Department of Justice Opens Door Plug Incident Investigation

March 11, 2024
Also, Boeing leadership says it can't find documents relating to when the panel was opened and reinstalled.

The U.S. Department of Justice has opened a criminal investigation into the Jan. 5 Boeing 737 MAX-9 door plug incident, according to documents and people familiar with the matter. The Wall Street Journal reported the investigation on March 9.

In other developments, on March 8, Seattle Times aerospace reporter Dominic Gates reported: "Boeing leadership admitted Friday in a letter sent to Sen. Maria Cantwell that it cannot find any record of the work done on the 737 MAX final assembly line in Renton to open and reinstall the panel that blew out Jan. 5 on Alaska Airlines Flight 1282.

"Boeing’s presumption is that no record was ever created."

Previously, National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Chair Jennifer Homendy testified that Boeing failed to provide access to key protocols, documents and personnel necessary for NTSB’s investigation into the cause of the door plug incident. Homendy provided testimony during a March 6 Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation hearing on NTSB’s ongoing investigations.

After the hearing, U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Washington, who chairs the committee, sent a letter to Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun, demanding that the company provide NTSB with the requested information – including documentation of the door plug removal and reinstallation, and the names of the 25 persons assigned to the door plug team – within 48 hours.

In a March 6 statement, Boeing said, “… With respect to documentation, if the door plug removal was undocumented there would be no documentation to share. We will continue to cooperate fully and transparently with the NTSB’s investigation.”

Cantwell during the committee hearing asked Homendy if she had concerns about how an investigation of Boeing by Department of Justice would impact the NTSB’s investigation.

Homendy replied, “… Where it becomes a concern for us is when employees and others don't feel safe to speak to us."

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