I don't blame Boeing's executives for going ahead with MAX, the strategy was sound. The real issue was engineering not correctly evaluating the implications of the no sim training requirement and pushing back appropriately. They fudged the process to come up with the desired answer rather than letting the process tell them what the right answer was.
But there's not enough information to exonerate Boeing at this time. The more realistic scenario is some aeronautical and systems engineers got shot down in a design review meeting about the risks associated with the Max proposal - a process that would have taken 3 months or longer - before any work was started. And some executive just couldn't take the honesty they were getting. That's the likely scenario.
That is also an unproved theory, just like mine. The thing we have is the message dump where Boeing engineers took pains to polish their argument that MCAS on 737 was just like MCAS on KC-46 and thus did not need to be treated as an all new feature, thus bypassing a lot of analysis and test requirements that might have shown them how big a FUBAR the 737 MCAS was, and then the back slapping that went on once their jedi mind trick worked. IMO the atmosphere it conveys is not one of engineers suffering from management coercion, it was one of engineers who were fully in on the plan.
I'll also point out that many sources point out that Boeing engineering didn't learn of the issues that led to MCAS till the year following MAX being offered for sale. This IMO negates the argument that Boeing management put MAX on the market knowing there were big risks being taken.
I have written a few times now how it's frustrating that plausible deniability is still holding with Calhoun pointing at Forkner and the one engineer who believed too much in the three second rule. It's IMO difficult to think two individuals alone drove the fate of the program. Yet the Forkner angle is a slam dunk for investigators so that's the one being followed. Hopefully someone decides their best course of action is to shed light on the situation in exchange for a plea bargain.
Now we know who the 'dogs watching TV' are!
It's good news that the DoJ is probing. Hopefully they are not just exploring the training angle, but also how the engineers convinced themselves that MCAS was just the same on 737 as KC-46 whilst the 737 only had one active sensor, and that the three second rule would cover all sins.
It's interesting to read that Boeing is paying for Forkner's lawyers. I was wondering how he could afford such high priced talent on a WN salary. Of course, these lawyers are still giving impartial advise despite the fact that they are being paid by Boeing, because lawyers are conscientious and take their oaths seriously.
It does seem like Forkner is in great jeopardy, and Gustavsson is next to be put into the hot seat. I suppose (hope) the idea will be to offer a plea deal to get them to flip on higher ups. And in turn Boeing is in great jeopardy, it seems the misleading communications with FAA could lead to criminal charges.
The article is a good read, it's the first big insight we've had to what is going on in the grand jury. As above, IMO it's a shame that the focus appears to only be on the training aspects.