Boeing failed to submit certification documents to the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) detailing modifications to a faulty key flight control system in two fatal accidents, a long-awaited government report by Reuters revealed.
The flight control system, known as MCAS, was “not a priority area” because Boeing presented it to the FAA as a modification of the jet’s existing speed compensation system, with a range and limited use, according to the report.
The 52-page report from the Office of the Inspector General (IG) of the United States Department of Transport, dated June 29 and due to be released on Wednesday, exposed the mistakes made by the aircraft manufacturer and the FAA in development. and certification of Boeing’s best-selling product. plane.
The FAA declined to comment beyond the ministry’s response attached to the report. The IG did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A Boeing spokesperson said the company had taken steps to improve safety and was committed to transparency. “When the MAX is returned to service, it will be one of the most thoroughly reviewed aircraft in history, and we have full confidence in its safety,” he said.
The IG report is the latest of the reports missing from the plane’s approval, while the Justice Department has an ongoing criminal investigation.
The 737 MAX has been detained on a commercial flight worldwide since March 2019 after two accidents killed 346 people in Ethiopia and Indonesia over a five-month period.
Boeing’s so-called MCAS stall prevention system failed in both collisions, when the system repeatedly and forcefully pushed the nose of the aircraft as pilots struggled to intervene, amid a cocktail of factors identified by the investigators.
The Inspector General’s report details activities from the first phase of the certification process in January 2012 to the second accident. It also details allegations of “undue pressure” from Boeing management on workers responsible for safety certification, although it adds that all cases of “undue pressure” “officially reported” have been “dealt with” in a satisfying manner”.
The IG office will issue recommendations to the FAA later this year, said the Department of Transport in comments on the draft report submitted on June 8.
The FAA is evaluating improvements to MCAS during a series of certification test flights this week that could pave the way for the plane’s return to the country by the end of the year.
Regualtors In The Dark
In response to the report, the Department of Transport said that the FAA certification for the 737 MAX was “hampered by a lack of effective communication” between the agency and the American planner.
Importantly, this included the “incomplete understanding of the scope and potential safety impacts” of the modifications made by Boeing to the aircraft’s flight control system to give it more power and authority, the agency said. .
“Boeing has not submitted certification documents to the FAA detailing the change,” said the report. “The FAA flight test staff were aware of this change, but the main FAA certification engineers and the personnel responsible for approving the level of training of airline pilots told us that they were not not aware of the MCAS review. “
The FAA conducted its very first detailed system review in January 2019, three months after the first crash in Indonesia. The review resulted in documentation that has never been finalized, the report said.
The report also noted that after the Indonesian crash, the FAA completed a risk analysis which revealed that the uncorrected risk for the 737 MAX was 2.68 deaths per 1 million flight hours, which exceeded FAA risk guidelines by 1 death per 10 million flight hours. .
An analysis from the FAA in December 2018 determined a risk of approximately 15 accidents occurring during the life of the entire 737 MAX fleet if the software patch was not implemented.
After the accidents, Boeing proposed and the FAA accepted a redesign of the MCAS software which would include additional safeguards against unintentional activation of MCAS.
Boeing also created a product and service safety organization for employees to raise safety concerns and undue pressure, first reported by Reuters.
Boeing has agreed to develop the MCAS software update by April 12 and operators will have until June 18, 2019 to install the software. While Boeing was working on the proposed software upgrade for MCAS, a second plane crashed in March 2019 in Ethiopia.
(With the exception of the title, this story was not edited by GalacticGaming staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)