Boeing Co's (NASDAQ: BA) stock plummeted Friday after a report that the company this week gave federal investigators text messages from 2016 suggesting it may have misled officials probing the grounded 737 MAX airplane.
Federal Aviation Administrator Steve Dickson sent a letter to Boeing saying he expects an immediate explanation from the company over why Boeing appears to have sat on "concerning" information that it discovered in its files months ago. Dickson's letter said Boeing provided the information Thursday to the agency.
Reuters reported on Friday that the information involves text messages between two Boeing employees in 2016 that raise questions about the degree to which the aircraft maker may have known about possible issues with the MCAS anti-stall system, a critical part of the FAA investigation into two crashes of Boeing aircraft, one in Indonesia and one in Ethiopia.
The messages appear to show that some Boeing employees believed the MCAS system behaved erratically in use in simulators.
In one text, the company's former chief technical pilot said the system was "running rampant" in the simulator.
According to the report, Boeing has known about the messages for about four months.
What It Means
Concerns about what Boeing knew come as the company is making changes to 737 MAX software to fix problems with the ant-stall system, which is believed to have malfunctioned on flights that crashed last year and early this year, killing 346 people on the two planes.
The 737 MAX continues to be grounded by the FAA, which has said it doesn't have a set timeline for returning it to service.
The grounding has left airlines scrambling to fill flight schedules, with regular cancellations daily since the plane was grounded earlier this year.
“It goes far beyond one individual. They can’t hang him and say he’s responsible. This was cultural,” Democratic Rep. Peter DeFazio told Reuters. “Boeing’s got to clean up its culture and I don’t think you can clean it up with the people who were in charge when this all unfolded.”
Boeing shares closed down 6.8% at $344 on Friday.
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Photo by Steve Lynes via Wikimedia.
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