Boeing is ‘unable to find records’ for repairs made to Alaska Airlines plane — security footage ‘overwritten’: NTSB

Boeing is “unable to find records” for the repairs made to the Alaska Airlines plane that experienced a mid-flight exit door panel blowout earlier this year, the National Transportation Safety Board told the Senate Commerce Committee on Wednesday, the New York Post reported.

NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy wrote a letter to Senators Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) confirming that Boeing had failed to provide documentation for the September work to the aircraft, which involved removing and reinstalling the door plug to perform rivet repairs.

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

In addition to failing to provide records of the repairs, the airplane manufacturer also says that the security camera footage from its facility in Renton, Washington, where the rivet work took place, has been erased, according to the NTSB.

“A verbal request was made by our investigators for security camera footage to help obtain this information; however, they were informed the footage was overwritten,” Homendy added.

Homendy explained that the NTSB has been unable to speak with the facility’s door crew manager because, at the advice of his attorney, he cannot provide a statement “due to medical issues.” She noted that the lack of records and security footage would further complicate the government agency’s investigation into the incident.

“Boeing gave NTSB names of individuals who may provide insight regarding the work performed to open, reinstall, and close the door plug in September 2023,” she noted.

Homendy stated that she called Boeing Chief Executive Officer David Calhoun to request the names of all the employees who performed the door plug work.

“He stated he was unable to provide that information and maintained that Boeing has no records of the work being performed,” her letter to the senators read.

Boeing said in a statement last week that it has cooperated with the NTSB’s requests for information regarding the ongoing investigation. The company also implied that it lacked documentation for the September repair work.

“With respect to documentation, if the door plug removal was undocumented there would be no documentation to share,” Boeing stated.

Repair records must be retained in the event documentation needs to be provided to auditors and investigators, according to regulatory requirements.

The NTSB’s preliminary report revealed that the exit door plug may have been missing all four bolts that secured it in place before the aircraft was delivered to Alaska Airlines.

“I have become increasingly concerned that the focus on the names of individual front-line workers will negatively impact our investigation and discourage such Boeing employees from providing NTSB with information relevant to this investigation,” Homendy told the senators, noting that the agency is not seeking the names of the employees for punitive purposes.

Boeing explained that the security footage that captured the repair work was overwritten because the facility’s camera systems maintain footage on a rolling 30-day basis.

“We will continue supporting this investigation in the transparent and proactive fashion we have supported all regulatory inquiries into this accident. We have worked hard to honor the rules about the release of investigative information in an environment of intense interest from our employees, customers, and other stakeholders, and we will continue our efforts to do so,” Boeing said in a statement, the Post reported.

The Alaska Airlines plane that experienced the panel blowout, which forced the pilots to make an emergency landing, was scheduled for maintenance later that same evening, according to the New York Times.

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