Recently, the House Transportation Committee issued a scathing report, blaming failed government oversight by the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) and design flaws for the recent crash of two Boeing 737 Max aircrafts. The report claims Boeing was aware of the design flaws and failed to take action to prevent the crashes.
The committee’s 246-page report was created in response to two recent 737 Max aircraft crashes that occurred within five months of each other. The report states, “The fact that a compliant airplane suffered from two deadly crashes in less than five months, is clear evidence that the current regulatory system is fundamentally flawed.”
The report details changes in legislation to the approval process, such as the FAA’s delegation of some oversight to aircraft manufacturers. Committee Chairman, Peter DeFazio stated “we will be adopting significant reforms.” According to statements, one improvement will require the FAA to do more review when there is significant change to an already existing aircraft.
The investigation focused on why Boeing was able to obtain approval without significant pilot training, by convincing the FAA that the 737 Max was merely another version of the 737 series aircraft.
When Boeing modified their existing 737 series with larger engines and changed the position of the engines, a software package was added called MCAS or Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, which automatically lowers the aircrafts nose when it detects a pitch angle that is too steep. Unfortunately, the MCAS system ultimately created the conditions that caused both 737 Max aircrafts to crash. According to reports, Boeing failed to disclose to regulators that the MCAS system functioned on only one sensor. Boeing’s failure to use multiple sensors ultimately led to a malfunction of the MCAS system, causing the nose of the aircraft to incorrectly be pushed down and crash.
During the testing phase ten different test pilots determined that pilot reaction times to the MCAS malfunctioning were not within federal guidelines. Boeing had four “authorized representatives” allowed to act on the FAA’s behalf and according to the report they were aware of the slow reaction time. Unfortunately, the concerns of the test pilots were never disclosed to the FAA.
According to the report, Boeing’s bad decision-making started in 2011 when their contract with Southwest Airlines required a reduction of one million dollars on each 737 Max’s price, if additional simulator training was required.
Currently, the FAA is requiring that changes be made to the Max aircraft before it flies again.
If you or someone you know has been injured due to an aviation related incident, contact an attorney at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner by calling 713-231-9360 or 1-888-229-5094 for your free consultation.