Downfall: The Case Against Boeing review – heartbreaking investigation into the Boeing disasters

February 18, 2022
Romey Norton 1
Apple TV+, Film Reviews, Streaming Service


Boeing had a reputation of being one of the safest in aviation until two of its aircraft crashed within five months of each other with a loss of 364 lives.

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Boeing had a reputation of being one of the safest in aviation until two of its aircraft crashed within five months of each other with a loss of 364 lives.

Netflix documentary Downfall: The Case Against Boeing was released on the streaming service on February 18, 2022. 

Do you remember the flight crashes in 2018 and 2019? I certainly do. Netflix has released the documentary Downfall: The Case Against Boeing, where two plane crashes cost the lives of 346 people in the space of 5 months.

This documentary investigates the how’s and the why’s of what happened, and how these awful circumstances affected families all around the world. Grieving families opened a case against Boeing after feeling neglected and without answers. This documentary features interviews with family members from the victims, aviation experts and analysts, journalists, and pilots. All cockpit recordings used are based on actual transcripts. All of this adds to a very detailed investigation and explanation of the events, along with the evocative emotions from the still-grieving families.

The documentary opens with scenes of a busy airport, a situation many of us have been in and will be in, with commentary about how Boeing flights in 2018 were determined to be the safest in aviation history.

Later in 2018 in Indonesia, flight 610 with Zion Air carrying 189 people crashed suddenly after take-off. As these were brand new planes there was a blame game on who was at fault. Clearly, due to their reputation, no one thought it was the plane, and instead tried to blame the pilots and their lack of training. Planes have systems called Black Boxes which record data of the flights, finding these was imperative to deciphering what happened on these flights. These are found, which give evidence that the fault is with the aircraft.

The FAA wouldn’t ground the aircraft after the first crash, insisting the planes were safe. The second crash happened only 19 weeks after in Ethiopia, flight 302. The FAA still refused to ground the aircraft, and it was only due to the pressure of other countries around the world grounding their aircraft that President Trump made the statement that the flights would be grounded until further notice. Basically, the Boeing business sent out cheaply tweaked old designs to compete with their rivals. Shortcuts happened, money-saving techniques cost lives.

The documentary explores the amazing engineering of aircraft through history, the slow build of Boeing, and how they became a main power force in the aviation industry. With the case against them, FAA’s involvement does feel downplayed, but there is a great balance between learning about the airline and aviation and the tragedies and the victims.

After being difficult to deal with and ignoring the victims, in January 2021 Boeing agreed to pay $2.5bn in fines and compensation to avoid criminal prosecution. This documentary is interesting, eye-opening, and heart-breaking. I highly recommend it if you’re interested in aviation, and if you’re interested in investigative documentaries. At 90 minutes, this documentary isn’t a slow burner or cram-packed with information. There is a great pace, so you take in what is being said and explained, before moving on. Defiantly worth the watch.

What did you think of the Netflix documentary Downfall: The Case Against Boeing? Comment below.

You can watch this documentary with a subscription to Netflix.