Boeing 737 MAX 9: The Comment Heard Around The World

[NB: check the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

If I had any doubts this last week whether I should post about Boeing’s quality problems, a comment posted in Leeham News on January 16 convinced me the topic needs more attention. I had goosebumps several times as I read it.

Kudos to Leeham News for maintaining a comment section; it’s not easy but it’s clearly needed.

I’m not screenshotting the entire comment, only enough to convince you this is something worth reading and understanding amid a sea of layoffs and a surge of AI implementation across nearly every industry. Imagine as you read it how this could be made worse by fewer well-educated personnel and less communication between humans.

Before you scroll further, read the article which spawned the comment:

“Unplanned” removal, installation inspection procedure at Boeing
https://leehamnews.com/2024/01/15/unplanned-removal-installation-inspection-procedure-at-boeing

This story was published ten days after Alaska Air’s flight 1282  departed Portland OR’s PDX airport for California only to lose a door minutes later. The Boeing 737 MAX 9 safely returned to PDX roughly 20 minutes after takeoff.

The original comment both parts 1 and 2 can be found directly below the article — use keyword “throwawayboeing” to find them using Ctrl-F in your browser as many more comments have appeared since the article was first published.

If Leeham News should crash from high traffic volume or a possible attack, you can find parts 1 and 2 along with the article at the Internet Archive (keep in mind the earliest archived versions of the article may not have the comments beneath them):

https://web.archive.org/web/20240122193511/https://leehamnews.com/2024/01/15/unplanned-removal-installation-inspection-procedure-at-boeing/

An observer in my social media feed whose name I didn’t record noted that every little problem Boeing planes experience is now news. United Airlines discovering loose bolts on Boeing 737 aircraft reported only days after the Alaska Air door failure would and should have made the news; Alaska Air has also found more problems with bolts since then.

Google Trends suggests there’s some truth to the claim every Boeing problem is now news:

How many of the increased mentions are well-deserved snark is hard to say:

Well-deserved if dark. So dark. Mentions of new resources like Is My Plane A 737 MAX may also magnify Boeing’s problems in the media, but if there wasn’t a safety problem tools like this wouldn’t be seen as necessary.

Commerce Committee chair Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Subcommittee on International Trade, Customs, and Global Competitiveness member Mark Warner (D-VA), and Commerce Committee ranking member Ted Cruz (R-TX) are scheduled to meet today with Boeing’s CEO Dave Calhoun about the aerospace manufacturer’s ongoing quality crisis.

Calhoun already met last week with the heads of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). Seems rather late after the crazy stones Boeing manifested by asking on January 5 for its 737 MAX 7 to be exempted from safety rules to allow the aircraft to fly.

Let’s hope the FAA and NTSB are focused on the quality problems at Boeing and not on the source of the comment above until the comment’s veracity is called into question. The First Amendment should protect just this kind of speech from corporate suppression given the absolute risk all passengers take when boarding a Boeing aircraft.

You’ll note the image used on the front page for this post is a Boeing 737 — but it’s a military craft. Boeing is a federal contractor. If workers can’t safely blow the whistle on manufacturing quality problems with aircraft our defense personnel and our elected officials rely on, purchased with our taxpayer dollars, what good is the First Amendment?

~ ~ ~

What all of this has to do with labor is fairly clear in the original article published in Leeham News. I can’t add more to what’s been written.

But all of this could be worse in time depending on how Boeing addresses solutions in concert with cost controls.

One thing the public should know more about is the impact AI will have in manufacturing environments, especially ones in which both adherence to specifications and safety are tightly linked.

Four days after the Alaska Air Boeing 737 Max 9 lost its door mid-air, there was a report about a vulnerability found in Bosch brand cordless, handheld pneumatic torque wrenches which are used in the automotive industry. The wrenches are programmed to ensure nuts are tightened to specification and operate using Wi-Fi.

What are the chances that similar vulnerabilities may exist or be introduced into aerospace manufacturing, compounded by the increasing amounts of AI used in automation?

Let’s say a certain aerospace manufacturer gets its shit together and fixes its corporate culture and procedures so that all parts are tracked and all actions and omissions are likewise accounted for and documented as it builds aircraft.

What could happen if the no-longer-missing bolts are over- or under-tightened because of a vulnerability like the one in Bosch’s Rexroth’s NXA015S-36V-B wrenches?

It’s not enough to analyze and remedy existing quality and safety problems; future problems must be anticipated at the same time.

~ ~ ~

Since I began drafting this post this morning, The Seattle Times has reported on Boeing’s door problem, mentioning the comment left at Leeham News. You’ll want to follow up with this story as aerospace manufacturing is journalist Dominic Gates beat; he’s covered other similar stories like the ongoing Boeing 737 challenge.

In fact, if you read the comments at Leeham News you’ll see Gates as well.

Yet another example of why well-moderated news sites’ comments can be important.

This is NOT an open post. Please stay on topic in comments.

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125 replies
  1. EW Moderation Team says:

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    • Rayne says:

      Based on the process description that Boeing insider provided, yeah — every single aircraft is a quality and safety risk right now.

      I was employed by a Fortune 100 company manufacturing subsidiary which went through the process of obtaining ISO certification. Every process was examined deeply and documented thoroughly; every component needed complete traceability from raw material to final product. I can’t help think Boeing needs to go through the same examination and certification process before it is out of the woods.

      Ugh. I don’t look forward to flying anywhere any time soon.

      • P J Evans says:

        I spent a lot of time doing QC when I was working, and I didn’t want to sign off on anything that wasn’t actually passing. (At one place I had a lead person who did do that.)
        part of it was having impressed on me, when I started, that getting it wrong could get people killed. (See also: San Bruno pipeline explosion. The number of ways that PGE fcked up…)

        • arbustotoo says:

          I’d read that in the cockpit crew emergency masks flew about and emergency checklists and debris were sucked through the cockpit door opening after the door blew open and slammed into a partition during depressurization. A commenter noted the door was solid without baffles to allow slow pressure equalization as in most passenger jets. Said commenter stated the door wasn’t to spec and not in the flight manual ala the 8Max MCAS.
          As a purchasing agent for a couple of DoD contractors my commodity was fucked up by DoD shutting down total production of my subcontractor while inspector’s checked “as built” vs documentation. I had one circuit board bypass incoming inspection to allow production to drill a hole in short circuit so the board would work then being returned to incoming. Documentation was never changed kinda like Boeing.

      • pluralist says:

        I remember reading a Harvard Business Review article explaining that all the big Wall Street corporations that went belly up in the 2008 were fully Sarbanes-Oxley compliant.

        I’ve worked for a number of large multinational corporations. ISO standards are certainly more sharply defined than SarbOx, but I have confidence in the ability of big corporations to accurately and literally fulfill requirements, regulations and standards, in great detail – and to do it without achieving the overall effect intended.

        • Rayne says:

          Don’t conflate SarbOx with ISO standards, for gods’ sake. Accounting isn’t quality management. Using 2008 as an example is also absolutely absurd; do you really think SarbOx was constructed to deal with inadequate liquidity of downstream investments like subprime mortgages sliced and diced into CDOs which couldn’t be audited by any company owning shares of an investment bank? I worked for a financial subsidiary of a Fortune 100 corp which had multiple external auditors and internal auditors combing through the sub’s financials daily, at a time when derivatives were being introduced. You should be asking what happened to the auditing firms and to the members of Congress who killed Glass Steagall after 2008.

          Boeing’s ISO certification under 9001 should be threatened if that insider’s description is accurate. Ditto contracts awarded to Boeing based on that certification because the corporation appears unable to provide traceability on components. The entire aerospace industry should be concerned because they operate under the same aerospace-specific standard; if Boeing is being audited by the same external certification bodies, is the same lack of quality going on elsewhere but the other aerospace manufacturers have simply gotten lucky? What’s going on with ISO auditing?

    • boatgeek says:

      The problems are absolutely not just limited to the 737 Max line. The article below talks about an absolutely stunning number of safety complaints lodged against the 737 Max as it came back into service. One of the complaints (foreign objects in the fuel tanks) reminded me that Boeing had the same problem on the 767 tankers they are building for the Air Force. IIRC, the USAF had to stop taking aircraft deliveries because they repeatedly found stuff in the fuel tanks. Even after they called Boeing on the carpet a few times.

      https://www.levernews.com/airlines-filed-1-800-reports-warning-regulators-about-boeings-737-max/

    • Michael8748 says:

      Thanks for calling it a “door” and not a “plug”.

      [Moderator’s note: Your comment was held up in auto-moderation for multiple reasons.
      1) Use the same username and email address each time you comment – you commented last as “Michael7748” and before that as “Maddermax“;
      2) Omit a URL in URL field as you did not provide your own homepage URL with your first known comment. The URL you provided with this comment was for this post and has been removed.
      Your next comment which does not use one of the previous usernames and/or includes a URL in the URL field will not clear moderation. /~Rayne
      ]

    • Moose #2 says:

      The delta incident is likely a Delta maintenance issue, and not Boeing’s fault. That plane was very nearly 32 years old, built well before the MD buyout and the resulting management changes leading directly to the recent incidents.
      Airliner tires typically last 200 to 400 cycles (takeoff+landing = 1 cycle), so even in relatively long-haul service with only one flight per day, that tire has likely been replaced 30+ times, and the landing gear should have been extensively inspected several times during periodic maintenance. So unless Boeing is providing defective wheels or mounting hardware, then Delta maintenance somehow went wrong — either through an inspection failure, a mechanics error, or through purchase & installation of counterfeit parts.
      Delta’s maintenance seems far more suspect here.
      And I say that as an engineer with little/no respect for eitehr Boeing or FAA. Boeing has never dealt with 2 of the 3 defects that led to the Ethiopian crash. They may have “fixed” MCAS, but they didn’t fix the issues that prevented the Ethiopian pilots from recovering:
      1. Boeing changed the trim controls in MAX such that it is impossible to turn off automatic vertical trim without also turning off the electrically-assisted manual trim. This was a deliberate change in MAX, with (so far as I can tell) no technical justification whatever.
      2. Manual trim does not give the pilots enough leverage to recover from a severe down mistrim at low altitudes. The 737 has never provided enough leverage for this, but the available leverage was reduced in both 737 NG and 737 MAX, making the problem worse. And in all 737 pror to MAX, manually-controlled electrical trim is available even after disabling the automatic trim.
      I expect to see at least one more MAX total hull loss over the life of the plane, due to this stupidity making recovery from trim runaway impossible under reasonably foreseeable conditions.
      And both their response to the MCAS fiasco, and the recent plug door incident, lead me to believe they’ve never come even close to doing an adequate FMECA on the plane to find and fix/mitigate other currently-unrecognized issues.
      Neither have they seen fit to drive permanent solutions to long-standing supplier quality issues.
      Boeing is just broken.
      And for the FAA to not recognize that before now indicates the FAA is broken as well.

    • eyesoars says:

      By all accounts, the 737-MAX problems are only the latest in a long string of problems at Boeing. Boeing’s Starliner, built for NASA, has had quite a number of problems, which fortunately (or not), was built on a “fixed price” contract. Initial flight failure, due to poor software development and testing culture, have cost Boeing hundreds of millions if not billions of dollars, and several years in development. And it’s still not flying; SpaceX has now been flying its competitive product for some years.

      The problems at Boeing are cultural, and have been developing since McDonnell-Douglas’s management’s takeover of Boeing. Their management drove McD-D into the ground, and they’re looking to repeat the same mistakes with Boeing.

  2. PeteT0323 says:

    As I recall around the time of the MAX 8 crashes there was a lot of press on how/why the 737 MAX was ever built.

    From the article linked below:

    Aug. 30, 2011

    Boeing launches the 737 MAX, an update to the 737 with larger engines, rather than an all-new design. The move is forced when American Airlines prepares to give Airbus a large order for the rival A320neo.

    For cost and probably competitive reasons Boeing chose to modify the 737 frame to accommodate the Max capabilities, but among other things the larger engines and inability to raise the height of the aircraft off the tarmac/runway due to the larger engines caused a set of problems to start with. The aircraft was also inherently less stable than the 737 and, so, (likely) the crashes and problematic flight controls.

    It is an aircraft that should never have been built IMHO.

    https://www.seattletimes.com/business/boeing-aerospace/boeing-737-max-timeline-troubled-history-uncertain-future/

      • Rugger_9 says:

        Indeed, and part of the reason it was slapdash had to do with regulations. In short, Boeing did not want to pay for pilots to recertify on the airframe in simulators. Like the medical device world, ‘significant’ changes force closer reviews, but if a manufacturer can ‘justify’ the change as being piddling enough, no simulator time would be necessary. Airlines liked the idea as well.

        However, there were fundamental changes caused by the larger engines, the autopilot controls and by going cheap on redundancy which the FAA ignored because of deregulation. Read the earlier report and the Seattle Times series regarding the first crash and read this one again. Nothing was learned by Boeing’s management.

        So, Airbus and Lockheed (on the military side) will profit pretty well while Boeing sinks to Aeroflot-levels of the GAS factor (at least by management).

        • Lika2know says:

          A major driver for 737-MAX was Southwest Airlines (all 737 fleet) for a transatlantic a/c that didn’t require recertification of pilots.
          SW deal included a penalty for each a/c that required additional pilot training.

    • xyxyxyxy says:

      Going way back and McD being cheap before the Boeing and McD merger, American Airlines wanted a tri-jet but felt that the rock solid L1011 was going to cost it too much.
      So McD built a cheaper version, the DC10, which had redundancy issues with hydraulics which caused them to crash.

      • Sussex Trafalgar says:

        True! The L10-11 was considered the “Mercedes Benz” of the sky. I never met an L10-11 pilot who didn’t enjoy flying it or feeling safe in it.

    • AirportCat says:

      This is exactly correct: the Max should never have been built. The first iterations of the B737 were the -100 and -200 series. The next iteration was the -300, -400, and -500, which were essentially the same aircraft with different fuselage lengths for different passenger capacities. Then came the -700, -800, and -900: same thing, an upgrade of the B737 design with different fuselage lengths. The next iteration was the Max, which pushed the design too far. The larger diameter engines had to be mounted higher and more forward, which led to the MCAS that was a factor in the two Max 8 crashes. Boeing should have started with a clean-sheet design, but they knew that would take longer to get to market and they feared losing sales to Airbus. They additionally marketed the Max as another B737 upgrade with reduced training requirements to transition pilots from older versions, which they knew would appeal to existing customers.
      This is all a somewhat different issue than the quality problems that have now become glaringly apparent, but it arises from the same defective culture that placed a premium on marketing and sales over the technical excellence that had long been a Boeing hallmark.

    • Codewalker says:

      Re: Boeing MCAS Root Cause

      Boeing did not want to make a new aircraft to accommodate the new engine because airlines would have to train pilots on a new plane and that takes them out of revenue generating activity for longer than the airlines want.

      Instead they cobbled the new engines onto the old 737 frame. That put the engine in the wrong place, and they attempted to fix it with software. The airlines didn’t buy the software upgrade and two crashes were the result.

    • boatgeek says:

      He’s not lying, he’s just reached maximum Dunning-Kruger. Boeing is 100% confident in their QC. Nobody else should be.

  3. Mustellus says:

    Boeing’s problems are not limited to aircraft. Boeing is also under NASA contract to build a crew spacecraft to launch to the space station. The first (unmanned) test launch had the master clock not set to real time, and the vehicle could not rendezvous with the station. The second (unmanned) test launch did make it to the space station, but was plagued by multiple critical system failures. The competitor Dragon spacecraft, (SpaceX) has been flying safely for years now.

  4. Tetman Callis says:

    Thank you for the post, Rayne, and the directions to the comment left at Leeham News. I have blocked and copied both parts to a Word file and saved it in case I ever want to access it again.

  5. xyxyxyxy says:

    A few points,
    1. wasn’t it a panel that can be removed to be replaced by a door if the airline so desired, that blew off and not a door?
    2. the comment above by the Boeing employee, Boeing bought McD not as he stated that McD bought Boeing. Maybe taking on McD’s
    culture and strategy makes him feel like it was that McD bought Boeing.
    3. SCOTUS looking into removing, i think it’s called authority, from Federal Gov’t departments and agencies unless Congress has made those decisions, I can see MAGATS deciding that jets should no longer have wings or maybe engines or whatever.
    4. Boeing which blames Spirit for this and other issues, spun Spirit off a few decades ago but they have remained very tied to each other.
    5. Canadian aircraft maker Bombardier had a solid somewhat competitive jet they were working on and had completed. Boeing was scared of this competition even though it didn’t have to because of its size and order book vs Bombardier. As Boeing forced airlines not to go near the Bombardier jet, Bombardier for the most part went broke and Airbus bought the rights to that jet. Bombardier also had issues delivering rail stock and that caused it to also have more financial issues and Alstom taking over those operations.
    6. China is building a competitive jet with all the technology Boeing has provided thanks to all the subcontracting it has given to Chinese companies.

    • EuroTark says:

      Regarding 1) my read is:
      Boeing performs quality control of the door, noting the fasteners are in place but some rivets are defective. This got sent back to the sub-contractor (Spirit) for fixing through a task on SAT (and the failure logged in CMES).
      Spirit claimed to have fixed the issue, while actually not doing so, but closing the SAT task.
      Boeing checks the work and discovers that the issue is still there, and the SAT task is re-opened.
      Spirit redoes the job and notes that the pressure seal is also damaged (uncleas to how and by whom), closing the issues in SAT and CMES.
      Access to the seal is blocked by the door, which has to be “opened or removed” which necessitates removing the bolts. This action is not properly logged in the system.
      Airplane is shipped off without the door being recertified after being de-comissioned.

      • Intone says:

        It was a door plug. A door sized part that is installed on the outside, the inside has normal panelling that does not show the plug.

        SAT is for Spirit and Boeing to chat about tasks. Only Boeing people can make changes in CMES. Boeing owns assuring and controlling it’s quality. It can try and blame the work done by Spirit, or the door subcontractor, but it still has 100% responsibility for the state of the planes it delivers to it’s customers.

        The failure here was that boeing employees asked spirit to make changes without making the required changes in CMES to reflect the door plug was opened and then closed to replace the pressure seal. That would have triggered a seperate QA event/inspection in CMES which would have caught the missing by 4 bolts needed to secure the door.

        You can argue about managment failures and pressures to hurry up causing lapse in judgement etc, and you would be correct because that is a well understood phenomina when people have to choose between a job and safety.

        Which is why this is completely preventable, well covered territory, and what happens when you incentify managment to stick to the schedule and give them the power to override QC.

        In short the rot goes to the top.

    • commonphoole says:

      The reality is McD bought Boeing’s. McD wanted Boeing’s reputation after having problems like this. McD received more voting stock and their executives took over. Boeing was fanatical about making safe planes. McD about profits. Every Boeing employee from Everett to Auburn felt the change.

      • Lika2know says:

        McDonnell Douglas -Boeing merger was pushed by DoD who were afraid McD would go under. Boeing resisted the merger b/c it hurt their challenges to Airbus anti-competitiveness (commercial).
        Mostly there were few places that actually merged-changed the sign. But it was a shock to Boeing that management shifted away from engineers to finance types. P.S. Used to work where the door was made.

  6. Capemaydave says:

    Reading this perspective while the Supremes contemplate how best to gut Chevron deference sends a chill up my spine.

    The fewer humans involved in such endeavors via AI, the MORE necessary will be gov’t agencies scrutinizing such.

    AI in mfg may just shift the burden rather than reduce costs.

  7. rosalind says:

    so looking forward to my necessary flight tomorrow on a 737-700. *sigh* having lived on and off in the Seattle area for decades, with friends working at Boeing, to see how far that company has fallen is beyond shocking, and scary. and the FAA’s inept “oversight” is the epitome of corporate capture. nothing will happen unless competent FAA staff and administration truly step up with real, true oversight of every aspect of the manufacturing and certification.

    • xyxyxyxy says:

      Crashes are so rare that you need not worry.
      I would imagine every pilot and co-pilot wants to takeoff and land safely and thus they make sure their equipment is as safe and sound as can be.

      • higgs boson says:

        Statistics are cold comfort when you become one.

        And pre-flight checks do not, as far as I know, cover door bolts.

        • xyxyxyxy says:

          As far as statistics, if you’re uncomfortable, I know it sounds crazy but take the bus or train. There should be better highspeed rail in the US but passenger rail’s acceptance sucks. Why should people be taking a jet from DC to NYC or Boston when a highspeed should get you downtown to downtown in almost the same time?
          And as far as checks, those jets with faulty door bolts are not flying right now. As far as other faulty parts, airlines perform xrays of their jets every so often to detect issues. These jets were probably too new to have those checks performed.

        • xyxyxyxy says:

          Better not leave your abode as you may be a statistic when you slip on a banana peel, ice, get hit by a kid riding a scooter on the sidewalk.
          Or maybe when you get behind the wheel of your car.
          Oh no, you may become one even in your place of abode if you eat too much, especially transfats or by mistake throw a plugged toaster into your bathtub while you’re bathing.

        • xyxyxyxy says:

          Airlines do xray and other checks every so often.
          These jets were new and so most likely had not gone through all those checks.

          • Rayne says:

            AIRLINES. Not pilots and co-pilots, and oh, by the way, when do airlines’ xrays communicate torques off spec and missing bolts.

            I’m sorry, rosalind, I don’t want to add to your concerns but this naivete is how we got here.

          • iamevets says:

            and on a Delta Boeng flight this morning in Atlanta, while waiting for takeoff, a wheel fell off.
            all passengers had to be removed. (guess it would have been a rough landing and/or takeoff).
            No need to be concerned?
            I’m sure it is Delta’s fault and not Boeing. Although i can’t imagine the airlines profit needs are too much different than Boeing.

            • xyxyxyxy says:

              On Saturday not today, reports are today. It was one of the two front wheels I’m guessing but probably the vehicle pulling jet away from gate caused this.

            • codewalker says:

              Re: maintenance

              I used to fly a lot. When I did, I thought the best solution would be to have all aircraft maintenance done by the airframe company. They’re main focus then would be safety, small incentive to cut corners as any blame for a crash will fall predominately on them, if equipment or maintenance issues are at fault. Pilot error would be the airlines.

    • EuroTark says:

      Not really comforting, but statistially speaking the most dangerous part of the journey is the drive to/from the airport. Secondary is probably the cosmic radiation you’re exposed to at cruising altitude.

      • xyxyxyxy says:

        On a flight the most dangerous part of the journey is from when the aircraft is leaving the jetway to just after takeoff and from just before landing till the aircraft is at the jetway as there is so much activity from all directions.
        Same with trains and buses when they are leaving and arriving at a terminal.

    • Kenster42 says:

      Absolutely nothing to worry about flying a 737-MAX in the United States. I flew 8 flights in December, 6 of which were on the MAX. Not the slightest worry about doing so. Why? Because keep in mind there are actually 2 issues with the MAX.

      The first is the problem created due to the new engines being too large, which required Boeing to pull the engines farther forward on the wing to create the proper ground clearance. When the new airliner was put into service this resulted in a weird, not-publicly-known pitch-up problem that resulted in flight crews overreacting to it during flight, creating oscillations that, if not properly controlled, can result in a crash. This problem resulted in two (2) hull losses. However, note that contrary to everyone piling on, these hull losses were just as much due to poor pilot training as to the design of the airplane. There’s a reason why the two hull losses occurred with low-budget airlines operating in countries that simply don’t have the rigorous pilot training that US airlines have. So, first point, fly the MAX with US carriers. Also, note that this issue is well known now and there have been several procedures placed into the manuals and tweaks to the flight software that make this essentially a non-issue. It is incredibly unlikely that there will ever again be a hull loss anywhere in the world due to this issue.

      The second is the door / plug situation. Yes, it’s a stupid and a problematic issue, but the reality is that airplanes are incredibly complicated machines. It’s also incredibly important to note that in the incident where the plug separated from the airframe, there was not a single fatality or serious injury. The aircraft landed successfully without incident.

      Someone else on this post indicated that “the MAX should never have been built”. This is a reactionary statement that is unfortunately typical of where we are with everything these days. Something happens and a certain constituency goes completely off the deep end. The engine issue is solved. The door plug issue is being solved right now.

      In summary, the one reason why the MAX was previously feared has been completely solved and will not happen again, and the other reason it is currently feared has resulted in a single incident with no fatalities. We all need to view this through the lens of logic.

      • Rayne says:

        You know how you keep problems like those you described from becoming much larger?

        By making a big fucking deal out of them when discovered and staying on them until the root cause has been dealt with effectively.

        By refraining from minimizing language like “hull losses” while we’re trying to keep the heat on a fucked-up corporate culture placing profits over human safety.

        Put that in your lens.

      • xyxyxyxy says:

        The two lost jets a few years ago was as you say “low-budget”.
        Boeing offered two versions of that MAX, the cheaper model where the pilots had to be just right in their reaction. But for an additional million, I may be wrong with that number, there was a version that the jet’s computer would do the recovery and no pilot intervention was necessary. I believe after the investigation only the former became available.
        It’s like when wind shear technology was developed the manufacturer would offer a model where the computer would immediately recover as the jet was about to “hit” the ground or humans who would not have a chance at recovery. Only the former has been available.
        With the beloved and great 757 which could have been modified if necessary, it is correct to say “the MAX should never have been built”.
        And agree with Rayne about the human life cost vs lost hull language.

        • xyxyxyxy says:

          As far as the cheaper vs costlier MAX, to correct what I wrote, after the investigation only the one where the computer would do the recovery is being offered for sale.

  8. HardyWeinberg3 says:

    “What are the chances that similar vulnerabilities may exist or be introduced into aerospace manufacturing, compounded by the increasing amounts of AI used in automation?”

    Check this out

    “However, one aspect of the scandal has attracted comparatively little attention: that the laws of England and Wales presume that computer systems do not make errors, which makes it difficult to challenge computer output. National and regional governments around the world where these laws exist need to review them, as there are implications for a new generation of IT systems — namely those using artificial intelligence (AI).”

    https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-024-00168-8

    • Intone says:

      Zero.

      No manufacturing system is looking at adding ‘ai’ elements to it’s software for the obvious reason that they can’t be trusted and every engineer knows this.

      They may use it for writing the code that goes into the system, but those systems still have to pass testing done by people.

      So in the incident you linked, the courts found that it was possible the computer systems did made mistakes and squashed convictions once it was made aware of additional findings. What is the problem here, other than how can I drive traffice to a website with sensational headlines?

      • xyxyxyxy says:

        You sure that “No manufacturing system is looking at adding ‘ai’ elements to it’s software”?
        There’s a market for non-“name brand” aircraft parts so why not AI?

        • Intone says:

          Aircraft are designed by licensed, legally responsible, professional engineers. Every engineer who looks at how machine learning works will understand the risks of it making shit up. Nobody is going to sign their name to that and risk their livelyhood. They may use it for some parts of the process but at the end of the day someone put their seal on the documents and they are smart enough not to trust it without testing.

          What ever ‘AI’ gets used in the process of deliverying an product, is going to validated by a person, same as before.

        • Lika2know says:

          I’ve worked in aviation since I was 16 (family owned an FBO). I’ve got 500 hours Commercial, Instrument SEL pilot certificates. I’ve worked at multiple aerospace manufacturers, including Boeing, on the systems to support development, testing, and manufacturing.

          I can imagine isolated use of AI for a specific technically challenging element, just like these sort of “applets” have appeared in engineering design software. To the extent that manufacturing processes need to do mathematical optimization, I would expect to see some isolated AI brought into play. Mostly to consider options and support for making choices about manufacturing processes.

          The other place we’re likely to see AI in aerospace manufacturing is in logistics analysis for scheduling acquisition and assembly. A few years ago, saw some smart sw used to look at how to layout assembly for a very large aircraft — but that was years ahead of the actual design being finished.

          There are already robots used in manufacturing — with very narrow roles. We’re not talking about machines taking over here.

          I do think we’ll see some smarter assembly automation based on inputting CAD elements. Also likely to see evaluation tools looking out for things like mismatch in materials.

          Having worked on QA systems at Boeing and what is now Spirit Aerosystems in Wichita, I can say that the ability to get timely information about rework issues is critical; when they were part of the same company it was difficult enough. Now as separate companies, there is more distance and potentially more misunderstanding.

          Two cents from someone who’s been on the ground there.

          [Welcome back to emptywheel. Please use the same username and email address each time you comment so that community members get to know you. This comment was published as “liks2now”; I have corrected it this once to the username you’ve used for (12) previous comments. Please clear your browser cache and check your auto-fill to ensure you use the same username in future. Thanks. /~Rayne]

          • xyxyxyxy says:

            Boeing and Spirit are maybe separate by name. But there is nothing else that’s separate about them.
            As far as robots, there has been robotics used in the US in surgery for years if not at least a decade with the doctors running the surgical robots not even being on this continent. There are even robots that act as hands for those without complete limbs.
            I don’t expect robots to take things over, but I’m not sure their roles in manufacturing and elsewhere is that minor or narrow.

            • Lika2know says:

              Aerospace manufacturing from what I know uses fewer manufacturing robots than automotive. In part b/c the differences in production volumes. The physical configuration makes their use in assembly complex. Most useful in complex fabrication & sub-assembly. Including things like composite -wound fuselage segments or nacelles. Wichita has done fab, sub-assembly and major assembly for all commercial a/c except 787. PNW always condescending toward Wichita operations, even before Spirit spin-off.
              I designed first combined QA noncomformance
              & corrective action system in Wichita, BTW. But that was a long time ago.

  9. higgs boson says:

    This article is from around the time of the two 737MAX crashes, so almost five years old now. A lot of it may not be of interest to emptywheel folks, but it does a good job of explaining the absolutely awful background of these planes, and the general Boeing/FAA cozy relationship.

  10. Tech Support says:

    The Bosch vulnerability is especially terrifying to me. People may remember Stuxnet, the highly successful effort to undermine the Iranian uranium enrichment program by sabotaging the centrifuges via the Siemens software that was used to control the rate and manner by which the centrifuges spun.

    The idea that someone could insert systemic defects into a manufacturing line by a hacking a digitally configured tool used in the manufacturing process is not a hypothetical. It’s an idea that is nearly twenty years old.

    There is a nonzero chance that the “392 nonconforming findings” reported by the whistleblower are in fact the product of a deliberate, Stuxnet-style sabotage.

    • Rayne says:

      Thank you. Stuxnet indeed is what I was thinking and didn’t want to mention. Imagine the entire US airfleet fucked by Wi-Fi wrenches with varying torque settings.

      • rosalind says:

        as soon as i read “operate using W-Fi” i was stunned. i guess i shouldn’t be, but mother of god. for some reason i’m reminded of yesterday, when two student movers moved furniture around due to work i’m doing on my condo. they had to put my bedframe back together and one of them was all proud they brought their electric drill, then said something like “yeah, some of the older guys i work with (ya know, 30s/40s) just use a regular screwdriver, you’d be amazed what they can do with a regular screwdriver”. i’m like yeah, cause you don’t want to over-tighten the screws. i monitored to make sure he didn’t strip the freakin’ thing. back to basics for boeing, i say.

          • Fraud Guy says:

            I have an old screwdriver, inherited from my father-in-law, that has a criss-cross track along the shaft, and as you push the handle along the shaft, it follows the grooves to rotate the tip.

            • theGeoguy says:

              That’s a “Yankee” screwdriver, first made around 1895. They don’t generate much torque but they drive screws quickly. ( I collect and use old hand tools because they typically are better made and last longer than modern hand tools.)

                • Purple Martin says:

                  Used them, constantly, in the scene shop of the College of Southern Idaho Theatre Department, constructing or modifying scenery ‘flats.’ Worked pretty well, quick once you got the feel of it.

                  This was (sighhh) 50 years ago.

                  • Harry Eagar says:

                    Likewise at my kids’ high school, which had a big theater program. The boys building the sets were standing around waiting for one of the few electric drills, so I brought in some antique braces, installed screwdriver bits on them and told them they were Industrial Strength Screwdrivers.

                    It made manually driving/removing screws cool.

      • ExRacerX says:

        How ridiculously stupid of Boeing, if so—there are plenty of manual and battery-powered torque screwdrivers, wrenches, etc. that can be set to fine tolerances—and can’t be hacked.

        Gotta say, I feel lucky I only fly once or twice a year.

        • Rayne says:

          I did NOT say Boeing used those wrenches. Boeing (and the rest of aerospace industry) could have increased quality problems if they don’t address this potential threat during the course of their quality improvement if they are looking for ways to both standardize fastening and reduce labor.

          Whether we fly or are on the ground, we should be demanding regulatory oversight. You’re far more likely to get into an automobile accident and yet you don’t seem bothered by the fact the automotive industry *is* using those Bosch wrenches.

          • xyxyxyxy says:

            It’s funny that tens of thousands of people are injured and die every year from car crashes yet its an accepted fact.
            I don’t think there’s yet ways to have drunk drivers being stopped from getting behind the wheel except if served by a bar one too many drinks and their business is in trouble.

                • Rayne says:

                  Lousy consumer advocate, too. My family had a Corvair which was just fine, likely saved my father and sister during a morning commute when a bus hit them from behind. Corvair having a rear engine didn’t crumple from the back.

                  We needed more small commuter cars like the Corvair and thanks to Nader development was encouraged to run the other direction.

                  • xyxyxyxy says:

                    And in 1972, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released the results of a two-year study that concluded that Chevrolet’s 1960-63 Corvair models were at least as safe as comparable models of similar cars sold during in the same period.

          • ExRacerX says:

            Sorry—clearly, I misread your post, Rayne.

            I may be a little less concerned for my personal safety in my old Subaru because it hasn’t fallen apart yet, but with so many other vehicles on the road, the potential failure of one of them impacting me is certainly a realistic worry.

            • Rayne says:

              One thing to keep in mind is the nature of automobile accidents — how many are actually caused by the human behind the wheel versus inherent product safety? https://injuryfacts.nsc.org/motor-vehicle/overview/introduction/ You’re much safer now than in the early 1970s.

              Another thing to keep in mind is the chance you and your vehicle may escape a crash; a near-miss is probably frequent, common, and many auto accidents are minor fender benders from which one may walk away. But an airplane failure at thousands of feet above ground is more likely to be catastrophic. That Alaska Air flight was extremely lucky in that the door loss didn’t affect the pilot’s ability to turn around and land safely.

                • earlofhuntingdon says:

                  No fatalities is a pretty high bar, “onboard” fatalities at that. The detail seems tailor-made by the corporate apology industry:

                  “Our condolences, over the deaths of Ms. Cabin Staff and Mr. Passenger, but they occurred in hospital, and not on board.”

                  • xyxyxyxy says:

                    I did (cough) above.
                    Onboard fatalities to me would mean those that were on board an aircraft and died wherever due to an onboard incident.
                    Not onboard means to me the people that died, and there were some, who were not on board. Like some firemen who for some reason were training on a runway as a jet was taking off.

              • ExRacerX says:

                Agreed. the biggest wild cards in the deck are certainly the drivers—including me.

                That said, if the door falls off of my car at speed on the highway, my survival odds are a whole lot better than at altitude in a plane.

              • Alan Charbonneau says:

                “One thing to keep in mind is the nature of automobile accidents — how many are actually caused by the human behind the wheel versus inherent product safety? … You’re much safer now than in the early 1970s.“

                We bought a new car last year, a Chevy Tahoe diesel. We picked a high end model because of the increased safety features such as blind spot warnings, adaptive cruise control, running boards with LED lights, etc. My wife is 68 and I’ll be 70 next month – having technology extend our senses helps as we get older.

                I recall Toyota having problems with uncontrolled acceleration and reading articles about hacking automobile control systems. The idea of someone overriding onboard computers or even the torque wrench settings is a legitimate fear. Technology needs to be carefully managed and wholistic thinking, as you point out, is necessary but seldom used.

                I got a late second master’s degree at Claremont Graduate University and took a couple of classes by the great Peter Drucker.

                He said he was not a big fan of the Harvard Business School cases as they provided too much information. The HBS case writers had a “God’s eye” view of the company and the industry and a “correct” analysis gave actions to take that were well-supported by the facts. But the real world was messier and less reliable information is available than in these structured cases.

                Drucker’s business cases were 1.5 to 2.5 pages long in a booklet that was 5×8”. They focused thinking the cases through and developing the proper questions to ask. IOW, having a process to analyze the situation was more important to Drucker than getting the “right” answer. Too little of that attitude is present in businesses today.

              • EuroTark says:

                While road safety has improved markedly, the US is still lagging Europe pretty badly, and the trend isn’t good. This is based on OECD’s statistics for road deaths; it has raw numbers going back to 1970 but rates per million only since 1994.

                If you look at the raw numbers first, the US has several fluctuating waves. There’s an early peak with 52K deaths in 1972 followed by a local bottom with 42K deaths in 1984. The latest trend is upward, and the 2021 total is actually higher than 1984.

                Looking at the rates is much more comparable though, and there you see a steady trend from 10-15 deaths per million in 1994 to 2-5 in 2022, with the US going from 15 to 10 and is slowly creeping back up there again and is at almost 13 in 2021.

                • Rayne says:

                  The number of miles driven, amount of mass transit available, and the average cost of fuel are factors in auto accident death rates. Hard to die in a car accident if your most popular mode of transportation is bus or bike.

                  Historic deaths from air pollution are another counter, as much of it is from vehicle exhaust and the US hasn’t consumed the same fuels as Europe.
                  https://ourworldindata.org/outdoor-air-pollution

                  • EuroTark says:

                    I’m more worried about the trend than the actual numbers in the US. I think the two main differences are that Americans in general drive a lot more than Western Europe, and the approach to driving under the influence. As I understand, traffic police in the US is unable to do preventive testing, while here you will be pulled over for a sobriety test on sunday morning. There is also a difference in which type of car is popular (what’s sold as a SUV here would barely be a crossover in the US), but I don’t think that’s the biggest factor here.

                    Air pollution in Europe has been more driven by factories, and acid rain was something that got clamped down on hard in the 80s and 90s. Still an issue with some ex-Soviet industry though. Locally we were much concerned about the Norilsk Nickel plant in Nikel.

              • harpie says:

                Rayne, continuing our conversation from:
                https://www.emptywheel.net/2024/01/18/donald-trump-has-chosen-to-pay-millions-to-trash-rule-of-law/#comment-1034495

                https://twitter.com/kyoshino/status/1750682343793180822
                [changed from Nitter to Xitter]
                7:49 PM · Jan 25, 2024
                Jan 26, 2024 · 12:49 AM UTC

                Sinclair exec and [NEW] Sun owner [AND TRUMP supporter] David Smith is behind a taxpayer lawsuit against Baltimore City Schools. It’s been closely covered by Fox45 but the link was never disclosed. [link]

    • Intone says:

      The hype around AI was so bad that I almost forgot about the hype around Stuxnet/hacking. It takes a nation-state actor with a pin-point target to make something like that worth while.

      a) Wifi enabled aircraft tools are not a thing and even if they were would be a terrible attack vector. The co-ordinating control you would need in a situation like this would be too expensive once you look into the actual chain of events.

      b) If France/China/Russia/Aliens want to sabbatoge Boeing, they don’t have to reprogram their factory systems, you just put their email/reports on wikileaks. Boeing is doing a good enough job on their own that you just need to reveal it.

      c) You don’t think Boeing, being important to the DoD, doesn’t have smart, trained, professionals looking for vulnerabilites?

      • Rayne says:

        1) Wi-Fi enabled tools are already a thing in automotive industry; the point I was trying to make is they should NOT become one in aerospace, no matter how tempted management is to improve product quality and consistency while reducing labor;

        2) While dumping emails is one way of undermining an aerospace corporation, undermining quality badly enough to both tank stock values and force a change in management leadership is another. Which industry was Evgeny Buryakov spying on and do you think he was looking for access to email systems to leak? *eye roll* Setting up successful market shorts are one way to fund warfare while taking out inconvenient vectors.

        3) My household has been supported by work in industrial automation for +3 decades. Believe me when I tell you I have gotten deer-in-the-headlights stares when I ask controls designers I’ve met if SCADA systems they work with are isolated from the internet and from intrusion by unauthorized devices like flash drives;

        4) “smart, trained, professionals looking for vulnerabilites [sic]” didn’t notice the quality problems at Boeing which is a major vulnerability.

  11. LordAvebury says:

    Combining points from two of the comments at Leeham News:
    “100% inspection is only 90% effective (per ASQC experiments). Per MIL-STD-105, it takes 3 inspections to yield a 99.7% confidence level.”
    “When it comes to building 4000+ airliners, 99.7% is 12+ aircraft with loose plug door bolts.”

    • boatgeek says:

      Minor correction to the numbers. There have only been ~250 Max 9’s delivered, plus another 500 737-900 which have the same door plug design. None of the smaller 737’s of either generation have the same door plug. So we’ve got one catastrophic failure in 750, or a 99.86% success rate.

      Also, it’s pretty clear from the Seattle Times article that Rayne added that there was no inspection after the initial plug replacement was done. It seems very likely that the bolts were never installed.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        To follow Rayne, a 99.84% performance rating sounds great, and would have once impressed the hell out of most American automotive suppliers. But Japanese automotive quality managers would scoff at it.

        “Only” 0.14% bad car tire valves out of a million is 1400 dud tires, or 1400 – 5600 cars that need at least one new tire right out of the box. Bad press. To pick another analogy those same quality engineers used with their American suppliers, if the topic is dropping babies on their heads at birth, that’s 1400 babies out of a million births. Sometimes perfection is the minimum expectation.

        • Harry Eagar says:

          My brother the engineering professor used to tell this story:

          A Detroit auto line was experiencing a high rate of non-starts: cars at the end of the line would not start.

          The new manager called in the engineers and demanded a solution. They responded with proposals for a budget, series of investigations etc.

          Denied, said the new manager.

          Wait, what? We can solve this problem but we cannot do it without resources!

          The manager moved the restart shop to the opposite side of the parking area from the end of the assembly line, about 300 yards, which meant that workers had to push the non-starts that far.

          Problem disappeared.

      • LordAvebury says:

        The comments are referring to Boeing’s quality regime across all of its products, not just 737s. And the “loose bolts” comment refers to the fact that Alaska (and maybe other airlines) have found numerous “loose bolts”. In other words, this goes way beyond missing bolts in one door plug.

      • boatgeek says:

        Following up on this. After reading EOH and Rayne’s responses, I questioned my agreement with LordAvebury’s premise. Yes, we should expect zero* defects on delivered airliners, and it’s not reasonable that this would require dozens of inspections. After spending a little time with MIL-STD-105E, I don’t think it really says what LordAvebury says. That standard is about how you do sampling of products to make sure that the overall quality is where it needs to be. Since we are expecting perfection, that standard effectively says that we need to look at every product. Or at least to get to a defect rate of 0.01%, we’d expect to need to have a sample size of 2000 units. That’s more than the entire production run of most airliner models. Since we want to beat a defect rate of 0.01% anyway, we need to look at them all. I’m pretty sure that the standard does not consider the effects of multiple inspections of the same part, though I’m willing to be corrected on that point.

        * I’m thumbing my figurative nose at the statisticians who will say that there’s no such thing as perfection–a defect rate of 1 in a million is equivalent as far as inspections are concerned.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          With a product as complex as an airliner, it seems that the focus should be at a lower level, a system or subsystem level, whatever level of failure can lead an aircraft failure at altitude.

          In the past week, we’ve seen failures in door “plug” bolts, front tires, cracks in cockpit windows. Some of that might be maintenance, some of it design or manufacturing defects, or a combination of them.

          Given Boeing’s current corporate culture, it seems unlikely it would encourage more frequent or onerous inspections, because of the likelihood they might find not just individual but systemic problems.

          Btw, as I understand it, there’s a door “plug” only because Boeing or airlines wanted to hide that there was another door, obvious to passengers, whose only purpose would be to use as an emergency exit. I suspect that, let’s hide this, approach bleeds down into why the associated bolts may not be inspected as often as need be.

          • xyxyxyxy says:

            Panic mode, not this week, Jan 5, failure in door “plug” bolts, Jan 13, one crack in cockpit window, (not plural).
            The door you’re referring to is not a door, per Vox “A plug effectively seals a part of the plane that CAN BE USED as a door, closing off the opening IF A DOOR HASN’T been installed.”
            Most likely not manufacturing nor maintenance issue the cracked window (singular), “Aviation expert John Strickland told the BBC that window cracks like this one are “NOT UNHEARD OF,” and that it could have been caused by something striking the glass, like a bird or a piece of hail.”
            Most likely not manufacturing and I’m guessing nor maintenance issue, the fallen wheel, I’m guessing was probably caused by vehicle pushing/pulling the jet away from the gate.
            [my emphasis]

            • xyxyxyxy says:

              Correction, I see where there was a Southwest with a cracked window on the 20th.
              So that would have been in the week.

  12. e.a. foster says:

    Didn’t know whether to laugh or cry when the news reported the door came off an aircraft, while it was flying. So much for quality control. Back in the day, 60 minutes interviewed the former head, at the time, of the FAA. She gave her honest opinion of the FAA and of various American airlines. There were only a few she would fly on. It did not give me any reasurance. Every time I got on a plane I thought about it.

    Liked DC 3s and 4s. You could see the props turning. 737s were next and they did prove to be safe. They stayed up in the air regardless of the weather and in B.C. flying through the mountains was “interesting”.

    Leaving things unsecured that need to be secured, that needs to change. If manufacturers of air craft can not complete a plane so it is “finished” perhaps it is time the American federal government provided inspectors. The new AI is not going to be an asset in some areas, planes could be one of them. Jets may not come down often, but when they do there is such a loss of life. When air lines put profit ahead of safety and people’s lives we have a problem.

    Are there any ramifcations for this for the manufacturer and/or the air line. If there isn’t there ought to be. They might start paying attention to safety.

    • Ginevra diBenci says:

      For a country touted by many as “pro-life,” we have a very high tolerance for human death. From gun violence to the blue state/red state discrepancies with Covid mortality, we tend to treat deaths as abstractions, mere numbers, rather than profound losses experienced by the dying and their loved ones.

      Culturally, our death denialism has paradoxically allowed us to kill (mostly indirectly, through negligence and greed) many more people than we would, I believe, if we treated death as a part of everyone’s life.

  13. EuroTark says:

    Thank you for posting this one Rayne. I’ve previously worked in the petroleum offshore industry as the system owner for one of those acronym systems. I’m hoping this is helpful for others to understand how the system support for this kind of stuff should be.

    The system had several components, but the core functionality was generating “job cards” (ie: detailed descriptions for the fieldhands to perform) which referenced the documents (version controlled in a separate system) and tags (short for tagged equipment). There were also supporting systems for change management and what is known as “Mechanical Completion (MC)” and “Comissioning (Comm)” which is probably the most relevant here. The way it was presented to me is “MC is documenting that you’ve fitted the lightbulb correctly, while Comm is the act of flipping the switch to see that it works.” When dealing with pre-fabricated parts MC is usually performed at the factory, where the workers would fill out checklists (yes/no) and check records (amount of torque applied to each nut, etc), while Comm can only peformed on assembled systems, after which they get a certificate. I assume that this is part of the CMES system.

    From the whistleblower’s account, it looks like after change management (performed in a separate system) made it so a system had to be reassembled, they didn’t properly revoke the certificate and thus it was never re-certified. If this is true, then Boeing really has a complete collapse of their safety and quality systems.

    • Rayne says:

      That. All that. The parallel communications system obscured the problem on top of the failure to decertify/recertify. There should have been a pointed lock-out of that plane between decert and recert until those bolts were accounted for and reinstalled.

  14. David F. Snyder says:

    Great posting, Rayne, except for the vomit reflex I had, caused by reading that one Texas Senator’s name.

    • Rayne says:

      Oh yeah, I had the same reaction. And yet if he’s ranking member he should be involved though Cruz himself is pretty ineffectual.

      • Ginevra diBenci says:

        Would Ted Cruz want to be effectual when it comes to making a big business toe the line for consumers?

  15. Alan Charbonneau says:

    “Let’s hope the FAA and NTSB are focused on the quality problems at Boeing and not on the source of the comment above until the comment’s veracity is called into question.”

    I think retaliation from Boeing executives looking to get back at who “betrayed” them is a bigger worry than the FAA or NTSB. It’s difficult to disguise one’s writing style and I’d bet his or her coworkers recognize it and have guessed who this is. Also, the critiques made in that post are probably things the whistleblower has said to others. But hopefully, the fact that his is a first amendment issue and any retaliation would leave management politically vulnerable will keep them at bay.

    • Rayne says:

      If you read the comments further you’ll note there is a reference to a past “leak” by another employee who was fired. The “throwaway” commenter likely knows what they’re up against.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Concerns about an employee’s protected, First Amendment speech will keep corporate management at bay? LOL.

      American employees have very little free speech. Large employers routinely monitor online speech, and punish speech and conduct – outside of work – that purportedly affects a corporate interest, regardless of how remote in time. As for insubordination, penalties for it in corporate America rival those in the military.

      • Alan Charbonneau says:

        “Concerns about an employee’s protected, First Amendment speech will keep corporate management at bay? LOL.”

        I mean the negative publicity to the company if they go on a retaliation binge could keep management from acting as they might otherwise.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Same response. It’s not the kind of hurt the markets and institutional investors worry about, not until its a tsunami that topples a CEO and puts a few managers in prison, neither of which are likely to happen.

  16. Ironic Chef says:

    How ironic that much of this could have been avoided by listening to the workers that have first hand experience and knowledge of how things go wrong in workplaces. Unions have always been a workplace safety force multiplier, allowing workers to feel secure that speaking up on safety issues will not cost them their job and livelihood. I doubt the management team at Boeing will grok this point…

  17. Lika2know says:

    A few observations:
    (1) we don’t actually know the root cause of the door/plug failure yet. We only know the proximal cause. Luckily, that will get addressed, a feature of aviation certification & safety standards;
    (2) As the Delta wheel loss incidence shows, maintenance is significant and non-trivial in the safety game, and is a major mechanism to deal with late-appearing design or manufacturing issues;
    (3) aviation’s extraordinary safety record comes from not accepting what appears to be the obvious answer, but it is at risk for bad decisions, like offering an under-instrumented MAX version (the last chance to avoid the problem was to not sell that version; the first was not to design & sell it);
    (4) There were something like 39 million vehicle recalls in US. And somewhere around 2.5 million cars are driving around without critical recall repairs; no authority exists to force these repairs or sanction the operation of these unsafe vehicles. There are give or take 40,000 deaths in vehicle accidents per year.
    (5) aviation does have a way to stop operations and sanction operators of unsafe aircraft, which is why we have such safe skies.
    (6) There are dozens of players besides management in this symphony that has produced a few times in recent years the extraordinary result of no deaths due to aviation accidents.
    (7) Please be patient and hold your fire until data are available.

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