Tuesday, March 12, 2019

What did Donald Trump do today?

He kicked Boeing when it was down.

Until this morning, Trump had made no public comment on the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines flight. Eight Americans were among the 157 people killed on Sunday when the latest model of Boeing's 737 line crashed shortly after takeoff. It was the second such fatal crash for that model in the past year.

Some aviation experts believe that a system designed to help automatically keep the new 737 Max 8 out of a stall may have contributed to the accidents. Trump, who is not an aviation expert (in spite of his belief that scientific knowledge and MIT degrees are hereditary), added his two cents today in a pair of tweets:

Airplanes are becoming far too complex to fly. Pilots are no longer needed, but rather computer scientists from MIT. I see it all the time in many products. Always seeking to go one unnecessary step further, when often old and simpler is far better. Split second decisions are........needed, and the complexity creates danger. All of this for great cost yet very little gain. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want Albert Einstein to be my pilot. I want great flying professionals that are allowed to easily and quickly take control of a plane!

 In reality, as Axios noted, today's increasingly complicated planes have made flying safer than ever:

But Trump, who flies at least once a week to his golf resorts in what may be the most complicated passenger jet ever made, wasn't just spouting off about modern technology. Boeing, an American company, is locked in a perennial fight for large passenger jet market share with the European company Airbus—and Boeing has offended Trump several times already during his presidency by failing to promote him when he demanded it. For example, just before he took office, Trump publicly threatened to cancel Boeing's contract for the next version of Air Force One when its CEO offered mild criticism of Trump's trade war rhetoric.

Many governments have grounded the 737 Max 8 pending a review of its safety. So far, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has not done so—possibly because decisions of that magnitude are difficult to make when its top position has been vacant for the past 14 months.

Who cares?