EASA grounds, bans 737 MAX; FAA remains silent

March 12, 2019, (c) Leeham News: EASA, the European air safety regulator, grounded the Boeing 737-8/9 operated by EU airlines and banned operation of the airplanes operated by third-party airlines/countries.

The press release is here.

The US Federal Aviation Administration still is silent about grounding the airplanes in the US.

199 Comments on “EASA grounds, bans 737 MAX; FAA remains silent

  1. Typical socialist governments doing knee jerk reaction without any supporting data. Grounding and banning for what reason other than a terrible accident that we really have no idea yet on the cause and which could amount to possible human factors causation. Why should the FAA take pressure based on notional evidence? I don’t like airplane accidents than anyone else but sound engineering facts need to take precedence. And if the evidence shows just cause for grounding, then by all means let’s keep it safe.

    • Socialist governments??? Appearently you don´t have a clue about the world outside of your borders.

      • Chris: I agree, sound engineering needs to takes precedence.

        As we have none to date and we know some very unsound work was done and there are some eeriest similarity to another crash, then sound is to ground.

        ps 1: Socialism has nothign to do with it.

        ps 2: Boeing and the FAA mutually aided a crash killing 189. It may be 346.

        • Exactly the same sequence of events for the Comet.
          Two unexplained crashes in same phase of flight- the BOAC pulled the plane from service and UK regulatorsd 2 other things
          1) search for the wreckage to see if physical evidence could point to a cause..they didnt have ‘black boxes’ then ( still dont , they are orange). First time use of underwater TV cameras which had been developed by UK Admiralty Research laboratory.
          2) Full of review of the planes certification and build to narrow down the possible causes.
          Bodies recovered from surface indicated cabin depressurisation had occurred. They started a test program, using existing water tank to surround whole fuselage taken from a production plane-the tank method had been used for ultimate strength fuselage pressure test. [De havilland had also built a high altitude ‘low pressure/temperature chamber’ to test whole fuselage sections.]
          The use of water tank method meant vital evidence of a decompression wasnt lost if you just used air pressure in a cabin.
          Square cabin windows were of course used in previous pressurised piston engine airliners, but at nothing like the attitudes reached by Comet in cruise flight.

          • I will note that you use water because you don’t get an explosive release like air does.

            Water is more or less not expand so at the first bit of a break the pressure drops

            Air continues to release explosively which does wreck what you are testing.

            While it saves blown out back trace, its mostly a major safety aspect.

          • Yes, the end result of the extensive investigation was ‘safety for everyone’ as fatigue wasnt a major factor to consider until then.
            The grounding of the Comet after the crashes (there was both a short grounding and then withdrawal of certification) was ‘safety for those flying in them at the time’
            They are 2 different things

      • My socialist government banned the Mac for the moment AFTER advice from FAA. A best be sure approach

    • Yeah, the hapless FAA should ensure that the 737 MAX will only be able to be operated in U.S. airspace, while the socialist regulators around the world permanently grounds the MAX. The socialists are probably OK, though, with the 737NG, A220, A320, C919, MC-21 (etc) operating in their socialist airspace (i.e. airspace outside the U.S.).

      • OV-O99:

        No slur intended but what do you base the permanently grounding the MAX on?

        While I don’t in the least excuse the FAA or Boeing, Airbrush to has had crashed with their automated menaces.

        We can deduce from the AF447 crash its not a good idea to panic pilots by give them full control when they were taught not to fly the aircraft that way as it was all envelope limit (except when it s not)

        The Commet went onto a good career after they sorted it out and that was (3 crashes?)

          • It would be good of you to tell us that.

            You do have a bit of a rep for going somewhat overboard.

            And no I don’t think Airbus is an automated menace but I also think its over hyped as it has some hole and flaws that make you scratch your head.

            I don’t think A or B have well thought out systems backed by logic.

        • “… but what do you base the permanently grounding the MAX on? ”

          Socialists are deemed irrational and we do have to keep up the impression to stay in role.
          So it is just for appearing to be irrational.

          counter question: Why do US spokespersons lie so often ( apparently always like “fighting terrorism” while all the while provisioning and supporting same. ) ?

    • You get it totally wrong, two brand new aircraft crashed in similar situations, that facts is enough to call the precautionary groundings. It’s Boeing’s responsibility to figure out what’s went wrong and reassure their clients.

    • Comments like this truly mystify me. The empirical evidence shows beyond a reasonable doubt that it’s not a safe aircraft (if you define safety as achieving the same level as 737NG and A320). The job of the engineers is to figure out why. But ignorance about the cause does not magically make it safe. How could you think otherwise?

      • Well Bond would have required 3 hits/crashes to view it as enemy action.( here unsave ) :-))))))))))))

  2. If multiple eye witness crash accounts of white smoke (fuel?), sparks, grinding noise, and personal effects coming from the airplane are credible, this sounds less like MCAS and more like a cargo hold explosion or an uncontained engine event, either of which could have disrupted flight controls in some manner. A flight control system problem alone doesn’t spew stuff out of a jet.

  3. I would think the pressure on SWA, AA and UA must be getting pretty intense.

    How quickly could alternative lift (737NGs or even ‘classics’) get reactivated and on the flightlines?

    Airlines managed the 787 groundings fairly well, though PaxEx didn’t always line up – a wetleased A340 subbing for a new 787 can be a bummer. Single aisle short haul shouldn’t be such a bother.

      • I think the twisted thing is that well trained pilots on the MCAS and the AOA with readouts would not have a problem.

        I am not saying its good, just that it can be handled.

        Part of this has to be Boeing making the Warnings and Alert standard, not an options (another ugly aspect)

        Of course if they had made it standard people would ask, why did they add that?

        • I was working the B-52 up grades in 1965 and we had a procedure for “runaway trim” even back then. The Lion Air crash should never have happened with well trained crews!

          • Jno: That is true.

            But a good aircraft also does not have hidden features not should it going off the rails kill 189 for sure and possible 346 people should it?

            Its clear we don’t have well trained crews.

            Its clear we don’t have a test system (yet) that sort out pilots who panic or lock up at a real crisis.

            We just saw 3 pilot in a 767 get killed and it was ho hum, its only 3 pilots.

            However, when its more than just pilots?

            Yes, then the public has a right to know that a goofy feature that is badly implemented is not going to tip a poor crew over the edge.

            So, if this is another MCAS incident – 50% of the crews have crashed.

            Ethiopian is supposedly better than Indonesian and it may still have happened.

            And we have not answered yet.

            What happened with the Indonesian AOA? Why did not replacing it not fix the bad input? Do we have software doing bizarre things and the AOA is fine?

            Why are 737NGs not reported to have regular stick shaker incidents with a bad AOA and or input?

            We need to have the aircraft safe for the worst crews not the USAF finest (which destroyed a C17 at Elmendorf AFB not too long ago in a out of Envelope maneuver)

            How about we put you in the cockpit, throw MCAS, AOA, stick shaker AND SPEEDs issue at you and see how you do?

            Oh, and no training so we do something else sneaky you never encountered.

          • @Transworld and Jno.

            How can you assume any crew will be well trained on something Boeing, the FAA and EASA don’t think is (was) important enough to inform crews about?
            Only Brazil insisted this was important information for pilots.

            The idea of “just turn off the MCAS and it will be fine” (paraphrasing) is problematic IMHO. It might be alright in perfect to ok conditions. But what if it happens when shit hits the (proverbial) fan?

    • If ur booked on WN for a nice upcoming vacation to HNL, be prepared to put them on hold and on short notice! Their launch is next week and their approval is to use the MAX 8 for that mission. They may not have any other types that could be used in substitution.

    • Yes (-7 and -10 are not flying yet or in test) but it would be mandated for all.

  4. The 737 MAX can now fly almost only in the US. It’s a real drama. The FAA is now forced to take action. They can’t prepare a directive about the flight management software and at the same time tell to the world and there’s no reason to worry about. Confidence is lost and it’s now a question of credibility. World is watching.

    • I agree. Arguably the world is no longer watching; they’ve seen enough already and banned it.

  5. If I understand correctly:
    1- the heavier engine changes the CG and creates a stall risk
    2- to workaround, Boeing develop a software hack to lower the nose
    3- this was really a hack as not documented
    4- after the Lion Air crash some info was released but asking the crew to recognize the issue and disable the hack is not easy or simple (and cannot be reproduced in simulators?)
    5- disabling the hack is not a solution as the original issue (stall at takeoff) would pop up
    => So….. the only way out is to change the aerodynamics of the MAX variants to avoid the potential stall. This will be costly and require a lot of time to implement, certify and retrofit.

      • @sam: I don’t know who came up with the band-aid solution, but my speculation is that it started with Boeing engineers scratching their heads. I wrote a skit/dialogue that is completely fictitious. I tried to incorporate things I learned from other commenters’ posts. The conversation may have gone along the lines of …

        (Fictitious skit)

        fictitious engineer 1: Hey team, we are tasked with figuring out how to make these bigger and powerful LEAP 1B engines fit [this paper airplane] and we need to work within the design constraints we have. The CAD mock up shows we fall several inches short on ground clearance. I know that an expensive new landing gear would be ideal, but let’s rule that out for now. So, I’d love to hear your ideas on how we can deliver on this challenge. (fictitious skit continues …)

        fictitious engineer 2: I did some calculations and believe that if we mount the engines slightly forward on the wing, we’ll gain a few inches there. And we’ll also gain a few inches since the position of the engines relative to the axis of rotation during take off/landing will change from aft to fore. The scraping risk goes away. (fictitious skit continues …)

        fictitious engineer 1: That’s a brilliant idea. Let’s see if that works in the design. (fictitious skit continues …)

        (Some time passes and the design matures)
        (Again, this is a fictitious skit)

        fictitious engineer 3: Unfortunately, the simulation shows that the handling characteristics with the new parameters will be quite different from 737 NG. The analysis showed a noticeable change to the center of gravity. This means a greater affinity to the nose pitching up and a risk of stalling the engines. I am sure the pilots will notice a difference too. I fear that if the handling characteristics [of the MAX diverge too much from 737 NG], we risk the FAA certifying this as completely different type, and for airlines, this would mean two fleets of pilots. We need to keep our promise to customers that the MAX will maintain the same type and have similar performance characteristics. Maybe there are creative workarounds to resolve this. I think we should punt this to the software team and get their input. (fictitious skit continues …)

        fictitious engineer 4: We looked into software approaches and the inventory of options is somewhat limited than if this were a fly-by-wire airplane. In any case, the software workaround we came up with is code that monitors angle of attack that is physically connected to the control column. It would activate under certain parameters when it senses excessive pitch up and forcibly push the nose down. (fictitious skit continues …)

        fictitious engineer 1: Let’s incorporate that into the design and re-run thr simulations.

        (End of fictitious skit)

        • hbi72: The FAA mandated a fix.

          Boeing proposed a fix

          The FAA approved it.

        • They had to do something within the constraints of a design that incorporated aspects of the 707 and the 727, or so they felt. During a time period that the stock has increased 20 fold, they could not be comfortable with a 10 – 15 fold increase.

        • Might be interesting to note Boeing ended up having to do a different landing gear for the MAX 10.

          I wonder if in a worst case scenario (no easy or intermediate fix possible for current problem), could this landing gear be utilized on the MAX 8 and create enough space under the wing so the engines don’t have to be that much forward?

    • 1-increased area of engines and forward placement moves center of lift forward at high angle of attack.

      Which makes me wonder, if such a small change in area times moment arm is so noticeable from the NG to the MAX, the much larger moment arm on the tail of the 900ER and 9 must be much more stable than the 800 or 8. So how does the 600 and 900 end up with the same pilots if the flight characteristics are much different. One would assume more so than between the 800 and 8.

      • Some real lack of knowledge and gross ignorance and statements that follow that.

        Sam: It clearly was identified during flight tests.
        There is some credence that its not a big deal. Nit noid in mechanics terms.

        Its not a hack, its a designed piece of software. Its a crappy setup but its not a hack.

        And it does not cause a stall. If you do stall it has a bit of a push to deeper stall.

        Guys, I probably stalled an airplane 100 times in training and I had not MCAS.

        If you know how to fly you know how to recover from it. That is what the training is ALL ABOUT

        Not to mention, you have a stall warning (vocal) and a stick shaker going on as you get close.

        • TransWorld: Rubbish, as usual

          When your in a 45 degree dive doing over 300 knots in a 70 tonne airplane with significant inertia, with ~10 seconds to impact and all hell breaking loose on the flight deck! Don’t think so! Perhaps if you fly kites.

          You keep relying on runaway trim as the problem. In other words the issue is minor. The list of what Boeing intends to do with the FCC says otherwise. Even then I don’t think we know the full story. “Retain authority” with regard to the elevators are the key words.

          Ted: Good point, as usual.

          In particular, the Centre of Lift as moved forward. Many are concentrating on the Centre of Gravity. But it’s the Centre of Lift that’s the issue. The Centre of Lift is causing a sensitive pitching moment.

          • Phillip:

            Well Jon Ostower is a well known and highly respected journalist with deep ties in Aviation and particularly the Boeing community.

            I will go with his description vs someone who is not the least bit informed.

            I am a pilot.

            I have flown an MD-11 simulator to a very satisfactory landing.

            I was the pilot (sole) of a totally out of control aircraft (my fault) and I pulled it out. You have not.

            I am not an aerodynamics engineer.

            I do know the basics of it and you clearly do not.

    • I see the problem with engines futher away from the center of lift like this. Engines hang below the wing and below center of mass. A change of thrust will change torque applied on center of mass. For stall recovery you may add thrust. With a greater distance of the engines to center of mass a bigger torque is applied to pull the nose up. So MCAS counters this higher torque to keep the nose down.

      In case MCAS thinks aircraft may stall and trims down. Pilot add thrust to counter nose down and MCAS even trims more.

      • That is bey0ond belief wrong.

        Stall recovery is moving the nose down (which for worse so far the MCAS does, even when not required)

        You do not apply thrust to solved a stall.

        After nose down you may apply thrust to allow return to level flight before ground impact (mostly not, the speed gain with nose down is sufficient)

        The Mantras now is

        Unload Unload Unload (nose down)

        Not

        Thrust thrust thrust.

        • The pilot sees that the aircraft is not stalled and nose is going down. So he adds thrust to get the nose up. Then MCAS kicks in even more to prevent a stall according to false sensor readings.

  6. EASA’s ban says ALL 737-8 & 737-9???? The UK (and I think the subsequent German and French bans) were MAX only. The EASA ban doesn’t make sense……..

    • The -8 and -9 are the MAXs.
      NGs were -800 and -900. Lots of people referred to the NGs as 737-8 or 738, etc, but that isn’t the official nomenclature.
      The NGs (and any classics still flying) are not affected.

      • @pragmatist: You might see abbreviations for these types on GDS/CRS generated itineraries and/or booking engines. The 3 character codes are IATA and the 4 character codes are ICAO:

        7M7 or B37M = 737-7 MAX (future)
        7M8 or B38M = 737-8 MAX
        7M9 or B39M = 737-9 MAX
        7MJ or B3JM = 737-10 MAX (future)

    • 737NG: 737-600, 737-700, 737-800, 737-900

      737MAX: 737-7, 737-8, 737-9, 737-10

      • 737 1st Gen: 737-100, 737-200
        737 Classics: 737-500, 737-300, 737-400 (by size – not service entry.)

    • MAX is the whole range -7 -8 -9 and -10

      previous gen (NG) was -700 -800 -900

      I think you are confusing MAX with -8-200, the ryanair special.

    • 737-8 and 737-9 is the type designation for the 737 MAX 8 and 737 MAX 9 respectively, they both refer to the 737 MAX type aircraft.

  7. If this is such credibility and design problem then why aren’t more MAX’s having accidents? Anyone smart enough to answer this yet?

    • Do you really want more accidents? How many accidents would you need to reasonably suspicious that there’s something wrong?

      • Hasn’t the FAA been referred to as the Tombstone Agency? Meaning it takes tragedies to spur a reaction? BTW, pilots (on Max’s flown in the USA)have reported up, and down, movement of the plane that they don’t understand completely. This was reported on CNBC, and I also saw it somewhere else…

    • LOL. 100x the catastrophic accident rate of 737NG and A320 is not high enough? How high until you’d act? 500x? 1,000x? 10,000x?

  8. If there are 2 similar crashes with 300 deads on a new type & there is uncertainty about repeat crash risks, that enough reason to stop flying and have a good look. Outside FAA and Boeing apparently.

    Muilenberg: act.

  9. “Designed to make an already safe aircraft even safer”-Boeing.What a dreadful and self incriminating attempt at spin.

    • It is always better to keep your mouth shut and let people think you are a fool, rather than open it and remove all doubt 🤔

  10. 738-8 and 737-9 are Max. Now I am concerned. To do a change to software controlling aircraft stability with no testing nor re licensing of the frame is scary. The Ethiopian crash may sound different only because there were eye witnesses. Yes we need black box evidence but unlike my initial reaction I am unready to fly the MAX as I read more.

    • I would have no issue with a US MAX.

      US operators took the right precautions, trained their pilot, SW also added in the alerts. What the other did or told Boeing to do I don’t know.

      We don’t know what EA (ET?) did in that regard and I find the silence deafening in its loudness.

      At issue are Airlines that don’t have the US heft and did what they did, word of mouth is not the right response.

      Training is a good start. The AOA disagreement alert is another.

      That does not mean a grounding is not the right move. It is.

      • @TW

        How are the US airlines in a better position please? I don’t understand your train of thought. Are you saying that only in the US does any training occur? I feel you are at risk of making the same mistake we all are inclined to do that ‘our’ jurisdiction is better than others around the world.

        • Sowerbob: I can’t speak for the rest of the world, I don’t get the kind of input I do from the US.

          Its not our regulatory group (FAA) I go with, its the Airlines and Pilots.

          UK, France, maybe China, Japan Airlines all may have put that required training and system understanding as well as simulator work into affect.

          The US Pilots unions took it extremely serious and demanded explanation, training with all the info in the book as well.

          I don’t know but I can guess cross check of the AOA before you put the flaps up may be a part of it.

          I am not saying I agree that the FAA is taking the right stand, in fact exactly the opposite.

          I do say in the US I would fly a MAX if that is what was offered.

          Fiji (and nothing against them) I have no clue what their management or training is like.

          I would have though Ethiopian would be one of the good ones as well (we have not heard a peeep about how they handled the MCAS situation training wise)

          The US does not have entities like Ryan or Norwegian where pilots are sub contractors and I don’t know what they follow (or did). Certainly I heard no feedback from the Airlines or the pilots. There may have been regional that I have not heard about (I try to keep up with the world but its a big place and most of my sources are here)

          • I take your point, However I also am concerned that the pilot is being effectively being damned with faint praise in the Lionair case and we don’t know about Ethiopian yet.

            Until we do know we can only assume competency and as such I question the ability of any pilot to address a sudden adverse system intervention. What concerns me is that no one has full knowledge of what effect occurred as it cannot be mimicked in a simulator.

            At least now pilots should have an understanding that it may occur and what to look out for.

          • Sowerbob:

            Unfortunately many pilot are not able to do what they should be able to do in handling emergencies (or in some cases put the aircraft into a situation it is an emergency)

            I don’t condemn the Indonesian pilot, I do the system that had him flying.

            And its not taking away the blame that belongs on Boeing and the FAA.

            He had a major heads up, flaps up and it went nuts. He put the flaps down and it went away.

            Ok, at that point the mechanic/technician/pilot in me kicks in.

            I have this stable, I know what stops it, I will leave the flaps down and do my return.

            He did none of those, he put the flaps up again and never put them back down.

            He was able to counter it with the trim. He could have pulled the stabs, used the hand trim to somewhat neutral and then elevators from there.

            He did not do that either.

            Was he overwhelmed? Yea that too, he had a stall warning yelling at him and a stick shaker going.

            So no, you should not be put in that positions with crappy software and an unknown AOA.

            He also was seeing a speed issue. Again that is another factor. They are supposed to be trained for that.

            Why there is not a central 2 out of 3 sources agree on the speed I do not know.

            The proceeding two pilots did deal with it (maybe did not have the speed issue, I think that was induced on the last so called fix)

            But, the aircraft was not flyable and should not have been back in the air without a test flight.

            So, at the very least the pilots training failed, they failed and the failure was pushed into by Boeing and the FAA.

            It looks like 50% of pilots can’t handle it. Not a good statistics for what should not be fatal either.

    • See my post elsewhere with regard to your behaviour. You need an education! Your an expert at nothing!

      • Phillip: Actually in my filed or work, I am very good at Generators, Switch Gear, Fire Pumps, Boilers, Bldg Automated Controls, refrigeration, computers, UPS (not the freight operation) VFDs, Electronic GPU along with some other odds and sodds.

        Want to talk about ATS?

        I can also take valid criticism.

        I grew up around aviation. You may disagree but I do know the subject to a fairly deep detail.

        Oh, by the way, I am also a Commercial Pilot with Instrument rating.

        I have flown an MD-11 simulator to a very successful landing (per the Chief Trainer)

        I agree on in depth engineering on aircraft I am a grain of sand on a small beach compared to Bjorn being the worlds largest beach. .

        • Your a commercial pilot doing maintenance work on things that don’t fly. Yep, that covers it.

          • What are your credentials for this discussion?

          • Philip: I do not do maint.

            I do repair. That means I have to understand the underlying fundamental of what I am working on.

            I also was taught those underlying fundamentals in aerodynamics when I got my progressive series of Pilot Licenses.

            I am Journey Level at minimum on all those devices I mentioned.

            So yes, my information will be accurate as possible, its what I do and what I am.

            I have been wrong, when I am I admit it.

            You don’t learn anything from your success, you learn from your failures.

      • 91,000 hrs – isnt that a hell of a lot , even for a freighter !

        Seems to have been bought new by Canadian 1992 ( the later version of Canadian Pacific) then quickly to lessor GPA and then to China Southern until passed onto LAN in 1997 and then stored 2014 until taken on by Atlas as a freight conversion from passenger.
        Could be other causes apart from deliberate pilot action. Cargo shifted as they descended rapidly for weather ( 12000- 6000ft). Could be a elevator malfunction which meant it dived- resulting increased speed.
        Im not trying to be exhaustive but they do say :
        ‘FDR data …pitched nose down over the next 18 seconds to about 49° in response to nose-down elevator deflection. ”
        Crashes are hardly ever due to ‘mad pilots’ even though they get the most attention.

        • Duke:

          All we know is that the control actions were deliberate.

          I had felt a cargo shift was the most likely due to 3 people in the cockpit (landing and assumed)

          They were supposed to be at lower altitude (a good 3000 feet)

          Going to full thrust is not a way to do that. The nose down (dropping thrust is normal but also some nose attitude work is involved) would be.

          The read out says the control column was pushed forward. Heart attack, stroke, hallucination or suicide (just plain odd) or did they hate each other and get into a fight (wings level not likely)

          The CVR will show what they said which should determine which

          It seems more likely deliberate action as there would be at least two people at the controls and no indication of controls being fought (and that is odd as well as there would or should have been time for some remedial action attempted ) Weird.

          Was it a look what I can do before they realized the pilot flying was off?

    • “Re above post, the EASA Press Release referenced earlier does not correctly quote the EAD which is at https://ad.easa.europa.eu/blob/EASA_AD_2019_0051_E.pdf/EAD_2019-0051-E_1 which has applicability “Model 737-8 and 737-9 aeroplanes, all serial numbers”.”

      What are you getting at?
      The press release uses the marketing name MAX, the EAD uses the proper denomination 737-8 and -9 alongside MAX.
      No -7 and -10 have been delivered yet so at this point, they can include those specifically or not, it wouldn’t make a difference.

      The EAD references TCDS EASA.IM.A.120, which also clearly distinguishes between the 737-800 and the 737-8.

  11. Coming from an aviation family and having held various licenses for over 40 years including CFI where the safety culture starts, I am all about safety. If the airplane is unsafe, ground it BUT MAKE THE DECISION BASED ON FACTS AND NOT EMOTION OR CONJECTURE. (emphasis mine) What troubles me is we have one crash that is at least partly to blame on maintenance and a cavalier attitude toward safety, and another whose only similarity is what phase of flight it happened in — is that enough to ground the airplane? Given the evidence that has been released, I simply don’t know. That’s where we need to trust the regulators that have given us the safe system we have today.

    • TBH, there’s much more evidence than only the phase of flight. Namely:
      1. Two independent reports from listeners on the same frequency that the flight reported unreliable airspeed and difficulties controlling the airplane during the initial climb.
      2. Erratic altitude and airspeed data from ADS-B
      3. Near vertical impact

      Unfortunately, aviation regulations are mostly written in blood, sort of speaking. To me there’s enough evidence to suspect there’s something that needs to be changed in the aircraft soon, so let us try to keep the system safe without needing any more “ink”.

      • Bullet33912:

        So, what you are saying is I suspect there is water in my gas but I can’t prove it, I will fly anyway?

        Someone throws a grande into your foxhole and you wait for the thing to go off before you jump out of the foxhole?

        So we launch the space shuttle at a temp that is specifically not approved and then do it at a colder temp?

        Clearly you are not about safety. What you are saying is I will keep risking something because the grenade has not gone off.

        Safety says, better safe than sorry, ground it until its determined the cause, that is then making a decision on facts and data.

        Short of that we have two crashes in 4 months of a new model with new software and we don’t even know if the latest pilots were trained to deal with it?

        I have never been sorry when I erred on the side of safety.

        I have en very sorry when I did not.

        I hope you rethink what you believe is a advocacy for safety and is instead and advocacy for risk.

        • I am very much about safety. What I am saying is base the actions on facts, not conjecture.

          If the handling of the airplane with the engine placement or the MCAS or lack of training makes it unsafe, ground it immediately. But have the facts in front of you to make the decision. This aircraft went through full flight testing — the data should be there along with the data from the two crashes (and why don’t we have a transcript of the CVR from Lion Air).

          As I said in my post, I don’t have enough facts or real information to know the right call. In the examples you listed, such as the space shuttle, the facts were there and ignored. In this case, I don’t know what the facts are except for:
          1 crash in an airplane that never should have been in the air in the first place
          1 crash that we do not know anything about other than the tragic outcome.

          I will say it again — if the airplane or its’ system has a problem(s) ground it but do it on the facts and not an airline exec trying to pass blame or a politician with no aeronautical experience trying to make hay for their campaign off panic.

          • You can’t have a system that works perfectly when tested by gold standard test pilots and serviced by mechanics who all have top grade certifications ( not just supervised by one) and all the time in the world.
            Remember what happened with American Airlines who were using fork lifts, instead of ‘approved’ procedures to remove wing engines on the DC10. Still was grounded till work out what happened and still wing attachment pylon modified to allow for sloppy procedures.
            A temporary suspension till much more details is available is what safety is about. If the suspension is till Boeing has the software modified and certified and installed , then it is what it is. They have been there before with the 787 and that was a problem that wasn’t supposed to happen in normal use either but did

          • But whar if it take 6 month,a year or even longer to find the root cause of those crash ? How many flights of all the max around the world (and the new ones coming out of Boeing factory) does it do per week ? That a lot of peoples lives that your are willing to put at risk before you find the facts. For me I’ll be waiting safely on the ground waiting for thoses facts to comes out before flying on a max thank you very much.

          • We will have a good idea in a few days.

            Duke is right, you need to park it until its sorted out.

            Boeing and the FAA created this debacle, Boeing will pay for it regardless and we may get badly needed reform from the FAA.

            The people who have died paid the highest price, their families and connected associated will pay a high price and maybe as much as the dead have.

            Duke and I don’t agree on a lot but we are 100% on this for grounding , get SOME data, make the decision available on the data you can get.

            We should have had MORE data already.

            The lack of that for all that caused MCAS to activate in the Indonesian crash is stunning.

            And if it goes for 6 months so be it. We should not be here in the first place.

      • Boeing and FAA have apparently entered the the world of Alternative Facts as proposed by the great one’s counselor. It is actually crazy to say it is safe after these two crashes so close in time. Since they do not have Jedi powers few will believe them.

        • Dan: Ture

          Bullet: What you are is using the word safety when in fact you are not.

          We will get data very soon. We have a lot of data on one and suspicious data on the other.

          We have NO data on the Indonesia crash as to WHAT caused the fake input (nor on what the airspeed issue was)

          What you want is 1000% certainty when we have 99.99999% suspicions and that may be 100%.

          Safety is not just a word, its a process and actions (hard actions) not putting on a blindfold and mouthing the word safety as a mantra.

          My take is you feel you are about safety when in fact you are not and its worth taking a look at yourself (and yes, I have had to do that more than once in my life and didn’t always like what the answer was)

  12. We are getting there. More needs to be done to bring Boeing to account.

  13. This is becoming a farce. It’s almost like the FAA actively enjoys cementing its reputation as an industry shill.

    • Mike: You saw what they approved for a battery test (drive a nail into it, that proves its all fine and wonderful)

      The solution was to convene the RTC and have them use science and engineering to determent what tests acualy meant something.

      The FAA has had farcical aspects for a long long time. Its just become blatantly public.

      The NTSB ruled that the Boeing Auto Throttle in FLCH made was wrong. The FAA did nothign about it.

      That is both entities in a nut shell.

    • The effects of embedding. ( in way Stockholm syndrome too )
      journalists embedded in the military didn’t realize for a long time what a strong “in family” viewpoint that created completely tainting their work as neutral observers.
      Boeing and the FAA have been eating from the same dish for ages if not forever.

  14. As a bit of background, Boeing has a feature in the 787 where they are aware pitots can give false readings under certain conditions.
    So to increase safety, the 787 ‘computes a synthetic airspeed’ which can be included in the algorithms for stall protection.

    Its here in a series of slides from 2011 by ISASI Chief Engineer Tom Dodt of the 787 features pg 40-41
    http://www.ata-divisions.org/S_TD/pdf/other/IntroducingtheB-787.pdf

    ISASI is the International Society of Air Safety Engineers

    • Just so people dont have to look up the ISASE presentation heres the relevant pages page 40
      • Common Mode Hazards to Pitot-Static sensors
      – Mud Daubers – Icing
      – Volcanic Ash – Hail
      – Radome failure – Birds
      – Pitot covers – Taped Static Ports
      – Maintenance errors
      (pneumatic plumbing)
      • 787 new capabilities for protection
      – Synthetic airspeed
      – GPS altitude
      – Common Mode Monitor

      and page 41
      787 Synthetic Airspeed
      • Calculated from angle of attack and inertial data
      – AOA – voted dual sensors plus inertial data
      – Accurate Coefficient of Lift (CL)
      – Airplane Mass from FMC – Validated after Takeoff
      • Algorithm developed for enhanced stall protection
      • Avoid displaying data known to be bad
      – Loss of valid voted VCAS = Display synthetic airspeed VSYN
      – Loss of valid voted PSTATIC = Display GPS altitude

      The last 2 points are the very interesting ones. Vsyn wasnt something I thought planes would calculate

      • Thank you. I had not heard a peep about that system.

        I knew R&D has been going into it with other sensors (radar, lidar, and lord knows what else) but inertial makes sense.

    • Good one. Not sure what to make of it. Have to review what mode MCAS worked in or not.

      Auto pilot can’t stall and a pilot can and ……..

  15. We’ve seen hydro-boats flip, where the center of lift under the front of the boat is forward of the center of gravity and it rotates backwards. So then there is the explanation for MCAS, that the 8 engines are bigger and more forward than the 800. So maybe another 10 square feet of lifting area a foot forward compared to the 8.
    But why would the 9 need MCAS? With another 10 feet of fuselage that would be an added righting moment of 10′ times the area of the stabilizer, an extra pitch down factor of 2,000 compared to a pitch up factor of 100 for the engines?
    What’s that say about the 600 or 700 with a shorter moment arm than the 8 or 800? Shouldn’t they be highly unstable at high AOA if left to their own devices?

    • Ted: That is why we don’t write the regs.

      Its a complex set of calculations. Its also testing to see if your models are right (it was caught in test so they were not 100% right)

      That is where you can’t conjecture or second guess. You have to have the data to know that.

      Aircraft when they get longer have smaller vertical tails as they have more leverage. There may be an offset to the longer REAR fuselage here.

      Why guess or conjecture when its a determined fact (sans the -10 that is not flying yet)

      • It’s not a guess or conjecture, it is a question What is the difference in handling at high AOA between all models of the 737NG and MAX?

        Is the difference in handling between the 800 and 8 greater than the difference between the 600 and 900, question mark.

        • Ted: Its in the record.

          Boeing felt the handling between the two model was not enough to be an issue.

          The FAA did.

          Jon Ostower has listed it as slight.

          It does not look to be large enough for Boeing to impose a fix, it was enough the FAA said they should.

          My take is its not a snap over item. I could be wrong.

          You aren’t going to know unless you read the analysis of Boeing and the FAA (I doubt the Boeing is available, FAA maybe)

          And it really does not make any difference. FAA thought it was and a fix was put in place (a bad one)

          Unless the FAA wants to back track and or run more test and say it was not enough (world laughs) then its a given fact Boeing has to deal with it.

          Boeing has all sorts of software in that control system.

          On the surface this is just a bit of tweaking that went badly wrong as it was badly implemented, the idea is not bad. Likely its the exact same thing Airbus does.

          I don’t understand this harping on a symptom that has nothing to do with the cure.

          AS I have noted before, commercial aircraft do stall unless the pilot forces it or they loose control and wind up in it. And if a pilot is that bad all the software in teh world won’t save him as we have seen on Airbus aircraft.

          Pilots only stall aircraft deliberate in training (Flight simulators for SA)

          A non fighter pilot has never seen a real stall in his life very likely (as a commercial pilot) they can go an entire 100 careers and not see it.

          Its possible, it needs to be trained for (as much as not to go there as recovery) and its at the EXTREME edge of control where they don’t live.

          • If the 8 is unstable in a certain flight region, but they fixed it, that’s good. If the 700 and 600 are even more unstable in that region, they are grandfathered in, and it is astronomically low probability. So that is fine with me too.

            I’m just curious if that is the case? Inquiring minds want to know. But as you say, Boeing and the FAA know, and my curiosities aren’t on the top of their list.

          • Ted:

            Nor mine though I do write my representatives about stuff like this.

            That said, unstable is really is not the right term -unstable has a whole different meaning in the aircraft world.

            The MAX is pushed harder into a stall than the NG.

            No more and no less.

            Its issues are at an extreme test point.

            Most if not all pilots will go their whole career only seeing a commercial aircraft stall in a flight simulator (if that, with the new training many simulators had to be modified to go there as it was not mandatory part of training – its a test point in certification’s which is a totally different thing)

            So please quit express it as unstable as its not at all in any normal par of flight and is only an aspect to consider at an extreme edge and comer-ail pilots do not fly to that edge, they aren’t flying a fighter, their whole training is to stay way form that edge.

            Do you drive your car at 150 mph around corners?

            That is where instability is and easily stayed away from

  16. If I were one of the CEO of the 5 airlines still flying the MAX (3 US, 2 Canadian – as of now), I would certainly feel the heat that if another accident happens I will be personally sued for criminal negligence. Thus one should expect these airlines to stop their operations very soon – whatever the position of the FAA.

    • I’d think it would be easier for them to get compensation from Boeing if FAA orders grounding than if they voluntarily choose it, but IANAL. Regardless, I agree it will become increasingly untenable for them to continue operating them.

    • Those airlines, FAA and Boeing execs are pretty much gambling on jail time.

  17. The FAA is owned by Boeing, they will only ground the plane when one crashes in the USA.

    • Reminds me of movie Idiocracy, where Brawndo (soda maker) bought out FDA and FCC.

  18. My something we are not being told sensors are picking up vibes from Boeing and the FAA. I don’t have the technical knowledge and its impossible to believe, but….

    • Grubbie: That has been my point over and over.

      Something is triggering the MCAS. Simply saying AOA only means the computer is getting data that says AOA is high and then execute (literally) its program.

      They replaced the AOA. We don’t know what they can read on the ground. If I had to fly one of those (pilot) I woudl hold off on flap lift until I had a cross read from the AOA system.

      Is it two wires rubbing that is feeding a false signal to the computer ? All it takes is a resistance change and either a voltage or current will change. It does not have to be in the AOA itself.

      Is the software itself corrupt and feeding a false reading into the computer?

      I have seen situation where it runs fully normally 99.9% of the time and then a slightly different execution rate and it goes off the rails. WE DO NOT KNOW!!!!!

      And in the Indonesian case we also had BAD AIRSPEED on one side. That may have been a result of the maint that hosed up that side, we don’t know.

      We are missing all that info from the Indonesia crash we should have had but Indonesian has not released anything other than the basics.

      And its a horribly tough one as in both cases the area you want to examine (nose) is what hit first and is destroyed.

      • If sensor information is heuristically munged and turned into a synthetic value all the issues reported could cluster up to a common fault: computing or initialisation error while creating/computing the synthetic value.

  19. I’ve just read The Times of London. Page 14/15 are dedicated to the crashes. The Times quotes several pilots, one of flies the 737 MAX. He said two things. The nose pitches up at high power and disconnecting automatic control of the trim stabiliser is confusing. So:

    Both crashes occurred just after flap retraction but with the engines powered up, perhaps to maximum continous thrust.

    The nose pitches up, perhaps violently. The trim stabiliser over-compensates – the trim stabiliser appears to be able to exert a very great force – putting the airplane into a powered up, high speed dive.

    The elevators have not “retained authority”. So the pilots cannot correct the dive by pulling back the yoke or stick.

    The pilots do their best to gain manual control of the trim stabiliser using a confusing procedure. If successful, they can use the trim stabiliser thumb wheel to correct the trim stabiliser.

    Perhaps at 20,000 ft or more there is enough time, but at 5000 ft or less I don’t think so. The inertia of a 70 tonne airplane in a powered up, 300+ knot dive is enough to gaurantee impact. In other words, even if the pilots do manage to get the nose up, the airplane will still impact. It’s called latency.

    The key element is that the elevators have not retained authority. So the millisecond response of pulling the yoke/stick back isn’t available to the pilots.

    Yep, it’s the elevators, as I and others have said. So Boeing are going to make changes to ensure the elevators retain authority, as stated in Flight Global.

    It’s a death trap.

    • It seems like there have been more than a few questions raised about the MAX, this quote “The fact that this airplane requires such jury rigging to fly is a red flag,” from https://eu.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2019/03/13/boeing-737-max-8-pilots-voiced-safety-concerns-before-ethiopia-crash/3145393002/ and also contained here https://www.politico.com/story/2019/03/12/pilots-boeing-737-1266090

      It does make me wonder if MCAS is only part of the story.

      Is there a more fundamental problem that software is masking ?

      If BA’s planned software upgrade really will give back elevator authority, it does suggest that before this upgrade, the elevator does not have authority doesn’t it?

      Surely you would at least ground the aircraft until this upgrade has been performed. If you deem the issue serious enough to fix, maybe as far back as November, why the delay until April?

      • Yes the software is masking a sensitive pitching moment. Unfortunately they got the algorithm wrong the first time. Will they get the algorithm right this time. Equally, is there a safe algorithm? Big question.

        The thing that really bothers me is that extreme settings of the trim stabiliser maan that the elevators no longer retain authority. In other words, they don’t work. That’s a red line.

        You can’t expect pilots to get out of a dive using a thumb wheel to adjust the trim stabiliser such that authority to the elevators returns.

        They appear to have decided to fix it by software, meaning extreme settings of the trim stabiliser will no longer be allowed. To me it should be a mechanical fix.

        It’s ugly. Boeing’s behaviour has been outragious from the beginning. The FAA started well, but for months have been colluding with Boeing (Trump?).

        Boeing have tried to implement new sofware algorithms without admitting there is a safety issue. The airplane continued to fly after the Lion Air crash. We know what happened next.

        To those who say wait for the facts. I would agree if the airplane had been grounded. As one person put it, credibility and humility. Boeing have neither.

        To members of the US congress who have voiced their concerns: Well done!

        I hope by the end of the year Boeing have 500 white tails, as a means of saying to Boeing: This is not good enough!

        • Phillip:

          You are aware that with All Airbus products and the current Boeing 787 its is all Programs and NO MECHANICAL?

          Boeing and the FAA are equally complicit in this. All it cost Boeing is money.

          You also do not get that the trim settings on the Stabilizer change dramatically from low to high speed, there is a REASON it can range that far.

          You do not get that the reverse trim stops the MCAS and it is not a matter of enough, its a matter of complete override .

          That is also one way to deal with Runaway trim while you pull the STAB power.

          You also have a mechanical wheel that replaces the trim and MCAS with stab power removed.

          All aircraft have these system, you need to go back and read Bjorn articles on it (or any technical information on it)

          There is an entire software set dedicated to changing the variable in the stab operation dependent on speed, altitude and what mode you are in (landing, takeoff, climb or cruise or decent )

          FAA mandated this and then approved a crappy bit of logic Boeing implemented.

          Its far from the first time stupid stuff like that has occurred.

          It does not mean the 737MAX if a flying death trap.

          It does mean it needs to be corrected.

          It is grounded for the most part and soon will be.

          The people responsible will not pay. The sky has not and will not fall.

          Its also not the software alone that is at issue.

          What is causing the AOA input to be so severely wrong is the other critical aspect that has to be answered.

          If it triggers you still have stall screaming in your ear and stick shaker (MCAS aside) and in a critical part of flight you have to sort that out as to what to believe and what information to act on.

          • This is why you can’t be believed. FBW means electrical activation of mechanicals it doesn’t mean there are NO MACHANICALS. For example, an elevator is a mechanical

          • Philip:

            To clarify , there is NO mechanical linkage on any Airbus (other than the old A300s)

            Yes I know about mechanicals, that is my whole world.

            In trim on a 737, you have a mechanical linkage.

            You do not on an A320.

            A 737 has hard wire electrical circuits for normal controls and the software works with those circuits .

            On an Airbus you have software sending commends to the actuators that are backup up by other and redundant software (and or actuators) system.

            Airbus simply has the software only and Boeing has the software in parallel to the pilots input.

            They both use software to modify the stabilizer behavior in the various areas of the Bligh envelope.

  20. The 737 Max is a plane that is aerdynamically not stable, similar to modern fighter jets. But unlike modern fighter jets it’s lacking a full fly-by-wire system. And unlike in fighter planes the people flying in it don’t have an ejection seat.

    I really wonder if this is a management override over the engineer’s concerns or if the engineers were simply too proud to admit defeat.

    • Gundolf: That is simply wrong.

      You can make the same claim for all Airbus aircraft as they are fully FBW.

      You mistake two totally different issues.

      Commercial aircraft have to have a certain degree of stability to be certified (so you can control the damned thing if something does go wrong with the automation)_

      Fighter aircraft are a different story in they are intended to be unstable and you can’t control them without the automation working. They are willing to take the risk (and or punch out) if it all goes South though there is massive redundancy to ensure if at all possible it does not.

      All the stuff in the FBW and if you read Bjrors write ups and in the 737 is there to make flying as smooth as possible as people get upset (and sick) when its not.

      A 737 does not go nuts if you turn it all off. Its not nearly as smooth manually (and that is why until recently they wanted the auto pilot to do all of it)

      MCAS is nothing more than a form of envelope protein (which Airbus pioneered in commercial) and you can easily recover without it. Sans a bad input you would not even know it was there as you would be doing exactly what it does if you approached a stall (pushing the nose down)

      Its amazing that this has been driven to an unstable aircraft when its a slight issue in an extreme area of the envelope pilots only see in a simulator.

      NOTE: NONE OF THESE AIRCRAFT WERE STALLED, THE DATA INPUT MAY HAVE SAID IT WAS BUT THEY WERE NOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  21. It’s rather alarming that there is debate/negotiation going on about ‘who/where’ will take the FDR and CVR. They still have not been read.

    One would have thought that these would have been rushed to the closest reputable agency so answers/causes can at least begin to be extracted and considered.

    • I have been told that I put politics into it when its pure altruism.

      The reality is that there are politics involved.

      Ethiopian Airlines has not said diddly about what they did in regards to the MCAS situation.

      Per their crash off Lebanon, if they can blame Boeing (which may in fact be relevant) then they will.

      So the optics of blame are importance and do you sent it go the US where its suspicious on integrity or Europe where (supposedly) its not?

      In fact the US would have NTSB in charge not Boeing or the FAA, but the world does not know how the US system works.

      The NTSB is very good, but I know that, world does not.

      Ethiopia (both Gvt and Airline) will do all it can to minimize its failures and maximize Boeing and the FAA.

      In this case while its fair, it also will try to mask what looks to be no training done by Ethiopian (my take as suspicious – otherwise they would have said it had been done to further move the blame)

      While the vast majority of the blame belongs on Boeing and the FAA, if an Airlines did not take action to train and deal with the known issue (if they were going to continue to fly it) then they do have a part of the blame.

      There is a world of difference in continuing with a known unsafe situation and not doing anything about it and crying foul.

      Airlines don’t have to wait for authorities to take action, they can do it themselves and they owe it to their customers to do so.

      Most of the time they don’t and its a way of shifting the blame to hide behind the AHJ.

      • There WAS a statement by Ethiopian that BOTH pilots had undergone MCAS training.

        • Can you put in the link?

          As noted, while I do world wide searches I don’t always get all the input from the world (or can sift through it)

  22. Just a reminder to everyone, no personal barbs. Regardless of “credentials” or opinions, as long as everyone is polite, everyone is entitled to their opinions.

    • But it is TransWorld who makes the personal statements. I believe in freedom and liberty, which means I believe in freedom of speach. So I understsnd you need to let it go.

      But can somebody tell him that he’s abusive to others, which means people are abusive back.

      This airplane needs to be grounded. It’s got one or more design faults. The cover up that happened with the DC10 must not be repeated.

      Sorry Scott, but NO

      • @Philip: The message was not directed toward you. It was directed toward TW

        • Thanks. I did work for US companies half my working life. I still remember the steaks in St Louis, and the sea food in Boston and San Francisco. I’m not anti-American.

        • Taken as such

          I am willing to put my capabilities out there and on line, I think someone who questions those should be as well.

          I will even list my pilots number if asked and it can be confirmed what my ratings were. I am willing to talk VFD – UPS – Power Generation and Building Controls to the detail needed to confirm that.

          And yes, while building controls are NOT aviation controls, they do share the same basic underlay PID control algorithms. So yes I know how that works and how hard it is to make it work.

          I will accept what Scott dictates, it is his Blog (and it is appreciate to have a place to discuss this) but I do disagree with it and will leave it at that.

          • Phillip:

            I don’t take you as anti American.

            I do take you as wrong in a number of areas.

  23. Canada has now grounded the MAX.

    The U.S. (plus Panama I believe) stand in stark contrast.

    Also, this: “Canadian transport minister says issuing safety notice halting Boeing 737 MAX aircraft from arriving, departing or overflying Canadian airspace effective immediately ‘as the result of new data that we received this morning’ related to Ethiopian Airlines crash.” That bit in embedded quotes seems really, really important.

    Given this new data, Elaine Chao and Daniel Elwell are recklessly asleep at the switch. Shameful.

    • Data from the Ethiopian crash? Grounded 737MAX as a result? One can read volumes in between those lines…

      I fear that very avoidable tragedies have been allowed to happen. We will end up looking back on these tragedies with grief and, if our fears are proved correct, also shame that we collectively let things get this far.

      It’s too early to consider Lockheed buying up the remnants of Boeing before the end of the calendar year, but then I’m surprised and disappointed at how we’ve arrived at this week’s events. I fear there’s a few more surprises to come.

  24. Canada is now grounding the Boeing’s flying software. Time for FAA to wake up. For Boeing too, one more accident and the company is dead. It’s maybe an excess of caution but in case there is something wrong with the design of this airplane, the bill will be much higher than a temporary grounding. It’s just a question of good management practice.

    • Birdy: It has not happens nor will it happen.

      Boeing will not be dead. They will pay the costs and it all moves on.

      What those costs are we don’t know yet.

      They will also fix it and or hash it over enough with
      Software its no longer going to do anything.

    • Boeing is in an incredible place of corporate risk right now. I’d think they’d be better off if the FAA grounded the 737 right now.

      As it stands, with two of the US’s closest aviation authorities (EASA and TCCA) grounding the MAX, if any sort of incident occurs on an inservice MAX with even a hint of injuries (and I do, truly, hope that does not happen!), Boing would be sued into ashes.

      Of course, if they suggest a voluntary grounding rather than having the FAA do it, Boeing is admitting they have a serious fault, and that further breaks confidence in the MAX program (and Boeing management as a whole).

      They’re pretty tightly boxed right now. I really don’t understand the minuscule in probability but maximal in possible consequence risk that SWA, AA and UA are talking.

      • I agree, the risk to Boeing is now existential.

        Safety sells. The merest whiff of a lack of safety can and has killed many times in the past, and with it the manufacturer.

  25. I have read several analyses of the 737 MAX in which it is labelled as a “highly compromised design”. Ground clearance is much lower than with the A320, so the only way to fit a larger engine under the wing was to move the engine forward and upward of its nominal position. This, in turn, led to a shift in the plane’s center-of-gravity / center-of-pitch, with a tendency to pitch up — a tendency which is particularly unwelcome during climb-out. MCAS is thus necessitated by a sub-optimal aeronautical design to start off with.
    Also in the news this morning: 5 pilots have complained in the past months of pitch control issues with the MAX 8 airframe.
    Taking all this into account, one can see why regulatory authorities and airlines are reluctant to allow this thing to fly. There may not (yet) be hard evidence that the Ethiopian flight was taken down my MCAS, but there’s mounting evidence that this is a sub-standard plane in certain (critical) respects.

  26. It remains unknown both what Ethiopian did with MCAS training, or what Boeing is proposing to do with the software changes that are pending. I’ve seen nothing indicating a hardware change will be needed.

    I admit a bias in favor of new programs/aircraft, and do hope this accelerates NMA/NSA somehow. It also imho bears repeating that, as in this case, pilot shortages globally will lead to much less qualified pilots and FO’s, over the coming decades, and in ‘growing’ markets (aka non-Western Europe/US) it will be the case that modern/easier to operate/troubleshoot/automate systems will be favored moving forward (not that this is in any way a condemnation of the 737 program).

    • Not taken that way. I don’t know less capabile is a good trhing,

      Automation fails sooner or latter even if its nto for this reason.

      Keeping in mind there have been some extremely serious and possibly fa tat US incidents. They are pretty much unfathomable but tell us that its not just third wold countries that have the issue (AF447 comes to mind)

      Air Canada trying to land on a Taxiway at SFO, US Pilots landing on the wrong airport (commercial SA) and UPS dropping down to hill height and taking out a aircraft (A300/767?) with the modern systems is stunning.

      At some point fully automated is the answer but they have to then come up with fool proof systems, per AF447, the automation can’t just dump it in the pilots lap.

      And for sure you don’t have a single point of failure per MCAS.

      Right now even so called autonomous drones have pilot fall back.

  27. As I understand it the 737 MAX could not be certified if it was a new aircraft, so the number of things that could be changed was limited (to keep the grandfathered certification). Another posting said that the existing fuselage could not be certified if it was a new aircraft.

    Can anyone explain what the issues are with 737 that prevents it being certified if it was a new aircraft ? (Which then leads to limited changes when more might be beneficial)

    • As I understand it, its a matter of convenience and costs to certify everything from the ground up.

      You don’t have to go through the whole re-cert process if you grandfather it. That goes pretty long as the 747-8 was done that way.

      I don’t know about the fuselage. There are new fuel tank standards and inserting them that they did not have to follow.

      Realistically if they had to start over then you might as well do a new aircraft that is build to any changes that have come down the line.

      A320 and A330NEO were both done that way as well.

      • Hi TW

        The fundamental issue is that the MAX is a pre FBW airfpcraft that design roots are in the 1950s. I fear the fundamental issue is that they have a half and half aircraft that depends on mechanical links to work but also needs protection from elements of FBW. The questions are:

        1 what is the scope of the CofG problems? Do they introduce an aircraft with more sensitivity to pitch
        2 what is the scope of the CofL problems? Does the additional forward of wing lift make the aircraft less controllable in selected conditions
        3 is MCAS working as intended? Do the controls conflict in some manner hitherto unseen and difficult to replicate?
        4 is the control system acting in a manner that is beyond the capabilities of the average pilot?
        5 is there something else entirely happening to the aircraft? You never know!!

        So 5 questions that can be resolved now Boeing have bitten the bullet

        • Duke:

          I don’t think you get the fact that this has nothign to do with what type of control system you have.

          Airbus has the same issues in that they also have a software program in their control circuit that adjusts the stabilizer as speed increase or decreases.

          In response to your numbers .

          1. I don’t get the more sensitivities to pitch.

          It clearly does push the pitch more at stall which is extreme envelope stuff not normal.

          I doubt 1 in 100,000 pilots sees a stall in a entire career in acualy flying a commercial aircraft.

          Boeing’s prime pilot control fort the stab is the trim that controls motors int he stabilizer.

          Airbus prime pilot control is a software input that sends a signal to the controls motors in the stabilizer.

          Relay logic vs software logic but they both do the same thing and there is an interface that changes the stabilizer for both.

          The 737 Aerodynamics do have a part in the stability at stall. Peter Lemme says it was abrupt before the MAX.

          Frankly if I knew it was abrupt and was a bit more so I could deal with that, FAA decided otherwise.

          2. Less controllable is ??? It simply pushes it a bit more or harder into a stall when its been stalled.

          Its not a CG issue.

          3. Yes that is the question, Indonesia says yes, its just how its supposed to work sucks (bad single point of failure setup).

          4. Its beyond the capability of some pilots, how far that extends really depends on your definition of average.

          Until recently pilots were trained by repetitive (and often no relevant like landing ) rote drill. When you know its coming you know how to react to it. In that split seconds as it develops, your brain goes ahha and you are into it even before it is fully going.

          What happens in the real world form X (unknown number or percentage ) number is now called startle reaction. You have something unexpected thrown at yo and you don’t respond right. Frankly I think it range from freeze up deer in the headlight to full panic.

          Clearly in the Indonesia crash the pilot was overwhelmed (and his co pilot never helped out apparently) I don’t know how I would have done for sure, but hsi failure to just put the flaps down after he proved it stopped it and then starts again when they went up argues for the Startle Panic reaction. It was recoverable in several ways. Two crew prior did deal with it (not well agreed as they should have grounded the bird but they did deal with it)

          If an otherwise good pilot locks up when they are needed, then they don’t belong flying and I don’t know (nor read reports) if that can be trained out.

          Now the move is to throw random failures and critical times of flight (or cruise) and see if they have the fundamental principles down and can make quick decisions because they know the aircraft and its systems well enough to stop a bad situation (and then you go to the follow up in depth checklist)

          5. That is true and we are agreed we need the black box data to find out and the MAX stays grounded and then may remain grounded depending on what is found)

  28. I too wonder if this does not push the timeline up and if it shifts the 797 NMA to a Y3 797 and not the NMA currently on the books.

    It would be a way for Boeing to cover it up with better publicity (not that I am jaded or anything)

    • Shocking that they ‘don’t trust’ the FAA, for the majority of my adult life they have been the preeminent regulator off the back of the domination of B/MD/L. A bad day for worldwide regulation

  29. The MCAS is not the only thing to put into scrutiny. The autothrottle seems to be also suspicious. Actually everything will be on the table for the investigators.
    The similarities between the two flight profiles before both crashes are sufficient to ground the plane and to make a comparative and comprehensive inquiry. After 2 crashes with some similarities, no need to have a scenario involving the MCAS or anything else to start working. Let’s not reverse the burden of proof : the problem is not to prove that the MCAS is not safe, the problem is to prove that the aircraft is safe. As long as there is some suspicion, the plane must be grounded, that’s the only way to show to the world that safety is the priority. When the Boeing CEO says that the new MCAS software will make the already safe airplane even safer, it’s a huge PR mistake. He’s just admitting that the airplane safety can be improved, so the current version is not safe enough. That’s exactly why the grounding is needed.
    People at FAA and Boeing just need to realize that it’s for their sake to stop denying and to initiate action. Now it’s either the brits or the french who are going to lead the inquiry and the FAA will be behing the times. Unbelievable.

    • Certainly a lot of merit in that.

      I don’t know where the auto throttle comes in though.

      Whiles its an issue, its a discrete separate one and particularity in landing.

      That said, its been addressed by NTSB and FAA elected not to enforce it (and Boeing elected not to change it, they can put in for an approval to do so)

      If the FAA gets a shakeup that could be re-visted as its on the record.

      Boeing is as stubborn about the auto throttle as they are about MCAS (without the publicity) – its some crappy logic that is not justified and like Trump, they will not admit they are wrong about anything.

  30. The two US reports are a nose down command with the autopilot on. Which brings up the question, how much redundancy is there for the AOA for the autopilot? But why would this not happen on the NG if the AOA and autopilot systems are similar?

    • Same basic question I have had.

      Whats convoluted is that while Boeing says turn auto pilot off, they also say it won’t do it in auto pilot.

      And anyone wonder a pilot can get his brain scrambled with that sort of ???????

      I before E except after Y – crunch. .

      As near as I can determine Indonesia was not in auto pilot when they pulled up the flaps. Could be wrong.

      • Is the autopilot design the same on the NG and the MAX, but the parts, sensors and boards are new and less reliable? Just conjecture, is this a parts problem?

  31. Trump has decided to ground the MAX. The US is the last country in the world to do so except maybe the Vatican. What a pathetic story for the FAA and Boeing.

    • The US has grounded the MAX and no article as yet from Scott and Bjorn. They must be fairly breathless with it all, and sore fingered. Thanks for the most excellent articles chaps.

        • Well that’s understandable. We need to add “hoarseness of voice” to your condition charts. Something like honey and lemon is probably to be recommended, but seems inadequate in these sad circumstances.

  32. 737MAX is now grounded in the USA.

    Not by the FAA’s hand though…. Frankly I’m amazed.

  33. Don’t blame Trump, this time.

    Apparently FAA & Boeing were paralized.

    They didn’t listen, didn’t understand and set the wrong strategy.

  34. Totally agree with Birdy, took Boeing and the FAA (and some would argue Trump) kicking and screaming to do what virtually every other regulator has done

  35. Wow!! the FAA being ordered by Trump to do the right thing. How sad, how sad.

    • Enables them to continue to claim its still safe and we dont go back on our previous decisions, but orders are orders.
      But its a huge loss of face by the FAA to have a direct Presidential order.

  36. I being to see what is going on to some degree.

    Two of these do not look to be MCAS as they are in auto pilot.

    https://www.politico.com/story/2019/03/12/pilots-boeing-737-1266090

    One is an auto throttle issue (desperate, it simply was not working and that stuff happens and why we have pilots who can adjust to deal with it)

    One is a pilot who does not like the setup (nothing wrong with that but he did not have an MCAS incident)

    Suuposly MCAS does nto work in auto pilot (not said why but we ahve to assume the system lets Aut Pilot deal with a stall (or dumps it into the piltos lap)

    Part of it is A single AOA Sensor or TWO AOA sensors, we don’t know.

    If its in auto pilot then it may be auto pilot software.

    Or the software is bolexed and its messing the program up.

    I have seen code run hundreds if not thousand of times and then for unknown reason (ie what variable was different) it did not run the 1001 and failed to work right.

    Phewee.

    Like the 787, each miner issue hit the headlines and eventually it died out.

    Not all issues on a 737MAX (or 737NG) are related.

    Soon we will have eye witness who has seen a 737 on the moon.

  37. So to the end of our bitching, let us all think of the poor souls lost in these two tragedies and hope for a swift but proper resolution to the MAX that gets it up flying but safely.

    RIP those poor passengers and crew affected

    • Sowerbob: Its a good reminder.

      I always do. I lost my dad and my good friend in a two person boat wreck at age 10.

      We had it rough, the other family lost their dad, their mom to cancer a year before that and a brother was killed a couple of years latter by a motorist when he was riding a cycle.

      Immediate family is affect, grounding family is affected, friends are affect, lives can get shattered.

      In our case as both men worked for the FAA, we lost our homes (no job, no house) – 2 weeks to relocate your life.

      We were lucky. We had support and we got through it. The other family not as much though they too survived to loose the brother. I have no idea how you do that.

      I can fathom how much worse it is for those without support structures and its bad enough with one.

      As a mechanic/technician and pilot I can get a deep interest in the technical details and solutions.

      As a human being (or the best I can be) I don’t ever forget its real people that are involved and the consequences.

  38. According to several french media, the black boxes are going to be sent to France. The psychodrama about the grounding is now behind us, but I bet that speculations about the root cause and the consequences for Boeing won’t stop on the net. We are all looking forward reading the Scott and Bjorn’s analysis. As for me, I’m quietly waiting for the BEA findings. But if I might give a personal and very subjective opinion, I would say that I don’t bet a penny on a quick and easy way ahead for Boeing. I don’t agree with Scott this time : it won’t be a simple software fix and that’s it, especially after this PR disaster. I will be a tough experience for John Leahy’s friends in Seattle. I remember well the controversy in France in late 80’s about the A320 allegedly software issues. It was violent with a lot of conspiracy theories. At that time I was doing my engineering school internship at Aerospatiale and I can testify how engineers were upset because of all the fake news. Now, 30 years later, fake news are much more widespread, the power of social media is much stronger and much more money are at stake. I don’t like to remember that time but I guess that it’s Boeing’s turn to go through hell. As an aviation enthusiast, despite it’s not bad news for my Airbus stocks, I’m not delighted by this situation and I sincerely hope that Boeing engineers will sort out this crap quickly.

    • Twenty or so years ago, when Boeing Commercial Airplanes were trying to reinvent itself, there was lots of discussion about the company’s core competencies. Needless to say every discipline had their own biased opinions (mostly based on self preservation), one that everyone agreed on was triage. So I’m confident that this competency will manifest itself once again here and the company will come up with a sound engineering solution.

    • Investigations in France seem to me to go hand in with a stream of leaks, curious what information will be dripping our way..

    • TransWorld,

      On what basis do you assert that Trump held up the FAA from grounding the 737MAX, other than your political bias and often stated contempt for the man? Let’s keep it real here. Just because we don’t particularly like someone, doesn’t mean we should look for things to blame him for.

  39. This is a good write up on MCAS by Peter Leme. I am still chewing through some of his assertions in Scientific American, but its very good information.

    https://www.satcom.guru/2018/11/737-mcas-failure-is-option.html

    He defends it and thinks its not the issue in Ethiopian crash.

    If not then we still need an idea of whats going on before the Max is deemed safe – once accident that should never have happened and stay tuned on number 2.

    • “The 737 low speed upset recovery has been criticized repeatedly (for decades) for needing timely nose down trim, to prevent uncontrolled pitch up, if the elevator is unable to offset the thrust-pitching moment.”

      So was MCAS fixing a flaw, but it was in the NG too, they just don’t bother to retrofit it to the NG?

      The MAX wasn’t a bridge too far, the NG just had an upset recovery problem that never got fixed?

    • Peter Lemme certainly seems to know his stuff.

      However, even a correctly implemented MCAS is defensible if, and only if, one accepts that there is the need for flying 737 around pretty much as it was 50 years ago, but with some honking great engines stuck way out in front of the wings.

      Except that there is no need to be doing that. It is not the end result of decades of evolution with no conceivable design improvements possible. A better way out of needing to get MCAS right is to design an aircraft which doesn’t need it in the first place. And that’d likely be a better aircraft all round anyway.

      Looked at this way, I feel any kind of analysis of MCAS’s faults / implementation is moot. Ultimately it’s a purposeless analysis. It’s still going to be heavily looked at by Boeing / FAA / everybody, because the 737MAX is now commercially imperative to some parties. But really the fiery eye of the most interrogative of analysis should be steered towards asking why Boeing ever went down this route in the first place, why the FAA okayed it, and working out how to stop that ever happening again.

      It would be pure speculation to say that there might be some most unpleasant findings, and that those might have an impact on the operations of other future / current aircraft. I think the probability of that being so is very low.

      However, the problems with MCAS have happened within the mindset of the Boeing company. That mindset has had to make other design choices of other safety-critical systems and components against a cost background. Is it really bet-your-life-on-it-reasonable to assume that that mindset has got each and every one of its designs correct?

      It’s worth bearing in mind that it’s not necessarily Boeing / the FAA / US government that would be doing such an analysis. What if the EASA reviews these recent events, and starts asking awkward questions about the FAA’s certification of other Boeing products? Or the Chinese? Or the Japanese, Singaporeans, the UK, or anyone?

      I genuinely hope that the current implementation of MCAS is an aberration within Boeing, rather than a symptom of something more systemic. But at the same time, I’m less willing to get on a recent Boeing product now than I was 5 months ago.

      • Unless I see the graph of the AOA vs. righting force, I remain unconvinced that the MAX 9 is less stable than the 737-700. Sure the MAX 9 engines are 6″ forward, but the horizontal stab (larger in area than the engines) is another 15 feet back, relative to the -700. That doesn’t pass the moment sniff test.

      • Well clearly the reason for the Max is that it was the most cost effective way to get out a Neo competitor. The point was not to build the best aircraft possible but rather the most profitable one within the current regulatory framework. And one asset Boeing had was the grandfathered 737 certification so they build on that.

    • “From what is reported, in MCAS mode, the active FCC will suspend stabilizer trim commands for something like five seconds if the pilot uses the column trim switch, and if still active, resume trimming nose down.”

      Also interesting. Once MCAS uses the motor to move the tailplane to nose down, the only way to move it back is turn off the motor and use the handle and wheel. No pilot authority over the trim motor when MCAS is on, and no way to turn off MCAS.

  40. This is a most interesting statement as it says the MCAS is an auto pilot function that does not work in auto pilot. Phew.

    “Speed trim, and presumable MCAS, is an odd autopilot feature, as it is applied when the autopilot is not engaged.”

    So does turning auto pilot off stop it or not?

    • “So does turning auto pilot off stop it or not?”

      MCAS is only supposed to operate with AP off. But, if one has invalid IAS or AOA readings, AP will automatically turn off, enabling MCAS.

      It’s possible that the Lion and Ethiopian crews were busy fighting other issues in the cockpit when MCAS has kicked in and they’ve been too swamped in a low altitude, high workload situation to spot it in time.

      Boeing’s AD after the Lion crash stated that the plane can become uncontrollable if the condition is not corrected in time.

  41. I am curious what everyone thinks about how this will affect Boeing in the long term, and to a lesser extent this current rush to buy the latest fuel saving plane from the Duopoly. This issue is easily several orders of magnitude worse than the grounding of the 787.

    I ask this because Boeing’s response to the Lion Air crash seem to be not as robust, all hands on deck (at least not publicly) and more of a wait and see. I seriously doubt Boeing could afford this now with the MAX grounded. If this is followed by a significant slow down in orders (likely), lots of compensation for various reasons (likely). How much of a threat is this to Boeing overall aside from a temporary loss of market share. I wonder how long it’ll take for this grounding to end.

    As of today, Airbus has outmaneuvered Boeing in the single isle market, I believe they have sold something like 1500 more plans compared to the 737 MAX series.

    To me, the situation today can be all laid at the feet of McNerney, whose tenure was generally governed by indecisiveness and a total unwillingness to take calculated risks. I remember when McNerney waffled between a clean sheet and the MAX back in 2011. Only reacting when AA bought a whole bunch of NEOs.

    • Stonecipher and McNerney tried to build the company’s most technically advanced plane by cutting all sorts of corners – paying living wages in a first world country probably the biggest. Because aerospace was on the upswing their mistakes were not so glaring when the parts of the 787 from all over the World didn’t fit together. This caused a 20 billion cost over run on the Dreamliner. But McNerney said “No more moonshots!” We’re going to stick with iterations! And as all great men amazed by their success in life, he had to stick to his words even though the B737 was being out-flanked by the A320 line and the upstart CSeries – more efficient, less polluting planes. Consequently, Boeing’s brain trust, or lack there of, dealt with this by creating the MAX, and trying to use the government to shutdown the CSeries. Great well compensated men.

    • Firstly I’m sure that we’d all be accurate in thinking Airbus’s management will be as appalled by recent events as the rest of us. No one wants to gain commercial advantage this way.

      If this isn’t an existential threat to Boeing, then it’s hard to imagine what would be.

      Airbus haven’t out manoeuvred Boeing. That would mean that they’d have been moving… Really all they’ had to do is launch the A320, keep selling it, eventually do a Neo. Meanwhile Boeing have tinkered but never really raised a decent technical challenge to the A320; it’s been a matter of making 737’s commercials competitive instead. It’s a bit like saying a super tanker has out manoeuvred a fast frigate because the frigate wasn’t being crewed… Just by setting sail the supertanker won.

      I’m fairly sure Boeing saw the danger to their future in the Lion Air crash, and it’s easy to see commercial risks looming large in their thoughts. One way of confirming that there’s a big problem is to get all hands on deck.

      Right now I’m sure that Boeing’s management is very preoccupied. They will soon learn something of the extent of the challenge of returning MAX to service. The full extent of that challenge will not be clear for some time.

  42. As said before a convincing correction to the Max design will be in aerodynamics, not in software. The CG must be within safe limits during all phases of flight (same as Airbus direct law). Up to Boeing to design a new landing gear, refined tail section, canards or whatever else their engineers can propose.
    What is criminal is that B knew from the day of the Lion crash that the holes in the cheese will align again and it was only a question of time before a second fatal accident.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.