Disturbing information about Boeing’s 737 Max series, the New York Times reports that “optional safety features, in part, could have helped the pilots detect any erroneous readings.” The key word there is optional. The newspaper writes:

As the pilots of the doomed Boeing jets in Ethiopia and Indonesia fought to control their planes, they lacked two notable safety features in their cockpits.

One reason: Boeing charged extra for them.

For Boeing and other aircraft manufacturers, the practice of charging to upgrade a standard plane can be lucrative. Top airlines around the world must pay handsomely to have the jets they order fitted with customized add-ons.

Esquire’s Charles P. Pierce writes:

Whose genius marketing idea was this? OK, charge the airline more for extra legroom seating and so on. But devices that help keep the pilots from flying the plane into the ground? Those would seem to fit the definition of mandatory. Turns out it’s just another example of shareholder value killing people.

The FBI and federal prosecutors are working on a criminal investigation into the certification of the Boeing 737 MAX 8s.