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I'm not sure why this keeps getting repeated.

Boeing certainly bears culpability for failing to execute, and whatever terrible lapses in certification were made to get there.

But why were they doing a dumb thing in the first place?

Because American Airlines asked-told them to. (Because they didn't want to have to pay to retrain pilots)

Boeing deserves to have substantial portions of management jailed over this, but there's blood on the legacy 737 operators' hands as well, for asking them to do it in the first place.




Boeing could've said no.


I agree with you.

This sounds like the ratings agencies during the last recession, where they knew they were handing out good rating for junk bonds because if they didn't do it they'd lose a customer to the competition.

It's totally fucked.


In which case American would have bought exclusively new A320neo's.

Boeing was caught flat-footed and underinvested in a new product in 2011.

So while Boeing management could have said "No" to their largest (?) customer, that would have been a hard decision to make. And probably would have led to the board chopping C* heads for breach of fiduciary duty.


It's not as if the current situation, in which Boeing is currently causing all their customers lots of financial pain each day the MAX is grounded, and the CEO of the commercial division has been fired, is any better.

The Airbus order backlog is almost a decade out as it is, so American just shoving it all into A320neos that would take longer to show up wouldn't exactly be realistic either.

Boeing should've just gone with a clean-sheet design.


>It's not as if the current situation, in which Boeing is currently causing all their customers lots of financial pain each day the MAX is grounded, and the CEO of the commercial division has been fired, is any better.

Hindsight is 20/20. The CEO chose a risky payoff (Boeing remaining competitive with the Max) over certain loss (Boeing losing many contracts to competition).

If the CEO didn't expect jail time (which given our history of such incidents is unlikely), he chose rationally in his own self interest.

If you want a different outcome you need to disincentivize this kind of behavior. E.g. if CEOs "taking responsibility" (because that's usually the reasoning for their insane income) meant they get locked up in prison without parole for 20 years. Then rational actors may become more careful.


It's still Boeing's fault. They're the ones that designed and built the damn thing. AA just asked for it; they didn't decide on the specific engineering defects that killed two planeloads of people.

Of course every customer ever is always going to ask for products on a faster timeline at a cheaper price. That doesn't absolve the manufacturer of its responsibility to build a safe product.


My point is that Boeing and American share fault in this. And I don't see anyone blaming American nearly to the extent they are Boeing.

And I'd be inclined to agree it's 100% manufacturer fault... except this was a pretty high pressure ask.

IMHO, for me, it crosses over the line into sharing some of the blame.


"And I don't see anyone blaming American nearly to the extent they are Boeing."

Yeah, because American doesn't deserve blame for this nearly to the extent that Boeing does.


Is it that the airlines told them to? Or was Boeing trying to avoid retraining in order to undercut their competitors prices?


2006 - 2011, Boeing maintains the next 737 will be a clean-sheet redesign.

In December 2010, Airbus launches the A320neo, featuring new engines (LEAP included).

In July 2011, American Airlines releases a press release [1] containing the following:

"As part of the Boeing agreement, American will take delivery of 100 aircraft from Boeing’s current 737NG family starting in 2013, including three 737-800 options that had been exercised as of July 1, 2011. American also intends to order 100 of Boeing’s expected new evolution of the 737NG, with a new engine that would offer even more significant fuel-efficiency gains over today’s models. American is pleased to be the first airline to commit to Boeing’s new 737 family offering, which is expected to provide a new level of economic efficiency and operational performance, pending final confirmation of the program by Boeing. This airplane would be powered by CFM International’s LEAP-X engine." (emphasis added)

In August 2011, Boeing announces the 737 MAX program, featuring LEAP engines.

American Airlines literally ordered a plane that didn't exist. And then Boeing tried to build it.

There are structural failings (e.g. why Boeing wasn't better positioned by investing in a redesign in the 2006+ period), but American shares a fair amount of blame for this clusterfuck.

Boeing certainly could have said "No", in which case American likely would have bought additional planes from Airbus. So American had leverage, they used it to pressure Boeing into building what they wanted, Boeing failed at delivering that, and we're here today.

[1] https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/4515/000119312511191...

[2] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_737_MAX


I don’t see how that proves anything about American pressuring Boeing. An equally likely scenario is that Boeing promised a plane they were developing and attempted to secure a market for it before it was completed. That alone doesn’t sound unusual. The problem is that it appears they were overly aggressive in their estimates and tried to circumvent the process with a software update.


Possibly. But that version doesn't jive with public statements.

Previous to American's press release, Boeing's leadership was strictly avoiding mentioning an up-engined 737. And was fairly reliably mentioning a clean sheet redesign program.

I can't think of a reason for doing that, if they in fact had such a program.

It would make sense to be trumpeting it loudly to anyone and everyone.




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