New York (AFP)
The American Congress released Thursday night to Friday old internal messages of Boeing employees denigrating the regulator of the American air, which could further damage relations with the authorities and complicate the return to service of the 737 MAX.
In these communications sent in December to American parliamentarians by the aircraft manufacturer, employees boast of being able to have the 737 MAX certified with a minimum of training for pilots.
They report problems encountered with simulators, which reproduce real flight conditions, explains the aircraft manufacturer, in a press release.
"I have still not been forgiven by God for what I hid last year," wrote one of these employees in a 2018 message, referring to interactions with the regulator.
"I know but the regulator has only what it deserves after trying to interfere in our business. It slows progress," wrote another in August 2015.
"This plane is designed by buffoons, who, in turn, are supervised by monkeys," said another in a 2017 message, appearing to be from the FAA.
"Would you put your family in a MAX simulator? No, I wouldn't," said an employee to a colleague in another exchange. "No," replies the latter too.
- "Overwhelming" -
These messages, consulted by AFP, were revealed by American parliamentarians who are investigating the approval procedure for the 737 MAX, in which two close-by accidents killed 346 people.
"Some of these communications relate to the development and qualification of the Boeing 737 MAX simulators in 2017 and 2018," reacted Boeing, adding that they had transmitted them to parliamentarians for the sake of "transparency".
He added: "Some of these communications contain provocative language and, in some cases, raise questions about Boeing's interactions with the FAA and the simulator qualification process."
When the 737 MAX was certified in May 2017, Boeing managed to convince the American authorities that the pilots did not need simulator training and that a computer upgrade was sufficient.
One of the commercial arguments of Boeing to sell the MAX to the airlines was moreover that they would save money because there would be no need to specially train the pilots used to the 737 NG, according to a promotion brochure consulted in November by AFP.
The harsh tone of exchanges addressed to parliamentarians is a new headache for Boeing and risks further complicating already strained relations with the FAA, supposed to lift the ban on the 737 MAX, nailed to the ground since March 13 through the world.
These emails "are incredibly overwhelming. They paint a disturbing picture of what Boeing was apparently willing to do to avoid scrutiny by regulators, crews and passengers," lambasted Peter DeFazio, the (Democratic) president of the Transport Committee in the House of Representatives.
"They show a coordinated effort from the first days of the 737 MAX program to hide important information from regulators and the general public," the elected official said in a statement.
- Regrets and apologies -
"We regret the content of these communications, and apologize to the Congress FAA, customer airlines and passengers," Boeing concluded on Thursday.
This is not the first time that Boeing workers working on the 737 MAX have laughed at the FAA.
Last October, Congress had already revealed internal messages from a former Boeing test pilot, Mark Forkner, citing problems with the 737 Max flight simulator in 2016, two years before the first tragic accident.
Mr. Forkner, however, did not report the problems to the FAA, which led the regulator not to require specific pilot training.
"Basically, that means I lied to the regulators," he wrote to a colleague.
The MCAS anti-stall system has been implicated in both accidents and Boeing is currently working on modifications required by the FAA.
In late December, general manager Dennis Muilenburg was landed by the board of directors due to tensions with the FAA over the 737 MAX return-to-service schedule.
He was replaced by David Calhoun, a former executive of General Electric (GE), who takes office on Monday.
© 2020 AFP