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Report: Boeing did not act on pilot concerns

by Lynde Langdon
Posted 5/15/19, 12:32 pm

Boeing executives rejected pleas from U.S. pilots to fix problems with its 737 Max airplanes prior to the fatal crash of an Ethiopian Airlines flight in March, The New York Times reported Tuesday. Malfunctions by sensors and anti-stall software played a role in the Ethiopian disaster and an October 2018 Lion Air crash in Indonesia that combined killed 346 people. In audio from a November 2018 meeting between representatives of Boeing and the American Airlines pilots union, the pilots begged for a solution after learning of the problem following the Lion Air crash.

“My question to you, as Boeing, is why wouldn’t you say this is the smartest thing to do?” American pilot Michael Michaelis said at the meeting, according to the Times. “Say we’re going to do everything we can to protect that traveling public in accordance with what our pilots unions are telling us.” Pilots also criticized Boeing for not including in the plane’s manual what to do if the anti-stall software erred. Boeing said pilots should have already known how to respond in such a situation.

“I would think that there would be a priority of putting explanations of things that could kill you,” American pilot Todd Wissing said.

The Federal Aviation Administration—along with flight oversight agencies around the world—has since grounded the 737 Max until Boeing issues updated software. On Capitol Hill on Wednesday, acting FAA Administrator Daniel Elwell told the House Aviation Subcommittee that his agency would not allow the plane to fly again until it can be certified as safe.

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Lynde Langdon

Lynde is a WORLD Digital's managing editor. She is a graduate of World Journalism Institute, the Missouri School of Journalism, and the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Lynde resides with her family in Wichita, Kansas. Follow Lynde on Twitter @lmlangdon.

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  • KC
    Posted: Wed, 05/15/2019 02:17 pm

    Everything I've read points to extreme neglegence on Boeing's part. It's hard to imagine what the thought process was when pilots started complaining, but then a plane goes down and they do nothing. Then another goes down and they initially resist grounding them all? Hundreds died and none had to, these were not accidents.

  • Dignitas
    Posted: Wed, 05/15/2019 07:30 pm

    Everything being promoted points to Boeing. There is another side. Many also believe the pilots in those instances had multiple opportunities to correct in flight and allowed it to get so far gone.  

  •  Peter Allen's picture
    Peter Allen
    Posted: Wed, 05/15/2019 09:17 pm

    As a licensed pilot ATP, AND Active as an Aircraft Dispatcher for a major airline I can tell you Human Factors are considered with system design.  In this case, basing this system on a single angle of attack indicator totally breaks with redundancy and Human Factor principles. (Humans cannot be counted on for perfect responses).  If this was the norm, you might be afraid to fly as there would be many more stories.