Opinion: Boeing's 737 Defense Is A Textbook Mess
(Source: Bloomberg; published May 7, 2019

by David Fickling
NEW YORK --- For decades, business schools have taught Johnson & Johnson’s handling of its 1982 Tylenol scandal as a textbook example of good crisis management. In the future, we can expect Boeing Co.’s treatment of its two 737 Max crashes to join the syllabus — as an example of what not to do.

Engineers at Boeing discovered problems with the aircraft’s angle-of-attack sensors within months of the model’s first delivery, but didn’t share its findings with airlines, regulators or even senior management until much later, the company said Sunday.

That we’re still getting incomplete details of the situation — almost two years after the problems were first found, and six months after the Lion Air crash last October that brought it to wider attention — is an almost perfect inversion of the Tylenol lesson.

When Johnson & Johnson found someone was lacing the pain-relief medicine with cyanide, it removed the product from shelves and followed a policy of maximum transparency to reassure customers. As a result, it remained ahead of the developing story and, eventually, regained their trust.

Boeing’s response has been starkly different.

For more than a month, reporters and experts have been asking questions about the angle-of-attack sensors and their relationship with Boeing’s Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (an automated feature designed to prevent the plane from stalling). Many stories have pointed out how customers that paid for additional functions got a warning when data from the 737 Max’s two such sensors disagreed — with the implication that essential safety features were available only to those who paid extra.

Boeing’s response to this line of inquiry has been that the absence of the disagree alert on basic-model planes wasn’t the result of company policy but an accident, and that once discovered it was deemed acceptably low-risk to wait until a software update to fix the problem. In other words, it didn’t leave the alert disconnected out of venality, but out of sheer incompetence.

Let’s just go through the litany of errors here. (end of excerpt)


Click here for the full story, on the Japan Times website.

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