Corporate Greed. the Saga of the 737 Max.
The 737 Max 8. The plane that should not have taken off.
Much has been written and said about the 737 Max 8 plane, undoubtedly the most controversial aircraft today, casting a dark cloud to Boeing's stellar reputation of building safe planes. After the two fatal crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia, involving this 737 model, almost everyone was focused on (MCAS), an anti-stall software incorporated into the flight control system, as a countermeasure to the plane's tendency to acquire a nose up attitude due to its bigger engines.
At the time of its inception, Boeing had a somewhat difficult task of making a choice. Faced with a strategic threat from its closest rival. Airbus, who had developed a new line of fuel-efficient plane, the A320neo, Boeing had to make a crucial decision: proceed with making an entirely new plane to house the bigger engines or make changes to the placement of the engines in an older 737 airframe. Building a new plane would have entailed a lot of effort, money and the safety certification process would be long. Biting the bullet, the 737 Max became the best-selling, single-aisle passenger aircraft, that is, until the harvest came. "If you sow the wind, then you reap the whirlwind". When a plane is cleared for take off, it is presumed that all systems are working. An accident usually happens after a series of safety system failures.
In an interview conducted by CCN, a former NASA engineer and certified pilot, Mike Slack commented that, " This is a safety problem." When Boeing developed the (MCAS) software, they thought they had solved the nose up flaw, but their worries were just beginning. In order to narrow the gap on the widening lead of Airbus on the medium, single-aisled aircraft sales, it was suggested that the company had to make some shortcuts to put the 737 Max on the plate, fast. However, as reported by Clive Irving (The Daily Beast) and in fairness to Boeing, " The certification of the MAX-8 was not put under unusual pressure...The time from first flight to certification to clear it for delivery to airlines was 394 days. The average time taken to certify previous models of the 737 was 230 days...." But the problem was not on the test flights, rather in the wind tunnel tests. " At a certain point when making a climbing turn, engine power caused the nose to pitch upward, leading to an aerodynamic stall that causes a plane to enter an unrecoverable dive." When Boeing tested the (MCAS), they should have exhausted all possible scenarios with this new system and presumably it failed causing the recent two crashes. Adding the system was like putting band - aid on a hemorrhaging wound. I think this is where the culpability lies.
Transitioning from software failure to human accountability, I would begin by venturing into the Christian teachings and dig deep into one of the capital sins, Greed. According to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, man's quest for personal safety and stability falls under the second level of the Maslow pyramid. Providing for oneself, the family is a basic need. I believe that money is not the root of all evils, rather it's the love of money that makes it so. Corporate greed is evident all around us. Here is an example from Quora by Resh Irumev, Tech enthusiast. He tells the story of a man, who repairs phones as his livelihood. Here comes electronic giant, Apple and sued the man for "Counterfeiting" and demanded him to pay $ 3,566 and told him to stop doing repairs. Eventually, the man won the case but Apple is back in full force on July 2019 for an appeal. This is just an ordinary case of corporate greed but the implications would have been huge had Apple won that initial case, because the decision would set a precedent for similar cases. It's not a surprise that Boeing is one among several companies that does lobbying in exchange for juicy military contracts. The company can spend tens of millions of dollars and acquire billions of dollars in return. At this juncture, I couldn't help but recall a scene in the "Robocop" movie when the CEO of OCP, a defense contract company said that, " who cares if it works or not, we already got the profits." I guess it's the way of the rich and the powerful to undermine the norms of the business world but when these practices result in the loss of human lives, then the line in the sand has been crossed and retribution must follow.