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The Boeing 737 Max jetliner was bound to crash even before its takeoff. It has been revealed from the communications among the employees working on the project aiming to avoid exhaustive regulatory scrutiny.
Boeing released several internal messages with company employees expressing their unease with the 737 Max. They discussed the problems existing in the flight simulators used to train pilots on the new jetliner while attempting to avoid extensive regulatory scrutiny of the plane. One company pilot told their colleague in 2016:
“This airplane is designed by clowns, who, in turn, are supervised by monkeys.”
The company had already given the documents to lawmakers with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration investigating the Boeing 737 Max and how it was cleared to fly. The messages published on January 9 threaten to topple the company’s efforts to rebuild public trust in the 737 Max. These planes have remained grounded worldwide since March 2019 after the two deadly crashes.
The new CEO, David Calhoun, will have to deal with all these hurdles to successfully steer the company away from its turbulent predicament. Peter DeFazio, an Oregon U.S. Representative Democrat chairing a committee that is investigating Boeing and the Max said:
“These newly-released emails are incredibly damning. They paint an alarming picture of the lengths Boeing was willing to go to evade scrutiny from regulators, flight crews, and the flying public, even as its employees were sounding alarms internally.”
Boeing provided the needed documents under immense pressure from U.S. lawmakers. The company apologized and added that it strives to commit to ‘full transparency’ with the FAA.
According to the FAA, the Boeing messages do not point to any new safety risks not already identified as part of the continuing review of proposed alterations and enhancements to the aircraft.
The Selling Point
One of Boeing’s selling points with its customers was that pilots certified for an earlier generation of 737 jets only required a short computer course. The course would allegedly brush up their skills for the new Max. These assurances made Max Boeing’s best-selling jetliner. The messages published by the company show the pressure on employees and customers hence additional training seemed unnecessary at the time.
These messages also highlighted the technical shortcomings that existed in the Max simulators after the jets went airborne in mid-2017. Boeing told the public that it had addressed all potential safety deficiencies highlighted in the documents. Employees expressed their dissatisfaction with the new aircraft program long before disasters struck.
The company strived to evade scrutiny from regulators with the former 737 Max Chief Technical Pilot, Mark Forkner, bragging of using “Jedi mind tricks” on them.
The Boeing 737 Max Mystery
After the messages appeared, the lawmakers got furious for the negligent behavior by Boeing and involved parties in the Max project. The latest batch of released emails includes a 2017 message where Forkner bragged that his mind tricks had worked again.
The pilot warned another user against providing simulator training for 737 Max pilots. He advised the recipient to shun the simulator and go for the computer-based course that regulators had approved for pilots transitioning to the Max from the older 737 models.
Another anonymous employee in another text exchange boasts about swindling India’s regulator. He said that he swayed the regulators and made them feel stupid about trying to get more training requirements.
In a 2013 memo, an employee discussed the new software on the Max. The software would eventually be implicated for the two fatal crashes. The infamous Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System was not disclosed to pilots. It accidentally activated and overwhelmed both crews of the planes that crashed and killed everyone on board.
Today, Boeing stock is priced at a low of $332.05 and a high of $ 341.73. The stock is currently pegged at $336.34 representing a 1.5% gain. Since the plunge in mid-December to $325, the stock is struggling to get back above $340.
However, this price level is still rather far away from the high observed in the beginning of March 2019. When the stock was trading at $440. As the negative publicity keeps arising, it might be a long time before the BA stock regains its lost glory.