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Boeing 737 MAX: Plane maker now managing crisis better after poor beginning

In the airline business reputation is vitally important. Even if an aircraft has problems rectified and is certifiably as safe as rivals, issues can still deter airlines from buying certain aircraft and passengers from boarding them. Consequently, for airline manufacturer Boeing, the worst course of action the company could have followed following the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines crashes is to have rushed the 737 MAX back to service and suffering another fatal accident. Even though the continued grounding of the plane is causing immense financial damage to the company, Boeing should be happy the FAA is ensuring that as many potential faults, however small, are solved now, or safety improved to prevent even highly unlikely problems from occurring.

Boeing reacted badly to when the second 737 MAX crash occurred. By being among the last of the interested parties to ground 737 MAX fleets made the plane maker appear aloof and not in control of events. Dealing better with airlines would have been prudent. Much adverse publicity has been published by angry airlines, generating a cascade of headlines that helped to promote the idea in the minds of many passengers that the 737 MAX is a fundamentally unsafe aircraft.

Because sales of the 737 MAX were strong for years the losses Boeing may face from angry airlines are highly likely to be somewhat larger than if any other variant of aircraft Boeing produces had instead been subject to two air disasters. Numerous airlines are seeking compensation. Some are planning on suing the plane maker, claiming Boeing knew about problems and failed to offer any urgency in rectifying them. Securing orders on a long-term basis will also be important for a recovery from the crisis to be lasting. Even though British Airways announced in June 2019 the intention to buy 200 737 MAX aircraft, the order books for the plane have remained empty for over four consecutive months.