Human factors

This is the same victim-blaming attitude that ends up pinning the plane crash on “pilot error”, and the surgical accident on the doctor or (worse) nurse, and the self-driving car crash on the person behind the wheel. These are failures of a system, and these failures signal the system is broken.

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It was perhaps inevitable that the relationship between Boeing and Lion Air would prove fractious. Boeing became the world’s pre-eminent commercial airplane manufacturer in part because it developed a coherent design philosophy that relied on pilots’ airmanship as the last line of defense. It made sense in an era when airplanes were vulnerable to weather and prone to failures and pilots intervened regularly to keep airplanes from crashing. By the 1980s, however, the situation had evolved. It became apparent that because of engineering improvements, very few accidents were caused by airplanes anymore, and almost all resulted from pilot error. This occurred at a time when airlines were being deregulated, discount carriers were springing up, major new markets were beginning to appear in developing countries, pilots’ unions were being busted, pilots’ salaries were in steep decline and airmanship globally was being eroded by an increasing reliance on cockpit automation, production-line training and a rote approach to flying.

In the face of these changes, Boeing clung resolutely to its pilot-centric designs, but in Toulouse, France, the relative newcomers at the European consortium called Airbus were not nearly as shy. Led by an outspoken former military test pilot turned chief engineer named Bernard Ziegler, Airbus decided to take on Boeing by creating a robotic new airplane that would address the accelerating decline in airmanship and require minimal piloting skills largely by using digital flight controls to reduce pilot workload, iron out undesirable handling characteristics and build in pilot-proof protections against errors like aerodynamic stalls, excessive banks and spiral dives. The idea was that it would no longer be necessary to protect the public from airplanes if Airbus could get airplanes to protect themselves from pilots.

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You are making a bad faith argument by equivocating someone not obeying the rules of the road with an emotional appeal like a person in medicine making a mistake.

Doctors and Nurses are still human beings and while following all the rules of their training can still make a mistake.

It is not victim blaming to ask someone to read the appropriate road signs and operate a vehicle properly.

You clearly are not interested in discussing something in a proper manner and I care not to discuss this further with you. Good day.

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The 737 wasn’t “pilot error” in the usual sense of a pilot failing to follow a safety procedure, though, or the sense @bunkyboar used.

Pilots weren’t trained on the equipment, on Boeing’s end, for one thing, and that’s in addition to fatality causing design flaws. It would still be a mistake to pin total responsibility for those crashes on “pilot error”.


There’s a footnote defining “pilot error” in the one of the NTSB reports on the 737 Max.

14 (a) Yeh, Michelle, Cathy Swider, Young Jin Jo, and Colleen Donovan. 2016. Human Factors Considerations in the Design and Evaluation of Flight Deck Displays and Controls. Version 2.0, Final Report – December 2016, DOT/FAA/TC-16/56. pp. 248-249. (b) The FAA’s Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge, FAA-H-8083-25B, Chapter 2, page 2-12, states, “Historically, the term ‘pilot error’ has been used to describe an accident in which an action or decision made by the pilot was the cause or a contributing factor that led to the accident. This definition also includes the pilot’s failure to make a correct decision or take proper action.”

Plenty of wiggle room to place the blame on the ex fighter jock driving the plane.

The 737 Max crashes weren’t just pilot error, or pilot error as the most significant cause.

Boeing fucked up, too. Proven, documented, admitted, and agreed-on by everyone (except maybe, you?). That’s still the point. You can’t blame the crashes on pilot error alone, even where it was a contributing factor.

That was also the original point, that even when you have drivers that fuck up and make bad decisions, or fail to follow a rule, the design of a road or intersection can still exacerbate the statistical number of accidents, even where that design is “well-intentioned” or it “looks good enough, I don’t know why the world just doesn’t read my super-clear sign. I guess everyone just wanted to crash.”

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Can you assume that a well trained professional truck driver would pay attention to the signs? Sure.
Can you assume that a well trained professional pilot would have enough airmanship iinstincts to fly a 737 Max? Maybe.

Can you assume that all people driving trucks have been taught to pay attention to height limit signs. NO
Can you assuime that all pilots driving the 737 Max have been taught airmanship? NO

Plus, the whole idea of making a plane behave like an existing model, and refusing to document the limitations of this simulation ( on the grounds that the certifiers might catch on) seems super shady to me. It sounds like Boing was adopting the worst myths and prejudices about airbus as its own.


Not at the time of the crashes. The system didn’t alert them what it was doing, and it was physically malfunctioning.

Pilot error wasn’t the main cause of those crashes, and no possible “airmanship instinct” would have overcame the technical problems at play then. That’s not a wild theory, it’s what every report, including the final one said.

There were things that the pilots could have done better, but that wouldn’t have saved the plane. It wasn’t a matter of ignoring their instruments and flying by feel. The system was actively controlling the plane and the pilots hadn’t been taught that the system couldn’t be easily disengaged.

You are right.

The report states

A few minutes later, the Captain re-engaged the STAB TRIM CUTOUT switches to the NORMAL position, and almost immediately the automatic AND trimming re- occurred. The Captain then moved the STAB TRIM CUTOUT switches back to the Cut-Out position and continued with manual trim for the remainder of the flight.
The Captain reported that he performed three Non-Normal Checklists (NNCs) consisting of Airspeed Unreliable, Altitude DISAGREE, and Runaway Stabilizer. None of the NNCs performed contained the instruction “Plan to land at the nearest suitable airport”. The Captain decided to continue the flight since none of the NNCs gave instructions to land at the nearest suitable airport and despite the degraded flight instrumentation, flying without autopilot and auto-throttle, and a continuous activation of stick shaker, he convinced himself that the aircraft was able to fly to the scheduled destination. The Captain did not inform the Lion Air ground station in Denpasar about the problems as he assumed that the aircraft would be able to continue the flight to Jakarta.

That’s insane.

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This just seems like cherry-picking a part of the report to make the pilots look worse. Failing to “Plan to land at the nearest suitable airport” wouldn’t have caused the crash, and the part that did crash the plane did it so quickly, it would have been a disaster no matter which way the plane was headed, original destination or a re-route.

Boeing had a lot of responsibility for the crashes, and pointing only at pilot choices doesn’t absolve them.

“We’re going to put the pilots in a false reality, like in the Matrix movies, where they think they’re flying a different kind of plane, so nobody has to pay to retrain them. WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG”

Words like “shady” don’t even begin to describe this criminal conspiracy


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