Boeing Staff Discussed 737 MAX Flaw In 2016 Via Instant Message

New messages from a Boeing staff member from 2016 express concern about the fatal 737 MAX flaw that led to the type’s worldwide grounding. A pilot shared instant messages with some of his colleagues that highlighted issues with the system.

Boeing 737 MAX CEO Chairman reshuffle
A Boeing pilot highlighted issues with the 737 MAX in a series of messages with some of his colleagues. Photo: Boeing

Boeing pilot discusses 737 MAX flaws

According to a New York Times report, a Boeing 737 MAX pilot expressed concern with the MCAS system onboard the aircraft that had a direct role in both the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines crash. Mark Forkner, the pilot who sent the messages, at the time was the chief technical pilot for the 737 MAX.

One of his duties involved relaying information with the FAA in terms of pilot training needs for flying the 737 MAX. Mr. Forkner described the MCAS system as running “rampant” in simulator flights that led to the plane “trimming itself like craxy [sic]”. He goes further to describe the issue as “egregious”.

Above all, however, Mr. Forkner claims he “basically lied to the regulators (unknowingly).” All of these messages were sent in November 2016 prior to the aircraft’s certification. Mr. Forkner does not work for Boeing any longer.

Boeing Staff Discussed 737 MAX Flaw In 2016 Via Instant Message
 A Boeing test pilot indicated that there were MCAS issues in simulator flights prior to FAA certification. Photo: Boeing

Boeing’s statement

All of this comes as Boeing’s CEO and former chairman, Dennis Muilenburg, is preparing to testify in front of Congress on the 737 MAX. Boeing released a statement after these latest reports. However, Boeing did not directly address the issues highlighted in the messages. For their part, Boeing is maintaining their confidence in the MAX and are working to return their highly profitable aircraft line to service.

Boeing 737 MAX
Boeing is working on returning their highly profitable 737 MAX to service. Photo: Boeing

The 737 MAX is still grounded

The 737 MAX has been grounded since March. Furthermore, airlines are pushing out the type’s return to service date. Southwest Airlines, one of Boeing’s largest 737 MAX customers, has pulled the 737 MAX from schedules through February 2020. Their pilots warn that it may take even longer for the aircraft to return to service.

Southwest 737 MAX
Southwest, a major 737 MAX customer, has pulled the aircraft from schedules through February. Photo: Boeing

What comes next for the Boeing 737 MAX?

As the 737 MAX remains grounded, problem after problem has been revealed with the aircraft type. At this time, it is unclear exactly what the schedule for the aircraft’s return to service is. Multiple timestamps have come and gone and the 737 MAX still is not flying.

It does seem that some higher-ups at Boeing identified issues with the 737 MAX but it is unclear exactly how many of them knew. Furthermore, it is unclear if those issues were relayed through channels in an effort to fix them or if they were simply masked.

Boeing Landing
It is unclear how much Boeing’s higher-ups knew about flaws with the 737 MAX. Photo: Boeing

At this point, Boeing does have some work to do in order to restore public confidence in the 737 MAX. It is unfortunate that the 737 MAX, according to some, “will be the safest aircraft in the world” once it is recertified rather than being so from the start.

Both Boeing and regulatory agencies must ensure that the aircraft is 100% ready for passenger flights. Any kind of issues after the 737 MAX is recertified could be a deathblow to the reputations of both civil aviation agencies and America’s most well-known commercial aircraft manufacturer.

Are you surprised by these revelations? What do you make of this new information? Let us know in the comments!