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Quality Management in Engineering

Quality management is considered as the practice of overseeing different tasks and activities in order to maintain the expected excellence level. Engineering management emphasises upon the application of managerial practice to engineering discipline. Quality management or quality control is found to have a significant contribution to all the engineering aspects and minimise the variability in processes and products improving overall product performance. Thus, the following section aims to provide a brief evaluation of the quality management issues that have been identified in the case of Boeing 737 max crashes. The reason behind the Boeing 737 max crashes will be highlighted with the help of DMAIC (Define, measure, analyse, improve, and control) analysis. Along with this, quality improvement techniques like Six Sigma along with role of SPC (Statistical Process Control) in engineering and product improvement will be discussed in relation to the aforementioned case.

Quality management is found to ensure high quality of services and products by maintaining product or service durability, reliability, and performance. As mentioned by Dahlgaard-Park et al. (2018), in the context of the business environment, quality management plays a significant role as it helps companies to differentiate from the market competitors and maximise long-run market competitiveness. On the other hand, in engineering management, quality control is found to be one of the most crucial aspects and engineers try to maintain a high level of expected product and service quality to accomplish specific predefined goals.

It is identified that all the processes and production are being associated with machines, men, and materials. Each of the mentioned elements is found to be associated with inherent variability in the context of attributable variability that can be controlled by executing a suitable strategic quality control approach (Malik, 2019). However, sometimes engineers fail to maintain the expected quality of the specific products and services that leads to the decline of their chance to accomplish specific project goals. In this regard, the case of Boeing 737 max crashes can be interlinked to interpret the way failure to maintain quality leads to the severe consequences to the outcome of the products or services.  

Incident of Boeing 737 max

Figure 1: Incident of Boeing 737 max

(Source: Herkert et al. 2020)

Boeing 737 MAX is found to be designed to deliver an effective and efficient level of reliability, efficiency, and flexibility within the single-aisle market. Boeing 737 max is found to be featured with the new Boeing Sky Interior, which is highlighted with the modernised window reveals and sculpted sidewalls that maximises the spaciousness. Along with this, with the modernised and efficient facilities, it aims to enhance the customer's journey across the globe. In 2011, Boeing Commercial Aeroplanes, which is a subsidiary of Boeing, announced plans to launch a new 737 MAX aircraft that was found to be 4th generation aircraft in the 737 lines. Initially, the deliveries of the aircraft took place in the mid of 2017, and within a year from its launch, about 130 737 MAX aircraft were being delivered to the 28 customers of Boeing, and eventually, about 387 aircraft were being delivered (Boeing, 2022).

Quality Control and Variability in Engineering

However, in 2018, Boeing 737 MAX aircraft crashed within 13 minutes from its takeoff, which was being operated by Lion Air and led to the death of 189 international passengers. Other than this, in 2019, 737 MAX aircraft crashed while being operated by the Ethiopian Airlines that led to the death of 157 international passengers (Chatterjee, 2019).

Dispute in engineering and lack of incorporation of proactive measures after the first plane crash can be considered as one of the primary reasons for the failure of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. It is identified that design engineers are responsible to develop complex designs for aircraft interiors, mechanical systems, and others in order to meet the quality standards, and customer requirements along with Federal Aviation Administration (FFA) standards (Wittig, 2021). However, the persistence of challenges such as design flaws, structural failure, manufacturing defects, and others can lead to the severe consequences like plane crashes. The key reason behind the failure of crashes of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft is going to be underlined in the next adjacent sections.

Quality management system (QMS) is considered as the formalised system, which documents procedures, and processes along with the responsibilities to accomplish quality objectives and policy. As mentioned by Lim (2019), effective quality management in engineering practices helps organisations to direct and coordinate activities in order to meet regulatory and customer requirements that enhance their chance of improving overall business efficiencies and effectiveness as well. On the other hand, the engineers or business entities like Boeing need to analyse the root cause of their product failure for future improvement. Considering the case in the earlier section, the concept of DMAIC (Define, measure, analyse, improve, and control) can be utilised to interpret the reason behind the 737 MAX crash in a systematic and accurate manner.  


Figure 2: DMAIC

(Source: Sm?tkowska and Mrugalska, 2018)

DMAIC is considered as the data-driven strategic approach for the quality improvement process. It supports organisations to determine the root cause of any complex issues and enhances the chance of undertaking improvement initiatives to minimise the quality or engineering issues effectively (Sm?tkowska and Mrugalska, 2018).


Initially, malfunctioning flight-control systems and software failure was considered as one of the reasons behind Boeing 737 MAX crash. On the other hand, it is seen that due to having and consideration of inadequate engineering standards by the execution team of Boeing, system, or software failure issues have been generated. A news report published in 2021 underlines Boeing admitted their faults and investigators identified that instead of providing appropriate training and information to the pilot of Boeing 737 MAX, a new flight-control system was being implemented (Topham, 2021). It is identified that even knowing this fact that pilots were unaware of the new system no proactive measures had been undertaken leading to the severe consequences.


In the context of Boeing’s processes, it is identified that inappropriate process activities have been observed due to which they failed to protect their aircraft from being crashed. Herkert et al. (2020) underline the new flight control system of MAX was associated with design flaws. Along with this, inadequate transparency and monitoring system of Boeing by FAA, specifically for the MAX certification led to the occurrence of the first aircraft crash. In addition to this the author also highlighted that even after the first crash, pilots were not provided with simulation training for MAX 737 which had led to the occurrence of a second crash in 2019.

Overview of Boeing 737 MAX


Risk management gaps have been identified in the context of Boeing’s operational performance due to which they failed to prevent the occurrence of a flight crash the second time. The key reason behind this statement is that the development team of Boeing had knowledge about the system issues in the new flight-control software. However, they did not report concerns to the higher authority or personnel (Johnston and Harris, 2019). On the other hand, Boeing is found to have a lack of independent internal expertise to ensure product safety. Along with this, Boeing is found to be emphasising upon maximising sales rate instead of looking after the product safety. Employee monitoring systems are also found to be ineffective, generating communication gaps that lead to the generation of work discrepancies between the existing engineers and other employees.


The company is required to maintain effective communication and transparency between the ground staff and the team members who are responsible for managing any kind of operational risk. Along with this, Boeing must institute technological capabilities, procedures, and policies to monitor the communication and performance of employees effectively in real-time.


In order to control the product and process quality in the future, incorporation of Six Sigma techniques along with SPC analysis will be required to be adhered.

Quality management plays a significant role for any business entity in terms of defining quality issues, supporting in eliminating unnecessary activities, and improving overall business performance. In the engineering design, quality illustrates that specific products are being developed and designed by ensuring manufacturability, reliability, durability, and performance in accordance with the proposed product criterion. As mentioned by Sodhi (2020), most of the leaders, project team members, designers, or leaders are found to show their concern toward adopting specific strategic approaches or techniques that enhance their chance to maintain predefined product quality by adhering to all the regulatory compliance of product quality. In this context, the concept of Six Sigma quality improvement techniques can be interlinked with the context of improving the product of Boeing 737 MAX.  21

Six-Sigma Methodology

Figure 3: Six-Sigma Methodology

(Source: Sodhi, 2020)

According to Arcidiacono and Pieroni (2018), the Six Sigma methodological approach is found to be widely utilised techniques by most of the business entities as it helps business entities to improve their overall performance efficiency by minimising errors and any kind of process defects. The methodological approach is found to utilise a combination of data analysis and statistical tools such as Kaizen, Root Cause Analysis, Brainstorming, and others. Each of the mentioned techniques supports business entities to maintain product control standards throughout the business operational process in an accurate and systematic manner.

In the context of the Boeing 737 MAX, most of observers believe that the poor quality of MAX was the key reason along with training, construction, and operational challenges that led to the Boeing 737 MAX crash. It is identified that Boeing assured that 737 MAX features were associated with improved engine quality, capacity, reduced consumption of fuel, production speed, and others. Boeing also mentioned that all their production approaches had utilised Six Sigma guidelines to maintain expected level of quality. However, in practice, the company violates crucial aspects, different quality, and safety control as underlined in the Six Sigma guidelines (Enrico et al. 2019).

Reasons Behind Boeing 737 MAX Crashes

For example, Boeing neglected to test the 737 MAX systems accurately and appropriately before its launch, as they wanted to minimise the cost and time for the entire production process. Along with this, pilot training is found to be one of the key activities as highlighted in the Six Sigma rule before launching any product in the real world. Providing information regarding the working principles of specific products like aircraft to the customers and employees is important to ensure the safety and security of the passengers (Guo and Sun, 2019). In the context of 737 MAX, even after installing new software systems to the aircraft, management of Boeing failed to provide guidelines and information regarding the new system due to which pilots failed to take any kind of emergency measure leading to the crashes of the planes.

Appropriate allocation of human resources and time is found to be another key factor of Six Sigma techniques to enhance the chance of obtaining project success by maintaining desired level of quality and reliability. However, in the context of Boeing 737 MAX it is identified that in order to save time. Boeing minimised its budget limits along with human resources due to which the production process of Boeing 737 MAX lacked either suitable human resources or time to execute each of the required production activities. In this regard, it is identified that after incorporating Six Sigma techniques into the production of Boeing, they failed to adhere to all the quality control guidelines that led them to witness severe aircraft crashes between the years 2018 and 2019 respectively (Hannah et al. 2021).

It is identified that mentioned incidents negatively influence upon Boeing’s brand image along with their recognition across the international airline industry. For example, airline companies that were planning or intending to add Boeing 737 MAX by replacing their existing aircraft changed their decision that negatively affected upon the number of orders that Boeing received from the international airline companies (Marion et al. 2021). Therefore, it can be mentioned the lack of focus on the process improvement and quality control measures Boeing had experienced in the identified incident. However, they can improve their engineering and production process with the incorporation of SPC, which is being underlined in the next adjoining section.

Statistical Process Control (SPC) is considered as the analytical tool for the decision-making process for any engineering and manufacturing company. Application of the mentioned tool has the potential to support companies in improving product quality by minimising process variation. As mentioned by Dönmezer (2020), SPC is considered as one of the powerful tools that support managers or team members to identify any kind of complexities and challenges and helps them to minimise those issues by optimising overall process activities. For example, SPC is found to utilise statistical approaches that enable engineers to understand the connectivity with the respective process variable and help them to predict implication of any new approaches and strategies in an appropriate and systematic manner.

In the context of Boeing, it is identified that the organisation fails to train its employees and provide proper guidelines to operate the new system incorporated in 737 MAX. This hindered their chance to gain success after launching the mentioned aircraft and led to the occurrence of two crashes. In this regard, it can be mentioned that in order to minimise such incidents in the future, SPC tools can be beneficial (Hanna et al. 2020). The key reason behind this statement is that quality control is considered as one of the crucial parts of engineering, and maintaining effective quality control helps companies to drive business success and competitiveness. In the context of Boeing, it is identified that the company fails to incorporate appropriate quality management approaches even after implementing Six Sigma technique. Thus, incorporation of SPC along with Six Sigma would help to improve their future work performance and product quality (Girma and Sahu, 2020). Along with this, the mentioned organisation can streamline their overall production process, which enhances their chance of maintaining product reliability that minimises the chance of occurrence of identified incidents systematically.

DMAIC Analysis of Boeing 737 MAX Crashes


In the context of the overall discussion, it can be mentioned that engineering and quality management both are interlinked to each other to generate desired results after developing proposed projects. From the discussion, it is identified that Boeing 737 MAX crashed due to the internal production inability along with design flaws. It is identified that the development team of 737 MAX failed to show the proactive engagement and showed negligence to report even after knowing the system malfunctioned in MAX. DMAIC analysis provides systematic information from which it has been identified the actual reason behind the crash of 737 MAX. Along with this, it is identified that Boeing also violates the guidelines was highlighted in Six Sigma which hinders their chance to maintain the desired level of quality in Boeing 737 MAX. However, it has also been identified that the organisation can improve its future process and product quality by incorporating SPC Six Sigma. 


Arcidiacono, G. and Pieroni, A., 2018. The revolution lean six sigma 4.0. International Journal on Advanced Science, Engineering and Information Technology, 8(1), pp.141-149.

Boeing, 2022. Boeing 737 MAX. [Online]. Available at: <> [Accessed on 27 March 2022]

Chatterjee, R., 2019. Boeing 737 MAX: An Operational Risk Case Study. [Online]. Available at: <> [Accessed on 27 March 2022]

Dahlgaard-Park, S.M., Reyes, L. and Chen, C.K., 2018. The evolution and convergence of total quality management and management theories. Total Quality Management & Business Excellence, 29(9-10), pp.1108-1128.

Dönmezer, S., 2020. Statistical Process Control (SPC) and Quality Management Systems as a Specialty of Quality Management and Case Turkey. European Journal of Engineering and Formal Sciences, 3(1), pp.9-20.

Enrico, Z.I.O., Mengfei, F.A.N., Zhiguo, Z.E.N.G. and Rui, K.A.N.G., 2019. Application of reliability technologies in civil aviation: Lessons learnt and perspectives. Chinese Journal of Aeronautics, 32(1), pp.143-158.

Girma, D. and Sahu, O., 2020. Improving Process Performance of Cotton Spinning by Using Statistical Process Control Techniques. Research Journal of Textile and Leather, 1(1), pp.15-22.

Guo, Y. and Sun, Y., 2019, July. Human reliability quantification in flight through a simplified CREAM method. In International Conference on Applied Human Factors and Ergonomics (pp. 762-773). Springer, Cham.

Hanna, M.D., Pons, D. and Pulakanam, V., 2020. What is the role of expert intuition in process control?. International Journal of Productivity and Quality Management, 31(2), pp.227-243.

Hannah, J., Mills, R., Dill, R. and Hodson, D., 2021. Traffic collision avoidance system: false injection viability. The Journal of Supercomputing, 77(11), pp.12666-12689.

Herkert, J., Borenstein, J. and Miller, K., 2020. The Boeing 737 MAX: Lessons for engineering ethics. Science and engineering ethics, 26(6), pp.2957-2974.

Johnston, P. and Harris, R., 2019. The Boeing 737 MAX saga: lessons for software organizations. Software Quality Professional, 21(3), pp.4-12.

Lim, J.S., 2019. Quality management in engineering: A scientific and systematic approach. Boca Raton: CRC Press.

Malik, A., 2019. Creating competitive advantage through source basic capital strategic humanity in the industrial age 4.0. International Research Journal of Advanced Engineering and Science, 4(1), pp.209-215.

Marion, J.W., Richardson, T.M. and Anantatmula, V., 2021. Managing Quality in Aviation Projects. Engineering Management Journal, pp.1-13.

Sm?tkowska, M. and Mrugalska, B., 2018. Using Six Sigma DMAIC to improve the quality of the production process: a case study. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 238, pp.590-596.

Sodhi, H., 2020. When Industry 4.0 meets lean six sigma: a review. Industrial Engineering Journal, 13(1), pp.1-12.

Topham, G., 2021. Boeing admits full responsibility for 737 Max plane crash in Ethiopia [Online]. Available at: <> [Accessed on 27 March 2022]

Wittig, S., 2021. Transatlantic Trade Dispute: Solution for Airbus-Boeing Under Biden?. Intereconomics, 56(1), pp.23-31.

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