‘All those agencies failed us’: inside the terrifying downfall of Boeing

For the vast majority of travelers, stepping foot on an airplane entails a tremendous act of near-blind faith. We control our own cars, trains operate on set tracks at ground level, but flying requires us to put total trust in the expertise of a complete stranger to operate a machine too complex for us to understand. Every time these gargantuan hunks of metal don’t plummet screaming from the sky towards a certain fiery doom, it feels like a miracle, even if that’s how 99.99% of flights play out. Rory Kennedy’s damning new documentary Downfall: The Case Against Boeing takes a close look at two incidents included within the other .01%, and shows us the tragedy that strikes when that sacred compact between passenger and airline is violated.

“I fly a good deal, and the truth is I’ve got a bit of a fear of flying,” Kennedy tells the Guardian from behind the wheel of her car, talking transit in transit. “I like to think that when I walk down that jetway, the manufacturer of that plane is invested in keeping it up in the air, that the regulatory agencies focused on safety are doing in their job, and that at least in our country, the government is making sure the regulatory agencies enforce those safety measures. In this case, it seems that all of those agencies failed us.”

The case she’s referring to is the horrifying account of two crashes related in their shared cause of a faulty part on the Boeing 737 Max model. On 29 October 2018, Indonesia’s Lion Air Flight 610 dove into the Java Sea and left behind 189 casualties; the following year, on 10 March, Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 met a similar fate in a similar fashion, with a death toll of 157. After the first catastrophe, one might have expected Boeing to ground their Maxes until they could pinpoint the source of the malfunction. Instead, they shifted culpability to human error on the part of Lion Air, painted by the corporation’s spokespeople as an incompetent third-world operation. Americans…

Read full story at the guardian.com

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