Oct 302019
 October 30, 2019  Posted by at 1:52 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

Rembrandt van Rijn Portrait of Rembrandt with gorget 1629


During the Senate hearing into Boeing on October 29, Senator Jon Tester told the company’s CEO Dennis Muilenburg: “I would walk before I would get on a 737 MAX. I would walk.” He added: “There is no way … You shouldn’t be cutting corners and I see corners being cut.”

That’s all fine and well, but the hearing, which continues today, Wednesday, lays bare a giant gap in US law: that of accountability. Muilenburg is the “ultimately responsible” in a chain of command that is responsible for killing 346 people. But he is still the CEO, even if he was demoted from the chairman of the board position. Which was taken over by another -10 year- veteran of the company by the way. Fresh insights galore.

If you are employed by a large company, you can sign off on such decisions, the ones that kill people, and walk away unscathed. It reminds one of Monsanto/Bayer, which just annnounced that the number of Roundup lawsuits against it went from 18,000 in July to 43,000 today. Bayer at the same time announced that its turnover rose by 6% in Q3. 43,000 lawsuits and they’re doing fine, thank you.

In that same vein, Boeing shares rose 2.4% last night after the hearing (“a sign investors were relieved.”) What the “investors” buying those shares may have missed is that India’s budget carrier IndiGo ordered 300 new aircraft from Airbus, at an initial cost of $33 billion -which will be subject to a juicy discount, but still-.

Now, Boeing is America’s biggest exporter. It’s also one of the cornerstones of Pentagon policy, a huge provider for the US military. So one can only expect the Senate to be lenient, to appear to be tough but let things more or less go. Still, the fact remains that Muilenburg et al made cost-cutting and other decisions that killed 346 people. But CNCB still labeled this a “brutal Senate hearing”. Yeah. Define ‘brutal’.

Maybe the thing is that those deaths were not in the US, but in Indonesia and Ethiopia. Think maybe the Senate is influenced by that? What do you think would have happened if two 737 MAX’s had fallen out of the sky in the US, even if only in deplorables’ territory? We can sort of imagine, can’t we?

And no, it’s not an all black and white picture, some people involved made some sense (via Seattle Times):

Boeing 737 MAX Should Be Grounded Until Certification Process Is ‘Reformed’ – Senator

..at least one member of the Senate committee that grilled Muilenburg on Tuesday suggested the troubled aircraft shouldn’t be flying again until a much-maligned Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) oversight program retreats from its practice of delegating authority to Boeing and other aerospace manufacturers.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal — citing revelations in recent news reports of a Boeing engineer’s claims that the MAX’s safety was compromised by cost and schedule considerations, and that the company pushed to undercut regulatory oversight — pushed back against findings that the FAA’s practice of delegating more safety certification authority is only likely to increase.

“The story of Boeing sabotaging rigorous safety scrutiny is chilling to all of us — and more reason to keep the 737 MAX grounded until certification is really and truly independent and the system is reformed,” said Blumenthal, D-Conn.

But, you know, the entire narrative is about ‘the company’, not about the people in the company who make these fatal decisions. They can do whatever they want, secure in the knowledge they will never be held to account. For financial losses perhaps at some point, but not for the loss of life. At best, they’ll get fired and walk away with a huge bonus. And that’s just wrong.

And it’s not like there were no warning signs (via Seattle Times again, from Oct 3):

Boeing Rejected 737 MAX Safety Upgrades Before Fatal Crashes – Whistleblower

Seven weeks after the second fatal crash of a 737 MAX in March, a Boeing engineer submitted a scathing internal ethics complaint alleging that management — determined to keep down costs for airline customers — had blocked significant safety improvements during the jet’s development. The ethics charge, filed by 33-year-old engineer Curtis Ewbank, whose job involved studying past crashes and using that information to make new planes safer, describes how around 2014 his group presented to managers and senior executives a proposal to add various safety upgrades to the MAX.

The complaint, a copy of which was reviewed by The Seattle Times, suggests that one of the proposed systems could have potentially prevented the crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia that killed 346 people. Three of Ewbank’s former colleagues interviewed for this story concurred. The details revealed in the ethics complaint raise new questions about the culture at Boeing and whether the long-held imperative that safety must be the overarching priority was compromised on the MAX by business considerations and management’s focus on schedule and cost. Managers twice rejected adding the new system on the basis of “cost and potential (pilot) training impact,” the complaint states.

This one is from AP, Oct 18. These are just the most recent revelations, this stuff goes back years. Neither Boeing nor the FAA ever did anything, until the planes started falling from the skies:

Messages From Former Boeing Test Pilot Reveal 737MAX Concerns

A former senior Boeing test pilot told a co-worker that he unknowingly misled safety regulators about problems with a flight-control system that would later be implicated in two deadly crashes of the company’s 737 Max. The pilot, Mark Forkner, told another Boeing employee in 2016 that the flight system, called MCAS, was “egregious” and “running rampant” while he tested it in a flight simulator.

“So I basically lied to the regulators (unknowingly),” wrote Forkner, then Boeing’s chief technical pilot for the 737. The exchange occurred as Boeing was trying to convince the Federal Aviation Administration that MCAS was safe. MCAS was designed at least in part to prevent the Max from stalling in some situations. The FAA certified the plane without fully understanding MCAS, according to a panel of international safety regulators.

Forkner also lobbied FAA to remove mention of MCAS from the operating manual and pilot training for the Max, saying the system would only operate in rare circumstances. FAA allowed Boeing to do so, and most pilots did not know about MCAS until after the first crash, which occurred in October 2018 in Indonesia.

As I covered extensively before the issue at hand is that Boeing, in order to cut costs, among other things, decided to have just one -active- “angle-of-attack” sensor (which measures the angle of the plane vs income air, it’s located at the bottom front of the fuselage) on the plane. All it takes is one bird flying into it to compromise and/or deactivate that sensor. And then neither the software not the pilots know what to do anymore. But yeah, it’s cheaper… One sensor won’t do, nor will two, you need at least three in case one is defective. But yeah, that costs money. Seattle Times once again:

Messages From Former Boeing Test Pilot Reveal 737MAX Concerns

Boeing’s chief engineer for commercial airlines acknowledged that the company erred by not specifically testing the potential for a key sensor to erroneously cause software on the 737 Max to drive down the plane’s nose. In both fatal crashes, faulty data from one of two angle-of-attack sensors, which measure the pitch of the plane against the oncoming stream of air, caused the 737 Max’s Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS, to drive down the jet’s nose, which pilots struggled to counteract before ultimately entering a fatal dive.

John Hamilton, vice president and chief engineer of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, told senators that the company “did test the MCAS uncommanded inputs to the stabilizer system, due to whatever causes was driving it, not specifically due to an AOA sensor.’’ Senator Maria Cantwell of Washington, the Senate Commerce Committee’s top Democrat, asked if he now thought that was wrong. “In hindsight, senator, yes,’’ Hamilton replied.

They didn’t test the hardware at all, they tested the software! And all they have to say is that that was wrong. But only in hindsight! And then they tried to fix the mess they created with a new software program, MCAS, but didn’t even tell the pilots it existed. I kid you not! They did this because it might have required pilots to do more training, which raises the price of a plane, and they were already losing out to Airbus.

And lest we forget, this all happened because when Boeing was busy spending its capital on buying back its own shares, Airbus had developed a new plane to accommodate a much more energy-efficient -though larger- engine. When Boeing figured that out, they had neither the time nor the money left (because of the share buybacks) to develop their own new plane.

So what they did was they stuck such an engine (which they did have) onto a 737 model that was not equipped for the much bigger and heavier load. That in turn lead them to work on a software solution to lift the nose of the plane despite that load, which might have worked in theory but was always a bad idea, something in the vein of putting a giraffe’s neck on a hummingbird.

But Muilenburg and his people kept pushing it all, because they knew they had been caught awfully wanting, and they needed that more cost-efficient plane. And this is how all the ensuing mess started. It was all because of money. Of the execs being caught with their pants down, and trying to hide their naked hairy asses.

And then, as I started out this essay, they are still not held accountable. The company will face billions in ‘repair’ damages, some of them may lose their jobs or bonuses, but none will be held responsible for the deaths of those 346 people.

That is just not right. Not in the case of Monsanto, and not in that of Boeing. Not all Boeing planes are disasters, but the 737 definitely is. Donald Trump a few months ago suggested they should just rebrand the plane, give it another name, do some expensive PR work and bob’s your uncle. But let me ask you, would you fly on a 737, even if under another name? Far as I know, all they did was change the software, not the hardware.

Plus, the other day some airline, was that in South Korea?!, grounded a whole bunch of 787’s because of cracks on their wings. Look, I’m not saying Boeing’s in trouble. I’m just saying Boeing’s in deep trouble. But then, you know, they’ll kick out Muilenburg and some other guys, and a few FAA heads will retire, and they’ll declare the rotten apples gone, and we’re off to a whole new start. Yay! But the 346 people will still be dead.





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    Rembrandt van Rijn Portrait of Rembrandt with gorget 1629   During the Senate hearing into Boeing on October 29, Senator Jon Tester told the comp
    [See the full post at: If It’s A Boeing I’m Not Going]


    ” ….erred by not specifically testing the potential for a key sensor to erroneously cause software on the 737 Max to drive down the plane’s nose…..”

    It sound like getting into a self driving plane with an alpha program. (A drone with no one at the controls)
    They still have not perfected the self driving car systems or trains with no one at the controls.


    Famed pathologist Michael Baden says Jeffrey Epstein’s death was homicide

    New York City’s former chief medical examiner insisted Wednesday that Jeffrey Epstein’s death was a homicide. Forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Baden was hired by the pedophile’s brother, Mark Epstein, to observe his autopsy after he was found hanged in his Manhattan lockup in August.

    “I think that the evidence points toward homicide rather than suicide,” Baden insisted on Fox News Wednesday. “The brother is concerned that if [Epstein] was murdered, then other people who have information might be at risk,” Baden insisted, suggesting powerful players may have been involved in the death.

    “If they think he has information, his life could be in jeopardy.” Baden said there were signs of “unusual” activity “from day one” of the autopsy, saying the wounds were “more consistent with ligature homicidal strangulation.”

    Baden noted three fractured bones in the sex attacker’s thyroid that he insisted he has never before seen from a hanging death in 50 years of examinations. “Hanging does not cause these broken bones and homicide does,” he insisted on Fox. “A huge amount of pressure was applied.”

    Doc Robinson

    Boeing’s products kill people intentionally, too.
    CodePink says that Boeing is the “top Yemen war profiteer with 6,000 guided missile kits linked to 180 deaths!”


    And let us not forget the nuclear side of Boeing’s business:

    Boeing is contracted to help keep the Minuteman III nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles operational in the US nuclear arsenal until 2030. Boeing is also producing the guided tail kit for the new B61-12 US nuclear gravity bomb (the ones meant to be deployed to Europe). In addition, Boeing also has contracts for key components for US and UK Trident II (D5) nuclear weapons.


    Doc, imagine what it takes to be the no. 1 US exporter. Stiff competition for that honor. But if Reuters says so, I’m inclined to take their word for it. And yes, a lot of that will be missiles and stuff, not planes.


    V. Arnold from yesterday’s thread:

    So, Ilargi, no more daily posting?
    No problem; just wondering…

    I think so far I haven’t missed a day. And I’ve enjoyed the free time in the -well just 2 so far- mornings. It has allowed me to write my Notes yesterday, and my Boeing article today. But then I see the Epstein piece I posted on in this Comments thread earlier, and I think: Debt Rattle material.

    It’s just that these things took so much of my time, it was an entire workweek’s hours, and then after that I had to do all the other stuff.

    Guess maybe I’ll try and find a lighter version.

    Dr. D

    “6,000 guided missile kits linked to 180 deaths!”

    I’d fire them for this. There need to be at least 6,000 more deaths here or their product doesn’t work as advertised.

    Let’s say $1M/pc so $6B to kill 180 people, or $33 Million dollars per person killed. Can’t they get some sporks confiscated from London parks and kill more people than that?

    “We are continuing this policy in bleeding America to the point of bankruptcy. Allah willing,” Bin Laden said in 2001.

    The plan is going perfectly…


    “Guess maybe I’ll try and find a lighter version.” — Yay.

    Good stuff on Boeing and Epstein.


    This latest Boeing travesty is yet another prime example of chronic multi-system packing of corrupt people with one agenda (maximize profits for them and disempower the US through bankuptcy). It is an antihuman agenda that deliberately renders impotent any previous internally-designed system of checks and balances. It screams of power secondary to monopoly. The explanation that Boeing did not have sufficient funds to do it professionally and ethically because of stock buybacks may be contributory but is not sufficient because they have undoubtedly received a big chunk of the missing DOD and HUD 21 Trillion to fund at taxpayers’ expense research into exotic areas, especially involving more efficient ways of killing people. It is a reflection of unethical priorities and likely inefficient waste of the stolen money, For decades I have thought that if there was a serious war, a large fraction of these costly war materials would not be functional. And with the rapid evolution of weapon technology, the expensive weapons are rapidly rendered obsolete and somehow disposed of so that their shoddy manufacture is never discovered. A variant of the destroy to rebuild money churn that is at the financial heart of Zioglobalism.


    Thanks Glennda.

    seychelles, I was watching some of the Boeing/Senate footage and thinking: wow, this is confusing, you guys should be at the same side of the table, and some other party should be asking questions of both of you, you shouldn’t be doing that amongst yourselves. None of this should be allowed to be a mere circle jerk, not with 346 dead people. But that’s all we get.

    Doc Robinson

    It’s infuriating to hear people who know better to imply that the pilots were at fault. From yesterday’s hearing:

    “In the two accident flights”, [NTSB Chairman] Sumwalt said of the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines disasters, “pilots did not perform in accordance with the scenario that Boeing expected.


    From an article I linked in a Sept 19 comment, which explains how the pilots performed:

    It wasn’t the usual flight path of a pilot who’d lost control of a plane. Twenty-two times the demons had violently jerked down the nose, and 22 times the pilot had corrected with equivalent force. “I get so mad at Boeing trying to tar this captain when he was actually the most proficient pilot of all of them,” said Bjorn Fehrm, a former Swedish air force pilot whose technical blog on the aviation web site Leeham News is a 737 MAX must-read…

    The Lion Air pilot was certain he could turn off whatever was trying to crash his plane, so he temporarily handed over the controls to his co-pilot and scanned the manual. Ninety seconds later, everyone was dead. The co-pilot, said Fehrm, “was not prepared for the powerful beast of MCAS.”

    As it happened, the beast would strike again, four months later, with the crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 outside Addis Ababa, claiming 157 more lives in conditions nearly identical to the Lion Air catastrophe….

    The Ethiopian pilots had followed the Boeing checklist. They had switched the stabilizer trim cutout switches to the “cutout” position and attempted to turn the nose of the plane back up using the manual crank—they just couldn’t. In accordance with the prescribed fix for an alert they were getting on the flight control computer, the pilots had been flying extremely fast, and above the speeds of about 265 miles per hour at which the manual trim wheel became unbearably heavy. This issue wasn’t specific to the MAX; it was a well-known bug in the 737 generally…

    The upshot was that Boeing had not only outfitted the MAX with a deadly piece of software; it had also taken the additional step of instructing pilots to respond to an erroneous activation of the software by literally attempting the impossible. MCAS alone had taken twelve minutes to down Lion Air 610; in the Ethiopian crash, the MCAS software, overridden by pilots hitting the cutout switches as per Boeing’s instructions, had cut that time line in half.




    The Age of Anger Exploding in Serial Geysers

    The Age of Anger Exploding in Serial Geysers

    October 30, 2019

    by Pepe Escobar : posted with permission and x-posted with Consortium News

    PEPE ESCOBAR: The Age of Anger Exploding in Serial Geysers

    To digress about “populism” is nonsensical. What’s happening is the Age of Anger exploding in serial geysers that simply cannot be contained by the same, old, tired, corrupt forms of political representation allowed by that fiction, Western liberal democracy.



    It’s infuriating to hear people who know better to imply that the pilots were at fault.

    Yeah, but no easier victims than the dead. Most pilots, from what I gather, didn’t even know MCAS existed. Boeing told the regulators they didn’t have to know.


    The protests in Chile are specifically against neoliberalism (corporate rule). Protests are spreading across the world due rising inequality and chaos that enriches the wealthy. The media tries to hide it or blames Donald Trump, but the causes are basic. PG&E is burning a blacked-out California. The Boeing 737 Max is unsafe to fly. Both are the results of austerity, regulatory capture and corporate asset stripping. Congress further deregulated aircraft safety a year before the Indonesian crash. More and more people are going to die unless government control over corporations is restored and executive suite crooks are jailed for their crimes.

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