United flight #328 took off from Denver this afternoon, with 331 people aboard, headed to Honolulu.

Just after takeoff, the right-side engine disintegrated, sending debris flying.

Plane returns to Denver safely. No injuries on the ground.

But why…? washingtonpost.com/national/plane…
2/ Not, Why did the engine fly apart?

Rather: Why did UA #328 return safely to Denver Int’l, land without incident, & have 331 passengers & crew disembark — shaken but uninjured?

What kept the 777 from crashing?

One word: Regulations.

(Video below of failed engine inflight.)
3/ Every aspect of that flight — every aspect of US commercial aviation — is regulated.

Design, engineering & testing of the plane.

Training of pilots.

Maintenance protocols for engines, and planes, and training of maintenance staff.

Emergency procedures & emergency training.
4/ Yes, a robust aircraft & incredibly calm & talented pilots, crew, and air traffic staff got that plane back on the ground in what could have been a catastrophe.

But none of *those* pieces were luck. They were in place by design.
5/ Planes are engineered, built & maintained to survive. The US government requires it.

Pilots are talented, trained, retrained & deeply experienced because that’s the system they work in — the US gov’t requires it.

Flying isn’t just safer than driving. It’s safer than walking.
6/ Some part of that system failed today — clearly in the maintenance world.

But the whole rest of the system is a multilayered fail-safe. It worked.

That’s taking nothing from today’s remarkable individual skill & cool-headedness.
7/ We get so used to running down the performance of government.

But we fail to notice the moments when it works brilliantly, and as we designed it too.

They happen every minute. Like UA #328.
8/ There might even be a failure of the gov’t in today’s accident — of inadequate oversight or lax enforcement.

The investigators from the federal NTSB will figure that out too.

Inside a system designed & run by the US government.

…Safer than walking.


Here is audio of the United pilots today talking to air traffic control — takeoff, declaring their emergency, guided back to Denver Int’l, cleared to land.

The calm competence on both sides is truly thrilling. (Plus we know how it ends.)

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More from @cfishman

19 Feb
Here's a thought experiment:

What if, as storms swept the South this week, everything had worked fine in Texas. Just super cold with pictures of people sledding.

Then, on Tuesday, international hackers had cut off power plants & water plants. Texas plunged into chaos.
2/ Our reaction would have been fury & determination.

The thought experiment unfortunately cuts both ways with equal sharpness.

First, we should approach fixing the problems across the South — and the nation — with the urgency & determination we would if we'd been attacked.
3/ Our infrastructure systems are vulnerable in ways we can figure out, but aren't ready for right now.

For instance: Why are water plants so vulnerable to power failures? What magnifies the disaster of no electricity like no water?
Read 10 tweets
19 Feb
Devastating & astonishing story from the Texas Tribune:

On Monday, the Texas power grid was under such extraordinary strain that it was just minutes from the kind of catastrophic damage that would have caused months-long power loss across the state.
2/ The week’s events in Texas are a climate ‘fire alarm.’

All these systems in Texas *could have* worked. They do in Michigan.

They just weren’t set up for cold weather operation.


We need to reassess the kind of decisions Texas made.
3/ There are time-bombs like the Texas power grid across the country & the economy.

Here’s the key, a pillar of good water planning:

No wishful thinking.

You have to look at problems & plan with clear-eyed realism.

Texas relied on wishful thinking. The result: total disaster.
Read 5 tweets
18 Feb
NASA is about to attempt one of the most difficult space flight feats ever:

Landing the Perseverance rover — and its tiny helicopter — safely on Mars.

Perseverance launched last July.

It arrives at Mars today at 3:48 pm ET. Want to watch & listen?

2/ Perseverance arrives at Mars at a blazing 12,000 mph.

7 minutes later, in a remarkable ballet of aeronautics, spaceflight & engineering, a rover needs to settle gently, at 0 mph, onto the surface.

What happens during that 7 minutes?

Great explainer:
3/ Perseverance...

• Deploys a parachute
…But Mars' atmosphere is only 1% as dense at Earth's — thick enough to cause heat, not thick enough for a true 'parachute' landing

• Jetisons parachute & navigates to landing area
…Perseverance has preloaded maps, radar & AI
Read 22 tweets
14 Jan
It’s both naive & obvious, but it is astonishing how dramatically the world — & US politics — have changed by Donald Trump being unable to tweet.

A lot has happened in the last week, but it’s worth reflecting how different the last 4 years would have been with Trump off Twitter.
2/ Trump used Twitter as a weapon.

We knew that in real time.

But it turns out it was an almost unique weapon. Without it, he’s not just silenced. He doesn’t have a tool to attack people he disagrees with.

And signal for others to attack those ‘enemies’ in real time.
3/ Yes, his time in power is ending.

But the key has been taking Twitter away.

The last 7 days would have been far different if Trump had been tweeting.

The last 4 years might have been far different if he hadn’t been — substantively different.
Read 4 tweets
13 Jan
The US House has voted to impeach Donald J. Trump, seven days after the insurrection at the US Capitol.

435 members

232 to 197 for impeachment

^ ^ ^

222 Democrats vote to impeach
10 Republicans vote to impeach

0 Democrats vote no
201 Republicans vote no

4 not voting
2/ At last December’s impeachment, 0 Republicans voted to impeach (Justin Amash did vote for impeachment, having left ghe Republican Party).
3/ CNN’s Jake Tapper calling this ‘the most bipartisan impeachment in US history.’

• 2021: 10 members of Trump’s Rep Party vote to impeach him

• 2020: 0 members of Trump’s party vote to impeach him

• 1998: 5 members of Clinton’s Dem Party vote to impeach him

Read 5 tweets
13 Jan
The US House of Representatives is voting now — 3:50 pm, Wednesday, January 13 — on the second impeachment of Donald J. Trump.

The most commonly quoted person was Congresswoman Liz Cheney, the #3 Republican in the House, who is voting for impeachment.

Her statement below.
2/ Liz Cheney...

‘The President of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack. Everything that followed was his doing.

‘There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath…’
3/ The pre-debate count was 7 House Republicans said they would vote to impeach.

The White House said they expected 12 Republicans to vote to impeach.

Ten minutes in: 5 Republicans have voted to impeach.
Read 4 tweets

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