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House report blasts Boeing for its handling of 737 Max program

September 16, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

Years before the crash of Lion Air Flight 610 killed 189 people, a Boeing pilot struggled for 10 seconds with the same new system on the 737 Max jet that pushes the aircraft's nose down.

(CNN)Years before the crash of Lion Air Flight 610 killed 189 people, a Boeing pilot struggled for 10 seconds with the same new system on the 737 Max jet that pushes the aircraft's nose down.

Those 10 seconds, a new investigation reveals, proved "catastrophic" to the flight in a Boeing simulator.

The report on the 18-month investigation, published Wednesday by the House Transportation Committee, charges in a new level of detail that the plane-maker intentionally downplayed the significance of the MCAS computerized flight-control system, which it concluded had led to "346 unnecessary deaths," including in a second crash a few months later.

The 246-page report goes into minute detail about the plane's design by Boeing and approval by the Federal Aviation Administration, and describes missed opportunities by the company to prevent the crashes.

"The revised design of the MAX has received intensive internal and regulatory review, including more than 375,000 engineering and test hours and 1,300 test flights," Boeing said in a statement.

While the committee has, since the crashes, pointed out concerns about communications between Boeing and its regulator, the report uncovers a previously unreported way the company concealed the nature of the stabilization system, which was designed to keep the latest version of its most widely used airplane from an aerodynamic stall.

While Boeing employees internally referred to the new system as MCAS, the company resolved to refer to it externally as a modification to an existing system.

The report was also critical of the FAA's oversight of the company, which included a program approved by Congress that allows Boeing employees to sign off for the FAA on meeting certain safety standards.

Investigators wrote that they had "documented several instances" of Boeing employees failing "to disclose important information to the FAA that could have enhanced the safety of the 737 MAX aircraft," including how the MCAS system was presented.

Boeing's focus on developing a plane that wouldn't require simulator training was to the detriment not only of the pilots but also of the aircraft's safety itself, the investigators said.

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