After the release Friday of an instant message chat between two senior Boeing pilots, the jet maker faced skepticism when, two days later, it denied it had suppressed what seemed like early evidence that its 737 MAX flight control system had “run rampant” during simulator testing in 2016.
But Boeing’s defense stands up, according to three sources who spoke to the Seattle Times on Monday — two citing direct knowledge of inside information about the matter and the third an expert pilot from outside the company analyzing the flight details in the chat.
The bottom line is that the erratic behavior described in the 2016 chat by 737 MAX chief technical pilot Mark Forkner revealed a software bug in the MAX flight simulator he was using, a pilot training machine that he and his colleagues were then fine-tuning to get it ready for the MAX’s entry into service.
It was not evidence of the flaws that later showed up on the real airplane’s new flight-control system — known as the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) — that caused the fatal crashes of the jets in Indonesia and Ethiopia.
The question is important because the release of the messages sparked a furor with members of Congress and regulators, raising new doubts about Boeing’s integrity and transparency just as it prepares to seek approval to put the long-grounded MAX back into commercial service. (end of excerpt)
Click here for the full story, on the Seattle Times website.