FBI tells Alaska Airlines passengers on door blowout flight they may be 'victim of a crime'

BySara Smart, CNN, CNNWire
Friday, March 22, 2024
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SEATTLE -- Passengers on board the Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 Max 9 that suffered a terrifying midair blowout in January have received a letter from the FBI saying they may be victims "of a crime."

Attorney Mark Lindquist, who represents multiple passengers that were on Alaska Airlines flight 1282, shared with CNN the letter that the FBI office in Seattle sent to passengers on Tuesday.

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"I'm contacting you because we have identified you as a possible victim of a crime," the letter reads in part. It also notes that the FBI is currently investigating the case.

"The FBI does not confirm or deny the existence of an investigation," FBI Seattle's Public Affairs Office wrote in an email to CNN, citing Department of Justice policy.

Boeing declined to comment.

On January 5, 171 passengers and six crew members boarded the flight in Portland, Oregon, bound for Ontario, California. Abruptly after take off, a panel of the fuselage called the "door plug" blew off, forcing the pilots to make an emergency landing.

The DOJ opened a probe into the incident and Boeing in February, CNN has previously reported.

Subpoenas were also recently sent seeking documents and information that may be related to Boeing and Spirit AeroSystems Holdings and mentions the "door plug" that is used in the Boeing 737 Max 9s, according to a report from Bloomberg.

"My clients and I welcome the DOJ investigation," Lindquist told CNN, "We want accountability. We want answers. We want safer Boeing planes. And a DOJ investigation helps advance our goals."

RELATED: Terrifying new video shows Alaska Airlines plane in mid-flight after door plug blows off

CNN has reached out to multiple other attorneys that represent passengers onboard the flight.

The development comes the same week Boeing said it will report massive losses in the first quarter stemming from the Alaska Airlines incident.

The losses will be in part because of compensation to airlines that owned the Max 9, which was grounded for three weeks after the incident. Alaska Air CEO Ben Minicucci told investors last month that the incident cost his airline about $150 million, and that it expected to be compensated for those losses by Boeing.

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The other contributors to losses will be "all the things we're doing around the factory," Chief Financial Officer Brian West said on Wednesday, leading to slower production at its 737 Max plant in Renton Washington.

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