'Designed by Clowns': Boeing Employees Ridicule 737 MAX, Regulators in Internal Messages
(Source: Reuters; published January 10, 2020)
By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON --- Boeing Co has released hundreds of internal messages that contained harshly critical comments about the development of the 737 MAX, including one that said the plane was “designed by clowns who in turn are supervised by monkeys”.
The messages, disclosed on Thursday, show attempts to duck regulatory scrutiny with employees disparaging the plane, the company, the Federal Aviation Administration and foreign aviation regulators.
In an instant messaging exchange on Feb. 8, 2018 - when the plane was in the air and eight months before the first of two fatal crashes, an employee asks another: “Would you put your family on a MAX simulator trained aircraft? I wouldn’t”.
The second employee responds: “No”.
The 737 MAX has been grounded since March after an Ethiopian Airlines flight nose-dived, just five months after similar Lion Air crash. The two disasters killed 346.
In particular, some of the communications reveal efforts by Boeing to avoid making pilot simulator training - an expensive and time-consuming process - a requirement for the 737 MAX.
The plane maker just this week changed tack, saying it would recommend pilots do simulator training before they resume flying the 737 MAX - a major shift from its longheld position that computer-based training was sufficient as the plane was similar to its predecessor, the 737 NG.
The release of the messages, which highlight an aggressive cost-cutting culture and disrespect towards the FAA, is set to deepen the crisis at Boeing which is struggling to get its best-selling plane back in the air and restore public confidence. (end of excerpt)
Click here for the full story, on the Reuters website.
Boeing Statement on Employee Messages Provided to U.S. Congress and FAA
(Source: Boeing Co.; issued Jan 09, 2020)
CHICAGO --- In December, Boeing proactively brought these communications to the FAA’s attention in furtherance of the company’s commitment to transparency with our regulator and strong safety oversight of our industry. We also provided copies to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Technology and the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure in recognition of their oversight functions. These documents have been released publicly at the encouragement of Chairman DeFazio and Chairman Wicker.
Some of these communications relate to the development and qualification of Boeing’s MAX simulators in 2017 and 2018. These communications contain provocative language, and, in certain instances, raise questions about Boeing’s interactions with the FAA in connection with the simulator qualification process.
Having carefully reviewed the issue, we are confident that all of Boeing’s MAX simulators are functioning effectively. The qualification activities referenced in these communications occurred early in the service life of these simulators. Since that time, both internal and external subject matter experts have repeatedly tested and qualified the simulators at issue.
Indeed, more than twenty regulatory qualifications of MAX simulators, performed by the FAA and multiple international regulators, have been conducted since early 2017. The specific Miami simulator that was used for the early qualification tests has been re-evaluated six times during this time period. The simulator software has been constantly improving during this time, through repeated cycles of testing, qualification, and revision of the software code.
These communications do not reflect the company we are and need to be, and they are completely unacceptable. That said, we remain confident in the regulatory process for qualifying these simulators.
In the context of providing these communications to the FAA, and having carefully considered the FAA’s perspective on these matters, we also decided to provide additional documents that were identified in the course of legal reviews of the 737 MAX program.
We provided these documents to the FAA and Congress as a reflection of our commitment to transparency and cooperation with the authorities responsible for regulating and overseeing our industry. We welcome, and will fully support, any additional review the FAA believes is appropriate in connection with any of these matters, as well as the continued involvement of the relevant congressional committees with these issues.
We regret the content of these communications, and apologize to the FAA, Congress, our airline customers, and to the flying public for them. We have made significant changes as a company to enhance our safety processes, organizations, and culture.
The language used in these communications, and some of the sentiments they express, are inconsistent with Boeing values, and the company is taking appropriate action in response. This will ultimately include disciplinary or other personnel action, once the necessary reviews are completed.