Nader Warns FAA Chief Dickson on Responsibility if Another Boeing 737 MAX Plane Crashes

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reportedly will give Boeing the green light this week to allow its 737 MAX back in the air.

Stephen Dickson
FAA Administrator

Two Boeing 737 MAX crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia took 346 lives. And should that plane once again crash, who will be held accountable?

Ralph Nader raises the question in a letter to FAA administrator Stephen Dickson.

“Should, heaven forbid, there be another 737 MAX crash or crashes due to causes about which you know and were repeatedly given specific notice of and which you and Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao should have foreseen and prevented, do not think that responsibility – moral, political and legal (civil and criminal) will not apply,” Nader warned.

“If you are sitting on any undisclosed Boeing and other incriminating materials, do not think that there will be no ethical whistleblowers coming forward or that pending civil action will not reach any horrifying cover-ups presently contained in trade secrecy envelopes. It will only be a matter of time and place.”

Nader says that instead of conducting an independent review, Dickson has pledged allegiance to Boeing’s demand for secrecy.

“Instead of clearing out top FAA operatives who have worked to make the FAA safe for Boeing, you have thrown in your lot with Ali Bahrami and Daniel Elwell and unwisely kept aviation industry apologists in positions of authority,” Nader wrote. “You have effectively joined the top corporate culture of the FAA’s management that is infatuated with the Organization Designation Authorization Program (ODA) abdication to Boeing, while too often overruling the agency’s own engineers, just as Boeing has done with their engineers who objected to unsafe decisions down to the shop floor.”

“Safety advocates have waited in vain for you to address the strip mining of the FAA’s budget over the years and the decline in its technical capacity, even though you have a receptive Chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportations, Congressman David Price, who can assist you in restoring and rebuilding FAA’s competence and reputation.”

“The recent House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure staff report on the Boeing 737 MAX released by Chairman Peter DeFazio excoriated the FAA’s secrecy, its symbiotic relations with Boeing, and the specific failures of personnel  – singling out Mr. Ali Bahrami – a former aerospace lobbyist in residence at the FAA. You have so far shrugged off this report with a couple of disingenuous sentences.” 

“In addition, you have apparently dismissed the two top committee Democrat’s letter of October 1, 2020, insisting, unfortunately without a subpoena, that you ‘release all documents related to design revisions or evaluations related to the aircraft’s safe return to service. This should include, but not be limited to, system safety assessments, related analysis, assumptions about pilot response times, and key test data concerning the safety of the aircraft.’”

“Your continued refusal to accede to this latest request for crucial safety information indicates your confidence that Senator Roger Wicker, Senator Mitch McConnell, and the Secretary of Transportation, Elaine Chao, will shield your wholesale allegiance to Boeing’s demand for secrecy. Boeing wants to fly the 737 MAX again on Boeing’s proposed conditions.”

“I refer you to the detailed responses by the grieving families and by Flyers Rights to your proposed rulemaking placed in your docket by September 17, 2020,” Nader wrote. “Have you personally read them? They ask how the FAA can engage in public rulemaking based on secret data, tests, and assessments. The 737 MAX disasters are corporate crimes, due to gross criminal negligence. Federal prosecutors with the Justice Department are reportedly presenting a sitting grand jury with claims that Boeing misled the FAA about the MCAS software. In these grave matters of life and death, involving a potential 5000 737 MAX aircraft in the hands of many airlines flying under varying conditions, you should not fall back on the frivolous claim of protecting Boeing’s so-called trade secrets, blocking the media and the many deeply interested parties and even Congressional panels from vital public scrutiny.”

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