Psychological safety in aviation new product development teams: Case study of 737 max airplane

Michael Naor*, Nicole Adler, Gavriel David Pinto, Alon Dumanis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


The goal of current study is to discern the antecedents of two airplane accidents involving the Boeing MAX 737. The theory of normal accidents serves as a lens to comprehend the hazard stemming from MAX design with dissonance between two critical systems: engine propulsion and flight control. Cooper’s framework further delineates lack of psychological safety during prototype development from the project’s inception along six dimensions: management/supervision, safety systems, risk, work pressure, competence, and procedures/rules. The analysis indicates dearth of leadership commitment for a safety culture under time pressure and budget constraint. Our results corroborate the paramount importance of the pilot’s extensive simulator training in order to test the interaction between the innovative Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System and human behavior response time. Lessons gleaned from the study include three insights. First, the importance of meticulously testing a prototype during the new product development stage and the hazard stemming from improvisation to extend the life of outdated engineering design. Second, the necessity of regulatory authorities, such as the Federal Aviation Administration, undergoing a modernization process by invigorating their ranks with data scientists attuned to 21st century skills in big data analytics. Third, FAA should diminish the delegation of self-certified permits to manufacturers.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number8994
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number21
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Artificial intelligence
  • Aviation safety
  • Cooper’s culture framework
  • Organizational culture
  • Psychological safety


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