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NTSB Sanctions Boeing for Sharing 737-9 Probe Details

DALLAS – The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) took a strong stance against Boeing on Wednesday, sanctioning the company for releasing non-public investigative information to the media regarding the January 5th incident involving a Boeing 737-9 MAX door plug blowout in Portland, Oregon.

According to the NTSB, Boeing's actions violated their signed agreement as a party to the investigation. This agreement prohibits sharing confidential information or offering speculations on potential causes. 

As Jon Ostrower of The Air Current first reported, Boeing held a media briefing on June 25 where they discussed the incident, raising concerns with the NTSB.

N37536 United Airlines Boeing 737-9 MAX KBOS/BOS. Photo: Marty Basaria/Airways

Sanctions Imposed on Boeing

  • Limited access to information: While retaining its party status, Boeing will no longer receive investigative updates from the NTSB.
  • Subpoena for investigative hearing: Boeing is compelled to appear at a hearing on August 6th and 7th in Washington D.C. However, unlike other participants, they won't be allowed to question others.
  • Coordination with Department of Justice (DOJ): The NTSB will share details of Boeing's unauthorized information release with the DOJ's Fraud Division, considering the ongoing investigation into Boeing's interactions with the FAA before the Boeing 737 MAX fatalities.
“Given that Boeing is under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice in relation to its Deferred Prosecution Agreement stemming from Boeing's interactions with the FAA prior to the Boeing MAX fatalities, the NTSB will be coordinating with the DOJ Fraud Division to provide details about Boeing's recent unauthorized investigative information releases in the 737 MAX 9 door plug investigation,” stated the NTSB.

The NTSB further emphasized its focus on determining the probable cause of the incident, not assigning individual blame. They contrasted this with Boeing's media portrayal, which allegedly presented the investigation as a search for a single culprit.

The NTSB's sanctions and information sharing with the DOJ signal a serious response to Boeing's violation of investigative protocols.

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