We regret the content of these communications, and apologize to the F.A.A., Congress, our airline customers, and to the flying public for them.
A series of damning internal messages places Boeing in the limelight once again, and not in a good way.
Boeing Employees Mock “Clowns” Who Designed 737 MAX
Congress is investigating the dual crashes of the 737 MAX. As part of its investigation, it requested a paper trail from Boeing to better understand what might have gone wrong. Sifting through the document dump, Congress found evidence of employees ridiculing the design team of the 737 MAX, expressing skepticism over its safety, and efforts to conceal safety concerns from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Here’s some of the internal messages now unearthed:
- “This airplane is designed by clowns, who are in turn supervised by monkeys.”
- “I still haven’t been forgiven by God for the covering up I did last year.” (from 2018 in reference to interactions with regulators)
- “Would you put your family on a Max simulator trained aircraft? I wouldn’t.” (his colleague responded “No”)
- “It was like dogs watching TV” (explaining a safety presentation Boeing made to the FAA)
Boeing found itself on the defensive, stating:
“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.
“We regret the content of these communications, and apologize to the F.A.A., Congress, our airline customers, and to the flying public for them. The language used in these communications, and some of the sentiments they express, are inconsistent with Boeing values, and the company is taking appropriate action in response. This will ultimately include disciplinary or other personnel action, once the necessary reviews are completed.”
Employees should be disciplined – the “I was just following orders” excuse is not valid. But it takes a certain toxic culture in order for employees to be so bold in what was apparently company systems or phones in which the messages were exchanged.
FAA: Not A Problem…
The FAA, meanwhile, largely shrugged off the latest revelations. A spokesperson said:
“Upon reviewing the records for the specific simulator mentioned in the documents, the agency determined that piece of equipment has been evaluated and qualified three times in the last six months. Any potential safety deficiencies identified in the documents have been addressed.”
I hear the “few bad apples” defense often when it comes to Boeing and I don’t doubt that is the truth, since I know several very decent people who for Boeing. Still, for such messages to be exchanged raises alarm bells. Boeing, more than Congress or any other regulator, should be working overtime to change the culture within.