Boeing security footage related to 737-9 MAX investigation was overwritten, NTSB says

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said its investigation into the 737-9 MAX door plug fallout has been complicated after Boeing informed the agency that security video investigators requested had been overwritten.

According to the NTSB, they still have not been informed by Boeing who performed maintenance work to open, reinstall and close the door plug that flew off of Alaska Airlines flight 1282 over Oregon on Jan. 5, 2024.

The letter from NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy was sent March 13 to Sen. Maria Cantwell and Sen. Ted Cruz of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.

"Boeing has informed us that they are unable to find the records documenting this work. 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. The absence of those records will complicate the NTSB’s investigation moving forward."

Homendy said the 737-9 plane underwent river repairs at Boeing's Renton, Washington facility in Sept. 2023 before it was delivered to Alaska Airlines.

"The door plug that failed during Alaska 1282’s incident flight was opened so that this rivet repair work could be performed," she said.

door plug blown out of boeing 737-9 max plane

The NTSB released these images of investigators inspecting the door plug and the aircraft.  (NTSB)

Investigators said on Feb. 2, Boeing provided the names of workers who may have information on who performed maintenance on the door plug.

Homendy said on March 2 investigators requested the names of all employees who reported to the door crew manager in Sept. 2023. When they received the list, it did not identify which employees perform door plug work at the facility. Homendy said she called Boeing Chief Executive Officer David Calhoun and asked for the names of people who performed that work, but he told her Boeing has no records of the work being done.

"It is important to note that the NTSB is not in any way seeking the names of employees who performed the work on the door plug for punitive purposes," Homendy said in the letter. "We want to speak with them to learn about Boeing’s quality-assurance processes and safety culture. Our only intent is to identify deficiencies and recommend safety improvements so accidents like this never happen again. In fact, our nation’s aviation record is so safe precisely because of our well-established culture of non-punitive reporting."

Homendy went on to say that she instructed the NTSB to use its authority to protect any front-line employees who come forward with information regarding the investigation. She encouraged anyone with info to reach out to

Boeing provided the following statement to FOX 13 News: "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."

"There is nothing sinister in my view about the cameras overriding, that’s something that just is normal unless you program differently," said John Nance, an aviation analyst. 

Nance has followed the NTSB investigation into Boeing since early January when the door blew out of the plane during the Alaska Airlines flight.  While missing documentation or security video might not be uncommon, he says he’s most troubled by Boeing's failure to identify the employees who worked on the door.

"What is difficult to understand is why the company is unable to find the people for the NTSB to interview who were actually the ones who left those bolts out," said Nance.

"What the NTSB needs to know is precisely what happened? How did it happen? Were they tired?  Were they fatigued?  Were they distracted? Because, that’s the only way we are going to get to the point of not allowing this to happen again."

Nance says while there have been problems with planes in the past, this case is unique.

"It really has to do with the philosophy that’s being used on the factory floor.  Over time, Boeing has slipped from being a company that said ‘We build superlative airplanes. We are a technology company and we make money doing it,  to a company that is supposed to make money first and the secondary aspect is dealing with, getting things on the production line right," he said.

Boeing promises changes

Responding to a U.S. government audit, Boeing said Tuesday that it would work with employees found to have violated company manufacturing procedures to make sure they understand instructions for their jobs.

The aircraft maker detailed its latest steps to correct lapses in quality in a memo to employees from Stan Deal, president of Boeing's commercial plane division.

The memo went out after the Federal Aviation Administration finished a six-week review of the company's manufacturing processes.

The FAA reviewed 89 aspects of production at Boeing's plant in Renton, Washington, and found the company failed 33 of them, according to a person familiar with the report. The person spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss details that have not been publicly released – although they were reported earlier by The New York Times, which saw a slide presentation on the government's audit.

"The vast majority" of violations found by the FAA involved workers not following Boeing’s approved procedures, Deal said in his memo.

Deal said the company will take remedial steps that include "working with each employee noted with a non-compliance during the audit to ensure they fully understand the work instructions and procedures."

Boeing will also add weekly compliance checks for all work teams in the Renton factory, where Max jets are assembled, he said.

Deal acknowledged a recent conclusion by a panel of government and industry experts that found Boeing’s procedures for ensuring safety were too complicated and changed too often.

"Our teams are working to simplify and streamline our processes and address the panel’s recommendations," he told staff.

The day before the blowout on Alaska Airlines flight 1282, engineers and technicians at the airline wanted to remove the plane from service to examine a warning light tied to the plane’s pressurization system, but the airline kept flying the plane and scheduled a maintenance check for late the following night, The New York Times reported Tuesday. Before that could happen, however, a door-plug panel blew off the jet 16,000 feet over Oregon.

Alaska told The Associated Press that the maintenance plan "was in line with all processes and procedures. Nothing required or suggested that the aircraft needed to be pulled from service."


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Bret Oestreich, president of the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association, the union for technicians at Alaska, said there was nothing unusual in Alaska's handling of the matter. He said the warning light does not indicate the location of a possible pressurization issue, and mechanics had been unable to pinpoint a problem after the light tripped on three earlier flights.

The earlier cabin-pressurization warnings caused Alaska to stop using the plane on flights to Hawaii. A few days after the blowout, National Transportation Safety Board Chair Jennifer Homendy said the warnings were unrelated to the accident. A preliminary report pointed to four bolts that were missing after a repair job at the Boeing factory.

Besides the ongoing FAA and NTSB probes, Boeing faces a Justice Department investigation into whether its recent problems — including the Jan. 5 blowout of an emergency door panel from an Alaska Airlines jet that had taken off from Portland, Oregon — violate terms of a settlement the company reached in 2021 to avoid criminal prosecution after two crashes of Max jets in 2018 in Indonesia and 2019 in Ethiopia killed 346 people.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.