Boeing, the disgraced United States airline manufacturer, has provided a complaint from a senior engineer who said that a vital backup system that could have possibly prevented both crashes was rejected by Boeing, due to the higher cost.
Curtis Ewbank, one of the men responsible for the 737 MAX’s cockpit development said that managers were urged to study a backup system called Synthetic airspeed that could tell when the MCAS system was not working. The backup system would collect data from various sources around the aircraft to display the correct airspeed and also prevent other cockpit systems from using the false MCAS data if MCAS malfunctioned. MCAS was believed to have failed and caused both the 737 MAX crashes Ewbank was quoted saying “Boeing management was more concerned with cost and schedule than safety or quality.” Implementing the backup system was believed to make the aircraft harder to be approved by the FAA and various other regulatory bodies if the system was approved it also could require extra pilot training and the general cost of the backup system. Ewbank also said: “I was willing to stand up for safety and quality, but was unable actually to have an effect on those areas,”
According to others who worked on the MAX, a similar system is installed in the larger Boeing 787 Dreamliner however it was “too complicated” to invest in the mid-twentieth century designed 737, compared to the new design of the 787. Boeing said in a statement: “Safety, quality and integrity are at the core of Boeing’s values. Boeing offers its employees several channels for raising concerns and complaints and has rigorous processes in place, both to ensure that such complaints receive thorough consideration and to protect the confidentiality of employees who make them,”
The 737 MAX continues to be grounded as Boeing works on a software fix for the MCAS system. There is also a possibility that the aircraft may never fly commercially again.
Boeing’s now infamous 737 MAX in house colours full photo credit