Boeing Crapification: Second 737 Max Plane Within Five Months Crashes Just After Takeoff

By Jerri-Lynn Scofield, who has worked as a securities lawyer and a derivatives trader. She is currently writing a book about textile artisans.

Yesterday, an Ethiopian Airlines flight crashed minutes after takeoff, killing all 157 passengers on board.

The crash occurred  less than five months after a Lion Air jet crashed near Jakarta, Indonesia, also shortly after takeoff, and killed all 189 passengers.

Both jets were Boeing’s latest 737 Max 8 model.

The Wall Street Journal reports in Ethiopian Crash Carries High Stakes for Boeing, Growing African Airline:

The state-owned airline is among the early operators of Boeing’s new 737 MAX single-aisle workhorse aircraft, which has been delivered to carriers around the world since 2017. The 737 MAX represents about two-thirds of Boeing’s future deliveries and an estimated 40% of its profits, according to analysts.

Having delivered 350 of the 737 MAX planes as of January, Boeing has booked orders for about 5,000 more, many to airlines in fast-growing emerging markets around the world.

The voice and data recorders for the doomed flight have already been recovered, the New York Times reported in Ethiopian Airline Crash Updates: Data and Voice Recorders Recovered. Investigators will soon be able to determine whether the same factors that caused the Lion Air crash also caused the latest Ethiopian Airlines tragedy.

Boeing, Crapification, Two 737 Max Crashes Within Five Months

Yves wrote a post in November, Boeing, Crapification, and the Lion Air Crash, analyzing a devastating Wall Street Journal report on that earlier crash. I will not repeat the details of  her post here, but instead encourage interested readers to read it iin full.

The key point I want to pick up on from that earlier post is this: the Boeing 737 Max includes a new “safety” feature  about which the company failed to inform the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). As Yves wrote:

The short version of the story is that Boeing had implemented a new “safety” feature that operated even when its plane was being flown manually, that if it went into a stall, it would lower the nose suddenly to pick airspeed and fly normally again. However, Boeing didn’t tell its buyers or even the FAA about this new goodie. It wasn’t in pilot training or even the manuals. But even worse, this new control could force the nose down so far that it would be impossible not to crash the plane. And no, I am not making this up. From the Wall Street Journal:

Boeing Co. withheld information about potential hazards associated with a new flight-control feature suspected of playing a role in last month’s fatal Lion Air jet crash, according to safety experts involved in the investigation, as well as midlevel FAA officials and airline pilots.

The automated stall-prevention system on Boeing 737 MAX 8 and MAX 9 models—intended to help cockpit crews avoid mistakenly raising a plane’s nose dangerously high—under unusual conditions can push it down unexpectedly and so strongly that flight crews can’t pull it back up. Such a scenario, Boeing told airlines in a world-wide safety bulletin roughly a week after the accident, can result in a steep dive or crash—even if pilots are manually flying the jetliner and don’t expect flight-control computers to kick in.

Notice that phrase: “under unusual conditions”. Seems now that the pilots of two of these jets may have encountered such unusual conditions since October.

Why did Boeing neglect to tell the FAA – or, for that matter, other airlines or regulatory authorities – about the changes to the 737 Max?

Well, the airline marketed the new jet as not needing pilots to undergo any additional training in order to fly it.

I see.

Why Were 737 Max Jets Still in Service?

Today, Boeing executives no doubt rue not pulling all 737 Max 8 jets out of service after the October Lion Air crash, to allow their engineers and engineering safety regulators to make necessary changes in the ‘plane’s design or to develop new training protocols.  In addition to considerable potential huge legal liability, from both the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines crashes, Boeing also faces the commercial consequences of grounding some if not all 737 Max 8 ‘planes currently in service – temporarily? indefinitely? -and loss or at minimum delay of all future sales of this aircraft model.

Over to Yves again, who in her November post cut to the crux:

And why haven’t the planes been taken out of service? As one Wall Street Journal reader put it:

If this tragedy had happened on an aircraft of another manufacturer other than big Boeing, the fleet would already have been grounded by the FAA. The arrogance of engineers both at Airbus and Boeing, who refuse to give the pilots easy means to regain immediate and full authority over the plane (pitch and power) is just appalling. Accident and incident records abound where the automation has been a major contributing factor or precursor. Knowing our friends at Boeing, it is highly probable that they will steer the investigation towards maintenance deficiencies as primary cause of the accident…

In the wake of the Ethiopian Airlines crash, other countries have not waited for the FAA to act. China and Indonesia, as well as Ethiopian Airlines and Cayman Airways, have grounded flights of all Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft, the Guardian reported in Ethiopian Airlines crash: Boeing faces safety questions over 737 Max 8 jets. The FT has called the Chinese and Indonesian actions an “unparalleled flight ban” (see China and Indonesia ground Boeing 737 Max 8 jets after latest crash). India’s air regulator has also issued new rules covering flights of the 737 Max aircraft, requiring pilots to have a minimum of 1,000 hours experience to fly these ‘planes, according to a report in the Economic Times, DGCA issues additional safety instructions for flying B737 MAX planes.

Future of Boeing?

The commercial consequences of grounding the 737 Max in China alone are significant, according to this CNN account, Why grounding 737 MAX jets is a big deal for Boeing. The 737 Max is Boeing’s most important plane; China is also the company’s major market:

“A suspension in China is very significant, as this is a major market for Boeing,” said Greg Waldron, Asia managing editor at aviation research firm FlightGlobal.

Boeing has predicted that China will soon become the world’s first trillion-dollar market for jets. By 2037, Boeing estimates China will need 7,690 commercial jets to meet its travel demands.

Airbus (EADSF) and Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China, or Comac, are vying with Boeing for the vast and rapidly growing Chinese market.

Comac’s first plane, designed to compete with the single-aisle Boeing 737 MAX and Airbus A320, made its first test flight in 2017. It is not yet ready for commercial service, but Boeing can’t afford any missteps.

Boeing has made significant inroads in China with its 737 MAX family. A dozen Chinese airlines have ordered 180 of the planes, and 76 of them have been delivered, according Boeing. About 85% of Boeing’s unfilled Chinese airline orders are for 737 MAX planes.

The 737 has been Boeing’s bestselling product for decades. The company’s future depends on the success the 737 MAX, the newest version of the jet. Boeing has 4,700 unfilled orders for 737s, representing 80% of Boeing’s orders backlog. Virtually all 737 orders are for MAX versions.

As of the time of posting, US airlines have yet to ground their 737 Max 8 fleets. American Airlines, Alaska Air, Southwest Airlines, and United Airlines have ordered a combined 548 of the new 737 jets, of which 65 have been delivered, according to CNN.

Legal Liability?

Prior to Sunday’s Ethiopian Airlines crash, Boeing already faced considerable potential legal liability for the October Lion Air crash. Just last Thursday, the Hermann Law Group of personal injury lawyers filed suit against Boeing on behalf of the families of 17 Indonesian passengers who died in that  crash.

The Families of Lion Air Crash File Lawsuit Against Boeing – News Release  did not mince words;

“It’s pretty asinine for them to put a system on an airplane and not tell the pilots who are operating the airplane, especially when it deals with flight controls,” Captain Mike Michaelis, chairman of the safety committee for the Allied Pilots Association, told the Wall Street Journal.

The president of the pilots union at Southwest Airlines, Jon Weaks, said, “We’re pissed that Boeing didn’t tell the companies, and the pilots didn’t get notice.”

The aircraft company concealed the new system and minimized the differences between the MAX and other versions of the 737 to boost sales. On the Boeing website, the company claims that airlines can save “millions of dollars” by purchasing the new plane “because of its commonality” with previous versions of the plane.

“Years of experience representing hundreds of victims has revealed a common thread through most air disaster cases,” said Charles Herrmann the principle of Herrmann Law. “Generating profit in a fiercely competitive market too often involves cutting safety measures. In this case, Boeing cut training and completely eliminated instructions and warnings on a new system. Pilots didn’t even know it existed. I can’t blame so many pilots for being mad as hell.”

Additionally, the complaint alleges the United States Federal Aviation Administration is partially culpable for negligently certifying Boeing’s Air Flight Manual without requiring adequate instruction and training on the new system. Canadian and Brazilian authorities did require additional training.

What’s Next?

The consequences for Boeing could be serious and will depend on what the flight and voice data recorders reveal. I also am curious as to what additional flight training or instructions, if any, the Ethiopian Airlines pilots received, either before or after the Lion Air crash, whether from Boeing, an air safety regulator, or any other source.

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  1. el_tel

    Of course we shouldn’t engage in speculation….but we will anyway ’cause we’re human. If fly-by-wire and the ability of software to over-ride pilots are indeed implicated in the 737 Max 8 then you can bet the Airbus cheer-leaders on youtube videos will engage in huge Schaudenfreude.

    I really shouldn’t even look at comments to youtube videos – it’s bad for my blood pressure. But I occasionally dip into the swamp on ones in areas like airlines. Of course – as you’d expect – you get a large amount of “flag waving” between Europeans and Americans. But the level of hatred and suspiciously similar comments by the “if it ain’t Boeing I ain’t going” brigade struck me as in a whole new league long before the “SJW” troll wars regarding things like Captain Marvel etc of today. The Air France Airbus disaster was jumped on – Boeing’s traditional hydraulic links between the sticks for the two pilots ensuring they move in tandem; the supposed comments by Captain Sully that the Airbus software didn’t allow him to hit the water at the optimal angle he wanted, causing the rear rupture in the fuselage…both showed the inferiority of fly-by-wire….until Boeing started using it too. (Sully has taken issue with the book making the above point and concludes fly-by-wire is a “mixed blessing”.)

    I’m going to try to steer clear of my youtube channels on airlines….hopefully NC will continue to provide the real evidence as it emerges as to what’s been going on here.

    1. Monty

      Re SJW troll wars.

      It is really disheartening how an idea as reasonable as “a just society” has been so thoroughly discredited among a large swath of the population.

      No wonder there is such a wide interest in primitive construction and technology on YouTube. This society is very sick and it is nice to pretend there is a way to opt out.

    2. none

      The version I heard (today, on Reddit) was “if it’s Boeing, I’m not going”. Hadn’t seen the opposite version to just now.

      1. albert

        Indeed. The NTSB usually works with local investigation teams (as well as a manufacturers rep) if the manufacturer is located in the US, or if specifically requested by the local authorities. I’d like to see their report. I don’t care what the FAA or Boeing says about it.
        . .. . .. — ….

    1. notabanker

      Contains a link to a Seattle Times report as a “comprehensive wrap”:
      Speaking before China’s announcement, Cox, who previously served as the top safety official for the Air Line Pilots Association, said it’s premature to think of grounding the 737 MAX fleet.

      “We don’t know anything yet. We don’t have close to sufficient information to consider grounding the planes,” he said. “That would create economic pressure on a number of the airlines that’s unjustified at this point.

      China has grounded them. US? Must not create undue economic pressure on the airlines. Right there in black and white. Money over people.

      1. Joey

        I just emailed southwest about an upcoming flight asking about my choices for refusal to board MAX 8/9 planes based on this”feature”. I expect pro forma policy recitation, but customer pressure could trump to big to fail carpet sweeping. I hope.

        1. Thuto

          We got the “safety of our customers is our top priority and we are remaining vigilant and are in touch with Boeing and the Civial Aviation Authority on this matter but will not be grounding the aircraft model until further information on the crash becomes available” speech from a local airline here in South Africa. It didn’t take half a day for customer pressure to effect a swift reversal of that blatant disregard for their “top priority”, the model is grounded so yeah, customer muscle flexing will do it…

        2. Jessica

          On PPRUNE.ORG (where a lot of pilots hang out), they reported that after the Lion Air crash, Southwest added an extra display (to indicate when the two angle of attack sensors were disagreeing with each other) that the folks on PPRUNE thought was an extremely good idea and effective.
          Of course, if the Ethiopian crash was due to something different from the Lion Air crash, that extra display on the Southwest planes may not make any difference.

          1. JerryDenim

            “On PPRUNE.ORG (where a lot of pilots hang out)”

            Take those comments with a large dose of salt. Not to say everyone commenting on PPRUNE and sites like PPRUNE are posers, but is where a lot of wanna-be pilots and guys that spend a lot of time in basements playing flight simulator games hang out. The “real pilots” on PPRUNE are more frequently of the aspiring airline pilot type that fly smaller, piston-powered planes.

  2. Altandmain

    We will have to wait and see what the final investigation reveals. However this does not look good for Boeing at all.

    The Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) system was implicated in the Lion Air crash. There have been a lot of complaints about the system on many of the pilot forums, suggesting at least anecdotally that there are issues. It is highly suspected that the MCAS system is responsible for this crash too.

    Keep in mind that Ethiopian Airlines is a pretty well-known and regarded airline. This is not a cut rate airline we are talking about.

    At this point, all we can do is to wait for the investigation results.

    1. d

      one other minor thing. you remember that shut down? seems that would have delayed any updates from Boeing. seems thats one of the things the pilots pointed out when it shutdown was in progress

  3. WestcoastDeplorable

    What really is the icing on this cake is the fact the new, larger engines on the “Max” changed the center of gravity of the plane and made it unstable. From what I’ve read on aviation blogs, this is highly unusual for a commercial passenger jet. Boeing then created the new “safety” feature which makes the plane fly nose down to avoid a stall. But of course garbage in, garbage out on sensors (remember AF447 which stalled right into the S. Atlantic?).
    It’s all politics anyway….if Boeing had been forthcoming about the “Max” it would have required additional pilot training to certify pilots to fly the airliner. They didn’t and now another 189 passengers are D.O.A.
    I wouldn’t fly on one and wouldn’t let family do so either.

    1. Carey

      If I have read correctly, the MCAS system (not known of by pilots until after the Lion Air crash) is reliant on a single Angle of Attack sensor, without redundancy (!). It’s too early
      to say if MCAS was an issue in the crashes, I guess, but this does not look good.

      1. Jessica

        If it was some other issue with the plane, that will be almost worse for Boeing. Two crash-causing flaws would require grounding all of the planes, suspending production, then doing some kind of severe testing or other to make sure that there isn’t a third flaw waiting to show up.

      2. vomkammer

        If MCAS relies only on one Angle of Attack (AoA) sensor, then it might have been an error in the system design an the safety assessment, from which Boeing may be liable.

        It appears that a failure of the AoA can produce an unannuntiated erroneous pitch trim:
        a) If the pilots had proper traning and awareness, this event would “only” increase their workload,
        b) But for an unaware or untrained pilot, the event would impair its ability to fly and introduce excessive workload.

        The difference is important, because according to standard civil aviation safety assessment (see for instance EASA AMC 25.1309 Ch. 7), the case a) should be classified as “Major” failure, whereas b) should be classified as “Hazardous”. “Hazardous” failures are required to have much lower probability, which means MCAS needs two AoA sensors.

        In summary: a safe MCAS would need either a second AoA or pilot training. It seems that it had neither.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      What are the ways an ignorant lay air traveler can find out about whether a particular airline has these new-type Boeing 737 MAXes in its fleet? What are the ways an ignorant air traveler can find out which airlines do not have ANY of these airplanes in their fleet?

      What are the ways an ignorant air traveler can find out ahead of time, when still planning herm’s trip, which flights use a 737 MAX as against some other kind of plane?

      The only way the flying public could possibly torture the airlines into grounding these planes until it is safe to de-ground them is a total all-encompassing “fearcott” against this airplane all around the world. Only if the airlines in the “go ahead and fly it” countries sell zero seats, without exception, on every single 737 MAX plane that flies, will the airlines themselves take them out of service till the issues are resolved.

      Hence my asking how people who wish to save their own lives from future accidents can tell when and where they might be exposed to the risk of boarding a Boeing 737 MAX plane.

      1. Carey

        Should be in your flight info, if not, contact the airline. I’m not getting on a 737 MAX.

      2. pau llauter

        Look up the flight on Seatguru. Generally tells type of aircraft. Of course, airlines do change them, too.

      3. Old Jake

        Stop flying. Your employer requires it? Tell’em where to get off. There are alternatives. The alternatives are less polluting and have lower climate impact also. Yes, this is a hard pill to swallow. No, I don’t travel for employment any more, I telecommute. I used to enjoy flying, but I avoid it like plague any more. Crapification.

    3. Darius

      Additional training won’t do. If they wanted larger engines, they needed a different plane. Changing to an unstable center of gravity and compensating for it with new software sounds like a joke except for the hundreds of victims. I’m not getting on that plane.

  4. Joe Well

    Has there been any study of crapification as a broad social phenomenon? When I Google the word I only get links to NC and sites that reference NC. And yet, this seems like one of the guiding concepts to understand our present world (the crapification of UK media and civil service go a long way towards understanding Brexit, for instance).

    I mean, my first thought is, why would Boeing commit corporate self-harm for the sake of a single bullet in sales materials (requires no pilot retraining!). And the answer, of course, is crapification: the people calling the shots don’t know what they’re doing.

    1. Alfred

      Google Books finds the word “crapification” quoted (from a 2004) in a work of literary criticism published in 2008 (Literature, Science and a New Humanities, by J. Gottschall). From 2013 it finds the following in a book by Edward Keenan, Some Great Idea: “Policy-wise, it represented a shift in momentum, a slowing down of the childish, intentional crapification of the city… .” So there the word appears clearly in the sense understood by regular readers here (along with an admission that crapfication can be intentional and not just inadvertent). To illustrate that sense, Google Books finds the word used in Misfit Toymakers, by Keith T. Jenkins (2014): “We had been to the restaurant and we had water to drink, because after the takeover’s, all of the soda makers were brought to ruination by the total crapification of their product, by government management.” But almost twenty years earlier the word “crapification” had occurred in a comic strip published in New York Magazine (29 January 1996, p. 100): “Instant crapification! It’s the perfect metaphor for the mirror on the soul of America!” The word has been used on television. On 5 January 2010 a sketch subtitled “Night of Terror – The Crapification of the American Pant-scape” ran on The Colbert Report per: . Searching the internet, Google results do indeed show many instances of the word “crapification” on NC, or quoted elsewhere from NC posts. But the same results show it used on many blogs since ca. 2010. Here, at , is a recent example that comments on the word’s popularization: “I stole that word, “crapification,” from my friend Michael Fiorillo, but I’m fairly certain he stole it from someone else. In any case, I think it applies to our new online attendance system.” A comment here, , recognizes NC to have been a vector of the word’s increasing usage. Googling shows that there have been numerous instances of the verb “crapify” used in computer-programming contexts, from at least as early as 2006. Google Books finds the word “crapified” used in a novel, Sonic Butler, by James Greve (2004). The derivation, “de-crapify,” is also attested. “Crapify” was suggested to Merriam-Webster in 2007 per: . At that time the suggested definition was, “To make situations/things bad.” The verb was posted to Urban Dictionary in 2003: . The earliest serious discussion I could quickly find on crapificatjon as a phenomenon was from 2009 at . I have found only two attempts to elucidate the causes of crapification: (an essay on undershirts) and (a comment on refrigerators). This essay deals with the mechanics of job crapification: (relating it to de-skilling). An apparent Americanism, “crapification” has recently been ‘translated’ into French: “Mon bled est en pleine urbanisation, comprends : en pleine emmerdisation” [somewhat literally — My hole in the road is in the midst of development, meaning: in the midst of crapification]: Interestingly, perhaps, a comprehensive search of yields “No results for crapification.”

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      This seems more like a specific bussiness conspiracy than like general crapification. This isn’t ” they just don’t make them like they used to”. This is like Ford deliberately selling the Crash and Burn Pinto with its special explode-on-impact gas-tank feature

      Maybe some Trump-style insults should be crafted for this plane so they can get memed-up and travel faster than Boeing’s ability to manage the story. Epithets like ” the new Boeing crash-a-matic dive-liner
      with nose-to-the-ground pilot-override autocrash built into every plane.” It seems unfair, but life and safety should come before fairness, and that will only happen if a world wide wave of fear MAKES it happen.

    3. JerryDenim

      I think crapification is the end result of a self-serving belief in the unfailing goodness and superiority of Ivy faux-meritocracy and the promotion/exaltation of the do-nothing, know-nothing, corporate, revolving-door MBA’s and Psych-major HR types over people with many years of both company and industry experience who also have excellent professional track records. The latter group was the group in charge of major corporations and big decisions in the ‘good old days’, now it’s the former. These morally bankrupt people and their vapid, self-righteous culture of PR first, management science second, and what-the-hell-else-matters anyway, are the prime drivers of crapification. Read the bio of an old-school celebrated CEO like Gordon Bethune (Continental CEO with corporate experience at Boeing) who skipped college altogether and joined the Navy at 17, and ask yourself how many people like that are in corporate board rooms today? I’m not saying going back to a ‘Good Ole Boy’s Club’ is the best model of corporate governnace either but at least people like Bethune didn’t think they were too good to mix with their fellow employees, understood leadership, the consequences of bullshit, and what ‘The buck stops here’ thing was really about. Corporate types today sadly believe their own propaganda, and when their fraudulent schemes, can-kicking, and head-in-the sand strategies inevitably blow up in their faces, they accept no blame and fail upwards to another posh corporate job or a nice golden parachute. The wrong people are in charge almost everywhere these days, hence crapification. Bad incentives, zero white collar crime enforcement, self-replicating board rooms, group-think, begets toxic corporate culture, which equals crapification.

      1. MyraCoolBlue

        The phenomena is known as Peter Pan syndrome. The worse one screws up, the higher he will go in the tank and file. Oops, I mean rank….

  5. VietnamVet

    As a son of a deceased former Boeing aeronautic engineer, this is tragic. It highlights the problem of financialization, neoliberalism, and lack of corporate responsibility pointed out daily here on NC. The crapification was signaled by the move of the headquarters from Seattle to Chicago and spending billions to build a second 787 line in South Carolina to bust their Unions. Boeing is now an unregulated multinational corporation superior to sovereign nations. However, if the 737 Max crashes have the same cause, this will be hard to whitewash. The design failure of windows on the de Havilland Comet killed the British passenger aircraft business. The EU will keep a discrete silence since manufacturing major airline passenger planes is a duopoly with Airbus. However, China hasn’t (due to the trade war with the USA) even though Boeing is building a new assembly line there. Boeing escaped any blame for the loss of two Malaysian Airline’s 777s. This may be an existential crisis for American aviation. Like a President who denies calling Tim Cook, Tim Apple, or the soft coup ongoing in DC against him, what is really happening globally is not factually reported by corporate media.

    1. Jerry B

      ===Boeing is now an unregulated multinational corporation superior to sovereign nations===

      Susan Strange 101.

      Or more recently Quinn Slobodian’s Globalists: The End of Empire and the Birth of Neoliberalism.

      And the beat goes on.

    2. Synoia

      The design failure of windows on the de Havilland Comet killed the British passenger aircraft business.

      Yes, a misunderstanding the the effect of square windows and 3 dimensional stress cracking.

      1. JBird4049

        The Comet’s window was a tragic misunderstanding; Boeing’s new model is just folly. Why put in a new feature that both lacks redundancy and can override the pilots without telling anyone about? Either put the feature in and go through the process of informing everyone with the added cost or just don’t put it in. People were happy to buy it even when they didn’t know about the “improvement.”

        If I had to guess, I would say that the engineers thought it would a good addition, someone thought to say money by skimping the on the sensors, and some VP thought to save money by not approving the training. Three sets of people who were not talking to each other.

    3. Gary Gray

      Sorry, but ‘sovereign’ nations were always a scam. Nothing than a excuse to build capital markets, which are the underpinning of capitalism. Capital Markets are what control countries and have since the 1700’s. Maybe you should blame the monarchies for selling out to the bankers in the late middle ages. Sovereign nations are just economic units for the bankers, their businesses they finance and nothing more. I guess they figured out after the Great Depression, they would throw a bunch of goodies at “Indo Europeans” face in western europe ,make them decadent and jaded via debt expansion. This goes back to my point about the yellow vests……… me me me me. You reek of it. This stuff with Boeing is all profit based. It could have happened in 2000, 1960 or 1920. It could happen even under state control. Did you love Hitler’s Voltswagon?

      As for the soft coup……….lol you mean Trumps soft coup for his allies in Russia and the Middle East viva la Saudi King!!!!!? Posts like these represent the problem with this board. The materialist over the spiritualist. Its like people who still don’t get some of the biggest supporters of a “GND” are racialists and being somebody who has long run the environmentalist rally game, they are hugely in the game. Yet Progressives completely seem blind to it. The media ignores them for con men like David Duke(who’s ancestry is not clean, no its not) and “Unite the Right”(or as one friend on the environmental circuit told me, Unite the Yahweh apologists) as whats “white”. There is a reason they do this.

      You need to wake up and stop the self-gratification crap. The planet is dying due to mishandlement. Over urbanization, over population, constant need for me over ecosystem. It can only last so long. That is why I like Zombie movies, its Gaia Theory in a nutshell. Good for you Earth……….or Midgard. Which ever you prefer.

      1. Carey

        Your job seems to be to muddy the waters, and I’m sure we’ll be seeing much more of the same; much more.


      2. JBird4049

        I’m confused here.

        Bankers and Kings? With a dose of race based something? And materialists against the spiritualists?

        I’m mainly concerned about not being homeless and paying for my education. For that matter the tens of thousands of street people, and God only knows how many car, van, and RV dwellers we have just in my state. It is hard to worry about the Earth when you are wondering just where you are sleeping next week.

      3. Plenue

        “Sovereign nations are just economic units for the bankers, their businesses they finance and nothing more.”

        Is this psychohistorian, crawling back from the mudpit that is the MoA comment section under a new handle?

    4. JerryDenim

      Spot on comment VietnamVet, a lot of chickens can be seen coming home to roost in this latest Boeing disaster. Remarkable how not many years ago the government could regulate the aviation industry without fear of killing it, since there was more than one aerospace company, not anymore! The scourge of monsopany/monopoly power rears its head and bites in unexpected places.

  6. Ptb

    More detail on the “MCAS” system responsible for the previous Lion Air crash here (

    It says the bigger and repositioned engine, which give the new model its fuel efficiency, and wing angle tweaks needed to fit the engine vs landing gear and clearance,
    change the amount of pitch trim it needs in turns to remain level.

    The auto system was added top neutralize the pitch trim during turns, too make it handle like the old model.

    There is another pitch trim control besides the main “stick”. To deactivate the auto system, this other trim control has to be used, the main controls do not deactivate it (perhaps to prevent it from being unintentionally deactivated, which would be equally bad). If the sensor driving the correction system gives a false reading and the pilot were unaware, there would be seesawing and panic…

    Actually, if this all happened again I would be very surprised. Nobody flying a 737 would not know after the previous crash. Curious what they find.

    1. EoH

      While logical, If your last comment were correct, it should have prevented this most recent crash. It appears that the “seesawing and panic” continue.

      I assume it has now gone beyond the cockpit, and beyond the design, and sales teams and reached the Boeing board room. From there, it is likely to travel to the board rooms of every airline flying this aircraft or thinking of buying one, to their banks and creditors, and to those who buy or recommend their stock. But it may not reach the FAA for some time.

  7. Kimac

    As to what’s next?

    Think, Too Big To Fail.

    Any number of ways will be found to put lipstick on this pig once we recognize the context.

  8. allan

    “Canadian and Brazilian authorities did require additional training” from the quote at the bottom is not
    something I’ve seen before. What did they know and when did they know it?

    1. rd

      They probably just assumed that the changes in the plane from previous 737s were big enough to warrant treating it like a major change requiring training.

      Both countries fly into remote areas with highly variable weather conditions and some rugged terrain.

  9. dcrane

    Re: withholding information from the FAA

    For what it’s worth, the quoted section says that Boeing withheld info about the MCAS from “midlevel FAA officials”, while Jerri-Lynn refers to the FAA as a whole.

    This makes me wonder if top-level FAA people certified the system.

    1. Carey

      See under “regulatory capture”

      Corps run the show, regulators are window-dressing.

      IMO, of course. Of course

      1. allan

        It wasn’t always this way. From 1979:

        DC-10 Type Certificate Lifted [Aviation Week]

        FAA action follows finding of new cracks in pylon aft bulkhead forward flange; crash investigation continues

        Suspension of the McDonnell Douglas DC-10’s type certificate last week followed a separate grounding order from a federal court as government investigators were narrowing the scope of their investigation of the American Airlines DC-10 crash May 25 in Chicago.

        The American DC-10-10, registration No. N110AA, crashed shortly after takeoff from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, killing 259 passengers, 13 crewmembers and three persons on the ground. The 275 fatalities make the crash the worst in U.S. history.

        The controversies surrounding the grounding of the entire U.S. DC-10 fleet and, by extension, many of the DC-10s operated by foreign carriers, by Federal Aviation Administrator Langhorne Bond on the morning of June 6 to revolve around several issues. …

        1. Carey

          Yes, I remember back when the FAA would revoke a type certificate if a plane was a danger to public safety. It wasn’t even that long ago. Now their concern is any threat to Boeing™. There’s a name for that…

          1. Joey

            ‘Worst’ disaster in Chicago would still ground planes. Lucky for Boeing its brown and browner.

  10. Max Peck

    It’s not correct to claim the MCAS was concealed. It’s right in the January 2017 rev of the NG/MAX differences manual.

    1. Carey

      Mmm. Why do the dudes and dudettes *who fly the things* say they knew nothing
      about MCAS? Their training is quite rigorous.

      1. Max Peck

        See a post below for link. I’d have provided it in my original post but was on a phone in an inconvenient place for editing.

      1. marku52

        Leeham news is the best site for info on this. For those of you interested in the tech details got to Bjorns Corner, where he writes about aeronautic design issues.

        I was somewhat horrified to find that modern aircraft flying at near mach speeds have a lot of somewhat pasted on pilot assistances. All of them. None of them fly with nothing but good old stick-and-rudder. Not Airbus (which is actually fully Fly By wire-all pilot inputs got through a computer) and not Boeing, which is somewhat less so.

        This latest “solution came about becuse the larger engines (and nacelles) fitted on the Max increased lift ahead of the center of gravity in a pitchup situation, which was destabilizing. The MCAS uses inputs from air speed and angle of attack sensors to put a pitch down input to the horizonatal stablisizer.

        A faluty AofA sensor lead to Lion Air’s Max pushing the nose down against the pilots efforts all the way into the sea.

        This is the best backgrounder…

  11. The Rev Kev

    One guy said last night on TV that Boeing had eight years of back orders for this aircraft so you had better believe that this crash will be studied furiously. Saw a picture of the crash site and it looks like it augured in almost straight down. There seems to be a large hole and the wreckage is not strew over that much area. I understand that they were digging out the cockpit as it was underground. Strange that.

    1. EoH

      Suggestive of a high-speed, nose-first impact. Not the angle of attack a pilot would ordinarily choose.

    1. Carey

      Looks like, for now, we’re stuck between your “in no way hidden”, and numerous 737 pilots’ claims on various online aviation boards that they knew nothing about MCAS. Lots of money involved, so very cloudy weather expected. For now I’ll stick with the pilots.

      1. Alex V

        To the best of my understanding and reading on the subject, the system was well documented in the Boeing technical manuals, but not in the pilots’ manuals, where it was only briefly mentioned, at best, and not by all airlines. I’m not an airline pilot, but from what I’ve read, airlines often write their own additional operators manuals for aircraft models they fly, so it was up to them to decide the depth of documentation. These are in theory sufficient to safely operate the plane, but do not detail every aircraft system exhaustively, as a modern aircraft is too complex to fully understand. Other technical manuals detail how the systems work, and how to maintain them, but a pilot is unlikely to read them as they are used by maintenance personnel or instructors. The problem with these cases (if investigations come to the same conclusions) is that insufficient information was included in the pilots manual explaining the MCAS, even though the information was communicated via other technical manuals.

        1. vlade

          This is correct.

          A friend of mine is a commercial pilot who’s just doing a ‘training’ exercise having moved airlines.

          He’s been flying the planes in question most of his life, but the airline is asking him to re-do it all according to their manuals and their rules. If the airline manual does not bring it up, then the pilots will not read it – few of them have time to go after the actual technical manuals and read those in addition to what the airline wants. [oh, and it does not matter that he has tens of thousands of hours on the airplane in question, if he does not do something in accordance with his new airline manual, he’d get kicked out, even if he was right and the airline manual wrong]

          I believe (but would have to check with him) that some countries regulators do their own testing over and above the airlines, but again, it depends on what they put in.

          1. Alex V

            Good to head my understanding was correct. My take on the whole situation was that Boeing was negligent in communicating the significance of the change, given human psychology and current pilot training. The reason was to enable easier aircraft sales. The purpose of the MCAS system is however quite legitimate – it enables a more fuel efficient plane while compensating for a corner case of the flight envelope.

      2. Max Peck

        The link is to the actual manual. If that doesn’t make you reconsider, nothing will. Maybe some pilots aren’t expected to read the manuals, I don’t know.

        Furthermore, the post stated that Boeing failed to inform the FAA about the MCAS. Surely the FAA has time to read all of the manuals.

        1. Darius

          Nobody reads instruction manuals. They’re for reference. Boeing needed to yell at the pilots to be careful to read new pages 1,576 through 1,629 closely. They’re a lulu.

          Also, what’s with screwing with the geometry of a stable plane so that it will fall out of the sky without constant adjustments by computer software? It’s like having a car designed to explode but don’t worry. We’ve loaded software to prevent that. Except when there’s an error. But don’t worry. We’ve included reboot instructions. It takes 15 minutes but it’ll be OK. And you can do it with one hand and drive with the other. No thanks. I want the car not designed to explode.

            1. Darius

              Not the same. ABS is a safety improvement. In this situation they made the plane unsafe because it was too much trouble and expense to design a new plane. They then “fixed” the problem with a software upgrade.

              ABS wouldn’t be an improvement if it made the car essentially unsafe in other ways. Bandaids aren’t appropriate remedies for own-goal engineering problems. After all, this isn’t the F-35.

              1. Alex V

                “Also, what’s with screwing with the geometry of a stable plane so that it will fall out of the sky without constant adjustments by computer software?”

                You are purposefully misrepresenting the reason for MCAS. The 737 MAX does not require constant adjustments by software to stop “falling out of the sky”. The system is intended to augment pilot awareness and reactions in the extremes of the flight envelope, and when functioning properly would likely be rarely activated. It is a safety feature intended to help the pilots when the aircraft is approaching its limits, very much like ABS. When that system was first introduced, accidents occurred because people failed to understand or were not trained in its purpose and function, and they continued to manually pump the brakes, as they had been taught previously.

                Just to be clear, I am not defending Boeing, the FAA or the airlines. Serious, possibly criminally, negligent actions have occurred in the introduction of this aircraft, done in the interest of financial gain.

                Muddying the technical details however does not clarify the discussion, or the solutions.

                This statement is also patently false:

                “Nobody reads instruction manuals. They’re for reference.”

                Pilots are REQUIRED to follow manuals and checklists for virtually every aspect of aircraft operations.

  12. Milton

    I don’t know, crapification, at least for me, refers to products, services, or infrastructure that has declined to the point that it has become a nuisance rather than a benefit it once was. This case with Boeing borders on criminal negligence.

    1. pretzelattack

      i came across a word that was new to me “crapitalism”, goes well with crapification.

  13. TG

    1. It’s really kind of amazing that we can fly to the other side of the world in a few hours – a journey that in my grandfather’s time would have taken months and been pretty unpleasant and risky – and we expect perfect safety.

    2. Of course the best-selling jet will see these issues. It’s the law of large numbers.

    3. I am not a fan of Boeing’s corporate management, but still, compared to Wall Street and Defense Contractors and big education etc. they still produce an actual technical useful artifact that mostly works, and at levels of performance that in other fields would be considered superhuman.

    4. Even for Boeing, one wonders when the rot will set in. Building commercial airliners is hard! So many technical details, nowhere to hide if you make even one mistake… so easy to just abandon the business entirely. Do what the (ex) US auto industry did, contract out to foreign manufacturers and just slap a “USA” label on it and double down on marketing. Milk the cost-plus cash cow of the defense market. Or just financialize the entire thing and become too big to fail and walk away with all the profits before the whole edifice crumbles. Greed is good, right?

    1. marku52

      “Of course the best-selling jet will see these issues. It’s the law of large numbers.”

      2 crashes of a new model in vary similar circumstances is very unusual. And FAA admits they are requiring a FW upgrade sometime in April. Pilots need to be hyperaware of what this MCAS system is doing. And they currently aren’t.

    2. J7915

      Boeing does contract out work around the globe, not just manufacturing but also engineering sub-assembly work. The 787 is an example of a better idea NOT. Boeing gave away the engineering know how.

      OTO, How many fuel efficient miles will an 787 have fly to recover the fuel used to gather all the parts in SC or Seattle? :))

      1. Alex V

        Very rough calculation:

        787 empty weight – 119 tons – approximate mass of parts in the aircraft

        747 max payload – 113 tons – assume 747 type aircraft used to transport parts

        747 fuel consumption – 15000 liters per hour – fuel burn per hour to transport said parts

        Flying time Tokyo to Seattle – 10 hours – to calculate fuel burn if all parts were made in Japan and flown to Seattle

        So roughly speaking, 150000 liters of fuel to fly all parts in for assembly.

        Boeing estimated a 30% reduction in fuel use for the 787 over previous comparable aircraft. The 787 burns around 5000 liters per hour of fuel, so a previous aircraft would burn around 7100 liters per hour, a difference of 2100 liters. Dividing 150000 liters by 2100 liters per hour equals 71 hours of flight time, or the fuel saved via 7 flights using a 787 from Tokyo to Seattle….

        This is of course a very crude calculation, as it is based only on weight of parts, and not on volume. One cannot fit all sections of one 787 in a 747 at once of course. The sections are quite low mass in relation to volume so multiple flights would be needed. I’m probably off by a factor or 3 or 4, but in the big picture, it’s still small potatoes as a critique of the logistics used.

        There are far better arguments against this business model.

  14. Prairie Bear

    if it went into a stall, it would lower the nose suddenly to pick airspeed and fly normally again.

    A while before I read this post, I listened to a news clip that reported that the plane was observed “porpoising” after takeoff. I know only enough about planes and aviation to be a more or less competent passenger, but it does seem like that is something that might happen if the plane had such a feature and the pilot was not familiar with it and was trying to fight it? The below link is not to the story I saw I don’t think, but another one I just found.

    if it went into a stall, it would lower the nose suddenly to pick airspeed and fly normally again.

  15. Jessica

    At PPRUNE.ORG, many of the commentators are skeptical of what witnesses of airplane crashes say they see, but more trusting of what they say they hear.
    The folks at PPRUNE.ORG who looked at the record of the flight from FlightRadar24, which only covers part of the flight because FlightRadar24’s coverage in that area is not so good and the terrain is hilly, see a plane flying fast in a straight line very unusually low.

  16. EoH

    The dodge about making important changes that affect aircraft handling but not disclosing them – so as to avoid mandatory pilot training, which would discourage airlines from buying the modified aircraft – is an obvious business-over-safety choice by an ethics and safety challenged corporation.

    But why does even a company of that description, many of whose top managers, designers, and engineers live and breathe flight, allow its s/w engineers to prevent the pilots from overriding a supposed “safety” feature while actually flying the aircraft? Was it because it would have taken a little longer to write and test the additional s/w or because completing the circle through creating a pilot override would have mandated disclosure and additional pilot training?

    Capt. “Sully” Sullenberger and his passengers and crew would have ended up in pieces at the bottom of the Hudson if the s/w on his aircraft had prohibited out of the ordinary flight maneuvers that contradicted its programming.

  17. Alan Carr

    If you carefully review the over all airframe of the 737 it has not hardly changed over the past 20 years or so, for the most part Boeing 737 specifications. What I believe the real issue here is the Avionics upgrades over the years has changed dramatically. More and more precision avionics are installed with less and less pilot input and ultimately no control of the aircraft. Though Boeing will get the brunt of the lawsuits, the avionics company will be the real culprit. I believe the avionics on the Boeing 737 is made by Rockwell Collins, which you guessed it, is owned by Boeing.

  18. Max Peck

    Rockwell Collins has never been owned by Boeing.

    Also, to correct some upthread assertions, MCAS has an off switch.

    1. WobblyTelomeres

      United Technologies, UTX, I believe. If I knew how to short, I’d probably short this ’cause if they aren’t partly liable, they’ll still be hurt if Boeing has to slow (or, horror, halt) production.

    2. Alan Carr

      You are right Max I mis spoke. Rockwell Collins is owned by United Technologies Corporation

  19. EoH

    Using routine risk management protocols, the American FAA should need continuing “data” on an aircraft for it to maintain its airworthiness certificate. Its current press materials on the Boeing 737 Max 8 suggest it needs data to yank it or to ground the aircraft pending review. Has it had any other commercial aircraft suffer two apparently similar catastrophic losses this close together within two years of the aircraft’s launch?

  20. Synoia

    I am raising an issue with “crapification” as a meme. Crapification is a symptom of a specific behaviour.


    Please could you reconsider your writing to invlude this very old, tremendously venal, and “worst” sin?

    US incentiveness of inventing a new word, “crapification” implies that some error cuould be corrected. If a deliberate sin, it requires atonement and forgiveness, and a sacrifice of wolrdy assets, for any chance of forgiveness and redemption.

  21. Alan Carr

    Something else that will be interesting to this thread is that Boeing doesn’t seem to mind letting the Boeing 737 Max aircraft remain for sale on the open market

  22. John Beech

    Experienced private pilot here. Lots of commercial pilot friends. First, the EU suspending the MAX 8 is politics. Second, the FAA mandated changes were already in the pipeline. Three, this won’t stop the ignorant from staking out a position on this, and speculating about it on the internet, of course. Fourth, I’d hop a flight in a MAX 8 without concern – especially with a US pilot on board. Why? In part because the Lion Air event a few months back led to pointed discussion about the thrust line of the MAX 8 vs. the rest of the 737 fleet and the way the plane has software to help during strong pitch up events (MAX 8 and 9 have really powerful engines).

    Basically, pilots have been made keenly aware of the issue and trained in what to do. Another reason I’d hop a flight in one right now is because there have been more than 31,000 trouble free flights in the USA in this new aircraft to date. My point is, if there were a systemic issue we’d already know about it. Note, the PIC in the recent crash had +8000 hours but the FO had about 200 hours and there is speculation he was flying. Speculation.

    Anyway, US commercial fleet pilots are very well trained to deal with runaway trim or uncommanded flight excursions. How? Simple, by switching the breaker off. It’s right near your fingers. Note, my airplane has an autopilot also. In the event the autopilot does something unexpected, just like the commercial pilot flying the MAX 8, I’m trained in what to do (the very same thing, switch the thing off).

    Moreover, I speak form experience because I’ve had it happen twice in 15 years – once an issue with a servo causing the plane to slowly drift right wing low, and once a connection came loose leaving the plane trimmed right wing low (coincidence). My reaction is/was about the same as that of a experienced typist automatically hitting backspace on the keyboard upon realizing they mistyped a word, e.g. not reflex but nearly so. In my case, it was to throw the breaker to power off the autopilot as I leveled the plane. No big deal.

    Finally, as of yet there been no analysis from the black boxes. I advise holding off on the speculation until they do. They’ve been found and we’ll learn something soon. The yammering and near hysteria by non-pilots – especially with this thread – reminds me of the old saw about now knowing how smart or ignorant someone is until they open their mouth.

    1. notabanker

      So let me get this straight.

      While Boeing is designing a new 787, Airbus redesigns the A320. Boeing cannot compete with it, so instead of redesigning the 737 properly, they put larger engines on it further forward, which is never intended in the original design. So to compensate they use software with two sensors, not three, making it mathematically impossible to know if you have a faulty sensor which one it would be, to automatically adjust the pitch to prevent a stall, and this is the only true way to prevent a stall. But since you can kill the breaker and disable it if you have a bad sensor and can’t possibly know which one, everything is ok. And now that the pilots can disable a feature required for certification, we should all feel good about these brand new planes, that for the first time in history, crashed within 5 months.

      And the FAA, which hasn’t had a Director in 14 months, knows better than the UK, Europe, China, Australia, Singapore, India, Indonesia, Africa and basically every other country in the world except Canada. And the reason every country in the world except Canada has grounded the fleet is political? Singapore put Silk Air out of business because of politics?

      How many people need to be rammed into the ground at 500 mph from 8000 feet before yammering and hysteria are justified here? 400 obviously isn’t enough.

  23. VietnamVet

    Overnight since my first post above, the 737 Max 8 crash has become political. The black boxes haven’t been officially read yet. Still airlines and aviation authorities have grounded the airplane in Europe, India, China, Mexico, Brazil, Australia and S.E. Asia in opposition to FAA’s “Continued Airworthiness Notification to the International Community” issued yesterday.

    I was wrong. There will be no whitewash. I thought they would remain silent. My guess this is a result of an abundance of caution plus greed (Europeans couldn’t help gutting Airbus’s competitor Boeing). This will not be discussed but it is also a manifestation of Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS). Since the President has started dissing Atlantic Alliance partners, extorting defense money, fighting trade wars, and calling 3rd world countries s***-holes; there is no sympathy for the collapsing hegemon. Boeing stock is paying the price. If the cause is the faulty design of the flight position sensors and fly by wire software control system, it will take a long while to design and get approval of a new safe redundant control system and refit the airplanes to fly again overseas. A real disaster for America’s last manufacturing industry.

    1. Fazal Majid

      Some European nations like France have “the principle of precaution” enshrined in their constitution. The moment the EU’s 3 largest countries grounded the 737 MAX (including the UK, which is very Pro-Boeing despite Airbus wings being made there), the EU really had no option but to follow.

  24. cat sick

    Best confidence building solution would be to have a 737 Max put in service as Air Force one, there are plenty around now not being used ….

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