Boeing's 'culture of concealment' to blame for 737 crashes
September 17, 2020 8:42 am
Two fatal crashes of Boeing 737 Max aircraft were partly due to the plane-maker’s unwillingness to share technical details, a congressional investigation has found.
It blames a “culture of concealment” at Boeing, but says the regulatory system was also “fundamentally flawed”.
Boeing said it had “learned many hard lessons” from the accidents.
But families of the victims accused the company and the regulator of continuing to hide information.
The US report is highly critical of both Boeing and the regulator, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
“Boeing failed in its design and development of the Max, and the FAA failed in its oversight of Boeing and its certification of the aircraft,” the 18-month investigation concluded.
The Boeing 737 Max has been grounded since March 2019 after two crashes, in Indonesia and Ethiopia, caused the deaths of 346 people.
The nearly 250-page report found a series of failures in the plane’s design, combined with “regulatory capture”, an overly close relationship between Boeing and the federal regulator, which compromised the process of gaining safety certification.
“[The crashes] were the horrific culmination of a series of faulty technical assumptions by Boeing’s engineers, a lack of transparency on the part of Boeing’s management, and grossly insufficient oversight by the FAA.”
But the US aviation regulator, the FAA, comes off almost as badly. US representatives find it guilty of “inherent conflicts of interest” and “grossly insufficient oversight”.
More seriously, they say the regulator was, in effect, in Boeing’s pocket and that the FAA’s management “overruled” its own technical and safety experts “at the behest of Boeing”.
Boeing admits “mistakes were made” and it now wants to focus on getting the 737-Max back in the air, saying the “revised design” of the aircraft has been “thoroughly scrutinised”.
Regulators in Europe and the US are relatively close to recertifying the 737-Max. But this is one of the biggest safety scandals facing a private company in modern times.
And other investigations are outstanding, including a giant lawsuit from the relatives of those killed in the second crash in Ethiopia.