Atlas Magazine November 2019

Boeing, a claim of unprecedented scale

Dwelling on the air disasters of Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines, we can sense an unprecedented evolution pertaining to claim trends. Recent news highlights some dysfunctions that confirm the responsibilities of Boeing and the US certification agency, hence the need for some clarifications.
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It is noteworthy, first of all, that Boeing is a fundamental to the American economy. Founded in 1916, the Chicago firm had a market capitalization of 193.2 billion USD at the end of 2018. It is the leader of American know-how in the field of civil and military aeronautics.

Second clarification, the 737, the world's best-selling aircraft, occupies a prominent place in the Boeing line up, being its fetish plane, its real "cash machine". The 737 MAX is the fourth generation of the first 737, whose inaugural flight dates back to April 9, 1967. As of December 31, 2018, Boeing's order book reported 5005 B737 MAX, or one-third of overall orders.

Third, overconfident about its product and organization and due to more errors of its programmers, Boeing neglected the training of pilots. Considering the 737 MAX as a mere copy of the old 737, the aircraft manufacturer preferred to save training costs.

Fourth, by delegating the certification work of the new version of the 737 to Boeing engineers, the US Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) is accused of serious breach of its obligations.

Eventually, we end up with a chain of industrial failures. The manufacturer's TPL insurers could have rejected the claim file for serious mistakes and concealment of known defects before delivery of the aircraft. Consequently, Boeing would be the only one responsible for the compensation of all the material, immaterial and corporal damage for the benefit of a plethora of victims: subcontractors, airliners,... not to mention the recourse of the aviation insurers of Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines, a bill amounting to nearly 20 billion USD.

Atlas Magazine N°165, November 2019

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