Well There’s Your Problem | Episode 12A: The Boeing 737 MAX

LIAM: Uh yes, I am recording. Have no fear. ALICE: Delightful! Hello and welcome to ‘Well There’s Your Problem,’
the first podcast not only to be listened to, uh, but also recorded at, 2x speed. [laughter]
JUSTIN: Yes, welcome to ‘Well There’s Your Problem,’ a podcast we record… *three times*,
for a safety factor of three. [despairing laughter]
LIAM: Never let it be said we don’t suffer for our art. ALICE: Yeah. JUSTIN: This is a slightly different format
than we originally intended, owing to the regrettable death of our guest. [laughter]
ALICE: Yeah. Rest in power, uh, we shall not see his like
again, yeah. JUSTIN: Yes. LIAM: We’ll miss you, Riley. [laughter]
JUSTIN: So, um, anyway. Welcome to ‘Well There’s Your Problem,’ a
podcast about engineering disasters. I’m Justin Roczniak, my pronouns are ‘he/him’,
you can find me on the Twitter @donoteat1, and those are all the things I’m gonna say. ALICE: Mm. Hello, Alice Caldwell-Kelly, pronouns ‘she/her’,
listen to podcast Trashfuture that I’m on. Also with my co-host Riley Quinn, who was
going to be on this one, and then unfortunately died. Of. Yeah. [laughter]
ALICE: He, just, yeah. Died. JUSTIN: Unfortunately killed by a USB connector. [laughter]
JUSTIN: Death by Focusrite. ALICE: Very, very unfortunate. Uh, yeah. LIAM: Thanks for nothing, Apple. ALICE: We’re all heartbroken but we go on
regardless. JUSTIN: The show must go on. [laughter]
ALICE: Mhm. That’s right. [prompting] Liam! LIAM: Uh, yeah, sorry, uAAaaghuh. I am…
[laughter] LIAM: Three times! Three for three! I am Liam Anderson, I am @oldmananders0n on
Twitter, my pronouns are ‘he’ and ‘him’, and by and large you can just find me being a
dick in our YouTube comments section, uh, and getting real mad about national security
on Twitter, because I don’t have… uh, I dunno. Anything interesting to say. ALICE: It’s interesting! LIAM: Thank you. Oh congratulations Roz on knowing your own
Twitter handle this time. [laughter]
JUSTIN: Yeah, I usually forget that one, yeah. ALICE: [mischievously] Uh Roz, what episode
number is this? JUSTIN: It’s probably 13. ALICE: Ah fuck. JUSTIN: Well there’s your problem. ALICE: Yeah. That’s why we’ve been having… the problems,
where we have to record this three times in a row. Uh. Yeah. JUSTIN: Yeah. We really… I’m gonna call it episode 12A. LIAM: Yeah. I think that’s smart. [laughter]
ALICE: Yeah. Episode 13 is a utility episode, you can’t
get the elevator directly there. Uh.
[laughter] JUSTIN: There’s a secret episode 13. You just have to keep putting in random YouTube
URLs until you get to it. [laughter]
ALICE: It’s… no, you gotta press like, episode 4 and episode 10, and then episode 3, three
times in quick succession, and then it’ll clip through to episode 13. JUSTIN: It has one of those keyed buttons
on the elevator… ALICE: [loving a keyed button] Yeeeees. Yeah. LIAM: Yessssssss. JUSTIN: You only get it with the key, or if
you have the fire mode key, you can just push the button. Um.
[laughter] [Alice does a Zizek sniff]
JUSTIN: Alright. So. Anyway. Today’s gonna be our first episode about planes. ALICE: Mm. People been demanding this, and uh. The mode of transport we know least about. JUSTIN: Yes. I don’t know anything about planes. LIAM: And boy howdy are we gonna show it! [laughter]
LIAM: …well, you know all about the L1011, ya fuckin’ weirdo. JUSTIN: I don’t… yeah, I do know about the L1011 but that’s
not what we’re talking about, because the L1011 was good, and not an engineering disaster. LIAM: Mehhhhhhhhhhhh. ALICE: That’s gonna be ‘Well There Isn’t Your
Problem,’ our sister podcast about engineering successes. JUSTIN: Yes. LIAM: It’s one episode long. [laughter]
JUSTIN: Stuff that worked, uhhhhhh, very short list. Okay, so there’s a bunch of planes here in
the parking lot, right? ALICE: Little Model UN there. JUSTIN: Yeah, you got like, Turkey, you got… ALICE: Iceland? JUSTIN: More Turkey… Iceland… we have… ALICE: Uhhhhh, American? Or is that United? JUSTIN: I dunno what Sunwing is. That is, that’s American, yeah. LIAM: Sunwing, uh, wasn’t that a cheap Canadian
airline, I wanna say? ALICE: Mm. JUSTIN: That’s what I usually associate with
Canada, is sun. LIAM: Sun, yeah. I’ve been to Newfoundland. [laughter]
JUSTIN: So, anyway, so these planes are not supposed to be there, right? These planes are supposed to be in the sky,
where planes live. ALICE: Yeah. Doing their natural diet of ingesting birds,
for sustenance. JUSTIN: [flatly] I love doing the same joke
three times, it gets funnier every time. [exhausted laughter]
ALICE: I, genuinely, I think like the second time we were a bit more low energy, and then
it did the thing where it came back around again, and *now* it’s funny to me again. [laughter/sobbing]
JUSTIN: So anyway, today we’re gonna talk about the 737 MAX. ALICE: Famously a good plane. JUSTIN: Yes. We’re gonna start by talking about the Boeing
Corporation, right, a little bit about. So, y’know, it was founded in 1916 by William
Boeing. Y’know, Bill Boeing. LIAM: Big Bill Boeing! Yeah, the triple B.
ALICE: Fucking hobbit! That man is a hobbit, he has a hobbit’s name!
[laughter] LIAM: And that’s why he built big planes,
so he could feel big about himself. Thanks for nothing Bill, you dick.
[laughter] JUSTIN: That’s why the fuselages are round,
like a hobbit door. ALICE: His name was actually Bilbo, but then
he decided that the company should be Boeing, because it Boes. JUSTIN: Bilbo Boeing. [laughter]
ALICE: What is their LEGO Space ass logo, though? Uh. JUSTIN: I’m still confused about, like, the
ramp? ALICE: So you get air. JUSTIN: It’s like a Soviet aircraft carrier. LIAM: So, I assumed that that was supposed
to be a B-2 bomber. ALICE: Ahhhhh. So it’s like a wing, I see. So you get like air and space, cause you get
the like orbit thing there. LIAM: Boeing *didn’t make* the B-2, that’s
why I was always confused. Because that was Northrop Grumman. ALICE: Stealing valor! In their logo, yeah. I dunno, I think it looks like that, um, Kazemir
Malevich, the Red Wedge. JUSTIN: Yeah it does kinda remind me of that. So anyway, founded 1916 in Seattle by William
Boeing, right now they produce pretty much all the commerical aircraft that Airbus doesn’t
make. Right? There’s a couple of little manufacturers like
Embraer and [Frenchly] Bombardier. ALICE: [laughing derisively]
LIAM: Goddamn French. ALICE: Is it [Frenchly] Bombardier or [Englishly]
Bombardier? Or is it both? LIAM: It’s both. JUSTIN: Is it both? LIAM: Well I’ve been saying [Frenchly] Bombardier. ALICE: It probably is, you probably have to
say both, but you probably have to, uh, say [Englishly] Bombardier and then French people
get mad at you and you have to be like [Frenchly] Bombardier. JUSTIN: This is a bilingual podcast. ALICE: Ah, that’s true. JUSTIN: Except I don’t know French, so. ALICE: [confidently, but wrongly] Well, if
it was [Frenchly] Bombardier, wouldn’t there be, like, an accent? JUSTIN: I have no idea. ALICE: Be like a lil, a lil accent over the
E. Bom-bar-dee-ay. JUSTIN: Um. Uh. I don’t know. ALICE: I’m sorry, I’ve broken Justin, we…
we know so little about planes, we can’t even put them into the Train Good, Car Bad thing,
we’re like, Train Good, Car Bad, Horse Chaotic Neutral, Plane… ???
LIAM: Drool starts coming out of our mouths. Yeah. ALICE: Yeah. [defensively] We don’t know! We didn’t go to, like, school for this, [makes
noises] the thing… it’s a big metal bird that goes in the sky, that’s terrifying! JUSTIN: It is terrifying, yes. Well, Boeing did try and make a few trains. And they sucked at it. [laughter]
JUSTIN: Did the US Standard Light Rail Vehicle for Boston and San Francisco, which worked…
which they tried to unify the order so it would work in both cities, and it worked in
neither of them. ALICE: Uh, perfect. LIAM: Oh, it’s like you and Quebec. JUSTIN: Oh yeah. [laughter]
ALICE: Okay so, tell us about Airbus, then. Cause we’ve got these two houses, alike in
dignity, here. JUSTIN: So, the difference between Boeing
and Airbus, right, in sort of design philosophy, has always been that Airbus, like this big
Emirates A380 here, right, they tend to design the plane in such a way that there’s lots
of automated systems, there’s lots of times when the plane will decide that the pilot’s
input is wrong and just override it, y’know. They tend to design planes that try to fly
themselves. ALICE: Yeah, the guy, their flight designer,
said that he wanted to design a plane that his concierge could fly. And because of that, French airline pilots
started threatening to kill him. He had to have like police protection and
stuff. Which is just incredible. Chads! Chad move. LIAM: Aggressively French. ALICE: Yeah! ‘You want to make my job slightly easier,
I will literally murder you.’ That’s the kind of labor organization energy
I want to see in 2020. That and the French nuclear power plant workers
being like, ‘Yeah okay, you can refuse our demands. Here’s a photo of us, and our off button,
for the nuclear power station.’ [laughter]
JUSTIN: [atrocious French accent] ‘Hon hon, oui oui.’
[laughter] ALICE: [not even attempting accent] Yeah. Je turn off le nuclear power station. [laughter]
LIAM: Goddamn French nanny state. JUSTIN: [accent] ‘Le powair etomique?’ LIAM: ‘Uhhhh, non. Non le powair etomique, there will be, non
for anyone.’ [insane sleep-deprived laughter]
LIAM: ‘Ow you say uhhh, le dark ages.’ JUSTIN: We’re delirious from recording this
three times. [deranged laughter]
ALICE: We’re all, we’re all losing it. This, like, yeah. It’s absolutely like we’re fucking delusional
off of this. [hauling us back on track voice] Okay, so
if Airbus are the like, wearing blackface to work, and like, drawing pictures of the
prophet Mohammed… [laughter]
ALICE: …like, *Euro* bullshit, then that must make Boeing the, like, Anglos, right? LIAM: HARBINGER OF FREEDOM
JUSTIN: Yes. So, on a Boeing aircraft, unlike an Airbus
aircraft, such as this Iran Air 747. Um, y’know, the plane owned by the good guys. [laughter]
ALICE: Especially, like, contrasted with Emirates, Jesus. JUSTIN: Yeah. Yeah, I picked these for a reason. [laughter]
JUSTIN: So on a Boeing aircraft generally speaking, it’s designed with the sort of philosophy
that the pilot always has final say over what the aircraft does, right? ALICE: Mm, it’s very militarized and fetishistic,
like, Chuck Yeager, the pilot in command, who’s gonna fuckin’ like ‘fly the machine’
and like, Do The Thing. As opposed to the Airbus which is just like
[dissipated French voice] ‘enh, le computair. Eet beezy, you just fly zer plane.’ [laughter]
JUSTIN: Yeah, this is very much the uh, ‘Just wanted to tell you all good luck. We’re all counting on you.’ airplane. [laughter]
ALICE: Yeah, when you talk… when you fly this plane, you have to do the Chuck Yeager
voice when you’re doing announcements. Otherwise it doesn’t work. You have to do the kind of, like, slight drawl. JUSTIN: [pilot voice] Passengers, this is
your captain speaking. ALL: [pilot voice] Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. [laughter]
ALICE: Do they teach them to do that? Is there like a school somewhere that’s like,
‘when you like, want to speak slowly, just say [pilot voice] uhhhhhhhhh,’ in between? LIAM: I wonder if they have something in pilot
school that’s similar to what they used to do for ESPN broadcasters, where they would
basically attempt to just knock the regionalisms out of them. ALICE: Yes! LIAM: Which is why, like, a bunch of American
sportscasters all, like, sound kind of *off*? Because they were trained for years to get
rid of any accent, just for standardization. ALICE: Yeah, that’s probably it. Like there’s probably even like a, it’s probably
even safer cause like, easier to talk to air traffic control and everything when everyone
has the same accent, but like, imagine how jarring it would be to get on a plane and
hear, like, Minnesota Nice coming from the cockpit. Just… viscerally sort of traumatic and wrong. LIAM: Well, yeah, cause then the pilot pulls
an Amy Klobuchar and just starts flinging staplers at your head. [laughter]
JUSTIN: [Minnesota voice] This is your captain speaking, uh, we’re gonna experience a little
bit of turbulence comin’ up… ALICE: [cracking up instantly]
JUSTIN: [Minnesota voice] Oahp, there it is! LIAM: DUCK!
[laughter] ALICE: Yeah, your stewardess will be through
with a hotdish. LIAM: Oahp, oahp, oahp, oahp.
[laughter] JUSTIN: Alright so. Wow, we’re even goin’- we lost Riley and we’re
goin’ even slower this time. ALICE: Goddammit. JUSTIN: Alright. The Chad Boeing and the Virgin Airbus, right. LIAM: Oh fuck. JUSTIN: Anyway. So. Um. Let’s talk a little about the Boeing aircraft
in question, talk about the Boeing 737, right? ALICE: Ah, delightful. JUSTIN: Yes. ALICE: You can tell this is from the age of
aviation where like, the pilot is six martinis in, uh, everybody’s smoking… everyone is
carrying a suitcase that weighs five hundred pounds cause it’s made out of pure, like,
reinforced leather and somebody’s about to demand that the plane go to Cuba. LIAM: Get a nice vacation in sunny Havana
with 109 of your closest friends! ALICE: Absolutely! This was the golden age, right? Like, flying got more dismal after this. JUSTIN: Yeah, so this was, this shows the
Boeing 737 original on its maiden flight, this is April 9th 1967. You can see it has old-fashioned, just regular
jet engines, as opposed to new turbofans which are more efficient now, this is the old-fashioned
stuff. ALICE: It’s just a big tube. Just SUCC the air through. JUSTIN: Yeah, suck the air through, add fuel,
spew it out the back. ALICE: [laughing] Didn’t… it was like that
Delta flight, they didn’t combust the fuel, it just shot fuel out of the back. JUSTIN: Rollin’ coal. ALICE: Which is… *extremely* inefficient. [laughter]
JUSTIN: What’s ‘complete combustion’? [laughter]
ALICE: Alright, so you have this like, plane, that’s being propelled by fucking chemtrails
of jet fuel out of the back… LIAM: Chemtrails are real!
[laughter] JUSTIN: Yeah it turns out, y’know, back when
they used… it was leaded kerosene so that’s basically a chemtrail. [laughter]
ALICE: Yeah, this is the plane that like, kind of killed the world though. Not just because it sprayed jet fuel on everyone
and made them Republicans, but because this is like The Short Haul Plane, right? Instead of… you don’t, any more, go to a
big airport and fly to another big airport, you take a short haul flight from a place
you don’t want to go to, to another place you don’t want to go to. Like fucking… I don’t know. What’s an airport that’s only international
because it flies to Canada? LIAM: HIA, Harrisburg *International* Airport! ALICE: Yes! That’s the kind of thing. Or like, you fly to like, from Glasgow to,
I don’t know, Manchester or something. And it takes 15 minutes and it’s dismal, but,
y’know, at least you’re not on a train like some sort of peasant. LIAM: To be fair, I once did, I’ve mentioned
this, the uh, Celtic FC morning special from Dublin to Glasgow, I think we were in the
air for a grand total of half an hour. And it was on a turboprop so at least they
know what they were doing. ALICE: Yeah, very progressive. JUSTIN: [pilot voice] Passengers, this is
your captain speaking, uhhhhh, thank you for joining us on this scheduled flight from… Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. We’ll be touching down…
[laughter] LIAM: They *do that flight*! That flight exists! ALICE: Jesus… JUSTIN: [pilot voice] We will be touching
down in approximately 45 minutes, uhhhhhh, please prepare for takeoff, and I would like
to ask the stewardess to please bring me three martinis, uhhhhhhh. [laughter]
JUSTIN: [pilot voice] That I will consume over the duration of this flight. ALICE: Yeah, and she’s just, like, wearing
a skirt that goes up to, like, nowhere, the whole time. Everyone’s drunk, everyone’s setting fires
with discarded cigarettes. [laughter]
LIAM: Yeah, that was glamorous, Alice, duh. [laughter]
LIAM: Classless! [TASTY beer can snap]
JUSTIN: So, anyway, so the Boeing 737 was designed to fill a sort of niche between…
well, a niche that the Boeing 707 and 727 couldn’t fill, which was, yeah, short haul
flights on these dumb routes that shouldn’t exist. And it was a roaring success, right. Y’know, they, this was in production for a
very long time. It is still… well, it *was* in production,
until recently. So, after the Boeing 737 classic, we start
adding new technology to these planes, right, so we have the next one is the 737 Classic,
right? And that’s when we start adding these new
turbofan engines. And the turbofans are more efficient. You can tell a 737 cause it has these flattened
bottoms to the fairings, cause they didn’t have enough room to do a fully circular fairing. ALICE: And they could do that then, because
by then they had like CNC machines, whereas before, the 737 classic was designed by a
guy with a slide rule and a lathe. Who was also drunk. LIAM: [drunk voice] Enhhhhhh thisss… one
sixteenthh ofan INCH… that sounmdsds gud to ME.
[laughter] ALICE: This is… the 737 classic, I am almost
certain that if you go wandering through the manuals, uses an RCH as a measurement of length
[google it]. JUSTIN: Yeah, the old one is just people beating
sheet metal with hammers, now we have a more… now we have more, better, metalworking techniques,
so, y’know. [laughter]
ALICE: Yeah. You can get a machine to, like, beat the metal
with hammers really quickly. JUSTIN: Still does this thing where the landing
gear folds in and the tire is just exposed to the elements. ALICE: That’s fine. JUSTIN: Um. Yeah. Well, even the new ones do that. ALICE: It’s fine. Just… yeah, if you’re only in the air for
45 minutes, [equivocating noises] it’s fine. LIAM: What’s the worst that’s gonna happen? JUSTIN: Yeah, it’s not like tires react, uh,
in strange ways to rapid increases and decreases in temperature. ALICE: No! JUSTIN: Right? LIAM: Nope. Nope.
[laughter] JUSTIN: So, yeah, we got the new turbofan
engines, right, and these were in production for a long time until 1997, when the next
737 came out, it was called… the 737 Next Generation. ALICE: [laughing] Oh. Awesome. JUSTIN: Everyone’s seen this joke three times
now. ALICE: Yeah. And I’m the only one making an effort, but
I genuinely do find it funny. [laughter]
LIAM: I enjoyed it! I wasn’t disputing that! ALICE: Yeah, you enjoyed it the first two
times. LIAM: Yeah, I will say, y’know. It’s good. I love it, you’re doin’ terrific, Roz. JUSTIN: Thank you. So, the Boeing 737 Next Generation, right,
it has, they redesigned the wing, they add these winglets here. ALICE: Ah, those things I hate. Cause you can see the end of the wing go up
and down. LIAM: Yeah, no thank you. Nooooo thank you. ALICE: Just put the window shade down, I don’t
need to… it may be technically stronger, that it’s able to flex like that… I don’t, I don’t want to see it, I’m just
sitting there sweating, and white-knuckling airline rum and cokes, on my 45 minute flight
to Harrisburg. LIAM: You leave Harrisburg alone. [laughter]
JUSTIN: You coulda spent less money and taken an Amtrak, but that’s also… departure time
is really inconvenient, it’s annoying. ALICE: I hate when I look out the window of
my Amfleet car and see the wing flexing. LIAM: It’s supposed to be reassuring, Alice! JUSTIN: One of… the design philosophy behind
the Amfleet car was, y’know, they were like, ‘Oh. People like airplanes. Let’s make a passenger car that seems like
it’s round, like an airplane, and has tiny windows, like an airplane.’ LIAM: You’re right, that *is* what I wanted. ALICE: Of course, the first generation of
Amfleets they had to retire cause of those square windows, just, depressurize like that. [laughter]
JUSTIN: So, um, they redesigned the wing, they got more efficient engines, still turbofans. They have a higher maximum takeoff weight
so you can handle more passengers, can make the plane bigger. Y’know, all this stuff. It’s still basically the same aircraft. ALICE: Yeah, they’re just patching it. They’re doing, like, it’s a Boeing 737 version,
like, 1.whatever. LIAM: Yeah. JUSTIN: Yes. And then, one fun fact about these airplanes,
since we’re talking about trains too – Boeing 737s are I believe the only aircraft which
travel by train as part of their production process. ALICE: Huh. So that’s… they’re good, then. JUSTIN: Oh yeah. Why fly, when you can take the train? ALICE: Just doing the, like, math here, on… Train Good, Plane Confusing. Plane Train… goooood? LIAM: Good-ish. Good-ish. JUSTIN: It’s interesting cause there was,
um. I believe one of the train loads of 737 MAXes
actually derailed and fell down an embankment. That’s a pretty expensive piece of cargo to
lose. ALICE: It’s fiiiiiine. Like… this does look, though, like a kind
of a… a shitpost you would come up with for what flying should look like. JUSTIN: Yes. ALICE: This is, in the dictatorship that we
all institute, this is what taking an airplane flight looks like, is you just get into this
airplane body that is loaded onto a flatbed. JUSTIN: So, uh, another fun fact. So these 737s are going for final assembly
in the Renton, Washington Boeing plant, right? It’s… Pacific Northwest, sorta near Seattle-ish,
and Renton is a fully unionized plant. If you’ve heard recently about Boeing hiring
non-union workers, that was at their new South Carolina plant, where the 787s were assembled,
and I believe they’re now unionizing that plant, but the Renton plant is interesting
because it has one of the very few engineer’s unions, right. So there’s the Society for Professional Engineers
in Aerospace, the SPEEA. ALICE: But, Aimee Terese taught me that-
LIAM: WEEEEEEGH. ALICE: -engineers are part of the Professional
Managerial Class, and shouldn’t be in unions- LIAM: EEEEEEEEEEGH. ALICE: -because you should only be in a union-
LIAM: EEEEEEEEEEEEGH. ALICE: -if you, like, hit the thing with the
hammer. LIAM: WEEEEEEEEEEGH. JUSTIN: I need to reset the ‘days without
Aimee Terese showing up on the timeline’ counter right now, and everyone else needs to reset
theirs too. ALICE: [putting money in the Aimee Terese
jar] Living rent free in my head. Yeah, I’m sorry, guys. [laughter]
JUSTIN: So one of their slogans when they were on strike, or agitating for better labor
conditions, was ‘no nerds, no birds.’ ALICE: That’s good, I like that. LIAM: [confused voice] But… go… birds? JUSTIN: It’s cool. You don’t usually think of engineers as being
a group with any kind of labor solidarity, but it can be done! ALICE: So, it travels by train, it’s built
with union labor, what is there not to like about this plane, why are we doing an episode
on why it’s… it’s good, why is there a problem. JUSTIN: So, after the Boeing 737 Next Generation,
Boeing decided, we need to spice things up, right. Cause Airbus was coming up with a new, more
efficient Airbus plane that was designed to compete with the 737. ALICE: Yeah, it was the New Engine Option,
the Neo, because that’s… they thought it would be cool to call it that, I guess. JUSTIN: Yeah. The CEO just watched The Matrix and was like…
yeah. That seems cool, I wanna be like that guy. [laughter]
ALICE: Yeah. Airbus’ chief test pilots, just two really
albino guys in white suits with dreadlocks. Just awesome. Epic, dude. LIAM: [French accent] ‘Oui oui, ve must build
ze plane like zis, hon hon.’ JUSTIN: [ignoring him] So they came out with
the Boeing 737 MAX, right? Now, one of the characteristics of this plane
is, to increase efficiency, they made the engines more bigger. ALICE: They look more bigger! Like, look at the size of them compared to
the old ones! That’s a giant fucking… they’ve literally
just taken that engine off of a longer haul jet and just bolted it onto the wing, right? JUSTIN: Yeah, exactly, and in order to do
that, since the Boeing 737 as we saw before doesn’t have a lot of ground clearance – that’s
why they had to do the weird fairings, right, with the flat bottom – they had to mount the
engines a little further forward in order to have enough space to put them, right? Now, the thing is, that alters the handling
characteristics of the aircraft, right, so it has more of a tendency to pitch up in certain
situations. In *some* situations. ALICE: That thing that you don’t want to do,
cause then you stall, and you crash the airplane. JUSTIN: Yeah, you don’t want to stall and
crash the airplane, that’s bad. ALICE: So you want to keep the nose down,
so how do you go about doing that? JUSTIN: So the smart thing to do would be
to retrain pilots, y’know, you’d say, ‘look, we should get you in the simulator here,’
and what you should do is say, ‘alright, here are the situations where this 737 handles
differently from earlier 737s,’ right? Um, but that’s expensive. ALICE: We don’t like doing expensive stuff. JUSTIN: Yes. So what Boeing’s executives decided, y’know,
they wanted to market this as basically the same aircraft as it was before. They were like, you know what we can do is
we can have computers solve this problem. LIAM: NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. ALICE: Well that’s fucking ironic. The time that Boeing gets owned, it’s the
one time that they act against type and do something that Airbus would’ve done, and be
like, oh we just have a computer do the thing. LIAM: That’s what happens when you adopt the
mannerisms of the French. ALICE: But also, this being the same plane,
that’s like… that’s a headache too, because if it’s a different plane, you’ve got to recertify
it and everything, and you’ve, I guess, got to put a new number on it so it’s not a 737
any more. So you kind of have to be like, [lying voice]
‘Yeah it’s the same, basically. We just moved, it’s, it’s fine.’ JUSTIN: Hold on a second. Did Liam drop out? ALICE: Uhhhhhhhhhh. [beat]
JUSTIN: Uhhhhhhhh. ALICE: This is the episode that kills co-hosts. Uh.
[laughter] ALICE: The lights go out, we hear a gunshot. I don’t know, maybe I’m next, we don’t know. JUSTIN: I would have heard the gunshot. He’s 30 feet that way. ALICE: Mm, that’s true. What if they, what if there was a silencer? You know, you don’t know. You don’t think about these things. JUSTIN: Uh, that’s a good point, yeah, it
could be a very very good silencer. Oh my God. Um. LIAM. ARE YOU THERE. LIAM: I can hear you! I can hear you! What?! JUSTIN: Oh, you are there. Alright. LIAM: Yes! God! Fuck!
[laughter] JUSTIN: Well, I was like, I asked if you were
there… LIAM: Yeah, I heard! I heard, and, uh, you slipped into my room
and muted my microphone, entirely by yourself… ALICE: [cackling like a witch]
LIAM: Instead of me just unplugging it by accident, frantically trying to figure out
why I can hear you, but you couldn’t hear me. It was fucking horrible. ALICE: This episode… JUSTIN: Cursed. ALICE: Cursed fucking episode. Worst episode. LIAM: We’re cursed. We’re cursed. Yeah, so, no, I was making jokes about the
French, no-one was laughing, which I thought was pretty disappointing, because of course,
Alice is absolutely right, it’s the one fucking time Boeing is like, y’know what’s a good
idea, emulating the goddamn French. You know what won the war?! [laughter]
ALICE: Yeah. We put a blackface generator in the aircraft. [laughter]
LIAM: Goddamn, right? We get really, really mad about how our of-African-descent
soccer players, who *won the goddamn world cup*, aren’t quite French enough. Just the dumbest fuckin’ shit, and then the… ALICE: Why is the flight computer on the 737
MAX, why is 90% of its processing time dedicated to, like, thinking about Kylian Mbappé? Like, or Didier Drogba. Why? LIAM: Well, we also have to address the fact
that, yeah, the fucking onboard computer is too busy doing casual European weirdo racism
to, uh, to compute anything else properly. [laughter]
ALICE: It’s like, it’s generating all of the Balkan YouTube comments that you see, that
are just like, ‘Manchester is Greater Serbia,’ and then a bunch of inexplicable death threats. That’s what it’s doing while you’re up there. JUSTIN: Every time you boot up the plane’s
computer systems, right, on every screen in the plane, including in the passenger compartment
with the little entertainment systems, it just displays a picture of the prophet Mohammed. ALICE: [losing it]
[laughter] ALICE: Yeah, Emirates not a huge customer
of this one, weirdly. [laughter]
JUSTIN: Alright, so now that Liam is back- LIAM: I never left… technically. ALICE: The worst part is, it’s gonna be on
your recording too, right, cause you muted it on Skype, so there’s gonna be a recording
that Justin’s gonna have to edit out of, like, you yelling jokes into a void. [laughter]
JUSTIN: It’s gonna turn out the jokes were, like, really good [apparently not] and I’m
not gonna… oh my God. LIAM: They weren’t. They weren’t. Don’t worry. I’m not especially funny. JUSTIN: [supportively] Don’t put yourself
down like that. LIAM: Thanks. JUSTIN: This is a wholesome podcast. ALICE: It is. This is a safe space. LIAM: You want me to come in there and give
you a hug, or…? [laughter]
JUSTIN: No, we gotta do work. LIAM: Oh, okay, yeah. Moving swiftly on, to the catastrophe. JUSTIN: So. They decided that, in addition to all these
other features that we’ve discussed that the computer did, with European characteristics,
they created something called the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or [pronouncing
like an acronym] the MCAS. LIAM: Oh, that sounds safe and not forboding. ALICE: The [pronouncing it like ’em-cass’]
MCAS. Do they call it an [acronym] MCAS or an [’em-cass’]
MCAS? JUSTIN: I have no idea, I like ’em-cass’ more
because it has fewer syllables. ALICE: It sounds more pilot-y, to me. So, yeah, let’s go with that, the em-cass. LIAM: Yeah. Because we are of course aircraft experts. ALICE: We are. We’re all doing the pilot voice constantly. [pilot voice] Uhhhhh. LIAM: [pilot voice] Uhhhhhh. JUSTIN: [pilot voice] Passengers, this is
your podcast host speaking… [laughter]
JUSTIN: [pilot voice] Uhhhhhhh, we’re going to move this conversation along, outside temperature
is about 44 degrees Fahrenheit, that’s… [normal voice] I have no idea what it is. I’m making a joke, about pilot voice. [laughter]
ALICE: Just the idea that you have like an information screen that shows you the location
and, like, speed of the podcast. LIAM: That’s Audacity. JUSTIN: Tiny little screen that shows you
the map of the area where we are. Goes from Philadelphia to Glasgow, yeah. ALICE: Yeah. You can watch, like, fucking Meet The Fockers
or something. With, like, all the swearing removed, while
you listen to this podcast. JUSTIN: Whenever I’m on the airplane I always
watch Airplane! That’s like a tradition for me. Alright. So. The Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation
System adds some force feedback to the yoke – that’s the thing the pilots use to control
the plane. ALICE: Jesus! No! LIAM: Yeahhhhhh. ALICE: That’s a thing you do with like, cheap-
LIAM: Like Logitech! ALICE: -Logitech! Yes! Fuck it, we put a force feedback on here,
so like if you think that you’re wearing through this thin shitty plastic, we’ll just like
have it push back, so you don’t notice. LIAM: If it’s good enough for GRID 2, it’s
good enough for me. Leave me alone. [laughter]
ALICE: Yeah. It’s… I… mm. JUSTIN: So it’s designed to add some force
feedback to mimic the flight characteristics of the older 737. ALICE: It comes… the 737 MAX comes bundled
with a copy of X-Plane. [laughter]
JUSTIN: Oh, we’ll get to that. [laughter]
JUSTIN: Now, this MCAS relied on information from the angle of attack sensor, that’s the
pitot tube, right. Just something that measures relative air
pressures to determine how fast the plane is going, and what angle it is, so on and
so forth. ALICE: It’s the part that crashes the plane. Uh. It’s, cause like, helicopters, they’ll just
crash from anything [RIP Kobe lol]. But a big fixed-wing commercial aircraft like
this just kind of keeps flying, or gliding, pretty much whatever you do to it, for a long
time. And the pitot tube, which has all of this
electronics in it, is like the one part that works like a helicopter, where it is just
like… [pitot tube voice] ‘I don’t work any more. I’m going to kill everyone.’ JUSTIN: Yes. And that’s the reason why there are usually
two on every airplane. Cause they’re not especially reliable. ALICE: No. They’re very sensitive, and off the top of
my head, planes have crashed because a ground crew guy left one covered in tape, and because
a colony of wasps started living in a nest they had built in one of the tubes. LIAM: [revolted noise]
ALICE: You don’t… yeah. JUSTIN: Why did he leave the plane sitting
that long? [laughter]
ALICE: You don’t want to be the guy who has to clean out the wasps from the thing, right? LIAM: ‘And I’ll write a B on this engine so
we know there’s bees in there.’ [laughter]
JUSTIN: So, the thing about the MCAS system is that while there were two pitot tubes on
the aircraft, it relied on information from only one of them. ALICE: Oh good! LIAM: As you do. JUSTIN: Now, a lot of workers and engineers
and so on at Boeing thought this was dumb, but management sort of overrode them, y’know,
it’s probably fine. Probably nothing will happen, right? Y’know, this system was equipped on the Boeing
737 MAX, and also the military KC-46 Pegasus tanker. ALICE: Oh good! The thing that’s filled with aviation fuel! JUSTIN: Oh yeah. ALICE: Just like a big balloon full of kerosene,
with a big hose coming out the back of it, also has this problem. LIAM: It’s not a balloon, it’s a plane! Fuel’s gotta go places!
[laughter] ALICE: A balloon is also a lifting body, this
is fine. JUSTIN: This is true. ALICE: But I assume that like, the plane has
bowsers full of fuel in it, and I assume those are going to be balloon-like in nature, so
I’m not wrong, fuck you. LIAM: Oh damn. [laughter]
JUSTIN: Alright, so. This MCAS system’s job is to push the nose
down, and add force feedback, right. So let’s see how good it is at doing its job. So. The first incident was Lion Air Flight 610. This was a 737 MAX-8, the 8 was the subdesignation
cause this was like a longer airplane than some of the other ones. This is October 29th 2018, there are 189 people
on board, right. So, they took off from Jakarta. ALICE: [fucking up her own joke] I hardly
know her. JUSTIN: ?
ALICE: …no? Nothing? JUSTIN: I…? LIAM: [helpfully] Bangor? JUSTIN: [still not getting it] Bangor? LIAM: [rescuing the joke] ‘Jakarta? I hardly know ‘er!’ Yeah, got it, alright. JUSTIN: That works, that took me a second. I was unfamiliar with that formatting of the
joke. ALICE: Jakarta, Maine. [laughter]
JUSTIN: This was a flight from Jakarta, Maine, to Bar Harbor-
[laughter] JUSTIN: No, this was… this plane crashed
into the Java Sea 13 minutes after takeoff, right, cause the MCAS got confused, and decided,
y’know, it had unreliable information from one of the pitot tubes, and decided the angle
of attack was wrong, and started forcing the nose down. ALICE: Cause you don’t want to stall the plane. And so, it just pushes the nose down. That’s cool, that’s safe, it’s a safety feature. LIAM: Yeah! JUSTIN: It is a safety feature, yes. It’s very safe. Well. The one thing the plane did not do was stall. LIAM: There you go. There you go. ALICE: Yes, that’s true. Maintained powered flight throughout, uh,
directly into the ocean. JUSTIN: Yes. Aerodynamically stable. LIAM: Congratulations Boeing, you automated
9/11. [laughter]
LIAM: If you can be one thing, you should be efficient, so. JUSTIN: The terrorists’ union just uh, sending
death threats. [laughter]
ALICE: Yeah, you have to have at least 19 hijackers and they all have to have like a
5 hour break. I’m just, looking at this, the one thing that’s
really depressing me is the, like – not the 189 people who died, so much as the like weird
angle on the L of Lion? Like it doesn’t match the… ion. JUSTIN: Yeah, it’s really weird, yeah. LIAM: Well there’s your problem. ALICE: Seriously! Like, did you… the kerning or whatever it
is is off. It’s probably why it crashed. JUSTIN: Yeah, cause the pitot tube was sensing
the angle of the L, where everything else is italic, yeah. There’s your problem. LIAM: That will do it. JUSTIN: The people who are coming here with
serious – wanting serious engineering information are gonna be really angry at this podcast. LIAM: They already are. [laughter]
JUSTIN: That’s true, yeah. So, the pilots struggled against the MCAS
force feedback for a while, but they couldn’t really overcome it, right? And they didn’t really know that MCAS was
responsible, they didn’t know they could maybe turn this off. ALICE: Yeah, you can’t physically fight it
because, it turns out that because it’s doing force feedback, it pushes down twice as hard
as it should be, like, counteracting the force, right? Because it’s expecting the aircraft to be
pushing up when it’s activated. So if it’s just the aircraft just travelling
level, it’s going at twice the force it needs to be, and it’s just activating like, on for
five seconds, off for five seconds, on for five seconds, like that. One of the articles about it described it
as like fighting a rabid dog. JUSTIN: Which is not what you want to do when
you’re operating a commercial airliner. ALICE: No. You don’t want to install a rabid dog in the
cockpit. Like, if anything, you should have a nice
dog, like an emotional support dog. JUSTIN: Just a nice little dog in the cockpit. And he’s like, very friendly. Maybe he goes and sleeps in a corner, he’s
very cute. But no, this is the wrong type of dog. LIAM: Hadn’t you mentioned at one point also
that the pilots didn’t really know what MCAS was, or even that it existed in the first
place? ALICE: Mhm! JUSTIN: Yeah, this was buried way in the manual. ALICE: Oh, worse. It was *never in* the manual. JUSTIN: Oh. ALICE: They… Boeing did not acknowledge at the time of
this first crash that the MCAS existed at all. Like, it was not in any manuals, or in any
notices given to aircrew, because they thought, ‘Well, it’s never going to encounter a situation
where it’s going to turn on. So they don’t need to know about it.’ JUSTIN: That is a fantastic design philosophy
right there. We’re gonna add this safety mechanism but
we’re not gonna tell you about it, cause you’re never gonna need it. But that’s why we thought we needed to add
it, though. ALICE: Yeah. It’s only gonna activate if you, like, try
to stall the plane under a very limited set of circumstances that nobody’s ever gonna
do that in regular commercial service. So we don’t need to tell them. And also, that means that it’s still a 737,
and we don’t have to… LIAM: Do training or anything like that. Yeah. ALICE: Yeah, cause it’s the same aircraft. We don’t have to call it a 738, cause we’re
kind of running out of numbers there. JUSTIN: Oh yeah, they got the 797 and then
that’s it. Then they’re gonna run out of numbers and
have to shut down Boeing. LIAM: Yeah, they had to stop making planes,
yeah. ALICE: Have to start using letters, yeah. LIAM: Do the thing that Nvidia and AMD do,
where they just pretend those old products just never existed. ALICE: Yesssss. LIAM: Or the fuckin’ trend where you just
rename a videogame the same thing as the thing you already named… ALICE: Yes! The soft reboot! LIAM: Lookin’ at you, Call of Modern Warfare. ALICE: Call of Duty, Tomb Raider, Hitman. Yeah. This is just going to be like the 737 (2018). [laughter]
JUSTIN: Okay, so this plane crashed, it murdered everyone aboard, and Boeing tried to blame
the pilots. ALICE: Of course. JUSTIN: They’re like, they’re inexperienced
and underpaid, and also the nice thing about blaming the pilots was that they were dead,
so they really couldn’t defend themselves, right? ALICE: Dead and Indonesian, which helps a
lot. JUSTIN: Yes. ALICE: Because the New York Times did a longread
about this which is… the angriest any newspaper article has ever made me, was very much of
the opinion that, well, I use quotes because this is what it says, ‘the Chinese,’ as, like,
a race of pilots or whatever, ‘learn by rote,’ unlike the airmanship-having Americans who
are all Chuck Yeager and just fly the dang machine. Uh, so, yeah, no. It’s very cynical to be like, ‘ah, well you
just learn by rote and you just look for things in the checklists,’ when you have systematically
concealed the existence of this thing from the fucking checklists. JUSTIN: I’m just thinking now of an ancient
race of Confucian pilots. [laughter]
JUSTIN: ‘My father was a pilot, and his father was a pilot, his father was a pilot before
him…’ ALICE: Yeah, every year you have to do the
civil service examination where you have to write a bunch of Confucian heavily-formalized
essays about startup procedures. [laughter]
ALICE: Yeah, it was the, it was easily, like, one of the most cynical things I’ve ever read. It was by a guy named William Langewiesche
who was, like, a cargo pilot, and it was so, so frustrating and insulting and I highly
recommend reading it if you want to punch holes in your drywall all day. LIAM: I often do, so. It me, overgrown fratboy. JUSTIN: Alright, so, Boeing tried to blame
the pilots, and they made some headway there, right, until it happened again. LIAM: Did it happen again? Did it happen, say, in a country where we
could also just blame, say, the nationality of the pilots rather than the catastrophic
failure by an American corporation to do their goddamned jobs properly? ALICE: Getting out my skull calipers and wandering
the wreckage in search of pilot remains, in order to be like, ‘Ah, the brainpan here just
doesn’t allow for airmanship.’ JUSTIN: I mean, Boeing is doing their job. Which is killing brown people. ALICE: That’s true! LIAM: That is true. ALICE: Shit, I wonder if those nerds, those
union nerds, also make like Reaper drones, cause if they do then I feel a lot worse about
them. JUSTIN: I think the engineers’ union only
covers the civilian division of Boeing. ALICE: Mm. Well, that’s okay. But, yeah, Boeing as a company, like, it still
makes a lot more from the military side than the civilian, right? Well, especially after this. JUSTIN: I think it’s about 60-40 civilian-military. LIAM: Yeah, it’s almost exactly 60-40. ALICE: Huh. JUSTIN: So you got Ethopian Airlines Flight
302, right. This is from Addis Ababa to Nairobi. 157 people on the plane. ALICE: Both in Maine, for some reason. LIAM: Yes. JUSTIN: Oh yeah. On March 10th 2019, right. So this flight was even shorter than the previous
one. MCAS activated two minutes into the flight,
it pitched the nose down. Pilots tried to counteract with brute force
on the yoke, and then since MCAS was a little bit more known about at this point, they used
a Boeing-approved recovery procedure. So they disabled the electric trim, which
disabled MCAS. Now, the trim are small control surfaces on
the larger control surfaces, which sort of alter their resting position, right? ALICE: So, like, flaps, or, et cetera. LIAM: Sure. JUSTIN: Yeah. Like flaps, elevators, ailerons, so on and
so forth. Once they disabled the electric trim, that
disabled the MCAS, but it also disabled their ability to alter the trim except manually,
which meant they needed to use a big crank. ALICE: No. Bullshit! JUSTIN: Yeah. No, this is a big hand crank they had to use
to alter the trim. ALICE: [disbelieving laughter] So… LIAM: Shades of Lac-Megantic, yeah. ALICE: Well, I’m thinking of, like, the minecart
that you see with like two guys pumping a big crank to move it down a railroad. JUSTIN: Yeah, basically. ALICE: Just inadvertently create, like, transforming
this billion dollar aircraft into a handcart. LIAM: Well, at the very least you get a nice
workout out of it. JUSTIN: That’s Boeing technology right there. LIAM: As you’re crashing into the ground. ALICE: Yeah. Get that core strength. JUSTIN: Well, they didn’t have enough core
strength, because they… owing to the aerodynamic forces on the trim, right, they couldn’t really
alter the trim position at all. ALICE: Which had been pushed down. JUSTIN: Which had been pushed down, yeah. ALICE: And like, if you turn the electric
trim back on, the MCAS comes back on and it pushes it back down again… JUSTIN: Yes. ALICE: So, you just have to like crank the
big crank that you physically can’t crank. Damn. Should’ve been stronger, should’ve had more
gains. LIAM: That’s why you never skip arm day, bruh. JUSTIN: I was about to say, this is a failure
to… lack of swoleocity. [laughter]
ALICE: They did, as part of Boeing’s press thing in response to this, I remember seeing
an article that was like – the flight crew on this were both men, but they were like,
‘are women pilots physically strong enough to fly?’ Because, uh, maybe they can’t move the crank. That these two guys couldn’t move. JUSTIN: I mean, maybe you shouldn’t add like
a hydraulic press that forces the controls into position, so that you crash the plane,
you know? This is my idea. A little controversial, but. LIAM: One would think. JUSTIN: You’ve turned the cockpit into the
hydraulic press channel, y’know. [laughter]
JUSTIN: Alright, so, the pilots are like, we got a problem, we need to return to the
airport, right, so they start to, they ask permission to return to the airport, they
start trying to turn the plane around but they’re like, well, we gotta turn the electric
trim back on, because otherwise they can’t really maneuver the airplane at all. So, they do that. They turn the electric trim back on, and MCAS
is like, ‘oh wow we’re gonna stall, I better put the nose down,’ and did, and it crashed. ALICE: Didn’t stall! Once again. JUSTIN: Once again did not stall, yes. ALICE: 100% effectiveness. JUSTIN: Yes. MCAS: 2, stalls: 0. [laughter]
JUSTIN: So again, this murdered everyone on the plane, once again, right? So, at this point Boeing is kind of up shit
creek. So it starts with the Chinese grounding the
plane. The FAA tried to make an argument that, y’know,
it’s fine. Nothing’s going wrong here. And then two days later they decided to ground
the 737 MAX as well. [laughter]
JUSTIN: This is in like March of 2019. ALICE: We are all doing Xi Jinping Thought,
on the basis that the Chinese aviation authorities were quicker on this one. LIAM: Yay, regulatory capture! ALICE: The FAA is the most cucked regulator,
though, right? Like, aside from maybe the SEC. JUSTIN: Yeah, the SEC basically can’t do anything
to anyone who decides not to… you have to make a conscious decision to get caught by
the SEC. ALICE: But like the FAA, if you’re an airline
as opposed to just some Piper Cub driver, uhhhh, what can they really do to you? Like… I guess they can stop you flying your plane. Eventually. After it kills a couple of hundred people. JUSTIN: Yeah, it killed uhhhhhh in total,
346 people. ALICE: Yikes. Yeah. JUSTIN: So, one thing that came out in the
wash, right, after these planes were grounded, and they’re still grounded to this day and
Boeing has stopped production of them, one thing that came out of the wash is that there
were in fact optional extras which would have let the pilots know that MCAS was causing
the problem, right? There was DLC that would have fixed the plane. ALICE: No. JUSTIN: That was an Angle of Attack Disagree
Light, which would show that the angle of attack sensor that the MCAS relied on was
showing a different result than other angle of attack sensors. Y’know, the two pitot tubes. LIAM: Jesus fuck. JUSTIN: And that would be, that would show
that, hey MCAS is the problem, maybe you should turn it off, right? But this was an extra feature, so budget airlines
didn’t buy it, right? ALICE: Of course. They also got their parts cheaper cause they
got them used. There’s a place called Cockroach Corner in
Florida, which has a bunch of, like… essentially just parts bins for commercial aircraft. And this came out in the Boeing press stuff
too, they were like, these shady, these fly-by-night operators, they just buy their parts from
anywhere, and it turns out they were buying their parts from, well, Americans, but that
never really gets mentioned. But you just get this angle of attack sensor
out of a bin somewhere, and you screw it into the aircraft, and then, yeah. It’s fine, it’s cool, until it isn’t. LIAM: It’s good, it’s fun. JUSTIN: It’s fine. Put some drywall around it, it’s fine. LIAM: That sounds safe. ALICE: Groverplane. JUSTIN: Groverplane. LIAM: That’s what happens when you try to
mount a barbecue on a wing. [laughter]
ALICE: Yeah, the cause of the crash is the galley just has a grill in it and it’s melting
the plastic siding. [laughter]
JUSTIN: So, uhm, alright, so the plane killed 346 people in total, this was a massive economic
disaster for Boeing, right, they’ve lost about 20 billion dollars in cancelled orders. LIAM: [falsely] Oh nooooooo. JUSTIN: And of course the investors kicked
out Boeing’s CEO, right? Not over killing a lot of people but over
the lost revenue, of course. ALICE: Of course. And that guy’s definitely not fine, wherever
he is. He, yeah, that guy died, I think. Or is in jail. Or something. LIAM: That’s a lot of faith in the American
justice system there, bud. ALICE: He definitely didn’t get, like, some
kind of generous severance package and then go to work for somewhere-
LIAM: He didn’t get severance! He just left with 80 million in stock options. ALICE: Oh. Well, that’s a just punishment, actually. JUSTIN: I was about to say, actually. You know how much… I mean, 80 million dollars isn’t a lot of
money any more. Let’s get real. ALICE: No. That’s like… one candy bar? Or like a SATA cable? JUSTIN: That’s like only two penthouses in
Central Park West. ALICE: Could get some Mentos for that. LIAM: Get several Mentos. JUSTIN: Several Mentos. Some Diet Coke. ALICE: Luxury. Yeah yeah yeah. JUSTIN: Alright. And Boeing is… well, we’ll see how they
pull through this. I’m sure with massive government subsidies. I don’t think we’ll see the death of America’s
main commercial aircraft manufacturer. I don’t think the government would let ’em
go. ALICE: No. I mean I guess this is nice if you’re, uh,
if you’re Northrop Grumman and you decide, hey maybe I want to get back into civil aviation. Now might be a nice time for you to do that. And it’s great if you’re Airbus! Because you can just be like, [French accent]
‘euh we install ze raciste computairs.’ [laughter]
ALICE: And when an Air France flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris just smacks into the
ocean because the computer decides, [French accent] ‘euhhhh I feel ze ennui, I am dissipated,
I crash ze plein into ze oceane, I keel everyone, zose bastards,’ then, yeah, no, that’s fine. You just, like, muscle through that. JUSTIN: Somehow the computer is smoking. [laughter]
ALICE: There is no ethical aircraft manufacturer under capitalism. JUSTIN: It’s true, yes. LIAM: That’s the damn truth. JUSTIN: Yeah, the last good aircraft was the
L11011. LIAM: Oh God. JUSTIN: Anyway, of course, litigation and
investigation is still ongoing into these incidents, and I’m sure we’ll do maybe a more
detailed podcast later, when we have more information. Um, of course, that is what it is. Boeing screwed the pooch on this airplane. ALICE: Screwed the pooch on this airplane,
but got away with it because we live in some very racist times and you can just, like. So long as you don’t kill 350 *white* people,
it’s kind of okay, and you can kind of get away with it. JUSTIN: Yes. LIAM: Yep. ALICE: And then you can call the pilots incompetent,
and even when you’re proved to have been lying, it doesn’t really matter, still, and everyone
involved still keeps their money and their reputations, and some podcasters make fun
of you. Yeah. No. It’s… LIAM: A hard life it is. ALICE: It is, it is. They must all be so devastated by this. JUSTIN: RIP Boeing, but not really. ALICE: Yeah. The real casualty here. Like, several hundred families losing one
or more family members, that’s sad, but like, a manufacturer of planes having to change
CEOs, that’s the kind of tragedy that just sticks with you when you do a podcast like
this. LIAM: That is true. ALICE: We’re all going to therapy for this,
yep. LIAM: Deeply saddened by his unfortunate ouster. JUSTIN: Yes. ALICE: We did say that we were not gonna do
another tremendously depressing episode, but here we are. We’re all weeping, openly. JUSTIN: The changing of the guard. RIP. Well, next time we’ll have a nice light-hearted
episode about the Tacoma Narrows Bridge Disaster. ALICE: Finally. Yeah. JUSTIN: Yes. LIAM: Bout time. JUSTIN: So. That’s the end of the episode. Does anyone have any commercials? ALICE: Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. No. Listen to Trashfuture, it’s a good podcast. We’re doing a live show at some point in February,
uh so look out for that. But yeah, that’s all I got. JUSTIN: Uh, Liam, do you have a commercial? LIAM: Uhhhhhhhh. I guess follow me on Twitter @oldmananders0n,
and thank you to the people who have been also piling on just dogshit idiots in our
comments section on YouTube, we appreciate it. ALICE: Yes! Thank you for cyberbullying for us. LIAM: Appreciate ya. JUSTIN: Yeah, just so you know, if your comment
gets pinned under any video, that means it’s the worst comment. I always pin the worst one. [laughter]
JUSTIN: Except I think on the traffic engineering one, cause there was a guy who’s a traffic
engineer who just commented to say, ‘Oh yeah all this stuff is true,’ and I was like, yeah,
this guy’s cool, so I pinned that one. ALICE: That was the worst comment. JUSTIN: No, he was like a nice person. So that was not the worst comment. So I changed my policy there. But generally speaking, if you get your comment
pinned, that means it was a bad comment. And now everyone needs to dunk on you. Okay. ALICE: Do better. JUSTIN: Yes. Do better at commenting. ALICE: Mhm. Well there’s your podcast. JUSTIN: Yes. Well, my thing to do a commercial about is…
so, here in Philadelphia we just started the Philly Transit Riders Union, this is a coalition
of, or a union made of both transit riders and transit operators, and we’re meeting on
the third Sunday of every month, we’ll stick the information about that in the description
of the video. If you are a Philadelphia transit rider and
you’re tired of being considered like a second class citizen compared to drivers, I recommend
you join the union. One of our campaigns right now is, we wanna
do something about SEPTA converting Route 15 from an electric trolley into a diesel
bus, which is of course happening tomorrow. Which is… January 24th. So, I mean, if you’re interested in better
transit in the Philadelphia region, you should come to our meetings. That’s my commercial. ALICE: Tram good, bus bad. JUSTIN: Bus less good, yeah. ALICE: Bus less good, yes. Diesel bus, very much less good. JUSTIN: Especially when you’re replacing an
electric trolley with a diesel bus. LIAM: Bus less good. JUSTIN: They’re saying they may not get new
trolleys in until 2031. I’m like, Port Richmond’s gonna be underwater
in 2031. [laughter]
ALICE: You’re not even doing the thing Glasgow did when we got rid of our trams, where we
replaced them with a trolleybus for a year, and then decided that that was a dogshit idea
and we were just gonna do diesel buses. JUSTIN: Well, SEPTA says they’re gonna temporarily
suspend trolley operations for 18 months. Now, the last time they did this was when
they temporarily suspended trolleybus operations for 18 months, and that 18 months lasted 5
years. [laughter]
JUSTIN: We need public pressure on these guys to just, not be complete clowns about this. Um. So that’s my commercial. And then other than that, follow my Twitter
and watch my YouTube channel, the videos are comin’ soon. I swear. Swear to God. Swearsies-realsies. ALICE: And, we have our second Patreon episode
coming, on the subject of Liam’s van, with Riley Quinn from Trashfuture. JUSTIN: Who is unfortunately deceased. ALICE: Who is unfortunately, yes, died of
USB-C. JUSTIN: Yes. [laughter]
JUSTIN: Alright. So. Uh. I think that’s all the things. ALICE: I think so, yes. We finally got there. JUSTIN: It only took us three tries. Only took three tries and declaring it podcast
12A. [laughter]
ALICE: We absolutely have to number it 12A. JUSTIN: I’m calling it 12A. ALICE: Yes. LIAM: We did it! We did it! We fucking did it! JUSTIN: Bye everyone.

68 thoughts on “Well There’s Your Problem | Episode 12A: The Boeing 737 MAX

  1. I was able to find episode 13. Just click and drag the thumbnail for episode 12A and drag it into the trash, you'll find 13 is underneath. Make sure to recover 12A though, if you empty the trash you'll lose it forever.

  2. my systems engineering teacher brought this as an example of a bad human-machine interface because basically letting the pilot believe they're flying a different older airplane by doing different things than what the pilot wants, and lying to them about it, is Bad

  3. I think I have a solution to their tyre temperature cycling issue. First, you make the wheels completely out of metal. Since metal doesn't work well with tarmac, let's make them run on metal too. Rather than making a big plate of metal, we'll make them long strips of metal that it runs on. Finally, let's eliminate the whole temperature cycling thing by not going up in the cold air, so it always runs on the ground.

    As a side effect, it's a lot more efficient too!

  4. As someone who lives near another Boeing plant and has followed this every step of the way, there's dark foreshadowing in the first 15 minutes

  5. tar rar bomb-bardiay
    tar rar bomb bardiay
    tar rar bomb bardiay
    tar rar bomb bardiay

  6. When you all do the Tacoma Narrow Bridge disaster, please dedicate it to Tubby. Fuck you Coatsworth for leaving Tubby behind, you bastard!

  7. Also when you talk about trimming an aircraft in flight it is generally c of g and the elevator trim which is the accepted thing.
    Other flying surfaces are trimmed too, but normally this is not what is meant.

  8. im sorry but i just gotta call out alice for a bit here, the famous red wedge poster was not designed by kazimir malevich but rather by the equally formidable (and formidably named) suprematist artist and designer el lissitzky. i can sleep tonight knowing that four years of art history extracurriculars didnt go to total waste

  9. In short: lose all your market share to airbus and make the nsa a generation early. Sell a few, maybe make a profit and have airbus wipe the floor with you when their a320 replacement comes along… i would have gone the 737 max route as well but added more failsafe-ness and better communication with airlines. Thats it…

  10. China didn't ground the MAX on evidence they grounded it for trade negotiation leverage. The FAA waited for actual evidence.

  11. It owns that Boeing’s outgoing CEO got paid than all the victims combined. It also owns the new guy is from Blackstone.

  12. “Congratulations Boeing! You’ve automated 9/11.” Holy shit! That was funny.
    I haven’t finished the episode, but I suspect that joke will not be topped. I’m ready to call it the funniest joke of the episode.

  13. This wasn't THAT bad. I mean, at least it can't get any worse than this, right? I mean this was rock bottom for you guys and girls right? right?

  14. I was going to cuss you out for your chronic moral failings on twitter and poor dental hygiene but it sounds like you guys need a break this week.

    Stay moisturised, leftists!

  15. My city used to be known as the city that builds a plane a day.
    Now its known as the city that doesn't build any planes. Which I guess makes it like every other city.
    The 737 machinists still have their jobs by the way, which is good.

  16. So the real reason the Vietnam War was a disaster was because the US were emulating the French… by invading Vietnam!

  17. The L just has a rounded corner, the vertikal part is exactly in the same angle as the i. So this cannot be the reason the plane crashed.

  18. The angle of attack sensor is totally separate from a pitot tube. I highly recommended Mentour Pilot’s videos on the subject if you want the actual technical details on the whole thing and the way it was explained to the pilots about the new training.

  19. So it's worth pointing out that the angle of attack sensor is actually separate from the pitot tube it's actually a little look like a little mini Wing that's like stuck to a volume control knob and what it does is it just senses just senses the direction of the air whether it's moving up or down the pitot tube is part of the same system but it's separate and they only had if I recall one angle of attack sensor and it did not do any comparison between the angle of attack sensor and any other inputs so it didn't look at current actual angle-of-attack according to the inertial navigation system and it didn't check any other sensor input so pretty much it just made assumptions based off One sensor that oh I'm stalling Eva it wasn't actually stalling so especially during takeoff and climbs where it might look like you're stalling but you're not stalling

  20. If you like force feedback look up the stick Shaker which is basically oops the pilot fell asleep shake the stick so they know they're doing something stupid like flying into the ground

  21. https://static.seattletimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/MAX-737-sensor-W-780×520.jpg

    So, the big culprit in this is the Angle of Attack Vane sensor, which would detect the directional flow of 'inbound' air to the wings compared to the True Air Speed provided by the Pitot Tube, and deduces whether you are going to stall.

    The problem was that the MCAS (and it is correct to pronounce it as a single word, at least in the USAF) basically ignored any other inputs other than the Angle of Attack. This is a problem, especially when, say, you are trying to nose up to raise your altitude, like during take off and climb scenarios. What Boeing SHOULD have done was compare it to the Inertial Nav system and added a second Angle of Attack sensor to help "confirm" stall rather than single decision point the AoA sensor.

    So, the AoA vane would pitch up during climbs. MCAS would deduce a stall (despite sufficient True Air Speed being present at the Pitot tube to avoid a stall) and force the controls nose down. There was no confirmation, and any MCAS input should've only been informational (like stick shakers, where it just 'Alerts' the pilots rather than making decisions in place of the pilots).

    The worst part was Boeing overrode multiple FAA inspectors, and were allowed to do so, by hiding the Qualification results of testing from them, and then not providing follow on training for the pilots.

  22. The "uhhhhhh" is because the headset mic auto squelches on silences so they kinda self train unintentionally to keep the mic open by continually making some sound

  23. So Boing put a system, that countered the stearing off the plane, onto their main sensor without telling anybody and sold the only way to effectivly disable that system as a premium addon…… Capitalism HO

  24. Boeing: "Let's just move the engines a little bit forward and up"
    Everyone who has played Kerbal Space Program and seen those 3 little vectors go out of alignment: "oh no"

  25. Could have had a lot more fun with those emails and phone call recordings of the executives ridiculing the regulators and government bureaucrats. Perhaps if those know nothing bureaucrats understood economics. Boeing gets paid no matter what. And a few hundred dead foreigners is nothing. Think of all the dividends lost if they were to be held to some arbitrary standard dictated by engineering and science rather then market math. Maybe on the fourth try.

  26. The Air France accident was completely caused by pilot error, though. The racist computers were working beautifully.

  27. A less rabid cockpit dog would probably be really quite comforting to crew in a crash. Perhaps something like a nice huggable labrador. Horses can also be very calming although you'd probably have to let them roam around a little on longer flights.

  28. The Pilot talks like 3 times on your flight, "This is your Captain speaking…. Uhhhhh … We are flying over uhhhhh…". Do you ever want to storm the cockpit and yell at him "get your thoughts together man!!" Maybe it's so distracting watching the plane fly itself for 3 hours you just can't get the words out lol.
    And to quote the insanely funny Airline Announcements by George Carlin "and who made this man a Captain?"

  29. You built more redundancy into your podcast than the management of Boeing put into the 737 Max.
    I've worked in a few design departments for manufacturing companies and the amount of times management have tried to avoid safety features due to: cost, because 'no one would be that stupid' or this can't fail (arrogance) is an uncomfortably regular occurrence.
    So what I'm trying to say is make your safety critical systems redundant, redundancy in your safety systems is the point I'm trying to get across.

  30. The autopilot software is designed to make the aircraft handle like the earlier generation of aircraft given the same flight control input. This removes the requirement for pilots to recertify on a new aircraft type, an expensive step that takes pilots out of flight rotation. Unfortunately, the Max has a tendency to pitch nose-up on takeoff due to the damnably low engines and heavy body. The autopilot detects the conditions that cause the nose to pitch up and lowers the nose. Really unfortunately, there is no notification to the pilots that’s this is happening—the nose just drops, and the pilot has no idea why. Most unfortunate of all, a faulty airspeed sensor can trigger the nose-down behavior when it is disastrously inappropriate. If the pilot simply turns off the autopilot when an airspeed fault is detected, the problem does not occur or goes away immediately. Sadly, no one has told the pilots, and turning off the autopilot is not the first reaction to the plane suddenly plunging earthward. Pulling up fails, as. The autopilot is preventing “unintentional” nose up from the flight controls…

  31. The logo is from McDonald Douglas. The company name is actually “McDonald Douglas Boeing”, since McDonald Douglas took over Boeing in 1998

  32. A software problem kept Boeing's Starliner from reaching the proper orbit and hardware problems damaged the thrusters. And NASA is probably going to let them fly actual humans on the next flight. 🤬
    At this point I wouldn't trust Boeing to fly me an hour to Dallas, much less to space.

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