Will Boeing ever win back its foremost place in business?
Boeing, once the world’s preeminent airline maker has been found seriously wanting, resulting in trust repercussions, the most recent of which is Germany’s refusal to let Norwegian into its airspace to transport one of its 737 Max planes. As a result, Norwegian, which was attempting to move one of its planes between Spain and Sweden, was forced to land in France.
A spokesman for Norwegian told Business Insider the company was trying to move the jet from Málaga, Spain, to its base in Stockholm on Tuesday with no passengers on board.
He said Norwegian was trying to ensure all its 737 Max aircraft were in the same place during preparations for the U.S. air regulator, the Federal Aviation Administration, to approve a software update for the plane model that should allow it to fly again.
According to Norwegian, the flight had been approved by Eurocontrol, Europe’s air-traffic management organization, and the European Aviation Safety Agency, Europe’s aviation regulator.
However, allowing planes into its airspace is at the discretion of each individual country as part of “repositioning” flights that move planes to other airports or to a base, according to Aerotime News.
“Just before entering German airspace both the German and French authorities sent a notice that prohibited repositioning flights of the Boeing 737 Max in their airspace,” a statement from Norwegian said. “Our pilots were instructed to land south of Paris.”
A Norwegian’s spokesman told Business Insider the airline “did not receive any notice from the German authorities prior to the positioning flight departing.”
“If we had received any contrary information, we obviously wouldn’t have taken off,” he added.
While Gordon Johndroe, a Boeing spokesperson, claims Boeing “has no higher priority than the safety of the flying public,” subsequent investigations into the crashes show otherwise. Boeing is now facing questions about whether the race to get the Max done, and catch up to its rival Airbus, led it to miss safety risks in the design.
The fatal flaws with Boeing’s 737 Max can be traced to a breakdown late in the plane’s development, when test pilots, engineers and regulators were left in the dark about a fundamental overhaul to an automated system that would ultimately play a role in two crashes.
The company also played down the scope of the system to regulators. Boeing never disclosed the revamp of MCAS to Federal Aviation Administration officials involved in determining pilot training needs, according to three agency officials. When Boeing asked to remove the description of the system from the pilot’s manual, the F.A.A. agreed. As a result, most Max pilots did not know about the software until after the first crash, in October.
Mistakes happen. However, In an industry where safety is paramount, when information is withheld that results in not one but two fatal crashes and catastrophic losses of human life, these are more than mistakes and Boeing has a long way to gain back the trust it once had. If, in fact, it ever can.
In an endorsement for The Trust Edge, by David Horsager, Dr, Nido Quebein, President of Highpoint University says, “Trust is the most important fundamental between leaders and among people. It is the cornerstone for building lasting relationships and growing successful business enterprises.”
According to Mr. Horsager, the book’s author, “trust has decreased significantly in recent years in almost every sector.” He claims, “that trust, not money, is the currency of business and life…the lower the trust… the more time everything takes, the more time everything costs and the lower the loyalty of everyone involved.”
“Trust is truly the bedrock of leadership and ethical organizations and its lack can destroy a business, organization or relationship.”
In their seminal book, The Leadership Challenge, first published in 1987, which sold 2.5 million copies and was translated into 20 languages, the authors, James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner, have tracked to date the characteristics of admired leaders (and businesses) worldwide. The key trait which has consistently been number one is honesty; without honesty, there is no trust.Boeing has lost trust. Click To Tweet
As Lou Gerstner, the CEO of IBM once said, “It’s about honesty… you don’t try to hide the story.” Boeing tried to hide the story. It lost and will probably never win back its foremost place in business. It saying it has no higher priority than the safety of its passengers is ludicrous.
Even American Airlines chief Doug Parker’s comments during a shareholder meeting this week that executives and other staff would take flights on the 737 Max jets before the carrier would ask its customers to do so doesn’t inspire trust.
We are wired to trust or not.Some of us will trust until we have real data that shows we should not, and some us distrust until we have real data that convinces us we can. Click To Tweet
Trust and ethics go hand in hand. Boeing has a hard road ahead to gain back both groups.