Monday Update – March 25, 2019

A Lot of Media Standards Have Joined The MAX – Grounded

“Boeing Charging Extra For Safety Equipment!”

This was the din last week across the media landscape…

It seems that nasty old Boeing is charging airlines extra for what has been implied to be necessary and basic safety equipment. Things that, according to some stories, supposedly could have avoided the Ethiopian crash.

Rarely has me-too, wildebeests-in-a-panic journalism done such a deep dive into the professional cesspool.

We’ve talked to several news teams over the past week. Most are completely focused on facts and getting out reliable information.

But there were also a number oh-so-righteous talking heads – in the US and internationally – that have effectively brought out the journalism noose to lynch – right now! – these evil people at Boeing.

Naturally, they have no idea what they’re talking about, before lighting up the torches, ready to urge the great unwashed out there in TV Land to march on Renton.

“Why, that should be standard equipment!” one UK interviewer shrieked, assuming that a 737 has a basic window sticker like a Jaguar in a showroom. And not having any idea what “that equipment” was in the first place, standard or otherwise.

‘Course, they don’t have a clue about the subject matter. But it has made great press, and in a lot of sectors it’s been swallowed whole like smelly fish at a seal convention.

That 737 Was Equipped Exactly As Ethiopian Wanted It. What these amateur folks – some even at a couple of big media outlets who should know better – have ignored, is that airliners are spec’d out by the buyer, who adds exactly the features and capabilities it desires, including cockpit and navigation equipment. And each part of this has a price – there is no “standard” 737 cockpit, per se.

Each fleet leaves the factory with exactly what the airline wants. And it leaves as deemed safe to fly by the operator and the FAA, and, presumably whatever regulatory body might exist in the airline’s home country,

Ethiopian’s 737s are no exception. The stuff in the cockpit is what they wanted to include. The airliner in question had whatever features that were deemed safe and necessary by Ethiopian Airlines.

So, if these oh-so-righteous lynch mob journalists are so eager to find an evil demon in this, they might have better (although just as amateur and misleading) have printed:

“Ethiopian failed to equip their cockpits with adequate safety equipment!”

But It Is In The Cockpit, Not Seattle, Where The Proximate Causes Are...  A lot of the coverage of this tragedy has wandered off into the weeds… focusing on issues such as Boeing and the FAA getting too cozy, and/or the 737 MAX not being certified properly.

At the three US MAX operators, subsequent to initial problems and to the Lion Air crash, actions were taken with the result that the 737 MAX was deemed to be safe.

The media doesn’t get it… if the US could make this so, there is no reason that other carriers could accomplish the same. That points in a whole different direction than investigating the traditional certification process of US airliners. A much more compelling direction.

So, aside from the clear knowledge that the 737 MAX was safe as operated in the US, we also know that there are severe open questions regarding the operators of the two airlines involved in these accidents.

Whether or not Boeing and the FAA are having cocktails together, and having the FBI investigate the certification process, have zero bearing on the events that took place at Lion Air and at Ethiopian. They are massive distractions.

But that doesn’t make much exciting press, apparently.

If reported clearly and directly, without political intervention, the black boxes may likely be telling a very different story.