Saturday, January 11, 2020

737 Max | Lefsetz Letter

“This airplane is designed by clowns who are in turn supervised by monkeys.”

(Boeing employee)

Where is Ralph Nader when you need him?

The 737 Max should be scrapped, stricken from the air, but regulators are afraid of putting Boeing out of business.

That’s right. In a failed attempt to compete with Airbus, which had seen the future and designed a whole new plane to address it, Boeing was caught flat-footed and gussied up an old plane, A FIFTY YEAR OLD PLANE!

Think about that. It’s like putting airbags in your Valiant. You can try, but what you end up with probably won’t work.

The 737 was designed for a different era, one without jetways, one in which you walked onto the plane from the tarmac.

Meaning the wings were low and the engines that hung from them were low too. So if you wanted to add more power, you needed bigger engines, that would not fit. So Boeing moved them forward. The only problem was that screwed up the stability of the plane, now it might stall because of this weight imbalance. So, in a concept only Rube Goldberg could embrace, Boeing decided to solve the problem with software, and essentially not tell anybody about it. Yup, it was so foolproof, like Windows 3.0, that you’d never get the blue screen of death, it would always work as intended, it would never CRASH!

But, of course it did.

Now if you’re following this closely, the old guard, the Chuck Yeagers of this world, those who flew planes before computerization, who could land in your backyard, are saying it’s all pilot error. Actually, Boeing said this too, as if everybody behind the wheel of an automobile should have the skills of Lewis Hamilton.

But not only are newbie pilots flying these planes, especially overseas, in America they overuse newbie pilots and underpay them as they fly you on regional airlines. It’s business baby, and you’ve got to make a profit, and the public requires you to deliver low prices.

If you followed the recent numbers, manufacturing is continuing to crater in the U.S., although its revenue is being replaced by services, which is what every reasonable economist and techie has been saying for decades.

But NO! Trump was gonna bring back those well-paying jobs that if they exist today are being done by machines.

And it’s not only the right, the Democrats, and all those line workers used to be Democrats, believe we need a reset too.

And the public refuses to pay $2500 for a flat screen.

Yup, we love low prices. And we want the lowest. And if they made these items in America, they’d be much more expensive.

You can’t have it both ways, you can’t have your cake and eat it too.

But no one can sacrifice in America. We’re entitled to drive monster trucks known as SUVs and live in giant homes and pollute. Jimmy Carter said to put on a sweater and he was excoriated!

But the truth is America is sinking. Its reputation as the greatest country in the world? Ask outside.

And yes, people are still dying to immigrate here, quite literally, but there’s no vision of the future, no idea that the future is coming, hell, most of our elected representatives are tech-challenged, which is why Andrew Yang’s presidential campaign is getting any traction at all.

So, the truth is, the 737 Max should be scrapped. This is not the 787 Dreamliner, with new technology, batteries that must be fixed. This is not cutting edge technology whose quirks have to be ironed out. Rather, this is all about putting lipstick on a pig, AND NOT TELLING ANYBODY!

Now talk to the airlines that bought ’em. They’re screwed. They’ve had to cancel flights, they’re losing money, actually they’re pushing Boeing to compensate them.

And the truth is you’ve got to order planes way in advance, you can’t make them in a day.

But who is gonna make the airlines whole if the planes are scrapped?

Well, D.C. made GM whole but did not compensate those who purchased cars from deleted brands, like Saab and Pontiac. Not to mention that GM was mismanaged into bankruptcy, which is just what Detroit is doing right now. The manufacturers just say they’re giving people what they want. But when gasoline prices soar, when people’s desires change…they’ll have nothing to sell them. The future always come running down the pike.

So Boeing moved its headquarters to Chicago, because the execs were sick of being in a backwater in Washington, State that is. And one of the best analyses I’ve read of the crisis is you gain info from walking the production line, being in the factory, engaging with the workers. But this was impossible! It’d be like asking you or me to say what’s happening on the moon, we can only guess, we haven’t been there and we’re not going there and the execs didn’t bother to go to Everett.

Sometimes you’ve got to start over, you’ve got to jettison the past.

That’s what made Apple so successful under Steve Jobs. Not only did he introduce the GUI and mouse, he was famous for ditching legacy ports. pushing his customers into the future. Oh sure, they’d bitch, but come on, have you heard someone complain about the lack of parallel ports on a Mac recently? (And the parallel port was designed after the 737!)

Already there’s a ripple effect as a result of the grounding of the 737 MAX, not only are the airlines who bought them and ordered them hurting, but so are the suppliers, they’re laying off workers.

And in America it’s all about the bottom line, right? We lionize billionaires, right? If you’ve got that money you were an honest, hard-working citizen who is brilliant and entitled to it…wrong!

So fired CEO Dennis Muilenberg walks with $62 million and we’re left with this albatross.

Now, chances are, they’ll figure out the software, the MCAS for the 737 Max. Then again, it was gonna take a few months, and now it’s nearly a year. It’d be like having your printer malfunction and waiting a year for a patch. Huh?

And most people are ignorant when it comes to flying anyway. They think the plane is gonna crash when the truth is your odds of being killed in a car are so much higher.

And people are scared of flying in the 737 Max and they probably should not be.

But should they keep on making this Frankenstein plane?

Let’s be practical here. There’s almost no way they’re gonna scrap the already built planes, but should they build any more? Air travel has not ground to a halt without the 737 Max in the air. Maybe without deliveries growth will be hampered, but the truth is the airlines are rolling in dough after years of mismanagement by having the planes fly full and charging you for not only bags, but the right to select your seat, never mind put your luggage in the overhead compartment. They, and we, can afford the wait for new planes.

But the government doesn’t want to penalize Boeing.

In a reasonable country, the government would claw back Muilenberg’s golden parachute. But no one with any money, no one at the top of the food chain, none of the bankers on Wall Street who cratered the economy paid, none went to jail. Imagine if they sent Muilenberg to jail! Do you think any airplane manufacturer would cut corners in the future?

But no, the little guy always pays, you and me. The government will rescue Boeing and then give them cash, like they did with Wall Street.

And you wonder why there’s a left wing backlash. Yup, the people at the center of this system don’t want Bernie or Elizabeth to be nominated, because they like things just the way they are, and they’ve convinced so many that the little guy will lose if there’s any change. At least give the Trumpers credit, they realized the world was no longer working for them, even if they desired to go back to a past that wasn’t so good to begin with and can never come back, because the future only goes in one direction.

But no one in D.C. has any balls. They’ll testify, kick and scream, they just won’t do anything.

Scrap the 737 MAX. It will be good for America.

In more ways than one.


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