Once a titan of innovation, soaring through clear skies of industry dominance, Boeing has hit a period of intense turbulence. The grounding of the 737 MAX aircraft following two fatal crashes in 2018 and 2019 sent shockwaves through the aviation industry and left deep craters in the company’s reputation. 

The latest situation with a door detaching from an Alaska Airlines flight only made the situation worse. Regaining passenger trust won’t be a quick walk to the nearest runway. It’s going to be a long-haul flight demanding a complete overhaul of priorities and crisis communication management for this brand.

The MAX 737 Situation

The 737 MAX was supposed to revolutionize Boeing’s power but crashes exposed design and software flaws. Investigation revealed issues with the MCAS. Boeing’s attempt at crisis communication management was poorly received – slow, dismissive, and lacking transparency. Public trust eroded, and profit over safety allegations grew. The grounding resulted in massive financial losses for the company. Production, orders, and stock prices were severely impacted.

Quality control queries

Unfortunately, the 737 MAX wasn’t an isolated incident. It was the culmination of a string of crisis communication management mishaps that had already chipped away at Boeing’s past spotless image. Issues with the 787 Dreamliner, including production delays and battery problems raised concerns about quality control. 

Allegations of unwarranted pressure on regulators and a culture of prioritizing profits over safety further damaged the brand image. But the damage extends beyond safety concerns. Boeing has faced criticism for its labor relations, environmental impact, and role in the US-China trade war. 

These factors, combined with the MAX crisis and the recent Alaska Airlines door incident, where a “plug door” blew off mid-air, have created a perfect storm of reputational damage for the aviation giant.

Safety first

Every decision needs to prioritize safety above all else. This means robust design and testing procedures, rigorous quality control, and fostering a safety-first culture throughout the organization. Open crisis communication management and collaboration with regulators, airlines, and passengers will be crucial in demonstrating this determined commitment.


Boeing needs to be open and honest with the public, media, and regulators. Regular updates on investigations, safety improvements, and production progress are essential. Owning up to past mistakes and demonstrating a willingness to learn will go a long way in regaining public trust.

Passenger comfort

Safety is paramount, but a comfortable journey matters too. Investing in modern cabins, cutting-edge in-flight technology, and exceptional customer service can differentiate Boeing from competitors and create a more positive brand image. Prioritizing passenger well-being shows that Boeing cares about the entire flying experience.


Any concerns surrounding ethical practices in design, certification, or business dealings must be addressed head-on. Investigating and addressing allegations of excessive influence, prioritizing profits over safety, and unethical marketing practices are crucial. Demonstrating a commitment to transparency and ethical conduct will rebuild trust with stakeholders.

Read more from Ronn Torossian:

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Ronn Torossian is the Founder & Chairman of 5W Public Relations, one of the largest independently owned PR firms in the United States. Since founding 5WPR in 2003, he has led the company's growth and vision, with the agency earning accolades including being named a Top 50 Global PR Agency by PRovoke Media, a top three NYC PR agency by O'Dwyers, one of Inc. Magazine's Best Workplaces and being awarded multiple American Business Awards, including a Stevie Award for PR Agency of the Year. With over 25 years of experience crafting and executing powerful narratives, Torossian is one of America's most prolific and well-respected public relations executives. Throughout his career he has advised leading and high-growth businesses, organizations, leaders and boards across corporate, technology and consumer industries. Torossian is known as one of the country's foremost experts on crisis communications. He has lectured on crisis PR at Harvard Business School, appears regularly in the media and has authored two editions of his book, "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results With Game-Changing Public Relations," which is an industry best-seller. Torossian's strategic, resourceful approach has been recognized with numerous awards including being named the Stevie American Business Awards Entrepreneur of the Year, the American Business Awards PR Executive of the Year, twice over, an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year semi-finalist, a Top Crisis Communications Professional by Business Insider, Metropolitan Magazine's Most Influential New Yorker, and a recipient of Crain's New York Most Notable in Marketing & PR. Outside of 5W, Torossian serves as a business advisor to and investor in multiple early stage businesses across the media, B2B and B2C landscape. Torossian is the proud father of two daughters. He is an active member of the Young Presidents Organization (YPO) and a board member of multiple not for profit organizations.