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The lethal logic of profit

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Issue 2649
Hundreds hurtled to their deaths in 737 MAX planes
Hundreds hurtled to their deaths in 737 MAX planes (Pic: Acefitt/Wikimedia)

Aeroplane firm Boeing admitted last week that its faulty planes are to blame for deadly crashes.

Two Boeing 737 MAX models have crashed in the last six months, killing 346 people.

The firm says that “anti-stall” devices malfunctioned and locked the planes into irreversible nose dives.

Boeing promised to fix the faulty devices and improve safety training for pilots. And it claimed that, “We’ve always been relentlessly focused on safety and always will be.”

But if that’s true, why did hundreds of people have to go hurtling to their deaths before they changed the devices?

From the outset, capitalist competition shaped the fate of the Boeing 737 MAX. The firm was losing business to other firms, and needed new models to compete.

But instead of producing a new plane it bolted bigger, heavier engines onto its existing 737 design. This changed the relationship between the weight of the cargo and the power of the engines—making stalling more likely.

Regulation is so loose that Boeing was allowed to decide that their new planes didn’t need to be looked at by external safety agencies.

Boeing bosses like to pretend that the reasons for the crashes are complex and unanticipated. But the fatal crashes are a horrifying conclusion of the logic of capitalist competition.

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