The publication of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee report on the 737 Max says that Boeing put the profits of Wall Street and pressure to compete with European rival Airbus ahead of vital safety updates to the flawed flight control software.
Unveiling the report, Committee chairman, Rep. Peter DeFazio (DeFazio of Oregon), wrote “Our report lays out disturbing revelations about how Boeing—under pressure to compete with Airbus and deliver profits for Wall Street—escaped scrutiny from the Federal Aviation Administration, withheld critical information from pilots, and ultimately put planes into service that killed 346 innocent people,” adding “What’s particularly infuriating is how Boeing and FAA both gambled with public safety in the critical time period between the two crashes,”
The report identified five problems with the aircraft’s design, construction and certification process. Including the apparent need to compete with the new Airbus A320neo meant Boeing made cost-cutting a higher priority than safety.
Another major problem was that the Boeing made ‘deadly assumptions’ about the software used in the MCAS system, the system that was singled out as a cause of two fatal 737 Max cashed in 2018 and 2019
The report says that Boeing was not only aware of problems with the MCAS system, it actively withheld critical information from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
The FAA was also criticised for its practice of delegating oversight authority to Boeing employees left it in the dark on the problems with the flight control software.
The 737 Max software has undergone almost a year of examination and upgrades and the FAA is currently conduction test flights with a view to re-certifying the aircraft by the end of 2020.
The report also saw the committee apologise to the families of the victims the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airways crashes saying: “On behalf of the families of the victims of both crashes, as well as anyone who steps on a plane expecting to arrive at their destination safely, we are making this report public to put a spotlight not only on the broken safety culture at Boeing but also the gaps in the regulatory system at the FAA that allowed this fatally flawed plane into service.”
It remains to be seen though how much the problems outlined in this report and the two fatal accidents have hurt consumer confidence in the aircraft.