Senators in the United States of America took turns on Tuesday Tearing into Boeing and its chief executive Dennis Muilenburg, for hiding knowledge of a software in its 737 max aircraft that forces the plane downward any time its censors senses the craft might stall. Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat described the airplane as a ‘flying coffin.’
The software now known as MCAS has been blamed by investigators for the death of at list 346 persons, including a Nigerian/Canadian professor.
“Those pilots never had a chance. [They and the passengers] were in flying coffins as a result of Boeing deciding that it was going to conceal MCAS from the pilots,” Financial Times quotes Blumenthal as saying.
Muilenburg was testifying in a hearing called by the Senate Committee on Commerce. The Chief Executive of the Chicago-based manufacturer, which has been forced to come to terms with its mistake, still held up the argument that ‘delegating some regulatory testing to manufacturers had served the US well.’
“I believe that the delegated authority process has contributed to improved safety over the past few years,” Muilenburg said. According to reports in US media, this view disappointed senators, who are seeking to formulate legislature that would overhaul the current ‘delegated authority system.’
Besides failing to back the intent of the senate committee, Muilenburg denied seeing memos that gave evidence to Boeing’s desire to reduce pilot testing of the aircraft especially the MCAS software to the minimum.
Emails and communication which were earlier in the month turned over to the upper chamber, showed that Boeing’s then Chief technical pilot for the Max model Mark Forkner told another staff Patrick Gustavsson that testing of the craft should be reduced.
Muilenburg told the committee he had been made aware of the mail and instant messaging conversations in February but was only getting details of the exchange like everyone in the public.
He also said he had not spoken to either Forkner or Gustavsson.
FT reports that Boeing’s chief engineer John Hamilton, said it had been a “mistake” not to test specifically for whether an erroneous sensor on the outside of the aircraft could cause the anti-stall system to kick in, as experts have suggested happened in the crashes that took place in Asia and Africa within five months of each other.