The government today asked aeronautical giant Boeing for explanations for allegedly hiding for months that two members of the company were concerned about the stabilization system of the controversial model 737 MAX aircraft.
Stephen Dickson, the head of the federal agency that regulates civil aviation in the country, has asked for an “immediate explanation” from Boeing’s CEO, Dennis Muilenburg, for taking so long to deliver documents that show the concern of some employees about the 737 MAX.
“I expect an immediate explanation for the content of these documents and Boeing’s delay in disclosing those documents to air safety regulators,” Dickson told Muilenburg in a letter issued by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in charge of aviation safety.
Specifically, by “documents,” the FAA refers to the messages exchanged by two Boeing workers in 2016 during the 737 MAX certification process.
The FAA did not identify the names of these two employees.
But The New York Times revealed that one of them is Mark Forkner, a Boeing test pilot who in 2016 complained about problems with the automatic system (MCAS).
Under certain circumstances, the system tilts down the nose of the plane to prevent it from stalling, that is, not having enough speed to stay in the air.
“It’s running rampant in the simulator,” Forkner reportedly told a colleague about the MCAS system.
The 737 MAX remain on the ground since last March in almost all parts of the world, after two accidents in just five months that left 346 dead in Indonesia and Ethiopia, forcing airlines to interrupt operations while waiting for regulators to approve an improvement to the MCAS flight program.
In the case of the Indonesian and Ethiopian accidents, the flight control software was allegedly triggered by “erroneous” information from the aircraft’s “angle of attack” sensor and, in the face of pilots’ inability to deactivate it, caused the planes to plummet.
After the FAA issued its statement, Boeing’s shares on the New York stock exchange plummeted by more than 4%.
Boeing, plunged into a deep crisis of reputation, had in the last quarter the worst results of its history – a loss of 2,942 million dollars – and estimated a charge of 4,900 million dollars to, among other things, compensate the losses of its customers related to the veto their ships.