Boeing CEO says steady progress being made on getting 737 MAX back into the air

 By Dan Catchpole

May 30, 2019, © Leeham News: Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg said Wednesday steady progress is being made on getting the 737 MAX back in the air following two devastating crashes within a few months of each other. He stopped short of giving a specific time frame, though.

Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg

However, a spokesman for the International Air Transport Association said the same day that the trade group does not expect the MAX to be back in service before mid-August.

Speaking at the Bernstein Strategic Decisions Conference, Muilenburg struck an upbeat tone overall and called the crashes a “defining moment” for Boeing. However, he did not indicate that Boeing intends any major changes as a result, and he expressed confidence in the company’s design and certification processes. Though, he did not shut the door to making changes as a result of lessons learned in the wake of the crash.

Muilenburg insisted that the MAX challenges will not affect entry into service for either the 777X in 2021 or the New Midsize Airplane (NMA) in 2025. He also discussed changes to the 737 supply chain, resumption of deliveries and future production rates for the popular single-aisle airplane.

‘A defining moment’

Muilenburg said the 737 MAX crashes have been a defining moment for the company, but he did not elaborate on how the moment has defined—or redefined—Boeing. Indeed, his comments sounded much as the same as those made before the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines crashes or by his predecessor, Jim McNerney.

For more than a decade, comments by Boeing’s C-suite leaders have followed a now familiar script: Everything is great—until it isn’t. Company leaders have been loathe to acknowledge or have been unaware of the full extent of challenges. For example, repeatedly, they assured investors, analysts and reporters that the company had the 787 or KC-46 production challenges in hand. Those assurances were time and again followed by acknowledgements some months later that there were further delays.

That said, Boeing does appear to be making progress on addressing safety concerns with the MAX. The company has conducted more than 200 test flights totaling about 360 flight hours for the MCAS fix, according to a research note from the investment firm Cowen & Co.’s aerospace and defense analysts.

“We continue to express our deepest sympathies for the loved ones and the families of those that were lost in the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines flights,” Muilenburg said at the investment conference. “We know more broadly that the public’s confidence has been hurt by these accidents and that we have work to do to earn and re-earn the trust of the flying public, and we will do that. And we are taking all actions necessary to make sure that accidents like those two accidents that have occurred never happen again.”

The company has completed the engineering testing and flight testing of a fix for the MCAS software, and it is in the process of applying for a final certification from the FAA.

“We are finishing that dialogue with the FAA, working through a series of questions and answers with them,” he said. “Once that’s complete, we will schedule the certification flight and that would be the next step to returning the airplane to service.”

Process reviews

The two MAX crashes have raised questions about the design and certification processes and the FAA’s reliance on company employees to inspect and certify certain work.

“I have a great deal of confidence in that process and how it works,” Muilenburg said, replying to a question during Wednesday’s conference. “It’s a way for the FAA to exercise its independent role, its regulatory role as it should, but also tap into the deep technical expertise in our company.”

During the decades since FAA adopted that approach, there has been a steep decline in the number of fatal accidents in commercial aviation, he noted.

Boeing is participating with the FAA on a number of “independent reviews” of the certification process, he said.

In addition, Muilenburg has “set up a separate board committee, as well, inside of Boeing to take a look at the certification processes,” he said. “So, if we see some improvement opportunities there, we’ll make them, but that process today I think is a solid process.”

As LNA founder Scott Hamilton previously noted, when Muilenburg announced the internal committee’s formation, he said it “will confirm the effectiveness of our policies and processes” and “recommend improvements to our policies and procedures.”

Muilenburg continued Wednesday to strike a tone of self-assurance that has become a defining feature of Boeing leadership

Getting the MAX back in the air

Boeing already is working to get the grounded MAX fleet flying again and to resume deliveries. The company is taking a very intentional and customer-focused approach designed to appease airlines and operators, and to minimize the risk of putting planes that have been in storage since March back in the air.

Boeing is approaching each 737 MAX on the ground individually and treating its return to service “as an entry-into-service event,” Muilenburg said. “So, each airplane by tail number will get individual attention with individual customers tailored to the condition of that particular airplane, how it’s been stored, where it’s been stored, the condition of operation” and so on.

To that end, company representatives have been meeting with customers and regulators around the world, and Boeing is “making clear and steady progress,” he said.

Boeing hopes regulators abroad will follow the FAA’s lead, “there may be some international authorities that will operate on a different schedule,” Muilenburg said.

The FAA held a meeting May 23 with Boeing and regulators from 33 countries. Acting FAA director Dan Elwell has declined to give a timeline for the MAX’s return to service.

Cowen & Co. analysts expect FAA approval seems possible by late June, with deliveries resuming in July. Even after the FAA signs off, Boeing will have to integrate input from non-FAA experts on the technical advisory board.

Foreign regulators will lag to some degree. Sign off by regulators in China, which accounts for about 25% of MAX orders, could be affected by trade negotiations with the U.S.

The grounding has affected airlines’ summer flight schedules.

“We know that’s painful for them,” Muilenburg said.

“Some of them, as a result, will want to move airplane deliveries out. We’ve had other customers who said, they’d like the airplanes earlier, they need lift sooner, so they’d like to accelerate in the skyline,” he said.

Until deliveries resume, storage is not a concern. The company has stashed MAX airplanes around Puget Sound at Everett, Renton and Seattle, and at its San Antonio facility. Boeing has two additional “commercially-viable options for additional storage capacity that we’re preparing as well if we need them,” he said.

Production stability

Boeing has used the past few months to address concerns in its 737 supply chain, such as fuselages from Spirit Aerosystems and engines from CFM.

“We’ve made good solid progress with both of them over the last couple of months,” Muilenburg said.

While Boeing has idled back production to 42 airplanes a month, it has had some supplier, including CFM, remain at the 52/month pace.

CFM has “made a lot of progress on that over the last month. So, we’re now getting to a point where they’re recovering to our production schedule, but we’ve also asked them to ensure that we’re beating the engine spare pool, as well,” he said.

That way there are enough spare parts to meet customer needs once flights have resumed.

NMA, 777X not affected

Boeing still expects it can deliver the NMA by 2025, based on Muilenburg’s comments. In April, he seemed to leave some room for the EIS date slipping. Not so during Wednesday’s conference.

“We’re continuing to make progress on NMA,” he said. “Our overall timeline—broad timeline for that program has not changed. We still see it as a 2025 entry into service kind of airplane.”

Boeing continues to work on the NMA business case, and still aims to get an “authority to offer decision this year and an authority to launch decision next year,” he said.

Likewise, the company continues to make progress on the 777X program. The first two flight test aircraft are out of the Everett factory and are involved in integrated system tests on the ground.

So far, “the airplane is performing very well. It’s a very clean airplane,” Muilenburg said.

The next two flight test aircraft are in final assembly, and the structural test plane is in static test now. Boeing continues to work through engine tests with GE.

Muilenburg said he expects flight tests to begin later this year, followed by first delivery in 2020.

The fallout from the MAX crashes is not likely to affect that date, he said.

“I don’t see anything there right now that would significantly alter the timeline for the 777X, but it’s possible we could see something that would alter the content of the test program or how we go about certification,” Muilenburg said.

111 Comments on “Boeing CEO says steady progress being made on getting 737 MAX back into the air

  1. Hmm, no mentioning of the difficulties/impossibilities of manual trimming with the trim wheels at out-of-trim conditions. No mentioning of the associated flawed and inaccurate training materials.
    And no mentioning of the pre stall behaviour with the MCAS system inoperable and possible associated training or other requirements.

    I will be surpriced if those two problems is overlooked in its entirety during the recertification process.

    • The Trim Wheel issue is abosley needing to be addressed.

      To a Pilot, a stall is almost as rotuien trianing (more so) than a landing or tgakeoff.

      As long as the aircrafdt stalls cleanly, its a non issue.

      The existing system give you all the warnign you need and you know what aciton to take.

      You simply dump the nose down and it will not even progress into a stall. There is a shaker on the stick that tells you that as well as audible warnings (known as Bitching Betty)

      If you do progress into a stall, you will be shoving the nose down anyway and the MCAS is a weird requirement that has no relevancy to dealing with it.

      If you don’t do the stall recovery right even without MCAS, then you have other issues (likely totally disoriented, upside down, sideways and crashing anyway as the stall is trivial compared to having lost your situational awareness)

      Clearly the 737MAX was safer (or as safe as a NG) without MCAS.

      Manual Trim is a whole different issue that goes back to the 707.

      • TransWorld, apparently you know more than we do… Or maybe you just don’t want to see the problem: If the Max has a stability issue beyond your assumption, the elevator will not suffice to bring the nose down, but will need the help of the stabilizer. That’s my take why the MCAS was installed.

        So if you know that’s not the case, do you have any proof or at least logic to show for?

        • I likely do know more about aerodynamics and aircraft handling than most posting here. I am a pilot with a commercial license and instrument rating (due to some different circumstances , I was even more trained in unusual attitudes than most pilots would have been)

          I am a technician/mechanic/engineer and I am used to breaking down the details of a system, how it operates, what the consequences are.

          I grew up in a world that was all aviation oriented and I have followed the filed as a deeply interested individual as well as a pilot.

          The discussion has alwyas been around the stabilizer not the elevators.

          That is because the aircraft auto systems do not use the elevators, they use the stabilizer as their means of tuning flight.

          I believe that is trued on the FBW models (I don’t know if the backups include both the stab and the elevator)

          If the elevator is trimmed right (and it should be) going into a stall you have all the authority you need with the elevators (smaller but a lot more deflection authority if you will)

          Approaching a stall the system will be doing speed trim on the stab and you just push the nose down. As stick shaker and stall don’t occur at stall but before it, you have all the warning you need.

          Theoretically you could even add a bit of margin to that to ensure its acted on sooner.

          How much pitch increase was involved with the MAX and the engine location in regards to stall I have not seen anything definitive, just pitch up above allowance.

          That gets into some math I don’t do as its going to be defined in some kind of moment in degrees in a given (short) time frame that is deemed not acceptable . The variance can be a hair over or a lot. I have yet to see a hard data point on that.

          Any reasonably trained pilot would not have gotten into that regime in the first place, they certainly would have reacted to the stick shaker if their instruments cross check (though on nose attitude on the Artificial Horizon alone you would have a good idea said that is where they were (you have multiple sources)

          In reality, what you have is an awareness of speed, nose attitude, vertical speed (positive or negative) wing angles as you have a constant cross check of your instruments (more so with the PFD that puts that all on one screen)

          I won’t get into all the stall details but suffice to say, in normal flight you don’t come close. With your scan you will know if its a false stick shaker issue (AOA gone wacky) or for whatever reason you were on the edge and it is a stall.

          If you have situation awareness then the solution is simple, dump the nose.

          If you don;’t know what attitude your aircraft is in you have lost that and are disoriented and the stall is not what is going to kill you.

          • OK, looks like we are closing in on the very problem:

            A) A stall can be prevented by the pilot only with the elevator if the aircraft offers sufficient aerodynamic stability.

            B) To protect “normal” handling the 737 has an automatic trim system that moves the stabilizer, which again keeps the aircraft away from the stall zone, so it always quite easy to handle.

            C) Now what if the plane does not offer sufficient stability so that both the elevator and the automatic trim do not suffice to prevent the aircraft stalling (under difficult circumstances of course)?

            Well, normally you would then change the hardware. Give it a taller elevator and stabilizer, higher landing gear to bring the engines back into the position where they belong. Trouble is this cost time and money and maybe the type rating, so it will cost the airlines for pilot training.

            This plane may be safe, but it looses some efficiency and competitiveness. Which means we would lose more market share and possibly some key customers. But as we are not only proud but also looking for maximizing short term profit, we can’t be defeated by our own short-foresightedness. So we have to find a solution where no solution is possible.

            So what we do is we ad a second automatic trim system above the already existing automatic trim system. What a great idea, and what could possibly go wrong with it?

          • That is also not correct.

            Trim is a function that allows smoother handling.

            A piston engine aircraft does the same thing except its the pilot that does that trim function.

            You can fly without it, it takes more force and its not as smooth.

            The trim function is nothing more than a method to smooth out the controls and in the case of no auto pilot, a lot less fatiqueing on the pilot.

            Take off and start a climb and you trim it.

            Level off and you trim it again.

            Start your decent you trim it.

            It has nothing to do with stalls.

            Speed trim is the same, all they did was add MCAS on top of that (badly) to meet a certification requirement for how stalls progress.

            As you do not stall or even come close to it, its something that was never going to be needed.

            Making it so created a train of events that lead it to being lethal.

            Why Boeing engineers made it more aggressive than they were told to is a story yet to be heard.

            The FAA did not want it that aggressive.

  2. Reading the script that Muilenburg delivers is depressing, it is just words, words with no relation to fact.

    What is more pertinent and quite scary is that by the time the MAX will start flying again the level of working capital tied up in the planes sitting on the tarmac will be approaching $7-8bn at a very conservative estimate. The compensation payments will be significant and the loss of goodwill incalculable.

    Wouldn’t it be refreshing if there was some honesty and candour injected into the proceedings. I wish ill on no one but someone needs to be held to account.

    • I do hold ill will and I agree, I would love to see the whole Boeing board blown up and thrown out as well as Muiilenberger fired.

      I would love to see the whole bunch homeless on our local trail, not sitting in a cushy jail for a few years to get out and enjoy their ill gotten millions.

      Disgusting is putting it mildly.

    • This is a good example of the problem with Boeing management culture in my humble opinion. Take an up and coming executive and rotate that person into new positions every 24 months for 15 years and they are never accountable for finishing anything. Muilenberg was on the ground floor of the tanker but moved on long before the mess arrived.

      It is known as the Peter Principle.

      • “Peter principle” is promotion beyond capabilities.
        ( each time you get promoted when you appear capable on your current task invariably ending in being overtasked.)

        This here is “Dabsterism” buoyed by “Emperor’s new clothes” mass illusion effects.

  3. It’s like a game of musical chairs knowing where Boeing/Muilenberg (where does Boeing legal end and Muilenberg begin?) will find they’re forced to shuffle back (ever so slightly) next, this week’s for me being the “clearly fell short” AoA statement on CBS.

    The line “I have a great deal of confidence in that process and how it works” (ie not absolute confidence) feels like a heel lift preparing for a slight shuffle some weeks in the future.

    • Semantics are the only way to deal with is, another was when the MAX being safer than safe segued into Boeing aircraft in general being the same.

      Does he really believe what he is saying? Has he convinced himself of the facts? If so he is a dangerous fool. If not he is an obnoxious liar. Take your pick, you choose.

  4. “Tone of self assurance”, thats one way to describe it.

  5. I’ve read a number of prices which state Boeing will squirm out of compensating airlines for this, with legal arguments. It’ll be interesting to see how the airlines react to that, especially those already pressed hard against the wall.
    As Dan says, it’s a defining moment for Boring that shows the world they are all tall and no trousers.

  6. Well the worm is turning again, apparently someone with two brain cells figured out the last spin was not working. Now we have the newest one (Rev 3.0 or 4.0?)

    Now they are talking settlements.

    Some years back the CEO of Savage rifles decided he was going to put a good trigger on his rifles. With the liability issues mfgs were putting lousy triggers on the guns (took a winch to make them go boom)

    He did not tell the lawyers, he just had the engineers do it – they put it into production. Its both safe and good (which to us low grade target shooters is a god send)

    Lawyers are STAFF (ad Nancy would say) its their job to serve the company not run it.

    Muillenberger is just a wimp, wafting in the wind. He has no Cojones or Ovaries. .

  7. I find it still difficult to swallow that both of Boeing’s last two aircraft launches – the 787 and 737MAX – have suffered safety-related groundings, surrounding design issues that were either not properly vetted or neutralized before passengers were flying in the metal tubes at 30k feet. In the tragic case of the MAX, 350 passengers had to lose their lives before any sort of (weak) Boeing mea culpa.

    Boeing arguing against simulator training was the last straw for me.

    I am an aviation investor. A longtime Boeing supporter. But I find the facts, and Boeing approach to this matter appalling and finally impossible for me to ignore. Their peers and regulators must bring them to heel, and with shares sufficiently crushed, only then will the message be sufficiently communicated to this sad state of affairs called the Boeing board and management. There are simply too many stakeholders in this company, 1/2 of a global duopoly, for their attitude to continue in the present manner. Else will more lives be lost on the 777X? Will passengers there be crash test dummies too?

    • Steven:

      I to grew up in awe of Boeing and Douglas. Flew more Douglas than anything back in the day but Boeing was in Seattle and was taking the world by storm with the 707 and the 727 (flew both a lot latter and great birds) – the 747 was amazing feat.

      All you can say now is the times changed and the CEO is a weenie and their corporate culture is a pig trough.

  8. I am appalled by what keeps coming out from Planet Boeing.

    Boeing used to be synonym of safety, I fully agree and I am saddened to see that been trashed, over and over again! The new definition is terrible.

    • The World has changed. Business has always been to make money, but now it means to make money, period. MBAs (or their philosophies) run every corporation down to the paper clip. Outsource software, outsource this component, make this is India, make this is Africa. If it breaks – let them sue us, we got lawyers. We can complain about this all day long, but this is the system, and there is absolutely nothing on the horizon to make a person think this is going to change.

      • Sorry Sam, but I have to disagree on the “World”. Indeed it appears that many American companies are run this way, but it’s not how business works in many other countries. I’m from Germany, and the vast majorities of companies that I know are more concerned about the long term success than about short term profit. The same is true for many companies that I know well in Asia and Europe.

        • Part of the explenation could be that many mid to large companies in Germany are private/family owned.
          Another strong influence in German companies are members of the board that are assigned by the employees.

        • Concur. I get a tad cynical with the American Oil lobbies, etc.,… I understand Germany is leading on renewables and in many other areas.

          • “I understand Germany is leading on renewables and in many other areas.”

            Except that Germany is closing nuclear plans where clean electricity is produced to reopen coal plants where dirty electricity is generated.

            Someone explain to me how that makes sense?

          • AlanA:

            It would be good to see a citation on Coal Plants, I doubt it.

            Natural Gas? likely.

            Unfortunately, Nuclear power like coal leaves a legacy (though coal leave a double one with filthy pollutants and coal ash disposal concentrated heavy metal mess)

            Where do you put the spent fuel from the Nuke Plant? Like coal ash its a concentrated poison that is deadly. And it has to be kept isolated for thousands of years.

            No country is without issues, US has its corporate ones, Germany has its failure to maintain its military system in the face of a Russian threat.

            Most countries have good aspects and its no easy answer to any of it.

            The US lead the world at one time in the pollution issues. Now we have an administration that wants to take us back to the 70s.

            Europe has issues with enforcing their regulations that give lip service to the issue bu in fact allows legal cheating as the tests are not real world (as well as other cheating)

            The US big diesel mfgs (we don’t do domestic cars) did their own cheat schemes and got caught.

          • Wasn’t it Germany that lead in selling chemicals to Syria?

    • Afaics Boeing mostly was a second mover or worked via gifted technology ( be that war spoils ( swept wings ) or looming taxation of war profiteering ( Dash80 )) ..
      AND had the absolutely best set of Spin Doctors molding an attractive front in the corporate domain.

      • I have to once again burst Uwe bubble.

        Wing sweep was first modeled by the Italians.

        The ME-267 had wing sweep not because of sonics (it did not go fast enough) but because of a CG change with the 267 changing from a highly advanced tail draggier to a Tricycle Gear.

        The engineering was so advanced they did not consider that the jet exhaust ton a tail dragger would set fire to the grass or burn up the asphalt (all bad things as smoke attacked P-47s and Typhoons and the like)

        Oooopsies. Well darn, now what do we do?

        Easiest to sweep the wing to make up for the screw up.

        • Learn something about aerodynamic research history and then return.
          It is a massive misconception that only things fumbled together in some garage count.

        • “Wing sweep was first modeled by the Italians.”

          AFAIK swept wing for supersonic speeds was theorized by a German at a convention in Italy. Not the same as by “the Italians”.

  9. I will disagree that Boeing has alwyas been about safety.

    Its a lie that has been repeated and has become an alternative fact when in fact it was just the opposite.

    In the early days there was some good reason for the crashes as no one really got the jet age nor the fact that it was not test pilots flying for airlines (and crashes were common in the Industry for a variety of reasons)

    But that was the 707/727 days. By the time the 737 was launched they had realized it and adjusted training to airline pilots levels.

    But after that all their actions were detail

    The 767 Lauda Air crash was one example where Boeing blamed the crew and it took Lauda years to prove that it was not (Boeing refused to even consider there was an issue)

    The 737 Rudder debacle was the same. Total denial and not even look at the design and consider it could do what it did in TWO crashes as well as a number of incidents that could have lead to crashes.

    So no Boeing has been complicit in not being safe for a long time.

    Safe means you look at your end and consider it might not be not you deny it until forced to.

    • Aerospace has always been about safety. If it was not, they wouldn’t be in business. But what has changed is man’s inhumanity to man in the board room. These people have no fear of God. They operate with impunity. Screw up? You get the biggest golden parachutes you can imagine. Wells Fargo, CBS, fill in the blank. Bankruptcy? Shouldn’t slow you down. Two, three? That could lead to success as a politician. Citizens United. They put their ducks in a row and cut through all safety nets in our society like a hot knife through butter.

      • No, aerospace has alwyas been about at the cutting edge.

        Over time it was deemed better to make it safe.

        We can go back to the dumb things they did on Mercury that could have and did kill people.

        Companies have always tried to thread a needle touting safe when in fact they wanted to make money or cut corners.

        Its a human factor.

        Space Shuttle anyone? Not one but two stupidity.

    • Had the same thought.
      Sociopaths are more likely to rise to the top due to their obsessive nature.
      However, without the guidance of normals, a sociopath CEO can lead his flock down a very dark path.

    • Some of our finest leaders of Industry were sociopath

  10. As above the key statements – or lack of ,relate to the MAX situation.One can only hope for more reassuring words in the future.
    On an aside it seems ( I think) that the NMA may have just potentially got a little smaller.’200-270 pax and 4-5knm’.Ok the 270 number remains but otherwise it’s sounding more like an A321XLR.

  11. Some notable quotes from Boeing Mullenberg

    “Inaccurate sensor data due to maintenance issue”
    “Software design was incorrect”
    “Implementation of AOA disagree was bad”
    “Safety is our #1 priority”
    “It’s not branding issue but a safety issue”

    • Another notable quote:

      “they’d like the airplanes earlier, they need lift sooner, so they’d like to accelerate in the skyline,”

      What on earth does this mean, is it even English ? It’s like buzz word bingo, except buzz word bingo usually makes some kind of sense.

      Maybe it’s all the constant negative press covfefe, I hear it’s bigly in Nambia.

      • Skyline in this context is new plane delivery schedule.

  12. The 777x is certified using grandfathered design and requirements from the 77W, which grandfathered from original 777.

    The 777x has a new fuselage, new wings, new engines, new landing gear, different cockpit and different tail. The FAA still approved the certification basis.

    It’s probably the safest aircraft ever, no short cuts have been made, costs A350 pressure played no role and grandfathering is absolutely justified. Or you don’t understand, again.

    • The FAA approving the certification basis is one thing, whether or not the rest of the world’s aviation regulators are going to accept that now is a different matter.

      I feel very sorry for the personnel in EASA, CAAC, etc. This whole thing is threatening to become geopolitical, and it’s going to be down to the integrity of those few people as to whether or not they take a stand against that political pressure. It’s going to take a lot of bravery to make an honest assessment of the appropriateness of the FAA’s certification processes against a background of knowing the consequences of condemning it.

      The role of Boeing’s lobbyists, and the awfulness of US politicians wading in on Boeing’s side would be incredibly damaging to the whole industry. However, that’s what’s beginning to happen. Muillenberg calling up the President was a catastrophic misjudgment – what are we supposed to think about what that looks like?

      What can the industry do to stop politics ruining business? Well, if Boeing don’t stop political influence as a means to overcome regulatory barriers the only thing industry can do is to stop buying Boeing and put them out of business.

      • I don’t think EASA – CAAC have anything to fear

        They have political cover.

        FAA, they will be stabbed in the back on a whim, unless the system is reformed.

    • If Boeing is so superior to Airbus why do they have to depend so much on grandfathering back to no longer really close kin when Airbus does not feel that need?

      • You are aware that the A330NEO is grandfathered not once but twice?

        The A320 is now grandfathered.

        A380 failed wing bend certification (broke 3% too soon) but allowed to pass on an engineering fix?

        • You should for once compare apples to apples after getting a grip on facts you present. You are really pulling things from thin air for your narrative.
          In Boeing ‘s 737 scope the
          “A380 would have been grandfathered on the A300 cert”.
          “Just a minor change/improvement.”

          • So, rather than address the fact that Airbus does use grandfather as well you change the subject.

            So, where do you draw the line?

  13. I don’t buy the timelines Boeing throws out. The Max was approved August 2011, with entry into service May 2017. So basically 6 years. That for a derivative with announced, well into development engines. The justification for doing the Max vs a a NSI was that the NSI would take to0 long. Now it is 2019 and NMM EIS is pegged at 2025, also 6 years. That for a new aircraft with a new production process and new not yet announced engines.

    I think the Max was done not because the NMM would take too long, but because the Max would sell better short/medium term. I also think the NMM timelines are a fib Boeing is telling to depress sales of the larger A32x and A330.

    • I agree with pretty much everything you’ve said here.

      If the 797 is launched, and actually does enter service in 2025, I will be very, very surprised. Even if BA launch 797 at Paris, we’re looking at less than 6 years.

      I think BA really wants to launch the 797, the management / sales of BA that is. The actual engineering staff, I’m not that sure they are so keen.

      Either the business case is sound, or it isn’t. If it takes you years to decide if there’s a business case, then there isn’t a business case !

      AB must be hoping BA go for the 797, BA will waste money but more importantly time while AB get on, and get a NSA ready.

      My prediction if BA go NMA then NSA, long term AB wins with bigger share of SA market.

      • 797 in service in 2025? Is that now becoming a running gag? I don’t think anybody with a sane mind at Boeing does believe that. And neither does anybody on this forum I guess.

        The question is more like, why is this apparent lie still repeated? Does Muilenberg think this will slow sales of the A321? Nothing really useful comes to mind. Anybody?

        There is still no engine for the 797 and no production system for the oval CFRP fuselage. And the business case can’t be closed as with some realistic production cost and sales figures there will never be a ROI.

        (Maybe it’s still a cover and distraction for the development work on the NSA?)

        • Gundulf:

          The engines can be built. That soon? Fair question

          You don’t know what Boeing is looking at production wise so you really can’t comment on that.

          Once they announce what their process is then its open to discussion on its viability . They think they can and are able. We have to see if that true.

          We know of two new system that are possible and advanced (one proven on the A220) as better and Russian on the MC (unknown industrialized yet) and there may be others or variances that Boeing has up its sleeve or a new process as well.

          • I am with Gundolf on this one. The idea that fundamental design decisions need to be made, new concepts validated and then industrialised suggests a considerably longer gestation period than 6 years. Remember the need to radically look not just at the aircraft but also the manufacturing process to get the unit cost down. Isn’t this hauntingly familiar, doesn’t this remind you closely to the B787 where ‘too much was attempted in too little time at too little investment’ as Winston Churchill May have said.

            The winner tech approach is also likely to lead to tech blind alleys, think the barrels and laminar flow tail of the B787, I think they are unlikely to ever see the light of day again. The plodding iterative style of Airbus seems to better consider design trade offs in my opinion.

          • Maybe so.

            I think Boeing knows what they are doing in this case but they could be wrong and I could be to think they do.

            Stay tuned!

          • Yes, the design is probably almost fully defined by now in the computers and the Aircraft with all systems doing flights in the computer with all systems running. The big one is if the production system is ready and if they will make them mainly by simple robots of 787 type initially and have block changes with minor design changes as new robots comes on-line and make a step change in productivity. Hence they are dependent on getting certified Engines and that is a risk even though GE can reuse the GEnX-2B core Engine and mate to a scale up LEAP-1A LP system. We will see what happens in Paris.

  14. If Boeing are allowed to get away with just software changes then pilots will have to be very careful about downward and upward piching moments. Specifically:

    Excessive downward pitch (AND) caused by automatic electrically driven trim stabiliser. Once in that position, the pilots will find it very difficult to revert to manual trim stabiliser at speeds above 250 knots.

    Excessive upward pitch (ANU) leading to stall caused by a lack of pitch stability.

    In other words, the envelope in the pitch (longitudinal) axis is much reduced relative to naturally stable airplanes. How it works in a storm with significant vertical gusts? I don’t know. As MCAS been tested in a force 10/11/12 storm? I doubt it.

    If the pilots fail, then it will be pilot error. I don’t envy them!

    In my view, an airplane needs to take whatever nature throws at it. For people who are willing to fly in a 737 MAX, I would check the weather forecast!

    Not for me. This airplane needs hardware changes!

    • Interesting to note the same problems arise with the NG version as well, should a runaway stabilizer occur at high speed,
      Logically ALL 737 pilots should therefore have regular – yearly? – training in the now revived “yo-yo” recovery maneuver.
      Of course, if the problem occurs at low altitude, another old maneuver is indicated, involving the pilot bending over and kissing good bye to a part of his anatomy…

      • I’ll be interested in the future failure modes of the AOA sensors. With two now tied into the system, does that now mean twice the failure rate? And when the AOA disagree light pops on, what is the Boeing recommended procedure for the pilot to follow? He can’t flip any switches except for the electric trim switch. MCAS ‘should’ disable itself, and reset (when?). I assume the pilot would have to land and have maintainence diagnosis it? The original fix didn’t seem to work? Is there a connector problem? Something in the air data unit or software? It seems like there is something more to the Lion Air events.

        • If the AOA disagree then MCAS is disabled in Rev 2.0.

          • @TransWorld… and when does it reset? when the AOA returns to normal? on the next flight cycle? after an A&P checks and resets it? does it wait 3 seconds to see if the other AOA also reads high? can you get a false negative?
            in a high bank angle? What is a pilot to do when he see’s the AOA disagree light? note it in a log look? Does MCAS return to ‘normal’ when the light turns off? (I think not) I’m a former programmer and reading what Boeing releases for MCAS changes isn’t any spec sheet I’d be able to write a flow chart or program from. I’d need detailed parameters. I don’t need the source code (although, I’d like to see it). but, I would like a flow chart / decision tree of the MCAS decisions and parameters to help understand how it works.
            I doubt any airline will have the ability to verify the code, so a decision flow chart would help with these type of questions.

          • Richard: I can’t answer your questions.

            But it has many inhibitions in it now that were not there before.

            AOA phasing in and out means it can’t initiate if its phased in disagree and it does not activate MCAS any other way.

            Its not just Boeing or the FAA looking at it, its the whole worlds AHJs.

          • I have seen that the upgraded MCAS software will include masking (= not use) rapid large AOA changes, as well as ‘unbelievable readings). So things are improving – including common sense always works.

        • Whilst the two accidents are similar in one way, a faulty AOA sensor initiated the commands that ended in fatal accident, they are different in another. On the EA flight the left AOA sensor went off scale at the blink of the eye. The LA aircraft had faults on the left side (IAS+ALT) on five consecutive flights, the fifth being the accident one. The left AOA sensor was replaced prior to the flight before the accident one. On the following two flights the left AOA sensor showed 20+ degrees more than the right one through all phases of flight; the latter being correct); with the stick shaker ‘going’. Why may one ask, are the NG and MAX sensors different in one way or another.

          It reminds me about the Tuninter flight 1153 accident (2005). It was an ATR 72 that ran out of fuel and ditched in the ocean outside Italy. Half of the souls on board survived. The reason for running empty was that the cockpit fuel gauge indicator panel (FGI) had been replaced – with an ATR 42 one. The FGI for the two types were ‘identical’, so they could be interchanged. However, they were differently set up. Unfortunately, an ATR 42 FGI in an ATR 72 would read far to much, it showed ‘more than required’, when the tank was empty.

          • SveinSAN, So, either there were two sensors in a row that were bad, some problem in the connection, air data computer, calibration during installation, wrong sensor etc? I assume they are looking at that sensor and anyone touching it from the factory (I think it was a reconditioned unit from a 3rd party?) to the A&P that last installed it.

          • Lots of history of damaged AOA

            It does not mater how so much as how often they get messed up as well as are messed up.

            You can include someone turn in an AOA that is bad and someone else (bench test) decides its fine and puts it back on the shelf.

            You have to have good quality parts control as well as the techs and equipment so you can have a corrupted occurrence from that as well.

            The reality is that it simply should not have been implemented with a single input in the first place (which is a result of another corrupted process withing Boeing and between Boeing and the FAA).

    • It’s why natural stability is so important. It means there is no rush because the airplane is docile. Specifically pilots don’t have to rush, they are given time to correct whatever they need to correct.

      Civil airplanes must be docile not some raging monster that pilots must overcome. Equally please don’t don’t say that if a pilot doesn’t overcome a raging monster then it is pilot error

      • Philip: You keep coming up with alternative facts that don’t match the real world.

        Flight at 150+ knots is where things happen and happen fast. If you can’t keep ahead of the aircraft, you should not be flying.

        Docile is not what allows aircraft to work. Stable is.

        there is ZERO evidence that thge 737 of any generation let alone the MAX is not stable.

        Take an A320 and it too will exhibit wild behavior at some point in the envelope.

        What you do is have it as predicable as possible and ensure you have systems in place to ensure it does not get to the point of going wild.

        But as a pilot, at times you do have to move fast. 250 knots is the speed bellow 10,000 feet. Things happen really fast. 500 knots above that and fasster still.

        No, a standard commercial airliner pilot should not be put into a position that MCAS 1.0 did

        What you can’t seem to separate out is that there is no connection between stability and MCAS. MCAS is not stability.

        Many can no longer drive veheilces that do not have full assisted steering control (you point the wheels where you want to go and the anti skid does the rest).

        You would think that non assisted steering in a skid was wildly lethal. For those who never got exposed to it you will be in the ditch if not worse. You would call my F250 truck wildly unstable (winter). Its highly controllable if you know what you are doing. Now my CJ7, that was a treat and took a highly skilled (me) driver to survive ie its shenanigans. The 737MAX is a pussy cat compared to that.

        For those of us who grew up with it counter steering is a norm.

        You are right, the pilots should never have been put into a position with MCAS Rev 1.0 that did what it did.

        To do so puts it into a crap shoot of some exceptional pilots might have made it, the world is not flown by exceptional pilots, its flown by bell curve pilots. Some are great (Sullenberger ) some are just making it.

        The aircraft should be flexible by those just making it (though I believe the standards should be higher on the low end of the curve).

        But to conflate MCAS and stability and raging monsters is wrong.

        MCAS 1.0 was as crappy a software write as you will ever see.

        Done right its a non issue.

        • TW and others, isn’t it so that MCAS is required in very rare operational conditions; when the aircraft is lightly loaded and with CG at aft limit. In this condition the stability margin is to small at high angle of attack (CG will come to close to CL). This is mainly caused by the influence from the (much) larger engine nacelles

          So, for practically all commercial flights, I guess they don’t fly around empty; the flight could take place with MCAS in the off position. Sometimes aircrafts are repositioned (empty), then perhaps MCAS could be switched on. I guess the FMC could do that.

          It was a wrong not to inform about the MCAS in manuals, and even worse (?) not to inform about the function whereby the yoke cancel Hstab operation (by switches on the yoke), and the new function of the cutout switches. The latter two items were modified from the NG.

          It is sad that the two ‘MCAS accidents’ prove the old proverb right, ‘a small bump can tip over a large load’.

          • Svein:

            No, at some point in the stall the aircraft pitches up.

            It has nothing to do with loads or CG.

          • TW, sure. My comment is related to the modes when the aircraft is in normal mode, i.e. not in upset mode. Flying in the ‘green part’ of the flight envelope and staying on the good side of the critical angle of attack. If the aircraft continues to raise AOA and stall, it will eventually be ‘flipped over’, I see that.

        • Can’t change the fact that the 737MAX is a flawed modification (of a great aircraft (737-800NG) forced upon very respectful engineers. Muillenberg is the hero looking after the share price, investors love him.

          Could the NMA turn our to be an 757MAX+? If not, EIS 2025 it is one of BA’s biggest schams.

          • 737NG was not a great aircraft, it was a decent one that was based on a great one.

            But it was a patch when new aircraft was needed.

            It still had the Freeze up Trim.

      • Oh, TW:

        The behaviour of MCAS 1.0 is overwhelmingly aggressive. The behaviour of MCAS 2.0 is overwhelmingly LESS aggressive. MCAS 2.0 is a pussy cat in comparison to MCAS 1.0

        This then comes to rebranding. MCAS 1.0 was a stall protection system. MCAS 2.0 is just part of the speed trim system. This means the purpose of MCAS 2.0 cannot be any more different to the purpose of MCAS 1.0.

        This comes to collective incompetence or collectively acting as imbeciles. I don’t think the engineering department of Boeing is collectively incompetent or act collectively as imbeciles.

        So the engineering department of Boeing has a reason for the overwhelmingly aaggressive behaviour of MCAS 1.0. That reason hasn’t magically vaporised with MCAS 2.0. The reason is still there.

        What’s the reason? There can be only one reason. Extreme sensitivity to pitching moment.

        Time they admitted it.

        • Phillip: You miss Boeing did not want to do this in the first place.

          Maybe wait for the recrod to find out what the reasoning was for making it more aggressive than FAA asked for when it was not something they wanted to do?

      • Basically, MCAS 2.0 dumps it on the pilot. Boeing are saying that pilots must fly within a very narrow envelope, otherwise it is pilot error. That’s fine on a calm, clear day. But in a storm. Can pilots keep the airplane within the narrow envelope? I doubt it.

        • Wow. Time to take some flying lessons and see what a stall is all about.

          Who knew lo this many yeas how narrow a precipice the 737 was walking and just a little nudge pushed it into the popele slicer of aircraft.

          As a pilot I would be more than happy with no MCAS.

          As a pilot I also know how far from a stall normal ops is.

          But then I am not chicken little either.

  15. I’m not sure about that, but logically something must be wrong. Only when they give us the facts about why MCAS was supercharged in the first place can I have any confidence in MCAS 2.0.

  16. The reason to include the MCAS in the MAX is no secret; the MAX shall, when being flied manually, operate and fly like an NG through all parts of the flight envelope. For the airlines this would save on training, and for the pilots it would be easier ‘to jump between’ models. In my view both are good reasons; to call it that.

    Then they (Boeing) found out that during certain operating conditions (like flaps up, ‘almost empty’ aircraft, CG all the way aft) the MAX will not behave like an NG when the angle of attack was raised high (approaching stall?). At high angles of attack the ‘whole’ aircraft ‘becomes a wing’ (so to say). Then the larger nacelles will move CL/(CP) aft and get very close to CG. Too close according to regulations.

    So, Boeing introduced MCAS, after all the MAX shall fly like an NG (period!)

    So to the question; why did they make it so aggressive and why wasn’t it told to everyone operating, flying and maintaining the MAX?

    MCAS 1.0 is a Control circuit; the initiating sensor (the AOA) sees a too high angle of attack and commands ANU. It will keep on doing this until the angle of attack becomes ‘good’. Boeing’s argues that should the control circuit fail, the pilots will observe the Hstab ‘running wild’, and connect the observation with the memory action ‘this is a Hstab runaway – we know how to handle it’. This was, as we have seen, a wrong assumption. In the wake of the two accidents, pilot training has become a topic. Questions raised are typically; are todays pilots more ‘computer operators’ with little experience in manual flying and ’emergency handling’? Older pilots say that Sim training today is different than before, focusing less on ‘seldom occurring events’.

    We know that MCAS is seldom needed (see above), so why wasn’t its function limited to flights where MAX is required? An aircraft loaded with PAXs, fuel and cargo will not require MCAS, stability is good without it.

    I don’t believe Boeing deliberately tried to hide information, information that would occupy two-three pages in the manual. The new stuff should be included in pilot manuals, and very detailed in maintenance manuals. In hindsight, a Boeing mistake, and they should ‘loud and clear’ tell us why they did what they did.

    More hindsight engineering; two questions surface; why wasn’t MCAS made more robust in version 1.0, i.e. like version 2.0, and why wasn’t its use limited to operational scenarios were it was needed (i.e. somewhat simplified Without PAXs). Both functions are easy computer code that shouldn’t delay production. So, Boeing – why?

    To conclude – Boeing should tell us everything (and not see ‘lawsuit lawyers’ whenever they open the mouth or write something). I believe that when we conclude, Boeing will not be the only one ‘blamed’; several players in the aviation world will be involved (in lack of a better word).

    Finally, a question to all
    Can anyone tell me how the AOA sensor being in use for MCAS is selected? It’s said that left and right is in use on a flight by flight rotation. It can’t be L>R>L>R>L>R – two consecutive LA flights had the same problem. Is it L>L>R>R>L>L, or any other rule?

    • SveinSAN,
      The 737 has two Flight control computers. The left AOA goes to the left computer the right AOA to the right. When you have one stick shaker go off, and not the other, that’s a clue as to it being a false signal. MCAS for some reason (recent hints as to the reason in June 1 2019 NYT Article) .. only tied into the left AOA sensor. A detailed look at the sensor system here
      There was some confusion about switching each flight. I think that came about as each FCC took primary control on alternating flights? Someone please correct me if I’m wrong on this.

    • You keep assuming its a basic stability issue when its a mode of flight (still) that is the issue.

      No data agrees with that.

      As for the shift, its automatic but the pilots can change it.

      Maint was done on the flights in each case so it probably was reset to default of L.

    • SveinSAM .. here’s a better take on the alternating LRLRLRLR
      (stolen from

      Only one of the two FCC internal processor calculates the speed trim output (the “active” FCC). The other internal processor drives speed trim warning. If power is cycled, the FCC A commands speed trim, and until it is cycled again, the role will swap between FCC A and FCC B after every landing.

      I do not know if both FCC internal processors calculate MCAS outputs, or if it was like speed trim where one side makes the command and the other trips the warning. I assume it is like speed trim (one FCC), but this may be a mistake.

      • This is required practice. For example, the A350 has 3 primary FCCs and 3 secondary FCCs. The secondary FCCs can only apply direct law. One FCC is the master FCC, the other two keep an eye on it. The master FCC can be switched at any time.

        [Computer] science makes clear it cannot be done any other way. Specifically there needs to be a master coordinator in any distributed architecture.

        • MCAS has got nothing to do with the FBW system.

          As each (at the time) side got its input from the operating AOA, then the right side would not see the issue.

          With a disagree you have another part of the system comparing those two AOA, but it does not affect the non flying side (stick does not shake unless its side is over AOA limit)

          As all you have to know is you have an AOA issue, it can stop the MCAS routine from executing entirely on the flying side.

          Swap to the other side and the same thing will happen.

    • SveinSAN, This article seems to believe that the first flight of the day, starts off with the LEFT FCC active, and in control. Now, I’m really confused on this LRLRLR issue. But a very good read on the Max accidents.

      • Richard, thank you for comments and links to subject sites. The Bit-Player piece was detailed an interesting.

        My assumption that maintenance to the AOA sensor was done on five consecutive flights isn’t correct. The LA preliminary report indicates the maintenance mention 1 and 2 were done at the same location. I would guess it was flights in between.

        I noticed that Bit-Player didn’t know that IAS and Alt is adjusted based on AOA data. That’s okay, but the fact that (a few?, some?, to an ucceptable number?) pilots don’t know, is more worrying. Because if you know, you will see stick shaker, IAS+Alt warning as related; one warning, not three. It shouldn’t take long to find out that the first officer had the correct values.

        The SMYD (Stall Management & Yaw Damper) and associated ‘sub functions’ handles stall warnings and stalls (I guess MAX is similar to NG). Typically SMYD works in flight modes like flaps down, and does ‘things’ like extending LE slats fully down (and more). Whilst MCAS (obviously) have some stall protection features, it’s not a stall protection system. The STS (Speed Trim System) also keeps the aircraft ‘on course’, without being a stall protection system. But it helps out when SMYD protects the aircraft.

        I see that Bit-Player has difficulties finding the various computer boxes. Computers and systems are not necessarily independent hardware boxes. One ‘box’, may include several computers and systems. But that is perhaps another story.

        New, and more informative information, will eventually surface; so we have to wait. In the meantime we have to live with what the (more or less) tabloid press writes, they never run empty.

  17. Is there any detailed report from last week’s meeting between FAA, EASA, CAAC and others ? If it had been succesful we could have expected a roadmap for the MAX return to service. The absence of any report (besides the goodwill words) suggests a strong disagreement between partners. Any info ?

    • You can stall in all flight phases. So yes it will be active in all. There are a number of stall types.

      Power off, power on (accelerated) , turns make them occur sooner.

      I don’t know enough about the aerodynamics as to why flaps down changes it but it appears it does not occur if they are. Or the speed is not high enough to do so.

      • Flaps down increases the lift but also means the centre of lift moves aft. But it is still possible to stall with flaps down.

        • Flaps increase the aerodynamically active wing area.
          results in a relative decrease of nacelle interference.

      • TW, isn’t it quite simple? Let me guess, do some backwards engineering. We want civil aircrafts to be inherent stable when flying normally (= not in any upset mode). To achieve this the CG must be forward of CP/CL by a sufficient margin, as reguired by regulations. Flaps down (on the B737) will move the CP/CL aft, and by doing so a better, and sufficient, ‘stability margin’ is obtained. So no need for MCAS, ‘turn it off!’, and that’s what Boeing did.

        My question in other comments has been, ‘why isn’t MCAS on, only when needed (in order to fly like an NG)? A normally loaded MAX (fuel, PAXs, baggage) will fly like an NG without the MCAS. Today it’s ON as soon as flaps are up, and flying is manual. I can see one answer; if the load sheet (FMC) should determine the use of the MCAS, it would have to be visible to ‘the outside’.

        When you exceed the critical angle of attack and approaches stall, the stick shaker will warn the pilots in all flying modes (typically including, flaps down, autopilot ON), as was experienced on two LA, and one EA flights. As the saying goes ‘MCAS isn’t a stall protection feature, its sole purpose is making the MAX fly like an NG.

        • Svein:

          My take is that the MCAS got two different caerrers.

          One was an FAA requiement (well basic stuff) that it not pitch up beyond certian limits in a stall.

          Boeing had its own agenda to make it fly like an NG.

          So they got tangled up and the rest is a tragic piece of history .

          The Pitch up would push you into a stall or further into a stall deponent on exactly what was going on at stall (and the speeds involved)

          The reality is any pilot that is not messed up would simply push the nose down and no stall and plenty 0f authority to deal with a stall.

          For a pilot that is as routine as breathing (AF447 aside, it should be)

          The reality is that no matter what pilots can muck up an aircraft.

          Properly trained pilots would not, but that is the recent history is that they were not doing the right kinds of training (that is changing)

          MCAS got turned into a raging monster for what is emerges as a bizarre set of reasoning (or lack there of) as well as no communication between the affected parties.

          • Sorry TransWorld, but you got it all wrong, and this article shows it precisely:

            Test flights started well, “But a few weeks later, Mr. Wilson and his co-pilot began noticing that something was off, according to a person with direct knowledge of the flights. The Max wasn’t handling well when nearing stalls at low speeds.”

            What does “not handling well” mean in this circumstances: That the plane is very hard or even impossible to control. It means that the safety margin for difficult circumstances is not sufficient or worse.

            A whole chain of bad decisions, made possible by weak FAA control then lead to a redesign of the MCAS (from a high speed support tool to a low speed stall control tool), eliminating the second sensor on its way.

            Now let’s assume that MCAS can be fixed, possibly adding additional sensors (plus wiring and completely re-writing the software), still we have a plane that is prone to stalling. And no denial from your side will make it go away.

          • Gundolf, I agree 100%. Something about the pitch up, close to stall characteristics, Boeing is uncomfortable with. I don’t know if its the larger engine nacelles causing the airflow over the elevator to be blocked, some regions of the stabilizer settings overpowering the elevator, or the tail stabilizer maybe stalling before the main wing causing a pitch up, tail slide? This needs much more study or much more open explanation of this close to stall, pitch up tendency. And I were the FAA, or another certificating authority, I’d want those answers. Why did Boeing put this added anti-stall MCAS functionality in place? Does the normal flight envelope need to be adjusted? What exactly is the difference between the classic / NG & MAX when close to stall and why?

  18. Thanks to the link to the NY article AlanA.
    So it was two different test pilots operating at different times and different parts of the flight envelope that noticed the problem with the new MAX.
    Interesting to note that the first pilot wanted a physical change to the wing be made ( vortex generators).
    I feel sorry for the. Engineers and test pilots.You get the impression that the marketing/sales /directors. Were demanding an aircraft that could be called a ‘simple’ NG engine upgrade ( just as the NEO was) when it simply wasn’t.

  19. News reports are suggesting a lack of unity with regard to returning the 737 MAX to service. It’s even caused Boeing’s CEO to apologise. The next few months are going to be interesting. More and more will be made public

    I think one of the things that will happen is a more detailed scrutiny of 737 NG incidents. Boeing’s answer to everything has been pilot error. The Miami Air excursion is an example. Yes it was wet, but the wind was no more than a breeze. Both pilots had 7500 hours, but the second officer only a few hours in a 737 NG.

  20. From the NYT article, “That probability may have underestimated the risk of so-called external events that have damaged sensors in the past, such as collisions with birds, bumps from ramp stairs or mechanics’ stepping on them. While part of the assessment considers such incidents, they are not included in the probability.”

    -collisions with birds,
    -they are not included in the probability
    -While part of the assessment considers such incidents
    Huh, seems important to other parts of the aircraft. I’d like to hear more about how this has been applied elsewhere.

    • It sounds like a variation of don’t ask don’t tell.

      Its nuts of course but shades of Fukujima Nuclear plant that got hit with the tidal wave.

      They knew that are produced those kind of waves, they cut off the assessment in a time period before the last one.

      All to convenient (well except when it floods and you have to deal with the inanes mess to try to clean up)

      More stuff that needs to be changed.

  21. To be or not to be? MCAS or NOT? If you had your choice of boarding a 737 MAX without the MCAS 2.0 anti-stall software or a 737 MAX with the new 2.0 software, which would you choose? The previous 737 MAX MCAS 1.0 has had two fatal accidents. But, we don’t know how many possible accidents the previous MCAS 1.0 version has avoided by being
    in place? We don’t have any data on how often MCAS 1.0 has activated in the past. We also don’t know that much, from Boeing reports, about the handling at close to stall except.. “The Max wasn’t handling well when nearing stalls at low speeds.” etc. The reason-to-be for the added MCAS anti-stall 1.0 monster.
    The Boeing Engineers don’t seem to want to look at other options, or have and ruled them out, regarding the pitch-up stall handling characteristics problem. Do the current FAA
    regulations play a role in shaping their decisions? It’s easier to change software than to redesign aerodynamics with hardware under the FAA rules? Without a better understanding of the fundamental problem that MCAS has been redesigned to address, how can one properly address the risks and answer the question “To be or not to be?”?
    Does the reduced elevator authority in the 737 NG & MAX put the plane into a possible, rare, unrecoverable stall without stabilizer inputs, in very rare situations? Is that
    more of a risk than adding software to ‘fix’ the problem? I think more testing and publishing of the results are needed from Boeing and the FAA, so we can feel confident of the risks involved with or without MCAS. Right now, the 737-MAX has too many unknowns for us ‘outsiders’ of Boeing. And Boeing, along with the FAA has lost our trust. The only way I see forward is by Boeing and the FAA answering the original “MCAS or NOT” question by being more forthcoming about the close to stall handling problem.

    • I would hope they have access to when the MCAS actually benefitted the flight control of the aircraft. Hopefully this was recorded for all the previous 737 Max flights. But if I had a choice, I would choose to be on a MAX with no MCAS, but pilots who have been trained to fly the airplane when they need to grab the yoke to stabilize the flight. But I don’t mean to simplify a complicated issue either. From what I understand software and training should rectify this problem.

      • You can spiral this on forever with what iffs.

        As its not a stability issue in normal flight, its not an issue.

        Pilots don’t fly at stall other than in simulators and other rare occurrences when they have lost the aircraft regardless.

        MCAS 2.0 or MCAS none its no longer an issue.

        Not being bale to crank your manual trim wheel is an issue.

  22. ‘defining moment’?

    A strange remark, at this point the definition is quite negative.

    What comes out of investigations and Boing’s actual behavior henceforth will either confirm that or change that.

    • Ahh well, the usual cotton candy of spin.

      Or is that Tofu?

      No substance,

  23. While I am disdainful of Muilenberg, he makes a very good point about the combination of FAA oversight and the deep knowledge of Boeing people.

    We’ll see what the investigations conclude, I hope someone who is independent but with good knowledge of aircraft design, testing, safety review, and operation – or access to experts to contribute – will review MCAS development.

  24. Boeing should make sure it comes fully clean. Recent examples of companies that were very slow to or did not include:
    – Wells Fargo Bank, which was slamming customers into opening accounts, in a great many cases without asking the customer. The CEO and a key executive were fired and had some of their income clawed back. Wells Fargo has suffered in the market place for its bad behaviour.
    – The Canadian project management/design/build company SNC-Lavalin continues to be in deep trouble, being charged with criminal acts for bribing officials in Canada and overseas A key factor in the Canadian government declining to use the “deferred prosecution” process of a fine and extraction of promises despite responsible management having been turfed out yers ago is that the company did not disclose the wrongs itself. If convicted the company could be banned from Canadian federal and World Bank business for a decade.

  25. There is a regulatory reason for the pitch-down function provided by MCAS – to avoid pilot over-controlling as control force required diminishes near the stall. Pilots may make sudden pitch-up movements to avoid a collision or survive windshear, though there is a defined allowance between stick shaker warning and actual stall.

    The 767 was designed with a triplex pitch-down system, but flight testing showed that adding a few vortex generators to the wings would suffice, so the system was removed.

    The _problem_ with MCAS (not the meally-mouthed word ‘issue’) is bad design of MCAS, too aggressive and other bad design aspects. With failure to update the safety analysis as the system design morphed to aggressive, it is claimed.

    • Keith, where does this leave the SMYD system, and the flaps down operation? As I said in my June 06 comment: isn’t MCAS needed only when the ‘stability margin’ is low, and the aircraft is in a corner of the flight envelope. That is CG far aft and near CL/CP? That never takes place with flaps down (CL/CP moves aft) and the aircraft having some weight (CG moves forward – which takes place flying around with PAXs).

      Boeing did wrong in assuming that pilots would handle an upset. And what about (some of) pilots, are they good enough when it comes to handle ‘rare’ upsets?

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