A blistering House report slams Boeing and the FAA over ‘serious flaws and missteps’ that led to two deadly 737 Max crashes (BA)

FILE PHOTO: Grounded Boeing 737 MAX aircraft are seen parked in an aerial photo at Boeing Field in Seattle, Washington, U.S. July 1, 2019.  REUTERS/Lindsey Wasson

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The two 737 Max crashes that killed 346 people and led to a years-long grounding of the entire global fleet of the plane were the result of “a horrific culmination” of engineering missteps, poor management, and “grossly insufficient oversight by the FAA,” the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure said in a new report on Wednesday.

The report, from House Democrats on the committee, soundly condemned Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration and questioned whether the two bodies have adequately addressed the systemic issues that led to the crashes.

No Republicans on the committee signed off on the report — a spokesperson for the committee minority did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.

The report described Boeing as a changed company that has lost its way and “is in serious need of a safety reset. Boeing has gone from being a great engineering company to being a big business focused on financial success.”

“Continuing on the same path it followed with the 737 MAX, where safety was sacrificed to production pressures, exposes the company to potentially repeating those mistakes and to additional reputational damage and financial losses,” the report added.

The 218-page House committee report comes from an 18-month investigation that included dozens of interviews with Boeing and FAA employees and executives and about 600,000 pages of documents.

“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,” Peter DeFazio (D-OR), chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, said in a statement.

“What’s particularly infuriating is how Boeing and FAA both gambled with public safety in the critical time period between the two crashes,” he added.

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In a statement, Boeing said that it was dedicated to implementing changes to address the issues that led to the crashes.

“We have learned many hard lessons as a company from the accidents of Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, and from the mistakes we have made,” the company said. “As this report recognizes, we have made fundamental changes to our company as a result, and continue to look for ways to improve.”

The report identified five broad problems throughout the plane’s development that led to the crashes.

First, pressure to compete with rival Airbus’ new A320neo aircraft led Boeing to prioritize deadlines and production rates over safety, the report argues.

Next, the company made “fundamentally faulty assumptions” about a new flight-control system on the Max, the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS).

MCAS was designed to compensate for the 737 Max having larger engines than previous 737 generations. The larger engines could cause the plane’s nose to tip upward, leading to a stall — in that situation, MCAS could automatically point the nose down to negate the effect of the engine size.

In essence, Boeing assumed that pilots would be able to handle any potential malfunction by addressing the effects of it, despite not knowing specifically …read more

Source:: Business Insider


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