Boeing has hidden the design flaws of the 737 Max from pilots and regulators as the aircraft was declared airworthy, a congressional congressional report said two aircraft crashed in a few months last year and killed 346 people.
A report by the U.S. House of Representatives’ Transport Committee found that the U.S. aircraft manufacturer had cut corners and pressured regulators to ignore aspects of its new design in an attempt to catch up with European competitor Airbus. She also accused U.S. regulators of being overly concerned that the company would enjoy proper oversight.
The report says: “[The two crashes] there was a terrible chain of erroneous technical assumptions by Boeing engineers, a lack of transparency from Boeing’s management, and a complete lack of control over Boeing. [Federal Aviation Administration]- the detrimental outcome of the FAA’s regulatory capture, given its duty to exercise strong oversight over Boeing and to ensure the safety of the flying public.
“The facts presented in this report demonstrate a worrying pattern of Boeing technical calculations and worrying mismanagement. It also highlights the many breaks and accountability gaps the FAA, which played a key role in the 737 Max accidents.
Boeing has been the subject of a multiple investigation since last year when an Ethiopian Airlines-operated Max jet crashed just five months after another aircraft owned by Indonesia’s Lion Air sank at sea.
The investigators found that in both cases, due to a faulty sensor, the automatic entry protection system erupted incorrectly, forcing the nose of the aircraft down. Both Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines pilots fought to repair their planes, but each time they did, they were overtaken by an automatic system.
Members of Congress have been investigating the accidents themselves since last April. Wednesday’s report marked the end of a 17-month study that included five public hearings, 24 interviews and 600,000 pages of paperwork.
The 238-page report details how Boeing tried to minimize both regulatory testing and the pilot training required to fly the new Max, which was rushed to compete with the Airbus A320neo.
She found that the company had successfully persuaded the FAA not to classify the anti-stall system as a “safety criticism,” which means many pilots were not even aware of its existence before flying the Max.
In doing so, Boeing concealed internal test data from the regulators, showing that if it took the pilot more than 10 seconds for him to realize that the system had started incorrectly, the consequences would be “catastrophic.”
The report also described in detail how an alert that would have alerted pilots to a possible problem with one of their intrusion sensors is not working in most parts of the Max fleet. It found that the company had deliberately concealed this fact from both pilots and regulators as it continued to release new aircraft around the world.
Boeing has been working to remedy Max’s shortcomings for more than a year and recently said it hopes to resume delivery of the jet in the third quarter.
The company said: “The revised Max design has undergone intensive internal and regulatory review, including more than 375,000 engineering and test hours and 1,300 test flights. When the FAA and other regulators determine that Max can return safely to service, it will be one of the most thoroughly inspected aircraft in history. “
Although the company tried to certify Max, it found a compliant regulator, the FAA.
The FAA approves new aircraft designs on the basis of “authorized representatives,” employees of the company, who are authorized by the regulatory body to approve certain designs and systems. The report found that on several occasions Boeing did not disclose important information to the regulator.
Members of Congress have passed legislation that will tighten the FAA’s aircraft certification process, including regular independent audits of the company’s employee representatives.
The FAA statement states: “The FAA is committed to the continuous improvement of aviation safety and looks forward to working with the committee to implement the improvements identified in its report.”