The lonely scapegoat

Covid has been a worldwide disaster, but not for Boeing. The maker of the deadly 737-MAX airliner couldn't get off the front page for more than a year there, but between the pandemic and the insurrection, the problems with the plane have virtually disappeared from the headlines.

Meanwhile, they've slapped a few Band-Aids on the problems, and the MAX is flying again. I think United, Alaska, Southwest are among the airlines once again using that model of jet.

Last week they indicted a Boeing guy for defrauding the authorities when the plane was being wrongly certified as safe. One guy. A crazed gunman acting alone, the Lee Harvey Oswald of fatal crashes. 

A while back Boeing quietly wrote some corporate checks for 10 figures to make its own criminal liability go away at the corporate level. But only one individual is going to face the music in criminal court, apparently.

I still wouldn't want to get on a 737-MAX, although the airlines can pretty much force you to. As I understand it, and I am no aviation expert, the core design issue is that the engines are too far forward, and so the plane needs a Rube Goldberg computer system in the tail to move some flaps and keep the nose of the aircraft from tilting too far up and causing the whole contraption to stall. In the fatal crashes overseas, the computer system failed and the pilots couldn't stop it from driving the nose down repeatedly and crashing the plane.

The solution? Now when that kind of malfunction happens, the pilots can turn off the computer. That's great, but then what's keeping the plane from stalling?

Oh well, suck it up, flyers, it's only your life. Far less important than Boeing's money.


  1. I've been around aviation my entire sixty nine years and have flown on over 2000 commercial flights. My father flew during WWII and was the Chief of Aircraft Maintenance for the Oregon Air National Guard. So, I'm somewhat familiar with the industry. I was recently looking at some attractive ticket prices on Air Canada but when I saw that the plane was a Boeing MAX, I said, "no thanks". The bean counters at Boeing have squeezed just about every cent they can from the 737 airframe rather that do a clean sheet design. A few years ago I was talking wit a military trained pilot who flew for Delta. She was telling me what a dog the 737-900 is. And they want to lengthen it some more with a 737-1000.

    If I can, I'll give this aircraft 3 or 4 more years to prove itself before I take a chance with it.


Post a Comment

The platform used for this blog is awfully wonky when it comes to comments. It may work for you, it may not. It's a Google thing, and beyond my control. Apologies if you can't get through. You can email me a comment at, and if it's appropriate, I can post it here for you.