Top Letters And Comments, November 1, 2019


Boeing 737 MAX

Do we (meaning Boeing) know how often the MCAS was actually activated in airline service? It is my understanding that Boeing intended for MCAS activation to be exceedingly rare and “Invisible” to the PIC. I assume it is possible to determine how many times MCAS was activated world-wide and under what circumstances. How rare an event was MCAS activation (besides the two crashes)? Did the pilots even know it activated (besides the two crashes)? Is it in any dispute that MCAS was almost wholly Sales driven – both the system itself and its secrecy? As an American, I wanted to hold Boeing to a higher standard, Alas, that is no longer possible!

Bill D.

As a professional computer programmer who flies small airplanes in his spare time, I’m doubly offended by the whole affair. It sounds as if Boeing broke a rule I learned early in my career, which makes the top entry in my list of Famous Last Words: “Oh, don’t worry about that; it’ll never happen.” In my experience, “never” usually turns out to be about six months. Murphy never sleeps.

It is inconceivable to me how anyone would consider designing MCAS to be fed by only one AOA sensor. What happened to the redundancy that we pride ourselves on? Every little puddle-jumper has had dual ignition systems for the better part of a century. And making the AOA disagree indicator an option? Since when has safety been an option? Don L. asks, “Where has the value of life gone?” There are armies of actuaries out there who will tell you exactly where – and plenty of large corporations who take their word as gospel.

But let’s get back to the original point of this article. As satisfying as it may be to select a scapegoat and punish the hell out of it, we must put our petty urges aside and look for real solutions. Complex problems can have many causes, and we must have the maturity to deal with as many of them as we can.

Charlie G.

Regardless of whether the two crews should have been able to diagnose the problem and work around it to keep the airplanes flying, they obviously did not do so. For better or worse, that is the real world that Boeing must design their airplanes in which to fly. Blaming the crew sidesteps the central issue that Boeing installed a system in their MAX airplanes that was capable of crashing the plane without rapid and correct intervention on the part of the flight crew. Boeing seems to have grown into a company so large that internal communications is marginal at best. Thus far Muilenburg has done little to correct the situation and is basically mouthing vague talking points approved by the legal department. Considering the length of time this has gone on, there seems to be more wrong with the MCAS system than a simple modification of the operating software.

John M.

FAA Defends Silicon Valley Airport

It’s nice to see the FAA sticking up for the airport and the logic for closing it is flawed. There are plenty of other areas for low income housing. This is all a self-absorbed means by many to remove a viable airport under the guise of ‘safety and health’. Even one of the commissioners who spoke in favor of the airport (his jurisdiction is E16) said there are many other places for low income housing, including a former golf course just out of view in the lower portion of the photo and the defunct county fairgrounds. For those based at RHV, there is no other viable place to go, other than to uproot and move entirely out of the area. It’s nearly an hour to E16 in traffic from most of the bay area and there’s no way they’re going to put a tower and two runways (where will the second go?) in at E16 and accommodate all this traffic. It’ll be one heck of a battle with the community surrounding the airport to let any expansion happen. And a more frequently used IFR approach into E16 will really mess up SJC’s flow.

Michael L.

Housing is a complete red herring.

1) There’s no shortage of building sites for affordable housing; there’s merely a shortage of developers willing to built it.

2) Nothing can be built at RHV for at least twenty years. The county is legally obligated to operate the airport until 2031 (though they’ll try to starve it to death sooner); then there will be years of litigation, outcome uncertain.

3) The Supervisors’ resolution of last December that throws Reid-Hillview under the bus contains no mention of housing, affordable or otherwise; it’s simply a blank check made out to the valley’s real-estate developers.

Don G.

Poll: Would You Fly An Uber Copter from Manhattan to JFK for $225?

  • After seeing the condition of some Uber cars, NOT ON A BET!
  • If I was flying it.
  • At $30 to $50 I would consider it.
  • Depends on what other forms of transportation cost.
  • No, they’d have to pay me much more than that.
  • I wouldn’t fly Uber across the street.
  • Yes. But I’d wait for the early-adopters to prove them safe.
  • As a pilot?
  • H*** NO!
  • Death flight. Who would ever do something so stupid?
  • New York Helicopter used to fly that route and to EWR and Wall Street as well.
  • It doesn’t have the battery capacity.
  • Not until there is a proven way to land safely if the “pilot” fails.
  • When I hit the lottery, maybe.
  • Can I share with 2 other co-workers?
  • I’d do it to see what it was like. Pricey otherwise.
  • Bring that down to $100 and you have a deal.
  • Maybe just once for the fun of it!
  • I won’t get in one.
  • That’s low ball; they would need to offer me at least $400 to ride in one.
  • Depends on the logistics of getting to the Copter and from the Copter to the terminal.
  • Ask the rich.
  • I will never go to NYC so the answer is NO!
  • Not without an onboard, living, breathing PIC.
  • If cheaper, yes.
  • Just to say I did…the novelty.
  • Me and at least three peeps would be worth it.
  • No until the technology is proven stable, reliable, and safe.
  • Sure, I’d take $225 to operate one leg from Manhattan to JFK.
  • When the price comes down, count me in!

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  1. The following is copied from the very beginning of the B737 thing:
    Do we (meaning Boeing) know how often the MCAS was actually activated in airline service? It is my understanding that Boeing intended for MCAS activation to be exceedingly rare and “Invisible” to the PIC.

    Ha, invisible to the pilot!!??? As us Boeing guys know, the big trim wheels go clacking around when the stab trim is operating – & that’s invisible??? WTF over