During the approval process for Boeing’s 737 MAX planes in India in 2017, company executives used words such as “fools” and “stupid” for the Indian aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), according to internal documents released by the company.
In early 2019, regulators across the world banned 737 MAX planes after two fatal crashes killed 346 people. The DGCA had also ordered grounding of these planes in March last year.
The latest batch of internal Boeing documents were provided to the US aviation regulator Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the US Congress last month and released on Thursday.
In one of the conversations from 2017, a Boeing executive is recorded as saying: “The DCGA in India is apparently even stupider, if that’s a word. I am drinking obviously.”
In another conversation, a Boeing executive says the following about the DGCA: “I just Jedi mind-tricked this (these) fools.”
SpiceJet is the only Indian carrier with 737 MAX aircraft in its fleet, and it grounded 13 of these planes in March last year after the crashes.
A senior DGCA official said, “On the specific issue of simulator training, we have made our stand clear and shall have it and that too in India under our eyes.”
On the discussions among Boeing executives, the official said, “We respect his views and shall improve to come up to expectations.”
According to the documents accessed by PTI, on December 12, 2017, two Boeing executives had a discussion around 8:35 pm using text messages regarding the approvals of 737 MAX planes by the DGCA.
In one of the conversations, the first executive says how officials of a particular regulator (not the DGCA) are “idiots”. He then adds: “The DCGA in India is apparently even stupider, if that’s a word. I am drinking obviously.”
The second executive responds: “Sounds about right!”
An hour later, two executives were recorded discussing the 737 MAX approvals – using text messages – by the DGCA. However, it is not clear if these two were the same people who were talking about the matter earlier.
In this second conversation, the two Boeing executives are discussing a call that one of them had with the DGCA. The first executive is recorded to have said: “I just Jedi mind tricked this (these) fools. I should be given $1000 every time I take one of these calls. I save this company a sick amount of $$$$.”
The second executive then asked what did the first executive convince the DGCA of. He responded: “To simply produce an email from me to the DGCA that states all the airlines and regulators… accept only the Max CBT (computer based training).”
The first executive added: “To make them feel stupid about trying to require any additional training requirements.”
In 2017, the DGCA was investigating if it was necessary to have a mandatory simulator-based training for pilots that will fly 737 MAX planes in Indian airspace. Since the ban in March 2019, the regulator has made it clear to Boeing that simulator-based training must be conducted for all pilots of 737 MAX planes and only then a green light would be given.
Following the release of these conversations, Boeing India said, “These communications do not reflect the company we are and need to be, and they are completely unacceptable.”
“We regret the content of these communications, and apologise to the DGCA, SpiceJet, and to the flying public for them,” it added.
The company said the language used in these communications, and some of the sentiments they express, are inconsistent with Boeing values, and the company is taking appropriate action in response.
“This will ultimately include disciplinary or other personnel action, once the necessary reviews are completed,” it added.