April 18, 2019
As two recent crashes of Boeing 737 MAX 8 jets tragically reinforce, everyone involved in designing, simulating, testing, building, flying and maintaining aircraft have a tremendous responsibility.
“As the lead engineer on a project earlier in my career, I watched my pilot friend climb into the cockpit of a prototype aircraft and fly it for the first time,” wrote Dennis Muilenburg, chairman, president and CEO of The Boeing Company in an open letter addressing the accidents.
“He landed safely, and I exhaled with admiration and relief—a vivid memory I carry with me every day. Knowing someone’s life depends on your work is an unforgettable feeling, and it’s one shared among all of us at Boeing. We hold ourselves to the highest standards of safety, excellence and integrity in our work because the stakes could not be higher.”
I have spoken with Boeing engineers in the past, and I can attest that they do indeed share the safety-first, zero-defect mindset. Still, as the deadly crashes of Lion Air Flight JT610 in October 2018 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 in March show, perfection—even with the latest tools and technolo-gies—is difficult to achieve.
“We are all humbled and learning from this experience, wrote Muilenburg. “With a shared value of safety, be assured that we are bringing all of the resources of The Boeing Company to bear, working together tirelessly to understand what happened and do everything possible to ensure it doesn’t happen again.”
The articles compiled for this special digital issue focus on how one of the most heavily regulated industries continues to innovate with new technologies and advanced engineering practices. Aerospace engineers are on the leading edge of product design and development, allowing many other industries to benefit from the technologies and processes they’ve pioneered and the difficult lessons they’ve learned.