Boeing engineers and test pilots raised concerns about the MCAS flight control system prior to the October 2018 crash in Indonesia and the March 2019 crash in Ethiopia, but the issues were not addressed, according to the House Transportation Committee. Both crashes occurred just minutes after takeoff.
The Boeing 737 Max was classified as compliant based on the existing FAA standards, but was “demonstrably unsafe,” the investigators found.
A “culture of disguise” at Boeing contributed to the failures, according to the congressional report: “In several critical cases, Boeing withheld important information from the FAA, its customers and 737 MAX pilots.” But there were also problems within the FAA. “The fact that a compliant aircraft has suffered two fatal crashes in less than five months is clear evidence that the current regulatory system is fundamentally flawed and needs to be repaired,” the report said.
Boeing said it made changes within the company.
“We as a company have learned many hard lessons from the Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 accidents and from the mistakes we made,” Boeing said in a statement. “As a result, as this report recognizes, we have made fundamental changes to our company and continue to seek ways to improve.”
The FAA said it would work with the House Committee “to implement the improvements identified in its report”.
“We are already taking important initiatives based on our own internal reviews as well as independent reviews of accidents involving Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines,” the administration said in an email statement. “The FAA continues to follow a thorough process, not a prescribed schedule, to get the aircraft back into service.”
The report highlights proposed rule changes that would require a number of 737 Max design changes prior to recommissioning.