Internal messages between Boeing employees released by the manufacturer show many have criticised the design of the grounded 737 Max.
In one such message, a worker said the aircraft was “designed by clowns who in turn are supervised by monkeys”, while two others agreed they would not allow their own families to fly on the planes.
Another communication dating from November 2015 appears to indicate that Boeing lobbied against the FAA’s calls for a certain aspect of simulator training. The message read: “We are going to push back very hard on this and will likely need support at the highest levels when it comes time for the final negotiation.”
The redacted messages have been released to the public by Boeing, which is trying to regain the trust of the public following two fatal crashes involving the 737 Max. Unrestricted versions of the communications were previously only made available to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and US Congress.
A statement from Boeing said the messages “contain provocative language and, in certain instances, raise questions about Boeing’s interactions with the FAA in connection with the simulator qualification process.
“These communications do not reflect the company we are and need to be, and they are completely unacceptable. That said, we remain confident in the regulatory process for qualifying these simulators.”
It continued: “We regret the content of these communications and apologise to the FAA, Congress, our airline customers and to the flying public for them.”
Boeing said it is following through with its “commitment to transparency with our regulator and strong safety oversight of our industry”.
Peter DeFazio, chairman of the US House transportation committee and leader of the investigation into the 737 Max, said the messages “show a coordinated effort dating back to the earliest days of the 737 Max programme to conceal critical information from regulators and the public”.
The FAA called the content of the communications “disappointing”.
This is not the first time the public has been made aware of internal concerns about the 737 Max; in July 2019, a Boeing engineer claimed in an episode of the BBC’s Panorama programme that pressure to keep costs down on the aircraft’s production line could have compromised safety. Adam Dickson also said some engineers were encouraged to downplay some of the new features of the Max to avoid increased scrutiny from the FAA.
The manufacturer fired chief executive Dennis Muilenburg at the end of 2019, with chairman David Calhoun due to take his place on 13 January. It said a change of leadership “was necessary to restore confidence in the company moving forward”.
Production on the 737 Max assembly line has been temporarily shut down while Boeing waits to find out when the FAA will certify the aircraft to return to service.