Congress releases damning report on Boeing and 737MAX saga

Nearly one year after launching its Boeing 737 MAX investigation, the United States House Transportation Committee issues preliminary investigation conclusions,and they do not make for happy reading.

On March 6, 2020, nearly one year after launching its investigation into the design, development, and certification of the Boeing 737 MAX, the United States Congress preliminary investigative findings outline systemic and systematic denial, denigration, disambiguation and deception by Boeing and it’s staff.

The Boeing 737 MAX, which was certified by the FAA and entered revenue service in 2017, was involved in two fatal crashes within five months of each other that killed a total of 346 people, including eight Americans. The aircraft is still grounded worldwide.

The Committee’s preliminary findings, titled “The Boeing 737 MAX Aircraft: Costs, Consequences, and Lessons from its Design, Development, and Certification,” outlines core technical design failures on the aircraft and Boeing’s complete lack of transparency with aviation regulators and airlines. Boeing’s efforts to obfuscate information about the operation of the aircraft are also focused on.

The Committee’s investigation, as detailed in the preliminary findings, focuses on five main areas:

  • Production pressures on Boeing employees that jeopardized aviation safety
  • Boeing’s faulty assumptions about critical technologies, most notably regarding the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS
  • Boeing’s concealment of crucial information from the FAA, airlines and pilots
  • Inherent conflicts of interest among authorized representatives (AR’s) who are Boeing employees but authorised to perform certification work on behalf of the FAA
  • Boeing’s influence over the FAA’s oversight, that resulted in FAA management rejecting safety concerns raised by the agency’s own technical experts at the request of Boeing

The full document is a litany of frankly diabolical mismanagement, cost driven decision making, and complete disregard for the consequences and that people might die.

Even worse when people did die, there was an almost automatic reaction to prevent anyone blaming Boeing in any way, and a concerted campaign to blame the airlines and pilots for both incidents.

The full document is a mesh of corporate greed, individuals covering their backs and a near ruthless protection of individual bonuses and corporate income. While not in itself coordinated – and perhaps this is the worst aspect of the whole thing, the culture at the company drove everyone to base their decision making on morally bankrupt ideals.