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Boeing 737 Max Roundup

Posted on 17th July 2019

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The drama and scandal about the safety of the Boeing 737 Max continues. Here is a summary of some of the recent news stories on the subject. None of it makes me want to fly on a 737 Max.

In this BBC report Boeing's Dennis Muilenburg admitted "We clearly fell short and the implementation of this [cockpit warning light for the] angle-of-attack disagree alert was a mistake, right, we did not implement it properly". Based on other reports, that seems to be avoiding the truth. They made it an optional extra, for which airlines had to pay, and many airlines did not buy this option because they did not realise that it was essential to safely fly the aircraft.

This story on The Guardian, covers another safety issue, this time on the 787 Dreamliner. The switch used to extinguish engine fires has failed in a “small number” of instances. The switch also cuts the supply of fuel and hydraulic fluid to the engine, to prevent flames from spreading. Boeing has warned airlines that long-term heating can cause the fire extinguisher switch to stick in the locked position so it can’t be used to release the two fire extinguishers in each engine. Again, this is totally against the rules. Fire extinguishers are unarguable safety critical systems, and there is no system redundancy (such as a second switch or another way to operate the fire extinguishers) as required. Again, not only are Boeing to blame, but also the FAA.

This article on the BBC, about how the company is giving $100M to the families of the 737 Max crash victims, seems, at first, to show Boeing in a better light, until you read this piece, also on the BBC, describing how Being has been bullying the families of crash victims into signing an agreement that forfeits their rights to sue for compensation, thus preventing them from getting more money later, as more embarrassing facts about Boeing come to light.

Finally, for now, at least, is this BBC report about how Boeing seems to be trying to rebrand the 737 Max as the 737-8200. The worrying thing is that this may well work, with many air travelers. It looks to be that spending money and effort on safety is much less important than PR, for Boeing.

My general conclusion from all this is that Boeing planes are not safe, and not just the 737 Max (or 737-8200); that Boeing do not care about people affected by their lack of safety; that the FAA has the same disregard for safety as the manufacturers they are meant to regulate; and that most airlines are no better than Boeing and the FAA - they continue to order 737 Max aircraft, and are playing along with Boeing's attempts to side-step the consequences of their poor design and testing.

The 737 Max is a flawed design: am attempt to bolt new technology onto a very outdated aircraft, which has badly compromised the safety and flyability of the plane. It should probably never be allowed to fly again; I certainly don't want to be a passenger on one.