Flight/Risk (2022) Documentary Explained: An Alarming Documentary Establishing Causal Relationship Between Profit Motive and Human Rights Violation
Flight/Risk (2022) Documentary Explained: When Edward Pierson, a former Boeing employee, raised concerns about the safety conditions at the Boeing manufacturing facility, citing that he had seen the military shut down operations for lesser safety considerations, the general manager replied back to him that the military is not a profit-making organization. The implication is crystal clear. There is an obvious tradeoff with safety when the profit motive drives the effort, and the tradeoff has to be accommodated.
Reality is often complex, and it is how we appreciate it. Complexity arises from diversity, and diversity validates differentiated existence. Then certain situations do not have so much complexity. The cause-and-effect relationship is often evident and straightforward. Any attempt to add layers to the relationship between two variables only becomes an act of cruel diplomacy that stems from the need to escape accountability. As two Boeing 737 MAX airplanes crashed in 2018 and 2019 on two different occasions, the inefficiency of the design and the process by which the designs were incorporated into the institution came to light. It was not merely an act of corporate negligence but a crime driven by greed.
A Story That Repeats Itself
Flight/Risk is a documentary film by Karim Amer and Omar Mullick that looks at the lives of whistleblowers, legal teams, and the victims of aviation tragedies in Indonesia and Ethiopia in their litigation journey against a corporate giant. Corporate greed costs lives, and there is no two way to articulate this. This is a story that repeats itself time and again across all industries. It happened in the 70s when Nestle pushed its milk formula for infants as an alternative to breastfeeding, compromising the immunity of children in developing nations and leading to increased mortality. It happened when DuPont poisoned our blood with PFOA, a substance used in manufacturing Teflon, which has been proven to be a carcinogen.
It happened in 1984, India, when Union Carbide did not invest in workplace safety as much as it was needed, which led to the Bhopal Gas tragedy claiming the lives of 3,787 people officially but over 16,000 as per unofficial claims. An isolated incident occurs in detachment from other incidents and has no universal cause. But when the cause is procedural and universal in essence, leading to the occurrence of incidents with a high frequency, it can be inferred that the incident(s) is no longer isolated but a part of behavior. The profit motive is a part of corporate behavior, as we all know and agree with, but it must no longer be disputed that human right violation is corporate behavior. To commodify human lives and labor, to see every human as capital and consumer, and to work in self-interest at the cost of lives in a strict positivist sense are fundamental to capitalist establishments. The story of the Boeing 737 MAX is no different.
Flight/Risk Documentary Plot Summary & Movie Synopsis:
On October 29, 2018, Lion Air Flight 610 plunged into the Java sea 13 minutes after taking off from Jakarta airport and claimed 189 lives. On March 10, 2019, Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crashed 6 minutes after taking off, killing all 157 people on board. Both disasters involved Boeing 737 MAX airplanes. Whistleblowers and aviation journalists found multiple acts of negligence on the part of the company. The company has been overwhelmed with orders, and the gap between orders and deliveries has widened progressively. For example, a total of 5037 orders were placed for the aircraft in 2022, of which only 863 were delivered. The company has been accepting more than it can possibly deliver, which historically led to 52 units per month of manufacturing.
It was revealed that not only were safety norms violated in the production facility, but the company also did not feel the need to train its pilots on the safety software it had incorporated into the design just to cut costs. Consequently, pilots who were unaware of the mechanism couldn’t control the airplanes in dire situations as allowed by the software, which led to both crashes. The regulating authority FAA, on their part, did not commit adequate human power to inspection and regulation. At the same time, they also ignored a number of violations from the manufacturer’s end.
Boeing argued a loss of liability once it had been certified by the regulatory body and blamed the pilots for both the crashes despite the evidence suggesting otherwise. In the aftermath of the tragedies, we see all agents trying to evade accountability by calling each other the principal agent. The statistical reports also claimed that at least 15 Boeing 737 MAX airplanes could be expected to crash in their lifetime. Despite so many warning signs that guaranteed lethal outcomes, Boeing 737 MAX were allowed to be made haphazardly and fly.
Profit, at What Cost?
Karim and Omar are not interested in mincing words. They manage to capture and put into perspective the most shocking truths about the nature of reality. To them, and hence in the documentary, there is an antagonist in the unfortunate phenomenon. And their effort seems to be capturing the antagonist in its true shape and revealing it to the world.
This indicates a strong political position acquired by the filmmakers, which is why Flight/Risk succeeds as a warning call. It questions everyone in pursuit of power and capital. The question is, at what cost? It is never that tough to differentiate between blood money and honestly earned money.
Flight/Risk Documentary: A Warning Call
Flight/Risk is an urgent documentary film, especially for the Indian audience. The fight hasn’t ended. Boeing received a new order for 72 MAX aircraft from an Indian Aviation Private Limited Akasa Air in Dubai Airshow, a contract to be fulfilled in a span of four years, with the first delivery in June 2022. In a situation where the company is failing its commitments and the regulatory authority has failed to take any stringent action against the company and the design, it is important to take caution.