LONDON – Reports have emerged today that Boeing has reportedly misled the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regarding the safety of its grounded 737MAX aircraft.
This came after a set of messages, released by The New York Times, between two employees at Boeing raising some concerns about the Manoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation Systems (MCAS), which has been subject to controversy following the crashes of Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302.
The main message of concern came from Boeing pilot Mark Forkner who said that flying the aircraft back in 2016 “was egregious”.
According to the Times also, Forkner went on to say that he “basically lied to the regulators (unknowingly)”.
This message was then found by Boeing “months ago” according to sources but only now did the manufacturer turn in the information to the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the relevant committees.
In response, Steve Dickson, the FAA Administrator, sent a letter to Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenberg demanding an immediate explanation in the failure to disclose this information.
“Last night, I reviewed a concerning document that Boeing provided late yesterday to the Department of Transportation”, the letter wrote.
“I understand that Boeing discovered the document in its files months ago. I expect your explanation immediately regarding the content of this document and Boeing’s delay in disclosing the document to its safety regulator”.
This will be yet another setback into the recertification of the aircraft, following reports it was aiming to get the MAX back into the skies a lot sooner than expected.
Media outlet The Verge requested a statement from Boeing regarding this but provided emphasis on cooperation with the authorities.
“Over the past several months, Boeing has been voluntarily cooperating with the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee’s investigation into the 737 MAX.”
“As part of that cooperation, today we brought to the Committee’s attention a document containing statements by a former Boeing employee. We will continue to cooperate with the Committee as it continues its investigation.”
“And we will continue to follow the direction of the FAA and other global regulators, as we work to safely return the 737 MAX to service.”
End of the Road for Muilenberg?
With this revelation emerging, it is going to place some questions onto the Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenberg.
With a scandal as big as this, and with no intention of dropping anytime soon, Muilenberg will no doubt have to consider his position in the company.
If he was to survive this, then it would be nothing short of a miracle. Through the two crashes that have killed over 300 people, there has to be a level of accountability taken. Who will take the responsibility remains to be seen.
In-all, this is another step in the wrong direction for Boeing. If there is to be a break from the past, then a lot to the structure of the aerospace company as well as the regulatory process internally needs to be changed. And fast.