Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
September 18, 2019

14,000 Words Of "Blame The Pilots" That Whitewash Boeing Of 737 MAX Failure

The New York Times Magazine just published a 14,000 words piece about the Boeing 737 MAX accidents. It is headlined:

What Really Brought Down the Boeing 737 Max?

But the piece does not really say what brought the Boeing 737 MAX down. It does not explain the basic engineering errors Boeing made. It does not explain its lack of safety analysis. It does not mention the irresponsible delegation of certification authority from the Federal Aviation Administration to Boeing. There is no mention of the corporate greed that is the root cause of those failures.

Instead the piece is full of slandering accusations against the foreign pilots of the two 737 MAX planes that crashed. It bashes the airlines and the safety authorities of Indonesia and Ethiopia. It only mildly criticizes Boeing for designing the MCAS system that brought the planes down.

The author of the piece, William Langewiesche, was a professional pilot before he turned to journalism. But there is so much slander in the text that it might as well have been written by Boeing's public relations department.

The piece is also riddled with technical mistakes. We will pick on the most obvious ones below. The following is thus a bit technical and maybe too boring for our regular readers.

Langewiesche describes the 737 MAX trim system and its failure mode:

That’s a runaway trim. Such failures are easily countered by the pilot — first by using the control column to give opposing elevator, then by flipping a couple of switches to shut off the electrics before reverting to a perfectly capable parallel system of manual trim. But it seemed that for some reason, the Lion Air crew might not have resorted to the simple solution.

Wrong: The manual trim system does not work at all when the stabilizer is widely out of trim (i.e. after MCAS intervened) and/or if the plane is flying faster than usual. That is why the European regulator EASA sees it as a major concern and wants it fixed.

Langewiesche knows this. He later writes of one of the accidents:

The speed, meanwhile, was producing such large aerodynamic forces on the tail that the manual trim wheel lacked the mechanical power to overcome them, and the trim was essentially locked into the position where the MCAS had left it

Is that a 'perfectly capable system'?

Of the crashed Lion Air flight 610 Langewiesche writes:

At 6:31 a.m., 11 minutes into the flight, Suneja got on the radio for the first time. He did not know their altitude, he told the controller, because all their altitude indicators were showing different values. This is unlikely and has never been explained.

Wrong. The value given by an Angle of Attack sensor is also used in calculating the speed and attitude of a plane. If one of the two AoA sensors fails the instruments on the side that with the failed AoA sensor will show different values than those on the other side of the cockpit.

Langewiesche knows this. Further down in his piece he writes:

That story actually starts three days before the accident, when the same airplane — under different flight numbers and Lion Air crews — experienced errors in airspeed and altitude indications on the captain’s (left side) flight display that weren’t properly addressed. Those indications are driven by a combination of sensors on the surface of the airplane.

Is that 'unlikely' and unexplained?

This is an unfounded claim:

Boeing believed the system to be so innocuous, even if it malfunctioned, that the company did not inform pilots of its existence or include a description of it in the airplane’s flight manuals.

Wrong. Boeing sold the new plane with the dubious claim that it handled no differently than its predecessor. It left MCAS out of the manual because it did not want to add to training requirements for the pilots which would have contradicted its marketing claim. Furthermore Boeing did not do any additional safety evaluation when it later increased the effect of the system.

Another wrong part:

A set of independent duplicate sensors drive the co-pilot’s (right side) display. A third standby system provides additional independent backup and allows for intuitive troubleshooting when any one of the three systems fails: If two indications agree and the third one does not, the odd one out is obviously the one to ignore. This sort of arrangement helps to explain why flying a Boeing is not normally an intellectual challenge. Furthermore, the airplane provides an alert when airspeed or altitude indications disagree.

There is no general third standby system on a Boeing 737. There is a set of standby instruments for altitude and airspeed. But these give uncorrected values that differ from the ones shown on the two flight control displays. Those values are calculated by two flight computers and each takes the value of only one pitot (speed) tube and one AoA sensor into account. If an AoA sensor fails the instruments on one side show wrong values. The instruments on the other side will show different but hopefully correct values. The standby instruments will show different, uncorrected values than both of the calculated ones.

Langewiesche describes an earlier Lion Air flight that also experienced an MCAS failure but was by chance saved:

Immediately after liftoff, the captain’s airspeed indication failed, airspeed-disagreement and altitude-disagreement warnings appeared on his flight display and his stick shaker began to rattle the controls in warning of an imminent stall.

The Bali captain was enough of an airman to realize that he was dealing with an information failure only — not an actual stall. No direct mention has been made of this, but he must have immediately identified the replacement angle-of-attack vane on his side as the likely culprit.

Wrong. How would the pilot know that? The pilot noticed intermittet automatic down trim. That failure mode was not in the flight manuals and pilot had no way to attribute it to an AoA sensor. The claim is also contradicted by the pilot's maintenance log entry of which Langewiesche writes:

After pulling up to the gate in Jakarta, the Bali captain informed a company mechanic about “the aircraft problem” and in the maintenance log noted only three anomalies — the captain’s airspeed and altitude indication errors and the illumination of a warning light related to a system known as Feel Differential Pressure. That was it. Apparently the captain noted nothing about the failure of the newly installed angle-of-attack sensor, or the activation of the stick shaker, or the runaway trim, or the current position of the trim cutout switches. If true, it was hard to conclude anything other than that this was severe and grotesque negligence.

The captain noted nothing about the AoA sensor because he did not know that it failed.

The captain did mention a trim problem but he had not experienced a runaway trim.  A classic runaway trim is continuous. An MCAS intervention like the one the captain experienced stops after 9 seconds. But the pilots on that flight did not even know that MCAS existed. The captain reported all the basic symptoms he experienced during that flight. A runaway was not one of them.

Langewiesche fails to mention, probably intentionally, the captain's additional entry in the maintenance log. The captain wrote:

"Airspeed unreliable and ALT disagree shown after takeoff, STS also running to the wrong direction ...".

STS, the Speed Trim System, moves the stabilizer trim. It does that all the time but discontinuously during every normal flight. The pilot correctly described the symptoms of the incident as he perceived them. Those were not the symptoms of a continuously runaway stabilizer. But the pilot knew, and documented, that he experienced an intermittet trim problem. It was the mechanic's responsibility to analyze the underlying error and to correct the system which is exactly what he did.

The author's "blame the pilots" attitude is well expressed in this paragraph:

Critics have since loudly blamed it for the difficulty in countering the MCAS when the system receives false indications of a stall. But the truth is that the MCAS is easy to counter — just flip the famous switches to kill it. Furthermore, when you have a maintenance log that shows the replacement of an angle-of-attack sensor two days before and then you have an associated stick shaker rattling away while the other stick shaker remains quiet, you do not need an idiot light to tell you what is going on. At any rate, the recognition of an angle-of-attack disagreement — however pilots do or do not come to it — has no bearing on this accident, so we will move on.

An AoA sensor failure and a following MCAS incident will cause all of the following: an unexpected autopilot shutdown, an airspeed warning, an altitude disagree warning, a stall warning and, after MCAS intervenes, also an over-speed warning. The control column rattles, a loud clacker goes off, several lights blink or go red, several flight instruments suddenly show crazy values. All this in a critical flight phase immediately after the start when the workload is already high.

It is this multitude of warnings, which each can have multiple causes, that startle a pilot and make it impossible to diagnose and correct within the 10 seconds that MCAS runs. To claim that "MCAS is easy to counter" is a gross misjudgment of a pilot's workload in such a critical situation.

After blaming the pilots Langewiesche bashes the foreign air safety regulators which are now investigating the MAX accidents:

According to sources familiar with both investigations, Boeing and the N.T.S.B. have been largely excluded and denied access to such basic evidence as the complete flight-data recordings and the audio from the cockpit.
It is a forlorn hope, but you might wish that investigators like those in Indonesia and Ethiopia would someday have the self-confidence to pursue full and transparent investigations and release all the raw data associated with the accidents.

I am not aware of an accident in the U.S. where the FAA investigators released "complete flight-data recordings and the audio from the cockpit" to foreign entities that were suspected to have caused the incident. Nor will the FAA "release all the raw data" associated with an accident. Certainly not before an investigation is finished.

Boeing screwed up by designing and installing a faulty system that was unsafe. It did not even tell the pilots that MCAS existed. It still insists that the system's failure should not be trained in simulator type training. Boeing's failure  and the FAA's negligence, not the pilots, caused two major accidents.

Nearly a year after the first incident Boeing has still not presented a solution that the FAA would accept. Meanwhile more safety critical issues on the 737 MAX were found for which Boeing has still not provided any acceptable solution.

But to Langewiesche this is anyway all irrelevant. He closes his piece out with more "blame the pilots" whitewash of "poor Boeing":

The 737 Max remains grounded under impossibly close scrutiny, and any suggestion that this might be an overreaction, or that ulterior motives might be at play, or that the Indonesian and Ethiopian investigations might be inadequate, is dismissed summarily. To top it off, while the technical fixes to the MCAS have been accomplished, other barely related imperfections have been discovered and added to the airplane’s woes. All signs are that the reintroduction of the 737 Max will be exceedingly difficult because of political and bureaucratic obstacles that are formidable and widespread. Who in a position of authority will say to the public that the airplane is safe?

I would if I were in such a position. What we had in the two downed airplanes was a textbook failure of airmanship. In broad daylight, these pilots couldn’t decipher a variant of a simple runaway trim, and they ended up flying too fast at low altitude, neglecting to throttle back and leading their passengers over an aerodynamic edge into oblivion. They were the deciding factor here — not the MCAS, not the Max.

One wonders how much Boeing paid the author to assemble his screed.

Previous Moon of Alabama posts on Boeing 737 MAX issues:

Posted by b on September 18, 2019 at 16:41 UTC | Permalink


Critics have since loudly blamed it for the difficulty in countering the MCAS when the system receives false indications of a stall. But the truth is that the MCAS is easy to counter — just flip the famous switches to kill it.

Yes, "simple" IF you know that the MCAS exists! BUT Bloody frightening and incomprehensible if no one has told you about it and confusing, to say the least, if you have not been well-trained to deal with it.

Posted by: foolisholdman | Sep 18 2019 16:59 utc | 1

"impossibly close scrutiny"

Yup, I'm sure that was Boeing's and FAA's stance when they approved a *totally* safe design decision by tying a single AoA sensor with no redundancy to a flight control that a pilot cannot manually override at will.

Posted by: JW | Sep 18 2019 17:01 utc | 2

All the “truth” that money can buy. How is this article different from the suggestion by El Presidente to just rebrand 737Max and fly again? Where I come from they have a saying - he/she who lies, usually also steals, he/she who steals usually also kills. There is no place on the planet where this saying applies more to than US: they lie, they steal and they kill.

Why are they designing planes which only the Western pilots can fly and then sell those planes to the third World? In reality, all later Boeing planes are flying coffins and you buy the NYT opinions of this prostitute at the risk to your family’s survival. Due to wide decline, all newer Boeing models and all recently produced planes are more likely to crash, MCAS or not.

Just remember how hard it was to ground this plane after two most similar accidents. This is how much your life means to them.

Posted by: Kiza | Sep 18 2019 17:07 utc | 3

Does the author of the NYT Magazine 'hit' piece have a conscience? He reminds me of every politician that voted to go to war in Iraq. Casualties? Oh! You mean collateral damage? Millions! That's acceptable. No problem.

Posted by: Joetv | Sep 18 2019 17:14 utc | 4

14,000 Words Of "Blame The Pilots" That Whitewash Boeing Of 737 MAX Failure
The New York Times

No doubt, this WAS intended as a whitewash of Boeing, but having read the 14,000 words, I don't think it qualifies as more than a somewhat greywash. It is true he blames the pilots for mishandling a situation that could, perhaps, have been better handled, but Boeing still comes out of it pretty badly and so does the NTSB. The other thing I took away from the article is that Airbus planes are, in principle, & by design, more failsafe/idiot-proof.

Posted by: foolisholdman | Sep 18 2019 17:14 utc | 5

Key words: New York Times Magazine. I think when your body is for sale you are called a whore. Trump's almost hysterical bashing of the NYT is enough to make anyone like the paper, but at its core it is a mouthpiece for the military industrial complex. Cf. Judith Miller.

Posted by: William Herschel | Sep 18 2019 17:18 utc | 6

The New York Times Magazine just published a 14,000 words piece

An ill-disguised attempt to prepare the ground for premature approval for the 737max. It won't succeed - impossible. Opposition will come from too many directions. The blowback from this article will make Boeing regret it very soon, I am quite sure.

Posted by: BM | Sep 18 2019 17:23 utc | 7

Come to think about it: (apart from the MCAS) what sort of crap design is it, if an absolutely vital control, which the elevator is, can become impossibly stiff under just those conditions where you absolutely have to be able to move it quickly?

Posted by: foolisholdman | Sep 18 2019 17:23 utc | 8

This NYT article is great.

It will only highlight the hubris of "my sh1t doesn't stink" mentality of the American elite and increase the resolve of other civil aviation authorities with a backbone (or in ascendancy) to put Boeing through the wringer.

For the longest time FAA was the gold standard and years of "Air Crash Investigation" TV shows solidified its place but has been taken for granted. Unitl now if it's good enough for the FAA it's good enough for all.

That reputation has now been irreparably damaged over this sh1tshow. I can't help but think this NYT article is only meant for domestic sheeple or stock brokers' consumption as anyone who is going to have anything technical to do with this investigation is going to see right through this load literal diarroeh.

I wouldn't be surprised if some insider wants to offload some stock and planted this story ahead of some 737MAX return-to-service timetable announcement to get an uplift. Someone needs to track the SEC forms 3 4 and 5. But there are also many ways to skirt insider reporting requirements. As usual, rules are only meant for the rest of us.

Posted by: A.L. | Sep 18 2019 17:27 utc | 9

An appalling indifference to life/lives has been a signature feature of the American experience.

Posted by: jayc | Sep 18 2019 17:38 utc | 10

Thanks for the ongoing reporting of this debacle are saving peoples lives

@ A.L who wrote
I wouldn't be surprised if some insider wants to offload some stock and planted this story ahead of some 737MAX return-to-service timetable announcement to get an uplift. Someone needs to track the SEC forms 3 4 and 5. But there are also many ways to skirt insider reporting requirements. As usual, rules are only meant for the rest of us.
I agree but would pluralize your "insider" to "insiders". This SOP gut and run financialization strategy is just like we are seeing with Purdue Pharma that just filed bankruptcy because their opioids have killed so many....the owners will never see jail time and their profits are protected by the God of Mammon legal system.

Hopefully the WWIII we are engaged in about public/private finance will put an end to this perfidy by the God of Mammon/private finance cult of the Western form of social organization.

Posted by: psychohistorian | Sep 18 2019 17:40 utc | 11

What do you bet Mr Langewiesche (Mr Long-laundered, well almost) was put up to the job by Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg (Mountains-of-Rubbish)?

Posted by: BM | Sep 18 2019 17:45 utc | 12

@9 foolisholdman

if a device is man-rated (human-rated for PC), especially when intended for users who did not sign up with a significant possibility of death, it MUST fail-SAFE if at all possible.

There are circumstances where it is impractical and mortal risk is taken into account like for example in space flight. But in civilian aviation this is inexcusable. it just isn't.

safety in aviation was paid for in blood and lives. All this crass article did was to put the sacrifice of 348 lives in vain.

Posted by: A.L. | Sep 18 2019 17:45 utc | 13

Peter Lemme, the satcom guru, was once an engineer at Boeing. He testified over technical MAX issue before Congress and wrote lot of technical details about it. He retweeted the NYT Mag piece with this comment:

Peter Lemme @Satcom_Guru

Blame the pilots.
Blame the training.
Blame the airline standards.
Imply rampant corruption at all levels.
Claim Airbus flight envelope protection is superior to Boeing.
Fumble the technical details.
Stack the quotes with lots of hearsay to drive the theme.
Ignore everything else

Posted by: b | Sep 18 2019 17:46 utc | 14

Now everyone can see the REASON the Boeing company is TOAST... It is going to have a TON of trouble trying to slander DEAD men like this.. The living that can or refuse to buy DUCKETS to RIDE on Boeing's DEADLY aircraft... Will have their say... Like it or not.

Boeing survives on the GOOD WILL of the flying PUBLIC, Not the serpents tongue from the NYT.

The CRIMINALITY of the FAA will have to be SERIOUSLY dealt with if air travel is going to survive.

Posted by: Masher1 | Sep 18 2019 17:49 utc | 15

Boeing share price 14 August--$320 today--$384. Still $60 short of its 52 week high. P/E ratio an unseemly 44.98:1--talk about one overpriced stock just ripe for shorting!

As with all Ponzi Schemes, the rubes are duped into investing based on rotten bologna info all for a paltry 2.14% yield. IOW, this item has all the hallmarks of a Pump & Dump promo.

Posted by: karlof1 | Sep 18 2019 18:06 utc | 16

Posted by: A.L. | Sep 18 2019 17:45 utc | 13

if a device is man-rated (human-rated for PC),

Yes, you have a point there! Some airline pilots are women.

Posted by: foolisholdman | Sep 18 2019 18:21 utc | 17

@ jayc #10

Indeed, I was put in mind of the Ford Pinto affair where internal documents highlighted the risk of filling the passenger space with burning petrol in the event of a rear end crash involving that car and recommended repositioning the fuel tank. It was decided on the basis of cost which was an additional $11 per car and the remote likelihood of there being any survivors to sue not to do anything. Unfortunately for them a thirteen year old Richard Grimshaw did survive such an event. The jury was outraged enough to add $125,000,000 in punitive damages to the settlement, not unexpectedly later reduced to $3.5,000,000.

Posted by: Peter C | Sep 18 2019 18:28 utc | 18

RE BA management- earlier article from the times ..


In August, Boeing met with officials from the F.A.A. and other global aviation agencies to brief them on its efforts to complete fixes on the Max. Regulators asked detailed questions about adjustments to the Max’s flight control computers, which the Boeing representatives there were not prepared to answer.

Instead, the company representatives began to display a PowerPoint presentation on their efforts, according to people briefed on the meeting who spoke on the condition of anonymity because it was not public.

At that point, the regulators ended the meeting.

Weeks later, Boeing has still not answered all their questions.


rename Mulienberg to General Powerpoint Ranger !

Posted by: SAM | Sep 18 2019 18:36 utc | 19

When there is THIS much money waiting to be collected by the Lawyer set... They tend to make REAL good cases BEFORE they go into the court.

Boeing is looking at Serious pressures.

And that's a real GOOD thing.

Posted by: Masher1 | Sep 18 2019 18:41 utc | 20


"If it's Boeing, I ain't going!"

Posted by: Some Random Passerby | Sep 18 2019 18:48 utc | 21

b writes above: “The value given by an Angle of Attack sensor is also used in calculating the speed and attitude of a plane.”

But he says this before and after quotes from the article that refer to altitude.

Is the use of “aTtitude” here rather than “aLtitude” a typo? If not, some further explanation would be helpful.

Posted by: David G | Sep 18 2019 19:06 utc | 22

Another possible proofreading issue:

b writes: “It does explain its lack of safety analysis.”

Is “does NOT explain” what was meant? Seems so, but I’d rather not assume.

Posted by: David G | Sep 18 2019 19:11 utc | 23

The “blame the pilots” approach may be part of a coordinated public relations strategy.

The NY Times reported last Sunday (Monday’s print edition) that a committee is set to deliver its findings to Boeing’s board this week with recommendations that include changing the cockpits of future planes to accommodate new pilots with less training.

Posted by: David G | Sep 18 2019 19:24 utc | 24

Why not let the entire newspaper editorial staff fly exclusively on this type of aircraft? Pilot must be the author of this article.

Posted by: Jose | Sep 18 2019 19:25 utc | 25

A former Boeing official who was subpoeaned to testify about his role in the development of the 737 Max has refused to provide documents sought by federal prosecutors, according to the Seattle Times, citing his Fifth Amendment right against forcible self-incrimination.

Mark Forkner who was Boeing’s chief technical pilot on the 737 Max project during the development of the plane, was responding to a grand jury subpoena. The US Justice Department is investigating two fatal crashes of the Boeing jet, and is looking into the design and certification of the plane, according to a person familiar with the matter cited by the Seattle Times.

The Fifth Amendment provides a legal right that can be invoked by a person in order to avoid testifying under oath. Because the amendment is used to avoid being put in a situation where one would have to testify about something that would be self-incriminating, it can sometimes be seen by outsiders as an implicit admission of guilt, although that is not always the case.

It is less common to invoke the Fifth to resist a subpoena for documents or evidence. According to legal experts, its use by Forkner could simply suggest a legal manuever between Boeing’s attorneys and prosecutors.

Posted by: Jose | Sep 18 2019 19:30 utc | 26

BA - The Boeing Company

Posted by: Jose | Sep 18 2019 19:33 utc | 27

I know one thing, Grandma and I will be using our Toyota 4runner exclusively for any travel. These criminals as said before should be in jail, starting with the CEO. This is shameful behavior and companies keep getting away with MURDER, literally, and they know they have the authorities in the bag.

Thank you B for all the challenging material previous to this post. I am not technically astute, but I know criminality when I see it.

Posted by: Taffyboy | Sep 18 2019 19:35 utc | 28

I wonder if and how much NY Times charged to participate in Boeing’s propaganda offensive, or if it was professional courtesy among two MIC contractors?

Posted by: NoOneYouKnow | Sep 18 2019 19:37 utc | 29

Langewiesche wrote an article for Vanity Fair magazine back in 2014 about the loss of Air France 447 that also was themed on whether today’s lousy pilots just aren’t good enough for today’s magnificent airliners.

I thought, and still think, it was an excellent (and disturbing) article, but possibly Langewiesche is so enamored of that theme, it is blinding him to Boeing’s numerous screwups in designing the Max.

Posted by: David G | Sep 18 2019 19:41 utc | 30

@30 David G

perhaps, just like proponents of AI and self driving cars. They just love the technology, financially and emotionally invested in it so much they can't see the forest from the trees.

I like technology, I studied engineering. But the myopic drive to profitability and naivety to unintended consequences are pushing these tech out into the world before they are ready.

engineering used to be a discipline with ethics and responsibilities... But now anybody who could write two lines of code can call themselves a software engineer....

Posted by: A.L. | Sep 18 2019 19:56 utc | 31

This may not be of wide interest here, but as a lifelong NY Times reader I am not surprised that this article will be appearing in the Sunday Magazine rather than in the regular news pages.

The Times’s news coverage is absolutely corrupted by its role as the premiere media organ of U.S. imperialism, but left to its own devices it still has real standards for its reporting and analysis. If you know the unwritten rules, it is still possible to skirt the (large and ever growing) areas of garbage propaganda, and find some reliable journalism. If an investigative article on this topic appeared in the Times’s news pages, I would expect it to be of very high quality.

The Times Magazine, however, is a different kettle of fish: in my experience, it has barely any standards at all. It may run an excellent article such as this June’s devastating exposé on the 2008 Universal Studios fire, but there is no editorial backstop against publishing utter rubbish in the Magazine. One such junk article a few years ago impacted me personally, and I at least had the satisfaction of seeing that in the media firestorm that ensued, the Times news pages never relied on or cited the original Magazine article, because it just wasn’t up to their standards.

Posted by: David G | Sep 18 2019 20:18 utc | 32

I recently flew from Medford Ore to Raleigh N/Carolina, and on the return trip we flew from Raleigh to Denver on an older 737 (United). The pilot gave a warning talk that if you had an Apple laptop "13-15" you were not allowed to use it, or even turn it on. I was surprised, but in hindsight I'm wondering if they have detected a possibility that an Apple laptop could hack, or interfere with the 737? This did not happen on the flight from Medford, only on the return. Not sure what this means. Thanks everyone for this fabulous web space. I read MOA everyday, and I have sent money to b.

Posted by: bill ziebell | Sep 18 2019 20:25 utc | 33

@31 A.L.

Perhaps Langewiesche has such an agenda; I haven’t read enough of his stuff to say.

But while I don’t have time to reread that Vanity Fair article right now, I do recall it subtly boosted the Boeing cockpit design philosophy, while throwing shade on Airbus (AF447 was an A330). I hope this week’s article wasn’t partially motivated by some parochial Airbus vs. Boeing prejudice.

Posted by: David G | Sep 18 2019 20:27 utc | 34

14,000 words is a helluva lot of drivel in one article. No wonder the author's mind wandered from the task of creatively blending fact with fiction and forgetting which was which.
Will Mr Langewiesche's career languish? Or does the NYT award bonuses for muddled output from sufferers of ADD?

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Sep 18 2019 20:27 utc | 35


Not to excuse the New York Times, but this is from the magazine section, which is well known to publish vacuous drivel.

There's almost never new reporting in the Sunday Magazine. However this piece is indeed unusually long for the NYT Sunday Magazine.

Telling that this "reporter" only just joined staff of the NYT Magazine, and the blurb at the end says nothing about other things he's written.

Posted by: Jay | Sep 18 2019 20:31 utc | 36

If the 737 MAX isn't ungrounded until December 2019, expect Airbus to be sanctioned by the USG:

EU Could Face Billions in Fresh US Tariffs After WTO Airbus Ruling - Report

Airbus Warns Trump His EU Tariff War Could Backfire Against US Economy

My opinion: EASA will fold and the 737 MAX will be ungrounded in Europe by January 2020. China, however, is a completely different beast: it is socialist and have created, in 2015, its first domestically produced passenger jet.

Posted by: vk | Sep 18 2019 20:31 utc | 37

@16 karlof1... regarding the stock price today verses... these facades can hold out for way longer then most people think...

i remember how fannie mae - fnm and freddie mac - fre ticket symbol - government supported enterprises - held out for a very long time, in spite of the fact everyone knew they were toast... see the max chart on fannie mae here here for an idea..

this was one main and obvious precursor to the 2008 debacle... the ponzi scheme banking system knows how to protect itself for longer then most realize or appreciate.. it is like getting rid of cockroaches... not easy..

Posted by: james | Sep 18 2019 20:33 utc | 38

further to my above post on comparison with boeing to fannie mae.. - On October 21, 2010 FHFA estimates revealed that the bailout of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae will likely cost taxpayers $224–360 billion in total, with over $150 billion already provided.[36]
2008 – crisis and conservatorship

Posted by: james | Sep 18 2019 20:35 utc | 39

the same thing will happen with boeing... no one could see it coming, lol...

Posted by: james | Sep 18 2019 20:35 utc | 40


Whatever the bailout of Fannie and Freddie cost, bad mortgages were hardly the only cause of the 2008 crash. But Fannie and Freddie largely held mortgages and mortgage backed derivatives.

However only some derivatives are based on mortgages.

We don't know that these derivatives (which used to called junk bonds 30+ years ago) contained, because Obama, W, various ibanks, and various central banks had no interest in disclosing what this garbage is, that's still is today in 2019.

Posted by: Jay | Sep 18 2019 21:20 utc | 41

Posted by: vk | Sep 18 2019 20:31 utc | 37

China, however, is a completely different beast: it is socialist and have created, in 2015, its first domestically produced passenger jet.

The footage of the MC-21-300 landing in Istanbul (Turkey) to be represented during #TEKNOFEST2019 :

Irkut MC-21-300 vs Boeing 737 MAX 8

China, Russia unveil CR929, a model of joint venture passenger plane at Zhuhai Airshow

Posted by: Passenger | Sep 18 2019 21:24 utc | 42

Consider the "reporter's" CV: Vanity Fair is largely navel gazing by the upper middle class and the very well off. And the Atlantic hasn't published anything challenging in more than 30 years--and it's worsened over the last 20.

Of course this guy was the goto airplane "reporter" for the NYT Mag.

And yes, it's laughable that the NY Times Mag published this. As if an error reading in one sensor sending an automobile off a cliff, or under a truck in the case of Tesla, would be acceptable in any instance.

Posted by: Jay | Sep 18 2019 21:25 utc | 43

What does it really matter?" Boeing is just a symptom of the Terminal Illness of the US of A. There are dozens and dozens maybe hundreds and hundreds more. The last 30 years of my life and I am going to be 67 soon I have personally witnessed the destruction of science and technology in the US. What was a great accomplishment for the Nation as a whole and despite the fact that most people had no involvement in or knowledge of what was accomplished and what a great system had been created, has been destroyed by the same sick Fucks that have destroyed the American Middle Class and American Economy and American Culture. Just the land of the greedy pig and the ass licking dumb ass inbred CEO and CEO wannabees... Its not easy to destroy an entire culture but they have done it and are proud of it too...

Posted by: Delta Gee Whiz | Sep 18 2019 21:43 utc | 44

The NYT is the newspaper for the Democratic side of the Wall Street elite.

Posted by: lysias | Sep 18 2019 21:48 utc | 45

The solution is not to fly. I wonder how many people are having that thought.

Posted by: lysias | Sep 18 2019 21:59 utc | 46

@ vk | Sep 18 2019 20:31 utc | 37

Yes, the tariff against Airbus is likely a tool for pressuring the European certification authority. Nevertheless my prediction is opposite to yours:

For any foreign certification authority, it is quite risky to recertify the 737MAX. It is politically doable only if it can claim that the European authority did it also. Therefore, if Europe does not fold but counter-attacks, on one hand Airbus may lose the American market, but on the other hand it may gain kind of a monopoly for most of the remaining global market.

Posted by: Parisian Guy | Sep 18 2019 22:13 utc | 47

Have we seen the end of Netanyahoo? ... BUT ... beware of Lieberman.

Posted by: chet380 | Sep 18 2019 22:26 utc | 48

There's a pattern to this blame game. In this 2014 Vanity Fair article The Human Factor Langewiesche devotes hundreds of words, more than I ever wanted to know (scroll down), about pilots and how they have evolved, as automation (artificial intelligence) has taken over the cockpits. The 2009 crash of Air France Flight 447 killed 228 people and the pilots “were hideously incompetent” Langewiesche wrote in this article, which also includes some sociological factors.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Sep 18 2019 22:32 utc | 49

@41 jay... that is true, but this is one of the main fronts that the private banks used to secure there own position - thru gse's... everyone knew it was happening and the authorities never cracked down on any of it... thus the resultant stock price... they didn't come shooting back like citicorp and etc. etc.. there is a reason for that.. the public was on the hook for these gse's.. the taxpayer gets all the downside and none of the upside.. they will circle the wagons over boeing as well... guaranteed...

Posted by: james | Sep 18 2019 22:33 utc | 50

Focussing on Boeing is fine but misses the point.

Air travel and the essentially indistinguishable Military Industrial Complex are the most heavily subsidized 'industries' in existence. They would not and could not function without government largesse.

The US's ability to financially sustain this business on a global scale is faltering and will likely collapse along with US$ fiat. Others in Europe and China might pick up some of the slack but the era of $700 all inclusive vacations is slowly coming to an end. All things 'middle' are now deemed unsustainable.

Others have their eyes on the money pie, including for pensions and basic social services. Google for example, which wants to keep extending it's massively expensive infrastructure for spying plus build a centrally controlled sytem of self driving sardine tins, for which Boeing is an important competitor, moneywise and especially in terms of the technical talent required to both build and sustain it.

The mass transport of people via large aircraft is coming to an end. So too is mass movement in privately owned cars. Globalists have private jets for themselves and could care less about how peons get around, except insofar as everyone can be perfectly controlled. Toll roads and possibly even digitally controlled sidewalks/ gates will soon price convenient mobility, and also freedom of movement, completely out of reach for a rapidly dissapearing middle class.

All is by design. The Globularchs are making a prison planet and feudal technocracy for all those who lack sufficient social status. The takedown of Boeing is part of a process by which the rest of us are irrevocably enslaved. First they build a problem in the public mind via media then later they offer their solutions. A thousand year feudal Reich is what they have planned for us and unless we learn to distinguish between the easily fixable problems faced by Boeing or GM and the phoney plotlines fostered by Globalists we will have no one to blame when those below the Ubermenchen class can't travel more than 5 kilometers from their domiciles for the entirety of their lives.

Posted by: Fixer | Sep 18 2019 22:35 utc | 51

@ Posted by: Parisian Guy | Sep 18 2019 22:13 utc | 47

You assume 1) the European people is enlightened and 2) Europe is not a capitalist economy.

Of course that, if a trade war involving Airbus and Boeing begin, the whole European MSM will quickly mold the European public opinion so that the European people begin to defend Airbus as if it was defending its own existence.

However, there's the capitalist flank the USA can exploit over Europe. That is, it can unground the 737 MAX in the American market and slap tariffs and fines on Airbus in order to (try to) cripple its market share. Europe is not China, and, as the USA, depends on infinite and indefinite economic growth to survive: even four years is enough to bend European morale in this case, because there would be upper middle class jobs lost in the Peninsula.

Europe is also not the USA: it built a capitalist model that essentially depends on its image and glamour to survive. Its legitimacy essentially rests on the higher life quality of its peoples vis-a-vis the rest of the world (e.g. the propagandization of Scandinavia). If those middle/upper middle class jobs begin to be axed, there will be structural trouble for the European social contract.

Posted by: vk | Sep 18 2019 22:52 utc | 52

The author of the NYT piece has written this kind of
muddying-the-waters stuff before:

Posted by: Carey | Sep 18 2019 23:04 utc | 53

@42 Thanks for the info on MC 21 and CR 929. Apparently the CR 929 will be using Rolls Royce or Pratt and Whitney engines.

Perhaps you will find this interesting.......

Posted by: dh | Sep 18 2019 23:05 utc | 54

I guess it would be fair to say that William Langewiesche's life experience and background as a pilot and then a writer specialising in aviation stories about the interface of aviation technology and human limitations (physical and psychological) blinds him to the fact that it's not so much human frailty in the two related cases of the Lion Air and the Ethiopian Airlines crashes, as it is the current culture of Boeing itself which prioritises profit over engineering, intentional redundancy built into technology (two Angle of Attack sensors linked to the MCAS would be better than just one, Boeing 737 MAX jets have two AoA sensors but Airbus jets have three AoA sensors, the third in the tail of the jet) and maintaining consistency in quality and standards.

Langewiesche can waffle all he likes about the minutiae of what the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines flight crews should have done or not done but all that wordiness counts for nothing if he had been given information so incomplete and biased in favour in Boeing, that it is nothing more than a pack of lies and he ends up writing propaganda.

Posted by: Jen | Sep 18 2019 23:18 utc | 55

The official air crash investigation reports might be coming out soon.

In the immediate aftermath of the crashes it looked like the pilots in both crashes had not responded ideally. Some of their actions, even in teh Eithiopian's flight did not make sense.

It was assumed this was due to pilot error,lack of training, foriegn pilots etc.

I have seen later reports that the reason for the pilots seeming mistakes is going to be put entirely down to malfunctioning sensors and incorrect information and warnings from the flight control computer.

It seems likely the pilots in both crashes will be completely exonerated of any blame. Their actions will be attributed to the malfunctioning sensors and warnings they were receiving.

In both crashes the pilots were overloaded with warnings, and nome of them were erroneous.

In other words, blame in both crashes is going to end up 1000% on Boeing itself. Even in the Lion Air flight.

Due to the MCAS

And their crappy 30 year old Flight Control Computer that could not produce correct information in an emergency due to a highly predictable, even inevitable fault it had no ability to error correct for.

This latter point is what I believe Boeing is trying to hide with its muddying the waters exercise here.

This is absolutely crucial to the 737's future. The MCAS fix is relatively straight forward. Have the ability to turn it off and hand complete control back to the pilots. And prove the 737 is safe to fly with MCAS switched off (which I believe is the case).

As far as most people are concerned if MCAS is safe then the plane is safe. (and the manual trim wheels are usuablez

But I belive the EASA, and the accident investigators have concluded the 737's Flight Control Computer can't be trusted. This is a giant can of worms. Much bigger than even MCAS itself. Re-writing Flight Control Computers will take years.

And remember there are two previous 737 crashes, prior to the MAX, that had somewhat similar profiles to their crashes, that were controversially attributed to pilot error. What if they were also due to faulty information from the 737 Flight Control Computers.

Ironically Boeing has put itnelf in this position. By aggressively accusing pilot error they have made pilot behaviour a headline factor in these crashes. But if pilot behaviour was due to a faulty Flight Control Computer then Boeing is doubly at fault here

Posted by: Pauli | Sep 18 2019 23:20 utc | 56

@ 33 FAA regulations prohibit flying with a device that has had a battery recall from the manufactuer, which appliesto a limited set of 15" MacBook Pros. In a CYA move some airlines limit all MacBooks.

Posted by: Pyrrho | Sep 18 2019 23:30 utc | 57

@49 Don Bacon:

But was Langewiesche wrong about AF447?

All that happened on that plane mechanically was a brief loss of valid airspeed indication, which corrected itself after a few seconds. That was it: nothing else wrong with that aircraft, cruising safely at its full altitude.

From that insignificant glitch, the pilots (primarily the copilot, with the captain failing to right the situation) managed to fly their airliner into the ocean, through pure panic, incompetence, and confusion.

Langewiesche may have let his confirmation bias lead him to back a loser in the Max, and it’s possible he isn’t up to mastering the myriad technical details here (the AF447 story is technically straightforward), but the AF447 story makes a disturbingly strong case that a well designed modern airliner can be a lot more trustworthy than the crew flying it.

Posted by: David G | Sep 18 2019 23:43 utc | 58

David G @ 58

Like life, the AF447 crash was more complicated. One of the three pilots imputed the wrong data into the flight radar system. So the plane flew into an Atlantic equatorial thunderstorm which it normally would have avoided. The chief pilot was resting in the back. The rookie co-pilot was flying. The speed indicator iced over in the storm, the auto-pilot disengaged dumping control to the rookie. Airbus flight control sidesticks are not interconnected. The 2nd officer did not know that the rookie had panicked in the storm and was pulling back on his stick. The senior pilot had time to make it back to the cockpit but only at the last seconds did he and the second officer realize that the plane at stalled and would not recover.

The 737 Max pilots didn’t have a chance. Four experienced pilots with knowledge of MACS system in the simulators had four seconds to do the right thing. One failed. In both crashes the pilots were fighting to save their lives. The question is given more time, with no misleading warnings, knowledge, and simulator training to acquire muscle memory, can regular airline pilots recover control in case of sensor failure and/or with the changed flight characteristics of the Max.

Monopolies ignore designing human computer interfaces that work and that actually increase safety. That costs big bucks.

Posted by: VietnamVet | Sep 19 2019 0:27 utc | 59

Very easy solution, tell FAA to unground all the 737MAX and let them fly in the US. You could lease the other 737MAX from all around the world, for probably very interesting conditions. So Boeing also can deliver new planes and anything will be fine again.
I wish GOOD LUCK, the US-Passengers may will need it.

PS: Cancel the code-sharing to avoid problems with other airlines. Let them fly! and enjoy your Popcorn.

Posted by: WinniPuuh | Sep 19 2019 1:21 utc | 60


Right, banks like Deutche Bank and Citi sure used the fact that Fannie and Freddie were buying this crap, the securities, to say "see the sort of US government backed entities are okay with it".

However the other insurance big banks used was credit default swaps, AKA fake insurance. Buy that fake "policy" on a "bond" made up of ill defined garbage, and you then can turn around and sell more of that ill defined garbage.

(Of course, in the real world liability insurance doesn't work that way, buy real insurance, then burn down your neighbor's house, never get liability insurance again.)

And it's largely AIG (backed by Goldman Sachs) that sold those fake "bond" insurance bets.

Unlike ibanks, which can hide crap, definitely still are, it's a bit hard to hide the fact that a major product line is spectacularly crashing to the ground and killing people.

Microsoft tried to pretend that its major product line, Windows, didn't have disastrous crashes for at least 10 years. These lies have a great deal to do with the revival of Apple and the emergence of Google and Android. There was even a major flaw in the Sept 2019 Patch Tuesday release for Windows 7--the OS became unusable. However I don't think Microsoft is going anywhere.

Posted by: Jay | Sep 19 2019 1:43 utc | 61

3 points needs repeating...

[1] Company founder vs. hired-CEO:

Hired-CEOs have no skin in the game of quality and integrity, as the founders typically have in their acts of creation.

The founder puts his own "skin in the game". I.e., I put myself here; I keep myself here; I am self-determined. It is in the nature of a founder's culture.

Hired CEOs' skin is unlike founders' skin. It is typically " 'They' put me here. Rake-in as much as possible while 'they' keep me here". I am other-determined". [Then I'm outtahere and devil take the hindmost.] That makes sense in the nature of hirelings' culture.

Is this too simple?

Then, from b in his September 3 "Related"

Former Boeing official subpoenaed in 737 MAX probe won’t turn over documents, citing Fifth Amendment protection - Seattle Times
This is the Boeing pilot who told the FAA that MCAS does not need to be mentioned during pilot training. The FAA agreed with him."

From the link to Seattle Times:

During the certification process, Forkner suggested to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that MCAS not be included in the pilot manual, according to previous Seattle Times reporting.

[2] The FAA, after internal deliberations, agreed to keep MCAS out of the manual, reasoning that MCAS was software that operates in the background as part of the flight-control system, according to an official familiar with the discussions.
[3] In addition, Boeing won the FAA’s approval to give pilots just an hour of training through an iPad about the differences between the MAX and the previous 737 generation. MCAS was not mentioned.

Posted by: chu teh | Sep 19 2019 2:07 utc | 62

Monopolies ignore designing human computer interfaces that work and that actually increase safety. That costs big bucks

Actually, in the case of avionics, the programs themselves seem simple in terms of what would need to be done to make a workable human computer interface. HOWEVER, many ills stem from the fact that Boeing did not replace antique processor. Apparently, even such a simple additional functionality like taking input from three sensors and reporting the consensus reading or the fact that there is no consensus was not feasible because each input stream would have its own series of interrupts, and the time budget for real time computing would be busted. Comparing those computing needs to system needs of an intuitive and helpful is like small kitten compared to a pack of ravenous wolves.

It reminded me the flawed concept of electoral strategy of Tories during the last general elections. Given very crappy program, Tories decided to base their PR on the personality of certain Teresa May, in spite of her lacking any personality, except for quirks like fondness for bizarre shoes and petulant behavior. Yes, theoretically it is possible to make a perfectly useful plane that is aerodynamically unstable by assisting the pilots with software. That was actually done on some fighter planes. However, a fighter plane must handle a lot of data streams and its processors are much newer and can handle that. Not to mention a very different rate of acceptable risk in passenger planes versus military fighters.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Sep 19 2019 2:21 utc | 63


1619:37 CAM-? *
1619:37.6 PA [sound similar to CVR startup tone]
1619:43 CAM-2 mayday.
1619:49 CAM-1 push and roll, push and roll.
1619:54 CAM-1 ok, we are inverted... and now we gotta get it….
1619:59 CAM [sound of chime]
1620:03 CAM-1 kick *
1620:04 CAM-1 push push push... push the blue side up.
1620:14 CAM-1 push.
1620:14 CAM-2 I'm pushing.
1620:16 CAM-1 ok now lets kick rudder... left rudder left rudder.
1620:18 CAM-2 I can't reach it.
1620:20 CAM-1 ok right rudder... right rudder.
1620:25 CAM-1 are we flyin?... we're flyin... we're flyin... tell 'em what we're doin.
1620:33 CAM-2 oh yea let me get *
1620:35 CAM-1 *
1620:38 CAM-1 gotta get it over again... at least upside down we're flyin.
1620:40.6 PA [sound similar to CVR startup tone]
1620:42 CAM-? *
1620:44 CAM-? *
1620:49 CAM [sounds similar to compressor stalls begin and continue to end of recording]
1620:49 CAM [sound similar to engine spool down]
1620:54 CAM-1 speedbrakes.
1620:55.1 CAM-2 got it.
1620:56.2 CAM-1 ah here we go.
1620:57.1 [end of recording]

Posted by: Jack Martin | Sep 19 2019 2:24 utc | 64

61 - I am so glad I read clear to your last comment.

That latest OS upgrade happened without warning, the first time EVER since Win 3.1 that the OS has just shut the system down with no mirror on desktop or documents. I lost all of my work and settings, assumed it was a trojan in email attachments I had downloaded, but not yet run through AVS. Restarted, recreated the desktop and rebooted the last saved documents, started an AVS scan, then it completely crashed again with no warning, and began an OS patch install, which I thought, naturally, was the trojan about to hijack my computer by giving me a fake BSOD to stare at.

Work demands were so great to get the documents out, when the desktop came back, rebuilt everything again and hit Print, then Shutdown, then ran AVS on Bootup. Since that day, everything on my machine just flies, which is wonderful in Win 7. I wonder if the OS was 'unstable', or if the override OS patch install was to prevent some massive strike being observed by the Net, and now it's running nice and clean because they got rid of their own MSFT AVS protection, and we're riding raw and bareback?

Hell, we could be watching some retired General on CNN giving the play-by-play from Tehran tomorrow. "And here, Nancy, watch this, as the nuclear cruise missiles take out Goharshad Mosque! Kablewey!!"

Posted by: Jack Martin | Sep 19 2019 2:38 utc | 65

@59 VietnamVet:

Yes, I’m aware: One of the pilots was panicked by the storm clouds ahead, pulled the plane up into a stall, and then all three of them rode it all the way down into the Atlantic in – as I said – a fog of fear, incompetence, and confusion. Nothing “complicates” the fact that it was entirely the men – not the plane or the storm – that killed all those people. (I had forgotten that one of the pilots had input bad navigational data, but that just adds to the incompetence, doesn’t it?)

Langewiesche agrees that the Airbus sidestick controls made it easier for the pilots to work at cross-purposes – he likes Boeing! I guess we’re only seeing now just how much he likes them.

Posted by: David G | Sep 19 2019 3:02 utc | 66

My understanding is that for various reasons, the elevator trim tabs have become extremely authoritative in their control of the elevator surface. Because of autotrim and autothrottle, an equipped aircraft can, relatively unobserved, move into areas of the flight envelope that are very marginal when there is a faulty sensor and it may be that aerodynamically locked control surfaces are not only a Boeing problem or risk. There are some Airbus crashes which may relate to this topic as well.
Additionally, it is my understanding the Airbus controls do not move in sympathy with the changes being made to the throttle and trim so the visual and tactile feedback is not available for observation. If a normal aircraft, which correctly trimmed, is departing from its intended flight condition, it will exert increasing forces upon the controls the pilot is handling and this is a very important feedback that conditions are changing and that awareness may be critical.
An aerodynamically locked elevator may require a roll out, or some other drastic maneover, to release enough force from the system to allow it to be unjammed while departing from a dangerous condition. This would require awareness, skill, time, and altitude.
It is true that a runaway trim condition should be a known and completely understood procedure. The presence of MCAS without notice to the pilots is terrible and may represent a change in culture from one of safety to one of profitability and accounting metrics.
The harsh light is on Boeing right now, however, the industry as a whole may have alot more going on that deserves to be attended to before lives are lost.
Pilots deserve to fly a plane that is an honest plane and that can be reverted to a "flies like a plane" flight control law on a moments notice; and passengers deserve great pilots.

Posted by: James | Sep 19 2019 3:13 utc | 67

@ vk | Sep 18 2019 22:52 utc | 52
You assume 1) the European people is enlightened and 2) Europe is not a capitalist economy.

Definitely not. May be my logic was not clearly enough written, but in any case, I'd been totally misunderstood.
I assume nothing about European people opinion (it doesn't matter, here), and I know that Europe is a capitalist economy.
That is why Europe will stand against Boeing pressure. In the end, Airbus may lose the american market, but I believe this price is OK for pushing out the 737MAX of the non-american global market

Europe is not China, and, as the USA, depends on infinite and indefinite economic growth to survive: even four years is enough to bend European morale in this case, because there would be upper middle class jobs lost in the Peninsula.

Europe is also not the USA: it built a capitalist model that essentially depends on its image and glamour to survive.

I see the cause of your misunderstanding: you believe that USA is more powerful economically than Europe, to the point that Europe could not sustain punishment by USA.
That's ridiculous. Did you noticed that the Fed did just release rates, because it was constrained to follow the decisions of the ECB?

By the way, is it "image and glamour" which makes for superior quality of Airbus planes over thoses of Boeing? The truth is that the american capitalism is a joke. Let's put apart some real feat like SpaceX or some in Silicon valley (not so much if you remove what is only monopoly benefit). Most of the remaining part is uncompetitive, only reaping benefits of the vanishing imperial tenure of the USA.

Posted by: Parisian Guy | Sep 19 2019 3:38 utc | 68

Nothing new here...Langewische did a similar slime piece on the Brazil midair back in 2006 when an American crew flying a brand new Embraer bizjet sliced off the wing of a Gol airlines 737, sending 154 to their death...

The bizjet landed safely...block box data showed the US crew had been flying without transponder for more than an hour prior to the collision, making it impossible for the two respective airplanes' Traffic Collision Avoidance Systems [TCAS] to see each other.

It's like driving on a pitch black night with your headlights turned off, and then pleading innocence after running over a family.

Langewiesche is a scumbag, who has no military or commercial flying experience under his belt...reading his whitewash of that obviously negligent bizjet crew turned my stomach.

Anything he says is worthless...he is not qualified in the 737 nor any other transport category aircraft...he is a glorified private pilot and part of the media establishment.

The pilot unions have a completely opposite and proper take on the MAX situation.

Posted by: flankerbandit | Sep 19 2019 5:33 utc | 69

@ James

An aerodynamically locked elevator may require a roll out, or some other drastic maneover, to release enough force from the system to allow it to be unjammed while departing from a dangerous condition. This would require awareness, skill, time, and altitude.

My emphasis on 'altitude' which neither doomed crew had.

Back in the day 727 pilots used to call this the 'yo yo' maneuver, when you have an aerodynamically stuck tail...

Pulling back on the yoke won't lift the nose if you're going fast enough when this happens, in fact it will only make it worse, as it adds to the stuck trim, making it impossible to turn the trim wheels.

Boeing used to teach the same maneuver in earlier 737 manuals, calling it the 'rollercoaster'...same thing, you need to point the nose down to unload the tailplane and free up the locked tail and trim wheels.

But that takes altitude...there is no way to save a plane that keeps pointing its nose down right after takeoff.

Agree also on the non-feedback and unsynchronized Airbus sidesticks...not good.

The challenge with the tail on passenger jets is a universal one, as you you alluded...the tail needs to work over a very wide speed high speed only tiny movements of the tail will cause big forces...while at slow speeds you need a lot of movement.

Various ways to address that... Bjorn Fehrm has a good series on his blog about this.

Posted by: flankerbandit | Sep 19 2019 6:02 utc | 70

Tenuously related...

This week's National Press Club Address broadcast provided a forum for the CEOs of QANTAS and Virgin Australia to have a good whinge about the confiscatory profits of the private monopoly known as Airports Australia (henceforth AA).

QANTAS & Virgin profits run at circa 8% per annum. They estimated that AA's profits are running at circa 58% and rising. They're whingeing about the fact that AA doesn't negotiate its fee rises and refuses to submit to (independent) arbitration of disputes. Both airlines are suing AA in the Federal Court for Predatory Pricing and also to ask for a ruling on AA's allergy to arbitration. The Court case could drag on until 2022/2023 and will cost $millions.

Meanwhile AA is free to withhold approval of landing rights for innovative new overseas biz and tourist routes which QANTAS & Virgin can demonstrate is costing Oz Tourist Industry hundreds of $millions in lost biz turnover and hundreds of new job opportunities.
Not only is AA a destructive and predatory monopoly, it has serious deafness and myopia problems...

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Sep 19 2019 6:15 utc | 71

@18 Thanks Peter C for the Ford pinto story. I did some reading on it and it was quite a few instructive.

Posted by: murgen23 | Sep 19 2019 9:38 utc | 72

@ A.L. | Sep 18 2019 17:27 utc | 9

Re. needing to unload stock:

More than anyone, stock analysts know the score, they're just not talking.

Fortunately in healthy capitalist system competitor will step in to replace failing Boing.

Posted by: jared | Sep 19 2019 10:14 utc | 73

When the chips are down the NYT comes through. 911, Iraqi war, all things Russian, Epstein and now Boeing.

Posted by: steve | Sep 19 2019 10:23 utc | 74

@ A.L. | Sep 18 2019 17:27 utc | 9

Re. needing to unload stock:

More than anyone, stock analysts know the score, they're just not talking.

Fortunately in healthy capitalist system competitor will step in to replace failing Boing.

Posted by: jared | Sep 19 2019 11:01 utc | 75

flankerbandit | Sep 19 2019 6:02 utc |69, 70
Thanks for the clarification.
I always click on your informed comments...

Posted by: V | Sep 19 2019 12:26 utc | 76

Delta flight makes emergency landing after quick 29,000-foot descent

The article states the airplane model is a Boeing 767-300. Initial claims point to a pressurization problem.

Posted by: vk | Sep 19 2019 13:27 utc | 77

@ Posted by: Parisian Guy | Sep 19 2019 3:38 utc | 68

The Fed didn't decide to lower their interest because the ECB did so, but because there was no other option for the American economy.

If they rose their base interest, all the big American corporations would be bankrupt because corporate debt is at all time highs and they are surviving on borrowing low from the Fed and buying back their own stock.

If they kept the same, then things would stay the same -- not acceptable for the USA, since its economy is essentially stagnant.

The "solution" left was to lower even further the interest, in order to try to fuel another cycle of growth pushed by the financial sector. American interest already was effectively at zero territory in real terms (ZIRP); they are now entertaining with negative real interest (NIRP).

But the reality is inescapable: the USA is going through the Japanification of its economy. Europe is already there, with Mario Draghi anouncing eternal QE.


What commodities are sold and what are not is not determined by quality in the capitalist system. What determines it is 1) profit rate and 2) violence.

Competition between monopolies happen in a different way than between small/medium businesses in capitalism: instead of profit rates (which are still the determining factor of ultimate survivability, but is hidden here), it happens between fight for market shares. Monopolies can sustain decades of zero or even suave negative profit rates simply because they are too big and too powerful. The decisive battle happens in the market shares, i.e. how much of the share of the proverbial harem (of consumers) they have in relation to a rival monopoly. That means competition between monopolies tend to manifest through conflicts between nation-States (war, trade wars etc. etc.).

Airbus is not entitled to Boeing's market share just because it has the superior commodity. Boeing can and will use its monopoly power to subjugate its enemies.

Posted by: vk | Sep 19 2019 13:42 utc | 78

In contrast to the NYT PR piece this in the New Republic is excellent.

Crash Course

A long and proud “safety culture” was rapidly being replaced, he argued, with “a culture of financial bullshit, a culture of groupthink.”

Posted by: b | Sep 19 2019 15:07 utc | 79

An easy way to avoid being lied to is to refuse to read the New York Times. They have been obvious and proven liars so often now, and this over several decades, that the best solution is to simply refuse to read the NYT. Of course, who knows, Dubya might still find those Iraqi WMDs.

Posted by: Chlossy | Sep 19 2019 15:25 utc | 80

@61 jay... good comparison between boeing and microsoft... i don't know how much microsoft is part of the military complex, but i know boeing is.. that is another reason they are not going to let boeing die any time soon..

Posted by: james | Sep 19 2019 16:05 utc | 81

Boing has a division that makes stuff that kills people and another that, ideally, transports people.
It's complex.

The USSA system of welfare for Wall St and privatization of warfare has destroyed all possibility of accountability.

America may be locked and loaded, but it's not so great.

Posted by: jared | Sep 19 2019 16:17 utc | 82

Crash Course: How Boeing's Managerial Revolution Created The 737 MAX Disaster

Posted by: jpmoshe | Sep 19 2019 17:40 utc | 83

'I am not aware of an accident in the U.S. where the FAA investigators released "complete flight-data recordings and the audio from the cockpit" to foreign entities that were suspected to have caused the incident. Nor will the FAA "release all the raw data" associated with an accident. Certainly not before an investigation is finished.'
Maybe not, and please pardon my ignorance, if such this be (I'm unaware of any NTSB partificipation in these investigations), but - irrespective of any subtle conditional consideration such as '[release] to foreign entities that were suspected to have caused the incident' - would not U.S. release of accident-related raw- and/or flight-data and recordings be made by the NTSB rather than the FAA? Indeed, would not U.S. authorities be required to release such information to interested third parties, whether or not foreign, and vice versa? Just asking.

Posted by: Pundit | Sep 19 2019 18:05 utc | 84

A couple of months ago, Langewiesche also blamed the pilot for crashing MH370 which vanished in March 2014 with 227 passengers on board.
(see section "6. The Captain" in )
The article is actually mostly very well written, apart from Langewiesche's views on who was guilty.

The evidence he presents against the captain is so weak that it should not even be called evidence. Captain Zaharie had some minor personal issues - nothing that would explain why he would commit suicide and mass murder in such a bizarre way.

It is very likely that there was some human intervention in controlling that aircraft while it flew off course, but no evidence that it was a planned diversion by the pilot in order to crash it many hours later.

Posted by: Brendan | Sep 19 2019 19:38 utc | 85


You may be right, but remember, there is always walking. Takes longer but will get you there eventually. Of course, not across the ocean . . . Then there is sailing, if you know how . . .

Posted by: Really?? | Sep 20 2019 0:27 utc | 86

@ Avid lurker #89

Re this clown 'Evangelista' you said...

'Verbal diarrhea ?? Please spare us.'

Agree 100 percent...I've noticed this dipstick every time he shows up here...sticks out like a sore thumb...

Posted by: flankerbandit | Sep 20 2019 2:06 utc | 87

@ Carey #91

Re our fine feathered friend 'Evangelista'...

Not only does he praise the scumbag Langewiesche while yapping about flying credentials [of which he certainly has ZERO]...but he also finds time to crap on Scott of the real good guys.

He stooped and pooped on Ritter's Sept 14 piece in Consortiumnews...

The Spy Who Failed

..about the Smolenkov affair...another great expose by Ritter...well worth least this 'Evangelista' shill did some good by giving us a steer to this excellent piece, that lays bare the BS being peddled by the establishment.

Will also mention here another ABSOLUTELY MAGNIFICENT piece by Ritter on Tulsi Gabbard last month, RE Syria and the fake chemical attacks...highly recommended.

Tulsi Gabbard Gets Some Vindication

Like many here have noticed, MoA is being actively targeted by dreadfully incompetent shills...they are of course quite obvious...LOL

Posted by: flankerbandit | Sep 20 2019 3:53 utc | 88

There is an excellent article in the New Republic about the diss-functional Boeing management. Highly recommended.


Posted by: Joseph A Brady | Sep 20 2019 20:42 utc | 89

This was written to be used to defend Boeing in the forthcoming lawsuits .... ammunition for the corrupt US courts to deflect the justifiable collapse of a giant US corporation. Nothing more, nothing less.

Posted by: TEP | Sep 20 2019 23:28 utc | 90

Does anyone here know the differences between the two 737MAX flights that crashed and the hundreds that made successful trips? Manoeuvres, load distributions, fuel loads, handling of anomalies, etc?

Posted by: Elby | Sep 21 2019 16:06 utc | 91

Excellent post. In addition to the factual errors pointed out here, there is also a lack of understanding about the role of investigators in air safety. I've made this point on my blog which you can read here.

Posted by: Christine Negroni | Sep 21 2019 18:52 utc | 92

How come this two gurus get to enlighten the world with these absolute truths with the investigation still on course? As per now, all these are just opinions, not really informed ones, based in personal experience and perspective, the least valuable factual evidence available. We will see

Posted by: AIA | Sep 22 2019 14:26 utc | 93

Expected behavior from Part 121 Manufacturers who’s linguistics intentionally deflect accountability at every possible opportunity without any shred of evidence to support this blame notion of inexperienced pilots being causal factors in both accidents. What this author purposefully ignores is the fact that Europe’s leading Airline training academies successfully trained and placed thousands of 200 hour graduates at leading Airlines for the last 18 years without any documented hull losses to date ?

Posted by: the Human Factor hub | Sep 22 2019 19:06 utc | 94

Just wondering how bigoted William Langewiesche is. Would he have the same analysis if the pilots were American or British?

Posted by: John Zelnicker | Sep 23 2019 1:00 utc | 95

so, we wash a "who's to blame" article with another even worst. Tergiversated opinions shown as facts. Shame on this safet "experts"

Posted by: Manny | Sep 23 2019 15:24 utc | 96

Who is the name of the author of this Moon of Alabama article, and what are his credentials?

Posted by: chrislz | Sep 24 2019 16:15 utc | 97

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