Since the time of the second crash of one of the company’s 737 MAX jetliners, Boeing has been defiant, slow-to-react, silent, and circuitous. Each passing day has brought new information, new testaments from pilots, and new revelations about the 737 MAX. Quality control in production, training of pilots, disclosures on warning light issues, and more drips and drops. There were some close calls, i.e., “We made a mistake, but others are to blame for what happened.” And some false reassurances that Boeing was “relentlessly focused on safety to ensure tragedies like this never happen again.” However, Boeing’s CEO,Dennis Muilenburg, just spoke to reporters a few days ago at the Paris Air Show and said, “We clearly made a mistake in the implementation of the alert,” (The alert related to the angle-of-attack-sensors on the two jets that crashed). Boeing waited for a year to inform airlines and regulators about the issue after concluding, incorrectly, from an internal investigation that the issue with the sensors “did not adversely impact airplane safety or operations.” Bottom line? The warning light on the sensors did not work unless the airline purchased a separate cockpit indicator. The airlines and the FAA were not told immediately.
The FAA faulted Boeing for the year-long delay in disclosure during a May hearing. Pilots suggested months ago that they should have been told. Data showed that the pilots in the Ethiopian crash performed all the procedures Boeing recommended but could still not gain control of their aircraft. Initially, the idea that pilots on foreign airlines were not trained as much as necessary in simulators had ben floated. Painfully, the truth has emerged, and the “mistake” admission has finally followed. But, it is an admission by an organization that ceded the ethical high ground and now finds itself trying to rebuilding trust with airlines and passengers. Airlines have canceled Boeing orders, and delays in delivering 737 Max jets have shaved off $1 billion in revenue. To really rebuild trust, Boeing needs an examination of its culture — how and why the one-year delay in disclosure. What was everyone at Boeing thinking and why? Then on to explore the delay in admission following the first and second crashes. Same questions. The company will find that the answer to the questions for both delays is the same. The Barometer suspects that there are some very bright employees, engineers, and managers who can offer tremendous insight into the realities of the Boeing culture.