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Whistleblower concerned that ‘potential defects’ remain in 737 MAX

Boeing 737 Max airplanes sit parked at the company's production facility in Renton, Washington. (Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)

Is the Boeing 737 MAX safe? That is the question that passengers are still asking as airlines start to return the troubled jet back to service. A new whistleblower report is out, and it suggests the plane is not ready to be back in the air.

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That report comes from former Boeing senior manager Ed Pierson, who testified as a whistleblower before Congress in 2019 during the MAX crash hearings.

His new report casts doubt on the flight control system, know as MCAS, as the major problem with the two crashes. While it did contribute to the crashes, Pierson believes problems with the electrical system as a whole, and potential defects in the “angle of attack” sensor might be more to blame. These are issues, Pierson wrote, that have yet to be addressed.

“I am concerned that there are potential defects in these airplanes that stem back to when the airplanes were manufactured, and I believe these defects could potentially cause future tragedies,” he said.

Pierson is concerned that these electrical issues don’t just end with the MAX. He believes there could be problems with the 737 NG and P8 Poseidon.

In his 14-page report, Pierson also highlights the history of the production issues at the Renton plant, including the increased push by upper management to put out as many planes as possible, all the rework issues, and worker fatigue.

“All the warnings that I gave about production quality have sadly come true, and I feel like there’s a lot more unanswered questions that need to be addressed,” he said.

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Concluding his latest report, Pierson wrote that “the triggering event for these crashes was a defective AOA Sensor part, and quite possibly, a malfunctioning electrical system stemming from a dangerously unstable production environment.”

“We can either investigate these production problems and fix them, or we can wait for another disaster,” he said.

Airlines in United States are currently cleared to return the MAX to service.

West Jet flew its first MAX passenger flight in Canada last week. Pilot Scott Wilson was at the controls on the flight from Calgary to Vancouver, B.C.

“Some of the traveling public will have more concerns than others, but time will definitely show the safety of the MAX and we do believe, based on the additional scrutiny that’s been put into it, this is the safest aircraft in the skies today,” Wilson said.

Europe is set to lift its grounding of the MAX this week.

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