Ex-Boeing Employees: Don't Fly on the Max

Safety expert says concerns that arose 5 years ago are 'still there'
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 1, 2024 6:29 AM CST
Ex-Boeing Employees: Don't Fly on the Max
An Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 Max 9 aircraft awaits inspection outside the airline's hangar at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport Jan. 10, 2024, in SeaTac, Wash.   (AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson, File)

Boeing sells merchandise with the phrase, "If it's not Boeing, I'm not going." It's a nod to the company's reputation of old, when it was "known for building the safest, most advanced planes in the sky," per CNN. That reputation has dissolved in the last five years following two Max 8 crashes that killed 346 people and a string of other issues. Now, as Max 9 planes are returning to the skies after being grounded earlier this month when a door panel flew off midair, former Boeing employees are advising that if it's a Max, you better not go. "I would absolutely not fly a Max airplane," Ed Pierson, a former Boeing senior manager and executive director of the Foundation for Aviation Safety, tells the Los Angeles Times, noting he "saw the pressure employees were under to rush the planes out the door."

His group published a report in September showing airlines had filed more than 1,300 reports to the FAA about serious safety problems on Max 8 and Max 9 planes. Pierson says the same issues that "were the precursors to the accidents" in 2018 and 2019 "are still there." Joe Jacobsen, a former engineer at Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration who's warned of safety problems with the Max 8 and Max 9 for years, says he would tell "everyone" to avoid the Max, whose "premature" return to service is "another example of poor decision making, and it risks the public safety." He says Boeing has been putting profits ahead of safety and is now essentially playing whack-a-mole. "Instead of fixing one problem at a time and then waiting for the next one, fix all of them," he tells the Times.

Airlines found loose bolts on Max 9s after the Jan. 5 blowout. Up until this week, Boeing had been seeking an engineering exemption for a flawed engine anti-ice system, whose prolonged use could cause damage leading to loss of control, on the Max 7. It withdrew the request Monday, Reuters reported, after Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Stan Deal told employees that the company needed to "regain the confidence of our customers, our regulator and the flying public," per the Times. The 171 Max 9s returning to service will first undergo inspections and repairs. FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker adds the agency will be closely monitoring production and manufacturing at Boeing as "the quality assurance issues we have seen are unacceptable." (More Boeing stories.)

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