The Unz Review - Mobile
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
 TeasersiSteve Blog
737 MAX Crashes: Nature or Nurture?
🔊 Listen RSS
Email This Page to Someone

 Remember My Information



=>

Bookmark Toggle AllToCAdd to LibraryRemove from Library • BShow CommentNext New CommentNext New ReplyRead More
ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
AgreeDisagreeLOLTroll
These buttons register your public Agreement, Disagreement, Troll, or LOL with the selected comment. They are ONLY available to recent, frequent commenters who have saved their Name+Email using the 'Remember My Information' checkbox, and may also ONLY be used once per hour.
Ignore Commenter Follow Commenter
Search Text Case Sensitive  Exact Words  Include Comments
List of Bookmarks

Not very many commercial airliners crash anymore, but two newish Boeing 737 MAXes have crashed in the last six months, out of 350 delivered since the MAX went into service in 2017. (A total of over 5,000 have been ordered.) The plane is currently grounded worldwide, with suspicion focused upon the software.

I am reminded of American Airlines Flight 191, a wide-body DC-10 that crashed upon takeoff at Chicago O’Hare on May 25, 1979, killing 273 people, which is still the worst crash ever in the United States.

The DC-10 was grounded for five weeks that summer, while everybody tried to figure out whether the plane was fatally flawed in its design or the weakness lay in how it had been handled: i.e., a Nature vs. Nurture debate.

According to scuttlebutt going around within rival Lockheed (maker of the similar three-engined L1011) that McDonnell-Douglas’s design philosophy was fundamentally flawed. Lockheed had decided that while the risk of a a pylon attaching a jet engine to a wing breaking off could be reduced to, say, one in a million, it was impossible to assure that one of the wing-mounted engines would never snap off. So the Lockheed TriStar was designed to still be flyable in case a pylon broke off

In contrast, McDonnell-Douglas decided that if one pylon would only break one in a million times, then if they built two pylons for each engine, then the odds were one in a million times one in a million or roughly one in infinity. So, the hydraulic lines controlling the ailerons were strung through the pylons, which meant that if one in a trillion happened, then the plane would nose into the ground.

Of course, it turned out that the stresses weakening any one pylon were correlated with the stresses undermining its identical twin backup pylon right next to it. So, when one pylon was weakened, such as by bad maintenance, so was the other.

On the other hand, airlines had invested in hundreds of DC-10s and didn’t want their huge investment labeled as the cause of the crash.

It turned out to be an interesting test case in Coasean economics.

Eventually, the government blamed poor maintenance as the cause, American Airlines rather than McD paid off the families of the dead, and airlines went to a regime of intensive inspections and maintenance of DC-10s.

So, better nurture kept the DC-10 flying until it was superseded by newer 2-engined widebodies. It’s last airliner flight was 2014 in Bangladesh. It still serves as a cargo jet.

On the other hand, both McDonnell and Lockheed were weakened by their head to head competition in the 3 engine widebody market: Lockheed, nearly ruined by engine maker Rolls Royce’s bankruptcy and having been bailed out by Congress in 1971, was late to market and sold fewer L1011s. McDonnell had the advantage that airlines also bought it’s DC-8s and Dc-9s, while Lockheed hadn’t sold an airliner since the propeller Constellation and the turboprop Electra. McDonnell sold reasonable numbers of DC-10s, but its reputation was damaged by this and other crashes.

Lockheed eventually got out of airliners and McDonnell Douglas was bought by Boeing, ushering in the current Boeing-Airbus duopoly in big airliners.

Commenter SimpleSong says:

Somewhat related…while it is true that Boeing technically bought MDD, many of the senior decision makers at the newly merged company ended up being from the MDD side. MDD had bigger defense presence than civilian, basically the opposite of Boeing. The name of the game for defense was to outsource, outsource, outsource to as many different states as possible to shore up political support. While this introduced many inefficiencies in production and design it paid off in congressional support. Very different philosophy from Boeing which had kept most of its production in one place (Everett WA) where they could tightly control production, quality, etc.

Anyway after the new merger management decided to basically pursue the MDD model and outsource many key components in their new aircraft to different countries to 1.) try to get themselves viewed as the ‘domestic’ option in some nations that did not have homegrown civilian aerospace companies (that is, everywhere except for the EU where Airbus rules the roost) and 2.) exert pressure on the heavily unionized workforce in Everett (even the engineers are unionized there.)

This caused some pretty massive production problems with the 787 which are pretty well known at this point and I won’t rehash here since they are a google search away.

Anyway the rumors are that the current 737 max’s problems are because [Boeing] tried to do an engine refit onto an old airframe, and deal with the resulting structural/aerodynamic imbalances (the new engines are ginormous, too big for the old airframe) with essentially software. If that sounds like a kludge, it is. The problem that is becoming apparent, is that the software sometimes, uh, crashes. And pilots are not adequately trained or skilled to notice and take over manual control.

The ‘right’ way to do it would be to do a clean sheet, new airframe for the ’37 designed around the new engines. But they didn’t do that. Why not? Because all of their engineering staff was frantically trying to put out the dumpster fire that was the 787.

Boeing’s new technology carbon fiber composite airliner.

The 787 at this point has most of the kinks worked out and is a great airplane but in the beginning it did not go well and diverted a lot of man-hours from other tasks.

… In hindsight it is clear that they have massively weakened their competitive position. Right now the 787 wing, one of the most vital components, is made overseas (I believe in Japan.) Since the ’87 is their first mostly-composite aircraft there is going to be a ton of institutional knowledge that will be developed, but instead of being in Everett it will end up in Asia. I predict that there will be a serious Asian competitor to Airbus and Boeing in about a decade, using the know how they get from building the wing. Assuming that carbon fiber composites and not aluminum are the future of commercial aviation that was a massive blunder.

 
Hide 261 CommentsLeave a Comment
Commenters to Ignore...to FollowEndorsed Only
Trim Comments?
    []
  1. Sean says:

    Brand new plane’s computer accelerated plane to abnormal speeds and puts it into a dive. Twice.

    If I had to guess: they were concentrating on making the plane very cheap to run by giving the AI more control over the flight settings and the pilots less. With less of an override the pilot was helpless.

    • Replies: @bomag
    , @JMcG
    , @Anonymous
    , @indocon
  2. Somewhat related…while it is true that Boeing technically bought MDD, many of the senior decision makers at the newly merged company ended up being from the MDD side. MDD had bigger defense presence than civilian, basically the opposite of Boeing. The name of the game for defense was to outsource, outsource, outsource to as many different states as possible to shore up political support. While this introduced many inefficiencies in production and design it paid off in congressional support. Very different philosophy from Boeing which had kept most of its production in one place (Everett WA) where they could tightly control production, quality, etc.

    Anyway after the new merger management decided to basically pursue the MDD model and outsource many key components in their new aircraft to different countries to 1.) try to get themselves viewed as the ‘domestic’ option in some nations that did not have homegrown civilian aerospace companies (that is, everywhere except for the EU where Airbus rules the roost) and 2.) exert pressure on the heavily unionized workforce in Everett (even the engineers are unionized there.)

    This caused some pretty massive production problems with the 787 which are pretty well known at this point and I won’t rehash here since they are a google search away.

    Anyway the rumors are that the current 737 max’s problems are because they tried to do an engine refit onto an old airframe, and deal with the resulting structural/aerodynamic imbalances (the new engines are ginormous, too big for the old airframe) with essentially software. If that sounds like a kludge, it is. The problem that is becoming apparent, is that the software sometimes, uh, crashes. And pilots are not adequately trained or skilled to notice and take over manual control.

    The ‘right’ way to do it would be to do a clean sheet, new airframe for the ’37 designed around the new engines. But they didn’t do that. Why not? Because all of their engineering staff was frantically trying to put out the dumpster fire that was the 787. The 787 at this point has most of the kinks worked out and is a great airplane but in the beginning it did not go well and diverted a lot of man-hours from other tasks.

    Anyway the MDD merger was in the ’90s and the decisions around the 787 were made early aughts so it’s taken about 20 years for the chickens to come home to roost, and I’m sure most of the decision makers are long gone by now. Anyway you’ve heard this story 1000X in other industries. Management pointlessly shoots itself in the foot via outsourcing.

    In hindsight it is clear that they have massively weakened their competitive position. Right now the 787 wing, one of the most vital components, is made overseas (I believe in Japan.) Since the ’87 is their first mostly-composite aircraft there is going to be a ton of institutional knowledge that will be developed, but instead of being in Everett it will end up in Asia. I predict that there will be a serious Asian competitor to Airbus and Boeing in about a decade, using the know how they get from building the wing. Assuming that carbon fiber composites and not aluminum are the future of commercial aviation that was a massive blunder.

  3. istevefan says:

    McDonnell sold reasonable numbers of DC-10s, but its reputation was damaged by this and other crashes.

    McDonnell also got a gift in the form of a USAF contract for 60 KC-10 tankers, a military version of the DC-10. Later they came out with the MD-11 which was based on the DC-10. The MD-11 was a good plane, one of the prettiest in my opinion to watch, but by that time the era of trijets was over. So it was too little to late, and this probably helped convince McDonnell to sell out to Boeing. Everything now is pretty much twin engine with one engine slung beneath each wing. I miss the days when you had unique designs. Now it’s harder to tell various planes apart from a distance.

  4. The other Nature vs. Nurture angle on the 737 MAX debate is the question of whether pilot training and standards contributed to the recent incidents.

    Nowadays, US pilots are typically heavily-trained relative to their Ethiopian and Indonesian peers. After the Colgan Air crash in 2009, Congress mandated a minimum of 1,500 hours of flying time for entry-level airline pilots. Those are among the strictest standards in the world; in other countries, you can find co-pilots with just a few hundred hours and limited exposure to inflight stress or systems-failure.

    The high US minimums typically require years of flight-instructing experience in which the aspiring airline pilot faces frequent inadvertent attempts by student(s) to crash the plane. Instructors quickly become spring-loaded to take over and hand-fly at the first sign of real peril. They develop a spidey-sense for when something is not right (attitude, airspeed, flightpath, etc) as well as confidence exercising their authority and deactivating flight aids (eg autopilot) or seizing control from the student.

    By contrast, many foreign-carriers – with less-experienced crews – actively frown upon anything other than a bare minimum of hand-flying and expect their pilots to focus primarily on autopilot management.

    It’s entirely possible that US pilots have been facing the same MCAS issues that brought down the two foreign 737’s but that US pilots simply had the presence of mind, skepticism, and experience to interrupt the error chain and take over.

  5. @DiogenesNYC

    Thanks.

    There’s a lot to be said for your country having good airline pilots.

  6. @DiogenesNYC

    It’s entirely possible that US pilots have been facing the same MCAS issues that brought down the two foreign 737’s but that US pilots simply had the presence of mind, skepticism, and experience to interrupt the error chain and take over.

    That should be pretty easy to verify with flight data recorders and pilot interviews. If this is true, somebody should have said something by now; it would be a dereliction of duty not to.

  7. The Waxes of Playboy fame were on Flight 191:

    Literary Couple Reported on Jet

    Two years earlier was the Tenerife collision of two 747s, the deadliest airline accident to this day. The Brafmans go into detail about this incident in their book The Starfish and the Spider.

    The man in charge of KLM’s safety training had devised a checklist system that was nearly foolproof and held all his fellow pilots to his rigid standards. Immediately after the crash, the folks at HQ in Amstelveen hunted him down to start the investigation, but couldn’t find him.

    Of course not. He was the pilot at Tenerife!

    The best-laid plans of mice and men…

    The deadliest single-aircraft crash came six years after the Chicago one, and took the life of Kyu Sakamoto, whose voice you hear on the ridiculously retitled classic, “Sukiyaki”.

    Japan Airlines Flight 123

  8. istevefan says:
    @SimpleSong

    Anyway after the new merger management decided to basically pursue the MDD model and outsource many key components in their new aircraft to different countries to 1.) try to get themselves viewed as the ‘domestic’ option in some nations that did not have homegrown civilian aerospace companies…

    This caused some pretty massive production problems with the 787

    Boeing was economically pressured to outsource some production of the 787 because the development costs of a clean-sheet design are too great for a single company to handle. So they can get other governments to chip in if they agree to source production in those nations. Also by doing this, they could ensure orders for the new plane. Airbus is subsidized by European governments and can better afford to cover R&D costs.

    Anyway the rumors are that the current 737 max’s problems are because they tried to do an engine refit onto an old airframe,

    The 737Max is the 4th iteration of the 737 of which the first iteration flew in 1965. The new engine concept first appeared in 1984 when they swapped out the turbojets on the original for turbofans on what would be known as the 737 Classic. You could tell it was an odd fit because they had to put flattened engine nacelles under the wing because the height of the plane had not been designed for the larger turbofan engines, but rather for the original turbojets from the 1960s. Why didn’t they just extend the landing gear? Because the gear struts would be too long to fit into the wheel wells that were from the original design.

    The A320 was a brand new design in the late 80s and began to outsell all versions of the 737. So Boeing came out with the 737 NexGen in 1996 and miraculously kept that aging design relevant.

    The 737Max probably should never have been made. It should have been a new, modern design. But airlines wanted to replace existing 737s with a newer 737 so they would not have to retrain their pilots. Also Airbus was upgrading the A320, a newer design with more upgrade possibility, that would be ready much faster than any new Boeing design. While Boeing had already gotten all the mileage out of the 1960s 737, Airbus was just hitting its stride with the late 1980s A320. So I suppose Boeing threw everything they could into getting one last version of the 737 and came up with the Max.

    I predict that there will be a serious Asian competitor to Airbus and Boeing in about a decade, using the know how they get from building the wing.

    The Chinese already assemble 737s and A320s. It’s the advantage of having a large market. You don’t have to play by the free trade rules. You just tell a guy you won’t buy his product unless he builds it in your nation. So the Chinese are catching up.

    In fact they have already progressed to building an indigenous single aisle design, the C919. Though one would think Airbus would benefit from the grounding of the Max, Airbus already has a huge backlog of orders and I don’t know how much they can ramp up production. So an airline might have to wait 5 years or longer on deliveries. If the C919 is worth a crap, it might benefit from the Max’s troubles. This could turn out to be a huge shot in the arm for Chinese commercial aviation.

  9. johd says: • Website

    ground crew cant do simple maintenance anymore, definately nature.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_France_Flight_4590

  10. Lurker says:
    @istevefan

    A family member has worked in aircraft maintenance and told me how Boeing has standardized many elements across different models.

    The 737 is itself a cut-down 707.

    This must have cut some production costs and can also help with the maintenance side.

  11. Anonymous[327] • Disclaimer says:

    Interesting that Steve mentions the Lockheed TriStar/Rolls Royce debacle of the early 1970s.

    Rolls Royce Aeroengines of the UK entered serious financial difficulties in developing the RB 2-11 Jet Engine earmarked to power the TriStar. The firm almost went bankrupt.

    The Heath Government, elected in 1979, was initially elected on a hardline/free market Friedmanite economic policy, which firmly ruled out subsidizing industry. With considerable reluctance, the Heath Administration was forced to do a U-Turn and bail out Rolls Royce.

    The investment was money well spent – Rolls Royce Aeroengines remain one of the UK’s few remaining export giants.

    The moral is that hardcore Friedmanism is a complete load of bollocks.

  12. We used to jokingly say, “If it ain’t Boeing, I ain’t going.” I never thought they’d make it a design feature.

    Funny thing in looking at the L-1011 versus the DC-10, is that the “obvious” fail point looked like it would be the engine mounted aft on the DC-10.

  13. Strategy Page reported on Foreign Object Damage to the new tankers the Air Force bought. Cause? People leaving tools inside the planes at the factory.

    • Replies: @Hibernian
  14. RobUK says:

    2/350 is very scary odds when you are on an aeroplane.

    • Replies: @Hibernian
  15. Dave Pinsen says: • Website

    In Michael Crichton’s novel Airframe, an executive at the Boeing stand-in company says that while they “offset” some manufacturing to other countries to grease the skids for deals with those countries’ national carriers, they’d never offset the wing.

  16. @DiogenesNYC

    The high US minimums typically require years of flight-instructing experience in which the aspiring airline pilot faces frequent inadvertent attempts by student(s) to crash the plane.

    One of _the_ fundamental, almost reflexive, things that companies do is “rationalization”. That’s what non-managers used to call “cheeseparing”, miserly economy. If an expense can be eliminated, it is. If it turns out to be essential, it is theoretically re-assumed. In practice, once an expense is eliminated it tends to stay eliminated — reputations are at stake.

    “years of flight-instructing experience” is an expense. There is apparently an attempt to automate piloting, producing the self operated aircraft and reducing the people in the cockpit to casual hires. It’s the same attempt at rationalization that has reduced truck driver wages and invested heavily in self-driving cars.

    Supposedly pilots of the Boeing 737 MAX were never even told about the automated trim control, let along trained in response to automated trim control malfunction. My guess would be that Boeing sales were trying to sell the Boeing 737 MAX worldwide as an aircraft that did not require extensive pilot training, and that Sales overruled Engineering yet again, probably informally.

    Whether rationalization is good or bad in re I can’t say. We do not, for example, have “elevator operators” anymore, nor do stewardesses have to be graduate nurses. What I can say is that this particular rationalization is at best premature and at worst premeditated manslaughter.

    If you want a case study of deteriorating decision making by elites, this is that case study.

    Counterinsurgency

    • Replies: @Hibernian
  17. OT, but for anyone who didn’t see it a couple days ago, Andrew Doyle has come out as Titania McGrath.

  18. Clyde says:
    @DiogenesNYC

    It’s entirely possible that US pilots have been facing the same MCAS issues that brought down the two foreign 737’s but that US pilots simply had the presence of mind, skepticism, and experience to interrupt the error chain and take over.

    With US 737 pilots, I must assume that word got around on 737 flying tips and tricks so that you don’t get killed by a bucking bronco 737. Got around by emails and verbally. A pilot list serve would be useful. Boeing should put out a new 737 flying manual, updated and with new tips and tricks from the US pilot community. This will not happen due to exposing Boeing legally.
    But it would be amusing to see US pilots publish (internet) their own unattributed samizdat on this.
    The software must be fixed/upgraded and a no-brainer, instant access to dumping auto-pilot must be installed.

  19. Car have to have bumpers, and they don’t go nearly as fast as planes, which have no bumpers at all.

    It just doesn’t make sense.

  20. @Intelligent Dasein

    There were reports of autopilot anomalies reported by US pilots to ASRS.

    As I understand it, the pilots simply disconnected autopilot and proceeded manually.

    All of that said, there are/were less than 100 of the recently introduced 737 MAX in service in the US (350 total worldwide), so limited experience base.

  21. Pokémon like AOC are always on topic, so here’s her latest tonguebath, courtesy of Vanity Fair:

    https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2019/03/alexandria-ocasio-cortez-interview

    So brave, much vibrance.

  22. @istevefan

    There’s still that big fat guppy Airbus 380 with 4 engines, while the nose of the A-350 and B-787 are kinda unique enough to pick out, along with the serrated rear edge of the engine cowls on the 787. It’s bigger, older brother, the triple-7 has 6 wheels on its main bogies, making it a 14-wheeler (the 747’s, including the newest -800 variant, are 18-wheelers, while that Scarebus 380 has 22 wheels.)

    That’s about all you’ve got to go by.

    • Replies: @istevefan
  23. @SimpleSong

    Thank you for the inside info on MDD/Boeing, explains a lot about Boeing’s changed strategy. And thanks Steve for the DC10 info – I had no idea. Amazing how stuff like that stays under the media radar.

    “Right now the 787 wing, one of the most vital components, is made overseas (I believe in Japan.) Since the ’87 is their first mostly-composite aircraft there is going to be a ton of institutional knowledge that will be developed, but instead of being in Everett it will end up in Asia.”

    The only good news, as I pointed out elsewhere the other day, is that Boeing’s wing-building secrets (or are they now Mitsubishi’s?) are probably safer from Chinese espionage in Japan than in the US.

    Boeing’s technology firesale has been condemned by Eamon Fingleton here

    https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/boeing-goes-to-pieces/

    and defended by Dominic Gates, Seattle Times aerospace reporter (I don’t imagine it would be easy to be critical of Boeing in this job), here

    https://www.seattletimes.com/business/boeing-shares-work-but-guards-its-secrets/

    Off topic, I see a bunch of Aussie bad hats have gone full Breivik on a mosque in New Zealand, killing some 40 people. Attacks like this are very rare indeed – the only other one I can think of is that guy (Baruch Goldstein, or was he the guy who shot the Israeli PM?) who shot up a mosque in Israel.

    Now when Muslims kill a lot of people, the first media/political response is “Muslims fear backlash” – and police are sent to guard mosques all over the place against attacks which never happen. Christians aren’t huge on revenge, certainly not when compared to Muslims, and I think that revenge attacks by individual or more organised Muslims are not only possible, but probable – almost inevitable.

    Christians in places like Egypt, the Philippines and Pakistan have the most to be worried about, but I don’t rule out attacks in the West or Anglosphere.

    I hope Steve and commenters are alert for any sightings of “Christians fear backlash” in the media – very unlikely, but always possible. And if there are no sightings, that in itself will tell us something about our media and political classes.

    (What’s more likely is that dissident sites like this one will be targeted/monitored even more closely. Never let a crisis go to waste and all that.)

    • Replies: @YetAnotherAnon
  24. Anonymous[295] • Disclaimer says:
    @Anonymous

    The Heath Government, elected in 1979 …

    I’m sure you mean 1974. Thatcher became PM in 1979.

  25. @istevefan

    You are absolutely right that business reasons are the big part of the impetus to outsource lots of the work – and have it all brought back to Everett, WA, and Charleston, SC by those 3(?) big-ass widened 747 guppies that are pretty damn impressive to see, BTW. Yes, if they get the work done in 10 other countries, those countries, whose airlines all operate on a more Socialist model, tribal may one even call it ;-}, model will be sure to put orders in.

    BTW, the original -100s and -200’s of the 73’s may be flying in S. America or somewhere, but those have the original low-bypass engines, what you’d call “turbo-jets”, rather than the modern turbo-fans. The cowls had to be flattened for the bigger turbofan engines to make crosswind landings (one-wing low) doable.

    Even the -300’s and -400’s could be called classics now. Retrofit of the newest engines onto this latest 737 was probably just a stretch too far, but the problem was solved by software (just like what a yaw damper did for the Dutch Roll problem with any swept-wing jet, though of course it was originally just an analog RLC circuit).

    That 737 was originally supposed to be just a short-hauler to compete with the Douglas DC-9’s. However, once you’ve got the lines up, it’s very much cheaper to keep using them, and this plane became one use to eventually replace the 757’s on the trans-con service. The 757 was the best airliner ever built, IMHO. It climbs like a bat out of hell (the -200, not the stretch -300) and can go into/out of short fields hot and heavy. The thing is, when oil was high in the mid to late 00’s Boeing decided to make the new 737’s and shut down the 757 line.

    Since oil has been low, at least 2 of the major 3 US airlines begged Boeing to open up that 757 line down in Renton. They would not do it, maybe based on the risk involved in case oil went back up. That long-legged, but-engined beauty is still queen of the US skies, but can go to Europe from many places in the east (say, Raleigh, NC to Paris).

    Back to the 737 again, it is so ubiquitous that it long ago beat out the 727 for the best-selling commerical airliner.

  26. @Achmed E. Newman

    Dang it. meant “big-engined beauty” and what I meant was short fields even when it’s hot out (even high-up aiports Like La Paz, Bolivia), and the plane is heavy.

  27. rob says:

    I think pushing for AA for airplane maintenance jobs would be a fun way to make the managerial class live by their principles. Pilots too.

    • Agree: Coemgen
  28. @YetAnotherAnon

    Back on topic, that Dominic Gates Seattle Times piece is pretty good, if you get to the back end where (as Steve has noted with NYT/WaPo) a lot of crucial stuff is. I hope Boeing are still speaking to him.

    Takeaways are that

    a) Boeing say they still do the design work (“the shape of the wing”)

    b) but fewer young engineers will be hired in Everett and more in Japan

    c) Japan govt is heavily subsidising, saving Boeing money (“look at those stupid Japanese!” says industry analyst)

    d) but stupid Japanese may end up making all future Boeing wings

    e) Japanese airlines buy all-US as a quid pro-quo, until one day the Japanese build long-haul jets. A regional 90-seater is currently in flight testing.

    “A year ago, at the peak of 787 development work, between 300 and 400 engineers from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Kawasaki Heavy Industries and Fuji Heavy Industries worked in Seattle and Everett alongside Boeing colleagues designing Dreamliner parts.

    By now, all have returned home, where the so-called Japanese “Heavies” — the three heavy-industrial companies that share 787 work — have built costly new facilities for Dreamliner production.

    It may look like a steppingstone for another ambitious Japanese industrial sector that could displace U.S. production. But Aboulafia sees quite the opposite — a Japan desperately subsidizing its aerospace industry to keep high-paying jobs from disappearing.

    “It’s fiefdom protection, jobs for the boys,” said Aboulafia, who has studied the aviation industry in Japan. “Given the disastrous downturn in Japanese military aerospace since 1990, they are protecting what’s left.””

    And meanwhile there are 400 fewer well-paid aerospace engineers and lord knows how many fewer well-paid manufacturing jobs in the US.

    Boeing are selling the rope which will hang them to Japan.

  29. Anon[594] • Disclaimer says:

    It’s too early to call these crashes “nature”.

    The first crash happened after the airline failed to replace a bad sensor that had nearly caused the plane to go down in its previous flight. On the previous flight and the crash flight pilots failed to switch off the MCAS by a procedure that was clearly described in the manual. But nobody reads any more.

    The Ethiopian crash is more of a mystery. The plane was going 500 mph despite not getting much more than 1000 feet off the ground. That must have been a sight. So we may be talking about a bad airspeed indicator. There is some evidence of a screwy takeoff, maybe even a tail strike, which could have damaged the controls. Bad airspeed could cause that.

    The Ethiopian plane’s copilot had only 200 hours total flying time. It’s still hard to imagine they too could have failed to turn off the MCAS after what happened in Indonesia. Or maybe they did turn it off but ended up really needing it….

  30. 36 ulster says:
    @istevefan

    I share your nostalgia for distinctive (DC-9, 727) or majestic (747) designs. Most of the overhead traffic that we see approaching O’Hare consists of formulaic twinjets (“Boeing” 717, 737, MD-80, A320, Embraer and Canadair regionals), the occasional 757 notwithstanding. (The Jumbos use a more southerly approach, roughly following the Kennedy Expressway). Occasionally the aircraft take off in our direction, and we get to appreciate the sight of a 747 on its way to some European destination, but, sadly, the Lady seems destined for the useful but less cool role as a cargo carrier.

  31. @Reg Cæsar

    Your KLM-story story has the punch of one of Heinrich von Kleist’s or Johann Peter Hebel’s marginal notes or anecdotes.

    Extra dry.

  32. bomag says:
    @Sean

    giving the AI more control over the flight settings and the pilots less

    From what I gather, Airbus has went all-in on AI flying, while Boeing still considers the pilot part of the safety system.

    https://airfactsjournal.com/2019/03/can-boeing-trust-pilots/

  33. Anon[232] • Disclaimer says:

    OT, the admissions scandal.

    Terrible article by two black NY Times journalists:

    ‘What Does It Take?’: Admissions Scandal Is a Harsh Lesson in Racial Disparities

    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/13/us/college-admissions-race.html

    1. It seems to assume, without evidence, that this scandal affects black university applicants. They have their own quota: The same percentage of every incoming class is black. The admissions cheaters are taking slots from other whites.

    2. It assumes that the black applicants profiled are white-equivalent brainiacs because (a) they work “twice as hard,” (b) they study long hours, sometimes past midnight or even until 3 a.m., and (c ) they take the ACT as many as six times to get a higher score. Working long hard hours doesn’t raise your IQ, and smart people don’t take tests six times, because they are smart enough to know it won’t help.

    The article also contributes to the continuing effort to redefine the word “meritocractic” from its meaning of “the spoils go the the most qualified” to “the spoils go to those who can fake looking the most qualified, and anyway, the standards used to judge qualified are fake and racist and white supremicist and burn it all down, now!” (But within groups of blacks considered for their quota, sort them by merit … that’s O.K.)

    • Replies: @dr kill
  34. Jack D says:
    @istevefan

    The C919 (despite being brand new) is a last generation plane – basically a copy of the OLD 737 (not the Max). Airlines don’t like it because it’s not as fuel efficient as current generation machines. Nevertheless, the Chinese government will probably use the problems with the Max as an excuse to pressure their airlines into buying it.

    • Agree: Johann Ricke
    • Replies: @Thorfinnsson
    , @res
  35. JMcG says:
    @Sean

    Sean, that’s not what any evidence that’s emerged yet shows as having happened. The explanations that make the most sense are a little technical for me to type out on my phone, but I’m going to state right now that my belief is pilot error had much to do with these accidents.
    I was appalled to see that the First Officer, or copilot, on the Ethiopian flight had 200 hours total time, as little as 50 of which were in an actual airplane as opposed to a simulator. The Captain is supposed to have accumulated 8000 flying hours at age 28, a number I find absolutely impossible to believe.
    Normal procedure in an emergency or unusual situation is to have one pilot fly the aircraft, while the other runs the checklists. I don’t know that I would trust a guy with 50 hours in the right seat to do either of those things. Christ, my state requires student drivers to have 40 hours with a licensed driver before they can drive by themselves.
    The reporting has been terrible on this story, as it so often is when one knows something of the subject. I can recommend the PPRuNe forum as a good place to learn more. My advice is to read only, they are not very patient with uninformed speculation.
    I would also strongly advise to be very, very careful about flying with a non-first world carrier. Even some famous airlines use leased aircraft with some sketchy crews.

    • Replies: @res
  36. JMcG says:
    @istevefan

    You probably know this, but the primacy of twins is due to something called ETOPs. This stands for Extended Twin Operations. As engine reliability statistics accumulate, aviation regulatory agencies, lobbied by the airlines, have become more and more willing to let twin engines planes fly ever longer distances from any possible landing site.
    In the old days, more than two engines were required for transoceanic or trans polar flights. Hence the development of the three engines airliners as a less expensive alternative to the four.
    Sooner or later, an airplane is going into the drink and the finger pointing will start. I’d never have made a Naval Aviator in WWII. I still get edgy when I look down on the North Atlantic from a modern twin Airbus or Boeing. I won’t even fly across water without gaining enough altitude to glide to shore.

  37. JMcG says:
    @istevefan

    I’ve read that the main gear struts on the 737 max are 16 feet long. Seems incredible if true. The whole thing really does seem to be a kludge. Damn shame to hear what has become of Boeing. I’m afraid I’d be no likelier to board a Chinese produced Airliner than a Russian. Not for years and years anyway.

  38. Anonymous[375] • Disclaimer says:
    @Sean

    The engines are bigger and more fuel efficient than the original ones. Because they’re heavier and larger, they’re attached to the body in slightly different locations than the original engines were, and they affect the flying dynamics differently, causing the nose to tend to pitch up and go into stalls. Instead of redesigning the body and basically coming up with a new plane, Boeing decided to solve this problem introduced by the new engines by using software to automatically put the plane into dives to overcome potential stalls.

  39. JMcG says:
    @Anonymous

    You’re right. Friedmanism is a race to the bottom. You can have cheap things or nice things. I believe Steve’s father was a Lockheed engineer, so Steve must have heard plenty around the kitchen table.

  40. Well, there are also the conspiracy theories:

    • Replies: @Dieter Kief
  41. Romanian says: • Website

    Given your father’s career, Mr. Sailer, I was looking forward to your take on the matter.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  42. @Steve Sailer

    There’s a lot to be said for your country having good airline pilots.

    As Nimitz and Ford Class carriers and all manned fighters come to be seen for the obsolete, overpriced junk they are and discontinued, we’re going to lose a major source of those folks. Every time I come off a Jet Blue flight when the pilot is standing smartly at the front of the plane saying thanks for flying Jet Blue, I tell em good job, ‘caught a 3-wire’ (the preferred wire of four landing aboard carriers), most of the time, they’re Navy, they ask after my squadron.

    Naval aviators, carrier pilots, they can fly my A-320 to Tampa every day of the week.

    • Agree: Old Prude
  43. Jack D says:
    @Steve Sailer

    The co-pilot on the Ethiopian jet had 200 hours – with 200 hours in the US they would barely let you fly a Cessna let alone a jet with hundreds of people. The pilot had lots of hours but he had become a pilot straight out of high school and was only in his late 20’s despite having thousands of hours.

    Runaway trim is not unknown – it can happen for other reasons. The trim system is like lane keeping cruise control but in the up/down direction – it is supposed to keep you flying level. Otherwise the pilots would have to constantly keep tweaking the trim manually. In the case of the Max they used the existing trim system for an additional purpose – if the software sensed (or thought it sensed) that you were seriously nose up (which can lead to a deadly stall) it would use the trim system to push the nose down. It would be like the lane keeping cruise control also making an emergency maneuver if it thought you were about to drive off the road.

    The reason they add this feature is that the giant fuel efficient new engines on the Max alter the balance of the plane so it is more likely to stall. It’s like you have a VW Beetle and you wedge a big block V-8 in the back and now it will oversteer in certain situations but you add this system to keep it from going off the road when this happens. You do this for two reasons: 1. it’s expensive to do a clean sheet design – much cheaper just to wedge that V-8 in the old one and 2. if it’s a clean sheet design you have to retrain all the drivers in the cab fleet and the fleet operator doesn’t want to have to pay for that.

    You may wonder why they put a BIGGER engine in in order to get better fuel economy? The reason is that modern jets don’t really operate like balloons where you let go of the balloon and the gas inside the balloon (in the case of a jet the combustion gasses) rushing out the back pushes the balloon forward – there’s a little bit of that, but most of the thrust comes from a giant fan in the front that acts like an old fashioned propeller and pushes unheated atmospheric air toward the back through an outside ring that surrounds the core of the jet. The main function of the core of the jet engine (what used to be the whole jet engine) is not to blow exhaust gasses out the back but to turn the shaft that turns the fan. The bigger you make the diameter of the fan and the bypass channel, the more air you can push – a slower fan is quieter and more fuel efficient.

    Except that in the Max, they originally “forgot” to tell the pilots that this new emergency feature had been added, because the selling premise was that the Max was just like the old 737 and no retraining was required (see #2)

    If your lane holding cruise control started acting flaky for whatever reason and tried to drive you off the road, your natural reaction would be to turn it off and take the wheel, but it’s possible to unlearn that – in some of the Tesla crashes the drivers let the car drive them right into crash barriers or trucks. There’s a big button right on the yoke to turn off the automatic trim system and then the pilots can manually turn the trim wheels and retrim the plane. But you have to push the button. In the Indonesia crash, they never did. Not clear yet what happened on the Ethiopian jet.

    • Replies: @Sully
    , @William Badwhite
  44. JMcG says:

    The Atlas Air crash in Texas a few weeks ago seems to have disappeared in the 737 max news, but the FAA has announced that the yoke was full forward, i.e. nose down,and with the throttles set to max thrust.

    Very hard to explain.

  45. Romanian says: • Website

    I remember an article by Eamonn Fingleton discussing Boeing’s ruinous policies including its “open kimono policy” towards Japan.

    http://www.fingleton.net/boeing-goes-to-pieces/

    Excerpts beneath.

    [MORE]

    Although the details of U.S.-Japan aerospace deals are rarely disclosed, it is clear that a key dynamic is that, in return for transfers of American technology and manufacturing knowhow, the Japanese low-ball their prices in supplying an ever widening and more sophisticated array of components and materials. In many cases, Japan’s state-controlled airlines further sweeten the pot by paying top dollar for U.S. airframes and jet engines. All this boosts the American industry’s short term profits. In the long term, of course, the current crop of top executives will have long retired – and in the meantime they are crying all the way to the bank.

    For the Japanese the seemingly steep upfront costs are a steal given the enormous amount of learning-by-doing that would otherwise be required to reinvent American knowhow and production technology. As for the American national interest, the most obvious consequence is an endless stream of layoffs of American blue-collar workers. Less obviously but equally debilitating, the U.S. aerospace industry’s dependence on Japanese and other foreign suppliers has greatly exacerbated U.S. trade imbalances. By extension the U.S. Treasury has become ever more dependent on East Asia, not least Japan, to fund the trade deficits.
    ………..
    Although global market share figures are hard to come by, Japan is arguably already the world’s largest aerospace player. Certainly it is the ultimate source of a vastly larger share of the industry’s most sophisticated value added than a reading of the English-language press would suggest. Boeing in particular is deeply hollowed out. Given that Boeing now subsumes most of the erstwhile independent companies that put Neil Armstrong on the moon, its eclipse constitutes a major part of a larger story of American decline.

    As Robert Scott of the Washington-based Economic Policy Institute, points out, little more than a generation ago, Boeing planes were still almost entirely American-made. In the 1980s, however, Boeing came under increasing pressure to enter into “work-share” agreements with various technology-hungry foreign partners, most notably the Japanese.

    The trend intensified as Boeing planned the 777, which entered service in 1995. On Boeing’s numbers, various Japanese companies took on in aggregate about 21 percent of the 777’s airframe, up from about 16 percent for the Boeing 767, which had been launched in 1982. Boeing allocated much of the 777’s fuselage to a government-led Japanese consortium.

    Then came the 787, Boeing’s newest passenger plane which entered commercial service in 2011 in the livery of All Nippon Airways. For several reasons the 787 constitutes a watershed not only for Boeing but for the entire global aerospace industry. Otherwise known as the Dreamliner, it is the most technologically advanced passenger jet ever built. It is also the first progeny of a portentously redefined relationship between Boeing and Japan. On the company’s own figures, the Japanese account for a stunning 35 percent of the 787 – and that may be an underestimate. Much of the rest of the plane is also manufactured abroad, not least in Italy, Germany, South Korea, France, and the United Kingdom.
    ………
    Boeing’s retreat from manufacturing was powerfully symbolized also by its decision to move its headquarters from Seattle to Chicago. Executed in 2001, that decision seems to have been made during the wild dot.com stock bubble of the late 1990s. It is tempting to imagine that the directors of America’s most Olympian manufacturing company talked themselves into a shift to postindustrialism at the height of one of the most ludicrous outbreaks of crowd madness in American economic history.
    ………….
    Even before Boeing redefined itself as a systems integrator, keen observers had noticed a weakening in its resolve to resist Japanese pressure for technology transfers. As recorded by the British author Karl Sabbagh, already by the early 1990s Boeing’s willingness to reveal previously closely held manufacturing secrets to the Japanese became so notorious that Boeing employees vulgarly referred to it as the “open kimono” policy. The erstwhile Leviathan of the global aerospace industry was the one in the kimono.

    As for the Dreamliner, not the least surprising aspect of its work-share arrangements is that the foreign-made sections arrive in Boeing’s final assembly plant in Seattle not only fully “stuffed” with systems and sub-components (a radical departure from previous arrangements) but already certified and tested. Certification and testing had previously been considered core functions that should never be delegated to foreign partners. Noting this in a Harvard Business Review blog, Dick Nolan has acerbically commented: “Boeing effectively gave Tier 1 suppliers a large part of its proprietary manual, How to Build a Commercial Airplane, a book that its aeronautical engineers have been writing over the last 50 years.”

    Perhaps the single most controversial aspect of Boeing’s partnership with Japan is that the 787 flies on Mitsubishi wings. To add insult to injury these are no ordinary wings. They constitute the first extensive use of carbon fiber in the wings of a full-size passenger plane. In the view of many experts, in outsourcing the wings, Boeing has crossed a red line. For a start, as Stan Sorscher points out, the strategy has required the transfer to Mitsubishi of much of Boeing’s vaunted wing-making technology. Sorscher, a former physicist at Boeing and now an executive of Boeing’s main white-collar union, comments: “The value of the technology and knowhow transferred is probably around $500 million – that is what we call in the business a scientific wild-ass guess. Boeing built the tooling for a full-scale prototype of the 787 wings in Seattle and then gave all of that to Mitsubishi. It was a huge boost to Mitsubishi.”

    He adds: “Boeing gave Mitsubishi the materials technology and the manufacturing processes – the layup processes, temperature and pressure conditions for the autoclaves, for instance. Boeing also transferred its tooling and assembly expertise and there is a lot of expertise in assembling a wing.”

    Sorscher notes that previously Boeing had regarded wing-making as its ultimate core competency. By keeping the wings largely or totally in-house, Boeing minimized the risk that the Japanese consortium could ever become a viable future competitor. As recorded in the late 1980s by Louis Uchitelle of the New York Times, a security-conscious Boeing had previously gone to great lengths to keep Japanese visitors away from its wing-making operations.

    I chose what to highlight.

    • Replies: @Lugash
    , @JMcG
  46. Wilkey says:

    OT: The New Zealand Mosque shootings. A lot to be said about it, of course. None of it good. But here’s a question: After the Boston Marathon bombings I pointed out three characteristics that distinguish violence by Muslims from “right-wing” violence:

    1) Use of bombs. Building a successful bomb takes knowledge. It may not be terribly hard to acquire, but it ain’t easy, either. There are enough Muslim extremists out there that it’s much easier for a Muslim terrorist to learn how to do it right than for (so-called) right-wingers.

    2) Random targets. Muslim terrorists don’t care who they kill. Hell, in many cases they kill a lot of their own. Their purpose is to kill a lot of people. Those people don’t need to have any real connection to something they oppose. They hate pretty much everyone.

    3) Collaborators. There is so much Islamic extremism that it’s relatively easy for a would-be Muslim terrorist to find someone to help him (or her). (So-called) right-wing terrorists usually have to act alone.

    A lot of people were accusing the Boston Marathon bombers, before we found out who they were, of being right-wing terrorists because the attacks happened on tax day. But there was more than one of them, they used bombs, and they attacked a random target.

    To look at the extremely rare cases of right-wing violence: Breivik acted alone, attacked a non-random event (a left-wing political gathering), and used guns. McVeigh & Nichols worked together and used a bomb, but their target was a federal building.

    So far the news seems to indicate that the New Zealand attack may have broken all but one of those rules. They’ve arrested several people (including a woman), though one has been released. There were bombs apparently strapped to the car (which did not detonate). Of course the target wasn’t random: he was specifically looking to kill Muslims.

    I would not be surprised if some or all of the other people allegedly involved were simply arrested due to normal and understandable overreaction to such a tragic event, if their involvement was minimal, or if their involvement wasn’t really involvement at all (i.e., they were just fellow internet trolls, or roommates or family members, or whatever). Genuine right-wing violence just isn’t that common. Finding even one person to assist you is probably incredibly hard. Finding three or four likely borders on the impossible, especially in a relatively peaceful country like New Zealand.

    • Replies: @snorlax
    , @Jack D
  47. Mr. Anon says:
    @Intelligent Dasein

    That should be pretty easy to verify with flight data recorders and pilot interviews. If this is true, somebody should have said something by now; it would be a dereliction of duty not to.

    According to a story I read, there were a few complaints lodged on an internet site that acts as a kind of pilot complaint department. They may have been anonymous. Boat-rockers are never popular.

    • Replies: @JMcG
  48. @DiogenesNYC

    The other Nature vs. Nurture angle on the 737 MAX debate is the question of whether pilot training and standards contributed to the recent incidents.

    That’s the angle that immediately came to mind upon reading the headline. I don’t trust airplanes at the best of times, but no way am I getting on a plane in the Third World that isn’t run by one of the major operators. Even if the pilots are fine, maintenance and security issues abound.

  49. Alfa158 says:
    @Steve Sailer

    Even first world countries can have pilots who are insufficiently trained in hand flying. As I recall that is what caused the crash of the Air France flight out of Brazil. The captain had left the cockpit to get his crew rest time. The plane was being flown on autopilot with the younger and less experienced co-pilot in command. The pitot tube iced up while flying through a storm resulting in the loss of air speed data, causing the autopilot to automatically shut off and return control to the aircrew. The co-pilot had spent most of his career flying by dialing commands into the autopilot and simply didn’t have the skills to hand fly an airplane on instruments, in pitch darkness and rough weather, and ended up putting the plane into a terminal dive. The senior pilot pulled himself back into the cockpit and tried to recover but it was too late as the plane was coming apart from the dynamic forces.

  50. OFF TOPIC

    We must talk about EVIL when we debate the reasons why the various ruling classes in European Christian nations are pushing nation-wrecking mass legal immigration and illegal immigration.

    Whether it is the USA, New Zealand, England, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Canada, Australia or other European Christian Nations, there seems to have been some alteration or malformation within the ruling classes which has led them to use mass immigration as a demographic weapon to deliberately attack and destroy cultural cohesion in their own nations.

    We must honestly and openly discuss the EVIL that is permeating the JEW/WASP ruling class of the American Empire and the other ruling classes of European Christian nations.

    Why are the ruling classes in European Christian nations so EVIL?

    Why are the ruling classes pushing nation-wrecking mass legal immigration and multicultural mayhem?

  51. Laurel says:

    Boeing did the Amazon thing — got a lot of money from Washington State lawmakers and used it to move operations out of state and out of country. Plus they moved the HQ to Chicago so the C-suite guys are halfway across the country from the engineers and much closer to the financial guys.

  52. Lugash says:
    @Romanian

    I was flipping through an economics textbook on a college campus a few years ago. In the international trade area I came across a passage that stated Boeing’s competitive advantage lay in marketing, management and systems integration, not building the actual f’n planes.

    • Replies: @Buzz Mohawk
    , @Coemgen
  53. JMcG says:
    @Romanian

    OMG, thanks for this info.

    • Replies: @Romanian
  54. Tiny Duck says:

    More white supremacist violence against Muslims and People of Color

    https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2019/03/15/new-zealand-shootings-guns-used-bore-white-supremacist-references/3172793002/

    How can you guys seriously say this isn’t the evil that must be defeated in out time?

    Maybe because people like the proprietor of the blog played a role in radicalizing the monsters that did this cimre

    • Replies: @fish
  55. JMcG says:
    @Alfa158

    Not to pick nits, but the Air France flight never entered a dive. The right seat pilot had his stick full back (nose up), the left seat pilot had his stick forward ( nose down) to break the aerodynamic stall which the aircraft was in. Because the sticks were not connected to anything but computers, neither pilot had any idea what the other was attempting. The right seat pilot’s stick had precedence in the control regime that had been selected.
    The senior captain, returned to the cockpit, pretty much instantly diagnosed the situation, though not in time to save the aircraft unfortunately.
    The plane mushed into the water in a slightly nose high, wings level attitude. There was no breaking up of the airframe due to excessive speed.

    • Replies: @Alfa158
  56. @DiogenesNYC

    The Ethiopian pilot, Yared Getachew, had 8,000 hours of flying experience.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/12/business/ethiopian-airline-crash-school.html

    • Replies: @JMcG
    , @DiogenesNYC
  57. anon[393] • Disclaimer says:

    Im told by other pilots the engines shifted the center of gravity which is worst when the angle of attack is high on takeoffs and landing and or flaps are up counter intuitively the software is set to fix this when the autopilot is OFF which if you dont understand theres essentially a second autopilot that engages when you turn off autopilot your in trouble at the riskiest part of flight

  58. Kaiju says:

    Any proof that that book is factually incorrect?

  59. This is a tragedy born of a different tragedy. The full story is in Charles Duhigg’s book Smarter, Faster, Better. He has a chapter that describes in stunning detail the crash of an
    Air France flight, which plunged into the sea after stalling, because the pilots were stuck in a tunnel vision of thinking they were diving, and instead increased the angle of attack so much that they stalled the plane. It’s devastating to read; excerpts here:
    https://www.codymclain.com/what-a-plane-crash-and-a-near-disaster-can-teach-you-about-your-future-success/

    The two plane crashes resulted from software patches designed to overcome pilot inattention to a stall. Except that the software can get bad input. It would seem to be a simple fix: disable the anti-stall software and train pilots not to stall, as Duhigg mentions in a subsequent chapter. Those Air France pilots have now taken down three planes.

  60. Sully says:
    @Jack D

    Excellent analysis. I was going to post essentially the same comment. This is pilot error due to inexperience.

    There’s an entire generation of pilots now who have never flown large aircraft without autopilot. It’s a serious problem.

    As an aside, one of my high school classmates died in the 1979 crash referenced in the article.

    • Replies: @Achmed E. Newman
  61. @Alfa158

    It wasn’t a dive. It was a stall. The inexperienced pilot did not know how to fly by instruments, as you note, and kept raising the angle of attack. The plane plunged into the sea when it lost the ability to gain any lift.

    These two 737 plane crashes seem to be caused by an overactive anti-stall software module, designed to prevent another Air France disaster.

  62. snorlax says:
    @Wilkey

    Breivik also killed 8 people with a fertilizer bomb like McVeigh’s. The anti-abortion types (e.g. 96 Olympics) favor bombs, and often act in collaboration. Lots of Muslim terrorism (e.g. Charlie Hebdo, 9/11, Draw Muhammad shootings, Beirut bombings, etc. etc.) is directed at a target selected for its political significance.

  63. @SimpleSong

    I’ve heard this take many times. I’m not sure that it’s true.

    For starters, how many decision makers at Boeing ended up coming from McDonnell Douglas? The key 787 decisions were made when Phil Condit was CEO, not Harry Stonecipher. Stonecipher didn’t last long, and his interim replacement was previously with Rockwell. His permanent replacement came by way of GE and 3M. The current CEO has been with Boeing since 1985.

    The critical decisions on the 787 were also all made when Alan Mulally ran the commercial airplanes division.

    Then there’s the fact that Boeing had plenty of defense/gov’t business like the B-52, the Chinook, Project Apollo, the space shuttle, B-2 (Boeing built the outer wing sections), etc.

    McDonnell Douglas famously made the F-15, but they never abandoned the commercial airliner business either. The DC-10 was developed into the MD-11, and for the 100 seat market the MD-94 was developed (which was rebadged as the 717).

    Boeing pursued outsourcing before the 787 as well. The 777 outsourced many components to Japanese suppliers (just not as many as the 787), and probably you’re right that Boeing outsourcing to Japan is intended to prevent the emergence of a Japanese competitor in the airliner market to to secure orders from Japanese airlines.

    I don’t see much evidence that the Japanese are going to compete with Boeing and Airbus either, even if Eamonn Fingleton constantly predicts it (Fingleton also predicted that Japan would overtake the size of the US economy in nominal terms by 2000). They’re currently entering the crowded regional jet market (with the trouble Mitsubishi Regional Jet Program), but to my knowledge nothing is in development for the single aisle let alone widebody market.

    It should also be pointed out that a lot of composite know-how in Japan preceded the Boeing 787 program by over a decade, and in fact after GHW Bush successfully bullied Japan into abandoning the FSX fighter program in favor of a locally built F-16 derivative part of the deal was that Japanese industry was required to transfer technological kn0w-how, especially into the area of composites, to America. Boeing also learned its lesson on the 787 and the new 777X has much more of the manufacturing done in-house.

    There is serious competition from Asia coming to Boeing and Airbus, but not from Japan and thus not related to the 787 outsourcing program. China (COMAC C919) and Russia (Irkut MC-21) are both entering the single aisle market in 2021, and the two countries combined (CRAIC CR929) are entering the widebody market in about a decade.

    True enough about the 737 MAX but we have to ask why isn’t the A320 Neo having problems? Granted, the first A320 flew 20 years after the first 737, but it too grew in size and thrust.

    • Replies: @Romanian
  64. Jack D says:
    @Wilkey

    They have already released at least 1 of the people that they initially arrested. It’s very typical for witnesses to imagine more shooters than there really are (usually just 1) in the fog of war. The police figure that it’s better to be over inclusive and initially arrest not just the shooter but anyone in his circle that they can find. Maybe they will be inspired by their friend to take similar actions, so the safe thing is to get them off the street and away from their guns. Possibly they will turn out to be co-conspirators if not actual shooters and at worst, they will at least have information about the shooter which is more easily extracted in the context of being under arrest and trying to exonerate your own ass. So it’s all upside for them and if it turns out that they have arrested someone who had nothing to do with the shooting, they just let him go after a few hours or a day or two – no harm, no foul (if you consider being falsely arrested and questioned under duress as no foul).

  65. Air travel has been lame
    since the demise of the DC-6.

    300 mph is fast enough,
    and there is no sound more pleasing to the ear
    than four props revving up.

  66. peterike says:

    In a sane nation, you wouldn’t let your one major airline manufacturer outsource so much as a screw to any foreign nations. Nothing. Period. You also would not in-source any non-citizens. No H-1Bs allowed.

    You would also institute profit caps on such companies, and executive compensation caps. This would mean that executives would not gain any more money in their pockets by cost-cutting maneuvers. Remove the incentives to degrade quality. Remove the incentives to screw the workforce.

    In a sane nation, you would apply similar rules to all of your strategic industries: computer and computer networking gear, phone systems, electrical generation equipment, etc. etc. The list is quite long. And pretty much all of that stuff was made in America until the 1980s.

    Of course we do none of these sensible things and quite actively encourage exactly the opposite. Sad. When you move from a manufacturing/production economy to a finance/finagling based economy, some people get way richer, but it’s an eventual death blow to your nation.

    • Agree: Old Prude
  67. Jack D says:
    @Alfa158

    One of the weaknesses of automated systems (they are finding this also with self-driving cars) is that they are designed so that if something goes wrong that is beyond the design parameters of the system, they suddenly snap themselves off and return control to you (or in some cases, you snap them off because they are acting funky). The thing says “I give up. Something is wrong but I’m not sure what – human you figure it out and if it crashes it will be your fault and not mine.” Either way, suddenly you are back in control of the plane/car and there is something wrong to begin with that caused the automated system to flake out, but you have been kind of half-dozing and are not mentally prepared to figure out what is wrong AND in meantime pull the plane/car out of a precarious attitude.

    In the case of Air France it would have been better for the pilot to have done nothing. The stuff that he did made the situation much worse. But that’s supposed to be the pilot’s job – it’s like being a fireman where 99% of the time you sit around and eat pizza (actually nowadays a lot of paid fireman double as EMTs) and 1% of the time you save people (including yourself) from certain death.

    • Replies: @snorlax
  68. peterike says:
    @Anonymous

    The moral is that hardcore Friedmanism is a complete load of bollocks.

    Yes, but it ensures that the Friedman’s of the world get much, much wealthier. Pretty much everyone else in your nation is screwed.

  69. @Jack D

    The C919 is an obsolete design.

    The Russian Irkut MC-21 entering service soon is not.

    But I assume political pressure will prevent it from having wide export success, even if the Russians resolve their typical problems in the commercial airliner market (bad brand owing to Soviet-era memories, and poor availability of spare parts).

    US sanctions have also delayed service entry of the Irkut MC-21, as it relied upon American and Japanese composite materials for some sections of the aircraft. The Russians are current developing replacement materials made in Russia.

    Fortunately for the Russians they had the foresight to develop their own engines for this model, so they’re not reliant on the Pratt & Whitney alternate engines specified for the design. Aeroflot ordered the aircraft with P&W engines, but now they’ve agreed to change their order to the new Aviadvigatel PD-14 engines which are made in Perm, Russia and have no foreign content. They’re not as advanced as the P&W PW1000 or CFM International LEAP but are more advanced than the IAE V2500 and CFM56 used on last generation single-aisle airliners.

    The Sukhoi Superjet regional airliner on the other hand now requires all new engines (the current ones are a Franco-American-Russian collaboration) along with money other subsystems (APU, landing gear, avionics, interior, etc. all made in the West).

    • Replies: @Old Prude
    , @res
  70. @Reg Cæsar

    I hope the domestic carriers have retired the number 191; it seems to be cursed.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Airlines_Flight_191

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delta_Air_Lines_Flight_191

    Coincidentally, per Steve’s discussion above comparing the DC-10 and L-1011, the Delta flight that crashed at Dallas was an L-1011. The Dallas crash was famously attributed to both pilot error (deciding to fly through a thunderstorm while landing at the airport), and the existing on-board radar’s inability to detect thunderstorm microbursts resulting in wind shear. As a result, NASA created a doppler radar prototype that could detect the weather phenomenon, leading to deployment of the airborne windshear detection and alert system.

    • Replies: @Old Prude
    , @Jim Don Bob
  71. A friend of mine says that wages are stagnating for engineers because design is increasingly open to bids by foreign firms. The most outrageous example he has faced involved him getting contracted to do some hydraulic design on a device that was used at a military base where elite troops face unexpected combat scenarios. Can’t say the base or what the device was, for obvious reasons. His part of the contract was essentially the first half of the overall project, where the second was outsourced to a firm in Indonesia. Clearly nervous about such a project, he made sure that the “hand off” was as explicit as possible, down to this recommendations for every composite material, pressure spec, etc of every fitting that would be involved in the tie in to his half, and replicated this in his firm’s engineering notebooks.

    Sure enough, the latter firm screws up, using materials with different ratings than what he specified, because a) the specified versions probably don’t exist in that part of the world, b) stuff literally or figuratively gets lost in translation, and/or c) s

    The device malfunctions on the base, causing explosive pressure and material fragments to kill two personnel. Since he’s twenty miles away, rather than thousands of miles away, he gets taken to court. During the lengthy trial, he has a heart attack and is hospitalized. Ultimately, his good sense to be proactive in his paper trail and directions, as well as his anticipating the most likely design failures saved him and he prevailed, but not after it destroying the last of his marriage, hospitalizing him, and dragging him through the mud for 14 months.

    This is insane. Why is military work being contracted to any foreign country? Why has nobody thought of the legal implications of split liability that is split only in name?

    This is how free market extremism plays out when confronted with the good faith assumptions of a stable system of accountability. It doesn’t scale well.

  72. donut says:
    @Intelligent Dasein

    This is from the NTSB website yesterday : https://www.ntsb.gov/news/press-releases/Pages/NR20190314.aspx

    As it says they’re just sending investigators to help now but I’m sure if you check in occasionally there will be a report . Meanwhile here is a video of their investigation into the sinking of the El Faro :

    And an article by William Langewiesche :

    https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2018/04/inside-el-faro-the-worst-us-maritime-disaster-in-decades

    It wouldn’t surprise me if he does one on the 737’s as that right up his alley .

    • Replies: @JMcG
    , @Anonymous
    , @captflee
  73. Norm MacDonald SNL joke: The investigation into the crashes of Boeing 737Maxes owned and operated by Indonesian and Ethiopian airlines has concluded that the cause of the crashes was that that the Boeing 737Maxes were owned and operated by Indonesian and Ethiopian airlines.

  74. res says:
    @PhysicistDave

    Thanks. That was an interesting article. This caught my eye because I tend to think of “Woke” as just being “PC^2”. May need to reconsider that.

    I have previously argued that the notion of political correctness – a broadly agreed social contract that recognises that overt racism, sexism and homophobia are uncivil – is a laudable concept. Woke ideology has little to do with political correctness. It is about narrowing the Overton window, seeking out heretical opinions, and brutally punishing those who dare to think for themselves.

    I was a bit surprised to read the following without seeing projection mentioned. Perhaps that would have been a bridge too far.

    When Alex Clark in the Guardian described Titania as a ‘speedy cash-in’, she encapsulated perfectly one of Titania’s chief failings: she routinely intuits the motives of her ideological opponents, and frames her speculations as fact. She knows you are an evil fascist, even if you don’t know it yourself.

  75. snorlax says:
    @Jack D

    It’s a bit of an uncanny valley effect. Old-style cruise control that just maintains a speed (but you’re responsible for the steering and braking) or autopilot that just maintains an altitude and heading (but you have to be watching the instruments and be ready to hand fly through turbulence) are useful aids and improve safety. A sufficiently advanced, fully self-driving car or self-flying airplane would also improve safety.

    But “advanced” cruise control or autopilot that almost can drive or fly itself is a danger area because it’s significantly more error-prone than a human, and also makes the humans themselves much more error-prone by 1) encouraging them to space out and 2) drastically reducing the time spent practicing driving or flying by hand.

  76. @Alfa158

    My understanding was not that the plane was coming apart, but that it had descended so much that there was no room to recover from a stall. That particular co-pilot kept raising the nose so that a stall occurred. To recover from a stall, all you need to do is to point the nose down, but you also need to be high enough so that that will work. Sadly, they weren’t.

  77. res says:
    @Jack D

    What will be really interesting is the product trajectory. How long did it take Japanese cars to go from jokes to world beaters? Airliners have much longer developmental cycles and more infrastructure issues (compare early Japanese car problems of limited dealer networks and mechanic support) than automobiles though.

    The scary question is what would a competitive (cheaper even if not as good) Chinese airliner do to the US balance of payments. https://www.thebalance.com/trade-deficit-by-county-3306264

    In 2018, the U.S. trade deficit in goods, without services, was $810 billion. The United States exported $1.551 trillion in goods. The biggest categories were commercial aircraft, automobiles, and food. It imported $2.361 trillion. The largest categories were automobiles, petroleum, and cell phones.

    America only exported $130 billion in goods to China. The top three exports were agricultural products, aircraft, and electrical machinery.

    The second largest trade deficit is $69 billion with Japan. The world’s fifth largest economy needs the agricultural products, industrial supplies, aircraft, and pharmaceutical products that the United States makes.

    The U.S. trade deficit with Germany is $65 billion. The United States exports $53 billion. A large portion of this is comprised of automobiles, aircraft, and pharmaceuticals.

    Here is a detailed numerical look at US exports by category: https://tradingeconomics.com/united-states/exports-by-category
    Aircraft and spacecraft are number 4 at $131B. Here are the top 5 (falls off quickly after that, #6 is $84B and #7 is $62B)

    Product Value Year
    Machinery, nuclear reactors, boilers $201.65B 2017
    Electrical, electronic equipment $174.25B 2017
    Mineral fuels, oils, distillation products $138.01B 2017
    Aircraft, spacecraft $131.17B 2017 (this is 8.5% of total)
    Vehicles other than railway, tramway $130.10B 2017

    Looking at the pie chart we see that those 5 categories add up to about 50% of exports.

    P.S. Weapons sales were $12.4B so presumably not a dominant part of those numbers.

    • Replies: @istevefan
  78. Old Prude says:
    @Alfa158

    “Charlie”, the autopilot, can be a great freind, but like all freinds, sometimes he’s not doing you any favors. Back in the day, when I was flying King Airs, Charlie saw the ILS glide path down below, captured it and pitched the plane in a steep dive. Did I mention Charlie is fearless?

    Charlie is a great asset when you are getting the bejezzus knocked out of you at night in turblulence and pounding rain, so hard you can’t even focus on the instruments. Charlie is unflappably focused on keeping things straight and level.

    That having been said, I learned by instinct, that when things got hinky to immediately disconnect the autopilot and start flying the plane. There is no substitute for stick and rudder skills (and instrument flying skills) when things start getting weird. In that sense, the old Army training was great: There is no autopilot in a UH-1H.

    • Replies: @Moses
  79. anon[190] • Disclaimer says:

    I’ve always wondered if airline safety is an early leading indicator for societal progress. It requires technological know-how, the right balance of cultural risk tolerance, and a certain percentage of intelligent, conscientious people to keep it all running. It strikes me as a datapoint that helps temper The Cult of GDP. Tracking whether economists will fly on various regional airlines seems like a great non-bullshit KPI for international development — i.e, so you say Brazil is the country of tomorrow, do you feel like flying on their airlines today?

    It’s also discomforting that there has been no follow-up to the Concorde, particularly when it crashed over runway maintenance. Perhaps it was a Boondoggle at the time. But affordable supersonic commercial travel would be a game-changer. When people explain how there is no demand for something like this, it strikes me as retconning the past to justify diminished expectations. I picture people in the Dark Ages looking at ruins of aqueducts, saying something similar: “Those Godless pagans were so wasteful. Our village well is just as good.”

    The movie, Interstellar, had another great example of this. Surprised this isn’t a meme by now.

    • Replies: @Lot
    , @Altai
  80. res says:
    @JMcG

    Thanks.

    I was appalled to see that the First Officer, or copilot, on the Ethiopian flight had 200 hours total time, as little as 50 of which were in an actual airplane as opposed to a simulator. The Captain is supposed to have accumulated 8000 flying hours at age 28, a number I find absolutely impossible to believe.

    Those numbers really make me wonder what they are counting. Can you outline how flight hours are calculated in US passenger aviation? Any idea how it is done elsewhere?

    I can recommend the PPRuNe forum as a good place to learn more. My advice is to read only, they are not very patient with uninformed speculation.

    Can you recommend a particular forum or thread?

    • Replies: @JMcG
    , @Old Prude
  81. JMcG says:
    @Achmed E. Newman

    I’ve often wondered why the 75 wasn’t developed like the 73. Is there some reason it can’t benefit from modern engines?

    • Replies: @bomag
  82. @Anonymous

    Actually Heath won just one of the four elections he contested viz 1970. Heath lost in
    1966, 1974 -twice and still would not stand down as Tory leader

    Thatchers campaign manager for leadership in 1975 played off the back-bencher resentment towards Heath as not voluntarily resigning.

    Heath has won in 1970 largely thanks to Enoch Powell’s appeal to the race realist White
    working class to vote Tory. His reliance on Powell for his sole victory galled Heath sorely

  83. istevefan says:
    @JMcG

    You probably know this, but the primacy of twins is due to something called ETOPs. This stands for Extended Twin Operations.

    Right. As engine reliability increased the possibility of twin engine, double-aisle planes became possible. Unfortunately for Lockheed and Douglas, their trijet designs came out just prior to this. However, Airbus rolled out its first plane, the A300, a twin engine, double-aisle plane around 1974 when what you described came into play. Airbus lucked out on the timing, and when Eastern Airlines placed a large order for the A300, they never looked back.

    In 1977, US carrier Eastern Air Lines leased four A300s as an in-service trial.[36] Frank Borman, ex-astronaut and the then CEO of the airline, was impressed that the consumed 30% less fuel, even more economical than expected, in contrast to his fleet of Tristars and proceeded to order 23 A300s, becoming the first U.S. customer for the type. This order is often cited as the point at which Airbus came to be seen as a serious competitor to the large American aircraft-manufacturers Boeing and McDonnell Douglas.

  84. Clyde says:

    The accounts of the recent crashes were echoed in concerns registered by US pilots on how the 737 MAX 8 behaves.

    At least four American pilots complained following the Lion Air crash that the aircraft would suddenly pitch downward shortly after takeoff, according to documents reviewed by AFP on the Aviation Safety Reporting System, a voluntary incident database maintained by NASA.

    In two anonymous reports on flights just after the Lion Air disaster, pilots disconnected the autopilot and corrected the plane’s trajectory in response.
    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6813845/Ethiopia-Boeing-plane-set-dive-screw-like-device-wreckage-shows.html

    • Replies: @mmack
  85. @Peripatetic Commenter

    “Well, there are also the conspiracy theories:”

    It would be spooky if there were none.

    • Replies: @Pericles
  86. coburn says:
    @SimpleSong

    Yes. I agree.

    I’m a retired Boeing Engineer. Worked on 787 and 737 primarily in final assembly. I had a one year rotation into New Product Development about 10 years ago. At that time, Boeing’s long term plan was a clean sheet design to replace the 777 with entry into service around 2018/2019. This was to be followed by a clean sheet single aisle to replace 737 with EIS about 2024.

    Two things happened. 1) The enormous cost of developing the 787 (north of 30 Billion at this point) starved the company of cash for developing new models. 2) CFM (GE/Safran joint company) developed a new fuel-efficient engine. Airbus jumped on the opportunity and debuted the 320 NEO. Their order book exploded.

    Boeing feared losing their market share of single aisle so, grudgingly, developed the 737 MAX.

    Historically, at Boeing, a minor model derivative such as the 737 Max costs 5 Billion development. A clean sheet new airplane was 15 billion. However, the recent decades of experience by both Boeing and Airbus suggest those cost rules of thumb are no longer valid. Development of both minor models and new models may actually be double the old rule of thumb

    The great fear at Boeing (and Airbus) for the last 10 years is the Chinese Comac. They have built a single aisle A/P. So far, sales are slow and the aircraft does not compete with 320 or 737. But given time, Comac will be a threat.

    It is true the 787 wing is built in Japan, but on the new 777X, Boeing brought wing fabrication back to Everett. Boeing learned an expensive lesson on 787.

  87. JMcG says:
    @Mr. Anon

    That’s the Aviation Safety Reporting System. It’s administered, I believe by NASA to keep it separate from the FAA. It allows pilots to anonymously report themselves or others for having committed some violation of the Federal Aviation Regulations.
    This was done with a view towards finding trends in safety problems that may go unnoticed until a tragedy occurs. It’s mostly used by folks who bust a clearance, I suspect. That’s when one departs from the course or altitude assigned by ATC.

    • Replies: @Mr. Anon
  88. istevefan says:
    @res

    You bring up a good point. If we can’t sell the Chinese airliners, the trade deficit which is already outrageously high will skyrocket further.

    The problem with the Chinese is that they have their own domestic market that is so large it can support an aviation industry on its own. Couple this with a government dominated political system that can force their companies to buy Chinese, and it is not hard to imagine them getting off the ground (pun intended). The C919 already has about 1000 combined orders and options with almost 100 percent coming from Chinese airlines.

    Russia on the other hand doesn’t have this large domestic market. So the only way the Russians can really break into the game is to be able to sell their stuff on the world market. EU regulators and FAA regulators can mess with them by denying them certificates or delaying certification,thus making their planes useless in much of the world.

    Brazil has a decent plane maker in Embraer and Canada has Bombardier. Both of them have steadily increased the size of their offerings from “puddle jumpers” to regional jets capable of carrying over 100 people. They too could encroach on Airbus and Boeing, but since their domestic markets are so small, they have to rely on export sales.

    So it is wise to worry about China. They are now making their own 5th generation jet that is not just a copy of a Russian design. So I don’t doubt they will be able to compete with us in commercial aviation. And with the size of their domestic market, they will have the economic scale to do this. Not to mention that Boeing and Airbus have already given them a lot of know-how by setting up assembly plants for the 737 and A320. What’s that saying about a capitalist willing to sell the rope…?

    • Replies: @snorlax
    , @Jack D
  89. JMcG says:
    @Clyde

    It’s already installed.

  90. Old Prude says:
    @Thorfinnsson

    If these Russian designs are like all the other ones I’ve encountered, they must roar and smoke like a mother…

  91. JMcG says:
    @Space Ghost

    8000 hours at 28 years of age is pretty hard to swallow. Not impossible, but pretty incredible.

    • Replies: @Jim Don Bob
  92. res says:
    @Thorfinnsson

    Thanks. It looks to me like there are three 737 competitors on the horizon.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irkut_MC-21
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comac_C919
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Embraer_E-Jet_E2_family

    Not a great time for Boeing to have something like this happen.

    Any thoughts on the merits of the Embraer E-Jet E2?

    • Replies: @Jack D
    , @Thorfinnsson
  93. Old Prude says:
    @Captain Tripps

    That microburst crash in Dallas was pounded into our skulls over and over, both in Army flight school and in the simulators at Delta. The instruments tell you to reduce power (increase in airspeed going in to the microburst), then when you’ve throttled back, the microburst pushes you down, you try to push on all the power to compensate, but a tail wind on the outside of the burst and turbine lag have already sealed your fate. Lesson: If there’s a T-storm over the airfield, go into holding.

  94. @Clyde

    The software must be fixed/upgraded and a no-brainer, instant access to dumping auto-pilot must be installed.

    Like a big red button:

  95. JMcG says:
    @donut

    He did a really good Article for The Atlantic on the Air France crazy.

  96. @Pat Hannagan

    Are you having a bad day,
    or are you merely this way
    all of the time?

  97. I’m too lazy to read the comments about the BOEING GLOBALIZATION AIRPLANE CRASH — but I hope somebody will write about the FINANCIALIZATION scams in the airplane industry involving leases and contracts and bribery and everything else that goes with FINANCIALIZATION.

    Kevin Phillips got me thinking about FINANCIALIZATION and I see that it has completely taken over the airplane industry and the airport industry. Phillips’s books Boiling Point and Wealth and Democracy and Bad Money are good on financialization.

    Smash and grab financialization doesn’t care if a few planes go down, as long as the scam artists running the scams can make a big bag of cash out of it.

  98. JMcG says:
    @res

    Sure, the Rumours and News forum has the latest. The threads are all titled. Lots of jargon though, might take some time to get up to speed.

    I do hope I’m not abusing our host’s hospitality by pointing toward another forum, if so please feel free to delete.

    For the purposes of this discussion, you must hold an ATP Certificate from the FAA and meet Class 1 medical standards to fly as an Airline Pilot. US Minimums are 1500 hours experience, though not all that time has to be in a multi engine turbine airplane.

  99. Old Prude says:
    @res

    I flew as first officer on the 727 with live passengers, after having done only one traffic pattern flying the actual aircraft. All the rest of the training was in the simulator. That having been said, I also had 2,000 hours on other types. I was thirty years old and flew my ass-off in the Army, so yes, 8,000 hours for a 28 year old Ethiopian is, shall we say, remarkable.

  100. @PhysicistDave

    Is that like “coming out” as transsexual, or is it worse?

  101. @JMcG

    You probably know this, but the primacy of twins is due to something called ETOPs. This stands for Extended Twin Operations.

    I heard it stood for: Engines Turn Or Passengers Swim

  102. Chriscom says:

    I’m told by other pilots the engines shifted the center of gravity, which is worst when the angle of attack is high on takeoffs and landing and or flaps are up. Counter-intuitively, the software is set to fix this when the autopilot is OFF, which if you dont understand, there’s essentially a second autopilot that engages when you turn off autopilot.

    Edited for clarity.

    This is true as far as I can tell. Now, there have been a few posts here, perhaps now superceded, about U.S. pilots experiencing problems similar to the two accidents, and over-riding them safely. This is true but there’s an asterisk.

    The true part is that as first revealed, I believe, by the Dallas Morning News, there are a handful of reports by U.S. pilots into NASA’s Aviation Safety Reporting Systems (ASRS) about uncommanded nose-downs at low altitude that they recovered from. But here’s the asterisk: I think without exception, the reports (4-5 at most) say the pilots recovered control of the aircraft by quickly disengaging autopilot. However, several authoritative sources online says MCAS (the automatic nose-downer) operates when the aircraft is being flown manually. Indeed this is what has so many pilots livid: They say they were not briefed about a bonus autopilot system in the background. That, too, can be deactivated, but apparently only by trimming.

    So I don’t know if MCAS is jumping in when even by design it shouldn’t, or what.

    These reports are excerpted in a James Fallows piece. I don’t think he covers the disrepancy I’m seeing.

    For geeks who read the excerpts closely: You’ll see several references to the 737-800, which is different than the 737 MAX 8. Oddly at this point, ASRS hasn’t added a separate 737 MAX taxonomy so this is how pilots are entering it–they usually say MAX in the narrative.

    • Replies: @JMcG
  103. @SimpleSong

    I should probably clarify a few things on my earlier comment:

    1.) I don’t have insider info on the c-suite, and I don’t work at Boeing, but I did have a ton of patients who worked in the Everett facility from around the MDD merger to around the end of the 787 debacle (I am now retired to a sunny place.) Engineers are a blast to talk to, particularly old engineers, who conveniently for me tend to have more health issues than young ones.

    2.) The influence of MDD culture on Boeing came from an article in the local press (Seattle PI, I think) about 5 years ago or so. Too lazy to look it up. The people I talked to thought it was a reasonably plausible explanation for why management started making caved-in-head stupid decisions around that time, but it’s also possible that Boeing management just ‘tarded up on their own. Anyway regardless of the reason for the decision I don’t think it can be justified. Specifically:

    2a.) It is often argued that Airbus gets subsidies and Boeing doesn’t so Boeing had no choice but to get other governments to chip in. First off, while they don’t get direct subsidies for commercial aviation, the U.S. military budget is kinda big and kinda favors domestic producers. So there is an indirect subsidy and you can cross-subsidize things internally (transfer know-how and money). Second, if Airbus is getting a subsidy, the correct course of action is to either argue against that subsidy at the WTO, or lobby to get your own subsidies. Not create a new competitor in what had been a comfortable duopoly!

    2b.) Second excuse: Boeing had to do this to get contracts in Asia. Also disagree because most of the outsourcing went to Japan which is not the Asian growth market–it is already a mature market.

    2c.) Third excuse: Boeing can’t afford a clean sheet design by itself because reasons so we must get other countries to chip in. I’m sorry, you mean to tell me that your best selling aircraft, the 737, you can’t afford to redesign? I’m not even talking about making a composite version, a traditional aluminum redesign? You really have to question your viability as a company if that is the case. They had done a clean sheet with the 777 just prior to the 787 and while there was some outsourcing with that it was nothing like the ’87 so the idea that it couldn’t be done is baloney.

    2d.) Fourth excuse: we just outsourced the easy stuff so we got the govt subsidies without giving away our competitive position. Bzzt! Wrong! The wing of the ’87 is now made in Japan and is the most important part of the whole damn airplane! (Along with the engines but Boeing has never and will never make those.) Note that when Honda outsources the production of the Accord to Marysville, OH, and Airbus to the American South, they basically set up assembly plants. Bolt this onto this. Relatively low skill stuff. The engine and transmission are still made in Japan. No competitive edge is lost. This is not what Boeing did. They gave away the shop.

    Conclusion: Alan Mulhally and the rest of the c-suite gang clearly are very tall, and have very good teeth, because they managed to become CxO while still being caved-in-head stupid.

  104. istevefan says:
    @Achmed E. Newman

    The 757 was the best airliner ever built, IMHO. It climbs like a bat out of hell (the -200, not the stretch -300) and can go into/out of short fields hot and heavy.

    The 757 is my favorite single-aisle plane. I love the graceful lines. I was upset when Boeing shut down the line and decided to enlarge a 737 to take its place. I don’t know why they don’t reopen the 757 line and just outfit it with newer engines. Airbus is doing this with the A320 neo and A330 neo with the catchy moniker NEO (New Engine Option). Maybe they can’t call it the 757 neo, but in effect that is what it would be.

    Icelandair is now flying 757s, modified with winglets, non-stop from Kansas City to Reykjavík. KC to Iceland doesn’t require a double-aisle wide body. So the 757 is a great choice for this route.

    To many of you in larger cities, this is no big deal. But for us in KC, it gives us the ability to fly nonstop from KCI to Iceland and then to a European city. We don’t have to shuttle to Chicago or JFK to catch a transatlantic flight.

    • Agree: Old Prude
    • Replies: @The Wild Geese Howard
  105. @Menschmaschine

    “die-hard Japan basher Eamonn Fingleton”

    Fingleton’s not a Japan-basher – I think he rather admires the fact that they (and Korea, and China) are running basically mercantilist policies and getting away with it. Stories like “the myth of Japanese decline” don’t sound like what a basher would write.

    What (I think) drives him to distraction is remorseless US decline – decline which is the result of deliberate policy in US government and business. Once, what was good for General Motors was good for America, now it’s what’s good for Goldman Sachs.

    “Apart from a few token brands such as Coca-Cola. America’s economic influence has long since disappeared. Other nations have been quick to fill the void, and China is at the fore. Here is a sampling of how fast China has been turning the tables on the U.S.:

    1. China’s foreign currency reserves are now the largest in world economic history, multiplying more than sixfold since the end of 2001.

    2. In partnership with other major East Asian central banks, the People’s Bank of China effectively controls American interest rates and the value of the dollar. To finance America’s trade deficits, it has become a huge purchaser of treasury bonds. Absent this buying, the dollar would collapse and interest rates would soar.

    3. Chinese interests have established control of the formerly American-owned Panama Canal. The key ports at either end have been bought by a Hong Kong tycoon regarded as a Beijing surrogate. He also controls ports on Mexico’s Pacific coast that are playing an increasing role in shipping Chinese goods to the American market.

    4. Chinese and other East Asian interests now largely control the network of satellites and undersea cables that make up the international telecommunications system. The system had been under American control until our high-technology stock crash, when dozens of telecommunications companies on the verge of bankruptcy were bought by East Asian interests.

    5. Of the components of the next Boeing plane, the super-advanced 787, only the vertical fin will be made in the U.S. This will constitute the big-league debut for China’s fast-rising aerospace industry.

    Many commentators insist that the U.S. is turning the corner, but the test of all optimistic manufacturing talk is the international trade figures–and these tell a bleak story.

    From the volume of its exports to the strength of its trade surpluses, the U.S. was once the world’s strongest trading nation. It also generally ranked as the largest source of other nations’ imports. No longer. With its trade surpluses now a distant memory, the U.S. ranks first in a different category–as the world’s largest deficit nation.

    As of 2007, the U.S. has been passed by China in the total value of its exports. As recently as 1996, the United States outexported China by four to one.

    In 1991, Japan bought nine times as much from the U.S. as from China. As of 2006 it bought 50 percent more from China than from the United States. Moreover, the U.S. no longer even ranks as China’s largest source of imports: Japan’s exports to China are twice America’s.

    ***

    The evidence is in: the Confucian values by which China is ruled are not only incompatible with those of the West, they prove strikingly more robust. Far from China changing, Westerners who do business in China are modifying their behavior–often quite troublingly–under Beijing’s influence. Picture a phalanx of chocolate soldiers marching into a blowtorch.”

    There’s another good Dominic Gates piece – describing how the Japanese “want more”.

    https://www.seattletimes.com/business/boeing-aerospace/boeings-key-suppliers-in-japan-want-an-upgrade/

    Subaru is a vital Boeing supplier. In the city of Handa, close to Nagoya, it makes the key structural boxes within the central fuselage that support the wings of the 777 and the 787. It will supply the same piece for the 777X.

    Next time, Boeing will not be able to make any big airplane without us,” joked Yasuhiro Hamanaka, vice president of production at Subaru’s aerospace division.

    • Replies: @Clyde
  106. Jack D says:
    @res

    Boeing has agreed to buy Embraer so any gains by Embraer will go into Boeing’s column.

    I have been on Embraer 175 / 195 lots of times and they are perfectly good airplanes – the E2 is just an update. Nothing revolutionary but a little cheaper to buy.

  107. @istevefan

    So they can get other governments to chip in if they agree to source production in those nations. Also by doing this, they could ensure orders for the new plane.

    Boeing is in business to sell jet-planes.

  108. @Intelligent Dasein

    There is a system called FOQUA, in which all Flight Data Recorder info is downloaded crunched into a useable form, and analyzed in various ways, in order see trends in pilot errors, but also strange behavior out of the airplane can be looked at. This program is not one designed to be Big Brother and get pilots in trouble. Like the NASA reporting for general aviation and the ASRS system for airline flying (already mentioned here), information is de-identified if it is being used for reports and such. Pilots may be called to try to explain the why’s of what happened but don’t get in trouble based on this data.

  109. @res

    The Embraer E-Jet E2 is smaller than the 737 MAX and competes with the Airbus A220 (ex-Bombardier C-Series), Mitsubishi Regional Jet, Sukhoi Superjet, and Comac ARJ21.

    The MRJ isn’t yet in service, and the Comac ARJ21 is an obsolescent (appears to be based on McDonnell Douglas regional jets from the 80s) commercial failure. The other types are all pretty similar, though the Sukhoi has a bad reputation for spares availability so it’s not popular with Western operators.

  110. @Captain Tripps

    As a result, NASA created a doppler radar prototype that could detect the weather phenomenon, leading to deployment of the airborne windshear detection and alert system.

    Right. And it only took the FAA 9 years to field the first one.

  111. Jack D says:
    @SimpleSong

    The engine and transmission are still made in Japan.

    Not true:

    https://hondainamerica.com/news/honda-engine-production-ohio-reaches-25-million-milestone/

    (BTW, that one plant represents 25 million cars that US manufacturers DIDN’T sell)

    The difference is that Honda OWNS the US engine plant and keeps control of their trade secrets. What Boeing does is that the sub out construction of key components to 3rd parties (e.g. Mitsubishi) so that they lose control of (what should be) their core competencies. Except that they see their core competency as sales and marketing, not making things.

    • Replies: @Hibernian
  112. istevefan says:
    @Achmed E. Newman

    the triple-7 has 6 wheels on its main bogies,

    That’s my main cue on distinguishing the 777 from the A330. But when they are wheels up, it’s harder for me.

    • Replies: @Achmed E. Newman
  113. @SimpleSong

    Conclusion: Alan Mulhally and the rest of the c-suite gang clearly are very tall, and have very good teeth, because they managed to become CxO while still being caved-in-head stupid.

    Suggested iSteve glossary add: Tall with good teeth meaning caved-in head stupid.

  114. bomag says:
    @YetAnotherAnon

    a Japan desperately subsidizing its aerospace industry to keep high-paying jobs from disappearing.

    So Japan “subsidizes” an amazingly productive class while we are “investing” in our immigrant NAMs and other such.

    Need a “cry” button.

  115. @SimpleSong

    On your (2a) only: There is more to it than that. The US economy, until fairly recently, had been a lot closer to a free market than that in any of the other countries with airlines buying lots of airliners, even with all the defense dept. help in development.

    Look at this example: About 2 decades ago, Northwest Airlines put in big order for both the narrow-body (320’s and 319’s) and wide-body (330’s) Airbuses. They had no interest in the world about what factory they were being built at, how many jobs were created where, etc. In the meantime, can you imagine Air France NOT buying any Airbus 330’s? How about any country in Europe (especially France, UK, and Germany) not buying airbuses?

    Remember, Northwest still had plenty of Boeing narrowbodies, the 727’s till 2003 or so, then the 757’s, along with McDonald-Douglas DC-9’s MD-80/88’s, but they had not ordered a SINGLE Boeing widebody (with still a coupla dozen 747’s flying, but no more ordered since 2000 latest). Hey, I would agree, as much as I don’t like the Scarebuses, that Northwest had the right to buy whatever they wanted. It never worked that way in Europe and the Orient, for the Orient, at least only until they had the capability to do aerospace manufacturing to begin with.

    It wasn’t a fair deal in a lot of ways. This is to help explain my point above about the unfortunate outsourcing of major parts of the 787. I don’t care how many computer files they had, from what I’d read at the time, assembling the first bunch of 787’s dragged out the program a long time due to this.

  116. @Jack D

    In the US you need 250 hours of flying time to even get a commercial license. At that point, you’re barely employable.

    • Replies: @JMcG
  117. @istevefan

    If you’re close enough, look at the tail. The triple-7 has a flattened end, basically with a 5 ft vertical line there, rather than coming to a near point, as a cone (with the APU exhaust hole, of course).

  118. istevefan says:

    Boeing’s technology firesale has been condemned by Eamon Fingleton here

    https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/boeing-goes-to-pieces/

    @Menschmaschine

    Die-hard Japan basher Eamonn Fingleton about this: http://www.fingleton.net/boeing-boeing-gone-an-article-revisited-2/

    I have never heard of Eamonn Fingleton. Those articles are very depressing.

    • Replies: @The Wild Geese Howard
  119. @YetAnotherAnon

    “Right now the 787 wing, one of the most vital components, is made overseas (I believe in Japan.) Since the ’87 is their first mostly-composite aircraft there is going to be a ton of institutional knowledge that will be developed, but instead of being in Everett it will end up in Asia.”

    The only good news, as I pointed out elsewhere the other day, is that Boeing’s wing-building secrets (or are they now Mitsubishi’s?) are probably safer from Chinese espionage in Japan than in the US.

    Boeing’s technology firesale has been condemned by Eamon Fingleton here

    https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/boeing-goes-to-pieces/

    and defended by Dominic Gates, Seattle Times aerospace reporter (I don’t imagine it would be easy to be critical of Boeing in this job), here

    https://www.seattletimes.com/business/boeing-shares-work-but-guards-its-secrets/

    Eamonn Fingleton is interesting, but he’s one of those writers like Chalmers Johnson who maintains that Japan has a special, superior “Confucian” model of capitalism. Perhaps plausible in the 1980s, but today? In 1995 Fingleton predicted that Japanese total GDP would surpass the US by 2000. This was published in Foreign Affairs and is still accessible.

    His predictions on Boeing also turned out to be wrong.

    d) but stupid Japanese may end up making all future Boeing wings

    The Boeing 777X wing is made in the USA in a new purpose-built facility in Everett, Washington.

    The wingbox is made in Nagoya, Japan (by Subaru, not MHI) and the wing tips are made by Liebherr in Lindenburg, Germany.

    Boeing learned its lesson from the 787 and reduced outsourcing in the 777X.

    e) Japanese airlines buy all-US as a quid pro-quo, until one day the Japanese build long-haul jets. A regional 90-seater is currently in flight testing.

    Boeing doesn’t compete in the regional jet market. There isn’t even a single-aisle aircraft (i.e. a 737 competitor) in development in Japan, let alone a widebody.

    So if Boeing contributed to the creation of the MRJ project, it harmed Bombardier, Embraer, and Sukhoi–not itself. And in fact the Sukhoi Superjet had Boeing involvement in its early stages.

  120. snorlax says:
    @istevefan

    While US and EU regulators probably are inclined to mess with the Russians, at least since Crimea and especially MH17 (which presumably horrified the aviation community), the main reason Russian jets do poorly with foreign regulatory approvals and sales is their poor safety record, questionable build quality, cash-strapped manufacturers and woefully outdated designs and technology.

    However, the Russian domestic market is bigger than you think; it’s a huge country with poorly-maintained roads, so air travel is the most practical option for many journeys, and the upper classes are constantly jetting off to London, Paris, Switzerland, Biarritz, Cyprus etc.

    • Replies: @Thorfinnsson
    , @istevefan
  121. @SimpleSong

    Second, if Airbus is getting a subsidy, the correct course of action is to either argue against that subsidy at the WTO, or lobby to get your own subsidies. Not create a new competitor in what had been a comfortable duopoly!

    2b.) Second excuse: Boeing had to do this to get contracts in Asia. Also disagree because most of the outsourcing went to Japan which is not the Asian growth market–it is already a mature market.

    Boeing did not create a new competitor (MRJ does not compete with Boeing, and the program is a fiasco), but it may have prevented the emergence of a competitor. Note that there is no single-aisle, let alone wide-body, airliner in development in Japan.

    True enough that growth isn’t in the Japanese market, but it is none the less the world’s fourth largest passenger aviation market. Boeing’s lock on that market is a major boon.

    https://viewfromthewing.boardingarea.com/2018/11/21/were-1-the-worlds-largest-aviation-markets/

    They had done a clean sheet with the 777 just prior to the 787 and while there was some outsourcing with that it was nothing like the ’87 so the idea that it couldn’t be done is baloney.

    The 777 was at that time Boeing’s most outsourced aircraft ever, and 20% of the value was from Japanese suppliers (who also agreed to assume risk).

    2d.) Fourth excuse: we just outsourced the easy stuff so we got the govt subsidies without giving away our competitive position. Bzzt! Wrong! The wing of the ’87 is now made in Japan and is the most important part of the whole damn airplane! (Along with the engines but Boeing has never and will never make those.) Note that when Honda outsources the production of the Accord to Marysville, OH, and Airbus to the American South, they basically set up assembly plants. Bolt this onto this. Relatively low skill stuff. The engine and transmission are still made in Japan. No competitive edge is lost. This is not what Boeing did. They gave away the shop.

    Then I’m sure you’re relieved that the Boeing 777X’s wings are made in the United States.

  122. @snorlax

    Out of date comment.

    The Sukhoi Superjet received EU certification in 2012.

    Its safety record is quite good–only one hull loss. That’s better than, to take a completely random example, the Boeing 737 MAX 8.

    The build quality of the Superjet is not up to Western standards, but it isn’t bad. The technology is modern and up to date as would be expected given the involvement of so many Western suppliers in the program.

    Biggest problem is after-sales service. Spares availability is poor as is training and engineering support.

  123. @istevefan

    Your last paragraph makes a great point about two of America’s national disaster…I mean world-class airports.

    For similar reasons, I always try to fly from Paris to Detroit or Atlanta. No walking between terminals in the freezing cold or bonus episodes of security theater at those facilities.

  124. danand says:
    @Achmed E. Newman

    Mr. Newman

    “The 757 was the best airliner ever built, IMHO. It climbs like a bat out of hell (the -200, not the stretch -300) and can go into/out of short fields hot and heavy.”

    I recall years ago that often when departing from SJC’s old Left runway in a light aircraft the tower would warn that a 757 had just departed from the Right (main) runway. The warning was for wake turbulence. It was common knowledge among the light aircraft pilots to delay departure a bit after a 757’s takeoff.

    • Replies: @Achmed E. Newman
  125. Jack D says:
    @istevefan

    The J-20 is a fighter – while it shows that they have advanced capabilities there’s not much carryover between the fighter plane and airliner market – it’s like Harley-Davidson doesn’t really know how to build a bus.

    The problem for the Chinese is that they are 10 or 15 years behind Boeing and Airbus – they tried to build a composite wing for the C919 and gave up and reverted back to alu. IF Boeing and Airbus keep moving forward (a big IF) then by the time that Comac has caught up with what they are making now, they will be ANOTHER 10 or 15 years ahead of them. This is the price that you pay for having to steal other people’s technology – first your competitor has to make it and then it takes you years to steal the technology and reverse engineer it, by which time your competitor is already making something more advanced. The Russians were never able to break that cycle. The Japanese started out that way in cars but eventually they were able to produce their own technology that was competitive with (and then more advanced than) the West. But planes are more complex than cars.

    • Replies: @istevefan
  126. @istevefan

    I thought Fingleton’s book, “Jaws of the Dragon,” was terrifically naive. He argued that selective enforcement of laws was limited to Red China and that they would be undermined by it.

    As every iSteve reader knows, there is plenty of selective legal enforcement throughout the West.

    That said, he does make many good points about the hollowing out of Boeing.

  127. TG says:

    One notes that when Boeing was hemorrhaging cash over its flawed outsourcing arrangements for the ‘Dreamliner,’ the US government magically cancelled a contract to produce new tankers for the Air Force that had been won by Northrop Grumman, and gave a sweetheart $43.16 billion dollar (for starters) contract for 179 aircraft to Boeing (wikipedia). This after a truly ludicrous tanker ‘rental’ deal for Being had been killed. Just in the nick of time!

  128. @James Speaks

    There definitely was more romance in the old propeller days and I agree the low frequency rumble was better than the high-pitched whine of a jet.

    One huge problem with reciprocating engines vis-a-vis turbines is the former have WAY more moving parts that can fail. In the propeller days it was unusual for a commercial airline pilot to go much more than a year without losing an engine. It was just accepted and considered a normal part of aviation – like getting a flat tire in your car. One older airline pilot I knew told a story about a runaway propeller in a DC-3 while climbing shortly after take-off (this tells you how long ago this was, in the mid 1950’s). There was another pilot riding in the jump seat he knew quite while. As he reached up to feather the engine the other pilot was laughing and said “you rolled snake eyes!”

    Today many pilots go their entire career without needing to shut down an engine in flight. Of course they train for it and practice it in simulators, it just almost never happens.

    • Replies: @James Speaks
  129. Zoomer says:

    I had a family member who was an executive at McDonell Douglas, then Boeing, and oversaw the details of farming out to the Japanese. He was used to his American employees, so wo4king with the Japanese was a culture shock for him..

    Example: He gave a group of Japanese engineers the project of designing a factory facility. He gave them the typical allotted time, and requested some rough-drawn diagrams of the proposed facility. A relatively short time later, they asked for a meeting, far sooner than expected. When he walked in, on the large table of the conference room was a built-to-scale model of the entire facility! He was expecting some rough sketches! The Japanese engineers were very eager for his approval. As if there was a chance he would reject it, and tell them to start all over.

    With American engineers, it took a lot longer, with less favorable early results, and a lot of hashing over. With Japanese engineers, he’d tell them what he’d like, and it was as good as done. He said there was a massive difference in corporate culture. Compared to us, the Japanese were from another planet, according to him.

  130. Anonymous[138] • Disclaimer says:
    @donut

    His father wrote the book on flying. Still is the book, should be mandatory reading for all.

  131. @Intelligent Dasein

    Pilot interviews? Conducted by whom? The Long Island medium?

    • Replies: @Hibernian
  132. @Sully

    There’s an entire generation of pilots now who have never flown large aircraft without autopilot. It’s a serious problem.

    That’s not exactly the case, but close. All these planes are taken off without the autopilot and may be hand-flown way on up in the climb or only to 500-600 ft (which is about 15-20 or so seconds only!).

    The heavies must be made to be able to do an autoland, as that is required for those Category III ILS approaches. It is actually more trouble than just flying it in, as the monitoring must be kept intense during the last phase there, in case the plane must be taken from the A/P. Therefore, I’d imagine any visual approach will be hand-flown from 1000 ft above the ground (doesn’t HAVE TO be) down, and low-weather instrument approaches down to breaking out of the clouds.

    With that said, it can indeed be > 99% of the flight that is flown with the autopilot. However, the airlines at this point encourage pilots to do more hand-flying, and that’s nice for the guys that have been doing it all the time anyway to keep their skills up.

    The comments on training by Mr. DiogenesNYC (#5) are very good. Yes, experience means a lot. Not feeling comfortable turning off that autopilot is not a good thing, just as feeling like it’s an emergency when the GPS is out of power for a VFR private pilot is a bad thing. There are people who are not ready to go back to basics, and the need for that could come at any time.

    • Replies: @Achmed E. Newman
  133. One more thing before I go:

    I appreciate the iSteve commenters (along with the Derb’s and A.E.’s) so much more today. That is due to my disgust at many of the simply anti-Western, anti-everything American comments that appear under the article written about this crash 4 days ago by one James Thompson. It’s about the same thing, without Mr. Sailer’s great stories (re: that O’Hare DC-10 crash) and writing flair. However the commenters there just want Boeing itself to crash and burn and think China’s the cats Mao.

    What I’m saying is – It’s GREAT to be here!

    .
    .

    I’m gonna try one more time to see if a link to another unz article works here: HERE.

    If that bolded “HERE” isn’t a link then, put this in the browser address bar:

    http://www.unz.com/jthompson/boeing-737-max-an-artificial-intelligence-event/
    (There should be a piece of Swiss cheese at the top, for whatever odd reason.)

  134. J.Ross says: • Website

    Re NZ: this brainiac cut himself off from his own life and any hope of helping his people, but at least he took out 0.00000005% of Muslims.
    Doesn’t look like Mossad, government spooks (but notice that immediately the news is screeching for thought monitoring (BBC radio’s words or near them) and gun control (in New Zealand!), or anything else. Decrying spooks shooting kids is an entirely sensible and reasonable thing, in part because in some places the evidence bears it out (the current gun control movement one hundred per cent depends on the SXSW notion that school shootings are both daily occurances and preventable by attacking legal ownership), but also because exposing the op kills the effect, defeats the spooks and prevents future events. But if they just keep going on, the real events will happen: this is not a contradiction, it’s the well-established phenonenon of copycatting, and exactly what they were trying to accomplish in 2012-13.
    Possible fallout: they will go after global online freedom of speech and possibly shutter 4chan, which was already thoroughly trashed by establishmentarian bots.
    Bernard Baruch events are a predictable and inevitable result of non-consensual diversity, especially with Muslims. These will get more common and it is the fault of stupid people and of the government forcing this situation. The white nationalist position is actually the peaceful one here: keep your head down, get or stay healthy, have lots of healthy lids and raise them right, focus on the long fight and the looming collapse and not forty-nine random strangers who aren’t hurting anyone. It is the multi-cult that wants to shake the bottle to see if they fight.

  135. istevefan says:
    @snorlax

    Are the Russian jets that bad, or are we thinking about the legacy Soviet airliners?

    I think what makes it hard to break into the big time in commercial aviation is that Boeing and Airbus offer families of planes while the Russian makers have one or two offerings in a piece meal fashion. You might be able to appeal to smaller regional carriers, but major carriers generally go for families especially if they can leverage any training or maintenance that comes with owning a family of planes.

    I wish we had more competition. But not necessarily more competitors from Russia or China. I wish Lockheed still made commercial airliners. And I wish McDonnell Douglas had never merged with Boeing and still made civil aircraft. But those days are long gone. Heck, I even heard some experts argue that in the future Boeing and Airbus will combine due to the increasing costs and complexity of designing passenger jets.

    • Replies: @J.Ross
    , @snorlax
  136. @Clyde

    There are a couple things specific to the Indonesia crash that makes it exceedingly unlikely to happen in a US carrier (I believe Southwest and American are the only US carriers with the Max):

    Lion took off in an un airworthy plane – multiple sensors inop. A western carrier almost certainly would have grounded the airplane.

    The Max has a system that if one (of two) stall vane sensors detects a stall impending condition (with flaps up and the autopilot off) it will start to move in nose-down stabilizer trim. The captain was flying and began to roll in back trim. At some point he gave the airplane to the FO (who, as other commenters have pointed out had basically no flying experience). The FO did not trim against the nose-heavy condition (I would think almost all western pilots would know to do this: trimming is so common and routine its almost unconscious, like breathing) and eventually just let go of the yoke and they went full lawn dart.

    Just my $0.02 but I believe many non-US carriers are excessively dependent on automation. E.G. Air France off Brazil that kept the airplane stalled almost all the way to the ocean. The FO on Air France and the FO in Lion literally did not know how to fly an airplane. That’s kind of a problem.

    In the US there is extensive general aviation as well as a huge (too huge IMO but that’s off topic) military so commercial airline pilots have at some point in their career learned to fly. Its a problem that there are lots of airline “pilots” in the world don’t actually know how to handle an airplane.

  137. J.Ross says: • Website
    @Pat Hannagan

    See my comment (when it clears processing).

  138. J.Ross says: • Website
    @istevefan

    I imagine that Russia’s biggest civilian aeronatical design problem is emigration.

    • Replies: @istevefan
    , @Menschmaschine
  139. snorlax says:
    @istevefan

    A lot of their offerings are still based on Soviet designs, but given their limited knowledge base and resources even their newer designs are no match for the latest from Boeing and Airbus.

    • Replies: @Jack D
  140. @DiogenesNYC

    Dio, The Colgan flight, Continental 3407, crashed no more than 10 minutes from my house. My neighbor, six houses away, and a friend’s pregnant daughter died on that flight. The plane hit the house of a woman that shared an office cubicle with my wife. The pilot and co-pilot were so under trained that they did the exact opposite manuver required in the situation. The co-pilot, a young woman, could have made more per year working at MacDonald’s than she did as a pilot.

  141. @YetAnotherAnon

    Yet, Gemcor, a Buffalo based business, makes the riveting machine for Boeing wings. My neighbor installed the first unit in Japan. He said the Japanese workers were good, but never made the next step by themselves. Had to basically lead them by the hand.

    • Replies: @Counterinsurgency
  142. Jack D says:
    @snorlax

    The MC-21 is a modern design that is (on paper at least – they have a few prototypes but haven’t delivered any yet) competitive with the latest Western designs, including a composite wing. Many of the parts (avionics, APU, etc.) are from Western suppliers and thus competitive by definition. That being said, virtually all of their orders are from Russian customers. Between Crimea and the fact that it’s just one plane and not a family of jets, the whole thing was not appealing to Western customers. The only thing that could make it at all attractive is if they undercut Western prices considerably and they don’t seem to be able to do that. As it is, in the wake of Crimea the Russian gov. has been forced to increase subsidies massively and most of the order are from gov. affiliated entities. If they tried to sell it at fire sale prices in the West, they would get dumping complaints from Boeing and Airbus.

    The Russians have never been able to quite get it together enough to sell competitive manufactured products in the West. Some piece of the puzzle is always missing. The Chinese are up to selling cell phones but an airplane is a lot bigger than a cell phone.

  143. Jack D says:
    @Buffalo Joe

    The co-pilot, a young woman, could have made more per year working at MacDonald’s than she did as a pilot.

    And so she did things like sleep in the seats at the airport between flights because she couldn’t afford a hotel room.

    Why would anyone accept McDonald’s wages for flying a jet? As mentioned before, it’s catch-22 – you can’t get a job at a major airline unless you have 1,500 hours but how are you going to get 1,500 hours without flying a plane first. So you pay your dues flying for peanuts at a regional carrier and then you can get a good paying job with a major carrier.

    • Replies: @Buffalo Joe
    , @Old Prude
  144. @Steve Sailer

    Unlike, say, Bryan Caplan, I actually want my airline pilots to make six figures.

  145. You can never under estimate the value of maintenance. A good worker doesn’t screw up and a good inspector doesn’t let him. Years ago an inspector on a steel construction job noticed a missing washer on a connection. Some one remarked…it’s just one washer. I have never forgotten what he said: “For the want of a nail, a horse shoe was lost. For the want of a shoe, the horse was lost. For the want of a horse, the knight was lost. For the want of a knight, the battle was lost. For the want of a victory, the country was lost…Put a fucking washer on that bolt.”

  146. @Jack D

    Jack, Exactly, but people want to be pilots. In this case as the wings iced up and the plane stalled the correct procedure was to push forward on the yoke, and regain lift, not pull back and yawl left or right, into the ground. My cousin, same name as me, retired as a International Pilot. His daughter paid her dues and flies the big planes. Before he died he expressed happiness that she was flying Boeing aircraft.

    • Replies: @Achmed E. Newman
    , @JMcG
  147. @Jack D

    The Chinese are up to selling cell phones but an airplane is a lot bigger than a cell phone.

    This is true.

    I recently replaced a Sony cell phone with a Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S, and I’m really impressed with the Mi Mix. The only thing it really lacks is that last bit of OS/UI polish that Sony, Samsung, and Apple have.

  148. Jack D says:
    @Buffalo Joe

    They will never know for sure since the pilots are dead, but at the time the were emphasizing not losing altitude as a primary value in pilot training – if you let the plane lose more than 100 feet in a simulated stall, they’d flunk you on your pilot test. So rather than point the nose down which is a great way to regain speed thru gravity (at the price of losing altitude) they tried to power their way out of the stall with the engines while keeping the nose up, which is not. As a result of this crash, you are now allowed to lose as much altitude as necessary in a stall so long as you don’t hit the ground and they can’t flunk you for it on you pilot test.

    This was also one of those sudden disengagement of the autopilot things. The plane had started to ice up but the autopilot keep fighting it so the pilots were not aware of it – it’s like you have a brake shoe dragging but your cruise control just applies more gas so the car keeps going 70 and you don’t notice that anything is wrong. But then the autopilot reached its limit and click it went off and the pilots had to suddenly take over. If they had been hand flying they would have notice much earlier that the jet was starting to ice up.

    • Replies: @Buffalo Joe
    , @Old Prude
  149. fish says:
    @Tiny Duck

    Ohs Tinys…….

    Whyn’t you comes over to Lendsterps tonites and do’s doze tings you’n do bestus to lil lendsorb! Run off now an let the adults talks.

    Lenderp “Helpin Tinys thru teh difficult times” Pibbz

  150. Alfa158 says:
    @JMcG

    Thanks for the clarification. Was that part I remembered correct about the autopilot shutting down because of the pitot tube icing over? If so was, there any explanation as to why neither of the pilots was able to hand fly the plane? I didn’t recall that there were any failures of the artificial horizon or other instruments.

    • Replies: @Dtbb
  151. donut says:

    “” So rather than point the nose down which is a great way to regain speed thru gravity (at the price of losing altitude) they tried to power their way out of the stall with the engines while keeping the nose up, which is not” . That seems counter intuitive .

    I don’t understand why there is such a drive to automate commercial aircraft . Maybe it makes sense for cargo aircraft , but in a passenger plane WTH ? you’ve got a full crew use them . They’ll say it’s pilot error but that’s wrong the error is man is forced to conform to the machine rather than the machine to man .

  152. istevefan says:
    @Jack D

    Are they really 10 – 15 years behind? It seems like they have made a hell of a lot of progress since the summer of 1989. And judging by those articles by Eamonn Fingleton about how Japan got Boeing to cough up its advanced technology for short term gains, there isn’t much doubt the Chinese are going to do the same given the leverage they hold with their gigantic market.

    I don’t see how Boeing or Airbus can refuse to transfer their technology to China. The competition is too intense and one cannot allow the other to cash in on China. So either both will willing cooperate with China or one will for sure. End result they both might end up having their lunch eaten by the Chinese in 20 years.

    • Replies: @Lot
  153. Old Prude says:
    @Jack D

    Have Uncle Sugar pay. Planes are sexier and missions are more varied. And, if you are lucky you’ll have guns, rockets and bombs.

  154. Dtbb says:
    @Alfa158

    William Langeweische wrote an excellent piece on that and other crashes. FWIW I highly recommend them. Atlantic or Vanity Fair, I forget which.

  155. Lot says:
    @anon

    “But affordable supersonic commercial travel would be a game-changer.”

    Not gonna happen in the next 50-100 years.

    That’s the glory of capitalism: we learn what travelers really care about. It isn’t getting there faster, it’s paying as little as possible.

    Airbus this year ended production of their super jumbo jet for lack of demand. There is a sweet spot for airplane size and speed right where the 737 is.

  156. Lot says:
    @istevefan

    Large aircraft is poorly suited toward China’s strengths.

    If they want to blow 100 billion subsidizing it, then it could happen. Or maybe not. But I wouldn’t fly a Chinese made jet.

    • Replies: @Clyde
  157. snorlax says:
    @Jack D

    “On paper” is the key phrase. Soviet and Russian designs (at least for “prestige” projects) will on paper match all the features—and more!—and better every specification of the Western equivalent, but will in fact be a complete POS. See T-72 vs. M60 / (the cancelled) MBT-70, MiG-25 vs. F-4, MiG-29 vs. F-16, Concordski vs. Concorde, Buran vs. Space Shuttle, Il-86 vs. 747, etc.

  158. Clyde says:
    @Lot

    Large aircraft is poorly suited toward China’s strengths.
    If they want to blow 100 billion subsidizing it, then it could happen. Or maybe not. But I wouldn’t fly a Chinese made jet.

    Like a jet made by Harbor Freight? Their tools f up from time to time.

    • Replies: @Lot
  159. @snorlax

    But strangely, they still seem to be a supplier for RD-180 rocket engines to NASA and the Pentagon.

    I wonder why if they are so sub-standard.

    • Replies: @snorlax
  160. J.Ross says: • Website

    >Bernard Baruch event
    Sorry, I obviously meant to type “Baruch Goldstein event” after the 1994 Hebron shooting of Muslims at prayer and not, y’know, turn of the century financial success; my moderated comment is still alarmingly better and more moral than that of Pat the celebrator’s unmoderated endorsement of violence. Offline soon, cannot clarify more.

  161. Commenter SimpleSong says:

    The name of the game for defense was to outsource, outsource, outsource to as many different states as possible to shore up political support. While this introduced many inefficiencies in production and design it paid off in congressional support. Very different philosophy from Boeing which had kept most of its production in one place (Everett WA) where they could tightly control production, quality, etc. Anyway after the new merger management decided to basically pursue the MDD model and outsource many key components in their new aircraft to different countries

    on the other hand

    In addition to being a hub of Dragon activity, SpaceX has also increased production on its upgraded Falcon 9 vehicle. More than 70% of each Falcon launch vehicle is manufactured or assembled at the SpaceX Hawthorne production facility, which allows SpaceX to avoid the pitfalls associated with single-source parts dependency and gives the company competitive advantages in quality, cost and schedule control.

    https://www.spacex.com/news/2013/09/24/production-spacex

  162. Lot says:
    @Clyde

    Exactly like Chinese tools. 20% lower quality and 50% lower price is great in some cases. Not with planes and cars.

  163. istevefan says:
    @J.Ross

    Yep. I bet they lost a lot of talent in the 1990s.

  164. istevefan says:
    @snorlax

    Buran vs. Space Shuttle

    Which one was the POS? The Shuttle had two catastrophic losses while the Buran was able to take off, orbit and land without anyone on board. The Buran was hurt by the USSR dissolving. It’s a shame it rotted away. I’d like to have seen how it would have performed on a regular basis.

    • Replies: @snorlax
  165. dr kill says:
    @Steve Sailer

    Experience can’t be simulated.

  166. @Jack D

    Jack, Great reply. There was a sketch in the Buffalo News of the planes last moments of flight as it dipped up, down, left , right and into the ground. Terror for the doomed passengers.

  167. @donut

    donut,Continental Flight 3407 was a tragedy. An under trained, inexperienced and under paid crew that may or may not have been asleep in the cockpit. Their meager pay forced the co-pilot to sleep in airport terminals between flights. The MacDonald pay comment was not hyperbole but fact.

  168. dr kill says:
    @Anon

    If you need to study in high school, you may want to re-consider your college plans.

  169. Hibernian says:
    @Anonymous

    Friedmanism is certainly more rational than AOCism. It’s less applicable to large companies in less competitive markets, especially defense contractors.

  170. @donut

    I don’t understand why there is such a drive to automate commercial aircraft

    Skynet is behind it all. Right now it is testing its capabilities. An elevator here, an airliner there, an automobile on a regular basis b/c reasons.

    The day will come when self-aware manufacturing sends out tainted food and medicines all timed to create one immense death toll, followed by mechanicals launching coordinated strikes.

    Humanity is doomed.

  171. Hibernian says:
    @Redneck farmer

    Seattle is full of people with attitude, both white collar and blue collar.

  172. George says:

    Should anyone from Boeing or the FAA go to jail for this? Manafort is getting 7 years for not filing a paper it seems.

  173. bomag says:
    @JMcG

    I think it has to do with pilot training.

    Easier to expand the 737 and keep the same trained pilots than step up to the 757 and retrain pilots.

  174. @J.Ross

    Emigration from Russia is actually quite low, better get your information reagarding such issues from Unz.com instead of the main stream media:
    https://www.unz.com/akarlin/powerful-atlantic-council-twitter-thread-on-russians-fleeing-putler/

    Both Boeing and Airbus maintain design offices in Russia and also buy materials for their planes, particularly titanium:
    https://www.rbth.com/business/2017/08/24/how-boeing-and-airbus-use-russias-expertise-to-develop-their-airplanes_827604
    https://www.rt.com/business/433562-boeing-plans-purchases-russia/

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  175. Hibernian says:
    @RobUK

    If it was each flight, especially as much as I fly, hell yes. If you do the math properly, each flight does not anywhere near entail a 1/175 chance of crashing. I agree that the grounding was necessary and overdue. Responsibility will probably prove to be split (in actual fact, aside from the legal and financial consequences) between Boeing, the airlines, the FAA, the Indonesian and Ethiopian governments.

  176. @Menschmaschine

    A lot of Russians, Ukrainians, Israelis, and various combos of those types keep showing up in the San Fernando Valley.

    The best piece of property I’ve ever been to in the Hollywood Hills belonged to a Ukrainian gentile aerospace consultant.

  177. Hibernian says:
    @Counterinsurgency

    Premeditated manslaughter? Alan Dershowitz, call your office.

    • Replies: @Counterinsurgency
  178. Altai says:

    I’m left wondering if, given the year and a half of service of the plane without issue and the two new planes being built at around the same time having this issue if a batch of the sensors that controlled this system weren’t broken and passed QC at Boeings new non-union factory in South Carolina that is so bad many airlines won’t buy planes built there.

  179. Old Prude says:
    @Jack D

    Any pilot worth his salt gets in on high alert in icing. I was like a long- tailed cat in a country-stomp whenever ice was on the wings. These poor folks were under-trained and under-paid. Welcome to the Paradise of Capitalism.

  180. Hibernian says:
    @Jack D

    Honda also makes transmissions in the US; my CR-V has an American made engine and transmission.

  181. Hibernian says:
    @Father O'Hara

    I think he’s referring to US pilots who had issues with the same plane but lived to tell the tale.

  182. Coemgen says:
    @Lugash

    I live in a superzip, the appellation “only an engineer” is not an unusual thing to hear here.

    Aside: Lugash is one of Sailer’s sharpest regular commenters.

    I am not Lugash

  183. Anonymous[427] • Disclaimer says:
    @James Speaks

    I’ve been up in DC-4s, Connies, B-17’s-two of them- the multiengine recips were fun to ride in at first but on long flights they were and are very tiring to fly, or fly in. The real Golden Age was early jet operations -so much smoother and faster, but the economics were such that it was a first class ride for everyone involved. After dereg it went to shit.

    • Replies: @Achmed E. Newman
  184. Mr. Anon says:
    @JMcG

    Yes, I believe that was it. Thanks.

  185. @JMcG

    8000 hours at 28 years of age is pretty hard to swallow. Not impossible, but pretty incredible.

    True. I worked with a Navy guy who flew helo SAR off carriers, and he did *only* a bit north of 4000 hours in 25 years.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  186. @Space Ghost

    And the co-pilot had roughly 200 hours which is less than the FAA requires to do even the most basic of flying jobs (eg solo banner towing). That’s one less trained resource in the cockpit during an emergency.

    It seems like the important skill in this case would have been to quickly recognize the runaway nose-down trim, quickly disconnect it, and manually neutralize the trim. That takes training, experience and time to troubleshoot and even that might not be enough. Two decent pilots have a much better shot than one.

    Right or wrong, training standards (and maintenance standards, and safety culture) vary quite a bit around the world.

  187. Anonymous[427] • Disclaimer says:
    @Jack D

    I knew a guy who tried to get them to type certificate a Yak trainer so he could sell them to FBOs in the US. Said they just could not comprehend the process needed, and preferred making a few airplanes for the internal market to being competitive since no one really “owned” the plant-it was state owned and they figured success in the international market was just more work and no more money. Completely non-entrepreneurial. Didn’t care.

  188. @Buffalo Joe

    I’m very sorry; that must have been terrible for the whole community.

  189. Altai says:
    @anon

    It’s also discomforting that there has been no follow-up to the Concorde, particularly when it crashed over runway maintenance. Perhaps it was a Boondoggle at the time. But affordable supersonic commercial travel would be a game-changer.

    Careful what you wish for, affordable jet travel kicked off the current age of mass migration.

  190. snorlax says:
    @istevefan

    The Buran had a grand total of one flight, with nobody on it, presumably because it was too dangerous for manned flight. That flight was in 1988, which you will note is three years prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union, and never flew again, presumably because its design was too flawed to fix.

  191. snorlax says:
    @Peripatetic Commenter

    I dunno, those don’t sound very suitable to use on passenger aircraft.

  192. mmack says:
    @Clyde

    Clyde,

    Reading the posts on this thread, and given my admittedly limited experience as a licensed Private Pilot of little old Cessnas, I wonder if Boeing’s engineers and programmers have worried more about power off stalls (which usually occur when you’re “low, slow, and close to the ground” like at landing) and screwed up the aircraft’s response to power on stalls, which usually occur full throttle at take off.

    I’ve taken plenty of airline flights out of airports like O’Hare and Midway where noise abatement policies put planes on a nose up, wing over attitude where you’re praying nothing happens to the engines that are overpowering that sky high angle of attack. If the response to any excessive angle of attack warning on a 737 MAX is to pitch the nose down one has to wonder if “HAL” the flight control computer decides it needs to hold the nose down well past a safe recovery. Who knows if the pilots were yanking back on the control columns to bring the nose up until the plane augered in? As others have posted seasoned American pilots would know to turn HAL the autopilot off.

  193. @Anonymous

    After dereg it went to shit.

    It went to shit if you are one of the highfalutin customers who doesn’t want to see any middle-class peons on board. Air fare prices in real dollars are probably 1/3 of what they were 30-odd years back (I have an example if you want it.) If you want it nice, you can always pay the same as the old money to sit up front.

    I would agree with a general comment from lots of people that people used to dress up nice to fly, etc, etc. One could say that for various other activities nowadays too though. I just noticed that tennis players don’t wear all white. I guess I’m not much of a NOTICER after all!

    I wish I could have ridden in a Connie, but going back older, but smaller, I got to ride with my son in a Ford Tri-Motor. It didn’t cost a whole lot to tool around at full cruise speed over town, you know, around 90 mph (no, not knots!)

    I want to get a ride in a Huey, and maybe even jump out of one from a few thousand feet. The ex-Vietnam helicopter pilot’s ride was supposedly much better than the jump they said, when they did all that at Quincy, Illinois – that was quite a while ago though.

    • Replies: @istevefan
    , @Anonymous
  194. @Buffalo Joe

    I’m writing to you only because I wrote back to Jack D. about this well over a year back (when that dude was dragged off the United Express plane) under a post of Mr. Sailer’s, but he didn’t respond. Here’s the thing: Everything he writes about this regional airline business is TRUE, but only if you go back 5 YEARS!

    Not much of that is true now. Pilots can start at $50,000 easily and have jobs waiting for them upon reaching < 1,500 hours (depending on some of the waivers for the big flight schools, etc.). It's not great, but it's a whole hell of a lot better. It was partly the Colgan crash that changed things, but only very indirectly. The standards (basically number of hours) for getting hired in the right seat (First Officer) went WAY UP, as before one needed only a Commercial Certificate which could be gotten with 250 hours.

    Now, in the day when that was the case, before 2013, you may have needed 2,000 to be competitive, but when they needed people they could find them easily. That has changed drastically – General Aviation is a shell of itself of 2005 and earlier (once the gas went way up, and then it never recovered due to the evisceration of the middle class). Good general aviation jobs are fewer too, for time-building.

    The big pool of people who would have just LUVED an airline job for peanuts has shrunk drastically over the last 10 years, while, at the same time, the delayed-to-65-y/o retirement age caught up about 5 years back, so regional pilots could get hired much more easily by the major airlines. Regional airlines realized, oh about a year too late, that they'd better sweeten the pot by a lot in order to get people in to keep staffing high enough to not send too many planes into the desert (yes, even with plenty of work for the planes – they did not have the manpower for a while).

    This is not directed at you specifically, Joe. I just want to set the record straight on this. If you see pilots sleeping in the Sky Club or behind some bench seats nowadays, it's simply because they never got over being a bunch of cheap-asses!

  195. Anonymous[427] • Disclaimer says:
    @Jim Don Bob

    8000 hours at 28 years of age is pretty hard to swallow. Not impossible, but pretty incredible.

    Very doubtful to say the least. People who padded logbooks were said to be flying “trips to Janesville”, because Janesville, Wisconsin was where they made Parker pens.

    Typically in the golden era, so to speak, an airline pilot would hire on at 25 to 30 with a thousand or less hours military time or 1500-3000 in GA and retire out at 60 with maybe 30K, meaning they’d fly maybe what, 800 hours a year, plus most of them did at least a little side flying-they owned an airplane or maybe instructed CAP cadets or some charitable or mission work. Senior captains often had a very deluxe schedule-they could fly the last two weeks of one month and the first two weeks of the next and maybe have 25 days off, and guys like Clay Lacy had side aviation businesses that far outstripped their airline pay (and time.) I don’t think you could quite have that kind of career today but guys like Rob Robinette (a Southwest captain) sure seem to have a lot of time for extracurricular activities like car racing and playing guitar.

    Airline captains owned most of the fair surviving number of Staggerwing Beeches when I was a kid and several were heavily into really antique (as in Curtiss Jenny) aircraft or flying aerobatics or sailplanes as hobbies. I was a member of an EAA chapter briefly and it was loaded with active and retired airline pilots.

    But racking up a lot of time outside the airlines or a few specific GA careers, most of which were tough to get into and involved extreme lifestyle adaptations, was and is difficult to do. Usually guys got their commercial, instrument and CFI, instructed housewives and whatnot for a year or two, then the FBO would let them fly charters, and then they might get a cancelled check job or something. Once you got a major carrier job it was like the railroad-seniority was and is everything and you hung on for dear life. It was luck of the draw if you got on with a good carrier or a less good one, but you didn’t dare turn down the not quite as good ones, and you didn’t want to move once you had a little seniority.

    I used to know a retired Delta pilot who said for several years he was very sad that he hadn’t got on with Pan Am or TWA: he didn’t much like the South, and would have preferred several other carriers. But by the end of his career he was very grateful, because Delta was there and Eastern, Pan Am, and TWA were not. He retired out at 60 right before they extended the age and had a good retirement, though he never flew again.

  196. @Achmed E. Newman

    I didn’t explain a detail here – the heavies really need to be able to get in with 0/0 weather (0 vis / ceiling at the ground) because they go on such long flights during which the weather could change drastically. Additionally, a diversion is much more costly. Just safety wise, if one engine quit, the crew on that Pacific great circle route does not have a lot of choices for a diversion compared to one over Kentucky. They’d damn well better be able to get in, in all kinds of weather.

  197. @danand

    Indeed, Dan, the 757-200 is not considered a heavy, but was found to have the wake turbulence of one. The wakes from any plane are worse when clean, slow and heavy, clean as in gear up, and flaps/slats retracted, say out of a few thousand feet climbing.

    I didn’t say it was a great plane to fly behind, just a great plane. ;-}

  198. @snorlax

    The Buran had a grand total of one flight, with nobody on it, presumably because it was too dangerous for manned flight.

    So, you didn’t understand what he said.

    • Replies: @snorlax
  199. JMcG says:
    @Chriscom

    I believe they actually disconnected the electric trim motors, leaving them to trim manually, something which is not difficult. That, I believe, prevents MCAS from doing its thing.

    • Replies: @Jack D
  200. J.Ross says: • Website
    @donut

    Because insurance companies are our real masters.

  201. snorlax says:
    @Peripatetic Commenter

    The Shuttle does a preprogrammed flight path as well, but with people on board and more than once.

  202. JMcG says:
    @William Badwhite

    Right, that gets you into towing banners and sightseeing hops. Hobby flying for a few bucks.

  203. JMcG says:
    @Buffalo Joe

    You have a cousin named Buffalo Joe?

  204. indocon says:
    @Sean

    An aviation accident involving autopilot/AI stuff in an indirect way that has slightly faded into obscurity (probably not a coincidence) is the crash of Asiana jet at SFO. Apparently on the day of the accident, the automatic landing system at SFO was not functioning, as such the pilots Asiana jet had to manually land, which they turned out to be not very good at. The fact that pilot of a big passenger jet can’t land a plane at a major airport like SFO on a clear sunny day is a frightening thought. Over reliance on auto pilot blunts the skill set of pilots when they are really needed.

    Also this accident involved the black lesbian firefighter running over a passenger.

    How many iSteveisims can you squeeze in a single fateful day.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asiana_Airlines_Flight_214

    • Replies: @Negrolphin Pool
  205. istevefan says:
    @snorlax

    I suppose you are technically correct that 1988 was three years prior to the ultimate collapse. But they did not just run out of steam in 1991. In 1988 they were,or were, about to withdraw from a disastrous Afghan war and from Eastern Europe. I doubt the Buran was high on their to-do list.

    • Replies: @J.Ross
  206. captflee says:
    @donut

    Thanks for posting that stuff, donut. Hit close to home, for sure. Having had JAX as a crewing port, a handful of the names were all too familiar. Some I knew by reputation, some had been shipmates. My wife is certainly glad that I decided not to take THAT job when offered to me a couple of years previously.

    Ave atque vale ; Joe Hargrove, Oiler Maintenance Utility
    Frank Hamm, Able Seaman
    Roan Lightfoot, Bosun

    There’s a passage by that Polish captain in the ” N-word of the Narcissus”, “A gone shipmate, like any other man, is gone for ever; and I never met one of them again. But at times the spring-flood of memory sets with force up the dark River of the Nine Bends. Then on the waters of the forlorn stream drifts a ship–a shadowy ship manned by a crew of Shades. They pass and make a sign, in a shadowy hail. Haven’t we, together and upon the immortal sea, wrung out a meaning from our sinful lives? Good-bye, brothers! You were a good crowd. As good a crowd as ever fisted with wild cries the beating canvas of a heavy foresail; or tossing aloft, invisible in the night, gave back yell for yell to a westerly gale.”

    And on that melancholy note, ladies and gents, I believe that I shall break the glass window on the emergency Macallan supply for my quarterly dram. I’d prefer not to revisit that, or any other disaster, in my dreams. Maybe break bad, have two, and stay up to watch qualifying for the Oz GP.

  207. @SimpleSong

    Basically think this is off target.

    First off the obvious points of agreement:

    — Boeing bit off a bit more than then they had intended or was optimal with the 787.

    — The 787 program delays would have put them behind in addressing other programs, including a “clean sheet” single aisle.

    However, disagree on your core thrust:

    — Even after 787 was already at delivery (2011), Boeing was still kicking around–heck promising–a “new airplane” single aisle program. What actually kicked off the 737Max was that the new much more efficient engines were “out there” and Airbus was launching the A320neo line and wracking up orders like crazy. That’s what pushed this approach.

    — Agree that the new heavier engines, made MACS a requirement on the 737Max. However, it would be there anyway. All new airliners are fly by wire and have anti-stall programs.

    The plain fact is pilots are human and screw up. The junior co-pilot on the Air France 447 flight managed to drop–“drop” is the right word–an adequately functioning A330 into the Atlantic by being a bozo. If that plane had had MACS it would not have happened. People now expect to fly with essentially no risk. It takes these sorts of systems to do that.

    Freely admitting i don’t know the details, to me Boeing screwed this up. I seems like they wanted to pretend the behavior and procedures were the same and 737 pilots could just hop in, get checked out and go. Inadequate.

    — “Asia” is not a unitary thing. Just because Boeing subcontracted 787 wings to Mitibushi doesn’t somehow aid the Chinese ramping up. And it is China, not Japan where–eventually–the serious aircraft competition will come from.**

    — “In hindsight it is clear that they have massively weakened their competitive position.”
    This is my biggest disagreement. Boeing’s competitive position–at least before these crashes–hasn’t been as strong in decades.

    The key point–the 787 program, while ridiculous expensive and fraught with problems, was *actually valuable*. While the 787 program itself will probably never make any money, Boeing learned a whole lot about making composite airplanes and is well ahead of Airbus in that space. It is applying this knowledge in the revamped, stretched and compositized 777X, which will use the new GE9X and provide the lowest seat-mile cost of any airplane in history … and make Boeing a ton of money.

    In contrast, Airbus blew it’s packet on the white elephant A380, which had from the get go the stink of “we’ll outdo those Americans”, will never cover its development costs, was exactly the wrong airplane for trends in the industry (reliable engines ergo twins and point-to-point to more cities) and from which Airbus gained no useful knowledge. Airbus’s answer to the 787, the A350–a fine airplane–is now bracketed in size by Boeing from above (777X) and below (787) and it’s traditional money maker–the 330–is now in order\production decline to more modern airplanes.

    Airbus has to figure out if they build a new bigger airplane to compete with the 777X, or live with the A350 as their top-of-the-line and work on a smaller 330 sized twin and in either case will down the road still have to eventually build a updated compositized single aisle to replace the A320. In contrast, after the 777X development is done, Boeing’s widebody program is in good shape and it can get to work on a new clean sheet single aisle to launch in the mid 2020s. Rather than “massively weakened” Boeing’s competitive position looks pretty darn good–and the stock market seems to agree.

    ~~~

    **China.
    Now in fairness, long term there’s no doubt that a rising China will be a formidable competitor to Boeing–and Airbus. But that’s not because of anything Boeing did. The Comac 919 is a worthy effort but a full generation behind Western designs and dependent on Western technology for all the important systems. No the likely Chinese victory will be because of the political and cultural insanity that is destroying the West–and filling it up with the glorious diversity of dumber, less conscientious and culturally incompatible people. It’s not a technology problem but a biology problem.

    • Replies: @istevefan
  208. istevefan says:
    @Achmed E. Newman

    If you ever are close to an airport that gets a visit from a Collings Foundation warbird, go for a ride. I’ve done both a B-17 and B-24. Well worth it if you are an aviation buff.

    • Replies: @JMcG
  209. @snorlax

    Some odd choices here.

    The MiG-25 and F-4 were very different aircraft intended for very different missions. Both fine aircraft.

    The MiG-29 was very favorably rated by the Luftwaffe after German reunification.

    The Il-86 was obsolete when it entered service, and the Soviets themselves were so unenthused about it that they attempted to obtain Lockheed Tristars and Boeing 747s instead. Still, it was a reliable and safe aircraft with zero hull losses.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  210. istevefan says:
    @AnotherDad

    It’s fun to see how many fellow commentators on this blog are aviation enthusiasts. I wonder if there is a connection to our political views and an interest in planes.

    • Replies: @Svigor
  211. Svigor says:

    K, Steve, I’ve been drinking, so I’m going to give a nod to the homage you’re paying to your old man with this post (PBUH), and move on to muh TL;DR point: your title suggests the same thing I’ve been wondering: has this been more about HBD than not, or no? Indonesia/Ethiopia…

  212. Svigor says:
    @istevefan

    Being a pilot is kind of inherently right-wing (WING!!!). You’ve got to be pretty fucking based to take hundreds of lives into your own hands, no fucking excuses…

    • Replies: @Moses
  213. Anonymous[427] • Disclaimer says:
    @Achmed E. Newman

    Usually if you have any kind of social skills and are a pilot or mechanic or used to be, it’s not hard to get rides in old airplanes if there is space. People with money like to show their stuff off and can be pretty avuncular.

    Save-A-Connie tried to recruit me, but I didn’t see the value of working on someone else’s hobby project for free. I have my A&P but never used it, I don’t want my name in the log books if something happens, and, to be honest, they were a bunch I didn’t hit it off with. Basically it was more of a bunch of retired TWA guys that just wanted a flying club for their own, and that’s fine, but I’m not retired TWA. I have several friends who put a lot of hours working on that airplane. If it made them happy, that’s great.

    It was clear that once the last of the duffers (or the last two pilots and a FE) died or got their medical pulled they were going to make it a static display aircraft.

  214. @Jack D

    it’s just one plane and not a family of jets

    That was a big problem for Lockheed’s L1011. Airlines preferred the DC-10 because they also owned DC-8s and DC-9s.

    Personally, I probably wouldn’t fly in a Russian airliner or on a Russian airline. My prejudice is that Russians are braver than I am.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  215. Anonymous[427] • Disclaimer says:
    @Thorfinnsson

    The MiG-25 was designed to catch the Blackbird, which it never did, never came close.
    Apparently the MiG-31 came closer and may have had to do with the end of Senior Crown, though the sled drivers say it’s strictly coincidence: it was political, pure and simple.

    But it was a very heavy and ponderous airplane, an interceptor and not good for much else. It was largely made of steel and had rust issues. Its engines were terrible in fuel consumption and had poor TBO, typical of Russian engines.

    The MiG-29 is in contrast a good airplane but not really to Western standards.
    A couple fly on the US civil register, they’re a blast to fly, but whether given equally matched crews they’d take on the current Western aircraft with much success is in question. And the Russians, though vastly improved over Soviet days from what I understand, are not necessarily up to Western standards either.

    I understand the Su-27 is the really formidable fighter in the Russian arsenal and a match for the F-16, again, given equally well trained pilots. I am no expert, though, and the people who really are may not want to comment oir if they do may be biased in these things. I’m guessing the Russians are ok on airframe technology but behind on the avionics, but that’s aguess.

  216. Anonymous[427] • Disclaimer says:
    @Steve Sailer

    I’m told takeoffs were a lot of fun on the old Aeroflot Tupolevs out of NYC but inflight service stunk, as did many passengers and the stews were female hammer throwers. People I talk to who’ve flown on modern Aeroflot or other Russian aircraft (internationally) say it’s like any other airline anywhere now.

    In-country flights are more adventurous. I knew a seminarian who flew to Russia and wound up on one of those AN-2 biplanes for the last leg. He thought it was fun.

    I don’t think there is much commonality between a DC-8, a 9 or a 10, but I don’t know. A lot of any airplane is common to all others, Cannon plugs, AN fittings and plumbing, NAS/MS nuts and bolts, etc. All are now gone from passenger service now except the last DC-9 variants: eventually it became the Boeing 717.

  217. @Anonymous

    Which one does Larry Ellison own? A Mig-29?

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  218. Anonymous[427] • Disclaimer says:
    @Steve Sailer

    According to internet articles he has a MiG-29.

  219. dvorak says:
    @Buffalo Joe

    The co-pilot, a young woman, could have made more per year working at MacDonald’s than she did as a pilot.

    The pilot, a repellent beta male, spent the flight chatting with the co-pilot rather than preparing for the potential for icing on a twin engine turboprop (a difficult plane to control). According to the black box recordings.

    The co-pilot, a comely young woman, did not yell “Nose down, you fool!” when the pilot made things worse as icing set in. She may not have done anything helpful, according to the black box. Though there may not have been time to help.

  220. @indocon

    That’s a shocking failure of basic airmanship if true.

    Failure of the first officer to question obvious errors by the captain has been identified as the main cause in at least a dozen fatal accidents. It follows that the all-consuming Asian fear of being hammered down for sticking up too tall in the face of one’s superiors would be a dangerous and potentially fatal tendency in an air crew.

    Did Wi Tu Lo and Ho Lee Phuk fail to act for fear of angering Captain Ow?

  221. Johnny789 says:

    That was a sad day in Chicagoland. You could see the rising black smoke from the area around O’Hare from River Forest that afternoon.

  222. @Romanian

    I’m decades out of touch with current situations, but I have a few old air safety anecdotes from my father.

    • Replies: @Romanian
  223. @JMcG

    Even four-engine airliners were forced to ditch with what today would be industry-killing regularity. In the mid-’50s, two Stratocruisers ended up in the Pacific within about a year of each other. These were mainline PanAm flights.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    , @JMcG
  224. @Negrolphin Pool

    Tens of thousands of Americans died in non-combat air crashes during WWII.

    • Replies: @Negrolphin Pool
  225. istevefan says:
    @Anonymous

    Didn’t the Mig-29 and its weapon compliment feature off-boresight ability back in the 80s before we had that capability? If so that would have been a big advantage.

  226. Moses says:
    @Old Prude

    “Chicken Hawk” by UH-1H pilot Robert Mason is a great read. I learned a lot about helicopters readint that book.

    • Agree: Jim Don Bob
  227. JMcG says:
    @istevefan

    I took a B17 flight in the late 90s. At that time they would let you take the controls. So now I have .1 hour of logged B-17 left seat time. Which is nice.

  228. JMcG says:
    @Negrolphin Pool

    I never knew that, thank you!

  229. Moses says:
    @Svigor

    Being a pilot is kind of inherently right-wing (WING!!!). You’ve got to be pretty fucking based to take hundreds of lives into your own hands, no fucking excuses…

    Yes, and because flying doesn’t indulge wishful thinking. You gotta understand the reality of the situation at its base, or you and your passengers die. No room for PC fantasies either.

    Back in grad school I fulfilled all my requirements for my private, graduated before taking the test. Got about 25 hours. Loved flying solo in the pattern in a little Cessna 152 with a few 737s during my x-country.

  230. Jack D says:
    @JMcG

    Correct. The MCAS software monitors the angle of attack sensors and when it detects (real or imaginary) excessive nose up it tries to send it down via the electric trim. If you turn off the electric stab (ilizer) trim then the MCAS can no longer send the nose down. You don’t need electric trim in order to fly – there are two big trim wheels in the console between the pilots and you can change the trim (which controls the angle of the horizontal stabilizer) by manually spinning those wheels.

    https://www.aopa.org/news-and-media/all-news/2019/march/14/faa-grounds-boeing-737-max-fleet

    Although they “forgot” to tell the pilots about MCAS, “runaway trim” is a common scenario and MCAS intervention is just another type of runaway trim – a situation where the electric trim is doing stuff you don’t want it to do. Pilots have checklists for every unusual situation. Rather than improvising or going from memory in a stressful situation, you go down the checklist and that way you are sure to do all the necessary steps for that situation and do them in the right order. Once you recognize that you are in a runaway trim situation, you are supposed to run the runaway trim checklist. One of the first steps on that list is to flip the switch to turn off the electric trim. But first you have to grasp the situation and decide that the runaway trim checklist is the right one to run. The Indonesian pilots never did – not clear yet about the Ethiopian ones but probably the same.

  231. @Anonymous

    Work on the MiG-25 began before Soviet intelligence learned of the existence of the A-12.

    It was designed in response to the B-58 Hustler and had acceptable performance to intercept that aircraft.

    The MiG-29 was more maneuverable at low speeds than all teen series American fighter aircraft, and its thrust to weight (and thus acceleration and climb) dominated the F-16. It also introduced helmet mounted sights and high off boresight missiles far before American aircraft did. Thus for the Cold War era mission both were designed for, short-ranged WVR dayfighter, the MiG-29 was superior. The F-16 of course was no dog and in reality any engagement would come down to pilot training, maintenance standards, luck, etc.

    In a BVR engagement, especially at night of course the MiG-29 was inferior.

    The Su-27 is more appropriately compared to the F-15. It is indeed a formidable type (depending on the marque) and well respected by Western air forces.

    True enough about Soviet engines, and while the gap in avionics isn’t as large as it was in the Cold War it still exists. While the Soviets were the first to introduce an airborne passive electronically scanned array radar (on the MiG-31), the latest Su-27 (the Su-35) still doesn’t have an actively scanned model (though an AESA radar has been introduced for the MiG-35 evolution of the MiG-29 and for the new Su-57 stealth fighter). Airborne AESA radars were introduced all the way back in the ’90s by Japan and then America.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  232. @Steve Sailer

    Incredible. It’s like the Saturday Night Live skit where the airline spokesman appeals to the audience’s concerns about safety: “but just look how many of our flights haven’t crashed this week.”

    Right through the ’60s, commercial flying was what most modern travelers would probably consider dangerous.

  233. Anonymous[427] • Disclaimer says:
    @Thorfinnsson

    The B-58 was a remarkable plane but one that SAC upper command did not like and it was prematurely gotten rid of. It had a sketchy safety history early on but as crews learned to deal with it the safety record showed definite improvement. We don’t think much about it today, but in its day the Soviets were definitely scared of it.

    Western knowledge about the MiG-25 was poor until Belenko brought an example to Japan. The popular opinion of it was severely degraded after that but in fact it had certain capabilities that were remarkable. It took vacuum tube technology to the absolute limit in its avionics and in fact one consequence of its landing in Japan is that examiners who were also audiophiles (a popular thing in Japan then and still) discovered the 6S33 (the Cyrillic looks like 6C33) regulator tube, which had been top secret until then, and started pestering the Sovs to sell them the tubes, which they did.

    But it was crudely constructed in some ways and was more like a flying locomotive than a Western fighter. I don’t know if the once secret US program to acquire and fly WarPac types even particularly wanted to get hold of and fly a MiG-25, as far as I know the operating costs and logistics meant that even in the Yeltsin era no one in the West ever tried much to get one (and I can remember ads in Trade-A-Plane circa early nineties for almost every other imaginable Soviet airplane, including, “Badger Bomber Available”).

    When the Sovs really learned of Oxcart (A-12) and Senior Crown (SR-71) I’m not sure, but I know that they figured that the real mission was to carry a nuclear bomb, as the Navy’s Vigilante did and as they would surely have employed such a craft themselves if they could have built it. The SR was the nemesis of the Communist world even though it was unarmed, because it could go anywhere with impunity until perhaps the very end of its career. Sonic booms overhead were used to let Communist leaders of everywhere besides China and the USSR proper that we could fly over their heads and they were powerless to stop us. Some argue now that the MiG-31 with its later missiles might have been able to bring down a SR, but it’s otiose now. The MiG-31 still flies, the SR does not.

    In retrospect it was kind of cold we never flew a Russian on the SR when the program ended, but then again we never flew anyone from our own Navy either. Everyone who ever flew the SR as crew or a passenger ( a tiny list that included Yeager, Goldwater, and Fr. Hesburgh of Notre Dame) is listed in a book, including a former neighbor of mine, (who I won’t name, but whose family had the tradition of naming firstborn males with alternating versions of the name of a famous Reformer.)

    Had McNamara not had the tooling destroyed (to ensure that the F-12 did not go into service because there was no way it could operate off an aircraft carrier and he was determined the Air Force and Navy share the same fighter) the F-12 would have been produced in far greater quantity and a supply line for all the special fuels, lubricants, rotable parts and high temperature hardware items would have been established, making Mach 3 flight more commonplace. We might have had Boeing finance the 2707 on its own (it would have been betting the company on it, and Boeing management was much more conservative and better in those pre-McD buyout days: current management might have bet the company on the 737 Max without realizing it and just might lose) and with that much infrastructure the environmentalist whackos might have been told to hike straight to hell. It could be a different world now, then again, the 747 and cheap airfare brought us immigration problems that might kill us, maybe the 2707 would have been worse.

    • Replies: @HunInTheSun
  234. J.Ross says: • Website

    Absolutely no cause for alarm.

  235. J.Ross says: • Website
    @istevefan

    Not only was everything falling apart but it was doing so in an obvious manner, so that (as is slowly starting to happen here) there was increasingly less pretense of faith in the rulers by ordinary people. No way would it have been handled or perceived like its predecessors earlier in the space race.

  236. @Anonymous

    The SR-71 was never “the nemesis of the Communist world” because the Sovs had developed suitable SAM defences, the USAF knew it, and as a result there were no deep missions into the USSR which was the primary design objective.

    There was never going to be an “F-12” because USAF doctrine by the mid-60s rejected the dedicated interceptor and the trans-polar Soviet bomber fleet was never built, the F-108 was canned for the same reasons, and the F-106 was the last of the breed. Both the F-15 and F-22 have strike capability.

    The “Blackbird” was the P-38 of the Cold War, an overly complex and expensive aircraft with a reputation greater than its service record. Both were Lockheed products, and along with the F-104 which should have broken the alliance, one has to wonder how that corporation survived in the business of combat aviation, C-130 sales I guess, sorry Steve.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    , @Anonymous
  237. @HunInTheSun

    My dad spent a lot of my childhood trying to make the F-104 less of a widowmaker for Germans. He said it was originally intended as a World War III interceptor of Soviet bombers and trying to turn it into an all-purpose plane was an ordeal for all involved.

    I guess the P-3 turboprop subhunter my dad also worked on was pretty reliable and is still flying. The U-2 was pretty successful, especially considering how fast it was designed and put into service. But, yeah, Lockheed’s track record overall was more intermittently brilliant than confidence-inspiring, so the notion that they wound up as the big survivor out of all these aerospace firms seems pretty weird. When I was a kid they were always in the soup over something: Germans crashing F-104s, C-5a cost overruns, L1011 going broke due to Rolls-Royce engines going broke, Japanese bribery, etc. etc.

    So if you told me there was going to be massive mergers and most defense aerospace firms’ names would vanish, I probably wouldn’t have bet on Lockheed to be the big survivor.

    • Replies: @HunInTheSun
  238. @donut

    Search the comment thread on this article for the word “rationalization” to see why automation is emphasized.

    Counterinsurgency

  239. @Buffalo Joe

    He said the Japanese workers were good, but never made the next step by themselves. Had to basically lead them by the hand.

    It’s the bad side of trying for perfection when perfection is what the boss thinks. If you don’t know exactly what the boss wants done, you have to do stop and await instructions.

    Counterinsurgency

  240. @Hibernian

    “Premeditated manslaughter” in the sense of making and selling a safety-critical device that is dangerous to its user. Worst case is that Boeing knew the device was dangerous, hence”Premeditated”, and “manslaughter” because failure of the device would clearly risk killing the people using it.

    Bear in mind that I’m writing English for general readers, not filing a brief.

    Counterinsurgency

  241. Romanian says: • Website
    @JMcG

    I first found it on this blog. I am just paying it forward!

  242. Romanian says: • Website
    @Thorfinnsson

    I posted that Fingleton article on Boeing in this thread, but I also remember that, in another article, he claimed the opposite of what you are saying regarding the FSX, which I believe was their stealth fighter program – the Japanese used that program to argue for tech transfers from the US and then discontinued it to avoid the bulk of the costs for a fighter not that many wanted, while keeping the tech and distributing it throughout their industry. Is that wrong?

  243. Romanian says: • Website
    @Steve Sailer

    Please do. I find the subject fascinating.

    • Agree: JMcG
  244. Anonymous[427] • Disclaimer says:
    @HunInTheSun

    The value of the reconnaissance data from the SR was immeasurable. It also made the Sovs go to great lengths to hide their stuff as they often knew when the satellites would be overhead due to the limitations of orbital mechanics and space maneuvering, but the SR could show up anytime and anywhere on little notice. SR crews could take off and find and hit the tanker in total radio silence much of the time, meaning that even when the Sovs had spies or sayan (so to speak) watching Beale (or Kadena or Mildenhall, the latter being especially well surrounded with Marxist sympathizers and anti-US types) for SR activity they never knew whether it was a training mission, a test hop, or an operational launch. The SR could climb through assigned corridors to FL 600 (uncontrolled airspace over that) without contacting ATC and so monitoring the radio was useless. (SR training operations almost always used the call sign “Aspen” so if they heard them working they probably were not operational, but that wasn’t foolproof either.) The SR would be out of sight within a minute or two and there was no telling where it was going. The SR also painted very poorly on ATC radar without a transponder operating, so ATC was sometimes completely ignorant of SR ops. (Soviet penetration of civilian ATC was never proven, but one has to assume it would have been possible.)

    The overall cost per flight hour of the SR operationally was estimated at $250K per hour, because you not only had the SR but between two and six tanker sorties for each SR mission-the aircraft took off with half fuel or less and so every mission besides a test hop meant at least one refuelling.
    All flights were flown with two crew (the SR could not be flown solo except the raised seat trainers because a lot of things were in the RSO cockpit) and always in full spacesuit, with the full PSD routine. (I think the A-12 had provision for flight with standard oxygen masks and shirtsleeves for low altitude missions, but the SR did not). The SR was “not suited to high tempo operations” and turnaround was generally a couple of days.

    In the late eighties or early nineties, there was a conspiracy theory-promoted by radio host Chuck Harder-that GHW Bush had been secretly flown to, as I remember it, Russia or Iran in a SR to conspire to keep the hostages there until Reagan got in. (Frederick Forsyth also wrote a novel in which the SR was used in a similar scheme). When the pilot’s manual and the detailed accounts of actual SR operations became public, after Senior Crown was wound up, just how ludicrous this idea was came into focus. The SR could have taken someone not a trained crewman somewhere, but they’d have had to use one of the raised cockpit trainers: however once it landed at a non-SR equipped base, (meaning Kadena, Mildenhall or Beale) there it would have sat until a flotilla of support aircraft (at least one KC-135 to haul the fuel and a C-130, C-141 or C-5 to haul all the other stuff needed to turn the plane around) arrived.

    For one thing such an operation would necessarily have attracted a lot of notice, even in a WarPac country: lots of locals know what their and our airplanes look like and they would have been seen coming in. Plus which, the whole point of using the Mach 3 SR would have been mooted-an airliner or corporate jet could have got him in and out much faster, more discreetly, and without having to fit him for the spacesuit and suffer the indignities of SR operations, well described by many SR crews. Leaving out entirely the fact that there is no way the USAF would have allowed such an asset to be looked over in detail at an OPFOR air base, let alone the possibility it could be seized. The jet itself would not have been all that valuable-the WarPac would not have been able to operate it or copy it, but the recon systems most certainly would be, and even with the training nose installed there would have been a lot of highly secret stuff on the airplane. The whole story was five notches past insanely ludicrous.

    Harder stood behind this ridiculous story as long as he was on the air, as I recall.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    , @Steve Sailer
  245. Anonymous[427] • Disclaimer says:
    @Anonymous

    The alleged SR pilot was this con man, now apparently deceased:

    A PRO CON
    Michael Tackett
    CHICAGO TRIBUNE

    https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-1992-03-17-9201240968-story.html

    He carried himself with the imperious bearing of a military officer. He talked like a man who humbled enlisted men for sport. Gunther Russbacher looked the part of a Navy captain when his Learjet landed at Crow`s Landing Naval Air Station in California in the summer of 1990.

    When asked to log his phone calls, he signed ”Capt. Gunther Russbacher.” Forty minutes after landing, he was in the air again.

    A few days later, wearing a Navy captain`s white uniform, he drove to Castle Air Force base, an arm of the Strategic Air Command, in Atwater, Calif., bluffed his way past the guard and secured VIP lodging.

    No one tried to stop him at either base-even though the insignia on his uniform were upside down.

    It has been a long run for Gunther Karl Russbacher, 47, an Austrian citizen-apparently-who has lived a life of intrigue, deception and crime and served little time for it. What sets the balding, steely-eyed Russbacher apart from run-of-the-mill con men is the ease with which he gained access to guarded military facilities and gained the confidence of law enforcement officials.

    It finally came crashing down on him last month in a St. Charles County, Mo., courtroom when his probation was revoked and he was sentenced to 21 years in prison for one of the lesser of his masterful cons: stealing money from people while posing as a stockbroker.

    He also has posed as an Army captain, an Air Force officer, an Air France pilot and a federal prosecutor. And these are merely the scams that authorities have caught him doing during the last three decades.

    In addition to talking his way onto military bases, he apparently has persuaded government workers to give him blank vouchers, then passed himself off as a secret agent with the authority to charter Learjets. He has convinced the FBI he was a valuable informant, and he once faked a heart attack at the Immigration and Naturalization Service office in St. Louis when he feared deportation.

    As he was being sentenced, his wife, Raye, insisted that Russbacher is actually a deep-cover CIA operative whom the government is trying to suppress because he piloted a flight that carried George Bush to meet with Iranians in 1980 to delay release of the U.S. hostages in Tehran-the so-called October Surprise.

    Raye Russbacher, who has written a proposal for a tell-all book called

    ”I Call It Treason,” has absolute confidence in her husband. She testified in court that Russbacher introduced her to former CIA Director William Webster at Offut Air Force Base in Nebraska, another of the military facilities where Russbacher gained access and slept in a bed reserved for VIPs.

    He also has used a variety of names over the years, including that of Bobby Ray Inman, a retired admiral who was former head of the super-secret National Security Agency and deputy director of the CIA.

    Investigators say Russbacher is brilliant, cunning, engaging and persistent. They say he is adept at taking public facts and marketing them as original information, which he spins into tales of intrigue and suspense that sound just authoritative enough to be credible. It`s almost uncanny, they say, how he can pick out a topic that interests law enforcement agents, such as organized crime or drug trafficking, and pass himself off as an expert.

    All this may explain why prison officials denied requests to arrange an interview with Russbacher himself.

    ”He`s polished. He`s smooth,” said one FBI agent who has tracked him for three years. ”He can give you the impression that he can do you a lot of good.”

    Contradictions about him abound, beginning with his birth. When asked for his birthdate, both the FBI and the INS replied, ”He has several.”

    Authorities believe he was born in Salzburg, Austria, either on July 1, 1944, or on Jan. 22, 1945. He has told authorities his mother married a U.S. serviceman after World War II.

    He apparently moved to the U.S. when he was about 12. He lived in Oklahoma for a time, and his first recorded brush with the police, according to the FBI, was on Sept. 18, 1961, when he was charged with disorderly conduct and writing bad checks. The charges were dismissed. Records indicated he also was investigated for impersonating an Air Force officer.

    The next month, he enlisted in the U.S. Army and was assigned to Ft. Carson, Colo. On Aug. 15, 1962, after being reported AWOL, he was charged with impersonating an officer by wearing a captain`s uniform and was sentenced to two months` hard labor.

    By October of that year, he was AWOL again. He left the Army on Oct. 1, 1963. Just four months later, he was sentenced to one year in an Oklahoma state prison for writing bad checks, and on Nov. 21, 1965, he was charged with trying to impersonate a U.S. marshal in Dallas. That charge was dismissed.

    On Dec. 3, 1973, he was sentenced in New Orleans in connection with impersonating an Air Force major and was placed on probation. Within two months, he had violated the terms of his probation and was returned to jail.

    Apparently he served little, if any, time in New Orleans: on May 18, 1974, he was sentenced to five years in prison in Texarkana, Texas, on charges of securities fraud and impersonation.

    After his Texas prison term, he moved to Missouri and, on Oct. 5, 1986, was charged with stealing by deception, violating his probation. He was sent to a federal prison in Minnesota, according to the FBI.

    On his release, he returned to Missouri and opened a firm called National Brokerage Co. in St. Charles. The company`s letterhead listed him as chairman, using the alias Emery Peden, and said he held an MBA degree.

    During this period, Russbacher started calling the St. Louis FBI office, telling them he had valuable information.

    Russbacher said he would provide information about drug trafficking if the FBI helped him with some immigration problems. The FBI acknowledges paying him as an informant for a short time, but said it did nothing to help him with the INS. Payment stopped when agents determined that his information was useless.

    He also successfully impersonated a commercial airline pilot, at least twice, in the summer of 1986. Wearing an Air France pilot`s uniform, and using a homemade identification card, Russbacher persuaded Trans World Airlines captains to approve him as an additional crew member, allowing him to fly in the cockpit.

    He was arrested trying to pull the same stunt on a Southwest Airlines flight.

    Philip Groenweghe, a St. Charles County assistant state`s attorney, said that in his work as a stockbroker, Russbacher bilked clients out of thousands of dollars for services he never provided. He was found guilty in 1990 and sentenced to 21 years in prison, but he was placed on probation and ordered to pay restitution. The money would come, he told the court, from a $150,000 contract to write a screenplay about his life story.

    VIP treatment

    Then, according to the public record, his odyssey took its most dramatic turn.

    With his wife, Russbacher drove to the gates of Offut Air Force base, headquarters of the Strategic Air Command, on July 19, 1990.

    Russbacher, posing as a Navy captain, had called ahead to make a reservation. He and his wife were given two keys to Room 3208 in the VIP headquarters. He also obtained a visitor`s pass and passes for his car. They stayed four nights.

    His wife testified (her testimony later was stricken by the judge in St. Charles as irrelevant) that she and her husband talked with then-CIA Director William Webster at the officers` club. Her story has never been corroborated, and a spokesman at Offut said there is no record of Webster visiting the base. From Offut they traveled to Reno, where Russbacher picked up a military uniform from a surplus store. He also procured blank government vouchers from the federal Bureau of Land Management office there, which he later used to contract for charter service on the Learjets.

    ”They just handed them over to him,” said Special Agent Terry Scott of the FBI`s Sacramento office.

    According to relatives of Raye Russbacher, who has not been charged with any wrongdoing, the couple came to visit them in California`s Central Valley, but because of a family problem, they needed to leave quickly for Seattle.

    As relative Carole Barry recalls it, Russbacher said he could command a plane at once-and he did, convincing a charter service that he was a federal prosecutor on a secret mission.

    On July 27, 1990, Russbacher, again in a Learjet, arrived at Crow`s Landing Naval Air Station near the home of his wife`s relatives. Apparently, his only interest in landing there was that it was the closest airfield. Lt. Cmdr. William Carpenter, who was not on the base at the time, said Russbacher appeared to be flying legitimately in a government-contract plane. Lower-level officers did not confront him.

    ”If you realize you are dealing with a captain,” he said, ”it`s so many grades removed, it would be like asking a congressman for ID. (But) they probably should have.”

    On July 30, he drove to the gates of Castle Air Force Base, wearing a Navy captain`s whites, with a military decal on his car. He and his wife were issued keys for VIP quarters.

    ”He claimed to be a Navy captain,” said Lt. Todd Vician, a public affairs officer at Castle, but his insignia were on upside-down.

    Meanwhile, the FBI`s Scott, with help from Barry and other relatives, had pieced together at least a portion of Russbacher`s remarkable travels.

    On July 31, in the VIP room at Castle, Scott arrested Russbacher on charges of impersonating a federal prosecutor. Russbacher was sentenced to 15 to 20 months in federal prison.

    ”They (the Air Force) realized it was pretty lax of them because of not wanting to ruffle feathers,” Scott said.

    After his federal prison term, Russbacher was returned to St. Charles. His probation finally was revoked and he was committed to the Missouri prison system for 21 years.

    A CIA connection?

    To Raye Russbacher, the fact that her husband was twice admitted to secure military installations merely bolsters her story that he was a deep cover CIA officer whose deeds were so politically combustible that he had to be completely discredited.

    ”The only way people can dismiss it is to say that we are absolute liars,” Raye Russbacher said.

    Is he CIA?

    David Whipple, executive director of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers, says: ”It`s not a bad cover, because it`s very difficult to verify. If you say you are CIA and the CIA says nothing, it rather sustains the legend.” However, he said he didn`t recognize Russbacher`s name.

    Harry Reeves of the Naval Investigative Service calls it ”absolutely ludicrous.”

    The FBI`s Scott says: ”He`s a con man from the word go.”

    Says Groenweghe, the prosecutor: ”I can`t prove or disprove his involvement with the CIA. (But) I would be amazed the CIA would use someone with his record and psychological profile. You can`t believe anything he tells you. He`s a liar.”

    This guy was better than Frank Abagnale. He had Harder convinced lock, stock and barrel.
    But that was before the details of SR operations became public.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  246. @Anonymous

    Christoph Waltz should play Gunther Russbacher.

  247. @Anonymous

    I think the wonderful conspiracy theory that George H.W. Bush flew to meet with the Iranians during the 1980 campaign in an SR-71 came about because

    First, it was just alleged that he flew to somewhere far away to meet them.

    But then a researcher pointed out that a Lexis-Nexis search on the VP candidate’s daily activity during the purported time only showed one day in which he didn’t do anything on the public record.

    At which point, the conspiracy theorists could have said, “Oh, that was Bush’s body double.”

    But instead they went with: “He went to Iran and back in one day because he flew in an SR-71.”

  248. Anonymous[427] • Disclaimer says:

    Chuck Harder was insanely gullible, as opposed to Fart Smell, who knew full well that most of his guests were peddling pure horseshit but went along because that’s what his audience liked: most took most of what was peddled with a grain of salt, but there were the True Believers, and anyway was on at midmnight through 3 AM, so had no competition and his advertisers were targeting an audience no one else was reaching.

    Harder actually had the opportunity to do some good but was baffled by the sheer volume of available conspiracy theories, con men, grifters and would be outsider pols.

    • Replies: @Clyde
  249. Clyde says:
    @YetAnotherAnon

    What (I think) drives him to distraction is remorseless US decline – decline which is the result of deliberate policy in US government and business. Once, what was good for General Motors was good for America, now it’s what’s good for Goldman Sachs.

    I come from a manufacturing family in America so the same thing bothers me. The Nips are doing just fine with their alleged downturn in stocks and real estate since say 1992. The Nips have gone *Steady State* on population and economy and they are doing great. I need to visit some onsens there.

  250. Clyde says:
    @Anonymous

    Chuck Harder……He was amazing and revelatory back in the day. When I had to drive country roads I tuned in/
    https://www.wnd.com/2018/04/talk-radio-pioneer-chuck-harder-dies/

  251. @Steve Sailer

    It wasn’t just the Germans, the Starfighter was pressed into service as a multi-role fighter by Italy, Japan, Canada, Turkey, basically all of the major and many of the minor allies except the British, and this after the USAF had left no doubt as to its unsuitability for domestic deployment. This fiasco, including the bribery scandals, must have provided no small comfort to Soviet observers along the lines of the inevitability of capitalist corruption, etc.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  252. @HunInTheSun

    Right. My dad was one of the mid-level engineers whom Lockheed’s management assigned to try to make the F-104 less deadly to German pilots, after the fact. Not a fun job for him.

    The F-104 story sounds like a Conspiracy Theory. Except it’s true.

    • Replies: @HunInTheSun
  253. @Steve Sailer

    Despite all that it was by all accounts a hell of a ride and there is a segment of driver opinion to the effect that once mastered the F-104 with an adequate fuel load was where you wanted to be when Mr. Mig arrived. As a lad in the 60s I saw a Starfighter do a low slow pass over an air show crowd, compressor whooping, then tilt up burner alight and disappear into the clouds, a sight to behold for Cold War youth.

Current Commenter
says:

Leave a Reply - Comments are moderated by iSteve, at whim.


 Remember My InformationWhy?
 Email Replies to my Comment
Submitted comments become the property of The Unz Review and may be republished elsewhere at the sole discretion of the latter
Subscribe to This Comment Thread via RSS Subscribe to All Steve Sailer Comments via RSS
PastClassics
The “war hero” candidate buried information about POWs left behind in Vietnam.
Are elite university admissions based on meritocracy and diversity as claimed?
What Was John McCain's True Wartime Record in Vietnam?
Hundreds of POWs may have been left to die in Vietnam, abandoned by their government—and our media.