• Donald V. Watkins

Manager Warned Boeing's CEO and Directors of 737 MAX Concerns Before Crashes

Updated: Dec 14, 2019

By: Donald V. Watkins

© Copyrighted and Published on December 12, 2019


Four months prior to the October 2018 Lion Air 737 MAX crash in Indonesia, Ed Pierson, a manager at the Boeing Company since 2015, wrote an email to Scott Campbell, the general manager of the 737 MAX program about out of control safety issues at Boeing's Renton, Washington plant (near Seattle) where the fatally flawed aircraft is manufactured. On June 9, 2018, Pierson, a former Navy squad commander, advised Campbell that,"... for the first time in my life, ...I'm hesitant about putting my family on a Boeing airplane."


Pierson, who was a loyal and dedicated employee, recommended that Boeing shut down the production line for a limited period of time because Boeing had prioritized speed over safety in producing the 737 MAX airplanes. Pierson told Campbell, "... I've seen military operations shut down for a lot less safety concerns." Campbell replied, "Well, the military's not a profit-making enterprise."


Pierson's advice went unheeded. He retired in August 2018.


Four months later, in October 2018, a 737 MAX built at the Renton plant where Pierson was complaining about safety issues, plunged into the sea near Indonesia killing all 189 people aboard Lion Air Flight 610.


After the crash, Pierson wrote emails to Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg and spoke with Boeing's general counsel about his safety concerns with the 737 MAX airplane production process and schedule. His emails about safety concerns were ignored.


On February 19, 2019, Pierson wrote Boeing's board of directors about the same safety problems. He begged the board to take action before there was another crash. The board ignored his warnings.


Nineteen days later, on March 10, 2019, another 737 MAX fell out of the sky. This time Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crashed shortly after takeoff killing all 157 people on board.

Pierson's diligent efforts to warn Boeing's top management officials about his safety concerns at a "factory in chaos" became an exercise in futility.


After months of inaction at Boeing, Pierson alerted the NTSB and FAA to thirteen other safety incidents involving 737 MAX airplanes.


Three days after the Ethiopian Airlines crash, the FAA ordered a temporary grounding of all 737 MAX aircraft. Boeing is pressuring the FAA to lift the grounding order.


The Power of Money


Rather than correcting the basic design flaw in the 737 MAX airplanes, Boeing used the power of its money to buy its way out of this regulatory and legal jam. It established a "$100 million relief fund," of which $50 million is being distributed to the families of the crash victims.


Last month, Boeing issued a full-page public apology to the families and friends of the crash victims in major news papers in the U.S. and pledged to strengthen Boeing's "culture of safety" that, in reality, ignored Ed Pierson's warnings about putting profits over safety in the 737 MAX program.


Not one of the Boeing senior management executives or board members who were warned about the 737 MAX dangers by Ed Pierson has been indicted or prosecuted for criminally negligent homicide for the 346 deaths that occurred in the two crashes.


There is not a federal prosecutor in Seattle, Washington or Chicago, Illinois (Boeing's headquarters) with the balls to indict and prosecute Dennis Muilenburg, the board members, and Scott Campbell for recklessly and knowingly compromising the flight safety of 737 MAX airplanes and placing profits over safety.


There is not a federal prosecutor in Washington, D.C., who will indict and prosecute Muilenburg and the board members for using the power of Boeing's money to bribe FAA flight safety officials and prominent Democrats and Republicans in Washington who sought and accepted campaign contributions in exchange for outsourcing FAA flight safety protocols to Boeing. Boeing takes comfort in knowing that the company has "bought and paid" for immunity from prosecution under the Donald Trump administration's Justice Department.


Instead, federal prosecutors have busied themselves going after actress Lori Loughlin and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, for allegedly paying money to get their daughters in USC. Loughlin and Giannulli have not killed anybody, let alone 346 innocent people in a profits-over-safety scheme.


In yet another gross dereliction of duty, in yesterday’s hearing of the House Transportation Committee, it was revealed that FAA officials had estimated the 737 MAX’s flawed MCAS system could cause at least 15 more fatal crashes over the next few decades. Instead of grounding the 737 MAX immediately after that analysis, the FAA allowed Boeing to continue to fly the aircraft while overhauling the MCAS system knowing the flawed system had already caused the fatal Indonesian crash. Five months later, the MCAS system caused another deadly crash. 157 families needlessly lost their loved one.


Dennis Muilenburg remains the CEO of Boeing. The board of directors cannot fire him because they are just as guilty of criminally negligent homicide and bribery as he is.




PHOTO: Warning poster on 737 Max airplanes

© 2020 by Donald V. Watkins, P.C.