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'Designed by clowns': Boeing staff mocked regulators before grounded 737 MAX was certified

Emails released by the company last night show staff bragging they could get the jet certified despite safety concerns.

An Air Canada Boeing 737 Max 8 (file photo)
An Air Canada Boeing 737 Max 8 (file photo)
Image: Darryl Dyck/PA Images

BOEING EMPLOYEES MOCKED aviation authorities and bragged that they could get the 737 MAX jet certified with minimal training for pilots, newly published internal messages have revealed.

The communications, released by the company last night, could further worsen Boeing’s relations with regulators as it aims to secure approval that would allow the plane to resume flights.

The aircraft, which was involved in two crashes that killed 346 people in late 2018 and early 2019, was grounded in March last year amid concerns over its safety.

But messages sent to congressional investigators as part of transparency efforts by Boeing reveal an attitude that will cause further embarrassment for the company as the crisis and its relations with the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) worsen. 

One employee wrote that the plane was “designed by clowns who in turn are supervised by monkeys” in 2017, in apparent reference to the regulator.

“I still haven’t been forgiven by God for the covering up I did last year,” another employee wrote in a message from 2018, another reference to dealing with the FAA.

“I know but this is what these regulators get when they try and get in the way. They impede progress,” another wrote in August 2015.

“Would you put your family on a MAX simulator trained aircraft? I wouldn’t,” a Boeing employee wrote to a colleague in another exchange. “No,” the colleague answered.

In a statement, Boeing said that the communications related to the development and qualification of its MAX simulators in 2017 and 2018. US politicians reacted strongly to the release.

“These newly released emails are incredibly damning,” said Peter DeFazio, the chairman of the House Transportation Committee, which is investigating the plane.

“They paint a deeply disturbing picture of the lengths Boeing was apparently willing to go to in order to evade scrutiny from regulators, flight crews and the flying public.”

Probes of the two crashes have focused in particular on the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, an automated flight control system. Boeing is now working on changes to that system demanded by the FAA.

Contains reporting from - © AFP 2020

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