11 votes

What really brought down the Boeing 737 Max? Malfunctions caused two deadly crashes. But an industry that puts unprepared pilots in the cockpit is just as guilty

6 comments

  1. Neverland
    (edited )
    Link
    While some blame can be put on the pilots, this headline seems a bit too unequivocal to me. If it was the pilots who "really brought down" those flights, then why did Boeing's own investigative...

    While some blame can be put on the pilots, this headline seems a bit too unequivocal to me.

    If it was the pilots who "really brought down" those flights, then why did Boeing's own investigative panel recommend major internal restructuring to make engineering decisions a higher priority over business decisions?

    At Boeing, top engineers report primarily to the business leaders for each airplane model, and secondarily to the company's chief engineer. ... The committee recommends flipping the reporting lines, so that top engineers report primarily to Boeing's chief engineer, and secondarily to business unit leaders.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/15/business/boeing-safety-737-max.html

    edit: This was from NYT from just 4 days ago, and seems to be a bit at odds with the OP link to NYT. Do they need to hire a "continuity" person like movie sets have?

    5 votes
  2. [4]
    spit-evil-olive-tips
    Link
    The "lack of basic airmanship" has echoes of another deadly story, where in two separate incidents US Navy destroyers collided with merchant traffic in the Pacific Ocean:...

    He had some rote knowledge of cockpit procedures as handed down from the big manufacturers, but he was weak in an essential quality known as airmanship. Sadly, his captain turned out to be weak in it, too.

    The "lack of basic airmanship" has echoes of another deadly story, where in two separate incidents US Navy destroyers collided with merchant traffic in the Pacific Ocean:

    https://features.propublica.org/navy-accidents/us-navy-crashes-japan-cause-mccain/

    Clark’s team tried out new training and staffing ideas, including a decision that officers no longer needed to attend months of classroom training to learn the intricacies of operating billion-dollar warships. Instead, aspiring Surface Warfare Officers, charged with everything from driving ships to launching missiles, could learn mostly at sea with the help of packets of CDs. The program was widely derided by sailors as “SWOS in a Box.”

    4 votes
    1. [2]
      Neverland
      Link Parent
      Thanks so much for that link. Wow. That's all I needed to read right there. Maybe I am guilty of stereotyping here but it seems like whatever they are teaching in MBA programs is destroying a lot...

      Thanks so much for that link.

      Vern Clark, the Navy’s top military officer during much of the Bush era, brought an MBA to the job and pitched his cuts to the force using the jargon of corporate downsizing.

      Wow. That's all I needed to read right there. Maybe I am guilty of stereotyping here but it seems like whatever they are teaching in MBA programs is destroying a lot of good things in the USA.

      Am I way off in my derision of MBAs? If not, I wonder if MBA programs are adjusting at all, or are their heads buried in the sand?

      4 votes
      1. sublime_aenima
        Link Parent
        The best way I can describe my MBA experience is that I got a Masters in Bullshit Arts. It was 70% common sense, 10% sustainability (that could be due to being in California), the rest was...

        The best way I can describe my MBA experience is that I got a Masters in Bullshit Arts. It was 70% common sense, 10% sustainability (that could be due to being in California), the rest was learning how to present data in whichever way best supported whatever your position is. The focus is generally on maximizing profit (or at least giving the impression of maximum profits) while having maximum losses for tax purposes.

        1 vote
    2. ReapersGale
      Link Parent
      I'm not entirely surprised given there is currently a shortage of pilots - the big airlines here have have been poaching pilots from smaller charters and pilot schools because of it....

      I'm not entirely surprised given there is currently a shortage of pilots - the big airlines here have have been poaching pilots from smaller charters and pilot schools because of it.

      https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-07-22/airline-passengers-facing-perfect-storm-as-pilot-shortage-bites/10012624

      2 votes
  3. patience_limited
    Link
    The general point of safety engineering is to minimize the magnitude of risks, whether due to human error or overt systems failure. My impression, from a fair amount of reading about the 737-MAX...

    The general point of safety engineering is to minimize the magnitude of risks, whether due to human error or overt systems failure. My impression, from a fair amount of reading about the 737-MAX systems, is that there's little question the automatic trim stabilizer made the flight characteristics less predictable by comparison with unmodified aerodynamics even when working as designed, and more prone to runaway amplification in the event of human error.

    The fact that well-trained pilots could recover without crashing doesn't excuse the underlying design flaw.

    3 votes