Lawmakers have finally followed up last week's bombshell release of internal Boeing communications with more extremely damning internal messages exchanged by employees. This time, the messages revealed that Boeing employees successfully persuaded Indonesia's Lion Air to forego forcing their pilots to use a full flight simulator to train them on the 737 MAX 8.
According to Bloomberg, which published unredacted copies of the messages, offering full flight simulator training to Lion Air would undermine a key selling point of the 737 MAX 8: The fact that Boeing advertised the plane as needing no additional training for pilots and crew, apart from a basic computer-based course.
One Boeing employee wrote in June 2017 - a little over a year before the deadly Lion Air crash in October 2018 that helped inspire the universal grounding of the plane by regulators - that "friggin Lion Air was pushing for a "flight sim."
However, the Boeing employee promised his co-workers that he would "unscrew" the situation.
"Now friggin Lion Air might need a sim to fly the MAX, and maybe because of their own stupidity. I’m scrambling trying to figure out how to unscrew this now! idiots," one Boeing employee wrote in June 2017 text messages obtained by the company and released by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
In response to news about Lion Air's request, another employee exclaimed that their sister airline, Malindo Air, was already flying the MAX without need simulators.
In response, a Boeing colleague replied: “WHAT THE F%$&!!!! But their sister airline is already flying it!” That was an apparent reference to Malindo Air, the Malaysian-based carrier that was the first to fly the Max commercially.
However, Boeing's fixation on the bottom line ended up being a penny wise and a pound foolish. After all, in a report on the Oct. 29, 2018 accident, Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Committee explicitly cited a failure by Boeing to tell pilots about MCAS, a flight control feature that has been implicated in MAX crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia.
Apparently, it only took Boeing employees, including the company's chief technical pilot, to convince Indonesia to forego the training.
The communications include a 2017 email from Boeing’s chief technical pilot on the 737 in which he crowed to colleagues: "Looks like my jedi mind trick worked again!" The email was sent two days after the earlier messages expressing alarm about Lion Air potentially demanding simulator training.
Attached was a forwarded email exchange in which the person warned an unnamed recipient against offering simulator training for Max pilots, pushing instead for the computer-based course that regulators had already approved for flight crews transitioning to the Max from earlier 737 models.
"I am concerned that if [redacted] chooses to require a Max simulator for its pilots beyond what all other regulators are requiring that it will be creating a difficult and unnecessary training burden for your airline, as well as potentially establish a precedent in your region for other Max customers," the Boeing pilot wrote in the forwarded message.
While Lion Air was not identified in the redacted emails, the discussions are consistent with those Boeing held with Lion Air at the time, according to people familiar with the matter.
Once again, lawmakers have released damning communications from internal Boeing employees revealing a glaring negligence that appears to have been a cause, in part, of two deadly accidents that killed a combined 346 people.
Even Weezy agrees...
This is really bad https://t.co/icl4mobHFT— Joe Weisenthal (@TheStalwart) January 14, 2020
These exchanges will almost certainly be cited in lawsuits by victims' family members alleging gross negligence on Boeing's behalf.
And once again, Boeing shares don't appear to care.