Instant messages released this week suggest Boeing knew about major problems with its popular 737 Max jet, which has been implicated in two deadly crashes, according to messages between two pilots from 2016.
The flight's automated feature, the so-called MCAS (Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System) was at the center of the messages between the Boeing's 737 chief technical pilot, Mark Forkner, and another pilot, Patrik Gustavsson.
The system played a role in the crashes of both the Ethiopian Airlines flight in March this year and in the Lion Air flight in October last year. A total of 346 people were killed in the crashes, resulting in a worldwide grounding of the jetliner.
Forkner said the system was “running rampant,” claiming “I basically lied to the regulators (unknowningly).”
Gustavsson replied, “it wasn’t a lie, no one told us that was the case.”
Forkner continues, expressing his dismay at the simulator, calling it “egregious.”
Both note the extreme pressure to complete the tests for the program.
In a statement released Friday, House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., said he was disturbed by the references from pilots claiming to use “Jedi-mind” tricks to certify the plane.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) also expressed its disappointment in the messages that were not brought “to our attention immediately upon discovery.”
In response to the texts, Boeing released a statement saying that “[CEO] Dennis Muilenburg called FAA Administrator Dickson to respond to the concerns raised in his letter. In addition, Mr. Muilenburg assured the Administrator that we are taking every step possible to safely return the MAX to service.”
The company is reportedly wrapping up the final stages of recertifying the plane as early as November.
Read the entire text-message exchange (as they were sent) below, which was released to the House Committee on Transportation:
Forkner: dude, log off!
Gustavsson: You too!!!
I just logged on to check my schedule. I have so much to do that I want to work from home I just cant get stuff done in the office
Forkner: nah, I'm locked in my hotel room with an ice cold grey goose, I'll probably fire off a few dozen inappropriate emails before I call it a night
Forkner: this job is insane
Gustavsson: So did you get anything done in the sim today? Or what is the normal chaos there?
Forkner: although it must be easy compared to working as a tech pilot for RYR
Gustavsson: Well it's different here. We are pretty busy here for sure.
Forkner: actually this one is pretty stable, and I signed off some DRs, but there are still some real fundamental issues that they claim they're aware of
Gustavsson: What I hated about Ryanair was the extreme pressure they put on people Ok, that's good
Forkner: so I just need to start being a d--k to make you quit?
Gustavsson: LOL, that's it!
Forkner: alright, no more mr nice guy! actually I'd cry uncontrollably if you left
I'd ask for a job in sales where I can just get paid to drink with customers and lie about how awesome our airplanes are
Gustavsson: I'd cry if anyone in our group left.
Forkner: Oh shocker alerT!
MCAS is now active down to M .2 It's running rampant in the sim on me at least that's what Vince thinks is happening
Gustavsson: Oh great, that means we have to update the speed trim descritption in vol 2
Forkner: so I basically lied to the regulators (unknowingly)
Gustavsson: it wasnt a lie, no one told us that was the case
Forkner: I'm levelling off at like 4000 ft, 230 knots and the plane is trimming itself like craxy I'm like, WHAT?
Gustavsson: that's what i saw on sim one, but on approach
I think thats wrong
Forkner: granted, I suck at flying, but even this was egregious
Gustavsson: No, i think we need aero to confirm what its supposed to be doing
Forkner: Vince is going to get me some spreadsheet table that shows when it's supposed to kick in. why are we just now hearing about this?
Gustavsson: I don't know, the test pilots have kept us out of the loop
It's really only christine that is trying to work with us, but she has been too busy
Forkner: they're all so damn busy, and getting pressure from the program
Gustavsson: That is true, I wouldnt want to be them
Ok, its time to log off
Forkner: ok later man
Gustavsson: I'll work from home tomorrow, be online all day later