Friday 17 January 2020

Max jet was ‘designed by clowns’, said Boeing staff

Grounded: 737 Max jets await testing at Boeing’s Washington facilities. Photo: Reuters
Grounded: 737 Max jets await testing at Boeing’s Washington facilities. Photo: Reuters

Julie Johnsson and Ryan Beene

A new batch of internal messages has been released by Boeing in which employees discussed deep unease with the 737 Max and problems in simulators used to train pilots on the new jetliner, while also trying to avert greater regulator scrutiny of the plane.

"This airplane is designed by clowns, who in turn are supervised by monkeys," said one company pilot in messages to a colleague in 2016, which Boeing disclosed publicly late on Thursday. The company had already provided the documents to lawmakers and the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), who are investigating the 737 Max and the process that cleared it to fly.

The new communications threaten to upend Boeing's efforts to rebuild public trust in the 737 Max, which has been grounded since March after two crashes that killed a total of 346 people. That will add to the hurdles for David Calhoun, who will take over on Monday as CEO after Dennis Muilenburg was ousted last month.

US congressman Peter DeFazio, who chairs a committee that is investigating Boeing and the Max, said the notes 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, even as its own employees were sounding alarms internally".

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Boeing apologised and said it was committed to "full transparency" with the FAA.

"We have made significant changes as a company to enhance our safety processes, organisations and culture," it said in a statement.

Boeing stock was little changed at $335.77 at 9.45am in New York, having gained 1.5pc on Thursday, after reports that a 737 crash in Iran this week was caused by a missile, not mechanical failure.



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