(Washington) The door of an Alaska Airlines plane that separated from the fuselage shortly after takeoff Friday in the northwest United States has been found, which should help the investigation into this very rare incident which led to the grounding of Boeing 737 MAX 9s and the cancellation of dozens of flights around the world.

“I am happy to report that we have found the door panel,” Jennifer Homendy, chairwoman of the U.S. transportation safety agency, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), said at a news conference. who dispatched a team to investigate the reasons for the incident.

A teacher recovered the sign, which had fallen in his garden in the city of Portland (Northwest Oregon). “We’re going to go get it and start analyzing it,” said the head of the NTSB.

At approximately 6:30 p.m. Friday (9:30 p.m. ET Saturday), shortly after an Alaska Airlines flight took off from Portland International Airport, a door opened and detached from the fuselage mid-flight , according to the NTSB.

It is a door sealed off and hidden by a partition which only reveals a porthole, specified the NTSB, a configuration offered by Boeing to customers who request it. These models have “the middle door blocked”, according to the directive of the American aviation agency (FAA) published on its site.

The aircraft, which was carrying 171 passengers and 6 crew members, was then at an altitude of almost 5,000 m. The plane quickly returned to Portland and the incident caused some minor injuries.

“It was really brutal. Barely at altitude, the front of the window came off,” testified a passenger on the flight, Kyle Rinker, on the American channel CNN.

According to the NTSB, no one was seated in the two seats next to the partition that flew away. But according to passengers cited by the daily The Oregonian, a teenager sitting in the row had his shirt torn off by the decompression, causing him minor injuries.

After this very rare malfunction, the FAA “required immediate inspections of certain Boeing 737 MAX 9s before they can resume flight”, which concerns 171 aircraft worldwide, she said on X.

As a result, airlines and safety agencies around the world have grounded some Boeing 737 MAX 9s pending inspections, and dozens of flights have been canceled.

Thus, United Airlines, which has the largest fleet of 737-9s in the world, announced to AFP that it was leaving 46 aircraft on the ground, 33 having already been examined. Alaska Airlines said Saturday on

The companies Aeromexico, Copa Airlines, which operates 21 of these aircraft, and Turkish Airlines which owns 5, also announced that they had grounded their planes for checks.

On the other hand, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) indicated that no operator in Europe uses the 737 MAX 9 with the technical options concerned.

In the wake of these announcements, Boeing shares were set to fall on the New York Stock Exchange on Monday. In pre-hours electronic trading on Wall Street, which gives an indication of the trend for the session, the stock was down 8.3% at $228.34 as of 12:25 a.m. ET. It closed Friday up 1.66% at $249.

“We are very, very lucky that this did not end in a more tragic way,” the president of the NTSB told the press, while US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg spoke of a “terrifying incident”. on X.

A safety meeting was called for Tuesday by the CEO of Boeing, at the manufacturer’s factory located in Washington state (northwest).

The incident marks a new episode in a dark series for the 737 MAX, Boeing’s flagship plane, which experienced a series of technical problems and two crashes: the latter caused 346 deaths in October 2018 and March 2019, leading to the grounding of the 737 MAX for 20 months and the imposition of changes to the in-flight control system.

More recently, Boeing had to slow down its deliveries due to problems with the fuselage, particularly with the rear bulkhead of the aircraft.

At the end of December, the manufacturer had delivered more than 1,370 examples of the 737 MAX and its order book exceeded 4,000 units.