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Boeing internal messages say 737 MAX is 'designed by clowns'

By Charlotte Ricca

Messages paint a 'deeply disturbing picture of the lengths Boeing was apparently willing to go to in order to evade scrutiny'

Boeing has released hundreds of internal messages criticising the 737 MAX, with one employee saying the airplane has been “designed by clowns”.

There are more than 100 pages of instant messages and emails, dated from 2013 to 2018, between Boeing pilots and other employees who malign the aircraft, the company and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

In an email in February 2017 one employee said the FAA was “neither thorough nor demanding and failed to write up many issues” relating to problems with the 737 MAX simulator.

A few months later another employee said: “This airplane is designed by clowns who in turn are supervised by monkeys.” While another asked: “Would you put your family on a MAX simulator-trained aircraft? I wouldn’t.”

As recently as May 2018 an unnamed Boeing employee said: “I still haven’t been forgiven by God for the covering up I did last year. Can't do it one more time. The pearly gates will be closed...” They did not reveal what they had covered up.

Some of the messages reveal Boeing avoided making pilot simulator training mandatory for the 737 MAX, as the plane was similar to its predecessor, the 737 NG.

However, this week the plane maker reversed its position recommending 737 MAX simulator training to all pilots.

The 737 Max was grounded in March 2019 after two fatal crashes in Indonesia (October 2018) and Ethiopia (May 2019), which killed a total of 346 people. While software flaws played a part in those incidents, an internal audit has found possible issues with the planes' wiring and engines.

This latest run of bad press raises serious questions about the aircraft's future.

Boeing said it released the communications as part of its “commitment to full transparency” adding they were “completely unacceptable”.

According to congressman Peter DeFazio, the House transportation committee chairman who has been investigating the Max, the emails are “incredibly damning”.

“They paint a deeply disturbing picture of the lengths Boeing was apparently willing to go to in order to evade scrutiny from regulators, flight crews, and the flying public, even as its own employees were sounding alarms internally,” he said.

However, the FAA said it that “nothing in the submission pointed to any safety risks that were not already identified as part of the ongoing review of proposed modifications to the aircraft.

“Any potential safety deficiencies identified in the documents have been addressed.”

This latest revelation comes as further bad news for Boeing, following last week's air crash in Iran.

Boeing also expects to decrease the production of its 787 Dreamliners in late 2020 to 12 aircraft per month down from 14, following order cancellations and weak demand from China.

FURTHER READING: Boeing-737 crashes at Tehran airport

FURTHER READING: Boeing may issue bonds to cover 737 Max expenses

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