I'm not sure what Ralph Nader is referring to in 
his sentences here about 9/11, but other than 
that this is a welcome warning of what is likely 
to happen -- nothing -- over the crashes of 
Boeing's 737 Max 8 airplanes, unless we take 
action to force Congress to do more than bloviate ....



In the Public Interest

Greedy Boeing’s Avoidable Design and Software Time Bombs

As internal and external pressures mount to hold 
Boeing responsible for its criminal negligence, 
the giant company is exerting its immense 
influence to limit both its past and future 
accountability. Boeing whistleblowers and outside 
aviation safety experts are coming forward to 
reveal the serial, criminal negligence of 
Boeing’s handling of its dangerous Boeing 737 Max 
airplanes, grounded in the aftermath of two 
deadly crashes that took 346 lives. Boeing, is 
used to having its way in Washington, D.C. For 
decades, Boeing and some of its airline allies 
have greased the wheels for chronic inaction 
related to the additional protection and comfort 
of airline passengers and airline workers.

Most notoriously, the airlines, after the hijacks 
to Cuba in the late Sixties and early Seventies, 
made sure that Congress and the FAA did not 
require hardened cockpit doors and stronger 
latches on all aircraft, costing a modest $3000 
per plane. Then the 9/11 massacre happened, a 
grisly consequence of non-regulation, pushed by 
right wing corporatist advocacy centers.

Year after year, 
Rights – the airline passenger consumer group 
–proposed a real passengers bill of rights. Year 
after year the industry’s toadies in Congress 
said no. A slim version passed last year ­ 
requiring regulations creating minimum seat 
standards, regulations regarding prompt refunds 
for ancillary services not provided or on a 
flight not taken, and a variety of small improvements for consumers.

Boeing is all over Capitol Hill. They have 100 
full time lobbyists in Washington, D.C. Over 300 
members of Congress regularly take campaign cash 
from Boeing. The airlines lather the politicians 
with complimentary ticket upgrades, amenities, 
waivers of fees for reservation changes, priority 
boarding, and VIP escorts. Twice, we sent surveys 
about these special freebies to every member of 
Congress with not a single response. (See my 

That is the corrupt backdrop that at least two 
Congressional Committees have to overcome in 
holding public hearings into the causes of the 
Indonesian’s Lion Air crash last October and the 
Ethiopian Airline crash on March 10, 2019.

Will the Senate and House Committee invite the 
technical dissenters to testify against Boeing’s 
sequential corner cutting on its single sensor 
software that miscued and took control of the 737 
Max 8 from its pilots, pulling down on the 
plane’s nose? Boeing’s sales-driven avoidance of 
producing effective manuals with upgraded pilot 
training was courting disaster as was 
outrageously leaving many of the pilots in the dark.

The Congressional Committees must issue subpoenas 
to critics of Boeing and the FAA in order to 
protect them from corporate and agency retaliation.

Moreover, the Committees must get rid of the 
grotesque self-regulation that allows Boeing  to 
control the aircraft certification process for 
the FAA. This dangerous delegation has worsened 
in recent years because Trump and Republicans in 
Congress have cut the FAA’s budget.

Brace yourself. Here is how the Washington Post 
described this abandonment of regulation by FAA, endorsed by Boeing’s Congress:

“In practice, one Boeing engineer would conduct a 
test of a particular system on the Max 8, while 
another Boeing engineer would act as the FAA’s 
representative, signing on behalf of the U.S. 
government that the technology complied with federal safety regulations…”
“Hundreds of Boeing engineers would have played 
out this scenario thousands of times as the 
company sought to verify the performance of 
mechanical systems, hardware installation and 
massive amounts of computer code…”

So, citizens, watch out for bloviating 
Congressional Committee members castigating 
Boeing executives at the witness table before the 
television cameras and then doing nothing once 
the television broadcasts fade away.

Boeing’s 737 series started in 1967 and has had a 
good engineering safety record in this country. 
But Boeing was in a rush with its Boeing 737 Max 
8. They had to catch up with the growing orders 
for a similar-sized passenger jet built by 
Airbus. Being in a rush meant a modification that 
added more seats (a key motivation), that led to 
larger engines that affected the aerodynamics of 
the plane that led to the inadequate, mostly 
uncommunicated software fix to the pilots. Step 
by step, top management pushed the engineers in 
ways that compromised their professional 
expertise and each slide set the stage for a 
deeper slide. Now, the press is reporting a 
criminal probe by the Justice Department. The 
Inspector General of the Department of 
Transportation is also investigating the FAA’s certification of 737 Max 8.

Years ago, aviation experts say, Boeing should 
have developed a brand new aircraft design for 
such intermediate distances. But Boeing dug in 
and compliant FAA officials dropped the ball. And 
President Trump has failed to fill three top 
slots at the FAA since January 2017.

That is why, after flight 302 crashed outside 
Addis Ababa, both Boeing and the FAA kept issuing 
statements filled with gibberish saying that the 
737 Max 8 was safe, safe, safe­the 
malfunction-prone software time bomb to the 
contrary. A brand new plane, crashing twice and 
taking hundreds of lives, can’t be blamed on pilot error.

Caution: the grounding of the planes may receive 
a whitewash unless the media keeps light and heat 
on this corporate-government collusion.

Installing artificial intelligence replacing or 
overpowering human intelligence in ever more 
complex machines, such as modern aircraft or 
weapons systems or medical technology is the 
harbinger of what’s to come.  In a 2014 BBC 
interview Stephen Hawking, the famed theoretical 
physicist, said:  “The development of full 
artificial intelligence could spell the end of 
the human race.” And in 2018 Elon Musk said: “If 
AI has a goal and humanity just happens to be in 
the way, it will destroy humanity as a matter of 
course without even thinking about it. No hard feelings.”

At the wreckage near Bishoftu in a small pastoral 
farm field and in the Java Sea off Indonesia lie 
the remains of the early victims of arrogant, 
algorithm  driven corner cutting, by reckless 
corporate executives and their captive government regulators.

Ralph Nader

Ralph Nader

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