What The Hell Were They Regulating

This is mind boggling:

As the pilots of the doomed Boeing jets in Ethiopia and Indonesia fought to control their planes, they lacked two notable safety features in their cockpits.

One reason: Boeing charged extra for them.

For Boeing and other aircraft manufacturers, the practice of charging to upgrade a standard plane can be lucrative. Top airlines around the world must pay handsomely to have the jets they order fitted with customized add-ons.

Sometimes these optional features involve aesthetics or comfort, like premium seating, fancy lighting or extra bathrooms. But other features involve communication, navigation or safety systems, and are more fundamental to the plane’s operations.

Many airlines, especially low-cost carriers like Indonesia’s Lion Air, have opted not to buy them — and regulators don’t require them.

Now, in the wake of the two deadly crashes involving the same jet model, Boeing will make one of those safety features standard as part of a fix to get the planes in the air again.


1.) What the fuck are you regulating if you have decided the safety features are… optional.

2.) Imagine buying a car, and then being told the brakes are optional.

3.) Since the regulators clearly are not doing their fucking jobs, every time you buy a plane ticket, it should say on the ticket, “THIS PLANE DOES NOT HAVE THE SAFETY FEATURES.”

In other news, Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan is under investigation for using his office to help… Boeing, his former boss. BECAUSE OF FUCKING COURSE HE IS.

116 replies
  1. 1
    Doug R says:

    It’s more like when car manufacturers charged extra for anti-lock brakes, traction control and back up cameras. If anti lock brakes caused a crash randomly and were next to impossible to shut down.

  2. 2
    Booger says:

    It’s more like buying a car, then needing to apply the brakes in an emergency, only to find out that your speedometer was not letting you know how fast you were going, and without the upgrade, your brakes will only allow you to come to a stop from 75 mph in 300 feet; if you had paid for the upgrade, you might be able to stop in 200 feet. Or something. F&ck Boeing and the FAA.

  3. 3
    Sab says:

    @Doug R: Isn’t that the case with antilock brakes? Lethal on icy roads.

  4. 4
    Elizabelle says:

    It’s brazen. It’s appalling Lion Air’s good pilots and doomed passengers could not get warning the two sensors were not in agreement. No indicator light. Because: extra money.

    The copilot finally began praying aloud. He knew the aircraft was unrecoverable. Mr. Harvinko. His body has never been found. Some ic that jet disintegrated.

    I want Boeing executives up on murder charges. Criminal charges. CEO made $30 mill last year.

    And the FAA. Which has been hollowed out and co-opted. Break it into a safety agency, and put the business development in another one. Separate those functions.

  5. 5
    ant says:

    auto makers do similar with things cruse, intermittent wipers, better headlights, and so on.

    and john, i hope you are checking your oil between changes. Ours, (same car) needed a new timing chain, because of it running low on oil. expensive. you can’t go 18k miles like your maintenance minder suggests without adding some oil sometimes.

  6. 6
    khead says:

    It’s called regulatory capture. We have a long way to go to get things back to “normal” in several industries.

  7. 7
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Sab: If you do any off roading, disabling the antilock brakes is the first thing on the list.

  8. 8
    Aleta says:

    Boeing charges extra, for example, for a backup fire extinguisher in the cargo hold. Past incidents have shown that a single extinguishing system may not be enough to put out flames that spread rapidly through the plane. Regulators in Japan require airlines there to install backup fire extinguishing systems, but the F.A.A. does not.

    Boeing declined to disclose the full menu of safety features it offers as options on the 737 Max, or how much they cost.

    The seat you have selected does not include backup fire extinguishing. Do you wish to purchase an upgrade or our premium insurance package?

  9. 9
    khead says:

    Boeing did their own inspections. Think about that.

  10. 10
    danielx says:

    In other news, Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan is under investigation for using his office to help… Boeing, his former boss. BECAUSE OF FUCKING COURSE HE IS.

    Color me unsurprised.

  11. 11
    OzarkHillbilly says:


    you can’t go 18k miles like your maintenance minder suggests without adding some oil sometimes.

    Sue the manufacturer, those things are the worst. I have and always will change my oil every 3-5000 miles. Argued with my wife over it. She would not believe me. So I took her to see our very trusted mechanics.

    “Change your oil every 3-5000 miles.”

    She doesn’t always quite make it but now she knows she should and tries to.

    eta: my sarcasm probably dodn’t come thru so to clarify, suing would probably be a complete waste of money.

  12. 12
    JR says:

    Maybe Robespierre was right in his dealings with the French East India Company.

  13. 13
    Elizabelle says:

    @khead: Regulatory capture. Precisely.

    These tragedies are a case for legal and business school studies. I am surprised the CEO still has his job, although that might be defensive, on advice of Boeing counsel.

    Kay has had so much to say about failing and corrupted institutions.

  14. 14
    rikyrah says:

    They weren’t regulating shyt!

    someone should go to jail for this.

  15. 15
    taumatugo says:

    Nickel and dime, nickel and dime capitalism.

  16. 16
    Sab says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: How do you do that in a Honda Civic? My stepdaughter was almost killed a couple of weeks ago driving on an urban highway in an unexpected snow storm. Jerk cut her off, she slammed on the brakes, antilocks came on and she went into a 180 spin.

    ETA not criticizing your comment. Asking how do you disable the antilocks? Any reason I shouldn’t (why do they exist? must serve some purpose.)

  17. 17
    JGabriel says:

    John Cole @ Top:

    What the fuck are you regulating if you have decided the safety features are… optional?.

    Profits. The regulators and Republican legislators are making sure those pesky complaints from customers, and safety boards, and lawsuits, aren’t interfering with Boeing’s, or the airlines, profits.

  18. 18
    geg6 says:


    THIS! I mean, seriously, WTF?!?!?!?!

  19. 19
    Ruckus says:

    We don’t need no stinking government to get in the way of the important part of living – making gobs of money fucking over people.

    Just a thought, how about any one who flies demanding to know if the airplane that we supposedly pay tax money to protect us from killing us due to bullshit like paying extra for seemingly absolutely necessary safety features, actually has them, or that pilots are actually trained and not overworked so that they can at least attempt to fly them without killing us.
    Ever read the fine print about how much the airlines accept responsibility for keeping your ass alive on that plane?

  20. 20

    I am sure Acting Defense secretary is scum but how is he to blame for the regulators in Indonesia? Which regulators have not required it? I am a bit confused here.

  21. 21
    hueyplong says:

    This won’t get nearly the pushback in the GOP-controlled Senate as Trump’s childish urinating on McCain’s corpse, which itself only draws a few pitiful mewlings from individuals nervously hoping the Nazis will remain focused on liberals instead of themselves.

    Right now GOPers are mopping their brows, relieved that neither crash involved Delta, United, or American planes.

  22. 22
    Betty says:

    Capitalism is the best. Socialism is the worst. Right? Right? My candidate, Senator Warren, believes in well-regulated capitalism. Hope the MSM can see the difference.

  23. 23
    Sab says:

    @Ruckus: My limited experience with flying lately is that you pay a lot of unrefundable money to fly when you have no clue who the actual carrier is (subcontracting to suburban carriers) or what plane you will be flying on.

    Deregulation = freedom.

  24. 24
    JGabriel says:


    Maybe Robespierre was right in his dealings with the French East India Company.

    You joke, but corporations aren’t going to stop behaving in evil and criminal ways until we start prosecuting and punishing white collar crime as consistently, and punitively, as we do other crimes.

  25. 25
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Sab: Don’t know but one can go into a spin with regular brakes and, speaking from first hand experience, without ever touching your brakes at all. The best thing one can do in a situation like that during icy conditions is just take your foot off the gas. Let the engine slow you down. I did that when a car spun out right in front of me, I was still going faster than I would have liked but I was able to steer around his spinning hulk. Very lucky to have guessed right as to which way he would bounce.

  26. 26
    raven says:

    @Ruckus: What’s the FAA got to do with overseas regulators?

  27. 27
    Leto says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: You don’t do that with full synthetic oil. I change at the 15k mark and the oil coming out looks exactly same as when it went in. In the U.K. you can have it tested (same with brake fluid) as part of the road worthiness test. It was good for at least another 5k. Of course your mechanic is going to say, “3-5k”. He likes to eat. We all do.

    From the Shanahan article:

    Citing unnamed US officials, Politico said that Shanahan had dissed Lockheed Martin’s production of the F-35 fighter jet in “high-level Pentagon meetings” — at one point calling the plane “fucked up” and saying that the company “doesn’t know how to run a program.” If the fighter jet contract had gone “had gone to Boeing,” he reportedly said, “it would be done much better.”

    There’s a fierce rivalry between Boeing and Lockheed Martin that has lasted for decades. It’s no surprise that someone like Shanahan — who spent 30 years at Boeing — would absorb some anti-Lockheed sentiment during his time there.

    But he’s supposed to keep those feelings to himself while he serves as a top US official, and even more so as the Pentagon’s (acting) chief. It seems he may not have done that — and could potentially pay the price for it.

    Emphasis mine. We all know it’s a shit sandwich of a plane. What you’re not supposed to do is slip in 8 new F-15s, latest model, to the Air Force’s budget line, which the service does not want. Even as a stop gap measure. Grifters/corruption all the way.

  28. 28
    Sab says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I am personally a big fan of downshifting with an automatic in crunch situations. My husband says I will fry the transmission, but he is also a Luddite so I sort of ignore his input on cars.

  29. 29
    A Ghost To Most says:

    I have not found that necessary in my 4Runner. On the down side, one or more of my mods is tripping off my anti-slip, leading to some careful driving on icy roads.

  30. 30
    Leto says:

    @schrodingers_cat: Regulators here in the US, the FAA, can mandate that all of those “optional” safety features are mandatory items. Which they should be. When Boeing sells the plane to other countries/carriers, who maybe can’t afford every single bell and whistle, those necessary safety features would be included. But you know, profits before lives. Freedum and all that.

    The SecDef piece was simply a tie on to further corruption, specifically by Boeing execs.

  31. 31
    rikyrah says:

    Trump disregard for congressional oversight untenable in America
    Michael Beschloss, NBC News presidential historian, talks with Rachel Maddow about why Donald Trump’s authoritarian disregard for oversight is not only ill suited to how the United States government works, but is precedented by some discouraging history.

  32. 32
    WaterGirl says:

    Pete Buttigieg
    14h14 hours ago

    We’re looking for kind and smart people with diverse backgrounds and experiences to come join our team. Know someone who might be a good fit? Share this link and encourage them to apply:

    I love this: Kind, smart, diverse backgrounds and experiences.

  33. 33
    rp says:

    isn’t the entire point of anti-lock brakes to prevent skids on icy and wet roads?

  34. 34
    OzarkHillbilly says:


    You don’t do that with full synthetic oil.

    I don’t use synthetic oil. The way I figure it the loss of viscosity is not the only reason one changes the oil, it is also the build up of impurities. I admit, I’m old school, but I drive an old school truck that turned 200,000 about 10,000 ago and fully expect it to get over 300,000 with some change.

    As to that stupid machine telling you when your oil needs to be changed, I got into my wife’s car once and it said something like 18% viscosity. I just about blew my top.

  35. 35
    kindness says:

    We need to build a wall….We’re going to need a bigger wall to put all these shits up against.

  36. 36
    rikyrah says:

    Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) Tweeted:
    It’s mostly forgotten, but Donald Trump ran on universal health coverage that “the government’s gonna pay for.”

    After getting elected, he pushed a variety of measures via legislation, executive action and in the courts that would reduce coverage.

    From @60Minutes on 9/27/2015 👇 https://t.co/PVSrfINLzV https://twitter.com/sahilkapur/status/1108362904716406787?s=17

  37. 37
    Sab says:

    @rp: Do they work?

    ETA: I don’t know. Just asking.

    Before antilock brakes I did a 360 on ice in front of an oncoming semi. Nothing bad happened but I vividly remember it 30 years later. Still don’t understand the physics or engineering issues involved.

  38. 38
    laura says:

    @Elizabelle: These tragedies are a case for legal and business school studies.
    These tragedies are also a case for Labor Studies! Scratch an industry and find a slew of workers who knew and warned and were ignored and the very thing they warned about occurred. Rinse. Repeat. Cause that cuts into profits.

  39. 39
    rikyrah says:

    Maddow reported last night that the Commerce Department has come up with some bullshyt National Security reason to allow Dolt45 to hike prices on imported cars. And, they won’t turn over said report to Congress.

  40. 40
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @A Ghost To Most: I have to be very careful on the back roads around here, especially hills which always washboard within a month of getting graded. If I HAD to stop, I’m not at all sure I could. It’s a scary feeling.

  41. 41
    kindness says:

    Re: Oil changes. Both my vehicles require oil changes every 5000 miles. They do not let you forget about it either. Maintenance Required signs come on that block out the odometer and other nice display items. So I change the oil. I use Mobil 1 synthetic. My engines like it better.

  42. 42
    Leto says:

    @WaterGirl: He’s really growing on me. The more I hear about him, the more I like. I definitely hope this gets him a bigger national profile and a good administration job for a future run for higher office.

    @OzarkHillbilly: Do agree on that, typically in older vehicles (not sure of the exact vintage/flavor of your truck) you don’t run full synthetic due to removing the impurities that are sealing your gaskets. But in newer vehicles, post 2000, or in rebuilt engines, it’s definitely worth it to move to full synthetic as it’s a purer oil, virtually no impurities, better on cold starts, less engine wear, and you move to a single oil change schedule. Doesn’t mean that you don’t monitor your car, but it is progress :)

  43. 43
    Aleta says:

    So right after Lion Air 610 Boeing engineers and higher ups were not in the dark.

    “They’re critical, and cost almost nothing for the airlines to install,” said Bjorn Fehrm, an analyst at the aviation consultancy Leeham. “Boeing charges for them because it can.”

    But they waited for another accident and then had to be forced before announcing changes. They still won’t include both.

    NYT: Trump Picks Former Delta Executive Stephen Dickson as F.A.A. Chief
    Fox: T to nominate ex-Delta pilot as FAA head
    because pilot sounds more reassuring now.

  44. 44
    Sab says:

    @laura: Yeah. Reporters don’t work in industry. Haven’t a clue and apparently never ask actual workers,

  45. 45
    rikyrah says:

    Hayes reported on the attempt by the Florida GOP to institute a Poll Tax, rather than fully implement the referendum restoring voting rights to former felons.

  46. 46
    Ellen R says:

    Remove the fuse that controls the brakes sensor. Just did that on my Mazda.

  47. 47
    rikyrah says:


    Boeing did their own inspections. Think about that.

    I know…
    I know…

    DA PHUQ?

  48. 48
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Leto: It’s an ’05 Dodge 1/2 ton I bought from a guy I know was committed to good maintenance. I am very hesitant to move to a longer interval between oil changes on a vehicle with so many miles. Still, on your recommendation I will look into it and give it due consideration.

  49. 49
    J R in WV says:


    Jerk cut her off, she slammed on the brakes, antilocks came on and she went into a 180 spin.

    If you slam on the brakes in a snowstorm, you will go into a slide/spin, regardless. The purpose of antilocks is to prevent that slide or spin, and to allow you to steer a little in a braking emergency, but they can’t work a miracle for you. The anitlocks did NOT cause your stepdaughter’s spin. I hope she wasn’t hurt.

    EDT to fix typo mispelled word.

  50. 50
    Jerzy Russian says:

    @Sab: Yes, anti-lock brakes work. I have tested the ones on my CRV and they worked as advertised.

    Also too, I have been changing the oil on the schedule set by the reminder function (I take it to the dealer to have it done), and the car still runs great at 110,000 miles.

  51. 51
    rikyrah says:

    In other news, Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan is under investigation for using his office to help… Boeing, his former boss. BECAUSE OF FUCKING COURSE HE IS.

    The Acting Secretary of Defense


    He’s a phucking former Boeing Executive.

  52. 52
    laura says:

    @Sab: yeah, funny that. I’ve repeatedly suggested to Kai Riisdal that instead of or in addition to interviewing Harvard Business School faculty he consider checking in with their International Trade Union Program. It’s part of their Law School and has been up and running since the 40’s. He hasn’t bothered. Probably because reasons.

  53. 53
    Elizabelle says:

    @Aleta: Yeah. That was the money quote for me, too. Thanks for copying it.

    The blood and terror of those passengers and crew will bring change to Boeing’s and the FAA’s practices. But at what a cost.

    Wonder if Boeing will prefer to settle w the Ethiopian jet families. Their lawyers must be salivating at revelation upon revelation.

  54. 54
    rikyrah says:

    Russian denies Flynn meeting suggested in court documents
    Rachel Maddow updates the story of the suggestion in court documents in the trial of Trump transition official Bijan Kian that Mike Flynn met with Russian Kirill Dmitriev with a denial from Dmitriev that any such meeting happened.
    March 20, 2019

  55. 55
    Gelfling 545 says:

    @rp: Yes but they can take some getting used to. I like them now -after 11 years of using them – but my first year was rough. I had a post it on my dash saying DO NOT PUMP THE BRAKES after an unfortunate experience.

  56. 56
    MomSense says:


    I think part of the problem is that the FAAs reputation as a rigorous regulatory body was not based in the current reality of the trump administration’s destroy government from the inside reality. They assumed the US had been diligent. I’m upset that so many airlines replaced the 757 with these shit planes.

  57. 57
    What Have The Romans Ever Done for Us? says:

    As someone who works for another DOT Agency, I’ve always been curious what FAA does with its comparatively vast resources. FAA has more federal employees than the rest of the agencies within the Department combined. They’re on a higher pay band than the rest of us. I’m sure the budget they get for research, contractor support, etc., is probably also commensurately larger. From our perspective it sure doesn’t seem like resource constraints should be the cause of failure…but I’m sure that’s what they’ll argue. And Congress will probably chuck yet more money at them so they can sell out to Boeing anyway.

  58. 58
    Robert Sneddon says:

    @hueyplong: The reason for the aerodynamically-unstable 737MAX design is one company, and it’s not Boeing. It’s South West Airlines. SWA has an all-737 fleet, 750 airframes and going forward they wanted to buy more modern 737s and nothing else so Boeing, not wanting to lose their no.1 small-airplane customer to Airbus’ A320neo family, took a 1960s-design airframe and put modern fuel-efficient engines on it. To do that they had to compromise the aerodynamics, pushing the larger engines forward of the Centre Of Gravity (CoG) to get them to fit on a plane which was famously low to the ground. They shipped this bodge as the 737MAX.

    The bad stuff happened when they modelled its performance — throw the MAX into a high-angle-of-attack incipient stall at high speed and the aerodynamic forces on the big engine cowlings levered the plane’s nose even further up in positive feedback. The “solution” was software called MDAB which detects a stall and pushes the nose down by overriding the pilots setting of the elevators in the tail, the trim setting. The Boeing engineers said in FAA paperwork it would only need a small amount of tailplane correction (0.6 degrees a step) to fix this situation but when they flew the first planes off the production line in test they had to quadruple the effect to correctly recover from an incipient stall (2.5 degrees a step).

    Incipient stall is detected by vane sensors that measure the angle between the airflow over the fuselage and where the plane is pointed aka Angle of Attack (AoA). There are two of them, only one is used to trigger the anti-stall system on a given flight. If that sensor goes wrong the wrong way the software will immediately start cranking the tailplane to point the plane’s nose down to prevent a stall that isn’t actually happening. The pilot can counteract it but it will trigger again and again in an endless loop unless it’s switched off. There’s no alert that tells the pilots it’s actually doing that, the effects are a lot like some other flight faults that can happen and thinking the MDAB software is causing the plane’s problems might not, and probably was not realised in the cockpits of either 737MAX accident as the pilots tried to figure out what was happening. There are switches that disable the MDAB system but if the pilots are busy faultfinding and attempting to fly the plane they might not have realised that hitting those switches would stop the nose-down override.

    The “optional extras” Boeing could provide on a plane fitout begin with a warning light on the dash to indicate the two AoA sensors are disagreeing. This is a good indication the MDAB software is triggering any “nose-down” uncontrolled flight the pilots may experience. It costs, I think, about $60,000 from comments I’ve read in in a Certain Place. For more money you can get a diagnostic readout on the display panels indicating whether the AoA sensors are working properly to start with, like on the runway before takeoff.

  59. 59
    WaterGirl says:

    @rikyrah: Unbelievably evil. If the Supreme Court somehow rules that to be legal, which would be a travesty, I hope that someone creates a non-profit so that we the people can help pay off every single felon’s fines so that every damn one of them gets to vote.

  60. 60
    rikyrah says:

    The Miami Herald on it!!

    New reporting bolsters case Epstein prosecutors misled judge
    Julie K. Brown, investigative reporter for the Miami Herald, talks with Rachel Maddow about new reporting that paints a clearer picture of whether underage victims of Jeffrey Epstein were informed about the plea deal he was given, and whether prosecutors were forthcoming about the arrangement with the judge.
    March 20, 2019

  61. 61
    Booger says:

    @Sab: I loved me some antilock brakes on my motorcycle when I encountered some icy conditions. Unbelievable and lifesaving.

  62. 62
    Aleta says:

    $6,700 extra for oxygen masks for the crew

    (Gol Airlines paid. Boeing won’t say what the safety options cost.)

  63. 63
    Booger says:

    @Sab: I thought the whole point of antilocks is hat you can’t jam them on.

  64. 64
    Ohio Mom says:

    @rikyrah: I don’t think it’s widely known in all quarters how much court fees and the like add up.

    I certainly had no idea until a friend’s son racked up enough DUIs that he had to spend some time in the county jail before he could get into a court-approved rehab program. Which he was then charged for. Staying in jail would have been cheaper but a lot more horrible.

    He had to pay something like $12-15,000 all together, which took him a couple of years to accomplish. The debt really put a damper on his efforts to put his life back on track.

    Making that sort of debt into an unconstitutional poll tax is just icing on the cake.

  65. 65
    Ruckus says:

    All flying passengers, everywhere.
    But actually how do you know if our planes are as safe as possible if you don’t ask? Is the FAA actually doing the job? It looks like no and we are just lucky. I used to have a 777 pilot work for me as his hobby when I had that job in professional sports. How did he know the plane was safe to fly? He trusted other pilots, air controllers, the FAA, the mechanics, his bosses….. But how did we know, especially now? If I still flew every week I’d want to know, because there is no assurance that the FAA is doing doodly squat these days.

  66. 66
    Leto says:

    @Aleta: @Elizabelle:

    But they waited for another accident and then had to be forced before announcing changes.

    Maddow reported last week that US pilots were reporting the same problem for months to the anonymous reporting database meant specifically to report problems without fear of reprisal.

    Profits > lives.

    @MomSense: Not just Trumpov’s admin, but the sixty+ year onslaught of conservative thought that business is better than government. We’re finally witnesssing the effects of that ethos. It was a long haul game and it’s going to take just as long to fix.

  67. 67
    Fair Economist says:

    A corporation killed people to make a little more money and a Republican helped them do it? What’s mindboggling about that? Isn’t that the norm?

  68. 68
    Uncle Cosmo says:

    (Responding to Leto, link f’d up): I thought the F-15 was built by McDonnell-Douglas – & indeed it is –

    but hot damn, BoingBoing bought Mickey DeeDee while my back was turned. And of course the mortal enemy is Blockhead-Moron, who builds cobbles together the F-35 Blightning Too…

  69. 69
    J R in WV says:

    @Ellen R:

    On our all wheel drive VW if the anti-lock brakes aren’t properly functioning, I get 6 or 8 warning lights on my dashboard, the traction control quits working, and the cruise control goes off / won’t work. I know this because my right rear brake sensor failed recently ($850), which caused all the other lights to come on too.

    Antilock brakes work by relaxing pressure in the brake system for tiny increments of time when the system detects that a wheel is immobile, which is when a skid is just starting. If the wheels aren’t turning, you can’t steer, so antilocks are intended to prevent or slow wheels from stopping their rotation.

    If you slam on the brakes on a dry level paved road, you may be able to feel and hear the pulsation that the antilock system causes. On really slick surfaces, antilock brakes don’t work quite as well as on normal surfaces. Nothing can make it possible for you to stop quickly on a snow covered or icy roadway, which is why it is so stupid for 4×4 or all wheel drive vehicles to be driven fast in the snow.

  70. 70
    Sab says:

    @Booger: As a Luddite I don’t know. Also step-daughter is a crappy driver who tailgates while yakking on her phone.I refuse to ride in a car she is driving. I personally haven’t had a horrifying driving incident since anti-locks came in.

    I’m just curious.

    I do passionately hate mandatory airbags. Lifesaving for most of us, but they would kill my spouse (medical conditions) and there isn’t a way to turn them off.

  71. 71
    eclare says:

    @WaterGirl: Great idea! I would chip in, hopefully along with some people who have way more money in the couch cushions than I do.

  72. 72
    Leto says:

    @raven: @Ruckus: From what I’ve read, the FAA provides flight worthiness certifications for all US produced airframes. Same thing happens with EU produced airframes. Because we were the gold standard, the EU accepted our certs and allowed those airframes to be used within the EU. Same would go for other countries. It’s similar to cars: if they meet our regulatory standards, they can be in the road here. And vice versa.

    Hopefully some of our more well versed commenters can explain that further.

  73. 73
    glory b says:

    @schrodingers_cat: I don’t believe the investigation is about crash, but a different topic.

    The hits just keep on coming!!

  74. 74
    Leto says:

    @Uncle Cosmo: Yeah, it’s a Boeing/McD plane now. I’ve been following the F-35 shitshow for years now, as well as this newer F-15 grifting opportunity, just because it happen to fit in my wheelhouse. The AF currently has a fighter shortage issue (too old, too many hours on the airframes, too many wars) but the way ahead that they’re going is just dumb. But wtf does this E6 know? (Ducks shoe that my former boss would’ve thrown at me for saying that)

  75. 75
    Mr. Kite says:

    Turning off anti-lock brakes? Are you people serious? WTF?

  76. 76
    lurker dean says:

    @khead: exactly. it sounds like the FAA allowed boeing to self-certify on certain safety issues. wtf. boeing basically killed all of the people in the two crashes. the CEO and those aware of the issues should be charged with manslaughter.


  77. 77
    Ksmiami says:

    @khead: ding ding ding – see SEC, 2008 etc. and the FDA and Trump’s EPA. The GOP is literally killing us

  78. 78
    trollhattan says:

    @lurker dean:
    That’s not happening but they’re in line for a decade of massive civil suits.

  79. 79
    Peale says:

    @Mr. Kite: Yeah, it kind of reminds me of people in the olden days who didn’t want to put on seatbelts so they wouldn’t be trapped in a car fire.

  80. 80
    Pogonip says:

    @khead: The FDA also runs off “user fees.” A company applies to have its new drug, or combination of old drugs, approved and pays to have that done.

    The 737 Max planes in the U. S. are required to have the needed safety features that the ones sold to Lion Air and the other airline didn’t have, and weren’t required to have.

  81. 81
    Wade Scholine says:

    I want to see heads on sticks.

  82. 82
    Seanly says:


    RE: synthetic motor oils, that’s my understanding also is that the synethics last much longer than 3-5k mechanics & dealerships like to tell us.

  83. 83
    GeriUpNorth says:

    As someone who’s been driving on snow and ice in Minnesota for the last 40 years, anti-lock brakes and traction control systems work, and it would be foolish to disable them. They’re not going to magically make driving on glare ice like driving on dry pavement, but they’ll make it a lot easier and safer.

  84. 84
    Sab says:

    @GeriUpNorth: Thanks. This Luddite values your input.

    Quite possibly my stepdaughter cannot drive competently (quel surprise.) Go Uber!

  85. 85
    matt says:

    On the plus side when they’re defining REGULATORY CAPTURE in textbooks, they’ll have a great example to use.

  86. 86

    Boys and girls, kids of all ages:

    what is happening now with the FAA and Boeing is a perfect example of what full deregulation will look like.

    to every goddamn libertarian who thinks the “market will self-regulate” for safety concerns should learn now that in a high-risk industry like airline travel, where safety features should be a fucking norm, companies STILL pull this shit because they will always believe in cutting costs to increase profits (and CEO bonuses) and that they can buy their way out of any lawsuits.

  87. 87


    this is the same Air Force that gushes over the F-35 paperweight while trying to shut down – yet again – a workhorse A-10 that gives our armed forces better performance per dollar than any winged aircraft. Instead of upgrading that A-10, they’re playing with Transformers action figures that can barely achieve flight.

  88. 88
    Pogonip says:

    @PaulWartenberg: What do you mean “will”? We’ve HAD full deregulation for 30 years now. The FDA, for example, runs off those “user fees.” No conflict of interest there!

  89. 89
    Robert Sneddon says:

    @PaulWartenberg: The A-10 would not survive for a second against any real modern air defence system. It’s a 1960s bayonet-charge aircraft meant for an 1970s European battlefield and it was meant to be cheap and cheerful, using up Air National Guard pilots by the hundreds in close-in attacks on well-defended Soviet armour in the Fulda Gap and elsewhere in Europe. When it was used in Kuwait (1991) and Iraq (2003) its limitations and weaknesses as a combat aircraft were further revealed and it was rightly relegated to second and third-line operations leaving the battlefield air-to-ground to the fast-mover jets like F-16s and, believe it or not, the king of the armour-killers, the F-111.

  90. 90
    brantl says:

    @raven: If they couldn’t market the plane that way in our market , it probably wouldn’t be cost-effective to make exceptions, and market it that way in other places (as safety-optional).

  91. 91
    Leto says:

    @Robert Sneddon: This is so far out in left field of actual combat ops that I don’t even know how to respond. Continue to have fun using a B-1 as CAS.

  92. 92
    JustRuss says:

    @Robert Sneddon: Do you have any links re the F-111 as a ground attack craft? I’m not arguing with you, just have never heard about that and would find it interesting.

  93. 93
  94. 94
    Doug R says:

    Antilocks generally ensure you “slide” in a straight line, which has saved my azz numerous times. Before antilocks, my car would generally slide towards a light pole or someone’s bumper.

  95. 95
    mr gravity says:

    @Ellen R: I absolutely would not recommend that. Did you also remove the seat belts?

  96. 96
    BobS says:

    @Sab: I’m glad you wrote that first (it sounds like you were relying on her depiction of events in the first place). I’m constantly amazed- not surprised- at the number of shitty drivers who tailgate on wet/snow-covered/icy/foggy roads. Hell, getting yourself behind a larger vehicle (leaving you unable to see potential hazards in the distance) is stupid even on dry roads in clear conditions.
    @GeriUpNorth: All that, and snow tires (in Michigan- studs or chains in other places). I drive a Forester, my wife an Outback, and the snow tires make a significant improvement over all-weather tires.

  97. 97
    low-tech cyclist says:

    Every time something like this happens, Dem politicians need to be out there, saying “This is why we regulate. And this is why we need to hire and pay people to enforce those regulations.”

    I’ve been saying this ever since the Hamlet, NC fire in 1991. I’ll probably be saying it in another 28 years, if I live that long.

  98. 98
    trollhattan says:

    @Doug R:
    During the period antilocks were entering the market I got an invite to test drive the latest Corvette.

    Must have been the gold chains.

    Among the several demos was a brake system test without and with antilock enabled. They ran a LOT of water across the paved lot, placed a cone and had us accelerate to a marker, hit the brakes at the marker and steer around the cone. With antilock disabled the car continued straight as an arrow over the cone; with it enabled the car steered neatly around the cone and back on course.

    I was sold.

    Our first ALB vehikkle was a Grand Cherokee AWD. I took it to snow country, found some safe snowy and icy roads and put it through its paces and found I was better off with it compared to anything else I’d driven. The most telling is wheels on one side on bare pavement and the other on packed snow and ice.

    It’s pretty easy to modulate brakes to the point where the system engages but you don’t want to do that. IIRC research found the biggest user problem is freaking out at the pedal vibration and lifting off.

    Today with every new car and every rental, I make sure to force the ALBs so I know how they feel. Each is unique.

    FWIW I’ve never had a car with a disable option; only traction and stability overrides.

  99. 99
    BobS says:

    @trollhattan: good idea for rentals- I’ll be doing that. Personally, I’m kind of obsessed about whatever tires I’m driving on, and I always have a tire guage- my experience with rental cars is that the tires are virtually always over-inflated (at least 5psi, usually more). Most people seem to read the number on the sidewall (even at the dealership) rather than the number inside the driver side door. Improperly inflated tires are particularly dangerous for winter driving.

  100. 100
    Ruckus says:

    I would agree that this is what is supposed to happen. At this moment in time, I have no confidence that this is what is happening. I also have no idea in how long it will take to restore that confidence once the government is restored to a reasonable level.

  101. 101
    trollhattan says:

    A damn good idea–traveling with a tire gauge. I’ll start doing that, thanks!

    p.s. A “funny” story. Replaced a set of tires, cautioning the tire dudes to hand-torque the alloy wheels. “Sure, mister.”

    A few days later I noticed vibration from the wheel when turning. Just on one direction but indicative of…something. Tires appeared normal, pressure correct so why not check the bolts. Loose! All four corners. They’d mounted them, hand-tightened and promptly forgot to torque them down. That could have gone really pear-shaped.

  102. 102
    PhoenixRising says:

    @Robert Sneddon:
    Thank you. I’m recently retired from the software testing industry & have been boggled by the explanations for this failure that rely on ‘software failure’. Why?

    The bad stuff happened when they modelled its performance — throw the MAX into a high-angle-of-attack incipient stall at high speed and the aerodynamic forces on the big engine cowlings levered the plane’s nose even further up in positive feedback. The “solution” was software called MDAB which detects a stall and pushes the nose down by overriding the pilots setting of the elevators in the tail, the trim setting.

    Because when we do QA on software that has mechanical effects in the world (changes flap settings on a plane, vs software that charges your credit card for a year of FTFNYT, for example) modelling is a step & then testing again after the model shows you what happens in use is a second round of step. These steps are required, there is a compliance regulatory scheme designed to force Boeing to deliver honestly on the premise ‘this plane is going to fly like the plane we’re “upgrading”‘ and that scheme clearly failed.

    What I have not understood, and still don’t, is: when we add code, we test that code by testing how humans will interact with the ‘solution’ according to a set of known models of human behavior. So the test conditions for the NYT subscription online includes: what happens if the user presses the big blue button 3 times? What if he never presses it? What if he presses once then closes the window before payment is processed? etc? These are typical tests for code where the possible failure state (bad outcome) is having VISA raise your processing rate by .000021 because you had more than X transactions fail. Why would the testing for code & training requirements packaged WITH the new code be less strenuous when the failure state is ‘Plane nosedives into ocean’?

    I’ve never sold an EMR, lab software or even financial health care software that could be purchased without training. It’s listed as a separate item on the invoice, so that the hospital can account for its budget in a way that makes the software look cheaper (game played for compliance reasons too). But you can’t install a lab system that tells patients whether they have syphilis and choose not to train your staff in how to make that determination. So how is it possible to purchase a plane and all its firmware (software that moves something in the physical world, on the ‘device’, in this case a 737) and turn down the user training?

    Billing user training separately is an accounting trick. Did that accounting trick kill 400 people?

  103. 103
    Doug R says:

    @trollhattan: I know the old systems checked the wheel rotation 30 times a second, the result being a 30hz moan with some brake pedal shudder, that’s the system working properly.

  104. 104
    PhoenixRising says:


    The 737 Max planes in the U. S. are required to have the needed safety features that the ones sold to Lion Air and the other airline didn’t have, and weren’t required to have.

    One of us has significantly misunderstood what happened. What I read (Seattle Times) was that the planes shipped with the same software, the ‘patched’ [new] software performed in a significantly different way than the old software, and what the flag carriers of less-developed countries chose not to pay ‘extra’ for was the training to get their pilots educated on the change.

    Pilot training is not an additional safety feature, it’s the baseline condition. If I’m right, Boeing may be civilly & criminally liable. If you’re right, Lion Air has a problem.

  105. 105
    trollhattan says:

    @Doug R:
    It seems less pronounced in newer cars but still apparent from what I can tell (our cars are 2013 and 2015). I have not clue one how cars with electrical regenerative braking behave. Somebody should lend me their Tesla.

  106. 106
    satby says:


    Kind, smart, diverse backgrounds and experiences.

    Maybe I should apply. Think they’ll take 2 out of 3 😆?

  107. 107


    oday with every new car and every rental, I make sure to force the ALBs so I know how they feel. Each is unique.

    Dear Gaia, this, this, this. Go find an empty parking lot or wide-lane street with no traffic, get up to speed limit and stomp on it like a kid on a bike just rode in front of you. Understanding how the feature behaves will save your ass, and possibly someone else’s too. And leave safe assured distance between you and the car in front of you.

    And stop looking at your f*cking phone.

    And..and..and..and *shakes fist at clouds*

  108. 108
    Leto says:

    @Hoodie: @Robert Sneddon: @JustRuss: “Ground attack aircraft” is a misnomer for the mission the F35 is trying to replicate. Also citing the F111 as the superior tank buster is misleading due to, what the article cites, as it’s primary mission (which wasn’t tank busting, nor does the article go into detail in just why it was able to do that so well.)

    I mean, if there was a genuine discussion of why this line, “the A-10 won’t survive modern air defenses” is patently false with regard to the F35, then sure, let’s have that discussion. I mean that part has been litigated to death, but F35 proponents continue to trot out that falsehood and it’s still here. Much like the F35 is still here. The group of experts who pointed out and demonstrated the fundamental flaws of that argument were summarily dismissed and told to STFU. And they did. We’re set to learn WW2 lessons again but I mean, the brass and LM gotntheir zoom zoom jet. So alls good, right?

  109. 109
    Paul T says:

    By John’s logic, every car would have to come with a separate set of snow tires, all terrain tires, 4 wheel drive, every type of sensor for lane changes, etc etc etc. I live in a place where snow and ice never occur. Should the car companies be required to sell me snow tires along with my car?

    This is comical, John.

  110. 110
    Aleta says:

    @satby: Yes you should apply! And receive a good salary and road car too.

  111. 111
    Aleta says:

    (NYT) To collect the money [the minimum mandated by Indonesian law], families had to sign a pledge, called a release and discharge, that they would not pursue legal action against Lion Air, its financial backers and insurers, as well as Boeing, which manufactured the nearly brand-new 737 Max 8 plane.

    Moreover, the signers promised not to disclose the terms of the agreement itself, a copy reviewed by The New York Times shows.

    Yet an Indonesian aviation act from 2011 specifies that when heirs receive the government-mandated payment, they do not give up their right to pursue legal action against a carrier or other entities that may have been involved in an air accident.

  112. 112
    What Have The Romans Ever Done for Us? says:

    @trollhattan: Better yet get a combo air compressor and battery charge pack. That way if the gauge reads low tire pressure you don’t have to find a service station to top off your tires with air because the compressor does that for you wherever you are.

  113. 113
    Chris Johnson says:

    Vermonter here, used to ice and snow. Antilock brakes are good, confirmed.

    Here’s the thing, someone might be upset with them because they slammed on the brakes and then plowed into a car or obstacle.

    BUT, without them you’d just lock up the wheels and then slide all the same, but not be able to steer in the slightest. The idea with traction control systems is that if they kick in they are preventing the car from just plowing straight ahead. Traction control on the gas means if you’re on a curve it’ll do its thing and probably alarm you, but in its absence the wheel would spin and you’d find yourself plowing into traffic or off the road. Traction control/antilock brakes means if you hit the brakes you MIGHT be able to steer away from a problem (if it’s real nasty out, you might still be out of luck) where in their absence you are definitely plowing straight ahead regardless.

    It’s like on a go-kart where you can go fast, but it’s possible to turn too hard and lose grip and understeer. Turn TOO much, and you just sort of plunge forwards losing all grip, out of control. Straighten out so the wheels ‘catch’ and you can resume turning. Antilock brakes are about that, as well as preventing you from just locking the wheels and sliding into stuff (which is always going to slide a little farther/hit harder than if the antilock brakes are keeping the wheels turning).

  114. 114
    Pogonip says:

    @PhoenixRising: No, I went back and checked the article I read, I got it wrong. Thanks for the correction.

  115. 115
    Robert Sneddon says:

    @JustRuss: In the most recent Iraq fighting in 2003 the F-111 is credited with 1600 armour kills, that is the destruction or disabling of tanks and AFVs. They used laser-guided bombs on most of them, dropped from a safe altitude well out of range of light AA (heavy machine-guns and man-portable AA missiles) with the pilot flying the aircraft and the Talking Baggage beside her choosing targets using FLIR and other image-enhancing options and selecting the best kind of ordnance to deliver the coup de grace. It could carry a lot of ordnance for this sort of work with lots of loiter time and a low workload for the crew plus a fast response to be on site if called upon from somewhere else. There were also a number of F-16 armour kills but the F-111 was the king of the hill.

    In contrast the slow A-10 has to fly straight at the enemy and get within a kilometer of them at low altitude to fire the Big Fucking Gun and have any chance to hit something (sometimes it was Blue troops, An A-10 pilot is flying by the seat of their pants and using the Mk1 eyeball most of the time while being distracted by having to fly the plane close to the ground and sometimes mistakes were made, as they say). Saying that most A-10 kills on Iraqi armour were carried out using Hellfire and Maverick missiles, obviating the BFG which the plane is built around. They still had to get in close(ish) to targets to identify and select them and this reaped a cost in airframe losses and battle damage.

  116. 116
    pluky says:

    @Leto: Yeah, but the agency running the problem reporting system was NASA, not the FAA. Why FFS? Who knows?

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