The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has sharply criticized Boeing for sharing details about an ongoing probe of a near-catastrophic aviation incident that were not supposed to be discussed publicly. The NTSB accused Boeing of violating investigative regulations and as a result, the agency has decided to block Boeing from reviewing information gathered in its investigation. This prohibition also includes preventing Boeing from asking questions of other participants at an upcoming investigative hearing on the case.

Boeing, in response to the NTSB’s actions, issued an apology to the agency stating that it “stands ready to answer any questions as the agency continues its investigation.” The company acknowledged that some of their comments regarding the incident overstepped the NTSB’s role as the official source of investigative information. Boeing expressed regret for providing non-public investigative information to the media and speculating about possible causes of the incident.

The NTSB clarified that their investigation is focused on determining the probable cause of the aviation incident, not on assigning blame to any individual or assessing liability. The agency emphasized that its primary goal is to uncover what went wrong during the flight and to prevent similar accidents in the future.

NTSB’s Coordination with the Department of Justice

The NTSB revealed that it is “coordinating” with the Department of Justice, which is planning to announce next steps after concluding that Boeing could be prosecuted for violating a 2021 deferred prosecution agreement related to two fatal MAX crashes. The NTSB intends to provide the DOJ with details about Boeing’s unauthorized release of investigative information in the current investigation.

Boeing had earlier organized a tour and briefings to showcase its efforts to improve quality control in the aftermath of the incident. The company shared information on its safety and quality plan, as well as the lessons they had learned from the aviation incident. However, the NTSB criticized Boeing for portraying the investigation as a search for the individual responsible for the incident, rather than focusing on determining the root cause of the accident.

Boeing’s breach of investigative regulations and the subsequent rebuke from the NTSB highlight the importance of following established protocols and procedures during aviation incident investigations. The NTSB’s emphasis on identifying the probable cause of accidents and preventing future occurrences underscores the critical role of agencies in ensuring air travel safety. Moving forward, cooperation and adherence to investigative guidelines are essential for maintaining transparency and trust in the aviation industry.


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