Friday 10 January 2020 7:59 am

Boeing 737 Max ‘designed by clowns supervised by monkeys’, internal memos say

Boeing staff joked about possible flaws in the 737 Max model and mocked regulators in hundreds of messages the jet manufacturer has handed over to investigators.

The messages also saw an employee say of the plane in April 2017: “This airplane is designed by clowns who in turn are supervised by monkeys.”

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The Boeing 737 Max was banned from the skies in March after 350 people died in two fatal crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia.


Another message, back in November 2015, showed the company planned to resist the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) demands for tougher simulator training.

“We are going to push back very hard on this and will likely need support at the highest levels when it comes time for the final negotiation,” it read.

A message from 2018 quoted by the New York Times read: “I still haven’t been forgiven by God for the covering up I did last year,” in a possible reference to FAA discussions.

A marketing employee also reacted with joy when regulators approved brief computer training for pilots who had flown the 737 NG model, rather than more expensive simulator training.

“You can be away from an NG for 30 years and still be able to jump into a MAX? LOVE IT!!” the employee wrote, later adding: “This is a big part of the operating cost structure in our marketing decks.”

The FAA and US Congress received unredacted versions of the messages last month amid an investigation into Boeing over the 737 Max fatalities.

A Boeing spokesperson said:


We regret the content of these communications, and apologise to the Federal Aviation Administration, Congress, our airline customers, and to the flying public for them. We have made significant changes as a company to enhance our safety processes, organisations, and culture. The language used in these communications, and some of the sentiments they express, are inconsistent with Boeing values, and the company is taking appropriate action in response. This will ultimately include disciplinary or other personnel action, once the necessary reviews are completed.

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The manufacturer confirmed that some of the messages related to the development and qualification of Boeing’s 737 Max simulators between 2017 and 2018.

A message sent before the first fatal crash in October 2018 read: “Would you put your family on a Max simulator trained aircraft? I wouldn’t.”

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