A “culture of concealment” and Boeing’s too-cosy relationship with the US regulator have been blamed for two crashes which killed 346 people.
A US congressional investigation has found Boeing management was unwilling to share technical details about its 737 Max aircraft – and that when it did the Federal Aviation Administration “failed to adequately address safety issues”.
The scathing final report by the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure states that the FAA has “failed to fully exercise its oversight authority” with other aircraft, too.
It points to a 2016 internal Boeing survey which found that 39 percent of Boeing’s own Authorised Representatives – employees acting as representatives of the FAA safety certifiers – said they had experienced “undue pressure”.
“In some cases, FAA senior managers acted against the safety recommendations from FAA’s own technical experts to support Boeing’s business interests,” the report reads.
It continues: “FAA management has undercut the authority and judgment of its own technical experts and sided with Boeing on design issues.
“These issues go beyond the 737 MAX program. The Committee is aware of at least one example where FAA technical experts were overruled by FAA management regarding a lightning protection safety feature on another Boeing aircraft, the 787 Dreamliner.”
The 245-page report concludes the Committee’s 18-month investigation into devastating crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia.
Boeing’s top-selling aircraft was grounded worldwide after the Ethiopia disaster in March 2019, which came just five months after a Lion Air 737 MAX crash in Indonesia that killed 189.
The report states there had been a series of failures in the plane’s design, while safety certification was compromised by an overly close relationship between Boeing and the FAA.
“[The crashes] were the horrific culmination of a series of faulty technical assumptions by Boeing’s engineers, a lack of transparency on the part of Boeing’s management, and grossly insufficient oversight by the FAA,” it reads.