I am feeling somber from the personal news shared yesterday, and not in the mood to generate a breezy tone for a regular post. Let's keep this as an open thread - I'm sure the Ukraine scandal will have plenty of details for us to discuss, as well as anything else. Or maybe just personally checking in - how's your September been?
Criminal mismanagement, whistles blowing, and complete chaos by the people who are supposed to be running the show. We've discussed this before. And now there's a new documentary coming out! In the preview, the most grisly detail starts at 1:05. This amusing detail that I hadn't known before comes in around 1:40:
"He poured gasoline on his tennis balls and would have you putting them into his air cannon, lighting the balls on fire, and shooting them at the tanks."
Also, at 2:32 in the preview there's a shot of a newspaper headline from 1995 (I believe) and an unrelated article off to the side has the headline "Computer Used to Analyze Data" which is pretty charming.
Heebie's take: Not Pencini! But it is a good question.
So do you all think this scandal will:
- just be more background noise like all the other scandals
- pierce the bubble and become a nationwide conversation on the level of maybe Kavanaugh but ultimately not move the needle meaningfully
- actually be the thing that brings Trump down?
J, Robot writes: Blog fodder that provides a more sympathetic depiction of Boeing at the expense of the Indonesian and Ethiopian pilots. Dubious, but also fairly ignorant on this topic, so perhaps someone else can weigh in.
Heebie's take: J's not kidding when she says the article goes easy on Boeing:
The rush to lay blame was based in part on a poor understanding not just of the technicalities but also of Boeing's commercial aviation culture. The Max's creation took place in suburban Seattle among engineers and pilots of unquestionable if bland integrity, including supervising officials from the Federal Aviation Administration. Although Boeing's designers were aware of timetables and competitive pressures, the mistakes they made were honest ones, or stupid ones, or maybe careless ones, but not a result of an intentional sacrifice of safety for gain. As always, there was a problem with like-mindedness and a reluctance by team players to stand out from the crowd. Even more pernicious was the F.A.A.'s longstanding delegation of regulatory authority to Boeing employees -- a worry that is perennially available to chew on if you like and may indeed be related to the configuration of the troublesome system as it was installed. Nonetheless, in Seattle, at the level where such small choices are made, corruption, like cynicism, is rare.
although in other places it's less generous.
Basically, they're asserting that planes have become so automated that pilots can have accumulated their hours without really developing their intuition about how to handle a plane when things are precarious.
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. Furthermore, it is certain that thousands of similar crews are at work around the world, enduring as rote pilots and apparently safe, but only so long as conditions are routine. Airbus has gone further than Boeing in acknowledging this reality with its robotic designs, though thereby, unintentionally, steepening the very decline it has tried to address. Boeing is aware of the decline, but until now -- even after these two accidents -- it has been reluctant to break with its traditional pilot-centric views. That needs to change, and someday it probably will; in the end Boeing will have no choice but to swallow its pride and follow the Airbus lead.
Gosh, self-driving cars are going to be a blast.