Report: Complaint alleges Boeing passed on 737 MAX safety upgrade over cost

Oct 2, 2019, 8:13 AM
boeing 737, 737 MAX...
A Boeing 737 MAX. (AP)

An ethics complaint filed by a senior Boeing engineer claims the company opted not to use a safety measure in its 737 MAX jet to save on costs.

Boeing employee: I would not put my family on 737 MAX right now

The complaint — acquired by The Seattle Times — says system upgrades were first proposed in 2014.

One of them was “synthetic airspeed” — already installed on the 787 Dreamliner — which potentially could have detected the false alarm that contributed to 737 MAX crashes that killed nearly 350 people.

Management reportedly rejected the upgrades three times. The first two times, managers turned it down due to cost and “potential training impact,” and then a third time by the 737 MAX chief project engineer for those same reasons.

The main concerns centered around how it would require 737 pilots to go through additional training, delaying the plane’s release and raising costs. The whistleblower in the ethics complaint alleged that Boeing was “more concerned with cost and schedule than safety and quality.”

A total of 189 people died in a Lion Air crash out of Indonesia on Oct. 29, 2018, when the plane nose-dived into the ocean. A total of 157 people died in the Ethiopian tragedy. Similar to the Indonesian crash, the pilot of the plane in Ethiopia sent a distress call shortly after takeoff.

Boeing cuts back on 737 Max production

The company has faced a near-constant stream of controversy in the wake of those crashes, in the form of lawsuits, canceled orders from airlines, and even threats from the company’s biggest customer that it might ditch Boeing for Airbus.

Before grounding the entire 737 MAX fleet, Boeing had over 300 of the jets in service across the globe.

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Report: Complaint alleges Boeing passed on 737 MAX safety upgrade over cost