Boeing pilot found "egregious" issues with 737 MAX two years before crashes: reports
A Boeing pilot found issues with the flight system that would bring down two Boeing 737 MAX aircraft two years before the first crash, according to reports.
The pilot, Mark Forkner, said in text messages that the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) on the MAX was "running rampant" in simulator flight tests of the aircraft, reported Reuters and The New York Times on Friday. He called the issue "egregious" in the messages to a colleague in November 2016.
Forkner, who has since left Boeing, admitted in the messages that he "basically lied to the regulators (unknowingly)."
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration went on to certify the MAX 8 in March 2017. The model was subsequently involved in two fatal crashes that took the lives of 346 people before all 737 MAX aircraft were grounded this past March.
"Today we brought to the [House Transportation & Infrastructure] Committee’s attention a document containing statements by a former Boeing employee," a Boeing spokesman told TPG in response to the reports. "We will continue to cooperate with the committee as it continues its investigation."
The revelation is the latest potential setback for Boeing and returning the 737 MAX to service. The Chicago-based airframer continues to work with the FAA and other global regulators over a software fix to the MCAS system.
Analysts at Cowen said in a report Friday that they now expect Boeing can resume delivering MAX aircraft in December, pending re-certification by the FAA and other regulators. However, they note that the re-certification timeline remains unclear.
Alaska Airlines was due to take delivery of its first three 737 MAX aircraft in the fourth quarter, but now expects the aircraft in 2020.