Monday 20 January 2020

New batch of secret Boeing files 'disturbing'

Boeing 737 Max airplanes parked at Boeing Field in Seattle, Washington. Photo: REUTERS
Boeing 737 Max airplanes parked at Boeing Field in Seattle, Washington. Photo: REUTERS

Alan Levin

A new batch of messages between Boeing employees on the development of the 737 Max paints a "very disturbing picture" of concerns about the plane, according to an aide to a US Congressional committee.

The documents were turned over to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Monday, the agency said in a statement. The disclosure came on the same day that Boeing ousted its CEO.

At least some of them were written by the same Boeing pilot whose 2016 messages were released in October, and were the subject of sharp questioning by politicians, according to a person familiar with their contents who was not authorised to discuss them.

The communications have not been released publicly.

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The staff of the US Transportation and Infrastructure Committee are still reviewing the messages and did not provide specific details about what they contain.

"But similar to other records previously disclosed by Boeing, the records appear to point to a very disturbing picture of both concerns expressed by Boeing employees about the company's commitment to safety and efforts by some employees to ensure Boeing's production plans were not diverted by regulators or others," a committee aide said in a statement.

"The committee will continue to review these and other records provided by Boeing as part of the committee's ongoing investigation."

Boeing brought the emails to the FAA and Congress "as part of our commitment to transparency with our regulators and the oversight committees", the company said in a statement.

"As with prior documents referenced by the committee, the tone and content of some of these communications does not reflect the company we are and need to be."

Boeing has made changes to enhance safety, it said.

The 737 Max jetliner was grounded in March after a design flaw was linked to two fatal crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia.

The latest development adds to the challenges awaiting David Calhoun, the Boeing chairman, who is poised to become CEO next month following the exit of Dennis Muilenburg.

A statement from the board cited deteriorating relations with the FAA as part of the rationale for the move.

Boeing's handling of the second set of records rankled the agency, according to a person familiar with the issue who was not authorised to speak about it. Boeing told the FAA that the messages existed in recent days, but did not initially provide them or disclose their contents, said the person.

The FAA did not comment in its statement on the content of the emails, saying only that they were under review.


Irish Independent

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