Will Hutton Completely Misunderstands The Boeing 737 Max Problem


That many people do not understand complex technological points is obviously correct. Engineers get paid lots for a reason, this really is rocket science. This restriction to the talking being done by those who know what they’re spouting about does not, of course, apply in the fields of politics nor rhetoric. Which gives us Will Hutton, as ever that one man argument against political technocracy. It might be possible that the mandarins running the world for us will make it a better place but not if Will Hutton is one of them it won’t.

Willy wants to tell us that the Boeing 737 Max problem is all because Boeing has too much power to regulate itself, government doesn’t impose upon it enough. The example being:

The story begins in 2011. Europe’s new Airbus 320neo, with its superb fuel efficiency and low operating costs, had picked up 667 orders at the Paris air show, a record for a commercial aircraft. Worse, American Airlines had done the unthinkable: it had ordered 130 of the new Airbus and 130 of the older one. Boeing’s relationship with American was foundational: it could always rely on the airline for its bedrock business, an insider, all-American affair. Now American had dared to buy European in unprecedented volumes: it was a competitive necessity to match rival airlines. Boeing had to respond. But instead of developing a whole new plane that could carry heavier, fuel-efficient engines, it made the fateful decision to bolt them on to a variant of its 737 series. Since the days of Orville and Wilbur Wright, the key to safe flying has been to organise the pitch of the plane so that its aerodynamics work to prevent stalling, a complex interrelationship between the angle and shape of wings, the distribution of weight and the power of the engines. If you intend to use a heavier, more fuel-efficient engine, it will throw everything out of kilter. Essentially, you have to design a new plane.

See that? New engines, need a new airplane. And this was all in competition with the Airbus 320 neo. Hmm, OK. So, Willy, what does neo stand for? New engine option:

The Airbus A320neo family (neo for new engine option) is a development of the A320 family of narrow-body airliners produced by Airbus. The original family has been renamed A320ceo, for current engine option.

Now it may well be that Airbus did it better than Boeing did but there’s no conceptual difference here. Will Hutton is being an ass and isn’t that a surprise to us all?

In the world of aerospace, such judgment calls should have required an entire recertification process and verification by a third party. That did not happen.

It didn’t to the A 320 neo either:

The first flight of the neo occurred on 25 September 2014.[20] Its Pratt & Whitney PW1100G-JM geared turbofan (‘GTF’) engine was certified by the Federal Aviation Administration on 19 December 2014.[21] After 36 months, the A320neo and A321neo had flown around 4,000 hours for certification of the two powerplant versions.[22] This is about three-quarters of the certification effort of a new design.

Hutton is thus fundamentally wrong, isn’t he? Largely due to the manner in which he is speaking out of his fundament.

But, of course, this is Willy, of course there is more!

For decades, regulation in the US has been hamstrung by the libertarian charge that government is inefficient and always wrong, taxes are a coercive infringement of individual liberty, and regulation inhibits private sector dynamism. The Federal Aviation Authority has an enviable technical reputation, but over the past decade it has suffered from successive budget cuts and government shutdowns as the Republican party has waged war on federal spending and federal agencies.

From 2009 to 2019 the FAA budget has risen from $14.6 billion to $16.1 billion.

Only in WillyWorld is this a budget cut. The cretin.