A former Boeing employee has spoken of his guilt that he did not do more to try to alert people to the dangers of the 737 Max jet, before giving what could be damning evidence against the firm tomorrow.
Boeing’s 737 Max was grounded after being involved in two deadly crashes in Indonesia then Ethiopia, killing 346 people in total.
But before the first of these, Edward Pierson, a former senior operations manager in Boeing’s flight test and evaluation unit, said “warning bells” were going off in his head.
Pierson wrote to the company’s management about the potential dangers of the jet, and will tomorrow testify before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
He told NBC News in an interview: “I cried a lot. I’m mad at myself because I felt like I could have done more.”
“This was a last resort,” Pierson said, referring to his decision to speak to the media. “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.”
Before the first crash in October 2018, Pierson wrote: “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.”
Pierson’s lawyer said in a statement that Boeing refused to act on his warnings, which came four months before the first crash, and that Pierson was speaking out “to ensure that Boeing can no longer place profits above safety.”
A Boeing spokesman said: “Although Mr Pierson did not provide specific information or detail about any particular defect or quality issue, Boeing took his concerns about 737 production disruption seriously.”
He added that after Pierson retired and raised the issue again “those concerns received renewed scrutiny at the highest levels of the company”.
The spokesman added: “The suggestion by Mr Pierson of a link between his concerns and the recent Max accidents is completely unfounded.”
It comes after Boeing chief Dennis Muilenburg was savaged by
the US Senate Commerce Committee in October for his part in letting the plane fly. Two crashes involving the jet killed 346 people before it was grounded worldwide.
The Boeing boss admitted to lawmaker that the firm made mistakes in designing the 737 Max, in his most public admission that it botched the development of the now-grounded best-selling jet.