Alaska Airlines placed restrictions on the Boeing plane involved in a dramatic mid-air blowout after pressurisation warnings in the days before Friday’s incident, investigators say.
The jet had been prevented from making long-haul flights over water, said Jennifer Homendy of the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).
The NTSB also says the missing section of plane has now been found – in the back garden of a Portland teacher.
No-one was hurt in Friday’s drama.
After losing part of its fuselage, the plane – a Boeing 737 Max 9 – made a safe emergency landing after returning to its departure city, Portland.
There were 177 passengers and crew on board the flight to Ontario, California.
Some 171 planes of the same type remain grounded by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as safety checks continue.
Before the FAA’s intervention on Saturday, Alaska Airlines briefly returned some of its Max 9s to service, saying it had made “no concerning findings”.
Speaking at a news conference, Ms Homendy said pilots reported pressurisation warning lights on three previous flights made by the specific Alaska Max 9 involved in the incident.
The decision to restrict lengthy flights over water was so that the plane “could return very quickly to an airport” in the event the warnings happened again, the NTSB chief added.
It is not clear if there is a link between the issues that led to those warnings, and the issue that caused the blowout on 5 January.
The plane was brand new having been delivered to Alaska Airlines in October – at which time it was judged by the FAA to be airworthy. (BBC)
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