Tag: Safety

Boeing, AGAIN

Now it appears that Boeing pressured FAA test pilots during the review of the 737 MAX fixes.

Now is not the time for more rigorous regulatory action.

Now is the time for criminal prosecutions, and perp walks for senior Boeing executives:

Senate investigators concluded that Boeing “inappropriately coached” Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) pilots for a simulator test last year conducted during the effort to test and recertify the company’s 737 MAX as safe to fly again after two deadly crashes.

The conclusion is contained in a report issued Friday by the Republican majority in the Senate Commerce Committee on an investigation that was launched after the two MAX crashes but that ultimately broadened to unearth numerous safety problems across the FAA.

A whistleblower who served as an FAA aviation safety inspector told Senate investigators that Boeing officials prompted the FAA test pilots before the test, which was designed to test pilot reactions to an emergency, to be ready to respond.

The FAA inspector alleged the Boeing official told the pilots, “Remember, get right on that pickle switch” — meaning an electrical thumb switch on the control column used to pitch up the jet’s nose.

Even with that prompt, one of the pilots took 16 seconds to respond, four times longer than Boeing and the FAA had assumed.

According to the report, the investigators asked to interview that pilot, but a Transportation department lawyer prohibited the pilot from answering questions about the incident.

Senior members of the FAA need to be brought into court in handcuffs as well.

Busting the Union Still More Important Than Making Safe Aircraft

Once again, we find that Boeing’s aggressive move of manufacturing to South Carolina has resulted in poorly assembled airliners.

What can I say, the unions won’t rat-f%$# themselves:

Boeing engineers previously determined that when the defects involving skin smoothness and shim size both occur in the same location, the result can be tiny imperfections creating a potential hazard such as a cracking in the fuselage under extreme flying conditions. Boeing in August took the unusual step of voluntarily grounding eight aircraft in airlines’ fleets for immediate repairs.

Those earlier problems prompted the FAA to start reviewing quality-control lapses in Boeing’s 787 production stretching back almost a decade.

Boeing also previously identified a third quality-control lapse affecting the horizontal stabilizer, a movable, winglike panel in the tail.

Boeing moved to South Carolina to ditch their unions in Seattle.

In the process, they ditched a talented workforce, and treated the new workforce like crap, because ……… South Carolina, and so the workforce there is demoralized as well.

MBA thinking does not produce good aircraft.

Him I Want to Die in Poverty and Struggling to Breath

He’s killed dozens, if not hundreds of minors with out a second thought, so I’m hoping that he gets turned down:

Robert E. Murray, the former CEO and president of the now-bankrupt Murray Energy, has filed an application with the U.S. Department of Labor for black lung benefits. For years, Murray and his company fought against federal mine safety regulations aimed at reducing the debilitating disease.

“I founded the company and created 8,000 jobs there until the move to end coal use. I am still chairman of the board,” he wrote on a Labor Department form that initiated his claim obtained by the Ohio Valley ReSource. “We’re in bankruptcy, and due to my health could not handle the president and CEO job any longer.”

According to sources, Murray’s claim is still in the initial stages and is being evaluated to determine the party potentially responsible for paying out the associated benefits. The Labor Department is required to determine a liable party before an initial ruling can be made on entitlement to benefits. If Murray’s claim were to go before an administrative law judge, some aspects of the claim would become a matter of public record.


Reached by phone, Murray declined an on-the-record interview for this story. Murray said he has black lung from working in underground mines and is entitled to benefits. Additionally, he disputed that he ever fought against regulations to quell the disease or fought miners from receiving benefits.

Murray also threatened to file a lawsuit if a story was published that indicated he had fought federal regulations and benefits.

Of course he threatened a lawsuit.  It’s what the Dr. Evil wannabee does, and it’s what led John Oliver to go after him hammer and tongs.

But Murray told NPR in October 2019 that he had a lung disease that was not caused by working underground in mines.

“It’s idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. IPF, and it is not related to my work in the industry. They’ve checked for that,” Murray told NPR. “And it’s not — has anything to do with working in the coal mines, which I did for 17 years underground every day. And until I was 76, I went underground twice a week.”

I’m thinking of starting a Gofundme to pay for a guy in a squirrel suit to follow Bob Murray around telling him to eat sh%$.

Least Surprising News of the Day

Is anyone surprised that Amazon has been systematically deceiving its workers about safety

If you are surprised, I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.

This is a company that prides itself on abusing its workers at all levels, and their lies, both to regulators and their employees, are a core part of company culture:

On Cyber Monday 2014, Amazon operations chief Dave Clark proudly unveiled the company’s new warehouse of the future in Tracy, California. Behind him, tall yellow racks packed with vitamins, toy rockets and paintball gear zipped across the floor, lugged by the powerful, squat orange robots that would help catapult the company toward world domination. In a checked shirt and with neatly parted hair, Clark looked more the part of a high school teacher than a corporate executive, as he cheerfully called himself “head elf of Santa’s workshop around the world.”


The following July, Amazon rolled out another innovation: Prime Day. The holiday-shopping season was already an intense pressure cooker of warehouse activity known as “peak” inside Amazon. Now the company had just manufactured a second peak in the middle of the year: a brand-new holiday that would become pivotal to the company’s growth.


In fact, as senators have fired off letters to the company and workers have led walkouts over health and safety, Amazon has engaged in an unapologetic public relations campaign. Robots, Amazon insists, are good for workers. “They make the job safer,” Jeff Wilke, one of two CEOs under Bezos, told PBS FRONTLINE last September. And Prime Day and the holiday rush are so well orchestrated, Amazon has claimed, that injury rates stay flat or even go down during these buying frenzies. Thanks to “diligent record-keeping,” Amazon told Business Insider, “we know for a fact that recordable incidents do not increase during peak.”

But a new cache of company records obtained by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting – including internal safety reports and weekly injury numbers from its nationwide network of fulfillment centers – shows that company officials have profoundly misled the public and lawmakers about its record on worker safety. They reveal a mounting injury crisis at Amazon warehouses, one that is especially acute at robotic facilities and during Prime week and the holiday peak – and one that Amazon has gone to great lengths to conceal. With weekly data from 2016 through 2019 from more than 150 Amazon warehouses, the records definitively expose the brutal cost to workers of Amazon’s vast shipping empire – and the bald misrepresentations the company has deployed to hide its growing safety crisis.


Amazon often points to the tens of millions of dollars it has invested to enhance safety practices. Yet Amazon’s injury rates have gone up each of the past four years, the internal data shows. In 2019, Amazon fulfillment centers recorded 14,000 serious injuries – those requiring days off or job restrictions. The overall rate of 7.7 serious injuries per 100 employees was 33% higher than in 2016 and nearly double the most recent industry standard.


And for years, the internal data show, injury rates have spiked during the weeks of Prime Day and Cyber Monday, contrary to Amazon’s public claims. Those two weeks had the highest rate of serious injuries for all of 2019.

Monthly bulletins from Amazon’s environment, health and safety team show that the famously data-obsessed company is well aware of its safety problems. Each month, company officials sent out detailed updates – marked “Privileged & Confidential” – to warehouse safety managers across the country with data, charts and FAQs. They set safety goals and monitor progress closely. But the internal documents show that the company has failed to hit these targets. In 2018, Amazon aimed to lower its injury rate by 20%. Instead, injury rates went up. The next year, the goal was more modest: a 5% decrease. But the rate rose again.


Yet her email didn’t say how the company justifies its claim that these initiatives are working, while injury rates have continued, year after year, to rise.

Notwithstanding is protestations, Amazon does not care about its workers.

Even now that they are effectively a monopoly, they continue to build an empire on the blood of their employees.

They just don’t care.

Still Can’t Make Planes

It’s time for more fun with Boeing.

According to the British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA), Boeing’s 737 Max fixes do not address the problem

Specifically, requiring both pilots to simultaneously operate the manual trim wheel when MCAS goes insane is bat sh%$ insane:

The British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA) has told American aviation regulators that the Boeing 737 Max needs better fixes for its infamous MCAS software, warning that a plane crash which killed 149 people could happen again.


In public comments submitted to the FAA’s notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM), BALPA warned that one of the proposed workarounds for a future MCAS failure could lead to a repeat of the crash of Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302.


The NPRM, published here, proposes various fixes to the 737 Max design, its software and procedures for pilots to follow in the event of a problem. One of those procedures includes disabling the airliner’s automatic trim system, operated by MCAS when the software kicks in, and having the two pilots use a manual backup trim wheel instead of the aircraft’s powerful electric motors.

BALPA said: “Requiring both crew members to turn the trim wheel simultaneously in a non-normal scenario is extremely undesirable and goes against all philosophies of having one pilot fly and one run the QRH [quick reference handbook: reading out the emergency checklist]. No flight control system should require both pilots to operate it at any stage, let alone in an emergency.”

The trade union added: “It is felt that this should be reconsidered (particularly in light of the smaller diameter trim wheel as fitted to the MAX to enable the new larger screens to fit, and as per the scenario observed in the Ethiopian Airlines accident).


Its pilots disabled electric trim motors that had been activated by MCAS and, crash investigators believed, tried to use the manual trim wheel in the cockpit to physically undo what the software had done – following Boeing procedures published after the Lion Air crash. Thanks to the aircraft’s excessive speed, built up as MCAS forced its nose to point downwards at the ground, the pilots were unsuccessful. Aerodynamic forces on the control surfaces made it impossible for them to rotate the trim wheel and point the airliner’s nose back at the sky.

Meanwhile, back with the FAA’s NPRM, the Joint European Max Operators’ Group, which includes Ryanair, Norwegian, and Tui, among other airlines, made some minor suggestions for textual edits while reassuring the FAA that they “are not intended to impact on the planned RTS [return to service] programme” for the 737 Max. Some airlines believe all will be well when their Maxes are allowed to fly again. ®


The 737 Max will be known as the 737-7, 737-8 and 737-9. In Ryanair’s case it will be known as the 737-8200, a reference to the base -8 Max model having been fettled to fit 200 seats rather than the stock -8’s 180ish.

International Air Transport Association aeroplane type codes will be B37M, B38M and B39M should you want to avoid booking a flight on one.

I’m Beginning to Think That Boeing Doesn’t Want to Make Planes

It turns out that the problems with the 737 MAX and MCAS were patently obvious early in development in simulator tests, but Boeing ignored and actively covered up these problems

At this point, I think that we need to seriously consider filing criminal charges against senior figures at Boeing aircraft, and maybe a few FAA officials.

Otherwise, the finance types will kill again:

Six years before the crew flying a Lion Air Boeing 737-8 reacted to an emergency in a very different way than Boeing assumed pilots would, something similar happened within Boeing’s walls.

During simulator sessions to evaluate a new flight control law’s potential hazards, Boeing test pilots took more than 10 sec. to diagnose and correct a runaway stabilizer. The session caused one employee to wonder whether pilots of the newest 737 family member, dubbed the MAX series for marketing purposes, needed more information to diagnose the hazard. A second employee who flew the simulator scenario responded that more analysis was needed.

  • New U.S. Congress report highlights issues with pilot-aircraft interface during 737 MAX development
  • Long-accepted norms for predicting how pilots react are now being challenged
  • Boeing did not deem the issues significant risks and minimized how much information pilots received

Boeing ultimately determined that MAX pilots would react within seconds in such scenarios—and that the new control law, the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), could not create new or more severe hazards. The assumptions were not challenged by regulators.

The similar accident sequences of Lion Air Flight 610 (JT610) in October 2018 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 (ET302) less than five months later—both caused by unneeded MCAS activations—showed that Boeing and the FAA were wrong. Now Boeing, the FAA and others point to the accidents as hard, painful evidence that generally accepted assumptions used to evaluate how pilots will react during inflight emergencies need revamping (AW&ST Oct. 14-27, 2019, p. 18).

But newly revealed information collected by U.S. lawmakers investigating the 737 MAX development raises questions about how Boeing handled hazard assessments and whether it ignored evidence that showed MAX pilots would need more help than they were given.

“Multiple Boeing [employees] failed to inform the FAA that Boeing had discovered early on in the MAX program that it took one of its own test pilots more than 10 sec. to respond to an uncommanded activation of MCAS in a flight simulator, a condition the pilot found to be ‘catastrophic,’” states a report released by the House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee. “This should have called into question Boeing’s assumptions about pilot response times. It did not.”

The committee’s view is based in part on email messages about the 2012 simulator sessions included among thousands of pages of documents Boeing and the FAA provided in response to lawmakers’ requests during the 18-month investigation.


In a second run-through, “the reaction time was long,” greater than 10 sec., the employee wrote, before the cutout switches were toggled, stopping the MCAS-triggered automatic nose-down inputs.

“Do you think that with pilot training/knowledge of the system there will be a sufficiently quick response to the [stabilizer] runaway . . . ?” the employee asked.

“I would like to take a look at how much time there is between a hazardous assessment and a catastrophic assessment,” a second employee responds.

The T&I Committee report does not explain what happened next. Testifying before the committee in October 2019, former Boeing Commercial Airplanes chief engineer John Hamilton told lawmakers that subsequent simulator runaway-stabilizer scenarios showed “the typical reaction time was 4 sec.”

Boeing also concluded that a reaction of 10 sec. or longer must be categorized as “catastrophic,” which the FAA’s large aircraft system design and analysis certification guidance defines as “failure conditions which would prevent continued safe flight and landing.” The 10-sec. parameter was listed in 737 MAX internal design parameters, or “coordination sheets,” right through the 737-8’s March 2017 certification.


“Every new buzzword represents a company and airline cost via changed manuals, changed training, changed maintenance manuals,” says a 2013 Boeing internal “problem statement” document discussing how the MCAS should be categorized. “Recommended action: investigate deletion of MCAS nomenclature and cover under ‘revised speed trim.’”

While the MCAS name did not disappear, it was downplayed.

A 2014 Boeing presentation prepared for Southwest Airlines and included in the committee’s report discusses the MCAS, underscoring that the system was not kept a secret. But Boeing opted not to include it in flight crew operations manuals, so most line pilots did not realize it existed.

Meanwhile, Boeing determined that the MCAS’ original authority was not enough.

Developed in response to 2011 wind-tunnel testing that quantified the effects of the MAX’s CFM Leap 1B engines on the aircraft’s aerodynamics as a requirement to ensure the new model handled like its predecessors in certain rare flight profiles, the MCAS’ original authority covered high-speed scenarios such as wind-up turns.


Adding the low-speed authority meant that the MCAS could direct an aircraft from wings-level to full aircraft nose down in two cycles or an elapsed time of 25 sec., counting a 5-sec. pause between activations.


The day before JT610 went down, a different crew flew the same aircraft and experienced a similar situation (AW&ST Nov. 11-24, 2019, p. 23). While the crew, aided by a pilot flying in the jumpseat, toggled the stabilizer trim cutout switches and eventually landed safely, their reaction did not match Boeing’s assumptions. This flight and the two accident flights are the only three in-service reports of the MCAS triggering unneeded stabilizer inputs.



The T&I Committee’s 238-page report cites Boeing’s “disturbing pattern of technical miscalculations and troubling management misjudgments” as well as “numerous oversight lapses and accountability gaps by the FAA” as playing a “significant” role in the two accidents. The pilot-response issue is part of a long list that includes designing the MCAS to be activated based on one AOA sensor’s input and deciding, with FAA approval, to keep any discussion of the MCAS out of pilot flight manuals.


“Our report lays out disturbing revelations about how Boeing . . . escaped scrutiny from the FAA, withheld critical information from pilots, and ultimately put planes into service that killed 346 innocent people,” says committee Chair Pete DeFazio (D-Ore.). “What’s particularly infuriating is how Boeing and FAA both gambled with public safety in the critical time period between the two crashes.”

They knew.  Their own pilots, who knew the plane like the back of their hands,  could not reliably react in under 10 seconds.

Boeing Still Can’t Make Airplanes

It now appears that issues at Boeing’s union-busting plant in South Carolina are bad enough for the FAA to take notice:

Production problems at a Boeing Co. 787 Dreamliner factory have prompted air-safety regulators to review quality-control lapses potentially stretching back almost a decade, according to an internal government memo and people familiar with the matter.

The plane maker has told U.S. aviation regulators that it produced certain parts at its South Carolina facilities that failed to meet its own design and manufacturing standards, according to an Aug. 31 internal Federal Aviation Administration memo reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

As a result of “nonconforming” sections of the rear fuselage, or body of the plane, that fell short of engineering standards, according to the memo and these people, a high-level FAA review is considering mandating enhanced or accelerated inspections that could cover hundreds of jets.


But that slip-up combined with another recently discovered assembly-line defect prompted Boeing to take the unusual step in late August to voluntarily tell airlines to ground eight of their 787s for immediate repairs. Since then, Boeing has publicly confirmed the eight planes weren’t safe to remain in service.


The manufacturing slip-ups mark the latest production problems for the troubled plane maker and present a test for Chief Executive David Calhoun and a revamped safety-review process after two fatal accidents of its narrow-body 737 MAX. The crashes took 346 lives.

THIS is what happens when you let finance guys run things.

Broadening the Definition Of, “Blue Screen of Death”

I just discovered that Bill Gates is funding a nuclear power startup.

The “Secret Sauce” is that it uses a molten salt for thermal storage, so that it can respond quickly to shifts in demand.

This from the guy Microsoft®, so if your alarm bells are going off over the thought of the inevitable system crash, it gets even better.

The reactor in question is a fast fission breeder reactor using using liquid sodium as a coolant, so it produces large quantities of Pu239 and uses a coolant that ignites upon contact with air, and cannot be extinguished with water.

All this from the mind that gave us “Blue Screen of Death”.


Nuclear power is the Immovable Object of generation sources. It can take days just to bring a nuclear plant completely online, rendering it useless as a tool to manage the fluctuations in the supply and demand on a modern energy grid.

Now a firm launched by Bill Gates in 2006, TerraPower, in partnership with GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy, believes it has found a way to make the infamously unwieldy energy source a great deal nimbler — and for an affordable price.

The new design, announced by TerraPower on August 27th, is a combination of a “sodium-cooled fast reactor” — a type of small reactor in which liquid sodium is used as a coolant — and an energy storage system. While the reactor could pump out 345 megawatts of electrical power indefinitely, the attached storage system would retain heat in the form of molten salt and could discharge the heat when needed, increasing the plant’s overall power output to 500 megawatts for more than 5.5 hours.


The use of molten salt, which retains heat at extremely high temperatures, as a storage technology is not new. Concentrated solar power plants also collect energy in the form of molten salt, although such plants have largely been abandoned in the U.S. The technology could enjoy new life alongside nuclear plants: TerraPower and GE Hitachi Nuclear are only two of several private firms working to develop reactor designs that incorporate molten salt storage units, including U.K.- and Canada-based developer Moltex Energy.


Edwin Lyman, the director of nuclear power safety at the Union of Concerned Scientists, suggested on Twitter that the nuclear designs used by TerraPower and GE Hitachi had fallen short of a major innovation. “Oh brother. The last thing the world needs is a fleet of sodium-cooled fast reactors,” he wrote.

Yeah, this makes me feel safe an secure.

Boeing Still Unable to Manufacture Aircraft

They are screwing up a critical structural joint on the 787 down in their union busting facility in South Carolina.

This is not a surprise.  They went there to treat employees like crap, and they have had problems, the the facility for a very long time, to the degree that some of the employees in the North Charleston facility saying that they would refuse to fly in a plane made there:

Boeing earlier this week instructed airlines to pull a batch of eight recently-manufactured 787 Dreamliners from service, prompting their immediate grounding, after the plane maker determined that a manufacturing issue undermined the strength of an area of the jet’s carbon fiber composite structure.

So far, eight 787s — all built in the last few years — have been withdrawn from flying. Aircraft for United Airlines, Singapore Airlines and Air Canada are impacted by the impromptu grounding, according to a person familiar with the situation.

According to those familiar with the issue, an area of the structure in the rear of the aircraft is unable to withstand the maximum stress that would be experienced by the aircraft in service and could fail.

By, “Could fail,” they mean a failure in flight leading to a depressurization incident, and possibly an inflight breakup.


This new issue is the first publicly known instance in the jet’s nine year service life that a structural defect with its mostly carbon fiber airframe has caused Boeing to immediately withdraw 787s from service. The 787 fleet was grounded for three months in 2013 following the overheating of lithium-ion batteries. At that point, the global cadre of 787s was just 50 airplanes and the jet returned to operation after the company developed a new containment and venting system for the main and auxiliary power unit batteries inside the jet’s electronics bay.

The source of the newly-discovered structural issue has been traced to a mating point inside the aft fuselage between two carbon fiber composite barrels, known as Section 47/48 where the two barrels meet with a large bulkhead that caps the pressurized cabin. The pieces are fabricated and joined with the aft pressure bulkhead at Boeing’s North Charleston, S.C. plant and then delivered for final assembly to the company’s nearby final assembly building or flown to Everett, Wash.


The first of the two issues causing the issue centers on how naturally occurring gaps in the structure are filled with shims that ensure stresses on the airframe are carried as they’re designed. Boeing has used a predictive shimming technology on the 787 program for more than a decade, robotically laser scanning the surfaces around the structural joins to automatically generate the required shims to fill the gaps.

In the case of the eight withdrawn aircraft, the gaps were improperly filled. On their own, that might not produce an immediate issue, but Boeing said a second manufacturing issue has prompted the pulling of the jets. The second issue centers on the inner skin of the large monolithic composite barrels. On the suspect aircraft, the skin of the woven carbon fiber fuselage is “supposed to be smooth enough so there are no abrupt ridges,” said one person familiar with the issue.


When the gaps are improperly filled in combination with the roughness of the inner skin, the required structural strength does not meet the limit load requirement. Limit load is the maximum expected stress the aircraft would ever expect to experience in service. While limit load is not solely an airline service requirement, every commercial aircraft test program has to demonstrate an aircraft’s structure is designed for limit loads before it can be safely cleared to fly for the first time.


Over the longer term, the gaps left by improper shimming can put added stress at certain points in the structure that can cause unexpected fatigue cracks to develop and propagate. The Boeing spokesman said its engineers “are analyzing data on the in-service fleet to determine if action is required, potentially including more frequent inspection or rework. It could also be determined that no further action is required if the condition is found to not impact the longevity of the structure.”


A spokesman for the FAA said that the U.S. aviation regulator “is aware of the matter and continues to engage with Boeing,” according to a single-sentence statement.


Installation of the shims across the 787s structure have been a recurring challenge for Boeing. Prior to the 787s entry into service, in June 2010, improperly shimmed horizontal stabilizers temporarily grounded Boeing’s test fleet. And the issue, according to several Boeing manufacturing engineers and aircraft assemblers familiar with the situation say the structural shimming has been a longstanding challenge for the company’s South Carolina manufacturing operation.

“Don’t get me wrong, it’s hard to do,” said one engineer. “But they are so hellbent on making rate, sometimes engineering and production aren’t aligned.” In 2012, early in the 787’s production run, Boeing found more than a dozen improperly shimmed longerons, structural stiffeners, inside the same 47/48 section requiring inspections and localized repairs for structural delamination.


The recurrence of shimming issues on the Dreamliner program comes as Boeing is considering consolidating 787 final assembly operations exclusively to South Carolina. The North Charleston, S.C. factory that produces the aft fuselage where the structural issue was introduced builds the section regardless of where final assembly is completed.

Shorter Boeing, “Our South Carolina facility is not executing properly, but because we are in a right-to-work state, we can push them to assemble dangerous aircraft and hit the production numbers that we want, so we want to move more production to South Carolina.”

This can’t but help Airbus, because, even if Boeing is a superior aircraft, you are wiping out a decade of advantages with a two week grounding.

Boeing’s upper management has been taken over by former McDonnell and finance types, and they are completely unable to manufacture an aircraft for a civil environment.

Slaughterhouses, AGAIN!

Not good

In Germany there has been a major Covid-19 outbreak at an abattoir, (I love the word, “Abattoir.” I need to use it more often) with over a thousand cases linked to the meat processing plant.

This has taken the R-Number,  the infection rate of an epidemic, from about .75 to 2.88, meaning that infections are growing again, not shrinking: (Any number over 1 indicates an increase in the number of cases)

The owners of Europe’s largest meat-processing plant must be held to account for a mass coronavirus outbreak that has infected more than 1,500 of its workers, Germany’s labour minister has said.

Hubertus Heil said an entire region had been “taken hostage” by the factory’s failure to protect its employees, most of whom come from Romania and Bulgaria.

Germany’s coronavirus reproduction or R rate leapt to 2.88 over the weekend largely as a result of the outbreak at the plant at Gütersloh in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW). About 7,000 people have been sent into quarantine as a result of the outbreak, and schools and kindergartens in the region that had been gradually reopened have been forced to close until at least after the summer holidays.

Health authorities have accused Tönnies, the family-run business that owns the plant, of breaking regulations around physical distancing that were introduced to dampen the spread of coronavirus. Authorities say Tönnies has also been reluctant to give them access to workers’ contact details, allegedly hampering the tracking and tracing of the workers and their contacts. Tönnies said delays in handing over personnel data had been due to Germany’s strict data protection laws.

Clemens Tönnies, the company’s billionaire CEO, held a press briefing at the weekend at which he apologised for his company’s management of the crisis, and said it would take “full responsibility” for what had to be done to combat it. Within his own family there have also reportedly been attempts to oust him from his role. He has ruled out resigning.

Of course he has ruled out resigning.

This is exactly the same sort of apology as was given by Volkswagen executives.

And the Billionaire Sociopath Not Named Zuckerberg or Bezos Strikes Again

It turns out that the least safe automotive factory in America, Tesla, is once again putting its employees at risk, this time by ignoring Covid-19 precautions.

This is not a surprise.  Elon Musk is a sociopath.

SF Weekly, the Bay Area’s muckraking newspaper, today published an exposé about poor health and work conditions at Tesla’s Fremont plant. One Tesla factory worker said, “This is a life and death situation.” Another worker, who refused to return to work, said, “It’s a modern-day sweatshop.” Unfortunately, we’ve heard similarly harsh words from Tesla non-unionized employees, who helped build the company into a major success.

Carlos Gabriel, the worker who refused to return because social distancing is not being observed, said:

There’s really no room, and this is a factory with recycled air. You’re basically just breathing on each other.


In March, another employee who also wanted to remain anonymous informed Electrek about conditions at the plant when it was formally shut down.

I arrived at work this morning. We are still running full production. Does not look like they cut down on the workforce. They give us a mask and take our temperature when we walk in. They are not practicing safe social distance.


Tesla continues to call more employees back to work. Nonetheless, the company warns that employees who don’t come back to work might lose unemployment benefits.

A set of site-specific pandemic safety guidelines were created on May 12 via meetings between Alameda county and Tesla officials. The guidelines called for changes to the breakroom, temperature screenings, and having employees dispersed throughout the plant.


However, SF Weekly reports that workers say the measures outlined in the HR memo and Return to Work playbook are “not being implemented consistently on the Fremont factory floor, where plant management is still fumbling to establish safety guidelines on the fly.”


However, SF Weekly reports that workers say the measures outlined in the HR memo and Return to Work playbook are “not being implemented consistently on the Fremont factory floor, where plant management is still fumbling to establish safety guidelines on the fly.”

Evil and Chickensh%$

After firing an organizer at one of the Long Island offices after he led protests against their indifference to Covid-19 infections, it now appears that senior executives planning to smear smear him, because that’s how Amazon rolls:

Leaked notes from an internal meeting of Amazon leadership obtained by VICE News reveal company executives discussed a plan to smear fired warehouse employee Christian Smalls, calling him “not smart or articulate” as part of a PR strategy to make him “the face of the entire union/organizing movement.”

“He’s not smart, or articulate, and to the extent the press wants to focus on us versus him, we will be in a much stronger PR position than simply explaining for the umpteenth time how we’re trying to protect workers,” wrote Amazon General Counsel David Zapolsky in notes from the meeting forwarded widely in the company.

The discussion took place at a daily meeting, which included CEO Jeff Bezos, to update each other on the coronavirus situation. Amazon SVP of Global Corporate Affairs Jay Carney described the purpose to CNN on Sunday: “We go over the update on what’s happening around the world with our employees and with our customers and our businesses. We also spend a significant amount of time just brainstorming about what else we can do” about COVID-19.

(emphasis mine)

The fish rots from the head.

Amazon is evil because Jeff Bezos is evil.

109th Anniversary

Normally, there is a gathering commemorating the disaster, but the lock-down in New York City has meant that there will be no gathering to remember the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire this year:

“Today, we mark the 109th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, a catastrophic event in which 146 workers, mostly young immigrant women, were killed as a direct result of abhorrent working conditions and woefully insufficient workplace safety standards. The loss of life was both tragic and avoidable, and sent shockwaves through our city and nation. Outraged Americans demanded that these workers’ deaths not be in vain, and the public outcry that followed brought a renewed sense of urgency to the labor movement and to the fight for stronger workplace protections and fire safety laws,”

—Workers United Secretary-Treasurer Edgar Romney & New York City Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO President Vincent Alvarez, Mar 25, 2020

Normally, we gather at the site of the blaze to mark the anniversary of the Triangle Fire. We assemble at the corner of Washington and Greene Streets to watch the fire truck ladder rise to the 6th floor, which was as far as it could reach in 1911, as workers burned alive or leapt to their deaths from the factory floors above. This year, we express our solidarity by marking the occasion at home, each doing our part to flatten the wave of infections that threatens to overwhelm or city and our country. Even as we stand apart, we stand together.

146 people died, mostly young women working at the factory.

The doors were locked so they could not get out, and the fire truck ladders could not reach their floors, and many of them jumped to their deaths.

More Boeing Bad News

This is aircraft manufacturing 101, don’t leave garbage in the aircraft, and Boeing cannot do this:

Boeing Co. has found debris inside the fuel tanks of about two-thirds of undelivered 737 MAX jets inspected so far, according to federal and aviation-industry officials, indicating a bigger production-related problem than the company previously suggested.


While Boeing disclosed the debris problem publicly earlier this week, the latest details shed more light on the scale of the issue. Industry officials said Boeing has so far inspected about 50 of roughly 400 MAX planes awaiting delivery once regulators allow the jet back in the air. Materials left behind include tools, rags and boot coverings, according to industry officials familiar with the details.


On Friday, the Boeing spokesman said inspections first found the fuel-tank debris in late November and immediately notified the Federal Aviation Administration. He said the manufacturer has added safeguards to prevent workers from leaving materials inside fuel tanks at its 737 factory in Renton, Wash., and beefed up efforts across the company.


The inspections have raised red flags, some of the officials said, because Boeing’s commercial-airplane unit traditionally has been recognized as a leader in devising systems to combat such production lapses. All tools used inside aircraft are supposed to be logged and tagged, with employees double-checking each other to verify each piece of equipment is removed. The Boeing spokesman said the company has ramped up such checks to prevent future problems.

Boeing has become a hedge fund that makes aircraft, and hedge funds do not build aircraft well.


Of course they can’t.

They were the ones who spent tens of billions of dollars on stock buybacks instead of investing in new aircraft as a part of a systematic plan to allow upper management to loot the company through stock options:

In December, when Boeing’s board of directors fired CEO Dennis Muilenburg, some corporate governance experts and investment analysts wondered what took so long.


Investigations, lawsuits and news stories revealing festering internal problems had piled up. Muilenburg faced public grillings and calls for his resignation during Congressional hearings. Revenues and stock values plummeted. Worst of all, Boeing’s once sterling reputation for quality and safety was badly tarnished.

The prolonged hesitance to fire Muilenberg in the face of spiraling crises underscores concerns about the board’s oversight of the company, even as it faced the most troubling period of its 103-year history. It also raises questions about the board’s culpability in the tragedies and its ability to reestablish confidence in the company among regulators, Wall Street and the flying public.

“Nine months is a long time — it’s a forever in business for a crisis like this,” said Charles Elson, a professor of finance and head of the John L. Weinberg Center for Corporate Governance at the University of Delaware. “So, the question is, where was the board during that time? If they only came around ‘late in the game,’ well why is that?”

Because the board of directors are largely a creature of corrupt upper management whose goal is get their vigorish before the whole house of cards collapses.

I’m Expecting a Government Bailout

Between lost revenues, and penalties to airlines, I’m guessing that Boeing wishes that it hadn’t blown billions on stock buybacks to boost executive stock options:

Boeing Co. on Tuesday pushed back its forecast for when regulators will clear the return of the 737 MAX to commercial service, saying it doesn’t expect approval until midyear at the earliest.

The plane maker said its new estimate for the Federal Aviation Administration’s signoff—which people briefed on the matter expect in June or July—takes into account the need for approving training for pilots and “experience to date with the certification process.”

The global MAX fleet has been grounded since last March following two fatal crashes, with Boeing repeatedly revising when it expected regulators to approve changes to the flight-control systems implicated in the accidents, as well as new training regimes. It previously forecast the FAA would lift its flight ban and approve training by January, with the expectation that it would still take some months before the MAX again carried passengers.

The delays have extended far longer than most airlines and industry analysts expected, and leave the global passenger-jet fleet short of almost 5% of planned capacity for a second peak summer season in a row, adding to the hefty compensation Boeing owes its customers.

The latest projection isn’t in response to the emergence of any new technical problems or fresh friction with regulators, according to people familiar with the matter.

Right now, Boeing is seeking another $10 billion in cash after having spent $43 billion over the last 7 years on stock buybacks:

The first thing to know about Boeing’s mad scramble to line up “$10 billion or more” in new funding via a loan from a consortium of banks, on top of the $9.5 billion credit-line it obtained in October last year – efforts to somehow get through its cash-flow nightmare caused by the 737 MAX fiasco – is that the company blew, wasted, and incinerated $43.4 billion to buy back its own shares since June 2013, having become a master of financial engineering instead of aircraft engineering.

If Boeing had focused on its business – such as designing a new plane instead of doctoring an ancient design to save money and time – and if it hadn’t blown $43 billion on share-buybacks but had invested this money in a new design, those two crashes wouldn’t have occurred, and it wouldn’t have to beg for cash now. The chart below shows the cumulative share-buybacks in billions of dollars since Q1 2009. In Q2 2019, it belatedly halted the share buybacks (share buyback data from YCharts):

As is always the case with share buybacks, the idea is to buy high in order to drive shares even higher. This is what you learn on the first day of Financial Engineering 101. So Boeing stopped buying back its shares in Q1 2009 when its shares had plunged into the $35-range, at which point they were a good deal, and then recommenced share-buybacks in Q2 2013 when its shares had already risen to the $100-range.

The second thing to know about Boeing’s mad scramble to borrow another $10 billion is that it already has a huge amount of debt and other liabilities, and that its total liabilities ($136 billion) exceed its total assets ($132 billion) by about $4 billion as of September 2019, meaning that it has negative net equity, that the share buybacks have destroyed its equity, which is what share buybacks do to the balance sheet.

It also means that every dime in “cash” and “cash equivalent” listed on the balance sheet is borrowed. And this is about to get a whole lot worse. In October 2019, Boeing had already obtained a new credit line of $9.5 billion, which about doubled the size of its existing credit line. Credit lines serve as liquidity backup.

And now Boeing is scrambling to pile “$10 billion or more” in new loans on top of it.

Wolf Richter’s understated take on this, that, “Putting a priority on financial engineering over actual engineering can get very expensive,” gets to the core of the problem.

Another Rock Turned Over at Boeing

From recently released emails, we learn that Lion Air wanted simulator training to transition to the 737 MAX, and Boeing aggressively lobbied them not to do so, because it would be bad for their sales pitch.

When there is a safety issue, and Lion Air is on the side of the angels, you have completely screwed the pooch:

Boeing’s efforts to keep 737 Next Generation and MAX training as similar as possible included limiting external discussion of the maneuvering characteristics augmentation system (MCAS) as early as 2013, as well as an aggressive lobbying effort to dissuade Lion Air from requiring simulator sessions for its pilots, new documents released by the manufacturer reveal.

The documents, comprising external and internal emails and internal instant message exchanges, underscore the priority Boeing placed on positioning the MAX as nearly the same as its predecessor, the 737 Next Generation (NG). They also offer some of the most compelling evidence yet that Boeing consciously chose less costly approaches over safer, more conservative ones during the MAX’s development.

Boeing determined early on that ensuring 737 pilots could transition to the MAX without simulator time would be a huge cost advantage when pitching the model to customers. It also realized that regulators could consider some of the MAX’s new features as too much to cover in computer-based training (CBT). The MCAS, a flight control law that commands automatic stabilizer movements in certain flight profiles, was chief among them.


Boeing’s solution: refer to the MCAS externally as an addition to the 737 Speed Trim, not by its name. Boeing knew the approach might be questioned, so it sought input from its FAA-designated authorized representative (AR) “to ensure this strategy is acceptable” for certification.


The plan extended to keeping mention of the MCAS out of MAX pilot training materials. Its erroneous activation played key roles in two MAX accidents—Lion Air Flight 610 in October 2018 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 in March 2019—that led regulators to ground the MAX in mid-March. The fleet remains grounded while Boeing addresses regulators’ concerns, including adding MCAS training and modifying the system’s logic.

Lion Air was the first Asia-Pacific customer to order the MAX, and would be one of the model’s first operators. In June 2017, with its first delivery just days away, the airline was still developing its training curriculum, and simulator sessions were on the table. The airline’s early entry-into-service status meant other MAX customers would be monitoring its progress and fleet-related decisions, including training.

“I would like to discuss what if any requirements beyond the Level B CBT the DGCA has required of you, or if your airline has determined any additional training is required,” a Boeing employee asked a Lion Air 737 training captain in early June 2017.

The captain replied that the airline “decided to give the transition pilot one simulator familiarization” in addition to CBT.

“There is absolutely no reason to require your pilots to require a MAX simulator to begin flying the MAX,” the Boeing employee replied. “Once the engines are started, there is only one difference between NG and MAX procedurally, and that is that there is no OFF position of the gear handle. Boeing does not understand what is to be gained by a three-hour simulator session, when the procedures are essentially the same.”

The Boeing employee then listed six regulators that “have all accepted the CBT requirement as the only training required” to transition to the MAX. “I’d be happy to share the operational difference training with you, to help you understand that a MAX simulator is both impractical and unnecessary for your pilots.”

In a subsequent email, the Boeing employee provided presentations on the MAX technical and operational differences for the Lion Air captain and his team. The Boeing employee also urged Lion Air to consider alternatives to simulator time, such as a flight-hour minimum in 737s or ensuring a pilot’s first MAX flight is always done alongside a pilot with MAX experience.


Around the same time as the Lion Air exchange, two Boeing employees discussed the airline’s concerns in an instant-message chat.

“Now [Lion Air] might need a sim to fly the MAX, and maybe because of their own stupidity,” one Boeing employee wrote.

If someone senior at Boeing does not go to jail over this, then the law is a lie.

Don’t Shop Amazon

A deep dive reveals that Amazon’s on-site clinics actively harm their employees as a matter of policy in order to depress their reportable injury numbers:

Earlier this year, a falling object struck a worker’s head at an Amazon fulfillment center in Robbinsville, New Jersey. The worker visited Amcare, the company’s on-site medical unit, and told the emergency medical technicians on staff there that they had a headache and blurred vision — classic symptoms of a concussion. According to company protocol, Amazon’s medical staff should have sent the worker to a hospital or doctor’s office for further evaluation, or at least called a physician for advice. They did neither.


In various instances, OSHA investigators found that Amcare medical staff decided to treat the employees in-house, rather than referring them to doctors or hospitals — decisions that potentially violated New Jersey state law and federal regulations, such as OSHA’s “general duty” clause requiring employers to maintain workplaces free of hazards that put workers in danger.

This wasn’t the first time OSHA had investigated Amcare, nor was it the first time the agency alerted Amazon to problems at the clinics. “The current OSHA inspection again revealed instances indicating that the EMTs and Athletic Trainers (ATs) at AMCARE are working outside their scope of practice, without proper supervision,” regulators wrote in a warning letter to Amazon, reported here for the first time. “New Jersey state laws do not allow EMTs and ATs to practice medicine independently; a physician must supervise their work.”

An investigation by The Intercept and Type Investigations — drawing on previously unreported documents, an interview with a former OSHA medical expert, and interviews with 15 current and former Amcare employees — found multiple instances in which clinic staffers violated Amazon’s own rules as well as government regulations. The investigation found that Amcare employees nationwide were pressured to sweep injuries and medical issues under the rug at the expense of employee health.


The strenuous nature of the work at Amazon’s warehouses can take its toll on the human body: As Reveal and The Atlantic reported last week, the rates of serious injury at 23 fulfillment centers from which data could be obtained were more than double the industry average in 2018. The company’s Amcare clinics are intended to address the many minor aches and pains workers experience on the job. The company claims that this care falls under the category of “first aid,” which, according to an OSHA letter to Amazon, is defined as “emergency care provided for injury or sudden illness before emergency medical treatment is available.” These clinics operate in most, if not all, of the company’s warehouses, and they are staffed by EMTs and supervised by safety managers. According to a former OSHA medical officer and multiple former Amazon employees interviewed for this story, safety managers are not required to have extensive medical training. (Amazon declined to answer specific questions about its safety managers’ training as well as other details reported in this story.)


Since 2015, Amazon workers have filed at least 10 complaints about problems at Amcare — all of which OSHA deemed “valid” — according to previously unreported documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. These 10 complaints represent a small fraction of the hundreds of general health and safety complaints filed by Amazon workers in the last seven years. The complaints alleged that employees were being sent back to work with no medical care after requesting treatment, that injured employees were being told they must wait two weeks to see if their conditions worsened before being seen by doctors, and that Amcare staffers were not adequately trained. One complaint, made by phone in December 2017 from Tracy, California, alleged that Amcare simply refused to treat an injury. Though the complaints were determined to be valid, the agency did not follow up with an inspection in every case; OSHA is a small agency that employs about one inspector for every 59,000 U.S. workers.

Still, in response to these complaints and others, OSHA has investigated Amcare clinics at least three times: beginning from summer 2015 at an Amazon fulfillment center in Robbinsville, New Jersey; from fall 2017 to spring 2018 at a fulfillment center in Florence, New Jersey; and again at the Robbinsville warehouse in an investigation that concluded in September 2019. Each time, the federal agency found that EMTs were providing care beyond first aid. Twice, OSHA recommended that they be supervised by on-site physicians. Twice, in Florence and during the first Robbinsville investigation, the agency also found evidence that Amazon was underreporting injuries on federally mandated logs. The results of the Florence investigation and the 2019 Robbinsville investigation are being reported here for the first time.

Accounts from Amcare employees across the country reveal that problems identified by OSHA are likely not confined to the warehouses it inspected. In interviews with The Intercept and Type Investigations, 15 current and former on-site medical representatives — Amazon’s term for the EMTs who staff Amcare — from fulfillment centers in 11 states bolster OSHA’s findings. Ten of the medical technicians said their bosses pressured them to send injured employees back to the warehouse floor when they likely needed additional medical attention. Eight felt like there was a conflict of interest between their manager’s priorities and their duties as medical professionals. Four said they were pressured to underreport or misclassify injuries. Some Amcare staff members described a positive experience with Amazon; even so, they expressed concerns about tensions between the company’s bottom line and injured employees’ best interests.

Were it not for salutary neglect of safety and health regulations, Amazon would not be able to function.

Their business is literally built on the broken bodies of their “associates.”

Speaking of Horrible Companies You Should Never Do Business With………

That perennial fan favorite Amazon is lighting up the statistics for workplace injuries, a data point that surprise no one:

Amazon is facing renewed scrutiny over working conditions at its warehouses following two new reports published Monday.

In one report, Gizmodo analyzed injury reports that Amazon had submitted as required by law to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, a federal workplace-safety agency. According to Gizmodo, by Amazon’s own count, injury rates at its facility in the New York City borough of Staten Island were more than three times the industry average.

Gizmodo also found that the injuries were often apparently severe, with Amazon workers missing an average of 64 days an injury.


In a separate investigation published by Reveal and The Atlantic, injury reports obtained from 23 of Amazon’s 110 warehouses in the US showed that the rates of serious injuries at those locations were more than twice the industry average.


The Reveal investigation also included several workers’ accounts of their experience at the company, including an incident during a gas leak at a warehouse in California, in which workers accused Amazon management of refusing to stop operations — even after a 911 dispatcher instructed workers to evacuate the building — telling workers to use personal time if they wanted to leave.

Amazon is claiming that this is because they are the only company out there accurately reporting workplace incidence.

The technical term for this is bullsh%$.

Again, I will note that if they treat their employees like crap, they will do the same to their customers.

And it Gets Worse for Boeing

First, Transport Canada is saying that any recertification of the Boeing 737 MAX with MCAS is a non-starter, which means that there won’t be a shared type certificate with the earlier Boeing 737NG, which means extensive retraining and possibly a more extensive, and extensive, approval process:

In a growing line of whistleblowers and skeptics voicing their concerns before the expected re-certification of the Boeing 737 MAX, another rogue agent has emerged. In an email sent to regulators in the U.S., Europe and Brazil, a Transport Canada safety official called for the entire removal of the MCAS system from the 737 MAX. The official believes that the U.S. plane maker should remove the software, largely blamed for the two deadly 737 MAX 8 crashes, before the aircraft is cleared to fly again.

“The only way I see moving forward at this point… is that the MCAS has to go,” Jim Marko, manager of Aircraft Integration and Safety Assessment at Canada’s aviation regulator – Transport Canada – wrote in the email, according to The New York Times, which first reported the news.

In the email, sent to the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and Brazil’s National Civil Aviation Agency (ANAC) on November 19, 2019, Marko expressed his “uneasiness” about Boeing’s attempts to fix the MCAS software.

“Judging from the number and degree of open issues that we have, I am feeling that final decisions on acceptance will not be technically based,” he was quoted as saying by Canada’s National Post. “This leaves me with a level of uneasiness that I cannot sit idly by and watch it pass by…”

Marko continues to say that, according to him, the only feasible option at this point is to remove the MCAS software altogether, with all the compliance issues that such move would entail, if regulators and the public were to regain confidence in the sign-off on the 737 MAX.


However, Marko’s counterpart at the FAA, to whom the email was addressed, seems to share his concerns about the multiple identified problems with the MCAS and its update. “I have held similar perspective (questioning the need for MCAS, at least from the system safety standpoint),” Linh Le, a system safety engineer at the FAA, wrote in a separate email to his colleagues, according to The New York Times, which reviewed the emails.

Boeing desperately wants to recertify with MCAS, and it increasingly looks like they are not going to get that.

Additionally, Boeing will no longer be able to perform the final inspection on aircraft before they are shipped to airlines:

In the latest hurdle confronting Boeing Co.’s bid to get its grounded 737 MAX fleet back in the air, federal regulators now intend to inspect and sign off on every jet individually before delivery to airlines.

The move, spelled out Tuesday by the Federal Aviation Administration in a letter to the plane maker, signals that resuming MAX flights will be more complicated and perhaps time-consuming than previously projected.

The FAA stripped Boeing of longstanding authority to perform such routine, pre-delivery safety checks and signoffs of MAX planes on its own, amounting to another public pushback by the agency against company pressure to accelerate the reinstatement.

It is very likely that both the approval of the aircraft, and the approval of individual aircraft shipped to airlines, will be delayed.