM International CFM56 engines. According to ch-aviation, this Boeing 737-900 is valued at approximately US$25.9 million. It has had 20,010 flight hours and 6,548 flight cycles throughout its history.

Alaska Airlines has 12 Boeing 737-900s in its fleet. Overall, the airline possesses 243 aircraft and expects to receive 116 in the coming years.

About tail strikes

A tail strike happens when the aft fuselage of an aircraft comes in contact with the runway during takeoff or landing. Statistically, most tail strikes take place on landings, which was not the case in the Alaska Airlines incident.

According to skybrary, most tail strikes take place as a result of human error, although other factors such as strong winds can increase the potential for such an event.

According to investigators, the most significant common factor in all tail strike events is the amount of flight crew experience with the specific model of aircraft being flown. Other causal factors that have been identified in the majority of tail strike events during take-off are mis-trimmed stabilizers, rotation at incorrect speed, excessive rotation rate, and improper use of the flight director.

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