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FAA, Boeing Slammed for Fatal Crashes in Report by House Democrats

Boeing 737 Max aircraft are parked in a parking lot at Boeing Field in Seattle, Wash., June 11, 2020. (Lindsey Wasson/Reuters)

House Democrats released a report Wednesday detailing how design and regulatory failures by Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration led to two fatal crashes of 737 MAX planes.

The 238-page investigative report from staff for Democrats on the House Transportation Committee, the result of an 18-month investigation, called the deaths of 346 people in the two MAX crashes “preventable.”

“The Max crashes were not the result of a singular failure, technical mistake, or mismanaged event,” the report states. “They were the horrific culmination of a series of faulty technical assumptions by Boeing’s engineers, a lack of transparency on the part of Boeing’s management, and grossly insufficient oversight by the FAA.”

Boeing engaged in “a disturbing pattern of technical miscalculations and troubling management misjudgments,” and the Chicago-based aerospace company’s mistakes “point to a company culture that is in serious need of a safety reset,” the report said.

The company’s failures were particularly evident in the development of a new flight control system, the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS, which malfunctioned in both crashes to send the planes into nose dives. Boeing employees were also under heavy pressure to complete development of the MAX on time to compete with the Airbus A320neo, the report found. Additionally, Boeing had a “culture of concealment” that resulted in crucial information being withheld from the FAA.

A brand-new Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 went down in March of last year, killing the 157 people on board. It was the second fatal crash of one of the jets in less than six months after a Lion Air Max 8 crashed in the Java Sea near Indonesia in October, 2018 killing 189 people.

Days after the Ethiopian Airlines crash, President Trump announced the U.S. was grounding all Boeing 737 Max 8s and 9s.

“We have learned many hard lessons as a company from the accidents of Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Flight 302, and from the mistakes we have made,” Boeing said statement responding to the congressional report. “We have been hard at work strengthening our safety culture and rebuilding trust with our customers, regulators, and the flying public.”

The FAA said it “is committed to continually advancing aviation safety and looks forward to working with the Committee to implement improvements identified in its report.”

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