A former Boeing manager urged Boeing executives, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to look into problems at Renton, its main 737 Max airplane manufacturing plant beginning in the summer of 2018, NBC News reported.
Speaking exclusively to the TV program ahead of testifying before Congress about his concerns, Boeing manager Ed Pierson said he sent an email to the general manager of the 737 Max program on June 9, 2018, that read, “Frankly right now all my internal warning bells are going off. And for the first time in my life, I’m sorry to say that I’m hesitant about putting my family on a Boeing airplane.”
But his concerns that an expedited timeline and exhausted workers could lead to critical mistakes fell on deaf ears. The company refused to provide what Pierson called a more stable environment to finish building the planes. Four months later, one of the 737 Max aircraft built at the plant crashed shortly after takeoff near Indonesia, killing all 189 aboard.
“I cried a lot,” Pierson told NBC News. “I’m mad at myself because I felt like I could have done more.” Pierson tried again to warn company executives, sending emails to CEO Dennis Muilenburg. On Feb. 19, 2019, he wrote to the company’s board of directors: “I have no interest in scaring the public or wasting anyone’s time. I also don’t want to wake up one morning and hear about another tragedy and have personal regrets.”
Nineteen days later, on March 10, 2019, a second 737 Max crashed, this time in Ethiopia, killing all 157 aboard.
“I really had hoped that by providing information to the right people, and following the protocols and the chain of command every step of the way, I thought people would do their job,” Pierson said.
Boeing issued a statement saying the company took Pierson’s concerns seriously, but said he didn’t provide any specific information regarding defects or quality issues. Further, Boeing said it has no reason to believe the problems Pierson alluded to at the factory are related to the issue that brought down both planes. According to NBC News, “Boeing has acknowledged that the planes’ anti-stall software system contributed to both crashes.”
Mike Andrews, a lawyer in the firm’s Personal Injury and Products Liability section, focuses much of his practice on aviation accident litigation. He has represented people seriously injured in aviation crashes, and the families of those killed in both civilian and military airplane crashes and helicopter crashes. Currently, Mike represents family members of victims in the Ethiopian Airlines crash.