A series of text messages sent from a Boeing pilot working on flight simulators for the 737 Max in 2016 indicate that Boeing knew about the flaws in the MCAS automated system—flaws that eventually led to two crashes in a span of five months that killed 346 people. The Times reports:
The pilot, Mark Forkner, complained that the system, known as MCAS, was causing him trouble. “It’s running rampant in the sim,” he said in a message to a colleague, referring to the simulator.
“Granted, I suck at flying, but even this was egregious,” he went on to say…
The messages were sent by Mark Forkner in November 2016, and have come to light now because Boeing made them available to the DOJ ahead of a series of hearings later in October. The DOJ is conducting a criminal investigation.
Most alarmingly, Forkner also texted this: “I basically lied to the regulators (unknowingly).” That came eight months after Forkner “had asked the F.A.A. if it would be O.K. to remove mention of MCAS from the pilot’s manual,” per the Times That request was approved.
Lion Air Flight 610 crashed in late October, 2018, and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 went down in March 2019, which led to the 737 Max airliners being grounded. In both cases, the MCAS (Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System) was activated by erroneous data and sent the aircraft into a nosedive shortly after takeoff. Since the system wasn’t in the airplane manuals, it was all but impossible for the pilots to avert disaster.
Read Jacob Weindling on how Boeing’s initial refusal to ground the flawed planes represents capitalism in a nutshell.