Numerous design, management and regulatory errors during the development of the 737 Max preceded the "avoidable death" of 346 people in two crashes of the popular Boeing plane, according to a damn Congressional report released Wednesday.
The 238-page report by the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure painted a Boeing where profits were prioritized over safety, and detailed "disruptive cultural issues" related to employee surveys that showed some "undue pressure" when the aircraft was making the aircraft completed to compete with rival Airbus. According to the report, concerns about the aircraft were not adequately addressed to drive design changes.
Several lawmakers introduced laws this year aimed at improving the Federal Aviation Administration's oversight of the industry.
The report, which has been in the works for about 18 months, comes as regulators are in the final stages of aircraft recertification. The 737 Max has been on the ground worldwide since March 2019, after the second of the two fatal aircraft crashes.
"They were the terrible culmination of a series of flawed technical assumptions by Boeing engineers, a lack of transparency on the part of Boeing management, and grossly inadequate oversight by the FAA – the detrimental result of the FAA's regulatory reporting on its liability to Boeing monitor and ensure the safety of the flying public, "the report said. Lawmakers and staff received 600,000 pages of records from Boeing, the FAA, airlines and others for their investigation, conducted interviews with two dozen staff and regulators, and considered comments from whistleblowers who reached out to the committee.
Lion Air Flight 610 from Jakarta, Indonesia, on October 29, 2018, and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, March 10, 2019 crashed shortly after take-off, killing everyone on board. At the center of the crashes was an automated system called MCAS, which the pilots on both flights fought against. It was activated after receiving inaccurate sensor data.
The pilots were only informed about MCAS after the first crash, and the mentions were removed from their manuals. Last year, the National Transportation Safety Board found that Boeing had overestimated pilots' ability to handle a range of warnings in the event of malfunctions.
Boeing has made changes to the MCAS system that make it less powerful, give the pilot more control, and give him more data before it is activated. This is, among other things, a change that regulators reviewed as part of the process of re-certifying aircraft as safe for the traveling public.
"We as a company have learned many difficult lessons from the Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Flight 302 accidents as well as from the mistakes we made," Boeing said in a written statement. "As a result, as this report recognizes, we have made fundamental changes to our business and we continue to seek ways to improve. Change is always difficult and requires daily commitment, but we as a company are committed to work."
The report of the House of Representatives, led by Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., The committee chair, and Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Wash., Chairman of the Aviation Subcommittee, said its investigation "leaves open the question of Boeing's willingness to do this admit. " to and learn from the mistakes of the company. "
Some family members of accident victims say Boeing has not done enough.
"I think the project as a whole should be scrapped," said Yalena Lopez-Lewis, whose husband Antoine was killed on the Ethiopian Airlines flight, in an interview. "I think this was a rushed project and … now they are rushing to recertify. You can't put a dollar on a passenger's life."
Michael Stumo, whose daughter Samya Stumo was killed in the Ethiopian Airlines crash, said Boeing and regulators had not done enough after 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 drove Boeing into its biggest crisis to date, as the best-selling aircraft couldn't be delivered to customers and costs rose. The various missteps cost Boeing's former CEO Dennis Muilenburg his job and prompted the company to undertake an internal reorganization to improve its approach to security. Now the coronavirus pandemic, which has boosted global demand for air travel combined with extensive grounding, is presenting Boeing with a new problem: aircraft cancellations are mounting.
The manufacturer's problems don't end with the 737 Max. Recently, some 787 Dreamliners were found to have defects that resulted in inspections that slowed delivery of the wide-body aircraft.