NTSB Raises Concerns With Documentation Withheld by Boeing

NTSB Releases Preliminary Report on Alaska Airlines Flight 1282
Photo Credit: NTSB.

Boeing is facing further issues with the ongoing investigation of a mid-air incident involving an Alaska Airlines 737 MAX 9.

The NTSB has now alleged a failure by Boeing to provide crucial documentation related to the door plug assembly fitment.

The Incident and the Investigation

On January 5th, 2024, an Alaska Airlines flight became the subject of investigation after a door plug assembly a Boeing 737 MAX 9 detached mid-air.

Fortunately, the plane landed safely, and no serious injuries were reported. However, the incident raised serious concerns and prompted the NTSB to launch a thorough investigation.

An NTSB officer inspects damaged Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 9 interior.

The Dispute Over Documentation

During a US Senate hearing this week, NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy publicly stated that Boeing had not provided requested documentation despite repeated requests.

According to the News & Observer, Homendy elaborated: “Specifically with respect to opening, closing and removal of the door and the team that does that work at the Renton facility.”

This documentation, according to Homendy, was crucial for understanding the production, installation, and maintenance history of the specific door plug involved.

Additionally, information about the team responsible for working on the door plug was also requested but allegedly not provided.

“But we still…there is one team – one team that deals with the doors – of 25 people. Why we don’t have those names today, two months later, is really disappointing,” said Homendy.

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NTSB Recovers Missing Door Plug from Alaska Airlines 1282

Boeing’s Response

Boeing responded to the allegations by stating that it had cooperated with the investigation and provided the NTSB with a list of relevant employees who work on 737 doors.

It further claimed that if no documentation was generated during the door plug removal process, there wouldn’t be any information to share.

Concerns and Implications

This lack of documented procedures and potential withholding of information has raised serious concerns about Boeing’s safety protocols and record-keeping practices.

The NTSB’s investigation naturally hinges on a complete understanding of the events leading up to the incident. The alleged lack of documentation impedes their ability to thoroughly assess the situation.

Unresolved Questions and Ongoing Investigation

As of today, key questions remain unanswered:

  • Did Boeing maintain any documentation related to the specific door plug removal on the Alaska Airlines aircraft?
  • If not, why weren’t such procedures documented?
  • Did Boeing actually comply fully with the NTSB’s requests for information?

The NTSB has reiterated their commitment to a comprehensive investigation and stated that they “stand behind” their initial statements regarding Boeing’s cooperation.

The investigation is ongoing, and further developments are expected in the coming months.

Looking Forward

In general, this incident highlights the critical role of transparency and documented procedures in ensuring aviation safety.

The outcome of the NTSB concerns and investigation, and any potential corrective actions taken by Boeing will be closely monitored. It will certainly raise scrutiny by the aviation industry and the public alike.

As the investigation progresses, clarity on the withheld documentation and Boeing’s cooperation level will be crucial. At the heart of it is the need to uphold public trust and operational safety standards.


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By Len Varley - Assistant Editor 4 Min Read
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