Nervous Flyers . . .

. . . close your eyes or hide behind the sofa

Amongst our Charioteers there are, as far as I remember, at least two qualified commercial pilots who have flown 737s, another who has worked on building and testing air frames, and a further couple or perhaps more of us who have worked in one or more fields in ATC. If any of you don’t agree with my take on recent events, don’t be shy, tell me why I’m wrong.

At various times back in the day, I’ve worked closely with the UK CAA and more recently with the Australian CAA (now Air Services Australia). Both organisations were (and still are, as far as I know) staffed with safety-minded, highly professional experts. Dealings with the US FAA were more indirect, but they were viewed as extra-cautious, play-it-safe expert experts – and if they said jump, the ATC world was pleased to jump immediately and ask questions later. Annoying at times, but safe.

When the first 737 MAX 8 went down, it was obvious to me (and I guess many other ‘armchair experts’) that there had been a software fault in some part of the FMS similar to, but different from, the one in the A330 AF447 that went down in 2009 on its way from Rio to Paris. I confidently anticipated a rapid reaction by either Boeing or the FAA to the deaths of so many people – all passengers and crew. What happened? Not a thing beyond the usual platitudes and a vague mumble about waiting until the black boxes (actually orange) had been analysed.

Then the second MAX 8 went down in similar circumstances, with all lives lost, again – that’s 300+ in a few months, which is a lot of ruined families even by American school shooting standards. What happened this time? Well, you couldn’t make this up –

  • China grounded all 737 MAX 8s that were Chinese registered and prohibited all others from entering Chinese airspace.
  • The FAA said that all 737s were safe, keep on flying.
  • Indonesia grounded all MAX 8s
  • The FAA said that all 737s were safe, keep on flying.
  • Australia grounded all MAX 8s, then the UK did the same, and Eurocontrol did, and many other countries . . .
  • The FAA said that all 737s were safe, keep on flying.
  • Canada grounded all MAX 8s
  • President Trump grounded all MAX 8s by Executive Order.
  • The FAA and Boeing agreed that they should be grounded.

Whatever is going on?

I don’t fly any more, but if I did I’d make sure it was on an Airbus, not on a dodgy Yankee deathtrap certified by a corrupt Administrator. 😎

Author: Bearsy

A Queensland Bear with attitude

3 thoughts on “Nervous Flyers . . .”

  1. The problem with coding is that it can take a long time to figure out what is actually going on. It was obvious that there was something wrong last year, but exactly what it was and if it was a one-off issue remained uncertain. Lion Air also has had issues with maintenance and letting problem aeroplanes fly. Ethiopian Airlines does not have this reputation and it is very, very cautious as it has great ambitions. My opinion? Boeing doesn’t have a clue as to what is wrong but doesn’t want to admit it. The FAA is also out of its depth. The speed of technological advancement has outstripped the ability of governments and regulators to keep up. Boeing stood to lose a fortune if the 737-Max had to be recalled and the FAA stood to get egg on its face if it showed that it was struggling to keep abreast with developments.

  2. I am certainly no expert, not even when sitting in an armchair, however, I did read a couple of responses from people who claimed to be, on the Quora platform. (Bearsy, for all I know, you were one of those to comment.) They seem to be saying that automated safety systems are not fool proof and sometimes the pilot knows better. Anyway, here is a link for those interested. https://www.quora.com/How-safe-is-the-Boeing-737-MAX-series

    What I will say is that I would rather fly in a Boeing 737 MAX than drive on some of Zimbabwe’s roads. Yesterday I completed the final leg of my trip back from Cape Town. Bloody hair-raising.

  3. G’day Sipu, thanks for the Quora link. I haven’t read all the material there, but I’ve skimmed through most of it. There’s some very good stuff – and some that is painfully bad for a range of reasons (ignorance, politics and so on).

    I’ve learnt a bit in areas that are not my speciality, but certainly nothing that makes me change my opinions or conclusions. I could go into detail, but I reckon that would bore my readers – and me too!

    No, I didn’t write any of the Quora articles or comments 😎

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