Semantron 23 Summer 2023

The Boeing 737 Max crisis

meetings, everything revolved around Boeing stock prices. ’ 123 This was then followed by Boeing moving its headquarters to Chicago, in order to ‘ gain separation from the technical people back in Seattle, ’ added Ludtke, ultimately achiev ing the company’s money goals without pushback from engineers. 124 In 1998, Boeing announced it would cut 48,000 jobs in the next two years, 20% of Boeing’s workforce. 125 In 2013, they planned to cut at least 2000 jobs, 126 and in 2020, they aimed at cutting 19,000 jobs by the end of the year. 127 This significantly increased the workload of engineers, which decreased the quality of the products. ‘But instead of fixing the problems, everything was about speed, […] about getting stuff done,’ said Cynthia Kitchens, a former quality manager at Boeing. 128 John Barnett, another former quality manager at Boeing added, ‘after the merger with McDonnel Douglas […] Boeing quit listening to their employees. They would attack the messenger, and ignore the message. ’ ‘ You do not bring bad news to the boss, ’ said Michael Goldfarb, 129 an American journalist. The internal culture was so bad that, all the employees cared about were getting the job done quickly. ‘ Approve this so that I can move on to the next spot. ’ 130 Quality control managers were out of the picture. Specific examples of potential safety hazards to aircraft due to poor company culture were also mentioned in the Netflix documentary, Downfall: The Case Against Boeing. ‘ There was drawings, tools, fasteners […] After a test flight, they found a ladder inside the horizontal stabilizer. ’ ‘ Metal shavings in wire bundles. These shavings can cause a fire. ’ ‘ Boeing whistle-blowers have said, ‘ anyone that reported a problem at the South Carolina plant (the production plant which assembles B787 aircraft), was either fired, or let go, or moved on. ’’’ 131 ‘ They do not want anything in documentation so they can maintain culpable deniability. ’ While during the investigation by the Congress, Boeing was extremely unhelpful, and was not proactive in handing over files and internal communication documents. ‘ They have essentially ignored the families of the victims, ’ criticized Rep. Peter DeFazio. 132 These accusations from former Boeing employees truly reflected Boeing’s internal culture, and that might have been a contributing factor to the B737 MAX crisis. Boeing’s management was so financially driven that it was almost greed which killed the 346 lives. Boeing’s employees were afraid of voicing safety concerns. It is difficult for the pu blic to believe in Boeing’s safety standard, no matter how hard Boeing try to explain and defend themselves.

Collins Aerospace, Boeing’s partner , which was responsible for the displays and avionics of the B737 MAX aircraft, including providing the MCAS software, has also been blamed for endangering flight safety. 3 months before FAA certified the plane, Collins documented safety analysis of the flight control

123 Netflix 2022, Downfall: The Case Against Boeing . 124 Ibid. 125 CNNMoney 1998, Boeing cuts 20,000 more jobs . 126 CBS News 2013, Boeing plans to cut at least 2,000 jobs . 127 Bushey 2020, Boeing plans deeper job cuts as crises stifle aircraft demand . 128 Netflix 2022, Downfall: The Case Against Boeing .

129 Ibid. 130 Ibid. 131 Ibid.; David Gelles et al. 2019, Claims of Shoddy Production Draw Scrutiny to a Second Boeing Jet . 132 Netflix 2022, Downfall: The Case Against Boeing .


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