Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
July 28, 2019

737 MAX Rudder Control Does Not Meet Safety Guidelines - It Was Still Certified

The return of the Boeing 737 MAX into regular service is likely to be delayed even further than we anticipated. A new New York Times piece about the deference of the Federal Aviation Administration to Boeing reveals a new technical issue that will likely require an additional refit of the aircraft.

We already knew that there was little oversight over Boeing with regards to the failed Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS):

The company performed its own assessments of the system, which were not stress-tested by the regulator. Turnover at the agency left two relatively inexperienced engineers overseeing Boeing’s early work on the system.

The F.A.A. eventually handed over responsibility for approval of MCAS to the manufacturer. After that, Boeing didn’t have to share the details of the system with the two agency engineers. They weren’t aware of its intricacies, according to two people with knowledge of the matter.

Late in the development of the Max, Boeing decided to expand the use of MCAS, to ensure the plane flew smoothly. The new, riskier version relied on a single sensor and could push down the nose of the plane by a much larger amount.

Boeing did not submit a formal review of MCAS after the overhaul. It wasn’t required by F.A.A. rules.

The results are well know. The single sensor failed and MCAS activated during a critical flight phase. 346 people on two flights were killed.

But MCAS is not the only system that the FAA allowed to be certified even when it could cause significant problems. The European regulator EASA identified five additional major issues that need to be fixed before the 737 MAX can again fly.

The NYT found another severe one:

Early on, engineers at the F.A.A. discovered a problem with one of the most important new features of the Max: its engines. The Max, the latest version of the 50-year-old 737, featured more fuel-efficient engines, with a larger fan and a high-pressure turbine. But the bigger, more complex engines could do more damage if they broke apart midair.

The F.A.A. engineers were particularly concerned about pieces hitting the cables that control the rudder, according to five people with knowledge of the matter and internal agency documents. A cable severed during takeoff would make it difficult for pilots to regain control, potentially bringing down the jet.

The 737 MAX has newly developed LEAP-1B engines which have a larger fan at the front than the previous ones.

source - bigger

The fans are 69.4 inch (1.76m) in diameter compared to 61 inch (1.55m) on the 737 NG engines. The fan turns with 5,000 rotations per minute and the turbine with 20,000 rotations per minute (pdf). If a fan or turbine blade or disk breaks it becomes a high speed projectile that can not be contained by the engine housing.

The engines on the MAX are further forward than on previous 737 models. The debris of an uncontained engine failure would hit the plane's body in places that were previously safe. Uncontained engine failures are relatively rare but they can and do happen on all modern jet types.

In August 2016 Southwest Airlines Flight 3472 experienced an uncontained engine failure. Debris entered the fuselage and the cabin depressurized. The plane landed safely and no one was injured. In April 2018 Southwest Airlines Flight 1380 also had an uncontained engine failure. The debris penetrated the cabin and broke a window. A passenger was partially sucked outside the aircraft and later died. Eight others passengers received minor injuries. The plane was seriously damaged but landed safely.

Both accidents were caused by undetected fatigue in the titanium alloy fan blades. The fan blades of the new LEAP-1B are made of woven carbon fibers injected with resin. While they are less prone to fatigue failure, they are not indestructible. The smaller turbine blades are still made of heavy titanium and nickel alloys. They have to be tested regularly for fatigue.

The pilots in the 737 MAX use foot pedals to control the hydraulics that move the plane's rudder. Steel cables run from the foot pedals to the hydraulic control valves in the back of the plane.

If debris from an uncontained engine failure cuts one of these cables the plane will become uncontrollable.

It is quite obvious why the FAA engineers saw this as a problem. But solving it would have cost time and money. Boeing rejected to fix the issue and the FAA management took Boeing's side:

F.A.A. managers conceded that the Max “does not meet” agency guidelines “for protecting flight controls,” according to an agency document. But in another document, they added that they had to consider whether any requested changes would interfere with Boeing’s timeline. The managers wrote that it would be “impractical at this late point in the program,” for the company to resolve the issue. Mr. Duven at the F.A.A. also said the decision was based on the safety record of the plane.

The problem is now a public issue. If a MAX engine fails, pieces cut the rudder cables and the airplane crashes, the resulting public outrage will make the MCAS issue look trivial. If Boeing and the FAA allow the 737 MAX planes back into the air without solving the issue, they risk that the next accident will mean the end of the company.

Foreign regulators already fumed at the FAA over the MCAS issue. The newly revealed lack of redundancy in the rudder control will only add to that. It is unlikely that they will allow the MAX back into the air without a robust solution.

There are several ways to solve the problem. Redundant steel cables could mitigate the risk. The cables could be protected by titanium tubes as they are on some military planes. Redundant electric wires that control a servo to move the hydraulic valves could be added. All these are time consuming solutions which also require significant modifications on the nearly 500 existing 737 MAX planes.

Boeing CEO Dennis Mullenberg recently said that the 737 MAX will probably fly again in October. That was already way too optimistic. The whole certification of the MAX is now in question.

Boeing will have to stop the 737 MAX production line. It will have to borrow more money to keep the company going. Its credit rating will be downgraded.

The 737 MAX is Boeing's cash cow that is supposed to generate $2.5 billion revenue per month. Without a competitive single aisles plane the company will have difficulties to survive. But the 737 MAX is not Boeing's only problem. Some airlines reject to buy Boeing 787 planes that are manufactured in its not unionized South Carolina factory. That factory is known to have quality issues. The military withholds money from Boeing because the KC-46 tanker planes it delivers lacks in functionality. Additionally debris was found in the tanks of several new planes. The new 777X is delayed because of engine issues. The New Midsize Airplane (NMA) the company plans to launch will be years late or may never fly.

When the second 737 MAX crashed I expected difficulties for Boeing. But I never thought that it could bring the company down. Now I am no longer sure of that.

Previous Moon of Alabama posts on Boeing 737 issues:

Posted by b on July 28, 2019 at 14:47 UTC | Permalink


Litigate, litigate, litigate.

Posted by: bjd | Jul 28 2019 14:49 utc | 1

No surprises here, the corruption that runs throughout the MIC breeds a lack concern for quality control, after all why bother putting all that effort into creating a superior product when you can just bribe the regulators to approve it as it and then bribe the government to promote and buy your crappy product as is. I doubt Boeing will go under because of this though (even thought they deserve to go down in flames), the US government would remove all budget caps, super change the printing presses, threaten their allies, absolutely anything and everything to save Boeing if it came down to it.

Posted by: Kadath | Jul 28 2019 15:00 utc | 2

It gets juicier and juicier! Boeing will never fly again!

Posted by: BM | Jul 28 2019 15:07 utc | 3

Amazing what private parties can do in revealing faults when the data is public and everyone is given access to it.
Thanks B for a great job .

What I like about the Boeing problem is that it reveals the deep corrupt nature of current corporate armies and brings into full view the result of privatization and economic Zionism . Other privatizations include the Internet, the energy providers like the power companies (the are franchised monopolies), now 5G < more dangerous than Nicotine and so on.. The private party providers have little concern for the welfare of the masses of people, unless they are maybe liable for something, that they sell to. Moreover these private parties are corrupt enough to corrupt the government oversight agencies and the members of the elected government (they call it lobbying) in order to accomplish their profits to the satisfaction of wall street. The aircraft industries responds to Wall Street, not to masses they sell to. . Yeah I know the FAA regulates but its regulations do not apply to the big guys. Big bucks can be had in contracting $100,000 per nail government contacts and flying airplanes for hire.

All airlines, and all power companies, and all communications companies from research to end user should be owned and operated by the government IMO. .

Posted by: snake | Jul 28 2019 15:21 utc | 4


Taxpayers paid ~$1.5T for the F-35, and yet the IP rights and maintenance lies solely in the hands of Lockheed Martin instead of the government. And that's not even discussing about the design shortcomings or testing fraud...

Yup, totally no corruption happening right there. The MIC is so utterly corrupt that is has hollowed out the US military so much that even the neocons feel skittish at taking on Venezuela face-on, let alone Iran.

Posted by: Jonathan | Jul 28 2019 15:27 utc | 5

Posted by: snake | Jul 28 2019 15:21 utc | 4

Amazing what private parties can do in revealing faults when the data is public and everyone is given access to it.

Excellent point, Snake!!

What I like about the Boeing problem is that it reveals the deep corrupt nature of current corporate armies and brings into full view the result of privatization and economic Zionism ... The private party providers have little concern for the welfare of the masses of people, unless they are maybe liable for something, that they sell to.

Private Party Providers ... very apt term for the political parties! (All of the Hegemon Inc (TM) private group, not just the US)

Posted by: BM | Jul 28 2019 15:33 utc | 6

Had this been a free market capitalist system likely Boing would have already been put out of business or would have been opperated different because of competition and risk.

Posted by: jared | Jul 28 2019 15:38 utc | 7

If they are going to release this death trap to the public, in a just world it should be a requirement that all Boeing top executives and board members be required to fly on them exclusively.

Posted by: Stever | Jul 28 2019 15:44 utc | 8

Is the target label shifting to the faa?
"By 2018, the F.A.A. was letting the company certify 96 percent of its own work, according to an agency official."
Many issues here. Certificators delegate to the company who delegates to money god.
Better Faa boys to look back to recently closed works.

Posted by: y | Jul 28 2019 15:46 utc | 9

How is going to impact on 2020 elections the Boeing737 affair?

Posted by: y | Jul 28 2019 15:53 utc | 10

Here's my answer. Get that MCAS system out of its grounded aircraft. Or find a way to deactivate it permanently. Or risk fading into history.

Posted by: Jose Garcia | Jul 28 2019 15:59 utc | 11

There are several ways to solve the problem. Redundant steel cables could mitigate the risk. The cables could be protected by titanium tubes as they are on some military planes. Redundant electric wires that control a servo to move the hydraulic valves could be added.

The main problem is the de facto acceptance of the risk of a "liberated" turbine blade penetrating the passenger compartment. It would be better to eliminate the risk altogether by installing shields adjacent to, or within, the engine cowling to deflect loose blades. The shields wouldn't need to be more than 1/4 of the circumference of the engine and wouldn't need to be the full length of the engine - just near the turbine banks. On the other hand if/when a blade gets loose it's probably best to let it get away from the engine to prevent it from rattling around and causing more damage.

If it's more sensible to let a loose blade escape the engine ASAP then consideration should be given to beefing up the control cables to enable them to survive the impact from a flying turbine blade. And seats opposite a turbine bank could be discounted...

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Jul 28 2019 16:00 utc | 12

It's sad to see all that boeing is talking about is getting the plane back in the air soonest possible.Why is boeing so reluctant on letting go of the 737.

Posted by: Edward | Jul 28 2019 16:20 utc | 13

The US government and Boing are going to collaborate to put things bac on track as soon as posible.

Posted by: jared | Jul 28 2019 16:31 utc | 14

@Hoarsewhisperer #12

The failures cited in the links were on the intake fans, not the compressors. When one blade is off, the engine is functionally done as much as it would be with more blades damaged by a contained failure. If the larger radius blades of the LEAP-1B increase the risk of failure, that is an issue with the engine that goes far beyond its use on the 737 MAX.

Posted by: Thirdeye | Jul 28 2019 17:00 utc | 15

I thought jet engines were supposed to be armoured to prevent blades flying out of the engine when they fail. But armour = more weight = less profit and greed will always win out.

Posted by: Ghost Ship | Jul 28 2019 17:10 utc | 16

these planes sound scary... i don't know why anyone would fly in one here forward...

@ 5 jonathan... capitalism at its finest.. get the taxpayer to pay for all the future private profit... why not just call it socialism instead?? because all the profit only goes to a few...

Posted by: james | Jul 28 2019 17:22 utc | 17

It's sad to see all that boeing is talking about is getting the plane back in the air soonest possible.
Posted by: Edward | Jul 28 2019 16:20 utc | 13

In a normal world with such a gross litany of Boeing failures and the multilevel scandal of FAA negligence/improper handover of regulation to the regulated/cover up of known defects/ignorance of failures known to Boeing, the Chief Executive of Boeing with his tail between his legs would not even dare speak of getting the plane back in the air quickly, the massive loss of profits notwithstanding, because of the implied lack of interest in safety.

Why is the haste to get the plane airborne not itself a scandal of massive proportions? Why are there no urgent congressional hearings about why Boeing is so neglectful of basic safety?

In my view the certification of the 737MAX - and also the 737NG - needs urgently to be irrevocably REVOKED IN ITS ENTIRETY, with an absolute prohibition on all flights until/unless the certification is started afresh absolutely from scratch und under scrupulous scrutiny. Anything less is an unaccountable neglect of safety, and puts in doubt the seriousness and validity of ALL FAA certifications.

When is there going to be a lawsuit questioning whether any FAA certification whatsoever has any legal validity, given the extreme negligence, unaccountability, fraud and incompetence?

From an insurance perspective, it would surely be possible to argue that the FAA as currently constituted is not competent to certify aircraft safety - in general - and that therefore no FAA certification carried out by the FAA on any aircraft in recent years (or for as long as the certification system and competence was broadly similar to the way it is now) is valid, and that therfore all purported insurance coverage for the aircraft is null and void.

As soon as one insurance company publicly states that its coverage of the 737MAX is null and void, the scandal is in a new ballpark.

Posted by: BM | Jul 28 2019 17:23 utc | 18

I believe one factual error was made, the fan speed of the new engines is not 20,000 rpm but rather around 5,000. the core does spin that fast but the fan, which is powered by the low pressure turbine is much slower. the fan also comes up to max speed more slowly than the core which has an almost instantaneous reaction to throttle position.

all aircraft with jet engines have an area marked by vertical red lines that show the plane of the compressor blades. The chance of a fan blade coming off and severing a cable would be miniscule. I have heard stories of jet engines self destructing but in 24 years of working on fighter aircraft I never saw it nor read about it happening on any of the aircraft in the US Air Force inventory. Engines are regularly inspected and bad things very rarely happen.

Posted by: dan of steele | Jul 28 2019 17:25 utc | 19

The government will just borrow enough money to save Boeing and make the share holders whole. The air lines that are losing money because of Boeing will be made whole as well. That is the job of the US govt these days. No executive bonus left behind.

Posted by: BraveNewWorld | Jul 28 2019 17:26 utc | 20

@20 bnw... yeah - socialism or something like that, in spite of all the ranting by americans of how they hate socialism..

Posted by: james | Jul 28 2019 17:29 utc | 21

I am pretty sure we haven't seen the end of the scandals - on the contrary, I think things are just beginning to come out. Boing (let's just stick to Boing, it seems more apt than Boeing) is a huge company with a huge number of employees, many of whom have causes for dissatisfaction. We have already seen what sort of a company it is and the attitude of its top-level management. More and more scandals are going to come out, right across the board not just 737 and not just civil aircraft, and the thus-far steady trickle will turn step by step into a heavy flow and eventually a huge gush.

We aint seen nothing yet! It's going to go "***BOING***"

Posted by: BM | Jul 28 2019 17:36 utc | 22

@dan of steele

You are right with the fan speed. I have now corrected that.

The chance of a fan blade coming off and severing a cable would be miniscule.

There are lots of civilian planes in the air each and every day. Even rare events happen regularly. If one searches for pictures of plane engine failure one finds plenty.

Engine failures happen too often. They are inside the chance limit of 10^9 which means that they require redundancy. No single engine failure can be allowed to bring down an airliner.

Hull or wing penetrations happen in some of the engine failure cases. United Airlines Flight 232 crashed because of that. That is why the FAA demands redundancies in control and hydraulic lines that are in danger of being hit.

Posted by: b | Jul 28 2019 18:05 utc | 23

james | Jul 28 2019 17:29 utc | 21

yeah - socialism or something like that, in spite of all the ranting by americans of how they hate socialism..

Yes, something like that. The reasons why it is so incomprehensible to the majority of people lies in the fact that its origin was never really debated.

Ask anybody what 'National Socialism' is and note the answers. In a society where profits are privatized and losses are socialized, one is looking at exactly that.
The owner class is shielded from what would spell bankruptcy
to the little people's ventures. Practically none of the
industrialists cashing in during National Socialism in
Germany was ever sent to prison.

As corporations are now writing the laws, Boeing will
receive compensation for loss of future profits. Added
to the taxpayer tab. You just wait for that announcement.

The solution to this will drive rage into the faces of those
who profit from the status quo:

Nationalize Boeing. Profits won't go to shareholders any longer, but back into public coffers and into R&D.

Alternatively, make it mandatory for legislators to exclusively use the 737 MAX for their air travels.

Posted by: notheonly1 | Jul 28 2019 18:18 utc | 24

Just a minor correction about the rotational speed of the fan. It's a maximum of 4,586 rpm, not 20,000. The higher figure is the rotating speed of the high pressure spool, known as N2.

The low pressure spool, N1, includes the fan and the low pressure turbines that drive it.

The tip speed of the fan is still enormous at this maximum speed, In excess of 420 meters per second, which is about Mach 1.2. In kmh it is over 1,500 km/hr.

Still an engine fan coming loose is a very rare occurence, but it certainly has happened on several occasions.

Critical flight control lines like rudder cables MUST be protected in any eventuality. The air regulations are quite clear on that. So yes, the bottom line is that Boeing took another shortcut and rolled the dice.

And the US regulator, the FAA, let them. It's a nightmare situation. Boeing needs to just pull the plug on the MAX and take its lumps. A clean sheet single aisle aircraft is required. There is no more room for this 50 year old design to evolve.

Posted by: flankerbandit | Jul 28 2019 18:28 utc | 25

Single engine military jet flights were banned over residential areas in ny city after an engine failure caused one to go down on a citt street and incinerate a couple of people. Mechanical things always break, maintenance checks are never perfect. "Acceptable risk" is the standard, as it must be, but the determination of what is acceptable needs to be carefully considered. In this case it was "expedient risk" as determined a party with an obvious conflict of interest inappropriately making the determination.

Posted by: the pessimist | Jul 28 2019 18:29 utc | 26

"my city", not "ny city" @26

Posted by: the pessimist | Jul 28 2019 18:32 utc | 28

snake | Jul 28 2019 15:21 utc | 4

All airlines, and all power companies, and all communications companies from research to end user should be owned and operated by the government IMO. .
Posted by: snake | Jul 28 2019 15:21 utc | 4

I agree entirely but I would go further. All pharmaceutical companies, Major hospitals, water supplies, roads, railways, prisons should be owned by the government too. Private pharma and hospitals NEED sick people to turn a profit. Nationalised pharma and hospitals need cures to reduce running costs. Private prisons NEED prisoners to turn a profit. Nationalised prisons can concentrate on rehabilitation and prevention of recidivism.

Posted by: foolisholdman | Jul 28 2019 18:52 utc | 29

At this point, Boeing should just let the MAX die, stop producing it, and focus on other planes. Bad situation, but in the long run, not as bad as the alternative - risking bankruptcy.

Posted by: Clueless Joe | Jul 28 2019 19:01 utc | 30

james | Jul 28 2019 17:29 utc | 21

@20 bnw... yeah - socialism or something like that, in spite of all the ranting by americans of how they hate socialism..

The old definitions of Communism and Socialism were something like :
Communism is : from each according to his ability, to each according to his need.
Socialism is : from each according to his ability, to each according to his work.
So this is a new definition of Socialism as far as I can see. It goes something like this: "From each according to his ......? (Oh forget it!), to each according to his greed"

Posted by: foolisholdman | Jul 28 2019 19:12 utc | 31

The Boeing 737 MAX fiasco is a perfect example of why you need strong government regulation of business. Hundreds of people have died in 737 Max crashes, that could have been and should have been prevented by prompt and strong government intervention. Turning the 737 MAX aircraft's quality control over the company was so stupid that it defies all logic. Boeing's major concern however was to cut costs and increase the company's bottom line. Because of their profits-at-all-costs decision, will now cost that firm far more financially and by reputation than it would have if they had done it right the first time. Those who claim business, if left alone and unregulated will things better and faster, need only to look at the 737 MAX fiasco to see the fallacy of that belief.

Posted by: GeorgeV | Jul 28 2019 19:15 utc | 32

I believe that it has been standard practice in many countries to say that if the FAA certified a plane that was sufficient reason to accept it as being airworthy. Clearly this is no longer a tenable position.
Presumably European, Russian, Chinese, etc., (Probably not the British!) governments will demand that US airplanes undergo certification procedures by their own inspectors. Won't they? If not, why not?

Posted by: foolisholdman | Jul 28 2019 19:28 utc | 33

indeed the DC10 had a very serious design defect wherein all three hydraulic systems in the tail of the aircraft were vulnerable in the disk area around the tail mounted engine. that is unforgivable. what is also unforgivable is that crack in the disk assembly should have been seen during regular maintenance. wiki speaks of investigators finding penetrant dye in the crack of the failed blade. It failed after almost 18 years of service and should have been discovered much earlier.

that brings up another point which is not going to set well with everyone and that is aircraft maintenance. not all airlines have the same level of seriousness when it comes to doing regular and scheduled maintenance. some don't have skilled workers, some can't afford downtime, and some just don't care. this is a known problem which can be readily verified by checking on which airlines are allowed to operate in Europe and or the US. there are so many that are not allowed you have to really ask yourself if you want to fly on some minor African or South American carriers. Already the US and European carriers are doing the minimum required...

at any rate, Boeing made a mistake with the 737 Max, the company has existed due to military contracts for so long that they have become rotten from the top down. I believe I saw a story not long ago that Boeing was buying back stock. as with any corporation their responsibility is to the shareholder. that is a damn shame but it is reality. I do not see that changing any time soon in the US of A

Posted by: dan of steele | Jul 28 2019 19:33 utc | 34

Where is the accountability? In our new world order, the rich, powerful, famous and well connected get a free ride. In China, the CEO would be stood against a wall and shot ... here he keeps his job and will probably get a bonus.

Posted by: DonMc | Jul 28 2019 19:47 utc | 35

Thanks for the ongoing coverage of the demise of Boeing b

I wrote initially that this problem would take Boeing down and I still think that will be true....maybe some parts left to do MIC stuff but the rest bankrupt so they don't have to pay all they should have to for the victims of their perfidy.

@ flankerbandit who wrote
There is no more room for this 50 year old design to evolve.
I agree but want to use your age reference to add that FIAT money brought to you by the global private finance folk has been around since 1971, almost as long.
I would argue that the damage fiat money is doing to the world far surpasses the damage by Boeing which is a victim of the former

China is saying that it doesn't want to play the fiat money game of the West anymore and is forcing the West to back to money connected to things of value and associated controls.

I continue to posit that the global airplane of current Western finance is like flankerbuilt wrote
There is no more room for this 50 year old design to evolve.

Posted by: psychohistorian | Jul 28 2019 20:31 utc | 36

I truly believe Boeing is going down, the lack of cash flow to impact its operations in the next 12 months is simply huge…its share value has not collapse most likely due to key stakeholders agreement until now, the 1st one that dump large quantities of Boeing’s shares, the share price will collapse, as of now share price is higher than one year ago which is absolutely unacceptable for the current crisis and the future lack of cash flow, the only reason it sustain at this level is a backstage agreement with key stakeholders, in other words, Wall Street corruption.
It is important to notice the level of new order cancelations for 737MAX but also other Boeing planes, as soon as airlines start sensing the blood on the pool they will cancel hundreds of planes in order.

Posted by: Canthama | Jul 28 2019 20:49 utc | 37

@ Posted by: jared | Jul 28 2019 15:38 utc | 7

But the USA is a free market capitalist country: the government is for sale, at a precise price (just because the price is undisclosed, doesn't mean there isn't one).

Supply, demand.

Posted by: vk | Jul 28 2019 20:56 utc | 38

Just a little more info about aircraft engines 'exploding' in flight.

In April, 2018 Southwest Airlines Flight 1380, a Boeing 737-700 had a fan blade come off and one passenger was killed by flying debris, which also damaged the airplane wing. The airplane was emergency landed on the one remaining engine, the previous generation CFM56.

More info here.

The NTSB preliminary report says a fan blade [titanium] failed and heard off at the root where it attaches. The suspected cause is metal fatigue and the engine manufacturer issued a service directive for ultrasonic inspections after 20,000 landing-takeoff cycles.

An aircraft engine can even be damaged by ingesting ice, as in Scandinavian Airlines Flight 751.

Here the fan and compressor blade shapes were distorted, which caused compressor surge, where the engine is not able to invest enough air for the rpm it is turning. The result can be backfiring through the front of the engine, as on this flight, which tore both engines apart.

The crew miraculously landed the plane dead stick.

So yes, as the incident from last year shows, that fan blade letting go was totally unexpected by the manufacturer, hence the tightened maintenance schedule.

Of course this won't help if the airline skimps on maintenance, as some certainly do.

Posted by: flankerbandit | Jul 28 2019 22:27 utc | 39

Thanks for pointing out facts that corporate media ignores. Boeing and the Federal Government are at a cross roads. The transfer of wealth to the rich from the forever wars, piracy, and asset stripping is ending. The system has taken all of the surplus. Only thing left is shortening people’s lifespans. Off subject or not; the Trump tweetstorm about Baltimore highlights America’s basic problem. A major port on USA’s East Coast but there are no working jobs left in Baltimore that can support a family. Education and healthcare collapsing. This is the future of the West if predatory capitalism isn’t tamed. Boeing needs to be saved but must be regulated to serve the public good.

Posted by: VietnamVet | Jul 28 2019 22:46 utc | 40

Canthama @37

I wouldn't at all be surprised, indeed I take it as given, that Boeing's share price is being propped up by the US Govt directly or indirectly - via the FED for example. When it goes the stampede for the exits will be on an historic scale.

Posted by: cdvision | Jul 28 2019 23:46 utc | 41

@41 cdvision

I always remember that line from Margin Call, when the Jeremy Irons character was accused of panicking: "Being first out the door is NOT panicking."

It will be interesting to see who's first out the door just before the stampede.

Posted by: Grieved | Jul 29 2019 2:15 utc | 42

Airbus gets an unfair advantage! Sanction the Europeans!

Posted by: Symen Danziger | Jul 29 2019 4:58 utc | 43

@24 notheonly1.. i agree with your suggestions, but i just don't see that happening until after the empire falls..

@31 foolisholdman.. "So this is a new definition of Socialism as far as I can see. It goes something like this: "From each according to his greed.." that is what it looks like to me as well... except they don't call it that! the world is upside down and i find it is a lot easier to understand it when i flip everything upside down... i think i need to do what alice in wonderland did to make it all make sense..

@43 symen d... i think that has been the plan of the usa's for the longest time -screw europe one way or the other...

Posted by: james | Jul 29 2019 5:04 utc | 44

@10 - y,
With regards to Boeing and 2020 elections, I figure not very much. Because as a beacon of liberty and free market, we abhor socialism... Chump's Maga base of neo-confederates won't be driven to the polls by serious strategic industrial issues. It's a certainty, the nativists will be fed a heavy dose of demagogic missile tweets about n*ggers, spics and socialist SJW's impeding their exceptional project. Ted Cruz and other GOP reactionaries wanted to destroy the US Export-Import Bank, one of the few remaining instruments (dating from new deal era) indispensable to fight a trade war... When linear cretinism rules the day, deplorables will perceive zugzwang as winning multi-dimensional chess. Derp.

Posted by: Sol Invictus | Jul 29 2019 7:47 utc | 45

Don't even think that the US of A administration will let Boeing go down without reacting.
What they can do ? Accuse Airbus of corruption, put 2nd level EU directors in jail, negociate with manager a bargain sale to Boeing and profit.

They've already done such a think with many companies in the past.

Posted by: w | Jul 29 2019 10:21 utc | 46

@37 Canthama makes an important point. In any "sensible" market Boeing stock would already be taking a hammering. But it isn't, which suggests some very underhanded collusion is taking place.

Some people here are suggesting that it is the US government that is the hidden hand propping up Boeing as a "too big to fail" part of the MIC, and they will simply print whatever it takes to stop Boeing from collapsing.

I am cynical enough to suspect that this isn't the case.

I suspect those who are exposed to the tune of $billions are propping up Boeing until they can quietly unwind their expose. After which the company will collapse in a day - or even less - precisely because at that point they won't give a s**t about the company, or its workforce, or anyone else who relies on its products for their livelihood.

After all, that's "capitalism", isn't it?

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Jul 29 2019 11:31 utc | 47

@ Posted by: Yeah, Right | Jul 29 2019 11:31 utc | 47

Stock is what Marx called "fictitious capital". It appears as a paper that gives you money ex nihilo.

This is achieved in two ways: rising prices of the stock itself and/or dividends. Which way (or both) is taken is all up to the company itself: e.g. Amazon doesn't pay dividends, relying exclusively on its confidence its stock prices will always go up while Apple does a combination of rising dividends and rising stock prices (buybacks).

Stock prices are unrelated to the productive health of the individual capital in question. After the coup of 2016, the usurper Brazilian government begun to liquidate extremely productive infrastructure in order to register higher profits in its annual reports to the shareholders: its stock prices almost doubled in a quesiton of days.

Posted by: vk | Jul 29 2019 12:32 utc | 48

@james | Jul 29 2019 5:04 utc | 44

After another bad night with little sleep (6ºC in my house) I thought about the Boeing affair.

I call it an affair now, as is obviously that the status quo of this corporation is in jeopardy and the peddlers are trying to stop Boeing from sinking.

That would otherwise be called 'insider trading', correct? But the result of a sleepless night over the failing corporation brought another aspect to light.

Empires have been failing for much less than the main income source Boeing has been for the empire for a very long time. Before the advent of Airbus, who would airlines have to buy from? Ilyushin? McDonnell? Boeing had cornered the market after WWII - there was no other civilian aircraft manufacturer in the West that could produce its numbers.

With this income source now definitely gone - and without TPP that would force treaty members to buy Boeing, or else - the US Titanic is listing faster than a turning iceberg. Especially in the light of the now old news, that China has started to 3D print main components for its own domestic aircraft. And on top of it, the Russians are joining the program for the rapid manufacturing of Boeing replacements.

Iran won't buy any either. Nor Venezuela, or Syria. Only the US dependents in the West will still buy Boeing. Therefore I am convinced that the implications of this reckless public transportation manufacturer's utter failure will shake the foundations of the empire towards rubble.

Another important aspect is - looking at the Chinese High Speed rail network, created in no time at all - NOW would be the time to lay the tracks from New York to L.A. From Chicago to Dallas. Another commenter linked the RT article about the continuous high speed rail track layer. A simple calculation will reveal that they are doing upwards of ten kilometer per day - seven days a week.

Plus, it is not that airplanes are flying for free either, so the energy calculation for high speed is not as bad as defenders of the stinking status quo will make anybody believe. A train is the most efficient transportation modus possible. Even when it goes really, really fast.

Posted by: nottheonly1 | Jul 29 2019 13:47 utc | 49

The Problem isn't the 737 Max.

The Problem is the Boeing & FAA Culture that created the 737 Max disaster.

Until THOSE are changed, you're re-arranging deckchairs on the Titanic/ Hindenburg.

Let Boeing Continue Failing.

Re-boot the FAA, even if it means firing all the managers & 1/3 of the staff.

[b]Why was Boeing so desperate to cut costs ?

Was it because of the need to show profits in the face of rising Health Care costs ?[/b]

Posted by: Roger Bratt | Jul 29 2019 14:32 utc | 51

@ vk | Jul 29 2019 13:48 utc | 50

Yeah, that's how we all feel, I think.
Maybe we are over-reacting to some extent, but I would like that as an option.
But they will ensure that you have no option, you are unqualified to be allowed to make that choice.
You will fly the MAX or you won't fly.
Maybe they could re-name it if that would help.
This should never have been allowed to surface.

Actually, I am disappointed to see the focus on the individual issues of design.
I feel sure that the "good" people of Boing are plentity smart enough to realize that the thing was not supposed to crash.
But they were too lazy and caught up in corporate politics and arrogance and untouchable. How dare anyone question their judgement.
Well at least on the second crash they were humble enough to admit there might have been something almost resembling an error.
But the problem does not stem from the design - that part is simple - the problem stems from the process of decision making and over-sight (and that stems from incompetence).

No progress can be made until the process is corrected and validated.

Posted by: jared | Jul 29 2019 14:35 utc | 52

Capitalism is a system where man exploits his fellow man, but communism is exactly the reverse!

I'm not saying that political systems don't matter, but I think that the real failure is a failure of culture. The people at the top no longer care about the nation as a whole, they don't care about honest dealing, or have any pride in having been part of a great and strong society. It's all short-term greed and to hell with everyone else. Sorry all you acolytes of Ann Rand, but a pure law-of-the-jungle society does not lead to anything good, it never has in the past, and it's not now.

If the people at the top have a sense of duty and honor, (almost) any political system can be made to work, more or less. If the people at the top just don't care, a political system is just dead ink on paper and it will all go to rot.

Posted by: TG | Jul 29 2019 14:43 utc | 53

@ Posted by: TG | Jul 29 2019 14:43 utc | 53

By the terminology you use and your ideological position, I guess you're an American or Western European (or a middle/upper middle class pro-liberal Third Worlder).

You raise a very important issue, because it is precisely your point of view that, in my opinion, led to today's polarization in the USA (but also Europe and some other countries).

Both sides in today's USA ("SJW left" vs "far-right") agree with each other in the sense that both believe America's central problem is moral degeneracy, not the inner contradictions of its socioeconomic system. The only difference is that the SJW Left believes the this moral degeneration comes from the fact the USA didn't go all in with multiculturalism while the far-right believes it comes from the USA going that path to begin with (i.e. there was a moral "original sin" somewhere in the 1960s).

Posted by: vk | Jul 29 2019 15:00 utc | 54

And speaking of child molesters:

I am thinking, likely half of our government is worried about this guy.
And now hey are voting on a bill which can make the problem go away:

Posted by: jared | Jul 29 2019 17:04 utc | 55

If I were the unfortunate CEO of Boeing, I’d damn sure mention the name of my predecessor more often. That genius-for-hire James McNerney was CEO for 10 years, and this accident-waiting-to-happen that B keeps telling us about was conceived under his watch and direction.

Now, at another tenant of that funny building with the big revolving door, there seems to be a lot of coming and going. The FAA has had 6 bosses over the last 10 years. Of the 6, 3 only had an ‘acting’ capacity, one for as short as half a year. So you have vacancies and lack of leadership a lot of the time, but then you also have Michael Huerta serving his entire 5-year term. 2013-18, I guess those were important years for getting the Boeing 737 MAX into the air? Like his counterpart James McNerney he was not a tech guy, but a regular Swamp creature. MA in International Relations or something. Huerta rose from deputy administrator to being proper boss of the FAA when his predecessor “Randy” Babbitt (an ex-pilot) resigned after 2 years in office due to DUI charges. Charges that later had to be dropped because they were completely fabricated.

As someone who almost never flies, I find the dealings at the FAA very fascinating. I guess that as a frequent flyer I’d just find them… cringeworthy?

Posted by: Scotch Bingeington | Jul 29 2019 17:16 utc | 56

@ foolisholdman | Jul 28 2019 19:12 utc | 31

”The old definitions of Communism and Socialism were something like :
Communism is : from each according to his ability, to each according to his need.
Socialism is : from each according to his ability, to each according to his work.”

The saying was – so far as it is known to history – first expressed by French socialist Louis Blanc, in an 1839 publication, as “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.”

Posted by: AntiSpin | Jul 29 2019 17:22 utc | 57

Too easy to solve. Forget the 737. Let it enjoy a well earned retirement. Take a careful look at 757 and especially 767. There lies the solution.

Posted by: Si | Jul 30 2019 8:53 utc | 58

You have Capitalism incorrectly defined. Capitalism is where a person's private property is sacrosanct. You have no right to tax, coerce, initiate force or violence upon another. His business is his. His property is his.

Socialism is exactly the opposite of this. In socialism the base motivation is to acquire the property of others by using a third party (the government) to act as thief (doing the dirty wet work) and to fence the proceeds of the crime. Socialists, like all big govt cultists, merely disagree on who ought to wield the levers of coercion, fraud and violence. They want either to have their chums do it, or (for those with a braver disposition- most are not up to dirty wet work as they are merely sniveling cowards) have the power themselves (a strict minority of the most psychopathic).

Of course, the base motivation is something for nothing (getting the property of others converted for personal ends) is never raised or spoken of. That would reveal the entire socialist fraud for what it is. It would be the honest thing to do but socialists are certainly not ever honest. Instead they retreat to a dishonest pretense of concern "for the masses" or when the masses do something unacceptable for socialists to accept (like becoming middle class bourgeois or voting for the wrong guy or rejecting socialism or committing some such blasphemy), then comes a promotion of sexual deviants or criminal perverts or the like as well as a hatred for all things the masses embrace (like family..., traditions..., history... or culture). Indeed, then comes out the hatred of the common man and a vile hatred of the masses!

Socialism is politics of envy, jealousy, dishonesty and crime writ large throughout history. There is plenty of evidence- tens of millions of premature deaths, murders, impoverishment, suffering- all of it unnecessary. Time now to cease this cult of human sacrifice.

Turning now to the 737.

The trouble is big govt corruption encouraging this kind of fraudulence. Take out the socialists and such a situation would not have occurred in the first place. All that crooked behaviour by Boeing and the FAA et al relied on govt granted privileges, permissions and monopolies. It could not even exist without it.

Actually this could all have been stopped right from the early days of the company. Take out the socialists and the Boeing company would historically have remained with its founders and original owner/s instead of them being bilched of it.

Take out the socialists and Boeing in 2019 would face the capitalist sanction of bankruptcy. But no, socialists in govt will never allow that to happen.

Bastards. There is blood on the hands of the socialists yet again.

Sad to read so many of you supporting such discredited immoralities as socialism in this day and age. A brief reading of history so quickly demonstrates the reality of what socialism is and what crimes it has enabled. This 737 MAX affair is merely the latest in a very long line of criminality. Time to stop the socialist crime-wave.

Posted by: Si | Jul 30 2019 9:31 utc | 59


Your "solution" is too easy indeed. The exposed corruption, malfeasance and incompetence at both Boeing and the FAA has made your proposed solution entirely questionable.


Your previous comment made me frown, but this one looked completely ridiculous - until I saw what you did there. You sneakily replaced all occurrances of the words bankers, finance and Wall Street with the word socialism, to a most peculiarly funny effect.

What an admirably cunning way of pointing out how the presumed free market capitalism in the USA is in reality nothing but thinly veiled corporate crony socialism.

Now you have me wondering where I missed the irony in your @58 comment.

Posted by: Lurk | Jul 30 2019 12:14 utc | 60


BTW if at all you are interested in a sensible definition of the term "capitalism", you might as well refer to Karl Marx's original work - as he is the one who coined it. When grinding an axe, it works better when you use a piece of bedrock than something made out of whole cloth.

Oh, btw2, did you know that Marx actually hailed from a family of wealthy bankers and industrialists? Most professed marxists and socialists don't know about this curious factoid. Marx used to hang out a lot at the mansion of his cousin Philips and even wrote large parts of his magnum opus in the garden house, where he lodged. His cousins later founded the Philips electronics corporation, no doubt after having studied their uncle's ideas. Look it up if you don't believe me (I went to school with some of the Philips heirs).

Posted by: Lurk | Jul 30 2019 12:37 utc | 61

@ Posted by: Si | Jul 30 2019 9:31 utc | 59

Capitalism is where a person's private property is sacrosanct.

This is the definition of patriarchy, not capitalism.

Yes, capitalism is a patriarchal system, but not every patriarchal system is capitalism.

Patriarchy is a fantasy term coined by modern historians to designated what is essentially the historic phase of humanity: it goes from the end of primitive communism until our present times.

The name comes from the fact that primitive communism ends with the beginning of the "six original civilizations" (with a potential seventh in SE Asia) -- all of which have in common the rise of family as a social institution.

Family is the core of private property because it institutionalizes the concept of inheritance (and, thus accumulation). Traditionally, the property comes from violent conquest (usually, enfoced by an adult male), which is then naturalized through the families in a new order. Since violence is the root of private property, and violence is, historically, the monopoly of the male members of our species, then it would be natural to think property passed from father to firstborn son and so on. We can attest that at least in Ancient Greece, where the office of the king clearly comes from the primitive "office" of the warlord (polemarchos).

The term "primitive communism" is itself a fantasy term coined by specialists in prehistory and designates and hypothetical long period -- possibly lasting more than one million years, from the birth of our species until circa the Neolithich/Bronze Age -- where, allegedly (we'll never know because the evidence is simply not enough), the Homo Sapiens lived under the "law" of nature, i.e. as a "normal" animal species: it lived and died according to the will of Mother Nature.

If I'm not mistaken, some anthropologists use the term "matriarchy" instead of "primitive communism" to designate this primeval period -- but there's no evidence women socially dominated during that time.

Posted by: vk | Jul 30 2019 13:27 utc | 62

@ vk | Jul 30 2019 13:27 utc | 62

The problem with the discussion of capitalism and socialism is that they are artifical constructs which don't exist, so the debate about which one is superior is somewhat contrived. And that is the reason for the debate - if someone questions the current regime, the response is that it (the current corrupt system) is better than *the* alternative.

It seems to me a technique of debate which propagates labels and then debates the meaning and pros/cons that the labels would imply.
Hence "liberalism".

Posted by: jared | Jul 30 2019 14:02 utc | 63

@ Posted by: jared | Jul 30 2019 14:02 utc | 63

Capitalism has a scientifically well-stablished definition, as laid out by Marx in his Das Kapital. So it definitely exists.

Socialism exists in China, Vietnam, Cuba and existed in the USSR and its satelite states in Eastern Europe. But Marx died without laying out a complete socialist theory, so it is more of an incomplete concept. What also makes the scientific investigation of socialism more difficult is that it was only born 100 years ago (1917): we still live in a capitalist world, hence it's no surprise capitalism is more well-studied than socialism.

You're confusing "non-existent" with "subjective". Just because a category is subjective (i.e. purely social) doesn't mean it is imaginary or not concrete. That's a neokantian conception of the world.

Posted by: vk | Jul 30 2019 14:29 utc | 64

@ vk | Jul 30 2019 14:29 utc | 64

The fact that something has a definition (which I question), does not mean that it exists.
There is no nation which practices either capitalism nor socialism, I believe.
In fact, I would say that to claim such would be ridiculous.

Posted by: jared | Jul 30 2019 14:45 utc | 65

The U.S., Europe, China and Russia are all varieties and degrees of plutocracies - having nothing to do with either socialism or capitalism.
The discussion of those labels is only done to distract from the reality.
Do you think that the U.S. government (not that they are actually in control, but as a hypothetical) has a rule-book against which they gage their latest edict?

Posted by: jared | Jul 30 2019 14:50 utc | 66

gzon @ 33 - about immigration, you are right, it has gone steadily up, and the UK never even actioned limitation(s) to EU migration, which they could easily have done (and other immigration they controlled no matter what.) My meaning was that May’s efforts (“hostile environment” and so on) were not only for the gallery! Plus, I was trying to fit her doings to a down-sizing of population.

Today, Bojo, who is a born cosmopolitan and for free movement, is proposing to legalise half a million ‘illegals’.. he mentioned championing a ‘points’ system, Australia model.

This template of a points system comes from focus groups run by Cummings. I mean the uptake of it, obviously BJ knows all about it, but it appears to be a model that the public likes (? maybe, not sure? gives ‘control’ ?) Big Biz. want the possibility of cheap labor to hand, and that will continue. “Growth” reigns supreme.

EU bureaucracy is not compatible with UK identity.

I agree re. fundamental ‘spirit’. So far, since 1973 (EEC, idk if this was properly done, you say not, fraudulent) EU-UK relations have not been riven by disruptive strife or even temp. explosive argument (in part due to EU rules etc.) Accomodations were made.. An apogee of hand-holding-harmony was reached when Mitterand and Thatcher convinced the Germans to give up the D-mark in return for blessing the re-unification of Germany. The UK did not join the Euro zone (1992). So the UK was overall a big ‘winner’ on several levels (imho.)

Brexit is the first step in bringing politics back to local accountability

I hope so but dangers lurk i am pessimistic. Crash-out on 31 Oct. will happen, and will have a horrific impact. In any case the political accountability of the Gvmt. in the UK is at present abysmally low.

Posted by: Noirette | Jul 30 2019 15:31 utc | 67

Apologies, i posted in the wrong thread!

Posted by: Noirette | Jul 30 2019 15:36 utc | 68

@ Posted by: jared | Jul 30 2019 14:45 utc | 65

You may kinda use that type of logic with socialism, which solution is a debate that begun in the 19th Century and is still ongoing.

But not with capitalism: there's simply overwhelming evidence capitalism does exist.

You could, for pure academic and/or philosophical purposes, state that capitalism doesn't exist -- but then you would have to doubt the existence of all other systems of the past for which much less evidence exist (primitive communism, ancient slavery, manorialism etc.).

It's simply nearer to the absolute truth to consider capitalism to exist than to consider it not to exist.

And definition is different from category (either subjective or objective). For example: profit is a subjetive category -- the profit for one individual capital is the constant capital for another individual capital. However, profit is very real -- it's just that it doesn't exist outside the capitalist society (there's no "profit subparticle" for a quantum physicist to find).

Indeed, that's the difference between a philosopher (a true one, not these pseudo-scientific postmodern frauds of the 20th and 21st Century) and an ideologue: the first will build a system (theory) based on categories (real world); the second will merely use definitions to arbitrarily build an imaginary world based on a false narrative that fits its own class interests.

Posted by: vk | Jul 30 2019 15:44 utc | 69


My comment was in the context of aircraft specification and design.

The solution to the problem is to take a look at the 757 and 767. Think about the specification and the designs that resulted in each case.

Now look at 737 MAX. You'll find the 737 MAX is a bodge job. It has been stretched and modified and re-purposed to the point where it is a sort of Frankenstein monster. It is being asked to undertake a job for which it was never intended in the first instance and to which it really isn't that well suited even in highly modified form.

Go back to the 757 and 767 again. Notice anything? Hint: range, passenger load, performance etc. (even if you take just one or two aspects of that and review them you'll notice something important- use take-off roll and, say, initial climb as your focus).

Of course, the production lines and the logistics chains for 757 and 767 manufacture are closed and all dismantled now. One can imagine Boeing management regrets doing that in hindsight! Still, a review of these designs points to exactly where the solution lies.

Posted by: Si | Jul 30 2019 18:09 utc | 70

The 737 MAX monster is the smaller problem. The bigger problem is the Boeing and FAA Frankenstein brothers who create and approve the monsters.

It is not merely the production lines and the logistics chains for 757 and 767 that are gone, much more painfully missing are the engineering spirit at Boeing and moral integrity at the FAA. In view of the ever more rapid devolution of the American middle class, there is little hope to see much reversal of the general withering, let alone improvement, happening soon.

Meanwhile Trump has cut the Department of Transport budget by 20%. Does he want to be remembered as President Pothole?

Posted by: Lurk | Jul 30 2019 23:02 utc | 71

Socialism, smocialism!

People who have never taken an honest test, and never received an honest grade, are given qualifications that look just like real ones. But they are much more desired as aircraft builders, lead designers, and managers than the sons of the men who gave us aircraft, avionics, and digital devices.

Still, reality is intractable. If you are not competent to design and build safe planes, the planes will crash. And no amount of regulatory oversight or "quality assurance" will stop this.

Since nothing truthful can be said about this, the crashed planes will remain a puzzle.

Ever wonder why civilizations self destruct?

Posted by: Ed W | Jul 31 2019 5:13 utc | 72

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