Internal Boeing emails between employees reveal safety concerns: NYT

Internal Boeing emails between employees reveal safety concerns: NYT

5 mins read
  • Internal emails released by Boeing to Congress reveal that employees within the company mocked the Federal Aviation Administration and discussed security concerns related to the 737 Max. 
  • Hundreds of emails, which Boeing provided to Congress and the FAA in December, were obtained by both Reuters and The New York Times on Thursday.  
  • “This airplane is designed by clowns who in turn are supervised by monkeys,” one employee wrote in an instant message, according to Reuters. 
  • “I still haven’t been forgiven by God for the covering up I did last year,” another employee said in 2018, according to The New York Times.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Internal emails released by Boeing to Congress reveal that employees within the company mocked the Federal Aviation Administration and discussed issues with the 737 Max plane, which was grounded last year after two fatal crashes. 

Hundreds of emails, which Boeing provided to Congress and the FAA in December, were obtained by both Reuters and The New York Times on Thursday. 

The emails discussed a range of topics, including safety issues with the Max software and the little training provided to Max pilots. 

In a 2018 messages seen by The Times, an employee appear to discuss covering up problems with the Max from the FAA when the aviation regulator was certifying its simulators: “I still haven’t been forgiven by God for the covering up I did last year,” one employee said, according to Times. 

“Would you put your family on a Max simulator trained aircraft? I wouldn’t,” one employee said to a colleague in an undated set of messages seen by The Times. “No,” the colleague responded.

In April 2017, two employees complained about the safety of the Max. 

“This airplane is designed by clowns who in turn are supervised by monkeys,” one employee wrote in an instant message.

Boeing said in a press release on Thursday that it provided the documents to the FAA and to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Technology and the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure in December for the sake of transparency. 

The company said the communications “do not reflect the company we are and need to be, and they are completely unacceptable.” 

“Some of these communications relate to the development and qualification of Boeing’s Max simulators in 2017 and 2018,” the company said in the statement. “These communications contain provocative language, and, in certain instances, raise questions about Boeing’s interactions with the FAA in connection with the simulator qualification process.”

“Having carefully reviewed the issue, we are confident that all of Boeing’s Max simulators are functioning effectively,” it said, adding that the issues referenced in these messages “occurred early in the service life of these simulators.” 

“Indeed, more than twenty regulatory qualifications of Max simulators, performed by the FAA and multiple international regulators, have been conducted since early 2017,” it said. “We remain confident in the regulatory process for qualifying these simulators.” 

Boeing apologized for the messages and promised disciplinary action would be taken against the employees cited in the messages. 

Boeing’s 737 Max plane came under scrutiny in March after two fatal crashes involving the plane led to the combined deaths of 346 people. The plane has been grounded since after intense regulatory scrutiny.

In October, Boeing provided the FAA with copies of instant messages from the former chief technical pilot on the 737 Max, Mark Forkner, in which he described problems during a simulator flight with the automated flight control system — MCAS — that ultimately contributed to the two crashes, as well as misleading regulators.

In the 2016 messages, Forkner described MCAS as “running rampant in the sim,” and said that “I basically lied to the regulators (unknowingly),” describing problems that he had not previously disclosed.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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