The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) overruled concerned engineers to allow the Boeing 737 Max to continue flying even in the aftermath of two deadly crashes, a new investigation alleges.
The report, released Friday by the inspector general of the U.S. Transportation Department, examined the FAA's actions following two 737 Max crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia in 2018 and 2019, respectively. In all, 346 people were killed.
Following the crashes, the FAA held off on grounding the 737 Max, the report alleges, because they wanted to get more conclusive data from the planes. This is despite the fact that Boeing engineers reportedly voiced concerns that the planes were too dangerous to remain in service. The Transportation Department's investigation "revealed that individual engineers...recommended grounding the airplane while the accident was being investigated based on what they perceived as similarities between the accidents."
One engineer even made an initial estimate that the risk of another deadly crash was 13 times greater than the FAA standard, the report claims. The FAA reportedly acknowledged that engineers "suggested that there was a 25 percent chance of an accident in 60 days" if the planes were not fixed. However, FAA officials bypassed this warning because the estimate "did not go through managerial review due to lack of detailed flight data," the report claims.
The FAA was the last major international regulator to ground the 737 Max, The Associated Press noted, not doing so until three days after the second crash. They did not reauthorize the planes to fly again until late 2020.
The agency said in an attached response to the investigation that it has updated its procedures to improve the safety of all planes. The FAA additionally told CNN that it had "identified the issues outlined in the report before it was issued and is working to address them."