To cut costs, Boe­ing re­jected MAX safety sys­tem: En­gi­neer

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - Times Global - Natalie Kitroeff, David Gelles and Jack Ni­cas

Ase­nior Boe­ing en­gi­neer filed an in­ter­nal ethics com­plaint this year say­ing that dur­ing the devel­op­ment of the 737 Max jet the com­pany had re­jected a safety sys­tem to min­imise costs, equip­ment that he felt could have re­duced risks that con­trib­uted to two fa­tal crashes.

Boe­ing has pro­vided the com­plaint to the US depart­ment of jus­tice as part of a crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the de­sign of the Max, ac­cord­ing to a source who re­quested anonymity. Fed­eral in­ves­ti­ga­tors have ques­tioned at least one for­mer Boe­ing em­ployee about the al­le­ga­tions.

It is un­clear what assess­ment in­ves­ti­ga­tors have made of the com­plaint. Many cur­rent and for­mer Boe­ing staffers have pri­vately dis­cussed prob­lems with the de­sign and de­ci­sion-mak­ing process on the 737 Max, out­lin­ing episodes when man­agers dis­missed en­gi­neers’ rec­om­men­da­tions or pri­ori­tised prof­its. The en­gi­neer who filed the ethics con­cerns this year, Cur­tis Ew­bank lodged a for­mal com­plaint and call­ing out the CEO for mis­rep­re­sent­ing the safety of the plane.

In his com­plaint, Ew­bank said man­agers were urged to study a backup sys­tem for cal­cu­lat­ing the plane’s air­speed. The sys­tem, known as syn­thetic air­speed, draws on sev­eral data sources to mea­sure how fast a plane is fly­ing. Such equip­ment, Ew­bank said, could de­tect when the an­gle-of-at­tack sen­sors, which mea­sure the plane’s po­si­tion in the sky, were mal­func­tion­ing and pre­vent other sys­tems from re­ly­ing on that faulty in­for­ma­tion.

In two MAX crashes, an an­gle-of-at­tack sen­sor is be­lieved to have failed, send­ing bad data to au­to­mated soft­ware de­signed to help pre­vent stalls. That soft­ware then ac­ti­vated er­ro­neously, send­ing the planes into ir­recov­er­able nose dives. Through­out the devel­op­ment of the Max, Boe­ing tried to avoid adding com­po­nents that could force air­lines to train pi­lots in flight sim­u­la­tors, cost­ing tens of mil­lions of dol­lars over the life of an air­craft. A Boe­ing spokesman, Gor­don John­droe, said, “Safety, qual­ity and in­tegrity are at the core of Boe­ing’s val­ues.”



Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.