Boeing Tumbles on Grand Jury Subpoena Probing 737 MAX Approval
(Source: Zero Hedge; posted March 18, 2019)
by Tyler Durden
In the latest blow to both Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration, the WSJ reported overnight that Federal prosecutors and Department of Transportation officials are scrutinizing the development of Boeing 737 MAX jetliners and in particular its anti-stall (MCAS) system, inquiries described as "unusual" and which come amid probes of regulators' safety approvals of the new plane.

The Seattle Times separately reported that Boeing’s safety analysis of a new flight control system on 737 MAX jets had several crucial flaws. (See below—Ed.)

According to the WSJ, a "grand jury in Washington, D.C., issued a broad subpoena dated March 11 - a day after the Ethiopian Airlines crash a week ago - to at least one person involved in the 737 MAX’s development, seeking related documents, including correspondence, emails and other messages."

The subpoena, with a prosecutor from the Justice Department’s criminal division listed as a contact, sought documents to be handed over later this month.

It wasn't immediately clear if the Justice Department’s probe is related to scrutiny of the FAA by the DOT inspector general’s office, reported earlier Sunday by The Wall Street Journal and that focuses on a safety system that has been implicated in the Oct. 29 Lion Air crash that killed 189 people, according to a government official briefed on its status. (end of excerpt)


Click here for the full story, on the Seattle Times website.

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Flawed Analysis, Failed Oversight: How Boeing, FAA Certified the Suspect 737 MAX Flight Control System (excerpt)
(Source: Seattle Times; published March 17, 2019)
By Dominic Gates
As Boeing hustled in 2015 to catch up to Airbus and certify its new 737 MAX, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) managers pushed the agency’s safety engineers to delegate safety assessments to Boeing itself, and to speedily approve the resulting analysis.

But the original safety analysis that Boeing delivered to the FAA for a new flight control system on the MAX — a report used to certify the plane as safe to fly — had several crucial flaws.

That flight control system, called MCAS (Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System), is now under scrutiny after two crashes of the jet in less than five months resulted in Wednesday’s FAA order to ground the plane.

Current and former engineers directly involved with the evaluations or familiar with the document shared details of Boeing’s “System Safety Analysis” of MCAS, which The Seattle Times confirmed.

The safety analysis:
-- Understated the power of the new flight control system, which was designed to swivel the horizontal tail to push the nose of the plane down to avert a stall. When the planes later entered service, MCAS was capable of moving the tail more than four times farther than was stated in the initial safety analysis document.

-- Failed to account for how the system could reset itself each time a pilot responded, thereby missing the potential impact of the system repeatedly pushing the airplane’s nose downward.

-- Assessed a failure of the system as one level below “catastrophic.” But even that “hazardous” danger level should have precluded activation of the system based on input from a single sensor — and yet that’s how it was designed.

The people who spoke to The Seattle Times and shared details of the safety analysis all spoke on condition of anonymity to protect their jobs at the FAA and other aviation organizations.

Both Boeing and the FAA were informed of the specifics of this story and were asked for responses 11 days ago, before the second crash of a 737 MAX last Sunday. (end of excerpt)


Click here for the full story, on the Seattle Times website.

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