A U.S. House Transportation Committee investigation into the causes of two deadly crashes of the Boeing 737 MAX has concluded with damning conclusions. In simple terms, the committee’s report says Boeing concealed data that indicated catastrophe could result from glitches in the 737 MAX’s new flight-control software and did so to avoid a costly redesign. The report also found the Federal Aviation Administration asleep at the wheel in fulfilling its crucial oversight role.
The chair of the committee, Oregon Rep. Peter DeFazio, called it “mind boggling” that the FAA and Boeing had certified the airplane as in compliance with safety regulations given the warning signals raised by engineers who worked on the project.
Boeing has a corporate-culture problem, according to the report, something that reaches back to the 1997 merger of the once-proudly local manufacturing powerhouse with McDonnell Douglas. Corporate headquarters moved to Chicago, significant production moved to South Carolina, and Boeing was changed, in the words of former CEO Harry Stonecipher, “so it’s run like a business rather than a great engineering firm.”
The House investigation revealed that great engineering was overruled by greedy business concerns. The result was 346 passengers killed and Boeing’s reputation hammered – not to mention additional costs far greater than what would have been incurred if safety had been the top priority from the start.
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