Through archival research, the benefit of the extensive reporting on the crashes and their aftermath, and interviews with many of the key players, Robison has produced an authoritative, gripping and finely detailed narrative that charts the decline of one of the great American companies ... Robison’s history is complete, but at times excessive. Minor corporate dramas that took place decades ago get a bit too much attention. After the introduction, it is more than 100 pages before Flying Blind turns squarely to the fateful development of the Max. Once that happens, however, the narrative gains speed and hurtles toward its inevitable conclusion.
Peter Robison...argues in minute detail that the 737 Max 8 crashed twice because it was a botch job of a botch job ... There’s far too much Boeing history in the book for even the most dedicated aviation geek, but what saves the more corporate chapters are the aviation 'fun facts' ... Robison’s clipped prose and eye for the small, everyday details can be dry at times but it accentuates the horror of both accidents.
]A] clear-eyed, anger-inducing account of these avoidable tragedies ... Boeing’s story is long, its cast of characters large, and inevitably, despite Robison’s skill in providing concise potted biographies, many become the dramatis personae equivalent of flyover country. Some do stand out, though ... Robison has a keen eye for detail, and for tracking the destructive influence wielded by some of Boeing’s more egregious executives ... Robison casts a cold eye on the callousness of the Boeing executives. He doesn’t pull any punches in his descriptions of their personal demeanors, or what this says about their underlying lack of humanity ... As a business reporter publishing his debut book, Robison should be saluted for tackling this sorry tale in such an honest, straight-dealing manner ... [An] important, elegantly written but ultimately depressing book.
Meticulously describe[d] ... He may not entirely back up his overall thesis about the connection of this specific tragedy to the Reagan revolution, however, largely because he does not spend enough time in trying to prove it, but he makes a compelling case that something was very wrong at Boeing ... Robison’s account adds depth and feeling to what could have been a dry retelling of a story weighed down with technical details. Robison puts the emphasis where it belongs, on the human elements and personal stories behind the disaster, and he shows how the myriad decisions of individuals led to tragedy.
... powerful and unsettling ... The portrait Robison paints of Boeing is a depressing one. A reader may envision the terrible outcomes before they even occur. But the author’s characterization of regulators at the Federal Aviation Administration broadens the reach of the Max scandal ... stalls in a few places. While Robison does an able job of illuminating the implications of the 737’s flaws, his technical explanations of the MCAS software and the plane’s operational system — a small part of his narrative, but a crucial one — are opaque. I worry this may leave readers who lack an engineering or aerospace background more confused rather than less. At the same time, the dizzying complexity of Boeing (with more than 140,000 employees) and of a commercial jetliner (with about 600,000 parts) means it’s sometimes difficult to keep track of characters and their work details. And yet even with these shortcomings, Robison’s book is a page-turner. What’s more, it demonstrates that the problems leading to the Boeing crashes may not yet be solved. On the one hand, the Max, with fixes to its software and new requirements for pilot training, is back in the air; the FAA has also apparently tightened its regulatory approach. But readers may find themselves haunted by the question of whether a global company will in the future choose a long-term solution that requires time and substantial investments over a risky, short-term fix that pleases Wall Street.
Robison meticulously captures the decisions leading to the 737 MAX’s release, including the lack of FAA oversight, that could have prevented the software overrides that caused the crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia ... A remarkable look at corporate culture’s impact on consumer safety, Flying Blind is a captivating and unsettling portrait of Boeing and American business.