A former Boeing manager said Monday he tried to sound the alarm about conditions at the company's main factory in Washington state about the production of its 737 Max airplanes months before two of them crashed in separate accidents, killing almost 350 people.
"I cried a lot," Ed Pierson, a Navy veteran who worked at Boeing for eight years, said in an interview airing on "NBC Nightly News" with Lester Holt, while talking about his reaction to the first crash, a Lion Air flight that crashed into the ocean near Indonesia. "I'm mad at myself because I felt like I could have done more."
Pierson will appear in Congress on Wednesday to testify about his efforts at the Boeing plant in Renton, where he warned a massive boost in the production of the 737 Max resulted in a "factory in chaos."
The former manager said from summer 2018 to spring 2019, he pleaded with, at first Boeing experts, and then the FAA and the NTSB to examine the conditions at the Renton plant, according to emails NBC News obtained.
In a June 9, 2018 email, Pierson told Scott Campbell, the general manager of the 737 Max program that "all my internal warning bells are going off" and he was "hesitant about putting my family on a Boeing airplane."
He said he advised shutting doing the production line for a while, but that advice was not followed. Instead, workers remained on the clock for 50-60 hours a week, including doing work out of sequence to meet project quotas.
Just four months later, in October 2018, the Lion Air jet, one of the planes built at the Renton plant, crashed.
After the first crash, Pierson kept pushing the company to pay attention to the plant's conditions, including writing emails to Boeing CEO Daniel Muilenburg and spoke to the company's general counsel before writing to Boeing's board of directors Feb. 19, 2019.
Just 19 days later, March 10, the second 737 Max crashed in Ethiopia, killing all 157 people aboard.
Boeing said in a statement, Pierson's attempts to draw attention to the plant "received scrutiny at the highest levels of the company," but it has no reason to believe the plant's conditions played a role in either crash.
Sandy Fitzgerald ✉
Sandy Fitzgerald has more than three decades in journalism and serves as a general assignment writer for Newsmax covering news, media, and politics.
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