Posts Tagged ‘aircraft’

Boeing Screwed Up 737 MAX, Blamed Pilots

December 8, 2021

Boeing Screwed Up 737 MAX, Blamed Pilots

When it became clear that the Boeing 737 had reached the end of its lifecyle and couldn’t compete with newer Airbus A320, the company’s aerospace engineers wanted to design a new model from scratch to maximize performance and safety. Corporation executives, focused on costs and shareholder profits, insisted that they tarted up the old 737 and called it the “737 MAX.” Worse, Boeing facilities, once centralized in Seattle, were now scattered around the country, so designers, engineers, and test pilots couldn’t communicate as readily.

When the “new” 737 MAX planes began falling out of the sky, Boeing executives quickly blamed the failures on “pilot error,” not their own disasterous decisions.


“Boeing knew doomed 737-MAX plane was ‘pig with lipstick’ but still let it fly,” Gavin Newsham, NY Post

“How Shareholder Capitalism Crashed a Plane (Two, Actually),” Moe Tkacik, New York Magazine

“Boeing built an unsafe plane, and blamed the pilots when it crashed,” Peter Robison, Business Live

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Image tweaked by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht,`

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.


The Wildfire-Fighting Super Scooper

August 26, 2021

The $30 million Super Scooper airplane was designed to fight wildfires. It dives down to a body of water, scoops up 1,400 gallons of water in 12 seconds, and drops it on forest fires. Frankly, this all seems optimistically predicated on the absence of draught. Cool, though. A Business Insider video.

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Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.


Gyrocopter Jockey Gets Jail Time for Buzzing the Capitol

April 26, 2016

Gyrocopter Jockey Gets Jail Time for Buzzing the Capitol

Last fall Florida mailman Douglas Hughes flew his gyrocopter into DC restricted airspace and landed on the Capitol lawn. Dressed in his mail carrier uniform, had letters addressed to each member of Congress protesting campaign finance laws. Immediately arrested, he soon pleaded guilty to flying his gyrocopter without a license into DC’s restricted airspace.

Mr. Hughes was dismissed from the US Postal Service for his unauthorized airmail delivery. Last Thursday he was sentenced to 120 days in federal prison. That’s a pretty light sentence for threatening Congress with a … a…. Wait.  What the heck is a gyrocopter?


Amazon. Airborne!

February 2, 2016

Amazon. Airborne!

Press Release:

“Amazon Prime Air is a future service that will deliver packages up to five pounds in 30 minutes or less using small drones. Flying under 400 feet and weighing less than 55 pounds, Prime Air vehicles will take advantage of sophisticated ‘sense and avoid’ technology, as well as a high degree of automation, to safely operate beyond the line of sight to distances of 10 miles or more.”

What could possibly go wrong?


Rogue Blimp Attacks Pennsylvania!

November 2, 2015

Rogue Blimp Attacks Pennsylvania!
A 243-foot-long helium-filled blimp broke its tether and escaped from Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland last Wednesday and, chased by F-16 fighters, snapped some power lines before it went to ground 160 miles away in a ravine in Montour County, Pennsylvania. The $175 million surveillance “aerostat” was finally subdued by Pennsylvania state troopers with shotguns, and it’s being dismantled with chainsaws.

The pricey gasbag was part of the $2.7 billion Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System or JLENS, produced by Ratheon for the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). Two of these tethered aerostat platforms floated 10,000 in the air, protecting the airspace over Washington, DC from hostile aircraft, but they missed that Florida gyrocopter that landed on the Capitol lawn in April.


Feds to License Private Drones

October 20, 2015

Feds to License Private Drones

Just because a few hundred drones almost downed a bunch of airliners and emergency helicopters, Big Gummint wants to require companies and quadcopter hobbyists to get permits for their drones. Frat boys of all ages now fear that the Drone Police will yank their joysticks if when they fail breathalyzer tests. “Registering drones — that’s the first thing the nazis did when they came to power,” said some jerk sometime real soon …count on it.


Gyrocopter Madness!

April 19, 2015

Gyrocopter Madness!

A civic-minded Florida mailman landed his gyrocopter on the U.S. Capitol lawn in a non-violent, symbolic demonstration against government corruption, and all America wants to know: What the heck is a gyrocopter?


Cellphone Spies in the Sky

November 16, 2014

Cellphone Spies in the Sky

The Wall Street Journal reports that, for the last seven years, the U.S. Marshals Service has flown Cessna aircraft over America’s cities, collecting cellphone location data from thousands of people with “dirtbox” devices that mimic cellular towers. The Marshals Service, a unit of the Department of Justice, predominately searches for federal fugitives, but its Special Operations Group conducts “tactical operations for sensitive and classified missions involving homeland security, national emergencies, domestic crises and the intelligence community.” Flying spying and data harvesting on such a broad scale raises serious Fourth Amendment questions.


“Report: Secret government program uses aircraft for mass cellphone surveillance,” Gail Sullivan, Washington Post

“WSJ: A Secret U.S. Spy Program Is Using Planes to Target Cell Phones,” Kate Knibbs, Gizmodo


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Image (“Flying Phone Spy, after a 1964 comic book”) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, 

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

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Remote Control: Congressional Drone Caucus

July 9, 2012

Remote Control: Congressional Drone Caucus
Drone aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles or UAVs, have battled in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sudan, Yemen, and, now, the United States House of Representatives. While it’s been flying under the radar until now, Congress has a Drone Caucus, officially the Unmanned Systems Caucus.

Congress has spent $12 Billion on UAVs since 2009, an amount that will increase dramatically now that domestic use of drones has been approved. Most of the new drones flying in the U.S. will be used for border security. Twenty-one congressmen from border states belong to the Drone Caucus, and the big drone manufacturers have donated around $1 Million to their campaigns. Expect that amount to ramp up, too.


“The Drone Makers and Their Friends in Washington,”Jill Replogle, KPBS


Drone Aircraft Lands in Salisbury, Maryland

June 12, 2012

Drone Aircraft Lands in Salisbury, Maryland

A Northrop Grumman RQ-4A Global Hawk aerial drone crashed in Salisbury, Maryland yesterday. The pilot was unhurt. Oh, wait ….

The U.S. Navy’s $176 million remote-controlled aircraft smacked into the ground just outside town, the largest infusion of government cash in Salisbury since the state plopped down a university there in 1925. This is the biggest thing to happen in Salisbury (“Crossroads of Delmarva”) since last week’s big WWF wrestling match.