After 2 Deadly Crashes, Is It Safe to Fly on a 737 Max?

A Boeing 737 Max jet takes off from Renton Municipal Airport in Washington on January 29, 2016.
Photo: Mike Kane/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Every airline crash is tragic, but the loss of an Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max on Sunday was more than that. It raised questions about the safety of an entire type of aircraft and suggested that a whole a swath of aviation might not be nearly as safe as we’d assumed.

Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 took off from Addis Ababa and went into a steep dive shortly thereafter, killing everyone aboard on high-speed impact. The circumstances were eerily similar to those under which a Lion Air 737 Max crashed in Indonesia five months ago. It’s still too soon to say if the same factors were at play in both accidents, but the coincidences were spooky for some. By Tuesday, Australia, China, Indonesia, Singapore, and the U.K. had grounded all aircraft of that type, as had 25 individual airlines.

Here in the U.S., meanwhile, the three U.S. carriers that fly the 737 Max continued to stand by the plane. After the Federal Aviation Administration announced that it would require “design changes” by April, Boeing said that it would be updating its software and training guidelines. In the meantime, both the FAA and Boeing said the 737 Max remained safe to fly. So who had it right? If your next airline reservation shows you booked on a 737 Max, should you roll with it or rebook?

First, the strictly rational answer: statistically, the 737 Max still has a decent track record for safety. With 350 in service since the type was introduced in 2017, and each of those flying multiple trips per day, the percentage of the planes that have come to grief is quite small. With the investigation into last year’s Lion Air crash still underway, and the Ethiopian crash still so fresh that we know next to nothing about the cause, it’s way too early to conclude that anything’s wrong with the 737 Max.

To be sure, there may be a problem with the plane. A preliminary report into the Lion Air crash suggests that a new autopilot system called MCAS can, under rare circumstances, put the plane into an unprompted steep dive. Even so, that doesn’t mean that the plane is unsafe to fly. It’s a sure thing that every 737 Max pilot is now aware of the MCAS issue and will know how to disengage it if the plane starts to go nose-down.

Passengers don’t need to make every decision on a purely rational basis, however. The natural human aversion to being suspended by invisible forces miles above the earth is such that the traveling public wants flying to be as close to 100 percent safe as possible. If your anxiety is making you miserable, it’s perfectly fine to accept your emotional reality and plan accordingly.

If the majority of the public ends up feeling that way about the 737 Max, then Boeing has a big problem on its hands. A reputation of being unsafe is hard to shake. The McDonnell Douglas DC-10 passenger jet earned the nickname “Death Contraption” and “Daily Crash” after a string of high-profile accidents soon after its introduction in 1971. A fault in the design of a cargo door was to blame for some of them, and the FAA temporarily grounded all DC-10s in 1979. Though in the long run the plane’s statistics weren’t particularly bad, the optics were not sustainable. Four years later, McDonnell Douglas pulled the plug.

If you’ve got an upcoming flight and are keen to avoid the 737 Max, check your reservation to see what type of plane you’ll be on, or run your flight number through a site such as In the U.S., Southwest has the largest fleet, with 34 737 MAXs, while American has 22 and United has 14.

If you do decide to rebook, be prepared to take a hit: U.S. carriers currently aren’t waiving change fees over passengers’ 737 Max anxieties.

The issue may become moot, however. While the FAA has said it’s in wait-and-see mode until the crash investigations progress further, political pressure may force its hand. On Sunday, Senator Dianne Feinstein wrote to the agency asking it to temporarily ground all 737 Maxes in service with U.S. carriers, saying, “Continuing to fly an airplane that has been involved in two fatal crashes within just six months presents an unnecessary, potentially life-threatening risk to the traveling public.”

After 2 Deadly Crashes, Is It Safe to Fly On a 737 Max?

Promoted links by Taboola

college admissions

college admissions

College Admission Scam Involved Photoshopping Kids’ Heads onto Athletes’ Bodies

By Madison Malone Kircher

A truly hilarious detail from newly unsealed court documents.

What, exactly, is the difference?

US Attorney re the Huffman/Loughlin (among others) college scam: “We’re not talking about donating a building…we’re talking about fraud.”


happy birthday mr. romney

happy birthday mr. romney

Mitt Romney Blows Out Birthday Candles One by One

By Brian Feldman

The senator, normal, is 72 years old today.


New Book Makes the Case That Jared and Ivanka Are Worse Than Previously Thought

By Adam K. Raymond

Among the couple’s newly revealed transgressions: forcing their way on to Air Force jets and defending President Trump’s racism.

Get ready to hear a lot more about this (juicy) story

Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin are named in charging documents just unsealed by federal authorities, alleging a large scheme involving parents who paid bribes of up to $6 million to get their kids into elite colleges, including Harvard and Yale. w/



President Grandpa Simpson weighs in on air travel

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….


Expect much more of this

The Biden at IAFF is the one that rival campaigns aren’t afraid of. Not right now. Free-form, occasionally repeating the same points, quickly watering down an attack on “CEOs and hedge funds” by saying they’re not bad people.



After 2 Deadly Crashes, Is It Safe to Fly on a 737 Max?

By Jeff Wise

Many nations grounded the 737 Max after Sunday’s Ethiopian Airlines crash, but the FAA says it’s safe. Should U.S. travelers relax or switch flights?

The Boeing nightmare continues

JUST IN: UK Civil Aviation Authority issues instructions to stop commercial Boeing 737 Max flights arriving, departing or overflying UK airspace “as a precautionary measure” following two crashes in less than six months, spokesperson says.


Adlai jokes always warm up the crowd

Joe Biden takes the stage to chants “Run! Joe! Run!” “Run! Joe! Run!”

“I promise you I didn’t know Adlai Stevenson,” he says to start. “But he said flattery is fine as long as you don’t inhale.””


An incredible tale of dumb, miraculous luck

Antonis Mavropoulos did everything he could to catch his connection, Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302: He didn’t bring a suitcase. He was the first passenger off his plane. And when he got to the airport in Ethiopia, he ran.

He didn’t make it. A few hours later, he learned that what he thought was his misfortune was, in fact, the kind of spectacular good luck that can make you spend the rest of your life wondering about fate and chance.

Shortly after takeoff on Sunday, Flight 302 crashed en route to Nairobi, Kenya, killing all 149 passengers and eight crew members on board. Mr. Mavropoulos would have been the 150th passenger, window seat 2L.

Trump pretends that large numbers of Jewish Democrats are becoming Republicans over Israel

“Jewish people are leaving the Democratic Party. We saw a lot of anti Israel policies start under the Obama Administration, and it got worsts & worse. There is anti-Semitism in the Democratic Party. They don’t care about Israel or the Jewish people.” Elizabeth Pipko, Jexodus.



Why Pelosi’s Anti-Impeachment Stand Makes Sense

By Ed Kilgore

Without a massive public opinion shift, initiating impeachment proceedings will just inflame Republicans and mislead Democrats.

After everything that’s happened in the past two years, Paul Ryan still thinks Republican voters yearn to hear more policy proposals

“The person who defines that race is going to win the race. If this is about Donald Trump and his personality, he isn’t going to win it,” Ryan said, according to the local news outlet.

Trump, he reportedly continued, needs to define the 2020 race through policy proposals if he wants to defeat Democrats in next year’s election.

It’s impossible to keep track of all the Trump investigations, so let’s just say this is number … 314?

The New York attorney general’s office late on Monday issued subpoenas to Deutsche Bank and Investors Bank for records relating to the financing of four major Trump Organization projects and a failed effort to buy the Buffalo Bills of the National Football League in 2014, according to a person briefed on the subpoenas.

The inquiry opens a new front in the scrutiny of Deutsche Bank, one of the few lenders willing to do business with Donald J. Trump in recent years. The bank is already the subject of two congressional investigations and was examined last year by New York banking regulators, who took no action.

The new inquiry, by the office of the attorney general, Letitia James, was prompted by the congressional testimony last month of Michael D. Cohen, President Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, the person briefed on the subpoenas said. Mr. Cohen testified under oath that Mr. Trump had inflated his assets in financial statements, and Mr. Cohen provided copies of statements he said had been submitted to Deutsche Bank.

The inquiry by Ms. James’s office is a civil investigation, not a criminal one, although its focus and scope were unclear. The attorney general has broad authority under state law to investigate fraud and can fine — or in extreme cases, go to court to try to dissolve — a business that is found to have engaged in repeated illegality.

The Trump administration continues to escalate tensions with the Venezuelan government

The U.S. will withdraw all remaining personnel from


this week. This decision reflects the deteriorating situation in


as well as the conclusion that the presence of U.S. diplomatic staff at the embassy has become a constraint on U.S. policy.


Investigators are finally coming for the Trump Organization’s dealings with Deutsche Bank

The New York attorney general’s office late on Monday issued subpoenas to Deutsche Bank and Investors Bank for records relating to the financing of four major Trump Organization projects and a failed effort to buy the Buffalo Bills of the National Football League in 2014, according to a person briefed on the subpoenas.

The inquiry opens a new front in the scrutiny of Deutsche Bank, one of the few lenders willing to do business with Donald J. Trump in recent years. The bank is already the subject of two congressional investigations and was examined last year by New York banking regulators, who took no action.

Investigators also requested records connected to an unsuccessful effort to buy the Bills, the person said. Mr. Trump gave Deutsche Bank bare-bones personal financial statements in 2014 when he planned to make a bid for the team, The New York Times has reported. The deal fell through when the team was sold to a rival bidder for $1.4 billion.


A Crucial Week for Brexit: What to Expect

By Matt Stieb

There could be up to three votes this week determining the future of Britain’s departure from the E.U.

Mike Pompeo claims the already-gutted State Department won’t lose its “swagger” abroad with another $13 billion in cuts

The Trump administration’s budget plan, released Monday, would slash the budget for the State Department and international programs by more than 23 percent, from $55.8 billion to a proposed $42.8 billion.

When he became Secretary of State last year, Pompeo pledged to help the agency “get its swagger back.” Asked on Monday how that would be possible in the face of such deep cuts, Pompeo was unfazed.

“I’ll testify on Capitol Hill in a week or two on our budget and I’m very confident that the State Department will have the resources it needs,” Pompeo said. “It always has. President Trump has ensured that it has. And we’ll get to where we’ll need to be.”

It’s unlikely, but the Mueller investigation could run until September

Special Counsel Robert Mueller and the team he assembled to investigate U.S. President Donald Trump and his associates have been funded through the end of September 2019, three U.S. officials said on Monday, an indication that the probe has funding to keep it going for months if need be.

There has been increased speculation in recent weeks that Mueller’s team is close to winding up its work and is likely to deliver a report summarizing its findings to Attorney General William Barr any day or week now. Mueller’s office has not commented on the news reports suggesting an imminent release.

Justice Department documents show that Mueller’s office reported spending around $9 million during the fiscal year which ran from Oct. 1, 2017 to Sept. 30, 2018. No figures are available for the current fiscal year.

The Algerian president has delayed the country’s presidential election scheduled for April 18

Algeria’s President Abdelaziz Bouteflika announced he will not seek a fifth term and delayed the country’s presidential polls amid mass protestsagainst his reelection bid. 

In a message carried by the official APS news agency on Monday, the 82-year-old also said the elections would follow a national conference on political and constitutional reform to be carried out by the end of 2019.

The dramatic developments followed weeks of mass demonstrations against Bouteflika’s plan to extend his 20-year rule. The unprecedented citizens’ revolt drew millions to the streets of cities across the country.

fox news

Tucker Carlson’s Racist Comments Emerge, Day After Misogynistic Remarks

By Matt Stieb

After the Fox News host shrugged off a reel highlighting his misogyny, tapes emerged of him calling Iraqis “semi-literate primitive monkeys.”


Trump’s Budget Is a Disaster for the GOP

By Sarah Jones

The President keeps trying to attack programs that are more popular than he is.

Dick Cheney reportedly hits Mike Pence with the ultimate GOP insult

A chummy discussion between Vice President Pence and former vice president Richard B. Cheney quickly turned into a vigorous back-and-forth over President Trump’s foreign policy at a private gathering on Saturday, with Cheney comparing the president’s instincts to those of his Democratic predecessor Barack Obama, according to a transcript obtained by The Washington Post.

“I worry that the bottom line of that kind of an approach is we have an administration that looks a lot more like Barack Obama than Ronald Reagan,” [Cheney] said.

The former vice president then turned his attention to the situation in North Korea. He worried about Trump’s decision to cancel the decades-long U.S. military exercises with South Korea, and referenced a recent Bloomberg News report about the president’s directive “to pursue a policy that would insist that the Germans, the Japanese, and the South Koreans pay total cost for our deployments there, plus 50 percent on top of that.”

“I don’t know, that sounded like a New York State real estate deal to me,” Cheney quipped.


Marco Rubio Mistakes Venezuelan Journalist Named Germán Dam for an Actual Dam

By Matt Stieb

In a tweet over the weekend, the Florida senator mistook a journalist covering the crisis in Venezuela, Germán Dam, for a hydroelectric barrier.

Milwaukee’s Finest

ok @edkilgore and @gabriel.debenedetti, ready?

Democrats announced today that they had picked sunny Milwaukee to host the Democratic National Convention next year. Possibly not coincidentally, Wisconsin is expected to be the mother of all swing states in 2020, as Dems try to wrest it back after a shocking upset loss last time around. Will the geographic specifics of this pick have any actual effect on the election?

Almost certainly not! The Democratic nominee will definitely spend more time and resources in the Upper Midwest than the last one, but that has basically nothing to do with the convention.

This is obviously about messaging, and the message is sent loud and clear. But there’s this weird thing that happens every four years where we pretend the convention location means something more than basic symbolism.

By my count (Ed, correct me if I’m wrong here), since ‘92 Dems have won 5 of the 7 convention states — but lost the last two. And 2016 was the first time *since* ‘92 that Republicans won their convention state.

Yeah, though most of these states were very blue.

Right. The whole “put the convention in a swing state to send a message” trend is relatively new, and very unproven to matter.

But Republicans held conventions in swing states they proceeded to lose in 2000, 2008 and 2012. As did Democrats in 2012 and 2016.

But listen, this is part of a broader point national Democrats have been sending for a while. It’s about a renewed focus on the area, and making clear they’re not taking it for granted. If that wasn’t clear from the last few years, though, I’m not sure it would’ve been just from this.

And it’s not like if the DNC had chosen Houston or Miami Beach, the nominee would say “let’s forget about Wisconsin!”

I ran across an academic analysis of this question that concluded having a convention could energize local members of the host party, but could also produce a backlash if there are strongholds of the opposing party in that media market. Sure sounds like it describes the intensely Republican Milwaukee suburbs.

On that note: here was the response to the Milwaukee decision from the executive director of the state’s GOP: “No city in America has stronger ties to socialism than Milwaukee … And with the rise of Bernie Sanders and the embrace of socialism by its newest leaders, the American left has come full circle. It’s only fitting the Democrats would come to Milwaukee.”

What do you make of that craziness?

(A) this was inevitable, and (B) I’m genuinely shocked they didn’t go with the easy “at least the Democrats will campaign in Wisconsin this time” shtick.

I was expecting to see that joke to be everywhere on Twitter, but Kellyanne Conway was the only person I saw who made it. 

I think everyone’s gotten it out of their system.

But! To take a step back and look at the state of the GOP in Wisconsin for a sec, it’s pretty stunning. Ok, of course they’re going to attack Milwaukee implicitly, but to do it so out-in-the-open like this is really interesting, given how the Milwaukee suburbs fell away for Scott Walker in November.

What this indicates is that the “Here Come the Socialists” message really has permeated the GOP from top to bottom. 

But there may be no urban-suburban area in the country with a divide that’s starker or more important to the statewide politics in recent history.

Yeah, that was the point I was making about the local effect of having the convention there.

Happy to wisconsign off there. Man, what is wrong with me?

In an interesting development prior to the release of the Mueller report, Nancy Pelosi comes out against impeachment

I’m not for impeachment. This is news. I’m going to give you some news right now because I haven’t said this to any press person before. But since you asked, and I’ve been thinking about this: Impeachment is so divisive to the country that unless there’s something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don’t think we should go down that path, because it divides the country. And he’s just not worth it.

Nancy Pelosi

vision 2020

Democrats Aim at Midwest With Choice of Milwaukee for 2020 Convention

By Ed Kilgore

Democrats hope to tilt Wisconsin, and perhaps the entire region, but parties don’t always get a bump in the state where they hold their convention.

Read More

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: