Podcast 065: Max Flight and Mary Kirby on why no-MAX flight


Welcome to Episode 065 of the #PaxEx Podcast, which tracks how the airline passenger experience is evolving in a mobile, social, vocal world.

In this episode – available on Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts – co-hosts Max Flight and Mary Kirby discuss the number one #PaxEx news story making headlines – the grounding of the entire world fleet of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft after the tragic crash of an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 six minutes after takeoff from Addis Ababa, killing all 157 people on board.

After Mary breaks down the timeline of events that led to the United States’ decision to ground the MAX, after most countries had already done so, Max and Mary explain why, irrespective of the findings of the investigation of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crash, passenger fear and public perception is valid. An industry that ignores passenger fear does so at its peril.

Max and Mary also look at the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System [MCAS] – the technology at the heart of the discussion around MAX safety – and consider whether the relationships between major US aerospace corporations and the FAA have grown too cozy.


  1. What we learnt from the 737 Rudder PCU shuttle valve issue of the 1990s and the following two 2014 Aircraft emergencies :-
    Lufthansa Flight 1829 … 5th November 2014
    Indonesia AirAsia Flight 8501 … 28 December 2014
    In the context of an era increasingly influenced by the reach of social media and public activism, explains why we are where we are.
    At the end of the day, the new mantra is “Perception of safety first”.

  2. A takeaway from the current 737 MAX issue might be that while you can achieve commonality through automation operating behind the scenes under normal circumstances, failure or disengagement of that automation and thus its inherent protections, exposes pilots to what may be a region of an aircraft’s flight envelope that possesses unstable characteristics.
    Only adequate training that includes emergency procedures executed in a simulated degrading environment fraught with cascading failures, will truly provide us with what approaches the levels of safety that there is under normal operation.
    We should take note that military pilots train such that they are as comfortable with flying their aircraft in emergency situations as they are under normal conditions. They do so by including some measure of emergency procedure training during almost every flight.
    The philosophy in the Commercial Aviation domain however is that pilots – after they have concluded their initial training on type – are only exposed to simulated emergencies once or twice per year during proficiency checks executed in a flight simulator.
    We might thus very well ask ourselves, is Commercial Aviation’s philosophy with respect to pilot training flawed ?

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