Retired Boeing 737 Max Manager Walked Off Of A Flight After Refusing To Fly On The Plane

A Boeing 737-10 Max performs during the 54th International Paris Air Show at Le Bourget Airport, north of Paris, France on June 19, 2023.

Photo: Mustafa Yalcin/Anadolu Agency (Getty Images)

The Boeing 737 Max door plug blowout on Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 has put the aircraft manufacturer and its newest plane under intense scrutiny. The incident has also brought several figures from 2019, after the pair of Max crashes that killed 346 people, back into the public eye.

Ed Pierson, a retired senior manager for the 737 Max program, testified before Congress in 2019 after his concerns went unheard by Boeing’s CEO and board of directors. Today, Pierson is the executive director of the Foundation for Aviation Safety, a non-profit industry monitor. Recently, he spoke with Politico about the ongoing problems at Boeing. The magazine bluntly asked Pierson if Boeing planes were unsafe to fly on. He replied:

I’m not saying that all Boeing planes are unsafe. Part of the problem is that people don’t know how to differentiate between the MAX and other planes.

Last year, I was flying from Seattle to New York, and I purposely scheduled myself on a non-MAX airplane. I went to the gate. I walked in, sat down and looked straight ahead, and lo and behold, there was a 737-8/737-9 safety card. So I got up and I walked off. The flight attendant didn’t want me to get off the plane. And I’m not trying to cause a scene. I just want to get off this plane, and I just don’t think it’s safe. I said I purposely scheduled myself not to fly [on a MAX].

Our recommendation from the foundation is that these planes get grounded — period. Get grounded and inspected and then, depending on what they find, get fixed.

Pierson reiterated that Boeing’s woes began around 2017 when supply chain issues led to aircraft being assembled out of sequence. The pressure from management to crank out planes lowered quality control standards and employee morale. He retired over these issues in August 2018 and Lion Air Flight 610 crashed October that year. Pierson claimed that nothing has changed since the Boeing 737 Max’s two crashes.

Be sure to read Pierson’s entire interview with Politico to get a better understanding of how deeply rooted Boeing’s issues are and what it would take him to fly on a 737 Max.

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