This 21 March 2019 ABC News video from the USA says about itself:
New questions arise about the safety of Boeing 737 MAX jets
New details have emerged about the final moments of the Lion Air flight that crashed last October and the FBI has joined the investigation into the planes’ certification process.
From the New York Times in the USA today:
Doomed Boeing Jets Lacked 2 Safety Features That Company Sold Only as Extras
So, if airline companies don’t contribute enough to Boeing profits, then Boeing bosses take revenge for that by gambling with the lives of their passengers.
Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:
The pilots who tried their best to prevent crashes with the Boeing 737 MAX in Ethiopia and Indonesia flew without the necessary safety updates being installed in their aircraft. That’s because airlines Ethiopian Airlines and Lion Air didn’t pay for those “extras”, The New York Times reports.
Just as with car manufacturers, it is normal for aircraft manufacturers to make a ‘standard model’ to which the buyer can add extras. With a new aircraft, airlines have to pay a lot for options that offer comfort such as extra comfortable seats, better lighting or toilets.
In addition, there are also options on communication, navigation and safety systems. These are important components for the safety of a device. Many airlines, such as budget airline Lion Air, do not buy these extras and aviation authorities do not oblige them to do so.
Make it free
After the two fatal crashes with a Boeing 737 MAX in March and October, the aircraft manufacturer will partly change this method. According to The New York Times, Boeing is going to make one of the safety options that currently costs money free and deliver it as standard.
So, ‘dear’ Boeing fat cats, after you contributed to killing 346 human beings, now at last one of the life saving devices will become standard. Only one life saving device. How about the other life saving devices, Boeing gentlemen?
Nose pressed down
The two crashes were probably caused by a defective sensor in the so-called MCAS system. That is a new part of the autopilot, which intervenes if the aircraft ends up in a dangerous situation. Because of the broken sensor, the aircraft probably thought it flew with its nose up, while it wasn’t. The nose was therefore pressed down, resulting in [two] plane crash disasters.
One of the optional safety updates that Boeing is selling could have partly helped the pilots to detect this sensor failure. Because of this they could have acted faster. Whether the aircraft could have landed normally is not certain, “but it would certainly have helped”, an expert told The New York Times.
By Bryan Dyne in the USA, 21 March 2019:
The Boeing disasters: 346 more victims of capitalism
In the wake of two deadly airplane crashes that have killed 346 people, it has become clear that executives at aerospace giant Boeing repeatedly subordinated basic considerations of safety to profit, aided and abetted by the federal government.
The first disaster occurred on October 29, when a Boeing 737 Max 8 operated by Lion Air crashed thirteen minutes after leaving Jakarta, Indonesia, killing 189 people. That same plane only narrowly averted disaster a day earlier, Bloomberg reported this week, when a third, off-duty pilot who happened to be on the flight, intervened under similar conditions that ultimately caused the crash.
Less than five months later, on March 10, Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crashed about six minutes after takeoff from Addis Ababa, killing a further 157 men, women and children.
Beginning on March 11, every country in the world grounded the 737 Max 8, citing overwhelming safety concerns. The United States was the final holdout, but it grounded the aircraft on March 13.
This 20 March 2019 CBS TV video from the USA says about itself:
Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger criticized both Boeing and FAA over the 737 Max 8 in an op-ed published Wednesday. CBS News transportation correspondent Kris Van Cleve spoke about it on CBSN.
The Bryan Dyne article continues:
“Boeing, in developing the 737 Max 8, obviously felt intense competitive pressure to get the new aircraft to market as quickly as possible,” wrote Captain ‘Sully’ Sullenberger in a column in MarketWatch this week. Sullenberger is the pilot who safely landed an Airbus A320 on the Hudson River in 2009 and a leading air safety expert.
“When flight testing revealed an issue with meeting the certification standards, the company developed a fix… but did not tell airline pilots about it. In mitigating one risk, Boeing seems to have created another, greater risk,” he wrote.
Sullenberger added, “After the crash of Lion Air 610 last October, it was apparent that this new risk needed to be effectively addressed.” But instead of grounding the aircraft and immediately fixing the problem, Boeing did everything it could to conceal the deadly defect and keep the aircraft flying.
In other words, Boeing executives evidently acted in a reckless, negligent manner, contributing to the deaths of 346 people.
Sullenberger concluded, “It has been reported that Boeing pushed back in discussions with the FAA [Federal Aviation Administration] about the extent of changes that would be required, and after the second crash, of Ethiopian 302, the Boeing CEO reached out to the US President to try to keep the 737 Max 8 from being grounded in the US.”
Both the FAA and the Trump administration, for their part, were more than willing to run interference for the company.
The close integration between the airline industry and the agency nominally tasked with regulating it is well documented. In 2005, the FAA introduced a new program whereby aircraft manufacturers could choose their own employees to serve as FAA “designees”, charged with certifying the safety of their commercial planes. Since then, there has been virtually no independent oversight of the safety of any new civilian planes, those produced at Boeing or elsewhere.
During the 737 Max 8 rollout, Boeing told its pilots that they could learn all they needed to know about flying a new type of airplane from a 56-minute presentation on an iPad and a 13-page manual. Both were approved by the FAA … and neither included any information about the system likely responsible for the crashes, the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmenting System, or MCAS.
US officials, moreover, have deep connections to the airline industry. FAA Acting Administrator Dan Elwell was an American Airlines executive. US President Donald Trump’s new nominee to head the administration, Stephen Dickson, is a former Delta head.
Boeing is a top defense contractor with extensive ties to the military-intelligence apparatus. Patrick Shanahan, the deputy secretary of defense, has worked for Boeing for three decades. Moreover, the current secretary of transportation, Elaine Chao, is the wife of Mitch McConnell, who has received hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign financing from Boeing.
Moreover, Boeing is a key part of the US financial elite’s war for control of markets. Since the 737 Max 8 series was released in 2017, the sales of just 350 of the 5,011 orders Boeing has received have accounted for 50 percent of the company’s profits. Boeing itself has maintained its status as the world’s fifth-largest defense contractor and is currently the largest US exporter.
Shares of Boeing have more than tripled since the election of Donald Trump and his promises of further deregulation, making it the highest-priced stock in the Dow Jones Industrial Average. The company has accounted for more than 30 percent of the increase of the Dow since November 2016.
The tragic and preventable deaths of nearly 350 people demonstrate certain realities of contemporary social and political life. The capitalist system is based on the maximization of shareholder profit, not the satisfaction of the needs of society. If endangering the lives of hundreds of people will lead to higher profits, such a risk is justified.
Governments, in their turn, serve to protect the interests of the corporations, a reality demonstrated by the Trump White House’s efforts to protect the largest US exporter, and the repeated actions of the FAA to cover up the series of disastrous shortcuts taken by Boeing.
These disasters highlight the need to take the airline industry out of the hands of Wall Street so that air travel can be brought into harmony with human and social needs.
CREW FOLLOWED BOEING RULES BUT COULDN’T CONTROL JET The Ethiopian Airlines crew of the airliner that crashed last month performed all the procedures recommended by Boeing but could not control the jet, states a preliminary report. The doomed flight experienced uncommanded “nose dive conditions,” according to the investigation. The preliminary report recommends that Boeing review the flight controls and that aviation authorities verify it before the now-grounded planes are cleared to resume operation. [AP]
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Tuesday, 26 March 2019
Boeing shares crash – company stands accused of cost-cutting that risked air safety
THE US aircraft manufacturer Boeing has been brought to its knees following two catastrophic crashes of its bestselling aircraft, the short haul 737 Max 8, which cost the lives of 346 people.
Last October a Lion Air flight in Indonesia crashed with the loss of 189 lives when pilots failed to regain control after Boeing’s newly installed ‘stall prevention’ system took control away from them and pushed the nose of the plane down, flying it into the ground. Boeing’s response to this crash was to promise a computer patch, while insisting that reports, from US pilots’ unions and in the Wall Street Journal, that the company had withheld this danger from pilots and operators were ‘simply untrue’.
They insisted the fix would be largely aimed at training and software changes with ‘manageable costs’. The reference to ‘manageable costs’ is no accident. It is the drive to cut costs at the expense of human lives that lies behind this and the subsequent tragedy – when the same aircraft with the same system crashed in near identical circumstances in Ethiopia on March 11 killing all 157 passengers and crew.
Two fatal crashes within five months couldn’t be shrugged off as pilot error or a simple glitch in the computer system to be corrected with a patch. Following countries across the world grounding the aircraft, Boeing was finally forced to suspend the operation of its entire global fleet of the 737 Max 8 after the US Federal Aviation Administration imposed a temporary ban on the plane.
The effect on Boeing, the largest aircraft manufacturer in the world, has been devastating with several big customers threatening to cancel orders – causing its share price to plummet and wiping $25 billion off its value. Boeing will face a mountain of legal action for compensation from airline companies and passengers – putting its survival on the line as pressure builds up for the company to be held criminally liable for negligence.
The one area that Boeing most certainly was not negligent in was cost-cutting. It rushed through changes to the ageing 737 in order to maintain its grip on the market. Instead of building a new more powerful plane, they modified the existing model putting in bigger engines and increasing the number of seats, as demanded by the airlines, modifications that affected the aerodynamics of the plane.
It was to overcome this that Boeing introduced the new software which is now being held responsible for the crashes. It is also alleged that, in order to keep costs down even further, the company took the decision not to provide expensive retraining for pilots on how to use and, if necessary, disable this software.
The question being asked now is: How did these modifications pass the safety tests the FAA is supposed to enforce to certify the plane? It appears that the FAA has, with the support of the US Congress, allowed Boeing to control the aircraft certification process itself.
The Washington Post described this abandonment of regulation by the FAA: ‘In practice, one Boeing engineer would conduct a test of a particular system on the Max 8, while another Boeing engineer would act as the FAA’s representative, signing on behalf of the US government that the technology complied with federal safety regulations.’
In other words, Boeing was self-certificating its own aircraft safety with the blessing of the US government. The decisions by Boeing to increase the engine size of these planes rather than design and build a new one, and the decision to make the plane attractive to airlines by not making them spend expensive hours retraining pilots were all made to maximise profits at all costs – even at the cost of hundreds of lives.
Human lives count for nothing when compared to the profits of the capitalist class.
Under capitalism advances in science and computer technology are being used not to increase safety and enhance human life but solely as a means to increase the profits of companies like Boeing.
The only way to ensure the safest possible future is to put an end to capitalism and advance to a socialist society that places human life above all else.
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