18 April 2024

F.B.I. Tells Passengers on Alaska Flight They Could Have Been Crime Victims

Passengers aboard an Alaska Airways aircraft that made an emergency touchdown after a fuselage panel blew off this yr have began to obtain letters from the F.B.I. figuring out them as potential victims of against the law.

The letters are an indication {that a} legal investigation the Justice Division has opened into Boeing, the producer of the 737 Max 9 jet, is ramping up.

“As a sufferer specialist with the Seattle division, I’m contacting you as a result of we have now recognized you as a potential sufferer of against the law,” reads the letter from the F.B.I.’s Seattle workplace, a duplicate of which was obtained by The New York Occasions. The letter says the incident is below legal F.B.I. investigation however provides that such inquiries will be prolonged and that “for a number of causes, we can not inform you about its progress presently.”

The panel on the flight, which was carrying 171 passengers and 6 crew members, blew off at an altitude of 16,000 ft, shortly after the aircraft left the Portland, Ore., airport in early January. The Nationwide Transportation Security Board stated in a preliminary report that the panel, referred to as a door plug and used to fill house that may have been occupied by an emergency exit door if the aircraft had included extra seats, was lacking 4 bolts meant to safe it in place.

Steve Bernd, a spokesman for the F.B.I.’s Seattle workplace, declined to touch upon the legal investigation. Boeing additionally declined to remark. The corporate has beforehand stated it’s cooperating with the inquiry.

Mark Lindquist, a lawyer for a number of the passengers, stated his purchasers welcomed the investigation. “We would like solutions, accountability and safer Boeing planes,” he stated. “The D.O.J. brings a big hammer to these objectives.”

The Wall Avenue Journal reported earlier that investigators had contacted some passengers and crew members.

The investigation is among the many mounting troubles for Boeing, which embrace a current Federal Aviation Administration audit that discovered issues in its manufacturing course of. The Justice Division can also be reviewing a 2021 settlement of a legal cost towards the corporate stemming from lethal crashes involving its Max 8 planes. In that case, the division had agreed to drop the cost in change for cost of greater than $2.5 billion by Boeing, most of it within the type of compensation to prospects.

Federal investigators stated they have been nonetheless working to get the names of the workers who had labored on the door plug that blew out. Boeing has informed members of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee and the Nationwide Transportation Security Board that it couldn’t discover a report with the knowledge.