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Boeing 737 MAX fiasco: Money before safety

Boeing repeatedly subordinated basic considerations of safety to profit,
aided and abetted by the federal government

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On October 29, 2018, a Boeing 737 Max 8 belonging to Lion Air in Indonesia crashed into the Java Sea 12 minutes after take-off. All 189 passengers and crew members were killed instantly. It is extremely unusual for planes to suffer such accidents in clear weather after having reached their cruising altitude. Flight experts concluded that the pilots were not adequately trained in the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), a robotics technology that lowers the nose of a plane to prevent a stall. Although there is no definitive judgement on exactly what happened, it appears to be a combination of inadequate training for the pilots and a malfunctioning MCAS.

On Sunday, another 737 Max 8 owned by Ethiopian Airlines had the same kind of accident resulting in the death of 157 passengers and crew members. In the aftermath of the tragedy, this has led to Australia, China, Germany, France, Indonesia, Ireland, Malaysia, Singapore, and the United Kingdom grounding the planes.

Donald Trump produced a good tweet about the airline crash.

"Airplanes are becoming far too complex to fly," Trump tweeted. "Pilots are no longer needed, but rather computer scientists from MIT. I see it all the time in many products. Always seeking to go one unnecessary step further, when often old and simpler is far better."

"Split second decisions are needed, and the complexity creates danger," he continued. "All of this for great cost yet very little gain. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want Albert Einstein to be my pilot. I want great flying professionals that are allowed to easily and quickly take control of a plane!"

The first flight from Indonesia only lasted approximately 12-13 minutes; the second flight from Ethiopia only lasted about 6 minutes. So both occurrences were during the climb-out after departure.  (Ethiopian Airlines has said its pilots had new training for 737 MAX planes after the crash in Indonesia.)

In both cases the aircraft was up and down, up and down, not in a steady controlled fashion. And finally, in both cases the nose dropped and both aircraft went straight into ocean( Indonesia's case, or field (Ethiopia's case).  That makes those two flights very similar.  Also in previous flights pilots had reported problems of a similar nature — the inability to keep the aircraft climbing to prescribed level.

It was like a fight of crazy computer with humans in which the computer prevailed: the software was trying to do something that led to loss of altitude,  while the pilots were trying to correct its behaviour and resume normal climb-out. They were effectively fighting defective software system.

What is know  about the crash

There are several known factor that point to criminal negligence on  the part of Boeing and the corruption of regulators

How computers are setting us up for disaster

Two years before the Indonesian 737 crash, the Guardian published an article titled “Crash: how computers are setting us up for disaster” that it clearly anticipated. Interestingly enough, it was not even a Boeing plane that was discussed in the article. It was an Airbus 330 that had the same kind of systems as the Boeing NCAS.

he Air France pilots “were hideously incompetent”, wrote William Langewiesche, in his Vanity Fair article. And he thinks he knows why. Langewiesche argued that the pilots simply were not used to flying their own aeroplane at altitude without the help of the computer. Even the experienced Captain Dubois was rusty: of the 346 hours he had been at the controls of a plane during the past six months, only four were in manual control, and even then he had had the help of the full fly-by-wire system. All three pilots had been denied the ability to practise their skills, because the plane was usually the one doing the flying.

With pilots much more used to relying on automation than manual control of the plane, they failed to override the system. And this defective system force the airplane to plunge into the Atlantic Ocean on June 1, 2009 at about 125 miles an hour. All 228 passengers and crew, died instantly.

While pilots flying to major airports will continue to be highly paid, the wages of those working for regional airlines has fallen drastically due to neoliberalism. In 2010, the Guardian reported on “A pilot’s life: exhausting hours for meagre wages”. Reginal airlines pilots are overworked and underpaid

Many are forced to fly half way around the country before they even begin work. Others sleep in trailers at the back of Los Angeles airport, in airline lounges across the country or even on the floors of their own planes. Some co-pilots, who typically take home about $20,000 (£12,500) a year, hold down second jobs to make ends meet.

If the MCAS system malfunctions, pilots say the prescribed fix is to use manual trim to stabilize the plane, and then disconnect the trim system. There’s a cutoff switch on the center pedestal of the 737, not far from throttles, marked “Stab Trim.” Pilots routinely train to disconnect the automatic trim in the case of runaway trim with autopilot use.

“Boeing, in developing the 737 Max 8, obviously felt intense competitive pressure to get the new aircraft to market as quickly as possible,” wrote Captain ‘Sully’ Sullenberger in a column in MarketWatch this week. Sullenberger is the pilot who safely landed an Airbus A320 on the Hudson River in 2009 and a leading air safety expert.

“When flight testing revealed an issue with meeting the certification standards, the company developed a fix… but did not tell airline pilots about it. In mitigating one risk, Boeing seems to have created another, greater risk,” he wrote.

Sullenberger added,

 “After the crash of Lion Air 610 last October, it was apparent that this new risk needed to be effectively addressed.” But instead of grounding the aircraft and immediately fixing the problem, Boeing did everything it could to conceal the deadly defect and keep the aircraft flying.

In other words, Boeing executives evidently acted in a reckless, negligent manner, contributing to the deaths of 346 people. Sullenberger concluded,

“It has been reported that Boeing pushed back in discussions with the FAA [Federal Aviation Administration] about the extent of changes that would be required, and after the second crash, of Ethiopian 302, the Boeing CEO reached out to the US President to try to keep the 737 Max 8 from being grounded in the US.”

Both the FAA and the Trump administration, for their part, were more than willing to run interference for the company.

The close integration between the airline industry and the agency nominally tasked with regulating it is well documented. In 2005, the FAA introduced a new program whereby aircraft manufacturers could choose their own employees to serve as FAA “designees,” charged with certifying the safety of their commercial planes. Since then, there has been virtually no independent oversight of the safety of any new civilian planes, those produced at Boeing or elsewhere.

During the 737 Max 8 rollout, Boeing told its pilots that they could learn all they needed to know about flying a new type of airplane from a 56-minute presentation on an iPad and a 13-page manual.

Both were approved by the FAA and the pilots’ union, and neither included any information about the system likely responsible for the crashes, the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmenting System, or MCAS.

US officials have deep connections to the airline industry. FAA Acting Administrator Dan Elwell was an American Airlines executive. US President Donald Trump’s new nominee to head the administration, Stephen Dickson, is a former Delta head.

Boeing is a top defense contractor with extensive ties to the military-intelligence apparatus. Patrick Shanahan, the deputy secretary of defense, has worked for Boeing for three decades. Moreover, the current secretary of transportation, Elaine Chao, is the wife of Mitch McConnell, who has received hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign financing from Boeing.

Moreover, Boeing is a key part of the US financial elite’s war for control of markets. Since the 737 Max 8 series was released in 2017, the sales of just 350 of the 5,011 orders Boeing has received have accounted for 50 percent of the company’s profits. Boeing itself has maintained its status as the world’s fifth-largest defense contractor and is currently the largest US exporter.

Shares of Boeing have more than tripled since the election of Donald Trump and his promises of further deregulation, making it the highest- priced stock in the Dow Jones Industrial Average. The company has accounted for more than 30 percent of the increase of the Dow since November 2016.

The tragic and preventable deaths of nearly 350 people demonstrate certain realities of contemporary social and political life. The capitalist system is based on the maximization of shareholder profit, not the satisfaction of the needs of society. If endangering the lives of hundreds of people will lead to higher profits, such a risk is justified.

Governments, in their turn, serve to protect the interests of the corporations, a reality demonstrated by the Trump White House’s efforts to protect the largest US exporter, and the repeated actions of the FAA to cover up the series of disastrous shortcuts taken by Boeing.

These disasters highlight the need to take the airline industry out of the hands of Wall Street so that air travel can be brought into harmony with human and social needs.

The technological advances that have been made in air travel over the past decades are indisputable. For the first time in world history, travelers can move from any two points in the world within a single day. This technology must be freed from the restraints of giant corporations and of the capitalist system as a whole. This requires the nationalization of the major airlines and aerospace companies, their transformation into publicly owned and democratically controlled utilities to provide for social need, not private profit.

Boeing reaction: too late too little

According to FBI Joins Criminal Probe Into Boeing 737 Max 8 Certification - Report - Sputnik International

On Wednesday, the FAA announced that Boeing is working on a service bulletin with instructions for airlines on how to install new flight control computer operational program software in the Boeing 737 Max 8, Reuters reported.

"Boeing is developing a service bulletin that would specify the installation of new flight control computer operational program software. Boeing has also developed flight crew training related to this software. The FAA's ongoing review of this software installation and training is an agency priority, as will be the roll-out of any software, training, or other measures to operators of the 737 Max," the FAA said in a statement Wednesday.

Investigations

The US Department of Transportation (DoT) requested an audit of how the FAA and Boeing certified the 737 Max 8. In a memo released this week, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao requested that DoT's Inspector General Calvin Scovel conduct "an objective and detailed factual history of the activities that resulted in the certification of the Boeing 737-MAX 8 aircraft," according to multiple reports.

Another, separate investigation is already underway by Scovel and the US Department of Justice's Criminal Division. AP, citing a person familiar with the matter, said a federal jury in Washington, DC, has already issued a subpoena to an individual "involved in the plane's development seeking emails, messages and other communications."

The US Department of Transportation (DoT) requested an audit of how the FAA and Boeing certified the 737 Max 8. In a memo released this week, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao requested that DoT's Inspector General Calvin Scovel conduct "an objective and detailed factual history of the activities that resulted in the certification of the Boeing 737-MAX 8 aircraft," according to multiple reports.

Another, separate investigation is already underway by Scovel and the US Department of Justice's Criminal Division. AP, citing a person familiar with the matter, said a federal jury in Washington, DC, has already issued a subpoena to an individual "involved in the plane's development seeking emails, messages and other communications."

 


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[Apr 16, 2019] Boeing has called its 737 Max 8 'not suitable' for certain airports

Apr 16, 2019 | www.latimes.com

Before last month's crash of a flight that began in Ethiopia, Boeing Co. said in a legal document that large, upgraded 737s "cannot be used at what are referred to as 'high/hot' airports."

At an elevation of 7,657 feet -- or more than a mile high -- Addis Ababa's Bole International Airport falls into that category. High elevations require longer runways and faster speeds for takeoff.

[Apr 15, 2019] Trump Says You cannot break the laws of physics and then fix them with software.

Apr 15, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

remove Share link Copy Trump would have been better off Tweeting something like...

"The safety of the flying public worldwide is of the utmost importance to all of us. I have been in constant contact with Boeings CEO and have complete confidence that the improvements they are making will make the 737MAX one of the safest planes ever built. No 737 MAX will take to the skies that I would not put my own family member on".

Not everything is about BRANDING

play_arrow 4 play_arrow 3 Reply Report

DrBrown314 , 22 minutes ago link

See the problem with the max is it will never be safe. What boeing did was try and put a square peg in a round hole. To save costs both in certification and pilot training boeing decided to just take the 737 airframe and put bigger more fuel efficient engines on it so they wouldn't loose market share to airbus. That was a stupid mistake. The bigger engines hung so low they had to mount them higher and more forward thus creating aerodynamic issues. The new engine mounting causes air flow disruption over the inner wing during climb out. That is why they messed with the mcas. You cannot break the laws of physics and then fix them with software. Sorry that will never work.

Cobra Commander , 40 minutes ago link

Boeing is still delivering the 73NG and should make an offer to the airlines to replace each MAX order 1 for 1 with a 737-800 or -900 at cost. The traveling public will have immediate confidence, the airlines can fill schedules, and Boeing can clean house on the MAX "leadership" team.

Cobra!

[Apr 10, 2019] Boeing Sued For Defrauding Shareholders After Fatal Crashes

Notable quotes:
"... Boeing "effectively put profitability and growth ahead of airplane safety and honesty" by rushing the 737 MAX to market without "extra" or "optional" safety features - a practice that has outraged the company's critics - as it feared ceding market share to Airbus SE. Moreover, Boeing failed to disclose a conflict of interest surrounding its 'regulatory capture' of the FAA, which was revealed to have outsourced much of the approval process for the 737 MAX to Boeing itself. ..."
"... Of course, this shareholder lawsuit is only the tip of the legal iceberg for Boeing. The company will likely face a blizzard of lawsuits filed by family members of those killed during the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines crashes, the first of which has already been filed. ..."
Apr 10, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Boeing shareholders who lost money selling their stock after the Ethiopian Airlines crash are suing the company for concealing unflattering material information from the public, defrauding shareholders in the process, Reuters reports.

The class-action lawsuit, filed in Chicago, is seeking damages after the March 10 crash of Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302 wiped $34 billion off Boeing's market cap within two weeks. But if true, the crux of the lawsuit might have broader repercussions for the company as it tries to convince regulators to lift a grounding order that has kept the Boeing 737 MAX 8 grounded since mid-March.

In essence, the suit alleges that the company concealed safety concerns about the 737 MAX and its anti-stall software following the Lion Air crash in October that killed 189 people, but did nothing to alert the public or correct the issue.

Boeing "effectively put profitability and growth ahead of airplane safety and honesty" by rushing the 737 MAX to market without "extra" or "optional" safety features - a practice that has outraged the company's critics - as it feared ceding market share to Airbus SE. Moreover, Boeing failed to disclose a conflict of interest surrounding its 'regulatory capture' of the FAA, which was revealed to have outsourced much of the approval process for the 737 MAX to Boeing itself.

Lead plaintiff Richard Seeks bought 300 Boeing shares in early March and sold them at a loss after the shares dumped more than 12% in the weeks after the second crash, which would have left him with a loss between $15,000 and $20,000. The lawsuit seeks damages for Boeing investors who bought the company's shares from Jan. 8 to March 21. Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg and CFO Gregory Smith have also been named as defendants.

Of course, this shareholder lawsuit is only the tip of the legal iceberg for Boeing. The company will likely face a blizzard of lawsuits filed by family members of those killed during the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines crashes, the first of which has already been filed.

Though its shares have recovered from their post-grounding lows, they have hit another bout of turbulence this week after the company announced that it would slash production of the 737 MAX by 20%, before announcing that its aircraft orders in Q1 fell to 95 from 180 a year earlier.


Know thy enemy , 2 hours ago link

Having grown up in Seattle within 15 miles of Plant 2 on Boeing Field, I know a lot about The Boeing Company. I went to private high school with Bill Boeing III and during college had a great summer job at Troy Laundry delivering shop towels and uniforms to all of the Boeing plants in the region.

I used to laugh because, when I drove the laundries 20ft UPS style box van through those enormous sliding doors into Everett's 747 Plant to deliver fresh laundry and pickup soiled's, I would spend the next 4-hours driving around 'inside' the building. I got to know dozens of workers by name, who 'worked the line'.

After college, more than 20% of my graduating class went to work at 'the lazy B' as it was commonly known. Not me. I went into sales and started selling computers.....to Boeing and the FAA.

As the size my computer sales territory was increased to include the entire West Coast I began to fly Boeing aircraft almost everyday for 10-years. and on-board those aircraft I met and flew with many Boeing executives.

One day I happened to sit next the 'current' Boeing HR director, and after getting to know him confided that I frequently smoked marijuana after work. To which he replied, "I would gladly have the 15% of our work force that are alcoholics, or into hard drugs smoke pot because it's effects are short-term but when people come to work 'hung-over or jacked-up' that is when bad **** happens and mistakes are made".

Even though, I had been 'on the line' and met many Boeing employees I had not realized until that moment the seriousness of what he was saying. The HR guy went on to say, that they 'had to have redundancy at every step in the construction process to ensure bad workmanship didn't make it into the final product'.

Fast forward 20-years; and Boeing airplanes are falling from the sky......and it's not a surprise to me.

IronForge , 3 hours ago link

BA are better off ending the 737MAX; and replacing Orders with another Model Line.

Shockwave , 2 hours ago link

The legacy 737 "NG" is a solid aircraft, and its still being produced down the same build lines as the MAX. Just the previous generation. That plane drove the vast majority of Boeings sales. It woulndt be hard to scale down MAX production and just go back to producing the NG, but they wont do that.

They'll fix the MAX and move on, and as long as no more crashes occur, eventually the public will forget.

JustPastPeacefield , 56 minutes ago link

Thats a hard sell to airlines when the competing plane has a 15% lower operating cost.

silverer , 3 hours ago link

The FED can't let the stock price fall on a company of that size, so the FED trading desk will lend assistance. There is a certain evil in this, because the stock deserves to fall, and when it doesn't, it has the effect of vindicating the company for the events that occurred. This is why free markets should never be meddled with. It's actually immoral.

CatInTheHat , 3 hours ago link

This is utterly predictable and something I've already said repeatedly: Boeing did not tell pilots or its customers about the mechanism. Boeing is criminally liable for the MURDER of 300+ people. Families will sue and cancellations will follow.

Then this:

"In essence, the suit alleges that the company concealed safety concerns about the 737 MAX and its anti-stall software following the Lion Air crash in October that killed 189 people, but did nothing to alert the public or correct the issue.

Boeing "effectively put profitability and growth ahead of airplane safety and honesty"

Pilots complained about the problem and were IGNORED.

This is good to see. Boeing needs to be held accountable for MURDER. But instead Trump slaps tariffs on the competitor, AIRBUS, to pay for Boeing's criminality.

This will not stop companies choosing AIRBUS and its good safety record over a bunch of psychopathic murderers. If Boeing had put safety first, it's competitor would not be picking up business..ironic...

3-fingered_chemist , 3 hours ago link

I still don't understand the point of the MCAS. Clearly it causes the plane to do a face plant into the ground. However, like in that one situation where the jump seat pilot knew to turn it off, the plane flew fine. Boeing says the MCAS is to prevent the plane from stalling at steep angles of attack, but the plane seems to stay in the air better without it. So which is it? The fact is the Boeing neglected to put it in the manual suggests it was done on purpose. The fact that they sold a version with no redundancy to the AOC sensor seems to be have done on purpose. Since Boeing is basically an arm of the DOD, the question should be who was on the flights that crashed? That's the missing link in this debacle.

ArtOfIgnorance , 3 hours ago link

Check out " moonofalabama.org ", very good explanation, plus some further links to pilot forums.

From what I understand, the pilots get into some sort of "catch 22"....even if they switch of the MACS, they are doomed.

I'm not I anyway in the flying biz, but work in power generating control systems, and funny enough, use quite a lot of Rosemount sensors in ex areas. They are good sensors, but always use two in mission critical operations.

Why Boeing opted for just one, really blows my mind.

What would an extra sensor cost, 10.000USD?, altogether with new software..bla-bla.

Now look what this is costing them.

Well, this is what happens when MBA bean counters take over a former proud engineering company.

Tragic.

Urban Roman , 3 hours ago link

From what I understand, the pilots get into some sort of "catch 22"....even if they switch of the MACS, they are doomed.

Sort of like that. The flight surface is controlled by a big screw. Normally an electric motor spins the nut that drives the screw up and down. The switch cuts out the motor, and they have hand cranks to move the screw. But in this last crash, the too-clever-by-half software system had already run the screw all the way to the 'nose down' end, and it would have taken them several minutes of hand cranking to get it back to the center position. They didn't have several minutes, and the motor is capable of driving the screw the other way. Since the problem was intermittent (software kicks in on a time interval), they were hoping it would behave for a few seconds, and switched the motor back on. It didn't.

On a side note, the Airbus does not have these hand-crank controls. Everything is run by the computer -- so if anything goes wrong, the pilot must 'reason' with the computer to correct it. . . "Sorry Dave, I can't do that".

Well, this is what happens when MBA bean counters take over a former proud engineering company.

This reminds me of Feynman's analysis of what went wrong with the Space Shuttle Challenger. The engineers said the O-rings would be too stiff and brittle, and the launch should wait until it warmed up a bit. But a delay was costing the shuttle program a million dollars a minute, or whatever.

Feynman explained that the early space program was run by the pocket-protector guys with slide rules. And it worked. But over time the management had been replaced by people whose careers depended on influencing other people and not on matter, energy, and materials.

Shockwave , 2 hours ago link

Another thing, the pilots had commanded full throttle and never throttled back during the whole ordeal. So when they killed the trim motor, they couldn't overcome the aerodynamic force on the stab to move the trim screw back into position.

Apparently they could have got the trim corrected ENOUGH to make a difference if they could have moved it more easily, but at the speeds they were going, the airspeed over the stab was too high to manually move the screw fast enough to make a difference.

jerry-jeff , 1 hour ago link

another interesting point is that the system is deactivated when flaps are selected...only works when aircraft is in 'clean' config.

Shockwave , 1 hour ago link

Interesting. Did not know that.

Shockwave , 2 hours ago link

Sort of. When you kill the electric trim motor, you have to use a manual wheel to adjust trim. The issue came that their airspeed was so high that the load on the stab made it nearly impossible to move without the electric motor.

They had been at full throttle from rotation until they hit the dirt. The pilot had told the copilot to throttle back but it got lost in the chaos somewhere and never happened.

So when they killed the trim motor and tried to move it manually, they had to overcome all the aerodynamic force on the stab, and they just couldnt do it at those airspeeds without the electric motor to overcome the force.

MilwaukeeMark , 3 hours ago link

The bigger the fuselage the bigger the engines needed. The bigger the engines needed the more forward on the wing they go to keep from scraping on the ground. The more forward on the wing the more unbalanced then plane became. They've stretch a frame which was developed in the 60's beyond its original design.

MilwaukeeMark , 4 hours ago link

The executives who oversaw the fiasco that is now Boeing, long ago parachuted out with multi million dollar pensions and stock options while their Seattle workers had their pensions slashed. They're now assembling Dreamliners in NC with off the street non unionized labor, former TacoBell and Subway workers. They moved their Corp headquarters to Chicago away from where the actual work was being performed to pursue the "work" of stock buy backs and cozying up to the FAA. All the above a recipe for disaster. A perfect mirror of how the 1/10th of 1% operate in the Oligarchy we call America.

thunderchief , 4 hours ago link

Boeing is in full on crisis mode because of the 737 Max fiasco.

Anything else they say or do is pure show and fraud.

The are not to far from losing the entire narrowbody airline market, pretty much the meat and bones of Airline production.

Today Airbus still has the A-320 neo, and Russia and China are chomping at the bit with the MC21 and C919, all far more advanced and superior than a 1960's designed stretched pulled and too late 737 .

If Boeing loses market share and the narrow body airline market, shame on the USA.

This will become a text book expample of the fall of a nation and empire.

How can a Company like Boeing have technology like the B2 and everything the DOD gives them and lose the international market for narrowbody airliners..

To call this a national disgrace is a compliment to Boeing and the US aerospace industies complete disregard and hubris in such an important component of worldwide aviation.

This in not a sad chapter for Boeing, its sad for the USA

south40_dreams , 4 hours ago link

Boeing is headquartered in Shitcago, how fitting

wally_12 , 3 hours ago link

Don't forget K-Cars, Vega, Pinto, Aztec etc. Auto industry has the type of idiots as Boeing.

Government bailout on the horizon.

south40_dreams , 3 hours ago link

Not bailout, coverup and lots and lots of lipstick will be applied to this pig

IronForge , 2 hours ago link

BeanCounters, Parasitoids, and Bells-WhistlesMktg Types Running an Aerospace/Aviation Engineering and Defense Tech Conglomerate into the Ground - Literally.

Civil Aviation Div "Jumped the Shark" the moment they passed on a redesigned Successor to the 737 Base Model in the mid 2000s and decided to strap on Larger Engines and GunDeck the Revision and Certifications.

So Sad Too Bad. No Sympathies for BA.

Catullus , 4 hours ago link

Failure to disclose regulatory capture is a tough one. Do you issue an 8K on that one? Maybe bury it in the 10K in risk statements

"We maintain several regulatory relationships that will rubber stamp approvals for our aircraft. In the event of a major safety violation, those cozy relationships could be exposed and we be found to not only be negligent, but also nefariously so through regulatory capture."

You bought an airline manufacturer that had a malfunction. There's plenty of people to blame, but it's part of the business you own.

boooyaaaah , 4 hours ago link

Question?
Are the millennials too dishonest for freedom

Free markets, free exchange of ideas and information

The truth shall set you free

Arrow4Truth , 2 hours ago link

They have no comprehension of freedom, which translates to, they are incapable of seeing the truth. The indoctrination has worked swimmingly.

haley's_vomit , 4 hours ago link

Nikki 'luvsNetanyahu' Haley is Boeing's 'rabidjew' answer to their "look! up in the sky! it's Silverstein's Air Force"

[Apr 10, 2019] Boeing's 737 Max 1960s Design, 1990s Computing Power and Paper Manuals

Apr 10, 2019 | www.nytimes.com

The 737 Max is a legacy of its past, built on decades-old systems, many that date back to the original version. The strategy, to keep updating the plane rather than starting from scratch, offered competitive advantages. Pilots were comfortable flying it, while airlines didn't have to invest in costly new training for their pilots and mechanics. For Boeing, it was also faster and cheaper to redesign and recertify than starting anew.

But the strategy has now left the company in crisis, following two deadly crashes in less than five months. The Max stretched the 737 design, creating a patchwork plane that left pilots without some safety features that could be important in a crisis -- ones that have been offered for years on other planes. It is the only modern Boeing jet without an electronic alert system that explains what is malfunctioning and how to resolve it. Instead pilots have to check a manual.

The Max also required makeshift solutions to keep the plane flying like its ancestors, workarounds that may have compromised safety. While the findings aren't final, investigators suspect that one workaround, an anti-stall system designed to compensate for the larger engines, was central to the crash last month in Ethiopia and an earlier one in Indonesia.

"They wanted to A, save money and B, to minimize the certification and flight-test costs," said Mike Renzelmann, an engineer who worked on the Max's flight controls. "Any changes are going to require recertification." Mr. Renzelmann was not involved in discussions about the sensors.

... ... ...

On 737s, a light typically indicates the problem and pilots have to flip through their paper manuals to find next steps. In the doomed Indonesia flight, as the Lion Air pilots struggled with MCAS for control, the pilots consulted the manual moments before the jet plummeted into the Java Sea, killing all 189 people aboard.

"Meanwhile, I'm flying the jet," said Mr. Tajer, the American Airlines 737 captain. "Versus, pop, it's on your screen. It tells you, This is the problem and here's the checklist that's recommended."

Boeing decided against adding it to the Max because it could have prompted regulators to require new pilot training, according to two former Boeing employees involved in the decision.

The Max also runs on a complex web of cables and pulleys that, when pilots pull back on the controls, transfer that movement to the tail. By comparison, Airbus jets and Boeing's more modern aircraft, such as the 777 and 787, are "fly-by-wire," meaning pilots' movement of the flight controls is fed to a computer that directs the plane. The design allows for far more automation, including systems that prevent the jet from entering dangerous situations, such as flying too fast or too low. Some 737 pilots said they preferred the cable-and-pulley system to fly-by-wire because they believed it gave them more control.

In the recent crashes, investigators believe the MCAS malfunctioned and moved a tail flap called the stabilizer, tilting the plane toward the ground. On the doomed Ethiopian Airlines flight, the pilots tried to combat the system by cutting power to the stabilizer's motor, according to the preliminary crash report.

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Once the power was cut, the pilots tried to regain control manually by turning a wheel next to their seat. The 737 is the last modern Boeing jet that uses a manual wheel as its backup system. But Boeing has long known that turning the wheel is difficult at high speeds, and may have required two pilots to work together.

In the final moments of the Ethiopian Airlines flight, the first officer said the method wasn't working, according to the preliminary crash report. About 1 minute and 49 seconds later, the plane crashed, killing 157 people.

Steve Lovelien Waukesha,WI 25m ago

The Seattle Times published what I consider a devastating article a few Sundays ago. It highlighted the depth to which Boeing and the FAA cut corners on the certification of the Max, more specifically the characterization of the impact of a failure of the new MCAS system. This allowed them to utilize the cheaper single sensor AOA vane instead of 2 or 3. The aircraft also got delivered with the MCAS system applying many more nose down units of trim than what was published in the certification process. Topping it off was the failure of Boeing to disclose to its customers that the MCAS system was installed or what abnormal or emergency procedures would accompany the system.


Catalin Iasi 2h ago

True, there are two kinds of pilots, and some are better. BUT no pilot should be put in a critical situation by bad and rushed design. What was Boeing thinking? `Yes, there is slight chance that things can go wrong... but if the pilot is experienced, if the weather is fine, if the FO is focused (and so on...) they will surely make it.' Why taking that risk? They should design a plane that even a drunk pilot can handle.
AeroEngineer Toronto 2h ago
The MCAS moves the entire horizontal tail (aka horizontal stabilizer) not just "a tail flap called the stabilizer". Normal stabilizer trim also moves the whole horizontal stabilizer. Presumably the "flap" being referred to here, incorrectly, is the elevator, a flight control surface on the trailing edge of the horizontal tail, which is control by pulling and pushing the flight control column. Both horizontal stabilizer trim and elevator affect the pitch (nose up, nose down) of the aircraft. Typically, horizontal stabilizer trim is used to maintain a particular attitude (e.g. level flight in cruise) without requiring the pilot to continously apply significant forces to the control column, which is tiring. When MCAS engages it effectively is attempting to "cancel out" the pilot's elevator command (pulling back on the control column to bring the nose up by ) by moving the horizontal stabilizer to counteract the pilots action (rotating the the horizontal stabilizer so that it's leading edge points down).
Tony Boston 2h ago
Boeing should have gone with a clean sheet of paper design. Look at the Airbus A220, previously known as Bombardier C Series. It has nearly similar seating, yet it carries less fuel, but has a longer range than the MAX8. Modern wing design. Heck, Boeing should have just bought Bombardier 10 years ago. Now they are in the arms of Airbus.
Ed N Southbury,CT 2h ago
Why doesn't BA just trash the entire max8 program and become a subcontractor for A320s instead? After all there is a demand for 5000 aircraft that now will not be fulfilled. Boeing management should be put on trial for criminal negligence.
Jim Mooney Apache Junction, AZ 2h ago
Finally, a comprehensive report that doesn't go on and on about software. The problem was a mechanical and training one, and instead of fixing the problems, the Bean Counters took over and went on the cheap.

[Apr 09, 2019] Boeing's 737 Max 1960s Design, 1990s Computing Power and Paper Manuals - The New York Times

Apr 09, 2019 | www.nytimes.com

Pilots start some new Boeing planes by turning a knob and flipping two switches.

The Boeing 737 Max, the newest passenger jet on the market, works differently. Pilots follow roughly the same seven steps used on the first 737 nearly 52 years ago: Shut off the cabin's air-conditioning, redirect the air flow, switch on the engine, start the flow of fuel, revert the air flow, turn back on the air conditioning, and turn on a generator.

The 737 Max is a legacy of its past, built on decades-old systems, many that date back to the original version. The strategy, to keep updating the plane rather than starting from scratch, offered competitive advantages. Pilots were comfortable flying it, while airlines didn't have to invest in costly new training for their pilots and mechanics. For Boeing, it was also faster and cheaper to redesign and recertify than starting anew.

But the strategy has now left the company in crisis, following two deadly crashes in less than five months . The Max stretched the 737 design, creating a patchwork plane that left pilots without some safety features that could be important in a crisis -- ones that have been offered for years on other planes. It is the only modern Boeing jet without an electronic alert system that explains what is malfunctioning and how to resolve it. Instead pilots have to check a manual.

The Max also required makeshift solutions to keep the plane flying like its ancestors, workarounds that may have compromised safety. While the findings aren't final, investigators suspect that one workaround, an anti-stall system designed to compensate for the larger engines, was central to the crash last month in Ethiopia and an earlier one in Indonesia.

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The Max "ain't your father's Buick," said Dennis Tajer, a spokesman for the American Airlines pilots' union who has flown the 737 for a decade. He added that "it's not lost on us that the foundation of this aircraft is from the '60s."

Dean Thornton, the president of Boeing, with an engine on the first 737-400 in 1988 in Seattle. The larger engines for Boeing's new Max line of jets prompted a number of design issues. Credit Benjamin Benschneider/The Seattle Times, via Associated Press
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Dean Thornton, the president of Boeing, with an engine on the first 737-400 in 1988 in Seattle. The larger engines for Boeing's new Max line of jets prompted a number of design issues. Credit Benjamin Benschneider/The Seattle Times, via Associated Press

[Boeing was "go, go, go " to beat Airbus with the 737 Max.]

The Max, Boeing's best-selling model, with more than 5,000 orders, is suddenly a reputational hazard. It could be weeks or months before regulators around the world lift their ban on the plane, after Boeing's expected software fix was delayed . Southwest Airlines and American Airlines have canceled some flights through May because of the Max grounding.

The company has slowed production of the plane, putting pressure on its profits, and some buyers are reconsidering their orders. Shares of the company fell over 4 percent on Monday, and are down 11 percent since the Ethiopia crash.

"It was state of the art at the time, but that was 50 years ago," said Rick Ludtke, a former Boeing engineer who helped design the Max's cockpit. "It's not a good airplane for the current environment."

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The 737 has long been a reliable aircraft, flying for decades with relatively few issues. Gordon Johndroe, a Boeing spokesman, defended the development of the Max, saying that airlines wanted an updated 737 over a new single-aisle plane and that pilots were involved in its design.

"Listening to pilots is an important aspect of our work. Their experienced input is front-and-center in our mind when we develop airplanes," he said in a statement. "We share a common priority -- safety -- and we listen carefully to their feedback." He added that American regulators approved the plane under the same standards they used with previous aircraft.

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Boeing introduced the 737 Max as a reliable fuel- and cost-efficient solution to air travel in the 21st century. After two fatal Max crashes, all of the Max aircraft in the world are believed to have been grounded. Credit Credit Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

[ Boeing announced that it was going to cut production of the 737 Max. ]

Boeing's chief executive, Dennis Muilenburg, said in a statement on Friday that the crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia appeared to have been caused by the Max's new anti-stall system. "We have the responsibility to eliminate this risk, and we know how to do it," he said.

At a factory near Seattle on Jan. 17, 1967, flight attendants christened the first Boeing 737, smashing champagne bottles over its wing. Boeing pitched the plane as a smaller alternative to its larger jets, earning it the nickname the "Baby Boeing."

Early on, sales lagged Boeing's biggest competitor, McDonnell Douglas. In 1972, Boeing had delivered just 14 of the jets, and it considered selling the program to a Japanese manufacturer, said Peter Morton, the 737 marketing manager in the early 1970s. "We had to decide if we were going to end it, or invest in it," Mr. Morton said.

Ultimately, Boeing invested. The 737 eventually began to sell, bolstered by airline deregulation in 1978. Six years later, Boeing updated the 737 with its "classic" series, followed by the "next generation" in 1997, and the Max in 2017. Now nearly one in every three domestic flights in the United States is on a 737, more than any other line of aircraft.

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Each of the three redesigns came with a new engine, updates to the cabin and other changes. But Boeing avoided overhauling the jet in order to appease airlines, according to current and former Boeing executives, pilots and engineers, some of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the open investigations. Airlines wanted new 737s to match their predecessors so pilots could skip expensive training in flight simulators and easily transition to new jets.

Boeing 737 Max: What's Happened After Ethiopian Airlines and Lion Air Crashes

Boeing has come under intense scrutiny after its best-selling 737 Max jet was involved in two deadly crashes in five months.

Boeing's strategy worked. The Federal Aviation Administration never required simulator training for pilots switching from one 737 to the next.

"Airlines don't want Boeing to give them a fancy new product if it requires them to retrain their pilots," said Matthew Menza, a former 737 Max test pilot for Boeing. "So you iterate off a design that's 50 years old. The old adage is: If it's not broke, don't fix it."

It did require engineering ingenuity, to ensure a decades-old jet handled mostly the same. In doing so, some of the jet's one-time selling points became challenges.

For instance, in the early years of the 737, jet travel was rapidly expanding across the world. The plane's low-slung frame was a benefit for airlines and airports in developing countries. Workers there could load bags by hand without a conveyor belt and maintain the engines without a lift, Mr. Morton said. In the decades that followed, the low frame repeatedly complicated efforts to fit bigger engines under the wing.

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By 2011, Boeing executives were starting to question whether the 737 design had run its course. The company wanted to create an entirely new single-aisle jet. Then Boeing's rival Airbus added a new fuel-efficient engine to its line of single-aisle planes, the A320, and Boeing quickly decided to update the jet again.

The 737 Max 8 at Boeing's plant in Renton, Wash. Nearly one in every three domestic flights in the United States is on a 737, more than any other line of aircraft. Credit Ruth Fremson/The New York Times
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The 737 Max 8 at Boeing's plant in Renton, Wash. Nearly one in every three domestic flights in the United States is on a 737, more than any other line of aircraft. Credit Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

"We all rolled our eyes. The idea that, 'Here we go. The 737 again,'" said Mr. Ludtke, the former 737 Max cockpit designer who spent 19 years at Boeing.

"Nobody was quite perhaps willing to say it was unsafe, but we really felt like the limits were being bumped up against," he added.

Some engineers were frustrated they would have to again spend years updating the same jet, taking care to limit any changes, instead of starting fresh and incorporating significant technological advances, the current and former engineers and pilots said. The Max still has roughly the original layout of the cockpit and the hydraulic system of cables and pulleys to control the plane, which aren't used in modern designs. The flight-control computers have roughly the processing power of 1990s home computers. A Boeing spokesman said the aircraft was designed with an appropriate level of technology to ensure safety.

When engineers did make changes, it sometimes created knock-on effects for how the plane handled, forcing Boeing to get creative. The company added a new system that moves plates on the wing in part to reduce stress on the plane from its added weight. Boeing recreated the decades-old physical gauges on digital screens.

As Boeing pushed its engineers to figure out how to accommodate bigger, more fuel-efficient engines, height was again an issue. Simply lengthening the landing gear to make the plane taller could have violated rules for exiting the plane in an emergency.

Boeing 737 engines at the company's factory in 2012. By 2011, Boeing executives were starting to question whether the 737 design had run its course. Credit Stephen Brashear/Associated Press
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Boeing 737 engines at the company's factory in 2012. By 2011, Boeing executives were starting to question whether the 737 design had run its course. Credit Stephen Brashear/Associated Press
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Instead, engineers were able to add just a few inches to the front landing gear and shift the engines farther forward on the wing. The engines fit, but the Max sat at a slightly uneven angle when parked.

While that design solved one problem, it created another. The larger size and new location of the engines gave the Max the tendency to tilt up during certain flight maneuvers, potentially to a dangerous angle.

To compensate, Boeing engineers created the automated anti-stall system, called MCAS, that pushed the jet's nose down if it was lifting too high. The software was intended to operate in the background so that the Max flew just like its predecessor. Boeing didn't mention the system in its training materials for the Max.

Boeing also designed the system to rely on a single sensor -- a rarity in aviation, where redundancy is common. Several former Boeing engineers who were not directly involved in the system's design said their colleagues most likely opted for such an approach since relying on two sensors could still create issues. If one of two sensors malfunctioned, the system could struggle to know which was right.

Airbus addressed this potential problem on some of its planes by installing three or more such sensors. Former Max engineers, including one who worked on the sensors, said adding a third sensor to the Max was a nonstarter. Previous 737s, they said, had used two and managers wanted to limit changes.

The angle of attack sensor, bottom, on a Boeing 737 Max 8. Credit Ruth Fremson/The New York Times
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The angle of attack sensor, bottom, on a Boeing 737 Max 8. Credit Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

"They wanted to A, save money and B, to minimize the certification and flight-test costs," said Mike Renzelmann, an engineer who worked on the Max's flight controls. "Any changes are going to require recertification." Mr. Renzelmann was not involved in discussions about the sensors.

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The Max also lacked more modern safety features.

Most new Boeing jets have electronic systems that take pilots through their preflight checklists, ensuring they don't skip a step and potentially miss a malfunctioning part. On the Max, pilots still complete those checklists manually in a book.

A second electronic system found on other Boeing jets also alerts pilots to unusual or hazardous situations during flight and lays out recommended steps to resolve them.

On 737s, a light typically indicates the problem and pilots have to flip through their paper manuals to find next steps. In the doomed Indonesia flight, as the Lion Air pilots struggled with MCAS for control, the pilots consulted the manual moments before the jet plummeted into the Java Sea, killing all 189 people aboard.

"Meanwhile, I'm flying the jet," said Mr. Tajer, the American Airlines 737 captain. "Versus, pop, it's on your screen. It tells you, This is the problem and here's the checklist that's recommended."

Boeing decided against adding it to the Max because it could have prompted regulators to require new pilot training, according to two former Boeing employees involved in the decision.

The Max also runs on a complex web of cables and pulleys that, when pilots pull back on the controls, transfer that movement to the tail. By comparison, Airbus jets and Boeing's more modern aircraft, such as the 777 and 787, are "fly-by-wire," meaning pilots' movement of the flight controls is fed to a computer that directs the plane. The design allows for far more automation, including systems that prevent the jet from entering dangerous situations, such as flying too fast or too low. Some 737 pilots said they preferred the cable-and-pulley system to fly-by-wire because they believed it gave them more control.

In the recent crashes, investigators believe the MCAS malfunctioned and moved a tail flap called the stabilizer, tilting the plane toward the ground. On the doomed Ethiopian Airlines flight, the pilots tried to combat the system by cutting power to the stabilizer's motor, according to the preliminary crash report.

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Once the power was cut, the pilots tried to regain control manually by turning a wheel next to their seat. The 737 is the last modern Boeing jet that uses a manual wheel as its backup system. But Boeing has long known that turning the wheel is difficult at high speeds, and may have required two pilots to work together.

In the final moments of the Ethiopian Airlines flight, the first officer said the method wasn't working, according to the preliminary crash report. About 1 minute and 49 seconds later, the plane crashed, killing 157 people.

Correction : April 8, 2019

An earlier version of this article transposed the death tolls in two crashes involving Boeing's 737 Max jets. In the Lion Air crash in Indonesia last year, 189 people died, not 157; 157 people were killed in the Ethiopian Airlines crash last month, not 189. Rebecca R. Ruiz and Stephen Grocer contributed reporting. Kitty Bennett contributed research. A version of this article appears in print on April 9, 2019 , on Page A 1 of the New York edition with the headline: Boeing's 737 Max: '60s Design Meets '90s Computing Power. Order Reprints | Today's Paper | Subscribe

[Apr 08, 2019] Trump deadly deregulation

Apr 04, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

anne , April 05, 2019 at 01:50 PM

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/04/opinion/trump-deadly-deregulation.html

April 4, 2019

Donald Trump Is Trying to Kill You: Trust the pork producers; fear the wind turbines. By Paul Krugman

There's a lot we don't know about the legacy Donald Trump will leave behind. And it is, of course, hugely important what happens in the 2020 election. But one thing seems sure: Even if he's a one-term president, Trump will have caused, directly or indirectly, the premature deaths of a large number of Americans.

Some of those deaths will come at the hands of right-wing, white nationalist extremists, who are a rapidly growing threat, partly because they feel empowered by a president who calls them "very fine people."

Some will come from failures of governance, like the inadequate response to Hurricane Maria, which surely contributed to the high death toll in Puerto Rico. (Reminder: Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens.)

Some will come from the administration's continuing efforts to sabotage Obamacare, which have failed to kill health reform but have stalled the decline in the number of uninsured, meaning that many people still aren't getting the health care they need. Of course, if Trump gets his way and eliminates Obamacare altogether, things on this front will get much, much worse.

But the biggest death toll is likely to come from Trump's agenda of deregulation -- or maybe we should call it "deregulation," because his administration is curiously selective about which industries it wants to leave alone.

Consider two recent events that help capture the deadly strangeness of what's going on.

One is the administration's plan for hog plants to take over much of the federal responsibility for food safety inspections. And why not? It's not as if we've seen safety problems arise from self-regulation in, say, the aircraft industry, have we? Or as if we ever experience major outbreaks of food-borne illness? Or as if there was a reason the U.S. government stepped in to regulate meatpacking in the first place?

Now, you could see the Trump administration's willingness to trust the meat industry to keep our meat safe as part of an overall attack on government regulation, a willingness to trust profit-making businesses to do the right thing and let the market rule. And there's something to that, but it's not the whole story, as illustrated by another event: Trump's declaration the other day that wind turbines cause cancer.

Now, you could put this down to personal derangement: Trump has had an irrational hatred for wind power ever since he failed to prevent construction of a wind farm near his Scottish golf course. And Trump seems deranged and irrational on so many issues that one more bizarre claim hardly seems to matter.

But there's more to this than just another Trumpism. After all, we normally think of Republicans in general, and Trump in particular, as people who minimize or deny the "negative externalities" imposed by some business activities -- the uncompensated costs they impose on other people or businesses.

For example, the Trump administration wants to roll back rules that limit emissions of mercury from power plants. And in pursuit of that goal, it wants to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from taking account of many of the benefits from reduced mercury emissions, such as an associated reduction in nitrogen oxide.

But when it comes to renewable energy, Trump and company are suddenly very worried about supposed negative side effects, which generally exist only in their imagination. Last year the administration floated a proposal that would have forced the operators of electricity grids to subsidize coal and nuclear energy. The supposed rationale was that new sources were threatening to destabilize those grids -- but the grid operators themselves denied that this was the case.

So it's deregulation for some, but dire warnings about imaginary threats for others. What's going on?

Part of the answer is, follow the money. Political contributions from the meat-processing industry overwhelmingly favor Republicans. Coal mining supports the G.O.P. almost exclusively. Alternative energy, on the other hand, generally favors Democrats.

There are probably other things, too. If you're a party that wishes we could go back to the 1950s (but without the 91 percent top tax rate), you're going to have a hard time accepting the reality that hippie-dippy, unmanly things like wind and solar power are becoming ever more cost-competitive.

Whatever the drivers of Trump policy, the fact, as I said, is that it will kill people. Wind turbines don't cause cancer, but coal-burning power plants do -- along with many other ailments. The Trump administration's own estimates indicate that its relaxation of coal pollution rules will kill more than 1,000 Americans every year. If the administration gets to implement its full agenda -- not just deregulation of many industries, but discrimination against industries it doesn't like, such as renewable energy -- the toll will be much higher.

So if you eat meat -- or, for that matter, drink water or breathe air -- there's a real sense in which Donald Trump is trying to kill you. And even if he's turned out of office next year, for many Americans it will be too late.

ilsm -> anne... , April 05, 2019 at 03:56 PM
"uninsured" in the for profit system is a terrible measure!

US health outcomes in relation to OEDC remains sad.

point -> anne... , April 05, 2019 at 07:19 PM
One wonders how when expected deaths are 1/x and activity is x, then the product does not mean 1 expected death, and then ordinary legal consequences.
mulp -> anne... , April 06, 2019 at 03:25 AM
Trump does not want to go back to the 50s when government policy was to greatly increase costs by paying more workers more, while driving down prices, and elinimating rents and scarcity profits.

Trump wants to kill jobs that are paid, but force work that is unpaid.

Well, if you means 1850, by the 50s, that's when Trump would have excelled by raping his slaves to create more workers he would force to work, probably Brazil style, worked to death to cut costs, based on continued enslavement of slaves, ie, no ban on slave imports after 1808.

JohnH -> anne... , April 06, 2019 at 03:39 PM
Trump may be trying to kill us...but do Democrats have a plan to save us? So far, I can discern no coherent message or plan from corrupt, comatose Democrats other than 'Trump is guilty [of something or other.]
mulp -> JohnH... , April 07, 2019 at 03:11 PM
You are simply rejecting Democrats calls to reverse policies since 1970 to MAGA as failed liberal policies because its not new, never tried before, and not free.

The growth of the 50s and 60s was too costly, requiring people to work, save, and pay ever rising prices, taxes, and living costs.

You want economics where you can buy a million dollar home for $50,000 and have schools funded by modest property taxes on million dollar homes, but with low tax rates on houses assessed at $40,000.

TANSTAAFL

The only way working class families get better off is by paying higher costs.

Zero sum.

Christopher H. said in reply to anne... , April 07, 2019 at 11:00 AM
The Jungle was written about Chicago and Chicago just elected 5 (possibly 6) socialists to the City Council (which is made up of 50 total alderman).

Chicago also elected a black lesbian mayor but she's not that progressive.

I guess Krugman would dismiss this all as "purity" politics.

https://chicago.suntimes.com/news/andre-vasquex-democratic-socialist-pat-oconnor-40th-ward-aldermanic-election/

04/05/2019, 05:37pm

Meet the democratic socialist who sent Rahm's floor leader packing

By Mark Brown

There's never been a Chicago politician who quite fits the profile of Andre Vasquez, the former battle rapper and current democratic socialist who just took down veteran 40th Ward Ald. Patrick O'Connor, Mayor Rahm Emanuel's city council floor leader.

That probably scares some people.

But those folks might want to nod to the wisdom of the 54 percent of voters in the North Side ward who waded through an onslaught of attack ads and concluded they have nothing to fear from the 39-year-old AT&T account manager, his music or his politics.

I stopped by Vasquez's campaign office to satisfy my own curiosity about this new breed of aldermen. Vasquez will be part of a Chicago City Council bloc of at least five, probably six democratic socialists who, if nothing else, will alter the debate on a range of issues.

Vazquez said he understands democratic socialism as "just injecting a healthy dose of democracy in a system we already have.

"Where we see the influence of big money and corporations in our government, where we see the corruption in the council, where we see elected officials as bought and paid for, to me, democratic socialism is providing a counterbalance," he said.

Vasquez also reminded me that generalizing about democratic socialists is as foolish as generalizing about Democrats.

"I think even within democratic socialism there's such a spectrum of different folks, right? I tend to be a counterbalance to some of the louder stuff, the louder hardcore, what some would view as extreme," said Vasquez, noting that he sometimes takes flak within democratic socialist circles because he's never read Marx and doesn't "bleed rose red."

"Everyone's got their part to play," he said. "Somebody's going to be the loud one in the room because you need that kind of impetus to move things forward. And someone's got to be the one who's making deals on legislation. You can't have ideological fights and think you're going to come up with solutions."

Though Vasquez prefers the dealmaker role, his background suggests he also could get loud if the occasion demanded.

Until he decided it was time to do something else with his life around 2010, Vasquez was a battle rapper who performed under the stage name Prime. He had enough success to pay the bills for a while, touring nationally and appearing on MTV's "Direct Effect" and HBO's "Blaze Battle."

For old people like me who are unclear on the concept (begging the pardon of the rest of you), battle rapping involves performers trading insults in rhyme put to music.

"Then, imagine you have a crowd around you," Vasquez explained. "And now people are cheering you on, and the insults are getting more vicious and intricate, and it becomes a sporting match. Right? So, in that arena, you're getting heralded for how well you can insult the person in front of you while rhyming and improvising all as this stream of consciousness is coming out."

I suggested a battle rap might occasionally be just the antidote to the drudgery of a council meeting, but Vasquez wasn't amused.

The problem with battle rapping, as 40th Ward voters were reminded ad nauseam during the runoff campaign, is that the genre relies heavily on crude insults invoking disrespectful terms for women and LGBTQ individuals.

"The issue is toxic masculinity plagues everything," said Vasquez, who obliquely fronted an apology for his past verbal misdeeds early in the campaign -- and more directly when hit with a barrage of negative mailers detailing a greatest hits of his transgressions.

A lesser candidate would have been toast at that point, but Vasquez had girded himself in advance through his door-to-door organizing.

By then, enough 40th Ward residents knew who Vasquez really was -- the son of Guatemalan immigrants, a city kid from the neighborhoods who had become a family guy with two young kids and a late-discovered talent for politics -- that they couldn't be scared off.

Vasquez, who lives in Edgewater, was introduced to politics when he felt the Bern in 2014 and volunteered for Bernie Sanders presidential campaign. A left-leaning community group, Reclaim Chicago, then recruited Vasquez to expand upon his organizing talents -- and taught him how to build a classic grassroots campaign.

The result is a new Latino alderman in a ward where fewer than one-fifth of the voters are Latino. And a Democratic Socialist representing a ward previously ruled by Emanuel's floor leader.

"I'm not trying to plant a flag," Vasquez said. "I'm trying to make sure that people can live here and not be forced out."

Christopher H. said in reply to Christopher H.... , April 07, 2019 at 11:02 AM
"Vasquez, who lives in Edgewater, was introduced to politics when he felt the Bern in 2014 and volunteered for Bernie Sanders presidential campaign. A left-leaning community group, Reclaim Chicago, then recruited Vasquez to expand upon his organizing talents -- and taught him how to build a classic grassroots campaign."

I like the centrists like Krugman and liberals here like EMike who dismiss Bernie as a cult of personality. No he's spurring local organizing which doesn't revolve around him.

mulp -> Christopher H.... , April 07, 2019 at 03:34 PM
Will Bernie as president build walls around big cities like Chicago, build iron Curtains, to keep the rich inside these cities where all their wealth is taxed away every year, and they are prevented from moving to the towns outside Chicago city limits?

[Apr 08, 2019] A320 series vs B737 Max 8

Notable quotes:
"... In fact Airbus 320 series never had the same issue as it was properly designed from scratch and not like Max 8 retrofitted to carry bigger engines by that changing distribution of balance of the Aircraft and hence requiring steeper ascending angle and faster speed (for the same wing design) and hence by design more prone to stalling while in takeoff phase. ..."
"... So what is the same in B737 Max and A320 was response of AI software to sensor failures and specific external conditions of flight. In both cases such scenarios were never trained in simulators. ..."
Apr 08, 2019 | www.wsws.org

Kalen4 days ago

Thanks for the report but I may add that AI auto pilot systems on Airbus are not same or similar to MCAS as they are all integrated in autopilot on A320 series while on B737 Max 8 they are completely separate from one another not communicating at all.

In fact Airbus 320 series never had the same issue as it was properly designed from scratch and not like Max 8 retrofitted to carry bigger engines by that changing distribution of balance of the Aircraft and hence requiring steeper ascending angle and faster speed (for the same wing design) and hence by design more prone to stalling while in takeoff phase.

The problem with A320 crash over Atlantic was failure of one or two of two sensors and while in cruise phase of flight autopilot AI software response was just inappropriate in fact detrimental as pilots were blinded disoriented during night over the ocean trying to figure out where they are as conflicting data was coming in.

It seems by some accounts they trusted autopilot decisions and suggestions and simply descended, hit into ocean almost horizontally.

So what is the same in B737 Max and A320 was response of AI software to sensor failures and specific external conditions of flight. In both cases such scenarios were never trained in simulators.

[Apr 08, 2019] Why aren't Boeing executives being prosecuted for the 737 Max 8 crashes

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Evidence has mounted implicating in both crashes an automated anti-stall system, the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), which was installed by Boeing in response to the new plane's tendency to pitch upward and go into a potentially fatal stall. On a whole number of fronts -- design, marketing, certification and pilot training -- information from the black boxes of the two planes points to a lack of concern for the safety of passengers and crew on the part of both Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration, reaching the level of criminality. ..."
"... Despite the presence on the plane of two angle-of-attack sensors, which signal a potential stall and trigger the automated downward pitch of the plane's nose, MCAS relied on data from only one of the sensors. This means the standard redundancy feature built into commercial jets to avert disasters resulting from a faulty sensor was lacking. Boeing's main rival to the 737 Max, the European-built Airbus A320neo, for example, uses data from three sensors to manage a system similar to MCAS. ..."
"... Pilot certification for a commercial plane typically requires hundreds of hours of training, both in simulators and in actual flights. Boeing itself is now mandating at least 21 days of training on new Max planes. ..."
"... There is no innocent explanation for these obvious safety issues. They point to reckless and arguably criminally negligent behavior on the part of Boeing executives, who rushed the new plane into service and marketed it against the Airbus A320neo on the basis of its cost-saving features. ..."
"... This is highlighted by a press release the day of the Ethiopian Airlines crash in which Boeing stated that "for the past several months and in aftermath of Lion Air Flight 610," the company "has been developing a flight control software enhancement for the 737 MAX." ..."
"... In other words, both Boeing and the FAA were aware, possibly even before the October 2018 Lion Air crash and certainly afterward, that a system critical to the safe operation of the aircraft needed to be fixed, and still allowed the plane to continue flying. The wording also suggests that the plane shouldn't have been certified for flight in the first place. ..."
"... This was aided and abetted by the Trump administration, which shielded Boeing as long as it could by not ordering the FAA to ground the plane immediately after the Ethiopian Airlines crash. There were no doubt immense concerns that such a move would cut into Boeing's multibillion-dollar profits and affect its stock price, which has nearly tripled since the election of Trump in November 2016, accounting for more than 30 percent of the increase in the Dow Jones index since then. ..."
"... The relationship between Trump and Muilenburg is only a symptom of the much broader collusion between the airline industry and the US government. Starting in 2005 and expanded during the Obama administration, the FAA introduced the Organization Designation Authorization (ODA) program, which allows the agency to appoint as "designees" airplane manufacturers' employees to certify their own company's aircraft on behalf of the government. ..."
"... This is the logical end of the deregulation of the airline industry as a whole that was spearheaded by the Democratic Carter administration, which passed the Airline Deregulation Act in 1978. With the help of liberal icon Edward Kennedy, the legislation disbanded the Civil Aeronautics Board, which up to that point treated interstate airlines as a regulated public utility, setting routes, schedules and fares. ..."
Apr 04, 2019 | www.wsws.org

It is nearly a month since the crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, which slammed into the ground only six minutes after takeoff from Addis Ababa airport, killing all 157 people on board. That disaster came less than five months after the fatal crash of Lion Air Flight 610 only 13 minutes after takeoff from Jakarta airport, killing all 189 passengers and crew members.

Both crashes involved the same airplane, the Boeing 737 Max 8, and both followed wild up-and-down oscillations which the pilots were unable to control.

In the weeks since these disasters, there have been no calls within the media or political establishment for Boeing executives to be criminally prosecuted for what were evidently entirely avoidable tragedies that killed a total of 346 people. This speaks to the corrupt relationship between the US government and the aerospace giant -- the biggest US exporter and second-largest defense contractor -- as well as the company's critical role in the stock market surge and the ever-expanding fortunes of major Wall Street investors.

Black box recordings and simulations show that in the 60 seconds the pilots had to respond to the emergency, faulty software forced the Lion Air flight into a nose dive 24 separate times, as the pilots fought to regain control of the aircraft before plunging into the ocean at more than 500 miles per hour.

Evidence has mounted implicating in both crashes an automated anti-stall system, the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), which was installed by Boeing in response to the new plane's tendency to pitch upward and go into a potentially fatal stall. On a whole number of fronts -- design, marketing, certification and pilot training -- information from the black boxes of the two planes points to a lack of concern for the safety of passengers and crew on the part of both Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration, reaching the level of criminality.

The most recent revelations concerning the March 10 Ethiopian Airlines crash, based on preliminary findings from the official investigation, show that the pilots correctly followed the emergency procedures outlined by Boeing and disengaged the automated flight control system. Nevertheless, the nose of the plane continued to point downward. This strongly suggests a fundamental and perhaps fatal flaw in the design of the aircraft. Numerous questions have been raised about the design and certification process of the 737 Max 8 and MCAS, including:

Despite the presence on the plane of two angle-of-attack sensors, which signal a potential stall and trigger the automated downward pitch of the plane's nose, MCAS relied on data from only one of the sensors. This means the standard redundancy feature built into commercial jets to avert disasters resulting from a faulty sensor was lacking. Boeing's main rival to the 737 Max, the European-built Airbus A320neo, for example, uses data from three sensors to manage a system similar to MCAS.

Boeing Vice President Mike Sinnett admitted last November that cockpit warning lights alerting pilots of a faulty angle-of-attack sensor were only optional features on the Max 8. The MCAS system was absent from pilot manuals and flight simulators, including for the well-known flight training program X-Plane 11, which came out in 2018, one year after the first commercial flight of the 737 Max 8. Pilot training for the 737 Max 8, which has different hardware and software than earlier 737s, was a single one-hour computer course.

Pilot certification for a commercial plane typically requires hundreds of hours of training, both in simulators and in actual flights. Boeing itself is now mandating at least 21 days of training on new Max planes.

There is no innocent explanation for these obvious safety issues. They point to reckless and arguably criminally negligent behavior on the part of Boeing executives, who rushed the new plane into service and marketed it against the Airbus A320neo on the basis of its cost-saving features.

Threatened with a loss of market share and profits to its chief competitor, Boeing reduced costs by claiming that no significant training on the new Max 8 model, with the money and time that entails, was necessary for pilots with previous 737 experience.

Such imperatives of the capitalist market inevitably downgrade safety considerations. This is highlighted by a press release the day of the Ethiopian Airlines crash in which Boeing stated that "for the past several months and in aftermath of Lion Air Flight 610," the company "has been developing a flight control software enhancement for the 737 MAX."

In other words, both Boeing and the FAA were aware, possibly even before the October 2018 Lion Air crash and certainly afterward, that a system critical to the safe operation of the aircraft needed to be fixed, and still allowed the plane to continue flying. The wording also suggests that the plane shouldn't have been certified for flight in the first place.

This was aided and abetted by the Trump administration, which shielded Boeing as long as it could by not ordering the FAA to ground the plane immediately after the Ethiopian Airlines crash. There were no doubt immense concerns that such a move would cut into Boeing's multibillion-dollar profits and affect its stock price, which has nearly tripled since the election of Trump in November 2016, accounting for more than 30 percent of the increase in the Dow Jones index since then.

Trump himself received a call from Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg two days after the Ethiopian Airlines crash, during which Muilenburg reportedly continued to uphold the Max 8's safety. The FAA finally grounded the plane on March 13, after every other country in the world had done so.

The relationship between Trump and Muilenburg is only a symptom of the much broader collusion between the airline industry and the US government. Starting in 2005 and expanded during the Obama administration, the FAA introduced the Organization Designation Authorization (ODA) program, which allows the agency to appoint as "designees" airplane manufacturers' employees to certify their own company's aircraft on behalf of the government.

As a result, there was virtually no federal oversight on the development of the 737 Max 8. FAA Acting Administrator Dan Elwell told Congress, "As a result of regular meetings between the FAA and Boeing teams, the FAA determined in February 2012 that the [Max 8] project qualified [a] project eligible for management by the Boeing ODA." This extended to the MCAS system as well.

This is the logical end of the deregulation of the airline industry as a whole that was spearheaded by the Democratic Carter administration, which passed the Airline Deregulation Act in 1978. With the help of liberal icon Edward Kennedy, the legislation disbanded the Civil Aeronautics Board, which up to that point treated interstate airlines as a regulated public utility, setting routes, schedules and fares.

In a rational world, the ongoing Senate hearings and Department of Justice investigations would have already brought criminal charges against Muilenburg, Sinnett, Elwell and all those involved in overseeing the production, certification and sale of the 737 Max 8. This would include the executives at Boeing and all those who have helped to deregulate the industry at the expense of human lives.

Under capitalism, however, Boeing will get little more than a slap on the wrist. Experts estimate the company will likely be fined at most $800 million, less than one percent of the $90 billion Boeing expects in sales from the Max 8 in the coming years. As in Hurricane Katrina, the Wall Street crash in 2008, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010 and Hurricanes Harvey and Maria in 2017, the brunt of this disaster will be borne by the working class.

The Boeing 737 Max 8 disasters point to the inherent incompatibility between safe, comfortable and affordable air transport and private ownership of the airline industry, as well as the division of the world economy between rival nation-states. These catastrophes were driven by both the greed of Boeing executives and big investors and the intensifying trade conflict between the United States and Europe.

The technological advances that make it possible for travelers to move between any two points in the world in a single day must be freed from the constraints of giant corporations and the capitalist system as a whole. Major airlines and aerospace companies must be expropriated on an international scale and transformed into publicly owned and democratically controlled utilities, as part of the establishment of a planned economy based on social need, not private profit.

Bryan Dyne

[Apr 07, 2019] The rejection of the USSA version of neoliberalism with its rampant deregulation and corruption has already started

Apr 07, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

To Hell In A Handbasket , 2 hours ago link

Too many hooray, we are the USSA, America is the best cheerleaders, have no idea of the gravity of the situation they will face, when the dollar and by extension the Petrodollar implodes.

The rejection of the USSA has already started, but the average Yank hasn't noticed. When Ethiopia, can reject a direct request from Uncle Scam and send the Black-Boxes to Europe, because the USSA cannot be trusted, says it all. It is the little things we miss, things that seem small and insignificant, that actually reveals a lot and the Ethiopian rejection was one.

The world has simply had enough of USSA diktats and subsidising them. The USSA is merely 4% of the worlds population, that consumes 24.8% of the worlds resources and this situation is totally untenable. A nation of exceptionalists. 5%? Yes. The rest? lol

[Apr 06, 2019] MAXimized danger Are 200+ new Boeing 737s plagued with glitch that led to crash in Indonesia -- RT World News

Apr 06, 2019 | www.rt.com

A technical issue that Boeing flagged in a safety warning after the deadly 737 MAX 8 crash in Indonesia could happen to any other aircraft, and it's "not unlikely" that the manufacturer knew about it, aviation experts told RT. Earlier this week, Boeing issued a safety update to pilots flying its newest 737 MAX airliner, warning of a possible fault in a sensor that could send the aircraft into a violent nosedive.

That sensor measures air flow over a plane's wings, but its failure can lead to an aerodynamic stall.

Boeing's new 737 MAX may 'abruptly dive' due to errors – media Boeing's new 737 MAX may 'abruptly dive' due to errors – media

International aviation experts told RT that a problem of this kind could doom aircraft of any type. The tragedy that happened to Lion Air's Boeing 737 MAX is not the first of its kind to involve a faulty

"Pitot tube" – a critical air-speed sensor that measures the flow velocity – explained Elmar Giemulla, a leading German expert in air and traffic law.

"This is not unusual in the way it happened before," he noted, mentioning incidents similar to the Lion Air crash. Back in 1996, a Boeing 757 operated by Turkey's Birgenair stalled and crashed in the Caribbean because of a blocked pitot tube. Likewise, erroneous air-speed indications, coupled with pilot errors, led to the crash of an Air France Airbus A330 over the Atlantic in 2009.

While the problem is not entirely new, it is unclear how Boeing had tackled it, according to Giemulla. "It is not very unlikely" that Boeing knew about the problem, he said, warning that "more than 200 planes are concerned and this could happen tomorrow again."

There is so much experience with [using Pitot tubes] that it surprises me very much that this could happen to a newly developed plane.

However, the expert doubted that there has been any cover-up of the issue, instead suggesting that "obviously gross negligence" had been involved.

A 737 MAX 8 servicing Lion Air flight 610 last week ploughed into the waters of the Java Sea shortly after take-off from Jakarta, killing all 189 people on board. Investigators say there is a possibility that inaccurate readings fed into the MAX's computer could have sent the plane into a sudden descent.

#FAA statement on the Emergency Airworthiness Directive (AD) for all @Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. The AD can be found at https://t.co/FoRI5vOeby . pic.twitter.com/JDGdPfos6g

-- The FAA (@FAANews) November 7, 2018

[Apr 06, 2019] The MC-21 will safely handle passengers in the 140 to 160 passengers and is a mid range plane that can go as far as 4,000 miles.

Apr 06, 2019 | peakoilbarrel.com

Hightrekker x Ignored says: 04/06/2019 at 9:27 am

If markets were truly free and there was real capitalism then airlines would be looking at the new and excellent Russian MC-21 which does what Boeing was trying to do with the 737 Max. The MC-21 will safely handle passengers in the 140 to 160 passengers and is a mid range plane that can go as far as 4,000 miles.

Instead – Boeing lobbies the corrupt U.S. AIPAC Congress to keep a Boeing monopoly of death traps like the 737 Max allowing some Airbus sales. They also blocked a nice Bombardier mid range jet from Canada.

I've flown in the Bombardier in South America– it is a fine aircraft.

[Apr 06, 2019] 'Blinded by its greed' Boeing sued by family of passenger in Ethiopian Air 737 crash

Notable quotes:
"... "Sadly, these two entirely preventable airline crashes demonstrate that the FAA is ill-equipped to oversee the aerospace industry and will downplay serious hazards and safety risks to the public rather than sound the alarm about safety concerns, problems, issues and hazards that pose substantial, probable, and/or foreseeable risks to human life," attorneys for Stumo said in the lawsuit. ..."
"... "Boeing, and the regulators that enabled it, must be held accountable for their reckless actions." The chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee said this week that whistleblowers have come forward to report that FAA safety inspectors, including those involved with approvals for the 737 Max, lacked proper training and certifications. ..."
"... But legal experts have said the second disaster could prove even more damaging for the company. That's because plaintiffs will argue the manufacturer was put on notice by the earlier tragedy that there was something dangerously wrong with its planes that should have been fixed. ..."
Apr 06, 2019 | smh.com.au

The parents of Samya Stumo, 24, alleged Boeing was "blinded by its greed" and rushed the 737 Max 8 to market with the "knowledge and tacit approval" of the FAA, while hiding defects in its automated flight-control system. The suit also cites a similar flaw in the Lion Air flight of a 737 Max 8 jet that crashed into the Java Sea on October 29 , killing 189.

Earlier on Thursday, the Ethiopian transport minister called on Boeing to review the 737 Max flight-control system before allowing planes to be used, after a preliminary government report showing the doomed jetliner couldn't recover from an uncommanded and persistent nose dive shortly after takeoff.

The complaint alleges that decisions by Boeing leaders contributed to the crash and "demonstrate Boeing's conscious disregard for the lives of others," including designing an aircraft with a flight-control system that is "susceptible to catastrophic failure" in the event of a single defective sensor made by Rosemount Aerospace.

'Ill-equipped'

"Sadly, these two entirely preventable airline crashes demonstrate that the FAA is ill-equipped to oversee the aerospace industry and will downplay serious hazards and safety risks to the public rather than sound the alarm about safety concerns, problems, issues and hazards that pose substantial, probable, and/or foreseeable risks to human life," attorneys for Stumo said in the lawsuit.

"Boeing, and the regulators that enabled it, must be held accountable for their reckless actions." The chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee said this week that whistleblowers have come forward to report that FAA safety inspectors, including those involved with approvals for the 737 Max, lacked proper training and certifications.

Senator Roger Wicker, a Mississippi Republican, said those claims prompted him to investigate potential connections between training and certification shortcomings and the FAA's evaluation of the airliner.

The Senate panel's probe is the latest in a string of investigations by US officials and lawmakers into how the FAA cleared the 737 Max as safe to fly. The Transportation Department's inspector general is reviewing the FAA's process for approving the airworthiness of new jets and aiding a Justice Department criminal probe.

Criminal probe

A grand jury convened by US prosecutors last month subpoenaed a former Boeing engineer demanding he provide testimony and documents related to the 737 Max.

FAA Acting Administrator Dan Elwell has said the agency "welcomes external review of our systems, processes and recommendations." Boeing faces the prospect of substantial payouts to the families of passengers if it's found responsible for both the Ethiopia Air and Lion Air crashes.

But legal experts have said the second disaster could prove even more damaging for the company. That's because plaintiffs will argue the manufacturer was put on notice by the earlier tragedy that there was something dangerously wrong with its planes that should have been fixed.

[Apr 06, 2019] Ethiopian Airlines Abandons Boeing Orders Due To Stigma From 737 Max Crash

Apr 06, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Posa , 2 hours ago link

The company failed itself by replacing engineers with Wall Street accountants.... typical US corporation destroyed from withing by asset strippers, chiselers, deregulators... the complete gamut of "free enterprise" vampires leaving the US economy in shambles.

Shockwave , 5 minutes ago link

Agree with that, theres been a serious drive to focus on bean-counting and bringing in "mainstream" business leadership from companies like GE/Toyota/3m (think outsourcing/stock buybacks/automate/layoff type)

Its one of the few companies that has a real hard time getting rid of skilled labor, because building an aircraft is an incredibly huge undertaking, with lots of hand fitting and a wide array of technical skills, so getting rid of the labor hasnt worked to this point.

But they're trying hard to get inline with the typical "modern" business model, and it hasnt been great for morale.

[Apr 06, 2019] When Will The Boeing 737 MAX Fly Again - Simple Flying

Apr 06, 2019 | simpleflying.com

Boeing has been working on a fix to the anti-stall software for some time now. However, Reuters today reported that regulators including EASA knew that the MAX's trim control was confusing.

[Apr 06, 2019] Boeing Will Face A Skeptical Flying Public When It Fixes the 737 Max Jets OvationMR

Apr 06, 2019 | www.ovationmr.com
How much do you trust each of the following to determine whether the fixes to the Boeing 737 Max make it safe to fly? The pilot's union The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Airlines (e.g. American, United, Southwest) The Trump Administration Boeing Congress
Completely trust 33% 32% 30% 29% 25% 22% 21%
Mostly trust 34% 33% 30% 36% 22% 30% 23%
Somewhat trust 22% 26% 29% 26% 16% 28% 28%
Do not trust 11% 9% 10% 9% 37% 20% 28%

[Apr 06, 2019] Would you fly Boeing 737 Max 8 ever again - Quora

Notable quotes:
"... No. Possibly Boeing & the FAA will solve the immediate issue, but they have destroyed Trust. ..."
"... It has emerged on the 737MAX that larger LEAP-1B engines were unsuited to the airframe and there is no way now to alter the airframe to balance the aircraft. ..."
"... Boeing failed to provide training or training material to pilots or even advise them the existence of MCAS. There was a complex two step process required of pilots in ET302 and JT610 crashes and their QRH handbook did not explain this: ..."
Apr 06, 2019 | www.quora.com

Would you fly Boeing 737 Max 8 ever again? Update Cancel

Simon Gunson , PPL aviation enthusiast Answered Mar 25, 2019 · Author has 141 answers and 981.7k answer views

No. Possibly Boeing & the FAA will solve the immediate issue, but they have destroyed Trust.

Other brands of aircraft like Airbus with AF447 established trust after their A330 aircraft plunged into the Atlantic in a mysterious accident.

With Airbus everyone saw transparency & integrity in how their accidents were investigated. How Boeing & FAA approached accident investigation destroyed public Trust.

By direct contrast in the mysterious disappearance of MH370, Boeing contributed nothing to the search effort and tried to blame the pilot or hijackers.

With the 737MAX in Lion Air and Ethiopian crashes Boeing again tried to blame pilots, poor training, poor maintenance and then when mechanical defect was proven, Boeing tried to downplay how serious the issue was and gave false assurances after Lion Air that the plane was still safe. ET302 proved otherwise.

It is no longer possible to trust the aircraft's certification. It is no longer possible to trust that safety was the overriding principle in design of the Boeing 737 MAX nor several other Boeing designs for that matter.

The Public have yet to realize that the Boeing 777 is an all electric design where in certain scenarios like electrical fire in the avionics bay, an MEC override vent opens allowing cabin air pressure to push out smoke. This silences the cabin depressurization alarms.

As an electrical failure worsens, in that scenario another system called ELMS turns off electrical power to the Air Cycle Machine which pumps pressurized air into the cabin. The result of ELMS cutting power means the override vent fails to close again and no new pressurized air maintains pressure in the cabin. Pilots get no warning.

An incident in 2007 is cited as AD 2007–07–05 by the FAA in which part but not all of this scenario played out in a B777 at altitude.

MH370 may have been the incident in which the full scenario played out, but of course Boeing is not keen for MH370 to be found and unlike Airbus which funded the search for AF447, Boeing contributed nothing to finding MH370.

It has emerged on the 737MAX that larger LEAP-1B engines were unsuited to the airframe and there is no way now to alter the airframe to balance the aircraft.

It also emerged that the choice to fit engines to this airframe have origins in a commercial decision to please Southwest Airlines and cancel the Boeing 757.

Boeing failed to provide training or training material to pilots or even advise them the existence of MCAS. There was a complex two step process required of pilots in ET302 and JT610 crashes and their QRH handbook did not explain this:

Boeing pilots had less than 40 SECONDS to over-ride automated system

The MAX is an aerodynamically unbalanced aircraft vulnerable to any sort of disruption, ranging from electrical failure, out of phase generator, faulty AOA sensor, faulty PCU failure alert, digital encoding error in the DFDAU.

Jason Eaton Former Service Manager Studied at University of Life Lives in Sydney, Australia 564k answer views 50.7k this month Answered Mar 24, 2019 ·

No I wouldn't. I'm not a pilot or an aerospace technician but I am a mechanical engineer, so I know a little bit about physics and stuff.

The 737–8 is carrying engines it was never designed for, that cause it to become inherently unstable. So unstable in fact, that it can't be controlled by humans and instead relies on computer aided control to maintain the correct attitude, particularly during ascent and descent.

The MCAS system is, effectively, a band aid to fix a problem brought about by poor design philosophy. Boeing should have designed a new airframe that complements the new engines, instead of ruining a perfectly good aircraft by bolting on power units it's not designed to carry, and then trying to solve the resulting instability with software. And if that isn't bad enough, the system relies on data from just the one sensor which if it doesn't agree with, it'll force the aircraft nose down regardless of the pilots' better judgement.

That might be ok for the Eurofighter Typhoon but it's definitely not ok for fare paying passengers on a commercial jetliner.

So, no. I won't be flying on a 737–8 until it's been redesigned to fly safely. You know, like a properly designed aeroplane should. 4.8k Views · View 36 Upvoters

[Apr 06, 2019] Boeing's effort to get the 737 Max approved to fly again, explained - 3420634 Promediapost

Notable quotes:
"... Under the circumstances, Boeing's best option was to just take the hit for a few years and accept that it was going to have to start selling 737s at a discount price while it designed a whole new airplane. That would, of course, be time-consuming and expensive, and during the interim, it would probably lose a bunch of narrow-body sales to Airbus. ..."
"... As late as February 2011, Boeing chair and CEO James McNerney was sticking to the plan to design a totally new aircraft. ..."
"... Committing to putting a new engine that didn't fit on the plane was the corporate version of the Fyre Festival's "let's just do it and be legends, man" moment, and it unsurprisingly wound up leading to a slew of engineering and regulatory problems. ..."
"... The problem is that an airplane is a big, complicated network of interconnected parts. To get the engine under the 737 wing, engineers had to mount the engine nacelle higher and more forward on the plane. But moving the engine nacelle (and a related change to the nose of the plane) changed the aerodynamics of the plane, such that the plane did not handle properly at a high angle of attack ..."
"... But note that the underlying problem isn't really software; it's with the effort to use software to get around a whole host of other problems. ..."
"... Looking back, Boeing probably wishes it had just stuck with the "build a new plane" plan and toughed out a few years of rough sales, rather than ending up in the current situation. Right now the company is, in effect, trying to patch things up piecemeal -- a software update here, a new warning light there, etc. -- in hopes of persuading global regulatory agencies to let its planes fly again. ..."
"... That said, on March 27, FAA officials faced the Senate Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Aviation and Space at a hearing called by subcommittee Chair Ted Cruz (R-TX). Regulators committed at the hearing to revamp the way they certify new planes , in light of the flaws that were revealed in the previous certification process. ..."
"... a central element of this story is the credibility of the FAA's process ..."
Apr 06, 2019 | www.promediapost.com

Claiming responsibility was part of an attempt to get the planes approved to fly again. Boeing was trying to say that it now understands why the planes crashes -- flawed software -- and has a plan in place to replace it with new software that will eliminate the problem and persuade regulators to get the planes off the ground. But then Friday morning, the company announced that it had found a second, unrelated software flaw that it also needs to fix and will somewhat delay the process of getting the planes cleared to fly again.

All of which, of course, raises the question of why such flawed systems were allowed to fly in the first place.

And that story begins nine years ago when Boeing was faced with a major threat to its bottom line, spurring the airline to rush a series of kludges through the certification process -- with an underresourced Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) seemingly all too eager to help an American company threatened by a foreign competitor, rather than to ask tough questions about the project.

The specifics of what happened in the regulatory system are still emerging (and despite executives' assurances, we don't even really know what happened on the flights yet). But the big picture is coming into view: A major employer faced a major financial threat, and short-term politics and greed won out over the integrity of the regulatory system. It's a scandal. The A320neo was trouble for Boeing

Jet fuel is a major cost for airlines. With labor costs largely driven by collective bargaining agreements and regulations that require minimum ratios of flight attendants per passenger, fuel is the cost center airlines have the most capacity to do something about. Consequently, improving fuel efficiency has emerged as one of the major bases of competition between airline manufacturers.

If you roll back to 2010, it began to look like Boeing had a real problem in this regard.

Airbus was coming out with an updated version of the A320 family that it called the A320neo , with "neo" meaning "new engine option." The new engines were going to be more fuel-efficient, with a larger diameter than previous A320 engines, that could nonetheless be mounted on what was basically the same airframe. This was a nontrivial engineering undertaking both in designing the new engines and in figuring out how to make them work with the old airframe, but even though it cost a bunch of money, it basically worked. And it raised the question of whether Boeing would respond.

Initial word was that it wouldn't. As CBS Moneywatch's Brett Snyder wrote in December 2010 , the basic problem was that you couldn't slap the new generation of more efficient, larger-diameter engines onto the 737:

One of the issues for Boeing is that it takes more work to put new engines on the 737 than on the A320. The 737 is lower to the ground than the A320, and the new engines have a larger diameter . So while both manufacturers would have to do work, the Boeing guys would have more work to do to jack the airplane up. That will cost more while reducing commonality with the current fleet. As we know from last week, reduced commonality means higher costs for the airlines as well.

Under the circumstances, Boeing's best option was to just take the hit for a few years and accept that it was going to have to start selling 737s at a discount price while it designed a whole new airplane. That would, of course, be time-consuming and expensive, and during the interim, it would probably lose a bunch of narrow-body sales to Airbus.

The original version of the 737 first flew in 1967, and a decades-old decision about how much height to leave between the wing and the runway left them boxed out of 21st-century engine technology -- and there was simply nothing to be done about it.

Unless there was.

Boeing decided to put on the too-big engines anyway

As late as February 2011, Boeing chair and CEO James McNerney was sticking to the plan to design a totally new aircraft.

"We're not done evaluating this whole situation yet," he said on an analyst call , "but our current bias is to move to a newer airplane, an all-new airplane, at the end of the decade, beginning of the next decade. It's our judgment that our customers will wait for us."

But in August 2011, Boeing announced that it had lined up orders for 496 re-engined Boeing 737 aircraft from five airlines .

It's not entirely clear what happened, but, reading between the lines, it seems that in talking to its customers Boeing reached the conclusion that airlines would not wait for them. Some critical mass of carriers (American Airlines seems to have been particularly influential) was credible enough in its threat to switch to Airbus equipment that Boeing decided it needed to offer 737 buyers a Boeing solution sooner rather than later.

Committing to putting a new engine that didn't fit on the plane was the corporate version of the Fyre Festival's "let's just do it and be legends, man" moment, and it unsurprisingly wound up leading to a slew of engineering and regulatory problems.

New engines on an old plane

As the industry trade publication Leeham News and Analysis explained earlier in March, Boeing engineers had been working on the concept that became the 737 Max even back when the company's plan was still not to build it. In a March 2011 interview with Aircraft Technology, Mike Bair, then the head of 737 product development, said that reengineering was possible. "There's been fairly extensive engineering work on it," he said. "We figured out a way to get a big enough engine under the wing."

The problem is that an airplane is a big, complicated network of interconnected parts. To get the engine under the 737 wing, engineers had to mount the engine nacelle higher and more forward on the plane. But moving the engine nacelle (and a related change to the nose of the plane) changed the aerodynamics of the plane, such that the plane did not handle properly at a high angle of attack . That, in turn, led to the creation of the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS). It fixed the angle-of-attack problem in most situations, but it created new problems in other situations when it made it difficult for pilots to directly control the plane without being overridden by the MCAS.

On Wednesday, Boeing rolled out a software patch that it says corrects the problem, and it hopes to persuade the FAA to agree.

But note that the underlying problem isn't really software; it's with the effort to use software to get around a whole host of other problems.

1of x: BEST analysis of what really is happening on the #Boeing737Max issue from my brother in law @davekammeyer , who's a pilot, software engineer & deep thinker. Bottom line don't blame software that's the band aid for many other engineering and economic forces in effect.

-- Trevor Sumner (@trevorsumner) March 16, 2019

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Recall, after all, that the whole point of the 737 Max project was to be able to say that the new plane was the same as the old plane. From an engineering perspective, the preferred solution was to actually build a new plane. But for business reasons, Boeing didn't want a "new plane" that would require a lengthy certification process and extensive (and expensive) new pilot training for its customers. The demand was for a plane that was simultaneously new and not new.

But because the new engines wouldn't fit under the old wings, the new plane wound up having different aerodynamic properties than the old plane. And because the aerodynamics were different, the flight control systems were also different. But treating the whole thing as a fundamentally different plane would have undermined the whole point. So the FAA and Boeing agreed to sort of fudge it.

The new planes are pretty different

As far as we can tell, the 737 Max is a perfectly airworthy plane in the sense that error-free piloting allows it to be operated safely.

But pilots of planes that didn't crash kept noticing the same basic pattern of behavior that is suspected to have been behind the two crashes, according to a Dallas Morning News review of voluntary aircraft incident reports to a NASA database:

The disclosures found by the News reference problems with an autopilot system, and they all occurred during the ascent after takeoff. Many mentioned the plane suddenly nosing down. While records show these flights occurred in October and November, the airlines the pilots were flying for is redacted from the database.

These pilots all safely disabled the MCAS and kept their planes in the air. But one of the pilots reported to the database that it was "unconscionable that a manufacturer, the FAA, and the airlines would have pilots flying an airplane without adequately training, or even providing available resources and sufficient documentation to understand the highly complex systems that differentiate this aircraft from prior models."

The training piece is important because a key selling feature of the 737 Max was the idea that since it wasn't really a new plane, pilots didn't really need to be retrained for the new equipment. As the New York Times reported, "For many new airplane models, pilots train for hours on giant, multimillion-dollar machines, on-the-ground versions of cockpits that mimic the flying experience and teach them new features" while the experienced 737 Max pilots were allowed light refresher courses that you could do on an iPad.

That let Boeing get the planes into customers' hands quickly and cheaply, but evidently at the cost of increasing the possibility of pilots not really knowing how to handle the planes, with dire consequences for everyone involved.

The FAA put a lot of faith in Boeing

In a blockbuster March 17 report for the Seattle Times, the newspaper's aerospace reporter Dominic Gates details the extent to which the FAA delegated crucial evaluations of the 737's safety to Boeing itself . The delegation, Gates explains, is in part a story of a years-long process during which the FAA, "citing lack of funding and resources, has over the years delegated increasing authority to Boeing to take on more of the work of certifying the safety of its own airplanes."

But there are indications of failures that were specific to the 737 Max timeline. In particular, Gates reports that "as certification proceeded, managers prodded them to speed the process" and that "when time was too short for FAA technical staff to complete a review, sometimes managers either signed off on the documents themselves or delegated their review back to Boeing."

Most of all, decisions about what could and could not be delegated were being made by managers concerned about the timeline, rather than by the agency's technical experts.

It's not entirely clear at this point why the FAA was so determined to get the 737 cleared quickly (there will be more investigations), but if you recall the political circumstances of this period in Barack Obama's presidency, you can quickly get a general sense of the issue.

Boeing is not just a big company with a significant lobbying presence in Washington; it's a major manufacturing company with a strong global export presence and a source of many good-paying union jobs. In short, it was exactly the kind of company the powers that be were eager to promote -- with the Obama White House, for example, proudly going to bat for the Export-Import Bank as a key way to sustain America's aerospace industry.

A story about overweening regulators delaying an iconic American company's product launch and costing good jobs compared to the European competition would have looked very bad. And the fact that the whole purpose of the plane was to be more fuel-efficient only made getting it off the ground a bigger priority. But the incentives really were reasonably aligned, and Boeing has only caused problems for itself by cutting corners.

Boeing is now in a bad situation

One emblem of the whole situation is that as the 737 Max engineering team piled kludge on top of kludge, they came up with a cockpit warning light that would alert the pilots if the plane's two angle-of-attack sensors disagreed.

But then, as Jon Ostrower reported for the Air Current , Boeing's team decided to make the warning light an optional add-on, like how car companies will upcharge you for a moon roof.

The light cost $80,000 extra per plane and neither Lion Air nor Ethiopian chose to buy it, perhaps figuring that Boeing would not sell a plane (nor would the FAA allow it to) that was not basically safe to fly. In the wake of the crashes, Boeing has decided to revisit this decision and make the light standard on all aircraft.

Now, to be clear, Boeing has lost about $40 billion in stock market valuation since the crash, so it's not like cheating out on the warning light turned out to have been a brilliant business decision or anything.

This, fundamentally, is one reason the FAA has become comfortable working so closely with Boeing on safety regulations: The nature of the airline industry is such that there's no real money to be made selling airplanes that have a poor safety track record. One could even imagine sketching out a utopian libertarian argument to the effect that there's no real need for a government role in certifying new airplanes at all, precisely because there's no reason to think it's profitable to make unsafe ones.

The real world, of course, is quite a bit different from that, and different individuals and institutions face particular pressures that can lead them to take actions that don't collectively make sense. Looking back, Boeing probably wishes it had just stuck with the "build a new plane" plan and toughed out a few years of rough sales, rather than ending up in the current situation. Right now the company is, in effect, trying to patch things up piecemeal -- a software update here, a new warning light there, etc. -- in hopes of persuading global regulatory agencies to let its planes fly again.

But even once that's done, Boeing faces the task of convincing airlines to actually buy its planes. An informative David Ljunggren article for Reuters reminds us that a somewhat comparable situation arose in 1965 when three then-new Boeing 727 jetliners crashed.

There wasn't really anything unsound about the 727 planes, but many pilots didn't fully understand how to operate the new flaps -- arguably a parallel to the MCAS situation with the 737 Max -- which spurred some additional training and changes to the operation manual. Passengers avoided the planes for months, but eventually came back as there were no more crashes, and the 727 went on to fly safely for decades. Boeing hopes to have a similar happy ending to this saga, but so far it seems to be a long way from that point. And the immediate future likely involves more tough questions.

A political scandal on slow burn

The 737 Max was briefly a topic of political controversy in the United States as foreign regulators grounded the planes, but President Donald Trump -- after speaking personally to Boeing's CEO -- declined to follow. Many members of Congress (from both parties) called on him to reconsider, which he rather quickly did, pushing the whole topic off Washington's front burner.

But Trump is generally friendly to Boeing (he even has a former Boeing executive, Patrick Shanahan, serving as acting defense secretary, despite an ongoing ethics inquiry into charges that Shanahan unfairly favors his former employer), and Republicans are generally averse to harsh regulatory crackdowns. The most important decisions in the mix appear to have been made back during the Obama administration, so it's also difficult for Democrats to go after this issue. Meanwhile, Washington has been embroiled in wrangling over special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, and a new health care battlefield opened up as well.

That said, on March 27, FAA officials faced the Senate Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Aviation and Space at a hearing called by subcommittee Chair Ted Cruz (R-TX). Regulators committed at the hearing to revamp the way they certify new planes , in light of the flaws that were revealed in the previous certification process.

The questions at stake, however, are now much bigger than one subcommittee. Billions of dollars are on the line for Boeing, the airlines that fly 737s, and the workers who build the planes. And since a central element of this story is the credibility of the FAA's process -- in the eyes of the American people and of foreign regulatory agencies -- it almost certainly won't get sorted out without more involvement from the actual decision-makers in the US government.

This article was originally published by Vox. Read the original article here .

[Apr 06, 2019] Ralph Nader Boeing 737 Max 'should never fly again' - Chicago Tribune

Apr 06, 2019 | www.chicagotribune.com

Ralph Nader, the noted consumer rights advocate, called for a recall and consumer boycott of the Boeing jet grounded by regulators across the globe after two deadly crashes.

His niece, 24-year-old Samya Stumo, was among the 157 victims of an Ethiopian Airlines flight crash last month, less than six months after a flight on the same aircraft, the Boeing 737 Max 8, crashed in Indonesia.

"Those planes should never fly again," said Nader, speaking by phone at a news conference after Stumo's family filed a lawsuit against Chicago-based Boeing, one of its suppliers and Ethiopian Airlines. The family also filed a claim against the Federal Aviation Administration .

Stumo's family's lawsuit is one of several filed by relatives of passengers killed in the Ethiopian Airlines and Lion Air crashes. All those families have "such huge holes" because of the aircraft's problems, said Nadia Milleron, Stumo's mother, who said she had met others who lost loved ones in Ethiopia.

"As someone who's lost the dearest person in my life, I want her death not to be in vain. I don't want anybody else to die," she said at the news conference in Chicago.

"Those in charge of creating and selling this plane did not treat Samya as they would their own daughters," said Milleron, who was visibly emotional as she spoke about her daughter.

"This could have been prevented, and that's what makes me cry," she said.

Nader's book "Unsafe at Any Speed" helped bring about a series of auto safety laws , including the creation the federal agency that became the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which oversees the auto industry. He later turned his attention to various consumer protection efforts related to food, drug and workplace safety and clean air and water.

On Thursday, he took aim at Boeing, blaming the crashes on design problems that he argued were the result of the company's focus on getting the plane on the market quickly to compete with its rival manufacturer Airbus.

He also criticized the relationship between Boeing and the federal agency tasked with overseeing aviation industry safety.

"If we don't end the cozy relationship between the patsy FAA and the Boeing company, 5,000 of these fatally flawed planes will be in the air all over the world with millions of passengers," Nader said.

Boeing said Thursday it is reviewing a preliminary report on last month's crash from Ethiopian authorities that said the same anti-stall system that came under scrutiny in the Lion Air crash was activated on the Ethiopian Airlines flight.

Most accidents are the result of a chain of events, but when that system is activated in error, it adds to "what is already a high-workload environment," Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg said in a video released by the company on Thursday.

"It's our responsibility to eliminate this risk. We own it, and we know how to do it," he said.

Boeing said it is still working with the FAA and regulatory agencies to develop and certify a software update designed to keep the system from being activated unintentionally, along with additional training for pilots.

Nader said he doesn't think the software fix is enough to make the plane safe since it can't predict all potential problems with a plane that is "prone to stall."

While Boeing has worked to show it is taking steps to address safety concerns, the FAA is planning changes to its oversight of airplane development, which delegates some authority for certifying new aircraft to their manufacturers, the Associated Press reported .

lzumbach@chicagotribune.com

Twitter @laurenzumbach

Copyright © 2019, Chicago Tribune

[Apr 06, 2019] Ethiopian Airline Crash - Boeing Advice To 737 MAX Pilots Was Flawed

Notable quotes:
"... [We] can now reveal how it's possible the aircraft can crash despite using the Cut-Out switches. To verify, we ran it all in a simulator together with MentourPilot Youtube channel over the last days. ..."
"... Nowhere is it described the trim could be impossible to move if the Cut-Out switches were cut at the slightest miss-trim at the speeds flown. And there is no warning on when to move the Cut-Out switches, the checklist says "Cut, then trim manually." This is not the whole truth . ..."
"... The high speed of 340kts indicated airspeed and the trim at 2.3 units causes the Stabilator manual trim to jam, one can't move it by hand. The crew is busy trying to hand trim the next two minutes but no trim change is achieved. ..."
"... It's easy to say "Why didn't they trim then?". Because they are going down at 20 degrees nose down (which is a lot, a normal landing approach is 3°) and at 400kts. Then you just pull for all you have. And the aircraft is not reacting to the largest Control Column displacement since takeoff. This makes them pull even harder, the aircraft is unresponsive and they are fighting for theirs and all the passenger lives. ..."
"... Moreover their description of the MCAS was incomplete . It is only now known that the MCAS trims the stabilizer at a speeed of 0.27 units (degrees) per second while the pilots electric trim moves the stabilizer at only 0.18 units per second: ..."
"... If MCAS keeps tripping, and if pilots do not shut off electric trim entirely, the result is what Tajer describes as a two-steps-back, one-step-forward scenario, with MCAS maintaining an edge. ..."
"... "The MCAS knows but one speed, which is 0.27, which is the most-aggressive speed," Tajer says. "If you look at the balance sheet on it, MCAS is winning, and you are losing." ..."
"... That additional problem pertains to software affecting flaps and other flight-control hardware and is therefore classified as critical to flight safety, said two officials with knowledge of the investigation. ..."
"... This is not about sensor failure. It is about the profit of cheap parts and greed. The insiders at Boeing tipped off the Big Boys that they needed more than the gizmos installed on export versions if they were going to survive. ..."
"... Engineering Manufacturing company with a sales division works alright. But a Sales Company with a manufacturing subsidiary does not, as we see. Boeing is typical for end-stage Imperial Corporations - all show, no go, and get the money quick... ..."
"... A mistake is one or two errors. This was one horrible string of deliberate corner cutting, about 7-8 totally disastrous decisions by the management, that could have only led to deaths of people uninformed enough to purchase the travel risk from this plane supplier. ..."
Apr 06, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org
< to include the new system into training material for the pilots which Boeing, for commercial reasons, did not do.>

After the Lion Air crash the Federal Aviation Administration issued an Airworthiness Directive 2018-23-51 which adviced 737 MAX pilots how to handle an MCAS failure.


full picture

The FAA told 737 MAX pilots to use the Stabilizer Trim Cutoff switches to interupt the power supply for the system's actuator, a motor driven jackscrew in the back of the airplane. The pilots should then use the manual trim wheels in the cockpit, which move the jackscrew and stabilizer via steel cables, to righten the aircraft.

On March 10 a 737 MAX flown by Ethiopian Airline crashed shortly after take off. 157 people died. Radar data and debris found showed that the cause was likely a similar MCAS failure as had happened on the Indonesian Lion Air flight.

All 737 MAX planes were grounded with the U.S. being the last country to order it.

Some U.S. pilots, as well as some commentators here, publicly blamed the darker skin pilots for not using the simple procedure the FAA had put out: "Why didn't they just flip the switches? Stupid undertrained third-world dudes."

It now turns out that the well trained and experienced pilots on the Ethiopian Airline flight did exactly what Boeing and the FAA told them to do. From the Ethiopean Airlines press release (pdf):

The preliminary report clearly showed that the Ethiopian Airlines pilots who were commanding Flight ET 302/10 March have followed the Boeing recommended and FAA approved emergency procedures to handle the most difficult emergency situation created on the airplane. Despite their hard work and full compliance with the emergency procedures, it was very unfortunate that they could not recover the airplane from the persistence of nose diving.

The procedure Boeing and the FAA advised to use was insufficient to bring the aircraft back under control. It was in fact impossible to recover the plane. The possibility of this to happen was discussed in pilot fora and on specialized websites for some time.

The MCAS system moves the front of the stablizer up to turn the nose of the airplane down. The plane then decends very fast. The aerodynamic forces (the "wind") pushing against the stabilizer gets so strong that a manual counter-trim becomes impossible.

Avionics engineer Peter Lemme details the physics involved in this.


via Seattle Times - full picture

Lemme concludes:

With the 737MAX cutout switches, MCAS runaway is stopped by throwing both switches, losing electric trim altogether. In this case, the flight crew must rely on manual trim via turning the trim wheel/crank. As discussed above, the manual crank can bind up , making flying much more difficult.

Bjorn Fehrm, a senior engineeer and pilot now writing at Leeham News , came to a similar conclusion :

[We] can now reveal how it's possible the aircraft can crash despite using the Cut-Out switches. To verify, we ran it all in a simulator together with MentourPilot Youtube channel over the last days.
...
At a miss-trimmed Stabilator, you either have to re-engage Electric trim or off-load the Stabilator jackscrew by stick forward, creating a nose-down bunt maneuver, followed by trim.

Stick forward to trim was not an option for ET302, they were at 1,000ft above ground. According to The Wall Street Journal, the ET302 crew re-engaged electrical trim to save the situation, to get the nose up. It was their only chance. But too late. The aggressive MCAS kicked in and worsened the situation before they could counter it.

On the FAA's Airworthiness Directive Fehrm writes:

Nowhere is it described the trim could be impossible to move if the Cut-Out switches were cut at the slightest miss-trim at the speeds flown. And there is no warning on when to move the Cut-Out switches, the checklist says "Cut, then trim manually." This is not the whole truth .

An detailed analysis of the flight recorder data as documented in the preliminary crash report confirms the conclusions :

The high speed of 340kts indicated airspeed and the trim at 2.3 units causes the Stabilator manual trim to jam, one can't move it by hand. The crew is busy trying to hand trim the next two minutes but no trim change is achieved.

via Leeham News - bigger

The pilots then do the only thing possible. They reengage the electric stabilizer trim to righten the aircraft.

But the aggressive MCAS, trimming with a speed 50% higher than the pilot and for a full nine seconds, kicks in at 8 with a force they didn't expect. Speed is now at 375kts and MCAS was never designed to trim at these Speed/Altitude combinations. Dynamic pressures, which governs how the aircraft reacts to control surface movements, is now almost double it was when last MCAS trimmed (Dynamic pressure increases with Speed squared).

The Pilots are thrown off their seats, hitting the cockpit roof. Look at the Pitch Attitude Disp trace and the Accel Vert trace. These are on the way to Zero G and we can see how PF loses stick pull in the process (Ctrl Column Pos L). He can barely hold on to the Yoke, let alone pull or trim against.

His reduced pull increases the pitch down further, which increases the speed even more. At 05.45.30 the Pilots have hit the seats again (Accel Vert trace and Ctrl Columns force trace) and can start pulling in a desperate last move. But it's too late. Despite them creating the largest Control Column movement ever, pitch down attitude is only marginally affected.

The pilots and their passengers lose the fight:

It's easy to say "Why didn't they trim then?". Because they are going down at 20 degrees nose down (which is a lot, a normal landing approach is 3°) and at 400kts. Then you just pull for all you have. And the aircraft is not reacting to the largest Control Column displacement since takeoff. This makes them pull even harder, the aircraft is unresponsive and they are fighting for theirs and all the passenger lives.

A diligent safety anlysis would have predicted this outcome. Neither Boeing nor the FAA seems to have done such after the first 737 MAX crashed. They provided an Airworthiness Directive with procedures that were insufficiant to correct the system induce misbehavior.

Moreover their description of the MCAS was incomplete . It is only now known that the MCAS trims the stabilizer at a speeed of 0.27 units (degrees) per second while the pilots electric trim moves the stabilizer at only 0.18 units per second:

"It's like a Tasmanian devil in there," says Dennis Tajer, a 737 pilot and communications chair for Allied Pilots Association, which represents American Airlines' pilots.
...
If MCAS keeps tripping, and if pilots do not shut off electric trim entirely, the result is what Tajer describes as a two-steps-back, one-step-forward scenario, with MCAS maintaining an edge.

"The MCAS knows but one speed, which is 0.27, which is the most-aggressive speed," Tajer says. "If you look at the balance sheet on it, MCAS is winning, and you are losing."

The insufficient advice to pilots given after the first crash only adds to the long list of criminal mistakes Boeing made and which the FAA allowed to pass.

Today the Washington Post reports of another software defect which the FAA demands to have fixed:

Boeing confirmed to The Washington Post that it had found a second software problem that the Federal Aviation Administration has ordered fixed -- separate from the anti-stall system that is under investigation in the two crashes and is involved in the worldwide grounding of the aircraft.

That additional problem pertains to software affecting flaps and other flight-control hardware and is therefore classified as critical to flight safety, said two officials with knowledge of the investigation.

The criminals at Boeing again offer no explanation and play down the issue:

In a statement, Boeing called the additional problem "relatively minor" but did not offer details of how it affects the plane's flight-control system. "We are taking steps to thoroughly address this relatively minor issue and already have the solution in work to do that," it said.

What other 'features' were secretly implemented into the 737 MAX without sufficiant analysis about their side effects and consequences?

---
Previous Moon of Alabama posts on the 737 MAX crashes:

Posted by b on April 5, 2019 at 05:53 AM | Permalink

Jen , Apr 5, 2019 6:27:26 AM | link

"... The Pilots are thrown off their seats, hitting the cockpit roof ..."

I should think that at that point in the narrative, one of the flight crew must either have fallen unconscious or ended up too injured to be able to do anything, let alone fight a rogue MCAS system.

I presume the pilots would still have their seatbelts on, unless the forces generated by the constant battle to stabilise the aircraft while fighting the MCAS system were too strong and broke the seatbelts or dislocated the seats themselves.

As for other "features" that were secretly placed into the 737 MAX jets that Boeing "neglected" to tell FAA or its clients about, what about the "features" that should have been made compulsory but which Boeing decided were optional at the clients' own expense?


jared , Apr 5, 2019 6:42:51 AM | link

I imagine Boing would be worried if they were not prime military contractor. They will be protected.
Tom Welsh , Apr 5, 2019 6:57:06 AM | link
As a layman, my main question at this stage is: "Who is going to prison and for how long?" Everyone involved in the decision to sell those flying death traps should be tried for manslaughter at the least. The guilty ones should serve prison sentences appropriate for criminals who caused hundreds of people to die for their own profit.

How long a sentence does a poor man get, who kills a well-off tourist for the money in his wallet - or even for his shoes?

Now multiply that by several hundred - adding on, of course, extra years to allow for the Boeing executives' privileged lives, top-flight education, and (above all) the generous sufficiency they already enjoy.

In China such people are routinely shot, which seems the right course. In the USA, while poor people are executed all the time, apparently the wealthy and privileged get a free pass.

b , Apr 5, 2019 6:59:17 AM | link
@Jen - I don't read that "hitting the cokpit roof" as literal description.

@all - I have added a new Washington Post report of an additional software defect at the end of the above piece.

jared , Apr 5, 2019 7:01:57 AM | link
Is a direct result of Boing monopoly - they are division of the military. And why did european agency roll-over? Will this warrant cancellation of orders?
Tom Welsh , Apr 5, 2019 7:09:05 AM | link
Oh, and the people at the FAA need to be tried in a criminal court too. Not only were they criminally negligent - they did it while being generously remunerated by the taxpayer. Perhaps a few years as galley slaves would be appropriate punishment - to teach them not to be lazy.
Ger , Apr 5, 2019 7:34:32 AM | link
This cheap seat Boeing export death trap was doomed from the beginning. Once these planes nose 'up' it is heading to a crash. Any engineer with a basic understanding of aero dynamic/physics knows this. This is not about sensor failure. It is about the profit of cheap parts and greed. The insiders at Boeing tipped off the Big Boys that they needed more than the gizmos installed on export versions if they were going to survive.

Tom @3 makes note the Chinese have a great quality control program. Boeing execs will up their kickback slop to US politicians and the final report will say, 'well accidents will happen'.

Taffyboy , Apr 5, 2019 7:59:26 AM | link
You can be sure that if this was Airbus, and two were crashed in the USA, that there would be hearings, threats, congressional investigations, lawsuits, calls for criminal investigations, Wall Street shorting the company, ...and on and on until the company would be disbanded.

Criminal, well yes but so what! Peons do not matter, right.

Walter , Apr 5, 2019 8:14:29 AM | link
Engineering Manufacturing company with a sales division works alright. But a Sales Company with a manufacturing subsidiary does not, as we see. Boeing is typical for end-stage Imperial Corporations - all show, no go, and get the money quick...

Sorta like GE's BWR's and Fukushima, fake it on the cheap and run with the money to retirement.

b , Apr 5, 2019 8:36:24 AM | link
The full 33 pages Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau Preliminary Report from the Ethiopian Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau.
donkeytale , Apr 5, 2019 8:59:32 AM | link
Now we learn (from Krugman, but still) the American meat industrial complex is also now self-regulating thanks to the Donald.

"Donald Trump Is Trying to Kill You
Trust the pork producers; fear the wind turbines."

I'm reaching for the broccoli...oh wait....the organic broccoli

Hoarsewhisperer , Apr 5, 2019 9:01:05 AM | link
The Pilots are thrown off their seats, hitting the cockpit roof ..."
Posted by: Jen | Apr 5, 2019 6:27:26 AM | 1

My interpretation is the same as yours. It's an incident report which is supposed to be bland statements of fact - neither overstated nor understated. If the report says the pilots hit the roof then that's what happened (airliner cockpits don't have cathedral ceilings so only inches clearance when standing erect).

OTOH I find it hard to believe that the pilots would unbuckle before they had achieved cruise status and given passengers the OK to do the same.

Seat belts can break but not under the relatively mild stresses generated by violent flight maneuvers of an intact aircraft.

Kiza , Apr 5, 2019 9:14:57 AM | link
When I purchase an airline ticket I purchase the risk profile of the airline and the risk profile of the plane manufacturer, because either can kill me.

A mistake is one or two errors. This was one horrible string of deliberate corner cutting, about 7-8 totally disastrous decisions by the management, that could have only led to deaths of people uninformed enough to purchase the travel risk from this plane supplier.

Uninformed just like I was before I recently saw some old investigative footage about Boeing's disregard for elementary quality in the earlier 737 hull manufacturing and the company's treatment of the whistleblowers trying to help the company by exposing such wrong doing: "Just put a coat of paint on it".

Intentionally (spin) or unintentionally, there is too much talk about detail such as software, pilot capability and decisions, training and the lack of it and so on. This only hides the big picture of an utter disregard for the value of human life, traded off for management bonuses and stock holder dividends. It is a complete reversal of the original engineering-focused Boeing which made Boeing an icon that it used to be. Perhaps, somewhere in the Washington lobbying swamp the dividing line between the engineering for killing people and the engineering for transporting people became too blurred. As the profit strategy, on MIC business overcharge, on airliner business underdeliver, and ruthlessly so on both: rip-off money from the tax-payers and lives from the travellers.

Please convince me that this is not a symptom of the rot of the whole society, when an icon such as Boeing sinks deep into nastiest morally debased profiteering. I posit that the society which so easily kills people using bombs, rockets and drones cannot make good quality products any more. This is because killing and destroying is just too easy compared with creating something good . Without the good will of the people in a society to morally rebalance, the societal endeavours for creation can never compete against the endeavours for destruction. In other words, US had become too much about destruction to be still capable of creation.

Finally, there would be one way to get back on the right track - life-in-jail for both Boeing and FAA involved. It is ultimately ironic that in the highly criticised China the shitbags would probably be put in front of a firing squad for corruption. In US, they will receive bonuses and continue on to the next killing enterprise. Until they finally launch nuclear tipped missiles against the creation oriented foreign competitors. Do they still know of any other way to win?

Avid Lurker , Apr 5, 2019 9:33:24 AM | link
Touching and informative press conference with the Stumo family (Ralph Nader's grandniece, Samyo Stumo, was killed on the 737 MAX crash in Ethiopia) and two law firms that filed a lawsuit against Boeing and others. At @ 28 min one lawyer displays an anonymous email from a 737 MAX pilot detailing how the MCAS system can thwart a pilot's ability to recover control of the jet. This email was posted to a pilots' forum/aviation network after the Lion Air crash in Indonesia last October.

Attorneys file suit for family of woman killed in Ethiopian plane crash

Ric G , Apr 5, 2019 9:34:15 AM | link
Boeing has solved all their problems with the 737 Maxxx.

They are opening a fast food franchise and bolting the planes to concrete blocks. No problemo!

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/peoplesdaily/article-3781574/Not-usual-plane-meal-look-inside-China-s-4-million-fine-dining-restaurant-converted-retired-Boeing-737.html

Walter , Apr 5, 2019 9:45:44 AM | link
@Steve...if you say it, then it's true. Of course, if you knew more about it, then you would say something else.

But real expert Gundersen says differently. I worked with some of the GE engineers, and I know what they said.

You are 100% incorrect about the diesels, the problem included primary, ultimate heat sink loss due to the elevation of the pumps, and the pressure vessels we know to be unsafe.

GE BWR's designed in the US by US GE engineers, some of whom quit rather than sign off on the design..."fuze was lit for Fukushima in 1965" >see fairewinds, amigo.

b4real , Apr 5, 2019 9:52:06 AM | link
They're in for it now... Remember when GM CEO Maria Barra went to jail for those faulty ignition cylinders ?

/sarc

This is a feature of capitalism. If left unfettered, it will consume itself.

In a just world, Syria would shoot down an F35 with an S300.

b4real

Kiza , Apr 5, 2019 9:57:26 AM | link
@SteveK9 12
As far as I understand, the main Fukushima problem was the concrete reactor encasing design which did not cater for the possibility of excessive hydrogen release from the reactor. It worked well when not in trouble, but in an accident situation (who would have expected an accident) the concrete encasing without a release valve became a pressure cooker filled with flammable hydrogen. What a surprise that it went boom!?

What you write here about the water cooling system generators you probably believe in but it resembles the pilot blaming spin of Boeing. The truth has a nasty tendency to end up owned by those with most money.

I always remember how our old friend pharaoh Ramses paid hundreds of stone masons to go around Egypt and chisel out the achievements of all the previous pharaohs and chisel in his. Then even several thousands of years later, when the archeologists finally learned to read hieroglyphs, they only had propaganda and spin left to read. Thus nothing less than the son of the supreme Egyptian deity the sun god Ra, the propaganda paying Ramses became the greatest pharaoh of all time.

bevin , Apr 5, 2019 9:58:50 AM | link
"As a layman, my main question at this stage is: 'Who is going to prison and for how long?'"
The first to go should obviously be the individuals in charge of the FAA. These people, I imagine, were appointed by Obama. When we look at the regulatory system in the US bear in mind that the current irresponsibility arose in a long descent-since the days of Nixon I suspect-into neo-liberal corporate capture.
Just recently the deceits practised in the fake science which allowed the licensing of Round Up were revealed. The entire system is rotten and nowhere is it more corrupt than in the United States.
Pft , Apr 5, 2019 10:04:18 AM | link
" They reengage the electric stabilizer trim to righten the aircraft"

That's the problem. While the plane may have remained unstable due to the lack of rapid response of the manual trim control and difficulties turning.the wheel at high speed low altitude flight,the planes altitude was still increasing. They should have either returned to the airport or continued ascent in the hope they could restore trim at high altitude and low air pressure.

Altitude immediately plummeted when they rengaged the MCAS and the plane was not recoverable at that point.

Such mistakes should be made in flight simulators . Hence it's lack of training at fault here, and the blame for that is still on Boeing.

Not sure even the flight simulator training will solve this mess
TBH

J Swift , Apr 5, 2019 10:22:12 AM | link
This whole business is sickening and infuriating. What is especially infuriating is that the FAA is extremely onerous in enforcement of ancient regulations with respect to general aviation. The owner of a small plane is actually prohibited from casually upgrading any of the antiquated instruments, even radios, on his Made in 1975 private plane, and must stick with what was originally certified by the manufacturer as originally constructed--unless he is willing to expend huge amounts of money to find an updated, certified (e.g., "safe") upgraded component from someone willing to go the lengthy and expensive process of having the FAA certify that product, then have a certified mechanic install the certified part and certify it was done according to the precise procedures established. In effect, the FAA actively discourages safety improvements of the general aviation fleet by unthinking resistance to technological change.

Unless you're Boeing.

Having experience with the "other" FAA, this is what's especially dumbfounding to me. While there may be some justification in permitting a trusted manufacturer to establish and certify as safe minor details, anything involving the actual flight characteristics of the plane should NEVER be delegated, and doubly so with respect to commercial airliners. And how could any regulator be anything but incredulous if a manufacturer says "Well, we've decided to make this commercial airliner INHERENTLY UNSTABLE, but we have a whole box of bandaids which should do a bang-up job of keeping it in the air!" WTF!! "Fail-safe" isn't actually a fix or a mechanism, the term is supposed to describe a design philosophy, in which if there is a failure, the resulting condition is still safe (well, at least not less safe). Ditto redundancy, which is why it is unheard-of that such an apparently vital bandaid relied on only one sensor.

It's one thing to build a fighter that is inherently unstable (although even that is perhaps questionable), but an airliner filled with passengers? Ludicrous. And the FAA and Boeing both know it, and knew it from the start. In a just world heads would literally roll, but sadly, nothing real is likely to happen.

Piotr Berman , Apr 5, 2019 10:31:04 AM | link
I already thought that the whole setup had faulty logic. If the plane could be adequately controlled by pilots, "manually", then extra training would be cheaper than introducing an automatic system. If the plane could not be adequately controlled by the pilots, "switching to manual" is futile.

I have a minor experience with "automatic control" when the chip of my car went wrong. In old, old times one has to add a bit of extra gas to start the car engine, and as a result one could flood the engine, then wait a few minutes for the gasoline to evaporate and try again. In contemporary cars you do not press gas at all when you start, and the chip regulates how much gasoline should be injected to the engine based on its temperature. Then after 10 years of happy use the chip "noticed" that the engine is cold when it is actually hot. So I am driving on a windy narrow road and the car accelerates going 40 mph without pressing the gas (65 kmh), 15 mhp above the legal speed limit, and did I mention that the road had curves? Frankly, it happened few times before that, but on a straight road you just get the feel of cruise control. Anyway, brakes remedied the situation, luckily, they could overcome the engine and the chip was replaced for mere 800 dollars.

Here it seems that Boeing designers entered the kludge road and kept compensating for this or that and lost the total picture. Isn't it suspicious that the automatic trim was so aggressive? I also do not understand at all what "manual" means, seem impossible that actual muscle force of the pilot was applied to the tail? Should there be an emergence procedure in which a cabin steward under voice control of the captain adjusts the tail with a crank, or perhaps something like a capstan that could be moved by the entire cabin crew? That would be a true manual system.

My conclusion is that once you rely on automatic solutions because the crew cannot do it in some situations, you must crank up the reliability to something "average million years without failure or more". It is not a ship that can drop anchors, giving a few days to figure out the problem etc. (although this is something that should be avoided too). Boeing setup was something that should flunk students in Industrial Engineering (they have courses on control systems). For example, an internal device with a gyroscope could track the speed and its three-dimensional angle, so if one of external sensors malfunction the system can automatically decide which reading makes more sense. External sensor measure speed in respect to air which is important too, but if the plane approaches the ground, that should be noted to,. With few gismos you could get sufficient redundancy with some "voting scheme" or a "decision tree".

J Swift , Apr 5, 2019 10:41:56 AM | link
Just use logic for a moment. Boeing: We're presenting this new (redesigned) plane for certification, and it comes with it's very own MCRASH system. FAA: MCRASH system...what's that? Boeing: Well, the plane has a pronounced tendency to go into stalls and fall out of the sky. FAA: That's an interesting feature. Are pilots going to be able to handle these aggravated power-on stalls (the worst kind, incidentally)? Boeing: Oh, no. There's no way pilots would be able to detect the condition and react quickly enough to save the plane, so we've devised an automated system that is faster than a human can react to save the day. We present MCRASH.

I mean, seriously!

Piotr Berman , Apr 5, 2019 10:43:43 AM | link
From annals of idiocy in design. Some time in the 1st decade of this century the Polish state rail road decided to embrace modernity and introduced automatic ticketing system. It would fabulously till the end of that year when it shut down. Apparently, there was a "sanity check" disallowing tickets to have arrival before the departure, someone forgot about the pesky case of arrival after New Year following departure in December, and the system could not cope with a wave of "illegal requests". Luckily, because the system did not operate that long prior to collapse, there were still people who could manually write the tickets until the bug was removed.
Piotr Berman , Apr 5, 2019 10:46:06 AM | link
would -> work, I must say that the setup not allowing to correct the post after it is made is also an example of a "suboptimal" design, many sites give you 10-15 minutes with a permission to edit or delete.
Uncoy , Apr 5, 2019 10:57:41 AM | link
Berman, you wrote:
would -> work, I must say that the setup not allowing to correct the post after it is made is also an example of a "suboptimal" design, many sites give you 10-15 minutes with a permission to edit or delete.

B hosts Moon of Alabama on Typepad. Typepad costs $15/month, including hosting and support (best value in web hosting for a busy weblog). Typepad apparently doesn't have a post-comment grace period editing option or B would have added it.

I used to be an advocate of MoA moving over to WordPress (I'm a full time software architect/designer who builds WordPress driven web application and a pro video player). There's lots of nice bells and whistles which could be added including comment editing and a much more attractive and innovative design.

Having seen the endless security issues and silly site breaking updates which Matt Mullenweg and Automattic have pushed out over the last four years, B would be wise to stay put on Typepad. Typepad is clunky, it's a bit ugly but it works reliably and is inexpensive. Maintaining and updating a WordPress site costs either lots of man hours or lots of money (good IT help is not cheap).

terrorist lieberal , Apr 5, 2019 11:37:47 AM | link
Tom @ 5,

Obviously you know no one will ever be prosecuted or lose anything. This country is in the hands of the rich and powerful, just note how the great Obama couldn't jail one crooked banker and they all got to keep everything they stole at the expense of millions and millions of people, lives ruined, and they live the high life as some exceptional people, yeah right, God Bless America, home of the biggest terrorist organization the world has known.

terrorist lieberal , Apr 5, 2019 11:39:09 AM | link
Sorry, meant for Tom at comment 3
james , Apr 5, 2019 11:54:53 AM | link
thank you b! who is going to be held accountable? i say no one...

@13 donkeytale.. that sounds about right... i imagine it's happening in any industry where money is involved in the usa - which is basically every industry.. get rid of the mechanisms for protecting people and just make sure to protect the moneyed interests..

capitalism devoid of morals and ethics is just peachy..

Pnyx , Apr 5, 2019 12:02:42 PM | link
Thanks for the comprehensive account of what happened. I really hope this will result in a hefty judicial price tag for the cynicals and greedies at Boeing.
b , Apr 5, 2019 12:33:03 PM | link
@taffyboy

You can be sure that if this was Airbus, and two were crashed in the USA, that there would be hearings, threats, congressional investigations, lawsuits, calls for criminal investigations, Wall Street shorting the company, ...and on and on until the company would be disbanded.

There were two Boeing MAX crashes outside of the U.S. and there ARE now hearings, threats, congressional investigations, lawsuits and even a criminal investigation. Boeing's stock price fell by some 10% since the second crash.
-
@Hoarsewhisperer @14

It's an incident report which is supposed to be bland statements of fact - neither overstated nor understated. If the report says the pilots hit the roof then that's what happened (airliner cockpits don't have cathedral ceilings so only inches clearance when standing erect).

The phrase "the Pilots are thrown off their seats, hitting the cockpit roof" is not from the incident report but from an interpretation at the Leeham News site. It is not meant literally.

It is based on a suddden change on g-force in the plane which goes from around 1g to 0g when MCAS again kicks in. This has the effect that the pilots are suddenly weightless and no longer have power to pull the yoke back.

Source and effect of this are visible in the diagram.
-

Peter AU 1 , Apr 5, 2019 1:14:13 PM | link
Do airline pilots wear seatbelts on take off. I take it there would be some rules and regulations on this. I have always taken it for granted the pilots would be wearing seatbelt on take off and landing, also if expecting turbulence during a flight.
Impossible to control anything if you're getting tossed around.
ritzl , Apr 5, 2019 1:26:26 PM | link
Unless the EU and other governing bodies divorce themselves from our seemingly privatized FAA, expect more of this. Unless, of course, ALL flight safety orgs, globally, are equally corrupted.

I have no idea if global corruption is the case/or worse, but there is now pretty strong evidence that the US FAA is not the unassailable leader in certification protocols that the whole planet has depended upon - up to now.

karlof1 , Apr 5, 2019 1:29:56 PM | link
Hmmm.... Proper retribution. Load Boeing's Board of Directors, senior engineers that signed off on the entire MAX project, senior accountants, any others tied to the entire boondoggle, all FAA "regulators" who approved boondoggle, and all others who helped cause the fatalities into several MAX airplanes designed to fail just as the ill-fated jets did manned by the Boeing pilots who approved the faulty design and force them to takeoff with flight paths over water. Yes, proper retribution for the crime. Cruel and unusual objections? No. Proper retribution.

The entire Neoliberal philosophy must suffer a similar fate along with its promoters and their Neocon allies. The Class War has always been deadly. It's high time elites began taking casualties. Too radical? Take a good look at the world and the circumstances of those besieged by Neoliberals and Neocons and try to argue against.

ritzl , Apr 5, 2019 1:31:55 PM | link
And, Jeez, if you want to get into the whole "death of empire" thingy, this FAA failure would be among the top tier of exhibits.

Thanks b, and all posters here. This is a truly GREAT site. I recommend it whenever I talk politics in personL

Meshpal , Apr 5, 2019 1:41:34 PM | link
Zerohedge has an article that says the pilots should have reduced engine power.

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2019-04-05/experts-say-ethiopian-air-pilots-failed-do-one-thing-could-have-prevented-deadly

That is a true statement, but with so many things going wrong – you need to understand that it is a basic instinct of pilots to keep engine power up so you can climb and get out of trouble.

Very basic: Power = Good and No-Power = Bad.

So they should have reduced power and done a slight nose down to unload the jack screw and re-trimmed manually. The problem was they had no altitude to work with, just 1000 ft or so.

So the end story is that not only did the pilot do well, but the low-hour co-pilot was also surprising competent. It was team work all the way.

So the bottom line is that our Western system has become so corrupt that it is no longer even safe to fly. And this is just the beginning. It is all downhill from now on. More gender studies and who needs engineers anyway?

deal with it , Apr 5, 2019 2:41:14 PM | link
Boeing Max 8 was a flying design mistake.
Boeing, You Ain't no Airbus!
You can' t just slap some heavier bulkiet engines on a tinny single body crap that barely flew straight at the first time and expect everything to be right, slapping some hiden software autocorrections on just in case.. and sell this crap all over the world. Enjoy the torrent of lawsuits now!
You ain't no European aircraft maker. They tend to think 2 to 3 design steps ahead in to the future.
You guys at the US cant even barrely ellect a pres. who is right in the head.
SteveK9 , Apr 5, 2019 3:26:36 PM | link
Apologies to everyone for the thread hijack, but nuclear power nonsense annoys me.
@Walter 18

Gundersen is a very well-known anti-nuke fanatic and a liar. His qualifications are BS. At this point I think you and I can leave it and either of us can read more if we are so inclined.

@Kiza 20

Hydrogen release was an effect from the overheating and meltdown, caused by the lack of emergency cooling. There were no hydrogen recombiners present in these reactors, although they had been installed in every BWR in the US long before.

As I mentioned the reactor nearest the quake suffered no damage, because its emergency generators continued to operate, as they were not flooded. I forgot the plant name ... you could look it up ... it actually served as a shelter during the flood. As a consequence there was no release of hydrogen there (this happens when the zirconium cladding on the fuel reacts with water at high temperature to release hydrogen).

I'm not an expert in reactor design (although I have a PhD in Chemical Physics). I reached my own conclusions a very long time ago, and am not really interested in digging up evidence or providing explanations. There is a mountain of information out there if one wants to look ... and I don't mean Greenpeace (although the founder, Patrick Moore is currently a supporter of nuclear power).

deal with it , Apr 5, 2019 3:34:13 PM | link
Oh and btw, about United States aviation related products leading the race in global aviation...

Struggling to produce an effective design for an airframe for the Martian atmosphere (planet Mars) back in the earlier decade, using the top of the line comercial aviation simulation products with aircraft design options bundled in, as a way of researching a NASA info web campaign about flying vehicles on Mars, managed after much trying to produce a somehow reliable generic airframe for that very thin atmosphere and low gravity environments, which it would generaly resemble a mix of U2's and Predator drones frames (twice large than a U2 wing span) but with major tail wings modifications and you would get adequate performance if you flew it inside the enormous Martian cannyons which have a higher atmosphere pessure than rest of Martian surface. Mil air force drones were generally non existant as information back then. The software was the only product FAA approved a license for actual comercial aviation simulation training hours for training of real pilots...End of story, this design came third ...and the actual algorithms in the software decided that an actual UFO shaped craft would be behaving much better in Martian wind/atmosphere... We incorporated the solution of small rockets for generating initial lift for take off and emergency altitude.
FAA and the leading edge researchers decided that the ALIENS WOULD WIN!
I was almost sure that even Nasa people (which names was on the program approval credits) used same software without noticing anything strange before the Aliens stole the win...

Bart Hansen , Apr 5, 2019 3:51:35 PM | link
So the jack screw that manually controls the stabilizer did not work due to high speed. Isn't that what hydraulics are for?

After all, Slim Pickens managed to kick that bombay door open in Strangelove

Hoarse, I also was confused by the reasoning in the Seattle paper. But then again, I learned all I know about the affect of air flowing over a surface in flight by sticking my hand out the car window as a kid.

تابلو چلنیوم , Apr 5, 2019 4:32:53 PM | link
To avoid such crashes, training is needed more professionally and, in addition, the worn-out parts of the planes should be removed and replaced with new ones. In the vast majority of aircraft, due to high costs, little importance is given to worn parts, which causes people to fall and get dead.
Scotch Bingeington , Apr 5, 2019 4:44:34 PM | link
@ Meshpal | 38
More gender studies and who needs engineers anyway?

I think you're barking up the wrong tree there. I wholeheartedly agree with the second (sarcastic) bit, no doubt about that. But the guy who had overall responsibility for the 737 MAX desaster holds a "degree" in "Business Administration". James McNerney, B.A. from Yale, MBA from Harvard, member of Delta Kappa Epsilon - Chairman, President and CEO of The Boeing Company 2005-2016. I have a strong feeling that gender studies wouldn't exactly be his cup of tea. Just an ordinary, boring, utterly predictable, Pavlovian, run-of-the-mill business tosser. He thought he could do it all, and so off he went, again and again. From British United Provident Association (healthcare) to G.D. Searle (pharmaceuticals) to Procter & Gamble to McKinsey to General Electric to 3M. And what the heck, let's add Boeing into the mix with a pay of 30 million USD in 2014 alone. What a spec-taaaa-cular career!

jayc , Apr 5, 2019 5:29:21 PM | link
Easy to anticipate a consumer boycott of this plane. I wouldn't buy a ticket on a Max 8 flight, and began double-checking the airliner after the crash last October.
bbbar , Apr 5, 2019 6:04:28 PM | link
Horsewhisperer @ 7

In horizontal flight the stabilizer exerts a moderate amount of downward force to keep the tail level (so as to balance the torques on the airplane). When the infographic says "a small downward force pushes the nose down" it is merely saying the downward force on the tail was now less than that required to keep the plane level, so the tail rose and the nose fell.

S , Apr 5, 2019 6:33:36 PM | link
@تابلو چلنیوم : I suggest you read the article first, then comment.
Kiza , Apr 5, 2019 6:41:32 PM | link
@SteveK9 40

With respect for your PhD in Chemistry Physics, you are obviously not an engineer. In most societies, it is around the third year of study that engineers learn about redundancy and contingency planning. Therefore, not thinking trough all the possible disaster scenarios when designing life-critical contraptions is simply criminal: Fukushima nuclear power plants.

Perhaps Boeing should have hired a couple of engineering interns to tell them that they must not:
1) slap unsuitable new engines on an obsolete old air frame,
2) try to fix a serious hardware problem using software,
3) override pilots with their lives on the line by the decisions of some software cretin paid by the hour with no skin in the game,
4) hang lives of 180 people on a single sensor unavailable for replacement on an airport in Timbuktu,
5) play the no-training-needed tune when the structure of the product was substantially changed and operator training was essential and so on.

The engineers are blue collar workers, the more so the closer they are to the assembly floor. They have no decision power, they do what they are told. Yet, it is a society in deep moral crisis when the engineers keep silent whilst virtually all basic tenants of the proper design are broken by the profiteers managing them. Doing all the wrong things and expecting the right result? No, not really, just grab the money and run. Après nous le déluge.

BTW, I heard from a Lockheed lobbyist that Lockheed would never do something like this. They only rip off the US tax payers for godzillion of dollars whilst making the best killing machines that money can buy.

ken , Apr 5, 2019 6:50:29 PM | link
God,,, What humans will do to save little pieces of paper loosely called money. This is criminal. The entire board should be charged with murder or at least manslaughter. But it won't happen. Corpgov will step in to save them as they're to big to jail.
S , Apr 5, 2019 7:01:44 PM | link
Absolutely heartbreaking.

It is my understanding, and please correct me if I'm wrong, that the only thing the pilots could have done was to realize -- by a pure miracle -- that the captain's AoA sensor has failed and switch to the first officer's flight computer, which was connected to another, working AoA sensor. Of course, if Boeing had installed their "mismatching AoA data" indicator as a standard feature, the pilots wouldn't really need a miracle.

VietnamVet , Apr 5, 2019 7:38:26 PM | link
Boeing is slowing the production rate of 737 Max by 20%. Another chicken has come home to roost. To safely fly the aircraft with passengers, a new flight control system is required with multiple sensors including gyroscopes plus triple redundant electronics. Not just two position sensors as proposed by Boeing which is the pilot flipping a coin in the chaotic 40 seconds to do the right thing while the plane is trying to kill you. Pilot and co-pilot training on flight simulators is also required. If the FAA approves anything less, sooner or later, another 737 Max will crash. Similarly, the Trump Administration is turning over pork inspection to the slaughter houses. A million Chinese pigs were culled to attempt to stop the spread of African Swine Fever but the deadly pig disease continues to spread through Asia. One day soon the contagion will be fatal to humans. Climate change is here. The forever wars continue. The bottom line is that public safety which is the basic function of government is collapsing. Oligarchs are getting rich on the bodies of the dead.
Yeah, Right , Apr 5, 2019 8:00:58 PM | link
@38 Meshpal "Zerohedge has an article that says the pilots should have reduced engine power."

From the report: "At 05:39:42, Level Change mode was engaged. The selected altitude was 32000 ft. Shortly after the mode change, the selected airspeed was set to 238 kt."

Then a minute later: "From 05:40:42 to 05:43:11 (about two and a half minutes), the stabilizer position gradually moved in the AND direction from 2.3 units to 2.1 units. During this time, aft force was applied to the control columns which remained aft of neutral position. The left indicated airspeed increased from approximately 305 kt to approximately 340 kt (VMO). The right indicated airspeed was approximately 20-25 kt higher than the left."

Note that the pilots were getting conflicting airspeed readings (the difference would eventually grow to around 50 kt).

There is nothing in the report that suggests that either of the pilots opened the throttles, and by the time the "overspeed clacker" started its warning the pilots had rather more pressing problems to deal with.

I don't quite understand why this isn't addressed in the report: the pilots set the speed to 238 kt, and if they then opened the throttles the report should have said so (it doesn't). But if they didn't touch the throttle then what accounts for the speed being at 305 kt (rather than 238 kt) when the plane started its first dive?

Ghost Ship , Apr 5, 2019 8:07:11 PM | link
>>>> SteveK9 | Apr 5, 2019 3:26:36 PM | 40
There is a mountain of information out there if one wants to look ... and I don't mean Greenpeace (although the founder, Patrick Moore is currently a supporter of nuclear power).

No, Patrick Moore was not the founder of Greenpeace :

Patrick Moore Did Not Found Greenpeace
Patrick Moore frequently portrays himself as a founder or co-founder of Greenpeace, and many news outlets have repeated this characterization. Although Mr. Moore played a significant role in Greenpeace Canada for several years, he did not found Greenpeace. Phil Cote, Irving Stowe, and Jim Bohlen founded Greenpeace in 1970. Patrick Moore applied for a berth on the Phyllis Cormack in March, 1971 after the organization had already been in existence for a year.
karlof1 , Apr 5, 2019 8:07:43 PM | link
Vietnam Vet #@51--

Thanks for confirming that the retribution I prescribe @36 is right and proper as is what must follow. Only one quibble with your comment, the death trap MAXs should never, ever again be certified as airworthy as they clearly are not .

UnionHorse , Apr 5, 2019 8:12:05 PM | link
Meme Change, consider speaking of the

Pentagon Complex.

MIC is unknown. Link to Ike's Farewell early and often.

Speak the names of every contractor, not just Lockheed, etc... Get the list out of them...

Cheers to naming the Pentagon Complex

My very best regards to all,

Arioch , Apr 5, 2019 8:27:33 PM | link
> I forgot the plant name ... you could look it up

@SteveK9 | Apr 5, 2019 3:26:36 PM | 40

It was all the same. Fukushima Dai-Ichi (Number One) was the Nuclear Power Plant consisting of 6 "Reactor Buildings"

#1 was relatively small, US-designed US-built one. It had passive residual cooling - gravity-powered water flow from the tank.

#2 was larger reactor in the same Mark-1 containment, US-designed and US-buit. The residual cooling though could not be gravity-driven. It required the pump (or maybe there was a way to set temperature-driven convection, if valves could be put right - i heard it but did not dig into it)

Obviously, USA does not care about tsunami-driven floods: USA has enough soil to build NPPs away from sea shores.

#3 and #4 were those larger reactors in more modern containment, US-designed but build by Japanese companies. Japanese did know what tsunami is, but they dared not to deviate from USA designs until they make succesfulyl working verbatim coopies.

#5 and #6 were Japanese-built after they got experience with #3 and #4 and proived they can do verbatim copies. Those latter blocks were altered: for #1 to #4 shore ground was removed to almost ocean sea levelm as close to the shorelines earth was considered wet and unreliable, but #5 and #6 were instead moved away from the sea enough to earth be stable even on elevation.

When the wave came, blocks #1 to $4 were flooded (with their electric circuits probably located in basements a la Americana, thus immediately got short-circuited with salted sea water), and diesels were located immediately at water edge with all the consequences for the communications. Blocks #5 and #6, located away from the sea shopre and on elevated grounds, and their diesels located near them, were not reached by the tsunami.

P.S. but people still repeat old propaganda about Chernobyl being sabotaged by suicidal operating crew, what do you want... When people read MSM they do not care much what exactly happened, so they just swallow it without labour of critical acclaim. If much later they suddenly grow interested in some issues - their "point of view" is already long internalized, so they do search relentlessly now - but for ideas supporting their pre-formed cognitive bias.

P.P.S. I agree though that hi-jacking Boeing-related thread for in-depth discussion of NP issues would be not proper to do.

Arioch , Apr 5, 2019 8:33:40 PM | link
> it is merely saying the downward force on the tail was now less than that required

Posted by: bbbar | Apr 5, 2019 6:04:28 PM | 46

That was what i settled upon too, in the end.
But the way infographics worded it was baflfing at least.

They probably simplified words to keep the mdigestible for laymen? But well, they overdid, greatly.

karlof1 , Apr 5, 2019 8:39:49 PM | link
Ralph Nader on "Boeing's Homicides . Why is it that only he and I seem to understand:

"THE BOEING 737 MAX MUST NOT BE ALLOWED TO FLY AGAIN." {Emphasis original]

The discussion here resembles that being conducted by Boeing to exonerate itself. The MAX was purposely designed to be unsafe. Nader puts it thusly:

" The overriding problem is the basic unstable design of the 737 Max. An aircraft has to be stall proof not stall prone . An aircraft manufacturer like Boeing, notwithstanding its past safety record, is not entitled to more aircraft disasters that are preventable by following long-established aeronautical engineering practices and standards." [My Emphasis]

Trying to fix something so fundamentally broken that people with priceless lives are jeopardized if the fix(es) fail is so utterly immoral words fail to detail just how deep that immorality is. It's not just Righteous Indignation or even Righteous Indignation on Steroids--it goes well beyond that to the utterly dysfunctional immorality of placing profit over the safety of something money cannot buy or replace-- PEOPLE'S LIVES .

james , Apr 5, 2019 8:55:15 PM | link
i agree with nader.... thanks karlof1..
psychohistorian , Apr 5, 2019 9:15:44 PM | link
@ karlof1 with the Nader quote

You know that I and others agree as well with your strong sentiments.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out as a telltale of empire's demise or resilience.

It is not just the 737 Max that I would stay off. Think about the profit mentality that built/allowed the Max to go forward and extrapolate that to the replacement parts for all the other Boeing planes. Do people not understand that the same mentality of profit over safety that brought down the 737 Max is putting other, considered more reliable, Boeing planes at risk....for a few pennies more

Americans are brainwashed into believing that profit belongs between them and good health care so it could be described as a slippery slope to write of 99% of humans not valuing their lives very highly......because brainwashed by TV is my observation

So , Apr 5, 2019 9:26:33 PM | link
There are people in Boeing that need to see the inside of a prison cell forever.
I remember in 2008 during the recession depression seeing an idiot at the beach wearing a Goldman Sachs t shirt. I looked at the idiot in disbelief saying nothing. The next time I see an idiot in SC/Georgia I will not be holding my tongue. "Relentlessly focused on safety" my ass. The crapification continues.
So , Apr 5, 2019 9:31:35 PM | link
Their money and profits are more important than our lives. That's where we are and its all we need to know
S , Apr 5, 2019 9:31:37 PM | link
And the "AoA Disagree" indicator is not even a physical light indicator, as I initially thought, but a purely software feature for the primary flight display ! Unbelievable! 346 people had to die because someone decided to charge an exorbitant fee for a few lines of code that basically consist of two conditionals, a timer variable, and a bitmap blit call.
dh-mtl , Apr 5, 2019 9:35:14 PM | link
On March 12, in a comment posted on MOA, I wrote:

'It looks like the 55 year old 737 air-frame design, which is very low to the ground when compared to more modern designs, is incompatible with the bigger engines required for fuel efficiency.

Being very low to the ground, Boeing was forced to put the engines out in front, which upset the airplane's balance, making the plane essentially unstable. To counter the instability they added the 'MCAS?' control system.

This solution violates a fundamental tenant of design for safety-critical systems. The tenant of 'fail-safe'. If something goes wrong the system is supposed to fail in a manner that preserves safety. For the 737 Max, when the this stability control system fails, the plane is fundamentally unstable. For this system it is not 'fail-safe'. It is 'fail-crash'.'

This is pretty much in agreement with (Posted by: karlof1 | Apr 5, 2019 8:39:49 PM | 58).

I fully agree with the sentiment that this plane should never fly again. I can't imagine any thinking person volunteering to get on to such a fundamentally flawed aircraft.

Zachary Smith , Apr 5, 2019 9:57:18 PM | link
@ Meshpal #38
That is a true statement, but with so many things going wrong – you need to understand that it is a basic instinct of pilots to keep engine power up so you can climb and get out of trouble.

Very basic: Power = Good and No-Power = Bad.

This is what I've heard for as long as I've been reading about airplanes. A search turned up some "sayings" popular with pilots.

It's best to keep the pointed end going forward as much as possible.

The only time you have too much fuel is when you're on fire.

Speed is life, altitude is life insurance. No one has ever collided with the sky.

If you're gonna fly low, do not fly slow! ASW pilots know this only too well.

I've just visited a West Australian newspaper - the one where the brand spanking new Aviation Editor spoke of stupid pilots and unbearably wonderful Boeing. They have a new essay about the Report, but 1) the jackass troll for Boeing has been given a minder in the form of a co-author, and 2) the article plays it straight this time.

Boeing admits 737 software was factor in crashes

The Ethiopian crew performed all of the procedures provided by Boeing but was unable to control the aircraft.

ben , Apr 5, 2019 10:02:06 PM | link
Just more death by deregulation. What's a few hundred deaths compared to Trillions in profits?

This equation extends through most of the U$A's corporate mindset...

Bob , Apr 5, 2019 11:03:17 PM | link
Now with Ralph Nader aboard lets hope that Boeing will have to pay a very high fine https://www.cbc.ca/radio/asithappens/as-it-happens-thursday-edition-1.5084648/ralph-nader-lost-his-grandniece-in-the-ethiopian-airlines-crash-now-he-s-taking-on-boeing-1.5084655

In case nobody came up with this information up to now, also the US Military doesn't let their pilots fly the new delivered KC-46 tankers https://www.stripes.com/news/loose-tools-and-debris-left-during-manufacturing-led-to-grounding-of-kc-46-tankers-1.570889

The problems of the B737 Max are not a disaster for Boeing, but for the over 300 fatalities.
They lost no shareholder value or return, they lost their lives.
They are also certainly not represented by expensive top lawyers like Boeing itself, who can then mitigate, delay or even completely avert the consequences of Boeing's decisions.
They, the people (who had confidence in American technology/products), crashed on the ground, burned or plunged into the sea without ever having had the slightest chance of averting the disaster.

Grieved , Apr 6, 2019 12:01:45 AM | link
@66 ben

"death by deregulation"

Perfect description.

~~

@67 Bob

Interesting story you linked on the Boeing KC-46. The Air Force pilots won't fly it because the loose tools and debris they found in the planes raised doubts about the planes manufacturing integrity. The crisis was/is one degree (of four graduated degrees of seriousness) away from shutting down the production line completely.

What's key is how Boeing proceeded to address the problem: by taking employee time away from production in order to perform final inspection, i.e. quality control. Which makes it clear where the original quality control was lost, by being absorbed into production, to make more product per employee hour.

And this is just one, visible part of the process, where we can observe concrete examples of inadequate QC.

Commenters here who point to these plane crashes as a failure in the integrity of Boeing itself are exactly correct. The flawed plane built by the flawed company was an inevitable fruit of the poisoned tree.

And I agree that one would be mad to trust anything bearing Boeing's name ever again. One would be wise also to look for similar poisoned trees in all fields, and thread one's way cautiously though this perilous, neoliberalized world.

stuart dodd , Apr 6, 2019 12:25:48 AM | link
Posted by: Bart Hansen | Apr 5, 2019 3:51:35 PM | 42

So the jack screw that manually controls the stabilizer did not work due to high speed. Isn't that what hydraulics are for?

By design.

The screw is designed to work within certain criteria.
1.Load,caused by thick or thin air pressure depending on altitude, on the moving part.
2. Speed, which again increases the load depending on the planes speed through the air, on the moving part.

The speed and altitude are known from the panes onboard sensors.

Great load will possibly damage or break away the moving part, leading to an uncontrollable crash.

Hence use of the jack screw adjustment, by the hydraulic system, will only be available within its design envelope of load and speed.

james , Apr 6, 2019 12:53:13 AM | link
yeah ben... perfect description as grieved notes...

"@66 ben

"death by deregulation"

Perfect description."

no one will be held accountable...

[Apr 05, 2019] Ilargi Meijer Boeing's Problem Is Not Software

Apr 05, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Ilargi Meijer: Boeing's Problem Is Not Software

by Tyler Durden Thu, 04/04/2019 - 20:45 65 SHARES Authored by Raul Ilargi Meijer via The Automatic Earth blog,

We had already been told that in the Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302 crash which killed all 157 people on board, the 4-month old 737 MAX 8's anti-stall software reengaged itself four times in 6 minutes as the pilots struggled to straighten the plane post-takeoff. In the end, the anti-stall software won and pushed the plane nose-down towards the earth. Now, Ethiopia -finally?!- released its report in the March 10 crash:

Minister of Transport Dagmawit Moges said that the crew of the Ethiopian Airlines flight from Addis Ababa to Nairobi on 10 March "performed all the procedures repeatedly provided by the manufacturer but were not able to control the aircraft." As result, investigations have concluded that Boeing should be required to review the so-called manoeuvring characteristics augmentation system on its 737 Max aircraft before the jets are permitted to fly again, she said.

The results of the preliminary investigation led by Ethiopia's Accident Investigation Bureau and supported by European investigators were presented by Ms Moges at a press conference in Addis Ababa on Thursday morning.

Ethiopia is being kind to Boeing. However, though the anti-stall software played a big role in what happened, Boeing's assertion (hope?!) that a software fix is all that is needed to get the 737MAX's back in the air around the globe rests on very shaky ground (no pun intended whatsoever).

737 MAX 8. The angle-of- attack (AOA) sensor is the lower device below the cockpit windshield on both sides of the fuselage. (Mike Siegel/The Seattle Times)

The Seattle Times did an article on March 26 that explains a lot more than all other articles on the topic combined. The paper of course resides in Boeing's backyard, but can that be the reason we haven't seen the article quoted all over?

If the assertions in the article are correct, it would appear that a software fix is the least of Boeing's problems. For one thing, it needs to address serious hardware, not software, issues with its planes. For another, the company better hire a thousand of the world's best lawyers for all the lawsuits that will be filed against it.

Its cost-cutting endeavors may well be responsible for killing a combined 346 people in the October 29 Lion Air crash and the Ethiopian Airlines one. Get a class-action suit filed in the US and Boeing could be fighting for survival.

Here's what the Seattle Times wrote 9 days ago:

Lack Of Redundancies On Boeing 737 MAX System Baffles Some Involved In Developing The Jet

Boeing has long embraced the power of redundancy to protect its jets and their passengers from a range of potential disruptions, from electrical faults to lightning strikes. The company typically uses two or even three separate components as fail-safes for crucial tasks to reduce the possibility of a disastrous failure. Its most advanced planes, for instance, have three flight computers that function independently, with each computer containing three different processors manufactured by different companies . So even some of the people who have worked on Boeing's new 737 MAX airplane were baffled to learn that the company had designed an automated safety system that abandoned the principles of component redundancy, ultimately entrusting the automated decision-making to just one sensor -- a type of sensor that was known to fail.

That one paragraph alone is so potentially damaging it's hard to fathom why everyone's still discussing a software glitch.

Boeing's rival, Airbus, has typically depended on three such sensors. "A single point of failure is an absolute no-no," said one former Boeing engineer who worked on the MAX, who requested anonymity to speak frankly about the program in an interview with The Seattle Times. "That is just a huge system engineering oversight. To just have missed it, I can't imagine how." Boeing's design made the flight crew the fail-safe backup to the safety system known as the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS. The Times has interviewed eight people in recent days who were involved in developing the MAX, which remains grounded around the globe in the wake of two crashes that killed a total of 346 people.

The Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) was already a late addition that Boeing had not planned for initially. They wanted a plane that was so like older ones that no training would be needed, but did put a much heavier engine in it, which was why MCAS was needed. As I wrote earlier today, they cut corners until there was no corner left. On hardware, on software, on pilot training (simulator), everything was done to be cheaper than Airbus.

The angle-of-attack (AOA) sensor of the 737 MAX is the bottom piece of equipment below just below the cockpit windshield. (Mike Siegel / The Seattle Times)

A faulty reading from an angle-of-attack sensor (AOA) -- used to assess whether the plane is angled up so much that it is at risk of stalling -- is now suspected in the October crash of a 737 MAX in Indonesia, with data suggesting that MCAS pushed the aircraft's nose toward Earth to avoid a stall that wasn't happening. Investigators have said another crash in Ethiopia this month has parallels to the first.

Boeing has been working to rejigger its MAX software in recent months, and that includes a plan to have MCAS consider input from both of the plane's angle-of-attack sensors, according to officials familiar with the new design. "Our proposed software update incorporates additional limits and safeguards to the system and reduces crew workload," Boeing said in a statement. But one problem with two-point redundancies is that if one sensor goes haywire, the plane may not be able to automatically determine which of the two readings is correct , so Boeing has indicated that the MCAS safety system will not function when the sensors record substantial disagreement.

The underlying idea is so basic and simple it hurts: safety come in groups of three: three flight computers that function independently, with each computer containing three different processors manufactured by different companies , and three sensors. The logic behind this is so overwhelming it's hard to see how anyone but a sociopathic accountant can even ponder ditching it.

And then here come the clinchers:

Some observers, including the former Boeing engineer, think the safest option would be for Boeing to have a third sensor to help ferret out an erroneous reading, much like the three-sensor systems on the airplanes at rival Airbus. Adding that option, however, could require a physical retrofit of the MAX.

See? It's not a software issue. It's hardware, and in all likelihood not just computer hardware either.

Clincher no. 2:

Andrew Kornecki, a former professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University who has studied redundancy systems in Airbus and Boeing planes, said operating the automated system with one or two sensors would be fine if all the pilots were sufficiently trained in how to assess and handle the plane in the event of a problem. But, he said, if he were designing the system from scratch, he would emphasize the training while also building the plane with three sensors.

The professor is not 100% honest, I would think. There is zero reason to opt for a two-sensor system, and 1001 reasons not to. It's all just about cost being more important than people. That last bit explains why Boeing went there against better judgment:

[..] Boeing had been exploring the construction of an all-new airplane earlier this decade. But after American Airlines began discussing orders for a new plane from Airbus in 2011, Boeing abruptly changed course , settling on the faster alternative of modifying its popular 737 into a new MAX model. Rick Ludtke, a former Boeing engineer who worked on designing the interfaces on the MAX's flight deck, said managers mandated that any differences from the previous 737 had to be small enough that they wouldn't trigger the need for pilots to undergo new simulator training.

That left the team working on an old architecture and layers of different design philosophies that had piled on over the years, all to serve an international pilot community that was increasingly expecting automation. "It's become such a kludge, that we started to speculate and wonder whether it was safe to do the MAX," Ludtke said. Ludtke didn't work directly on the MCAS, but he worked with those who did. He said that if the group had built the MCAS in a way that would depend on two sensors, and would shut the system off if one fails, he thinks the company would have needed to install an alert in the cockpit to make the pilots aware that the safety system was off.

There you go: A two-sensor system is fundamentally unsound, and it's therefore bonkers to even discuss, let alone contemplate it.

And if that happens, Ludtke said, the pilots would potentially need training on the new alert and the underlying system. That could mean simulator time, which was off the table. "The decision path they made with MCAS is probably the wrong one," Ludtke said. "It shows how the airplane is a bridge too far."

Kudos to the Seattle Times for their research. And yeah, we get it, at over 5000 orders for the plane, which costs $121 million each, there's big money involved. Here's hoping that Boeing will find out in the courts just how much.

[Apr 05, 2019] Additional Software Issue Discovered In Boeing 737 MAX

Apr 05, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

The preliminary report contains flight data recorder information indicating the airplane had an erroneous angle of attack sensor input that activated the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) function during the flight, as it had during the Lion Air 610 flight.

To ensure unintended MCAS activation will not occur again, Boeing has developed and is planning to release a software update to MCAS and an associated comprehensive pilot training and supplementary education program for the 737 MAX.

As previously announced, the update adds additional layers of protection and will prevent erroneous data from causing MCAS activation. Flight crews will always have the ability to override MCAS and manually control the airplane.

Boeing continues to work with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and other regulatory agencies worldwide on the development and certification of the software update and training program.

Boeing also is continuing to work closely with the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) as technical advisors in support of the AIB investigation. As a party providing technical assistance under the direction of investigating authorities, Boeing is prevented by international protocol and NTSB regulations from disclosing any information relating to the investigation. In accordance with international protocol, information about the investigation is provided only by investigating authorities in charge.

* * *

Update (1100ET) : Ethiopian investigators have called on Boeing to carry out a full review of the anti-stall system on its 737 Max aircraft after finding pilots of a plane that crashed near Addis Ababa last month had followed the stipulated emergency procedures but were unable to save the aircraft.

Key highlights from the report make it very clear this is Boeing's problem...

As The FT reports, Ethiopian minister of transport Dagmawit Moges called on the embattled aircraft manufacturer to carry out a full review of the anti-stall system on its 737 Max aircraft before they are allowed to fly again , after finding that the pilots were not to blame for the crash last month.

Boeing stock is higher somehow on the back of all this??

Presumably trade hype/hope trumps crash liabilities.

Read the Full Report here...

[Apr 05, 2019] U.S. lawsuit filed against Boeing over Ethiopian Airlines crash - Reuters

Apr 05, 2019 | www.reuters.com

A lawsuit against Boeing Co was filed in U.S. federal court on Thursday in what appeared to be the first suit over a March 10 Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX crash that killed 157 people.

The lawsuit was filed in Chicago federal court by the family of Jackson Musoni, a citizen of Rwanda, and alleges that Boeing, which manufactures the 737 MAX, had defectively designed the automated flight control system.

Boeing said it could not comment on the lawsuit.

"Boeing ... is working with the authorities to evaluate new information as it becomes available," it said, adding all inquiries about the ongoing accident investigation must be directed to the investigating authorities.

The 737 MAX planes were grounded worldwide following the Ethiopian Airlines disaster, which came five months after a Lion Air crash in Indonesia that killed 189 people.

Boeing said on Wednesday it had reprogrammed software on its 737 MAX to prevent erroneous data from triggering an anti-stall system that is facing mounting scrutiny in the wake of two deadly nose-down crashes in the past five months.

The planemaker said the anti-stall system, which is believed to have repeatedly forced the nose lower in at least one of the accidents, in Indonesia last October, would only do so once per event after sensing a problem, giving pilots more control.

The crash of Boeing's passenger jet in Ethiopia raised the chances that families of the victims, even non-U.S. residents, will be able to sue in U.S. courts, where payouts are much larger than in other countries, some legal experts have said.

Wednesday's complaint was filed by Musoni's three minor children, who are Dutch citizens residing in Belgium.

The lawsuit says Boeing failed to warn the public, airlines and pilots of the airplane's allegedly erroneous sensors, causing the aircraft to dive automatically and uncontrollably.

Ethiopian officials and some analysts have said the Ethiopian Airlines jet behaved in a similar pattern as the 737 MAX involved in October's Lion Air disaster. The investigation into the March crash, which is being led by the Ethiopian Transport Ministry, is still at an early stage.

[Apr 03, 2019] Bad News For Boeing Preliminary Report Shows Anti-Stall Software Sealed Flight ET302's Fate

Apr 03, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Bad News For Boeing: Preliminary Report Shows Anti-Stall Software Sealed Flight ET302's Fate

by Tyler Durden Wed, 04/03/2019 - 08:06 251 SHARES

Thought it hasn't been publicly released yet, a preliminary report on the circumstances that caused flight ET302 to plunge out of the sky just minutes after takeoff was completed earlier this week, and some of the details have leaked to Reuters and the Wall Street Journal. And for Boeing shareholders, the findings aren't pretty.

Appearing to contradict Boeing's insistence that procedures for deactivating its MCAS anti-stall software were widely disseminated, and that pilots at airlines around the world had been trained on these procedures, WSJ reported that the pilots of ET302 successfully switched off MCAS as they struggled to right the plane after the software had automatically tipped its nose down. As they struggled to right the plane, the pilots ended up reactivating the software, while trying a few other steps from their training, before the plane began its final plunge toward a field outside Addis Ababa, where the ensuing crash killed all 157 people on board.

Though the pilots deviated from Boeing's emergency checklist as they tried to right the plane, investigators surmised that they gave up on the procedures after they failed to right the plane. But when MCAS reengaged, whether intentionally, or on accident, it pushed the nose of the plane lower once again.

The pilots on Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 initially reacted to the emergency by shutting off power to electric motors driven by the automated system, these people said, but then appear to have re-engaged the system to cope with a persistent steep nose-down angle. It wasn't immediately clear why the pilots turned the automated system back on instead of continuing to follow Boeing's standard emergency checklist, but government and industry officials said the likely reason would have been because manual controls to raise the nose didn't achieve the desired results.

After first cranking a manual wheel in the cockpit that controls the same movable surfaces on the plane's tail that MCAS had affected, the pilots turned electric power back on, one of these people said. They began to use electric switches to try to raise the plane's nose, according to these people. But the electric power also reactivated MCAS, allowing it to continue its strong downward commands, the people said.

Reuters , which was also the recipient of leaks from investigators, offered a slightly different version of events. It reported that MCAS was reengaged four times as pilots scrambled to right the plane, and that investigators were looking into the possibility that the software might have reengaged without prompting from the pilots.

After the Lion Air crash that killed 189 people back in October, Boeing and the FAA published a bulletin reminding pilots to follow the emergency procedures to deactivate the software if a faulty sensor - like the one that is believed to have contributed to the Lion Air crash - feeds erroneous data to the system.

The data show the pilots maneuvered the plane back upward twice before deactivating the software. But between the two reports, one detail is made abundantly clear. The software's reengagement is what doomed everybody aboard. That is an unequivocally bad look for Boeing, which has been deflecting questions about the software's bugs, and gaps in the dissemination of its training materials, while working on an update that the company says will make the software less reliant on automated systems.

ersl , 3 hours ago link

The aviation industry has been trying to make the human pilots obsolete, just as in so many industries. But they all do their, these days, their R & D on the job. Recall the Amazon Robot that went berserk recently. The idea is to rid all industry of people progressively so that they can end up not needing people at all. They'll end up with nothing. Some how they think that if they take people out then profits will be assured, which is actually psychotic. They have had remote auto pilot for 7 decades now. They can bring down any aircraft at will, and do so regularly. They can shut down or affect engines remotely, or alter the actions as is imbedded into just about all new machinery, other than knives, forks and spoons. Yet they still need consumers and workers to create hedged exchange to profit from. That is the dilemma industry owners are facing, that without pesky people they are doomed as much as the doom they are creating for even their own off spring = psychosis.

[Apr 02, 2019] In 737MAX the pilot simply cannot take full control the aircraft when he needs to do so. Hence the pilots in the 737MAX cases scrambling to work through the problem by checklist, if you're doing this something is going wrong and will be wrong.

Apr 02, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Gravatomic , Apr 1, 2019 11:23:03 AM | 66 ">link

The 757 and 767 are a more obvious airframe to build upon, as a response to the Airbus the new 737MAX design was very poorly thought out, it's airframe vs. engine placement and thrust. Having trained on Boeing 767-300ERs myself a pilot becomes very in tune with it's quirks and it does have them, speed bugs and so on.

When you watch certain aircraft taking off in routine operations, unreasonable angles of attack V-speed, now many pilots will engage 1 autopilots minutes after take off while flaps are partially extended still(it stabalizes a positive rate of climb), this is so that the aircraft is more efficient, cost effective and reaches it's crusie altitude and destination on time.

The 767 has 3 autopilot computers, 2 of them receive data as to angle of attack and speed when the stall warning activates as the stick shakes, the autopilots are off, period, no more input from the computers other than warnings - these too can often lead to confusion and sometimes with fatal results.

Sometimes you will re-engage one after you've corrected the airspeed (nose down) and stall to regain and maintain a efficient airflow lift. Although in some cases the pitot tubes malfunction to due ice, so trusting what the machine was telling the pilots can be fatal.

[In 737MAX] The pilot simply cannot take full control the aircraft when he needs to do so. Hence the pilots in the 737MAX cases scrambling to work through the problem by checklist, if you're doing this something is going wrong and will be wrong.

Ever notice the difference between a soft smooth landing and a 'rough one' that shakes passengers - note these are totally normal landings, the computer assisted ones in clear blue skies and calm winds are not.

That's the pilots on a VFR or visual landing which the computer usually tries to interfere with, if a hybrid semi-assisted landing, especially on an ILS glideslope in bad weather.

A pilot should know these skills but many now do not. They have to rely on the input from the computers and Boeing tried unsuccessfully to introduce this new MCAS system seamlessly, when you've got 3 autopilots why is only 1 receiving the flight data of angle of attack and v-speed?!

[Mar 31, 2019] EU Agency Said to Have Skipped 737 Max Meeting in Snub to Boeing

Mar 31, 2019 | www.bloomberg.com

There was a prominent no-show among the 200 regulators, pilots and airline managers that Boeing Co. invited to preview a crucial software update for the 737 Max this week, said people familiar with the matter: European safety officials.

The planemaker is sending a team across the Atlantic to brief the European Union Aviation Safety Agency on the proposed changes after two of the jetliners plunged to the ground within five months, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are private. Representatives of EASA didn't return requests for comment.

Intentional or not, EASA's snub points to the delicate politics Boeing faces in convincing regulators the Max is safe as the company seeks to restore confidence in its best-selling jet, which has been grounded for more than two weeks. The reputation of U.S. regulators has taken a hit in the scrutiny of the 737 Max's approval process, and foreign agencies are less likely to rubber-stamp aircraft certifications simply because they have been cleared by the Federal Aviation Administration.

EASA is expected to play an influential role in determining how long and complicated the review of the Max will be, while safety officials from China to Canada have vowed to conduct their own rigorous analysis.

"EASA's determination should be important for the rest of the world, given its sophistication and perceived independence," Seth Seifman, analyst with JPMorgan Chase & Co., said in a note to clients.

A spokesman for the FAA declined to comment.

'Productive' Sessions

"We had productive information sessions this week and continue to work closely with our customers and regulators on software and training updates for the 737 Max," Boeing spokesman Paul Bergman said by email.

As of late Friday, the Chicago-based planemaker was still finishing up paperwork needed to certify a software upgrade and revised pilot training for the 737 Max. One prominent pilots union criticized the proposed training as insufficient.

The software changes, intended to prevent stall-prevention software from engaging in normal flight, have been in the works since the system pointed a Lion Air jet's nose downward about two dozen times before pilots lost control Oct. 29. That accident killed 189 people, while 157 died when an Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max 8 crashed March 10.

While certifying the software upgrade is the first step toward returning the Max to flight, it doesn't assure the grounding will be speedily lifted by the FAA or its counterparts around the world. The EU, China and Canada all grounded the 737 Max more quickly than the FAA in the wake of the Ethiopian crash.

Software Changes

The break between FAA and overseas authorities on the initial decision to ground the plane, combined with worldwide public furor and a U.S. criminal probe of the Max certification, "all make it hard for us to see how foreign regulators can avoid coming back with their own questions and doing some of their own due diligence," Seifman said in his report.

Crash investigators suspect that a damaged or malfunctioning sensor triggered anti-stall technology in the Ethiopian Airlines plane, Bloomberg reported Friday. Investigators think that caused the plane's nose to point downward, and the pilots struggled to counteract the software-based system, according to people familiar with the crash probe. That scenario would be similar to the crash that brought down the Lion Air flight last year in Indonesia.

Click here to read Bloomberg's report on the sensor investigators are focusing on.

Boeing is planning software revisions that restrict the number of times the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS, kicks in to a single interaction. The update is also designed so that MCAS can't command the horizontal stabilizer to push a plane's nose down with more force than what pilots can counter by pulling back on the steering column.

The enhancements appeared to work as billed, said pilots who viewed demonstrations of the upgrades by company test pilots in flight simulators at the event March 27 in Renton, Washington.

"We were confident flying the aircraft in its present state," said Roddy Guthrie, American Airlines Group Inc. 's 737 fleet captain, who was at the Boeing briefings. The improvements "were needed. They've put some checks and balances in the system now that will make the system much better."

Simulator Demonstrations

Still, Boeing representatives faced caustic comments from some at the Wednesday session, said one of the people familiar with the discussions. As Boeing test pilots demonstrated old and new versions of MCAS, attendees were especially interested in re-enacting the sequence of events leading to the Lion Air crash, the person said. Pilots also demonstrated how the 737 Max would behave if an angle-of-attack vane was sheared off by, say, a bird strike.

Click to read how Boeing rival Airbus is treading carefully with the 737 Max grounded.

One pilot group walked away from the event feeling that Boeing needs to do more work on a new 30-minute iPad course, followed by a test, that is intended to help pilots of the older generation of 737 planes prepare for the Max. The newest version of Boeing's workhorse single-aisle jet debuted less than two years ago.

Pilots who saw the preliminary version of the training "characterized it as nice for an elementary level of understanding, but pilots will definitely need a more textured and layered instructional piece," said Dennis Tajer, spokesman for the Allied Pilots Association, which represents pilots at American. "That was the hands-down consensus."

Boeing was receptive to the comments, Tajer said.

-- With assistance by Alan Levin

[Mar 29, 2019] Boeing Doubles Down on 737 Max, Rejects Need for Simulator Training naked capitalism

Notable quotes:
"... Boeing compromised on sound engineering with the 737 Max . Recall the origins of the problem: Boeing was at risk of losing big orders to a more fuel-efficient Airbus model. Rather than sacrifice market share, Boeing put more fuel-efficient, larger engines on the existing 737 frames. The placement of the engine created a new safety risk, that under some circumstances, the plane could "nose up" at such a steep angle as to put it in a stall. The solution was to install software called MCAS which would force the nose down if the "angle of attack" became too acute. ..."
"... Merriam-Webster defines kludge -- sometimes spelled kluge -- as "a haphazard or makeshift solution to a problem and especially to a computer or programming problem." Oxford defines it as, in computing, "A machine, system, or program that has been badly put together, especially a clumsy but temporarily effective solution to a particular fault or problem." ..."
"... In the case of the 737 Max, it's the combination of how two separate problems interacted -- a plane whose design introduced aerodynamics issues and what now appears to have been a poorly designed anti-stall system -- that seems to be drawing many to turn to Granholm's term. The problems were compounded in many ways, including by the fact that pilots were not told of or trained for the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) before the Lion Air crash, which killed all 189 on board. ..."
"... "My concern is that Boeing may have developed the MCAS software as a profit-driven kludge to mitigate the Max 8's degraded flight characteristics due to the engine relocation required to maintain ground clearance," commented Philip Wheelock on a New York Times story about the plane's certification process this week. "Not convinced that software is an acceptable solution for an older design that has been pushed to its inherent aeronautical design limits." ..."
"... "Indeed, it seems the 737 MAX was a kludge to an existing design, and that MCAS was a kludge on top of that," said a commenter on Hackaday . ..."
"... Boeing has long embraced the power of redundancy to protect its jets and their passengers from a range of potential disruptions, from electrical faults to lightning strikes. The company typically uses two or even three separate components as fail-safes for crucial tasks to reduce the possibility of a disastrous failure. So even some of the people who have worked on Boeing's new 737 MAX airplane were baffled to learn that the company had designed an automated safety system that abandoned the principles of component redundancy, ultimately entrusting the automated decision-making to just one sensor -- a type of sensor that was known to fail. ..."
"... That no one who wrote the MCAS software for the 737 MAX seems to have even raised the issue of using multiple inputs, including the opposite angle of attack sensor, in the computer's determination of an impending stall is mind-blowing. ..."
"... As a lifetime member of the software development fraternity, I don't know what toxic combination of inexperience, hubris, or lack of cultural understanding led to this. But I do know that it's indicative of a much deeper and much more troubling problem. The people who wrote the code for the original MCAS system were obviously terribly far out of their league and did not know it. How can we possibly think they can implement a software fix, much less give us any comfort whatsoever that the rest of the flight management software, which is ultimately in ultimate control of the aircraft, has any fidelity at all? ..."
"... And we're giving short shrift to how Boeing compounded the problem, for instance, by making it an upcharge to have the 737 Max have a light showing that its angle of attack sensors disagreed (the planes did have two, but bizarrely, only one would be giving data to the MCAS system on any day), or hiding the fact that there was a new safety automated safety system in two paragraphs after page 700 in the flight manual. ..."
"... It's about an airplane manufacturer that put engines on an airframe they weren't designed for, having to add a flight control override to guard against said airplane's new tendency to nose up, and then adding insult to injury by driving that system with a single sensor when two are available. Oh – and charging airlines extra for the privilege of their pilots being told when one of those sensors is providing bad data. ..."
"... Officials investigating the fatal crash of a Boeing Co. BA 0.06% 737 MAX in Ethiopia have reached a preliminary conclusion that a suspect flight-control feature automatically activated before the plane nose-dived into the ground, according to people briefed on the matter, the first findings based on data retrieved from the flight's black boxes. ..."
"... Boeing is doubling down on its mistakes . The lesson of the Tylenol poisoning is that if a company has a safety problem, even if it isn't its fault, it needs to do everything it can to rectify the defects and protect customers. If there is any doubt, the company needs to err of the side of safety. ..."
"... Here, unlike with Johnson & Johnson, the failings that led to 737 Max groundings all originated with Boeing. Yet rather than own the problems and go overboard on fixing them to restore confidence in the plane and in Boeing, Boeing is acting as if all it has to put in place are merely adequate measures. ..."
"... [Former Boeing engineer Mr. [Rick] Ludtke [who worked on 737 MAX cockpit features] recalled midlevel managers telling subordinates that Boeing had committed to pay the airline $1 million per plane if its design ended up requiring pilots to spend additional simulator time. "We had never, ever seen commitments like that before," he said. ..."
"... I hope the pilots in our readership speak up, but as a mere mortal, I've very uncomfortable with pilots being put in a position of overriding a system in emergency conditions when they haven't even test driven it. When I learn software, reading a manual is useless save for learning what the program's capabilities are. In order to be able to use it, I have to spend time with it, hands on. Computer professionals tell me the same thing. It doesn't seem likely that pilots are all that different. ..."
"... Boeing does not seem to comprehend that it is gambling with its future. What if international flight regulators use the Max 737 as a bloody flag and refuse to accept FAA certifications of Boeing planes, or US origin equipment generally? Do you think for a nanosecond that the European and Chinese regulators wouldn't use disregarding the FAA as a way to advance their interests? Europe would clearly give preference to Airbus, and the Chinese could use Boeing to punish the US for going after Huawei. ..."
"... And yet we do not see anyone suggesting the obvious solution to this problem; eliminating the 737 MAX type of aircraft altogether. ..."
"... I don't think that Boeing can afford to drop the 737 MAX. This aircraft was in response to the Airbus as they did not have any new aircraft designs on the boards to take it on. So they modified a 1970s design as a profitable stopgap solution. ..."
"... Boeing were designing a follow-on to the 737, but panicked when the A320Neo came and went for the MAX instead as they could deliver it much quicker and cheaper than a new aircraft. ..."
"... If its true that they are another example of a once great engineering company enslaved to the quarterly results, then it may well be that all work on the replacement stopped when they put their engineers to work on the MAX line. If that's the case, then they really are screwed. Ten years is an absolute minimum to get a brand new aircraft delivered to customers from a standing start. ..."
"... The newer versions of the 737 have nearly twice the max takeoff weight of the original, but with the same landing gear and nearly the same wing area. ..."
"... Airbus probably can't produce enough Neo to make up for the shortfall, but they essentially own the Bombardier C-Series now (ironically, made in Mobile, Alabama and relabelled the Airbus 220) which could prove an excellent investment by Airbus. ..."
"... Regarding the FAA I have read in Spanish press that Daniel Elwell declared in the congress (translated from Spanish) that "I can't believe that airline companies tried to save a few thousand dollars on a feature that increases safety". This is a bad try to shift blame from Boeing to airline companies and if anything will reduce (eliminate) the international confidence on FAA regulations. ..."
"... Managers telling this to engineers before a plane is designed is one thing. Telling it to them after the plane been designed but while its user interface is being designed is outrageous. ..."
"... And I think the plane actually has two (one on each side) , but for some reason, their inputs weren't combined. There's a slight subtlety that the air flow is 3 dimensional, so when the plane is turning, and particularly turning+climbing, the readings of the two might vary slightly – but that's for the software to sort out. They reportedly didn't hook both of them up to both flight computers – why is an interesting question. There's probably a practical reason, but ..."
"... What the folks at Boeing may not realise is that the more they double-down on this bizarre tactic of using spin-doctoring as a crisis management tool aimed at an audience that is rapidly losing trust in the company ( and frankly may no longer believe anything coming out of the corporate communications department at Boeing), the harder it's going to be to reverse course by coming out and saying "we screwed up and will do whatever it takes to fix this". This debacle has all the makings of a large scale cover up and the continued mala fide attempts to deflect focus away from taking ownership of and accountability for this crisis will only result in continued assault on an already battered reputation. ..."
"... As an aside, the malaise at the FAA has been much documented on these pages and elsewhere recently, from the egregious abdication of its regulatory responsibilities to Boeing to having a top position go unfilled for over a year, my question to US readers is whether a comparable level of capture by corporate interests has similarly defanged the FDA? ..."
Mar 29, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Boeing compromised on sound engineering with the 737 Max . Recall the origins of the problem: Boeing was at risk of losing big orders to a more fuel-efficient Airbus model. Rather than sacrifice market share, Boeing put more fuel-efficient, larger engines on the existing 737 frames. The placement of the engine created a new safety risk, that under some circumstances, the plane could "nose up" at such a steep angle as to put it in a stall. The solution was to install software called MCAS which would force the nose down if the "angle of attack" became too acute.

Before getting to today's updates, experts have deemed the 737 Max design to be unsound. For
The word "kludge" keeps coming up when pilots and engineers discuss Boeing's 737 Max , from Quartz:

Again and again, in discussions of what has gone wrong with Boeing's 737 Max plane in two deadly crashes within five months, an unusual word keeps coming up: kludge.

Merriam-Webster defines kludge -- sometimes spelled kluge -- as "a haphazard or makeshift solution to a problem and especially to a computer or programming problem." Oxford defines it as, in computing, "A machine, system, or program that has been badly put together, especially a clumsy but temporarily effective solution to a particular fault or problem."

In the case of the 737 Max, it's the combination of how two separate problems interacted -- a plane whose design introduced aerodynamics issues and what now appears to have been a poorly designed anti-stall system -- that seems to be drawing many to turn to Granholm's term. The problems were compounded in many ways, including by the fact that pilots were not told of or trained for the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) before the Lion Air crash, which killed all 189 on board.

"My concern is that Boeing may have developed the MCAS software as a profit-driven kludge to mitigate the Max 8's degraded flight characteristics due to the engine relocation required to maintain ground clearance," commented Philip Wheelock on a New York Times story about the plane's certification process this week. "Not convinced that software is an acceptable solution for an older design that has been pushed to its inherent aeronautical design limits."

"Indeed, it seems the 737 MAX was a kludge to an existing design, and that MCAS was a kludge on top of that," said a commenter on Hackaday .

Lambert found more damning takes, which he featured in Water Cooler yesterday. First from the Seattle Times :

Boeing has long embraced the power of redundancy to protect its jets and their passengers from a range of potential disruptions, from electrical faults to lightning strikes. The company typically uses two or even three separate components as fail-safes for crucial tasks to reduce the possibility of a disastrous failure. So even some of the people who have worked on Boeing's new 737 MAX airplane were baffled to learn that the company had designed an automated safety system that abandoned the principles of component redundancy, ultimately entrusting the automated decision-making to just one sensor -- a type of sensor that was known to fail. Boeing's rival, Airbus, has typically depended on three such sensors. "A single point of failure is an absolute no-no," said one former Boeing engineer who worked on the MAX, who requested anonymity to speak frankly about the program in an interview with The Seattle Times. "That is just a huge system engineering oversight. To just have missed it, I can't imagine how."

And the second, from software developer Greg Travis who happens also to be a pilot and aircraft owner:

That no one who wrote the MCAS software for the 737 MAX seems to have even raised the issue of using multiple inputs, including the opposite angle of attack sensor, in the computer's determination of an impending stall is mind-blowing.

As a lifetime member of the software development fraternity, I don't know what toxic combination of inexperience, hubris, or lack of cultural understanding led to this. But I do know that it's indicative of a much deeper and much more troubling problem. The people who wrote the code for the original MCAS system were obviously terribly far out of their league and did not know it. How can we possibly think they can implement a software fix, much less give us any comfort whatsoever that the rest of the flight management software, which is ultimately in ultimate control of the aircraft, has any fidelity at all?

Ouch.

And we're giving short shrift to how Boeing compounded the problem, for instance, by making it an upcharge to have the 737 Max have a light showing that its angle of attack sensors disagreed (the planes did have two, but bizarrely, only one would be giving data to the MCAS system on any day), or hiding the fact that there was a new safety automated safety system in two paragraphs after page 700 in the flight manual. As Wall Street Journal reader Erich Greenbaum said in comments on an older article, How Boeing's 737 MAX Failed :

No – this isn't about "planes that fly by themselves." It's about an airplane manufacturer that put engines on an airframe they weren't designed for, having to add a flight control override to guard against said airplane's new tendency to nose up, and then adding insult to injury by driving that system with a single sensor when two are available. Oh – and charging airlines extra for the privilege of their pilots being told when one of those sensors is providing bad data.

The 737 Max has gotten a bad name not just for itself but also for the airlines that were big buyers. Southwest had taken the most 737 Max deliveries, and American was second. I happened to be looking at American for flights last night. This is what I got when I went to aa.com:

I came back to the page later to make sure I hadn't hit the 737 Max message randomly, by loading the page just when that image came up in a cycle .and that doesn't appear to be the case. I landed on the 737 Max splash a second time.

This result suggests that American has gotten so many customer queries about the 737 Max that it felt it had to make providing information about it a priority. If you click through, the next page explains how all 737 Max planes have been grounded, that American is using other equipment to fly on routes previously scheduled for those planes, but it has still had to cancel 90 flights a day.

Evidence is mounting that the MCAS system was responsible for the Ethopian Air crash in addition to the Lion Air tragedy . From the Wall Street Journal this evening :

Officials investigating the fatal crash of a Boeing Co. BA 0.06% 737 MAX in Ethiopia have reached a preliminary conclusion that a suspect flight-control feature automatically activated before the plane nose-dived into the ground, according to people briefed on the matter, the first findings based on data retrieved from the flight's black boxes.

The emerging consensus among investigators, one of these people said, was relayed during a high-level briefing at the Federal Aviation Administration on Thursday, and is the strongest indication yet that the same automated system, called MCAS, misfired in both the Ethiopian Airlines flight earlier this month and a Lion Air flight in Indonesia, which crashed less than five months earlier. The two crashes claimed 346 lives.

Boeing is doubling down on its mistakes . The lesson of the Tylenol poisoning is that if a company has a safety problem, even if it isn't its fault, it needs to do everything it can to rectify the defects and protect customers. If there is any doubt, the company needs to err of the side of safety.

Here, unlike with Johnson & Johnson, the failings that led to 737 Max groundings all originated with Boeing. Yet rather than own the problems and go overboard on fixing them to restore confidence in the plane and in Boeing, Boeing is acting as if all it has to put in place are merely adequate measures.

Reuters, which has a bias towards understatement, has an atypically pointed farming Boeing's refusal to recommend pilot simulator training for the MCAS:

Boeing Co said it will submit by the end of this week a training package that 737 MAX pilots are required to take before a worldwide ban can be lifted, proposing as it did before two deadly crashes that those pilots do not need time on flight simulators to safely operate the aircraft.

In making that assessment, the world's largest planemaker is doubling down on a strategy it promoted to American Airlines Group Inc and other customers years ago. Boeing told airlines their pilots could switch from the older 737NG to the new MAX without costly flight simulator training and without compromising on safety, three former Boeing employees said.

Specifically, the Wall Street Journal reported that Southwest, which is the biggest buyer of the 737 Max, got Boeing to agree to a financial penalty if the new plane required additional simulator training :

The company had promised Southwest Airlines Co. , the plane's biggest customer, to keep pilot training to a minimum so the new jet could seamlessly slot into the carrier's fleet of older 737s, according to regulators and industry officials.

[Former Boeing engineer Mr. [Rick] Ludtke [who worked on 737 MAX cockpit features] recalled midlevel managers telling subordinates that Boeing had committed to pay the airline $1 million per plane if its design ended up requiring pilots to spend additional simulator time. "We had never, ever seen commitments like that before," he said.

I've never flown Southwest and now I will make sure never to use them.

I hope the pilots in our readership speak up, but as a mere mortal, I've very uncomfortable with pilots being put in a position of overriding a system in emergency conditions when they haven't even test driven it. When I learn software, reading a manual is useless save for learning what the program's capabilities are. In order to be able to use it, I have to spend time with it, hands on. Computer professionals tell me the same thing. It doesn't seem likely that pilots are all that different.

In other words, Boeing's refusal to recommend simulator training looks to be influenced by avoiding triggering a $31 million penalty payment to Southwest. This is an insane back-assward sense of priorities. Boeing had over $10 billion in profits in 2018. A $31 million payment isn't material and would almost certainly be lower after tax.

Boeing does not seem to comprehend that it is gambling with its future. What if international flight regulators use the Max 737 as a bloody flag and refuse to accept FAA certifications of Boeing planes, or US origin equipment generally? Do you think for a nanosecond that the European and Chinese regulators wouldn't use disregarding the FAA as a way to advance their interests? Europe would clearly give preference to Airbus, and the Chinese could use Boeing to punish the US for going after Huawei.

Boeing's comeuppance is long overdue. The company's decision to break its union, outsource, and move to Chicago as a device for shedding seasoned employees was a clear statement of its plan to compromise engineering in the name of profit. Something like the Max 737 train wreck was bound to happen.


ambrit , March 29, 2019 at 4:51 am

And yet we do not see anyone suggesting the obvious solution to this problem; eliminating the 737 MAX type of aircraft altogether.

The crashes of the early de Havilland Comet commercial jet aircraft all but destroyed English commercial jet production. Boeing should suffer a similar fate as de Havilland. Indeed, since the Comet crashes were the result of a previously unsuspected design flaw, and Boeing's problems are self inflicted, Boeing should suffer a more drastic punishment.

The Rev Kev , March 29, 2019 at 5:12 am

I don't think that Boeing can afford to drop the 737 MAX. This aircraft was in response to the Airbus as they did not have any new aircraft designs on the boards to take it on. So they modified a 1970s design as a profitable stopgap solution.

If they dump the 737 MAX then they have nothing good to go for years. In that space of time Airbus would move in and take over many of Boeing's markets and there would be new aircraft from Russia and China coming online as well.

I do not think that it would destroy Boeing as the US government would bail it out first, but it would be a colossal setback. I doubt that they would end up on this list-

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Defunct_aircraft_manufacturers_of_the_United_States

Jon D Rudd , March 29, 2019 at 9:05 am

I understand that it can take up to ten years to develop a new aircraft, but the basic design of the 737 has been around since the Jefferson Airplane's "White Rabbit" (!). Given that Airbus, like Avis, was going to be trying harder for more market share, was it totally beyond Boeing's capacity to develop a follow-on for the 737 over the past, say, 20 years?

PlutoniumKun , March 29, 2019 at 9:39 am

Boeing were designing a follow-on to the 737, but panicked when the A320Neo came and went for the MAX instead as they could deliver it much quicker and cheaper than a new aircraft. What I don't know is if they are still working on a replacement or if they shelved the plans entirely.

If its true that they are another example of a once great engineering company enslaved to the quarterly results, then it may well be that all work on the replacement stopped when they put their engineers to work on the MAX line. If that's the case, then they really are screwed. Ten years is an absolute minimum to get a brand new aircraft delivered to customers from a standing start.

scott 2 , March 29, 2019 at 7:51 am

The 737 was designed to be low to the ground because it was to serve small airports where the passengers had to climb stairs to enter (which I remember doing at Burbank and Ontario years ago) The 737 Max is what you would get if the 757 and 737 had a child. The newer versions of the 737 have nearly twice the max takeoff weight of the original, but with the same landing gear and nearly the same wing area.

Perhaps a shorter version of the 757 would have been the correct move, but Southwest would have screamed bloody murder.

Pilot and aircraft owner here.

John A , March 29, 2019 at 4:56 am

The problem for airlines is the need to have more energy efficient aircraft for both cost and environment pressure reasons. The 737 max is a response to the airbus 321neo, but as I understand it, Airbus does not have the capacity to takeover cancelled orders for the 737 max.

Do airlines stick with older 737 or brazen it out with Boeing that the max problems have been resolved? And passengers. I imagine they will fall into the brackets I will never fly on a 737 max, or I trust Boeing/airline, or a fatalistic if my number is up, my number is up'.

I regularly fly with Norwegian in Europe. However I for one will never fly a max and will now prefer SAS with the 321neo. As for Ryanair, that has max on order, if they take delivery, bye bye them.

Maybe the new Russian and Chinese versions can be an option? Or will Trump sanction any airline brave enough to order them instead of Boeing?

PlutoniumKun , March 29, 2019 at 5:34 am

Airbus probably can't produce enough Neo to make up for the shortfall, but they essentially own the Bombardier C-Series now (ironically, made in Mobile, Alabama and relabelled the Airbus 220) which could prove an excellent investment by Airbus.

There are four other potential competitors –

The French have a significant input to the Sukhoi, while Bombardier were involved with the Comac. None of those are direct replacements (they are generally smaller and shorter range), but they might suit many airlines who need aircraft quickly but won't touch the Max.

None of the above can match the Boeing or Airbus for state of the art engineering, but they are cheaper to buy, so they may well now be more attractive to budget airlines and third world airlines. The big one to look out for is Ryanair – they've long been Boeings biggest customer outside the US and have stuck with 737's consistently.

They will do their usual tactic of demanding huge discounts every time Boeing look weak, and no doubt they will do the same now. But they may decide to look elsewhere (especially as they don't really need the longer range as they operate exclusively in Europe). If they opt for something like the A220 or the Irkut, then that will be an enormous blow to Boeing, because others will follow Ryanairs lead.

The Rev Kev , March 29, 2019 at 5:49 am

PK, you said that the Sukhoi Superjet had significant French input. Does that mean physical components as well? If so, I would be surprised after the Mistral amphibious assault ships fiasco. On this topic, I saw this week how the French were taking out German components out of joint French-German weapons systems and replacing them with French ones as the Germans are wary about arming countries like Saudi Arabia and so have a say in these joint systems much to the disgust of the French, hence the swap-out so the French can continue to sell these systems.

PlutoniumKun , March 29, 2019 at 6:43 am

I was thinking of the engines , which are a joint project between a French and Russian company. Ironically, the core of the engine for the Sukhoi is the M88, the engine the French developed for the Rafaele fighter. The French are exceptionally good at using military research to help their commercial companies, and vice versa.

The French are also very ruthless (i.e. immoral) when it comes to export sales. This is why they usually only partner with the British, as they know the British share their rather loose definition of ethical policy in weapons sales. And they insist on Frenchifying their systems as much as they can so there is nobody to interfere with sales.

Ignacio , March 29, 2019 at 6:04 am

Kludge translates in spanish into "chapuza" and in my view expresses very well the "solution" that Boeing brougth to the 737 Max.

Regarding the FAA I have read in Spanish press that Daniel Elwell declared in the congress (translated from Spanish) that "I can't believe that airline companies tried to save a few thousand dollars on a feature that increases safety". This is a bad try to shift blame from Boeing to airline companies and if anything will reduce (eliminate) the international confidence on FAA regulations.

Ignacio , March 29, 2019 at 6:15 am

Boeing is doubling down on its mistakes. The lesson of the Tylenol poisoning is that if a company has a safety problem, even if it isn't its fault , it needs to do everything it can to rectify the defects and protect customers. If there is any doubt, the company needs to err of the side of safety.

And that might, precisely the difference between the Tylenol and the 737 MAX affairs. Boeing knows it is their fault and the blame feeling prevents them to act as rationally as Johnson&Johnson did.

allan , March 29, 2019 at 6:53 am

The Reuters article also says the following, which seems incredibly damning:

At Boeing's factory in Renton, Washington, managers told engineers working on the MAX, including its anti-stall system known as MCAS, their designs could not trigger Level C or D training designations from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, the three former Boeing employees and a senior industry executive with knowledge of MAX development told Reuters. Otherwise, pilots would have to spend time in simulators before flying the new planes.

Managers telling this to engineers before a plane is designed is one thing. Telling it to them after the plane been designed but while its user interface is being designed is outrageous.

Ptb , March 29, 2019 at 7:56 am

Good review.

Certainly a relatively delicate sensor with external moving parts is a super obvious point of failure that any engineer would flag down instantly.

And I think the plane actually has two (one on each side) , but for some reason, their inputs weren't combined. There's a slight subtlety that the air flow is 3 dimensional, so when the plane is turning, and particularly turning+climbing, the readings of the two might vary slightly – but that's for the software to sort out. They reportedly didn't hook both of them up to both flight computers – why is an interesting question. There's probably a practical reason, but

Sometimes in industry what happens is you are updating a system or product, you don't want to re-certify your electronics (to make schedule or cost) , but you used all the input capacity on your logic systems/comms/wiring and still need more. So you have to "get creative" squeezing functionality into your legacy electronics. I really hope it wasn't something like that.

Jim A , March 29, 2019 at 8:11 am

ISTR that there was a crash in South America a few years back because both artificial horizons were getting info from a single pitot tube that had been taped over when the plane was being washed. The thing is, there was a switch in the cockpit to select whether the dual instruments were both using the left pitot, both the right one, or one on each. Using two sensors is not a new idea.

Jim A. , March 29, 2019 at 9:02 am

I mingled two accidents in my mind.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copa_Airlines_Flight_201
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aeroper%C3%BA_Flight_603

John Beech , March 29, 2019 at 8:12 am

As a business owner who also happens to be a pilot and aircraft owner, I've been following this fiasco with great care. While not widely reported, Boeing submitted a software update to the FAA back in January. They're still dragging their feet and as a consequence, folks needlessly died the EA crash. To those who would say, "Nope, this is all on Boeing and the FAA for letting them run roughshod over the regulations!", let me share a bit of news with you to help you grok what dealing with the FAA is like.

Did you know AVGAS (aviation gasoline, e.g. the fuel used in the entire piston-powered fleet) still has lead in it? This, decades after MOGAS (motor vehicle gasoline, e.g. what we buy for our automobiles) was banned from using tetraethyl lead (TEL) as an antiknock compound!

Yet there's a drop in replacement available. Drop in meaning, refiners like Shell, Mobile, et al can begin mixing and distributing it using existing pipelines and trucks without so much as having to first clean the equipment or change anything whatsoever. So why isn't it used? It's because the FAA has been dragging their feet on approval. Put another way, the FAA would rather people continue being adversely affected by lead in the environment than fast tracking this.

http://www.gami.com/g100ul/news.php

Source? I know the owner of the company, and stand up guy if ever there was on, plus I've got friends who have flown with this fuel – extensively to help with testing. Bottom line? It works!

And while there's speculation this has to do with big oil not wanting to pay the patent holder and thus lobbying the FAA to obstruct permission, I'm not going down that rabbit hole. Suffice to say this stuff has been available for years and the patent clock is running down so you figure it out. Me? I do believe it's all about the Benjamins and am greatly saddened we're still damaging the environment when a replacement fuel is available we could begin using by next week! I kid you not.

Carolinian , March 29, 2019 at 8:59 am

Just to confirm, my town is on the Colonial pipeline that runs up the east coast and one of the local terminal's operators told me that they do add the lead for avgas here at the distribution facility. Switching to a different octane booster would be quite possible.

On the other hand I'm not sure the limited amount of leaded gas used by prop planes should be considered that big an environmental hazard (perhaps as someone who hangs around airports you feel differently).

Jim A. , March 29, 2019 at 8:14 am

–I'm guessing that sort of safety practice wasn't inculcated into the software engineers in the same way that it was for old school aerospace engineers. Software is often a poorly documented, partially tested black box.

oaf , March 29, 2019 at 8:17 am

Trim systems have been a part of airplanes from the earliest experiments with powered flight. They can be as simple as a bungee cord pulling on a stick, or as complex as multiple computers interacting in a *fly-by-wire* scenario. Pilots have to demonstrate more than awareness of these systems; they must demonstrate competency in their operation and oversight.They have been trained in how to identify, override, and compensate for malfunctions in any misbehaving flight control system in the aircraft for which they receive authorization. One big unknown here (in my mind) is whether a malfunctioning trim system would (or should) have been obvious to the flight crew. Another other big question is whether means of deactivation (not speaking of *override*) of the system was the same as in the previous 737 variants. Typically; this might involve pulling a labeled circuit breaker to remove power, and then manually adjusting a trim wheel on the console; or near the flight controls.

"an aircraft is a mechanical device; any component of which can fail" which I remember but increasingly; a COMPLEX electrical-mechanical device .with input from multiple people's minds and hands

The history of aircraft design and flight testing is full of unanticipated complications; frequently addressed by tweaks to details of structure and/or operational limits. The goal is to cover all possible permutations of problematic interactions of aircraft; environment, and human beings. There is a great deal of precedence in this topic.

the phrase *due diligence* comes to mind .

Thuto , March 29, 2019 at 8:17 am

What the folks at Boeing may not realise is that the more they double-down on this bizarre tactic of using spin-doctoring as a crisis management tool aimed at an audience that is rapidly losing trust in the company ( and frankly may no longer believe anything coming out of the corporate communications department at Boeing), the harder it's going to be to reverse course by coming out and saying "we screwed up and will do whatever it takes to fix this". This debacle has all the makings of a large scale cover up and the continued mala fide attempts to deflect focus away from taking ownership of and accountability for this crisis will only result in continued assault on an already battered reputation.

As an aside, the malaise at the FAA has been much documented on these pages and elsewhere recently, from the egregious abdication of its regulatory responsibilities to Boeing to having a top position go unfilled for over a year, my question to US readers is whether a comparable level of capture by corporate interests has similarly defanged the FDA? I only ask because I see a lot of supplements and other medicinal products sold here in South Africa with the "Approved by the US FDA" seal of approval and wonder whether deferring to US regulators by international regulatory bodies is still a good idea under the current climate.

oaf , March 29, 2019 at 8:32 am

The following statistical categories might generate interesting numbers.

#1: Total flight operations of all 737 types since introduction. (wheels up to wheels down)
#2: Same for Max variant in question.
#3: Difficulty reports filed for all 737 (flight related)
#4: Difficulty reports filed for Max (flight related)

TG , March 29, 2019 at 9:11 am

Boeing is, sadly, not making a 'mistake.' Boeing is too big to fail. Why should Boeing care?

EoH , March 29, 2019 at 9:30 am

Flight simulators are expensive and scheduling will likely be backed up, given the large number of existing and planned 737 Max aircraft. It's an important problem to fix, but not with the current workaround, which seems to be to use a tablet computer instead.

One would think a tablet computer would be a poor platform for a computer game, let alone to simulate flying a commercial aircraft with new s/w or h/w, the flight conditions under which they fail, and how to respond to them. All a tablet computer could simulate is turning the pages in the flight manual.

EoH , March 29, 2019 at 9:34 am

Your note should be a useful reminder to the current generation of executives at Johnson & Johnson.

They and their peers at other companies seem to have discarded the crisis management gold standard established by J & J during the Tylenol scare. It is cheaper, it seems, and provides fewer avenues of attack for the tort bar, to substitute scripts provided by the apology industry, which can trace its origins to that same Tylenol scare.

[Mar 29, 2019] Boeing Anti-Stall Software Mistakenly Activated Before Deadly Crash, Investigators Believe

Notable quotes:
"... All this is ignoring the real issue with complex aircraft today. To save money airlines pushed to eliminate the Flight Engineer. ..."
"... As the MCAS system has such authority to cause the plane to crash, a system like this should be quadruple-redundant to prevent a single source of bad data from causing a catastrophic loss of life. ..."
Mar 29, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Lysander Spooner , 2 minutes ago link

All this is ignoring the real issue with complex aircraft today. To save money airlines pushed to eliminate the Flight Engineer.

The one time this scenario was avoided was when a jump seat pilot saw what was going on. Both the captain and the co pilot had tunnel vision just trying to fly the damn plane. It's a myth modern aircraft are less complex the older generation aircraft that required a Flight Engineer. The computers work fine when everything is ok or the issue is straight forward but when complexity enters during an emergency its far more complex than any old piston or early jet aircraft.

None of these crashes would have occurred if a flight engineer was onboard. They have the big picture on the air-frame and train to know that air frame backwards an forwards. The pilots fly the aircraft while the flight engineer operates the systems.

Ask any qualified pilot these questions. You will get the same answer as above.

PriceAction , 4 minutes ago link

As the MCAS system has such authority to cause the plane to crash, a system like this should be quadruple-redundant to prevent a single source of bad data from causing a catastrophic loss of life.

This is compounded by the fact the pilots were unable to easily override the system and unable to know _why_ they could not control the plane when MCAS malfunctioned.

There should be outrage that this was allowed to go into production.

crazytechnician , 7 minutes ago link

These aircraft would be impossible to fly without automation. You would need at least 3 or 4 pilots and 15 engineers to keep on top of everything. There are hundreds of systems running in the background. Airbus A series for example have anywhere between 80 to 120 million lines of code depending on the type and configuration. Pilot's these days are computer terminal operators. Errors are unavoidable in software until they fail.

The trick is simulation , clearly Boeing did not simulate any of this , this aircraft should not have been certified.

olibur , 13 minutes ago link

All families on behalf of 350 victims must sue the lying Boeing.

terrific , 13 minutes ago link

The solution is less reliance on automation, at least not until AI is actually able to intervene when sensors and software malfunction, and ESPECIALLY not with aircraft, for God's sake.

pismobird , 13 minutes ago link

One H1b to anotherH1b, "I thought you were supposed to fix those 297 stubbed out error conditions on the MCAS stall sensor?" "No, I fixed the stubbed out error conditions on the SQUALL sensor!"

"It's right there on the assignment schedule."

"What's the matter can't you read English?"

( The H-1B is a visa in the United States under the Immigration and Nationality Act, section 101(a)(15)(H) that allows U.S. employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations. )

I got out of the coding business when they started putting these MFturkeys in charge!

Mactruck , 17 minutes ago link

This tragedy is as much about government corruption (FAA approvals) as it is about a POS company, it's shitbag execs, or third world pilots for that matter.

Rusticus2.0 , 19 minutes ago link

Without cross limiting; where 2 or more inputs cross reference each other and limit output if the variation exceeds a predetermined setpoint; Boeing employed a control system with a single point failure.

Analogous to a cars cruise control speeding up if the speedometer failed and registered zero mph.

Not if_ But When , 23 minutes ago link

I read that the Operator's Manual for this aircraft is 1400 pages. Is that possible? And if so, is this MCAS system info just hidden on page 419 like in a financial document? 1400 pages is almost as long as the cautions in a new drug advertisement. And I'm sure the technical translations for Indonesian and Ethiopian pilots are perfectly done and readily understood.

ScratInTheHat , 14 minutes ago link

That is why commercial pilots get paid high wages to do their jobs and know the aircraft they are flying. They just don't walk into a new aircraft cold turkey. This issue is covered in the manual and it is an issue that any pilot would note as a big deal. In 1965/66 the well-loved 727 had 4 crashes because pilots didn't know the aircraft. This is the same thing.

PriceAction , 3 minutes ago link

As the MCAS system has such authority to cause the plane to crash, a system like this should be quadruple-redundant to prevent a single source of bad data from causing a catastrophic loss of life.

This is compounded by the fact the pilots were unable to easily override the system and unable to know _why_ they could not control the plane when MCAS malfunctioned.

There should be outrage that this was allowed to go into production.

N0TME , 26 minutes ago link

So the MCAS doesn't take into account speed, just the AOA?

thomas.thomas73 , 27 minutes ago link

I g­­­­e­­­­t p­­­­a­­­­i­­­­d o­­­­v­­­­e­­­­r $­­9­­0 p­­­­e­­­­r h­­­­o­­­­u­­­­r w­­­­o­­­­r­­k­­­­i­­­­n­­­­g f­­­­r­­­­o­­­­m h­­­­o­­­­m­­­­e w­­­­i­­­­t­­­­h 2 k­­­­i­­d­­­­s a­­­­t h­­­­o­­­­m­­­­e. I n­­­­e­­­­v­­­­e­­r t­­­­h­­o­­­­u­­­­g­­­­h­­­­t I­­­­'­­­­d b­­­­e a­­­­b­­­­l­­­­e t­­­­o d­­­­o i­­­­t b­­­­u­­­­t m­­­­y b­­­­e­­­­s­­­­t f­­r­­i­­e­­n­­d e­­a­­r­­n­­s o­­v­­e­­r 1­­0­­k a m­­o­­n­­t­­h d­­o­­i­­n­­g t­­h­­­­i­­­­s a­­­­n­­­­d s­­­­h­­­­e c­­­­o­­­­n­­­­v­­­­i­­­­n­­­­c­­­­e­­­­d m­­­­e t­­­­o t­­r­­y. T­­h­­e p­­o­­t­­e­­n­­t­­i­­a­­l w­­i­­t­­h t­­h­­i­­s i­­s e­­n­­­­d­­l­­e­­­­s­­­­s. H­­­­e­­­­r­­­­e­­­­s w­­­­h­­­­a­­­­t I'v­­­­e b­­­­e­­­­e­­­­n d­­­­o­­­­i­­­­n­­­­g,

►►●►●►●►►●►●►●► http://www.worktoday33.com

bluskyes , 29 minutes ago link

Somebody turned off airplane mode on their phone.

DrBrown314 , 29 minutes ago link

The FAA had the final call on this and they failed to do their job. The MCAS was never designed to mask the airflow issues created by hanging over sized engines on an airframe designed for smaller nacelles. These bigger engines had to be mounted higher and more forward creating airflow disruption over the wing during critical climb out conditions. This bird should never have flown! It was flawed from the get go and the FAA let it slide. Now hundreds of people are dead!

archie bird , 33 minutes ago link

lol their shares are going to go down faster than one of their planes when all the lawsuits start happening

beemasters , 29 minutes ago link

If the US government doesn't intervene, all would be very easy lawsuits to win. But I suspect there will be political pressure placed to limit the liability of Boeing or a deal struck to have US taxpayers bail them out.

OliverAnd , 33 minutes ago link

I do not believe this story or any other story of how the Boeing 737 crashed. On a private jet the engines are set in the tail. If the angle of attack is high, little to no air will flow into the engines as the wings block sufficient air movement thus stalling. Hondajet has improved this by placing the engines on the wing. The engines of a Boeing 737 are placed in front of the wing, thus there should be very little effect to the airflow, unless of course the angle of attack is approaching a very large attack angle of over 70 degrees.

HRClinton , 20 minutes ago link

70° ? WTF r u smoking?

Commercial planes typically stall at AOA = 17°

If the AOA is too great, you have more drag than lift, causing the stall.

bogbeagle , 20 minutes ago link

We are talking about an aerodynamic stall of the flying surfaces.

Different thing from compressor stall.

boattrash , 18 minutes ago link

With power settings reduced to lower fuel consumption aka costs, it doesn't really make a damn where the engines are mounted.

Fed-up with being Sick and Tired , 33 minutes ago link

The question is thus begged: did this NEW Anti-Stall System replace one that had caused issues in the past? WAS THIS NEW SYSTEM needed? Are pilots not trained to invoke changes to NOSE ATTITUDE when stall indicators, in the past, were alarmed?

William Dorritt , 35 minutes ago link

Who wrote the software ?????

Cruise Control in my 16 year old car

Deactivates when I touch the gas or brakes

Boeing should buy some used cars as

reference models for their automated features.

Who wrote the software

Indians or Chinese who have never owned a car ?????

reddpill , 36 minutes ago link

The "let's assassinate some peps" system, through which remote control access and false data injection into a so called "closed" system exists. The public are done being played as fools, Boeing. How much did you sell the encryption keys for access into that closed system to 3rd parties? Why did that northern Scandinavian country spend millions removing this very system from their purchased Boeing planes? Was it because they knew? The CEO of Lion Air knows also.

beemasters , 37 minutes ago link

New ads for Boeing now include: "Safety features sold separately."

Seal Team 6 , 38 minutes ago link

This makes a big assumption, that being the AOA was faulty and MCAS came on for no reason. That's a big assumption and probably very wrong. MCAS comes on in stalls or high bank turns which we know the ethiopian pilot executed a high bank turn. The likely scenario is that the inexperienced third world pilot with his 0 hours of training on the Max miscalculated the weight of the plane on takeoff and stalled it in a turn right after he put the gear up and took the flaps off. MCAS came on as it was supposed to do, and would be the right thing to do to save the plane. If he had taken his hands off the yoke and gone to have a pee, all those people would still be alive as the computer, which is much smarter than the third world pilot, would have flown the plane. Not understanding his plane, the 28 year old pilot fought the MCAS at 1000 feet and bought the farm. The next shoe to drop will be the more interesting one. They have already released the innuendo, next to come will be the hard facts. Let's see.

bogbeagle , 29 minutes ago link

Interesting.

Wouldn't be the first stall initiated by a change of configuration. See:BA 548, Stansted, circa 1970.

HushHushSweet , 38 minutes ago link

The sensor could also have been remotely triggered to cause the crash.

XBroker1 , 39 minutes ago link

Ok, now hold up that piece of metal and pose for the camera. Let's make this look like the real thing. -Boeing

richsob , 41 minutes ago link

The only winners in this will be the lawyers. My Dad frequently told me that lawyers were bleached souls in tan suits. I didn't understand at the time but I do now.

crazytechnician , 42 minutes ago link

The MCAS will be easily fixed but the real question is why did they install this in the first instance ? Is it a bandage over something else ?

Ignorance is bliss , 43 minutes ago link

BA stock is up pre-market. I guess this story is another nothin burger that can be fixed with software.

jewish_master , 38 minutes ago link

we now exist in idiocracy : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Leyn-oS5ASI

Wahooo , 43 minutes ago link

These planes are simply too complex anymore. If they can't be flown by a drunk pilot, they should be grounded.

Dormouse , 45 minutes ago link

We know that's not exactly what happened because Trump called them out with his double meaning "737 killers" talking about CA death penalty and this obvious deep state distraction murder.

PeteMMM , 46 minutes ago link

Surely this will mean the plane has to be 're-certified' after maybe modifications like additional sensors, software updates and extra pilot training have been factored in. Increasingly looking like there will be no 'quick fix', and admitting MCAS was at fault is going to open Boeing up to tons of lawsuits, not to mention cancelled orders. They'll need to drop the 737 MAX name too I would guess, it's too tarnished now.

Shatzy48 , 47 minutes ago link

I'm very surprised that a responsible company like Boeing would put out such a bad system. The program should have used readings from both sensors to ensure accuracy, and the cockpit warning mechanism should not have been optional equipment given the critical nature of the system.

Wahooo , 45 minutes ago link

Yeah it's puzzling. Someone in India fucked up big time.

beemasters , 34 minutes ago link

If they were responsible, they would have halted and recalled all productions by now.

not-me---it-was-the-dog , 47 minutes ago link

i stopped flying boing when they started producing self-immolating plastic planes.

(so that's where elon stole the idea!)

[Mar 29, 2019] Boeing (BA) 737 Stall Prevention System On in Ethiopia Air Crash

Notable quotes:
"... The stall-prevention system on the Boeing Co. 737 Max jet automatically switched on before the crash in Ethiopia this month, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing preliminary findings from data on the aircraft's black boxes. ..."
Mar 29, 2019 | www.bloomberg.com

The stall-prevention system on the Boeing Co. 737 Max jet automatically switched on before the crash in Ethiopia this month, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing preliminary findings from data on the aircraft's black boxes.

The conclusion was relayed at a briefing at the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration on Thursday and is the strongest indication yet that the same system malfunctioned in both the Ethiopian Airlines flight and the Lion Air disaster in Indonesia in October, the newspaper said.

[Mar 29, 2019] Regulators Knew Of 737 MAX Trim Problems - Certification Demanded Training That Boeing Failed To Deliver

Notable quotes:
"... The MCAS system is poorly engineered and the design should never have been certified in the first place. But the issue is even worse. The certification that was given relied on false data. ..."
"... The first MCAS design, on which the safety analysis and certification was based, allowed for a maximum trim movement by MCAS of 0.6 degree of a maximum of 5 degree. Flight tests proved that to be too little to achieve the desired effects and the maximum movement was changed to 2.5 degree. ..."
"... No safety analysis for the much greater movement was conducted. The FAA and foreign regulators were not informed of it. Their certification of the 737 MAX was based on misleading data. ..."
"... But even those certifications were only conditional. They required from Boeing to include relevant training material that explained the MCAS trim system and its potential problems to the pilots. ..."
"... The original certification for the 737 MAX was issued by the U.S. regulator FAA. The European regulator EASA based its certification on the one the FAA provided but it added several of its own requirements. There is now documentary evidence that Boeing neglected to fulfill at least one of those requirements. ..."
"... The FAA is as regulator far too cozy with lobbyists and aircraft manufacturers. It outsources too much of the certification testing to the manufacturers. It should not have allowed Boeing to install a MCAS that depended on a sole sensor. ..."
"... "It's become such a kludge, that we started to speculate and wonder whether it was safe to do the MAX," Ludtke said. ..."
"... MCAS was not the only change that made the 737 MAX a 'kludge'. The design errors were inexcusable . Boeing did not inform the regulators when it quadrupled the maximum effect the MCAS system could have. These changes had side effects that were not properly analyzed. Failure of the system was hazardous and extremely difficult to handle . Indicators lights showing that the system may have failed, a safety feature, were sold as extras . ..."
"... It will take quite long to certify the changes Boeing announced for the 737 MAX. Lawsuits were filed against the company. Orders were canceled . The company is under criminal investigation. The commercial damage to Boeing will likely be larger than currently estimated. It comes on top of a recent WTO ruling that Boeing illegally received billions of dollars in subsidies and will need to compensate its competition. ..."
"... The development and production of the 787 Dreamliner, announced in 2003, was outsourced all over the world. That led to years of delays and billions in development cost overruns. In 2010 Airbus announced the A-320 NEO as a better alternative to the 737 NG. Boeing was still busy to get the 787 into the air. It had neither the engineering capacity nor the money to counter the NEO with a brand new plane. It hastily revamped the 737, a design from the 1960s, into the 737 MAX. It promised to airlines that the new plane would not require to retrain their pilots. MCAS was specifically designed to allow for that. It was a huge mistake. ..."
"... Boeing once was an engineering company with an attached sales department. It 2001, when it moved its headquarter to Chicago , it became a dealership with an attached engineering wing. The philosophical difference is profound. It is time for the company to find back to its roots. ..."
Mar 29, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Regulators Knew Of 737 MAX Trim Problems - Certification Demanded Training That Boeing Failed To Deliver

A recently discovered document proves that Boeing ignored requirements international regulators made when they certified Boeing's 737 MAX airplane.

After the recent Boeing 737 MAX incident in Ethiopia we explained why it happened. Even before the plane type was grounded by the FAA we wrote:

Boeing, The FAA, And Why Two 737 MAX Planes Crashed

Our early take was confirmed by the reporting of other media which we also discussed:

Flawed Safety Analysis, Failed Oversight - Why Two 737 MAX Planes Crashed

The basic problem:

For commercial reasons Boeing wanted the new 737 version to handle like the old ones. But changes in the new version required an additional system to handle certain flight situations. The development of that system and the safety analysis of its implications were rushed through. Pilots were not informed of it and not trained to counter its failure.

The added 'maneuver characteristics augmentation system' (MCAS) depended on only one sensor. When the sensor provided false data MCAS engaged and pointed the planes towards the ground. Manual trim using the plane's trim wheel was required to regain flight stability. The pilots were not aware of that. The regulators who certified the plane as safe were unaware of the extend of the problem:

The MCAS system is poorly engineered and the design should never have been certified in the first place. But the issue is even worse. The certification that was given relied on false data.

The first MCAS design, on which the safety analysis and certification was based, allowed for a maximum trim movement by MCAS of 0.6 degree of a maximum of 5 degree. Flight tests proved that to be too little to achieve the desired effects and the maximum movement was changed to 2.5 degree.

No safety analysis for the much greater movement was conducted. The FAA and foreign regulators were not informed of it. Their certification of the 737 MAX was based on misleading data.

But even those certifications were only conditional. They required from Boeing to include relevant training material that explained the MCAS trim system and its potential problems to the pilots.

The original certification for the 737 MAX was issued by the U.S. regulator FAA. The European regulator EASA based its certification on the one the FAA provided but it added several of its own requirements. There is now documentary evidence that Boeing neglected to fulfill at least one of those requirements.

The one page document, first described by Reuters , is included in the Explanatory Note Issue 10 (pdf) to the EASA Boeing 737 type certification which was issued in February 2016.

Page 15 of the Explanatory Note discusses "Longitudinal trim at Vmo". Vmo is the maximum operational speed. The trim sets the nose of the plane up or down, independent of other pilot input. Too high up and the plane with lose lift and stall, too low down and the plane will hit terrain.

A failure of the MCAS system could trim the nose down. As a countermeasure the pilots would have to switch the trim system off. They would then manually trim the plane back into a level flight. This was a concern. The EASA note says:

Subsequent to flight testing, the FAA-TAD expressed concern with compliance to the reference regulation based on an interpretation of the intent behind "trim". The main issue being that longitudinal trim cannot be achieved throughout the flight envelope using thumb switch trim only.

EASA considered the need to use manual trim "unusual". But it allowed it to pass because the required training material would "clearly explain" the issue:

The need to use the trim wheel is considered unusual, as it is only required for manual flight in those corners of the envelope.

The increased safety provided by the Boeing design limits on the thumb switches (for out-of-trim dive characteristics) provides a compensating factor for the inability to use the thumb switches throughout the entire flight envelope. Furthermore, the additional crew procedures and training material will clearly explain to pilots the situations where use of the trim wheel may be needed due to lack of trim authority with the wheel mounted switches.


Full document

While the EASA was convinced (by Boeing?) that those situations would be discussed in "additional crew procedures and training material", Boeing did not include it in the training materials for the airlines that bought the planes:

Those situations, however, were not listed in the flight manual, according to a copy from American Airlines seen by Reuters.

Without the additional procedures and training material the 737 MAX would not have been certified. By providing the plane without the required training material Boeing essentially handed incomplete planes to its customers.

The FAA is as regulator far too cozy with lobbyists and aircraft manufacturers. It outsources too much of the certification testing to the manufacturers. It should not have allowed Boeing to install a MCAS that depended on a sole sensor.

But the bigger culprit here is clearly Boeing. The plane was developed in a rush . Even its own engineers doubted that it was safe:

Rick Ludtke, a former Boeing engineer who worked on designing the interfaces on the MAX's flight deck, said managers mandated that any differences from the previous 737 had to be small enough that they wouldn't trigger the need for pilots to undergo new simulator training.

That left the team working on an old architecture and layers of different design philosophies that had piled on over the years, all to serve an international pilot community that was increasingly expecting automation.

"It's become such a kludge, that we started to speculate and wonder whether it was safe to do the MAX," Ludtke said.

MCAS was not the only change that made the 737 MAX a 'kludge'. The design errors were inexcusable . Boeing did not inform the regulators when it quadrupled the maximum effect the MCAS system could have. These changes had side effects that were not properly analyzed. Failure of the system was hazardous and extremely difficult to handle . Indicators lights showing that the system may have failed, a safety feature, were sold as extras .

And today we learned that Boeing did not even provide its customers with the "clear explanations" the certifications required it to deliver.

These were not 'mistakes' by some lowly technicians. These were breaches of legal requirements and of trust.

It will take quite long to certify the changes Boeing announced for the 737 MAX. Lawsuits were filed against the company. Orders were canceled . The company is under criminal investigation. The commercial damage to Boeing will likely be larger than currently estimated. It comes on top of a recent WTO ruling that Boeing illegally received billions of dollars in subsidies and will need to compensate its competition.

All these are consequences of bad management decisions.

The development and production of the 787 Dreamliner, announced in 2003, was outsourced all over the world. That led to years of delays and billions in development cost overruns. In 2010 Airbus announced the A-320 NEO as a better alternative to the 737 NG. Boeing was still busy to get the 787 into the air. It had neither the engineering capacity nor the money to counter the NEO with a brand new plane. It hastily revamped the 737, a design from the 1960s, into the 737 MAX. It promised to airlines that the new plane would not require to retrain their pilots. MCAS was specifically designed to allow for that. It was a huge mistake.

Boeing once was an engineering company with an attached sales department. It 2001, when it moved its headquarter to Chicago , it became a dealership with an attached engineering wing. The philosophical difference is profound. It is time for the company to find back to its roots.

Posted by b on March 29, 2019 at 09:29 AM | Permalink

[Mar 25, 2019] When psycho automation left this pilot powerless

When it works it's great; when it not it can lead to a disaster. They make computer No.1 and the pilot No.2.
Mar 24, 2019 | www.youtube.com

D Jaquith , 1 year ago

Lesson learned all AI must have an OFF switch.

Komputar , 2 days ago

This happened at 37,000 feet, if this was triggered while taking off at 3,700 feet - none would be alive to tell the story.

[Mar 24, 2019] This aviation expert says Boeing made 'disastrously bad decision' on training for 737 MAX

Mar 18, 2019 | www.youtube.com

The recent Ethiopian Airlines crash led to the grounding of Boeing's 737 MAX planes across much of the globe. But as new details emerge about the cause of the model's second crash within five months, questions are being raised about how the plane's safety was approved in the first place. John Yang talks to Jeff Wise, a pilot and author of a book about MH370, the flight that vanished in 2014.


Kellie Hickman , 1 day ago

Hundreds of lives lost...because of nothing more than corporate greed and its enablers at the FAA.

Ray Quinn , 1 day ago

World to Boeing. Safety features are not optional! SMH😑

Zemli Drakona , 1 day ago

The warning light should be always on and should say "This plane sucks!"

die Macsmannschaft , 23 hours ago

No wonder Airbus become the new prince on the air! No wonder european produce luxurious goods, not the US!

LA's Totally Awesome , 1 day ago (edited)

So it was like driving a car while the "check engine" light is on X1000

K Me , 22 hours ago

Imagine buying a car with ABS, but the ABS failure light was an "optional extra".

CK Man , 1 day ago

$80,000 for a safety warning light! It should have been standard. How could they justify charging $80,000 for a warning light? It's like Ford charging $800 for Brake Fluid warning light, they would never have gotten away with that!

Africanknight88 , 19 hours ago

LAWSUIT and CRIMINAL CHARGES NEED TO BE FILED!!!! ....Now take that "optional".....my lord 😤🤬

Brandon E. Smith , 23 hours ago

It took only 346 lives to "improve" safety. 🙄 Boeing has always been a horrible, horrible company.

GNegasi , 1 day ago

How design or structural problems can be solved in a software update???

Jenny Kevin , 1 day ago

please don't hide the true, and don't the victim,

numbersix100 , 18 hours ago

I'll never fly on a 737 max, it's inherently unbalanced with its engines so far forward

Armando D'SOUZA , 20 hours ago

First make plane stable in flying mode when engines are producing force to move forward.

[Mar 24, 2019] Boeing 737 Max approval documents subpoenaed by fraud unit - YouTube

Mar 24, 2019 | www.youtube.com

Published on Mar 21, 2019

With the 737 Max still grounded after last week's deadly Ethiopian Airlines crash, the focus turns to Boeing. The company offered a warning system that -- for a price -- might have helped prevent the crashes. Kris Van Cleave reports.


Edmund Ming Yip Kwong , 2 days ago

This is so evil. Very disappointed at this multi-billion corporation

Arun K P , 2 days ago

I didn't know safety features were optional on planes 😂 wtf.

Suprianto , 2 days ago

$80 thousand for a warning light??? Unbelievable.... How much money can an indicator light cost? Software for detecting sensor malfunction should've been there in the first place.... For such a critical sensor, those safety systems should've been built into the systems in a $120 million dollar plane in the first place.

Ester F , 2 days ago (edited)

Why charge more for safety? It should be included by default. Then they kept saying it was safe for flight but excluded a crucial piece. It's all for profit... smh. 🧐 they are trying to deflect blame on the airline. Those planes should have never been sold in the first place.

Schmoo , 2 days ago

WOW! An add-on safety feature? Are you kidding me? That's just pure evil!

Rust belt McCLanahan Crawling , 2 days ago

Actually they should be charged with manslaughter for both plans ! Enough playing games with just a public court hearing then a fine ! Some Big People need to be held accountable by full law ! Jail time !

Crude Rude , 2 days ago (edited)

Wow.... just wow.... So they're releasing a flawed, unfinished product that requires glitchy software they have to patch and are also offering DLC?

Wenderz 26 , 1 day ago

That is like selling cars with no brakes, airbags, or seat belts, expecting the consumer to pay extra for necessary safety equipment . UNBELIEVABLE!

The Watchful Hunter , 2 days ago

I bet Boeing has been frantically shredding and wiping documents off hard drives for a week.

Mr. Sarcastic , 2 days ago (edited)

To bad all Airlines didn't buy the Super Deluxe "I really want to Live Package" from Boeing.

Hermes Trismegistus , 2 days ago

Once again, profit over safety! Those Boeing executives are money hungry demons! What a bunch of egotistical beasts!

Ryan Davis , 2 days ago

I would bet that the actual labor and materials are less than $2000. The engineering had already been completed as it is an option. Why then would safety be optional? Criminal greed, or a low value placed on human lives. Whomever is responsible has no moral or social compass and should be punished. Not with a fine but a lengthy prison term in Leavenworth.

Joseph Holland Pontes , 2 days ago

Oh no DLC is also optional to airplanes.

Dr Evil , 2 days ago

They should never have extra charge on safety features . Evil company

jaja smile , 2 days ago

80K just cost them billions ......

george movies , 1 day ago

Boeing and FAA, GUILTY! MASS KILLING . FIRST DEGREE MURDERERS.

David L , 1 day ago (edited)

I never thought capitalism was evil. Boeing: our planes were NOT safe to fly unless you pay extra.

Q & A , 2 days ago

That's one expensive bulb. 😳

105 Wonky , 1 day ago

You can have these 2 safety features which could potentially save lives, but your gonna have to pay 🤦‍♂️

Henry kirya , 1 day ago (edited)

if we can have recalls for cars, why cant we have the same for aircraft and force those chaps to install foolproof sensors in triplicate, complete with warning inidicators at no additional cost to the airlines!

[Mar 24, 2019] Ethiopian Airlines crash 'It seems amazing that Boeing have not provided the proper training' - YouTube

Notable quotes:
"... Profit before people. Computer says no! Failsafe failed. No manual over ride. Sorry folks. Say Your prayers. The problem maybe rebranded. Best case scenario. Impeccable flying from technical progress made. ..."
"... Totally unnecessary crash that was caused by cutting corners and greed. ..."
Mar 24, 2019 | www.youtube.com

leemsy lazy , 1 week ago

Imagines if Airbus was crashing in America like that.

Mulya hadi purnama , 1 week ago

Very Clearly, Unsafety... " Recall " and Grounded all Boeing Type 737 Max 8...Most Dangerous aircraft, almost 400 people's dead in 6 Months !!!

rocco decrescentis , 4 hours ago

No resignation! Like dumbbell n.45 used to say: You are fired!!

Robert Stephens , 1 day ago

When you see documentary of broken dreams. You'll be surprised as i was is that Boeing is using lithium batteries on these aircraft.

Zelalem Zemene , 1 week ago (edited)

Ethiopian Airlines is one of the best known safe reputation. Of course Indonesian Airlines is the best too. The crash was very similar after take off and dive into the ground. Boing is just protecting itself for its market.

Global Solutions , 6 days ago

Boeing needs to be sued for $2 billion for each victim of the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines plus $300 billion in punitive damages, and jail time for some executives ~ they knowingly put up unsafe planes. In its early days, the 737 also had several cashes.

QECHEW , 4 days ago (edited)

Obviously Boeing knew about the shortcomings of their design in earlier stages and instead of fixing their design they chose to use a software to fix it without informing the airlines or giving pilots adequate training in order to save costs.

GH1618 , 1 week ago

What is more surprising is that the angle-of-attack sensor system is not fail-safe.

Al Bundy , 6 days ago

Did the pilot's do the mandatory operating system Flash Player updates before takeoff?

Andy Roo , 16 hours ago

Profit before people. Computer says no! Failsafe failed. No manual over ride. Sorry folks. Say Your prayers. The problem maybe rebranded. Best case scenario. Impeccable flying from technical progress made.

Kamau Phillip , 1 week ago

The American pilots complained of the same issues with the same plane model but Boeing did nothing to correct the situation why????? ???

globalvillager700 , 3 days ago

Totally unnecessary crash that was caused by cutting corners and greed.

B M , 1 week ago

Prediction: Director of the FAA will resign!

Shinrin Yoku , 1 week ago

The MC-21300 is a much better plane anyway. Why do airlines not order it I wonder.

[Mar 24, 2019] Flying the Boeing 737 Max 8 A pilot's view from inside the cockpit - YouTube

Mar 24, 2019 | www.youtube.com

Probir Ghosh , 5 days ago

Its a shame that Boeing didn't tell this little piece of information to the rest of the world.

Ed Estrella , 5 days ago

You're telling me that lack of knowledge is what got over 300 people killed.... Beyond disturbing..

KimsonJohn , 5 days ago

Ipad course GTFOH! This is no cooking recipe. ..it's people's lives!

Weez naz , 5 days ago

56 minutes with an iPad lesson... Jesus Christ

sando wando , 1 day ago (edited)

PR stunt proudly paid by Boeing after being in bed with the WP. 😤

John S , 5 days ago

This piece of PR brought to you by Boeing!

Carl Johnson , 5 days ago

Nice ad after two crashes in less than six months

David Njabia , 5 days ago (edited)

Boeing must be lobbying really hard and it's a shame that a respectable entity like Washington Post is helping the narrative to shift the blame to pilots who are now dead. If it's a Boeing, I'll have second thoughts.

Tewoflos Telahun , 5 days ago

This video is brought to you by Boeing ! Please, Washington Post, be less biased next time.

lucius1976 , 5 days ago

1:39 MCAS = Mass Coffin Automation System

Jason L , 2 days ago

'commitment' OH PLEASE.....america was the last to ground their 737s.

Ab Xarbi , 15 hours ago

I tried to show this video to an Ethiopian, and he almost killed me.

MrXperx , 4 days ago

1. Boeing wanted a new plane with larger enginers but without spending money on a new fuselage. 2. Sold their planes to customers saying that Max type is same as the NG and that no cost is involved for retraining pilots. 3. Make the MCAS system so that the new and plane and old plane feel theoretically same to the pilot. 4. Not tell pilots about MCAS or hide critical details about the system. 5. 300+ people dead. I hope the Boeing management can sleep well knowing they have blood on their hands.

Stephen Courton , 5 days ago

Sounds like they created a dangerously unstable craft that requires a computer system to keep from stalling. Even if pilot turns off plane may have already got in situation hard to recover from manually especially near ground. Two planes found this out.

scrimmo , 21 hours ago

Time for Boeing and FAA officials to be locked up

ludovicoC , 2 days ago

To paraphrase Dr. Strangelove: "The whole point of the [MCAS] is lost IF YOU KEEP IT A SECRET! WHY DIDN'T YOU TELL THE [PILOTS], EH

[Mar 24, 2019] US Transport Department Looks Into Boeing 737 Max 8's Approval

Mar 20, 2019 | www.youtube.com

US Transport Department Looks Into Boeing 737 Max 8's Approval | al Jazeera English

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ge8v5cIxm0

New investigations are starting into the certification of the Boeing 737 Max 8 after two fatal crashes in less than six months.


Damon Reynolds , 3 days ago

At the root of almost every problem today is 'cost cutting' for short term profits to satisfy roaming vulture capitalist greed. Why is the FAA 'under funded'? Why is it 'too expensive' to give pilots the sim time they need even after hundeds of people are dead??

Ardhi Adhary Arbain , 3 days ago

Ask manufacturer's engineers to check the plane for their own certification? That's crazy.

srinivas reddy , 3 days ago

I think boeing, FAA and US are working for each other I feel no surprise if they find no wrong doing

MVE , 3 days ago

profit over safety, that's what it is all about

DJ DA VINCI , 3 days ago

Did u know that when u turn off the MCAS it reset itself back on. Victims family should sue Boeing and the FAA till their last dime.

MegaTriumph1 , 3 days ago

Engines too far forward wings too swept back computer and pilot can't find center of balance and it piledrives into earth, its not a mystery. If I wanted to take a perfectly good 737 and turn it into an unflyable plane, well they did it.

Major Skies , 3 days ago

Just fix the auto pilot issue. Also, what in all of God's green earth? Pilots only learned about flying this new model with just textual information? No simulation? No wounder pilots of both airlines were confound by the conflicting warnings blaring at them in the cockpit.

GreenStorm01 , 3 days ago

First.

dinesh prabhu , 3 days ago

Ha ha ha there is no money for the faa, but the government had enough money to go on a bombing run around the world. So now who is responsible ? Boeing faa or other aviation authorities like the icao or others ? Who is going to be jailed for this mass murdering? Since they have accepted it so the faa chief should be put behind bars for lying about the inspection and the certificate !!!!!!

[Mar 24, 2019] FAA 'dropped ball' on Boeing 737 Max 8 - official - YouTube

FAA rep is a clown! It is not FAA fault and Boeing was under pressure. If one of your family was in one of those crashes, you would never shill for those corporate murders.
Mar 24, 2019 | www.youtube.com

Leon Eldarion , 5 days ago

He is a clown! It is not FAA fault and Boeing was under pressure. If one of your family was in one of those crashes, you would never shill for those corporate murders.

gtud65 cutting , 2 days ago

If BOEING company is from another country, then USA 🇺🇸 Boeing air plane ✈ crashed The Boeing company will be closed immediately

Sammy Woo , 2 days ago

Ex FAA employees have come out and say FAA doesn't have the expertise and have to rely on Boeing for aspects of the certifications, why? because dumb Americans buy politicians ever selling lower taxes. Hey dudes, u gotta spend money to hire good people duh! something gotta give. Cheap government, cheap results. U deserve what u paid for America.

Robert May , 13 hours ago

The MCAS system was not revealed to the first receivers of the Max 8's, nor was it in the Manuals. Boeing thought it would quietly do it's job in the background, but they were wrong. After the first accident from Lion Air, out of Indonesia, then all airliners were informed of this. The pilots in Ethiopia may or may not have been aware of this, and if they were they lacked insufficient training on how to deal with this problem. The MCAS system works to bring the nose of the plane down so it can fly at a level flight. MCAS get's it's information from AOA sensors that send info to the plane as to what angle the plane is flying at. Pilots have reported that the AOA sensors are faulty and sending "wrong information" and "activating" the MCAS system when it shouldn't have, causing the planes nose to point downward, and causing the plane to go into a nose dive, and this is what happened. Basically the MCAS was needed because Boeing redesigned the engines, that were bigger, and were mounted differently -- more forward and up on the wing, throwing off the center of gravity of the new 737 Max 8.The old 737 does not have this problem. AOA sensors, stands for Angle of Attack, to make sure air flow is right both over and under the wings, to make the plane aerodynamic. According to reports from pilots, you can "disengage" the MCAS SYSTEM, buy pulling back on the yoke, and this will do it. At the same time there are wheels by the throttle that you turn manually, to trim the planes stabilizer manually by yourself. This was done many times by well trained American pilots, who averted crashes with this jet. So, proper training and awareness could have saved a lot of lives. Let's not forget these MAX 8 jets have been flying for a couple years, with thousands of flights in North America and developed countries with "no" accidents, and pilots say the plane flies beautifully. They say it's a very smooth flying aircraft, and a pleasure to pilot. So, who's responsible for this -- well it's Boeing, for non disclosure of the MCAS system, and what to do, if it functions in error, and how to manually disengage the system. In my opinion, all pilots should know how to manually take a plane from takeoff, and land it smoothly with no automation, or computers to help them -- just like in the old days. Over the last 20 years, there have been so very few major aircraft go down. I'm all for automation, but I fully support proper pilot training should some of this automation fail -- like faulty sensors. It's completely crazy to rely on robots or Artificial Intelligence ( AI ) to fly planes, if you don't understand how the computers work, and how they fly the plane, and in the event of a failure of the computer, you can then shut it off, and have "no problem" , and take control of the aircraft yourself,- "manually" with a lot of confidence. I SHOULD ADD - this MCAS system and it's AOA sensors, should all be mandatory on a plane, and not be sold as extras, same as brakes on a car. You don't play around with peoples lives, to make a few extra dollars, selling "options." These features "must be standard equipment", on all these aircraft sold, PERIOD. This is why I'm "very against" self driving cars'. Can you imagine all the accidents that will happen from "faulty sensors." WOW , it will be a nightmare. Faulty sensors could be caused by snow, ice, extreme heat or cold. Are we getting so lazy that we need to have Artificial Intelligence driving our cars. No thanks for me, I'll drive my own car, and hope that people will rebel against this idea, and the makers of these cars, won't sell any of them, and thus, taking them off the market.This Boeing Max 8 should send a good example, of things to come if we allow driverless cars. Not for me, and I hope the general public will agree with this.

You Tube , 2 days ago

Terrorists aren't needed to bring down airliners and frighten the public. Boeing and a failed Trump policy, that won't staff FAA department with a permanent and qualified leader, are managing the same thing through their fashionable neglect and arrogance.

Jackyboy335 , 3 days ago (edited)

The word Federal is part of this....right ? Profit is king...right ? "...we are a country of laws.."....right ?

Armando D'SOUZA , 3 days ago

Just look at the investigation of sinking and tilting Mellilium Tower in sanfransico. Building concrete Foundation and glasses are cracking and investigators are still studying what caused the two glass windows to crack. Similar investigation is going on how these two Boeing max crashed.

AJJ Against Jihadi Justin , 5 days ago

The FAA is in Boeings pocket book. Search... problems with Boeing 737 next generation with structural dangers reported on sbs datline australia

Vic Chavez , 5 days ago

Trump privatized the faa and this is what happens.

Wizkin Li , 5 days ago

No no no, this time it's all A320 neo 's fault

osidartaha2 , 4 days ago

Deadly strategie from Boeing for quick profits and market shares . Airliners are built to be operated for at least a couple of decades Boeing was providing worldwidely flying coffins made by mixing new technologies (leap engine ) with cheap and old technologies (1/2 century old airframe).A new well designed aircraft is stable, well-balanced without extra software's help.

barrych mak , 4 days ago

Check also the Boeing 767-300 nosedive crash on 23 Feb 2019 ! 3 Boeing nosedive crashes in 5 months !!!

I.P. Knightly , 3 days ago

Trump nominated his personal pilot to head up the FAA. After 2 years, they still have an "acting" director. Tim Boeing shows up at Mar-a-lago every weekend. What could possibly go wrong?

Peter Wexler , 1 day ago

I dissented this.

yin ng , 5 days ago

Same as to Ask Wall Street to regulate Wall Street and the Bankers to regulate themselves. Or ask the committed criminals to jail themselves.

Paradigm , 5 days ago

Byproduct of revolving doors.

Paul Forester , 3 days ago

This been a long time coming. Who cut the FAA? BOTH PARTIES DID! The system is gonna fall apart because too much damage has been done. Just keep paying people peanuts and have them try to do a skilled job. My cousin quit the airline industry because they don't want people to be able to pay for the education needed for these jobs. Like who program these systems.

roxar69 , 19 hours ago

So the merica is not really a saint..so now it not america dream but america dreaming..

Marcus Coyle , 5 days ago

Looks like I'll be getting that 🚲 sooner than later. I won't be traveling by plane for a few Give it time for all the smoke to clear and heads to roll😳

[Mar 23, 2019] Boeing Crapification 737 MAX Play-by-Play, Regulatory Capture, and When Will CEO Muilenburg Become the Sacrificial Victim by Lambert Strether

Notable quotes:
"... By Lambert Strether of Corrente . ..."
"... "It's a very, very serious investigation into basically, was there fraud by Boeing in the certification of the 737 MAX 8 ?" Arthur Rosenberg, an aviation attorney who is representing six families whose relatives died in the Ethiopian Airlines and Lion Air crashes, explained. ..."
"... Rosenberg expects the criminal probe to question whether Boeing fully disclosed to the FAA the engineering of the 737 Max 8's MCAS flight control system, called MCAS (Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System), during the plane's certification process. The flight control system was designed to prevent the plane from stalling. ..."
"... Unfortunately for Boeing and the passengers its crashed aircraft were carrying, the MCAS system was very poorly implemented. ..."
"... The single sensor was the result of regulatory capture, not to say gaming; see below. ..."
"... Black box data retrieved after the Lion Air crash indicates that a single faulty sensor -- a vane on the outside of the fuselage that measures the plane's "angle of attack," the angle between the airflow and the wing -- triggered MCAS multiple times during the deadly flight, initiating a tug of war as the system repeatedly pushed the nose of the plane down and the pilots wrestled with the controls to pull it back up, before the final crash. ..."
"... Regulatory Capture : Commercial aircraft need to be certified by the FAA before launch. The Washington Post labels today's process "self-certification": ..."
"... In practice, one Boeing engineer would conduct a test of a particular system on the Max 8, while another Boeing engineer would act as the FAA's representative , signing on behalf of the U.S. government that the technology complied with federal safety regulations, people familiar with the process said. ..."
"... (Note that a 10-year-old process would have begun in the Obama administration, so the regulatory process is bipartisan.) I understand that " safety culture " is real and strong, but imagine the same role-playing concept applied to finance: One bankers plays the banker, and the other banker plays Bill Black, and after a time they switch roles . Clearly a system that will work until it doesn't. More: ..."
"... The process was occurring during a period when the Transportation Department's Office of Inspector General was warning the FAA that its oversight of manufacturers' work was insufficient. ..."
"... The FAA, citing lack of funding and resources, has over the years delegated increasing authority to Boeing to take on more of the work of certifying the safety of its own airplanes. ..."
"... Alert readers will note the similarity to the Neoliberal Playbook , where government systems are sabotaged in order to privatize them, but in this case regulatory capture seems to have happened "by littles," rather than out of open, ideological conviction (as with the UKs's NHS, or our Post Office, our Veteran's Administration, etc.). ..."
"... Several FAA technical experts said in interviews that as certification proceeded, managers prodded them to speed the process. Development of the MAX was lagging nine months behind the rival Airbus A320neo. Time was of the essence for Boeing . ..."
"... In this atmosphere, the System Safety Analysis on MCAS, just one piece of the mountain of documents needed for certification, was delegated to Boeing . ..."
"... It should be clear at this point that the central claims of Muilenburg's letter are false. ..."
"... The self-certification debacle that allowed MCAS to be released happened on Muilenburg's watch and is already causing Boeing immense reputational damage, and a criminal case, not to mention the civil cases that are surely coming, will only increase that damage. Mr. Market, the Beltway, and even Trump, if his trade deals are affected, will all soon be bellowing for a sacrificial victim. Muilenburg should recognize the inevitable and gracefully resign. Given his letter, it looks unlikely that he will do the right thing. ..."
"... Beyond that ultimate problem is the ultimate regulatory problem: regulatory capture of the FAA by the airline companies. As a result, the FAA represents "its customers" the airplane makers, not the public users and customers. This is like the banks capturing the Fed, the Justice Dept. and Treasury to promote their own interests by claiming that "self-regulation" works. Self-regulation is the polite word for fraudulent self-indulgence. ..."
"... I would be surprised if the European Airbus competitors do not mount a campaign to block the 737-Max's from landing, and insisting that Boeing buy them back. This gives Airbus a few years to grab the market for these planes. ..."
"... This probably will throw Trump's China trade fight into turmoil, as China was the first country to ground the 737-Max's and is unlikely to permit their recovery without a "real" federal safety oversight program. Maybe Europe, China and other countries henceforth will each demand that their own public agencies certify the plane, so as to represent users and stakeholders, not only stockholders. ..."
"... The moral: Neoliberalism Kills. ..."
"... Rule #2 of Neoliberalism: Go die. ..."
"... > "Maybe Europe, China and other countries henceforth will each demand that their own public agencies certify the plane." ..."
"... As if the 737 MAX were the chlorinated chicken of aircraft. ..."
"... "This gives Airbus a few years to grab the market for these planes." ..."
"... Regulatory capture is rampant throughout the economy. Boeing self-certification being delegated by the FAA is not unlike the situation with electric transmission utilities. ..."
"... that is subject to both FERC and NERC regulation. ..."
"... In hindsight Boeing would have perhaps been better off to leave off the MCAS altogether and depend on pilot retraining to cover the altered handling. ..."
"... Reports I've read indicates that Boeing ignored even the clearly inadequate certification. "Documentation provided to the FAA claims that the MCAS system can only adjust the horizontal tail on the plane by 0.6 degrees out of a maximum of five-degrees of nose-down movement. But that limit was later increased to 2.5-degrees of nose-down movement. Boeing didn't communicate the change from 0.6-degrees to 2.5-degrees until after Lion Air." ..."
"... Boeing could also be liable for damages due to 737 groundings and due to delays in delivery of contracted planes. ..."
"... The analogy has been made between this the 737 MAX story and the Tylenol story. J&J got out in front of the problem and saved the product (and their company). Boeing's problem is of that order, and Muilenberg -- that letter! -- seems incapable of understanding that; insular, arrogant. One more reason to fire the dude toot sweet. If he comes out of his next review with a raise -- Everything Is Like CalPERS™ -- consider shorting Boeing ..."
"... Allowing this to happen seems the ultimate in short term thinking by Boeing. US manufacturers have always had an advantage over competitors because the FAA was held in such high regard worldwide that it was the de facto world safety regulatory body – every country followed its lead. But this chipping away of its authority has led to a near fatal loss of faith, and will no doubt lead to European and Asian regulatory authorities being strengthened. And no doubt commercial realities will mean they will look much more closely at US manufactured aircraft if there is some benefit to their own manufacturers. ..."
"... The Times thinks Boeing is too big to fail. Without a blockbuster Max, I don't see how Boeing maintains its current status in the industry. ..."
"... I also think they have been completely afflicted by the defense contractor mentality. ..."
"... Yes, the famous McDonnell-Douglas reverse takeover , where financial engineers inserted their sucking mandibles into an actual ..."
"... Note that Muilenberg came up through the defense side of the company not the commercial aircraft side. He may simply not have been equipped to understand FAA regulation at any deep level, hence the rot that finally surfaced. ..."
"... The tragedy is that corporate media in pursuit of profits will keep us up to date but will never mention the 6 or 8 minutes of terror for the 346 souls aboard the two flights. They will cover the criminal negligence trial if there are ever indictments. But, the news reports never will say that neoliberalism, deregulation, and privatization are the root causes of the deaths. ..."
"... Boeing also clearly did not know its customers . It should be engineering for the sort of pilots who are going to be hired by Lion Air, or any rapidly expanding airline in what we used to all the Third World. Hegemony, it seems, makes you insular and provincial. ..."
"... "The FAA, citing lack of funding and resource": I don't suppose I'll survive to see any arm of government not blame lack of funds for its boneheaded or corrupt incompetence. ..."
"... That's how I feel. The tech doc department at Boeing sounds like a horrible place to work; MBAs or their goons telling you all the time to do stuff you know is wrong. It's not surprising people were willing to talk to the Seattle Times; I bet there are more people. (Hey, Seattle Times! How about people testing the 737 MAX in simulators (assuming this is done)). ..."
"... Interestingly, and maybe relevant to the problem of confusion for the pilots, is that Boeing has had another automatic trim-modifier operating on its 737s for some time, the speed-trim system (STS): ..."
"... This system also modifies the stabilizer position during manual flight. Like MCAS, it was brought in to improve stability under certain flight conditions (the reasons for which are far beyond my knowledge). There is an indication that the pilots on the flight before the Lion Air crash misinterpreted MCAS actions for STS behavior. ..."
"... authority would revert to the pilot ..."
"... How many years ago did Wall Street take over the fortunes of the company? Why did they move their headquarters from their birthplace of Seattle to Chicago? Why did they start assembling planes in South Carolina and China? Was it to improve aviation safety? Or, to allow the profiteering parasites to feed off the carcass of the company? ..."
"... President Trump, here's a reelection tip: "Today I am declaring that all American registered aircraft flying in American airspace must be maintained in the U.S." ..."
"... Amazingly, Trump seems to have done OK on this. First, he didn't cave to Muilenberg's (insane, goofy, tone-deaf) request to keep the 737 flying; then he frames the issue as complexity (correct, IMNSHO), and then he manages to nominate a Delta CEO as head of the FAA . ..."
"... we're seeing signs that a crapification process has begun on the safety side in this industry. (It has been proceeding for years on the service/amenities side.) ..."
"... Considering the fact that all these 737s are grounded as no airline trust them to not kill a plane load of passengers and crew, this is a really big deal. Putting aside the technical and regulatory issues, the fact is that the rest of the world no longer trusts the US in modern aviation so what we have here is a trust issue which is an even bigger deal. ..."
"... Loss or at least wobbliness of imperial hegemony, like. It's not just the aircraft, it's US standards-setting bodies, methods, "safety culture," even -- dare we say it -- English as the language of aviation. French is no longer the language of diplomacy, after all, though it had a good run. ..."
"... Because markets. Neoliberalism puts everything up for sale. Including regulation. Oversimplifying absurdly: And so you end up with the profit-driven manufacturer buying the regulator, its produce killing people, and the manufacturer canceling its future profits. That's what the Bearded One would call a contradiction.* ..."
"... know your customer ..."
"... Like you, I am a retired software engineer, so I have followed an aviation blog discussion of this issue quite closely since it emerged as a probable software and system design failure. As the blog is open to all, its signal-to-noise ratio is pretty low, but it seems not too difficult for any technically-minded person to separate the wheat from the chaff. My current understanding, which I believe others here are in a position to correct, if necessary: ..."
"... this story is really fascinating and seems to be true a sign of the times. ..."
"... The Post's article on the FAA and Regulatory Capture is incomplete. The process for the FAA (and probably MANY government agencies) started under Reagan, did not revert to safety under Clinton (make government smaller and all that), and then accelerated under Bush II in 2005 (not a bi-partisan time). In particular, big changes to the FAA were made in 2005 that were executive in nature and did not require Congressional approval. CF: https://www.seattletimes.com/business/delegating-aircraft-safety-assessments-to-boeing-is-nothing-new-for-the-faa/ ..."
Mar 20, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

By Lambert Strether of Corrente .

At some point in the future, I'd like to do failure matrix for the pathways to misfortune ( example of such a matrix here ) that precipitated two deadly Boeing 737 MAX crashes on take-off in five months , but I don't feel that I have enough information yet. (I'm not unsympathathetic to the view that the wholesale 737 MAX grounding was premature on technical grounds , but then trade and even geopolitical factors enter in, given that Boeing is a "national champion.") We do not yet have results from the cockpit voice and flight data recorders of either aircraft, for example. But what we do know is sufficiently disturbing -- a criminal investigation into Boeing had already been initiated after the Lion Air crash, but before the Ethiopian Airlines crash -- that I think it's worthwhile doing a play-by-play on the causes of the crashes, so far as we can know them. About that criminal investigation :

According to the Wall Street Journal, a Washington D.C. grand jury issued a March 11 subpoena requesting emails, correspondence, and other messages from at least one person involved in the development of the aircraft.

"It's a very, very serious investigation into basically, was there fraud by Boeing in the certification of the 737 MAX 8 ?" Arthur Rosenberg, an aviation attorney who is representing six families whose relatives died in the Ethiopian Airlines and Lion Air crashes, explained.

"Nobody knows the answer to that yet," Rosenberg cautioned, adding that he had not yet seen the Justice Department's subpoena and therefore could not know its full scope.

Rosenberg expects the criminal probe to question whether Boeing fully disclosed to the FAA the engineering of the 737 Max 8's MCAS flight control system, called MCAS (Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System), during the plane's certification process. The flight control system was designed to prevent the plane from stalling.

Bloomberg comments :

A possible criminal investigation during an aircraft accident investigation is highly unusual . While airline accidents have at times raised criminal issues, such as after the 1996 crash of a ValuJet plane in the Florida Everglades, such cases are the exception.

Before we get to the play-by-play, one more piece of background: CEO Dennis Muilenburg's latest PR debacle, entitled " Letter from Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg to Airlines, Passengers and the Aviation Community ." The most salient material:

Safety is at the core of who we are at Boeing, and ensuring safe and reliable travel on our airplanes is an enduring value and our absolute commitment to everyone. This overarching focus on safety spans and binds together our entire global aerospace industry and communities. We're united with our airline customers, international regulators and government authorities in our efforts to support the most recent investigation, understand the facts of what happened and help prevent future tragedies. Based on facts from the Lion Air Flight 610 accident and emerging data as it becomes available from the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 accident, we're taking actions to fully ensure the safety of the 737 MAX. We also understand and regret the challenges for our customers and the flying public caused by the fleet's grounding.

Boeing has been in the business of aviation safety for more than 100 years, and we'll continue providing the best products, training and support to our global airline customers and pilots. This is an ongoing and relentless commitment to make safe airplanes even safer .

Soon we'll release a software update and related pilot training for the 737 MAX that will address concerns discovered in the aftermath of the Lion Air Flight 610 accident.

Fine words. Are they true? Can Boeing's "commitment to everyone to ensure " safe and reliable travel" really be said to be "absolute"? That's a high bar. Let's see!

I've taken the structure that follows from a tweetstorm by Trevor Sumner (apparently derived from a Facebook post by his brother-law, Dave Kammeyer ). However, I've added topic headings, changed others, and helpfully numbered them all, so you can correct, enhance, or rearrange topics easily in comments (or even suggest new topics). Let me also caveat that this is an enormous amount of material, and time presses, so this will not be as rich in links as I would normally like it to be. Also note that the level of abstraction for each topic varies significantly: From "The Biosphere" all the way to "Pilot Training." A proper failure matrix would sort that out.

* * *

(1) The Biosphere : The 737 MAX story beings with a customer requirement for increased fuel efficiency. This is, at bottom, a carbon issue (and hence a greenhouse gas issue , especially as the demand for air travel increases, especially in Asia). New biosphere-driven customer demands will continue to emerge as climate change increases and intensifies, and hence the continued 737 MAX-like debacles should be expected, all else being equal. From CAPA – Centre for Aviation :

The main expected impacts of climate change on aviation result from changes in temperature, precipitation (rain and snow), storm patterns, sea level and wind patterns. In addition, climate change is expected to lead to increased drought, impacts on the supply of water and energy, and changes in wildlife patterns and biodiversity. Consequences for aviation include reduced aircraft performance, changing demand patterns, potential damage to infrastructure, loss of capacity and schedule disruption.

All of these factors will affect aircraft design, manufacturing, maintenance, and use, stressing the system.

(2) Choice of Airframe : The Air Current describes the competitive environment that led Boeing to upgrade the 737 to the 737 MAX, instead of building a new plane:

Boeing wanted to replace the 737. The plan had even earned the endorsement of its now-retired chief executive. We're gonna do a new airplane," Jim McNerney said in February of that same year. "We're not done evaluating this whole situation yet, but our current bias is to not re-engine, is to move to an all-new airplane at the end of the decade." History went in a different direction. Airbus, riding its same decades-long incremental strategy and chipping away at Boeing's market supremacy, had made no secret of its plans to put new engines on the A320. But its own re-engineered jet somehow managed to take Boeing by surprise. Airbus and American forced Boeing's hand. It had to put new engines on the 737 to stay even with its rival .

Why? The earlier butchered launch of the 787:

Boeing justified the decision thusly: There were huge and excruciatingly painful near-term obstacles on its way to a new single-aisle airplane. In the summer of 2011, the 787 Dreamliner wasn't yet done after billions invested and years of delays. More than 800 airplanes later here in 2019, each 787 costs less to build than sell, but it's still running a $23 billion production cost deficit. .

The 737 Max was Boeing's ticket to holding the line on its position "both market and financial" in the near term. Abandoning the 737 would've meant walking away from its golden goose that helped finance the astronomical costs of the 787 and the development of the 777X.

So, we might think of Boeing as a runner who's tripped and fallen: The initial stumble, followed by loss of balance, was the 787; with the 737 MAX, Boeing hit the surface of the track.

(3) Aerodynamic Issues : The Air Current also describes the aerodynamic issues created by the decision to re-engine the 737:

Every airplane development is a series of compromises, but to deliver the 737 Max with its promised fuel efficiency, Boeing had to fit 12 gallons into a 10 gallon jug. Its bigger engines made for creative solutions as it found a way to mount the larger CFM International turbines under the notoriously low-slung jetliner. It lengthened the nose landing gear by eight inches, cleaned up the aerodynamics of the tail cone, added new winglets, fly-by-wire spoilers and big displays for the next generation of pilots. It pushed technology, as it had done time and time again with ever-increasing costs, to deliver a product that made its jets more-efficient and less-costly to fly.

In the case of the 737 Max, with its nose pointed high in the air, the larger engines "generating their own lift" nudged it even higher. The risk Boeing found through analysis and later flight testing was that under certain high-speed conditions both in wind-up turns and wings-level flight, that upward nudge created a greater risk of stalling. Its solution was MCAS , the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System control law that would allow for both generations of 737 to behave the same way. MCAS would automatically trim the horizontal stabilizer to bring the nose down, activated with Angle of Attack data. It's now at the center of the Lion Air investigation and stalking the periphery of the Ethiopian crash.

(4) Systems Engineering : Amazingly, there is what in a less buttoned-down world that commercial aviation would be called a Boeing 737 fan site, which describes the MCAS system in more technical terms :

MCAS was introduced to counteract the pitch up effect of the LEAP-1B engines at high AoA [Angle of Attack]. The engines were both larger and relocated slightly up and forward from the previous NG CFM56-7 engines to accomodate their larger diameter. This new location and size of the nacelle causes it to produce lift at high AoA; as the nacelle is ahead of the CofG [Center of Gravity] this causes a pitch-up effect which could in turn further increase the AoA and send the aircraft closer towards the stall. MCAS was therefore introduced to give an automatic nose down stabilizer input during steep turns with elevated load factors (high AoA) and during flaps up flight at airspeeds approaching stall.

Unfortunately for Boeing and the passengers its crashed aircraft were carrying, the MCAS system was very poorly implemented. Reading between the lines (I've helpfully labeled the pain points):

Boeing have been working on a software modification to MCAS since the Lion Air accident. Unfortunately although originally due for release in January it has still not been released due to both engineering challenges and differences of opinion among some federal and company safety experts over how extensive the changes should be.

Apparently there have been discussions about potentially adding [A] enhanced pilot training and possibly mandatory [B] cockpit alerts to the package. There also has been consideration of more-sweeping design changes that would prevent [C] faulty signals from a single sensor from touching off the automated stall-prevention system.

[A] Pilot training was originally not considered necessary, because MCAS was supposed to give 737 MAX the same flight characteristics as earlier 737s; that's why pilots weren't told about it. (This also kept the price low.) [B] Such alerts exist now, as part of an optional package, which Lion did not buy. [C] The single sensor was the result of regulatory capture, not to say gaming; see below.

(The MCAS system is currently the system fingered as the cause of both the Lion Air and Ethiopian crashes; we won't know for sure until the forensics are complete. Here, however, is the scenario for an MCAS-induced crash :

Black box data retrieved after the Lion Air crash indicates that a single faulty sensor -- a vane on the outside of the fuselage that measures the plane's "angle of attack," the angle between the airflow and the wing -- triggered MCAS multiple times during the deadly flight, initiating a tug of war as the system repeatedly pushed the nose of the plane down and the pilots wrestled with the controls to pull it back up, before the final crash.

(5) Regulatory Capture : Commercial aircraft need to be certified by the FAA before launch. The Washington Post labels today's process "self-certification":

The FAA's publication of pilot training requirements for the Max 8 in the fall of 2017 was among the final steps in a multiyear approval process carried out under the agency's now 10-year-old policy of entrusting Boeing and other aviation manufacturers to certify that their own systems comply with U.S. air safety regulations.

In practice, one Boeing engineer would conduct a test of a particular system on the Max 8, while another Boeing engineer would act as the FAA's representative , signing on behalf of the U.S. government that the technology complied with federal safety regulations, people familiar with the process said.

(Note that a 10-year-old process would have begun in the Obama administration, so the regulatory process is bipartisan.) I understand that " safety culture " is real and strong, but imagine the same role-playing concept applied to finance: One bankers plays the banker, and the other banker plays Bill Black, and after a time they switch roles . Clearly a system that will work until it doesn't. More:

The process was occurring during a period when the Transportation Department's Office of Inspector General was warning the FAA that its oversight of manufacturers' work was insufficient.

Four years after self-certification began, fires aboard Boeing's 787 Dreamliner jets led to the grounding of the fleet and a wave of questions about whether self-certification had affected the FAA's oversight.

Why "self-certification"? Investigative reporting from the Seattle Times -- the article is worth reading in full -- explains:

The FAA, citing lack of funding and resources, has over the years delegated increasing authority to Boeing to take on more of the work of certifying the safety of its own airplanes.

Alert readers will note the similarity to the Neoliberal Playbook , where government systems are sabotaged in order to privatize them, but in this case regulatory capture seems to have happened "by littles," rather than out of open, ideological conviction (as with the UKs's NHS, or our Post Office, our Veteran's Administration, etc.).

(6) Transfer of Authority to Boeing : In the case of the 737 Max, regulatory capture was so great that certification authority was transferred to Boeing. In order to be certified, a "System Safety Analysis" for MCAS had to be performed. The Seattle Times :

The safety analysis:

Understated the power of the new flight control system, which was designed to swivel the horizontal tail to push the nose of the plane down to avert a stall. When the planes later entered service, MCAS was capable of moving the tail more than four times farther than was stated in the initial safety analysis document.

Failed to account for how the system could reset itself each time a pilot responded, thereby missing the potential impact of the system repeatedly pushing the airplane's nose downward. Assessed a failure of the system as one level below "catastrophic."

But even that "hazardous" danger level should have precluded activation of the system based on input from a single sensor -- and yet that's how it was designed.

So who certified MCAS? Boeing self-certified it. Once again The Seattle Times :

Several FAA technical experts said in interviews that as certification proceeded, managers prodded them to speed the process. Development of the MAX was lagging nine months behind the rival Airbus A320neo. Time was of the essence for Boeing .

"There wasn't a complete and proper review of the documents," the former engineer added. "Review was rushed to reach certain certification dates."

In this atmosphere, the System Safety Analysis on MCAS, just one piece of the mountain of documents needed for certification, was delegated to Boeing .

(I'm skipping a lengthy discussion of even more technical detail for MCAS, which includes discrepancies between what Boeing self-certified, and what the FAA thought that it had certified, along with the MCAS system acting like a ratchet, so it didn't reset itself, meaning that each time it kicked in, the nose was pitched down even lower. Yikes. Again, the article is worth reading in full; if you've ever done tech doc, you'll want to scream and run.)

(7) Political Economy : This tweet is especially interesting, because even I know that Muddy Waters Research is a famous short seller:

MuddyWatersResearch ‏ Verified account @ muddywatersre Mar 18

What's the result? Two $ BA planes have been grounded: 787 and Max. Last FAA grounding of a type of plane was 1979. In the case of the Max, FAA outsourced more than planned bc BA was 9 months behind Airbus 320neo 3/4 2 replies 4 retweets 19 likes

This is a great example of real short-termism by a corporate. It's clearly in $ BA LT interest to have robust cert system, but those chickens come home to roost years later, allowing mgmt to meet ST expectations. BTW, semi-annual reporting would do NOTHING to fix this mentality. 4

And here we are! There are a myriad of other details, but many of them will only prove out once the black boxes are examined and the forensics are complete.

* * *

It should be clear at this point that the central claims of Muilenburg's letter are false. I understand that commercial aviation is a business, but if that is so, then Muilenburg's claim that Boeing's commitment to safety is "absolute" cannot possibly be true; indeed, the choice to re-engine the 737 had nothing to do with safety. Self-certification makes Boeing "a judge in its own cause," and that clearly contradicts Muilenburg's absurd claim that "safety" -- as opposed to profit -- "is at the core of who we are."

The self-certification debacle that allowed MCAS to be released happened on Muilenburg's watch and is already causing Boeing immense reputational damage, and a criminal case, not to mention the civil cases that are surely coming, will only increase that damage. Mr. Market, the Beltway, and even Trump, if his trade deals are affected, will all soon be bellowing for a sacrificial victim. Muilenburg should recognize the inevitable and gracefully resign. Given his letter, it looks unlikely that he will do the right thing.


John A , , March 19, 2019 at 4:34 pm

Maybe they should have appointed aviation expert Nikki Haley to the Boeing board earlier.

Yikes , , March 19, 2019 at 4:35 pm

Sacrificial Victims were spread over land and sea in Kenya and Indonesia. Muilenburg and Obbie The Wan both are the criminals who profit.

dcrane , , March 19, 2019 at 4:36 pm

That should be "five months" not "five weeks" in the first sentence. Lion Air crashed on 29 October 2018.

Howard Beale IV , , March 19, 2019 at 4:39 pm

IIRC, one of the big constraints that was leveled was the need to keep the 737, regardless of version, into the same height relative to all other generations of the 737, whereas Airbus kept their height a lot higher than the 737.

If you look at many 737's over the years, some of the engine's nacelles were flat at the bottom to accommodate larger engine. Why? Boeing kept the height the same in order to maintain built-in stairs that, with virtually all airports having adjustable jetways, was basically redundant.

When you compare an A320xeo against a B737, you'll find that the Airbus rides higher when it comes to the jetways.

Michael Hudson , , March 19, 2019 at 4:42 pm

It seems to me that the Boeing 737-Max with the heavier, larger fuel-saving engines is so unbalanced (tilting over and then crashing if not "overridden" by a computer compensation) that it never should have been authorized in the first place.

When Boeing decided to add a much larger engine, it should have kept the airplane in balance by (1) shifting it forward or backward so that the weight did not tip the plane, and (2) created a larger landing-gear base so that the large engines wouldn't scrape the ground.

The problem was that Boeing tried to keep using the old chassis with the larger engines under the wings – rather than changing the wings, moving them forward or aft, and expanding the plane to permit a more appropriate landing gear.

The computer system has been blamed for not being a "smart enough" workaround to tell the plane not to plunge down when it already is quite close to the ground – with no perception of altitude, not to mention double-checking on the wind speed from both sensors.

Beyond that ultimate problem is the ultimate regulatory problem: regulatory capture of the FAA by the airline companies. As a result, the FAA represents "its customers" the airplane makers, not the public users and customers. This is like the banks capturing the Fed, the Justice Dept. and Treasury to promote their own interests by claiming that "self-regulation" works. Self-regulation is the polite word for fraudulent self-indulgence.

I would be surprised if the European Airbus competitors do not mount a campaign to block the 737-Max's from landing, and insisting that Boeing buy them back. This gives Airbus a few years to grab the market for these planes.

This probably will throw Trump's China trade fight into turmoil, as China was the first country to ground the 737-Max's and is unlikely to permit their recovery without a "real" federal safety oversight program. Maybe Europe, China and other countries henceforth will each demand that their own public agencies certify the plane, so as to represent users and stakeholders, not only stockholders.

The moral: Neoliberalism Kills.

Lambert Strether Post author , , March 19, 2019 at 5:13 pm

Rule #2 of Neoliberalism: Go die.

> "Maybe Europe, China and other countries henceforth will each demand that their own public agencies certify the plane."

As if the 737 MAX were the chlorinated chicken of aircraft.

* * *

I'm not sure about redesigning the wing and the landing gear. That might be tantamount to designing a new plane. (I do know that the landing gear is so low because the first 737s needed to accommodate airports without jetways, and so there may be other facets of the design that also depend on those original requirements that might have to be changed.)

Synoia , , March 19, 2019 at 7:45 pm

Correct – redesign the wing = new plane.

Cal2 , , March 19, 2019 at 7:45 pm

Rule #3 of Neoliberalism:

Their profits = Your cancer, which presents even more profit taking. I.e. Bayer makes the carcinogenic pesticides AND the chemotherapy drugs.

Carey , , March 20, 2019 at 10:19 am

Precisely this. Thank you.

John Zelnicker , , March 19, 2019 at 7:46 pm

@Michael Hudson
March 19, 2019 at 4:42 pm
-- -- -

"This gives Airbus a few years to grab the market for these planes."

That would be great for Mobile as the Airbus A320neo is assembled here.

Octopii , , March 20, 2019 at 7:38 am

And provides time for the A220 to ramp up in Mobile as well. Not a direct competitor for the 737 but a very good airplane developed by Bombardier.

Carey , , March 20, 2019 at 11:20 am

Also, the MC-21 is in final testing now; still using Western engines, for the moment. One to watch, maybe.

Which is worse - bankers or terrorists , , March 20, 2019 at 4:17 am

Engineering logs seem to indicate that larger landing gear cannot be added without re-engineering the plane.

115 kV , , March 20, 2019 at 8:15 am

Regulatory capture is rampant throughout the economy. Boeing self-certification being delegated by the FAA is not unlike the situation with electric transmission utilities.

After the 2003 northeast & Canada blackout, Congress passed the Energy Policy Act of 2005. It directed FERC to create an "electric reliability organization". Previously there were voluntary organizations set up after the 1966 blackout to establish operating standards in the industry. One of them was the North American Electric Reliability Council which morphed into the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) in 2006.

NERC is headquartered in Atlanta and employs hundreds of people. The standards setting generally takes place in NERC Committees and Subcommittees and sometimes from FERC itself. These are typically packed with industry people, with a patina of diversity that includes some governmental types and large industrial consumers. Let it suffice to say the electric transmission industry itself largely sets the rules how it operates.

Now consider the article in yesterday's NYT " How PG&E Ignored California Fire Risks in Favor of Profits ". The transmission circuit featured in the article (the Caribou-Palermo line) that caused the destruction of Paradise is a transmission line that is subject to both FERC and NERC regulation. As described in the article the circuit had many previous failures and was well beyond its design life.

However, both FERC and NERC have a laser focus on "market players" (think Enron or JP Morgan) and system operations (e.g., prevent collapses like the blackout of 2003). AFIK, neither FERC or NERC have prescriptive standards for routine maintenance or inspection and replacement (i.e., very expensive capital replacement that was not done on the Caribou-Palermo line), these are left to the discretion of the transmission owner. While substantive information about electric reliability is maintained by industry trade groups and submitted to FERC, what is available to the public is generally useless and subjected to scrubbing and polishing (often under the guise of Critical Energy Infrastructure Information).

We can see how self-policing work, can't we??? Rent-seeking market players can arbitrage markets, inflating prices consumers pay and make billions in profits, while California burns.

The neglectful rot in California is endemic in the industry as a whole.

A little bit of dignity , , March 19, 2019 at 4:47 pm

How about seppuku for the entire top management?

Robert Hahl , , March 20, 2019 at 7:14 am

If an airplane crashes in the forest, and no American were killed, did it make a sound?

Carolinian , , March 19, 2019 at 5:07 pm

That Seattle Times investigative story is indeed very good and a rare instance of newspaper writers troubling to carefully and cogently explain a technical issue.

In hindsight Boeing would have perhaps been better off to leave off the MCAS altogether and depend on pilot retraining to cover the altered handling.

One reason they may not have was that crash several years ago of a commuter plane in upstate NY where the plane started to stall and the confused pilot pulled up on the controls rather than making the airplane dive to regain speed. Still one has to believe that no automation is better than badly designed or malfunctioning automation.

allan , , March 19, 2019 at 5:31 pm

"depend on pilot retraining to cover the altered handling"

IANAP, but maybe the problem is that "nose up" situations can go south very quickly. For those with the stomach for it, there are videos on youtube of the 747 freighter that went nose up at Bagram a few years ago (perhaps due to loose cargo shifting backwards on takeoff). It was over very quickly.

ChrisPacific , , March 19, 2019 at 5:37 pm

Yes, I was impressed with it. Unfortunately the investigation precludes Boeing from responding as they did indicate they would have had something to say about it otherwise. But the analysis looks pretty cut and dried:

  1. Boeing underestimated the risk rating for the sensor, excluding the possibility of a catastrophic failure as occurred in the two incidents to date;
  2. Boeing also failed to implement the redundancy that would have been required even for their lower risk rating;
  3. Manual correction by the pilot as a possible risk mitigation was constrained by the fact that pilots weren't trained on the new system due to commercial factors.

Fixing any one of those three issues would have averted the disasters, although #3 is pretty precarious as you're relying on manual pilot actions to correct what is a clear systems defect at that point.

It sounds like #1 was partly because they failed to account for all the scenarios, like repeat activation raising the risk profile in certain circumstances. This is very easy to do and a robust review process is your best defense. So we could add the tight timelines and rushed process as a contributing factor for #1, and probably the others as well.

XXYY , , March 20, 2019 at 12:08 pm

People who work on accident investigation would probably agree on 2 things:

So while there is much to be profitably learned by investigating everything here, an effective "fix" may be surprisingly (or suspiciously) small in scope. There will be much clamoring for the whole plane to be resigned or scrapped, for better or worse.

anon in so cal , , March 19, 2019 at 6:28 pm

The Colgan crash, whose pilot, Renfrew, was chatting with the co-pilot below the allowed altitude? And who had apparently lied about his background, and had a pay-to-play pilot's license?

I think the Air France Airbus 447 also had a high-altitude stall (due to a faulty air speed sensor) and needed its nose pushed down, not up (which the copilots didn't realize).

Also, very informative article / OP, thanks for posting.

Synoia , , March 19, 2019 at 7:47 pm

MCAS was added to change the behavior of the plane from to tend to stall as speed increases. That is stall and crash, because such a high speed stall makes polit recovery very, very difficult.

In addition the MCAS driven amount of elevator change was initially 0.6 to 2.5, which indicates the 0.6 increment was found to be too low.

Carolinian , , March 19, 2019 at 8:07 pm

Well they are planning to keep it but

According to a detailed FAA briefing to legislators, Boeing will change the MCAS software to give the system input from both angle-of-attack sensors.

It will also limit how much MCAS can move the horizontal tail in response to an erroneous signal. And when activated, the system will kick in only for one cycle, rather than multiple times.

Boeing also plans to update pilot training requirements and flight crew manuals to include MCAS.

–Seattle Times

So apparently the greater elevator setting is not so necessary that they are not willing to reduce it. Also the max power setting would normally be on take off when the pilots are required to manually fly the plane.

Synoia , , March 20, 2019 at 12:12 pm

It is about speed, not power. I presume that MCAS was developed to solve a problem, nose up behaviour.

Carey , , March 20, 2019 at 10:28 am

Yes, that was an excellent Seattle times piece. Surprising to see that kind of truth-telling and, especially, *clarity* in an MSM piece these days. So what's the angle?

voislav , , March 19, 2019 at 5:48 pm

Reports I've read indicates that Boeing ignored even the clearly inadequate certification. "Documentation provided to the FAA claims that the MCAS system can only adjust the horizontal tail on the plane by 0.6 degrees out of a maximum of five-degrees of nose-down movement. But that limit was later increased to 2.5-degrees of nose-down movement. Boeing didn't communicate the change from 0.6-degrees to 2.5-degrees until after Lion Air."

Apparently this was done after simulations showed that 0.6 degrees was inadequate and the new 2.5 degree setting was not extensively tested before the planes were rolled out. IANAL, but this may be a serious problem for Boeing. Boeing could also be liable for damages due to 737 groundings and due to delays in delivery of contracted planes.

Big question is how 737 issues will affect 777X rollout, due at the end of the year. If 777X certification is called into question, this may cause further delays and put it at a further disadvantage against A350.

Lambert Strether Post author , , March 20, 2019 at 3:17 am

The 777 has been a great plane. Let's all pray the MBAs didn't fuck it up, too.

If I were Boeing, I'd have a team looking into the 777 certification process right now. And I'd set up a whistleblower line (so the Seattle Times doesn't get to the story first).

The analogy has been made between this the 737 MAX story and the Tylenol story. J&J got out in front of the problem and saved the product (and their company). Boeing's problem is of that order, and Muilenberg -- that letter! -- seems incapable of understanding that; insular, arrogant. One more reason to fire the dude toot sweet. If he comes out of his next review with a raise -- Everything Is Like CalPERS™ -- consider shorting Boeing

Chris , , March 20, 2019 at 1:35 pm

Thanks, Lambert, for post and comments. I don't know if this angle has been covered or explored: the relatively new way that Boeing now "manufactures" "tests" and "assembles" parts of its planes. I had dinner with new acquaintance, Boeing engineer for decades (I live near a plant in WA state). For the last few years, this engineer is stationed half year in Russia annually to oversee assembly there. In this newish, more profitable manufacturing system for Boeing, the parts come in from around the world with sketchy quality control, are then assembled by Russian workers this engineer (and other Boeing employees sent from States) supposedly oversees. But the engineer doesn't speak Russian and has too little access to translators .Needless to say, this engineer is planning an exit as soon as possible. Having grown up in WA state for 60 years with neighbors/friends who were Boeing engineers, assemblers, line workers, etc it makes me heart sick to see the current decimation of talent, rigor and wages with additional far-flung assembly factories (Russia with few translators?! who knew?). Might these manufacturing/assemblying "improvements" also be a contributing factor in these terrifying woes for Boeing?

PlutoniumKun , , March 19, 2019 at 5:57 pm

Thanks for this Lambert, fantastically informative and interesting post.

Self regulation only works when liability is transferred with it – over example, in construction whereby certification by the engineers or architects designing the building are also taking on liability in the event something goes wrong. It seems unlikely that this is the situation with Boeing.

Allowing this to happen seems the ultimate in short term thinking by Boeing. US manufacturers have always had an advantage over competitors because the FAA was held in such high regard worldwide that it was the de facto world safety regulatory body – every country followed its lead. But this chipping away of its authority has led to a near fatal loss of faith, and will no doubt lead to European and Asian regulatory authorities being strengthened. And no doubt commercial realities will mean they will look much more closely at US manufactured aircraft if there is some benefit to their own manufacturers.

Airbus will no doubt try to take advantage – just as Boeing (with some justification) tried to focus attention on the Air France Airbus loss which was attributed at least in part to excessive automation. China is pushing hard with its new Comac aircraft, but they seem to be poorly regarded worldwide (only Chinese airlines are buying). The Canadians have missed their chance with the Bombadier C-series.

JBird4049 , , March 19, 2019 at 6:07 pm

The more I read of this the more baffling it is. What was there stopping Boeing from just highlighting the changes and installing an easy manual override instead of this hidden change with effectively no way to permanently do so? Especially when in crisis mode? One could make a case of no extra training needed so long as the pilot knows about it and can easily turn it off.

Darius , , March 19, 2019 at 6:30 pm

I didn't see this before I posted my response. A more concise statement of my thoughts. This plus more robust redundant sensors. Penny wise and pound foolish.

The Times thinks Boeing is too big to fail. Without a blockbuster Max, I don't see how Boeing maintains its current status in the industry.

Synoia , , March 19, 2019 at 7:52 pm

One could make a case of no extra training needed so long as the pilot knows about it and can easily turn it off.

That's the expensive re-certification Boeing wanted to avoid.

Robert Hahl , , March 20, 2019 at 7:52 am

That would entail simulator training, that would entail modifying the simulators and the curriculum.

Darius , , March 19, 2019 at 6:22 pm

I am leaning towards thinking the kludgy design of the 727 Max could have been rolled out with no major problems if Boeing had been up front about design changes, made a robust and conservative MCAS, fully at the command of the pilot, and provided ample training for the new aircraft.

They still could have saved billions on the airframe. They would have had to acknowledge the significant modifications to the airlines with the attendant training and other costs and delays. They would have lost some sales. They still would have been far ahead of Airbus and light years ahead of where they are now.

I also think they have been completely afflicted by the defense contractor mentality.

Lambert Strether Post author , , March 20, 2019 at 3:08 am

> I also think they have been completely afflicted by the defense contractor mentality.

Yes, the famous McDonnell-Douglas reverse takeover , where financial engineers inserted their sucking mandibles into an actual engineering culture. The merger took place in 1997, 22 years ago, which is not so long, really. Note also that the finance guys drove the decision to outsource as much 787 manufacturing as possible , which creates headaches for real engineering, so the initial stumble with the 787 that led to the 737 fall is down to them, too.

Note that Muilenberg came up through the defense side of the company not the commercial aircraft side. He may simply not have been equipped to understand FAA regulation at any deep level, hence the rot that finally surfaced.

VietnamVet , , March 19, 2019 at 6:50 pm

The 737 Max crashes and Brexit are the chickens coming home to roost. NC is a treasure for your coverage of both.

Clearly upper management in Chicago only knows short term finance. Boeing stuck with old fashion hydraulic controls in the 737 but faced with an unacceptable flight characteristics of the larger more efficient engines added a fly-by-wire system to compensate for it.

The criminal charges are that besides being a faulty design (it relies on one fragile exposed sensor that if out of position keeps triggering dives until switched off) but Boeing hid it and self-certified that it was safe. Adding a discrepancy warning and position indicator for the two independent flight sensors to the cockpit video display is an extra cost feature.

Neither of the planes that crashed had the added safety display. All are cost saving measures. Finally, if a faulty sensor triggers dives, the pilot at the controls is busy with both hands on the yoke forcing the airplane to stay in the air with stall and proximity warnings are sounding. The second pilot also must realize what's going on, immediately turn off the electricity to the screw jack motor and manually turn the stabilizer trim wheel to neutral.

You can't learn this on an iPad. Both pilots should practice it together in a Flight Simulator. If the co-pilot was experienced, unlike the one in the Ethiopian crash; just maybe, they could have survived the repeated attempts by the airplane to dive into the ground on takeoff.

The tragedy is that corporate media in pursuit of profits will keep us up to date but will never mention the 6 or 8 minutes of terror for the 346 souls aboard the two flights. They will cover the criminal negligence trial if there are ever indictments. But, the news reports never will say that neoliberalism, deregulation, and privatization are the root causes of the deaths.

Lambert Strether Post author , , March 20, 2019 at 3:01 am

> if a faulty sensor triggers dives, the pilot at the controls is busy with both hands on the yoke forcing the airplane to stay in the air with stall and proximity warnings are sounding. The second pilot also must realize what's going on, immediately turn off the electricity to the screw jack motor and manually turn the stabilizer trim wheel to neutral. You can't learn this on an iPad. Both pilots should practice it together in a Flight Simulator. If the co-pilot was experienced, unlike the one in the Ethiopian crash; just maybe, they could have survived the repeated attempts by the airplane to dive into the ground on takeoff.

That's what I mean by horrid UI/UX. Might as well as both pilots to pat their heads and rub their tummies in synch. And since the two pilots have to both understand what's going on, we've multiplied the chances for failure.

Boeing also clearly did not know its customers . It should be engineering for the sort of pilots who are going to be hired by Lion Air, or any rapidly expanding airline in what we used to all the Third World. Hegemony, it seems, makes you insular and provincial.

EoH , , March 20, 2019 at 4:54 pm

Added cost, "mandatory" safety feature. Does not seem to square with the [soon to be former?] CEO's apology-industry written claim to be committed to absolute safety.

You can't make this stuff up.

dearieme , , March 19, 2019 at 7:03 pm

"The FAA, citing lack of funding and resource": I don't suppose I'll survive to see any arm of government not blame lack of funds for its boneheaded or corrupt incompetence.

But the bigger picture: suppose the FAA is to do its job properly. From where is it going to recruit its staff?

Smaller picture: it doesn't really matter whether the cocked-up MCAS killed all those people or not. Even if it's innocent of the charge, the account of its development and application is a horror story.

Bigger picture: what other horrors have been hidden by Boeing?

Lambert Strether Post author , , March 20, 2019 at 2:48 am

> the account of its development and application is a horror story.

That's how I feel. The tech doc department at Boeing sounds like a horrible place to work; MBAs or their goons telling you all the time to do stuff you know is wrong. It's not surprising people were willing to talk to the Seattle Times; I bet there are more people. (Hey, Seattle Times! How about people testing the 737 MAX in simulators (assuming this is done)).

Sounds like the MBAs in Chicago have been busy planting land mines everywhere. Somebody stepped on this one; there are others.

oaf , , March 19, 2019 at 7:05 pm

The unfortunate pilots were made test pilots; the unsuspecting passengers: Guinea pigs. Lab rats. And paid for the privilege. Some others may share this opinion. Change one little thing? Chaos Theory Rules. Same with weather/climate; folks. That rant is for later.

oafstradamus

dcrane , , March 19, 2019 at 7:08 pm

Boeing stuck with old fashion hydraulic controls in the 737 but faced with an unacceptable flight characteristics of the larger more efficient engines added a fly-by-wire system to compensate for it.

Interestingly, and maybe relevant to the problem of confusion for the pilots, is that Boeing has had another automatic trim-modifier operating on its 737s for some time, the speed-trim system (STS):

https://leehamnews.com/2019/02/01/bjorns-corner-pitch-stability-part-7/

This system also modifies the stabilizer position during manual flight. Like MCAS, it was brought in to improve stability under certain flight conditions (the reasons for which are far beyond my knowledge). There is an indication that the pilots on the flight before the Lion Air crash misinterpreted MCAS actions for STS behavior.

Synoia , , March 19, 2019 at 7:55 pm

Safety is at the core of who we are at Boeing

Yes, after money.

drumlin woodchuckles , , March 19, 2019 at 8:08 pm

At what point does "crapification" become insufficient to describe Boeing's product and process here? At what point do we have to speak of " ford-pintofication"?

barrisj , , March 19, 2019 at 8:15 pm

OK, I'm told to resubmit my crib re: "Boeing options" from the ZeroHedge "tweetstorm" by Trevot Sumner, and include a link got it:

Economic problem. Boeing sells an option package that includes an extra AoA vane, and an AoA disagree light, which lets pilots know that this problem was happening. Both 737MAXes that crashed were delivered without this option. No 737MAX with this option has ever crashed

https://mobile.twitter.com/trevorsumner/status/1106934369158078470

Ooops! "Options package"? Wait, a "package" that in the interim corrects a potentially catastrophic mfg. defect and airlines have to pay for it? Whoa, here's your late capitalism in play.

Lambert Strether Post author , , March 20, 2019 at 2:45 am

> Boeing sells an option package that includes an extra AoA vane, and an AoA disagree light

This is one of the details I could not get to (and we don't 100% know this is an issue until the forensics are done. Right now, we have narrative. Truly excellent narrative to be sure -- if only we thought of government the same way as pilots think of their aircraft! -- but narrative nonetheless).

Let me see if I have this right. Pilots, chime in!

"Authority" is one of the big words in this discussion; MCAS takes authority away from the pilot (and can do in such a drastic fashion as to crash the plane). Worse, the default case is that it can do so on the basis of a single sensor reading. In a design appropriate to the consequences for failure (i.e., a different design from that described in the "System Safety Analysis" that Boeing self-certified) MCAS would take readings from two sensors, and if they disagreed, authority would revert to the pilot . That's a general principle at Boeing, and so it's reasonable for pilots to assume that they retain authority of MCAS has not told them they don't have it any more.

Hence, the disagree light, which tells the pilots to take back authority because the sensors are confused. However, I think there are UI/UX issues with that, given that the 737 cockpit is extremely noisy and pilots have a lot to do on take-off. So a light might not be the answer. (The light also strikes me as a kludge; first, MCAS feels to me like a kludge, in that we're making the aircraft flyable only through software.* Fine for fighter jets, which can be inherently unstable, but perhaps not so fine for commercial aircraft? Then we have a second kludge, a light to tell us that the first kludge has kicked in. I dunno.)

NOTE * However, it's also true that automation affects flight characteristics all the time. So I'm not sure how savage to make this indictment.

rowlf , , March 20, 2019 at 6:00 am

The AOA indication is Service Bulletin 737-31-1650 (there may be others) and is on the both Pilot Flight Displays (PFDs). Pilots would likely abort a takeoff if they saw the indication come on before getting airborne.

California Bob , , March 19, 2019 at 8:20 pm

In hindsight, it appears Boeing should have made Mulally CEO. He appears to be competent.

Cal2 , , March 19, 2019 at 8:25 pm

"Boeing has been in the business of aviation safety for more than 100 years, "

How many years ago did Wall Street take over the fortunes of the company? Why did they move their headquarters from their birthplace of Seattle to Chicago? Why did they start assembling planes in South Carolina and China? Was it to improve aviation safety? Or, to allow the profiteering parasites to feed off the carcass of the company?

I want to fly on Boeing planes put together by well paid members of the Seattle Machinists Union, not low wage peons. Let's not even mention the maintenance of American aircraft in China and El Salvador.

https://www.bizjournals.com/chicago/news/2018/04/20/southwest-airlines-should-have-inspected-engines.html

President Trump, here's a reelection tip: "Today I am declaring that all American registered aircraft flying in American airspace must be maintained in the U.S."

Lambert Strether Post author , , March 20, 2019 at 2:32 am

> President Trump, here's a reelection tip:

> "Today I am declaring that all American registered aircraft flying in American airspace must be maintained in the U.S."

Amazingly, Trump seems to have done OK on this. First, he didn't cave to Muilenberg's (insane, goofy, tone-deaf) request to keep the 737 flying; then he frames the issue as complexity (correct, IMNSHO), and then he manages to nominate a Delta CEO as head of the FAA .

And your suggestion is very good one. I wonder if he could do that by executive order? And I wonder how many grey-beards would come off the golf courses to help out? I bet a lot.

oaf , , March 19, 2019 at 8:47 pm

The aircraft is NOT CRAP!!! However. It should have been flown A WHOLE LOT MORE before receiving certification.

*Real* test pilots should have their a–es on the line ; operating for a lot more hours at *the edge of the envelope*, as it is known. Stability should be by design; not software*patch*. Patch this!

What portion of its' MCAS system flight testing was in computer simulation? Like the so-called Doppler Radar; which *magically* predicts what the future will bring; while the experts pitch it as fact? And make life-or-death decisions on the theoretical data???
Rush to market; markets rule. We can die.

dcrane , , March 19, 2019 at 9:19 pm

The aircraft is NOT CRAP!!!

Agreed, but I think we're seeing signs that a crapification process has begun on the safety side in this industry. (It has been proceeding for years on the service/amenities side.)

Lambert Strether Post author , , March 20, 2019 at 2:25 am

> The aircraft is NOT CRAP!!!

Didn't say it was. The headline reads "Boeing Crapification," not "737 Crapification."

That said, the 737 clearly has issues, as Boeing itself knew, since if they'd had their druthers, they would have launched a new plane to replace it. See point #2.

> What portion of its' MCAS system flight testing was in computer simulation?

That is a very good question. If I understand the aerodynamics issues aright, MCAS would be most likely to kick in at takeoff, which raises a host of UI/UX issues because the pilots are very busy at that time. So was MCAS not tested in the simulators? If so, how on earth was a scenario that included sensor failure not included? It may be that there are more issues with Boeing's engineering process than the documentation issues raised by the Seattle Times, though those are bad enough.

Ron D , , March 20, 2019 at 4:18 pm

I say the 737-whatever is a flying Turd, and always has been. It has a bad wing design which means it has to fly nose up compared to other models( I always remember that when going to the restroom while going somewhere on one). And because of its poor design it has to takeoff and land at higher speeds. So when flying into someplace like Mexico City it can be quite a harrowing experience, and the smell of cooking brakes is relatively normal.

Boeing never should have let go of the 757. Now that was a good plane that was simply ahead of its time.

The Rev Kev , , March 19, 2019 at 8:53 pm

Considering the fact that all these 737s are grounded as no airline trust them to not kill a plane load of passengers and crew, this is a really big deal. Putting aside the technical and regulatory issues, the fact is that the rest of the world no longer trusts the US in modern aviation so what we have here is a trust issue which is an even bigger deal.

We now know that the FAA does not audit the work done for these aircraft but the airlines themselves do it. It cannot be just Boeing but the other aircraft manufacturers as well. Other countries are going to be asking some very hard questions before forking over their billions to a US aircraft manufacturer in future. Worse is when Ethiopia refused to hand over the black boxes to the US but gave them instead to a third party.

That was saying that based on how you treated the whole crash, we do not trust you to do the job right and not to change some of the results. It has been done before, ironically enough by France who the Ethiopians gave the black boxes to. And when you lose trust, it takes a very long time to gain it back again – if ever. But will the changes be made to do so? I would guess no.

notabanker , , March 19, 2019 at 9:44 pm

But if the discount foreign airlines had just trained their pilots and paid for the non-crashintothegroundat500mph upgrade, all of this could have been avoided.

The Rev Kev , , March 20, 2019 at 12:55 am

Do you think that there was an app for that?

Lambert Strether Post author , , March 20, 2019 at 2:23 am

> we have here is a trust issue which is an even bigger deal

Loss or at least wobbliness of imperial hegemony, like. It's not just the aircraft, it's US standards-setting bodies, methods, "safety culture," even -- dare we say it -- English as the language of aviation. French is no longer the language of diplomacy, after all, though it had a good run.

Because markets. Neoliberalism puts everything up for sale. Including regulation. Oversimplifying absurdly: And so you end up with the profit-driven manufacturer buying the regulator, its produce killing people, and the manufacturer canceling its future profits. That's what the Bearded One would call a contradiction.*

NOTE * There ought to be a way to reframe contradiction in terms of Net Present Value which would not be what we think it is, under that model.

Synoia , , March 19, 2019 at 10:05 pm

Thank you Lambert, this is very complete.

Can Boeing survive? Yes, as a much smaller company. What is upsetting to me, is that the Boeing management has sacrificed thousands of Jobs.

Lambert Strether Post author , , March 20, 2019 at 2:10 am

> Thank you Lambert, this is very complete.

I wish it were as complete as it should be! There are a ton of horrid details about sensors, the UI/UX for the MCAS system, 737 cockpit design, decisions by the marketing department, and training and maintenance for Asian airlines that I just couldn't get to. (Although most of those presume that the forensics have already been done.) But I felt that dollying back for the big picture was important to. Point #1 is important, in that all the factors that drove the 737 decision making are not only still in place, they're intensifying, so we had better adjust our systems (assuming Boeing remains a going concern -- defenestrating Muilenberg would be an excellent way to show we accept the seriousness of customer and international concern).

Bill Smith , , March 19, 2019 at 10:56 pm

Bloomberg is reporting that : "The Indonesia safety committee report said the plane had had multiple failures on previous flights and hadn't been properly repaired."

And the day before when the same plane had the problem that killed everyone the next day: "The so-called dead-head pilot on the earlier flight from Bali to Jakarta told the crew to cut power to the motor driving the nose down, according to the people familiar, part of a checklist that all pilots are required to memorize."

Lambert Strether Post author , , March 20, 2019 at 2:14 am

There's an enormous expansion of air travel in Asia. The lower end -- not flag -- carriers like Lion Air and also Air Asia are in that business to be cheap ; they're driven by expansion and known to be run by cowboys.

That said, know your customer . I would translate this into an opportunity for Boeing to sell these airlines a service package for training their ground operations. But it seems that cutting costs is the only thing the MBAs in Chicago understand. Pilots, pipe up!

Bill Smith , , March 20, 2019 at 7:13 am

Pilot training and requirements are in the hands of the country, not Boeing. If the story that the copilot of the Ethiopian Airlines plane had only 200 hours of experience that is astounding.

In the US that requirement is 1500 hours. In addition most US airlines would require more than that. And then they slot 'beginning' pilots for flights in good (better) weather as high minimums pilot.

Bill Smith , , March 20, 2019 at 7:17 am

"sell these airlines a service package" That won't help an airline that is in the business to be cheap. The Indonesia airplane was repeatedly reported for problems in prior days/flights that was never fixed.

Basil Pesto , , March 20, 2019 at 2:42 am

indeed I was just about to mention this same story. The link is here: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-03-19/how-an-extra-man-in-cockpit-saved-a-737-max-that-later-crashed?utm_campaign=news&utm_medium=bd&utm_source=applenews

and this quote makes an interesting follow-on to the thread yesterday with 737 Pilot (which Lambert linked to in the first paragraph here):

"The combination of factors required to bring down a plane in these circumstances suggests other issues may also have occurred in the Ethiopia crash, said Jeffrey Guzzetti, who also directed accident investigations at FAA and is now a consultant.

"It's simply implausible that this MCAS deficiency by itself can down a modern jetliner with a trained crew," Guzzetti said."

Setting aside Mr Guzzetti's background (dismissing his claim here as tendentious right off the bat would strike me as uncharitable), and without wishing to exculpate anyone, it does lend some credence to the idea that Ethiopia Airlines may have some contributory negligence here, staffing the flight with such an inexperienced first officer.

JBird4049 , , March 20, 2019 at 12:25 pm

Setting aside Mr Guzzetti's background (dismissing his claim here as tendentious right off the bat would strike me as uncharitable), and without wishing to exculpate anyone, it does lend some credence to the idea that Ethiopia Airlines may have some contributory negligence here, staffing the flight with such an inexperienced first officer.

One can often point to inexperience, incompetence, stupidity, incompetence or just bad luck when some disaster happens, but Boeing counted on perfect performance from flight crews to successfully work with a workaround needed for other workarounds that needed perfect performance to not catastrophically fail. I know enough about complexity that you cannot depend on perfection because something will always fail.

BillC , , March 20, 2019 at 7:25 am

Your excellent summary lacks some MCAS details that are not widely reported by the general-audience press.

Like you, I am a retired software engineer, so I have followed an aviation blog discussion of this issue quite closely since it emerged as a probable software and system design failure. As the blog is open to all, its signal-to-noise ratio is pretty low, but it seems not too difficult for any technically-minded person to separate the wheat from the chaff. My current understanding, which I believe others here are in a position to correct, if necessary:

A. The requirement for MCAS apparently emerged very late in the MAX's development, when it became clear that the upper cowling around the larger engines, being moved up and forward with respect to earlier 737 versions, adds nose-up force as the angle of attack (AoA) approaches the upper limits of the MAX's operating envelope because at such angles, the cowling itself generates lift beyond that of the wing.

B. As perceived by a pilot flying manually (not on autopilot), this added nose-up force makes it easier to pull back on the control column ("stick"), increasing the AoA further. This is like a car running off the asphalt onto a muddy shoulder: the steering wheel wants to turn the wrong way (toward the ditch) rather than the right way (back on the road).

C. An FAA regulation prohibits certification of an aircraft that presents the pilot with changing stick forces near stall that nudge the pilot toward the wrong reaction, 14 CFR 25.203(a) , IIRC (unfortunately, I can't find the original blog citation).

D. MCAS was put in place to satisfy this certification requirement -- not to automagically correct stalls without pilot action.

E. Other means of meeting this requirement exist, ranging from an airframe redesign that avoids the extra nose-up effect of the larger repositioned engines down to a "stick pusher" that increases the force a pilot would need to pull the stick back further in this situation.

F. Any of the other options would negate one or both of the MAX's chief selling points: little cost or schedule impact to Boeing (in a rush to meet the Airbus 320 NEO challenge) and to its customers ("No new flight crew training necessary, because to the pilot, the MAX feels just like its 737 predecessors.") That is, all the other options introduce new hardware to a completed design and the more fundamental changes could require new type certification.

G. The easiest fix was pure software: at high indicated AoA, under manual control, and with flaps up, automatically rotate the horizontal stabilizer a little bit nose-down, which increases the pressure needed to pull the stick back (nose-up). No need to tell the pilot about this in training or real time, since it's just to make MAX feel like any other 737.

H. The design presented for certification described a single small rotation. Testing showed this was insufficient to provide the tactile feedback necessary for certification in all cases, so the software fix was obvious: if the trigger conditions still hold after a 5 sec. pause, do it again.

I. Apparently nobody asked at that point, "What if the AoA indication is stuck high?" We're under schedule and cost pressure, so who wants to complexify things by (1) adding additional sanity-checking to the aircraft's AoA computations or (2) limiting how many times we add a little bit of nose-down.

J. When these details combine with a consistently erroneous AoA reading, MCAS can -- if not repeatedly countermanded or disabled and manually reversed -- eventually rotate the horizontal stabilizer to its maximum nose-down position, where it was found in both recent incidents, IIRC.

Even if the pilots figure out that's what's happening amid a cacophony of seemingly contradictory instrument readings and warnings (stick-shaker, trim wheel clacking, alarm chimes, and synthesized voices), the pilots still have to (1) cut power to the electrical trim systems and (2) restore the required trim, which may then require as many as 50 manual turns of a trim wheel. If you're near the ground, time is short

A minority of commenting pilots assert that any competently trained cockpit crew should be able to identify MCAS misbehavior quickly and power off automatic trim per the same checklist that was prescribed for "runaway automatic trim" on every 737 variant, MAX included. Most seem to agree that with aircraft control difficulties, multiple alarms, and disagreement among the pilot's and first officer's airspeed and AoA readings almost from the moment of takeoff (not yet officially confirmed), an MCAS-commanded runaway trim event may feel very different from the runaway trim flavors for which pilots have had simulator training, making problem identification difficult even given knowledge of the earlier Lion Air incident.

I imagine most software developers and engineers have seen cost/schedule pressures lead to short cuts. If their life was at stake, I doubt that many would think self-certification that such a project complies with all relevant safety requirements is a good idea.

ShamanicFallout , , March 20, 2019 at 12:59 pm

Thank you for that. And just 'wow'. I don't really know anything about aircraft/flying but this story is really fascinating and seems to be true a sign of the times. I guess we'll know what the current 'temperature' is out there when the fallout (civil liability, criminal liability, plane orders cancelled/ returned, etc) manifests. If Boeing skates, we'll know we've got a long way to go.

Cheryl from Maryland , , March 20, 2019 at 8:15 am

The Post's article on the FAA and Regulatory Capture is incomplete. The process for the FAA (and probably MANY government agencies) started under Reagan, did not revert to safety under Clinton (make government smaller and all that), and then accelerated under Bush II in 2005 (not a bi-partisan time). In particular, big changes to the FAA were made in 2005 that were executive in nature and did not require Congressional approval. CF: https://www.seattletimes.com/business/delegating-aircraft-safety-assessments-to-boeing-is-nothing-new-for-the-faa/

drfrank , , March 20, 2019 at 9:22 am

Yes, but. Part of what we are seeing in this case is a rush to judgement based on less than full evidence and analysis, and so prejudices and ideological positions (which I share actually) are plainly to be seen (and perhaps worth analyzing). "Crapification," says the headline.

Yet, I cannot say that I disagree with BA's business decisions as such in a highly competitive environment as regards the tradeoffs in the development of the MAX and there is a certain absurdity in the idea that Boeing would knowingly take a high reputational risk, in an industry where failure is front page news (contrast banking or pharma failures).

I have no reason to believe that an FAA fully in charge of all aspects of certification would have prevented these crashes, as banking and drug regulators have not kept us safe either. What seems worthy of note is that neither the airlines that buy the product nor the foreign aviation regulators nor pilots' associations do their own testing and certification, in an area where more redundancy would be good. Nor is there any kind of private third party watchdog testing, like a Moody's or S&P, evaluating potentially toxic products and services for a price.

Finally, I suppose we have to ask ourselves why the price of the stock is holding up fairly well even as the news flow on these tragedies is helping the short sellers. Lest we forget that Boeing is the 5th largest defense contractor in the US.

oaf , , March 20, 2019 at 10:01 am

Is engine throttle automated in the flight regime where these accidents occurred? Or are the pilots controlling power? Is the lag in thrust response interacting with the MCAS in an unanticipated way? Aerodynamic lift of nacelles is mentioned several times; there is another lift factor relating to the thrust angle; which is not necessarily aligned with the fuselage axis in flight. Departure procedures often require speed limits and altitude changes; so it is likely multiple power demand levels get set through takeoff and climb until cruise altitude is reached. Does Autopilot/Flight Director integrate with MCAS; or are they independent systems? Even without touching flight controls; power changes affect pitch forces. I am wondering if consequences of manual power changes on an otherwise automated departure were adequately investigated in the certification of the MCAS. Please excuse my ignorance of these details.

oaf , , March 20, 2019 at 11:18 am

Regulatory elements that have been getting attention include the use of *standard* weights for passengers; IIRC, 170 lbs for US (and possibly ICAO) passengers comes to mind . Many aircraft accidents have an element of disregard for proper weight distribution, either accidental, or negligent. For instance: Tail-heavy bad! Intentional loading outside of subsequently approved C.G. and/or max weight limits is a common, if not ubiquitous part of determining certification limits.There is a safety factor in the certificated limits; but banking on this; using estimates; is proven risky or disastrous when actual weights, and distribution thereof, is uncertain. Cargo with false weight values could also occur. One might find incentive to claim lower weights than actual to save on freight charges. How many 170 lb passengers do you know? I am not familiar with scales being used to check aircraft weight and balance before takeoff; only calculations; based on formulas and charts.
Scales ARE USED during certain maintenance procedures; for airworthiness certificates; and following certain modifications.

Jack , , March 20, 2019 at 11:50 am

Here is an interesting article by a professional pilot blogger Patrick Smith. He calls the 737, "the Frankenplane", and traces its history all the way back to the 707 in 1959. According to Smith, "We wonder if the 737 MAX even needed to exist in the first place. Somewhere deep down, maybe the heart of this whole fiasco is Boeing's determination to keep the 737 line going, variant after variant, seemingly forever. I'm not saying this is the reason for what happened in Indonesia or Ethiopia, but the whole 737 program just seems misguided and unnecessary. Instead of starting from scratch with a new airframe, they took what was essentially conceived as a regional jet in the mid-1960s, and have pushed and pushed and pushed the thing -- bigger and bigger engines, fancier avionics and more seats -- into roles it was never intended for. The "Frankenplane," I call it.
See the article here .
As a pilot myslef, I feel the airlines have a lot to answer for as well. Their constant "dumbing down" of pilots, which comes from making pilots work long hours for low pay, results in pilots not being the best of the best. And training is a cost to airlines. Training doesn't result in revenue. Better to have the pilots actually flying, hence Boeing selling this new version of the 737 as not requiring further training. But, training and practice is everything in flying. Flying a plane is actually a relatively easy skill to acquire. Most people can learn to fly a trainer in 5 hours or so. Most people solo (fly the plane without an instructor) with only 10-20 hours of instruction. It takes a lot longer to learn how to drive a car for most people (45 hours is the average). So it really isn't that difficult .until something goes WRONG. That is when the training kicks in. An often quoted flying truism, is that flying is "99% boredom and 1% stark terror". What happened with these two crashes is that you had some inexperienced pilots who were not fully trained on the systems (a lot of that blame goes to Boeing). When things start going wrong, information overload can easily occur if you have not been properly trained, even with two pilots.

Carey , , March 20, 2019 at 1:44 pm

Maybe this is the link mentioned above:

http://www.askthepilot.com/ethiopian-737max-crash/

allan , , March 20, 2019 at 11:57 am

"you had some inexperienced pilots"

The captain, Yared Getachew, had more than 8,000 hours of flying under his belt.
(It is true that the first officer only had 200.)

You have to wonder how the average US commercial pilot would have done under the circumstances.

(Reply to Jack at 11:50 am)

EoH , , March 20, 2019 at 3:15 pm

Thanks for that correction. We can expect a deluge of blame-the-other-guy PR from the aircraft manufacturer and certification agencies. Billions are on the line for Boeing if a cascade of judgments it made materially contributed to these crashes. The usual strategic corporate bankruptcy might follow. I presume Boeing is considered much TBTF by the USG.

JerryDenim , , March 20, 2019 at 12:19 pm

Great job summarizing and connecting dots Lambert. I might add one more bullet point though. Items #5 and #6 were aided, abetted and perhaps somewhat necessitated by 'ye ole NeoLiberal playbook' you spoke of, but more specifically, the current regulatory FAA/Boeing milieu is attributable to years of budget cuts and strategically applied austerity. The old Grover Norquist, ' not destroyed, but small and weak enough to be drowned in a shallow bath' saw. Exact same thing we've witnessed with other formally effective regulators like the EPA, the SEC or the IRS.

I remember having a conversation with an FAA maintenance inspector, an old timer, about ten years ago. He looked to be upwards of seventy, and he told me he was eight years beyond eligibility for a full retirement. He informed me that a few years back he was supervising a team of ten people that was now down to two. Their positions had been cut outright or eliminated after they resigned or transferred when the remaining positions were made miserable by the increased workload and bureaucratic headaches. The inspector said he had not retired yet because he knew he would not be replaced and he felt the work was important. I asked him if his department was atypical and he said it was not. Same thing, across the board, with the exception of the executive level desk jobs in DC and Oklahoma City. Readers can draw their own conclusions but when it comes to funding Federal regulators, I believe you should never attribute anything to incompetence that you could attribute to malice.

No doubt Neo-Liberal ideologues in high places pushing the corrosive "customer/client" model of regulating along with the requisite deference and obsequious to industry played a large role as well.

"Chickens coming home to roost" Indeed.

EoH , , March 20, 2019 at 2:44 pm

I understand the published materials to boil down to this possible scenario:

To remain competitive and profitable, Boeing needed to improve the fuel efficiency and flight characteristics of a mainstay medium-haul aircraft. Instead of designing a new aircraft, it modified an existing airframe. Among other changes, it added more powerful engines, new lift and control surfaces, and enhanced computerized controls.

The modified Max aircraft **did not** fly like the earlier version. That meant Boeing would have to disclose information about those changes. It would need to train pilots in them, in how to integrate new protocols into existing ones, and in what to do if the enhanced computer controls malfunctioned, requiring the pilot to regain manual control.

These steps could have increased cost and time to market, might have involved new certifications, and might have reduced sales. Boeing appears to have relied on enhanced computer flight controls to avoid them.

The newly enhanced computerized controls meant that the computer would do more of the actual flying – the part that was different from the pre-Max version – and the pilot less. It gave the pilot the virtual – but not real – experience of flying the older aircraft, obviating the need, in Boeing's judgment, for additional disclosures and training. That worked except when it didn't. (See, driverless car development.)

One possible failure mode derives from the Max's reliance on a single sensor to detect its angle of attack, the aircraft's nose-up or nose-down deviation from level flight. Reliance on a single sensor would make it harder to detect and correct a fault. (Boeing's version of commitment to "absolute" safety.)

In these two crashes, the sensor may have given a faulty reading, indicating that the aircraft's nose was higher than it should have been for that stage of flight, an attitude that risked a stall. The programmed response was to drop the nose and increase power. A normal reaction to a real stall, this response can become catastrophic when unexpected or when the pilot cannot correct it.

In both crashes, it appears that the pilot did attempt to correct the computer's error. Doing so, however, reset the automated control, leading the computer to reread the faulty sensor to mean "stall." It again dropped the nose and increased speed. The pilot recorrected the error in what would become a deadly loop, a tug of war that ended in a powered dive into the ground.

Seal , , March 20, 2019 at 3:52 pm

This is like #Immelt at #GE

VietnamVet , , March 20, 2019 at 4:17 pm

What is interesting is what comes next. The FAA was drowned in the bath tub along with the EPA, FDA, SEC, etc. It doesn't have the money or staff to recertify the 737 Max. An incompetent Administration that is interested only in extracting resources is in charge. It is clear that Boeing hid the changes to save money and time. Adding a warning indicator that the flight sensors are not in the correct position to the pilot's display, including it in the preflight checklist, plus flight training would have prevented the Indonesian crash. But these changes would have raised questions on the adequacy of the new flight critical system and may have delayed certification overseas. It is easy to overlook problems if your paycheck is at risk. The Boeing managers who pushed this through deserve jail time for manslaughter.

Canada said it will recertify the 737 Max before it flies in their airspace. China won't recertify the Max until the Trump Trade War is over. Also, a delay boosts their replacement airliner. If Chicago and DC paper this over like the 2008 Great Recession; the final nails will have been hammered into the coffin of the hegemon. Trust is gone

[Mar 23, 2019] The Other Recent Deadly Boeing Crash No One Is Talking About - Slashdot

Mar 23, 2019 | tech.slashdot.org

The Other Recent Deadly Boeing Crash No One Is Talking About (nymag.com) 65 Posted by EditorDavid on Saturday March 23, 2019 @01:34PM from the searching-for-answers dept. New York magazine's Intelligencer remembers last month's crash of a Boeing 767 carrying cargo for Amazon and the U.S. Postal Service -- and shares a new theory that its cause wasn't a suicidal pilot or an autopilot malfunction:

In online pilot discussion forums, a third idea has been gaining adherents: that the pilots succumbed to a phenomenon called somatogravic illusion, in which lateral acceleration due to engine thrust creates the sensation that one is tipping backward in one's seat .

The effect is particularly strong when a plane is lightly loaded, as it would be at the end of a long flight when the fuel tanks are mostly empty, and in conditions of poor visibility, as Atlas Air 3591 was as it worked its way through bands of bad weather. The idea is that perhaps one of the pilots accidentally or in response to wind shear set the engines to full power, and then believed that the plane had become dangerously nose-high and so pushed forward on the controls.

This would cause a low-g sensation that might have been so disorienting that by the time the plane came barreling out of the bottom of the clouds there wasn't enough time to pull out of the dive.

It has been speculated that this might have been the cause of another bizarre and officially unsolved accident from three years ago: Flydubai Flight 981, which crashed 2016 in Rostov-on-Don, Russia....

While it's still too early to draw any kind of conclusions about Atlas Air 3591, the possibility exists that a firm conclusion will never be drawn -- and if it is, the cause could turn out not to be a design flaw or software malfunction that can be rectified, but a basic shortcoming in human perception and psychology that cannot be fixed as long as humans are entrusted with the control of airplanes.


BobC ( 101861 ) , Saturday March 23, 2019 @02:26PM ( #58321314 )

Re:Flying by Instruments? ( Score: 5 , Informative)

Yes, commercial pilots are taught to "fly their instruments". General aviation pilots may enjoy more "seat-of-the-pants" flying, but even they are taught to trust instruments over human perceptions, which are easily fooled, as even simple demos will show.

I used to work for an aircraft instrument maker, and our user interfaces, everything the pilot interacts with, got more care and attention than the rest of the instrument. Of course we had to display nothing but totally accurate data, and do so promptly, but we also had to do so in ways that were obvious and clear, so the pilot can take in the most important information with a quick glance.

The pilot's standard "scan" is perhaps the most-trained skill. To look at everything on the instrument panels and outside the windows often enough to not miss anything, yet slow enough to take in all vital information.

When things get hectic, the pilot still does this scan, interrupting it as needed to deal with situations, but still doing it. Because, as the saying goes, "trouble often comes in threes": Stopping everything to handle an initial situation may mask what's really going on, and lead to a cascade of failures.

With ever more data being aimed at the pilot, there is a distinct risk of information overload, especially when tired, or during tense but otherwise normal situations, such as take-off, landing, or flying through turbulence. This overload often encourages the pilot to rely more on signals from the body, which need less conscious processing, rather than focus on all that data.

Here, again, is where commercial pilots receive extra training, but perhaps not often enough. This is one of the factors that keep commercial pilot mandatory retirement ages so low: The risk of overload increases with age, even when all other factors match those of a younger person.

Plus, staying in peak training for decades is fatiguing, and relatively few can do so "naturally". Which is one of the reasons we're running out of commercial aircraft pilots.

It may seem counter-intuitive, but this overload risk is often handled by adding more automation, more automatic systems to "help" the pilot. So much so that actually manually "driving" a commercial aircraft, with hands on the controls, is an increasingly rare part of a normal flight.

Our instruments also tried to take pilot fatigue into account, saving our brightest and loudest alarms only for the most desperate situations, to punch-through that overload to help ensure prompt and correct reactions.

One product I worked on was a TAWS (Terrain Awareness and Warning System) instrument, which basically stayed quiet unless there was a risk of the pilot flying into the ground, to help prevent "CFIT" accidents (Controlled Flight Into the Ground). It has special modes for take-off and landing, though our instrument was designed to actually *avoid* making the pilot depend on it's display: Useful for information as part of the scan, but not to be used to navigate the aircraft. Our main function was to provide visual and audible alerts only when needed.

I believe 100% of US commercial aircraft (and perhaps now even biz-jets) are required to have TAWS on-board and active. Any TAWS-equipped plane approaching the ground outside of an approved approach path for a know airport will give the pilot "Terrain ahead. Pull up! Pull up!" alerts until the hazard no longer exists.

Unfortunately, if a stall is also immanent, the pilot will simultaneously receive an alert to push the nose down. And increase power. And other things as well. An overload of alerts, which a skilled and calm pilot will respond to with the most correct action. But which can overload a stressed or tired pilot, or one with the beginnings of a cold or flu.

The thing is, every alert can be silenced, to reduce the confusion and distractions. But an overloaded pilot can forget even this simple aid to keeping full awareness and control.

This is a big part of why pilots are so often blamed for crashes: Because, for whatever reason, they failed to take the appropriate action demanded by the situation.

As a former aircraft instrument developer, I was always well aware of my instruments' contribution to the pilot's mental load. Our teams agonized over tiny changes to font selection and sizes and colors and contrast. And how many button presses were needed to accomplish a function. And how easy it was to switch modes or silence an alert. Which is why we had a massive alpha test system that got even the earliest versions of our instruments in front of pilots with experimental aircraft and ratings. (Experimental aircraft and the pilots who fly them are rare and precious things to instrument developers, even when we owned and operated our own corporate test aircraft.)

Fortunately, our efforts paid off, and pilots (and the FAA) loved our instruments. Some of our design innovations were adopted into instrument regulations by the FAA, so all manufacturers had to build to our standard. But always hovering over our success was the fear of news of the crash of a plane flying our instruments. And the fear that information overload from our instruments would be shown to be a contributing factor.

Which is why part of our required reading was any and all reports (mainly NTSB and NASA) that even mention pilot overload. Even a decade after leaving that industry, I still read these reports.

rnturn ( 11092 ) , Saturday March 23, 2019 @01:55PM ( #58321174 )
Oh... Are we back to t"pilot error" excuses again? ( Score: 2 )
``...the cause could turn out not to be a design flaw or software malfunction that can be rectified, but a basic shortcoming in human perception and psychology that cannot be fixed as long as humans are entrusted with the control of airplanes.''

On the other hand, we have two recent examples of what can happen when a flight computer is given control of the plane and it is unable to avoid doing something stupid like -- as the old euphemism goes -- `make inadvertent contact with the terrain'.

Until we know more about how this was supposed work and exactly why it didn't , I think I'll trust the human with his hands on the controls more than the flight computer.

(Thankfully, the occasions for my needing to fly are few and far between.)

Futurepower(R) ( 558542 ) writes: < MJennings.USA@NOT_any_of_THISgmail.com > on Saturday March 23, 2019 @01:39PM ( #58321082 ) Homepage
Design errors in the 737 MAX-guidance system ( Score: 2 )

Everything I've been able to learn has indicated that there are major design errors in the guidance system of the Boeing 737 MAX-8

ebonum ( 830686 ) , Saturday March 23, 2019 @02:02PM ( #58321206 )
Artificial horizon? ( Score: 3 )

If you look at it and you are headed down (and you have good airspeed), you don't need to keep trying to nose down - regardless of what your senses are telling you.

What about looking at how the altimeter is changing?

The artificial horizon gives you a lot of information when your sense of direction is playing tricks on you (in the clouds and feeling like you are going up,down, rolling, etc.)

[Mar 21, 2019] The Lives the Free Market Took

Mar 21, 2019 | jacobinmag.com

BY
BRANKO MARCETIC

The people who died in last Sunday's plane crash were not just killed by Boeing. Their deaths stemmed from an ideology that puts business interests above human life.


... ... ...

Boeing is not just a lobbying juggernaut that donates prodigiously to politicians all over the country; it's also a company in which numerous members of Congress are personally invested, and it cultivates mutually beneficial financial relationships with top officials . Meanwhile, as William McGee of Consumer Reports told Amy Goodman , these issues are rooted in the FAA's lax, business-friendly oversight of the very industry it's meant to regulate, a case of regulatory capture that stretches back long before this administration.

Whatever the black box from the Ethiopian Airlines flight reveals, the lives put at risk by lax regulations are not apolitical tragedies; they are caused by an administration that time and again has shown itself to be callous and indifferent to the lives of the people it claims to fight for, whether Puerto Ricans left to fend for themselves in the wake of natural disaster, or federal workers used as bargaining chips in a game of political brinkmanship.

But more than that, they are victims of an ideology that tells us the greatest insult to human life is not the death and misery that comes from unchecked greed, but efforts to democratically control it through public institutions. The real problems aren't unsafe products, pollution, dangerous chemicals, and the like, we're told, but "red tape" and the taxes used to fund the bodies regulating them. Meanwhile, activists like Nader have long been painted as " wacky " extremists in the pursuit of some quixotic ideological crusade simply for trying to do things like prevent people from dying in cars without seat belts .

When social-democratic policies are enacted, wealthy people take less home after taxes, and businesses are inconvenienced by regulations meant to secure the common good. But when neoliberal policies are put in place, people and their families go hungry, they lose their homes, they get injured on the job, they get sick, and, sometimes, they die. The public should be enraged by the actions of governments like Trump's and Trudeau's; but we should also be angry at a political narrative that tells us trying to stop such tragedies is "ideological" instead of common sense. We owe it to the crash victims to create no more of them.


[Mar 21, 2019] The Boeing 737 Max 8- a Case Study in Uncreative Destruction

Mar 21, 2019 | www.counterpunch.org

On May 12, 2010, the New York Times ran an article by economics editor Catherine Rampell titled "The New Poor: In Job Market Shift, Some Workers Are Left Behind"that focused on the largely middle-aged unemployed who will probably never work again. For example, 52 year old administrative assistant Cynthia Norton has been working part-time at Walmart while sending resumes everywhere but nobody gets back to her. She is part of a much bigger picture:

Ms. Norton is one of 1.7 million Americans who were employed in clerical and administrative positions when the recession began, but were no longer working in that occupation by the end of last year. There have also been outsize job losses in other occupation categories that seem unlikely to be revived during the economic recovery. The number of printing machine operators, for example, was nearly halved from the fourth quarter of 2007 to the fourth quarter of 2009. The number of people employed as travel agents fell by 40 percent.

But Ms. Rampell finds the silver lining in this dark cloud:

This "creative destruction" in the job market can benefit the economy.

Pruning relatively less-efficient employees like clerks and travel agents, whose work can be done more cheaply by computers or workers abroad, makes American businesses more efficient. Year over year, productivity growth was at its highest level in over 50 years last quarter, pushing corporate profits to record highs and helping the economy grow.

The term "creative destruction" might ring a bell. It was coined by Werner Sombart in his 1913 book "War and Capitalism". When he was young, Sombart considered himself a Marxist. His notion of creative destruction was obviously drawn from Karl Marx, who, according to some, saw capitalism in terms of the business cycle. With busts following booms, like night follows day, a new round of capital accumulation can begin. This interpretation is particularly associated with Volume Two of Capital that examines this process in great detail. Looking at this material, some Marxists like Eduard Bernstein drew the conclusion that capitalism is an infinitely self-sustaining system.

By 1913, Sombart had dumped the Marxist commitment to social revolution but still retained the idea that there was a basis in Karl Marx for upholding the need for "creative destruction", a view buttressed by an overly positive interpretation of this passage in the Communist Manifesto:

The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionizing the instruments of production, and thereby the relations of production, and with them the whole relations of society. Conservation of the old modes of production in unaltered form, was, on the contrary, the first condition of existence for all earlier industrial classes. Constant revolutionizing of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation distinguish the bourgeois epoch from all earlier ones.

By the 1930s, Sombart had adapted himself fairly well to the Nazi system although he was not gung-ho like Martin Heidegger or Carl Schmitt. The wiki on Sombart notes:

In 1934 he published Deutscher Sozialismus where he claimed a "new spirit" was beginning to "rule mankind". The age of capitalism and proletarian socialism was over and with "German socialism" (National-Socialism) taking over.

But despite this, he remained critical. In 1938 he wrote an anthropology text that found fault with the Nazi system and many of his Jewish students remained fond of him.

I suspect, however, that Rampell is familiar with Joseph Schumpeter's use of the term rather than Sombart since Schumpeter was an economist, her chosen discipline. In 1942, he wrote a book titled Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy that, like Sombart, retained much of Karl Marx's methodology but without the political imperative to destroy the system that utilized "creative destruction". He wrote:

The opening up of new markets, foreign or domestic, and the organizational development from the craft shop and factory to such concerns as U.S. Steel illustrate the same process of industrial mutation–if I may use that biological term–that incessantly revolutionizes the economic structure from within, incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new one. This process of Creative Destruction is the essential fact about capitalism. It is what capitalism consists in and what every capitalist concern has got to live in. . . .

The wiki on Schumpeter claims that this theory is wedded to Nikolai Kondratiev's "long wave" hypothesis that rests on the idea that there are 50 year cycles in which capitalism grows, decays and enters a crisis until a new round of capital accumulation opens up. Not only was the idea attractive to Schumpeter, it was a key part of Ernest Mandel's economic theories. Unlike Schumpeter, Mandel was on the lookout for social agencies that could break the cycle and put development on a new footing, one based on human need rather than private profit.

Returning to Rampell's article, there is one dimension entirely missing. She assumes that "creative destruction" will operate once again in order to foster a new upswing in the capitalist business cycle. But how exactly will that manifest itself? All the signs point to a general decline in business activity unless there is some kind of technological breakthrough equivalent to the computer revolution that fueled growth for decades. Does anybody believe that "green manufacturing" will play the same role? I don't myself.

One thing does occur to me. Sombart's book was written in 1913, one year before WWI and was even titled eerily enough "War and Capitalism". One wonders if the Great War would be seen as part and parcel of "creative destruction". War, after all, does have a knack for clearing the playing field with even more finality than layoffs. Schumpeter wrote his in 1942, one year into WWII. My guess is that he did not theorize war as the ultimate (and necessary?) instrument of creative destruction but history will record that WWII did introduce a whole rafter of new technology, including aluminum, radar, nuclear power, etc., while bombing old modes of production into oblivion. What a great opportunity it was for capitalism to rebuild Japan, especially after firebombing and atomic bombs did their lovely work.

In my view, there's something disgusting about this "creative destruction" business especially when it is articulated by a young, pro-capitalist Princeton graduate like Catherine Rampell who wrote for Slate, the Village Voice and other such b-list publications before crawling her way up into an editorial job at the NYT. She clearly has learned how to cater her reporting to the ideological needs of the newspaper of record, growing more and more reactionary as the crisis of capitalism deepens.

[Mar 21, 2019] Neoliberalism at 30,000 Feet

Mar 21, 2019 | jacobinmag.com

hen United Airlines flight 1462 made an unexpected landing in Chicago last month, it was not due to mechanical issues, weather conditions, or flight logistics, but a battle over legroom in the aisles. As one passenger tried to recline her seat and another used a $20 device called a Knee Defender to prevent the occupant ahead of him from leaning back, the battle over personal space descended into a scuffle. The pilot opted to make an additional stop to remove the unruly passengers.

Flight 1462 hasn't been alone. Not just the random dispute of irate travelers, similar flights have been diverted because of the airlines' frenzied drive to wring as much money out of customers as possible. Airlines are increasingly cramming more passengers onto each flight, termed "densification," and regularly overbooking flights. Any aspect of a flight that was once provided free of charge -- from a checked bag to a complementary drink to using a credit card to pay for a ticket -- can now be charged à la carte.

So relentless has this nickel and diming been that when news reports claimed the discount airline Ryan Air was about to start charging for in-flight bathroom use, many people took them seriously. But the story wasn't true -- it was all a ploy for free press from a company unwilling to pay for advertising, help disabled passengers, or provide ice for drinks.

Such frugality is only one of the problems wrought by airline deregulation. If the greatest benefit of deregulation has been that more people can afford to fly, it has come at the cost of increased tumult within the industry and reduced pay for workers.

Before the airlines were deregulated under President Jimmy Carter, the Civil Aeronautics Bureau (CAB) maintained flight pricing structures, airport gate access, and flight paths. There were rules that stipulated which airlines could compete in which market and what prices they could charge. Loosening restrictions meant abandoning the CAB and its pricing structures, and allowing an unmediated flow of competition.

With fewer restrictions, upstart fly-by-night airlines could compete against major airlines like American/US Airways, United, Delta, Alaskan, and Hawaiian Airways. Such competition, conservative and liberal advocates claimed, would bring down flight costs, providing more savings and convenience to the customer.

But allowing this level of competition also unleashed chaos. While the discount airlines would win over passengers for a time by offering flights half as expensive, the major airlines would respond by slashing their prices in an attempt to drive the upstarts out of business.

By drastically reducing ticket costs, the major airlines would take on an unsustainable amount of debt that, combined with the loss of business to the new entrants, would lead to layoffs or bankruptcy. Pension funds were then raided and labor contracts voided to pay for the price wars. With each airline company collapse, thousands of employees were laid off, decimating union membership.

To compete, the legacy airlines also drove down the salaries of their pilots, and cut benefits and vacation time. Besides a reduction in compensation, a two-tiered pay system has been set up with decent pay for incumbent pilots and markedly low wages for new entrants. Starting salaries for pilots are now as low as $15,000 a year, even as CEO pay rises inexorably. Remarking on a career in which he had seen his pay cut in half and his pension eliminated, captain Sully Sullenberger told the BBC in 2009 that he did not know "a single professional pilot who wants his or her children to follow in their footsteps."

While unions were still strong in the industry, they were constantly embroiled in bitter labor disputes. Between the voided contracts and the hemorrhaging membership caused by regular bankruptcy, they were left fighting to maintain wage standards in an unnecessarily competitive industry.

The only way discount airlines could offer such low prices was by paying their workers less, using less experienced pilots and sometimes non-unionized labor, offering fewer frills, and running spartan operations that only serviced a handful of routes with a single type of jet liner (thus simplifying pilot and mechanic training). Instead of a single union representing employees across the industry -- typified by the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), which represented a majority of pilots -- some discount airlines maintained relationships with offshoot unions with smaller membership rolls and less leverage.

The discount airlines also depended on secondary, class-B airports that charged less in landing fees. But those discounts eventually disappeared when the secondary airports no longer needed to cut their fees to attract business.

To maintain their dominance over the market, the major airlines shifted from a direct city-to-city flight standard to the hub-and-spoke system of today. The hub-and-spoke setup allowed large centralized airports like Dallas-Ft. Worth and Atlanta to be ruled by a single company that determines which flights can use which terminals and at what cost.

While the hub-and-spoke system has some benefits, it's largely inefficient, dependent as it is on multi-stage connecting flights. Combined with the need to cut costs, it would also cause longer airport delays as planes were left waiting on the tarmac to make sure all passengers from connecting flights made it aboard. A single delay in a connecting flight could throw passengers' itineraries askew, leaving them stuck in a random airport overnight.

The major airlines used other tricks to keep out nascent airlines. They paid off travel agents and travel reservation sites to give preference to their particular airline. They introduced frequent flier miles to maintain brand allegiance.

Upstart discount airlines like Southwest were able to survive the vicious price wars by leaning on quality of service and direct flights, but most did not. The list of companies that were liquidated, temporarily or permanently, as a result is impressively long considering what it takes to start an airline: America West, PanAm, TransWorld, Western, Piedmont, Frontier, Northwest, National, Texas International, People Express, ValuJet, Air Florida, Eastern, Braniff, Skytrain, Pacific Southwest, Western Pacific, and many more.

Once bankrupt, the major airlines then bought the upstarts, creating an effective oligopoly. So much for competition.

Already on a spending spree during the heady years of the 1990s dot-com boom, buying up failed companies only saddled major airlines with more debt. While most people assume that the airlines had to be bailed out in 2001 because of the decrease in traffic after the September 11 attacks, it was also because the airlines were insolvent from previous financial problems, largely as a result of the price wars.

The actions of the major airlines may seem ruthless, but they were largely protecting their position in a deregulated industry that allowed the discount airlines to undercut labor standards just to offer cheaper prices to customers. They were defending themselves from disruption.

Considering the skill, education, and investment needed to maintain a safe and reliable airline, it is not exactly a business that needs to be disrupted. Running an airline is labor intensive, and it only turns a profit at random intervals. There's little money to be skimmed off.

With profit margins so thin, tickets on a half-empty flight have to cost twice as much as a fully booked one. Which is why, for a time, smaller cities that weren't necessarily travel hubs bore the brunt of deregulation. Routes that weren't fully booked experienced skyrocketing flight costs, which, for small-town travelers, was a huge disincentive to fly.

The bilking of transportation costs to and from smaller cities after a run of chaotic competition is eerily similar to what happened during the railway mania of the 1800s. Investors rushed to build rail lines everywhere and anywhere while money was flush. But once cash became tight, the rail industry used their monopoly power to charge exorbitant prices for anybody trying to ship in and out of smaller towns like Cincinnati. Such predatory pricing is what led to transportation regulation in the first place.

Since the 2001 airline bailout, things have calmed down a bit. It no longer costs $600 to fly from New York to Pittsburgh. Fewer discount airlines are entering the market, and the handful that are still in operation work with the major airlines on various routes (e.g. "flight provided by Frontier"). The price wars have settled to a quiet struggle played out on online travel registration websites like Kayak.com and Hipmunk.com, which have wholly replaced the job of travel agents.

But for airlines, the lower revenue from cheaper tickets has to be made up somewhere, and convenience may be the easiest element to remove. Airlines are pushing petty indignities on passengers and flight attendants by way of a million miscellaneous charges. Half the time, the discounts saved by cheaper tickets from deregulation are recouped in add-on fees. Eventually airlines may just offer extra-saver flights devoid of the most basic accommodations and simply force passengers who can't afford first-class seats to be stacked in the cargo hold like cord wood.

So what's the alternative? The airline industry is close to being a natural monopoly, there's little reason to foster competition. Indeed, the industry would benefit from nationalization or a well-regulated public option. At the very least, more regulation is necessary.

Without subsidization and some rules about flight costs, there is little incentive for the airline industry to provide affordable flights to locations that aren't fully booked. The irony is that we already subsidize airline travel. It just occurs through bailouts and bankruptcies after each airline has fought tooth and nail for market dominance. Public funds wind up paying for a wasteful, inefficient system characterized by irrational, destructive competition.

Through regulation or more aggressive means, it's quite possible to ensure good wages and working conditions and safe, affordable, reliable service -- all without blackout dates, three layovers, or all-out battles for legroom.

[Mar 21, 2019] With Personal Connection to Crash, Ralph Nader Takes on Boeing - WSJ

Mar 21, 2019 | www.wsj.com

He has long been a vocal critic of the Federal Aviation Administration, saying the agency lacks the resources and willpower to aggressively police airlines and manufacturers.

Mr. Nader said Boeing may be exposed to civil and possibly criminal liability. After the first fatal crash in October -- a Lion Air flight that crashed into the Java Sea minutes after takeoff -- company officials "were put on notice about the problem" with an automated stall-prevention system that can misfire and override pilot commands by repeatedly pushing down an aircraft's nose, he said.

The Justice and Transportation Departments are scrutinizing Boeing's dealings with the FAA over safety certifications, people familiar with the matter have said.

... ... ...

Mr. Nader has expressed his concerns to lawmakers and former regulators, and called for congressional hearings. Before the U.S. grounded the planes last week, he championed the idea of a sweeping boycott of all versions of 737 MAX aircraft. He also has stressed the importance of having Mr. Muilenburg, Boeing's CEO, testify on Capitol Hill about safety issues with the fleet.

Criticizing Boeing's original design of the automated flight-control feature, dubbed MCAS, Mr. Nader said it reflected a misguided view driven by engineering overconfidence and called it "the arrogance of the algorithms."

[Mar 21, 2019] Ralph Nader's Grandniece Died in Ethiopian Plane Crash; Now He Is Urging Boycott of Boeing Jet Democracy Now!

Mar 21, 2019 | www.democracynow.org

... ... ...

RALPH NADER : Boeing is used to getting its way with the patsy FAA . And this time, however, it's in really hot water. If it continues to dig its heels in, it's going to expose itself and its executives to potential criminal prosecution, because they are now on notice, with two crashes -- Indonesia and Ethiopia. There's probably a lot more to come out in terms of the technical dissent, in the, what was called, "heated discussions" about the plane software between the FAA , the pilots' union, Boeing. And you can't suppress technical dissent forever. And Senators Markey and Blumenthal are calling for the release of all the relevant information. And while that happens, the planes must be grounded. You see, they're on notice now. This is the future of passenger business for Boeing. They've got orders for over 3,000 planes from all over the world. They've produced and delivered about 350. Southwest is the leading owner and operator of these planes. It's digging its heels in, and so is American Airlines, I believe, and Air Canada. And Boeing is not going to get away with this, because this is not some old DC-9 about to be phased out. This is their future strategic plan. And they better own up. 2013, they grounded the 787 because of battery fires, and they had about 50 or 60 of those planes. So, there's plenty of precedent.

And the most important thing that people can do is: Do not fly this plane, the 737 MAX 8 and 9. Ask the airline, when you book the flight, whether it's that plane. The airline should not dare charge you for reservation changes. And I'm calling for a boycott of that plane. If several hundred thousand air passengers boycott that plane and there are more and more empty seats, that will do more to bring Boeing around than the patsy FAA and a rather serene Congress, which, by the way, gets all kinds of freebies from the airlines that ordinary people don't get. We've sent a survey last year, twice, to every member of Congress, asking them to disclose all these freebies. We didn't get one answer. And that helps account for, over the years, the total reluctance of members of Congress even to do such things as deal with seat size, restroom space and other conveniences, never mind just the safety of the aircraft. So, this is important for consumers. Just don't fly 737 MAX 8 or 9. Make sure that you're informed about it. And for up-to-date information, you can go to FlyersRights.org . That's run by Paul Hudson, who lost his daughter in the Pan Am 103, 30 years ago, and has been a stalwart member of the FAA Advisory Committee. And that's where you get up-to-date information, FlyersRights.org .

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, we're also joined by William McGee, who's the aviation adviser for Consumer Reports . Could you give us your perspective on what's happened here? And also, could you expand on what Ralph Nader was talking about, about the use of artificial intelligence in these new planes?

WILLIAM McGEE: Sure, absolutely, Juan. You know, there are so many unanswered questions here, but many of them are focused on the time period between the first crash in late October with Lion Air and the crash on Sunday with Ethiopian. Again, for perspective here, as Ralph noted, we're not talking about old aircraft. This is an airplane that's only been in service since 2017. This is the Boeing 737 MAX 8, a recent derivative of the 737. Now, in that time period, the aircraft that crashed in October was 2 months old; the one that crashed on Sunday was 4 months old. This is really unprecedented in all the years that I've been in this industry. We don't see brand-new airplanes crash on takeoff like this under similar circumstances.

... ... ...

WILLIAM McGEE: Absolutely. And, you know, this goes back many years. Ralph mentioned that the FAA is known throughout the industry, even among some of its own employees and to airline employees, as the "tombstone agency." And that phrase comes from the fact that the FAA has shown time and time again that it is reluctant to act unless there's a tragedy and, unfortunately, unless there are fatalities. Now, we have seen this as recently as last year, when, you may recall, over Philadelphia, a Southwest 737 had a major engine malfunction that punctured a hole in the fuselage and killed a woman who was nearly sucked out of the aircraft. Well, what wasn't as well reported was that two years prior, that same engine type and that same airline, Southwest, same aircraft type, 737, also had an uncontained engine failure. But in 2016, there were no injuries, and there were no fatalities. Instead of the FAA stepping in and saying, "We need to, you know, have all of these engine blades inspected on this engine type, on all the carriers that are operating it," the FAA asked the industry, "What would you like to do? How long would you like to take to look at this?" And the industry dragged its heels, not surprisingly, and said, "We need more time." Two years later, in 2018, there was a fatality. And then, two days after that, last April 2018, two days after that woman was killed, the FAA issued what's called an AD, an airworthiness directive. That's what should have been issued in 2016, where that death wouldn't have happened. So, we have seen this time and again.

And you mentioned Attention All Passengers , my book. Much of the book, about a third of it, is devoted to the issue of the FAA oversight of airline maintenance. We could easily talk about it for two or three more days. But the bottom line is that the entire model of how the airline industry works in the United States has been changed dramatically in the last 15 years or so. All airlines in the United States -- without question, all of them -- in 2019, outsource some or most or just about all of their maintenance, what they call heavy maintenance. Much of it is done outside of the United States -- El Salvador, Mexico, Brazil, China, Singapore. Again, we're talking about U.S. airlines. And although the FAA , on paper, says there is one standard for maintenance of U.S. airlines, the reality is there isn't. There are waivers given all the time, so that when work is done outside the United States, there are waivers so that there are no security background checks, there are no alcohol and drug screening programs put in place. And, in fact, many -- in some cases, most -- of the technicians cannot even be called mechanics, because they're not licensed. They're not licensed as they're required to be in the U.S. So, basically, you have two sets of rules. You have one that's for in-house airline employees and another for the outsourced facilities. And this all leads back to the FAA . I have sat in a room with FAA senior officials and asked them about this, and they say that they don't think it's a problem. It is a problem.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And what impact --

WILLIAM McGEE: I've spoken to --

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: What impact have the mergers, of the constant mergers of airlines, had, so we basically have a handful of U.S. airlines now, on all of this?

WILLIAM McGEE: Oh, no question. We have an oligopoly now. And, you know, even just going back as far as 2001, you know, there were four or five major carriers that we don't have anymore: America West, Continental, US Airways, TWA . You know, so what we have now is effectively an oligopoly. And this is unprecedented in the history of the aviation industry here in the United States. And so, you know, even when -- Ralph was talking about boycotts, and, you know, it's an excellent idea. But it's more challenging now than it would have been a few years ago. You know, there might have been more pressure on Southwest and American 10 or 15 years ago, when consumers had more choices. Now it's getting harder and harder for consumers to express their displeasure. We saw this after the Dr. Dao incident, where that passenger was dragged off United. In the long term, it didn't really affect United's bookings. It would have in another time, but so many people are locked in, particularly outside New York, Washington, Los Angeles. They're locked in, where they don't have a lot of choice on carriers.

AMY GOODMAN : Ralph Nader, I wanted to get your response both to this news that they were working on a fix -- they know there's a software glitch, that somehow, when on automatic pilot, when the plane is taking off, it takes this precipitous dive, and the way to deal with it is to take it off automatic and put it on manual. Now, AP has been doing a deep dive into the database of pilots complaining over and over again about this problem and saying they have to quickly switch to manual to prevent the plane from nosediving into the ground. And this latest news from The Wall Street Journal that while they're talking about this glitch being fixed in the next five weeks or so, that five weeks were lost in January because of the government shutdown.

RALPH NADER : Well, that's what Paul Hudson wrote in his press release at Flyers Rights. The focus has got to be on inaccurate or nonexisting information in Boeing's training manuals and inadequate flight training requirements. They sold this plane on the basis, among other things, of having larger engines. It's supposed to be 10 percent more fuel-efficient. But they sold it on the grounds that "You don't have to really train your pilots, airlines. This is really just a small modification of the reliable 737 that's all over the world." The question really comes down to cost cutting. They tantalize the airlines by saying, "This isn't really a new plane. It's very easy to fly, if you can fly a 737." And that turned out to be quite false...

... ... ...

[Mar 21, 2019] Pentagon to probe if Shanahan used office to help Boeing

Mar 21, 2019 | finance.yahoo.com

The Pentagon's inspector general has formally opened an investigation into a watchdog group's allegations that acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan has used his office to promote his former employer, Boeing Co.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed an ethics complaint with the Pentagon's inspector general a week ago, alleging that Shanahan has appeared to make statements promoting Boeing and disparaging competitors, such as Lockheed Martin.

Shanahan, who was traveling with President Donald Trump to Ohio on Wednesday, spent more than 30 years at Boeing, leading programs for commercial planes and missile defense systems. He has been serving as acting Pentagon chief since the beginning of the year, after James Mattis stepped down.

The probe comes as Boeing struggles to deal with a public firestorm over two deadly crashes of the Boeing 737 Max 8 jetliner within the last five months. And it focuses attention on whether Trump will nominate Shanahan as his formal pick for defense chief, rather than letting him languish as an acting leader of a major federal agency.

Dwrena Allen, spokeswoman for the inspector general, said Shanahan has been informed of the investigation. And, in a statement, Pentagon spokesman Tom Crosson said Shanahan welcomes the review.

"Acting Secretary Shanahan has at all times remained committed to upholding his ethics agreement filed with the DoD," said Crosson. "This agreement ensures any matters pertaining to Boeing are handled by appropriate officials within the Pentagon to eliminate any perceived or actual conflict of interest issue(s) with Boeing."

During a Senate hearing last week, Shanahan was asked by U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., about the 737 Max issue. Shanahan said he had not spoken to anyone in the administration about it and had not been briefed on it. Asked whether he favored an investigation into the matter, Shanahan said it was for regulators to investigate.

On Wednesday, Blumenthal said that scrutiny of Shanahan's Boeing ties is necessary. "In fact, it's overdue. Boeing is a behemoth 800-pound gorilla -- raising possible questions of undue influence at DOD, FAA and elsewhere," said Blumenthal.

Shanahan signed an ethics agreement in June 2017, when he was being nominated for the job of deputy defense secretary, a job he held during Mattis' tenure. It outlined the steps he would take to avoid "any actual or apparent conflict of interest," and said he would not participate in any matter involving Boeing.

The CREW ethics complaint, based to a large part on published reports, including one by Politico in January, said Shanahan has made comments praising Boeing in meetings about government contracts, raising concerns about "whether Shanahan, intentionally or not, is putting his finger on the scale when it comes to Pentagon priorities."

One example raised by the complaint is the Pentagon's decision to request funding for Boeing 15EX fighter jets in the 2020 proposed budget. The Pentagon is requesting about $1 billion to buy eight of the aircraft.

Shanahan, 56, joined Boeing in 1986, rose through its ranks and is credited with rescuing a troubled Dreamliner 787 program. He also led the company's missile defense and military helicopter programs.

Trump has seemed attracted to Shanahan partially for his work on one of the president's pet projects -- creating a Space Force. He also has publicly lauded Shanahan's former employer, Boeing, builder of many of the military's most prominent aircraft, including the Apache and Chinook helicopters, the C-17 cargo plane and the B-52 bomber, as well as the iconic presidential aircraft, Air Force One.

This is only the third time in history that the Pentagon has been led by an acting chief, and Shanahan has served in that capacity for longer than any of the others.

Presidents typically take pains to ensure the Pentagon is being run by a Senate-confirmed official, given the grave responsibilities that include sending young Americans into battle, ensuring the military is ready for extreme emergencies like nuclear war and managing overseas alliances that are central to U.S. security.


3 hours ago Why did Trump appoint a former Boeing executive and industry lobbyist to the the Secretary of Defense to replace General Mattis? What in Shananhan's background makes him qualified to lead our nation's military forces? 3 hours ago WITHOUT A DOUBT HE DID., ALSO INVESTIGATE NIKKI HALEY'S APPOINTED ON BOEING'S BOARD TO REPLACE SHANAHAN. FOLLOW THE HOEING KICKBACKS(MONEY), TO DONALD TRUMP'S FAMILY. 3 hours ago Shanahan probably helped Boeing on the promise of a later payback just like Ms. Nikki Haley did while Gov of SC where Boeing built a new plant on her watch. She helped big time to keep the Unions out of the new Boeing plant and now Boeing is going to put her on their board of directors. Nothing like a bit of an obvious payoff. 2 hours ago Reminds me of the Bush Jr days in the White House. During the Gulf War (#2) Vice President #$%$ Cheney awarded oil company Halliburton (Cheney was CEO before accepting the VP job) to deliver meals for the troops. The contract was ?No Bid.? Why was an oil company delivering food to troops with a no bid contract? After Cheney?s Job was over being VP he went back to being CEO at Halliburton and moved Halliburton?s headquarters to Dubai. What an American! 2 hours ago Now we understand why Boeing & the FAA hesitated to ground those planes for few days despite many countries who did grounded those plane which is a precedent for a country to ground & NOT wait for the manufacturer. ONLY after Canada grounded those planes Boeing & the FAA & that's because Canada IS a the #1 flight partner of the US ! 4 hours ago Years ago there was a Boeing procurement scandal and Trump does love the swamp he claims to hate.

[Mar 20, 2019] Reuters natch, are trying to pretend it's somehow the pilot's or airline's fault, but the their own reporters show it ain't

Mar 20, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

FFS , Mar 20, 2019 2:26:33 PM | link

OT: Reuters natch, are trying to pretend it's somehow the pilot's or airline's fault, but the their own reporters show it ain't

https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-indonesia-crash-exclusive-idUKKCN1R10F7

[Mar 20, 2019] Was the 737 Max problem just bad software by Stephen Bryen

Mar 18, 2019 | www.asiatimes.com

he crash of the Ethiopian Max-8 Flight 409 on March 10, 2019, resulted in the grounding of all the Boeing 737 Max series aircraft – even the last hold-out, the United States, belatedly grounded them when President Trump acted and overruled the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that opposed any halt to flights.

In the United States, the FAA certifies aircraft as airworthy, puts out bulletins and advisories on problems and fixes and often is the "go to" agency for many aviation flight authorities around the world.

The 737 Max series is a new version of the venerable 737, equipped with new engines and other modifications that have impacted the aircraft's performance in good ways and bad.

Almost every expert today puts the blame for both flight disasters on faulty software that took over running the plane's flight control system. Many have pointed to Boeing's alleged lack of transparency in telling pilots what to do if the software malfunctioned. In addition, there had been at least eight pilot-reported flight control incidents prior to the first Lion Air crash.

Experienced pilots

Three of the pilots on the two doomed planes each had more than 8,000 hours flying experience – quite a lot – and the pilots of the Ethiopian airlines had additional information on the plane's flight characteristics and what to do in an emergency.

While we are still awaiting a final report on last year's Lion Air crash, we do have a quite informative initial report, although it lacks hard findings. In the Ethiopian case, we only have flight track information from ground radar and some incomplete reporting on what the pilots were saying to ground control. More will become available as the flight recorders are analyzed.

Yet despite this, we can understand some of what happened and clearly it is more than a single software glitch. This may help explain why Boeing did not meet its proposed deadline of January for installing updated software. Now in March Boeing says the replacement software will be available in April. But even if it is, there are more issues involving both hardware and software.

The software which so far has received virtually all the attention is called MCAS, for Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System. MCAS was added to the Max-8 series because new, heavier and larger engines replaced the old engines and as a result, the updated Max planes had a strong tendency to pitch nose up.

The new engine, CFM Leap-1B, was selected by Boeing because it was much more fuel efficient than the older models, one of the big reasons customers want the 737 Max.

The new engines forced re-engineering of parts of the 737.

Fitting the new engines meant moving them forward and lengthening the front landing gear to keep the engines from scraping on the ground. In turn, this changed the plane's center of gravity and also altered the air flow on the wings.

MCAS was a band-aid to fix the pitch up problem caused by the relocated and heavier new engines. MCAS is designed to push the nose down and prevent the aircraft from going into a stall. MCAS was intended to deal only with a specific flight risk.

The problems

Here are some of the problems one finds when reviewing the Preliminary Air Accident Investigation Report on the Lion Air crash.

1. MCAS operates by receiving information from a special sensor that measures the flying angle of the plane and takes over the flight controls if the angle is too great – meaning the aircraft could stall. A stall happens when a plane has too low an airspeed and not enough lift and the plane will literally fall out of the air.

There are two sensors that measure the angle of attack or nose-up condition of the Boeing 737 Max, one that provides data to the pilot and another that provides data to the copilot. The sensors are known as Angle of Attack Sensors, or AoA.

In the Lion Air aircraft, the pilot's AoA sensor had been found to be faulty on an earlier flight as reported by the pilot. That AoA sensor was replaced and tested by aircraft maintenance before the fatal flight.

The pilot gets no console or other warnings that his AoA sensor might be faulty. The pilot can ask his copilot what reading he is getting and see if there is a difference. That is exactly what happened on the Lion Air flight.

It would appear that the MCAS software is driven by information from the pilot's sensor. If the sensor itself is not at fault, there could still be wiring and connection problems that could feed bad information to MCAS. These conditions cannot be determined in flight.

If it is true that MCAS relies on information from only one sensor, that could be a design error. Modern aircraft are famous for built-in flight system redundancy, but apparently not in the case of MCAS. In addition, the pilot cannot manually change the MCAS choice of sensor.

2. No one has yet explained why the pilot's stick shaker was running on from the start of the flight and never stopped. The stick shaker is a motor with an unbalanced flywheel that is attached to the pilot's control stick, and another is attached to the co-pilot's stick. The stick shaker is supposed to warn the pilot of a potential stall. But why was it on nearly the whole time? And why was the co-pilot's stick shaker not on?

3. The pilots are supposed to be able to shut down MCAS, which only operates when the aircraft is manually operated, by switching the electronic trim control to off. The trim control is what MCAS uses to change the nose pitch of the 737 Max. But in the Lion Air case, we know the pilots turned off the electronic trim control. But MCAS kept adjusting the trim nose down, against the pilots' wishes. Or possibly something else was driving the trim control nose down, such as a shorted circuit or bad wiring.

4. The pilots also tried turning the aircraft's autopilot on, according to the report. MCAS is only supposed to work when the autopilot is off, that is only when the plane is operated under manual pilot control. The autopilot should have disabled MCAS but apparently it did not – in fact, the Lion Air autopilot would not turn on. There is no explanation for this. Was the autopilot locked out by MCAS? Or was there some other software or hardware foul up?

5. Pilots also had a very difficult time handling the aircraft stick, meaning that the flight control stick required a great deal of force to operate, especially when the pilots were, repeatedly, trying to recover the plane that was headed nose down, gaining speed and losing altitude. Stick force "feel" in 737s is artificial and is controlled by a couple of pitot tube sensors at the rear of the aircraft above the horizontal stabilizer.

There have been repeated problems on older 737s with the planes forward and rear pitot tubes, due partly to icing conditions and to pitot tube heater problems which are supposed to remove ice. Some pitot tubes have failed because of fouling. Pitot tubes detect aircraft speed and they do this by comparing the force of incoming air on the pitot tubes to what are called static ports located elsewhere on the plane. Accidents have been attributed to faulty or fouled pitot tubes.

It is not clear how the flight speed information from the pitot tubes is integrated into the MCAS if it is. But speed information is fed into the flight computer and if it is faulty it could create ambiguities in the MCAS and the flight computer.

6. Would better pilot training have helped pilots avoid disaster? Boeing has been criticized for not initially providing information about MCAS to Max pilots, and only later issuing a bulletin on how to deal with some MCAS anomalies. Boeing also apparently did not offer any additional pilot training, leaving pilots to find their way through a morass of complex problems made worse by possible hardware and software faults.

As it is, it appears the Lion Air pilots acted in the best way they could but were unable to overcome the instability of the aircraft as it headed nose down to disintegrate in the ocean. We don't yet know how the Ethiopian Airline pilots performed, but they had the advantage of advisories from Boeing and the FAA. Still, the same final result.

What is clear is that there is more than one single cause for the two aircraft crashes. And we know that other planes experienced control problems but recovered. These disasters suggest there was a complex of problems that caused the two disasters.

Boeing's engineers need to assess the entire flight control system, the electronics and mechanics, before a satisfactory solution is at hand.

[Mar 19, 2019] Trump Forced to Ban Boeing Poor Quality of American Planes to Affect Russian Airlines the Least! - YouTube

350 planes were grounded.
Notable quotes:
"... The United States held out to the last. Trump personally requested to ground the flagship aircraft of the American company only late evening yesterday, when Canada joined the interdiction. ..."
Mar 16, 2019 | www.youtube.com

Subscribe to Vesti News https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCa8M...

Today, Russia, following Europe and America, banned the flights of Boeing 737 MAX. Dozens of countries have stopped using this aircraft after the Sunday crash in Ethiopia.

The United States held out to the last. Trump personally requested to ground the flagship aircraft of the American company only late evening yesterday, when Canada joined the interdiction.


Putin The Great , 2 days ago (edited)

737 is out of date considering the modern bigger fuel efficient engines don't fit it.They're just applying band aid to fix it's short coming. Airbus A320 has no problems with these new engines as it sits higher.

orderoutofchaos621 , 2 days ago

Sukhoi superjet 100 and MC 21 should be prioritised by Russian airlines.

Richie Blackmore. , 3 days ago

40 countries banned these aircraft from their airspace..... Comparable to the vicious, aggressive, malign, thoughtless, selfish and self aggrandising SANCTIONS the US regime and its vassals slap on innocent countries in attempts to impoverish or/and change their governments!!!!!!!!!

But this is self inflicted!!!!!! I hope the US regime can see the irony in this!!!!

0pTicaL823 , 2 days ago

Boeing should thank China for being the first to ground it's entire fleet, if one of the 96 planes that China operated, god forbid, had gone down, Boeing is done, 3-strikes you're out

statinskill , 2 days ago (edited)

Something is wrong with these planes and it is a good thing that they're being grounded world-wide until the problem is fixed. It is prudent both from the side of Rosaviatsiya and the FAA to not permit these planes to fly in the meanwhile to prevent further potential tragedies. However this is no reason to simply write off the huge fleet of Boeing 737 MAX planes in service world-wide. Right now engineers at Boeing are working on the problem and then those planes will be retrofitted asap. Personally I have no particular concerns flying in a Boeing 737 MAX once the problem is fixed.

[Mar 18, 2019] Boeing (BA) Secures $250M Deal to Support LRSO Cruise Missile

Mar 18, 2019 | finance.yahoo.com

Zacks Equity Research , Zacks March 18, 2019

The Boeing Company BA recently won a $250 million contract to offer weapon system integration for the Long Range Stand-Off (LRSO) Cruise Missile. Work related to the deal is scheduled to be completed by Dec 31, 2024.

The contract was awarded by the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. Per the terms of the deal, this aerospace giant will provide aircraft and missile carriage equipment development and modification, engineering, testing, software development, training, facilities and support necessary to fully integrate the LRSO Cruise Missile on the B-52H bomber platform.

Attributes of LRSO

The LRSO is a nuclear-armed air-launched cruise missile, under development. It is set to replace the current AGM-86 air launched cruise missile (ALCM). LRSO, might be up to about 50% longer than Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile-Extended Range (JASSM-ER) and still be suitable for internal carriage by the B-2 and B-52.

Our View

AGM-86 ALCM has been serving the U.S. Air Force quite efficiently. However, with increasingly sophisticated air defense systems developed by America's nemeses, especially Russia, demand for a new stealth nuclear-armed cruise missile capable of either destroying these defenses or penetrating them has been increasing consistently. In this scenario, the LRSO comes as the most credible stealthy and low-yield option available to the United States (according to Strategic Studies Quarterly Report).

Boeing's B-52, which has been the U.S. Air Force's one of the most preferred bombers, is completely dependent on long-range cruise missiles and cannot continue in the nuclear mission beyond 2030 without LRSO. As B-52 is expected to play a primary role in the U.S. nuclear mission for at least next decade and ALCM is already well beyond its originally planned end of life, we may expect more contracts similar to the latest one to usher in from the Pentagon in the coming days. This, in turn, should prove conducive to Boeing.

Price Performance

In a year's time, shares of Boeing have gained about 16.5% against the industry's 2.2% decline.

[Mar 16, 2019] Boeing 737 Crashes Raise Tough Questions on Aircraft Automation - Bloomberg

Mar 16, 2019 | www.bloomberg.com

Tom Enders just couldn't resist the swipe at the competition. It was June 2011, and the chief executive officer of Airbus SE was on a stage at the Paris air show after the planemaker won in a matter of days an unprecedented 600 orders for its upgraded A320neo airliner, while Boeing Co. stood on the sidelines.

"If our colleagues in Seattle still maintain we're only catching up with their 737, I must ask myself what these guys are smoking," Enders blurted out, to the general amusement of the audience, while Boeing representatives at the back of the room looked on.

Boeing had wavered on its decision whether to follow Airbus's lead and re-engine the 737 or go with an all-new aircraft. Customers were willing to wait for "something more revolutionary," as Jim Albaugh, at the time Boeing's head of commercial aircraft, said then.

But the European manufacturer's blow-out success with the A320neo, essentially a re-engined version of its popular narrow-body family, would soon force Boeing's hand.

As the A320neo became the fastest-selling plane in civil aviation history as Airbus picked off loyal Boeing customers like American Airlines Group Inc. , the U.S. company ditched the pursuit of an all-new jet and responded in July 2011 with its own redesign, the 737 Max.

"The program was launched in a panic," said Sash Tusa, an analyst at Agency Partners , an equity research firm in London. "What frightened Boeing most of all was losing their biggest and most important customer. American Airlines was the catalyst."

It turned out that Chicago-based Boeing wasn't too late to the party in the end: While the Max didn't quite replicate the neo's order book, it did become the company's fastest seller as airlines scrambled to cut their fuel bills with new engines that promised savings of 20 percent or more. All told, the Max raked in about 5,000 orders, keeping the playing field fairly level in the global duopoly between Airbus and Boeing.

Close Scrutiny

Now the 737 Max is grounded globally, after two almost factory-fresh jets crashed in rapid succession. As a result, the repercussions of Boeing's response to Airbus's incursion are under the microscope. Getting particular scrutiny are the use of more powerful, fuel-saving engines and automated tools to help pilots control the aircraft.

After the grounding, Boeing said that it "continues to have full confidence in the safety of the 737 Max, and that it was supporting the decision to idle the jets "out of an abundance of caution." The company declined to comment beyond its public statements.

In late October, a plane operated by Lion Air went down minutes after taking off in Jakarta, killing all 189 people on board. Then on March 10, another 737 Max crashed, this time in Ethiopia en route to Kenya. Again, none of the 157 people on board survived the impact.

There are other similarities that alarmed airlines and regulators and stirred public opinion, leading to the grounding of the 737 Max fleet of more than 350 planes. According to the Federal Aviation Administration , "the track of the Ethiopian Airlines flight was very close and behaved very similar to the Lion Air flight."

How Boeing Safety Feature Became a Suspect in Crashes: QuickTake

After decades of steadily declining aircraft accidents, the question of how two identical new planes could simply fall out of the sky minutes after takeoff has led to intense scrutiny of the 737 Max's systems. Adding to the chorus in the wake of the crash was President Donald Trump, who lamented the complexities of modern aviation, suggesting that people in the cockpit needed to be more like nuclear physicists than pilots to command a jet packed with automated systems.

"Airplanes are becoming far too complex to fly. Pilots are no longer needed, but rather computer scientists from MIT," the president said in the first of a pair of tweets on March 12, darkly warning that "complexity creates danger."

Analog Machine

Automation plays a limited role in the 737 Max. That's because the aircraft still has essential analog design and layout features dating back to the 1960s, when it was conceived. It's a far older concept than the A320, which came to market at the end of the 1980s and boasted innovations like fly-by-wire controls, which manipulate surfaces such as flaps and horizontal tail stabilizers with electrical impulses and transducers rather than heavier hydraulic links.

Upgrading the 737 to create the Max came with its own set of issues. For example, the 737 sits considerably lower to the ground, so fitting the bigger new engines under the wings was a structural challenge (even with the squished underbelly of the engine casing). In response, Boeing raised the front landing gear by a few inches, but this and the size of the engines can change the plane's center of gravity and its lift in certain maneuvers.

Boeing's technical wizardry for the 138- to 230-seat Max was a piece of software known as the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS. It intervenes automatically when a single sensor indicates the aircraft may be approaching a stall. Some pilots complained, though, that training on the new system wasn't sufficient and properly documented.

"The benefits of automation are great, but it requires a different level of discipline and training,'' said Thomas Anthony, director of the Aviation Safety and Security Program at the University of Southern California. Pilots must make a conscious effort to monitor the plane's behavior. And reliance on automation means they will take back control only in the worst situations, he said.

Errant Sensor

With the Lion Air crash, data from the recovered flight recorders points to a battle in the cockpit between the software and the pilots who struggled in vain to keep control. The data showed that an errant sensor signaled the plane was in danger of stalling and prompted the MCAS to compensate by repeatedly initiating a dive. The pilots counteracted by flipping a switch several times to raise the nose manually, which temporarily disabled MCAS. The cycle repeated itself more than two dozen times before the plane entered its final deadly dive, according to the flight data.

With the flight and cockpit voice recorders of the Ethiopian plane now in France for analysis, the interaction between the MCAS system and the pilots will again be under close scrutiny, probably rekindling the broader debate about who or what is in control of the cockpit.

That man-versus-machine conundrum has been central to civil aviation for years. Automation has without doubt made commercial flying much safer, as planemakers added systems to help pilots set engine thrust, navigate with greater precision and even override human error in the cockpit.

For example, automation on modern aircraft keeps pilots within a so-called flight envelope to avoid erratic maneuvers that might destabilize the aircraft. Analyses of flight data show that planes have more stable landings in stormy, low-visibility conditions when automation is in charge than on clear days when they land by sight.

Sully's Miracle Landing

The most daring descent in recent memory, Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger's landing of US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River in early 2009, is Exhibit A of how an interconnected cockpit worked hand-in-hand with an experienced pilot. Automatic pitch trim and rudder coordination assisted manual inputs and kept the Airbus A320 steady on its smooth glide into the icy water. The drama showed that automation can play a crucial support function, provided a pilot is fully trained and the aircraft properly maintained.

"Some people are saying modern aircraft such as the 737 Max are too complex," said Dave Wallsworth, a British Airways captain on the Airbus A380 double-decker. "I disagree. The A380 is a far more complex aircraft and we fly it very safely every day. Pilots are capable of understanding aircraft systems so long as the manuals contain the information we need."

Airbus traditionally has pushed the envelope on automation and a more modern cockpit layout, with larger screens and steering by joystick rather than a central yoke, turning pilots into something akin to systems operators. Boeing's philosophy, on the other hand, has been to leave more authority in the hands of pilots, though newer designs also include some computerized limits. Like Airbus planes, the latest aircraft from Seattle -- where Boeing makes most of its jetliners -- are equipped with sophisticated autopilots, fly-by-wire controls or systems to set speed during landings.

"The big automation steps came in the 1980s with the entry into service of the A320 and the whole fly-by-wire ethos," said John Strickland, an independent aviation analyst. "I don't think automation per se is a problem, we see it in wide-scale use in the industry, and as long as it is designed to work hand-in-hand with pilots and pilots understand how to use it, it shouldn't be an issue."

Erratic Movements

But the counter-argument is that increasingly complex systems have led computers to take over, and that many pilots may have forgotten how to manually command a jet -- particularly in a moment of crisis. That criticism was leveled at Airbus, for example, after the mid-Atlantic crash of Air France Flight 447 in 2009 that killed all 228 people on board. Analysis of the flight recorders showed the crew was confused by stall warnings and unreliable speed readings, leading to erratic maneuvers that ended in catastrophe.

>

"I grew up on steam gauges and analog, and the modern generation on digital and automation," said Jon Weaks, president of the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association and a Boeing 737 captain for the Dallas-based airline. "No matter what you grew up on, you have to fly the plane. If the automation is doing something you don't want it to do or that you don't understand, you have to disconnect it and fly the plane."

A 2013 report by the FAA found more than 60 percent of 26 accidents over a decade involved pilots making errors after automated systems abruptly shut down or behaved in unexpected ways. And the 2016 inspector general's report at the FAA noted that as the use of automation increases, "pilots have fewer opportunities to use manual flying skills."

"As a result, the opportunities air carrier pilots have during live operations to maintain proficiency in manual flight are limited and are likely to diminish," the report found.

The grounding of the 737 Max fleet has left Boeing in crisis. The company couldn't get through with its message that the plane was safe to fly, as the group of regulators and airlines idling the jet kept expanding. The 737 program is Boeing's cash cow, accounting for a third of its profit, and Boeing's stock dropped sharply in the days after the disaster.

Get in Line

The Max gave Boeing a relatively cheap path back into the narrow-body game that it was at risk of losing to the Airbus neo. At the time, Boeing had to make a quick decision, as it was still burdened financially by the 787 Dreamliner wide-body that was over budget and behind schedule.

Both manufacturers have said they won't come out with an all-new single-aisle model until well into the next decade, preferring to wait for further technological advancements before committing to massive spending. The success of both the neo and the Max bought the companies that extra time, with orders books stretching years into the future.

Half a century after it was launched almost as an afterthought, the 737 program has become the lifeblood of Boeing that helps finance the rest of the corporation -- the biggest U.S. exporter. It's the one aircraft that Boeing cannot afford to give up.

"The Max was the right decision for the time," said Richard Aboulafia, an aviation analyst with the consultancy Teal Group . "Yes, there may be an issue with MCAS needing a software patch. Yes, there may need to be some additional training. But these are not issues that cause people to change to the other guys' jet. The other guys have a waiting line, and when you get to the back of that line, you burn more fuel."

-- With assistance by Alan Levin, Benjamin D Katz, Margaret Newkirk, Michael Sasso, and Mary Schlangenstein

[Mar 14, 2019] Boeing 737 Max an artificial intelligence event by James Thompson

Mar 14, 2019 | www.unz.com

Conventional wisdom is that it is too early to speculate why in the past six months two Boeing 737 Max 8 planes have gone down shortly after take off, so if all that follows is wrong you will know it very quickly. Last night I predicted that the first withdrawals of the plane would happen within two days, and this morning China withdrew it. So far, so good. (Indonesia followed a few hours ago).

Why should I stick my neck out with further predictions? First, because we must speculate the moment something goes wrong. It is natural, right and proper to note errors and try to correct them.(The authorities are always against "wild" speculation, and I would be in agreement with that if they had an a prior definition of wildness). Second, because putting forward hypotheses may help others test them (if they are not already doing so). Third, because if the hypotheses turn out to be wrong, it will indicate an error in reasoning, and will be an example worth studying in psychology, so often dourly drawn to human fallibility. Charmingly, an error in my reasoning might even illuminate an error that a pilot might make, if poorly trained, sleep-deprived and inattentive.

I think the problem is that the Boeing anti-stall patch MCAS is poorly configured for pilot use: it is not intuitive, and opaque in its consequences.

By the way of full disclosure, I have held my opinion since the first Lion Air crash in October, and ran it past a test pilot who, while not responsible for a single word here, did not argue against it. He suggested that MCAS characteristics should have been in a special directive and drawn to the attention of pilots.

I am normally a fan of Boeing. I have flown Boeing more than any other plane, and that might make me loyal to the brand. Even more powerfully, I thought they were correct to carry on with the joystick yoke, and that AirBus was wrong to drop it, simply because the position of the joystick is something visible to pilot and co-pilot, whereas the Airbus side stick does not show you at a glance how high the nose of the plane is pointing.

http://www.unz.com/jthompson/fear-of-flying-and-safety-of-gruyere/

Pilots are bright people, but they must never be set a badly configured test item with tight time limits and potentially fatal outcomes.

The Air France 447 crash had several ingredients, but one was that the pilots of the Airbus A330-203 took too long to work out they were in a stall. In fact, that realization only hit them very shortly before they hit the ocean. Whatever the limitations of the crew (sleep deprived captain, uncertain co-pilot) they were blinded by a frozen Pitot air speed indicator, and an inability to set the right angle of attack for their airspeed.

For the industry, the first step was to fit better air speed indicators which were less likely to ice up. However, it was clear that better stall warning and protection was required.

Boeing had a problem with fitting larger and heavier engines to their tried and trusted 737 configuration, meaning that the engines had to be higher on the wing and a little forwards, and that made the 737 Max have different performance characteristics, which in turn led to the need for an anti-stall patch to be put into the control systems.

It is said that generals always fight the last war. Safety officials correct the last problem, as they must. However, sometimes a safety system has unintended consequences.

The key of the matter is that pilots fly normal 737s every day, and have internalized a mental model of how that plane operates. Pilots probably actually read manuals, and safety directives, and practice for rare events. However, I bet that what they know best is how a plane actually operates most of the time. (I am adjusting to a new car, same manufacturer and model as the last one, but the 9 years of habit are still often stronger than the manual-led actions required by the new configuration). When they fly a 737 Max there is a bit of software in the system which detects stall conditions and corrects them automatically. The pilots should know that, they should adjust to that, they should know that they must switch off that system if it seems to be getting in the way, but all that may be steps too far, when something so important is so opaque.

What is interesting is that in emergencies people rely on their most validated mental models: residents fleeing a burning building tend to go out their usual exits, not even the nearest or safest exit. Pilots are used to pulling the nose up and pushing it down, to adding power and to easing back on it, and when a system takes over some of those decisions, they need to know about it.

After Lion Air I believed that pilots had been warned about the system, but had not paid sufficient attention to its admittedly complicated characteristics, but now it is claimed that the system was not in the training manual anyway. It was deemed a safety system that pilots did not need to know about.

This farrago has an unintended consequence, in that it may be a warning about artificial intelligence. Boeing may have rated the correction factor as too simple to merit human attention, something required mainly to correct a small difference in pitch characteristics unlikely to be encountered in most commercial flying, which is kept as smooth as possible for passenger comfort.

It would be terrible if an apparently small change in automated safety systems designed to avoid a stall turned out have given us a rogue plane, killing us to make us safe.


Anatoly Karlin , says: Website March 11, 2019 at 2:36 pm GMT

Pilots are used to pulling the nose up and pushing it down, to adding power and to easing back on it, and when a system takes over some of those decisions, they need to know about it.

I have read that Boeing kept MCAS out of the limelight as otherwise the 737 MAX would need to be certified as a new plane and airlines would need to do $$$ pilot retraining, making their product less competitive.

James Thompson , says: Website March 11, 2019 at 3:09 pm GMT
@Anatoly Karlin Interesting. It is certainly hard to understand why MCAS was shrouded in secrecy, when it was potentially lethal.
Captain 737 , says: March 11, 2019 at 7:38 pm GMT
Interesting response from a "by-stander", who compares a sophisticated aircraft with a new model car !!!

As an experienced captain on 737s (not the MAX) I say, let the investigation begin; and let us not have by-standers giving their penny worth. A normal 737 . is there also an abnormal 747 or 777 or 787, or a 737 ??

Pilots carry the can . but, are the most respected profession in the world. What ever happened, let the investigation decide the outcome, and not the "un-trained" (is there such a term !!!!).

If one takes a look at the (released to date) information about the Lion Air crash – "unreliable airspeeds" (the airspeed indicator is providing erroneous information during a critical phase of flight (like climb out after take-off)) could have been the cause of that aircraft crash – not AI.

A simple explanation – the airspeed indicator is "unreliable", as one moment the indication is under-speed, then overspeed, followed by under-speed, and so it goes; like a yoyo going up and down; the indicated speed is erroneous and the pilots cannot rely on what is presented on the airspeed indicator. Pilots, according to the Boeing Training Manual, are trained to handle unreliable airspeeds – the key is to fly the plane based solely on pitch attitude and thrust (there are memory items for unreliable airspeed occurrences, along with the reference items in aircraft's Quick Reference Handbook – the QRH (Boeing term) is the pilots "bible" for any issues and problems when the aircraft is in the air !! ).

The point of the above paragraph is to enlighten the 'un-trained' as to not speculate too soon with ideas and a "hypothesis" of what may have happened, until the knowledgeable ones – the aircraft manufacturer (probably being the most knowledgable), the country's aviation authority, the engine manufacturer, and (dear I say) the FAA (the Yanks just cannot help themselves delving into other countries' affairs; when for 9/11 not one minutes was spent by anyone (FAA, Boeing, no one) investigating the so-called crashes of four aircraft – on one day, within one and a half hours of each other, and in the most protected airspace in the world (got the hint !!) – I have digressed, though for reason .. have completed their investigations.

I can assure you that no pilot wants to crash a plane we (pilots) all want to live to 100, and beyond.

Humans make mistakes, but technology needs humans to correct technology's mistakes. Boeing build reliable and trustworthy aircraft; pilots undertake their duties in a safe and controlled manner (according to training and aircraft manufacturer stipulated standards); but errors happen – and the investigator is there to establish what happened, so that these do not happen again. Unfortunately, it is just possible that the cause of the first MAX accident is the same as the second. But, let the knowledgable ones determine that fact – and let me, and us, not speculate.

AI in the MAX hhmmmmm – let Boeing release that information, before we start speculating again (on AI – is an auto pilot AI; the B737 I fly has two auto pilots; is that double AI ??).

To the rest of the travelling public – airline travel remains, and has been, the safest form of transport for decades. I am confident that the status quo will remain.

Time will reveal the answers to these two accidents, when the time is right – when the investigators (for both) have concluded their deliberations.

My guess is, the majority of people will have forgotten these two MAX events (but, for those who have lost loved ones), as some other crisis/event will have occurred in their lives and/or in the world.

Dieter Kief , says: March 11, 2019 at 7:38 pm GMT
@Anatoly Karlin

737 MAX would need to be certified as a new plane and airlines would need to do $$$ pilot retraining, making their product less competitive.

Short sighted businessmen – Nothing lasts for long

Joni Mitchell – – – Chinese Cafè on Wild Things Run Fast

The Anti-Gnostic , says: Website March 11, 2019 at 7:45 pm GMT
I think the problem is that the Boeing anti-stall patch MCAS is poorly configured for pilot use: it is not intuitive, and opaque in its consequences.

I think that's the case with a lot of current technology. Human factors and tactileness don't seem to get much weight in current engineering.

Simply Simon , says: March 12, 2019 at 12:26 am GMT
@Captain 737 I respect your analysis especially coming from a seasoned 737 captain. I have over 5,000 flying hours in single and twin-engine, conventional and jet, all military. I have not flown since 1974 so the advances in auto-pilot technology are beyond my comprehension. My question to you is simple–I think. If the aircraft took off in VFR conditions I assume the pilots knew the pitch attitude all during the takeoff phase. Is there no way to manually overpower the auto-pilot once the pilots knew the pitch attitude was dangerously high or low?
kauchai , says: March 12, 2019 at 2:37 am GMT
If this is a made in china airplane, the empire would mobilize the whole world to ground the entire fleet. The diatribes, lies, cruel sick jokes, lawsuits, etc, etc, would fly to the heavens.

But NO, this is an empire plane. Designed, built and (tested?) in the heart of the empire. And despite the fact that more than 300 people had died, IT IS STILL SAFE to fly!

LOL! LOL!

Anonymous [414] Disclaimer , says: March 12, 2019 at 3:41 am GMT
Quite a short and to-the-point article, although the link to "artificial intelligence" is tenuous at best.

What is sold as Artificial Intelligence nowadays is massive statistical processing in a black box (aka as "Neural Network Processing"), it's not intelligent. The most surprising fact is that it works so well.

Neural Networks won't be in high-assurance software soon. No-one knows what they really do once configured (although there are efforts underway to attack that problem ). They are impossible to really test or design to specification. Will someone underwrite that a system incorporating them does work? Hardly. You may find them in consumer electronics, research, "self driving cars" that never really self-drive without surprises and possibly bleeding edge military gear looking for customers or meant to explode messily anyway.

But not in cockpits. (At least I hope).

Check out this slideshow about the ACAS-X Next Generation Collision Airborne Collision Avoidance System. It has no neural network in sight, in fact if I understand correctly it doesn't even have complex decision software in-cockpit: it's all decision tables precomputed from a high-level, understandable description (aka. code, apparently in Julia) to assure safe outcome in a fully testable and simulatable approach.

In this accident, we may have a problem with the system, as opposed to with the software. While the software may work correctly and to specification (and completely unintelligently) the system composed of software + human + physical machinery will interact in interesting, unforeseen, untested ways, leading to disaster. In fact the (unintelligent software + human) part may disturbingly behave like those Neural Networks that are being sold as AI.

Anonymous [414] Disclaimer , says: March 12, 2019 at 4:16 am GMT
A disquieting item on your morning cereal box:

https://www.stripes.com/news/us/boeing-cited-by-pentagon-over-quality-concerns-going-back-years-1.522343

https://www.stripes.com/news/air-force/air-force-won-t-accept-any-more-boeing-tankers-until-manufacturing-process-is-cleaned-up-1.571108

Anonymous [427] Disclaimer , says: March 12, 2019 at 4:46 am GMT
@Anatoly Karlin I'm guessing that it would require a change in the TCDS and possibly a different type rating, which would be anathema for sales.

I'm a little airplane person, not a big airplane person (and the 737 is a Big Airplane even in its smallest configuration) but I know there have been several instances where aircraft had changes that required that pilots of the type have a whole different type rating, even though the changes seemed minor. I'm guessing airlines are training averse and don't want to take crews off revenue service beyond what is statutorily required. The margins in airline flying are apparently much leaner now than in the glory days.

I never approved of allowing fly by wire in commercial airliners, I never even really liked the idea of FADEC engine control (supervisory DEC was fine) because a classical advantage of gas turbines (and diesels) was that they could run in an absolutely electrically dead environment once lit. Indeed, the J-58 (JT11-D in P&W parlance) had no electrical system to speak of beyond the instrumentation: it started by mechanical shaft drive and ignited by triethyl borane chemical injection. The Sled could make it home on needle-ball and alcohol compass, and at least once it did. Total electrical failure in any FBW aircraft means losing the airplane. Is the slight gain in efficiency worth it? I'm told the cables, pulleys, fairleads and turnbuckles add 200 pounds to a medium size airliner, the FBW stuff weighs 80 or so.

The jet transports we studied in A&P school had a pitot head and static port on either side of the flight deck and the captain and F/O had inputs from different ones, though IIRC the altimeter and airspeed were electrically driven from sensors at the pitot head or inboard of it. I have a 727 drum-pointer (why are three pointer altimeters even legal anymore??) altimeter and it has no aneroids, just a couple of PCBs full of TTL logic and op amps and a DB style connector on the back. Do crews not cross check airspeed and altitude or is there no indicator to flag them when the two show something different?

Also, not being a jet pilot myself, my understanding is that anyone with T-38 experience is forever after thinking in terms of AOA and not airspeed per se, because that airplane has to be flown by AOA in the pattern, and classically a lot of airline pilots had flown Talons. Is there no AOA indicator in the 737? Flying in the pattern/ILS would make airspeed pretty dependent on aircraft weight, and on a transport that can change a lot with fuel burn, do they precisely calculate current weight from a totalizer and notate speeds needed? (I presume airliners don't vary weight other than fuel burn, not being customarily in the business of throwing stuff out of the airplane, although they used to fly jumpers out of a chartered 727 at the parachute meet in Quincy)

dearieme , says: March 12, 2019 at 12:00 pm GMT
@Captain 737 Why are you pretending to be a pilot, and a pompous one at that?
dearieme , says: March 12, 2019 at 12:06 pm GMT
Many problems in the world arise because many computing people reckon themselves very clever when they are merely rather clever. And often they combine what cleverness they have with a blindness about humans and their ways. I shouldn't be at all surprised if programmers at Boeing decided that they always knew better than pilots and doomed the planes accordingly.

I saw recently an expression that made me grin: "midwits". It describes rather well many IT types of my acquaintance.

dearieme , says: March 12, 2019 at 12:51 pm GMT
Another human cost of midwittery:

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6797193/More-500-village-postmasters-wrongly-hounded-stealing-millions-system.html

Fabian Forge , says: March 12, 2019 at 4:55 pm GMT
@fish And that's the problem, as Mr. Kief also points out. The individuals at the decision making level (let's call them "executives") don't or can't think that far ahead, at least when the corporation they run is concerneed.

It really is a time-preference problem.

Fabian Forge , says: March 12, 2019 at 5:06 pm GMT
@dearieme One corollary is that the Midwits take such joy in their cleverness that they assume their wit has value in and of itself. This is most evident when they design clever solutions to invented problems. Billions of dollars of venture capital have been set on fire in that way, when technical and financial midwittery combine.
Dieter Kief , says: March 12, 2019 at 10:55 pm GMT
@Andrei Martyanov It's almost nitpicking. But – James Thompson says it above: The MCAS in this Boing model 737 MAX 8 is used to cover up a basic construction flaw. This has undoubtedly worked for quite some time – but it came with a risk. And this risk might turn out to have caused numerous deaths. In this case, if it will turn out, that the MACS system didn't do what it was supposed to do and thus caused numerous deaths – will this then be looked upon as a problem of the application of artificial intelligence? Yes, but not only . It was a combination of a poorly built (constructed) airliner and software, which might not have been able to compensate for this flawed construction under all conditions.

It's cheaper to compensate via software – and this might (might) turn out to be a rather irresponsible way to save money. But as I said: Even in this case, the technical problem would have to be looked upon as twofold: Poor construction plus insufficient software compensation. I'd even tend to say, that poor construction would then be the main (=basic) fault. With the zeitgeisty (and cheap!) software-"solution" for this poor construction a close second.

Eagle Eye , says: March 12, 2019 at 11:25 pm GMT
@Captain 737 Curiously, this is "Captain 737″'s first and only comment here.

It's almost as if Boeing hired a high-priced PR firm whose offerings include pseudonymous online "messaging" to "shape opposition perceptions" etc. Note the over-obvious handle. (Just like globalist shills like to pretend to be regular blue-collar guys in small fly-over towns.)

By their words shalt ye know them.

PREDICTION: In 3-4 years, we will "discover" a long paper trail of engineers warning early on about the risk of hastily kludging a half-assed anti-stall patch MCAS onto a system that had undergone years of testing and refinement WITHOUT the patch.

Only somebody PAID not to see the problem could fail to perceive that this means that as so altered, the ENTIRE SYSTEM goes back to being technically immature.

Anonymous [427] Disclaimer , says: March 13, 2019 at 12:00 am GMT
@Dieter Kief What "basic construction flaw" are we discussing here? The 737 airframe is pretty well established and has a good record-there have been incidents but most have been well dealt with.
Dieter Kief , says: March 13, 2019 at 12:39 am GMT
@Anonymous I've read today, that in the aviation world there is a consensus, that what James Thompson says in his article is right:
"Boeing had a problem with fitting larger and heavier engines to their tried and trusted 737 configuration, meaning that the engines had to be higher on the wing and a little forwards, and that made the 737 Max have different performance characteristics, which in turn led to the need for an anti-stall patch to be put into the control systems."

– A German engineer wrote in a comment in the Berlin daily Die weLT, this construction flaw makes the 737 MAX 8 something like a flying traktor . He concluded, that Boing proved, that you can make a tractor fly, alright. But proper engineering would have looked otherwise – and would for sure had come at a higher cost.
(The different performance charactersitics mentioned by James Thompson is an extraordinarily nice way to express, that the 737 MAX 8 is a tad more likely to stall, just because of the very design-changes, the bigger turbines made necessary. And this is a rather nasty thing to say about an airplane, that a new design made it more likely to stall! ).

Sparkon , says: March 13, 2019 at 1:54 am GMT
@Anonymous

What "basic construction flaw" are we discussing here? The 737 airframe is pretty well established and has a good record.

I 'm not so sure about the good record, and I too suspect the underlying problem is the 737 itself – the entire 737 airframe and avionics.

Worst crash record

LET 410 – 20
Ilyushin 72 – 17
Antonov AN-1 – 17
Twin Otter – 18
CASA 212 – 11
DC-9/MD80 – 10
B737-100 / 700 – 10
Antonov 28 – 8
Antonov 32- 7
Tupolev 154- 7

[a/o 2013 – my bold]

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/news/Least-safe-aircraft-models-revealed/

The 737 family is the best selling commercial airliner series in history with more than 10,000 units produced. However, this airplane in its various configurations has had many crashes since it first entered service in 1968.

[Mar 13, 2019] Boeing, The FAA, And Why Two 737 MAX Planes Crashed

Notable quotes:
"... To implement a security relevant automatism that depends on only one sensor is extremely bad design. To have a flight control automatism engaged even when the pilot flies manually is also a bad choice. But the real criminality was that Boeing hid the feature. ..."
"... The Ethiopian Airlines plane that crashed went down in a similar flight profile as the Indonesian plane. It is highly likely that MCAS is the cause of both incidents. While the pilots of the Ethiopian plane were aware of the MCAS system they might have had too little time to turn it off. The flight recorders have been recovered and will tell the full story. ..."
"... The FAA certifies all new planes and their documentation. I was for some time marginally involved in Airbus certification issues. It is an extremely detailed process that has to be followed by the letter. Hundreds of people are full time engaged for years to certify a modern jet. Every tiny screw and even the smallest design details of the hardware and software have to be documented and certified. ..."
"... How or why did the FAA agree to accept the 737 MAX with the badly designed MCAS? How could the FAA allow that MCAS was left out of the documentation? What steps were taken after the Indonesian flight crashed into the sea? ..."
"... That the marketing department has more say than the engineers who design and test the hardware and the software in passenger jets tells us a great deal about the Potemkin-style workplace culture that prevails in Boeing and similar large US corporations. The surface sheen is more important than the substance. The marketing brochures and manuals are no different from mainstream news media in the level of BS they spew. ..."
"... The Indonesian pilots did not have the time to figure out and realise that something else was controlling the plane's flight, much less deactivate what is effectively a second autopiloting system. ..."
"... B is right. This is a criminal act of deception and fraud thats cost hundreds their lives. Boeing executives responsible should be prosecuted and then jailed. ..."
"... while all the technical discussion around how to fly a plane is truly interesting, what's really at issue here is corporate and institutional betrayal of trust. ..."
"... The corporate aspect is Boeing, obviously. The institutional aspect is FAA, which used to lead the world in trust when it came to life and death matters. ..."
"... But now, in what Bloomberg, even while trying to support FAA, has no choice but to report as a "stunning rebuff" to FAA's integrity, countries around the world are grounding this flawed plane. Germany, among others, has closed its airspace to the 737. ..."
"... "Should anyone be flying 737MAXes before the black box data has been evaluated?" ..."
"... Before, the civilian airliners were falling out of the sky because of an immature technology, that is because of the learning curve. Now that the technology involved is fully mature the airliners are falling out of the sky for profit taking. ..."
"... Is it really so hard to connect the secrecy about MCAS and why it was needed in the first place? The lawyers will have a ball of the decade with this: the defendant created a secret software solution to turn a Lego airplane into a real airplane, made the software dependent on a single sensor, and made it difficult to switch the software off. ..."
"... I cannot believe that Boeing shares dropped only 7.5%, this is a statement of how untouchable Boeing is and how protected it will be by the Corrupt. ..."
Mar 13, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Boeing, The FAA, And Why Two 737 MAX Planes Crashed psychohistorian , Mar 12, 2019 4:55:32 PM | link

On Sunday an Ethiopian Airlines flight crashed, killing all on board. Five month earlier an Indonesian Lion Air jet crashed near Jakarta. All crew and passengers died. Both airplanes were Boeing 737-8 MAX. Both incidents happened shortly after take off.

Boeing 737 MAX aircraft are now grounded about everywhere except in the United States. That this move follows only now is sad. After the first crash it was already obvious that the plane is not safe to fly.

The Boeing 737 and the Airbus 320 types are single aisle planes with some 150 seats. Both are bread and butter planes sold by the hundreds with a good profit. In 2010 Airbus decided to offer its A-320 with a New Engine Option (NEO) which uses less fuel. To counter the Airbus move Boeing had to follow up. The 737 would also get new engines for a more efficient flight and longer range. The new engines on the 737 MAX are bigger and needed to be placed a bit different than on the older version. That again changed the flight characteristics of the plane by giving it a nose up attitude.

The new flight characteristic of the 737 MAX would have require a retraining of the pilots. But Boeing's marketing people had told their customers all along that the 737 MAX would not require extensive new training. Instead of expensive simulator training for the new type experienced 737 pilots would only have to read some documentation about the changes between the old and the new versions.

To make that viable Boeing's engineers had to use a little trick. They added a 'maneuver characteristics augmentation system' (MCAS) that pitches the nose of the plane down if a sensor detects a too high angle of attack (AoA) that might lead to a stall. That made the flight characteristic of the new 737 version similar to the old one.

But the engineers screwed up.

The 737 MAX has two flight control computers. Each is connected to only one of the two angle of attack sensors. During a flight only one of two computer runs the MCAS control. If it detects a too high angle of attack it trims the horizontal stabilizer down for some 10 seconds. It then waits for 5 seconds and reads the sensor again. If the sensor continues to show a too high angle of attack it again trims the stabilizer to pitch the plane's nose done.

MCSA is independent of the autopilot. It is even active in manual flight. There is a procedure to deactivate it but it takes some time.

One of the angle of attack sensors on the Indonesian flight was faulty. Unfortunately it was the one connected to the computer that ran the MCAS on that flight. Shortly after take off the sensor signaled a too high angle of attack even as the plane was flying in a normal climb. The MCAS engaged and put the planes nose down. The pilots reacted by disabling the autopilot and pulling the control stick back. The MCAS engaged again pitching the plane further down. The pilots again pulled the stick. This happened some 12 times in a row before the plane crashed into the sea.

To implement a security relevant automatism that depends on only one sensor is extremely bad design. To have a flight control automatism engaged even when the pilot flies manually is also a bad choice. But the real criminality was that Boeing hid the feature.

Neither the airlines that bought the planes nor the pilots who flew it were told about MCAS. They did not know that it exists. They were not aware of an automatic system that controlled the stabilizer even when the autopilot was off. They had no idea how it could be deactivated.

Nine days after the Indonesian Lion Air Flight 610 ended in a deadly crash, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued an Emergency Airworthiness Directive.


bigger

The 737 MAX pilots were aghast. The APA pilot union sent a letter to its members:

"This is the first description you, as 737 pilots, have seen. It is not in the AA 737 Flight Manual Part 2, nor is there a description in the Boeing FCOM (flight crew operations manual)," says the letter from the pilots' union safety committee. "Awareness is the key with all safety issues."

The Ethiopian Airlines plane that crashed went down in a similar flight profile as the Indonesian plane. It is highly likely that MCAS is the cause of both incidents. While the pilots of the Ethiopian plane were aware of the MCAS system they might have had too little time to turn it off. The flight recorders have been recovered and will tell the full story.

Boeing has sold nearly 5,000 of the 737 MAX. So far some 380 have been delivered. Most of these are now grounded. Some family members of people who died on the Indonesian flight are suing Boeing. Others will follow. But Boeing is not the only one who is at fault.

The FAA certifies all new planes and their documentation. I was for some time marginally involved in Airbus certification issues. It is an extremely detailed process that has to be followed by the letter. Hundreds of people are full time engaged for years to certify a modern jet. Every tiny screw and even the smallest design details of the hardware and software have to be documented and certified.

How or why did the FAA agree to accept the 737 MAX with the badly designed MCAS? How could the FAA allow that MCAS was left out of the documentation? What steps were taken after the Indonesian flight crashed into the sea?

Up to now the FAA was a highly regarded certification agency. Other countries followed its judgment and accepted the certifications the FAA issued. That most of the world now grounded the 737 MAX while it still flies in the States is a sign that this view is changing. The FAA's certifications of Boeing airplanes are now in doubt.

Today Boeing's share price dropped some 7.5%. I doubt that it is enough to reflect the liability issues at hand. Every airline that now had to ground its planes will ask for compensation. More than 330 people died and their families deserve redress. Orders for 737 MAX will be canceled as passengers will avoid that type.

Boeing will fix the MCAS problem by using more sensors or by otherwise changing the procedures. But the bigger issue for the U.S. aircraft industry might be the damage done to the FAA's reputation. If the FAA is internationally seen as a lobbying agency for the U.S. airline industry it will no longer be trusted and the industry will suffer from it. It will have to run future certification processes through a jungle of foreign agencies.

Congress should take up the FAA issue and ask why it failed.

Posted by b on March 12, 2019 at 04:39 PM | Permalink

Comments next page " @ b who wrote
"
But the engineers screwed up.
"

I call BS on this pointing of fingers at the wrong folk

Engineers get paid to build things that accountants influence. The West is a world in which the accountants have more sway than engineers.

It is all about the money b and to lead folks in some other direction is not like what I think of you.

The elite that own global private finance and everything else killed those people in the planes because they set the standards that the accountants follow and then force the engineers to operate within

The profit narrative is bad for humanity.


bj , Mar 12, 2019 4:57:15 PM | link

A whistleblower at Boeing would have been nice.
bevin , Mar 12, 2019 5:00:23 PM | link
"Congress should take up the FAA issue and ask why it failed."
If there had been any chance of that happening, the planes would probably still be flying and dead passengers alive.
This, if you are right and I suspect that you are, is symptomatic of an empire dying of corruption. It is no accident that both the new secretary of defence and the neo-con cult itself were born of Boeing. A fact memorialised in the UK where the Blairites rally in the Henry Jackson society.
Lochearn , Mar 12, 2019 5:00:42 PM | link
Last night I wrote on a previous thread:
Over the space of a few months 2 almost new Boeing 737 MAX aircraft have crashed. Rather than going to the expense of designing an entirely new fuselage and normal length landing gear for its larger and much more powerful 737 MAX engines Boeing stuck with the now ancient 737 fuselage design that sits only 17 inches from the ground – necessitating changes to the positioning of the engines on the wing, which together with the vast increase in power, created aerodynamic instability in the design that Boeing tried to correct with software, while not alerting pilots to the changes.
Through the 1980s and early 1990s Boeing executives had largely resisted pressure from Wall Street to cut staff numbers, move plant to non-union states and outsource. The 777 was the last real Boeing, though significant outsourcing did take place – but under the strict control and guidance of Boeing engineers. After the "reverse" takeover of MacDonnell Douglas in 1997 the MDD neoliberal culture swamped Boeing and its HQ was moved from the firm's home near Seattle to Chicago so executives could hobnob with speculators. Wall Street had taken down another giant.
David Park , Mar 12, 2019 5:01:36 PM | link
The story I have most interest in, at the moment, is the state of the power blackout in Venezuela and whether this was a cyber attack by the United States. If it was, it is, in my opinion, a weapon of mass destruction and a very major war crime. The story seems to be fading from the news so I'm hoping b. will be able to gather more information about it.

But I find every story by b, worthwhile!

Ghost Ship , Mar 12, 2019 5:04:07 PM | link
I don't know if this is true by my sister who was an engineer working on military jets said that she'd heard that because of various design requirements, the 737-MAX was inherently unstable but stability was provided by the fly-by-wire system. In military jets, this feature provides greater maneuverability and survivability but has no place on civilian aircraft as the outcome of a system failure would be catastrophic with the pilots being unable to do anything about it. Anyone heard anything similar?
james , Mar 12, 2019 5:09:31 PM | link
b - thanks for addressing this.. subservient canada is also flying them still..) canada is going the same way as the usa-faa - into a ditch long term... it is really sad for the people who have died and for the fact that as @1 psychohistorian notes - the decisions are being put in the hands of the wrong people...
Barbara Ann , Mar 12, 2019 5:11:56 PM | link
Excellent piece b.
karlof1 , Mar 12, 2019 5:13:53 PM | link
Gotta agree with psychohistorian @1, that the engineers aren't totally responsible. Deregulation pukes at FAA, bean counters at Boeing and their managers who approved it all are morally culpable. Airline executives aren't immune either, although many will likely plead ignorance.
mourning dove , Mar 12, 2019 5:17:18 PM | link
If the US were a sane country, a Congressional investigation would follow, but it's not, and Congress is going to be more concerned with Boeing's bottom line than in public safety or the integrity of the FAA. That's probably why the planes haven't been grounded in the US. Congress is much more likely to impede investigation and accountability.
dave , Mar 12, 2019 5:17:28 PM | link

the dreamliner is the plane of the future barack hussein obarmie


The Boeing Broken Dreams Al Jazeera Investigations

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rvkEpstd9os

karlof1 , Mar 12, 2019 5:19:49 PM | link
David Park @5--

You'll want to read this !

Steven , Mar 12, 2019 5:26:50 PM | link
You omit important facts: the pilots know by heart how to quickly cut off electronic control of the stabilizers and fly manually. The pilots on the preceding lion air flight had had the same problem, and immediately solved it. The defective sensor should have been immediately replaced, and would have in the United States. On the next flight, the pilots (the copilot being quite unexperienced) spent 10 minutes not doing what they were trained to do in an emergency where the stabilizers are out of control: disable them.

When some flight crews get it right, but others don't, it's not a design flaw but a problem with the flight crews.

I can't agree with your conclusions.

Lochearn , Mar 12, 2019 5:30:48 PM | link
Through the history of Boeing senior executives lived in modest middle-class houses. They traveled on Boeing aircraft to get pilot's responses. But when Phil Condit (Wall Street's man) took over he immediately bought private jets and started living the lifestyle. The difference between productive capitalism and financial capitalism.
Tom Welsh , Mar 12, 2019 5:34:56 PM | link
"How or why did the FAA agree to accept the 737 MAX with the badly designed MCAS?"

Because it would be against the state religion to stop, or delay, a huge corporation earning even more money.

dave , Mar 12, 2019 5:36:39 PM | link
the broken dreams documentary above spells it out very clearly the documentary is from 2014.
it even has undercover folks in the boeing factory saying they would not fly on one.


if you fly you should watch that old al jazeera investigation.
the company does not pay tax and
the head of boeing paid himself 100s of millions of dollars

corporate manslaughter
could be

Zachary Smith , Mar 12, 2019 5:39:20 PM | link
But the bigger issue for the U.S. aircraft industry might be the damage done to the FAA's reputation.

I'd counter this by asking "what reputation?"

I've known for years how it took take a "smoking hole" for the FAA to get off the can and actually do something about a problem with an airplane or airline. But things evolve, and here we have TWO such smoking holes and the FAA still allows it to fly. I'm not trying to pick on the current FAA leader, for the man is utterly typical of the people who are allowed to gain his position. From his wiki:

But the bigger issue for the U.S. aircraft industry might be the damage done to the FAA's reputation.

Elwell joined Airlines for America (A4A) in 2013[3] where he was the Senior Vice President for Safety, Security, and Operations. Elwell left this role in 2015.

(Skipping to the A4A wiki:) Airlines for America
Officially, the A4A has announced five "core elements" of a national airline policy include reducing taxes on the industry, reducing regulation , increased access to foreign markets, making the industry more attractive for investors , and improving the air traffic control system.

I suspect that grounding the 737-MAX would contradict the goal of "making the industry more attractive for investors".

More on the FAA's Tombstone Mentality

About an hour ago I sent out an all-points email suggesting my family members avoid boarding a 737 MAX until the facts are better known and solutions are in place. The FAA may not care about them taking risks, but I sure do.

Tom Welsh , Mar 12, 2019 5:39:22 PM | link
Boeing has a get-out-of-jail-free card.

"Boeing is among the largest global aircraft manufacturers; it is the fifth-largest defense contractor in the world based on 2017 revenue, and is the largest exporter in the United States by dollar value".

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing

Jen , Mar 12, 2019 5:39:56 PM | link
I agree with Psychohistorian @ 1 in less forthright terms: the engineers did not "screw up". On the contrary they most likely did what they could with the money and the time deadline they were given to carry out what essentially was a patch-up job that would make Boeing look good, save money and maintain its stock in sharemarkets.

Probably the entire process, in which the engineers played a small part - and that part in which they had no input into whoever was making the decisions - was a disaster from start to finish. The engineers should have been consulted at an early stage in the re-design of the aircraft's flight and safety features. Only when the appropriate re-design has been tested, changed where necessary and given the thumbs-up by relevant pilots' unions and other organisations with regard to passenger safety can the marketing department go ahead and advise airlines who buy the redesigned planes what training their pilots need.

That the marketing department has more say than the engineers who design and test the hardware and the software in passenger jets tells us a great deal about the Potemkin-style workplace culture that prevails in Boeing and similar large US corporations. The surface sheen is more important than the substance. The marketing brochures and manuals are no different from mainstream news media in the level of BS they spew.

One can think of other organisations where the administration has more power in the corporate decision-making process and eats up more of the corporate budget while the people who do the actual work are increasingly ignored in boardrooms and their share of the budget correspondingly decreases. Hospitals and schools come to mind.

Lochearn , Mar 12, 2019 5:45:36 PM | link
@ 19

Boeing got taken over Wall Street, which means cheapest solution to anything. Engineers are stuck with what they are given. What part of that do you still not understand.

viking3 , Mar 12, 2019 5:55:18 PM | link
A mitigating factor to the flightcrew is the take-off to 10,000ft is the busiest time. There is enough going on without having to deal with runaway stab. This is especially true for new crew to a new aircraft. Rode in many cockpits before 9.11.01 when company employees were allowed and the standing rule was no conversations below 10,000 and keep you eyes open for traffic. I also include my Maintenance brethren in that equation. Spent 30 years as a Avionics Tech. on both military and commercial aircraft so I am not really fond of giving flightcrew a break but I might this time.
karlof1 , Mar 12, 2019 5:59:13 PM | link
Jen @19--

Dilbert , the comic strip , from today and yesterday nails the marketing angle. And this isn't the first time Scott Adams has targeted marketers.

ancientarcher , Mar 12, 2019 5:59:44 PM | link
Good point @4 Lochearn

Why is Boeing suffering from this design problem and not A320neo is that 737's wings are much lower to the ground than the A320. Unfortunately, more fuel-efficient engines require a larger air inlet, so the newer generation engines are much larger than the previously installed V2500 or CFM56 (anyone can verify that - the older engines are much, much smaller than the newer ones).

When Airbus introduced the Pratt & Whitney GTF on its A320s (calling it the neo - new engine option), it led to an increase (high single digits %) increase in fuel efficiency. Boeing had to respond to that. If they wanted to increase the height of the wings of the 737 from the ground, they would have had to redesign the fuselage which would have cost billions (and which they should have done, in hindsight). Instead, they listened to the investors and the bean counters as you have called them here and they jiggled the position of the wings a bit and introduced the new automatic stabiliser.

The people at Boeing are good or at least the engineers are. Imagine how many times this problem would have been brought up by someone for him/her to be shut down. It's not like they were not aware of the issue, but they were unwilling to let their bottom line suffer. Instead, they were okay with carrying the risk of killing hundreds of people.

That is what boggles my mind!

dh-mtl , Mar 12, 2019 6:00:43 PM | link
Lochearn | Mar 12, 2019 5:00:42 PM | 4;
Posted by: Ghost Ship | Mar 12, 2019 5:04:07 PM | 6

Agree with both of your comments. It looks like the 55 year old 737 air-frame design, which is very low to the ground when compared to more modern designs, is incompatible with the bigger engines required for fuel efficiency.

Being very low to the ground, Boeing was forced to put the engines out in front, which upset the airplane's balance, making the plane essentially unstable. To counter the instability they added the 'MCAS?' control system.

This solution violates a fundamental tenant of design for safety-critical systems. The tenant of 'fail-safe'. If something goes wrong the system is supposed to fail in a manner that preserves safety. For the 737 Max, when the this stability control system fails, the plane is fundamentally unstable. For this system it is not 'fail-safe'. It is 'fail-crash'.

Why would Boeing do this? Because Bombardier was building a clean sheet design, that would eat the 737's lunch. Boeing (and Airbus) were desperate to do something quick to minimize the 20% fuel burn advantage of the C-series. The more modern Airbus 320 air frame allowed it to re-engine their plane. Boeing's did not. But Boeing went ahead anyway and built an fundamentally unstable airplane, because the alternative was to walk away from their most important market.

To me, this looks like it could be catastrophic for Boeing. It reminds me of G.M.'s 'Corvair' moment (Unsafe at any speed), from the 1960s.

Jen , Mar 12, 2019 6:02:28 PM | link
Steven @ 13: The Indonesian Lion Air jet still crashed with all onboard dying, even after the pilots did as you said. B's post explains why: the MCAS system has to be deactivated separately as it is still active when autopilot is off and the pilots are flying manually. The Indonesian pilots did not have the time to figure out and realise that something else was controlling the plane's flight, much less deactivate what is effectively a second autopiloting system.
james , Mar 12, 2019 6:09:41 PM | link
how is this for reassuring? press release from boeing today... this info is from someone else, and i haven't verified it..

"For the past several months and in the aftermath of Lion Air Flight 610, Boeing has been developing a flight control software enhancement for the 737 MAX, designed to make an already safe aircraft even safer."

witters , Mar 12, 2019 6:10:37 PM | link
"Boeing got taken over Wall Street, which means cheapest solution to anything. Engineers are stuck with what they are given. What part of that do you still not understand."

Why they colluded with and indeed implemented what they knew to be - and now proven to be - a mass killing system. What do you not understand here?

james , Mar 12, 2019 6:11:02 PM | link
very un- assuring.. https://gizmodo.com/boeing-promises-to-release-software-update-for-737-max-1833224836
Whozhear , Mar 12, 2019 6:15:58 PM | link
Great article B.

There is much more behind the covering up of this "design flaw" from the start. The concept that, in this day and age, sensors used in the aviation field and close to brand new are defective is a stretch of the imagination. The current effort by Boeing to do a software upgrade, I suspect, is cover for something more damaging.

How easy is it these days to access the MAX's operation and flight control computers? Can it be done via WI-fi or Bluetooth from the airfield? We are well aware that in the newer heavies Seattle can take basic control via satellite.

Whozhear , Mar 12, 2019 6:19:12 PM | link
@ 5

You may also find this interesting........ https://colonelcassad.livejournal.com/4837334.html

Steven , Mar 12, 2019 6:24:25 PM | link
@jen @james

You clowns don't understand what you're telling me I'm "getting wrong." MCAS ISN'T part of the autopilot, and I never said it was.

737 pilots have to be able to do about 10 procedures in their sleep. One is when the electrical control of the horizontal stabilizers doesn't work; Aa few steps but basically pull a breaker and revert to manual control only, no power assist.

The crew on the previous flight did this and flew on with zero problem.

It's outrageous that lionair didn't find out why emergency procedures had had to be used and fix them before they let the airplane fly again.

If airlines do not adhere to Minimal safety standards, it's not Boeing's fault if it's planes crash.

Jonathan , Mar 12, 2019 6:35:04 PM | link
@35 Steven,

Is Boeing paying you to miss this part:

"This is the first description you, as 737 pilots, have seen. It is not in the AA 737 Flight Manual Part 2, nor is there a description in the Boeing FCOM (flight crew operations manual)," says the letter from the pilots' union safety committee. "Awareness is the key with all safety issues."
Kadath , Mar 12, 2019 6:41:49 PM | link
Well it's good to know that Canada is still allowing this death trap to fly, I couldn't bare the thought that Boeing might lose more stock value merely because of a defective product that kills! Seriously though, the silence from the Canadian media on this subject is deafening. CBC news didn't even cover the banning of these planes in the rest of the world until an hour ago and even then they seemed more concerned about the impact on Boeing then the you know 300 people killed because of this flawed plane. Eventually (before Friday) I think Canada will be forced to ground it's fleet of 737-8s. With the current corruption scandal, Trudeau is too weak right now to stand up in Question period and claim the 737-8s are safe to fly. Even Trump is getting in on the action and blaming Boeing for the accidents. FAA may end up being the biggest loser from this situations with a huge hit to its' trustworthiness, I remember when the FAA would issue emergency maintenance/inspection orders after any crash suspected to be caused by maintenance issues and ground entire fleets of aircraft if two planes crashed within 2 years. You know, the FAAs behaviour now reminds me of the old Soviet joke, "our planes never crash, their just indefinitely delayed"
Meshpal , Mar 12, 2019 6:46:17 PM | link
These people did not die they were murdered. Long ago, I had worked with Boeing on a computer project and I had the highest respect for the company and engineers. Facts and reality were paramount for Boeing. Things started a slow downhill slope when that TWA flight that was accidentally shot down by a missile. I noticed how uncomfortable the engineers were to talk about it – just a short comment that the fuel tank was not the cause. When politics and management go away from reality and facts, it is just a matter of time. But for the life of me I do not understand how Boeing can come to this:

Fault 1: As B says, it should never have been designed like this.
Fault 2: Don't tell the pilots about MCSA.
Fault 3: Real time flight tracking altitude data show wild swings – red light ignored. No need to wait for a plane to crash.
Fault 4: Lion Air Flight 610 crash showed that this MCSA system is at fault and nothing much was done. The murder of 189 people.
Fault 5: Ethiopian Airlines Flight 409 murdering an additional 157 people.
Fault 6: FAA says everything is ok.

Especially the Ethiopian Flight 409 crash should never have happened. This issue became well known to engineers and flight crews world wide after Lion Air. A good question is: was the disable MCSA switch now a memory item or a check list item for the flight crew? Or did Boeing want to wait for the final report of Lion Air?

I noticed that the Ethiopian pilot was not western, but looks like from Indian decent. I would not doubt his abilities, but rather say that he would follow the rules more than a western pilot. Western pilots would network and study this thing on their own and would not wait for Boeing. They would have penciled this into their flight deck routine - just to be safe.

JohnT , Mar 12, 2019 6:51:38 PM | link
David Park #5

I read this yesterday regarding the Venezuela power outages. Possible Stuxnet infestation ala Iran 2010?

https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2019/03/11/trump-regime-electricity-war-in-venezuela-more-serious-than-first-believed.html

Alpi57 , Mar 12, 2019 6:54:45 PM | link
One can always find a benefit in the sanctions, albeit coincidental. Iran avoided a lot of damage from Boeing. They had ordered 140 of 737's. All got canceled. Congratulations.
ancientarcher , Mar 12, 2019 6:59:53 PM | link
@40 Alpi57
Iran always has the option of buying the Irkut MC-21 which in my opinion is the best narrowbody plane that anyone can buy now. Fully redesigned body with significantly higher composite percentage and comes with the best engine in the world for narrowbodies - the P&W GTF. And Russia will be happy.

What's not to like

Likklemore , Mar 12, 2019 7:07:19 PM | link
Before you guys and gals bash b, hop over to Zerohedge citing Dallas Morning News revealing FAA database Pilots on Boeing 737Max complained for months...Manual inadequate ...criminally insufficient .just for starters.
karlof1 , Mar 12, 2019 7:10:30 PM | link
james @32--

That Canada didn't is crazy :

"In a remarkable rebuke, nations from the U.K. to Australia have rejected public reassurances from the FAA and grounded Boeing's 737 Max."

Hoarsewhisperer , Mar 12, 2019 7:28:54 PM | link
I was a big fan of the 6-part BBC doco series Black Box from the 1990s. The main conclusion drawn was that the industry is way too fond of blaming as many mishaps as possible on Pilot Error, and way too slow to react to telltale signs that a particular aircraft model might have a fatal flaw. There was a tendency to ignore FAA edicts for inspection of a suspected design weakness. Two cases that come to mind were incorrectly locked DC 9 cargo doors ripping off with a big chunk of the plane plus half a dozen occupied seats, and a tendency of 727s to nose-dive into the "surface" at Mach 0.99.

I'll be very surprised if any part of b's analysis, conclusions and predictions turns out to incorrect.

World 3 - USA 0 , Mar 12, 2019 7:31:57 PM | link
Lights in Venezuela on. US Boeing stocks down. More evidence for the Lockheed f-16 downing. Reports it was a dogfight between an old MiG-21 (with modernised radar and missiles) that brought the modern US Lockheed f-16 down and maybe not from a launch of MiGs modern bvr missile.

Things are looking up.

Zachary Smith , Mar 12, 2019 7:33:32 PM | link
@ ancientarcher @41

The problem with a "new" airplane is the Western Content. Over a certain percentage, the US basically controls the situation. Another issue is servicing the things. If an airplane is sitting in Podunk Airport with a broken widget, the airline wants it fixed right now! Some planes like the 737 have been around for decades and there are probably parts for it - even at Podunk. A new plane will probably be grounded until a new part is transported in - a process which will take many hours even in the best of circumstances. Advantage to the 737 and other 'legacy' airplanes.

Just saw an interesting headline at Reuters - I'd suppose it is some friendly advice from Wall Street disguised as "news".

Breakingviews - Boeing needs to think faster than its watchdog

Change "watchdog" to "lapdog" and that would be about right. It seems to me a sensible proposal, for if Boeing must take a beating out of this, the company ought to at least adopt a pose of "really caring" and "doing the right thing". Try for the brownie points.

psychohistorian , Mar 12, 2019 7:40:55 PM | link
@ Zachary Smith who wrote
"
It seems to me a sensible proposal, for if Boeing must take a beating out of this, the company ought to at least adopt a pose of "really caring" and "doing the right thing".
"

China is coming to teach the West morals which are currently ranked below profit and ongoing private control of global finance

aspnaz , Mar 12, 2019 7:54:05 PM | link
@35 Steven

The Ethiopian airlines flight was an international flight, so the pilots will have been certified to international standards. I don't know the details of international standards for type training, but you are basically saying that the fault is not with Boeing, it is with the type training of international pilot crews. Can you elaborate and does this mean that we are equally in danger regardless of the aircraft model and that it is just coincidence that both these crew failures were on 737 Max models?

EV , Mar 12, 2019 8:07:08 PM | link
The evidences and recognizably legitimate information (there is always a lot of through-the-hat blather-yap from internet-"engineers") suggests thrust angle, not structure or CG destabilization. "larger" engines are not necessarily significantly heavier, but, today, and if more efficient, will be larger diameter for more fan, for more thrust (which in jet and fan engines is more power). Larger diameter nacelles will require modification of placement, higher, lower, larger weight will require modification of placement, forward, backward. Clearance restrictions may require modification of engine thrust-line angle, relative to fuselage, and fuselage-fit control surface lines (which include flight surfaces). Thrust changes with thrust changes, which means thrust-angle change will change thrust-effect at differing thrust amounts: Take-off and climb thrusts are near maximums, wherefore angular component will be near max then (cruise maximums are less, or less effective, or radical, for altitude air thinning).

What this means is that if larger engines on a 737 MAX, for larger bulk are slightly angled for clearance,the angling may have little effect except in specific instances and attitudes, such as take-off and climb. It sounds as if Boeing angled thrust slightly for engine fitting, and assumed a computer control fix could handle the off-line thrust component effect during the short duration times it was sufficient to effect flight characteristics, which, if the thrust-angling was up, would add a nose-up tail-down thrust rotation component, greater at greater power. to compensate which the software would add nose-down control surface counteraction, as incident described.

What it sounds like the pilot in the first, non-crash, case most likely did, that saved the aircraft, was not 'disable' an automatic system he had no information about, for it being not intended for disablement, but was reduce power, reducing the off-line thrust effect, so the auto system backed off. In the other incidents, especially if the airports were get-em-high-fast airports (to 'leave' the noise at the airport) the pilots would incline to not reduce power, and would be more likely to get into a war with the too automated auto-system, the way Tesla drivers can do with their over-automated systems.

All auto-control "AI" systems need human-override options built in, so that human-robot stand-offs to impact cannot occur. The real culprits in stand-off accident situations are the techie-guppies who think robotic control can always do everything better, and fail to think of the situation where the "right" response is wrong.

Jen , Mar 12, 2019 8:19:36 PM | link
Steven @ 35:

Lion Air's engineers had previously identified and tried to fix issues with the jet that crashed in October 2018.

The day before the jet took off from Jakarta airport and crashed, killing all 189 onboard, one of its Angle of Attack sensors had been replaced by engineers in Denpasar. Unfortunately the source I checked (see link below) doesn't say if this replacement AoA sensor was the one linked to the computer running the MCAS on the flight.

https://aviation-safety.net/database/record.php?id=20181029-0

fast freddy , Mar 12, 2019 8:26:15 PM | link
Bean Counters:

Delta once initiated a fuel saving measure whereby aircraft were insufficiently topped off with fuel to prevent pilots from wasting fuel. Once this information began to leak, the measure was ended.

psychohistorian , Mar 12, 2019 8:40:43 PM | link
@ fast freddy with the Bean Counters example

Thanks for Bean Counters! I so much wanted to use Bean Counters in my rant but thought I should stick to their standard appellation....

Bean Counters need to be taken seriously because they are not going to go away in any form of social organization and represent where the rubber meets the road when it comes to social decision making/risk management

Bean Counters (along with their bosses) need to be required to place morals as a higher value than profit and forced to operate with maximum public transparency and input; then, all will be good.

Pnyx , Mar 12, 2019 8:41:19 PM | link
Thank you for the accurate information. The basic problem seems to be that the low-consumption engines protrude too far. A well-designed, reliable aircraft becomes a faulty design. To try to solve this using software is a precarious approach. The FAA should have rejected this in principle. But because to design an aircraft completely from scratch naturally takes longer and would have given the competitor Airbus time to take over the to much market share, this 'solution' was accepted. This type of corruption will cost the u.s. a lot.

But first let's wait for Tronald's tweet, which will certainly be aired by tomorrow at the latest, in which he states that the 737 Max is a great, great aircraft - if not the best ever...

Kiza , Mar 12, 2019 8:49:51 PM | link
There is no doubt that both Boeing and FAA are to blame, but we pay the Government to ensure safety. Businesses have always chased profit, some more ruthlessly than others. But when the real corruption sets in then the Government regulator works for the businesses at the expense of the public . Regarding FAA reputation, there was a time when US was the leader in aviation, military as well as commercial. This means that the best experts were in US and thus FAA had the best and the most knowledgeable people. It is similar with FDA, all countries in the World used to follow the touchstone drug approvals by FDA. Now the "Federal" in any US acronym has become a synonym for "Corruption" (FBI anyone?).

The expertise does not matter any more, only greasing of the hands does. In the old times, anyone from FAA whose signature was on this planes approval to fly would get a life sentence in jail. But 330 people dead is less than a days worth of US global victims - business as usual for US. It is just that these victims are getting much more publicity than the silent victims. We will be lucky if anyone influential from FAA even resigns let alone goes to jail. There will be many more dead before the World understands this new reality.

Would you fly on any Boeing plane designed or delivered after the company was taken over by the Wall Street wizards in the 90s?

Peter AU 1 , Mar 12, 2019 8:53:28 PM | link

Re the engineers - they agreed to build an out of balance aircraft (thrust vs weight and drag) and to try and rectify this with software. What we will do for money. Both the bean counters and engineers are at fault, perhaps the beancounters and shiney butts more so as they did not inform buyers and pilots of the faults.
Hoarsewhisperer , Mar 12, 2019 8:56:22 PM | link
Posted by: fast freddy | Mar 12, 2019 8:26:15 PM | 52
(Fuel 'economy')

QANTAS once decreed that pilots rely on brakes and treat reverse thrust as emergency-only procedure, until a 747 skidded off the end of a runway with the nose-wheel inside the cabin and bruised engines = lots of down-time + very large repair bill.

Clueless Joe , Mar 12, 2019 8:58:46 PM | link
Fast Freddy:

Not just Delta; Ryanair did the same, at least until there was a major storm in Spain (Valencia, I think) and all flights had to be rerouted to other airports. That was fine, with dozens of planes flying around waiting for a window to land, until the handful of Ryanair planes that had been rerouted to Madrid and other places called for emergency landings, because they didn't have enough fuel to fly for even 30 minutes longer than planned flights.

I'm still amazed that the EU regulators and EU fucking commission didn't downright dismantle such a bloody greedy and downright criminal company. That they basically did nothing is proof enough, imho, of the insane level of capitalism-worship and of corruption going on in Brussels (of course it's even worse in Washington DC, but that's basically a given).

bevin , Mar 12, 2019 9:19:41 PM | link
the toronto star is carrying this story
Headline:
"Ottawa exempts Boeing 737 Max jets from standards meant to minimize passenger injuries"

"Air Canada and WestJet are flying the Boeing 737 Max aircraft exempt from regulatory standards meant to limit passenger injuries in the event of an accident, the Star has learned."

What does it mean?

Pft , Mar 12, 2019 9:51:59 PM | link
B is right. This is a criminal act of deception and fraud thats cost hundreds their lives. Boeing executives responsible should be prosecuted and then jailed.

Instead the safety agency regulating them will cover it up, backed by the criminal congress.

We see similar crimes against humanity being committed in many other areas. FDA, CDC, EPA, FCC , USDA, etc covering up for Big Agra, Big Pharma, Big Telecom with dangerous products like vaccines, glyphosate,4G/5G, GMO foods, gene edited livestock, etc. Safety standards are lax and inadequate, safety testing is minimal and in some cases fraudulent or completely lacking. Defects and adverse effects are covered up. A revolving door between these agencies and the industry they cover presents significant conflict of interest. These industries finance congressional members campaigns. Public safety is sacrificed for the greater good (profits and personal gain). Whistleblowers are muzzled, attacked or ridiculed as the MSM are their lap dogs.

That said, the airline industry has had a remarkable safety record over the last 30 years if you can overlook their failure to have adequate locks on cockpit doors in 2001. However, the lack of competition and increasing corruption and continuing moral decay we see in society , government and industry has obviously taken its toll on the industry. This is inexcusable. Heads should roll (dont hold your breath).

El Cid , Mar 12, 2019 9:57:08 PM | link
Congress flies on these aircraft to and fro from Washington to their districts. It is to their interests to have these Boeing 737 permanently grounded.
ben , Mar 12, 2019 10:13:18 PM | link
psycho @1 said;"The West is a world in which the accountants have more sway than engineers."

Case closed, and anyone who thinks senior execs should be prosecuted and jailed are right.

BUT, never would happen in today's pro-corporate U$A mentality..

Profits uber alles!!

Kadath , Mar 12, 2019 10:23:36 PM | link
Re: 59 Bevin, "Ottawa exempts Boeing 737 Max jets from standards meant to minimize passenger injuries"

- what this means is that Washington called Ottawa and ordered little Justin that he had to allow the 737 8's to fly and Justin said yes sir! However, someone at the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, told Justin that the threat these plane pose to travellers was so obvious that they couldn't just ignore it and that they would instead have to issue a waiver to show that they have done due diligence - apparently this person or someone else within the department then called the Star in order to leak the information and embarrass Justin into reversing his decision. I imagine tomorrow at 4:00pm during the question hour, Justin will get raked through the coals over his - Justin's whole defense of his actions during the Lavin scandal has been "I needed to protect Canadian jobs", I imagine the NDP or Conservatives will then retort something along the lines of "you'll break the law to protect Jobs, why won't you obey the law to protect Canadian lives!", I should point out that 8 Canadians were killed in the most recent crash in Ethiopia

paul , Mar 12, 2019 10:28:00 PM | link
Steven @ 35: watch this

from 2014: 32min in john woods aerospace engineer whistle blower https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rvkEpstd9os

acementhead , Mar 12, 2019 10:39:09 PM | link
Steven is correct. Totally correct. I suspect that he is an airline pilot, as am I. Everybody else is wrong at least in part and most between 50% and 100%(The description of the cause of the QANTAS hull loss).

Pilots MUST know all about aircraft systems operation. It is crazy for Boeing to have functions not in the AFM.

The system in question is not operative with autopilot engaged. In manual flight if at any time one gets an uncommanded stab trim movement one should immediately disable electrical trim(One switch, half a second, no "procedure" required. In manual flight if the trim wheel moves and you hadn't touched the trim switches you have uncommanded trim. Immediately disable electrical trim.

There is procedure for reestablishment of electrical trim, that does take time. The defeat of the runaway trim does not take time. B737 has provision for manual trim(but it's very slow.

Bob , Mar 12, 2019 10:47:40 PM | link
Also a very interesting read about the JT610 Flight https://www.satcom.guru/2018/11/first-look-at-jt610-flight-data.html
VietnamVet , Mar 12, 2019 10:47:49 PM | link
I grew up reading Boeing's weekly employee newspaper. Times have changed too much since then. Moving the headquarters from Seattle to Chicago and a second 787 assembly line in South Carolina to bust their unions are proof that Boeing is a multinational corporation superior to national governments. The company is the Empire's armorer for profit. It is criminal to design an unstable passenger airplane that must be controlled by fly by wire sensors and computers to stay in the air. The problem is the aircraft industry duopoly and deregulation. Airbus has lost at least three aircraft to problems with the pilot computer interface. I was shocked when NBC put this first last night. I though it would be silenced. I blame Trump Derangement Syndrome. His trade wars and dissing have ticked off the world. When China grounded the 737 Max 8 everybody followed to show what they really think about the North American Empire. This could be devastating to the last manufacturing industry left in the USA.
Deal , Mar 12, 2019 10:58:29 PM | link
Boeing in my view took a cynical decision. That is, there would only be a few crashes within a set period. Thus the insurance companies would pick up the tab for their profits. However the loss of two planes so close together could destroy the company. The aforesaid insurance companies will not pay a single dime if they can stick corporate murder charges onto Boeing.

This smells of the Ford Pinto scandal where Ford knew that there was a problem with the fuel system if the car was rear-ended ( the vehicle burst into flames ) but it was cheaper to pay the compensation than fix the problem.

Kalen , Mar 13, 2019 12:25:40 AM | link
B is missing the point that fitting new engines caused airplane to take off close to stalling horizontal speeds and angles at very low altitude and more steeply ascending to flight altitude and that has left little time for pilots to react. That is very dangerous as much weaker tail wind may confuse pilots and sensors. To remedy that without recertification AI software was installed to react faster and overriding actions of pilot who was assumed not be aware of situation at the moment he had to immediately react at the latest.

Lack of sensor redundancy is also criminal as determination of sensor malfunction is critical for pilot. That is AI application correcting "human" physical mental deficiencies and that is deadly trap.

If it goes to court, interesting case will be, whose error was that as MCAS system acted correctly against pilot based on faulty sensor causing pilot to make mistake recovering from correct but suicidal software actions.

People must be warned of cultish trust in technology and AI which is ultimate guilty party together with greed that killed those people.

Pft , Mar 13, 2019 1:01:16 AM | link
Frances@70

There are unlimited dollars for any intervention they choose, publicly allocated or not. There is a reason 21 trillion in pentagon spending is unaccounted for. This does not count dark money from illicit means used to fund covert operations.

The fact its public just means Trump wants congress to sanction it, which they will. Seized Venezuela assets will serve as collateral for future reimbursement.

Grieved , Mar 13, 2019 1:02:08 AM | link
@65 acementhead - "It is crazy for Boeing to have functions not in the AFM"

No, it's criminal. And while all the technical discussion around how to fly a plane is truly interesting, what's really at issue here is corporate and institutional betrayal of trust.

The corporate aspect is Boeing, obviously. The institutional aspect is FAA, which used to lead the world in trust when it came to life and death matters.

But now, in what Bloomberg, even while trying to support FAA, has no choice but to report as a "stunning rebuff" to FAA's integrity, countries around the world are grounding this flawed plane. Germany, among others, has closed its airspace to the 737.

This situation has only a little to do with how to fly a plane. It has vastly more to do with the face of capitalism we see leering at us as our families live their last few moments, on the way to the ground. It has to do with how the corporate spin departments will attempt to cover up and evade responsibility for these crimes.

And it has to do with how the global consumer market will start to book its flights based not on price or time or seat location but on make of plane.

And despite your claim that "Everybody else is wrong at least in part..." , I doubt very much that most of the commenters here are wrong in their appreciation of the situation.

snake , Mar 13, 2019 1:07:41 AM | link
@68 No Deal

I don't think Boeing made a decision, they had little choice (stockholders were first, the jobs were essential to the politicians, and market share would become competitive if Boeing dropped out), it was the pressure of the system that charted their course.

Capitalism is about competition in a just, fairly well managed government regulated environment. In order for capitalism not to over step the bounds of competitive capitalism; government must remain present, to prevent foul play and to deny all hints of monopoly power...

Capitalism without an honest government becomes organized crime or, worse, it degenerates to allow private enterprise and special interest to dictate how the rule making and military arms of government should be used, against domestic and foreign competition. . Economic Zionism is what I call this last degenerative stage.

Defensively EZ teaches the winner to completely and totally destroy the infrastructure, the resources and the people (including competitive personnel with the brains to develop competition) of those who refuse to conform or those who insist on competing; offensively , EZ teaches the winner to take all and to take-over, own and keep the goodies taken from those destroyed, and in the matter of profit making and wealth keeping EZ teaches only winners are allowed to produce-and -profit everyone else is to be made to feed the monopoly that eliminated competition produced. The residual of eliminated, decimated competitive opposition = monopoly power

It is the king of the mountain monopoly that produces the wealth and power and feeds the corruption that makes the rich richer.

I think this case makes clear, privatization of government responsibility nearly always turns sour . The Government should take over and keep the operation of all of the Airlines strictly in government hands (privatization is proven to be problematic). When I grew up all of the airlines were so tightly regulated they were part of the government; the airlines were investors and operators following government rules and regulations. pricing was based on point to point fixed in price and terms (and the same for all airlines) and that was a time when aircraft design was not so accurate, meals were served and jets were nearly not existent but still there were very few accidents. Same for the Trucking Industry and the railroad.. Why should roads be government obligations, but rail, trucks and planes be privately owned?

I am not a communist or a socialist, I just know that private influence will always find a way to wrongly influence public sector employees when private interest wants something from government.

V , Mar 13, 2019 1:43:43 AM | link
VietnamVet | Mar 12, 2019 10:47:49 PM | 67

Agreed!

For a number issues/reasons, I quit flying in 2007, vowing never to set foot in an aircraft again. Trains or ships, okay. So far so good; the 737 Max just firms my rsolve...

Circe , Mar 13, 2019 2:17:54 AM | link
The aircraft did not undergo piece by piece certification or type certification . It underwent supplemental type certification that shortens the investigative process.

max 8 Certification

This is a potential disaster for Boeing. The stock is falling and it'll go into free fall if decision is made to ground this aircraft. FAA will also face a legal tsunami. If this is the reason they didn't ground the planes yet; it's going to look really damning when the find themselves in court later.

Hoarsewhisperer , Mar 13, 2019 2:21:34 AM | link
This is shaping up to be unnecessarily messy for the industry. Yesterday's Oz edition of PBS Newshour went over most of the topics touched on in b's posting but stopped short of finger-pointing although it insinuated that Boeing had blundered. Today's edition posed a question I was going to pose here...

"Should anyone be flying 737MAXes before the black box data has been evaluated?"

The answer, delivered by a female ex-Inspector General (of precisely what I didn't hear) is "No. Absolutely not!"

james , Mar 13, 2019 2:39:06 AM | link
@35 steven... i will take that as a compliment, referring to me as a clown.. i have high regard for clowns, although i don't think there is anything funny about the topic at hand.. innocent people dying and it being based on a corporation that might be negligent in it's responsibility to it's passengers, is something we will have to wait and find out about.. i am definitely not thinking it is pilot error here, as you suggest.. i saw what the canadian airpilot association said - essentially they don't believe Canada should be flying them either, as i read it..

@43 karlof1.. as i pointed out in the link @7 - the fact canada allows them to continue to be flown makes no sense to me..poor judgment call is what it looks like to me.. the canuck gov't and etc are living in the shadows of what b has described about the FAA.. a lot of credibility is on the line here as i see it..

i apologize for not reading all the comments, as i was out most of the day and just got back..

acementhead , Mar 13, 2019 2:48:25 AM | link

Kalen said

"...fitting new engines caused airplane to take off close to stalling horizontal speeds and angles at very low altitude and more steeply ascending to flight altitude and that has left little time for pilots to react. That is very dangerous as much weaker tail wind may confuse pilots and sensors. ..."

This is absolute garbage. Nothing but a "word salad" it has nothing to do with reality.

The Ethiopian crash is due to a useless pilot. A different crew, on the same plane, the day before had the same problem. They handled it correctly, which is EASY, and completed the day's flying without problem. Third world airlines have HUGE numbers of absolutely incompetent pilots.

Anyone interested in the operational aspects of this should go to an aviation site. PPRUNE has some good discussion of this event. There are a few idiots posting but very few. Most people there are very knowledgeable. I had a look at Airliners.net mostly rubbish.

Peter AU 1 , Mar 13, 2019 3:16:03 AM | link
Kalen 69
Installing the new engines changed the angle of thrust. In a balanced aircraft, engine thrust is pushing centrally on wight and drag.
If the thrust is below center of weight, it will nose up while accelerating. If thrust is below center of drag, the aircraft will be trying to nose up while cruising.

The original aircraft was most likely balanced, with thrust centered to weight and drag. Mounting new engines lower means the aircraft will tend to nose up when accelerating, and nose up during cruise. Relying on sensors and software to keep an unstable aircraft stable is not a good thing. To not notify pilots of this problem is worse than not a good thing.

psychohistorian , Mar 13, 2019 3:24:41 AM | link
@ acementhead with insistence that the pilot was at error.

Without the black box data you are sticking your **ck out a long way. I find it interesting that in both your comments you are insistent that the pilot was the problem. You wrote in your first comment
"
Pilots MUST know all about aircraft systems operation. It is crazy for Boeing to have functions not in the AFM.
"
The 2nd sentence is your only criticism of Boeing but then you spend the rest of the comment describing what the pilot should have done.....before black box data says what happened.

Kiza , Mar 13, 2019 3:45:44 AM | link
When a relative asked me recently why did the new Ethiopian plane crash, I generated a sound-bite like explanation. Before, the civilian airliners were falling out of the sky because of an immature technology, that is because of the learning curve. Now that the technology involved is fully mature the airliners are falling out of the sky for profit taking.

The scariest thing is that 737MAX model was a botched Boeing reaction to the market change towards budget flight. If the plane manufacturer and the approval authority were prepared to cut corners so badly to remain "market competitive", one can only imagine the compromises that budget airlines are making to sell cheap whilst increasing profits. Some airlines must be treating planes worst than buses are treated by the bus companies.

US citizens entrust their wallets to the private bank, The Federal=Corrupt Reserve, which prints money and gives it to the most exceptional among the exceptional (did you think that there was no hierarchy within the exceptionality?). We entrust our heads to the Federal=Corrupt Aviation Administration whose bureaucrats work for the porky revolving door consulting jobs that come after a stint in the Corrupt.

Kiza , Mar 13, 2019 4:01:48 AM | link
@Peter AU 1

As Aussies would say: using software to solve a hardware problem is like putting lipstick on a pig. More than 300 people dead are a terrible testament to this wisdom.

Yet, it is fascinating that you are blaming the engineers and some others are asking in the comments for whistleblowers in Boeing and FAA.

Well, if I were an engineer at Boeing I would probably have resigned if asked to do this design monstrosity of putting unfitting engines on a differently designed plane - creating a Lego airplane, but I never had a home mortgage over my head. Regarding whistleblowing, we all know how suicidal it is, why do supposedly intelligent people expect other to be so dumb to commit one? Before you expect others to self-sacrifice ask yourself if you would do so in their shoes.

b , Mar 13, 2019 4:01:57 AM | link
It seems that the U.S. now wants to manipulate the investigation of the Ethiopian Airlines crash. WSJ U.S., Ethiopia Maneuver Over Crashed Plane's Black Boxes Washington wants NTSB to download data from recorders, while African nation's officials prefer U.K. experts.
U.S. air-safety investigators on Tuesday engaged in intense behind-the-scenes discussions with their Ethiopian counterparts regarding where the black-box recorders found amid the wreckage of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 will be downloaded, according to people familiar with the matter.
Peter AU 1 , Mar 13, 2019 4:15:37 AM | link
Kiza 85 "Before you expect others to self-sacrifice ask yourself if you would do so in their shoes."
"Self sacrifice" ... Most of my life I have been self employed, but for a few years when I was young and then as I got older and ill health slowed me down, I have worked for others.

If told to do a job that I believed was destined to fail, I would pull out. What you call self sacrifice simply comes down to money, and as I put in an earlier comment "what we do for money" Engineers that put this schumozzel together were simply putting in the hours to received their pay check at the end of the week with no thought as to the people hurt or killed when this bodge job failed. The fault is equally with engineers who sell their souls for money and the bean counters who did not inform purchasers or pilots.

Kalen , Mar 13, 2019 4:16:24 AM | link
@aceme..

What you wrote is asinine garbage, my friend. Everybody except for bribed FAA dumped B737 Max 8 until notice. It is simply too dangerous to fly.

It is you who are trolling for Boeing, the problem was discovered five months ago never fixed, blamed pilots despite previous complaints. Now FAA admitted that fact by demanding software fix in April or they will ground the fleet. PILOT ERROR????? Of course not and they know it.

Not only worldwide airlines dumped this model so far but also they closed the airspace for them in EU, China, HK etc.,because the plane is dangerous and may require recertification of plane and pilots since Boeing lied about it and its flight parameters,p the trust was broken, they were cheating with deadly consequences was revealed. Expect hundreds of lawsuits, as American were also onboard.

Interestingly that anti-stalling software cannot be disabled on the ground only in flight in manual mode only after it was engaged exactly for reasons I mentioned about near-stalling dangerous flight parameters.

Peter AU 1 , Mar 13, 2019 4:27:42 AM | link
b 86

US Boeing are very much competing with France airbus and also the coming Chinese Russian airliner. The US is very much batting for the home team (as the mad monk told the Australian Broadcasting Commission to do so).

Kiza , Mar 13, 2019 6:14:40 AM | link
Is it really so hard to connect the secrecy about MCAS and why it was needed in the first place? The lawyers will have a ball of the decade with this: the defendant created a secret software solution to turn a Lego airplane into a real airplane, made the software dependent on a single sensor, and made it difficult to switch the software off.

The networked Western pilots learned how to compensate for the faulty design, but non-networked foreign pilots never got in on the flying tricks needed for this new plane because it was never been in their training. Also, the critical sensor may not be available on an airport in Ethiopia or Indonesia or .....

I cannot believe that Boeing shares dropped only 7.5%, this is a statement of how untouchable Boeing is and how protected it will be by the Corrupt.

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