In the certification process for the Boeing 737 Max, both Boeing and the FAA were at fault for a certification process that failed to identify key vulnerabilities in the plane’s Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), a maneuvering stability system designed to keep the plane within the normal operating envelope. Instead, MCAS has been blamed for two fatal crashes that killed 346 people, this according to a story in the New York Times. The story is based on a draft version of the final report, the final version of which was expected to be released today.
According to the Times, the report found that Boeing did a poor job of representing the nature of MCAS to regulators, and FAA staff failed to coordinate their efforts sufficiently to understand the threat that MCAS posed, leading to an insufficient level of certification oversight of the system. In its story, the Times cites a passage from the draft report that’s particularly damning. From the Times story: “The report found that while the F.A.A. had been made aware of MCAS, “the information and discussions were so fragmented and were delivered to disconnected groups” that it was difficult to recognize the impacts and implications of this system.
The report, according to the story, also found that Boeing made changes to MCAS during the certification process and failed to share those changes with the FAA, and that Boeing’s omission of MCAS from the 737 Max training manual led to the FAA not being aware of the need for pilots to receive specific training on MCAS.
The story reported that the FAA has already made changes to address the shortcomings identified in the report.
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