Already in 2016 a high-ranking pilot from aircraft maker Boeing had technical comments on the contested 737 MAX aircraft, which has been on the ground for months due to two crashes. However, the American aviation authority FAA did not see the relevant documents until this week. The regulators accuse Boeing that the company did not ring the bell earlier.
It is a message exchange between two pilots who were involved in the certification of the aircraft. The comments went unnoticed for years. Boeing would have discovered them months ago. The fact that the aircraft maker did not immediately contact the FAA afterwards is a mystery to the regulators.
The two aircraft accidents, in Indonesia and Ethiopia, are probably the result of a safety system that kept pushing the nose down because a sensor was not working properly. The concerns that have now come to the fore were about the same system.
Reportedly, Boeing handed over the documents to US justice earlier this year, even before the crash in Ethiopia. But there would have been a delay in sending the documents to the FAA. The fact that Boeing sent them to the aviation authority this week is, according to insiders, related to a hearing in the American Congress. This forced Boeing to offer more openness.
Investors reacted in shock because this could mean that Boeing had misled the authorities. On Friday in New York, the aircraft manufacturer lost nearly 7 percent of its value. There was also a fierce response to the news elsewhere. One congressman even suggested that Boeing chief executive Dennis Muilenburg should actually leave this news. In the accidents with the 737 MAX, hundreds were killed.
Boeing itself emphasizes in a statement that it has voluntarily cooperated with the investigations in recent months. The company says it will also do this in the near future. Boeing hopes that the 737 MAX can safely go back into the air quickly.