A long-awaited report from an independent group of international aviation safety experts blasted both the Boeing Co. and the Federal Aviation Administration on Friday, the former for development flaws in the aircraft and the latter for lax oversight in certifying the 737 MAX to fly.
The 737 MAX has been grounded worldwide since March, when two separate flights involving the aircraft crashed, killing a total of 346 passengers and crew.
The report by the Joint Authorities Technical Review (JATR) panel was actually convened by the FAA in the wake of the fatal crashes. The panel said the plane’s flight control system, called the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) was at fault for the crashes but was not evaluated properly.
“The MCAS design was based on data, architecture, and assumptions that were reused from a previous aircraft configuration without sufficient detailed aircraft-level evaluation of the appropriateness of such reuse, and without additional safety margins and features,” according to the report via NPR.
In short, the design was flawed as was the approval process, with the bulk of the blame going to Boeing since the MCAS “was not evaluated as a complete and integrated function in the certification documents that (Boeing) submitted to the FAA.”
The review did not find any evidence of a deliberate effort by Boeing to mislead regulators; instead, it was poor communication.
“The information and discussions about MCAS were so fragmented and were delivered to disconnected groups,” the JATR report says, making it “difficult (for the FAA) to recognize the impacts and implications of this system.”
But the report also blamed the FAA for “lacking sufficient personnel with the expertise needed to fully evaluate such complex systems.
In the aftermath of the report, Boeing moved quickly to make leadership changes.
Boeing Chairman-CEO Dennis Muilenburg lost the chairman title when the company directors decided to separate the two jobs. David L. Calhoun will now serve as a non-executive board chairman.
“The board has full confidence in Dennis as CEO and believes this division of labor will enable maximum focus on running the business with the board playing an active oversight role,” Calhoun said in a statement issued by the company.
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