Multiple whistleblowers have come forward claiming that Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) safety inspectors were not properly trained and did not hold valid certifications on the Boeing 737 Max aircraft, according to a letter to FAA Acting Administrator Daniel Elwell from Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS).
"Allegations from these whistleblowers include information that numerous FAA employees, including those involved in the Aircraft Evaluation Group (AEG) for the Boeing 737 Max, had not received proper training and valid certifications," the letter reads.
"Some of these FAA employees were possibly involved as participants on the Flight Standardization Board (FSB)," a group formed to evaluate the 737 Max 8 to determine requirements to rate pilots, develop minimum training recommendations, and to ensure "initial flightcrew member competency."
Two Boeing 737 Max 8s were involved in similar crashes within a five month period, while investigators are pointing to sensor failures connected to an anti-stall system known as the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS).
Of note, an off-duty pilot flying in the jumpseat on a Lion Air 737 Max 8 last October was able to talk pilots through disabling the MCAS system on the same plane that crashed a day later off the coast of Indonesia, killing all 189 on board.
The FAA whistleblowers also claim that the FAA may have been informed of the 737 Max 8s deficiencies as early as August 2018, two months before the Lion Air crash.
As we noted last month, several Pilots repeatedly warned federal authorities of safety concerns over the now-grounded Boeing 737 Max 8 for months leading up to the second deadly disaster involving the plane, according to an investigation by the Dallas Morning News. One captain even called the Max 8's flight manual "inadequate and almost criminally insufficient," according to the report.
"The fact that this airplane requires such jury-rigging to fly is a red flag.Now we know the systems employed are error-prone — even if the pilots aren't sure what those systems are, what redundancies are in place and failure modes. I am left to wonder: what else don't I know?" wrote the captain.
At least five complaints about the Boeing jet were found in a federal database which pilots routinely use to report aviation incidents without fear of repercussions.
The complaints are about the safety mechanism cited in preliminary reports for an October plane crash in Indonesia that killed 189.
The disclosures found by The News reference problems during flights of Boeing 737 Max 8s with an autopilot system during takeoff and nose-down situations while trying to gain altitude. While records show these flights occurred during October and November, information regarding which airlines the pilots were flying for at the time is redacted from the database. -Dallas Morning News
One captain who flies the Max 8 said in November that it was "unconscionable" that Boeing and federal authorities have allowed pilots to fly the plane without adequate training - including a failure to fully disclose how its systems were distinctly different from other planes.