We speak with the author of Flying Blind: The 737 MAX Tragedy and the Fall of Boeing. In the news, 5G concerns from aviation organizations, a new Boeing 787 production chief is named, a bill in Congress to limit airline fees, Air Force aircraft retirements, Finland selects the F-35, and no more astronaut wings for space tourists.
We look back on the events surrounding the two 737 MAX crashes, including how Boeing responded to the first crash and then the second, and the broad cultural issues at Boeing that affected the quality of the work. Peter describes past Boeing leadership strategies and some of the changes the company has made in areas such as sourcing, location, and the engineering workforce. We also consider the relationship between the FAA and Boeing and how that contributed to the issues with the 737 MAX.
In the end, it comes down to the question: “Would we fly on a Boeing 737 MAX?” Listen for our answers.
Peter is a recipient of the Gerald Loeb Award, the Malcolm Forbes Award, and four “Best in Business” awards from the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing. A native of St. Paul, Minnesota, with an honors degree in history from Stanford University, he lives in Seattle, Washington, with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @petermrobison.
Verizon and AT&T plan to rollout C-band “5G” cellular ratio coverage. The FAA has concerns this might affect radio altimeters. The FCC and the carriers see no issues, but the carriers moved their December implementation date to January and more recently said they’d reduce the power output for six months at certain towers near airports. The Aerospace Industries Association (and a large group of alphabet aviation organizations) sent a letter to the FCC suggesting that AT&T and Verizon’s proposed power limits don’t go far enough for safety.
Now the FAA has said, “Landings during periods of low visibility could be limited due to concerns that the 5G signal could interfere with the accuracy of an airplane’s radio altimeter, without other mitigations in place.” See also, Aviation Coalition Says Industry Should Expect Significant Delays When 5G is Rolled Out and FreeFlight’s Terrain Series radar altimeters with RF circuitry to mitigate spurious 5G interference.
Elizabeth Lund has been named the vice-president and general manager of airplane programs for commercial jetliners. With an engineering background and a 30-year career at Boeing, Ms. Lund brings experience with the 767, 747, and 777 programs.
With Holiday Travel Season in Full Swing, Senators Markey and Blumenthal, Reps. Cohen and García Reintroduce Legislation to Stop Sky-High Airline Fees
Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09), and Congressman Jesús “Chuy” García (IL-04) reintroduced the Forbidding Airlines from Imposing Ridiculous (FAIR) Fees Act. If enacted, the legislation would prohibit airlines from charging fees (including bag, seating, cancellation, and change fees) that are not reasonable and proportional to the costs of the services actually provided.
Airlines should not be able to bilk passengers just because they need to check a couple of bags, or charge an extra fee so parents can sit with their kids. It should not cost more to cancel or change an airline reservation than the original cost of the ticket, period. ..we must finally end this price gouging and return fairness to the skies.Senator Edward J. Markey
The bill would also direct the Department of Transportation to review any other fees imposed by airlines, as well as ensure that children can sit together with their family members on flights at no additional charge.
The US Air Force is asking Congress to retire 42 A-10 Warthogs, but Congress is refusing. The fiscal 2022 National Defense Authorization Act would keep the A-10 but retire seven F-16C/Ds, 48 F-15C/D Eagles, four E-8 JSTARS ground surveillance aircraft, 20 RQ-4 Global Hawk Block 30 drones, 18 KC-135s and 14 KC-10s, and three C-130Hs. This would free up resources to modernize the fleet.
Finland will reportedly purchase 64 F-35A fighters, as well as a weapons package, sustainment, and training. The deal is valued at €8.4 billion ($9.5 billion). Flightglobal reports “€4 billion for the aircraft, €755 million for weapons, and €3 billion for equipment, spares, and training over the 2025-2030 period. A further €777 million is allocated for infrastructure improvements.” competing for the win were the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, Dassault Aviation Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon, and the Saab Gripen E.
The FAA will no longer award commercial astronaut wings because so many people are now riding into space. Space tourists who fly 50 miles up on an FAA-sanctioned launch will be put on an FAA commercial spaceflight list. NASA astronauts will continue to receive wings.
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Max Flight, David Vanderhoof, Max Trescott, Rob Mark, and our Main(e) Man Micah.