THE US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which has the responsibility for aircraft safety, did nothing to ground Boeing’s 737 Max aircraft despite their own analysis that the plane was inherently unsafe.
After the first crash in October last year of an Indonesian Lion Air 737 Max, in which 189 people lost their lives, the FAA carried out a risk assessment of the plane focusing on the controversial anti-stall computerised system, known as MCAS.
The findings of this report, a month after this crash, was damning of the plane and predicted that there could be as many as 15 further crashes over its lifetime unless urgent design changes were made.
Despite this incredible warning from its own expert investigators for the FAA did nothing to ground the 737 Max planes, the most widely used aircraft throughout the world with over 4,800 in service at the time.
Instead, they decided to certify it as airworthy hoping that Boeing would sort out the cause of the crash at some time in the future by introducing a fix to the software.
This decision to declare the plane safe came just months before a second crash of an Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max in March this year, when it dived straight into the ground as pilots fought to control it after the MCAS system pushed the nose down.
This was an exact repeat of the first crash but this time killing all 157 passengers and crew on board.
The FAA’s analysis was revealed this week during a US congressional hearing into these two crashes during which the head of the FAA, Steve Dickson, was asked if it was a ‘mistake’ not to ground every 737 Max immediately after the first crash to which he replied: ‘Obviously the result was not satisfactory.’
A total of 346 people killed is written off by the FAA as a ‘not satisfactory’ result!
The committee also heard from Edward Pierson, a former senior manager at Boeing’s 737 factories, who testified that he ‘had grown gravely concerned that Boeing was prioritising production speed over quality and safety.’
Pierson said he had repeatedly warned company executives and the regulators, including the chief executive, that the factory was ‘in chaos’ as Boeing drove up production to meet demand.
His warnings were ignored by the company and the regulators.
His were not the only warnings Boeing chose to ignore.
The month after the first crash, representatives of the US Allied Pilots Association had met with Boeing executives to urge the company to take immediate action to fix the MAC system, only to be met with the response from Boeing’s vice-president Mike Sinnet that it was ‘unclear’ if the anti-stall system was the sole cause of the crash – implying that pilot error was to blame.
All the warnings and even the first crash didn’t stop Boeing, with the assistance of the FAA, trying to keep these flying coffins in the sky and the profits rolling in.
The lust for profit at any cost is at the centre of what is not so much a tragedy but an act of corporate murder by Boeing, aided and abetted by the government and its federal agencies.
From the start profit was the only concern of Boeing not safety.
The company shoe-horned more seats and bigger engines into an ageing 737 as a cheap alternative to designing and building a new short-haul plane.
This had the effect of making the plane inherently unstable and Boeing tried to overcome this with a single computer sensor to overcome this instability.
Even after the second crash Boeing and the FAA refused to ground the 737 Max, it was only when countries around the world grounded their fleets that they were forced to follow suit.
Boeing is not an exceptional case of corporate greed – it embodies the entire capitalist system that places profit above human life as we have experienced in the UK with the Grenfell fire.
The only way to stop capitalism from killing for profit is to put an end to the capitalist system itself through a socialist revolution and advancing the world to a socialist society that places human life above all else.