Too Big To Fail

Just a few weeks before Southwest Airlines pulled their 737 Max variants out of service I was perusing the safety information card during the boarding process.

Most of the time I sit in an exit row so I reacquaint myself with the procedures every time by habit.

At the time, the details of the second 737 Max crash were still emerging. As a pilot, I assumed that there was just one likely cause.

Pilot error.

If you think it’s strange that a pilot would default to blaming the other unfortunate pilot, you need only look at the statistics.

“Pilot error” as a root cause is as much a truism as a detective saying “follow the money” or “I don’t believe in coincidences.” That’s probably why I felt as if I was completely safe being on my favorite airline’s new state of the art bird.

Instead of that being an awful repetition of history, the truth was even worse.

When bean counters, yes-men, corner-cutters and shills unite in the name of profit, this is what happens.

All the safety briefings contain the phrase, “in the unlikely event” which refers to things like bird strikes, wind shear or a failure in one of the redundant systems.

Obviously, nobody at Boeing ever imagined that their fecklessness in the pursuit of money required them to consider an outcome that would crash their business.

This is what happens when you’re too big to fail.

About the author: I am Stephen Kennedy, an experienced photographer with more than 2500 completed sessions in all 50 US states.

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