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ref:topbtw-1586.html/ 24 Marzo 2019/A


Una catastrofica fretta..

Boeing Was 'Go, Go, Go'
to Beat Airbus With the 737 Max

New York

The competitive pressure to build the jet - which permeated the entire design and development - now threatens the reputation and profits of Boeing, after two deadly crashes of the 737 Max in less than five months.

Boeing faced an unthinkable defection in the spring of 2011.

American Airlines, an exclusive Boeing customer for more than a decade, was ready to place an order for hundreds of new, fuel-efficient jets from the world's other major aircraft manufacturer, Airbus.

The chief executive of American called Boeing's leader, W. James McNerney Jr., to say a deal was close.

If Boeing wanted the business, it would need to move aggressively, the airline executive, Gerard Arpey, told Mr. McNerney.

To win over American, Boeing ditched the idea of developing a new passenger plane, which would take a decade.

Instead, it decided to update its workhorse 737, promising the plane would be done in six years.
The 737 Max was born roughly three months later.

Prosecutors and regulators are investigating whether the effort to design, produce and certify the Max was rushed, leading Boeing to miss crucial safety risks and to underplay the need for pilot training.

While investigators are still trying to determine the cause of the crash in Ethiopia this month and one in Indonesia in October, they are focused on a newly installed piece of software designed to avoid stalls.

The software was meant to compensate for bigger, more fuel-efficient engines and ensure the plane flew the same way as an earlier version.

Months behind Airbus, Boeing had to play catch-up.
The pace of the work on the 737 Max was frenetic, according to current and former employees who spoke with The New York Times.

Some spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.

Engineers were pushed to submit technical drawings and designs at roughly double the normal pace, former employees said.

Facing tight deadlines and strict budgets, managers quickly pulled workers from other departments when someone left the Max project.

Although the project had been hectic, current and former employees said they had finished it feeling confident in the safety of the plane.

The specter of Boeing's chief rival was constant.

Airbus had been delivering more jets than Boeing for several years.
And losing the American account would have been gutting, costing the manufacturer billions in lost sales and potentially thousands of jobs.

"They weren't going to stand by and let Airbus steal market share," said Mike Renzelmann, an engineer who retired in 2016 from Boeing's flight control team on the 737 Max.

Dismissing a Rival Boeing didn't seem bothered at first by the A320neo, the fuel-efficient plane that Airbus announced in 2010.

At a meeting in January of the next year, James F. Albaugh, the chief executive of Boeing's commercial airplanes division, told employees that Airbus would probably go over budget creating a plane that carriers didn't really want, according to a recording of the meeting reviewed by The Times.

Mr. Albaugh boasted that carriers were already paying more for Boeing's single-aisle jet than the Airbus version.

He didn't see the need to strike now - Boeing could wait until the end of the decade to produce a new plane from scratch, the executive said.

"I don't think we need to get too spun up over the fact that they're making some sales," he said.

For decades, Airbus was barely on Boeing's radar.

A consortium started in 1970 by several European countries, it was slow to compete globally.

Boeing, founded in 1916, dominated the passenger-jet market with its 737 midsize jet and the 747 jumbo jet.

Then came John Leahy, an American who rose through the ranks to become the chief Airbus salesman in 1994.

Mr. Leahy was relentless.

Once, the chief executive of an airline got sick just as a deal was about to close.

Mr. Leahy traveled to the man's house, and the executive signed the papers while wearing his bathrobe.

"Boeing thought we were a flash in the pan," Mr. Leahy said in an interview.

"But I thought there was no reason we couldn't have 50 percent of the market."

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