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Pilot's Text Reveal Concerns With 737 Max Back in 2016

Boeing just now turned over transcripts to FAA
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 18, 2019 2:30 PM CDT
Paul Njoroge, left, and Michael Stumo, hold pictures of the family members they lost in the plane crash during a vigil last month on the six-month anniversary of the crash of a Boeing 737 Max in Ethiopia.   (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
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(Newser) – A Boeing pilot using a flight simulator to try out the 737 Max in 2016 complained in text messages that a new automated system was making the plane hard to control. Boeing found the texts four months ago, Reuters reports, and the FAA now wants to know why they weren't turned over for the government's investigation of the new plane's certification. The 737 Max was grounded this year after 346 people were killed in two crashes; the automated anti-stall system malfunctioned in both cases. Mark Forkner, who was the chief technical pilot for the 737 Max, had texted a colleague that the system had the plane "running rampant" in the simulation. "Granted I suck at flying, but even this was egregious," Forkner wrote.

Months before those texts were sent, Forkner had asked the FAA if references to the system could be removed from the pilot's manual, per the New York Times; it was thought to come into play only rarely and pose no special risk. "I basically lied to the regulators (unknowingly)," Forkner texted. Boeing gave the texts to the FAA on Thursday, and the agency's administrator told the company, “I expect your explanation immediately" about the texts and the delay in sharing them. CEO Dennis Muilenburg is scheduled to testify this month before Congress for the first time about the crashes. The FAA planned to turn more transcripts involving Forkner over to Congress on Friday. (Read more Boeing 737 stories.)

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