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Boeing Mocked Indonesia's Lion Air and Refused to Train Pilots to Fly 737 MAX Prior to JT610 Tragedy

Indonesia's airline, Lion Air asked Boeing in 2017 to include its pilots in simulator training before flying Boeing 737 MAX. However, Boeing assured Lion Air in that the training was not necessary. Boeing employees also mocked the airline for requesting the training.

On October 29, 2018, Lion Air JT 610, which was carrying 189 people on board, among them are 8 crews, crashed into the Java Sea with no survivor.

From the results of the investigation, the lack of training and lack of understanding of aircraft crews combined with erroneous flight control features on the 737 MAX became the main factor which proved to be the cause of the tragedy.

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According to Bloomberg on Teusday, January 14, 2020, Boeing's internal documents indicate that employees had actually discussed the possibility that Lion Air might need expensive 737 MAX simulator training. The message written by Boeing employees was contained in 100 pages and was provided to lawmakers and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration.

The name of Lion Air was redacted but Bloomberg was able to obtain unredacted version from the United States of America's House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
“Now friggin Lion Air might need a sim to fly the MAX, and maybe because of their own stupidity. I’m scrambling trying to figure out how to unscrew this now! idiots."
--- Boeing employee wrote in June 2017 text messages as quoted from Bloomberg.
Another Boeing employee replied: “WHAT THE F%$&!!!! But their sister airline is already flying it!”, referring to a Malaysian's airline, Malindo Air.

One of the selling point of 737 MAX was that the crews can be trained on older 737 version after short computer course. It was supposed to eliminate the need of costly simulator training.

According to Detik on Wednesday (01/15/2016), an internal message of Boeing containing abusive comments about the development of the 737 MAX, which is now grounded globally, was previously reported. In one message, Boeing employees called the aircraft was designed by clowns and monkeys.

The Boeing 737 MAX was grounded globally since March 2019, after the tragedy of the Ethiopian Airlines crash which killed all 157 passengers and crew aboard the aircraft, just five months after a similar tragedy befallen Lion Air.


What Happened to Lion Air Flight 610?


Indonesia's National Transportation Safety Committee (KNKT) mentioned the failure of Boeing to inform pilots about the new flight control feature named Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) as one of the causes of the crash of Lion Air's aircraft. A preliminary reported published by KNKT can be read here

The plane departed from Soekarno–Hatta International Airport in Jakarta to Depati Amir Airport in Pangkal Pinang. It crashed only 12 minutes after takeoff.

Lion Air JT610 flight path. Source: Indonesia's National Transportation Safety Committee

The crashed Lion Air copilot took four minutes to find an emergency procedure guide he was supposed to memorize. Moreover, the flight crews was unable to carry out emergency checks, fly planes manually, and communicate the emergencies they faced.

The Verge has a detailed coverage regarding the accident published on May 2, 2019.

Boeing's Response


Reported in Bloomberg, Greg Smith, Boeing’s interim CEO, said on Friday (01/10/2020) that the documents do not represent the best of the company . The CEO stressed that the tone and language of the messages sent by the employees related to Lion Air are inappropriate. He also added that they do not reflect who Boeing as a company.

As reported by CNBC on Friday, January 10, the former Boeing CEO, Dennis Muilenburg, who was fired last December 23, 2019 for his handling of the 737 Max crisis, will receive more than $60 million in pension benefits and stock despite, being denied severance.

Reported by Line Today (25/09/2019), families of victims of the crash of Lion Air's Boeing 737 Max-8 in Karawang waters, West Java, October 29, 2018, will begin receive compensation funds of USD144,500 (Rp 2 billion) per victim. In total, Boeing had set aside USD 50 million (Rp 705 billion) for 304 victims' families for the two 737 Max accidents in Indonesia and another in Ethiopia.

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