It was a normal day on October 29, 2018 at Soekarno–Hatta International Airport in Jakarta, Indonesia. A domestic flight from Jakarta to an Indonesian island capital Pangkal Pinang was scheduled. Eight crew members readied the flight for take-off with 181 passengers on board. The flight took off without any hiccups; everything was fine.
13 minutes later, the plane nose-dived into the Java Sea, killing all 189 passengers and crew on board. The main pilot of the plane was Indian national Bhavye Suneja. The tweet below documents the aerial view of the crash site.
Kami bersama institusi lainnya akan berusaha secepat mungkin melakukan evakuasi korban pesawat #LionAir #JT610 dan berharap masih ada survivors yang bisa diselamatkan. #PrayForJT610 (video dari heli Bolkow TNI AU/Basarnas HR-1519 pilot Letkol Pnb Risdiyanto) pic.twitter.com/XMkWIgj0MK— TNI Angkatan Udara (@_TNIAU) October 29, 2018
Less than 5 months later, on March 10, 2019, an Ethiopian Airlines international flight was slated to fly from Addis Ababa to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, Kenya. Eight crew members were accompanying the 149 passengers on board.
Six minutes later, the plane had nose-dived into the ground near a village in Ethiopia, killing all 157 passengers and crew on board. There were no bodies to be found.
These two aviation disasters brought the world of flying to a partial halt. And Netflix just immortalised the story, the cause and the villain behind the two tragedies in its documentary released on February 18, 2022, Downfall: The Case Against Boeing.
SKIP OR PLAY?
For those who are unaware of the details of the twin tragedies or don’t understand the complex technicalities, the Netflix documentary directed by Rory Kennedy (of the Last Days in Vietnam fame) is a must watch.
And for those who are nervous flyers, the documentary is a difficult watch. But essential watch all the same.
On top of everything I worry about now I have to make sure my plane is not a Boeing 737 Max. pic.twitter.com/YWgkG4LG4u— britney? (@britfrombelize) February 19, 2022
The documentary uses interviews of the victims’ kin, veteran pilots belonging to major US pilots’ associations, journalists, aviation experts and footage of the case hearing in the US, along with CGI graphics, to take home the narrative.
For the unversed, both the 2018 and 2019 crash cases involved one similarity – a brand new Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft that was being flown.
THE DOCUMENTARY TAKES A DEEP DIVE INTO WHAT CAUSED THE CRASHES
I know avgeeks will disagree but I want to avoid flying the Boeing 737 Max now more than ever after viewing the documentary, Downfall: The Case Against Boeing. Beyond axing the CEO, how has the culture been fixed?— Dennis Schaal (@denschaal) February 18, 2022
The documentary Downfall: The Case Against Boeing takes the viewer on the journey of the crash, the aftermath, the media scrutiny, the blame game, the corporate battle, finding out the real truth behind the crash - the cause, the reactions, and also a deep dive into the history of the making of the tragedy in decades.
We don’t want to spoil the revelations for you if you are still unaware of them. But rest assured, when you find out the truth after all the blame game, the feeling is one of utter despair and rage about the kind of world we are living in, the realisation of racism and bias towards ‘third-world countries'.
Downfall: The Case Against Boeing surely has done its research in great detail. Though its narrative is one-sided, training the guns solely on Boeing, the aircraft manufacturer, the documentary convinces the viewers about the narrative with absolutely convincing evidence and hard facts. It also ends with Boeing's responses to Netflix's numerous questions. (Spoiler: None of the answers are answer enough for Boeing's role in the tragedies).
The kin of victims of the Ethiopian airlines crash protest in the US. File Photo: Getty Images
What’s new is that the documentary doesn’t stop after learning about the cause and the criminal behind the accidents; it explores deep into the why and how the villain of the story – Boeing - reached this stage. And according to the documentary, the tragedies were decades in the making.
If you go back in time a little, you will know that Boeing 737 MAX 8 was grounded by several countries the world over, including India. The trend the documentary says was started by China, followed by various nations, and then grudgingly, the US too. It was only recently in 2021 that many countries allowed the Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft back in the sky – including India.
IS BOEING SAFE TO FLY NOW?
Bone-chilling! ☠️In 2018-19 Boeing 737 Max was in the eye of a storm for faulty design which cost 100s of passengers their life.Watch the documentary “DOWNFALL-THE CASE AGAINST BOEING” (on Netflix) to know how corporate greed killed hundreds of passengers in two fatal crashes. pic.twitter.com/1gt28YFB97— Rajendra Kumbhat (@Enraged_Indian) February 19, 2022
Boeing has been operating over 10,000 aircraft in over 150 countries in the world. In India, according to the Indian Express, SpiceJet is the only airline that operates the aircraft model. Jet Airways also used to operate the same model, but the airline itself has been grounded due to financial reasons. Akasa, an upcoming domestic airliner is also set to launch its fleet with Boeing 737 MAX.
The DGCA has said that the aircraft model is safe to fly in the skies now.
The moral of the story is basically to hold corporate entities responsible and not blindly trust their claims emerging out of either their aggressive PR and advertising campaigns or even their historical record.
HOW IS BOEING'S BUSINESS DOING SINCE DOWNFALL DROPPED ON NETFLIX?
Boeing Asia market screenshot of 5 days. Photo: Google Finance
The documentary will live on as an irremovable spot on the record of Boeing Company. The American aerospace company has anyway been dealing with stiff competition from Airbus. Boeing's stock has not been doing great, especially when compared to Airbus. While one of the reasons is the Covid-19 pandemic; the other reason is also because of one of its aircraft models being grounded worldwide. Not just the 737 MAX model, but Boeing has also been having some trouble with the 787 jets.
Did the Netflix documentary do any harm to the stock price that Boeing loves to keep going up so much, no matter the cost?
Boeing was doing quite well in the market even after the 2018 and 2019 crashes. The only real hit Boeing took was post-March 2020, the arrival of the pandemic and the worldwide lockdowns. The only other significant hit it took was on January 27, 2022, and February 14, 2022.
The Netflix impact is not yet seen as the evaluation closed on Friday, February 18, 2022, the same day the documentary dropped. But as of February 18, 2022, the stock has taken another tumble, like the Feb 14 one. It is not yet sure if it’s related to the documentary.
Just watching "Downfall" the documentary about the Boeing 737 max disasters and subsequent corporate cover up. No Boeing executives are serving prison time for 346 deaths. Untrammelled profit motive corrupts everything.— Elinor Elliot (@ElliotElinor) February 19, 2022
But the harsh truth remains: that the people who took the lives of more than 300 innocent people, blamed some of the victims of their crime, got away with it with just a slap on the wrist and are going about business as usual.