In instant messages from 2016 between Mark Forkner, then Boeing’s chief technical pilot for the Boeing 737 MAX, and Patrik Gustavsson, the two discuss the problems with the plane’s MCAS system (the flight-control system). Mr. Forkner had some problems in the simulator with the MCAS performance, “Granted, I suck at flying, but even this was egregious.” Mr. Forkner added that the MCAS was acting unpredictably, “It’s running rampant.”
Then Mr. Forkner added, “So, I basically lied to the regulators (unknowingly).” Mr. Forkner’s attorney explained that Mr. Forkner thought that the 737 MAX was safe and that the problem was with the simulator. Eight months before the instant messages were exchanged, Mr. Forkner had asked the FAA to remove mention of the MCAS from the pilot’s manual because the system would activate only rarely and there was no danger.
The issues of what Boeing knew about the MCAS and when remain at the heart of the FAA investigation. However, the fact that Boeing discovered the messages in February 2019 but did not turn them over until October 2019 only adds to the questions about Boeing’s culture and apparent pressure to get the 737 MAX into service.
The 737 MAX has crashed twice, killing all aboard on the planes, with most experts pointing to the problems with the MCAS system as the cause of both crashes.