Boeing Has Not Provided Key Information in Blowout Investigation, Safety Board Chair Says

Skift Take

The NTSB chair told a Senate committee that Boeing had not yet provided records on its documentation regarding the opening and closing of the door plug on Alaska’s Max 9 and the names of certain workers.

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to note that the National Transportation Safety Board confirmed receiving the information from Boeing discussed at the Senate Committee hearing. That information was received after the hearing at around 2pm ET Wednesday. 

The chair of the National Transportation Safety Board told a Senate committee early Wednesday that it had yet to receive key information from Boeing related to the Alaska Airlines blowout incident. 

NTSB chair Jennifer Homendy said the agency had requested the names of certain workers and documentation regarding the opening and closing of the door plug on the Alaska jet. 

“There are two options,” Homendy said during a Senate Commerce Committee hearing. “Either they exist and we don’t have them or they do not exist, which raises several different questions depending on which one is the right answer.”

Homendy said Boeing claims that it has a process for maintaining documents for when work is performed on an aircraft, including when the door plugs are opened and closed. But Homendy said the NTSB has not been able to verify Boeing’s claims. 

There are also around 25 people and a manager based in Boeing’s Renton, Washington factory who work with door plugs. The manager has been out on medical leave, Homendy said. The NTSB has asked for the names of those workers and records of their shifts, but Boeing has not provided that information to the agency. 

“It’s absurd that two months later we don’t have that,” Homendy said. 

Boeing said that it provided the NTSB with a list of Boeing employees, including those on the 737 door team.

“We have now provided the full list of individuals on the 737 door team, in response to a recent request,” Boeing said in a statement. “With respect to documentation, if the door plug removal was undocumented there would be no documentation to share.”

The NTSB confirmed to Skift Monday evening that it received the names of those 25 employees from Boeing at around 2 p.m.

Boeing Mired in Federal Investigations

The Federal Aviation Administration and the NTSB are investigating Boeing over its quality control and safety procedures following the January 5 incident with the Alaska 737 Max 9. The FAA grounded the Max 9 for nearly one month and recently found instances of “multiple quality control issues” at Boeing. 

Since the Alaska incident, Boeing has repeatedly said it would fully cooperate with government agencies in their investigations. 

During a call with analysts in January, Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun apologized for the incident and said, “We caused the problem.”

“This increased scrutiny, whether it comes from us, from our regulator or third parties, will make us better,” he said on the call.

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