The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has released images of the door plug that blew out of an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 Max 9 just after departing Portland, Oregon on 5 January. 

Chair Jennifer Homendy said in a media briefing late on 7 January that the debris was found in the yard of a house under the aircraft’s flight track after a two-day search. She had appealed to the public for help finding the missing door, which blew out as the aircraft was climbing. 

The NTSB’s images appear to show the door lodged at the top of a tree or large bush. That could be why it was not immediately spotted.


Source: US National Transportation Safety Board / X

An emergency exit door plug which fell from an in-flight Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 Max 9 aircraft is recovered from a Portland, Oregon yard on 8 January 2024

”NTSB investigators are currently examining the door plug and will send it to the NTSB Materials Laboratory in Washington, DC for further examination,” the safety agency says.

The accident, which occurred on a flight destined for Ontario, California, led the US Federal Aviation Administration to ground 171 aircraft of the type worldwide. It issued an emergency airworthiness directive on 6 January mandating inspections prior to further flights.

Earlier in the day, aircraft manufacturer Boeing said it issued a multi-operator message with instructions on the how to conduct the inspections. The FAA approved the method, it added. 

Boeing, the FAA, the NTSB and airlines have been scrambling since an Alaska 737 Max 9 lost its mid-cabin emergency exit door plug during a flight from Portland to Ontario, Canada on 5 January.

The failure left a large hole in the shape of an exit door in the side of the jet. The pilots diverted to Portland and landed safely without serious injuries to passengers or crew, officials have said. 

The US safety agency also released video of investigators examining the accident aircraft on 7 January.