I have become more interested in Netflix documentaries as of late. There seems to be some hidden gems on the streaming service that are just waiting to be unearthed.
“Downfall: The Case Against Boeing” was one of those documentaries that you just can’t take your eyes off of. At the end of the film, I was sitting there in shock from what I had just heard. It changed my view of the iconic company Boeing forever.
The film brings viewers through two horrific air disasters involving the new Boeing airplane, the 737Max. The two flights, Lion Air 610 and Ethiopian Airlines 302, were both tragic losses of life. The documentary provides a look into those disasters and how they could have been prevented if Boeing hadn’t covered up a major system.
It follows journalist Andy Pasztor and others to help document how the investigation and trials went.
The film starts with the Lion Air flight that crashed into the Java Sea shortly after takeoff. It interviews the pilot’s widow and explains the flight plan and how the flight crashed. It shows coverage that had American news outlets calling it the airline’s fault or the pilot’s fault; but in reality, the only one to blame was the manufacturer.
Boeing covered up a new system on these planes, MCAS (Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System). This new system was put into the aircraft but was not required to be taught to pilots to help the planes’ marketability. If the pilots required no simulator work, then the airline could make more money off the planes.
After the crash, the Boeing CEO came out and said their plane was still safe and reassured the public. All was forgotten as the investigation continued.
The film then moves into explaining the Ethiopian Airlines crash, another tragic loss of life. Caused by the same issue, the crash once again was led with blame towards the airline and the pilots. This time, though, people began to ask questions about the plane itself.
The plane was eventually grounded to find what was wrong and people began to ask questions of Boeing. There were hearings in congress about the crashes and families from the victims attended.
The film takes a deeper dive into the Boeing company, interviewing former employees who pointed out that it was not such a great company to work for anymore. The environment was seen as toxic.
After an investigation had concluded, Boeing was fined a measly $2.5 billion. The CEO of Boeing at the time was able to retire and earn more money. It leaves viewers feeling angry that these people were able to get away with this cover-up.
The film does well to explain just how these planes crashed with recreations of what would’ve been happening on the plane. It does a good job of explaining aviation concepts that are confusing to people. The most powerful part of it all was the interviews with the families who are forced to deal with the loss of a loved one.
It shocked me what had happened and led me to believe that more should have been done to punish Boeing and the CEO. The storytelling was powerful and helped share how much of a tragedy this was.
The documentary is available on Netflix, and I highly recommend giving it a watch.