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US regulators say Boeing withheld ‘concerning’ internal messages on 737 MAX. With planes grounded, Boeing's Board in Emergency Meetings to deal with the crisis.

Boeing’s board of directors and top staff from its commercial airplanes division were due to meet in Texas on Sunday and Monday after a 2016 exchange was released which suggested the company had known about problems with the flight control system years before it became implicated in two fatal crashes.

In the messages, which were between two lead technical pilots on the Boeing 737 Max Program, one complained the system was “running rampant” and difficult to control. “Granted, I suck at flying, but even this was egregious,” he said.

Boeing’s 737 MAX jets have been grounded since March. It has been racing to find a fix to the problem, although has said the jets may not return to service until next year.

Congress Ramps Up Scrutiny

Adding still more pressure on the company, Congress Ramps Up Scrutiny of Boeing Executives, Board

Investigators for the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee looking into the design and certification of the 737 MAX have received details of a three-year-old internal Boeing survey showing roughly one in three employees who responded felt “potential undue pressure” from managers regarding safety-related approvals by federal regulators across an array of commercial planes. Workload and schedule were cited as important causes.

The summary of the survey as of November 2016 also indicated that 15% of those who responded encountered such situations “several times” or “frequently.” The survey results were provided to the committee by an individual, rather than as part of Boeing’s formal process of turning over documents, and were reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

The survey, which hasn’t been reported before, wasn’t specifically focused on the MAX but covered employees across a range of Boeing commercial airliner programs; it came near the end of the MAX’s multiyear federal approval process.

Rep. Peter DeFazio of Oregon, the Democratic chairman of the House committee, indicated that at the hearing later this month he plans to ask Boeing Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg about the company’s internal culture and what he sees as a lack of accountability for two MAX crashes that together claimed 346 lives.

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Boeing’s directors, expected to meet on Sunday in San Antonio, recently stripped Mr. Muilenburg of his dual role as chairman. Board members intended the move to serve as a public signal that they were holding management to account as the MAX crisis drags on, people familiar with the matter said.

“That’s not exactly major accountability, and it probably goes deeper into the organization,” said Mr. DeFazio in an interview, adding that he was also dissatisfied with the board’s oversight, which he described as “pretty lame.”

“Even if you grant that the board thought that the original crash was pilot error and bad maintenance,” he added, “certainly they should have stepped it way up after the second crash, and I haven’t seen that.”

Swept Under the Rug?

I long suspected this would all be swept under the rug.

And it still might, despite the Congressional investigation.

So far no one has been fired. All we have seen is reshuffling of executive titles.

This is despite survey reports that say 29% of the more than 500 employees who answered it by late November of that year were “concerned about consequences" if they report problems.

Forget about fired. What about criminal negligence?

Guilty or not, negligence is damn hard to prove, especially with FAA brooms in place.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock