The Boeing 737-MAX Problem

So it’s well documented that the Boeing 737 is the best selling airplane model of all time.  All of the largest commercial airlines in North America, you have to go all the way down to #7 to find a carrier that doesn’t use the aircraft.

Boeing has fixed the software issue that caused the problems.  Yes, it’s a software problem.  And somehow, the creepiest air crashes to me, personally, have been software related.  The Boeing 737-MAX crashes.  The inaugural Airbus A320 crash that was flying as a demonstration; the Captain said it was a software problem, though investigators blamed it on the Captain.  Air France flight #447.  Software problems somehow make me more uneasy about an aircraft than the actual aircraft build itself.

Herein lies the problem.  The crashes themselves are horrific.  And because they were software related and not hardware related, it seems as if the flight crew could override the software, they would have been fine.  And while the existing and new airplanes out there are going to be updated, the problem goes away.

But so does the public.

What, if anything, can be done to help educate the public and bring back confidence?  Is that even possible?  Or is Boeing going to have to outlast the public’s criticism for the next decade?

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Airbus factory in Alabama?

Okay, so I know I’ve ranted in the past about navigate to this”>“patriotically named” airlines that don’t fly American planes.  It’s a particular pet peeve of mine.  I mean “US Airways (brought to you by a European consortium)” and “American Airlines (soon to be brought to you in part by a European consortium)” – that bugs me.  We make planes here in the United States; airlines, how about you buy them?  Alaska and Southwest has been doing rather well standardized on the Boeing 737.  Continental was all Boeing, until United grabbed them up.  But hopefully with Continental’s CEO at the helm of United, that “Buy American” attitude will continue.

But all that may change soon…  Airbus has factories in France and China, but they’re about to build a plant in Alabama, in Mobile – the town I was born in.  This is cool – but still, it’s still not an American plane.  So it bugs me, but not as much as it did before.

Don’t listen to me…  I’m bitter since my two favorite planes – the Boeing 757 and the McDonnell Douglas MD-11 – were put to pasture.  There’s just something about being a passenger on one of the classic birds; just on your taxi out, you can feel how much the plane wants to escape the bonds of Earth, and glide along the wind.

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Who wants to fly?

Okay, so yes, I’m a bit addicted to flying.  I’m a million miler (I hit 1 million miles flown in 2011), and yes – I fly for work, and when I go on vacation, I get on a plane, too.

But there’s something that’s worrying me lately.  The Airbus A380 – probably the most talked about plane since the Wright Brothers took to the sky, and the Boeing 787 both have their issues.  And it’s making me happier that I’m flying the old reliable B737 for almost all of my flights.

First, the A380 had engine problems.  Like engines basically blowing up in flight.  Then come the  reports about the “really not important cracks in the wings” (but they did say that if they weren’t treated, that it could “cause structural integrity of the airplane.  DUH!).  And now there’s a delaminating problem on the B787.  What’s delaminating, you ask?  It’s where the pieces of carbon fiber that have been laminated together come unlaminated.  Ummm, isn’t that kinda like wing cracks?

Whatever…  Right now, I’m kinda happy to be flying the B737.  They’re not called the workhorse of the sky for nothing!

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When you can already tell the future

I know I’m going to go out on a limb here, but I’m already nominating, voting, and sending off the award for “F’d Up Issue of the Week”.  And who does that go to?  None other than giant mega corporation, BOEING!

Now why, you may ask, does a company like Boeing deserve such an honor, and so early in the week?  Well let me tell you… Public relations is a BITCH!  You see, there once was a small child that liked to draw airplanes.  He loved them so much that it’s all he wanted to draw.  He loved them so much, he wants to design airplanes when he’s “big”.  And he chose his favorite picture and mailed it off to Boeing.  (Whole story here).

Well Boeing, being that giant mega corporation, wanted to protect it’s ass in case, say that child grew up, pulled out a copy of his picture, and decided to sue.  You know, because a plane has wings and a tail, just like the one in his picture.  So smartly, Boeing sent out a lawyerly letter saying that they do NOT accept unsolicited plane sketches and they DESTROYED HIS PICTURE.  Are you, gentle reader, doing a giant facepalm right now?  Because I am.

This is the youngster’s drawing:

Harry's drawing

The poor dad.  He’s now wondering what, if anything, he should tell his son Harry.  You know what, Dad?  Wait until he’s older, then tell them that Boeing is a soulless multinational corporation.  Because it is.  Hell, 99% of corporations are soulless; some less than others, some more than others.  They sort of admitted it in this tweet:

Kids dreams are chipped away at every day, and unfortunately, that’s what Boeing did with their letter to this child (you can read the letter at the father’s website).  They’re going to correct the wrong in the future.  But still – damage is done.  This whole situation reminds me of why the janitor on Scrubs became a janitor.  In the video below, imagine little Harry is the one looking for his bear, and the mother is Boeing.  It fits, quite succinctly.

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