Boeing employees mocked Lion Air officials and branded them ‘idiots’ because they wanted extra training for their pilots on the 737 MAX – one year before the fatal crash that killed 189, text messages released by Boeing have revealed.
The damning messages show that Lion Air raised concerns about training and had asked to put its pilots through more simulator training for the 737 MAX.
Plans were then axed in 2017 when Boeing convinced the Indonesian airline that more training was unnecessary, according to Bloomberg News.
Officials inspect the engine of the crashed Lion Air jet in 2018 (above). The 737 MAX crashed into the sea off Indonesia shortly after takeoff in 2018, killing all 189 people on board
Relatives of passengers on the doomed Lion Air flight with their loved ones’ retrieved belongings
One employee wrote in a text message on June 2017: ‘Now friggin Lion Air might need a sim to fly the MAX, and maybe because of their own stupidity. I’m scrambling trying to figure out how to unscrew this now! idiots.’
A colleague replied: ‘WHAT THE F%%text!!!! But their sister airline is already flying it!’
This is thought to be referencing Malindo Air, which was already commercially flying the aircraft at the time.
The messages – with Lion Air’s name un-redacted – were released by House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to Bloomberg News.
Just one year after the damning messages were sent, 189 people lost their lives when a Lion Air 737 MAX flight crashed into the sea off Indonesia. The tragedy has been blamed on a combination of aircraft design flaws, inadequate training and maintenance problems.
The 737 MAX has been plagued with issues including two fatal crashes. Internal messages between Boeing employees reveal that Lion Air raised concerns about training and had asked to put its pilots through more simulator training for the 737 MAX
Boeing handed the trove of unflattering internal messages between employees to Congress and the FAA last week, raising serious questions about its development of simulators and the 737 MAX that was grounded in March.
The messages revealed that Boeing employees knew about problems with the aircraft and even mocked the FAA when they appeared to get away with covering issues up.
In the messages, Boeing employees talked about misleading regulators about problems with the simulators.
‘I still haven’t been forgiven by God for the covering up I did last year,’ one employee said in a 2018 message.
Boeing released the trove of internal messages on Thursday that raise serious questions about its development of simulators and show employees covered up issues with the aircraft
One employee also told a colleague they wouldn’t let their family ride on a 737 Max.
‘Would you put your family on a Max simulator trained aircraft? I wouldn’t,’ one employee said to another colleague. The colleague responded: ‘No.’
In an April 2017 exchange of instant messages, two employees expressed complaints about the MAX following references to issues with the plane’s flight management computer.
‘This airplane is designed by clowns who in turn are supervised by monkeys,’ one employee wrote.
In one message dated November 2015, which appears to shed light on lobbying methods used when facing demands from regulators, a Boeing employee notes regulators were likely to want simulator training for a particular type of cockpit alert.
‘We are going to push back very hard on this and will likely need support at the highest levels when it comes time for the final negotiation,’ the employee writes.
In the messages, employees also complained about Boeing’s senior management, the company’s selection of low-cost suppliers and wasting money.
Names of the employees who wrote the emails and text messages were redacted.
Boeing, who went into damage control, said it was considering disciplinary action against some employees over the message exchanges.
The Max has been grounded worldwide since March, after two crashes that killed 346 people. Pictured above is the Ethiopian Airlines crash in March last year. Boeing is still working to update software and other systems on the plane to convince regulators to let it fly again
‘Some of these communications relate to the development and qualification of Boeing’s MAX simulators in 2017 and 2018. These communications contain provocative language, and, in certain instances, raise questions about Boeing’s interactions with the FAA in connection with the simulator qualification process,’ a statement from the company said.
‘Having carefully reviewed the issue, we are confident that all of Boeing’s MAX simulators are functioning effectively. The qualification activities referenced in these communications occurred early in the service life of these simulators. Since that time, both internal and external subject matter experts have repeatedly tested and qualified the simulators at issue.
‘These communications do not reflect the company we are and need to be, and they are completely unacceptable. That said, we remain confident in the regulatory process for qualifying these simulators.’
The latest in the Boeing scandal comes as Ryanair revealed Monday it could receive its first deliveries of up to 10 grounded 737 MAX aircraft from Boeing by April.
The budget airline’s Chief Marketing Officer Kenny Jacobs said at a news conference in Madrid: ‘We now think we will get it in March or April this year, looks more like April than March, and we think we will get up to 10 MAX aircraft.’
Jacobs added that delivery of the aircraft will depend on regulators.
That is earlier than indicated by Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary this month when he said the airline might not receive its first 737 MAX until October.
The MAX has been grounded worldwide since March, after two crashes that killed 346 people.
In October 2018, a 737 MAX nose-dived into the sea shortly after takeoff from Jakarta airport in Indonesia. All 189 people on board Lion Air flight 610 died.
Just five months later, the 157 passengers and crew of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 met the same fate, plunging into a field on a flight from Addis Ababa to Nairobi. As with the Indonesian plane, the 737 experienced problems almost immediately after take off and hurtled out of the sky.
Boeing is still working to update software and other systems on the plane to convince regulators to let it fly again.
The work has taken much longer than Boeing expected.
An FAA spokesman said the agency found no new safety risks that have not already been identified as part of the FAA’s review of changes that Boeing is making to the plane.
Boeing is still working to update software and other systems on the plane to convince regulators to let it fly again. The work has taken much longer than Boeing expected
The spokesman, Lynn Lunsford, said the simulator mentioned in the documents has been checked three times in the last six months.
‘Any potential safety deficiencies identified in the documents have been addressed,’ he said in a statement.
A lawmaker leading one of the congressional investigations into Boeing called them ‘incredibly damning.’
‘They paint a deeply disturbing picture of the lengths Boeing was apparently willing to go to in order to evade scrutiny from regulators, flight crews, and the flying public, even as its own employees were sounding alarms internally,’ said Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., chairman of the House Transportation Committee.
DeFazio said the documents detail ‘some of the earliest and most fundamental errors in the decisions that went into the fatally flawed aircraft.’
DeFazio and other critics have accused the company of putting profit over safety.
The grounding of the Max will cost the company billions in compensation to families of passengers killed in the crashes and airlines that canceled thousands of flights.
Last month, the company ousted its CEO and decided to temporarily halt production of the plane in mid-January, a decision that is rippling out through its supplier network.
BOEING’S 737 MAX: WHAT WENT WRONG
OCT. 29, 2018 – A Lion Air 737 MAX plane crashes in Indonesia, killing all 189 people on board
NOV. 13, 2018 – FAA, Boeing say they are evaluating the need for software or design changes to 737 MAX jets following the Lion Air crash
NOV. 30, 2018 – Boeing is weighing plans to launch a software upgrade for its 737 MAX in six to eight weeks that would help address a scenario faced by crew of Indonesia’s Lion Air, sources told Reuters
MARCH 10, 2019 – An Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX crashes, killing all 157 people on board
MARCH 12, 2019 – FAA says will mandate that Boeing implement design changes on the 737 MAX by April that have been in the works for months
MARCH 13, 2019 – FAA joins other major global regulators in grounding the 737 MAX, citing evidence of similarities between the two fatal crashes
APRIL 6, 2019 – Boeing says it will cut monthly 737 MAX production by nearly 20%; U.S. and airline officials say they believe the plane could be grounded for at least two months
MAY 16, 2019 – Boeing says it has completed a software update for its 737 MAX jets and is in the process of submitting a pilot training plan to the FAA
JUNE 27, 2019 – Boeing says it will take until at least September to fix a newly identified problem with software that emerged when FAA test pilots were reviewing potential failure scenarios of the flight control computer in a 737 MAX simulator
JULY 18, 2019 – Boeing says it has assumed regulatory approval of the 737 MAX’s return to service in the United States and other jurisdictions will begin early in the fourth quarter
OCT. 24, 2019 – Boeing says it still expects FAA approval to fly the 737 MAX in the fourth quarter, sending its shares higher despite a slump in quarterly profit. FAA says it will need “several weeks” for review
NOV. 7, 2019 – U.S. and European regulators ask Boeing to revise documentation on its proposed 737 MAX software fix
NOV. 11, 2019 – Boeing says it expects the FAA to issue an order approving the plane’s return to flight in December, forecasting commercial flights to resume in January
NOV. 15, 2019 – The head of the FAA tells his team to ‘take whatever time is needed’ in their review of the 737 MAX
DEC. 11, 2019 – FAA chief Steve Dickson says 737 MAX will not be cleared to fly before the end of 2019
DEC. 12, 2019 – Boeing abandons its goal of winning regulatory approval for the 737 MAX to resume flying in December after the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said the plane would not be cleared to fly before 2020
DEC. 23, 2019 – Boeing fires CEO Dennis Muilenburg
JAN. 6, 2020 – An audit conducted in December reveals that wiring in the tail of the 737 MAX could short circuit and lead to a crash if pilots don’t know how to respond correctly
JAN. 9, 2020 – Boeing releases hundreds of internal messages between employees to the Congress and the FAA last week, raising serious questions about its development of simulators and showing employees may have covered up issues
JAN. 13, 2020 – Budget airliner Ryanair reveals it could receive its first deliveries of up to 10 grounded 737 MAX aircraft from Boeing by April, but cautions this will depend on the regulators