NTSB sanctions Boeing for releasing details of 737 Max investigation

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The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) sanctioned Boeing Thursday for disclosing non-public details on an investigation into a 737 Max 9 door plug that blew off during an Alaska Airlines flight in January.

An unnamed Boeing executive discussed certain “investigative information” and offered an analysis of information that had previously been released during a media briefing Tuesday, both of which “blatantly violated” the party agreement Boeing signed at the start of the investigation, according to the NTSB, an independent agency that investigates transportation accidents.

“As a party to many NTSB investigations over the past decades, few entities know the rules better than Boeing,” the NTSB said.

The sanctions place certain restrictions on Boeing’s ability to participate in the NTSB investigation moving forward. While the NTSB said Boeing will keep its party status, the planemaker will no longer have access to information the agency produces as it builds a “factual record of the accident.”

The NTSB also said it would subpoena Boeing for an investigative hearing scheduled for Aug. 6 and 7.

“Unlike the other parties in the hearing, Boeing will not be allowed to ask questions of other participants,” the NTSB said.

Boeing did not immediately respond to The Hill’s requests for comment.

The agency also said it would refer the incident to the Department of Justice (DOJ), 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.

The families who lost loved ones in the crashes encouraged the DOJ last week to pursue “aggressive criminal prosecution” and fine Boeing $24 billion for “the deadliest corporate crime in US history.”

Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun apologized to the crash victims’ families during a Senate subcommittee hearing last week, his first congressional testimony since the door plug incident in January.

Calhoun also said Boeing “took responsibility and cooperated transparently” with the NTSB and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) investigations into the blowout.

“In our factories and in our supply chain, we took immediate action to ensure the specific circumstances that led to this accident would not happen again,” Calhoun said during his opening statement.

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