Sweeping failures by Boeing Co. engineers, deception by the company and significant errors in government oversight led to the two fatal crashes of the 737 Max, congressional investigators have concluded.
A 245-page report issued Wednesday provides the most scathing account so far of the miscalculations that led to 346 deaths, the grounding of Boeing’s best-selling jet and billions of dollars in losses for the manufacturing giant.
“The Max crashes were not the result of a singular failure, technical mistake or mismanaged event,” the report by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee said. “They were the 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 Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).”
The report—the result of five investigative hearings, a review of about 600,000 pages of documents, interviews with top Boeing and FAA officials and information provided by whistle-blowers—makes the case for broad changes in the FAA’s oversight of the aircraft industry.
It offers a more searing version of events than the sometimes technical language in previous crash reports and investigations, including one conducted by the Transportation Department’s Inspector General.
The conclusions were drawn by the majority staff under committee chairman Peter DeFazio.
DeFazio said he found it “mind boggling” that Boeing and FAA officials concluded, according to the report, that the plane’s design had complied with regulations in spite of the crashes.
“The problem is it was compliant and not safe—and people died,” he said. “Obviously, the system is inadequate.”
Lawmakers are drafting legislation designed to reform how the FAA oversees companies such as Boeing and reviews aircraft designs.
Boeing said in a statement it had cooperated with the investigation and had taken steps to improve safety. “Change is always hard and requires daily commitment, but we as a company are dedicated to doing the work,” it said.