Boeing accused of overwriting security footage of door plug repair after panel blowout

Boeing security footage, which may have offered insight into how a door panel blew off an Alaska Airlines plane mid-flight, was “overwritten” and is now lost, according to a letter published Wednesday from the National Transportation Safety Board.

“To date, we still do not know who performed the work to open, reinstall, and close the door plug on the accident aircraft,” wrote NTSB Chairman Jennifer Homendy in her letter to the Senate Commerce Committee, essentially accusing the company of trying to hide information. “Boeing has informed us that they are unable to find the records documenting this work.”

The NTSB had requested the footage as part of its ongoing investigation into Alaska Airlines Flight 1282, which experienced a door panel blowout at an altitude of 16,000 feet just minutes after takeoff from Portland, Ore. on Jan. 5.

No one was hurt in the incident, but the blowout left a gaping hole in the side of the Boeing 737 Max 9 aircraft. It also raised new questions into how regulators declared the plane safe for takeoff.

In a preliminary accident report, the NTSB determined that all four bolts meant to secure the panel had been missing when the plane departed, suggesting the bolts had been removed but not reinstalled.

In her letter Wednesday, Homendy wrote that the plane had “underwent rivet repairs at Boeing’s Renton, Washington, facility in September 2023 prior to delivery to Alaska Airlines,” and that the door plug was, in fact, removed for rivet repair work.

She noted that the NTSB had requested Boeing provide documentation of the work done, as well as a list of 25 door crew employees, but the company informed them they were unable to find these records.

Boeing offered a statement Wednesday to ABC News, saying the company will continue supporting the NTSB’s 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,” the statement added.

It’s been a bumpy couple of months for Boeing, to say the least. During the fallout from the Alaska Airlines incident, the company has been under intense scrutiny and experienced several other incidents with various aircraft — although experts say it’s still safe to fly.

Over the weekend, a former Boeing employee-turned-whistleblower, who was raising concerns about quality-control and safety issues in the company’s production line, was found dead in South Carolina from an apparent “self-inflicted gunshot wound,” police said.