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Aerospace analyst: Boeing 737 issues the result of poor leadership, communication


You’ve seen a lot of reports on Boeing over the last few weeks that certainly sound scary, and sound like something to worry about before your next flight. But whether or not the details that trickle out are reason to worry is a different matter.

Aerospace analyst Richard Aboulafia of the Teal Group joined Seattle’s Morning News to provide perspective on what’s happening of late at Boeing.

“I think the important thing to remember though is that all of these problems — which are myriad — relate to one system, and it’s not exactly the most essential enabling technology for this plane,” he said.

“In other words the product itself — the 737 MAX — I think remains quite fine. It’s really just this system that needs a lot of fixing.”

RELATED: Boeing CEO issues statement on status of 737 MAX

A recent Wall Street Journal article seems to feed into the overriding narrative that because of cost cutting, safety was sacrificed. Is that fair?

“Not really. I mean it doesn’t seem like costs were the driving factor; it sounds like company culture was. You know, you go back to this time and it’s not exactly like engineers were hugely empowered within the company’s structure.”

Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg issued an official statement Monday, promising that his company is working to “fully ensure the safety of the 737 MAX,” following a pair of crashes within the last five months.

RELATED: Seattle firm files lawsuit against over Lion Air crash

A total of 189 people died in a Lion Air crash out of Indonesia on Oct. 29, 2018, when the plane nose-dived into the ocean. A total of 157 people died in a similar crash in Ethiopia. Like the Indonesian crash, the pilot of the plane in Ethiopia sent a distress call shortly after takeoff.

“You had a very bad situation where the guy at the top did not have an engineering degree,” Aboulafia said. “The guy at the top of the company was quite notorious for an imperial style that did not reward anybody who told the truth about issues and problems, which explains an awful lot that happened with the Dreamliner, too.”

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