Boeing Recorded Over Footage of Faulty Door Plug Being Installed on 737 Max 9

Jason Redmond/AFP via Getty Images
Jason Redmond/AFP via Getty Images

The federal investigation into a loose door plug on a Boeing 737 Air Max 9 which caused a frightening mid-air blow out, has come to yet another standstill as investigators learned that Boeing recorded over security footage of the door plug being installed.

In a letter from Jennifer Homendy, the chair of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, she detailed the new roadblock in the search for the names of employees who worked on the Alaska Airlines aircraft, which experienced a mid-flight emergency on Jan. 5 when a panel of the fuselage blew out.

“To date, we still do not know who performed the work to open, reinstall, and close the door plug on the accident aircraft,” she wrote in the letter. “Boeing has informed us that they are unable to find the records documenting this work.”

The letter, addressed to Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Ted Cruz (R-TX), follows up on a Senate hearing Homendy attended last week, at which she said Boeing had not fully cooperated with the NTSB probe, and were withholding key documents.

At the hearing, Homendy said that NTSB investigators were in the process of interviewing employees at a facility in Renton, Washington where Boeing Max planes are assembled. Homendy wrote that after verbally requesting the footage from the facility, investigators were notified that the footage was “overwritten,” meaning that the tape used to record it was reused, and the original footage deleted.

“The absence of those records will complicate the NTSB’s investigation moving forward,” she wrote.

Homendy wrote that she received a general list of employees from the company but had specifically requested the names from Boeing CEO David Calhoun. “He stated he was unable to provide that information and maintained that Boeing has no records of the work being performed,” Homendy wrote.

She wrote that the NTSB was not seeking the list of names for “punitive purposes,” but wanted to interview them about quality assurance processes and safety culture at Boeing.

She wrote that she’d become “increasingly concerned that the focus on the names of individual front-line workers will negatively impact our investigation,” because employees would be too afraid to cooperate with the NTSB.

On Tuesday, Boeing released a memo vowing “immediate actions” to address issues in its manufacturing process.

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