Boeing warns of production reduction, complete shut down of MAX if return to service delayed beyond 4th quarter

Dennis Muilenburg, Boeing CEO. Source: Reuters.

July 24, 2019, © Leeham News: Boeing’s chief executive officer today warned that if the 737 MAX return to service is delayed much beyond the anticipated fourth quarter RTS, reducing production from the current 42/mo or a complete production shut down could happen.

Either scenario would have huge and disruptive impacts to the supply chain.

CEO Dennis Muilenburg made the remark on the second quarter earnings call.

Last week, Boeing said it hopes for RTS in November. Today, Muilenburg characterized the hoped-for return “early in the fourth quarter.”

But he called the recertification processes and global regulatory reviews “dynamic.” There is no guarantee the RTS will happen on the timeline Boeing hopes.

Updated: Additional comments from the Question and Answer portion of the earnings call.

Clearing stored inventory

CFO Greg Smith said delivering the produced but stored MAXes will occur over several quarters, without elaborating what this means.

LNA previously reported that these deliveries could take one to two years.

Smith reiterated Muilenburg’s warning that the MAX production lines could shut down entirely if RTS is delayed.

This is a defining moment for Boeing, Muilenburg said, vowing to come through this stronger than before.

Smith said that outside of the MAX, the rest of Boeing is functionally well. Future financial performance depends when MAX RTS occurs.

There are lower cash advances due to the MAX grounding, undelivered airplanes and lack of orders is hurting cash and cash flow.

The current lower production rate on the 737 lines has provided Boeing the opportunity to improve efficiencies on the lines, Boeing said.

777X

The progress of the 777X outside of the engine issues has been good, Muilenburg said. The airplane side of the testing has continued and is going well, he said.

Engine testing will proceed as technical issues are resolved.

The 777 Classic sales are helping Boeing through the current crisis. “We’re disappointed by the engine,” Smith said.

Muilenburg said Boeing expects the production rate to continue at 5/mo between the X and Classic, with deliveries at 3.5/mo.

Suspending MAX production

Muilenburg said that as long as RTS is “early in the first quarter,” production at 42/mo can be maintained and step up to 57/mo in 2020. But if RTS changes substantially, production reduction or suspension may occur.

“There is still uncertainty in the timeline,” Muilenburg said. Boeing is going through scenarios daily. He said Boeing understands the ripple effect of either possibility.

Some risk of recertification process

Muilenburg said that going through the MAX recertification process contains “some risk” that new issues could arise.

NMA

Aerospace analyst Ron Epstein posed a tough question on the status of the New Midmarket Airplane, noting problems with the 787, 747-8, MAX and KC-46A as the problems facing a decision on NMA.

Muilenburg acknowledged that design and production risk are part of the business case analysis before green-lighting the NMA. He said that returning the MAX to service is the first priority and that a decision on NMA won’t be tied to an artificial deadline.

102 Comments on “Boeing warns of production reduction, complete shut down of MAX if return to service delayed beyond 4th quarter

    • Lets look at the continued downplay of just how bad the REAL 737 problems are.

      1) Single sensor no compare driving a major flight control surface to be fixed by software change for all MAX built-delivered- parked- before being restored to service and delivery

      2) Downplayed problems with manual use of Trim Wheel when all electric shutoff. Change from dual drivers of stabilizer to ONE driver fo r ?? models since classic making use of manual trim more probable.

      3) Near ergonomic impossibility of using manual trim wheel by ONE pilot on almost ALL 737 in service except under high AGL and relatively low speeds – Approx 7000 which may need hardware-software updates to pass International standards/complaints re Trim Wheel forces. May require addition of an ‘ extra – isolated – battery operated motor ‘ ??

      4) Close to running out of nationwide parking spots for 40 plus/month production rate of 737s ( including MAX )

      5) How many months needed to ‘ fix’ existing 737s in service at what cost and at what locations ? And at what costs ?

      6) Costs of settlements, including pilot pay, airline loss, survivor loss, etc.

      IMHO- the 737 series will never turn in any future profit in real dollars, but may be made to look like ‘ breakeven ‘ by creative- but legal accounting “

      7) Responsible executives and senior managers ride off into sunset.

      8) FAA needs major housecleaning and re-instatement of DER system.

  1. Wow, is this remark reserved for the MAGA audience and to put pressure on the FAA? What an admission. Perhaps it simply shows Mr Muilenburg has segued into a straight talker. Unfortunately we are so used to spin and obfuscation from them that it is too easy to suggest an ulterior motive in his comments. Either way we seem to have entered a new and higher risk level regarding the MAX debacle. My suggestion is that Dennis is becoming more sanguine as he realizes that his own position is untenable in anything more than the very short term.

    • Muilenburg and Smith are quickly becoming the Robert Muellers of the aerospace industry in my humble opinion.

    • Some of the things wrong with the MAX are also on the NG. Might be problematic also…

      • W: NG is still being produced.

        That also does not solve the most serious current problem of the manual trim.

        You also can’t just turn around and switch from LEAP to CFM as the ramp down for thge CFM is ongoing, it would take two years to ramp it back ukp.

        Same with fuselages and other parts.

    • The company need to bring in a world class troubleshooter for the next few years. Mulally is the only person that fits the bill.

  2. This is exactly what I have predicted and what have been the proper course from several months ago. Reduce production to a minimum just to keep things going or stop completely. And yes, this will have dramatic consequences for the company, their shareholders, airlines and suppliers.

    I sure hope that they have a competent and large enough team working on a successor.

    • It’s possible they had chosen this (apparently) everything-or-bust strategy without ever really thinking that it’d take more than a few months to sort out the design problems. Effectively what they’re saying today is that choice (if it is indeed a choice they actually considered) was, well, ill advised.

      And to be fair, had it actually turned out that the fix was quick’n’easy, it would have paid off; there’d have been very little in the way of production slip. A tempting way out of a bad situation. However…

      Whoever in Boeing was doing strategic risk assessment has done a poor job. One might ask why Boeing failed to predict this now acknowledged, heightened risk as a possible outcome? The answer probably lies in the same domain as that which seems to be the root cause of all of Boeing’s other problems. Bearers of bad news get sacked, instead of thanked.

      • Boeing not only kills the messenger ( of bad news or real lIfe ) but they also whack the stretcher-bearers.

        I think it was Nero who fiddled while rome burned ( legend) but now we have a certain CEO-PR- legal advisor(s) – Powerpoint rangers who are doing the same. They may have to forgo the platinum plating on thier gold parachutes !

  3. This may also be the point at which the 737 suppliers and airbus enter serious discussions about increasing production of the A320 family. If they haven’t already.

    • As Airbus keep selling A320s, I can only assume they will go from 60/month to 70/month and then on. As it stands, Airbus can’t do 60/month because of proction issues. But I think Airbus sales team have been told to ignore it and expect production to continue to increase.

        • Remember to count Airbus monthly production as only for ’11 months’ due to European style summer shutdown.
          Boeing still produces through the full 12 months.

          • 11 months per year of production is not correct
            FAL stay open
            Suppliers are organized to deliver parts previously produced even if they are closed
            over 10% of FAL is away from Europe
            I already tried to explain how things are organized in Europe
            PLEASE do not come back with this “fake news”

          • I looked up your handle on LNA , there is no mention of how ‘you previously explained all this.’ – only a comment about Asiana 777 at SFO
            I wanted to a check on Airbus website data which gives a spreadsheet for delivery date of each plane , but its only the first 6 months of this year. The other option is you may well be right , but its the first time its mentioned on this location.

          • European summer shutdown is amusing, Brits fly to a hot place for summer vacation whereas people in Canada and northern US fly south in winter.

            For a while a British airline and a Canadian airline flipped a couple of 737s across the Atlantic every 6 months to fit that demand imbalance.

      • It’d be fascinating if it were revealed that Airbus were indeed selling A320 build slots it currently doesn’t have the capacity to deliver! That would be a “let’s go for Boeing’s jugular” strategy. That’s a “get the orders, worry about how we’re going to deliver them later” strategy. However, I strongly suspect that Airbus are being rather more careul and conservative than my gung-ho hypothesis…

        But if that is what they are up to, today’s news from Boeing is probably music to their ears.

        • Matthew – given just how far into the future the backlog stretches, I suspect many of the furthest out (2024? 2027?) are subject to some fairly tenuous commitments. Didn’t John Leahy acknowledge over-booking in the past? Perhaps Airbus should adopt a monetarist approach by increasing prices/deposits to reduce/restrict/control demand?

          • Do the math

            They can make 700 a year.

            They have 4000 backlog.

            So they would have to double production to match Boeing side.

            That would take 10 years, by which time Boeing would have a 737RS out.

        • Airbuses supply problems relate to engine delivery by CFM and P&W and interior completion. They are not deliberately selling aircraft they can’t produce. The complexity and man hours of finishing the new neo flex interiors was significantly underestimated, probably because it is a new design and production not optimised yet. Workers are being flown in to Hamburg from other parts of Airbus to provide the extra man hours needed I think it will be a matter of developing work instructions, production organisation and minor redesign like most of these issues are.

      • I think Airbus can increase A320neo series production with Leap Engines only when Boeing reduce 737MAX production. This due to LEAP-1A Engine parts availability, they are different pn’s form -1B but mainly from the same suppliers using the same raw materials. CFMI still runs LEAP-1B Engines at full steam so when Boeing make a major reduction in ordering then the LEAP suppliers can increase the LEAP-1A parts production. PWA/MTU also run PW1100G at full steam with Germans working long shifts and weekends to fulfill orders. Boeing must wonder how all findings they now fix during 737MAX recertification could have slipped thru its system, we have seen it coming thru the other Aircraft programs like 747-8, KC-46A, 787-8 but know it hits Boeing at full strength.

        • LEAP 1A are assembled in France by SAFRAN but LEAP 1B in the. USA by GE. I would imagine much of the hot section is the same but as the LEAP 1A has a larger diameter fan the second spool may be different to get a lower RPM.

  4. It is inconceivable that Boeing kept making False promises to its Clients and Public, that the issue of the B737 MAX was a simple issue of a “Software” replacement, and that the aircraft was operational ready to star being delivered with the alleged repair within the 3rd Qtr./2019..
    It was clear, since the beginnings, when other issues with the plane was discovered, and the Investigative Drama which was unfolding with Washington input, that this aircraft was Not going to be Cleared for flying by any Authority, be in the US or International. It was also very awkward that Boeing continued to produce 42 Aircrafts(reduced from 52) a month while multiple deficient issues were being observed, inclusive by the FAA.
    As is looks right now, it is anybody’s GUESS, when, and how this Chaos will be resolved. Wish Boeing Good Luck in this sour experience.

  5. In one sense this is a statement of the obvious. Of course reduced production is a possibility “if the 737 MAX return to service is delayed much beyond the anticipated fourth quarter RTS”.

    Still a shock to hear.

  6. Oh, and the 777X will be delayed significantly. Not only for some problems with the engines, but certainly also because of the certification.

    And while we are at it? Anybody around here still believes in the new midsize plane (797) EIS 2025 or 2026 or even 2027?

    Boeing desperately needs a new single aisle asap. Once that’s up in the air everything else might have changed and new plan(e)s will be drawn. (hybrid drive, hydrogen, hyper…. 🙂

    • A big part of the problem was that Boeing listened to it customers. Customers often want dumb things. Boeing accepted an order for 100 b737 with LEAP engines from American Airlines without actually wanting to build the aircraft as it was leaning to a new design.. In the wake of the MAX groundings I recall CEO Dennis Muilenburg saying the software fix was going to take 2 weeks. Im a humble automation programmer in process plants and remember thinking this was impossible as you have to develop checklists, tests, review them and then actually run and verify them as well as deal with any issues found.. I’m sure someone told Dennis Muhlinburg that it would take 2 weeks or perhaps some sycophant told him what he wanted or he squeezed it out of them with steely management talk but it was a sign that the depth of the problem was in no way understood at that time and that the management was getting out of touch. It was both bad engineering and bad management and just bad luck that back in 2011 a new aircraft was launched or say the B787 FCS moved into the MAX.

      • Wasnt it a Hollywood mogul who was supposed to say when a film was seen to be a dud during ‘rushes’ – “Get me re-write and make it snappy”

        Maybe someone hadnt yet told Muilenberg that Boeing had closed down ‘software rewrite for the 737’ long ago and you would have to call in outsourcing who would have to then train up the people?

  7. Even after killing 350+ innocent people due to pressure tactics and safety compromises, here he is on the podium doing it again…
    Boeing needs a new CEO badly.

  8. Has Boeing formally submitted the changes to the MAX to the FAA and other regulators yet? Or is it a bunch of smaller changes that the FAA and others look at and certify one by one? Boeing talks about when the plane will be flying again, but, have they submitted any changes to the regulators to look at yet, or do they still self certify in house and then submit the paperwork to the FAA for approval? I haven’t heard any details or even high level announcements about the re-certification process. Will the general public be able to know what they changed and how it was tested?

    • @Davenport: It’s a continuous process. Changes have been shared with FAA on a regular basis and the FAA comes back with questions, comments, etc. But there will be only one “big” certification, not a bunch of little ones.

      • That’s a shame, I was thinking that breaking it up a bit might give a bit of room for manoeuvre.

    • What qualifies him to say it cannot be fixed?

      As far as I see, nothing but his own sense of self-importance.

    • This bird may just go down in aviation history as the equivalent to the Edsel. There is a problem which goes far beyond a software fix. As with GMC’s Corvair, Nader is correct.

      • They say history repeats it self, but not exactly. With the Corvair, drives just like rear wheel drive with a solid axle, not so much, with independent rear wheel suspension that was not designed to take high side force and not have the outside wheel tuck under. Ask me how I know, luckily no damage done.

      • Nader used the Corvair as a scapegoat, it has essentially the same rear suspension as the VW Beetle thus same risk.

        A problem may have been that many drivers were used to bigger rear-drive cars so did not appreciate its different handling, and also may have overloaded it. (A problem with small cars in the 70s.)

        BTW, you want to get nervous look at the body of the Beetle – very light structure, its road strength is in the bottom (which is why it was popular for dune buggies).

  9. If he dosnt know, what is he supposed to say?It’s really difficult to gauge anything from these statements,but my gut tells me the time has arrived for “constructive solutions “.

  10. The comments of Boeing’s CEO does appear to support the rumours that there isn’t an agreement on what to do for RTS.

    Boeing are trying to get away with a software fix. But there may not be an agreement on the software fix never mind an agreement on whether a software fix will do the job!

    September/October are going to be interesting months. Unless, by then, there is an agreed way forward, we are talking well into next year, not just the beginning of next year!

  11. Picking the “over” in terms of timeframe has been the right strategy since the beginning of this debacle.

    “It’s not a lie if you believe it” probably applies to a lot of Boeing’s responses. They’ve been misleading themselves as much as anyone else, but you can only defy reality for so long. In part I’d guess this is an attempt to pressure the FAA, but it’s also that even Boeing can’t deny to itself the seriousness of their position.

    The problem with trying to pressure the FAA is that if the FAA gets too far out in front of other national regulators, the US public is likely to conclude that the FAA is in Boeing’s pocket. The FAA may be doing the work, but to me the critical party is less the FAA than the Europeans, Canadians, Japanese and Aussies (leave the Chinese aside because that’s too wrapped up in Trump-China trade warfare BS). If the FAA has any interest at all in restoring its tattered credibility, it really can’t make the return-to-service decision by itself. And if Boeing forces the FAA to get too far out ahead of e.g. the Europeans, it’s slitting its own throat in the long-run, because in the long run it needs the FAA to be seen as credible.

    With the 777 delayed and the 737 program in deep trouble, it really better be the case that Muilenberg is there only until the MAX issue is settled. The long-term future of Boeing depends on an executive house-cleaning. A necessary (but far from sufficient) step is that the top ranks (and likely the board) are all replaced.

  12. If they change the gear ratio on the trim wheels, will they be able to overcome the aero loads? Is it reasonable to expect manual trim to work at all speeds? (not a pilot so I am just asking)

    • I also wonder about stretch in the cables.The plane has got longer and watching vidios, it seems to me that the pilots are also fighting “springyness “

      • Grubbie – Cables? Do you mean 737 really is fly-by-wire after all..?

    • Not a pilot either, but I’m guessing if they increase the gear ratio (make it easier), that’ll mean it’ll take longer. It might be too long…

      • What would tbe speed of the trim wheel become in this case… It is crazy as it is on the NG

    • If they had a different gear ratio, or a variable gear ratio, the possibly the ET302 crash wouldn’t have happened. It was only after not being able to manually trim, that they then turned the electric trim back on, activating MCAS for the last time. I seriously doubt that the FAA will allow Boeing a pass on this.

    • It already takes 50 turns plus to change maybe 1 degree of trim- changing gear ratios makes it worse.

      • Agreed – the 250 kts limit needs to be raised to 480+ kts for dive recovery. Scaling by dynamic pressure, it might require a gearing ratio of ~ 4 times higher than current system to make the forces work at the higher speeds – which means the manual trim system will move 4 times slower. Increasing the gearing ratio may be a non-starter. Might be easier to add a back-up electric system to boost the motion somehow.

        • (SARCASM MODE ON) .. I have an idea .. incorporate two independent stab trim cutout switches, one to cutout only the manual yoke trim switch, and the other for the A/P MCAS automatic systems. Label them Manual and Automatic. (SARCASM MODE OFF)

      • I think it would be far better if the elevators worked. The use of a trim stabiliser to get out of a dive doesn’t work for me, whether electrically driven or manually driven.

        • AS a SLF- it seems to me that once the leading edge of the stabilizer goes up enough ( forcing nose down ) it tends to disrupt enough of the airflow to reduce or eliminate the effects of the elevators to push the tail down( nose up )

      • I previously stated ” It already takes 50 turns plus to change maybe 1 degree of trim- changing gear ratios makes it worse”
        The following is approximations- based on still unverified data but intended to show the problem – if someone has some credible facts- please correct

        Partly right re gear ratio change- but apparantly wrong per degrees per turn.
        Fom searching other forums- it appears that 50 turns = about 3 degrees.
        Since MCAS was set to run 9 plus seconds and as much as 2.4 degrees
        Then 40 turns = about 2.4 degrees
        40 turns in 9.5 seconds = 250 revs/minute !!!

        Now IF pilot responded via trim switch on yoke or hitd cutoff in in say 5 seconds, the trim wheel would have turned over 100 revolutions. If one had to correct say 1.3 to 1.5 degrees Nose Down by manual trim … that would mean 100 turns.

        Now sit in a chair, pull back on a yoke to your gut- bend over to grab a handle by your knee- and maintaining say 20 pounds force forward, down, back and up for 100 revolutions of your bicycle wheel – how long will it take ? Cows and Buildings getting bigger- and speed not decreasing very much even if you cut back throttles, and at AGL less than say 5000 feet … what is the probable result ?? and you are flying an 737 NG or MAX ??

  13. Hopefully, Boeing started to Work on MCAS adjustments in October 2018 just after Lion Air Crash
    However Muillenberg stated that it will take 2 weeks after March 13th to get the software fix
    That reminds me the first announcement on 787 being late due to suppliers of fasteners who were late in delivery
    PR department and CEO in Boeing must improve and not listen to shareolders or lawyer !!

    • Quite when they started work is unclear to me, but if it was before the Lion air crash (and I suspect it was)Boeing has a bit of a lawyering problem.
      Could the A320 withstand this level of scrutiny?

      • I’m sure Airbus are reviewing their systems because they know others will but I suspect Airbus won’t have an issue. Had the B737 team just implemented MCAS half way properly Boeing could have gotten away with the inadäquate trim wheel design because it would have escaped scrutiny. If MCAS had of simply limiting stabilster travel such that the elevator always maintained some pull up authority Boeing could have gotten away with its other flaws ie not using two sensors, not having a sensor disagree alert or independent MCAS cut out switch. A320 do have manual trim wheels and pull wire based rudder deflection which were to be used in a FCS reset. For obvious reasons they don’t bother with manual backup on the A380 and just use proper redundancy.

  14. Richard Davenport

    Fixing a part without looking at the whole is dangerous. So providing fixes bit by bit is dangerous. That’s how Boeing got themselves into a mess in the first place.

    Specifically, they developed MCAS for some reason – the reason is no longer clear – but they failed to notice that it could overpower the elevators. Thst’s why two airplanes crashed.

    The regulators will want to know whether a fix has dangerous side-effects. To turn it round, they will want Boeing to prove a fix doesn’t have dangerous side effects.

    The blunt way of describing why two airplanes crashed is as follows: A secondary system (MCAS) overpowered a primary system (Elevators). The elevators became inoperable preventing the pilots from recovering the airplane. In my career, that was instant dismissal. Secondary systems must not overpower primary systems.

    We are now being told that MCAS is a secondary system – part of the speed trim system. The regulators may not agree. They may designate it as a primary system. If so it will need to be fail-safe. MCAS is not fail-safe.

    As I said elsewhere, I don’t think there is agreement on the way forward. A long way to go on this.

    • Quite when they started work is unclear to me, but if it was before the Lion air crash (and I suspect it was)Boeing has a bit of a lawyering problem.
      Could the A320 withstand this level of scrutiny?

    • Richard – ‘…they developed MCAS for some reason [which] is no longer clear…’
      Was not a major factor in MCAS development the desire to keep all 737 variants on the same ticket with associated savings in (for example) pilot training costs? If so, then perhaps Max needed to be made to at least appear to behave like previous models, with no ‘differences’ to be accommodated in pilot licences et cetera?
      As I understand it, there was no flagging of – or certainly little emphasis on – the system change, with reports (I think) even of flight test not having been fully appraised.
      It would be valuable to hear from any readers who know FAA well enough to tell us credibly what the regulator’s attitude would have been had it fully appreciated the nature of the system change, including the implications of available AoA sensor capacity.
      Or am I missing something?

      • Pundit, yes, you are missing something. The commonality between the NG and the MAX was the OFFICIAL explanation for MCAS, but apparently the real reason is the tendency of the MAX to stall is a steep turn and low speed.

        Boeing decided to use the initial MCAS system (which was meant to address stability issues at high speed only) and added a low speed stall prevention.

        I have little doubt that Boeing would gladly accept an additional training for pilots if only that could get the MAX back up in the air. Which is doesn’t.

        It looks like Mr Muilenburg has no clue as to how Boeing can solve the Gordian knot of speed trim/stability/CPU/AOA sensors/software/pylons/landing gear/stabilizer/… without changes/repairs in a scale that might make scrapping the existing planes a more economic alternative.

  15. An interesting crossover point may not be too far off – the point at which Boeing’s market cap falls below Berkshire Hathaway’s rising cash on hand.

  16. Factoring in design and production risk into the NMA go / no go decision is bonkers. Boeing ought to be able to produce an aircraft of whatever specifications they like that fits within their available, mature technology. If they’re asking themselves, “Can we actually make it?”, then they have a problem. If the NMA spec isn’t thoroughly thrashed out by now, they’re not launching it anytime soon. If the NMA is depending on technology they haven’t matured, it’s a bit of a risk isn’t it?

    • >If the NMA is depending on technology they haven’t matured,
      >it’s a bit of a risk isn’t it?

      Would make the NMM a perfect fit for the definition of “moon-shot” program.

  17. My look at the Embraer/Boeing Brasil numbers the other day showed some dire numbers this year for them as well.
    2018 in full, was good as 67 E175 alone were delivered (plus 1 E170) out of 90 commercial aircraft.

    The total E series deliveries 2019 first quarter was 11. Eleven planes for both E1 and E2 series.

    The 4Q 2018 numbers were 33 , so the drop to 11 for 1Q 2019 is massive

  18. I think this is communication strategy. They knew this during the waterly results but spread out the bad news now they are putting pressure on government agencies, while preparing the market for a rate cut towards probably 20-24 per month. Which can be sold as a welcome compromise because it’s not a closure..

    • I think Boeing worry is delivery contracts have walk away clause after 6 months delay in previous agreed delivery date.
      Sure there is not much chance of hooking an A320 in the next 4-5 yes, but some customers might take their chance with just renewing their existing NG leases?

    • Agree, will be in the interest of the US economy, jobs, etc. if the MAX get the green light a.s.a.p. Won’t be surprized if Mr.T.and Co. gets involved?

      • Production of 737 is only about 20% or so for US carriers. Doesnt help to only have FAA approval based on naked political considerations without bringing rest of world certifiers along. Even Boeing wont be support that – unless its just a procedural process with the other agencies not far behind.

  19. “The current lower production rate on the 737 lines has provided Boeing the opportunity to improve efficiencies on the lines, Boeing said.”

    At least we have OUR health. Wow. So, 348 dead – 4 billion (and counting) down the drain.

    But yes sir Billie Lee Bob we made making it a tiny hair more efficient. Well worth it.

    Peace in Our Time anyone?

  20. I had to step away from this fine site and from following the MAX situation for some time now. Coming back to both it appears to me that much of the actions and opinions taking place are influenced by the fact that all of the contributing causes to the two tragic crashes have not been definitively identified yet or identification of them not widely and clearly communicated. If ALL the contributing causes were identified and vetted in a transparent way for all to see and make input on, it should just then be a matter of rationale debate and decision on which need to be corrected to appropriately reduce the chances for repeat crashes. Then get on with making the corrections and put a realistic non-open-ended timeline on it. Am I missing something here? Are the accident reports complete yet or are they still hang fire? Quite possible I am missing something since been away so long. Help me out please! Historical note, similar approach was done during US Apollo space program when early in the program a tragic fire occurred in a spacecraft on the launch pad that took the lives three astronauts and put the entire program at risk. The approach that came out of it has been call the Apollo method of failure analysis.

    • No one disputes the MCAS was the root cause, after all the FDR and CVR have been recovered and fully analysed.
      The real problems of that system have been replicated on a fully capable Max flight simulator and we know from leaks that the FAA should never have certificated MCAS in its final form. One of the additional issues is the 1990s era computer processor maybe inadequate for the software tasks it has to do.
      They could have completed a preliminary report focusing on the primary causes , I dont know but you are flogging a dead horse on this ‘we dont really know’

    • You may find your answer in the principle of justice that is referred to as ‘probable cause’.

      The grounding was based on probable cause. Specfically it is the airplane (machine) not the pilots (man) that caused the death of 346 people.

      Exploring all possibilities then follows from having estabilished probable cause.

      It is now estabilished that the airplane caused the death of 346 people.

      So, it’s now about fixing the airplane. Boeing say they can fix the airplane by fixing it’s software. That’s not been estabilished. In my view it won’t be estabilished

      With regard to your comments. If Boeing had been methodical in the first place, nobody would be writing anything for the airplane would not have crashed twice.

    • You are too cartesian so what you say is very true exept that
      1- 300+ death means thousands of family/friends in very difficult situation to survive in peace
      2- Muillenberg recognized the problem with MCAS however shall we believe wht he says everytime ???

    • And we are told they began to work on a fix before the Lyon Air crash. So if the notices happen it will be a year and perhaps more.

      A year is a long time. Boeing could have provided an aerodynamic fix in a year as well as adding an electric motor for manual trim.

      Now Boeing are three months from armagedden. If the regulators dig their heels in it’s going to get nasty.

    • WARN notices at Boeing have always gone out on a Friday afternoon. October 28th is a Monday.

      • The 60th day will be just before Christmas break, also If you are on the active payroll on January 3rd 2020 you get the $5,000 bonus per contract. So if Boeing can layoff many people before Christmas break then they would save millions or billions.

  21. This link re EASA is a fair summary of issues re MAX and possibly NG of current interest
    https://samchui.com/2019/07/10/easa-identifies-737-max-autopilot-fault/#.XTkwElBlCx9

    EASA gives requirements for return to flight.
    The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has presented Boeing with five major requirements that need to be addressed, before the 737 MAX returns to service.

    Reported by Bloomberg on the 6th of July 2019, the article notes the aircraft will not be allowed to fly again until the requirements are addressed and are tested accordingly.

    The five requirements the European Aviation Safety Agency have listed so far are as follows:

    Reduce the difficulty manually turning the trim wheel
    Address the unreliability of Angle of Attack sensors
    Address the training situation
    Investigate software issues with a lagging microprocessor

    The fifth one relates to difficulties in disengaging the autopilot under some conditions:

    Quote:
    Investigations have concluded that pilots who encounter a stall scenario relating to the Manoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) or similar flight control emergencies have difficulty disconnecting the autopilot.

    • The five requirements the European Aviation Safety Agency have listed so far are as follows:
      Reduce the difficulty manually turning the trim wheel
      Address the unreliability of Angle of Attack sensors
      Address the training situation
      Investigate software issues with a lagging microprocessor

      Thanks for sharing that, I was going to ask if we know what the outstanding issues are. The first two could well be the major headache with a major hardware fix required. Any hardware fix could add months to the ‘fix’ with just the testing alone, let alone retrofit. If this is the case it could effectively kill off the Max.

    • Go to page 15 of 114 of the described document- Apparently published in sept 2018 ? Simply put- the information provided by Boeing ?? is NOT correct, it is impossible to move trim wheel as/when described…

      https://www.easa.europa.eu/sites/default/files/dfu/IM.A.120%20Boeing737%20TCDS%20APPENDIX%20ISS%2010.pdf

      “The aisle stand trim switches can be used to trim the airplane throughout the flight envelope and The aisle stand trim switches can be used to trim the airplane throughout the flight envelope and
      fullyfully complies with the reference re complies with the reference regulationgulation Simulation has demonstrated that the thumb switch trim Simulation has demonstrated that the thumb switch trim
      does not have enough authority to completely trim the aircraft longitudinally in certain corners of does not have enough authority to completely trim the aircraft longitudinally in certain corners of
      the flight envelope, e.g. gear up/flaps up, aft center of gravity, near Vmo/Mmo corner, and the flight envelope, e.g. gear up/flaps up, aft center of gravity, near Vmo/Mmo corner, and geargear
      down/flaps up, at speeds above 230 kts.down/flaps up, at speeds above 230 kts.
      In those cases, longitudinal trim is achieved by using the manual stabilizer trim wheel to position In those cases, longitudinal trim is achieved by using the manual stabilizer trim wheel to position
      the stabilizer. The trim wheel can be used to trim the airplane throughout the entire flight envelope.the stabilizer. The trim wheel can be used to trim the airplane throughout the entire flight envelope.
      In additIn addition,ion, the autopilot has the authority to trim the airplane in these conditions. the autopilot has the authority to trim the airplane in these conditions.
      The reference regulation and policy do not specify the method of trim, nor do they state that when The reference regulation and policy do not specify the method of trim, nor do they state that when
      multiple pilot trim control paths exist that they must each independently be amultiple pilot trim control paths exist that they must each independently be ableble to trim the airplane to trim the airplane
      throughout the flight envelope.throughout the flight envelope.
      Boeing did not initially consider this to be a compliance issue because trim could always be Boeing did not initially consider this to be a compliance issue because trim could always be
      achieved, even during the conditions where use of the aisle stand trim switch was required.achieved, even during the conditions where use of the aisle stand trim switch was required.
      Subsequent to Subsequent to flightflight testing, the FAA testing, the FAA–TADTAD expressed concern with compliance to the reference expressed concern with compliance to the reference
      regulation based on an interpretation of the intent behind “trim”. The main issue being that regulation based on an interpretation of the intent behind “trim”. The main issue being that
      longitudinal trim cannot be achieved throughout the flight envelope using thumb switlongitudinal trim cannot be achieved throughout the flight envelope using thumb switchch trim only. trim only.

      EASA POSITIONEASA POSITION
      Boeing set the thumb switch limits in order to increase the level of safety for outBoeing set the thumb switch limits in order to increase the level of safety for out-of-of–trimtrim dive dive
      characteristicscharacteristics (CS (CS 25.255(a)(1)). The resulting thumb switch limits require an alternative trim 25.255(a)(1)). The resulting thumb switch limits require an alternative trim
      method to meet CS 25.161method to meet CS 25.161 trim trim re requirementsquirements in certain corners of the operational envelope. in certain corners of the operational envelope.

      The need to use the trim wheel is considered unusual, as it is only required for manual flight in The need to use the trim wheel is considered unusual, as it is only required for manual flight in
      those corners of the envelope.those corners of the envelope.

      The increased safety provided by the Boeing design limits on the The increased safety provided by the Boeing design limits on the thumbthumb switches (for out switches (for out-of-of–trimtrim
      dive characteristics) provides a compensating factor for the inability to use the thumb switches dive characteristics) provides a compensating factor for the inability to use the thumb switches
      throughout the entire flight envelope. Furthermore, the additional crew procedures and training throughout the entire flight envelope. Furthermore, the additional crew procedures and training
      material will clearly explain tmaterial will clearly explain too pilots the situations where use of the trim wheel may be needed due pilots the situations where use of the trim wheel may be needed due
      to lack of trim authority with the wheel mounted switches.to lack of trim authority with the wheel mounted switches.
      The trim systems on the 737Max provide an appropriate level of safety relative to longitudinal trim The trim systems on the 737Max provide an appropriate level of safety relative to longitudinal trim ”

      SAY WHAT?????

      • @ bobba
        Somehow your post relating to MAX’s Trim wheel seem to have been garbled – A clean up (ungarbled) version below is what I believe you meant to think publish. Your point raises some very interesting and concerning points.

        “Go to page 15 of 114 of the described document- Apparently published in sept 2018 ? Simply put- the information provided by Boeing ?? is NOT correct, it is impossible to move trim wheel as/when described…

        https://www.easa.europa.eu/sites/default/files/dfu/IM.A.120%20Boeing737%20TCDS%20APPENDIX%20ISS%2010.pdf

        “The aisle stand trim switches can be used to trim the airplane throughout the flight envelope and fully complies with the reference regulation.

        Simulation has demonstrated that the thumb switch trim does not have enough authority to completely trim the aircraft longitudinally in certain corners the flight envelope, e.g. gear up/flaps up, aft center of gravity, near Vmo/Mmo corner, and gear down/flaps up, at speeds above 230 kts.

        In those cases, longitudinal trim is achieved by using the manual stabilizer trim wheel to position the stabilizer. The trim wheel can be used to trim the airplane throughout the entire flight envelope.

        In addition, the autopilot has the authority to trim the airplane in these conditions.

        The reference regulation and policy do not specify the method of trim, nor do they state that when multiple pilot trim control paths exist that they must each independently be able to trim the airplane throughout the flight envelope.

        Boeing did not initially consider this to be a compliance issue because trim could always be achieved, even during the conditions where use of the aisle stand trim switch was required.

        Subsequent to flight testing, the FAA testing, the FAA–TAD expressed concern with compliance to the reference regulation based on an interpretation of the intent behind “trim”. The main issue being that longitudinal trim cannot be achieved throughout the flight envelope using thumb switch trim only.

        EASA POSITION
        Boeing set the thumb switch limits in order to increase the level of safety for out-of-trim dive characteristics (CS 25.255(a)(1)). The resulting thumb switch limits require an alternative trim method to meet CS 25.161 trim re requirements in certain corners of the operational envelope.

        The need to use the trim wheel is considered unusual, as it is only required for manual flight in those corners of the envelope.those corners of the envelope.

        The increased safety provided by the Boeing design limits on the thumb switches (for out-of-trim dive characteristics) provides a compensating factor for the inability to use the thumb switches throughout the entire flight envelope. Furthermore, the additional crew procedures and training material will clearly explain to pilots the situations where use of the trim wheel may be needed due to lack of trim authority with the wheel mounted switches.
        The trim systems on the 737 Max provide an appropriate level of safety relative to longitudinal trim.

        SAY WHAT?????

        • BernieNZ – yes- thank you- did not realize what happened until too late. For those who want to take the time- a long read of the NG system and what was known in late 2018 can be found at

          https://www.satcom.guru/2018/11/stabilizer-trim.html

          and his site has a lot of updated thru May- June info also

          hopefully, it will serve to keep comments on track along with Bjorn

  22. Some one on Pprune suggested a battery drill as s solution for the trim wheel problem. It’s not a totally bad idea,older people who are struggling a bit have been using them successfully on small yachts as a cheap way of powering winches.

  23. The more I read this the more I feel that Boeing are in a shambles. Not only are they still pumping out frames at 42 but at the same time they have encouraged suppliers at tier 2 and 3 to continue the ramp to 57 shipsets. They also have hundreds of ‘completed’ aircraft that will all need to be updated for any mandated changes and made flight ready. What confuses me is how they believe continuing the ramp up of some suppliers will help in their goal to continue their ramp up in short order. Renton must be fast becoming a shambles of unallocated inventory whilst they have acknowledged that there are some clear limitations with regard to engines. Regardless of what happens next behind it I expect some sort of reckoning or hiatus simply to bring the assembly process into some sort of equilibrium and control. There must be multiple potential constraints in the system that are going to make the whole thing a nightmare. At the very least the logistics and planning must be having a fun time.

  24. A little beat off MAX topic.

    “Boeing has said the NMA would have capacity for some 270 passengers and a 4,000-5,000nm (7,400-9,300km) range.”

    It’s interesting, such airplane already exists and is called Airbus A330neo. And there is no new engine technology or wing design that can beat easily this aircraft. I wonder what kind of big improvements, if any, are really possible to Boeing NMA beat easily A330neo. Carbon fiber, will it be enough?

    • Maybe NMA’s potentially slimmer fuselage will help? That’s one of the reasons A330neo can perform on par with 787s, or even beat them in terms of fuel efficiency, along with A330neos’ longer wings.

    • I personally like the 330’s but the NEO is at least 30-40T overweight for an 270 seat (US) NMA.

      An A339’s OEW is 137T (290 pax) vs the 142T (typical) for the 359 (315 pax). The A330-600R’s OEW was ~90T (250 pax) which is more in line with that of an NMA/MoM aircraft.

      • A300-600 had only 172 tons of MTOW and only 52 tons of fuel and only 250pax, but for A330-900 is as follows 250 tons of MTOW, 111 tons of fuel and more pax – for me these are aircrafts of two different capabilities. Boeing NMA can be lighter because of carbon fibre, that’s sure, but will be so different in economic terms to be sold for higher (I assume) price?

  25. “Boeing warns of production reduction, complete shut down of MAX if return to service delayed beyond 4th quarter.” I mean, so what…it feels like it should be more like “Boeing Reashures that 737 MAX will be safe again”. This type of warnings will not help to get the passengers back on board. It doesn’t seem like Boeing have learned much.

  26. Beware that some media, including an aviation one that should know better, are using headlines saying “end” of the 737 product when the news is only a ‘pause’ in production.

    as for time to get all parked 737MAX flying once the design is re-cleared to:
    – updating software is done all the time, a key question is how much testing is needed of each airplane. Functionality and wiring connections for example (the latter can be done in advance, I only mention it because I don’t know the analysis of the failed AOA vanes, don’t even know if the one in Ethiopia has been found in the smoking hole).
    – if there are hardware updates production of kits and installation of them, or production of new boxes, would be an effort. Replacing boxes is done all the time, wiring modification takes longer.
    – technician time to change hardware and software is a subject
    – if a flight check is needed that greatly extends time per airplane, simply because of logistics, though airlines do post-maintenance flight checks frequently

    • ..’ Replacing boxes is done all the time..” true- but consider re MAX- 6 months at 40/month plus 300 in service is over 500 planes and IF box needs to be replaced- thats over 500 boxes built, programmed, chcked, etc . ..

  27. Interesting – a major article in NYT and Seattle Times today describes some of the fubar issues with MAX and some background not previously known. One of the players involved re the FAA and now in AIA was at one time a senior MDC engineer. And has been widely reported and books and surveys shown- a lot of management problems came to the fore as a result of the buyout

    https://www.aia-aerospace.org/personnel/ali-bahrami/

    Bahrami has extensive experience working and collaborating with a variety of international organizations involved in certification and validation work, notably the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). Earlier in his career, he worked as a senior engineer at McDonnell Douglas. Throughout his career, Bahrami has received a number of awards and honors, the most recent being the 2013 Airlines for America “Nuts and Bolts” Award. The award recognizes 33 years of continuous support to the airline industry and a collaborative and balanced approach to advancing aviation safety. He is also a recipient of two Secretary of Transportation Recognition Awards for teamwork and Equal Employment Opportunity, and received FAA’s Northwest Mountain Regional Administrator’s Award for Leadership on three separate occasions.

    Bahrami holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in engineering from the University of Michigan.

    • “a collaborative and balanced approach to advancing aviation safety.”

      In reality he went backwards not advanced aviation safety with the 737 Max. And collaborative in this context speaks for itself, but doesnt help the 350 dead and the $billions now to fix serious issues that should never have happened on his watch.

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