Alaska Airlines Passengers in Boeing's Door Plug Blowout Incident Could be Crime Victims, FBI Says

By Leira Aquino

Mar 22, 2024 11:11 PM EDT

Alaska Airlines N704AL, a 737 Max 9, is seen at Portland International Airport on January 23, 2024, with its emergency door missing and covered with tape. The plane made an emergency landing after one of its door plugs blew out shortly after takeoff from Portland. Passengers have been informed by the FBI about potential criminal implications.
(Photo : Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)

Passengers aboard the Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 Max 9 flight, which encountered a harrowing midair blowout incident in January, have received a startling notification from the FBI suggesting they may be potential victims of a crime.

Attorney Mark Lindquist, representing multiple passengers from the flight, disclosed to CNN that the FBI office in Seattle dispatched letters to passengers on Tuesday, informing them of the possibility of them being crime victims. 

Alaska Passengers Might be 'Victims of Crime'

The correspondence states, "I'm contacting you because we have identified you as a possible victim of a crime," affirming the ongoing investigation by the FBI into the case.

Lindquist emphasized the significance of the Department of Justice's (DOJ) intervention, expressing the collective desire for accountability and enhanced safety measures. 

"My clients and I welcome the DOJ investigation," Lindquist stated. "We want accountability. We want answers. We want safer Boeing planes."

Echoing Lindquist's sentiments, attorney Robert Clifford, representing families affected by the 2019 Boeing 737 Max crashes and some passengers from the recent Alaska Airlines flight, acknowledged the receipt of similar letters by his clients. 

Furthermore, reports suggest that flight attendants aboard Alaska Air Flight 1282 have undergone interviews with Justice Department investigators.

The FBI refrains from confirming or denying the investigations, according to its statement sent to CNN.

READ NEXT: United Airlines CEO Assures Safety Measures Amid Distrust in Aviation Due To Boeing Incidents

Probe Into Boeing's Conduct Following Alaska Airlines Incident

Following the incident, the DOJ initiated a probe into Boeing's conduct, potentially unraveling a prior deferred prosecution agreement the company struck with the DOJ in 2021.

The incident itself occurred on January 5, this year, prompting an emergency landing after a panel known as the "door plug" blew off mid-flight, causing a rapid loss of cabin pressure. 

While investigations are ongoing, preliminary findings from the National Transportation Safety Board (NSTB) suggest the plane departed Boeing's factory without the necessary bolts securing the door plug.

The Federal Aviation Administration, NTSB, and Justice Department are conducting separate investigations into the matter. 

Boeing, meanwhile, faces mounting financial losses, along with increased scrutiny, due to compensation payments to affected airlines and disruptions in production.

READ MORE: Boeing Whistleblower Found Dead After Raising Concerns About Company's Production Standards

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