Numerous design, control and regulation failures during the development of the 737 Max preceded the “preventable death” of 346 people in two crashes on the popular Boeing plane, according to a damn congressional report released Wednesday.
The 238-page report by the Transport and Infrastructure Committee paints a Boeing that prioritizes safety gains and detailed “disturbing cultural issues” related to employee surveys showing some experience of “undue pressure” as the manufacturer races to complete the aircraft. to compete with competing Airbus. The report says concerns about the aircraft are not sufficiently addressed to spur design changes.
Some lawmakers introduced legislation this year aimed at increasing the Federal Aviation Administration̵
The report, which has been running for about 18 months, comes when regulators are in the final stages of re-certifying aircraft. The 737 Max has been grounded worldwide since March 2019, after the second of two fatal plane crashes.
“They were the horrific culmination of a series of flawed technical assumptions by Boeing engineers, a lack of transparency on the part of Boeing’s management and extremely insufficient oversight by the FAA – the disastrous result of the FAA’s regulatory capture of its responsibilities to oversees Boeing and ensure the safety of the flying public, “the report said. Lawmakers and employees received 600,000 pages of recordings from Boeing, the FAA, airlines and others for their investigation, conducted interviews with two dozen employees and regulators. considered comments from whistleblowers who submitted a signal to the commission, they said.
Flight 610 of Lion Air from Jakarta, Indonesia, on October 29, 2018, and flight 302 of Ethiopian Airlines from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on March 10, 2019, both crashed shortly after takeoff, killing everyone on board. At the center of the crashes was an automated system known as MCAS, which pilots fought for both fields. It is activated after receiving inaccurate data from the sensor.
The pilots were not informed of the MCAS until after the first crash, and references to it were removed by their management. Last year, the National Transportation Safety Board found that Boeing overestimated the ability of pilots to handle multiple signals during malfunctions.
Boeing has made changes to the MCAS system that make it less powerful, give pilots more control and give it more data before it is activated. This is among other changes that regulators have reviewed as part of the process of certifying aircraft as safe for the traveling public.
“We have learned many difficult lessons as a company from the accidents of Flight 610 on Lion Air and Flight 302 in Ethiopia, as well as the mistakes we have made,” Boeing said in a written statement. “As this report acknowledges, we have made fundamental changes in our company as a result and continue to look for ways to improve. Change is always difficult and requires daily commitment, but we as a company are committed to doing the job.”
The House report, led by Parliament Speaker Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., Chairman of the committee, and Rick Larsen, D-Wash., Head of the aviation subcommittee, said the investigation “left open the question of Boeing’s readiness to recognize and learn from the company’s mistakes. “
Some family members of crash victims say Boeing has not done enough.
“I think the project as a whole should be stopped,” said Jalena Lopez-Lewis, whose husband Antoine was killed on an Ethiopian Airlines flight. “I think it was a quick project and … now they’re in a hurry to recertify. You can’t put a dollar value in the life of any passenger.”
Michael Stumo, whose daughter Samya Stumo was killed in the crash of Ethiopian Airlines, said Boeing and regulators had not done enough since the first crash five months earlier.
“Before Lion Air it was a mistake. After Lion Air it was unforgivable,” he said in an interview.
The crashes pushed Boeing into its biggest crisis to date, as its best-selling aircraft could not be delivered to customers and costs were incurred. The various missteps cost former Boeing CEO Denis Muylenburg the job and push the company to undergo internal restructuring to improve its approach to safety. Now the coronavirus pandemic, which has prompted the demand for global air travel, combined with extensive grounding, poses a new problem for Boeing: the cancellation of aircraft is accumulating.
The manufacturer’s problems do not end with the 737 Max. It recently found flaws in some 787 Dreamliners, prompting inspections that delayed deliveries of the wide-body aircraft.