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Online Research suggests Boeing Will Face A Skeptical Flying Public When It Fixes the 737 Max Jets

 

Key Findings

  • The vast majority (77%) of travelers have been following the 737 Max story at least a good amount.
  • Nearly 9 in 10 (89%) think the jets were properly grounded, and most think they were grounded fast enough (59%)
  • Nonetheless there is concern that Boeing is too close to the FAA (60%) and 2 in 5 think the FAA did not do an adequate job when it initially certified the jet for flight.
  • Travelers are divided on whether the 737 Max jets can be fixed with software updates (48%) and better training or if they should be scrapped (41%).
  • Travelers are most apt to blame software (50%) for the problems with the 737 Max jets suggesting that software fixes may be enough to convince much of the flying public that the jet is safe.
  • 2 in 3 would fly on a fixed version of the 737 Max jets, but a majority would choose another airline (61%) or pay 25% more (55%) to avoid them.
  • Over 4 in 5 (82%) think Boeing should reimburse the airlines for the costs associated with the grounding.

 

  Mean Median
How many trips do you take via airplane each year? 7.4 5
How many business trips do you take by airplane each year? 4.5 3
How many personal trips do you take by airplane each year? 4.7 4

 

Frequent travelers like to travel by airplane and car over trains and especially buses.

 

How much do you like to travel via each of the following modes of transportation? Airplane Car Train Bus
Like a great deal 57% 52% 31% 16%
Like a good amount 27% 30% 28% 21%
Like some 11% 14% 28% 23%
Do not like very much 3% 3% 8% 25%
Do not like at all 2% 1% 5% 15%

 

While all modes of transportation are viewed as safe, cars and buses are less likely to be seen as completely safe than planes and trains.

 

How safe are each of the following modes of transportation? Airplane Train Car Bus
Completely safe 42% 40% 30% 27%
Mostly safe 53% 54% 62% 59%
Mostly unsafe 4% 6% 7% 12%
Completely unsafe 1% 0% 1% 3%

 

With automobiles, travelers are most concerned that bad driving leads to accidents.

 

How concerned are you about each of the following causes of automobile accidents? Human error Faulty maintenance Poor vehicle design Poor manufacturing Terrorism/ deliberate

sabotage

Lack of maintenance Software design/ malfunction
Extremely concerned 53% 32% 23% 29% 29% 28% 23%
Very concerned 26% 27% 27% 22% 21% 31% 24%
Somewhat concerned 18% 31% 33% 31% 23% 31% 35%
Not concerned 3% 11% 17% 18% 27% 10% 17%

 

With airplanes, there is little differentiation as all of the concerns tested were extremely concerning to between 3 and 4 in 10 respondents.

 

How concerned are you about each of the following causes of airplane accidents? Lack of maintenance Terrorism/ deliberate

sabotage

Faulty maintenance Software design/ malfunction Pilot error Poor airplane design Poor manufacturing
Extremely concerned 38% 37% 36% 34% 34% 33% 30%
Very concerned 29% 22% 27% 30% 21% 25% 29%
Somewhat concerned 21% 29% 29% 24% 29% 25% 28%
Not concerned 12% 13% 8% 11% 15% 17% 14%

 

News of the 737 Max jets is top of mind for respondents.

 

How much have you heard or read about the problems with the Boeing 737 Max jets? Total
A great deal 41%
A good amount 36%
Some 11%
Not very much 8%
Nothing at all 4%

 

Software issues and poor airplane design are considered the top two causes of the crashes.

 

What do you think caused the two crashes of the 737 Max jets? Total
Software design/malfunction 50%
Poor airplane design 31%
Faulty maintenance 29%
Poor manufacturing 28%
Lack of maintenance 24%
Pilot error 21%
Terrorism/deliberate sabotage 12%
Other 6%

 

Travelers overwhelmingly believe the right decision was made to ground the 737 Max jets.

 

Do you think the authorities made the right decision to ground the 737 Max jets until the problem is solved? Total
Yes 89%
No 7%
Don’t Know 4%

 

Nearly 3 in 5 think the FAA grounded the jets quickly enough.

 

Do you think the FAA grounded the jets quickly enough in the United States? Total
Yes, quickly enough 59%
No, not quickly enough 32%
Don’t Know 9%

 

There is a sharp divide among travelers as to whether the 737 Max jets need to be scrapped. A narrow plurality believes the 737 Max can be fixed with updated software and better pilot training.

 

Which is closer to your view about the safety problems with the 737 Max jets? Total
They can be fixed with updated software and better pilot training 48%
The airplane must be scrapped due to fundamental problems with its design 41%
Don’t Know 11%

 

Travelers are also mixed on whether the FAA did a thorough enough job in originally certifying the planes to fly.

 

Do you think the FAA did a thorough enough job overseeing the certification of the 737 Max airplanes? Total
Yes 46%
No 40%
Don’t Know 14%

 

A majority of travelers think Boeing has too much influence over the FAA.

 

Do you think Boeing has too much influence over the FAA? Total
Yes 60%
No 28%
Don’t Know 12%

 

2 in 3 would be willing to fly a 737 Max after its been fixed.

 

Would you be willing to fly on a 737 Max jet after Boeing has fixed the problems with it? Total
Yes 66%
No 34%

 

The median length of time travelers think the fixes to the 737 Max jets should be tested is a quarter of the year.

 

How long should Boeing be required to test fixes to the 737 Max jets before it can be flown as normal again? Total
A day 14%
A week 11%
A month 20%
A quarter 20%
A year 16%
Two years 5%
More than two years 6%
It should never be allowed to fly again 7%

 

Despite a willingness by 2 in 3 to fly a fixed 737 Max jet, 3 in 5 would switch flights to avoid flying on one.  Nearly as many would pay 25% more to avoid flying on a 737 Max.

After the plane is fixed and considered safe, would you switch flights or airlines if it meant that you would not have to fly on a 737 Max airplane? Total
Yes 61%
No 39%

 

After the plane is fixed and considered safe, would you pay 25% more for your flight if it meant that you would not have to fly on a 737 Max airplane? Total
Yes 55%
No 45%

 

Travelers are more likely to trust the pilot’s union, the NTSB, FAA and the Airlines with their safety than Boeing, the Trump Administration or Congress.

 

How much do you trust each of the following to determine whether the fixes to the Boeing 737 Max make it safe to fly? The pilot’s union The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Airlines (e.g. American, United, Southwest) The Trump Administration Boeing Congress
Completely trust 33% 32% 30% 29% 25% 22% 21%
Mostly trust 34% 33% 30% 36% 22% 30% 23%
Somewhat trust 22% 26% 29% 26% 16% 28% 28%
Do not trust 11% 9% 10% 9% 37% 20% 28%

 

Travelers think Boeing should reimburse the airlines for the loss of use of their existing jets.

 

Should Boeing be required to reimburse airlines for not being able to use existing 737 Max jets? Total
Yes 82%
No 18%

 

Ovation MR conducted 221 interviews with flyers who take at least 4 trips by airplane each year with at least 2 of them being business trips.

Andrew Ribner is Chief Research Officer at OvationMR and is responsible for Online Panel and Online Sample Data Quality. He also consults with clients on sampling design for various types of online research campaigns and political polling. Andrew can be reached at andrew.ribner@ovationmr.com

To learn more about OvationMR Business Traveler Panel solutions or our other Online Sampling and our online methodology for ensuring your success you can visit Panel Quality & Recruitment or Download 2019 PanelBook and/or contact us at info@ovationmr.com

 

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