Public Distrust For Boeing Increased Due To Company’s 737 Max Handling

Boeing 737 MAX 8
FILE PHOTO: A Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft bearing the logo of China Southern Airlines is parked at a Boeing production facility in Renton, Washington, U.S., March 11, 2019. (Photo: REUTERS/David Ryder/File Photo)

Experts have weighed in on the crisis surrounding the Boeing 737 Max and how the public gradually lost its confidence on what was once an extremely popular jet. A crisis management expert said trust levels dropped as the American jet maker displayed indifference.

In an interview with Business Insider, Crisis Management Professor at New York University and Columbia University, Helio Fred Garcia, argued that Boeing's handling of the 737 Max fiasco caused the trust to drop further. "Trust didn't fall because two of its plane crashes. Trust fell because they were seen to be indifferent," he said.

It took Boeing 26 days after the Ethiopian Airlines crash to apologize through a video. While CEO Denis Muilenburg appeared to be regretful of what happened at that time, the following days were different.

The company has stopped responding to requests for comments on multiple queries about the faulty sensor that contributed to the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines crashes in October and March respectively.

Garcia further noted that the apology video may have come too late, considering how it was pre-recorded and distributed on social media channels. He added that while a recorded video was better than complete silence, the company could have done better.

For Garcia, Muilenburg should have opted to speak in front of people so he can answer some questions directed at the 737 Max fiasco that put the now infamous planes undergrounding.

Crisis Communication Professor at NYU's Stern School of Business, Irv Schenkler, echoed Garcia's sentiments. He said the company's mismanagement of the issue triggered "concern and fear" among the masses and industry analysts.

Schenkler said while Boeing may have opted for a crisis handling strategy that indicated "the less said, the better," it allowed for the media to get into what happened internally at the troubled company.

Because of Boeing's attempts to defend its 737 Max models' designs, people have become even more distrustful of the company. Confusing and contradicting statements further caused the masses to hold out rallies and protests.

Meanwhile, Boeing said on Sunday that it has implemented fixes to the simulator software that global airlines use to train pilots. According to Aljazeera, the company said it has also delivered additional information for 737 Max operators.

Despite the latest update on the 737 Max, Boeing did not provide details on when it discovered the simulator problems. It is unclear if the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has been informed about the issue beforehand.

Boeing 737 Max models are still grounded worldwide. The FAA has yet to provide recertification for the jets to fly again.

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