House report rips Boeing, FAA over mistakes before 737 Max crashes

The two fatal crashes involving Boeing 737 Max aircraft were “preventable” and “never should have happened,” the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee said on Wednesday.

Rep. Peter DeFazio’s (D-Ore.) comments came as the committee published its report on the 737 Max line and its 18-month investigation, which involved Boeing employees and thousands of pages of company documents.

The report found “repeated and serious failures by both The Boeing Company (Boeing) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) during the 737 Max’s design process.” The lawmakers said those failures were due to Boeing’s desire to compete with rival manufacturer Airbus and push out the new line of aircraft in a timely fashion.

“There was tremendous financial pressure on Boeing and the 737 MAX program to compete with Airbus’ new A320neo aircraft. Among other things, this pressure resulted in extensive efforts to cut costs, maintain the 737 MAX program schedule, and avoid slowing the 737 MAX production line,” reads the report’s summary.

“Boeing withheld crucial information from the FAA, its customers, and 737 MAX pilots, including internal test data that revealed it took a Boeing test pilot more than 10 seconds to diagnose and respond to uncommanded MCAS activation in a flight simulator, a condition the pilot described as ‘catastrophic,'” the report continued. The MCAS anti-stall system pushed the planes’ noses down in both fatal crashes.

Company officials told The New York Times that they were working to improve the 737 Max line based on recommendations from experts and government regulators.

“Boeing cooperated fully and extensively with the committee’s inquiry since it began in early 2019,” said Boeing in a statement, according to the Times. “We have been hard at work strengthening our safety culture and rebuilding trust with our customers, regulators and the flying public.”

DeFazio went on in a statement accompanying his committee’s report to say that the FAA should have acted sooner after the first fatal crash involving a Boeing 737 Max airliner, when Lion Air Flight 610 crashed less than 20 minutes after departing from Jakarta, Indonesia, killing 189 people on board.

“Our report lays out disturbing revelations about how Boeing—under pressure to compete with Airbus and deliver profits for Wall Street—escaped scrutiny from the FAA, withheld critical information from pilots, and ultimately put planes into service that killed 346 innocent people,” said DeFazio. “What’s particularly infuriating is how Boeing and FAA both gambled with public safety in the critical time period between the two crashes.”

“On behalf of the families of the victims of both crashes, as well as anyone who steps on a plane expecting to arrive at their destination safely, we are making this report public to put a spotlight not only on the broken safety culture at Boeing but also the gaps in the regulatory system at the FAA that allowed this fatally-flawed plane into service,” he continued.

Tags 737 max crashes Boeing Boeing 737 MAX Peter DeFazio

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