Security camera footage that captured Boeing’s work on an Alaska Airlines door plug was overwritten, the National Transportation Safety Board wrote in a letter to the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee Wednesday.

The agency requested the footage as part of its ongoing investigation into Boeing's role in the Jan. 5 incident involving a 737-9 MAX aircraft that lost the door plug midflight.

What You Need To Know

  • Security camera footage that captured Boeing's work on a door plug that broke off an Alaska Airlines flight in early January was overwritten

  • The National Transportation Safety Board had requested the footage as part of its ongoing investigation into the incident

  • Boeing said it does not have any documentation about the door plug work

  • A lawyer for Boeing's door crew manager said he is unable to provide an interview of statement to the NTSB because of medical issues

The plane had undergone rivet repairs at the airplane maker’s Renton, Wash., facility in September 2023 before it was delivered to Alaska Airlines. A preliminary NTSB investigation found the door plug was missing several bolts when it blew off the plane.

“To date, we still do not know who performed the work to open, reinstall and close the door plug on the accident aircraft,” NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy said in the letter.

Agency investigators had requested the security camera footage of the work but were told it was overwritten.

“The absence of those records will complicate the NTSB’s investigation moving forward,” Homendy said, adding that Boeing had earlier said it was not able to find records documenting the door plug work.

The NTSB has been seeking documents about the work since January 9. Homendy said investigators had identified the door crew manager but were told he was on medical leave. An attorney for the worker said he was unable to provide an interview or statement to the NTSB because of medical issues.

Last week, the NTSB asked Boeing to provide the names of all employees who reported to the door crew manager last September when the door plug was opened for repairs. Boeing provided the list but did not specify which workers had conducted the door plug work.

Homendy said she had a phone call with Boeing CEO David Calhoun to ask for the names of the workers.

“He stated he was unable to provide that information and maintained that Boeing has no records of the work being performed,” Homendy’s letter said.

She added that the agency is not looking to punish the workers. The NTSB wants to speak with them to understand the company’s quality-assurance protocols and safety culture so it can make recommendations that may prevent such accidents in the future.

The NTSB has established an email so Boeing employees with relevant information can come forward.

Last week, Boeing Executive Vice President Ziad Ojakli wrote Senate Commerce Committee Chair Maria Cantwell to say the company had “looked extensively” but found no documentation of the rivet work done on the Alaska Airlines plane.

On Sunday, the Wall Street Journal reported the Department of Justice had launched a criminal investigation into the Jan. 5 midair blowout. The DOJ is investigating whether Boeing complied with a 2021 settlement regarding the safety of its 737 Max planes following a pair of deadly crashes in 2018 and 2019.

The Federal Aviation Administration reported last week that Boeing had failed to comply with its own manufacturing quality control requirements in multiple instances regarding its 737-9 MAX aircraft, including its manufacturing process controls, parts handling, parts storage and product control.

Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Stan Deal said in a statement Tuesday that recent FAA audits of the company’s factories in Renton, Wash., that revealed non-compliances had to do with workers not following the company’s approved processes and procedures.

Deal said the company is adding layers of inspections and working with each employee involved with a non-compliance issue during the FAA audit to “ensure they fully understand the work instructions and procedures.”

Boeing is conducting its own audits on worker toolboxes and removing those they are noncompliant, Deal said. The company is planning additional audits of its 737 program this month to ensure full compliance with company procedures.