Airline and airplane safety


I love me some plane crash investigations. This stuff always brings up layers and layers of “turns out…”


Air Crash Investigations, also known as Air Disasters, is a TV show I watch probably way too much of…

This is also relevant as I’ve recently started flight training myself (I don’t plan to be anything more than, at most, a part-time flight instructor and have no plans to be an airline pilot or anything). A lot of the ground school training consists of ways to be safe… and every so often when I see one of these investigations, I’m like, “Geeze, did the pilot forget what they learned back in ground school?”

Back to the issue at hand, according to the Seattle Times:

A former Boeing executive, speaking on condition of anonymity because discussion of accident investigations is supposed to be closely held, said that Boeing engineers didn’t introduce the change to the flight-control system arbitrarily.

He said it was done primarily because the much bigger engines on the MAX changed the aerodynamics of the jet and shifted the conditions under which a stall could happen. That required further stall protection be implemented to certify the jet as safe.

So the feature was necessary, but no idea why the flight training manuals for the new planes didn’t include that bit of info about them.

Oh, and here’s a more detailed article with some timelines on the investigation from the Aviation Herald:


Have you read any of William Langeweische’s articles? He writes a lot about accidents, I guess you’d call it. A good number of aviation stories.


I haven’t read any of his articles, though I should start looking for them. I have read his father’s, Wolfgang, book, Stick and Rudder, however. It also covers some accident stuff and, despite being a little outdated in places, is still considered one of the go-to books on good, old-fashioned, stick-and-rudder airplane flying. Stick-and-rudder skills are still relevant even today as a fair number of accidents in recent years came down to pilots relying too much on automation and losing their manual flying skills as a result, whereas manual flying would have been the correct way get out of the situations that resulted in the accidents.


Tangentially related are heavy industrial accidents and safety. This is my go-to channel:

Probably it’s just a legacy of my early career in industrial IT, but I try to keep my knowledge up on this sort of thing even though it will likely never be relevant to my life again.


Shake hands with danger.


So FRC is getting a Plane Crash Corner now?

Yeah the Boeing thing is just a symptom of something I see on a daily basis where a complex system has thousands of people working various bits to improve them, but ultimately it’s on someone to be tracking all of the myriad changes and actually determining what needs to be communicated to the crews. There’s a lot of stuff I’m sure that gets falls between the cracks or simply doesn’t make the bar of bothering to tell anyone about outside the company.

In part there’s probably also a breakdown inside the company where maybe the people who would be cognizent of the implications of a component error PR failure on handling did not have a clean line of communication with the people who would setup the procedures to account for this system and its failire modes.

My aunt flies these birds, I’m curious what her perspective is on the situation.


Part of the issue is that the new model plane is so similar to the previous model that many people, even outside of Boeing, didn’t feel the need to check to see if any training material needed to be updated. The cockpit layout was virtually identical. Identical simulators were approved for training purposes. The list kind of goes on and on. The main differences were the new engines and the safety features that had to be added to support those new differences.


At somewhere like a PAX or another event where you may be around a lot of people, it’s also acceptable to elbow or fist bump with danger to avoid illness.