Pontifications: Muilenburg loses chairman’s title; are his days numbered?

By Scott Hamilton

Oct. 14, 2019, © Leeham News: Look for Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg to leave in 2020.

At least this is my view.

But some aerospace analysts I spoke with over the weekend are split. Some believe Friday’s action by the Boeing Board of Directors “stripping” (as most media headlines and stories positioned it) the chairman’s title from Muilenburg, while his retaining the president and CEO titles, is the first step in easing him out the door next year. This is my view, too.

Muilenburg also remains on the Board.

Others think handing the non-executive chairman’s title to lead director David Calhoun is actually an effort to save Muilenburg’s job.

Here’s the divergent thinking. None of the analysts wanted to be identified because by investment bank policy, their remarks hadn’t been cleared for quotation and none had yet issued research notes in reaction.

First step out the door

Last Monday, I opined that if Muilenburg left, it will probably be with a good golden parachute.

I wrote that Boeing doesn’t typically fire people outright. They’re allowed to retire, or get transferred. To get fired, there have to be really egregious circumstances.

Nothing could be more egregious, one can argue, than the MAX development cycle culminating with two fatal accidents, killing 346 people and grounding the world fleet. The grounding in now in its seventh month. It has already cost Boeing at least $8bn and many think it will cost a lot more.

But as I wrote last Monday, Muilenburg came into the Boeing presidency 1 ½ years after CEO Jim McNerney launched the MAX. It was another two years before McNerney retired and Muilenburg fully succeeded him.

So, Muilenburg inherited a lot of the foundation and decisions of the MAX development. Just how much he was involved in subsequent cost-control policies isn’t known to us outsiders.

But it is clear how Boeing initially responded to the Lion Air MAX crash by immediately blaming the pilots and training of one of its biggest customers drew widespread condemnation.

It would come out much later that within a week of the Lion Air crash, Boeing started work to revise how MCAS worked.

Initial reaction to the Ethiopian Airlines accident also drew negative reviews: Muilenburg called President Trump to plead the case that the MAX should not be grounded, according to reports that have never been denied.

One analyst believes that how Muilenburg handled things after the crash rates his firing, not because of the decisions and paths embarked upon in the development of the MAX, which largely pre-dated his arrival in Chicago.

Saving his job

Muilenburg has been with Boeing his entire professional career, so retirement is certainly a good scenario.

Muilenburg has said he wants to stick around to see the MAX return to service and to right the ship (my words). Certainly this would be a better legacy than going out as things now stand.

I heard, but never confirmed, that he began talking about retirement last November—after the Lion Air crash but before the Ethiopian Airlines disaster and grounding of the 737 MAX.

On Friday, the Boeing Board of Directors stripped Muilenburg of his chairman’s title—something that some shareholders tried unsuccessfully to do at the annual meeting earlier this year.

I also heard then that despite the failed shareholders’ vote, the Board was already thinking of separating the titles. This, too, was unconfirmed.

The New York Times yesterday published the “inside story” of how the Board finally acted on Friday.

Boeing announced the news shortly before 5:30pm Chicago time (Boeing’s HQ is in Chicago) Friday. Announcing bad news late on Friday is a time-honored tactic to bury bad news.

Wall Street analysts, usually quick to put out notes, were already out of the office. As of Sunday night (Seattle time), when I wrote this column, I hadn’t received any research notes. The analysts I talked with basically didn’t know what conclusions to draw.

One analyst told me that if Muilenburg is ousted, his successor needs to come from outside the company.

The media spared no mercy in reporting the blow to Muilenburg.

One well-known observer about all things Boeing (but who is not an analyst) told LNA that, “To me, what’s interesting is there’s no comment about how and whether he can get the chairman title back. If that’s the case, is this the first step to Dennis leaving? I’m not sure he stays after getting somewhat ‘demoted.’”

Why would Muilenburg stay? One analyst points to the $20m per year he’s earning. But the greater reason, this one believes, is ego—the righting-the-ship theory.

Sacrificial lamb?

The New York Times also pointed a finger at Kevin McAllister as potentially next on Boeing’s hit list. An unflattering portrait of McAllister was reported. I have no knowledge of this kind of detail, but I agree that on the fundamentals surrounding the MAX development, McAllister arrived too late in the process to be held accountable.

The MAX had been in flight testing 11 months before he was named CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes. It entered services four months after he arrived.

But, as The Times points out, he’s been invisible since the grounding.

I once sent an email to Corporate Communications asking, “Where’s Waldo?” about McAllister’s absence from public view. This comparison was not appreciated. Corp Com said McAllister was in communication with the customers.

The New York Times painted a different picture, naming names of customers unhappy with McAllister’s communication level.

This story is going to continue to play out for months to come.

Next year’s shareholders’ meeting may be a date to watch.


138 Comments on “Pontifications: Muilenburg loses chairman’s title; are his days numbered?

  1. Scott, quick question for you. What’s your opinion on NMA if Muilenburg is indeed leaving next year. My understanding is any new program needs blessing from board. With current circumstances, I think time get trickier…

    • @Kevin: I don’t know what the board will do. I know what the board should do, and that is approve NMA. If it doesn’t Boeing may as well change its name to McDonnell Douglas and we can watch it wither on the vine.

      • Do you not think that NSA is far more urgent, starting with 757 size? Then try and jump Airbus when the next generation of engines arrive with a more mature 8.5. Both the NEO and the MAX programmes are too big to replace in one go.

        • You need an engine 12-15% better than the LEAP-1A first for the NSA.

          • Not the engine that’s the problem.Gain 10-15 % with airframe and engine improvements now and catch the new generation of engines with the second model.ULCCs need very mature aircraft.

          • @Grubbie, it is very hard to get more than 3-4% by Aircraft design only over the A321neo and then you have “pulled all the stops, cost be damned” so you need a new Engine generation to get clearly ahead. The only engine design on the horizon to give this engine performance is the UDF with a fan size of 140″ and up. That requires a new type of narrowbody Aircraft and it needs to be designed to be built mainly by robots.

        • Embraer stated a couple of years ago that they could get about 5% from a new narrowbody airframe and there’s probably a similar amount from PIPing the current generation, P&W are already quoting 2-3% in the next couple of years. The C series already has a carbon wing using 10 year old technology not using a lot of robots if any.
          Waiting for new engines and then trying to replace everything around about 2030 is far too dangerous even if the MAX can get over its present problems. Boeing and the airlines would have change everything in one go with a brand new immature model with different operating systems. Boeing can probably sell at least 1000 XLR beaters before building the 2nd iteration with new engines.

          • The NMA is maybe an easier business case with an Aircraft bigger than an A321 but much lighter than an A330neo.
            The Engines are almost there if you use the GEnX-2B core engine with a new LP section, you just have to be a bit better than Airbus using a round Al-Li fuselage; carbon wings and wingbox, then optimize the design for todays robots from Electroimpact and Torres similar to the new A321 line in HAM. The key is to keep mass, ease of production, reliability and cost. There is a big market over the A321 in size on many domestic “767/A330ceo-routes” especially if you go to A300 fuselage size around two LD3’s and 2-4-2 seating. Hence normal engineering is enough as you don’t go head on an existing mass produced Aircraft and “no Moonshots Required”, Boeing can ask UAL, DAL, ANA, Udvar Hazy and China Southern/Eastern what they will pay as pax capacity climbs up and settle for the size where the revenue is enought (I suspect around 300pax 32-35″ pitch single class for JFK to LAX) and Boeing finally K-O the A330 and can close the 787-8 line.

      • I would agree that Boeing needs an NMA. But it couldn’t be for 2025. At the earliest, 2027 maybe.

      • Scott, As a long time Aerospace technologist, I believe that the culture of safety we all appreciate in aerospace was circumvented long before Mullenberg. The dog eat dog atmosphere was started in the prior administration. It’s not known how much he contributed. In any event his complicity may lead to his required removal. I also fear that hiring an outsider may be the wrong direction as well. Things that work commercially may not be good enough for aerospace. Reference the 787 battery fiasco started by the commercial “battery experts”.

      • @Scott: “Approve” NMA? Do you really mean that chimera with an oval CFRP fuselage like it has never been made for a commercial airliner and with engines that just don’t exist? A full CFRP plane that is almost as large as the 787 but should cost only half of it in production? (Which would imply that a completely different production system is needed that also doesn’t exit, which again means that a new plant would have to be build and filled with lots of completely new machinery.)
        I don’t say that it would be impossible to make such a plane, but certainly not in the proposed time frame and definitely not at the prices the airlines are are willing to pay for such a plane.
        Such a plane might be a fantastic project if Boeing was trouble free and willing to invest some serious money to gain knowledge and maybe a technological advantage that could be used in other products later on. But currently I would absolutely not recommend it.
        What must be done now is replacing the rag rug of a bird called MAX that is apparently corrupt from nose to tail. I would propose to develop an all-aluminum NSA with existing, engines and systems (787 cockpit?) made in the existing factories asap. Once that is under way Boeing might look further into the future and figure out what their customers might need next.

        • A new state-of-the-art aircraft is always a very expensive project that only big airlines are able and willing to buy.

          The fascination of building affordable aircraft, to please Low-Cost Carrier’s demand is changing the aviation industry.

        • ” Do you really mean that chimera with an oval CFRP fuselage like it has never been made for a commercial airliner and with engines that just don’t exist?”

          Uhhh last time I looked- 787 was a CFRP oval fuselage, etc.

      • Scott, that’s a bold statement and well appreciated.

        Can you explain the foundations of your opinion?
        1. Boeing is guessing around NMA for a while now, which looks like they can’t make it work (either technically or business-wise – or both)

        2. the don’t have an engine, no engine no program. The A321neo engine is probably a bit too weak, and if you take a Dreamliner engine, you end up with the same numbers (price and fuel)

        3. fuselage is unclear, Boeing did state 2-3-2 which means you just have +1 seat per row and are flying the 2nd aisle around for this, which makes the NMA inefficient against a larger SA plane.

        4. The market and performance – how much better can a B788 optimized for 5000 miles be? How much demand is around for a 260 Pax 5000 miles aircraft? A330, B777 and B787 have longe range, but A & B did increase the range as their customers were asking for.

        I see plenty of questions open for NMA and honestly don’t think we’ll see it. Boeing is busy with B737max and B777x.

      • Agree 100%.

        It’s already “McBoeing” – and now, the company is at the proverbial fork in the road where it must decide whether it wants to be Boeing or (failed/defunct since 1998/99) McDonnell Douglas.

        Because trying to be “both” (with a heavy bias towards the company that failed more than two decades ago) is so NOT working! (And never will).

  2. One analyst believes that how Muilenburg handled things after the crash rates his firing, not because of the decisions and paths embarked upon in the development of the MAX, which largely pre-dated his arrival in Chicago.

    This is my take, since the accidents Muilenburg has failed on every aspect of his directorial duties but in particular on judgement. He failed to acknowledge the role of Boeing adequately which has had multiple knock on effects. Regulators have not been listened to as he has pursued a very narrow and legalistic minimum change mindset. It is almost as though he believes his own bullshit.

    As things stand Boeing appear no further forward when it comes to gaining certification and a new captain of the ship is needed to kick the company out of the confused stasis it finds itself in. It is almost as though a lethargy of defeat is hanging over the board and senior executives as they are realising that any acceptable option is going to be costly, time consuming and lose the similar type rating. In Boeing terms the holy trinity of all things bad.

    So go Muilenburg and count your I’ll gotten gains

    • I’m guessing Muilenburg is getting a lot of his advice from Luttig, Boeings senior lawyer. As in, don’t say anything, admit nothing etc.
      In trial court that might make sense, but, in the court of public opinion, and as a company with a very pubic product, it dosen’t do a very good job of selling the 737-MAX. Saying it’s safe, and CEO’s will fly on it, is a publicity stunt. They have to come out with a fix that works. And is proven that it works. As the Apollo 13 flight director Gene Kranz said. “Failure is not an option”. If they keep things hidden, and there is a failure, Boeing is on the hook 100%. If they come out with details showing the FAA / EASA and the public, then if there’s a failure, it’s less on their shoulders.

      • ” As the Apollo 13 flight director Gene Kranz said. “Failure is not an option”.

        No – that comment was pure Hollywood – at least according to Gene- but he did like it anyhow.

        As to why Boeing annoiunced on friday- that was the same day the independant committee came out with a scathing report which made it obvious that Boeing seduced fido re MCAS and documentation and worst of all allowing a single sensor – unchecked – to drive a major flight control system – shades of HAL !

        And then there is sullys comments pretty much refuting the ‘ blame the crew ” game.

        The only real question is who or how many will be designated the fallees (sacrifical lambs on the altar of profits uber alles .

        • ‘ ” As the Apollo 13 flight director Gene Kranz said. “Failure is not an option”.
          No – that comment was pure Hollywood – at least according to Gene- but he did like it anyhow.’

          It is the title of his book!. And a good read to boot.

          • Failure is Not an Option is a phrase associated with Gene Kranz and the Apollo 13 Moon landing mission. Although Kranz is often attributed with having spoken those words during the mission, he did not. The origin of the phrase is from the preparation for the 1995 film Apollo 13[1] according to FDO Flight Controller Jerry Bostick:

            In preparation for the movie, the script writers, Al Reinart and Bill Broyles, came down to Clear Lake to interview me on “What are the people in Mission Control really like?” One of their questions was “Weren’t there times when everybody, or at least a few people, just panicked?” My answer was “No, when bad things happened, we just calmly laid out all the options, and failure was not one of them.” … I immediately sensed that Bill Broyles wanted to leave and assumed that he was bored with the interview. Only months later did I learn that when they got in their car to leave, he started screaming, “That’s it! That’s the tag line for the whole movie, Failure is not an option.

          • mincing words. 🙂
            He definitely took ownership of the phrase as published with his book’s title.

            Kranz Boeing should provide for a super nice set of “culture clash”. Sad the man is dead.

      • Don’t forget that Boeing is required to remain silent on the issues involved with the Lion Air 610 and Ethiopian Air 302 crashes until the NTSB report is released. Also don’t forget that there is US Justice Department, A Grande Jury and FBI involved making this a possible criminal investigation of the grand jury decide. Muilenburg has thus limited scope to speak on this. This completely gets us away from the mentality and ethics required for safety and quality control and root cause analysis. You cant volunteer information mistakes of yourself or a colleague without possible criminal charges. On the other hand prosecutors can make people divulge a lot of information.

        • “Also don’t forget that there is US Justice Department, A Grande Jury and FBI involved making this a possible criminal investigation of the grand jury decide.”

          The US justice system is essentially broken. Today it is about “out of the courtroom” deals and using it for political leverage.

      • @RD

        I am not focusing on his pronouncements, I am looking at actions taken, all that we have seen is an intention to go with an all software solution stymied by further system issues and foreign regulators saying this is not enough. Since then there appears to be a loss of impetus to do anything. We were supposed to have a solution presented to FAA et al by end of September and nothing, it has gone cold. If there was a change in strategy to add hardware changes and/or adopt more fully the EASA requirements I would have expected a leak or two to reference that but nothing has occurred

        • Problem is we do not know what Boeing has actually done recently. The JTAR report uncovers some of what went on for MCAS development, but it could not get all the answers it wanted. (While the team had access to Boeing employees and documentation, I doubt that everyone was available/willing.)

          Naivete and sloppiness in Boeing I say, failure to integrate by both Boeing and FAA internally and with each other, and under-resourcing in Boeing.

          (The JTAR report confirms that FAA pushed much work back on Boeing. That’s not necessarily bad, the FAA can legitimately give designees some guidance and tell them they can handle the task(s), but the inference or stronger is that FAA dumped work.

          It vaguely refers to reports of undue pressure on designees from within Boeing.)

    • I agree totally with this report. In UK if your a headmaster and your school gcse grades figures start to fall Ispectors are immediately drafted in and your put on special measures. You only get one warning so if the Head messes up again he’s finished. As far as I’m concerned Mullenberg was too quick to blame innocent pilots and appeared to know nothing about how the engineers were embarking on a failed Micas system. This Maz dinosaur should be laid to rest and Mullenburg pensioned off.
      A new team including new Head of safety Beth Pasztor should be drafted in to design a low emissions creation like a Neo asap
      Before the Chinese with the intellectual theft they stole recently from an Airbus cyber attack get crazy ideas to build a craft
      While Airbus and Boeing are too busy squabbling to notice

      • ” As far as I’m concerned Mullenberg was too quick to blame innocent pilots and ..”

        Decades old Boeing MoO : blame the pilot, early, as often as possible. Worked all the time.
        Thus it is not an innovative kind of misdemeanor.

  3. The board must be horrified that the touchy Muilenberg, never a great communicator would be representing the board members and the company at the hearings at Congress….in the old fashioned phrase a ‘train wreck’ , and nothing the imagery they needed. The new Chairman is a gifted communicator.

    • I would guess they would sub poena DM nonetheless, still CEO and the one around at an operational level as the fiasco occurred

  4. The view that certain executives came into office too late to change anything with regard to the 737 MAX is a view that I can’t accept.

    The 787 was 3 years late. The chief reason was the redesign of the centre wing box when tests showed that it didn’t. These things happen. They happen to all OEMS.

    Once flight test demonstrated the pitch up tendency it should have been stopped. Mulienberg was in a position to stop it. McAllister was in a position to stop it. The board as a whole could have stopped it.

    Yes it would have meant a delay. Two years, perhaps three. But there are fixes.

    The board as a whole are cupable. They must go. The shareholder meeting is a date to watch. Will the 737 MAX be flying by then. I doubt it, given the JATR report. The report cannot be more severe. I simply don’t believe that Boeing will be able to convince outside regulators that a software fix to MCAS will work.

    • Spot-on comment.
      I would emphasize: date of expansion of domain and authority of MCAS & removal of g-force sensor (1/2 sensor inputs). Failure to ground after Lion Air and the BOD and executive decision making around that. These events, decisions and dates – who, what, where, when – really matter.

    • I agree! A spot on comment.

      All the more so with the latest revelations alleging problems with MCAS were known as early as 2016, and yet the (partly self-certified) aircraft model was allowed to enter revenue service (allegedly) without this vital information disclosed to regulators, airlines, pilots (or flight attendants), shareholders, and/or the public in general.

      Sure, the original decision to launch the 737 MAX predates Muilenburg, but many ill-considered decisions happened under his tenure, including the possibility that defects known as early as 2016 regarding MCAS, but most assuredly the disastrous pursuit of a trade-war with Canada attempting to kill off badly undercapitalized Bombardier’s C-Series that instead ended with an epic fail producing the worst possible outcome:

      – allowing deep pocketed Airbus to gain control of the C-Series for $1;
      – rebranding it as the Airbus A220;
      – gaining control over the valuable patents & modern technologies introduced with this advanced, 21st century, clean-sheet single aisle aircraft;
      – doubling output by building a 2nd final assembly line at Airbus’s Alabama facilities

      That, plus Muilenburg’s mishandling of the post-crash PR, including an insistence on a time frame for recertification of the 737 MAX no later than “early 4th quarter 2019” despite experts, such as Leeham’s own Bjorn Fehrm & Scott Hamilton saying as early as this past July 5th (IIRC from the freely available LNA content) that a more realistic – and likelier – time frame was “9 months to a year [since grounding]”, or basically 1st quarter NEXT year [2020].

      And LNA has hardly been the only entity stating what amounted to “nope, [recertification] not gonna happen this year” with leading industry figures such as Sir Tim Clark, President of Emirates Airlines, plus at least three foreign regulatory bodies also stating recertification was going to be next year, NOT this year.

      Yet, “McBoeing” under Muilenburg’s leadership, still insists otherwise.

      I’ve said many times here and elsewhere that the 737 MAX (among other widely reported problems at McBoeing such as the KC-46 tanker and 787s with quality control “issues” produced at McBoeing’s South Carolina FAL) cannot be “fixed” until (Mc)Boeing itself is fixed.

      The reason is simple: the results speak for themselves.

      And there are enough “bad outcomes” spread among several programs that makes clear something just isn’t working with the present management and a board that lacks the type of depth and expertise needed for a company that manufactures products intended to defy the laws of gravity – or to explore worlds far beyond our own.

      Asking those who mis(?)led the company to the place it is now to “fix” what they broke just doesn’t make sense anymore.

      In fact, one might argue that NOT taking decisive action ASAP, and instead prolonging the inevitable is as much a symptom of the problem plaguing (Mc)Boeing as any of the other problems that are continuing to fester as long as things remain the same.

      Tick tock! Tick tick!

      It’s time for big changes at Boeing.

      Or as Scott says above – wither and die like the failed McDonnell Douglas.

      But, seeking to be “both” as a “merger of equals” is a failed strategy that cannot continue any longer with outcomes such as they are – and have been for quite some time.

  5. Let’s not narrow this don to the 737MAX MCAS fix and who is responsible.

    The JATR report surface a certification process, interaction between Boeing, Congress (GAO), FAA and Boeing that has little to do with implementing the latests safety regulations and technologies.

    I think that is where FAA will play hard ball. They implemented what congress demanded from them & congress called on them to go further, side-lining EASA.. Shocking IMO.

    Beware of Boeing and Congress out-communicate the press, stake/stock holders & voters making the FAA the scapegoat.

    • The document you linked is quite interesting, especially from today’s perspective. I’m assuming that the initiatives by the Government Accountability Office to speed up approval of US aviation products by foreign civil aviation authorities have been largely trashed by those authorities.

      “Beware of Boeing and Congress out-communicate the press, stake/stock holders & voters making the FAA the scapegoat.”

      High quality journalism is indeed once again needed. I also hope that the honest people inside the industry and government come forward and tell what they know about what led to this situation.

  6. Dennis is needed for a few more months before he is beheaded or offered hemlock.
    In particular if aerodynamic/hardware modifications are mandated for the MAX the Board needs a sacrifice to the Wall Street gods (they of the cash flow veneration persuation cannot of course be blamed for the errant disciples they may have inspired) baying for good news, or at least news!
    Like all Greek tragedies, a healthy chorus – of analysts – is required to foretell the doom of the stooge of fate, whom they previously praised.
    Sic Gloria Mundi

    • I go with DTs take on this.

      Don’t throw out a perfectly good TTB (take the bullet) candidate.

      Sadly this does not solve Boeing problems.

      The Board should be a board and the manager of Boeing should not be on it.

      A good board takes into account the Company, the Employee and the Shareholders last. If the company is well run and the emplyess are fairly dealt with the shareholder value will be there.

      Currently there is only so called shareholder value. But that is a lot like the guy who jumped off the 100 story build and a guy leans out the window at the 50th story and asks “how is it going?”

      So far so good. Long term outlook is not to the end of your nose.

      But I don’t expect anything to change other than names unless things get worse.

      • “A good board takes into account the Company, the Employee and the Shareholders last. If the company is well run and the emplyess are fairly dealt with the shareholder value will be there…”

        Too bad Corporate America in general shuns this view. See the amount of share buybacks that occurred instead of extensive re-investment in the company and employees when the 2017 Tax Bill was passed. Boeing is not alone in this regard.

        • Agreed, modern America is in the exploit end for short term stock gains vs long term good for all.

  7. A small complaint about an otherwise excellent article.
    “…McAllister arrived to late in the process…” should be “…McAllister arrived TOO late in the process…”
    English is such a difficult language!

      • Those who depend on technology are doomed to be failed by it.

        I learned early on if I really cared to run my stuff by what I called the English Ladies in school. The make MS look like pikers. Never knew them to be wrong.

        We had one English class that the teacher did not have the answer book.

        I forget if it was 4 or 5, but the circle formed and the answer came forth.

        They were never wrong.

        Me? I went to work building things that didn’t care.

          • Don’t bitch – they’ve done it what had been asked for, according to specification received.

          • Pablo:

            Having been involved in Indain software, I can tell you I have no idea if they can write or not.

            What happens is you send them a set of specifications and they then write stuff.

            Sadly, specs are not experience. Thre is no interacion and there is a lnaguaug batrtier though they speak kenclen.

            What happnes is we get it back and it has to be re-written because they is no understanding of what the spec rarely means let alone how systems work.

            I have spent endless hours explaining to programmers what is needed to make it work (and these are people who actually know t they are looking at in the large view, ie its a fan) and want it to work right. I worked with one who was a rocket scientist but I had to beat into his brain it did not work the way he thought it did.

            But that takes standing in front of a piece of equipment showing them what is where, what each part does and how it works as a system and the programmer realy wanting it to be right (his company was on his butt to get it done as they were loosing money)

            What we need is to get the programmers out of it. Maybe AI will save us.

          • So your written specs were trash.
            If you can’t express yourselves properly try again.

            Then you have to take managers out of the transfer loop.
            What you have to avoid at all cost is having managers talking to their counterparts for information transfer.
            That is like communal coprophagy only magnitudes less productive.

  8. As with the above comments I think he should and indeed will go.Perhaps after the MAX recertification .
    Any CEO carries the can,I am sure Boeing is no different in that respect.
    As for the 797.Is it not more a question of when rather than if?
    I can well understand them not wishing to commit in the present circumstances and everyone knows that 2025 is way off the table.
    The 764x and 739MAXer would make perfectly good stop gap projects .Both could be in service for 2025.

    • The derivatives you point to all have the same issues as the original MAX. Plus the 764 has not been in production for over a decade.

      • …and we should not forget that the 767 was outclassed by the A330 and hence replaced by the 787.
        No, Boeing should leave those niche markets alone and focus on the bread and butter, and that is a NSA or maybe even two.

  9. @Scotte Hamilton: “I know what the board should do, and that is approve NMA. If it doesn’t Boeing may as well change its name to McDonnell Douglas and we can watch it wither on the vine.”

    I wrote a few similar comments here many years ago about the NSA but I was proven wrong by the success of the Max. However it may now turn out to be a Pyrrhic success in the end.

    As for the NMA I have always been skeptical about the potential of this airplane to revolutionize the market and I still believe it will be too expensive to acquire for the airlines relative to the competition.

    It does look like a good airplane on paper though but I don’t believe Boeing can manufacture it at the cost airlines will be willing to pay. Unless oil hits 150$ a barrel and stays at that level for an extended period of time. Which is not impossible but very unlikely.

    If I was Boeing I would go for the NSA, not the NMA.

  10. Breaking news Air Marco Boeing 737/800 lands at Lagos then the cargo door openes whilst on the runway .

  11. For me it’s not possible for Dennis muilenburg to strips as CEO of the boeing company because he will fix the Boeing 737max and have confidence and the airlines customers too and the NMA dubbed the 797 is hidden under its sleeves? It is better not to put pressure on it.

  12. It is quite normal to have different chairman of the company board and CEO. The roles are quite different, the CEO shall execute the orders from the board of directors that represent the biggest owners. So I would not speculate too much into it. It is mainly Boeing Commercial aircrafts that have problems even thogh military programs based on Boeing commercial aircrafts have had problems (Wedgetail, KC-46A, P-8…). Muilenburg is ceo of all divisions, the good the bad and the ugly…

    • Problems seem to be Boeing MO these days, military or otherwise.

      P-8 ?

      Wedgetail was a mess though working now.

      KCD-46 seems to stumbles from one problem to another (and some not fixed)

      The management capability clearly is horribly thin.

      • Wedgetail and KC46 issues seem to be after Boeing Commercial finished the planes and handed them over to Boeing Defense and Space for modification.
        That also was the division which Muilenberg rose through ( and missed out on what became the F35 contract) before becoming CEO of The Boeing Company.

      • Yes the P-8 had its initial issues and by now can drop sonars and bombs.

        “The P-8 is to be equipped with the High Altitude Anti-Submarine Warfare Weapon Capability (HAAWC) Air Launch Accessory (ALA), turning a Mark 54 torpedo into a glide bomb for deploying from up to 30,000 ft (9,100 m).
        In January 2014, the Pentagon’s Director of Operational Test and Evaluation office called the P-8A “ineffective” for large area ISR and ASW missions, and said that it was not ready for deployment Pentagon acquisition undersecretary Frank Kendall disputed the report, saying that although its findings are factual, it did not acknowledge future capability upgrades for anti-submarine and wider-area surveillance”.

        Boeing Defence actually seems to have delivered on this massivly modified 737 with 5 internal bays and 6 external hardpoints for a variety of conventional weapons, e.g. AGM-84H/K SLAM-ER, AGM-84 Harpoon, Mark 54 torpedo, mines, depth charges, and the High Altitude Anti-Submarine Warfare Weapon system.

        • P8 first flight was April 2009, and was equipped with legacy P3 equipment.
          So plenty of time to sort it out, and not a high bar to get the systems working

          • Well, seems they eventually did a systematic and good job on the P-8. Still I do not rellay like Commercial Airlines modified as war planes, the risk for mix-up with a normal commercial airliner with innocent pax and crew is pretty big when some trigger happy enemy is around. They often shoot at anything flying like KAL007 or MH17 but the risk should be less if military Aircrafts are not modified commercial ones.

          • The P-8 was seen as a spiral development.

            They got the initial high altitude setup they wanted and then worked on the lower altitude areas.

            It could not do some of the missions, but they kept the P-3 on for that and it could do others.

            It was a deliberate development though as is normal people want d it all now.

            I still doubt it will be as capable low down as a P-3 was but it may make up for it in a larger scale tracking where that suffices.

  13. May I address the courts given Scott’s view that there is a prevalence for courts outside America to get involved, even though America invented the ambulance chasing lawyer.

    I compared the 737 MAX crashes to the DeepWater Horizon disaster. Of course the US courts got involved and US lawyers made a fortune.

    But coming to the point. Given the JATR report, expect courts outside America to get involved if Boeing try and force through their software fix. If the situation was the other way round, the American courts would get involved. Nobody should be in doubt of it.

    I don’t see where Boeing is going. The 737 MAX has been grounded for 8 months. Regulators outside of America have issued a report so severe it cannot be any more severe. More importantly the report doesn’t address history, it addresses today. In other words, Boeing have not convinced regulators outside of America to return the 737 MAX to service. Instead, the report makes clear, through it recommendations, that Boeing have not even started to convince outside regulators to return the 737 MAX to service

    • Philip, I think that EASA is wanting a 737-MAX that passes the FAR’s to be certified. I think Boeing put in MCAS to ‘solve’ the pitch problem, because without it, it wouldn’t pass the FAR’s along with not flying safely. The FAR’s are there for a reason. Most likely past experience from accidents. Peter Lemme’s web site, experience and explanations are suburb. Absolute must reading for anyone interested in the 737-MAX accidents from a technical perspective. His article on the movable stabilizer is excellent.
      if you drop down to the “25.203” stall characteristics section and pay attention to the yellow highlights of his, from then on, he really points out the reason MCAS was in the plane, and without MCAS, why the 737-MAX wouldn’t pass certification. MCAS needs to be there. It’s vital for the planes certification. He also cites the reasons for some of the various FAR’s and the accidents they were put there from. He goes through a few FAR’s with the yellow highlights. These need to be addressed by the dual channel fix of MCAS. And I hope EASA follows through with making sure Boeing does the fix correctly.

        • Muilenburg might be fired this year.

          They are losing $1b each month, or is it even more, and they do nothing, obviously they don’t want to respect regulation rules, and all airlines are watching this, and future passengers are watching this too, and they keep producing planes which will never fly, kind of a stubborn child who doesn’t want to learn. What do they expect?

          Good if you are an all Airbus airline, but all the others, it really hurts the BRAND, especially British Airways, Iberia and Aer Lingus who signed for 200 MAX planes at the Paris Air Show.

          Sad for suppliers and their workers. If they lose money they want to get it back. Future contracts will be more expensive for Boeing, which means Boeing’s margin will be much smaller.

          • Philiip:

            “I compared the 737 MAX crashes to the DeepWater Horizon disaster. Of course the US courts got involved and US lawyers made a fortune.”

            I made that link a long time ago, its nice to know you read it and replicated it.

            Attribution is the normal method to convey that.

      • Thanks Richard,

        I will read Peter Lemme words.

        But I do go back to page 17 (page 37 in the PDF) of the JATR report. Recommendation R3.3. I know the language is difficult to read because the report is trying to constrain it’s language. But to be direct.

        Boeing defines MCAS as “minor” [hazards] as defined as defined by a Functional Hazard Assessment (FHA). That means that MCAS is a convenience and what it addressing, pitch instability, is an inconvenience.

        The designation of “minor” [hazard] allowed Boeing to bypass all sorts of FARS as they deal with “major” [hazards] to the point that Boeing didn’t even have to do a qualitative analysis for “minor” failure conditions because the FAA don’t require it for “minor” [hazard] as per a FHA.

        In other words, Boeing didn’t even analyse what would happen if MCAS failed. They weren’t required to. MCAS was designated by Boeing as “minor” [hazard] and the issue it was addressing as a “minor” [hazard]. The FAA don’t require an analysis.

        I used the word “convenience” because Boeing have said all along that MCAS is just a convenience. If it is something else, then the FHA designation of a “minor” [hazard] does not apply.

        I don’t think outside regulators will give MCAS and the issue it is addressing, pitch instability, a FHA designation of a “minor” [hazard]. This will trigger all sorts of FARs regulations requiring fail-safe redundancy and the FARs that do address pitch instability. But as of today none of the FARS have been triggered because of the “minor” FHA designation. Re-designation will trigger them.

        I know the English in the report is difficult. I’m very used to reading reports like this. But even so, I may be wrong because the English is difficult. Have a go yourself.

        Recommendation R3.3.

        I will read Peter Lemme, he’s very good. But as far as I can see all sorts of FARs are being be passed by using a designation of a “minor” [hazard]

        • @Philip, I agree that how a change is tagged, (how it will be analyzed) is very subjective, decided upon by the wrong people. There needs to be more people involved in deciding and signing off.
          And a better factors assessment in how if could effect the aircraft safety. Boeing obviously goofed in saying that MCAS was a minor change, not needing review. That was one huge broken link in the chain of the 737-MAX accidents. If MCAS had been given the proper review and testing, it may have been fixed in the design phase, not the flying the public phase. If they were depending on the pilots to be the redundancy (as in execute the runaway trim procedure, when 20 alarms go off), then it may have been a good idea to inform the pilots about the MCAS system itself.
          @Bernardo Thank you VERY much for correcting my link. I can only guess that it was a Microsoft induced error (even though I use an Apple computer to avoid those type of mistakes (grin))

          • The handling of Change in Design “CID” is formalized at every Aerospace Company and should have it own checklists with not just managers signatures but requirements of Technical reports and careful analysis. Project managers should not be able to touch these old rules and procedures to run its way thru engineering.

            The strange situation at Boeing and the FAA is why it did not trigger a new full failure mode and effect analysis superseeding the old one and why it was a single AoA probe running the system that we still do not know if it was just the AoA sensor or if it was other factors in the computers reading the senors involved. I can understand somewhat if FAA were not aware of it but routines should be in place that they should be aware of each issued CID and its filled out checklist.

          • @claes, I agree that in my mind, it may have been something other than the AOA, but, Peter Lemme seems to have concluded that it was the AOA in both accidents. (see below)
            I’m wondering where the flight data recorder gets it’s signals, from the FCC or directly from the AOA? There was a recent report about photographs of the AOA repair not matching, but, it also stated that those won’t be referenced in the official accident report. I’m ignoring those rumors. I’m rather surprised that Boeing hasn’t hired Mr. Lemme to head the team fixing the MCAS problem. He knows their systems quite well as he’s built them in the past. Hopefully, there are as qualified Engineers at Boeing working the problems now.
            From Peter Lemme…
            In prior posts I have postulated whether SMYD had become a function in the FCC on the MAX. I was wrong. The SMYD appears on the 737 MAX pretty much as the 737 NG. This is a significant realization. The AoA vane has one analog resolver output connected to the ADIRU, and one output connected to SMYD. The ADIRU provides AoA to the FCC, where MCAS uses it for triggering its trim command. On JT043 and JT610, stick shaker and MCAS appear to be triggered. This means both SMYD and ADIRU/FCC AoA sensed angle were in agreement, subjected to a large bias. This means the AoA sensor output was in error, not any input signal processing. The removed vane prior to JT043 exhibited a different failure (out of range) and there is no information released from ET302.

          • Yea I picked up and posted on that some time back

            To simplify, there are two spare outputs on the same shaft.

            As both went bonkers the issue was the AOA vane.

        • @Richard

          I entirely respect Peter Lemme’s skill. If he is reading this I hope he understands that. I think he is a world class control engineer.


          The question is whether software can control the aerodynamics?

          The JATR report says not. Every paragraph of the report is dynamite. I’ve read a lot of these reports in my career. This one is paragraph after paragraph of failure. It doesn’t let up. Failure after failure.

          JATR doesn’t believe a word that they have been told by Boeing or the FAA.

          • No, the report does not say it can’t control

            It says the whole thing was a badly implemented mess.

            Peter and Bjron agree the MAX is fully viable done right.

            I will go with real aviation engineers.

          • @TransWorld

            Do you know a real aviation engineer when you see one?

            Give it up, it’s not going to happen

          • I don’t know a nuclear engineer when I see one. Unless you can read minds you can’t either (let us know, the CIA is looking for talent)

            I do know how to assess skills and talent, it was part of my job and I was very good at it.

            You simply have to read and assess what they write, how its supported.

  14. “To accommodate the larger-fan engines, the aircraft would incorporate extended landing gear to provide the necessary ground clearance.” This ia what B would do for the New 767xF. Wouldn’t be possible to do the same for 737max? It would certainly take time&money, but would rip off MCAS.

    • Mario, Spot On!! Boeing should have done this on the max. But, they were in hurry up mode, and decided on a quick, rushed software ‘solution’, which obviously was a poor decision all around. With the 737-10, they have built a hardware solution exactly as you have suggested. (see the video attached in the link) I don’t know if they are considering this as a fix to the MAX or not, but, it sounds like they are still trying to make the MCAS software work because it would be the quick fix again. (don’t laugh too hard at that last statement)

  15. I think Philips solution using a hardware fix is the only one that is going to work.
    Muellenbergs fixation with a software fix may well be the final nail in his coffin.
    A new stabilizer may be the cheaper of options, but a new undercarriage and re-location of the engines sounds better.
    Perhaps copying the Concorde undercarriage geometry could do the job?

    • It might be enought with a 1-2″ extension of the elevator on the same but locally reinforced stabiliser and its THSA actuator?
      It used to be that only supersonic fighters had combined elevators and stabilisers like the F-100 Super Sabre and Mig-21 and most fighters since then.

      • Didn’t the Lockheed TriStar have an all moving stabiliser that was trimmable ?

        • The L1011 Tristar had an all moving tailplane often called a stabilator. The FAA had mandated 4 hydraulic systems though this was probably overkill it probably protected against the kind of poor design the DC10 had (ie no flow limiter fuses to protect against bleed out, bad routing). One could try something with Electro Hydrostatic Actuators to avoid a quadruplicated hydraulic systems but either way the redundant hydraulic and electrical systems required, automatic switch over to functioning systems, a RAT and the alarms needed add a new layer of changes.

          The whole mess started when management apparently mandated that the type rating of the MAX be maintained. That means any proper systems were impossible to introduce. This seems to have driven the whole deranged mess.

          After all MCAS simply needed to 1 activate of only two sensors, 2 have had an alarm for alpha sensor disagree and MCAS inactive and a 3 MCAS cut-out switch and the B737 MAX with MCAS would have been safe enough for Boeing to have gotten away with it even though it would still have a dozen flaws. but that would have required alterations to the manuals and training.

          They really need to get a psychologist involved in this. There must have been a kind of Stockholm syndrome in the engineering area.

          • ‘ They really need to get a psychologist involved in this. There must have been a kind of Stockholm syndrome in the engineering area.”

            The engineers and ODA types were prisoners of management- but It is unlikely they ever ‘ loved’ them or stood up for them – just as far as possible ignore them in order to survive..

          • The first US fighter with FBW had 4 systems as the CEO wanted to be sure.

            Probably a good airplane, the L1011-500 would have been a good 707 replacement but Lockheed California weren’t good at selling, especially in the face of the slippery Douglas types.

        • Yes, the only one. But the Tristar was ahead of the game. A magnificent airplane outdone by a nasty but cheap solution that crashed quite a lot.

          • What one hull loss due to tech issue?

            Given some serious luck on two others

  16. The NSA/NMA subject keeps coming up. Airlines/OEMs are under increasing pressure to electrify. Despite what some politicians might wish that pressure will only increase. Bjorn has pointed out that current battery tech is a non starter due to weight. Hydrogen for fuel cells is too volumous, however hydrogen storage media are improving rapidly, 4 or 5 fold improvements seem to be possible, which would give a car like the NEXO 35 mpg by volume, the sort of density petrol has, just lighter. To my thinking fuel cell aircraft seem to me the most likely replacement for A1. If in 10 years time Airbus manage to launch a viable fuel cell replacement for the A300s (A320/330 esp) BA might have a line up of new designs which will never pay for themselves. AB are lucky here, their aircraft are new enough to soldier on, but are already paid for. I think both OEMs are going to stall on new designs until they can see which way the wind will blow.

    • Apart from short flights of under 400km future flight will be based around liquid fuels. It’s quite feasible to extract CO2 from the air using electrical power, combine it with hydrogen from electrolysis over fischer-tropsch catalysts to create hydrocarbon fuel. Northrop Grumman had patents in the 1970s thought they’d be 34% efficient. USN looked at it to generate fuel on aircraft carriers, Germans at ZSW managed 38% efficiency and made automotive fuel but said they could do 60% efficiency. They’re now using it to make synthetic natural gas. Jet fuel can be made from air, water electricity now at 60% efficiency which is actually better than cryogenic hydrogen.
      Dutch company SkyNRG is actually making 1000L/day.
      We will be using either air derived hydrocarbons or hydrogen before batteries for long haul. Hopefully the bonkers (to me) people at extinction rebellion will come to their senses. Were heading for a very cool period for 35 years due to reduced sun spot activity from 2019-2020. The climapocalypse is not coming but they’ll never admit it as to vested. The CO2 amplifying with Water vapour releasing Methane from melting tundra releasing Methane. Look up Professor Valentina Zharkova (Northumbria University). She’s done something with eigenvectors and worked out how to predict the suns activity.

      • Some non-metioeologist experts in cyclical systems suggested that the planet will warm by 4 degrees. Their arguement is that fire/drought/methane/ice reflection increases are not imcluded in the existing modelling, they were unforeseen. The Earth has never been stable at 2 deg over pre-indistrial temps, they suspect it can’t be. Like it oe not overpopulation is the driver of climate change, but every emitter will be expected to react. I suspect carbon capture at ground level will be ruled inadequate to offset release at altitude and non CO2 systems will be demanded if and when they become available.

        Hence nothing new planned by AB and endless stalling by BA, 2 attempts in 2 years to resucitate the 767, no NSA. The OEMs don’t want to invest until they have a better view of the future.

        • Hi Matin, If what you say is true, that Airbus/Boing are not investing in new fuel efficient deigns because of fear of climate alarmism impacting the regulatory and economic environment then that is the kind self defeating “stupidity“ one would expect from a movement of primarily ideologues and rational want to be cap and trade banker billionaires. In terms of your suggestion that CO2 emissions in the stratosphere causing global warming the opposite, surprisingly, is true. CO2 in the Middle Atmosphere causes cooling. https://www.earth-syst-dynam.net/7/697/2016/esd-2016-8.pdf
          Hence I think atmospheric CO2 capture at sea level, synthesis into hydrocarbon fuel is the way forward. it’s an easy way to transport energy. CO2 is a extremely poor absorber of radiation, methane is 20 more but still very poor. All climate change claims rely on CO2 amplifying via the warmth causing more water vapour to enter the atmosphere which is a strong infrared absorber. Water vapour also creates clouds which reflects infrared back to space and produces greening rain.

          There will be a future for EVTOL and electric flight under 400km (London to Dublin) but no more for a long time. The cost of a carbon capture CO2 fuel will be 1/3rd more than the cost of electricity. The 1.8F claim of temperature rises since 1960 is only possible by ignoring the heat waves of the 30s up to 1940 or earlier. Expect cold weather as sun activity declines for the next 35 years.

          • BA’s problem is time. It takes 20 yr for a clean sheet design to make a profit. This blog believes that part of the NMA’s business case is as a dry run for the 737 replacement. That means BA need 25-30 years during which the interaction between the airframe and the engine remains unchanged. If A1 derived from atmospheric CO2 becomes the next thing, open rotor will probably follow. I don’t know what will come next to power aircraft, but BA need 95% certainty to risk the 30+ billion design, R+D, tooling and deferred prod costs of each project. I don’t think they have it. RIP NMA/NSA.

  17. I hope Muilenburg doesn’t become a scapegoat and the JATR recommendation get carefully ignored.

    The certification process of the 737 MAX is very much the same as the 777X, over the same period, same FAA, same Boeing and same Congress rulemaking, FAA reauthorizations and streamlining.

    Grandfathered design and requirements were taken to a new level for the all new 777X & DOA’s are all over the place, certifying huge “minor” design changes with limited FAA oversight, special conditions and 27 yr old requirements.

    Nobody wants to be the messenger, fearing to hurt the relation with the company and it’s (nice) employees. If Boeing is serious they’ll let JATR do a review of 777X certification. Shouldn’t take very long, they can do a lot of copy-paste.

    • ” who were the architects of that strategy/”

      Jack welch, Phil Condit , GE, MDC- all a common thread and disciples
      Of course AFTER retiring – Jack admitted that his idea of cut 10 percent of workforce every year and focus on shareholeder was wrong…

      Look at GE now …

      • That is what I figured.

        Given the failed strategy why are they putting Calhoun, formerly of GE, in the Chairman position? It makes no sense in my humble opinion.

        They should be bringing in Mulally to run the place.

  18. What is happening with the timeline of the 777X, things seem to have gone quiet?

    Also, all indications are that if the NMA gets the green light during the next year an EIS of 2027 is optimistic, in the mean time 767’s are not getting younger. Again speculations of a revamped 767 but wouldn’t it be better do something with the 787-8? Yes it is heavy etc. but several airlines actually uses it as an 763 replacement.

    By 2025-27 an RR Ultrafans might be in the test phases. AB has not much on its plate after the 321XLR, who knows, maybe a new 250-275 seat TA with 60Klb UF’s and range somewhere between 6Knm and 7Knm? It will not be an NMA but good multi-purpose aircraft replacing older generation 332’s and 788’s, EIS 2028-30.

    • The first Ultrafan will go into the A350. As far as I know that is a done deal. At some point Airbus will develop a new SA, but right now it is not necessary and there are some things in the future that are not easy to judge now: how will CO2 emissions be taxed in the future? Where will oil prices go? How will battery technology evolve? Will there be a break through with open rotor designs some day? Or will it be hypersonic flight? When will one-pilot cockpits for short and medium haul become feasible and legal? So I guess Airbus is looking into all these topics with due patience and not make a move until they are forced by the competition or until the opportunities become clear.

      • Hopefully the engine placement of an A350NEO will not result in MAX like problems and the do it properly? Also, the engine must be “war proof” before it goes into production. Saw SWISS today grounded its entire A221/3 fleet due to GTF engine problems.

        At some stage AB have to look at the market between the 321/2 and A359, the 330NEO’s are not the long term solution. The ripple effect of the MAX “crisis” has put them in a better position to compete in this segment with Boeing and the C929 in future.

        • Anton, I don’t see much chance to design an efficient airliner between 3+3 and 2-4-2, which is A320 or A330. Maybe at some point the A330 could get CFRP wings, but only if CO2 is taxed or oil prices go up significantly.
          I don’t know how much larger the Ultrafan will be in comparison to the XWB engine, but I believe there is room for growth even with the existing landing gear. And should it be too little, I have no doubt Airbus will not shy away from the cost of beefing it up a bit.

          • Thanks Gundolf, the 2-4-2 of the 330 is ideal. Knock off ~20-30T (?) in OEM, the 350MK1 didn’t caught the eye and favor of airlines, it must be clean sheet but not radical.

            The 250-300 seat TA market is potentially bigger in future as the 300-350 seat market, in 15 years we are starting to look at 787 replacements.

        • “Hopefully the engine placement of an A350NEO will not result in MAX like problems”

          The difference is that if the pitch curve needs cleaning up AB has a full FBW system in place to do it. For example the 737 MAX pitch curve would never have been an issue on a A320. They would have removed it in normal law and it is minor enough to ignore in direct law.

          • @Anton, thanks for the link. This is certainly an interesting move by RR. I should think this points to the development of not only one variant of the Ultrafan (for the A350) but two. Which one could that be? There are basically four that come to mind:
            1) A slightly smaller version with bleed air for the A330
            2) The same without bleed air for the 787 to replace the Trent 1000
            3) An even smaller version for the NMA
            4) One for single aisle planes.

          • I also think there are two versions of Ultrafan under development. One for widebodies the other for narrowbodies.

            Given the secaracy with regard to Pearl? Well be don’t know!

  19. When is the merger (or take over) with Embraer going to be completed?

    If I was Boeing I’d get rid of the top at Boeing and replace them (mostly) with Embraer guys.

  20. It’s very hard to judge Mulli without knowing the strategy.
    In my opinion, it would have been better and more trustworthy to take the blame and apologize.
    Boeing didn’t do, and thus lost all trust they ever had with me. It’s a broken company. Yes, they’ve got great financials, but their products suck and they can’t even develop airplanes anymore.
    The B787 was lucky not to see losses early, all the fires did occur in favorable situations – none happen with long distance to an alternate.
    The reason: Wrong risk assessment, self-certification, production quality etc. – all the same story seen @ Max.
    B787 is now a great plane but was late, expensive, etc. – will it ever earn money?
    B748 was a bad decision.
    Kc46 is a disaster so far.
    B737Max was late and broken.
    B777x is late and has issues, on top you are depending on the gulf carriers.

    So as it looks like, to get away juristical Boeing does not ask itself the questions, how they could ever let the Max fly. Rather they are blaming their customers, pilots, etc.
    It might be a good decision in terms of law and financials, but trust is lost.

    And a 7 month grounding without an end and adding a 3rd sensor doesn’t rebuild my trust at least.
    We’ll see what the Pax will do, but if operators see a lower booking factor on Max flights, it’s dead.

    • I would say the KC-46 is the same mess the A330MRT was. A mess not a disaster.

      Australia elected to take their (and so has the USAF) and it took the RAAF 5 years to work out to where they were fully mission capable.

  21. Boeing thought it had become untoucheable, regulators & politicians
    in the pocket. It got away with 787 certification (batteries), 787 deferred cost (cash flow!), 737 MAX / 777X grandfathered certification, tanker contract fixing and a 777X subsidy vulcano.

    Squeezing the supply chain, steering congress, hugging presidents, paralizing FAA by continiously demanding reforms, streamlining sending DoC after BBD, Trump after Airbus. Outcommunicating small carriers after crashes, against an enormous backlog & growing stock price. Buy-backs, optimist forecasts, perception management, the proud #1 US exporter.

    -> 10.ooo ft above the law.

    Stock owners are still in collective denial. Grounding, cash out & order cancellations will sober them up.

    • No it won’t.

      Maconda era rules that were mandatory are now being rolled back.

      Boeing will give as much as they think they have to and no more.

      then it will start all over again.

      Its not Boeing, its the system (not that Boeing is not an outlier as far as going to the extreme but just more so because its hugely public).

  22. The failure to ground the fleet before Ethopian was an act of criminal negliegnce. There was ample evidence to suggest that MCAS acted in a way that significantly contributed to the crash. Rather then ground the fleet they allowed it to operate while they “figured it out”. This is an appalling decision. Mullenberger should not only be fired, he should be charged.

    • “Rather then ground the fleet they allowed it to operate while they “figured it out”. ”
      … How to implicate the pilots .. again.

      I would like to see previous Boeing issues judged to be crew failure revisited. AND I’d like to see MH370 revisited in the same way.
      Back then we saw the same character assassinations that dominated the press outflow in MCAS context.
      Same bad style intended to distract found in conjunction with the Korean Air 777 cartwheel. That really was a hoot of bad taste showcasing the prevalent stance linked to anything not American.

      How would an alternate history “MCAS caused crash of an AA MAX” have been handled?

      • Same way as the MD10. Crashes were not taken seriously until a MD10 crashed state side.

        I do think JATR shows that outside regulators have had enough. I think a parting of the waves will occur. Outside regulators will form a group to certify US airplanes independently of the FAA. The JATR group may be the start of that group.

        Anyway, no handover of Boeing’s fix to the FAA. At least it’s not been made public that there has been a handover.

        • Forming a group is a bad idea for a overall AHJ. .

          Assessment they did a terrific job.

          More AHJ the more different eyes looking at it and staying away from group speak.

  23. The 787 development mess supports your claim that Boeing rarely fires people outright.

    The project boss was still around years after the board had to reset the initial development mess, in some ‘future’ role in which he mis-represented the problem as suppliers (it was both some bad suppliers like Smiths Yakima/Chelton and some bad Boeing managers, and project bosses ignoring what the military division told them about fooling themselves).

    Recall Boeing botched the Wedgetail surveillance aircraft program, the lead customer publicly criticized Boeing in the area of its largest customer (Washington DC area where the Pentagon offices are).

    The 787 program was seeing the same sloppiness, lack of motivation to do quality work, and haste as the JTAR report revealed for MCAS.

    And I see the name Sinnet or such mentioned in these threads of yours, as still in Boeing, sounds familiar from 787.

    • I think it is pretty well acknowledged that the radar contractor had a substantial part in the Wedgetail delays, having promised a system it had not actually tested or even designed, and that Boeing agreed to take to blame for reasons unknown:


      [my guess would be there were offsetting contracts between the two vendors in black programs and that neither wanted a public fight over a smaller contract]

      The desire to blame Boeing for everything that has gone wrong in aviation since Lt. Selfridge’s death is strong in these threads however.

      • RAAF always want next years best thing. Look at Aus military procurement history. Suspect they were probably asking for something which still had to be invented. Not conducive to on time development. From my point of view the F-35 smells of RAAF thinking, hence the big delay

        • Aussies tend to go to wanting it build down under and adding their own blends (subs) .

          F-35 is a take it or leave it. Small air force that is facing a very large opponent.

          Some identifications the Aussies are taking entire systems as are not mucking with them.

          • Hi TW, my take on Aussie F-35 is that the aircraft is being developed just as the RAAF want it, meaning a high level of capability from the start. B-21 seems to be the opposite, take what they can get straight away, develop/rebuild later. In today’s rapidly changing development enviroment I think the later approach is smarter, even though I’m Australian. The delay caused by the ‘must be perfect’ approach forced us to buy stopgap Superhornets, not cheap, in the 70s we had to take F-4s short term as faster than American F-111Cs suffered from development delays. Better to take what you can get now than run into F-35 type delays.

    • Right? Are they running in a circuit in a giant social club, or running businesses? This is ridiculous.

  24. Could current 737-MAX’s return to the sky economically, IF they flew with flaps all the time? i.e. as in the recent Silk Air ferry flight, required to keep flaps in all the way. This would restrict their altitude and speed obviously. And I’m assuming the near stall pitch up issue would be moot also with the flaps out? If the FAA allowed this configuration to fly, would it be safe and more economical for the airlines to fly a crippled 737-MAX, rather than having a lot of hot, expensive tin sitting out in some desert waiting until Boeing has a fix? Planes flying make money, planes sitting lose money. They can’t compete with current aircraft, but, can they compete with empty gates and overbooked flights, that look to be coming for the busy holiday season? There’s also the question if the flying public would board them. Airlines are cancelling 1000’s of flights currently.

    • I said that a long time ago. TransWorld wasn’t amused.

      It would be interesting to know the minimum extension to take away the pitch up tendency.

      But flaps on the 737 MAX are not certified above 250 knots. So they must be retracted before the speed reaches 250 knots

      • An aircraft with its flaps down is a wounded duck so that is not viable.

        Far easier ways to deal with it (not that they will let you)

        NG would be a choice though we have to look at how the Manual Trim gets resolved (or not) very little in that area lately.

        NG is still being made.

    • Regulators will not allow this. There is so much else wrong, not only MCAS.
      But it’s remarkable that it wasn’t in Boeing’s buletin and FAA’s AD after the Lion Air crash.

    • I wouldn’t want to fly in a plane under those circumstances! What are you thinking?

  25. As a cold blooded business decision, the Board may decide to take chapter 11 protection if the software fix will not fly (pun intended) and they are faced with closing down the line for a few months as well as retrofitting about 1000 frames with a new tail in the end. They will need to limit the exposures involved and fight another day for other shareholders after the old equity gets shorn or wiped out.

    The lawyers will love that and even Uncle Sammy MAGA will like it as it will provide the necessary justification to bail out B in the National Interest,

    Scott, have you picked up any rumors to that effect under the usual “contingency planning” label?

    • Boeing has too much by the way of assets and not a lot of debt to be eligible for Chapter 11. The compensation payouts , over a number of years, are easily covered by the cash flow of the business or its debt raising ability.

      • You mean the assets with wings that keep piling up in storage and that might turn out to be worth exactly zip, along with their production tools?

        • They have close to $10B in liquid assets and the capability to borrow a lot more. And even if they decided to cut their losses and discontinue the 737 altogether (very unlikely they would do that, I think), the wide-body and defence businesses would still be profitable.

  26. I have been a Board Chair in my life AND a CEO. NEVER at the same time. TOTALLY different roles. The Chair needs to be able to put the CEO’s feet to the fire when needed. I can’t imagine a Chair putting his own feet to the fire. Where is the oversight? This whole debacle seems to be one of no oversight.

  27. Fox is announcing final simulator tests of MAX fix will be run in November, with FAA observing. No mention of EASA, Canada or China. No mention of any actual test flights either.

    At best the birds will be back flying sometime in March, a full year after grounding.

    Of course, if the pesky foreigners get uppity, this timetable may slip – a lot!

  28. This will be the day B is going to remember as we now learn critical texts from 2016 (around certification time) between senior test pilots have been withheld from the FAA for over four months.
    The texts reportedly reveal MCAS was running rampant in the simulator and driving one of the authors to drink cold Grey Goose. How could this not have surfaced then, and even more specially now?!
    The rotten smell has suddenly gotten worse in Chicago headquarters. The cover up is the main issue here with Congress unamused.
    Dennis will be testifying there soon and his tenure may have become extremely precarious

    • Justice department apparently has had them for a while. It looks like somebody said ‘oops, FAAs gonna find out soon, better send ’em a copy before the ask.’

    • One Boeing Test pilot now working for a major US carrier is pleading the 5th amendment to keep his pilots notes out of DoJ hands. Looks like the test pilots are part of this and me thinks all those YouTube vids of boing test pilots making safety pledges suggests this.

  29. To: From: Sent: Subject:
    Forkner, Mark A; Gustavsson, Patrik H Forkner, Mark A
    Wed 11/16/2016 2:55:56 AM (UTC)
    Conversation with Forkner, Mark A
    Mark Forkner 6:46 PM:
    dude, log off!
    Gustavsson, Patrik H 6:46 PM:
    You too!!!
    I just logged on to check my schedule. I have so much to do that I want to work from home I just cant get stuff done in the office
    Mark Forkner 6:47 PM:
    nah, I’m locked in my hotel room with an ice cold grey goose, I’ll probably fire off a few dozen inappropriate emails before I call
    it a night
    Gustavsson, Patrik H 6:47 PM:
    Mark Forkner 6:47 PM:
    this job is insane
    Gustavsson, Patrik H 6:47 PM:
    So did you get anything done in the sim today?
    Or what is the normal chaos there?
    Mark Forkner 6:48 PM:
    although it must be easy compared to working as a tech pilot for RYR
    Gustavsson, Patrik H 6:48 PM:
    Well it’s different here. We are pretty busy here for sure.
    Mark Forkner 6:48 PM:
    actually this one is pretty stable, and I signed off some DRs, but there are still some real fundamental issues that they claim
    they’re aware of
    Gustavsson, Patrik H 6:48 PM:
    What I hated about Ryanair was the extreme pressure they put on people
    Ok, that’s good
    Mark Forkner 6:49 PM:
    so I just need to start being a dick to make you quit?
    Gustavsson, Patrik H 6:49 PM:
    LOL, that’s it!
    Mark Forkner 6:49 PM:
    alright, no more mr nice guy!
    actually I’d cry uncontrollably if you left
    I’d ask for a job in sales where I can just get paid to drink with customers and lie about how awesome our airplanes are
    Gustavsson, Patrik H 6:50 PM:
    I’d cry if anyone in our group left.
    Mark Forkner 6:50 PM:
    Oh shocker alerT!
    MCAS is now active down to M .2
    It’s running rampant in the sim on me
    at least that’s what Vince thinks is happening
    Gustavsson, Patrik H 6:51 PM:
    Oh great, that means we have to update the speed trim descritption in vol 2
    Mark Forkner 6:51 PM:
    so I basically lied to the regulators (unknowingly)
    Gustavsson, Patrik H 6:51 PM:
    it wasnt a lie, no one told us that was the case
    Mark Forkner 6:51 PM:
    I’m levelling off at like 4000 ft, 230 knots and the plane is trimming itself like craxy
    I’m like, WHAT?
    Gustavsson, Patrik H 6:52 PM:
    that’s what i saw on sim one, but on approach
    I think thats wrong
    Mark Forkner 6:52 PM:
    granted, I suck at flying, but even this was egregious
    Gustavsson, Patrik H 6:52 PM:
    No, i think we need aero to confirm what its supposed to be doing
    Mark Forkner 6:53 PM:
    Vince is going to get me some spreadsheet table that shows when it’s supposed to kick in.
    why are we just now hearing about this?
    Gustavsson, Patrik H 6:53 PM:
    I don’t know, the test pilots have kept us out of the loop
    It’s really only christine that is trying to work with us, but she has been too busy
    Mark Forkner 6:54 PM:
    they’re all so damn busy, and getting pressure from the program
    Gustavsson, Patrik H 6:54 PM:
    That is true, I wouldnt want to be them
    Ok, its time to log off
    Mark Forkner 6:55 PM:
    ok later man
    Gustavsson, Patrik H 6:55 PM:
    I’ll work from home tomorrow, be online all day later


    • Thanks for posting a more complete copy of the texts Bubba. I read five or so business news articles on the subject yesterday and they were all about the same, and only included copy of the most startling portions, specifically:

      Mark Forkner 6:51 PM:
      so I basically lied to the regulators (unknowingly)


      Mark Forkner 6:51 PM:
      I’m levelling off at like 4000 ft, 230 knots and the plane is trimming itself like craxy

      What they left out:

      Gustavsson, Patrik H 6:51 PM:
      it wasnt a lie, no one told us that was the case

      Which was right in-between the two statements above in the complete copy, but was conveniently left out of the media reports. Seems to me some in the business news media would like BA stock to tank so it could be bought artificially cheep, and that they are cherry picking the presentation of facts to help achieve that.

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