Boeing Pilot Complained About Problem with 737 Max Jet in 2016
Aircraft manufacturer Boeing has maintained for months now that it had no idea that a new automated system in the 737 Max, which played a role in two devastating deadly crashes, was unsafe. However, according to a report in The New York Times, the company gave lawmakers a transcript showing that a top pilot working on the plane had raised concerns about the system in messages to a colleague back in 2016 – over two years before the Max was grounded because of two major accidents that left 346 people dead.
The Smoking Gun
In those messages in 2016, the pilot, Mark Forkner, who played an important role in developing the Max aircraft, complained that the MCAS system was acting unpredictably in a flight simulator. His exact words in those communications were: “It’s running rampant.” Those messages were from November 2016, months before the Max was certified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). According to a transcript of Forkner’s interaction with a colleague, he said the issue was “egregious.”
The crisis with the Max aircraft has been significant for Boeing and the revelation about Forkner’s messages comes at a particularly sensitive time. Boeing CEO Dennis A. Muilenburg is scheduled to testify before two congressional committees end of this month. This would be the first time a Boeing executive appears in a hearing related to the crashes.
Forkner was the chief technical pilot for the Max and helped Boeing convince international regulators that the Max was safe to fly. Forkner also says in messages that he had lied to the FAA. Legislators called these messages from Forkner “the smoking gun” that connects the dots between regulatory failure and criminal misconduct.
Holding Corporations Accountable
The existence of Forkner’s messages fly in the face of Boeing’s defense that it had done nothing wrong and didn’t know that the MCAS system was defective and acting up. This latest revelation also increases the company’s legal exposure as it faces civil and criminal investigations and lawsuits in connection with the two plane crashes, one involving a Lionair jet in Indonesia and another involving an Ethiopian Airlines jet in Ethiopia.
As product defect attorneys who represent the rights of injured victims and families that have lost loved one, we believe these messages convey is without question appalling. This is no longer just a failure in corporate culture, this is an exemplification of corporate greed and the culture of putting profits before people. A total of 346 people died in two crashes. That’s hundreds of lives lost. Boeing should be held accountable for these deaths and for allowing airplanes with flawed systems to fly.