Re: “As the FAA finalizes the 737 MAX’s return, is Boeing’s jet now safe?” [Sept. 12, Boeing & Aerospace]:
The Seattle Times’ technical reporting of this complex issue has been outstanding. However, there is another aspect that is important. This is not simply a design or manufacturing problem, but also a legal issue.
Federal regulation 14CFR25.1309 addresses how aircraft designers shall perform safety assessments. This regulation was not followed in at least two ways. One, a single point failure of a critical safety item with known high failure rates leads to a catastrophic failure condition, and two, the final Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System design configuration did not reflect the original (erroneous) safety assessment.
The cozy relationship between Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration with an extreme focus on maximizing profit for investors and executives is well documented. However, the above federal regulations, if followed, would not have allowed this design to be fielded in the first place. When laws are bent or broken by individuals, there are consequences.
Considering the Supreme Court decisions that give corporations rights as individuals, what legal, criminal or financial consequences are being considered in this case — over and above the market-based consequences? Will those consequences be focused on individuals or the corporate entities?
Scott Leonard, Issaquah (retired Boeing safety engineer)