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Employees knew about problems with flight simulators for the aircraft and apparently tried to hide them from federal regulators, according to documents released Thursday.
“This airplane is designed by clowns who in turn are supervised by monkeys”
In internal messages, employees also groused about Boeing's senior management, the company's selection of low-cost suppliers, wasting money, and the Max.
“This airplane is designed by clowns who in turn are supervised by monkeys,” one employee wrote.
Boeing employees also talked about misleading regulators about problems with the simulators. In one exchange, an employee told a colleague they wouldn't let their family ride on a 737 Max.
Boeing said the statements “raise questions about Boeing’s interactions with the FAA” in getting the simulators qualified. But said the company is confident that the machines work properly.
Names of the employees who wrote the emails and text messages were redacted.
The Max has been grounded worldwide since March, after two crashes that killed 346 people. Boeing is still working to update software and other systems on the plane to convince regulators to let it fly again.
The latest batch of internal Boeing documents were provided to the Federal Aviation Administration and Congress last month and released on Thursday. The company said it was considering disciplinary action against some employees.
"In December, Boeing proactively brought these communications to the FAA’s attention in furtherance of the company’s commitment to transparency with our regulator and strong safety oversight of our industry," Boeing said in a statement.
An FAA spokesman said the agency found no new safety risks that have not already been identified as part of the FAA’s review of changes that Boeing is making to the plane. The spokesman, Lynn Lunsford, said the simulator mentioned in the documents has been checked three times in the last six months.
”Any potential safety deficiencies identified in the documents have been addressed,” he said in a statement.
A lawmaker leading one of the congressional investigations into Boeing called them “incredibly damning.”
“They paint a deeply disturbing picture of the lengths Boeing was apparently willing to go to in order to evade scrutiny from regulators, flight crews, and the flying public, even as its own employees were sounding alarms internally,” said Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., chairman of the House Transportation Committee.
DeFazio and other critics have accused the company of putting profit over safety.
"We regret the content of these communications, and apologize to the FAA, Congress, our airline customers, and to the flying public for them. We have made significant changes as a company to enhance our safety processes, organizations, and culture," said Boeing in a statement.
The grounding of the Max will cost the company billions in compensation to families of passengers killed in the crashes and airlines that canceled thousands of flights. Carriers that use the 737 Max have taken it off schedules through the early months of 2020.
Last month, the company ousted its CEO and decided to temporarily halt production of the plane in mid-January, a decision that is rippling out through its supplier network.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.