Buttigieg Under Fire As DOJ Opens Criminal Investigation Into Boeing Door Plug Blowout

By Victor Winston, updated on March 10, 2024

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has launched a criminal investigation into a recent safety incident involving a Boeing 737 MAX 9 aircraft, putting Boeing's compliance with a prior legal settlement back in the spotlight. With Pete Buttigieg being the Secretary of Transportation, his abysmal efforts throughout his tenure have come to light once again. Buttigieg is front and center in this criminal investigation.

According to Washington Examiner, in a recent development that has caught the attention of aviation and legal experts alike, the DOJ has opened a criminal investigation.

This probe was prompted by an alarming incident on January 5, where an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 9 experienced a door plug blowout shortly after taking off from Portland International Airport, necessitating an emergency landing.

DOJ Scrutiny Reflects Deeper Safety Concerns

The investigation is not an isolated event but is intricately connected to Boeing's past, specifically a $2.5 billion settlement reached after federal investigations into the safety of 737 MAX planes. These investigations were instigated by two tragic crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia in 2018 and 2019, respectively, that collectively claimed 346 lives. The DOJ's current focus is to ascertain whether Boeing has adhered to the commitments made in the wake of these disasters.

Alaska Airlines has been pulled into the whirlwind surrounding this incident. While the airline was quick to express its full cooperation with the investigation, it also made clear its belief that it is not the target of the DOJ's scrutiny. "In an event like this, it’s normal for the DOJ to be conducting an investigation," the airline stated, emphasizing its non-target status in the ongoing probe.

Chairwoman Jennifer Homendy of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) highlighted tension between the investigative body and Boeing, criticizing the aerospace giant for not fully cooperating with the NTSB's inquiry into the January door plug blowout. Boeing, on the other hand, maintained that it has complied with all document requests, either by providing the requested materials or by noting their non-existence.

Boeing's Troubles Mount Amid Safety and Compliance Questions

This door plug incident adds to a string of challenges facing Boeing, marking another chapter in the company’s troubled saga. Among these recent issues was an event involving a United Airlines flight destined for Japan, which lost a tire during takeoff from San Francisco International Airport. Such incidents raise unsettling questions about the aerospace behemoth's commitment to safety and operational integrity.

The timeline of events underscores the gravity and complexity of the situation. The door plugs blowout in January, the string of fatal crashes in previous years, and the ensuing federal investigations sketch a narrative of a company marred by safety concerns and regulatory scrutiny.

The DOJ's investigation, initiated against the backdrop of Boeing's troubled history, brings to light ongoing concerns regarding the aerospace industry's safety standards and regulatory compliance. As Boeing asserts its cooperation with all investigatory demands, the aviation community and the public at large remain watchful, hoping for resolutions that can restore confidence in air travel safety.

Chairwoman Jennifer Homendy, in an uncommonly frank admonition, indicted Boeing for its perceived lack of openness in the investigation. She stated, "The blatant lack of cooperation from Boeing in this investigation is alarming and not indicative of a company that prioritizes safety."


Boeing's response to these allegations has been firm. The company insists that it has been transparent with the NTSB, providing all necessary documents or clarifying when certain documents do not exist. This assurance, however, does little to quell the broader concerns about corporate accountability and safety in the aviation sector.

The DOJ has initiated a criminal investigation into a door plug blowout on an Alaska Airlines flight, an incident that raises questions about Boeing's adherence to its legal settlements relating to safety standards.

This investigation is part of a broader context of critical safety concerns surrounding the 737 MAX planes, following the tragic losses in 2018 and 2019. With Alaska Airlines cooperating with the DOJ and Boeing at odds with the NTSB over investigatory cooperation, the aviation world watches closely as these events unfold.

About Victor Winston

Victor is a freelance writer and researcher who focuses on national politics, geopolitics, and economics.

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