Pilots Confronted Boeing About Risks Before 2nd 737 MAX 8 Crash

A new audio recording reveals pilots angrily confronting Boeing officials about their safety concerns over the 737 MAX 8 aircraft months before Eathiopian Airlines flight 302 crashed.
John Loeffler

In newly revealed audio recordings, pilots faced resistance from a Boeing official when they angrily confronted them about their safety concerns about the 737 MAX 8 aircraft months before the crash of Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 in March.

Boeing Officials Downplayed Pilots' Concerns Over Anti-Stall Function

In new audio reviewed by the Dallas Morning News and CNN, pilots from American Airlines directly questioned a Boeing official about the safety of the 737 MAX 8 aircraft and had their concerns downplayed by the representative.


"We flat out deserve to know what is on our airplanes," one pilot reportedly told an unidentified Boeing official.

"I don't disagree," the official responded.

"[The pilots of Lion Air 610] didn't even know the damn system was on the airplane," another pilot said. "Nor did anybody else."

"I don't know that understanding this system would have changed the outcome of this," said the Boeing official. "In a million miles you're going to maybe fly this airplane, and maybe once you're going to see this ever."

Four months later, Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 crashed minutes after take-off and evidence continues to mount that the MCAS was at the very least a major factor in the crashes of the two planes. At the time of the November 27 meeting at the union headquarters, there had already been two incidents involving the MCAS on the Lion Air 737 MAX 8 aircraft in less than 48 hours.

In the first case, the nose down event was corrected thanks to the presence of a third, off-duty pilot who knew how to deactivate the system and in the second case, flight 610, the pilots had no idea what was happening to cause the nose down event and subsequently crashed, killing all 189 people on board.

The pilots pressed Boeing officials why the planes were still in the air and why an emergency hadn't been announced. The Boeing official responded: "We don't want to do a crappy job of fixing things, and we also don't want to fix the wrong things."

Promising that there would be a fix soon, it would instead take months before the software fix was announced—though as of now, no updated software has been approved and installed and all 737 MAX 8 aircraft around the world remain grounded. Boeing gave a statement to the Dallas Morning News saying that Boeing "is committed to working with pilots, airlines and global regulators to safely return the updated MAX to flight once certified."

The recording was shared with the Dallas Morning News by the president of the American Airlines pilot union, Dan Carey, noting that the recording was made by union members in attendance without the knowledge of the Boeing official.

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