Boeing 2016 internal messages suggest employees may have misled FAA on 737 MAX: sources




 

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Boeing Co <BA.N> turned over instant messages from 2016 between two employees that suggest the airplane maker may have misled the Federal Aviation Administration about a key safety system on the grounded 737 MAX, according to documents seen by Reuters.

The FAA confirmed Friday that Boeing told it a day earlier about internal messages it had discovered "some months ago" that characterize "certain communications with the FAA during the original certification of the 737 MAX in 2016."

The FAA said it found the messages "concerning" and "is reviewing this information to determine what action is appropriate." It prompted a letter from FAA Administrator Steve Dickson to Boeing Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg demanding an "immediate" explanation for the delay in turning over the documents.

A person briefed on the matter said Boeing failed to turn over the documents to the FAA for four months and that the Justice Department is also in possession of the messages.

The Boeing internal messages raised questions about the performance of the so-called MCAS anti-stall system that has been tied to the two fatal crashes in five months.

The messages are between the MAX's then-chief technical pilot, Mark Forkner, and another Boeing pilot, the sources said, and raised questions about the MCAS's performance in the simulator in which he said it was "running rampant."

Forkner has since left Boeing. The Seattle Times reported in September that Forkner repeatedly invoked his Fifth Amendment right to not turn over documents subpoenaed by the Justice Department.

Boeing said in a statement the company "brought to the Committee's attention a document containing statements by a former Boeing employee."

Forkner said in one text message, "I basically lied to the regulators (unknowingly)." The other employee responded that "it wasn't a lie, no one told us that was the case" of an issue with MCAS.

Forkner responded soon after: "Granted I suck at flying, but even this was egregious."

The FAA plans to turn over more communications from Forkner to Congress later on Friday, sources said.

Boeing is revising the 737 MAX software to add more safeguards and require the MCAS system to receive input from two key sensors.

The FAA reiterated that it is "following a thorough process, not a prescribed timeline, for returning the Boeing 737 MAX to passenger service. The agency will lift the grounding order only after we have determined the aircraft is safe."

Earlier this week, Southwest Airlines Co <LUV.N> delayed the return of the plane to its flight schedule until February.

Separately, the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee confirmed it will question Muilenburg at an Oct. 29 hearing, one day before a House of Representatives panel is scheduled to question him.

Boeing shares fell 3.9% after the Reuters report, helping to drag down the Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> to a session low.

Federal prosecutors aided by the FBI, the Department of Transportation's inspector general and several blue-ribbon panels are investigating the 737 MAX's certification.


(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Richard Chang)

COMMENTS

More Related News

Indonesia waiting on major global aviation regulators for return of 737 MAX: official
Indonesia waiting on major global aviation regulators for return of 737 MAX: official
  • US
  • 2019-11-13 07:05:21Z

Indonesia will not approve the return of the Boeing Co 737 MAX to its skies until after aviation regulators in the United States, Europe, Brazil, Canada and China do so, an official at Indonesia's aviation regulator said. A Lion Air 737 MAX crashed shortly after take-off from Jakarta last year, killing all 189 people on board, and the model was grounded globally following a second deadly crash in Ethiopia in March this year. Indonesian investigators last month released a final report into the Lion Air crash that included recommendations to Boeing, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the airline on improving safety practices.

Some U.S. airlines willing to take 737 MAX jets before pilot training approval: sources
Some U.S. airlines willing to take 737 MAX jets before pilot training approval: sources
  • US
  • 2019-11-12 23:01:24Z

Some U.S. airlines are willing to pick up their 737 MAX jets from Boeing Co as soon as December if the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approves delivery of the grounded planes before new pilot training is agreed, three people with knowledge of the matter said. Hundreds of 737 MAX jets have rolled off Boeing's Seattle production line in the months since two fatal crashes on the aircraft led to a global safety ban, forcing the planemaker to park un-flown jets at facilities across Washington state until regulators approve software and training updates. Boeing on Monday said the FAA could issue an order approving the plane's return to service in December, even though approval for...

Boeing gives pilot new job after firestorm over leaked messages - sources
Boeing gives pilot new job after firestorm over leaked messages - sources

One of two Boeing Co technical pilots who described flaws in a crucial flight control system in leaked 2016 instant messages has been transferred to a new job at the U.S. planemaker, two people familiar with the matter said on Tuesday. The 2016 conversation between the employee, Patrik Gustavsson,

Boeing gives pilot new job after firestorm over leaked messages: sources
Boeing gives pilot new job after firestorm over leaked messages: sources

One of two Boeing Co technical pilots who described flaws in a crucial flight control system in leaked 2016 instant messages has been transferred to a new job at the U.S. planemaker, two people familiar with the matter said on Tuesday. The 2016 conversation between the employee, Patrik Gustavsson, and then-colleague Mark Forkner, erased some $14 billion of its market value after they became public last month. Forkner's comments were among those pinpointed by U.S. lawmakers during back-to-back hearings in Washington as evidence Boeing knew about problems with flight control software well before the two crashes in the span of five months killed a total of 346 people.

Boeing says 737 MAX expected to resume flying in January
Boeing says 737 MAX expected to resume flying in January

Boeing on Monday said it expects the 737 MAX airplane, which was grounded after two crashes killed 346 people, to resume flying in January, delaying its return by one month. In a statement, the group said it still hopes to receive certification next month from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), allowing it to resume MAX deliveries to airline customers before the end of the year. "In parallel, we are working towards final validation of the updated training requirements, which must occur before the MAX returns to commercial service, and which we now expect to begin in January," Boeing said.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: Economy