Whistleblower Complaint Alleges Boeing Forewent Safety Upgrades to 737 MAX Planes
SEATTLE, WA. – According to an online news report from northwestgeorgianews.com, a whistleblower complaint recently reviewed by The Seattle Times alleges that Boeing forewent safety upgrades for its 737 MAX line of airplanes due to cost and scheduling considerations. The improvements were reportedly rejected during production of the planes in an attempt to keep airlines’ costs lower.*
The complaint was filed by a 33-year-old worker who was tasked with analyzing airplane crashes and making recommendations for future airplane safety. It alleges that sometime around 2014, he and his coworkers gave a presentation to Boeing’s executives and management regarding safety improvements for the MAX planes. The presentation, according to the news report and the whistleblower complaint, included a proposal that could have potentially prevented the fatal 737 MAX 8 crashes that took place in Indonesia and Ethiopia.
Both of these crashes, which resulted in the loss of 346 lives, occurred due to a malfunction with one of the plane’s sensors. The sensor erroneously activated a system that forced the noses of both planes to drop repeatedly. Both planes ended up crashing shortly into their flights.
The complaint indicates that the proposed safety upgrades to the very system that malfunctioned during these flights were rejected by Boeing higher-ups on three occasions. The justifications they cited for these rejections were potential effects to the project cost and to the training that would be required for pilots.
Boeing has long maintained that it places safety above costs in developing its airplanes, but news of the whistleblower complaint has critics calling this principle into question. The complaint itself outright alleges that Boeing’s management placed greater concern on the timeline and cost of the project than on the safety and quality of the planes. Thus far, Boeing has not publicly commented on the complaint.
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