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Boeing’s 737 Max Software Outsourced to $9-an-Hour Engineers

  • Planemaker and suppliers used lower-paid temporary workers
  • Engineers feared the practice meant code wasn’t done right
The cockpit of a grounded 737 Max 8 aircraft.
The cockpit of a grounded 737 Max 8 aircraft.Photographer: Dimas Ardian/Bloomberg

It remains the mystery at the heart of Boeing Co.’s 737 Max crisis: how a company renowned for meticulous design made seemingly basic software mistakes leading to a pair of deadly crashes. Longtime Boeing engineers say the effort was complicated by a push to outsource work to lower-paid contractors.

The Max software -- plagued by issues that could keep the planes grounded months longer after U.S. regulators this week revealed a new flaw -- was developed at a time Boeing was laying off experienced engineers and pressing suppliers to cut costs.