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DOJ Starts Criminal Probe In Boeing 737 Blowout Incident

The Justice Department has opened a criminal investigation into the Boeing 737 MAX blowout on an Alaska Airlines flight, reports the Wall Street Journal. Investigators have contacted passengers and crew on the Jan. 5 flight, which made an emergency landing in Portland, Ore., after a fuselage panel ripped off midair. “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,” Alaska Airlines said. The probe would complement the DOJ review of whether Boeing complied with an earlier settlement that resolved a federal investigation of two 737 MAX crashes in 2018 and 2019 that killed 346 people.

Investigators with the Transportation Department’s Inspector General’s office in recent weeks are seeking to interview Federal Aviation Administration officials in the Seattle area who oversee Boeing’s manufacturing. The earlier probe resulted in a $2.5 billion settlement in 2021 with the aircraft maker, as well as the prosecution of a former Boeing pilot, whom a jury acquitted in 2022. In that case, the Justice Department faulted Boeing for how it communicated with the FAA about a 737 MAX flight-control system that sent the jets into fatal nosedives. If the Justice Department finds that Boeing violated the the 2021 settlement, the company could face prosecution on the original count of defrauding the U.S. Investigators have taken steps to begin notifying Alaska passengers on board during the Jan. 5 accident that they are potential crime victims.


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