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Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 passengers receive FBI letter identifying them as the victims of a possible crime

A door panel on the Alaska Airlines jet carrying 177 people blew out midair on its way from Oregon to California on Jan. 5.
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Passengers of the Alaska Airlines flight that was forced to make an emergency landing when a door panel blew out midair have received a letter from the FBI identifying them as victims of a possible crime.

The incident occurred Jan. 5, when Flight 1282 was on its way from Oregon to California with 177 people on board. The Federal Aviation Administration announced an investigation into Boeing days later.

Attorney Mark Lindquist, who represents passengers on the flight in litigation against Boeing and Alaska Airlines, shared the letter from the Justice Department with NBC News.

“I’m contacting you because we have identified you as a possible victim of a crime,” a victim specialist with the FBI’s Seattle division wrote in the letter.

Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 Boeing 737-9 MAX.
Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 Boeing 737-9 MAX on Jan. 7, in Portland, Ore.NTSB via Getty Images

The specialist says that the FBI launched a criminal investigation into the incident, which “can be a lengthy undertaking,” adding that the agency can’t tell the passengers about its progress at this time. The specialist also encouraged passengers to contact an email address with the alias “AlaskaFlightVictims” with any questions or comments.

People who received the letter will be updated on the case by email, or through a victim notification system, the specialist said.

NBC News has reached out to the FBI for additional information.

Last week, the DOJ opened a criminal investigation into the door plug blowout on the Boeing 737 Max 9 plane, a person familiar with the matter confirmed to NBC News.

Lindquist said he was pleased that the DOJ is investigating the near-disaster.

“We want answers,” he said. “We want accountability. We want safer Boeing planes. And a DOJ investigation helps advance our goals.”