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Boeing Brings 100 Years Of History To Its Fight To Restore Its Reputation

Mar 20, 2019   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on Boeing Brings 100 Years Of History To Its Fight To Restore Its Reputation

Boeing 737 Max jets are grounded at Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix on March 14.

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Boeing 737 Max jets are grounded at Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix on March 14.

Matt York/AP

Boeing’s best-selling jetliner, the 737 Max, has crashed twice in six months — the Lion Air disaster in October and the Ethiopian Airlines crash this month. Nearly 350 people have been killed, and the model of plane has been grounded indefinitely as investigations are underway.

Boeing has maintained the planes are safe. But trust — from the public, from airlines, from pilots and regulators — has been shaken.

So far, experts say Boeing has mishandled this crisis, but that it has the opportunity to win back confidence in the future.

Boeing bet heavily on the Max. The plane was designed to compete with a fuel-efficient jetliner from rival Airbus, and analysts have estimated it’s responsible for nearly a third to 40 percent of Boeing’s profits.

Boeing 737 Max, Involved In 2 Crashes, Is Fastest-Selling Plane In Company's History

Reporting from The Seattle Times suggests Boeing’s urgency to get the plane to market pressured the Federal Aviation Administration, which may have contributed to lax oversight on safety. Boeing disputes this.

But many people are raising questions about how cozy the manufacturer is with the FAA, and how committed the company has been to protecting safety.

“I think that Boeing currently is flunking the ‘can-we-trust-you test,’ ” says Sandra Sucher, a professor of management practice at Harvard Business School.

Trust includes multiple dimensions, she says: trusting a company to be competent, to be motivated to do the right thing, to use fair methods to achieve its goals, and to hold itself accountable when things go wrong. One every level, by her reckoning, Boeing is falling short.

It’s possible to win back that trust, she says — but only if the company holds itself accountable.

FAA Grounds Boeing 737 Max Planes In U.S., Pending Investigation

“The worst thing that they could do would be to maintain their insistence that this plane is safe to fly,” she says. “I think they have to start with a clear statement that they take accountability for what happened.”

Boeing has supported the FAA’s decision to ground its planes, and is providing assistance to the ongoing investigations. But the company continues to stand behind the safety of its product. In a letter Monday, CEO Dennis Muilenburg described a commitment to making “safe airplanes even safer.”

“Together, we’ll keep working to earn and keep the trust people have placed in Boeing,” he wrote.

For Boeing, Costs Of Grounding Jets Have Only Just Begun

Sucher says Boeing needs to start by rebuilding confidence within the company itself — persuading employees they are protected if they highlight problems. Once that trust is rebuilt, the company can start looking outward, where it has multiple audiences to convince of its reliability.

“Boeing is working in a dual lane when it comes to restoring its brand,” says Shashank Nigam, the CEO of aviation consultant firm SimpliFlying.

On the one hand, he says, there are “airlines and regulators, who are the key stakeholders” — those who actually purchase and monitor the planes.

But members of the general public are “the ultimate customers,” Nigam says, and Boeing ultimately needs to win their confidence, too.

In 1919, Bill Boeing (holding the mailbag on right) and Eddie Hubbard flew the first international mail flight from Seattle to Vancouver, British Columbia, in the Boeing Model C, the company’s first production plane.

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In 1919, Bill Boeing (holding the mailbag on right) and Eddie Hubbard flew the first international mail flight from Seattle to Vancouver, British Columbia, in the Boeing Model C, the company’s first production plane.

Boeing

A history of turbulence — and soaring success

Analysts expect Boeing to weather this storm. The company has certainly survived other rough patches in its century-long history.

It was founded in 1916, just 13 years after the Wright Brothers first flew at Kitty Hawk. Bill Boeing started out making wood-and-canvas seaplanes out of a boat house. He got a big boost from military orders during World War I, explains Russ Banham, a financial journalist and the author of Higher, a history of the company.

“Then the war ended. The government orders came to a standstill and the company actually was forced to make furniture … and wooden boats,” Banham says.

But Boeing hung on until World War II, and another infusion of U.S. military funds — and deeper ties to the U.S. government.

A U.S. Air Force Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress flies, circa 1945.

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A U.S. Air Force Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress flies, circa 1945.

Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

A period of postwar prosperity was followed by a low point in the early 1970s, during a recession that struck the entire aerospace industry. For a year and a half, Banham says, Boeing didn’t get a single order. The company laid off so many people from its facilities in Seattle that locals put up a billboard: “Will the last person leaving Seattle — turn out the lights.”

Still, Boeing was resilient, building wind turbines and even getting into the housing industry, before roaring back to become a profitable, influential industrial powerhouse. Today it’s America’s largest exporter.

More recently, Boeing survived the troubled launch of the 787 Dreamliner. Batteries on board could catch fire, a problem that prompted the FAA to ground the planes. Christine Negroni, an aviation writer and the author of The Crash Detectives, called it a “fiasco.”

Airplane Grounding Tests Boeing's Influence In Washington

But nobody died in the 787 battery incidents. Negroni says Boeing is in a tougher situation today.

“I don’t think it could be worse for Boeing right now,” she says. “Two new airplanes. Two big problems, two groundings. It doesn’t live up to our expectations of Boeing and it’s certainly shaken the confidence of travelers worldwide.”

‘People are going to forget’

Passengers might be alarmed today. But historical precedents suggest that after some time has passed, the public will be willing to get back on the 737 Max.

The world’s very first jetliner — the De Havilland Comet — had a fatal flaw. Three planes disintegrated, killing all on board, before engineers figured out the problem and fixed it. A redesigned Comet 4 flew for decades.

And in the 1970s, the DC-10 (produced by then-Boeing rival McDonnell Douglas) suffered a series of crashes tied to design flaws. Problems with the plane’s cargo door brought down two planes, killing nearly 350 people in the second accident. Then, in 1979, a combination of maintenance and design flaws caused the then deadliest aviation accident in U.S. history.

The DC-10 had a horrible reputation. It earned nicknames like “death cruiser,” says aviation reporter Bernie Leighton.

But problems in the plane’s design were fixed. “When they were rectified, the DC-10 went on to have a very illustrious career with multiple airlines,” he says.

British entrepreneur Freddie Laker waves a flag in front of a Douglas DC-10 in 1977 at the launch of his no-frills “Skytrain” service. The DC-10 had already experienced multiple catastrophes as a result of design flaws, and another deadly crash came two years later.

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British entrepreneur Freddie Laker waves a flag in front of a Douglas DC-10 in 1977 at the launch of his no-frills “Skytrain” service. The DC-10 had already experienced multiple catastrophes as a result of design flaws, and another deadly crash came two years later.

Dennis Oulds/Getty Images

Both the Comet and the DC-10 were eventually eclipsed by other planes with better technology, and their manufacturers were acquired by competitors (McDonnell Douglas, in fact, was purchased by Boeing.) But the planes themselves spent decades in service, and a version of the DC-10 is still in use by the U.S. Air Force.

So once the investigations into the 737 Max are concluded, and problems are fixed, Leighton has a simple prediction.

“People are going to forget,” he says. “People are just going to see it as another 737. They’re going to take their kids to Disneyland, they’re going to focus on how amazing the vacation was and how much they don’t like the TSA. They’ll forget they ever flew on a 737 Max.”

Turkish President’s Comments On Mosque Shootings Prompt Outrage From Australia, New Zealand

Mar 20, 2019   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on Turkish President’s Comments On Mosque Shootings Prompt Outrage From Australia, New Zealand

New Zealand and Australia are condemning comments made by Turkey’s president comparing the Christchurch mosque shootings and battles between ANZAC forces and Ottoman Turks during World War I.

In Gaza, Hamas Cracks Down On Palestinians Protesting Newly Imposed Taxes

Mar 19, 2019   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on In Gaza, Hamas Cracks Down On Palestinians Protesting Newly Imposed Taxes

Faced with unusual protests about bad public services, Hamas has cracked down with widespread arrests in the Gaza Strip.

Trump Hosts Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro At White House

Mar 19, 2019   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on Trump Hosts Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro At White House

President Trump hosted Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro at the White House Tuesday. Both leaders took questions from reporters.

‘The Inventor’ Is A Compelling And Critical Look At Startup Culture In Silicon Valley

Mar 18, 2019   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on ‘The Inventor’ Is A Compelling And Critical Look At Startup Culture In Silicon Valley

The The Inventor tells the story of the spectacular rise and fall of Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos. The startup duped people into investing in a blood testing technology which never completely worked.

Germany Risks U.S. Backlash If It Hires Chinese Company Huawei For 5G Tech

Mar 18, 2019   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on Germany Risks U.S. Backlash If It Hires Chinese Company Huawei For 5G Tech

Germany wants to speed up its mobile data service with 5G technology, which Chinese telecom Huawei is bidding to provide. But if Berlin lets Huawei compete, it faces the Trump administration’s wrath.

Ethiopian Flight Data Shows Similarities To Indonesian Crash Of Same Boeing Model

Mar 17, 2019   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on Ethiopian Flight Data Shows Similarities To Indonesian Crash Of Same Boeing Model

Ethiopia’s Transport Minister said a preliminary review of the flight data from last week’s plane crash reveals “clear similarities” in that accident and the crash of a Lion Air Boeing 737 MAX last October.

In Theranos Documentary ‘The Inventor,’ Filmmakers Capture A Stubborn Elizabeth Holmes

Mar 17, 2019   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on In Theranos Documentary ‘The Inventor,’ Filmmakers Capture A Stubborn Elizabeth Holmes

Alex Gibney’s new documentary looks at the case of Elizabeth Holmes and her fraudulent startup. NPR’s Michel Martin speaks with Gibney and Tyler Shultz, former Theranos employee and whistleblower.

Leyla McCalla Talks New Album From SXSW

Mar 16, 2019   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on Leyla McCalla Talks New Album From SXSW

NPR’s Michel Martin speaks with Leyla McCalla at the South by Southwest festival about her latest album, The Capitalist Blues.

Number Of Dead Rises To 50 In New Zealand Mass Shooting

Mar 16, 2019   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on Number Of Dead Rises To 50 In New Zealand Mass Shooting

New Zealand’s Police Commissioner Mike Bush says the number of people killed in the shootings at the two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand has now reached 50. He said the number of injured has also risen to 50.

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New Zealand’s Police Commissioner Mike Bush says the number of people killed in the shootings at the two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand has now reached 50. He said the number of injured has also risen to 50.

Fiona Goodall/Getty Images

Updated at 5:13 p.m. ET

Police say the number of people dead in the mass shooting that occurred at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand has risen to 50.

“As of last night we were able to take all of the victims from both of those scenes and in doing so we have further located another victim,” New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush said in a press conference from the city of Wellington on Sunday.

Another 50 people were injured in the shootings. Of those injured, 36 people are hospitalized, with two in critical condition.

Bush said that heightened security around mosques in New Zealand will continue until authorities determine there is no longer a threat.

This is a developing story. Some facts reported by the media may later turn out to be wrong. We will focus on reports from police officials and other authorities, credible news outlets and reporters who are at the scene. We will update as the situation develops.

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