US senator from Washington plans hearings over Boeing safety lapses

Alaska 737 Max 9 door panel
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WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress is poised to join the scrutiny of Boeing, with a key senator blasting the company’s leadership on Wednesday and saying she plans to hold hearings on safety lapses at the aircraft maker.

Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., met with Boeing CEO David Calhoun to discuss incidents, including one this month in which a panel blew off a Boeing 737 Max 9 jetliner as it flew 3 miles above Oregon.

Cantwell said she told Calhoun that quality engineering and safety must be the company’s top priorities.

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“The American flying public and Boeing line workers deserve a culture of leadership at Boeing that puts safety ahead of profits,” said Cantwell, who represents the state where Boeing assembles 737s.

Cantwell said the Senate Commerce, Science & Transportation Committee, which she chairs, will hold hearings “to investigate the root causes of these safety lapses.” No dates were announced.

Boeing did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the accident on an Alaska Airlines Max 9. NTSB officials have said they are looking into whether bolts that help secure a panel called a door plug were missing before the plane took off from Portland, Oregon, on Jan. 5. The blowout left a hole in the side of the plane, but pilots were able to land safely.

An NTSB investigator will return to Boeing’s 737 assembly factory in Renton, Washington, on Friday as the probe continues, a spokesman for the board said. Investigators are building a timeline of the door plug that failed, from the early stages of its production to the flight on which it blew off the plane.

The Federal Aviation Administration is looking into whether Boeing and its suppliers followed proper safety procedures during manufacturing.

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