When the marketing department makes safety decisions

Click to enlargeMichael Tewelde/AFP

❝ The Boeing 737 and the Airbus 320 types are single aisle planes with some 150 seats. Both are bread and butter planes sold by the hundreds with a good profit. In 2010 Airbus decided to offer its A-320 with a New Engine Option (NEO) which uses less fuel. To counter the Airbus move Boeing had to follow up. The 737 would also get new engines for a more efficient flight and longer range. The new engines on the 737 MAX are bigger and needed to be placed a bit different than on the older version. That again changed the flight characteristics of the plane by giving it a nose up attitude.

❝ The new flight characteristic of the 737 MAX would have require a retraining of the pilots. But Boeing’s marketing people had told their customers all along that the 737 MAX would not require extensive new training. Instead of expensive simulator training for the new type experienced 737 pilots would only have to read some documentation about the changes between the old and the new versions.

That was a really sensible way to save on training costs, eh?

Thanks, Tom

Train robberies in Mexico now averaging 1 every 2.5 hours!

Early on the morning of May 19, 2018, residents on the outskirts of the town Orizaba, Veracruz — close to the bordering state of Puebla in Mexico — woke up to a loud crash.

A train with 39 cars and four locomotives crashed into another train when approaching the station. The conductor of the approaching train attempted to brake, but couldn’t because the brakes were cut, according to the Grupo Mexico Transporte, the company that owns and runs the train…

Grupo Mexico Transporte instantly called this act sabotage and pointed to the culprits as being organized crime. The company ruled out the possibility of human error because of the way the trains are remotely operated…

There has been a 476-percent increase of the number of robberies similar to the one that occurred in Orizaba…In the first quarter of 2018, there was a robbery of a train every 2.5 hours, according to the Regulatory Agency for Rail Transport.

Where’s Roy Rogers when you need him?

Raising speed limits is irresponsible — states keep doing it, of course

Cars are America. America is freedom. It’s no accident that the country’s foundational myths are written in road trips. The Oregon Trail. Sal Paradise and his Cadillac. That time your stoner college roommate decided to drive his crap can from Jersey to LA.

And freedom is getting faster, at least in the West. In April 2015, South Dakota became the fifth state in three years to increase its daytime interstate speed limit to 80 miles per hour or more. On some sections of Texas road, 85 is de rigueur.

The economic and emotional justifications for the trend were neatly laid out by The Idaho Statesman editorial editor Robert Ehlert: “The 80 mph speed limit is an antidote to those high airline ticket prices and nickel-and-dime onboard fees,” he wrote….“The 80 mph speed limit is symbolic of my individuality and freedom … This is the West. This is the way we roll.”

But a raft of research shows that when speed limits go up, so do fatalities—along with financial costs and environmental hazards. A 2009 study published in the American Journal of Public Health estimates speed limit increases were responsible for 12,545 deaths and 36,583 injuries between 1995 and 2005. The number of rural interstate fatalities we can blame on higher speed limits jumped 9.1 percent during that time.

Why, then, have speed limits — and especially speed limits in rural areas — rocketed in recent years? Partly, it’s that speeding exists in a cultural gray area. Everybody does it, so why not change the rules to reflect that? More crucially, it’s a result of regional politics, where geography, ideology, and antipathy for regulation make higher limits a win. Especially for politicians.

…Higher maximums mean wider gaps in speed between individual cars. That’s less safe for everyone. A recent analysis led by Wayne State civil engineers found that fatality rates on roads with limits of 75 mph or higher are double those on interstates where things move more slowly.

Higher speed limits come with a financial cost, too. Changing the rules doesn’t just mean repainting the signs. State DOTs have to revamp the infrastructure, making road curves smoother and adding crash pads to medians, for example, to make driving faster safer. Faster driving means maintenance costs go up, too. In 2014, researchers working with Michigan’s DOT found that upping rural interstate speed limits from 70 to 80 mph would save 15.4 million passenger vehicle hours a year, but would also cost $163.88 million annually for the design’s estimated 25-year lifespan.

And of course, driving faster burn more fuel. That’s why Congress set the national speed limit at 55 mph in 1978….That same Michigan DOT report estimated raising freeway speeds would increase the state’s annual fuel consumption by 68.7 million gallons — about $257.5 million worth of the good stuff (at 2012 prices). And if the money part doesn’t get you, remember that 68.7 million gallons of gas is equal to 1.3 billion pounds of CO2 emissions.

None of that counts the economic and societal costs of crashes themselves — $836 billion in 2010, according to the feds.

Opportunism is practically a genetic trait in American politicians. It wanders from knee-jerk support for bigoted laws to stuff so stupid that only differences between the two parties keep them in place. Here in New Mexico our silly-ass rule allowing a “social pass” for students who can’t read up to their grade level – if mommy and daddy complain – is opposed by Republicans. So, Democrats still support it.

And so it remains on Freeway speeds. I admit I used those higher speeds to advantage when I was on the road. I have all the rationales, e.g., I drove a car engineered for cruising speeds higher than the average American car, I had the skills and experience to drive at those speeds. Last fender-bender I suffered was a guy making an illegal turn who drove into my rear fender – in 1978. And driving 700-1100 miles/week, the time savings were significant.

Still, I would have been in less danger and less dangerous to other drivers at a reduced pace. I would have complied.

Trucker choking on his Dr Pepper crashes into 23 new cars

Park your truck before you chug your Dr Pepper

Police say the driver of a milk tanker truck was choking on a soft drink when he drove off a Pennsylvania highway and crashed into 23 new cars on a dealership lot.

Police in Hermitage say the driver choked on Dr Pepper on Sunday and drove the truck nearly 600 feet through a grassy area before smashing into a building at Montrose Buick-GMC-Cadillac.

The Sharon Herald reports the truck rumbled down an embankment before hitting the cars, including one that was pushed into the dealership showroom.

State police found no mechanical problems with the truck and no indication the driver tried to brake. The driver of the truck owned by Neimeyer Milk Transfer was cited for careless driving.

Careless is putting it kindly.

Perception? Gap between seniors’ opinion of driving ability and performance in the real world

A new report shows that 85 percent of senior drivers rated their driving as “excellent” or “good” during a five-year period although 25 percent reported having a crash. No participants rated their driving as poor, and less than 1 percent rated their driving as fair — which points to a possible lack of awareness of safe driving ability.

The study…analyzed Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration data from 350 older adult drivers ages 65-91 with a mean age of 74. The drivers were asked about self-reported incidents and state-reported crashes during a five-year period. They also were asked to rate their own driving abilities at year five. The study found that self-rated driving ability had no relationship with a previous history of adverse driving outcomes, such as crashes, other than receiving recommendations from physicians or friends to stop or limit driving…

Driver license requirements for seniors vary by state. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety eight states and the District of Columbia require vision tests for seniors. Illinois is the only state that mandates a road test for those ages 75 and older. This means that all other states rely on seniors to self-regulate their driving…

“Testing visual acuity is not enough to predict crashes. The screenings that show true promise in determining whether or not a senior is able to drive safely are performance-based,” says Lesley Ross, author of the study. “Until that happens, we found that receiving a suggestion to stop or limit driving had the greatest impact on seniors self-rated driving abilities.

“Clearly, there needs to be more open discussion among older adults, their family and friends, as well as physicians. Driving is essential to maintaining independence and mobility for many older adults, and discussions on limiting driving should not be taken lightly. It is a complex issue with real implications for older adults and their families,” Ross says.

I’ve found my self doing what my father did. I sit back and look at reaction time, attention to surroundings, how much might my attention wander even driving alone. He slowed down. I’ve slowed down. He even stopped driving on interstate highways at some point in time. I haven’t done that, yet.

Still, even if I get cranky over it – I would go along with testing in addition to the vision testing currently required here in New Mexico for old geezers.

Mexican surveillance drone crashes in Texas

Federal authorities were investigating Friday the circumstances of a drone that crashed in El Paso, Texas, this week, which U.S. officials said originated in Mexico.

But Rocio Torres, a spokeswoman for the Mexican attorney general’s office, disputed that the drone belonged to that country…

But U.S. National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Keith Holloway said he believed that the drone “was owned by the government of Mexico, and I think they were the operators…”

The crash of an unmanned aerial vehicle from Mexico would be a first on U.S. soil, said U.S. Customs and Border Protection Special Operations Supervisor Ramiro Cordero.

Holloway said the craft was an Orbiter Mini UAV designed by Aeronautics Defense Systems, whose website describes it as “a compact and lightweight system designed for use in military and homeland security operations” and “the ultimate solution for over-the-hill reconnaissance missions, low-intensity conflicts and urban warfare operations.”

I guess we are investigating, but we don’t know what we’re going to do with the information at this point,” Holloway said.

Unmanned drones are routinely used by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to look for illegal immigration on the U.S.-Mexico border.

I wonder what the Mexican government is using theirs for?

Nutball crashes a plane into federal offices in Texas

Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

The long, rambling rant posted on a website eerily reflected the angry populist sentiments that have swept the country in the past year. In it, a Joe Stack inveighed against intrusive Big Brother government, corrupt corporate giants, irrational taxes, as well as the “puppet” George Bush. “I choose not to pretend that business as usual won’t continue,” he wrote. “I have just had enough. I can only hope that the numbers quickly get too big to be white washed and ignored that the American zombies wake up and revolt.” And then Stack apparently got in a Piper Cherokee PA-28 at about 9:40 a.m. at an airport in suburban Austin, Texas, and flew the plane into a commercial building housing an IRS office, killing himself, seriously injuring two people on the ground and starting a conflagration that lasted several hours…

“It sure was hauling. It was a really speedy dive,” Jerry Cullin, a pilot, told KXAN, the local NBC affiliate. “It shot across the road going really fast.” Cullin had stopped to get his midmorning coffee at the local Marie Callender’s when he saw the plane swoop down. It was so low, Cullin said, he could see the plane’s belly and thought he might get hit. The plane almost clipped one of the tall light poles lining the freeway before crashing into the building.

After the fireball, Cullin said, the black-glass windows blew out and the venetian blinds starting flapping in the wind. The building houses regional offices of the IRS and other federal agencies. As one unidentified office worker from the building said, “If you have problems with the IRS, this is where you come in person to work them out.” According to news reports, 199 IRS employees work in the building, and all are accounted for. Toward the end of what appears to be his final note, Stack wrote, “Well, Mr. Big Brother IRS man, let’s try something different; take my pound of flesh and sleep well.”

RTFA. No doubt, the next Tea Party rally in Austin will eulogize this man and his suicide bombing.

U.S. military drone crashes into Iraq political party’s office

File Photo

An unmanned U.S. reconnaissance drone has crashed in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, hitting the offices of one of Iraq’s biggest political parties, the U.S. military said.

No injuries were reported, and there was no indication the aircraft was shot down, said Major Derrick Cheng, a military spokesman in northern Iraq.

Cheng said it was a coincidence that the drone struck the local offices of the Iraqi Islamic Party, Iraq’s biggest Sunni Arab political group, the military said.

The cause of the crash is under investigation.

They had better start having these drones tested by fanboys.