From the sidelines at the MRO Americas conference

April 10, 2019, © Leeham News: China will be the last country to review and approve fixes to the Boeing 737 MAX, according to the talk here on the sidelines of the Aviation Week MRO Americas conference in Atlanta.

Nobody knows, of course, when regulators will lift the MAX grounding orders. But none is looking for fast action.

And China, the first to ground the airplane, will be the last to lift the grounding, sideline talk here indicates.

Delaying NMA

It’s expected that Boeing’s decision to grant Authority to Offer for the New Midmarket Airplane will wait until the Board of Directors knows that the MAX grounding will be lifted, production resumed at pre-grounding rates (or, at least, on its way back) and deliveries (and cash flow) resume.

Within the supply chain, it is expected Boeing will go ahead with the program.

Unimpressed with Board committee

Last Friday, Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg, among other things, announced he asked four members of the Board of Directors to form a special committee to examine the processes surrounding the MAX.

In light of our commitment to continuous improvement and our determination to always make a safe industry even safer, I’ve asked the Boeing Board of Directors to establish a committee to review our company-wide policies and processes for the design and development of the airplanes we build.  The committee will confirm the effectiveness of our policies and processes for assuring the highest level of safety on the 737-MAX program, as well as our other airplane programs, and recommend improvements to our policies and procedures.

The committee members will be Adm. Edmund P. Giambastiani, Jr., (Ret.), former vice chairman, U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, who will serve as the committee’s chair; Robert A. Bradway, chairman and CEO of Amgen, Inc.; Lynn J. Good, chairman, president and CEO of the Duke Energy Corporation; and Edward M. Liddy, former chairman and CEO of the Allstate Corporation, all members of the company’s board. These individuals have been selected to serve on this committee because of their collective and extensive experiences that include leadership roles in corporate, regulated industries and government entities where safety and the safety of lives is paramount.

An aerospace analyst at the conference who follows Boeing was unimpressed, calling this committee a sham. Why? They don’t know commercial aviation, other than their experience on the Boeing board. Muilenburg should have appointed outside aviation experts, he said.

A few people at the MRO Americas wondered if the MAX issues will cost Muilenburg or Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Kevin McAllister their jobs.

44 Comments on “From the sidelines at the MRO Americas conference

    • “China, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), Ethiopia, Indonesia and at least five other major regulators are expected to join the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) review panel on the Boeing 737 MAX, officials said on Tuesday.”

      ( I’ve seen initial critique that the designates (US) members had zero experience with _civil_ aviation.)

      • Uwe – or was that comment rather more about Boeing board members appointed to Boeingpanel re design & development…?

    • Interesting, is this because the EASA does not want to be directly linked to the FAA or that the FAA is reasoning that it can gang up on the EASA by making friends elsewhere. It does look as though the whole US apparatus has gone into full blown ‘MAXaid’. Trump bullying, FAA cajoling, Boeing posturing, the press will start getting more stories planted aimed directly at a bit of ‘Airbus equivalence’.

      I think ‘MAXaid’ needs a song, what about? ‘Fly the wo-orld, let them know it’s Boeing’… I will work on the verses

      • You are correct, oversaw. Or referenced the wrong text.

        The Boeing Board committee, I wonder what their goal is..

        Muilenburg is already dictating the outcome !! “… The committee will confirm the effectiveness of our policies and processes “…

        Why disqualify the committee beforehand? That is not very smart.

        • Well we can see people just jumping on conjecture when in fact a fact is listed otherwise.
          Hmmm. Piling on?

        • The CEO of duke energy ? Duke Energy does not have a very stellar record on safety or smart decisions or supereior employee relations- What he might know about airplanes and stellar management is a bit uncertain . . .

          But they have had consistent dividends – like Boeing . .

  1. Having Norm Augustine on the board with Alan Mulally would make it more exciting.

    • I believe Boeing is in dire need of a devil’s advocate in upper management.

    • claes – yes, to play Richard Feynman role in the Challenger enquiry?

  2. Trade War. (Major League)

    Washington vs Rest of the World
    Score so far.
    Washington 0 – 1 Rest of the World

    Sorry, .. correction.
    Trade War. (Major League)
    DJT vs Rest of the World
    Score so far.
    DJT 0 – 1 Rest of the World

    Sorry, .. correction.
    Trade War. (Major League)
    DJT vs Xi Jinping
    Score so far.
    DJT 0 – 1 Xi Jinping

    Further Half Time Scores.

    Trade War. (2nd Division)
    USA vs Europe (only)
    Score so far.
    Boeing 0 – 1 Airbus

  3. If you want to be seen to do something without doing then form a sub-committee to the board and fill it with people who have no knowledge of the detail they are required to investigate.

    If this review is so vital to the company then presumably we shouldn’t be lifting the grounding until it has reported. It is those processes that have potentially caused the current predicament. Stands to reason…

    • – CAAC is very strict.
      – China is the fastest growing aviation market.
      – 0 Hull losses since 2012.

      • And we know strict by the open nature of the information out of China of course.

        Seeing as how they cover up a multitude of other sins.

        I would like to see some expert review.

        They failed miserably in their approach to certifying the ARJ21 and I don’t believe the 919 is even trying.

      • Zero hull losses of Western planes, not so good for their domestic production

  4. Re China being the last, there is a hint that they will use the certification as a political football. Surely they have every right to be concerned about the current opacity of the US certification process, sure as eggs are eggs the FAA would question any Chinese certification.

    • That is because the Chinese failed in their work to meet even the lowly FAA standards.

      • I am not sure we can say that for certain but the same opacity argument applies ie we are not convinced that the CAAC is sufficiently independent in its certification procedures of Comac, sounds familiar territory to me.

        Looks like we are being pulled kicking and screaming to a supranational model. The worrying issue being the potential for FAA primacy given what has happened. A model that gave 40% stakes to FAA and EASA with the balance being shared out to other active interested parties (China, Brazil, Canada, Russia etc) to bring global balance. It would certainly bring a more streamlined approach and with the an opportunity for specialisms by country.

        • Sowerbob – historically, I believe very many states adopted either U.S. FARs or British Civil Aviation Requirements (BCARs) as the basis for national airworthiness standards and much of that influence may still pertain in very many countries (consolidation via Joint Aviation Authorities [JARs] into EASA notwithstanding). Who would now combine into a supranational structure – ICAO?

  5. Logically the MAX can’t fly until the reports of both accidents have been released,unless Boeing already fully understands all the problems and releases ALL of the appropriate information. They are in a bit of a spot.

    • That’s the problem for Boeing and the FAA. Unless it can be shown the second problem has nothing to to do with the first or that the Ethiopian crew completely failed to follow instructions provided after the Lionair crash, the issue becomes the inadequate response to the first crash, and not just a specific design flaw.

      • What they knew before the Lion air crash could be the most difficult for Boeing and the FAA to speak about.

    • Grubbie – Irrespective of report publication, it will be difficult to re-issue airworthiness approval until all circumstances and crew actions have been understood, how the MCAS was designed to respond (and did respond) in such circumstances, agreement has been reached about all needed changes and modifications (including any flap-related changes), and successful trials of such changes after implementation. Typically, accident investigators will make recommendations, and OEMs embody them, while investigations continue, such that very often at report publication all parties can confirm their response(s).

  6. I posted my opinion on the so called board.

    Someone commented Sullenberg and it was, he would be a natural.

    Its clear Boeing is still tone deaf no matter how much Muilenberger played the violin last time. They can’t help themselves, its in their DNA. aka Crocodile tears.

    As for China, FAA has brought them into the process so that could be a surprise – good move as far as I was concerned, FAA may also just be playing the violin but they understand how they have to play it and why (its never fun to be grilled by 20 Representatives)

  7. I am sorry to say, it is a disaster for Boeing, Boeing rush the certification of 737 – Max to get part of the remaining cake from A320 neo, and this is the outcome of its decision.

    • rsal – very unfortunately, this has followed the 787 debacle (the only other modern-era commercial-jet withdrawal of airworthiness approval) and there is huge temptation to speculate on how internal philosophies and practice might have changed as the baton was passed from those who gave us the 777 and its predecessors. Apart from a half-generation gap between 777 and 787 (and related loss of senior design and engineering experience to retirement), there might have been a change of attitude among a generation raised on computer, not to mention a loss of confidence as BCA found itself no longer perceived as favorite child as it competed (now on a more-even playing field than perhaps previously perceived) for investment against defense, rotorcraft, and space siblings; it is no coincidence that Boeing corporate offices moved to a town without a Boeing factory.
      Many folk following Boeing investors’ comments in response to analysts’ weblog postings may be forgiven for thinking that dividends and ‘shareholder value’ have become paramount; it is amazing how many such investors ‘know’ that the stock is/has been undervalued and ‘must’ go up in price.
      It is to be hoped that 777X has a smooth certification campaign and service entry to match that of its parent design, which occured under Alan Mulally, whom you mentioned earlier.

    • It is a pretty common problem for new high thrust Engines that T1 blades detoriate pretty fast. That is why hot section borescope ports are located where they are so you can monitor them and pull the Engine at the right time.
      You should think lots of analysis and testing goes into those blades and their protective coatings before certification in all different environments, still RR customers keep getting surprised.

  8. To your last paragraph, I think it should.

    The rushed and inadequately engineered MAX development flows directly from the C-suite not accepting the realistic scale of the project they undertook, and didn’t resource properly.

    Two frames crashed horrifically (the second in particular being unconscionable if in fact the pilots executed the emergency AD and still failed to gain control) and with considerable loss of life. High level BA resignations would not be out of line here.

    • It doesn’t really matter if the pilots followed the AD correctly or even if they are proved to be idiots,the MAX is statistically proven to be prone to making black smoking holes,really hard statistics.

  9. The wording of Muilenberg’s statement implies it will be both a foregone conclusion and a whitewash!:

    The committee will confirm the effectiveness of our policies and processes for assuring the highest level of safety on the 737-MAX program, as well as our other airplane programs, and recommend improvements to our policies and procedures.

  10. It doesn’t really matter if the pilots followed the AD correctly or even if they are proved to be idiots,the MAX is statistically proven to be prone to making black smoking holes,really hard statistics.

  11. “he asked four members of the Board of Directors”

    Hang on, whaaat? The “Boeing” board of directors? No independent third party?
    Similar to the FAA, ‘we’re committed to doing the job we should have been doing all along’. Yes so reassuring. The platitudes and non-sequiters will continue until safety is achieved.

    • Pretty much described as having to be dragged kicking and screaming into doing the right thing.

      Love that tone thing. Spin, eyewash etc.

      Sincerity of course is a different stripped Zebra.

  12. Regarding the delay to NMA. It is time to drop that economically marginal program (they are still trying to make the business case after years of trying) and launch a real competitor to the Neo and its upcoming derivatives. They made the wrong decision in 2011. Start with the large (>757-200) and long range first and work down, supplementing and then replacing Max versions as they go.

    The Max will be allowed to fly again (how soon and with what changes, not clear yet). The above idea will still gave the Max a production run of +/- 10 years.

  13. I believe I saw a post – can’t quite recall where, perhaps on Flight Global – indicating that MCAS also has authority to intervene directly in some unclear circumstances while in autopilot .
    That might explain the otherwise puzzling reports by US airline pilots of MAX nose diving while at altitude.
    This might also explain that the “simple” software fix to make “a Safe plane safer “ has now become complicated. Apparently the ointment has many flies in it…
    All in all a speedy return to service does not appear in the cards as exhaustive testing – with multiple checks by various Toms, Dicks and Harry’s will be required as a prerequisite.
    My own swag is for year end 2019, but I’m an optimist with experience.

  14. As Scott wrote on 4/6, the airlines (with some notable exceptions) and the lessors remain confident with the MAX. Now that the FAA has invited several other civil air authorities to help it with its review of the revised MAX software, the regulatory aspect seems to have been addressed.
    However, Boeing and the civil air authorities still need to convince the line pilots that; (1) the revised MAX software works as expected; and (2) there is a realistic training program for pilots who will fly the MAX.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *