The Administrative State and Aircraft Safety

The US was the very last to ground the 737 Max 8 and 9. Why? Deion A. Kathawa writing in American Greatness has some idea.

[T]he sprawling, unaccountable administrative state is strangling America and killing common sense.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) refused this week to join a growing list of countries—including, so far, Ireland, China, Indonesia, Singapore, the United Kingdom, Oman, Malaysia, Iraq, Mexico—as well as Europe itself, all of which have permanently or temporarily banned Boeing’s new airplane, the 737 MAX 8, from their airspace.

The 737 MAX 8 has crashed twice in the last five months, resulting in the deaths of 346 people. In Ethiopia, where the most recent crash occurred, the plane was in the air for all of six minutes before it plunged into the ground, tragically cutting short the lives of 157 souls.

The FAA’s obstinacy—it finds “no basis to order grounding the aircraft”—comes in the face of mounting pressure from U.S. lawmakers.

A bipartisan group of U.S. Senators has called on the FAA to ground the plane: Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), and Mitt Romney (R-Utah). Andrew Cuomo, New York’s governor, agrees.

We should pause for a moment, however, and consider the absurdity of this entire situation. Article I of the U.S. Constitution states: “All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.” That is a clear, unambiguous grant of authority—albeit a limited authority—by the nation’s founding charter to the nation’s legislative branch.

What Article I proclaims about the delegation of legislative power is true regardless of what one thinks about the validity of vast delegations of legislative authority to the legion of executive agencies that comprise the modern administrative state and make most of the law in this country; the wisdom of quick, sweeping governmental action in the face of a fluid situation like this; or the relative competence of the FAA compared with Congress to judge the safety of airplanes.

If Congress delegated to the FAA the power to ground the plane, then Congress also has the power to ground the plane. Obviously that must be so. Congress legislated the FAA into being and empowered it ex nihilo via an organic statute; if that agency has the power to ground planes, how can the body superior to it—Congress—not have that power, too?

All true, although the power itself is rather shaky Constitutionally, I think, it’s based on the Commerce Clause “To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes.” That can (and often does) mean anything you want it to. This is the clause that famously ruled, in Wickard v Filburn, that a farmer raising crops to feed himself and his livestock was engaging in interstate commerce.

But here we saw the administrative state tying itself in knots to not do what is necessary, until and noticeably it was the President who announced the grounding. He actually should have had nothing to do with it.

Time to tear a lot down, say perhaps some government renewal, that operates in the manner of urban renewal in the 60s.

Also, if you are interested in the technical suspicions of the plane, WAPO has a reasonably informative article here. Watch out for the autoplays. I’ve also read that it has been stretched so much that without the flight assist system, it is inherently unstable. I don’t know that but it could well be having center of gravity problems. I suppose we’ll find out some day.

About NEO
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5 Responses to The Administrative State and Aircraft Safety

  1. Scoop says:

    I always fear political malfeasance operating behind the scenes . . . and that is not to say that we must get to the bottom of the problem. It is not as if we never saw such problems like these before; stress fractures in the tail structures, engine problems, electronics problems, fly by wire problems and a number of other anomalies which were not only fixed in a timely manner but gave us the safest and many of the longest life aircraft manufactured in the world. The military has problems with its newest production aircrafts as well. It would be nice if some definitive information is discovered that might call for a ‘fix’ to this (or these) problem/problems. I’m sure Boeing will get to the bottom of this as it always does . . . their future and their entire business relies on it.

    All I know is that the EU has a vested interest (as does China) in grounding the plane and are probably cheering for some fatal flaw to be revealed. Speaking for myself, I believe Boeing is one of the best (if not the best) aircraft designer and builder on the planet. For my money, if the stock goes much lower than it has fallen these past few days, I will be investing heavily in Boeing as it will certainly be a bargain. They will not only fix the problem but I’d bet my house that the 737 will be with us for probably another 1/2 century at least . . . and will have as good or better a track record than their other designs.

    Liked by 2 people

    • NEO says:

      Yep, I agree. I read somewhere that Boeing is working on a software fix, which appears to be the culprit. It’ll work out, it just took too long to ground the fleet this time, and that is unusual. Boeing is the class of the world, and has been for a long time. The 737 is doing OK for a basic model that came out in the mid 60s. Not quite as good as Boeing’s B-52, which is projected to have a full century in front line service.:)

      Liked by 1 person

      • Scoop says:

        True. I’ve seen these things before and before you can fix something, something has to break so that it can be corrected. Newer aircraft is far more complicated and intricate, especially if you want a state of the art plane, than ever. There will be failures and the aviation industry is one of the safest industries in the world because they usually get to the bottom of the problems and find a fix.

        Liked by 1 person

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