In recent months, the Boeing 737 MAX has been edging closer to returning the skies following rigorous testing and analysis. However, as aviation bodies and airlines get ready to reintroduce the jet, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has released a 238-page report on the plane. Altogether, the document doesn’t hold back on the flaws of the aircraft before the two tragic accidents that caused its grounding last March.
The congressional report highlights that there was a series of false assumptions, mismanagement, and rushed deadlines. According to the House, these factors, along with miscommunication and deception, led to the failure to catch the design flaws that led to the crashes of Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302.
According to USA Today, the House summarizes the congressional report with the following:
“Boeing failed in its design and development of the Max, and the Federal Aviation Agency failed in its oversight of Boeing and its certification of the aircraft,”
There were reportedly various times when engineers questioned the safety of the features that went into the 737 MAX. However, their claims were dismissed as unimportant or a nuisance in reaching deadlines and being within budget.
Moreover, those charged with keeping the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) updated did not inform the group on these debates. Subsequently, the plane was labeled compliant in certifying it as safe to start passenger operations despite its shortcomings.
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Since the 737 MAX’s grounding, the FAA and other aviation bodies have been monitoring Boeing’s improvements. There is a focus on software changes in a new system added to the plane that is blamed for the accidents. This technology is the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), which was not on previous variants of the 737.
Nonetheless, as early as 12 years ago there were questions about this feature. A Boeing test pilot discovered that it took 10 seconds to deal with an uncommanded activation of the system. The report deems this factor to be catastrophic.
Additionally, engineers were concerned about why the MCAS was triggered on data from one angle-of-attack (AOA) sensor when it has two of them. These sensors have been around for much longer than MCAS. Ultimately, they tell the crew where the aircraft’s nose is pointing vertically.
A word from Boeing
Simple Flying reached out to Boeing for comment on these reports. The manufacturer said that it cooperated fully and extensively with the Committee’s inquiry since it began in early 2019.
The representative added that the firm has since been hard at work strengthening its safety culture. It is also working to rebuild trust with its customers, regulators, and the flying public. The company added that passengers and crew on board the two crashes, as well as their loved ones, continue to be in the thoughts and prayers of its teams. Ultimately, Boeing said that it has learned from the hard lessons and previous mistakes.
“Multiple committees, experts, and governmental authorities have examined issues related to the MAX, and we have incorporated many of their recommendations, as well as the results of our own internal reviews, into the 737 MAX and the overall airplane design process. The revised design of the MAX has received intensive internal and regulatory review, including more than 375,000 engineering and test hours and 1,300 test flights,” the spokesperson told Simple Flying.
“Once the FAA and other regulators have determined the MAX can safely return to service, it will be one of the most thoroughly-scrutinized aircraft in history, and we have full confidence in its safety. We have also taken steps to bolster safety across our company, consulting outside experts and learning from best practices in other industries.”
Moreover, Boeing has set up a new safety organization to enhance and standardize safety practices. It has also restructured its engineering organization to give engineers a stronger voice. They also have a more direct line to share concerns with top management. The company also launched a permanent Aerospace Safety Committee of its Board of Directors.
Altogether, the report highlights the crucial elements that led to the two tragedies that forced the plane’s grounding. Following all of the evaluations, Boeing and the FAA will ensure that they address all the concerns before the plane hits the skies for commercial operations again.
What are your thoughts about the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s report? What do you make of the statements? Let us know what you think of the situation in the comment section.