According to a report from US politicians, Boeing has jeopardized the safety of passengers by cutting certain costs and ignoring software flaws that contributed to two fatal crashes. The cut costs and software flaws mainly existed in the development of Boeing’s 737 Max, an aircraft that has since been grounded indefinitely.
The first crash occurred in 2018 and involved a Lion Air 737 Max, and the second occurred in 2019 at an Ethiopian Airlines; in total 346 individuals were killed between both crashes. The committee on transportation and infrastructure – made up of members of the House of representatives – in the US published their report on Wednesday, and within the report they claim that “there have been repeated and serious failures by Boeing and its regulator, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), in allowing the faulty aircraft to carry passengers.”
Democratic representative Peter DeFazio is the committee’s chair and expressed that Boeing and the FAA “gambled with public safety in the critical time period between the two crashes.” He attributes these failings to a “broken” safety culture at the company, and several gaps in the system that the FAA uses to regulate safety systems on these planes. These gaps are what led to the fatal crashes.
After new reports of software fixes and new rounds of testing for the 737 Max plane, Boeing is hoping to re-certify the aircraft for public use. Between the coronavirus pandemic and these recent failings from Boeing, the company has had to cut over 16,000 jobs, so they’re hoping the re-certification of the 737 can help them recover.
Boeing has been under investigation for the past 18 months, and within that investigation officials found that the company had cut some major costs in order to compete with its biggest competitor, Airbus. The report from the US government claims that this competition added an extreme financial strain to Boeing’s spending, which led to even more cut corners.
“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. There are several instances where the desire to meet these goals and expectations jeopardized the safety of the flying public.”
The report also found that Boeing had made some major errors in their aircraft design, specifically regarding the system put in place for the pilot should a crucial system malfunction during a flight. This system is referred to as the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, and it was initially designed to push the nose of the plane down during certain flying conditions to prevent it from stalling. However, this system kicked in on both fatal flights shortly after takeoff because of a faulty sensor.
The report also criticized the FAA greatly on their relationship with Boeing and complete lack of concern over these safety measures that have been overlooked. Boeing not only withheld information from the FAA, but were able to influence their regulator into approving certain flights for travel.
Boeing is currently working on regaining regulatory approval for its 737 Max aircraft, and the company has “full confidence in its safety,” however, the real test will be to see what airlines continue to have a relationship with Boeing as time goes on.
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.