, (Reuters) - Boeing Co has released hundreds of internal messages that show attempts to duck regulatory scrutiny in the development of the 737 MAX, as well as employees disparaging the plane, the company and aviation regulators.
The 737 MAX has been grounded since March when one of the jets nose-dived in Ethiopia, just five months after a similar crash in Indonesia. The two crashes killed 346 people.
Following are excerpts from more than 100 pages of documents, dated between 2013 and 2018, including conversations among Boeing pilots and among other employees.
ON THE 737 MAX
- In an April 2017 message exchange between two unnamed employees, one said: “this airplane is designed by clowns who in turn are supervised by monkeys” following references to issues with the plane’s flight management computer.
- In a instant messaging exchange on Feb. 8, 2018 - when the plane was in the air and eight months before the first crash, an employee asks another: “Would you put your family on a MAX simulator trained aircraft? I wouldn’t”.
The second employee responds: “No”.
ON REGULATORS AND THE REGULATORY PROCESS
- In a February 2017 email an unnamed Boeing employee said the FAA was “neither thorough nor demanding and failed to write up many issues” on problems with the 737 MAX simulator.
- “I’ll be shocked if the FAA passes this turd,” an unnamed employee says in a May 2018 instant message conversation. It was not immediately clear what the employee was referring to.
- In a March 2017 email, one Boeing employee said “FAA is pretty powerful and most countries defer to what the FAA does (except for National Authorities that are stuck in the Stone Ages. Eg. JCAB, ANAC)” in reference to the aviation regulators of Japan and Brazil.
- “I want to stress the importance of holding firm that there will not be any type of simulator training required to transition from NG to MAX,” Boeing’s 737 chief technical pilot said in a March 2017 email. The name of the pilot was redacted.
“Boeing will not allow that to happen. We’ll go face to face with any regulator who tries to make that a requirement,” the email said.
- An email between unnamed Boeing employees in June 2013 listed meeting minutes that said the MCAS anti-stall system, which has since been tied to the crashes, had been treated as a function analogous to a speed trim function.
“If we emphasize MCAS is a new function there may be a greater certification and training impact. Treat as addition to Speed Trim.”
ON COMPANY CULTURE
- “We put ourselves in an impossible position by picking the lowest cost supplier and signing up to impossible schedules,” an unnamed employee said in a June 2018 email with reference to the 737 MAX simulator supplied by TRU Simulation+Training.
In the same email, the employee also said: “I don’t know how to fix these things...it’s systemic. It’s culture. It’s the fact we have a senior leadership team that understand very little about the business and yet are driving us to certain objectives”.
- “I still haven’t been forgiven by god for the covering up I did last year,” an unnamed Boeing employee said in a May 2018 message without referencing what was covered up. “Cant do it one more time. the Pearly gates will be closed...”
Reporting by Jamie Freed in Sydney and Tracy Rucinski in Chicago; Additional reporting by David Shepardson and Chris Sanders in Washington and Tim Hepher in Paris; Editing by Edwina Gibbs
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