Boeing Sanctioned for Revealing Private Information

Boeing has been sanctioned by the top US accident investigator for “blatantly violating” regulations by revealing private information to the media and speculating about the cause of January’s cabin panel blowout on a new airplane operated by Alaska Airlines.

NTSB and DOJ Investigation

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) stated it is cooperating with the Department of Justice (DOJ), which is deciding whether to prosecute Boeing for breaching a settlement related to two fatal crashes in 2018 and 2019. The NTSB launched an investigation after a door plug blew off a 737 Max 9 shortly after takeoff from Portland, Oregon, forcing an emergency landing. The panel was missing four key bolts.

Breach of Agreement

The NTSB accused Boeing of violating its regulations and a signed agreement by providing “non-public investigative information” and “speculating about possible causes” during a media briefing. As a result, Boeing will no longer have access to information produced by the NTSB during its investigation.

Media Briefing and Missteps

Boeing organized a media briefing on Tuesday to address concerns about quality and safety. However, an executive provided investigative information and analysis of previously released factual information, actions prohibited under Boeing’s agreement with the NTSB.

Focus of Investigation

The NTSB clarified that its investigation aims to determine the probable cause of the accident, not to place blame on any individual or assess liability. The agency requested additional information from Boeing, revealing the disclosure of unverified and unauthorized information, along with opinions and analysis suggesting causes of the accident.

Response from Boeing

Boeing expressed regret over the incident, stating that their comments overstepped the NTSB’s role as the source of investigative information. Boeing apologized to the NTSB and committed to cooperating with the ongoing investigation.