Did Boeing prioritize profits over safety?

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Boeing 737 Max Photo credit: Steve Lynes (CC BY 2.0)

Since March some 387 Boeing 737 Max jets have been grounded by regulators and airlines with no end in sight. Boeing profits have tanked. Last month the company recorded its biggest ever quarterly loss and deliveries are at their lowest since 2012.  Boeing says it expects the plane to return to service by the end of this year, as it continues to focus on the plane’s software system, thought to be the cause of both plane crashes.

Boeing’s crisis highlights a problem beyond flight safety. The aircraft manufacturer chose to prioritize big spending on CEO compensation and stock buybacks rather than reinvest profits on its employees, infrastructure and R and D. Last year alone, Boeing’s chief executive Dennis Muilenburg took home $30 in compensation and gains from options. Buybacks over investment; the financial strategy that’s great for shareholders but may well have cost Boeing the public’s trust.

Credits

Guests:
Peter Robinson - Research Fellow, Hoover Institution, William Lazonick - Professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts Lowell and the President of the Academic-Industry Research Network - @Lazonick

Host:
Warren Olney

Producer:
Andrea Brody