- An internal investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which was recently made public, predicted that the Boeing 737 Max crash could crash 15 times more over its lifespan.
- The figure was released during a Wednesday hearing before the House Transportation Committee on the plane’s safety.
- 15 crashes of full 737 Max planes – if they were as catastrophic as the two that took place – would kill as many as 3,450 people.
- Even after making its prediction of 15 crashes, the FAA did not immediately ground the plane.
- It did ground it after a second crash, in Ethiopia, prompted other regulators to ban the Max from the skies.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Internal calculations made by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the wake of the first fatal crash by Boeing’s 737 Max predicted that the plane could crash a total of 15 times over its lifespan.
The prediction, made before a second crash prompted the plane to be grounded around the world, would equate to more than 3,000 deaths.
The information became public when a documents laying out the prediction were released as part of a House Transportation Committee hearing Wednesday.
The figure was based on an internal analysis conducted by the FAA in the wake of the Lion Air disaster in October 2018, in which 189 people.
FAA calculations showed that the Lion Air crash occurred during roughly the 136,000th flight of the plane.
Based on that number, combined with the expected lifespan of the plane – a maximum of 45 years – there would likely be 15 crashes, the document shows.
Depending on the Max’s seating configuration and the fullness of a flight, the plane can seat as many as 230 people.
Business Insider’s calculations found that if the Max suffered 15 disasters in which all passengers on a full plane were killed, around 3,450 people could have died in addition to those killed in the Lion Air crash.
According to calculations by the Wall Street Journal, which first reported the document’s release, 15 fatal crashes of the Max would be “roughly comparable” to the combined number of fatal crashes by five other Boeing planes in the past 30 years: the 747, 757, 767, 777, and 787.
“The FAA failed to ask the right questions and failed to adequately question the answers that agency staff received from Boeing,” Rep. Peter DeFazio, the chair of the committee, said during the five-hour-long hearing.
“I don’t know why this aeroplane wasn’t grounded after the analysis was done,” DeFazio said, according to Business Insider’s David Slotnick, who followed the hearing live.
“Our investigation has revealed that many of the FAA’s own technical experts and safety inspectors believe FAA’s management often sides with Boeing rather than standing up for the safety of the public,” he continued.
Stephen Dickson, the FAA’s administrator described the number of crashes projected as posing an “unacceptable level of risk.”
“We’d have to take action to reduce that risk,” he added, before insisting that the “system is not broken.”
It remains unclear when the 737 Max will be allowed to fly again as the FAA continues to assess changes made to MCAS, the software on the Max that has been blamed for both crashes.
It is expected to return at some point in 2020. Many airlines which operated the plane have removed it from their flight schedules until at least March.
- Read more:
- Here’s the complete history of 737 Max, which has been grounded since 2 crashes killed 346 people 5 months apart.
- Internal Boeing survey hints at a culture of rushing through aircraft safety features in the years before 2 fatal 737 Max crashes
- The spotlight on Boeing and the FAA will only get hotter after the 737 Max crisis. Now global regulators are focusing on the plane maker’s newest jet.
- Boeing’s 737 Max shouldn’t be allowed to fly with a controversial flight-control system, an aviation regulator reportedly said in leaked emails
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