Late Night Horrorshow Open Thread: Boeing 737 Max8 Edition

Experts — pah! Who needs them? Of course, Trump never flies commercial, so… Mr. Pierce, at Esquire:

I’m sure this has something to do with the crash of the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 that killed 157 people over the weekend. (This was the second disastrous crash of this new aircraft since last October.) Several countries have grounded the new plane until, to coin a phrase, they figure out what the hell’s going on. The United States has not. Of course, the president* has not yet nominated anyone to be the head of the FAA, so that could complicate things. Maybe he’s shorting Boeing stock. Who knows? But what is obvious is that this is another sample drawn from his endless reservoir of self-regard—Look, I’m an aeronautical engineer!—combined with a healthy dose of his trademark disrespect for any form of actual expertise.

48 replies
  1. 1
    rikyrah says:

    The segment tonight on Maddow where she points out that nobody needs government until you DO….and, you need to trust that the best people are in those positions….which is NOT the case right now with the FAA. That stupid muthaphucka wanted to put his pilot in as the head of the FAA.

    And Boeing?
    Rapidly losing the public’s trust😠

    This is a crisis😠😠😠

  2. 2
    NotMax says:

    You mean the same fellow whose proposal for this own (failed) airline was to reduce cockpit crew? Rather than taking up space by repeating it in full, see #33 downstairs.

  3. 3
    David 🎅🎄Merry Christmas🎄🎅 Koch says:

    Ignore data that prove things have gotten better, insist things have gotten worse, appeal to nostalgia for mythic era before modernity when things seemed simpler. (For some people.)

    This is Wilmer’s platform

  4. 4
    rikyrah says:

    I am in m-o-d-e-r-a-t-i-o-n. Please help.

  5. 5
    mrmoshpotato says:

    @David 🎅🎄Merry Christmas🎄🎅 Koch: Let’s not forget the lack of details on how to bake the pie in the sky.

  6. 6
    Mart says:

    Recommended reading: Airframe: A Novel by Michael Crichton. I used Amazon slow delivery dollars a few months back to buy this book and really enjoyed reading. Did not realize that fiction would become reality… From Amazon:

    “Three passengers are dead. Fifty-six are injured. The interior cabin is virtually destroyed. But the pilot manages to land the plane.

    At a moment when the issue of safety and death in the skies is paramount in the public mind, a lethal midair disaster aboard a commercial twin-jet airliner flying from Hong Kong to Denver triggers a pressured and frantic investigation.

    Airframe is nonstop reading, full of the extraordinary mixture of super suspense and authentic information on a subject of compelling interest that are the hallmarks of Michael Crichton.

    “A one-sitting read that will cause a lifetime of white-knuckled nightmares.”—The Philaelphia Inquirer

    “The ultimate thriller . . . [Crichton’s] stories are always page-turners of the highest order. . . . [Airframe] moves like a firehouse dog chasing a red truck.”—The Denver Post

    “Dramatically vivid.”—The New York Times

  7. 7
    Raoul says:

    As an aviation nerd, this situation looks bad for Boeing. And we also see why openly buyable politicians destroy both the credibility of agencies and the companies they should be regulating.

    It also looks a lot like Boeing put out a pretty crap kludge with their MCAS system to make the MAX fly ‘safely’. The 737MAX is basically an early 1960s design, pushed one iteration too far, IMO. (I’m perfectly fine flying in 737NGs, by the way. Though SWA did have those two uncontained engine failures, too.)

    I, personally, will not be booking travel on SWA, American or United if they don’t park their MAXs till we know more. That said, I generally only fly Delta and SWA anyway, so my travel behavior isn’t changing much. This may get resolved before I need to book my next non-Delta trip, too.

    I feel terrible for the families of the Ethiopian Air passengers.

  8. 8

    Commercial pilot Major Kong commented over at LGM that all the pilots hate the 737, says the 757 is by far the superior aircraft but the 737 is more cost effective i.e. cheaper, so guess which one the airlines prefer.

  9. 9
    Jay says:

    Canada hasn’t grounded them either, waiting on the FAA results.

    Passengers however are debooking flights that are any 737, so there’s a bit of a riot building up given how many 737’s there are in Canada.

  10. 10
    Mart says:

    Should have mentioned that “Airframe” is about the aircraft manufacturer dodging the press, working 24/7 to figure out the cause of a series of failures, and fix it before they are ruined; or Trump tweets bad things about them.

  11. 11
    Amir Khalid says:

    Malaysia’s Civil Aviation Authority was in the first wave of such national agencies to ban the 737 Max from flying.

  12. 12
    trollhattan says:

    Tapping your nerd status, how did SW get certified for serving CONUS to Hawaii? Are certain 737 models now able to meet the criteria? [asked as resident of one of their forthcoming Hawaii departure cities]

  13. 13
    TS (the original) says:

    I will never understand why any large company, led by a reasonably intelligent person, would want Donald Trump as US President. They really want their country to fail – every which way what way.

    Australia grounded them today – despite our RW government usually siding with trump on anything – which is probably why they didn’t ground them sooner.

  14. 14
    Jay says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    Many of the countries that have grounded their 737 MAX fleets have also barred the use of their airspace to foreign 737 MAX flights.

  15. 15
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @NotMax: That and wanting to use marble in the lavatories for counters ignoring issues of weight ratios.

    “But the swallow could grab the coconut by the husk!”

  16. 16
    Doug R says:

    @Jay: That 737 that had its roof blow off in Hawaii many years ago was originally a Canadian Pacific plane that I may have flown in.

  17. 17
    TS (the original) says:

    @Jay: Rachel mentioned that in the clip from her show. She said it like it is. – ending with Maybe Elaine Chou will fix it

  18. 18
    SectionH says:

    @Amir Khalid: Heh, since there weren’t any flying there anyway?. Australia announced an airstop too – because in fact there aren’t any 737 Maxes in Australia. Easy Peasy.

    Don’t get me wrong, those planes shouldn’t fly, but dump on. I will fly both Airbus and Boeing

  19. 19
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @TS (the original): Rachel is such a kidder. Is there any money in it for Elaine or her corrupt family to fix it?

  20. 20
    Mary G says:

    Is it true that pilots have been complaining about this system and the FAA, Boeing and the airlines have ignored them? I saw that somewhere and then also that there has been no verifiable problem with it. One of these sides is lying.

  21. 21
    Chetan Murthy says:

    @Mary G:

    Is it true that pilots have been complaining about this system and the FAA, Boeing and the airlines have ignored them?

    Per Maddow’s first segment tonight, wherein she quotes from the “US pilot discussion forum” database, yes indeedy, apparently pilots have been noticing the same sorts of problems that preceded the two crashes. “apparently” doing a lot of work — gosh it could be that the problems the US pilots have noted are *completely* different. But hey, it’s also the position that benefits Boeing the most, and hence the one I trust *least*.

  22. 22
    rikyrah says:

    @Mary G:
    Some poster this morning recounted a segment on the radio that had pilots telling that they got LESS THAN SIX MINUTES TRAINING IN THE NEW SYSTEM.


    Da phuq?😡

  23. 23
    Pete Downunder says:

    The US has a great safety reporting system known as ASRS managed by NASA (not the FAA) which collects and annomizes reports of unsafe events. Apparently there are several reports by US pilots flying the 737 Max 8 of uncommanded nose down pitching with autopilot engaged. Disconnecting the autopilot solved it. What’s weird is that the new MCAS which is believed to have been the Lion Air issue only operates, as I understand it, when autopilot is off. There is also an intriguing eye witness report (and yes, eye witness reports are viewed with extreme caution) from a guy on the ground who claims the tail was on fire prior to the crash. Pure speculation but if there was an uncontained failure of the APU which damaged the controls of the horizontal tail an unrecoverable nose down attitude would occur. Take with many grains of salt. We really need to wait for FDR and CVR data.

  24. 24
    Jay says:

    @Mary G:

    Yup, since the Lion Air flight, pilots have stated publically that the “feature” that is actually a bug on the 737 MAX, Boeing never informed them of or trained them on, and that the training for switching from any other 737 to the 737 MAX consists of a 6 minute video on a tablet that makes no mention of the stall changes.

  25. 25
    mrmoshpotato says:

    @TS (the original): They never met a massive tax cut they didn’t like.


  26. 26
    Jay says:


    Because it’s switching from being certified on a 737 model, to another 737 model, recertification isn’t required, just watch this infomercial and you are “good to go”.

  27. 27
    mrmoshpotato says:

    @rikyrah: Relax. They’ll get that cut down to 5 minutes before you know it.

    It’s not like they’re moving metal tubes full of people through the air miles above the ground (a hard, hard ground) at speeds unheard of only 100 years ago!

  28. 28
    Jay says:

    @Pete Downunder:

    Given that Boeing did a complete software rewrite of the stall software, it’s pretty clear that all 737 MAX’s should have been grounded.

  29. 29
    Pete Downunder says:

    @Jay: agreed.

  30. 30
    SectionH says:

    @Pete Downunder: You’re the first “tail on fire” I’ve seen today, but Mr S was reporting on Airwhiners 5 or 6 “tail on fire” people on the ground near Addis…

    just very early reports on plane sites. Not seeing later.

  31. 31
    Jay says:

    @Pete Downunder:

    The FAA should have made the call, but under Dolt 45 a bunch of the Government has been rendered gutless and useless.

    People blaming the shutdown for the 5 week delay in the new software are ignoring the Elephant in the Room.

  32. 32
    Pete Downunder says:

    @SectionH: news reports of eyewitnesses are always suspect, but depending on how badly the wreckage was damaged (from reports really really badly) there may be signatures on the tail of inflight fire which can be distinguished from ground fire. Also FDR should disclose an issue.

  33. 33
  34. 34
    HalfAssedHomesteader says:

    OT but can someone explain the Bernie == Wilmer thing?

  35. 35
    Pete Downunder says:

    @HalfAssedHomesteader: to avoid using his real name and drawing trolls.

  36. 36
    Jay says:


    There was a period here when every mention of Wilmer brought in a flood of Bernie Bro’s, so many on the site including FP’s took to calling Wilmer, Wilmer, but not three times because of the Beetlejuice paradox.

  37. 37
    HalfAssedHomesteader says:

    @Pete Downunder: I see. Thanks. Still curious what the origin is.

  38. 38
    NotMax says:


    Shouty Old Fart On An Ego Trip Who Rants At Clouds takes too long to type.


    Seriously, there’s one school of thought that it derived from the Elisha Cook character’s name in The Maltese Falcon, but I’ve never bought into that, subscribing to the it’s a little silly sounding and easy to remember theory.

  39. 39
    Jay says:


    Balloon Juice After Dark is a full service blog:

    September 5, 2017 at 7:38 am
    @DLKaps, @Mnemosyne:

    Late back to this thread, but, hey, somebody was wrong on the Internet.

    As you surmised, “Wilmer” is a Balloon Juice nickname for Bernie Sanders. Late last year, some Sandernista trolls apparently set alerts to remind them to come here if their sainted leader was mentioned, so the Wilmer protocol was offered as a stealth measure. It has outlived its usefulness, since any interested trolls have long since added “Wilmer” to their alert list. But it continues as a sort of “cool kids of Balloon Juice” inside reference.

    And, no, it has nothing to do with Wilmer in The Maltese Falcon. Here is the origin of Wilmer (credit to Jim, Foolish Literalist, December 16, 2016).

    ETA: I think the Maltese Falcon angle actually originated with one of the trolls screeching about how it was homophobic to use “Wilmer” as the nickname.”

    Jim, Foolish Literalist
    December 16, 2016 at 8:10 pm
    @Major Major Major Major: @Baud: Maybe we could call that individual who triggers the arrival of that other individual “Carl”. Or “Fredo”. Or “Lenny”. Maybe Wilmer. I like Wilmer.”

  40. 40
    SectionH says:

    @Pete Downunder: TY,
    I know eyewitness unreliability, so I kept asking how many, etc.

    Might make sense. Right now I’m in fuck Boeing mood. I reserve Fuck Airbus for alternate days…

    Re Boeing: men who made really big salaries by my measure were… employees and – Hated Boeing management… it’s never been a happy company. I’m damn sure their planes are well built. In spite of Management.

    This mess is on Boeing Management. ONE SENSOR? TRADING OFF? WTAF?

    My Kids had great flights to Malawi last summer on Ethiopian. I damn, just sick about the whole mess.

  41. 41
    Jay says:


    The wiki link on Lion Air pretty much covers it off.

  42. 42
    HalfAssedHomesteader says:

    @Jay: Wow. Full service indeed! Many Thanks. Now i can turn in.

  43. 43
    Amir Khalid says:

    Per The Star, the head of the CAA says no carrier may fly the aircraft into/from Malaysian airspace, and that no Malaysian carrier flies the 737 Max 8. National carrier MAS does have them on order for next year.


  44. 44
    Jay says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    Lots of countries have banned 737Max flights in their airspace, even if they don’t have them. They don’t want to have to deal with the bodies.

    In Canada, while the Government is waiting for the FAA report, aircrews are not and one of the large charter fleets has grounded all it’s 737 MAX’s.

    With a minimum cost of $138 to $230 million per crash, the accountants are crunching numbers while the FAA and Boeing sit with their thumbs up their arses.

  45. 45
    SectionH says:

    @Amir Khalid: “Heh” My stupid conversational marker written, badly, and I am srsly sorry. Really bad. I’m so not taking the crashes lightly.

    My point should have been that places (Oz for instance) don’t have 737 Max flights anyway. But that doesn’t stop “journalists” who know nothing and can’t be arsed to learn anything from publishing the most assinine crap about planes and where they can’t fly, never mentioning no airline flies there anyway.

    Ok it’s Wednesday here, so I can hate on Airbus now.

  46. 46
    Jay says:


    There’s a bunch of airlines with 737 MAX’s that fly to countries who’s domestic airlines don’t have 737 MAX’s.

    It’s more that “journalists” and “editors” in what pasees for media are crap at explaining the bureaucratic processes.

  47. 47
    Just One More Canuck says:

    @Doug R: CP Air? Great airline in its day, but Jeezus, how old was that plane?

  48. 48
    Raoul says:

    @trollhattan: Most airlines that fly west coast (including Canada and Alaska) to Hawaii use 737s. They are boring workhorse planes and kind of short on comfort for 5+ hours, but (MAX possibly excepted) reliable and certified for extended twin operations (etops – wags call it “engines turn or people swim”).

    I’d echo what someone said upthread about preferring the 757, but they are getting old and are less fuel efficient. I did manage to book a 757/767 round trip to Hawaii last year on Delta to satisfy my odd compulsions, but SWA flying 737-800s (not MAXs) isn’t a big concern to me. ETOPs requires a higher maintenance vigilance, among other things including higher dispatch equipment levels and such.

    IOW it’s no big deal to fly a 737 to Hawaii. Or transatlantic, as several airlines now do. Reminiscent of my youth when we flew 707s and DC8s – skinny tin cans with none of the widebody whizzbang of the 747s with their movie screens and bigger spaces to walk and stretch.

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