US investigators are retrieving the door-plug which detached from an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 Max 9, after the structure was located by an individual in the Portland area.
National Transportation Safety Board chair Jennifer Homendy, just a short time after appealing for witnesses who might have seen the crucial plug, disclosed during a 7 January briefing that a schoolteacher had submitted photographs of his discovery.
“[He] said he found it in his back yard,” says Homendy.
“I can just see the outside of the door-plug from the pictures – the white portions – we can’t see anything else.
“But we’re going to go pick that up and make sure we begin analysing it.”
Homendy could not state whether she believed the located plug was intact.
She had said that the plug was “pretty large” – measuring 48in by 26in (122cm by 66cm) and weighed 63lb (28.5kg) – and that its yellow-green and white colouring could “blend in with vegetation”.
Homendy did not narrow down the location of the plug, which was shed as the aircraft climbed out of Portland on 5 January, leaving a large aperture in the fuselage and causing the jet to depressurise.
But she added that cellphones had also been retrieved which appear to have fallen from the aircraft.
Updated on 8 January to add an NTSB image of the lost door plug.