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March 11, 2019
Ali Bahrami, Associate Administrator, Aviation Safety
Federal Aviation Administration
800 Independence Ave SW
Washington, DC 20591
Dear Mr. Bahrami,
On behalf of the 65,000 aviation workers represented by the Transport Workers Union of America (TWU), I write to urge you to take decisive and immediate action in response to the Boeing 737 MAX 8 accidents.
It is still unclear if Boeing properly notified aircraft operators about changes to the aircraft’s maneuvering characteristics augmentation system (MCAS) and how those changes affect the aircraft, particularly on take-off. The deadly crashes at Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines have generated considerable concerns for our Flight Attendants who work at Southwest Airlines, as well as Flight Attendants who serve all other domestic airlines.
We are extremely concerned that the angle-of-attack sensor, and/or the software, is problematic. Our concerns are exacerbated by post-accident data showing that the Ethiopian Airlines aircraft vertical speed was unstable after takeoff, which follows a similar pattern as the Lion Air crash.
It is time the FAA stops coddling U.S. flagged carriers flying the 737 MAX 8. The FAA must hold them accountable for identifying, reporting and correcting defects which could put flight crews and air travelers at risk. We urge the FAA to immediately convene a task force, including the TWU and other union representatives from all 737 MAX 8 carriers. We are committed to helping the FAA identify the cause of these crashes. By having the workers represented in this process, the FAA will be better positioned to improve safety and take corrective action.
Most importantly, the FAA must take a position with the airlines flying the 737 MAX 8 that Flight Attendants must be allowed voluntarily to opt out of flying on the 737 MAX 8 aircraft without being subjected to discipline until a determination is made regarding the cause of these tragic crashes and corrective action is taken.
A serious reckoning is in order. Will the FAA continue to allow the airline industry to place potentially less safe aircraft into passenger service, or will you stand up for average, ordinary, American aviation workers and air travelers?
TWU International President
C: Daniel K. Elwell