SEATTLE - It's been one month since a door panel blew off a Boeing 737 Max 9 with more than 170 people on board.
Now the new chief of the FAA is hoping to reassure lawmakers on Capitol Hill that Boeing will be held accountable.
That message came just hours before the NTSB released its initial report, showing that there were four missing bolts on the door plug that blew out of the Boeing plane, minutes after takeoff.
"It’s blind luck nobody died. People would have died if this happened at a higher altitude," said Mark Lindquist, Former Pierce County Prosecutor, currently with Mark Lindquist Law, Personal Injury and Aviation.
Lindquist is representing 21 people who were on that plane. He feels that while some of the details in the report are not new, they are still frightening.
"Shockingly, this plane was delivered without the bolts to hold the door plugs in place. This plane was a time bomb," said Lindquist.
The passengers that he is representing in the case include an unaccompanied minor, a young girl with her mother and a couple with their infant.
"For my clients, and I think for most everyone on the plane, this was a near-death experience," said Lindquist.
He said that after the Max 8 crashes in 2018 and 2019, and the resulting litigation, he thought that Boeing would have fixed any quality control problems.
"I represented dozens of families in the Max 8 disasters, where 346 people died. It was clear after that that Boeing couldn’t be their own watchdog. It’s about time the FAA recognized that Boeing absolutely cannot be its own watchdog," said Lindquist.
The new chief of the Federal Aviation Administration said Tuesday that his agency is mid-way through a review of manufacturing at Boeing, but he already knows that changes must be made in how the government oversees the aircraft manufacturer.
"Culture and safety is really important, and it’s one of the things we are going to be looking at with Boeing," said FAA Administrator Michael Whitaker.
"Because this is only a preliminary report, we still have some unanswered questions, but one thing is clear, Boeing is responsible for the integrity of this aircraft, and they delivered an aircraft that was not safe," said Lindquist.
Boeing has released a statement in response to the NTSB preliminary report. It reads:
"Whatever final conclusions are reached, Boeing is accountable for what happened. An event like this must not happen on an airplane that leaves our factory. We simply must do better for our customers and their passengers. We are implementing a comprehensive plan to strengthen quality and the confidence of our stakeholders.
Boeing is taking immediate action to strengthen quality. First, the company has implemented a control plan to ensure all 737-9 mid-exit door plugs are installed according to specifications:
- Instituted new inspections of the door plug assembly and similar structures at our supplier’s factory and on Boeing’s production line.
- Added signage and protocol to fully document when the door plug is opened or removed in our factory, ensuring it is reinstalled and inspected prior to delivery.
Moreover, Boeing is implementing plans to improve overall quality and stability across the 737 production system, including:
- Layering additional inspections further into the supply chain and collaborating with suppliers on production enhancements.
- Performing more work on airplanes at their assigned positions.
- Dedicating multiple days for our 737 teams to focus on and implement quality improvements.
- Launching an independent assessment to bolster the quality management system at Boeing Commercial Airplanes by a highly experienced safety expert.
In addition to these Boeing actions, we are opening our factory to 737 customers to conduct their own additional reviews, and will fully and transparently support the FAA’s investigation, audit and oversight actions.
"This added scrutiny – from ourselves, from our regulator and from our customers – will make us better. It’s that simple," said Calhoun.
The company has also promised transparency during that process.