Seattle-bound flight makes emergency landing in San Jose

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by GLENN FARLEY / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @GlennFarley

KING5.com

Posted on August 8, 2012 at 4:16 PM

Updated Wednesday, Aug 8 at 5:05 PM

A Seattle-bound Alaska Airlines flight from California had to make an emergency landing Wednesday after an electrical problem.

Alaska Airlines spokesperson Bobbi Egan said Flight 539 from Ontario, Calif., was gaining altitude after takeoff around 6:28 a.m. when the incident happened.

The pilots declared an emergency and had to pressurize the 737-400 manually. The oxygen masks never deployed, indicating the cabin never actually lost pressure.

"The flight attendants, which really unnerved us, were right behind us and just had a look of terror," said passenger Dean Hunter. "He sat down in an empty seat real quick, the flight attendant next to him kinda grabbed onto him, sat down for a second, and someone overheard him saying 'we're in serious trouble.'"

Alaska says the plane's air/ground sensor failed, triggering multiple electrical problems.  It caused the auto throttle to disconnect.  Pilots then flew the plane by hand.

Backup cabin pressure automatically switched on.

The flight landed safely in San Jose about 7:45 a.m. No injuries were reported.

The 737-400 is from the older generation of jets in Alaska’s otherwise late model fleet. A team is on the ground trying to figure out what happened and why.

KING 5's Travis Pittman contributed to this report

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