FBI Alerts Passengers on Midair Blowout Flight They May be ‘Crime Victims’ 

By Steve Neavling

The FBI has notified passengers on an Alaska Airlines flight that experienced a midair blowout in January that they may be crime victims. 

“As a Victim Specialist with the Seattle Division, I’m contacting you because we have identified you as a possible victim of a crime,” the FBI letter sent out last week said, according to the Associated Press. “This case is currently under investigation by the FBI.”

The Boeing 737 Max lost a door-plug panel midflight, prompting an emergency landing in Portland, Ore., on Jan. 5. With a gaping hole in the side of the plane, oxygen masks dropped from the ceiling because of the rapid loss of cabin pressure. 

None of the 171 passengers and six crew members were seriously injured. 

According to investigators, four bolts that helped secure the panel were missing after the plane was worked on at a Boeing factory in Renton, Wash. 

The Justice Department opened a criminal investigation to determine whether the blowout violated terms of a 2021 settlement that enabled Boeing to avoid prosecution for allegedly misleading regulators. 

The letter provided passengers with an email address, phone number, case number and personal identification number to address the case. 

“A criminal investigation can be a lengthy undertaking, and, for several reasons, we cannot tell you about its progress at this time. A victim of a federal crime is entitled to receive certain services,” the letter stated.

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