Downfall is a documentary about the two Boeing airplanes that crashed out of the sky four months apart. There was an investigation, but Big Air has Big Pockets and the cover-up was slick, or so they thought. Enter Rory Kennedy, veteran documentarian, looking for human injustice. Enter any US corporation. This time it’s Boeing.
THE BOEING STORY
The airline giant began life in 1916 Seattle. Over the next five decades, it became the gold standard for flying. Its unerring commitment to passengers’ safety paid off. A spectacular success story. That is, until 1997, when the airline was purchased by McDonnel Douglas. They decided to take their new acquisition in a different direction, promptly transferring Boeing’s commitment to the shareholders. Everyone and everything got swept up in the change.
Prototypes are expensive, so innovation no longer featured on Boeing’s To Do List. Execs preferred to spend their days in the Board Room, finding ways to fire safety officers and cut staff benefits. Whilst they were preoccupied, Europe’s Airbus quietly doubled its order book, supplying the world with bigger, better and faster, at Boeing’s expense. Open-mouthed execs looked on in disbelief. But far from realizing the error of their ways and going back to the drawing board, they doubled down.
Try to imagine installing the engine from a 12-carriage train into a Honda hatchback. Adjustments would have to be made to, well, everything, including the actual body size, but it would still be a Honda hatchback. This means its launch wouldn’t be delayed by expensive testing and, God forbid, teaching people how to drive it. Boeing’s hatchback was the same model that made its debut in the 60s. They ‘redesigned’ it and called it the 737 Max.
A total of 346 people died in the Indonesian and Ethiopian crashes. With such a horrific body count, not even the lobbyists could bribe their way out of an inquiry. When the time came, some of the ‘crash families’ travelled to Washington, seeking answers. But when they arrived, not only were answers sparse, but they got told they couldn’t bring their placards into the Hearing. The placards were photographs of their dead loved ones.
Clearly, Washington has no respect for the bereaved and doesn’t care who knows it. Why would they? People turning up in droves might have an effect in Europe, where governments fear the people, but in the US, the people fear the government. And that’s why the stench emanating from the Boeing execs drifted over to the Federal Aviation Administration staff, who certified the plane. Big Government and Big Air make quite a team.
Don’t get on a Boeing without watching this film