LONDON – The House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee (HTIC) has ruled that the cultures of Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) were to blame for the 737 MAX disasters.
HTIC ruled that the crashes of Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 were caused by MCAS, with the system allowed to run on the aircraft being enabled “by a toothless regulatory environment.”
On those grounds, the report, which was the result of an 18-month investigation, stated that the certification of the aircraft was fundamentally flawed, with Boeing focusing on profit more than safety.
MCAS Creating ‘Hard Lessons’
The Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, formally known as MCAS, was the key evidence behind the Democrat’s findings in the investigation. “MCAS,” the report read, “was poorly designed, not adequately tested, and received flawed oversight by the FAA.”
The report went one step further to state that Pilots of both aircraft that had crash had no reason to be aware that the MCAS system existed, offering questions to Boeing about how visible the system was in the first place.
This was because Boeing rejected a plan to use an indicator light to show when the system was being activated.
The other staggering element was that Boeing sought and received FAA approval to remove references to the system from the Flight Crew operations manual. Such information will no doubt create ‘hard lessons’ for Boeing, especially as recertification continues.
Damaging Emails for Boeing
The other strong element of evidence was regarding the emails from Boeing Chief Test Pilot Mark Forkner. The House investigation team had found emails from Forkner in which he described “Jedi mind tricking” airline customers to convince them that no simulator training was needed.
This alone offered the view that “Boeing has gone from being a great engineering company to being a big business focused on financial success.”
“Meeting production deadlines rather than safety was a top priority,” said Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Wash., chairman of the committee’s Aviation Subcommittee.
Senate Pushing Ahead with Reforms
The report was released on the same day that the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation presented a bill to reform the current system. This bill would overhaul the way that the FAA certifies aircraft in the US by allowing the agency to hire or remove Boeing employees tasked with such duties.
However, the report and the bill has already been met with partisan opposition, with Republicans stating that the Democrat-ran investigation “began by concluding that our system was broken and worked backwards from there.”
“We continue to focus squarely on the nonpartisan reports and investigations and the improvements they have identified, and none of them have concluded that the U.S. certification system is fundamentally broken or in need of wholesale reform,” said Sam Graves & Garret Graves.
Democrats however said that they would work with Republicans on the bill but they do not plan to scrap the bill altogether.
Next Steps for Boeing
At the moment, even amidst a global pandemic, Boeing has a lot of work to do. First of all, the 737 MAX has got to be recertified and get back in the air. If it does not successfully gain the proper certification, then we could see mass cancelations of orders.
It then has to fix problems on another of its aircraft. The Boeing 787, which has had issues such as affected tail fins as well as faulty production in its South Carolina plant, is causing more problems by the day for the manufacturer.
Next Steps for the FAA
As for the FAA, it will be in the body’s best interests for reforms to occur, so then Boeing does not have the ability to walk over them. The foot needs to be put down a lot more, meaning that the neoliberal model needs to be changed, as mentioned in a dissertation released by Airways.
Otherwise, we will see the exact same things happening again, like with the well-known Applegate Memorandum. Moreover, when it comes to regulatory bodies, this is a global problem. For example, since the UK Civil Aviation Administration (CAA) had been given regulatory approval to issue penalties over passenger refunds and compensation, UK airlines have been escaping fines ‘Since 2003.’
Featured Image: Boeing 737 MAX 7. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons