Boeing’s Continued Suffering Sends a Clear Message About Quality Control
Back in late 2018 and early 2019, aerospace giant Boeing was thrust into the spotlight by two fatal crashes involving its 737 Max 8 planes: Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302. Both flights crashed shortly after takeoff. After pilots avoided several more near-fatal crashes, the problem came to light: a defect in the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), causing the plane to unexpectedly dive.
As more information emerged, it became clear that Boeing was at fault due to a massive oversight in the quality control process. The result of a federal investigation found Boeing negligent and uncovered several systems and manufacturing defects in the MCAS. The Federal Aviation Administration grounded the 737 Max in March 2019.
Since then, Boeing has suffered in a myriad of ways. Hailed as one of the domestic manufacturing giants, the company is becoming a cautionary tale in what happens when quality control takes a back seat.
The investigation and subsequent legalities surrounding Boeing’s negligent manufacturing processes cost the company an estimated $18.5 billion in lost revenues. This huge sum alone is a statement about the consequences of poor quality control. But for one of the country’s most dominant manufacturers, the consequences haven’t stopped there.
Boeing has faced consumer trust issues since the 737 Max grounding. Not only did the manufacturer see broad cancellations for jets from customers right after the federal investigation, COVID-19 has further shown the willingness of customers to walk away from already-shaky deals. Boeing sold just one plane in June 2020, while customers cancelled 60 orders and the company removed another 123 from its backlog in anticipation of cancellations. For comparison’s sake, two years ago (prior to the crashes), Boeing had 158 orders in June 2018.
Boeing’s 737 Max issues and the lost revenues that come with them also are evident in the company’s financial struggles. The company’s stock (NYSE:BA) has been sliced in half since the reports of the first 737 Max crash and continue to languish amidst the pandemic. The company also backed out of a deal with private jet company Embraer earlier this year for unspecified reasons — though many attribute it to a concern about shouldering the cost of the deal ($4.2 billion).
These developments, in addition to a tarnished public image and threatened partnerships across different sectors of industry, are a stark example of how lack of quality control can lead to disastrous consequences.
The fix is cheaper than the fallout
Through federal findings, it came to light that instead of electing to delay production and deliveries of its 737 Max due to concerns over the behavior of the MCAS, Boeing chose to downplay the problem. The company opted for a cheaper solution that ultimately wasn’t effective. Today, we see the result of that decision.
Boeing’s hastiness and lack of quality control cost everything from human lives to billions of dollars, to damaged relationships with untold value lost. It’s a glaring example every manufacturer should look to when there’s a decision involving quality control. The lesson is to put quality above all else, never at the expense of profits.