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Published on March 10, 2024
DOJ Launches Criminal Probe into Boeing After Door Plug Incident on Alaska Airlines Flight from PortlandSource: National Transportation Safety Board

The skies grew a touch darker for Boeing as the Justice Department officially entered the fray with a criminal investigation into the alarming January incident on an Alaska Airlines flight. A Boeing 737 Max 9 suffered structural failure, creating a void where a door plug blew clean off, shortly after takeoff from Portland, Oregon. Everyone aboard avoided serious harm when the pilots promptly returned to the airport, averting a potential catastrophe.

Prompting a closer look, the mid-air mishap drew the attention of the DOJ, which has, according to a report from KATU, commenced a criminal probe. The investigation, aimed at ensuring compliance, also casts an ominous shadow over a previous $2.5 billion settlement Boeing made in 2021, following fatal crashes that claimed 346 lives. Witnesses and crew from the January 5 flight have been contacted, corroborated by statements seen by the New York Post, indicating the gravity of federal scrutiny.

Alaska Airlines has publicly stated its cooperation with the investigation, shedding some light on its position. "In an event like this, it's normal for the DOJ to be conducting an investigation. We are fully cooperating and do not believe we are a target of the investigation," the airline conveyed in a statement obtained by the Wall Street Journal.

The inquiry raises questions anew about the safety protocols and manufacturing standards of Boeing, a titan of the aerospace industry, still reeling from the aftereffects of past tragedies. As federal prosecutors comb through the wreckage of bureaucratic failings and potential oversight gaps, they are fueled by a tenet to safeguard that these skies we entrust our lives to, shall not be compromised by the errors of those tasked with their maintenance, noted by documents familiar with the Wall Street Journal.

Seattle-Transportation & Infrastructure