Boeing criticized by US regulator for revealing details of panel bursts to media | Boeing


NTSB sanctions plane maker for ‘blatantly’ violating rules as it investigates January Alaska Airlines incident

Thu June 27, 2024 10:45 a.m. EDT

Boeing was sanctioned by the top US accident investigator for ‘blatantly violating’ regulations by revealing private information to the media and speculating about the causes of the January cabin panel explosion on a brand-new plane operated by Alaska Airlines.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said it is cooperating with the Justice Department, which is deciding whether to sue Boeing after it said it violated an agreement over two fatal crashes in 2018 and 2019.

After a door jam blew open a 737 Max 9 shortly after takeoff from Portland, Oregon, forcing an Alaska Airlines crew to stage an emergency landing, the NTSB launched an investigation. It appears the panel was missing four key bolts.

In a scathing statement Thursday, the NTSB said Boeing violated its regulations and an agreement signed between the agency and the company by providing “non-public investigative information” and “speculating about possible causes” of the crash. January incident during a press briefing.

“As a party to numerous NTSB investigations over the past several decades, few entities know the rules better than Boeing,” the NTSB said. Due to the agency’s new restrictions and sanctions, Boeing will no longer have access to information produced by the agency as its investigation continues.

Boeing held the news conference, which took place Tuesday, as it struggles to address concerns from regulators, airlines and passengers about the quality and safety of its production line.

But a company executive “provided investigative information and gave an analysis of previously released factual information,” the NTSB said. Both actions are prohibited by Boeing’s agreement with the agency, signed at the start of the Alaska investigation.

The NTSB said Boeing described the agency’s investigation “as a search to locate the individual responsible for the work on the door plugs” during the briefing. This is not the case, he clarifies: “Rather, the NTSB focuses on the probable cause of the accident, without assigning blame to anyone or assessing responsibility. »

After hearing about the briefing, the NTSB requested additional information from Boeing, which provided a transcript that the agency said showed the release of unverified and unauthorized information. “In addition, Boeing offered opinions and analyses of the factors it believed caused the accident.”

The NTSB said it plans to “provide details” about the incident to the Justice Department’s fraud division.

A Boeing spokesperson said: “As we continue to take responsibility and operate transparently, we conducted a thorough briefing on our safety and quality plan and shared context on the lessons we learned from the January 5 accident.

“We deeply regret that some of our comments, intended to clarify our responsibility for the accident and to explain the actions we are taking, overstepped the NTSB’s role as a source of investigative information. We apologize to the NTSB and stand ready to answer any questions you may have as the agency continues its investigation.

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