A U.S. House investigative report into two Boeing 737 Max crashes that killed 346 people blamed the plane manufacturer and the Federal Aviation Administration for “repeated and serious failures.”
The fatal crashes in Indonesia in October 2018 and in Ethiopia in March 2019 were “a horrific culmination of a series of faulty technical assumptions by Boeing’s engineers, a lack of transparency on the part of Boeing’s management, and grossly insufficient oversight by the FAA,” the report released Wednesday by the Democratic-controlled House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure said.
The committee chairman, Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., said in a statement that the report, written by Democratic staff, shows “how Boeing — under pressure to compete with Airbus and deliver profits for Wall Street — escaped scrutiny from the FAA, withheld critical information from pilots, and ultimately put planes into service that killed 346 innocent people.”
He added, “What’s particularly infuriating is how Boeing and FAA both gambled with public safety in the critical time period between the two crashes.”
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A Lion Air crash in October 2018 in Indonesia that killed 189 people was followed five months later by an Ethiopian Airlines crash, shortly after takeoff, causing the death of all 157 people aboard.
Boeing said in a statement after the report’s release that it is “dedicated to doing the work” necessary.
“We have learned many hard lessons as a company from the accidents of Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, and from the mistakes we have made,” the company said. “As this report recognizes, we have made fundamental changes to our company as a result, and continue to look for ways to improve.”
The FAA said in a statement that it “looks forward to working with the Committee to implement improvements identified in its report.”
“We are already undertaking important initiatives based on what we have learned from our own internal reviews as well as independent reviews of the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines accidents,” the agency said.
DeFazio said the House committee chose to release the report following its 18-month investigation to “spotlight not only on the broken safety culture at Boeing but also the gaps in the regulatory system at the FAA that allowed this fatally-flawed plane into service.”
The committee’s statement said its 239-page report, with more than 70 investigative findings, reveals “repeated and serious failures” by both Boeing and the FAA.
The report claims that Boeing made “extensive efforts to cut costs” due to financial pressure and refused to slow its 737 Max production line, jeopardizing safety.
It also alleges that Boeing withheld “crucial information” from the FAA, and that the federal agency’s regulation of the airline was hurt by its current oversight structure with respect to Boeing, which “creates inherent conflicts of interest.”
Ben Kesslen is a reporter for NBC News.