The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued a statement this morning sanctioning Boeing for “blatantly” violating investigative regulations it agreed to as a party in the probe of the door-plug blowout in Portland, Oregon. The NTSB cited a Boeing media briefing on June 25 in which the manufacturer “provided non-public investigative information to the news media that NTSB had not verified or authorized for release. In addition, Boeing offered opinions and analysis on factors it suggested were causal to the accident.” 

The statement continued, “In the briefing, Boeing portrayed the NTSB investigation as a search to locate the individual responsible for the door plug work. The NTSB is instead focused on the probable cause of the accident, not placing blame on any individual or assessing liability.”

Making public the investigative information and offering analysis of that information, the NTSB wrote, “are prohibited by the party agreement that Boeing signed when it was offered party status by the NTSB at the start of the investigation. As a party to many NTSB investigations over the past decades, few entities know the rules better than Boeing.”

The NTSB did not remove Boeing’s party status in the investigation, but it has lost access to investigative information; and the NTSB may subpoena relevant records as it continues the investigation. In addition, Boeing will be subpoenaed to appear at an investigative hearing on August 6-7 in Washington, but the manufacturer will not be allowed to ask questions of other parties in the investigation.

And finally, the NTSB wrote, “Given that Boeing is under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice [DOJ] 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.”

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