According to reports in the US media, in a meeting last November, Boeing was confronted about potential safety issues in its 737 Max planes by pilots from American Airlines.
According to a report published by CBS and the New York Times based on an audio clip, in the meeting, the pilots had demand that the plane maker take swift action on the craft following the deadly crash of a 737 Max plane off Indonesia in October – the first of the two deadly crashes involving the same craft.
While promising a software fix, the calls were reportedly resisted by Boeing.
The software fix had however not been rolled out by the time of the crash of the Ethiopian Airlines’ 737 Max four months after the Indonesia crash. 157 people on board were killed in the Ethiopian crash.
Amidst increasing concerns that an anti-stall system could have been one of ye major reasons for both the crashes, Boeing had to ground all of its 737 Max planes across the world. While denying that the system, known as MCAS, was the only factors behind the crashes, Boeing is still in the process of updating the system.
According to the news reports, concerns about the safety of MCAS were heard being voiced by American Airlines’ pilots in the closed door meeting with Boeing executives last November.
“No one has yet to conclude that the sole cause of this was this function on the airplane,” Boeing vice-president Mike Sinnett reportedly told the pilots at the meeting.
“The worst thing that can ever happen is a tragedy like this, and the even worse thing would be another one,” he added later in the meeting, said the reports.
It was only after the Lion Air crash off Indonesia, which killed 189 that the pilots were informed by Boeing about the MCAS, which was new to the 737 Max, complained the pilots at the meeting.
“These guys didn’t even know the damn system was on the airplane, nor did anybody else,” said Mike Michaelis, head of safety for the pilots’ union.
There were no comments made about the November meeting by Boeing.
“We are focused on working with pilots, airlines and global regulators to certify the updates on the Max and provide additional training and education to safely return the planes to flight,” the company said.
American Airlines said it was “confident that the impending software updates, along with the new training elements Boeing is developing for the Max, will lead to recertification of the aircraft soon.”
Additional instructions to pilots in the eventuality of pilots being faced with a malfunction of the MCAS were issued by Boeing after the Lion Air crash.
But those instructions were insufficient to help pilots in the event of malfunction, said Michaelis according to a letter obtained by the AFP news agency. A software upgrade for the 737 MAX 8 was also reportedly asked to be considered by the pilots by Michaelis according to news reports. That potentially would have resulted in a temporary grounding of the 737 MAX 8.
(Adapted from BBC.com)