Bloeing in the wind

You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows

Bob Dylan 1

image

On the 29th October 2018 Lion Air Flight 610 crashed into the Java Sea near Indonesia killing it’s 189 passengers and crew. Almost six months later Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crashed near the town of Bishoftu with 157 fatalities. Both flights involved the new generation Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft, which had its maiden flight in January 2016. It commenced operating commercially the following year after attaining certification via the Federal Aviation Administration. 27

The Boeing Company’s 737 series originated in 1967 and established a superior engineering safety record within the United States. However, increasing orders for a similar sized passenger jet built by French rival Airbus placed immense pressure on its engineering department to deliver airplanes with a superior design, efficiency and value to customers around the world, even in developing nations. This involved altering the aircraft design to significantly increase seating capacity with a subsequent requirement for larger engines, which affected its aerodynamics and required a major reconfiguration of software that was ineffectively communicated to many unsuspecting pilots. Boeing’s executive martinets increasingly intimidated its demoralised engineers, which compromised resilience engineering and their professional integrity. It eventually culminated in the sudden dismissal of its socially autistic chief executive officer, Dennis Muilenburg who, unlike the bereaved families and 346 victims, will inevitably receive the luxury of a golden parachute. 815

The Boeing Company, much like Alcoa, exercised its corporate clout with ruthless determination using predatory tactics over many decades. It does not like hearing the word no and engages cohorts of lobbyists across Capitol Hill in Washington DC to achieve its premeditated ambitions, which are underpinned by the Friedman doctrine with the deification of profit and power. 1620

Over 300 members of the US Congress receive campaign cash from Boeing. Its Pecksniffian gold toothed serpents inveigle politicians with incessant supplies of gratuities and perquisites such as complimentary ticket upgrades, fee waivers on rescheduled or cancelled reservations, priority bookings, valet parking and VIP escorts. This systemic corruption supplemented by an institutionalised code of silence awaits congressional committees at subsequent public hearings into the disasters. The truth will be sacrificed to protect reputations and diffuse accountability into innocuous channels of bureaucracy. 2125

It is quite evident Boeing repeatedly opposed requirements to develop an aircraft for servicing intermediate flight destinations over many years. This was exacerbated by Federal Aviation Administration officials who merely rubber stamped subsequent reconfiguration or modification of aircraft design specifications. Meanwhile, under a churlish US president the three most senior roles within the regulatory agency have remained vacant for several years and…..You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows. 2628

Two crashes in less than six months involving brand new aircraft was not pilot error. Boeing callously sacrificed protection over production via single sensor software, which misinterpreted pitch stability and usurped control of the aircraft from its pilots. The corporate behemoth failed to provide pilots with amended flight manuals and advanced training, which left them operating in the dark and clutching at straws as the aircraft plummeted from the sky. Moreover, self-regulation inevitably degenerated into deregulation, which enabled Boeing to control the aircraft certification process on behalf of the Federal Aviation Administration, whose budget was savaged by a republican congress. 2935

The slippery slope is another race to the bottom and extends right down the food chain to cohorts of subjugated peons forced by even hungrier travel agencies to place more bums on seats. It frequently involves beguiling telemarketing campaigns with offers of lucrative getaway packages plus a free set of steak knives…but wait there’s more. The business model or Ponzi scheme is furtively disguised as good debt, which is administered by creative accountants via the leasing of aircraft, purchasing fuel on credit and tax evasion. It was a disaster waiting to happen and it did, on two separate occasions within six months with the collateral damage of 346 innocent victims that cannot be simply camouflaged as pilot error. 3641

The aircraft wreckage at the bottom of the Java Sea or scattered across a small pastoral farm on the outskirts of Bishoftu is redolent of an arrogant algorithm induced culture of uncreative destruction. The reckless corporate executives and captured regulators will merely socialise the loss, which is often reinforced via a sanitised public inquiry or anachronistic coronial inquest, which protects the state via a finding of accidental death. It has left many bereaved dependents chasing aviation fuel exhaust fumes with the truth Bloeing in the wind: 4248

How many roads must a man walk down, before you call him a man?

How many seas must a white dove sail, before she sleeps in the sand?

Yes, ‘n’ how many times must the cannon balls fly, before they’re forever banned?

The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind, the answer is blowin’ in the wind

Yes, ‘n’ how many years can a mountain exist, before it’s washed to the sea?

Yes, ‘n’ how many years can some people exist, before they’re allowed to be free?

Yes, ‘n’ how many times can a man turn his head and pretend that he just doesn’t see?

The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind, the answer is blowin’ in the wind

Yes, ‘n’ how many times must a man look up, before he can see the sky?

Yes, ‘n’ how many ears must one man have, before he can hear people cry?

Yes, ‘n’ how many deaths will it take till he knows, that too many people have died?

The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind, the answer is blowin’ in the wind

References

1. Dylan B. Bob Dylan – Subterranean Homesick Blues [Internet]. YouTube. 2015 [cited 24 December 2019]. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MGxjIBEZvx0

2. Topham G, Kuo L, Lyons K, Rushe D. Ethiopian Airlines crash: Boeing faces safety questions over 737 Max 8 jets [Internet]. The Guardian – Australia Edition. 2019 [cited 24 December 2019]. Available from: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/mar/11/ethiopia-airline-crash-china-grounds-boeing-737-max-8-jets-in-wake-of-disaster

  1. Lion Air Flight 610 [Internet]. Wikipedia. [cited 27 August 2019]. Available from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lion_Air_Flight_610

4. Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 [Internet]. Wikipedia. [cited 27 August 2019]. Available from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethiopian_Airlines_Flight_302

  1. Bishoftu [Internet]. Wikipedia. [cited 27 August 2019]. Available from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bishoftu

6. Boeing 737 MAX [Internet]. Wikipedia. [cited 27 August 2019]. Available from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_737_MAX

7. Federal Aviation Administration – Home [Internet]. Federal Aviation Administration. [cited 27 August 2019]. Available from: https://www.faa.gov/

8. Boeing – About Boeing Commercial Airplanes [Internet]. Boeing. [cited 27 August 2019]. Available from: https://www.boeing.com/company/about-bca/

9. Airbus – Home [Internet]. Airbus. [cited 27 August 2019]. Available from: https://www.airbus.com/newsroom/press-releases/en/2019/08/first-egyptair-a220300-makes-maiden-flight.html

  1. Boeing – Aviation Safety [Internet]. Boeing. [cited 27 August 2019]. Available from: http://www.boeing.com/company/about-bca/#/safety
  2. List of developing countries as declared by the Minister for Foreign Affairs [Internet]. DFAT. [cited 27 August 2019]. Available from: https://dfat.gov.au/about-us/publications/Documents/list-developing-countries.pdf

12. Campbell D. Red Line [Internet]. The many human errors that brought down the Boeing 737 Max. 2019 [cited 27 August 2019]. Available from: https://www.theverge.com/2019/5/2/18518176/boeing-737-max-crash-problems-human-error-mcas-faa

13. Boeing – Executive Biographies [Internet]. Boeing. [cited 27 August 2019]. Available from: https://www.boeing.com/company/bios/

14. Dijkstra A. Resilience Engineering and Safety Management Systems in Aviation [Internet]. Research Gate. 2007 [cited 27 August 2019]. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/228961296_Resilience_Engineering_and_Safety_Management_Systems_in_Aviation

15. Siegel R, Duncan I, Davenport C. Boeing’s firing of its CEO seen as move to ‘restore confidence’ in wake of 737 Max crisis [Internet]. The Washington Post. 2019 [cited 24 December 2019]. Available from: https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2019/12/23/boeing-chief-executive-dennis-muilenburg-resigns-board-seeks-restore-confidence-wake-max-crisis/

16. Nader R. Greedy Boeing’s Avoidable Design and Software Time Bombs [Internet]. Counterpunch. 2019 [cited 28 August 2019]. Available from: https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/03/22/greedy-boeings-avoidable-design-and-software-time-bombs/

17. Alcoa Inc -Lobbying Totals, 1998-2018 [Internet]. Open Secrets. 2018 [cited 28 August 2019]. Available from: https://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/lobby.php?id=D000031387

18. Gurtov M. Wealth, Stealth, and Boeing [Internet]. Counterpunch. 2019 [cited 28 August 2019]. Available from: https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/04/11/wealth-stealth-and-boeing/

19. Boeing Co – Lobbying Totals, 1998-2018 [Internet]. Open Secrets. 2018 [cited 28 August 2019]. Available from: https://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/lobby.php?id=D000000100

20. Shea B. Business Ethics: The Friedman Doctrine and Its Critics [Internet]. Academia. [cited 28 August 2019]. Available from: https://www.academia.edu/32256021/Business_Ethics_The_Friedman_Doctrine_and_Its_Critics

21. United States Congress [Internet]. Wikipedia. [cited 28 August 2019]. Available from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Congress

  1. Schouten F, Barrett T, Fox L. Boeing a major lobbying player on Capitol Hill [Internet]. CNN Politics. 2019 [cited 28 August 2019]. Available from: https://edition.cnn.com/2019/03/12/politics/boeing-capitol-hill-lobbying/index.html
<li>Seth Pecksniff [Internet]. Encyclopaedia Britannica. [cited 28 August 2019]. Available from: <a href="https://www.britannica.com/topic/Seth-Pecksniff">https://www.britannica.com/topic/Seth-Pecksniff</a></li>
<li>Taxability of Perquisites / Valuation of Perquisites [Internet]. Finotax. [cited 28 August 2019]. Available from: <a href="https://www.finotax.com/income-tax/info/perquisites">https://www.finotax.com/income-tax/info/perquisites</a></li>

25. Aratani L. Families of victims of Boeing 737 Max crashes to testify at House hearing on aviation safety [Internet]. The Washington Post. 2019 [cited 28 August 2019]. Available from: https://www.washingtonpost.com/transportation/2019/07/16/families-victims-boeing-max-crashes-testify-house-hearing-aviation-safety/?noredirect=on

26. Saint Germain D. The Boeing debacle is the latest example of regulatory capture [Internet]. Medium. 2019 [cited 28 August 2019]. Available from: https://medium.com/@dsaintgermain/the-boeing-debacle-is-the-latest-example-of-regulatory-capture-2a8e138a9c8b

  1. Stieb M. Report: Self-Regulation of Boeing 737 MAX May Have Led to Major Flaws in Flight Control System [Internet]. NY Intelligencer. 2019 [cited 28 August 2019]. Available from: http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/03/report-the-regulatory-failures-of-the-boeing-737-max.html

28. Donald Trump [Internet]. Wikipedia. [cited 28 August 2019]. Available from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_Trump

29. Mokhiber R. The Boeing Way: Blaming Dead Pilots [Internet]. Counterpunch. 2019 [cited 28 August 2019]. Available from: https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/05/24/the-boeing-way-blaming-dead-pilots/

  1. Boeing – 737 MAX Software Update737 MAX Software Update [Internet]. Boeing. [cited 28 August 2019]. Available from: https://www.boeing.com/commercial/737max/737-max-software-updates.page
<li>Cheslow D. Pilots Split Over FAA Chief's Claims on Boeing 737 Max Training [Internet]. NPR. 2019 [cited 28 August 2019]. Available from: <a href="https://www.npr.org/2019/04/03/709487222/pilots-split-over-faa-chiefs-claims-on-boeing-737-max-training">https://www.npr.org/2019/04/03/709487222/pilots-split-over-faa-chiefs-claims-on-boeing-737-max-training</a></li>
<li>Garcia M. Did Trump Executive Orders Further Weaken FAA Oversight? [Internet]. Forbes. 2019 [cited 28 August 2019]. Available from: <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/marisagarcia/2019/03/18/did-trump-executive-orders-further-weaken-faa-oversight/#4414ec953ca7">https://www.forbes.com/sites/marisagarcia/2019/03/18/did-trump-executive-orders-further-weaken-faa-oversight/#4414ec953ca7</a></li>
<li>Gates D. Flawed analysis, failed oversight: How Boeing, FAA certified the suspect 737 MAX flight control system [Internet]. The Seattle Times. 2019 [cited 28 August 2019]. Available from: <a href="https://www.seattletimes.com/business/boeing-aerospace/failed-certification-faa-missed-safety-issues-in-the-737-max-system-implicated-in-the-lion-air-crash/">https://www.seattletimes.com/business/boeing-aerospace/failed-certification-faa-missed-safety-issues-in-the-737-max-system-implicated-in-the-lion-air-crash/</a></li>
<li>Hauser J, Eagan E. Boeing Debacle Shows Need to Investigate Trump-era Corruption [Internet]. Counterpunch. 2019 [cited 28 August 2019]. Available from: <a href="https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/03/21/boeing-debacle-shows-need-to-investigate-trump-era-corruption/">https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/03/21/boeing-debacle-shows-need-to-investigate-trump-era-corruption/</a></li>

35. Timmons H. Trump’s FAA is up against its most serious airline safety crisis yet [Internet]. Quartz. 2019 [cited 28 August 2019]. Available from: https://qz.com/1571147/boeing-737-max-crisis-puts-spotlight-on-faa-under-trump/

36. Story Carter J, Curnow S. Flight Centre workers flood ABC with complaints of bullying, drug use and harassment against travel giant [Internet]. ABC News. 2018 [cited 28 August 2019]. Available from: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-08-23/flight-centre-workers-complain-bullying,-drug-use/10153778

  1. Me too: Flight Centre faces further allegations of harassment and drug use [Internet]. Travel Weekly. 2018 [cited 28 August 2019]. Available from: http://www.travelweekly.com.au/article/me-too-flight-centre-faces-further-allegations-of-drug-use-and-harassment/
<li>Kampmark B. Grounding <a name="boeing884">Boeing</a> [Internet]. Counterpunch. 2019 [cited 28 August 2019]. Available from: <a href="https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/03/15/grounding-boeing/">https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/03/15/grounding-boeing/</a></li>

39. Ponzi scheme [Internet]. Wikipedia. [cited 28 August 2019]. Available from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ponzi_scheme

  1. Aviation finance Fasten your seatbelts [Internet]. Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC). 2013 [cited 28 August 2019]. Available from: https://www.pwc.com/im/en/publications/assets/shipping-aircraft-space/pwc-aviation-finance-fastern-your-seat-belts-pdf.pdf

41. Rivero N. Everything we know about the Boeing 737 Max 8 crisis [Internet]. Quartz. 2019 [cited 28 August 2019]. Available from: https://qz.com/1578227/everything-we-know-about-the-boeing-737-max-8-crashes/

42. Mokhiber R. The Boeing Way: Blaming Dead Pilots [Internet]. Counterpunch. 2019 [cited 28 August 2019]. Available from: https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/05/24/the-boeing-way-blaming-dead-pilots/

43. Indonesia finds cockpit voice recorder of crashed Lion Air plane [Internet]. Aljazeera News. 2019 [cited 28 August 2019]. Available from: https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/01/indonesia-finds-cockpit-voice-recorder-crashed-lion-air-plane-190114035000406.html

  1. Black box found among wreckage of doomed Ethiopian Airlines plane as eye witnesses describe horror [Internet]. News.com. 2019 [cited 28 August 2019]. Available from: https://www.news.com.au/travel/travel-updates/incidents/black-box-found-among-wreckage-of-doomed-ethiopian-airlines-plane-as-eye-witnesses-describe-horror/news-story/e28eee50aa30cd890fd502489ba81029
<li>Proyect L. The <a name="boeingmax884">Boeing 737 Max 8</a>: A Case Study in Uncreative Destruction [Internet]. Counterpunch. 2019 [cited 28 August 2019]. Available from: <a href="https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/03/14/the-boeing-737-max-8-a-case-study-in-uncreative-destruction/">https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/03/14/the-boeing-737-max-8-a-case-study-in-uncreative-destruction/</a></li>
<li>Coroner [Internet]. Wikipedia. [cited 28 August 2019]. Available from: <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coroner">https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coroner</a></li>

47. Accidental death [Internet]. Wikipedia. [cited 28 August 2019]. Available from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Accidental_death

48. Dylan B. Bob Dylan – Blowin’ in the Wind (Official Audio) [Internet]. YouTube. [cited 1 September 2019]. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MMFj8uDubsE

Bernard Corden

Latest posts by Bernard Corden (see all)

2 Replies to “Bloeing in the wind”

  1. So true Bernard. An excellent expose of rampant laissez faire economics masked as ‘good for you’ with the noise of crickets from safety orthodoxy. When sponsored by zero harm it’s important to not be political or critical. Selective safety is so important and time for another gloves and glasses campaign. The minutia of safety restrains scrutiny of the boardroom and keeps the focus on the lunchroom. All in the name of compliance and orthodoxy.

  2. So true Bernard. An excellent expose of rampant laissez faire economics masked as ‘good for you’ with the noise of crickets from safety orthodoxy. When sponsored by zero harm it’s important to not be political or critical. Selective safety is so important and time for another gloves and glasses campaign. The minutia of safety restrains scrutiny of the boardroom and keeps the focus on the lunchroom. All in the name of compliance and orthodoxy.

Do you have any thoughts? Please share them below