Zeynep Tufekci on the B737 MAX

Zeynep Tufekci is a distingushed Professor of Sociology and Public Policy at Princeton who studies big social changes and organizational failures like the Trump response to the COVID pandemic, and the havoc brought upon many American corporations by the Jack Welch-trained MBA culture.

She tackles the B737 MAX failure in this NY Times opinion piece. I direct you to the comments section of the article where she chose to spend some of her valuable time responding to a few of the right wing nutjobs. It’s a pure delight.

Free link:



She is great in the comments section.

I forgot the details of the nose-diving on the Max. It was to make up for the position of the engines up high level with the wing. The software patch worked in the end.

She faults the second accident as corporate malfeasance. It was a horrible waste of life. Boeing’s decisions were reckless. Engineers in charge possibly would have been better. It was not just greed but a lack of comprehension of engineering problems.

The greed part might be inaccurate. The cost of coming clean was enormous for Boeing. The inescapable engineering costs were fearsome. We had all sorts of engineering manpower in CT chipping in to solve the problem.

Hardly. No excessive Executive Compensation was clawed back as a result of the billions of dollars in losses put on Boeing shareholders. Of course, the Welchists lost some current comp going forward, but not enough in my opinion. The defrocked CEO Dennis Muilenburg, walked away with a $60 million golden parachute.



That is not what I am addressing. The corporate decision to hesitate if you will between the first crash and the second was over the expense of the engineering or a huge oversight. Possibly a mix of the two reasons.

The article just got through saying no one should be held liable. It destroys reporting. The Execs were not worried about being held liable. They may have worried about the balance sheet and income statements. The expense was huge in fixing the problem.

iirc, it was more than a software patch. They installed a second AOA vane. Historically, vital flight instruments have been triple redundant, so, if the two primaries show conflicting information, they believe the one that the third system agrees with. I learned a lot about the 73’s turn and bank indicator in a documentary about a crash investigation. The fault turned out to be a loose wire in a connector between the gyro and the display, combined with pilot error in having both the pilot’s and copilot’s displays running off the same gyro, instead of separate gyros, so the displays always agreed in the erroneous information they showed.