by Natalie Kitroeff · January 9, 2020
“We regret the content of these communications, and apologize to the F.A.A., Congress, our airline customers, and to the flying public for them,” the company said.
A Boeing 737 Max parked at the company’s facilities in Washington. The planes remain grounded after two deadly crashes.Credit…Lindsey Wasson for The New York Times
Boeing sent Congress more than a hundred pages of documents on Thursday that included internal communications between company employees mocking the Federal Aviation Administration and bragging about getting the regulator to approve the 737 Max with little new training required for pilots.
Among the most damaging messages included conversations among Boeing employees about software issues and other problems with flight simulators for the Max. The employees appear to discuss instances in which the company concealed such problems from the F.A.A. during the regulator’s certification of the simulators.
“I still haven’t been forgiven by God for the covering up I did last year,” one of the employees says in messages from 2018, apparently in reference to interactions with the regulator.
“Would you put your family on a Max simulator trained aircraft? I wouldn’t,” one employee said to a colleague in another exchange. “No,” the colleague responded.
“These communications contain provocative language, and, in certain instances, raise questions about Boeing’s interactions with the F.A.A. in connection with the simulator qualification process,” Boeing said in a statement to Congress. “Having carefully reviewed the issue, we are confident that all of Boeing’s Max simulators are functioning effectively.”
“We regret the content of these communications, and apologize to the F.A.A., Congress, our airline customers, and to the flying public for them,” Boeing added. “The language used in these communications, and some of the sentiments they express, are inconsistent with Boeing values, and the company is taking appropriate action in response. This will ultimately include disciplinary or other personnel action, once the necessary reviews are completed.”
Boeing said that it notified the F.A.A. about the documents in December and that it had “not found any instances of misrepresentations to the F.A.A. with its simulator qualification activities,” despite the employee’s comment about “covering up” issues with the simulator.
Lynn Lunsford, a spokesman for the F.A.A., said in a statement that the messages did not reveal any new safety risks with the 737 Max or flight simulators.
“Upon reviewing the records for the specific simulator mentioned in the documents, the agency determined that piece of equipment has been evaluated and qualified three times in the last six months,” Mr. Lunsford said. “Any potential safety deficiencies identified in the documents have been addressed.”
The New York Times · by Natalie Kitroeff · January 9, 2020