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Just months before Lion Air 610 crashed into the Java Sea off the coast of Indonesia, Boeing staff privately bemoaned how their company did business. The lamentation came not from the engineers designing the 737 Max, but rather the team fielding the simulators for the re-engined jet. It was a project mired in dysfunction.

Resource: Read the complete volume of Boeing emails

”Sometimes you have to let things fail big so that everyone can identify a problem…maybe that’s what needs to happen rather than just continuing to scrape by,” wrote a Boeing staffer of the company’s factional internal organization in June 2018, part of 117-pages of documents released by the company last week.

Grounded since March 2019, the halt to flying the 737 Max will stretch past one year and the cost of the on-going crisis to Boeing could, according to some analysts, top $20 billion.

Flight simulators were an afterthought to Boeing — and even actively excluded from the core objectives of the 737 Max program — the plane maker and its airline customers now rely inextricably on their availability. Once a sliver of Boeing’s nascent services business, the training devices are now at the center of the 737 Max’s return to credibility. Simulators have become a strategic technology for Boeing and its customers.

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Jon Ostrower is Editor-in-chief of The Air Current. Prior to launching TAC in June 2018, Ostrower served as Aviation Editor for CNN Worldwide, guiding the network's global coverage of the business and operations of flying. Ostrower joined CNN in 2016 following four and half years at the Wall Street Journal. Based first in Chicago and then in Washington, D.C. he covered Boeing, aviation safety and the business of global aerospace. Before that, Ostrower was editor of the award-winning FlightBlogger for Flightglobal and Flight International Magazine covering the development of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and other new aircraft programs from 2007 to 2012. Ostrower, a Boston native, graduated from The George Washington University's School of Media and Public Affairs with a bachelor's degree in Political Communication. He is based in Seattle.

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