Alaska Airlines placed restrictions on the Boeing plane involved in a large mid-air explosion after pressure warnings in the days before Friday's accident, investigators said.
Jennifer Homendy of the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said the plane was prohibited from making long flights over water.
The NTSB also says the missing part of the plane has now been found — in the backyard of a Portland teacher.
No one was hurt in Friday's drama.
After losing part of the fuselage, which was a Boeing 737 MAX 9 – He made a safe emergency landing After returning to her departure city of Portland.
There were 177 passengers and crew on board the flight to Ontario, California.
About 171 aircraft of the same type are still parked on the ground By the US regulatory body, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), with ongoing safety checks.
Before the FAA intervened on Saturday, Alaska Airlines briefly returned some of its Max 9 planes to service, saying it had made “no findings of concern.”
Speaking at a news conference, Ms Homendy said pilots had reported pressure warning lights on three previous Alaska Airlines Max 9 flights involved in the incident.
The NTSB chief added that the decision to restrict long-haul flights over water was so that the plane could return very quickly to the airport if the warnings occurred again.
It is not clear whether there is a link between the problems that led to those warnings and the problem that caused the explosion on January 5.
Ms Homendy said an “additional maintenance look” had been requested but “had not been completed” before the accident.
The plane was brand new, having been delivered to Alaska Airlines in October, at which time the FAA deemed it airworthy.
Ms. Homendy also used the conference to offer new details about the “extremely chaotic” and “terrifying” situation aboard Alaska Airlines Flight 1282.
She said the force of the explosion caused the cockpit door to open and a laminated checklist and the first officer's headset were ejected into the cabin.
She added that no information was available from the cockpit voice recorder, as the recording was automatically erased after reaching a two-hour outage.
The NTSB wanted to increase that window to 25 hours, she added.
Mrs. Homendy later announced that the detached portion of the plane's fuselage had been found, after a teacher named Bob located the missing portion in his backyard.
“I am happy to announce that we have found the door stopper,” she told reporters. “Thank you, Bob.”
The plug is a 27 kg (60 lb) piece of fuselage, with a window, that can be used as an emergency exit in certain configurations. Authorities were searching for him in Portland, the city of departure.
Ms Homidi said finding out what caused the explosion was “the key missing ingredient”.
It was also reported that two mobile phones believed to have fallen from the plane were found.
An Oregon man shared a photo of an iPhone Which he said he discovered, business as usual, on a grassy verge next to the road. The device appears to display an email receipt for $70 (£55) for the checked baggage fee for the flight.
Flight 1282 reached an altitude of 16,000 feet (4.8 kilometers) when it began its emergency descent on Friday evening, according to flight tracking data.
Photos shared online — and later by investigators — showed a gaping hole in the side of the vehicle, with oxygen masks hanging from the ceiling.
One passenger, Diego Murillo, said the gap left by the missing part was “as big as a refrigerator.”
The Oregonian newspaper quoted passengers as saying that the shirt of a young boy who was sitting near the damaged area was torn due to the force of pressure.
“While we await Airworthiness Directive (AD) inspection standards from the FAA and Boeing, our maintenance teams are prepared and prepared to perform the required inspections of the middle exit door seals on our 737-9,” Alaska Airlines said in its latest statement. . Fleet Max.
“The grounding of the 737-9 MAX has significantly impacted our operations. We canceled 170 flights on Sunday and 60 flights on Monday, with more expected.”
“Safety is our top priority and we deeply regret the impact this event has had on our customers and their passengers,” Boeing said in a statement.
The company's 737 MAX has been described as the “most scrutinized transport aircraft in history” after a series of safety issues.
In late 2018 and early 2019, it lost two of its planes in near-identical accidents, off the coast of Indonesia and outside the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.
A total of 346 people were killed. Both crashes were caused by a malfunction in the flight control software, which ultimately forced the planes to make disastrous landings, despite the best efforts of the pilots.
After the incident that occurred on Friday in the United States, the European Union regulatory body followed the example of its American counterpart. But she expected the disruption to be minimal, as she believes no European airline has flown Max 9 planes with the configuration covered by the FAA order.
Icelandair said it was not affected. Real-time flight tracking website Flightradar24 confirmed that a number of the airline's Max 9 planes were in the sky on Monday morning.
The bulk of the affected planes are operated by US operators – 79 for United Airlines and 65 for Alaska – meaning thousands of passengers are grounded.
“Web maven. Infuriatingly humble beer geek. Bacon fanatic. Typical creator. Music expert.”