Published: Sat, October 19, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Boeing pilot warned of 'egregious' issue two years before 737 MAX crashes

Boeing pilot warned of 'egregious' issue two years before 737 MAX crashes

A Boeing pilot told a co-worker that he unknowingly misled safety regulators about a flight-control system on the now-grounded 737 MAX, according to the transcript of instant messages that the company belatedly turned over to federal officials.

Reuters further reports that Boeing has told the FAA about the internal messages, stating that the company learned about them months ago.

The messages refer to the performance of the MCAS anti-stall system, which has been connected to the two fatal 737 Max crashes that resulted in 346 deaths.

"Last night, I reviewed a concerning document that Boeing provided late yesterday to the Department of Transportation", FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said in a letter to Muilenburg.

Boeing described the document as "containing statements by a former Boeing employee" but did not explain its delay in sharing the information with the FAA. "The FAA is also disappointing that Boeing did not bring this document to our attention immediately upon its discovering".

"So I basically lied to the regulators (unknowingly)", he wrote.

Before crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia, MCAS was activated by a faulty sensor and pushed the nose of each plane down.

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"Granted I suck at flying, but even this was egregious", Forkner replied.

The FAA plans to turn over more communications from Forkner to the US Congress later on Friday, sources said.

Boeing shares tumbled 5% on the disclosure of the communications that the FAA had been unaware of. The stock dropped as much as 4.5% to $352.59 a share, its biggest intraday decline since May.

Seattle Times aerospace reporter Dominic Gates has covered the company since 2003, and has wielded his sourcing and knowledge to land a series of major scoops this year on concerns raised inside the company over flaws in the design of a flight control system known as MCAS (Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System).

Boeing is now revising the 737 MAX software to add more safeguards and require the MCAS system to receive input from two key sensors. "This was intentionally withheld from us, which is absolutely outrageous", House Transportation Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., said in an interview Friday.

News of the messages come as the FAA has taken the lead among global regulators in overseeing the recertification for the MAX in a process that has dragged out much longer than originally expected.

Forkner replied, "they're all so damn busy, and getting pressure from the program".

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