NTSB to hold investigative hearing on Alaska Airlines door plug incident

Written by on March 13, 2024

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(NEW YORK) — The National Transportation Safety Board will hold a two-day investigative hearing on the Alaska Air door plug incident, the agency announced Tuesday.

The hearing will take place on Aug. 6 and 7, with the location and other details to be announced at a later date, the NTSB said.

The door plug of Alaska Airlines flight 1282 fell off a few minutes after take off from Portland International Airport on Jan. 5. Passengers captured footage showing a hole where the door plug came loose on the Boeing 737 Max 9 plane. The plane safely made an emergency landing and no one was seriously injured.

The investigating hearing will “assist in obtaining information necessary to determine the facts, circumstances, and probable cause of the transportation accident or incident under investigation and to make recommendations to improve transportation safety,” the NTSB said in a statement.

The agency held similar hearings last year on the toxic train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio..

The Federal Aviation Administration grounded approximately 171 Max 9s worldwide following the incident earlier this year. Alaska Airlines resumed flying the Boeing 737 Max 9 following fleet inspections on Jan. 26.

An NTSB preliminary report released last month found that four bolts designed to prevent the door plug from falling off the Boeing 737 Max 9 plane were missing before the plug blew off the flight.

The FAA conducted an audit of Boeing’s production and manufacturing in the wake of the door plug blow-out that has now concluded, the agency said Tuesday. The FAA said in a statement it identified “non-compliance issues in Boeing’s manufacturing process control, parts handling and storage, and product control” through its audit.

No additional details are being released at this time amid an ongoing investigation, the FAA said.

In response to the audit, Boeing said it continues to “implement immediate changes and develop a comprehensive action plan to strengthen safety and quality, and build the confidence of our customers and their passengers.”

“We are squarely focused on taking significant, demonstrated action with transparency at every turn,” the company said in a statement.

In a notice to employees sent Tuesday, Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Stan Deal said the “vast majority of our audit non-compliances involved not following our approved processes and procedures.”

The Justice Department is also investigating the Alaska Airlines incident, three sources familiar with the situation told ABC News last month.

The probe will also examine specifically whether Boeing violated its 2021 deferred prosecution agreement when the company was investigated by the Justice Department over two 737 Max crashes. The deferred prosecution agreement forced Boeing to cooperate with federal government probes and fined the company $2.5 billion after Lion Air Flight 610 in 2018, and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 in 2019, both 737 Max planes, crashed.

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