Boeing Says It Lacks Documentation For The Blown-Out Door Plug

The ongoing inquiry into the Boeing 737 Max incident where its door blew off mid-air has struck a stumbling block due to Boeing’s lack of necessary documents.

Despite conducting interviews with personnel at Boeing’s Renton, Washington site, where the 737 Max is assembled, and acquiring other relevant documents, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is at a loss. They have yet to identify the individuals responsible for the faulty door stopper that lacked fasteners, resulting in a catastrophic blowout on an Alaska Airlines flight in January.

Boeing has admitted the problem but says its staff failed to document the relevant work, leaving investigators searching for explanations.

“The absence of those records will complicate the NTSB’s investigation moving forward,” NTSB Chairwoman Jennifer Homendy wrote in a letter to the Senate committee probing Boeing.

The letter also stated that Boeing could not produce surveillance footage of the September 2023 maintenance, which involved removing and reinstalling the door plug. Homendy told the Senate Commerce Committee last week that her investigators discovered Boeing “security cameras all over the facility” but were told that the footage is only preserved for 30 days. Boeing informed CNN that a 30-day record retention policy for security camera footage is typical.

The letter disclosed that on January 9, four days following the mid-flight incident, the NTSB initially requested Boeing’s identities of pertinent personnel. Boeing allegedly gave the NTSB “names of individuals who may provide insight regarding the work performed” on February 2.

As part of its preparation for a series of interviews with Boeing employees last week, the NTSB sought an additional list of names on March 2.

This National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) handout shows a hole in the fuselage of Alaska Airlines Flight 1282, a Boeing 737-9 MAX, which took place near Portland, Oregon, on January 7, 2024. Ten minutes after the Plane took off from Portland, Oregon, on January 5 on its way to Ontario, California, a door-sized part in the rear of the Boeing 737-9 MAX plane blew off.

According to Homendy’s letter, the agency is not looking for interactions with employees for disciplinary reasons. “Our primary goal is to pinpoint weaknesses and suggest safety enhancements to ensure that incidents like this never occur again,” the writer stated.

Homendy hinted that the inquiry is becoming more complicated due to Boeing’s back-and-forth regarding the names of particular employees. Still, he also promised that the NTSB would safeguard any employees who come forward.

In response, Boeing indicated it would assist the NTSB in its inquiry. “We will continue to support this investigation transparently and proactively. We have supported all regulatory inquiries related to this accident.”

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