More than a year has passed since the second fatal crash involving a Boeing 737 MAX 8 killed hundreds of people and led to global grounding of the planes (even as the US FAA initially insisted they were still safe), the 737 MAX 8 is still nowhere near operational.
As Congress ramps up its investigation into the failings at the FAA that led to the 737 MAX 8 being approved, an investigation that has so far revealed an atmosphere of regulatory capture and complacency that prompted one Boeing engineer to famously quip in an internal email obtained by Congressional investigators that the plane was "designed by clowns who were supervised by monkeys".
Now, one day after a powerful Senate Committee slammed the FAA for "stonewalling" the investigation, a new whistleblower has stepped into the spotlight over letters sent to Congress warning that there are several other design flaws with the 737 MAX 8 aside from the MCAS anti-stall software that was blamed for the deadly crashes in Malaysia and Ethiopia.
Even more problematic for the company, not only did the engineer, Curtis Ewbank, hint at other issues with the 737, he also claimed that certain design flaws have already been baked into Boeing's 777X widebody, and that, if that plane is approved, it would likely only be a matter of time before a deadly crash ensued.
Here's more from the Seattle Times, which published a copy of Ewbank's letter.
The letter to the Senate, a copy of which was obtained by The Seattle Times, was written by engineer Curtis Ewbank, a 34-year-old specialist in flight-deck systems whose job when the MAX was in early stages of development involved studying past crashes and using that information to make new planes safer.
His letter, sent earlier this month, argues that it’s not enough for Boeing to fix the flawed Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) that’s known to have brought down the aircraft in two crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia.
"I have no doubt the FAA and lawmakers are under considerable pressure to allow the 737 MAX to return to service as quickly as possible and as soon as the public MCAS flaw is fixed,” Ewbank told the Senate. “However, given the numerous other known flaws in the airframe, it will be just a matter of time before another flight crew is overwhelmed by a design flaw known to Boeing and further lives are senselessly lost."
He goes on to suggest similar shortcomings in the flight-control systems may affect the safety of Boeing’s forthcoming 777X widebody jet.
In the letter, Ewbank revealed that he had shared these concerns with the FBI during a formal interview, which suggests his claims might be incorporated into a criminal probe into what went wrong with the 737 MAX that has been progressive in parallel to the Congressional investigations.
Just imagine how the market woul react if Boeing capped off two of the most troubled years in its history with a guilty plea to criminal negligence...maybe Boeing's bankers at Goldman can recommend some decent attorneys.