Adam Piggott

Gentleman adventurer

Native Pilots.

Tim Newman thinks that Boeing is in trouble with its forced grounding of the 737 Max aircraft after two fatal crashes. Tim thinks that the fault lies with modern management.

However, a friend of mine emailed me with the following throwaway line:

“Seriously, what do the Boeing 737 Ethiopian and Indonesian disasters have in common?

Native pilots.”

I find it hard to disagree.

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16 Comments

  1. Inadequate skill level or substandard training? Unprofessional behavior? I was curious. (And no, these aren’t loaded questions).

    • My guess would be substandard training and/or a mindset that doesn’t question automated systems and what they’re being told followed up with no general problem solving skills.

  2. bob sykes

    The crash of Asiana Airlines Flight 214 at San Francisco July 6, 2013, was attributed, in part, to cultural issues, namely the deference of the junior pilot to the senior pilot even as the senior pilot made errors.

    Korean pilots are hardly Third World, they are First World.

  3. Bob, I presume that the Korean pilots were not piloting a Boeing 737 Max since its first flight was in 2016. Relevance of your observation?

  4. TechieDude

    That was the first thought that entered my head hearing about the crashes – native pilots. When you read up on it, you find that American pilots had the same issue come up, had the “WTF is this thing doing” moment, and promptly fixed it.

    Aircraft are complex machines. There’s always something that comes up when they go into operation. The original 737 had a rudder issue, where the valves would fail and cause the rudder to work backwards. The 787 had batteries ignite, in the entertainment center if memory serves.

  5. didact117

    No, there is a bit more to it than either JUST modern management or native pilots.

    This article is unfortunately behind a paywall, but it indirectly tells a story of considerable incompetence at Boeing.

    The 737-MAX aircraft were thoroughly tested by Boeing, as they should have been. During flight tests it was apparently discovered that the nose of the aircraft has a significant tendency to go nose-up, which can lead to a potentially catastrophic stall. To counter this, Boeing installed a Manoeuvreing Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), designed to use the plane’s horizontal stabilisers to force the nose of the 737 MAX-8 down again.

    That’s all fine and dandy… except that Boeing didn’t say one word about it to anyone in their own flight and operations manuals for the aircraft.

    “Native Pilot Syndrome” was almost certainly a factor, though of course nobody in the politically correct circles wants to admit this. The problems go all the way up the chain at Boeing, starting with the folks in the engineering and avionics departments who installed that system, and ending with the CEO of Boeing who pushed hard for this plane to get out the door in order to compete with Airbus.

    The bottom line is that what we are seeing here is a combination of failing Western management culture, an outright dangerous reliance on automated systems and “artificial intelligence”, lack of transparency and training, and lower-quality “native” pilots. And people are dying because of it all.

    This is probably a lot like how the Roman Empire felt in its latter days when its citizens could no longer count on the once-famed Roman roads, bridges, and aqueducts to stay properly maintained and functional. They blamed others, of course, but ultimately, it was their own fault.

  6. To me it sounds like a faulty design issue (MCAS system probably shouldn’t have been approved based on what I’m reading about the issues with it), augmented by a likely maintenance issue of the sensor systems, followed by a training issue and a tendency of people to trust automated systems too much. I’m sure cultural issues were at play in the last two areas.

  7. When Muhammad Ali fought George Foreman in the Rumble in the Jungle (Zaire), Ali asked if the pilot taking off from Africa was white. Everyone laughed. Then he asked again. No one has ever denied this anecdote; it appears in two independent accounts of the events. He knew.

    And no, Asian pilots are not as good as white guys, neither on the track nor in the air.

    • NY Times. Today.

      “- Confusion, then prayer, in Lion Air crash-

      As the nose of the doomed Lion Air flight repeatedly bucked downward, one of the pilots flipped through the pages of a technical manual to try to figure out what was happening. Then his co-pilot began to pray.”

  8. Trusting automated systems is a pox upon the modern world. The guys who understand how stuff works are dismissed because anybody can push the button. I’m convinced that one reason the Elites don’t fear to replace us is because of that.

    So long as things go well, things go well. Then they don’t and people run out of buttons to push. Kaboom.

  9. Maria

    This was my general thought on automation in general. I imagine the elites want fewer white guys but to keep that nice modern world. How to do? Automation. (No brains involved, Duh). It has always struck me that fewer white guys means less functional modern world, less problem solving, less of everything that the rest of the world craves. It is heartening to think that how our genes express us in the world, cannot be separated from us.

  10. Nebia Hill

    This 7-minute podcast explains succinctly what the problems are with the Boeing 737 MAX 8.

    https://www.2gb.com/podcast/boeing-737-max-8/

    • nebiahill

      Forgot to add.

      I read elsewhere that all the pilots had to do was to flip the Auto Pilot off and take control.
      It happened to American Pilots and they flipped the AP off and took control.
      These incidents were anonymously reported by the pilots to the American Authorities.

    • I listened to the podcast there. In a nutshell: Boeing had alerted pilots worldwide to the issue. In the event the mcas cut in, it could be quickly overridden by flipping two switches (including the autopilot) and flying the plane as normal.

      Ethiopia didn’t get that memo? Or the pilots panicked.

  11. Confirming your biases Adam.

  12. Turns out our thoughts may have been wrong in regards to the pilots. It’s starting to look more and more like it was a problem with the plane and issues at Boeing.

    https://ca.finance.yahoo.com/news/boeing-737-max-defense-just-102350287.html

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