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The grounding of all Boeing 737 Max aircraft following the Ethiopian crash has serious implications for Boeing itself and the US in particular. Air travel has never been safer, especially considering the enormous number of flights taken every day. However, passenger confidence will have naturally taken a big knock over revelations that new software on the 737 Max could have led to the crashes of both Ethiopian Airlines and Lion Air aircraft.

Ethiopian had a great safety record, but this being a new aircraft, other considerations come into play. There are indications that the FAA - the governing body which approved the aircraft to fly - may have left some of the regulatory testing to Boeing itself. This would have serious implications for airline confidence in buying Boeing aircraft, and the US Government’s place over the accidents.

With over 3,000 of this type of aircraft on order, the FAA and Boeing will need to demonstrate quite clearly, and very quickly, that they have identified and solved the problem to allow the 737 Max to fly once more. Regardless of what is find out from the black boxes, there is a lot Boeing did in the design process that could be questioned. The fixes that are being planned will improve safety further, but that doesn’t mean Boeing will get out of this easily. Boeing is going to feel a whole lot of pain from the decisions it made.

This is quickly turning into a full-blown PR crisis, and the very future of Boeing rests on the solution they are furiously working on.


Ken McLeod
President - SPAA