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The thing I don't understand is that if Boeing has been this bad for this long, as many reports indicate, how has nobody come forward to talk about it until these crashes? Zero whistleblowers? Zero people worried about safety enough to call a journalist? How?

The MCAS system design is just so obviously flawed I can't understand how nobody stuck their feet in sand and started saying no, under any circumstances, this is not happening.

I guess you could apply the same question to the people at the FAA, but even after reading the article I still don't understand how the FAA is involved in oversight at all. It kind of seems like they are just checking boxes, but I'll admit that as an outsider the whole FAA/regulatory system is not really something I think I can wrap my head around.




Name one high profile whistleblower in USA in the last 30 years has not had his entire life upturned or, more often, straight up ruined as a direct result of his high moral standards.

Nobody working at Boeing of FAA right now has witnessed one during their lifetime - all they saw were cautionary tales.

Quoting Wikipedia:

"Based on data from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, only 21% of the 1800 whistleblower cases reviewed by the agency in 2007 had "a favorable outcome" for the whistleblower. The GAO found that the key issues were lack of resources for investigating employees' claims and the legal complexity of whistleblower protection regulations."


They wouldn't be 'high profile' thanks to the strong anonymity protections, but some whistleblower programmes can be - how shall we say - fairly rewarding [0].

The SEC's may not be typical of whistleblower programmes in the USA, but I'm not sure presenting it as uniformly awful across the board is true either. There definitely exist those who have gained (at least monetarily) from whistleblowing.

[0] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-03-26/two-whist...


They did! 5 years ago, Al Jazeera made a documentary about Boeing's problems [1]. Choice quotes from the first two minutes:

- "They're shortchanging the engineering process to meet a schedule."

- "We uncover a whistleblower fired as he fought for safety."

The very things that you wonder why they never happened, did in fact happen.

[1]: https://www.aljazeera.com/investigations/boeing787/


Well for one, the engineers in charge of compliance have a lot less protection from the FAA than they did before the 2004 rule change. Now if they make too big a fuss they can much more easily be subject to retribution. If their managers know anything about their concerns internally and then they file a complaint with the FAA, they’d likely be found out and lose their job. I can definitely understand why those circumstance would lead to a chilling effect.


It's quite possible that no one person understood the entire system. Maybe the software team was told that the "disagree" light was standard equipment and that all pilots would be undergoing 8 hours of simulator training on MCAS. In that case you wouldn't blow the whistle because pilots would be looking out for MCAS failures and would handle it fine. Instead what happened is that the 737-MAX's reason for existence was to have no pilot retrained and for critical safety features to cost extra $$$.


People saw what happened to Assange, locked up in an embassy, to Snowden, having to hide in Russia, to Manning, rotting in a cell again, and to countless other whistleblowers worldwide.

The chilling effect is real.

What has likely also played a part: at-will employment and blacklisting.


I could see a scenario where an engineer would have gone to the press and the result would have been him getting sued for damages because of the accusations, of breaking NDAs if he signed ones, for stealing documents if he presented any evidence etc.

We also seen how the public was trying so hard to blame the pilots so I could see how most of the public would defend Boeing and FAA since they had a very good reputation and they would ask for some unreasonable proof(one airplane crash was not enough so it is clear the proof would have to be extreme for something to happen).


We also seen how the public was trying so hard to blame the pilots so I could see how most of the public would defend Boeing and FAA since they had a very good reputation and they would ask for some unreasonable proof

To me it seems Boeing is still fully at it. They never changed their narative from (I'm paraphrasing here)

"There was a slight technical problem, which may have been a tiny link in the chain, which would have been no problem at all if those planes would have been flown by competent Murrican pilots and not badly trained third world dolts."

I see this argument pushed forward on discussion boards and social media (including HN) and can't rid myself of the impression that Boeing employs sock puppets to push such bullshit.

The arrogance of this company, which literally kills people, to me is beyond comprehension.


It is a tragedy that this regime resulted in such avoidable death at the interest of rushing a product to market. In short obviously Boing F’d up hard.


It’s easy to say in retrospect that this specific issue was a big problem and we wish someone had come forwards. It’s a lot harder for someone without the benefit of hindsight to notice that it’ll definitely need to disaster, and that it over all the other minor deviations from the rules needs to be whistleblown on. (Before the hack, how much attention would you have paid to someone whistleblowing that some of Experian’s software dependencies are out of date?)


No it's really not. Designing a system that changes the pitch of the plane automatically while relying on a single sensor that is known to fail at a high rate while working proactively to hide this system from pilots is beyond negligent. It's beyond incompetent. It's just malicious greed.

There is no hindsight argument in this case. This is an incredibly simple and easy to understand system, even for a layperson. The few people I know who have worked in real mechanical engineering systems are having meltdowns over how bad the design was.


The short-term alternative which Boeing has settled on, and which most people in the media seem fine with, is "a system that changes the pitch of the plane automatically while relying on sensors that are known to fail at a high rate". I don't buy that the average person (or the average reporter) could identify without guidance that the first system is terrible but the second system is okay.




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