By Ana Martinez-Ortiz
In October 2018, one of its planes, a Boeing 737 MAX was leaving Indonesia when it crashed shortly after take-off. It killed 189 people. The following year in March another Boeing 737 MAX being flown by Ethiopian Airlines crashed and killed all 157 people on board.
After the second crash the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) called upon the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to temporarily ground any 737 MAX that was scheduled to leave the U.S.
In the official statement, Sara Nelson, the AFA president, said the decision was based on public confidence in the safety of air travel. The United States has the safest aviation system in the world, Nelson said, but the FAA should be a leader and restore public faith in the system.
When similarities were drawn between the two crashes, the AFA called for an investigation into the 737 MAX.
“…in the wake of a second accident, regulators, manufactures and airlines must take steps to address concerns immediately,” Nelson said in a statement. “AFA is formally requesting the FAA conduct an investigation into the 737 MAX.”
The New York Times reported that investigators found problems with how parts of the 737 MAX were designed and certified. The Times found that an automated system known as MCAS was at the center of both crashes. MCAS was reportedly new to the plane but pilots were unaware.
The Times continued that the Joint Authorities Technical Review found that Boeing failed to explain how MCAS function.
NPR said that the MCAS overrode the pilots’ controls and forced the planes to take a nosedive.
Due to the decision to ground flights, several major airlines demanded compensation from Boeing.
CNBC reported that American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Turkish Air and others requested compensation, but since 737 MAX planes were still grounded it would be hard to determine how much each airline would receive.
As of October 2019, the FAA continues to ground all 737 MAX planes. In a statement released Oct. 25, 2019, the FAA said, “the aircraft will return to service only after the FAA determines it is safe.”
According to the AFA, the FAA announced that it will require Boeing to update the design on the plane.
As part of its plan to restore confidence, Dennis Muilenburg, Boeing’s CEO stepped down. Muilenburg had joined Boeing in 1985, according to his Boeing bio. He served as president from December 2013 to December 2019 and CEO from July 2015 to December 2019.
Muilenburg will officially by replaced by Dave Calhoun, who also replaced Muilenburg as chairman of the board. CNN Business reported that the company originally maintained its confidence in Muilenburg, but a series of missteps finalized the decision to remove him from the company.
The mistakes included Muilenburg’s initial reaction to the problem and missing deadlines.
While it’s easy to analyze the crashes themselves, the biggest loss is the lives of those who died during the crashes.
In December 2019, NPR spoke with Michael Stumo who lost his daughter Samya on the Ethiopian Airlines flight. Stumo said that Boeing’s decision to fire Muilenburg was a step in the right direction and that more resignations are needed.
During the interview Stumo criticized the board and said the company shifted its focus to business executives and making profits over engineers and safety. He said that now the world has seen what happens when Boeing self-regulates.
While the future of Boeing is still uncertain the company is making conscious efforts to restore the confidence of travelers worldwide.