Boeing Pilot Complained of ‘Egregious’ Issue With 737 Max in 2016 - The New York Times
Il y a deux choses fascinantes dans cet article :
– l’usage du mot « culture » pour définir l’ensemble des pressions qui s’exercent sur une entreprise dans son ensemble... mais qui évite d’élargir la question à la « culture » de la société en général, qui fait de la concurrence, de l’innovation et du lancement de produit sans véritable certification son modèle de la réussite (i.e. la Silicon valley).
– la pratique de la « complicité » par des acteurs d’un marché, qui vont jusqu’à mentir sciemment à des autorités pour cacher ou minimiser des problèmes. Une question majeure : il n’y a pas de domination sans complicités internes. Comment un réseau d’influence peut-il pousser les gens à mentir et se mentir pour répondre à des injonctions extérieures à leur propre métier/compétences/pratiques ?
Cette affaire Boeing mérite plus encore de réfléchir à la société qu’a construite le néolibéralisme. Une société toxique au plus fort sens du terme.
For months, Boeing has said it had no idea that a new automated system in the 737 Max jet, which played a role in two fatal crashes, was unsafe.
But on Friday, the company gave lawmakers a transcript revealing that a top pilot working on the plane had raised concerns about the system in messages to a colleague in 2016, more than two years before the Max was grounded because of the accidents, which left 346 people dead.
In the messages, the pilot, Mark Forkner, who played a central role in the development of the plane, complained that the system, known as MCAS, was acting unpredictably in a flight simulator: “It’s running rampant.”
The messages are from November 2016, months before the Max was certified by the Federal Aviation Administration. “Granted, I suck at flying, but even this was egregious,” he said sardonically to a colleague, according to a transcript of the exchange reviewed on Friday by The New York Times.
The Max crisis has consumed Boeing, and the revelation of the messages from Mr. Forkner comes at a particularly sensitive time. The company’s chief executive, Dennis A. Muilenburg, is scheduled to testify before two congressional committees, on Oct. 29 and Oct. 30, the first time a Boeing executive has appeared at a hearing related to the crashes. Boeing’s stock lost 7 percent of its value on Friday, adding to the financial fallout.
The existence of the messages strike at Boeing’s defense that it had done nothing wrong regarding the Max because regulators had cleared the plane to fly, and potentially increases the company’s legal exposure as it faces civil and criminal investigations and multiple lawsuits related to both crashes. Facing competition from Airbus, Boeing worked to produce the Max as quickly as possible, striving to minimize costly training for pilots. Last week, a task force of 10 international regulators released a report that found that Boeing had not fully explained MCAS to the F.A.A.
Mr. Forkner was the chief technical pilot for the Max and was in charge of communicating with the F.A.A. group that determined how pilots would be trained before flying it. He helped Boeing convince international regulators that the Max was safe to fly.
In the messages, he said that during tests in 2016, the simulator showed the plane making unexpected movements through a process called trimming.
“The plane is trimming itself like craxy,” he wrote to Patrik Gustavsson, a fellow 737 technical pilot at Boeing. “I’m like WHAT?”
Mr. Forkner went on to say that he had lied to the F.A.A.
“I basically lied to the regulators (unknowingly),” Mr. Forkner says in the messages, though it was not clear what he was specifically referring to.
Lawmakers, regulators and pilots responded with swift condemnation on Friday.
“This is the smoking gun,” Representative Peter DeFazio, Democrat of Oregon, said in an interview. “This is no longer just a regulatory failure and a culture failure. It’s starting to look like criminal misconduct.”
The Times, which was the first to disclose Mr. Forkner’s involvement in the plane, previously reported that he had failed to tell the F.A.A. that the original version of MCAS was being overhauled, leaving regulators with the impression that the system was relatively benign and would be used only in rare cases.
Eight months before the messages were exchanged, Mr. Forkner had asked the F.A.A. if it would be O.K. to remove mention of MCAS from the pilot’s manual. The F.A.A., which at the time believed the system would activate only in rare cases and wasn’t dangerous, approved Mr. Forkner’s request.
[The New York Times was the first to report on Mr. Forkner’s role in the development of the 737 Max and his request to the F.A.A.]
Another exchange, in a batch of emails among Mr. Forkner, Boeing colleagues and F.A.A. officials, was also reviewed by The Times on Friday. In one email from November 2016, Mr. Forkner wrote that he was “jedi-mind tricking regulators into accepting the training that I got accepted by F.A.A.”
A lawyer for Mr. Forkner downplayed the importance of the messages, suggesting Mr. Forkner was talking about issues with the simulator.
Mr. DeFazio, who as chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is overseeing the investigation into the crashes, said he had reviewed other internal Boeing documents and emails that suggested employees were under pressure to produce planes as fast as possible and avoid additional pilot training.
“Boeing cannot say this is about one person,” Mr. DeFazio said. “This is about a cultural failure at Boeing under pressure from Wall Street to just get this thing out there and make sure that you don’t open the door to further pilot training.”