Boeing: Deadly Assumptions (2020)
In early 2019, the worldwide leader in aircraft manufacturing suffered a crisis. Separate plane crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia had left hundreds of passengers dead. Engineers were stumped until they eventually uncovered the culprit: the MAX 737 model was inherently faulty.
Boeing: Deadly Assumptions details the inner workings of this investigation and exposes potential cover-ups within the company structure.
The film begins on an appropriate note of mourning. Entire families were taken out in these crashes, and their grieving loved ones have fought to keep their memories alive by seeking the answers and the justice they deserve. The company whistleblowers who are featured in the film share in this mission.
The MAX 737 was a new aircraft with “state-of-the-art” computer software systems that promised to improve upon the plane’s handling. In early testing statistics, the flight control software was also shown to be capable of causing a crash every three years. This was an acceptable level of risk for Boeing executives, mainly because they were in a race to beat their competition.
“The plane should never have been approved,” states one aviation expert. The software – known as the maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) – was designed to take over controls of the plane. The problem, of course, is that technology has been known to falter. Even the pilots themselves were largely unaware of its limitations. The company went out of their way not to allow their pilots to undergo simulator training on the aircraft.
It wasn’t always like this. The film provides background on the airline company, and its importance in communities like Seattle, where Boeing has long been responsible for building a middle class through its workforce.
Following the crashes, the production of new planes came to a halt. But the investigation continued. The film takes Boeing to task for their mishandling and carelessness, but they also expose the culpability of the Federal Aviation Association for their lazy standards of accountability.
The film presents a well-rounded critique of Boeing, and the lax safety standards that the company followed in the name of profit. The movie argues that it was their negligence that led to one of the most devastating and avoidable tragedies in the public transportation sector.
Directed by: Michael Houben, Thomas G. Becker