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Opinion
Brooke Sutherland

Boeing’s 737 Max Crisis Wasn’t One Man’s Fault

The plane’s twin crashes resulted from systemic breakdowns in company culture, management oversight and airplane safety regulation. No single villain is to blame. 

Boeing’s 737 Max planes had to be grounded for almost two years.

Boeing’s 737 Max planes had to be grounded for almost two years.

Photographer: David Ryder/Getty Images

The first indictment in the Boeing Co. 737 Max crisis should not be the last. 

Late last week, a federal grand jury charged the company’s former chief technical pilot, Mark Forkner, with deceiving Federal Aviation Administration officials in their evaluation of the Max and scheming to defraud the plane maker’s customers. Forkner is the only person to be indicted thus far in connection with the lead-up to the twin crashes of the Max, which killed 346 people, prompted a nearly two-year worldwide grounding of the best-selling jet and caused a moment of reckoning for the aviation regulators who blessed the plane as safe. Boeing’s market value remains about half of what it was before the Max was grounded; the damage to its reputation and that of the FAA is immeasurable.