Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
Everyone wants to fly these days.
There's business to be had. Opportunities abound. Why, I hear the economy is in a fine state.
Yet if you have to fly to secure that business, there's an atmosphere of minor trepidation.
For some passengers, the grounding of the Boeing 737 Max represents the first time they've thought about what kind of plane they're flying.
Yet with every sign of hope for these airlines--and for United, which already had 14 Max 9 planes in operation--there seems to be another piece of bad news dogging the flying experience.
Why, Wednesday saw two enlightenments that will make flyers' spirits feel just that bit heavier.
First, Bloomberg reported that there may be a further problem with the Max.
In the case of two crashes involving the plane, it's likely that the plane's Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) was at the center.
This sent the plane's nose downward in order to offset the potential of a stall.
Yet some suspect pilots were either not trained to understand this system's potential weaknesses and strengths or that the system itself was coupled with malfunctioning sensors.
Now, however, there's the news that both American and Southwest are having some of their Max planes inspected for potential engine problems.
It seems that there may be an issue with a fear of carbon buildup around the engines' fuel nozzles.
Three American Airlines planes and 12 at Southwest have been examined.
Which will surely again bring the Max under the worried gaze of human scrutiny.
This despite the fact that the Federal Aviation Administration has declared that, after software changes to the MCAS, the planes are now "operationally suitable" and pilots won't need too much additional training, if any.
American and Southwest have already postponed Max flights until August.
The airlines are frantically working to ensure that their summer schedules won't be excessively disrupted, though American is canceling around 115 flights a day and Southwest even more.
They're trying to give passengers as much notice as possible.
As my colleague Bill Murphy Jr. reported, President Trump is now suggesting the Max should be rebranded.
I'm not sure how the 737 Trump moniker would go down, but it's certainly an idea.
You'd think this Max mess would be enough concerning news for passengers to take.
On Wednesday, however, CBS News offered further turbulence.
Last week, it was reported that an American Airlines Airbus A321 had endured a close call on takeoff from JFK.
At the time, it seemed not too dramatic an event. The plane, it was said, had "struck an object."
However, CBS News now reports that the plane, on its way to Los Angeles, "nearly crashed." At least, that's what one passenger believes.
Following a CBS News report, the NTSB has launched a formal investigation into an American Airlines flight that "nearly crashed" in New York last week when the wing scraped the ground and hit a sign and light pole during takeoff.@krisvancleave has the details pic.twitter.com/tqGIk8Pbj3-- CBS Evening News (@CBSEveningNews) April 17, 2019
For reasons currently unexplained, the plane twisted to a 45-degree angle and struck a sign and a light pole during its takeoff. The wing seemed to scrape along the ground.
The pilot described it as an "uncontrolled bank."
The light pole appears to have become embedded in the wing.
"We thought we were going to roll over," said passenger Scott Laser.
The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are now investigating.
U.S. airlines generally have excellent safety records. There is, though, something disturbing about so many unexpected safety issues occurring at the same time.
Airlines are using planes for more routes more often and putting them under additional strain.
Yet passenger demand for flights is, if anything, increasing.
This puts even more burden on the airlines and their maintenance practices to ensure that every flight is safe.
The current climate is uncomfortable. Passengers want to fly, but they also want to know planes are safe.
There's already been considerable frustration over cancellations.
We're left, then, with a situation in which the very core of airlines' businesses is being tested.
Prepare for a testing summer.