NTSB Slaps Sanctions on Boeing For Sharing Confidential Files

Sanctions restrict the ability for Boeing to participate in the NTSB investigation moving forward.

Just when Boeing officials thought things couldn’t get any worse, they suddenly did. They got busted by the NTSB “disclosing nonpublic details.” For that, they were “sanctioned.” It’s not just another fine. These penalties are much more serious than any fine. As far as the investigation of that door panel which blew out goes, they’ve been wrapped with duct tape, gagged and shoved over into a corner. They can watch but are no longer allowed to participate.

Boeing claims accident

The word “accident” is one which Boeing leadership always cringes over. At least this one didn’t get anyone killed. They, themselves, were seriously injured by the explosive blow-back.

Their ability to participate in the affected investigation has been canceled.

On Thursday, June 27, the National Transportation Safety Board slapped sanctions on Boeing for “disclosing nonpublic details on an investigation into a 737 Max 9 door plug that blew off during an Alaska Airlines flight in January.

An executive they aren’t identifying accidentally discussed certain “investigative information.” Not only that, they “offered an analysis of information that had previously been released during a media briefing Tuesday.

When the NTSB got wind of that, they came unglued. Both of those actions “blatantly violated” the party agreement Boeing signed at the start of the investigation. The board may work under the leadership of Pete Buttigieg but they don’t mess around.

They’re the only watchdog group known for consistently using their authority to keep the public safe, administration after administration, as Transportation Secretaries come and go with the political winds.

Boeing disclosed nonpublic details on an investigation into a 737 Max 9 door plug that blew off during an Alaska Airlines flight in January.

No access to information

The sanctions restrict the ability for Boeing “to participate in the NTSB investigation moving forward.” The company is allowed to keep its status as “a party” but that’s about it.

The troubled manufacturer “will no longer have access to information the agency produces.” They’re building a “factual record of the accident” and don’t want that compromised by leaked reports being used to mop up the mess.

The board sent subpoenas out to the appropriate company officials for a two-day hearing about the issue starting August 6. “Unlike the other parties in the hearing, Boeing will not be allowed to ask questions of other participants.

We’re sorrryyyyy, the C-suite whined, adding that they’re “ready to answer any questions as the agency continues its investigation.

An unnamed “Boeing spokesman” notes that sharing “context on the lessons we have learned from the January 5 accident” as they “conducted an in-depth briefing on our Safety & Quality Plan” was a bad idea. “We deeply regret that some of our comments, intended to make clear our responsibility in the accident and explain the actions we are taking, overstepped the NTSB’s role as the source of investigative information.” Sorry doesn’t get the job done.

They can be at the hearing, sit quietly and not interrupt. Or, there can be more sanctions. Meanwhile, the NTSB decided to “refer the incident to the Department of Justice, which is weighing whether to prosecute Boeing for violating a deferred prosecution agreement related to two fatal crashes of 737 Max 8 jetliners in 2018 and 2019 that left nearly 350 people dead.