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FBI Intensifies Investigation of Boeing Panel Blowout

FBI Intensifies Investigation of Boeing Panel Blowout
March 24
17:37 2024

Passengers aboard an Alaska Airlines plane that made an emergency landing after a Boeing fuselage panel blew off this year have started to receive letters from the FBI identifying them as possible victims of a crime, Reuters reports.

The move signals that the Justice Department’s criminal investigation into Boeing is ramping up.

“As a victim specialist with the Seattle division, I’m contacting you because we have identified you as a possible victim of a crime,” reads the letter from the FBI’s Seattle office, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times.

The letter says the incident is under criminal FBI investigation but adds that such inquiries can be lengthy and that “for several reasons, we cannot tell you about its progress at this time.”

The catastrophic failure occurred January 5 when a door plug blew off a new Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 Max 9 at 16,000 feet, imperiling 171 passengers and 6 crew members.

The National Transportation Safety Board determined that the door plug was missing four bolts meant to secure it in place.

Mark Lindquist, a lawyer for some of the passengers, said his clients welcomed the investigation.

“We want answers, accountability and safer Boeing planes,” he said. “The D.O.J. brings a large hammer to those goals.”

A month after the NTSB determined that the bolts were missing, the agency is no closer to questioning any of the 25 door crew employees involved.

“To date, we still do not know who performed the work to open, reinstall, and close the door plug on the accident aircraft,” NTSB chair Jennifer Homendy stated.

“Boeing has informed us that they are unable to find the records documenting this work. A verbal request was made by our investigators for security camera footage to help obtain this information; however, they were informed the footage was overwritten.”

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