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ATW Editor's Blog

Boeing scrutiny by lawmakers tough but necessary

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While Boeing employees—and particularly CEO Dennis Muilenburg—have endured an awful two days at the US Senate and House hearings into the 737 MAX crashes today and yesterday, these hearings were necessary, and the questions posed by lawmakers were fair if often tough.

Questioning by the House Representatives today was especially rough at times, but it brought out yet more disturbing context. First was an email from December 2015 in which a Boeing engineer raised concerns about the reliance of the critical MAX flight-control system,known as the MCAS, on a single point of failure.

Second was a June 2018 email in which a former MAX program general manager warned of “severely overworked” and “fatigued” employees after working “at a very high pace for an extended period.”

Muilenburg responded that actions had been taken in the MAX factory and, of course, that a dual-sensor alert system is part of the MAX design fix to get it recertificated.

By holding public hearings, US lawmakers forced the CEO to admit what everyone else has been thinking or asking the past eight months when he said, “We’ve asked ourselves that same question over and over again. If back then, we knew everything we know now, we would have made different decisions.”

The questions on how the MAX situation arose, and how the public and flight crews will be persuaded to trust it once it is recertificated, are far from over.

Karen Walker, karen.walker@informa.com

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