The FBI’s Seattle branch sent mail to passengers on Alaska Airlines Flight 1282, according to a report in the Seattle Times. As a reminder, the recipients were on board during the serious breakdown at the beginning of January, in which a cabin panel the size of a door was torn out of the aircraft in mid-air. This led to an extreme drop in pressure and forced the plane to make an immediate emergency landing.

In the letter, the United States Central Security Agency informs those affected that it has opened a criminal investigation. According to the letter, the FBI believes it is possible that the people on board the plane were “possible victims of a crime.” The agency further states: “This case is currently being investigated by the FBI. A criminal investigation can be a lengthy undertaking, and for various reasons we cannot tell you anything about the progress of the investigation at this time.”

It is unclear why the FBI informed the passengers on the flight of this without providing further details. The letter apparently does not contain any recommendations for action, but the FBI is asking recipients to register in an agency system in order to stay informed about ongoing events. A lawyer who represents those affected in legal disputes against Boeing and Alaska Airlines told the Seattle Times that he expected the authority to plan to survey the passengers.

The lawyer added that the FBI’s attention to his clients was a sign that this was also a “serious incident” in the eyes of the state. That was “encouraging,” they said. The FBI even set up its own contact point for the many people on board the plane, according to the report. Apparently they are expecting a “large number of potential victims”.

The letter from the authorities apparently does not explain who they think is the possible perpetrator or what crime is involved. It would be conceivable that this refers to the aircraft manufacturer’s alleged negligence and that the company could therefore also be considered a perpetrator.

Since the incident, Boeing has not only had to contend with numerous other mishaps, but also a variety of investigations into the Flight 1282 incident. In addition to the FBI’s investigation, there is also a criminal investigation by the US Department of Justice and an investigation into the cause of the fuselage detachment by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NTSB).

The chances that Boeing will have a black eye are slim. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)’s initial investigation results recently revealed that “dozens of problems” had been identified at Boeing and its supplier Spirit Aerosystems. “Including several cases in which the companies failed to meet quality control requirements,” writes the Seattle Times.