Experts cast doubt on safety of Boeing 737 MAX ungrounding
November 25, 2020 FlyersRights filed a Reply in its Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) case against the FAA. (Flyers Rights Education Fund v. FAA, (D.D.C. CV-19-3749 (CKK)). FlyersRights.org seeks the public disclosure of a limited set of documents related to the changes and testing of the Boeing 737 MAX to enable independent experts to evaluate the safety of the MAX.
The two Boeing 737 MAX crashes that claimed the lives of 346 passengers have damaged the reputations of the FAA and Boeing and have sparked many investigations, including by Congress, into the FAA aircraft certification process, Boeing’s behavior, and the FAA-Boeing relationship. FlyersRights.org, the largest passenger organization advocating for the interests of airline passengers, has observed plummeting levels of passenger confidence in the FAA, Boeing, and the 737 MAX.It filed the Freedom of Information Act case in December 2019 to enable independent safety experts to evaluate the proposed changes to the grounded 737 MAX.
FlyersRights.org argued that the FAA improperly invoked exemptions for trade secrets and proprietary information to shield entire documents from disclosure. Among other points, FlyersRights.org, supported by sworn statements of ten aviation experts, asserted that Boeing could not have reasonably expected these documents to remain secret after the numerous transparency pledges made by FAA Administrator Stephen Dickson and Boeing CEOs Dennis Muilenburg and David Calhoun to the public and under oath to Congress.
Paul Hudson, President of FlyersRights.org and aviation safety advocate of over 30 years, explained, “The FAA’s insistence on hiding the key documents concerning the beleaguered 737 MAX violates the law and betrays the promises made by the FAA and Boeing to meet this unprecedented safety failure with necessary transparency.”
“After Boeing was exposed hiding documents from the FAA and pilots to achieve original certification, and facing Congressional scrutiny, FBI investigations, and civil lawsuits, the public reasonably expects these repeated transparency pledges to mean something.”
Meanwhile in court filings, the FAA characterized all the transparency pledges as “a handful of general statements” that do not defeat the FAA’s claim that Boeing provided the documents under a promise of complete secrecy.