Analyzing Boeing’s Potential Removal from NTSB Probe

Analyzing Boeing’s Potential Removal from NTSB Probe

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued a warning to Boeing stating that it could lose its status as a party to the probe into a 737 MAX mid-air blowout. This warning came after Boeing violated rules by providing non-public information to the media and speculating about possible causes. The NTSB Office of Aviation Safety Director, Timothy LeBaron, criticized Boeing for releasing non-public investigative information and making unsubstantiated speculations about the incident during a factory tour attended by journalists.

NTSB's warning to Boeing included the possibility of removing the company as a party to the probe, which would bar them from participating in the investigation. LeBaron emphasized that further infractions could lead to Boeing losing its party status. He highlighted that the NTSB had previously warned Boeing about similar conduct on March 13 but saw no improvement in the company's behavior.

Boeing declined to comment directly on the NTSB's warning but referred to an earlier apology it released after the NTSB sanctioned the company. Boeing now faces consequences such as not being able to access information produced during the probe and not being allowed to ask questions at an upcoming hearing. The NTSB also plans to subpoena Boeing witnesses to appear at the hearing, including Elizabeth Lund, Boeing's senior vice president of quality.

DOJ Involvement

The DOJ is also involved in the matter, as it previously stated that Boeing had violated a 2021 settlement with prosecutors which shielded the company from criminal charges over interactions with the Federal Aviation Administration prior to MAX crashes in 2018 and 2019. The NTSB plans to refer Boeing's recent conduct to the Department of Justice for further action.

Additional Misconduct

In addition to the issue involving Elizabeth Lund, the NTSB highlighted that Boeing Chief Engineer Howard McKenzie made prohibited comments during a U.S. Senate hearing about a Southwest Airlines incident. McKenzie stated that the event had nothing to do with design or manufacturing, a statement that the NTSB disagreed with. The NTSB is still investigating the Southwest Airlines incident and has not ruled out the possibility of design or manufacturing issues.

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Boeing's removal as a party to the NTSB probe due to misconduct and violation of rules is a significant in the ongoing investigation. The company's actions have not only jeopardized its participation in the probe but have also raised concerns about its compliance with federal regulations and safety standards. Moving forward, Boeing will need to address these issues seriously and cooperate fully with the NTSB to ensure transparency and accountability in the investigation process.

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