Bloomberg is reporting that Boeing outsourced coding of software on the Boeing 737 MAX to engineers who were paid as little as $9 an hour. The company and some of its suppliers laid off their own engineers in favor of subcontracting coding work to offshore companies in a cost-saving move that may not have saved money, according to a former Boeing software engineer. “It was controversial because it was far less efficient than Boeing engineers just writing the code,” Mark Rabin, who worked on the MAX flight test group, told Bloomberg. “It [frequently] took many rounds going back and forth because the code was not done correctly.”
The subcontractors, many of whom worked for India-based HCL Technologies, did not work on software for the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) that is the focus of the worldwide grounding of the type but did develop software for flight displays. Another Indian company did software for flight test equipment. Boeing officials said the offshore companies also were not involved with the software glitch that was discovered last week during FAA testing and will further delay the aircraft’s return to service.