Friday 22nd of November 2019

kerosene burning...



The Obama administration said on Wednesday that it would take the first step toward regulating greenhouse gas emissions from airplanes, but it acknowledged it would most likely take years before stringent standards are enacted.

The Environmental Protection Agency said that emissions from airplanes endanger human health because of their contribution toglobal warming. This finding does not impose specific new requirements on airlines yet, but it requires the agency to develop the rules, as it has done for motor vehicles and power plants.

Given the extended timetable of the rule-making process, and the lobbying by the airlines that international regulations should apply to all the carriers, it is almost impossible that airplane emissions rules will be completed during the Obama administration. The legal obligation for completing work on the airplane pollution rules would then fall to the next president.


a cocktail of four hydrocarbons...


Kerosine isn't just one substance, it's a mixture of 4 hydrocarbons: dodecane (C12H26), tridecane (C13H28), tetradecane (C14H30), and pentadecane (C15H32). 
Assuming you get complete combustion of these 4 substances, you'll get: 
dodecane + oxygen --> carbon dioxide + water. 
tridecane + oxygen --> carbon dioxide + water 
tetradecane + oxygen --> carbon dioxide + water 
pentadecane + oxygen --> carbon dioxide + water 

Writing this as a chemical equation (rather than word equation) is a bit more challenging. It's a good chance to practise balancing equations. 
dodecane + oxygen --> carbon dioxide + water. 
2 C12H26 + 37 O2 --> 12 CO2 + 13 H2O. 

Or, in words, for the complete combustion of 2 molecules of dodecane we need 37 molecules of oxygen. This gives us 12 molecules of carbon dioxide and 13 molecules of water. 

The flash point of kerosene is between 37 and 65 °C (100 and 150 °F), and its autoignition temperature is 220 °C (428 °F).[10] The pour point of kerosene depends on grade, with commercial aviation fuel standardized at −47 °C (−53 °F).

Heat of combustion of kerosene is similar to that of diesel; its lower heating value is 43.1 MJ/kg (around 18,500 Btu/lb), and its higher heating value is 46.2 MJ/kg.[11]

One gallon of aviation fuel when combusted will produce 8.5kg of CO2 (approx 19 pounds) 


and ships...



Pollution from the White Bay Cruise Ship Terminal has been making Balmain residents sick since the $57 million facility opened in 2013.
Ships using the White Bay facility use a low-quality "bunker" fuel that can contain up to 35 times the concentrations of sulphur permitted in North American and European ports.
The issue is exacerbated by the terminal's lack of an onshore power source, which means that liners using the terminal must keep their engines running as their only source of power while berthed.
A parliamentary inquiry found fumes from the terminal, as well as issues with noise and vibrations from ship engines, had a "significant impact" on the surrounding community.
The Baird government promised the maximum allowable sulphur content of the fuel would be reduced to 0.1 per cent from 3.5 per cent by July 1 next year.
"There is no reason why the people of NSW should not enjoy the same standards as those enjoyed by people in North America and Europe," Environment Minister Rob Stokes said.
Mr Stokes said a Baird government would allow cruise ships to meet the new requirement through exhaust cleaning technologies called scrubbers.
Emissions from other shipping types would also be reviewed and considered for further regulation, he said.
Meanwhile ships emit a lot of CO2. The equation coming soon.


the myth of clean gas...


When you take a look at the destruction of the environment and farmland wrought by mining coal seam gas, to describe it as 'clean' is laughable.  Lachlan Barker dissects the bowels of the predatory gas beast laying bare its not-so-clean entrails for all to see.

ONE ON THE myths constantly spread by the gas industry is that gas is cleaner than coal. A dubious claim as you will see. Additionally, greenhouse gas emissions from CSG are only part of the problem; the amounts of salt the CSG companies are building up already present a literally insoluble problem.

But first, to address emissions from gas.

On the website of the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA), it says this:

Electricity produced from gas produces 50-70% less greenhouse gas emissions than current coal-fired power generation facilities.’

APPEA, as peak body for the gas and petroleum companies, use this "cleaner" claim to constantly press their suit upon governments in Australia to be allowed to explore for, then drill for, more gas, particularly "onshore resources", aka CSG.

So I decided to check this claim out to see if, for the first time ever, a fossil fuel industry claim held water.

Needless to say it doesn’t.

The "50-70%" claim is repeated in a lot of places, but is best described here by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). 

EIA's "50-70%" [cleaner] claim above

So I did some complex mathematics into this and got a different figure for gases emissions, closer to 20-30% cleaner. The spreadsheet graphic here shows some of my math:


Author's own calculations [only 24 % "cleaner"]

But then in my research I found that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) had ratcheted things down even further, giving a figure of gas being only '10-20%’ cleaner. The IPCC figure is the one to use, they have teams of environmental auditors to do this, and a considerably larger budget than I did.

So to explain (briefly) the APPEA 50-70% figure simply compares the two fuels in a pure burn. However it’s not that simple.

Gaseous methane, the major component of natural gas, has to be processed through chilling to turn it into liquid natural gas (LNG). Like all thermal exchanges, this process is energy intensive, and so there are additional greenhouse emissions to do this.

Then there are fugitive emissions, these are leaks that occur at the well head, and through the pipes, and at the liquefaction plant. There has only been onestudy done on fugitive emissions from CSG in Australia, but the scientists who did it beg us all not to take it as definitive.

The scientists who conducted the study said flat out their study was not definitive as they only measured leaks from less than one per cent of Australia’s CSG wells. They then indicated that a wider study, over greater time, may return a completely different figure.

Fugitive gas leaks of methane are very damaging because methane is rated as approximately 25 times worse than CO2 as a greenhouse gas.

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Gus: in regard to emissions from ships (item above and ships...), it is to be noted that the state government in NSW has done nothing yet. According to Balmain MP Jamie Parker (a good Green) nothing has been done to install ship to shore power to prevent ships from using their own smoking generators polluting the area (page 11 of the Inner West Courier (June 2), which being a Murdoch-run paper would crash my computer should I try to visit the website...



cheap upgrade...

Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) says it is suspending operations of the Boeing 737 MAX 8 plane in Australia after a deadly crash killed 157 people in Ethiopia at the weekend. 

Key points: 
  • Boeing announced plans to upgrade the software of its 737 MAX 8 planes on Tuesday
  • The suspension comes following the crash of the same model in Ethiopia over the weekend
  • Safety concerns about the model were first raised in October


Fiji Airways was the only airline flying the MAX 8 into Australia after Singapore's Silk Air grounded its fleet early on Tuesday.

In a statement released later the same day, Fiji Airways said it had "full confidence in the airworthiness" of its two aircraft.

On Sunday an Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX 8 crashed shortly after take-off from Addis Ababa, killing all 157 people aboard.

Safety concerns about the model were first raised in October after a Lion Air flight in Indonesia crashed, killing all 189 people aboard.


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It appears that the "upgrade" from the 737 to the 737 Max 8 was a few simple changes: Increase the power of the engines, change the wings-tips for fuel saving and install a new computer program to deal with the new lot. Though it is hard to know what has happened, one can suspect that having increased the engine power to increase the payload has the disadvantage of pushing the plane from "underneath" a bit more, lifting the nose up, thus introducing the need to have an electronic mechanism to the controls to prevent the nose moving too high up — and stalling the plane. The sensors and computer program that determine whether the plane is going to stall have to be mighty precise — as a tiny error can be catastrophic. Like on a ship, a one degree error (or less) can place you on the rocks or not.

Computer programs on planes are there to prevent "pilot error" in a complex flying machine, though there is a co-pilot who checks the intrumentation despite the auto-pilot flying the plane most of the time. As you know, with your computer crashing from time to time, the computing on planes need to have back-up and are not 100 per cent fail-safe. Pilots are aware of such complicated stuff. They don't earn stripes for nothing.


CASA did not have any choice and Boeing seems to be aware of the problem... Meanwhile too bad if you're dead...


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Other problems with planes is the temperature of the kerozene which has to be below self-ingnition, is often around minus 20 degrees Celsius in the tanks at high altitude but should not go below minus 30 degrees Celsius or such. There are devices to maintain the correct temperature of the fuel but sometimes the fuel contains traces of water which can ice-up in the "heat-exchangers" and clog up the liquid fuel supply. I have it on good authority that Russian technology was stolen by the French in the 1950s to deal with jet-engines starting and working in very low subzero temperature. 


Pictures in this section from Gus Leonisky.

he wouldn't want albert einstein to be his pilot...

United States President Donald Trump has weighed in on the Ethiopian Airlines tragedy that claimed the lives of 157 people, tweeting that modern airplanes had become "too complex to fly" and that he wouldn't want Albert Einstein to be his pilot.

Key points:
  • Mr Trump tweeted that "split second" decisions were needed by pilots and that "complexity creates danger"
  • Britain, Germany and Singapore join Australia, China and Indonesia in grounding Boeing 737 MAX 8 
  • US Senator Mitt Romney called on the United States to follow suit


His tweets come as more countries join a growing list of nations boycotting the Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft, the jet model that has been embroiled in two mass-casualty plane crashes in the past six months. 

The Lion Air flight that crashed and killed all 189 people onboard in October last year was also a Boeing 737 MAX 8. 

"Airplanes are becoming far too complex to fly," Mr Trump tweeted.


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Hey! You should try to pilot the US economy! Well, unlike aeroplanes, one can fudge the engines with debt, fiddle with the controls to go to war and say the dials are lying (or wrong), while pushing the pedals to the right...

all 737 max are grounded...

Boeing has grounded its entire global fleet of 737 Max aircraft after investigators uncovered new evidence at the scene of the fatal Ethiopian Airlines crash.

The US plane-maker said it would suspend all 371 of the aircraft.

The Federal Aviation Administration said fresh evidence as well as newly refined satellite data prompted the decision to temporarily ban the jets.

The FAA had previously held out while many countries banned the aircraft.

The crash on Sunday in Addis Ababa killed 157 people. 

It was the second fatal Max 8 disaster in five months after one crashed over Indonesia in October, claiming 189 lives.

Boeing said it "continues to have full confidence in the safety of the 737 Max".

However, it said that after consultation with the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board - which is conducting an investigation into the Ethiopian Airlines crash - it had decided to ground the flights "out of an abundance of caution and in order to reassure the flying public of the aircraft's safety". 

President Donald Trump initially announced that the FAA would be making an emergency order following "new information and physical evidence that we've received from the site and from other locations and through a couple of other complaints". 

The FAA said: "The grounding will remain in effect pending further investigation, including examination of information from the aircraft's flight data recorders and cockpit voice recorders."


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boeing knew of the "problem"...


CNN host Brianna Keilar connected the Sunday crash of Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302 with the recent temporary government shutdown in the US.

The unlikely connection did not survive fact checking, though.

Talking with US Rep. Dan Kildee (D-MI) Wednesday, Keilar asserted that the plane crashed because Boeing had failed to implement a pilot software upgrade in January, as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) was non-operational due to the shutdown.

"So Boeing actually failed to provide a software fix for the flight system in the 737 MAX 8 until after that October crash," Keilar said. "There were pilots who looked at that and felt like this was a criminal omission. That was what they thought about this. "

"The software fix, then, according to The Wall Street Journal, was supposed to happen in January, and it was delayed because of the government shutdown, because the FAA was offline," she continued before asking Kildee for his opinion.

However, Keilar's assertion turned out to be factually incorrect, The Daily Caller reported. After checking the Wall Street Journal article the host referred to, the website discovered that Boeing did not provide the software update due to "differences of opinion and technical and engineering issues."


In addition, the FAA was far from non-operational during the shutdown: according to The Daily Caller, thousands of FAA safety inspectors and other staff were recalled during the period in order to ensure the safety of flights across the nation.

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air crash investigations...

As the pilot of the crash on the Hudson comments about the 'absurdly low' number of training hours for Ethiopian Airlines pilots after the deadly crash, one can ask questions about where he is coming from. But to say the least, Boeing has a major problem on its hand. It will have difficulty in proving it is not at fault with the death of some 400 people in two crashes. An electronic "patch" is not going to it. Even rewriting the entire program for the 737 plane reconfiguration could leave some people with scepticism. More experienced pilots in the USA had similar problems at high altitude to those that lead to the crash of the two airliners. 


At this stage, one has to consider that "electronics fly the plane" on takeoffs and landings, with he help of the pilots. And even after having got air worthiness certificate, planes still have bugs to iron out.  The Qantas Airbus 380 "incident" was a different problem: maintenance had led to a Rolls-Royce engine with a badly fitted hose, leading to an engine blow out leading to a piece of metal piercing the wing and destroying some of the controls. Had the piece of metal gone through the fuel tanks, the plane would have gone down. Lucky. Lucky too, there were a spare crew on board and the pilots could find a solution to fly a plane where some controls did not work. 


It is also quite serendipitous or deliberate that SBS showed a documentary on the early problems with the 747's engines — on the days after the Ethiopian airline crash. Despite knowing that the engines could blow back of blow up, the "test" pilots managed to get the 747 plane for the Paris Air Show in 1969 — thus saving Boeing from bankruptcy with getting 747 orders. The problem could also have led to vibrations beyond the wings ability to stay integral. The whole plane would break up.


The JT9D was developed starting in September 1965 as part of the design of the C-5 Galaxy. A contract was awarded to Pratt & Whitney to study the type of large engine needed, but the production contract was eventually awarded to General Electric and their TF39 turbofan. The JT9D was, however, chosen by Boeing to power the 747. The engine's first test run took place in a test rig in December 1966 at East Hartford, Connecticut, with the engine's first flight in June 1968 mounted on a Boeing B-52E which served as a 747 testbed.

Pratt & Whitney faced enormous difficulties with the JT9D design during the Boeing 747 test program. Engine failures during the flight test program resulted in thirty aircraft being parked outside the factory with concrete blocks hanging from the pylons, awaiting redesigned engines.

Boeing and Pratt & Whitney worked together in 1969 to solve the problem. The trouble was traced to ovalization, in which stresses during takeoff caused the engine casing to deform into an oval shape and cause the high-pressure turbine blades to grind against the sides. This was solved by strengthening the engine casing and adding yoke-shaped thrust links.


On the revamped 737, there are many things to consider apart from the electronics. As mentioned in comments above, the engines power was increased, leading to having to "compensate for the nose lifting" while under full thrust. This was one of the task of the electronics. A small change in wind, updraft and downdraft, atmospheric pressure (air density), a cloud, fuel supply can change the settings of power/lift ratio. As soon as the nose starts to dive, pilots have about two seconds to disengage the electronics and fly the plane manually. As well, in my humble opinion which is worth zero, despite having designed many model planes with up-wing tips and so forth, I find the wing tips of the 737-max 8 quite funky, but dicky. I guess that Boeing would have made ample wind tunnel tests for those but in real life they are still funky-dicky to me. Who knows. 


Overall, I think the Hudson pilot should have said nothing... Knowing there was a problem with the plane, the EA plane was coming back to the airport, but the pilots might have switched the (faulty) electronics back on for landing, as required by the text books. 




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Info: Gus Leonisky does not have a flying licence but has been a co-pilot/front passenger on small planes from Bücker (Bücker Bü 131 and Bücker Bü 181) to some Cessna in Europe. He has travelled on Vickers Viscounts, DC3s and Boeing 707, 747 and Airbus 380. Though not an engineer nor a scientist, Gus is fully acquainted with aerodynamics and hydrodynamics — and quantum mechanics. 

boeing, boeing, airbus...



The longer the Max 8s stand around unused, the more expensive it will be. The interim head of the FAA, Daniel Elwell, told U.S. National Public Radio on Thursday that "the similarities were too great not to consider that there was a common thread" between the Lion Air crash back in October 2018 in Indonesia and the Ethiopian Airlines crash this month. He expects flights on Max 8 aircraft to resume within a few months.

Subsidy Battles

Proceeds from the sale of further Max 8 planes could also be pushed back into future quarters. So-called milestone payments are common in the aviation industry, with the largest installment due upon delivery of the aircraft. But Boeing won't be delivering any new Max 8s for the time being. The eventual damage to the company's reputation will be hard to calculate.

One thing that could calm Boeing's managers and its investors is that the company managed to survive a similar situation back in 2013. The FAA had grounded the entire fleet of the long-haul 787 "Dreamliner" aircraft for three months because lithium-ion batteries had ignited on two aircraft. Several hundred experts and engineers worked to solve the problem.

The airline ultimately decided to pack those batteries into steel boxes to prevent collateral damage in the event of a fire. Boeing never made public just how much that forced timeout cost the company, but industry experts estimate it was around half a billion dollars -- not including compensatory payments to affected airlines.

It's also unclear what effect the current crisis will have on Boeing's next big project, the medium-range 797. The new plane was designed to fill the gap between the 737 and the company's long-haul aircraft, but the project has been delayed in recent years because it reportedly devours approximately $15 billion in development costs. The company may now need to pony up after all. The 737 has certainly paid for itself many times over, but its life span is coming to an end. At some point, Boeing will want to stop sprucing up its old models and build a new one.

Muilenburg's next setback could come at the end of this month, or earlier. The World Trade Organization (WTO) is expected to soon hand down a long-awaited ruling in a subsidy dispute with Airbus that has gone on for more than a decade. The ruling will not be in Boeing's favor. Just last year, the European concern ran afoul of the WTO over allegedly unlawful funding for its wide-body A380 aircraft.

Now industry insiders claim that Boeing is being taken to task over billion-dollar government subsidies. It might be a while before Boeing's stock price takes off again.


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Some of the arguments that could enter the courtrooms in regard to compensation for the crashes coming for "experts" are that the pilots were not experienced enough for flying the plane but the counter-argument is that the sales pitch by Boeing was that it was (is) an easy plane to fly: turn on the autopilot and bob's your uncle... We shall see. Mind you the FAA has some responsibility as well for the air-worthiness certification of the plane... 

the FAA apparently trusted boeing...

The latest information on this sad story is that the FAA let Boeing do its own testings of the 737 MAX 8 and the FAA rubber stamped the approval... Usually, the FAA has expert test pilots who make sure everything is conform to the regulations and that everything works on a plane before being certified. Hum... 

the europeans do not trust the FAA anymore...

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) will keep Boeing’s 737 MAX 8 grounded until it performs its own safety tests on the jet. In the US, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) faces scrutiny for certifying the plane.

“I can assure you that we will not let the plane fly on our side until we find acceptable answers,” agency head Patrick Ky told a European Parliament hearing on Tuesday.

Boeing’s 737 MAX 8 jetliner has been grounded around the world in the wake of two fatal disasters. Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 nosedived into a field shortly after takeoff last Sunday, killing all 157 people on board. Lion Air Flight 610 plunged into the sea last October, killing all 189 passengers and crew.

Investigators say that there are “clear similarities” between both accidents. In both cases, the plane’s Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) is believed to be responsible.

MCAS counteracts an aerodynamic problem that causes the plane’s nose to drift upwards in flight by manipulating the tail to keep the plane level. However, the system relies on readings from a nose-mounted sensor, and can overcompensate if those readings are false, pushing the aircraft’s nose downward and into a dive.

The system was certified as safe by the FAA, and regulatory agencies around the world followed the US agency’s lead, carrying out only minor tests of their own on the aircraft.

However, a group of current and former engineers with Boeing and the FAA claim that the FAA delegated the testing to Boeing itself, and trusted the Seattle firm’s conclusions.

Furthermore, the engineers claim that Boeing downplayed potential dangers with the MCAS, did not train pilots to work with the system, and cut corners to bring the plane to market quicker.

The US Department of Transportation is now investigating the FAA’s approval of the aircraft, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday. Federal prosecutors have reportedly issued a subpoena to at least one person involved in the development of the 737 MAX.


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FAA in the dock...

The FBI has reportedly joined the criminal investigation in a federal grand jury probe regarding the certification process for Boeing’s 737 Max 8 jets, after two deadly crashes in the last few months killed 346 people, according to a new report by The Seattle Times.

The report comes days after an investigative piece by the outlet claimed that the plane's faulty flight control system, believed to be involved in both crashes, is the result of US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) managers "pushing the agency's safety engineers to delegate safety assessments to Boeing itself, and to speedily approve the resulting analysis." 


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keeping airbus busy...

Chinese President signed a trade agreement on Monday on the purchase of 290 Airbus A320s and 10 A350s

A total of 290 Airbus A320s and 10 A350s will be purchased by Chinese state-owned company CASC (China Aviation Supplies Holding Company), according to a trade agreement signed Monday on the occasion of Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to France.

In a separate statement, Airbus confirmed the "order of 300 Airbus aircraft in total by Chinese companies," a significantly larger contract than the pre-agreement announced more than a year ago, which involved 184 Airbus A320s.

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Translation by Jules Letambour


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A British Airways plane took off from London but left in the opposite direction to Germany.

While they were thinking of landing in Düsseldorf, Germany, the passengers of a plane of British Airways British Airways met Monday in Edinburgh, Scotland, more than 800 km from their destination.

The passengers, who had taken off from London, were only made aware of this mishap by the pilot during the landing phase to Edinburgh.


Somewhere on the net...

sorry for lives lost...

Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg has said “it’s apparent” that the 737 MAX 8’s MCAS maneuvering system contributed to two fatal air accidents. Investigators had long suspected the system’s role in the disasters.

Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 plunged into a field shortly after takeoff in March, killing all 157 people on board. Indonesian Lion Air Flight 610 nosedived into the sea last October, killing all 189 passengers and crew. Investigators noted “clear similarities” between both accidents.

"The full details of what happened in the two accidents will be issued by the government authorities in the final reports,” Muilenburg said in a video posted Thursday. “It's apparent that in both flights the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, known as MCAS, activated in response to [the] erroneous angle of attack information," he continued.


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sad case of corporate fast-track...

This week, the Boeing corporation admitted the faulty 737 MAX 8 MCAS maneuvering system contributed to two fatal crashes – in Indonesia last October and in Ethiopia this March. The accidents killed over 300 people combined. Aside from that, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) admitted it actually delegated the review of the system to the company itself. Now both the company and the watchdog brace for consequences – and they will likely be quite heavy, experts believe.

The Boeing corporation “should definitely be liable for an exemplary judgement” over the 737 MAX scandal, an independent international affairs and aerospace industry analyst, Alessandro Bruno, believes.

“[Boeing] cut corners in the design of the airplane to accommodate a larger engine, which changed an aerodynamic performance of the aircraft and it used an electronic sensors and software to correct for this aerodynamic difference without really letting the pilots know – or the airlines,” Bruno told RT.

One of the reasons for that was such as that plane could have been certified quickly and sold just as another Boeing 737, which would allow the pilots and airlines to operate it without having to take retraining.

If such allegations are proven to be true, the company will likely face very heavy consequences, aviation lawyer Ron McCallum said.

“If evidence emerges that Boeing engaged in such conduct in an effort to deliver the aircraft to these airlines in a hurried fashion and it intentionally or negligently skipped key safety and software testing and certification in terms of the MCAS system, I could see a high likelihood that Boeing will suffer punitive damages in the litigation that has already begun,” McCallum told RT.

While the scale of the scandal itself is too large for Boeing to get away lightly, another circumstance makes it even worse for the company, Bruno believes. The Ethiopian crash killed Samya Stumo – a grandniece of a prominent consumer protection activist and attorney Ralph Nader.

“Ralph Nader – we can consider him as the inventor of a lawsuit against a corporation,” Bruno stated. “He's the one responsible for Ford stopping production of Ford Pinto, that had an exploding gas tank. Ralph Nader literally wrote a book on how to sue companies and corporations.”


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corporate crime...

A wrongful death case was filed against Boeing on the same day that a preliminary investigation into last month’s Ethiopian Airlines crash revealed damning details about the aircraft manufacturer and raised new questions about whether it gave pilots proper instructions for navigating new software. The findings were released Thursday in Ethiopia, based on the analysis of a team of 18 investigators, less than a month after the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crash killed all 157 people on board. The report found similarities in the technical issues experienced by pilots on both the Ethiopian Airlines flight and October’s Indonesian Lion Air Flight 610, which also crashed just minutes after takeoff, killing all 189 people on board. Both flights were on a Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft. On Thursday, the first American lawsuit related to the devastating crash was filed against Boeing on behalf of the family of 24-year-old Samya Stumo, who died on the flight. Samya was the grandniece of Ralph Nader, the longtime consumer advocate, corporate critic and former presidential candidate. We speak with Nader about his calls to ground all 737 MAX 8 aircraft and the legacy of his grandniece. We also speak with Paul Hudson, the president of Flyers Rights, the largest nonprofit airline passenger rights organization in the U.S.

TranscriptThis is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! I’m Amy Goodman, as we look at the wrongful death case against Boeing, after a preliminary investigation into last month’s Ethiopian Airlines crash has revealed damning details about the aircraft manufacturer and raised new questions about whether it gave pilots proper instructions for navigating new software. These findings were released Thursday in Ethiopia based on the analysis of a team of 18 investigators. They come less than a month after the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crash, which killed all 157 people on board. The report found similarities in the technical issues experienced by pilots on both the Ethiopian Airlines flight and October’s Indonesian Lion Air Flight 610, which also crashed just minutes after takeoff, killing all 189 people on board. Both flights were on a Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft. Under enormous public pressure, the FAAgrounded 737 MAX aircraft while Boeing works on fixes to the plane’s software

On Thursday, the first American wrongful death lawsuit was filed relating to the Ethiopian Airlines crash. It was filed against Boeing on behalf of the family of 24-year-old Samya Stumo, who died on the flight. Samya was the grandniece of Ralph Nader.

Well, Ralph Nader joins us now on the telephone, longtime consumer advocate, corporate critic, former presidential candidate, author of many books, including Collision Course: The Truth About Airline Safety. Ralph Nader wrote an open letter to Boeing titled “Passengers First, Ground the 737 MAX 8 Now!”

Ralph, again, our condolences to you and your whole family, a number of members of which we just heard—Samya’s mother and father and brother Adnaan. Can you talk about the significance of this first American wrongful death lawsuit and what is being alleged?

RALPH NADER: Well, out of Samya’s death, and all the other people on that plane, have got to come big changes. People watching this program or listening to you, Amy, they think that this is going to happen to someone else. If we don’t stop this 737 MAX from ever flying again—there’s no fix for engineered instability and the prone-to-stall problem of the 737 MAX—5,000 of these planes will be sold all over the country and all over the world. So, there will be millions of passengers in these planes, with a plane that should not be allowed to fly.

And this lawsuit, filed yesterday under the law of torts, is designed to pursue the truth, to get all the information out of Boeing, out of the FAA. There will be a lawsuit probably filed against the FAA under the Federal Tort Claims Act, so that the whole process is reformed, so that the FAA is not a wholesale delegator, pushed by members of Congress and the White House year after year to delegate the inspection, to delegate the self-regulation to Boeing, instead of regulating it. And that has to be completely changed.

There’s a lot of culpability here. Boeing’s homicide, Boeing’s criminal negligence is now well documented. And there will be more whistleblowers and more information coming out from all quarters. But the Congress bears a very serious responsibility. It’s been stopping aviation safety reform. It’s been supporting White House cuts in the budget of the FAA. It’s been supporting the repression of engineering integrity in the FAA, not to mention Boeing. Three hundred and thirty members of Congress take campaign contributions from Boeing. And even worse, just about every member of Congress takes freebies from the airlines, all kinds of upgrades and fee waivers that are not accorded other ordinary mortals.

So, out of these tragedies in Indonesia and Ethiopia may come a restructuring of aviation safety. No aircraft manufacturer, not to mention Boeing, should ever be given two free disasters, that are preventable by established, long-known engineering safety practices. And that’s what we’re all pursuing to try to make something come out of these tragedies that will save the lives of people in the future.

AMY GOODMAN: Ralph Nader, I want you to respond to Boeing’s statement in response to the preliminary investigation report of the Ethiopian Airlines crash. And, you know, it also came after the first wrongful death lawsuit, your family’s lawsuit, against Boeing. This is the CEO Dennis Muilenburg, releasing this video yesterday along with the company’s statement.

DENNIS MUILENBURG: We at Boeing are sorry for the lives lost in the recent 737 MAX accidents. …

It’s apparent that, in both flights, the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, known as MCAS, activated in response to erroneous angle-of-attack information. The history of our industry shows most accidents are caused by a chain of events. This again is the case here. And we know we can break one of those chain links in these two accidents. As pilots have told us, erroneous activation of the MCAS function can add to what is already a high-workload environment. It’s our responsibility to eliminate this risk. We own it, and we know how to do it.

From the days immediately following the Lion Air accident, we’ve had teams of our top engineers and technical experts working tirelessly, in collaboration with the Federal Aviation Administration and our customers, to finalize and implement a software update that will ensure accidents like that of Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 never happen again.

AMY GOODMAN: So, that is Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg in a video released yesterday, after the lawsuit and after the preliminary findings. Ralph Nader, your response?

RALPH NADER: Well, it’s pretty close to admission of fault. I don’t see how they’re going to defend the civil lawsuits. They’re facing a criminal probe from the Justice Department and the FBI, with an active grand jury. And as Flyers Rights director Paul Hudson, who you’ll be hearing from, has pointed out again and again, deregulation means death. It means the repudiation of a structure of aviation safety that people expected to be able to trust. So this is an amazing early admission by the manufacturer, before even the first deposition is ordered.

AMY GOODMAN: And, Ralph, we are about to go to Paul Hudson, but before we go, your family has filed suit against Boeing and a complaint against the FAA. The significance of Boeing and the FAA?

RALPH NADER: Well, they’re both at fault. And as Paul Hudson will point out, there has to be legislation in Congress. Senator Blumenthal of Connecticut is about to put a bill in to re-empower and bring back the delegation, to Boeing, back into the FAA and make it a strong regulator. He’s also going to propose criminal penalties. Believe it or not, the FAA statute doesn’t have criminal penalties for willful and knowing violation. And I think we’ll see a lot of change.

But don’t take anything for granted. Unless flyers organize, unless they join groups like, a lot of these probes, congressional investigations, Department of Transportation investigations, Justice Department investigations can be pulled back due to political pressure by Boeing and its allies in Washington. What cannot be pulled back are the civil lawsuits that will increasingly be filed against Boeing and other defendants.

AMY GOODMAN: We are bringing in Paul Hudson into this conversation, president of Flyers Rights, the largest nonprofit airline passenger rights organization in the U.S., operating a hotline for passengers at 877-FLYERS6, publishes a weekly newsletter, maintains a staff office in D.C. for advocacy for airline passengers’ rights, also served on the FAA’s Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee since 1993.

Paul, talk about the significance of what has taken place. And I’d like to have you start by responding, once again, to Dennis Muilenburg, but this is a different statement. It was a phone call news conference he had last year on the telephone—in 2017. In it, he was praising the FAA under the Trump administration for its efforts to deregulate and, quote, “streamline” the certification process. He even specifically mentions the MAX aircraft. He made the comments on a conference call with investors and the media.

DENNIS MUILENBURG: Yes. Just [to comment on that, one], the overall focus on deregulation and simplifying processes is one that we’ve been a strong proponent for. And the administration has been very engaged, across government agencies and with industry, to find ideas and ways and opportunities to simplify and streamline. Things like FAA certification processes is one place that we’re seeing some solid progress. That’s helping us more efficiently work through certification on some of our new model aircraft, such as the MAX, as it’s going through flight test and entering into service. So we’re already seeing some benefits there of some of the work that’s being done with the FAA.

AMY GOODMAN: “We’re already seeing benefits there,” this streamlining with the FAA. If you can talk, Paul Hudson, about what Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg is admitting as he praises the FAA under the Trump administration in 2017?

PAUL HUDSON: Well, you know, Amy, there’s an old expression in law: “Beware of what you ask for. You may get it.” Boeing asked for it. They got it. Essentially, full delegation and self-regulation.

We went from the FAA, basically, not just being the oversight, but being the certifier. We now have a situation—not only with the 737, but it was pretty similar to that previously with the 787 Dreamliner in 2013, that was grounded with battery fires. You have a situation where the manufacturer designs the systems; the manufacturer’s employees test the systems; the manufacturer’s employees, chosen by the manufacturer, in this case Boeing, certifies the system; and the FAA is basically a bystander.

So, while safety was never deregulated with economics in the Airline Deregulation Act of '78, it's become really a paper thing now, with the FAA not only relying on the manufacturer for pretty much everything, but not having its own people that are competent, and not consulting with outside experts that are needed to really vet these systems.

AMY GOODMAN: Ralph Nader, even when the FAA was announcing they were grounding the MAXplanes, under enormous popular pressure, President Trump continued to praise Muilenburg and has talked about Boeing some 200 times in the last few years in public, praising them, and has not criticized them at all. Paul Hudson, what should Trump be doing right now?

PAUL HUDSON: Well, he should be meeting with the people that represent airline passengers and the victims of these air crashes, number one. My daughter died in Pan Am 103. And after that, President Bush met with families. And that put in motion things that eventually greatly improved the security for aviation. If the president can take phone calls from the Boeing CEO, if he can meet over and over again with airline executives, he can certainly do, after this disaster—which, by the way, not only affects Boeing and the families, it affects, really, the United States commercial aviation industry.

Unless trust is restored, and restored quickly, people are not going to want to fly on those planes. We have lots of people telling us, “How do I avoid that bad plane?” Even if they put it back on service, people are not going to trust the FAA. They’re not going to trust Boeing anymore. They need to have outside experts. And it may be that the planes need to be recalled, that are in service. It may be that the whole thing needs to be scrapped. But whatever is done, it has to be done quickly, and it has to be done transparently.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to end with Ralph Nader, Samya Stumo’s great-uncle. Ralph, you are famous, over the decades, for calling for recalls of cars. Are you demanding the same thing right now, but, in this case, planes?

RALPH NADER: Yes, they should recall the 300-plus planes that they’ve sold to these airlines, domestic and foreign. They should never allow that plane to fly again. They should simply sell the 737 with improved amenities, discount the planes to compete with Airbus. And people should know that the Airbus engineers in the 320neo were allowed to do their job. And in Boeing, they were not allowed to do their job. And that’s all going to come out.

But we’ve got to escalate corporate crime and violence to the level that we do, under our law, to individuals. You know, members of Congress returned contributions from Harvey Weinstein for his assault on women. And now they should return all their contributions from Boeing for the corporate homicide of Boeing in preventable deaths of 346 people from Indonesia to Ethiopia. We have to begin recognizing that deaths and injuries and disease and property damage are massively greater from preventable corporate crime, fraud and violence than the street crime version, bad as that is.

And I hope some of that will come out of this horrible tragedy that involved my wonderful grandniece Samya Stumo, leadership, compassion, intellectual rigor written all over her. She would have saved a lot of lives in her 50 years of work in Africa and South America. And Boeing snuffed it out, along with 345 other innocent people.

AMY GOODMAN: Ralph Nader, I want to thank you so much. And again, our condolences on the death of your niece. Ralph Nader, longtime consumer advocate, corporate critic, former presidential candidate. His grandniece Samya Stumo died in Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302. And, Paul Hudson, thanks so much for joining us, president of Flyers Rights.

When we come back, we’re going to continue to look at Boeing on a global scale, this time around the military, as the Trump administration pushes NATO countries to increase military spending, often to the benefit of companies like Boeing. Stay with us.


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battle of the air...

France Warns Europe and US Cannot Allow Trade Conflict Over Airbus Subsidies© REUTERS / Regis Duvignau

France Warns Europe and US Cannot Allow Trade Conflict Over Airbus Subsidies

The warning comes after the Office of US Trade Representative urged Washington to slap additional tariffs on a number of goods imported from the EU in response to the bloc's alleged continued subsidies to aircraft manufacturer Airbus.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire has warned that the US and the EU "cannot allow" a fresh conflict over European plane-maker Airbus.

“When I look at the growth situation worldwide, I cannot believe we can allow a trade conflict, even in the sole area of aeronautics, between the United States and Europe”, Le Maire told reporters in Paris.

READ MORE: Lion Air Reportedly Dropping Boeing Max Order, Switching to Airbus SE

He spoke after the Office of US Trade Representative (USTR) said that the World Trade Organisation (WTO) “has found repeatedly that European Union (EU) subsidies to Airbus have caused adverse effects to the United States”.

“Today, the USTR begins its process […] to identify products of the EU to which additional duties may be applied until the EU removes those subsidies”, the USTR pointed out.

According to the USTR, EU subsidies to large civil aircraft were causing an estimated $11 billion damage in trade per year.

READ MORE: Hackers Steal Personal Data, Professional Contacts From Airbus' Servers

A European Commission source,  in turn, was cited by Reuters as saying that "the sum of $11.2 billion" demanded by the US in its row with Airbus is “greatly exaggerated”.

"In the parallel Boeing dispute, the determination of EU retaliation rights is also coming closer and the EU will request the WTO-appointed arbitrator to determine the EU's retaliation rights," the source said, adding that the Commission would take action after the arbitrator's decision.

Airbus stressed, for its part, that it saw no legal basis for the US  move and warned of escalating transatlantic trade tensions.

The USTR has, meanwhile, published a preliminary list of EU goods due to be subject to increased duties.

The list includes tariffs on non-military aircraft and parts produced in France, Germany, Spain or the United Kingdom, where different parts of Airbus planes are produced.  Additionally, the list comprises duties on a whole range of products from all 28 EU member states.

“Get ready for more tit-for-tat scrapping to follow”, John Woolfitt of London brokerage Atlantic Markets said on Tuesday as Airbus shares plummeted by 1.6 percent earlier in the day.

READ MORE: Airbus Removes German Parts From Its Plane Amid Berlin’s Saudi Arms Ban – Report





pilot X vs boeing...

More than 400 pilots have joined a class action against American plane manufacturer Boeing, seeking damages in the millions over what they allege was the company's "unprecedented cover-up" of the "known design flaws" of the latest edition of its top-selling jet, the 737 MAX.

Key points: 
  • A plaintiff lodged claims against Boeing on behalf of hundreds of colleagues 
  • It alleges that the company knowingly covered up the defective aspects of its 737 MAX jet
  • The claim hinges on a piece of software pilots say they weren't told about


Boeing's 737 MAX series— first announced in 2011 and put to service in 2017 — is the fourth generation of its 737 aircraft, a widely popular narrow-body aircraft model that has been a mainstay of short-haul aircraft routes across the globe. 

By March 2019, the entire global fleet was suspended by a US presidential decree, following the second fatal crash involving a 737 MAX that killed 157 people in Ethiopia

The first crash involving the 737 MAX jet happened off the coast of Indonesia in October 2018, killing 189 people.

In the time since the two fatal crashes, some of the families of the 346 people killed have sought compensation, while aircraft carriers — such as Norwegian Air — have sought compensation from the American manufacturer for lost revenue as a result of the plane's global ban.

This latest lawsuit filed against Boeing marks the first class action lodged by pilots qualified to fly the 737 MAX series, who have alleged that Boeing's decisions have caused them to suffer from monetary loss and mental distress since the jet's suspension.


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vale roger...

Roger Béteille, one of the founding fathers of the European consortium Airbus Industrie and former managing director of the aircraft manufacturer, died at the age of 97, the company said Saturday.

In Toulouse, the long-haul Airbus A350 assembly plant was named after Roger Béteille in 2012.  In full health at 91, during the inauguration ceremony, in the presence of Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault at the time, Roger Béteille had praised "the work done, hand in hand, in peace, to establish in Europe's largest and best transport aircraft manufacturer in the world." As an engineer, Roger was also co-pilot on the first flight of the Caravelle in 1955.

flying high despite crashing...

Despite Devastating Crashes, Boeing Stocks Fly High

Even after admitting they cut corners on the 737 Max, Boeing gets a bailout from Wall Street and the U.S. defense industry.

In a turbulent world, some things remain stable, even to an irrational degree. One example is the price of Boeing stock, which, at $329 a share as of midday August 16, has barely moved—down just 1.6 percent—from a year ago. 

As all the world knows, in the intervening 12 months, two Boeing 737 Max jets have crashed, killing a total of 346 people. We also know that the crashes were entirely thanks to corporate management rushing through a Rube Goldberg adaptation of a half century-old design, suborning the FAA to approve untested and incompetently programmed software control features along with other irresponsible shortcuts (such as cutting the company’s own test pilots out of MAX development planning and avoiding mention of the new control features in the airline pilots’ manuals).  

Nevertheless, neither the slaughter of passengers nor the subsequent deluge of shocking revelations have had any long-term impact on the stock price. There have indeed been short-term fluctuations in the interim, notably a sharp climb in the months following the first MAX disaster in Indonesia last October, when management’s disgraceful PR spin ascribing blame to incompetent foreign pilots achieved some traction in the press. 


Even so, Wall Street appears unworried. Analysts still rate the stock a “strong buy” by a wide margin, with a consensus estimate that it will climb some 90 points from its currently stable position in the high $320s over the next 12 months. The $2.3 billion Boeing spent buying its own stock in the first three months of this year no doubt encouraged such bullish sentiment, part of the $43 billion splurged on price-propping buybacks since 2013.

In addition, other powerful forces are hard at work to save the corporate behemoth from going into a terminal stall. Boeing, for example, is a component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the 30-stock index generally if misleadingly cited as a bellwether of the market as a whole, and even the entire U.S. economy. Because the Dow is weighted by price, an upward or downward move in Boeing has a significant effect on the index, which makes it a particular object of interest for the trading desks at major Wall Street players. Hence the stock is traded very actively in the “dark pools,” otherwise known as “alternative trading systems,” with opaque names such as JP Morgan’s JPMX, operated by the big banks and major institutions as unregulated stock exchanges, courtesy of a toothless SEC. 


Given that it may be quite a while before money starts to flow again from airlines shopping for 737s, there is undoubtedly a lot of Wall Street interest in the alternative source for emergency Boeing cash flow: a giant taxpayer bailout in the form of a Pentagon contract of suitable proportions. Fortunately, there is a vehicle for delivering the cash: the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent, the Minuteman-replacement ICBM authorized by President Obama as part of his $1 trillion nuclear modernization program. It carries a price tag, gratifying to investors, of up to $100 billion—a sum that will quite certainly be exceeded down the road.

Until very recently, the competition for this lucrative (and totally unneeded) contract was between Boeing and Northrop Grumman. Given that Northrop is already enjoying a pot of modernization gold in the shape of the B-21 bomber contract, Boeing seemed a sure bet to land the deal, especially as the Air Force’s detailed requirements appeared tailored to favor Boeing rather than Northrop. 




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Australia's aviation engineering union has called on Qantas to ground its entire Boeing 737 fleet after a crack was discovered on a second aircraft overnight.

Key points:
  • Qantas' engineering boss said calls to ground its fleet were "completely irresponsible"
  • The cracks were found on part of the plane which holds up the wings
  • There have been similar problems with Boeing 737s around the world


The airline yesterday said it would immediately inspect 33 Boeing 737 planes after a crack was found on one of them during a scheduled maintenance check.

The Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association (ALAEA) said both cracks were on a part of the plane called the "pickle fork", which holds up the wings.

"These aircrafts should not be flying," ALAEA boss Steven Purvinas said.

"The area where the crack is takes the load off the wing and all the fuel it carries.

"As long as Qantas is unaware which aircrafts do or don't have cracks, they should ground the entire fleet until they know which are safe to fly."

The airline said the cracks did not compromise safety and that calls to ground its fleet were unreasonable. 

"These are completely irresponsible comments," Qantas engineering boss Chris Snook said.

"We would never operate an aircraft unless it was completely safe to do so."

Earlier this month, the US Federal Aviation Authority ordered inspections of all Boeing 737 NG model aircraft with more than 30,000 flights.

Qantas said none of its planes had completed that many flights, but aircraft with over 22,600 cycles would be checked by tomorrow.

The ALAEA said all 75 aircrafts in Qantas' 737 fleet should be grounded and inspected regardless of their flight history. 

"The checks only take about an hour so they should be able to get an aircraft, send some engineers out there, and if there are no cracks there, they can fly it," Mr Purvinas said.


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