737 MAX special report

Oct. 16, 2019: AlJazeera produced a 30 minute special report on the Boeing 737 MAX.

Unlike the hour-long hit piece on the 787 several years ago, undertaken with questionable tactics, this one is well done.

See the report below.

The US House Transportation Committee will hear from Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg on Oct. 30. The hearing should be streamed live via the US House Transportation Hearings web site.

Boeing’s third quarter earnings call is next Wednesday.

149 Comments on “737 MAX special report

  1. The hubris of the men who were put in charge of Boeing these past couple decades is never more apparent than in this video. When you have a society so stripped of oversight, it can sure come back to haunt the human beings that unfortunately suffer the consequences and who’s survivors are left to the courts to seek justice. But that’s they way it was sold to the uninformed.

    • Some Boards have ‘compliance auditors’ that bypass the power of the CEO in regards to critical regulations or policies. I suspect that the B737 MAX was still statistically safer than undertaking the same journey by road transport in Ethiopia or Indonesia, its no consolation or an excuse for what happened but it might put it in context. Aviation is held to much higher standards than say road or media. The men that run Boeing may have hubris but I think the men that run and collude to run the media are far more arrogant, mercenary, partisan and outright malevolent than anyone at Boeing. Any criticism the media levels at Boeing should be viewed in that context. With rare exception (eg the Work of Dominic Gates at the Seattle Times, Leeham) any rage directed at Boring or its workers should be moderated that there are greater sins.

      • Arrogant and partisan, that’s what your comment is. I can’t find any fault in this report.
        The truth about Boeing and the FAA must be so painful for you that you prefer to cast yourself an alternative ‘reality ‘. You might instead look reality in the face and try to cope.

        • I made general comments about media not comments as the this specific AlJazeera piece. At this point the credibility of the general media is that of something waiting to be flushed. I would find any Boeing executive on average a decent human being which can’t be said for the average media executive. I’ve seen them try to make people cry, I’ve seen them press brown skinned ladies to say they were victims of racism for several minutes (which they denied) till they got the answers they want. I’ve see them ambush and misrepresent interviewees all the time. Compared to this a Boeing executive had to deal with complex allocation of resources, planning, procedures that that could fail in many ways: commercially, safety wise, time line wise. The FAA didn’t mess up. It did all that Congress asked it to do..

          • William:

            Verbal abuse to someone is not fatal.

            Executives hiding behind their we did not know the consequences smack all to well of a prior war about “we did not know”

            I have no issue with someone who knows and realizes there is nothing they can do about the situation except get killed.

            Executives are the ones calling the shots (in some case literally). They get paid the big bucks supposedly for their capability and when they fail hiding behind we did not know does not begin to cut it.

          • “ I would find any Boeing executive on average a decent human being which can’t be said for the average media executive.”

            You would be wrong. You will find Boeing executives more concerned about their stock options than anything else. The average line worker at Boeing is hard working, conscientious and abhors what has happened to Boeing since the takeover of upper management by McDonnell Douglas. The Boeing executives are right there at the bottom with media executives. Unfortunately, Boeing is indicative of the rot in the corporate arena across the board. The MBA “bottom line” mentality has destroyed American business and has unfortunately spread to boardrooms across the globe. The words that need to be used with Boeing and the 737MAX are “criminal negligence”.

        • Garbage commenters are groupies with false self-esteem, they get their self-worth from the collective, thus have to denigrate other collectives, not from living life the best they could, not from content of character.

          • Beauty, or as here ” garbage ” lies in the eye of the beholder.

      • I think the media are doing a very good job. That is especially true of the US media. Yes, the US media are printing the words of those who think they are John Wayne with super human piloting skills. But then they have to. The US media are also finding the facts and printing the facts taking into account that Boeing and the FAA are not exactly forthcoming with the facts.

        I congratulate the US media, including LNA, even though LNA had a bad start when they blindly blamed the pilots, at the invitation of Boeing, after the Lion Air crash.

        Returning to the facts. It been a long drawn out process. There is still more to come, a lot more. The JATR report is stunning in it’s severity. But JATR members have made it clear they will establish the facts independently of the FAA and Boeing or they won’t allow the 737 MAX to return to service.

        I think the FAA and Boeing will resist. But I don’t think JATR members can back down. If they do they will be a laughing stock.

          • Why would they?

            Its a well presented report.

            The US media sadly is famous for getting technical details wrong, liberal arts majors are not conducive to a good tech background.

            Fortunately on this issue the big guns have been employed and the local news element is gratefully missing and its been a good job of reporting.

        • I used to be a member of the media. And now I study the media. Most people in the media don’t know what is simplistically meant by “the media.” But just like the FAA, the mainstream media has had to do a great deal with dwindling resources and advertisement revenue. Investigative reporting has suffered while blogs written by people with little to no information have ballooned. I think the Seattle Times should get a Pulitzer Prize. They tore the lid off of this issue. Still, to get more information, I have relied on blogs, and (even better) the comments section of sophisticated blogs (like this one) where engineers, pilots, professionals in the industry, industry PR shills, and trolls come together with lightning speed peer review. Because of this, I know much more than I would ever have known in the past about an issue like this. I was very disappointed with the NY Times Magazine piece criticizing the pilots. It was an old fashioned Hemingwayesque piece of trash. But I quickly learned that I was not alone in my opinion. Experts — even Sully — blasted the piece. And there were other, much more sophisticated pieces about the struggles of the Ethiopian Airlines pilot, like the brilliant piece written by Dave Walker which I originally found referenced on this site (https://medium.com/@dawalk6/accident-timeline-of-ethiopian-302-ed20e33f900a ). The executives at Boeing clearly behaved immorally. And yes, we do have extremely high standards for the airline industry. Just try changing these standards and you won’t get people on airplanes. But Boeing has revealed that there is something radically wrong with not only their corporate culture, but the general corporate culture that has evolved during these last 40 years of the Long Reagan Era. It’s tragic, but now, I can at least use their profits-first decision making as a foundation for criticism of decisions made in other sectors. And by the way, as a former member of the media, I thought the piece on the 787 was a crappy hack job that didn’t satisfy the most basic media standards just like the 737 max doesn’t satisfy the most basic quality standards of the airline industry.

          • Boeing was in a hurry and the skills of the top 737 engineering managers and Project managers were not enough. The FAA were neither skilled enough. Lots of airliner Technical managers and airline cheif pilots did not catch it either, probably they never asked for this detailed control logic and redundancy not being aware of MCAS. Hence nobody did harm on purpose and the Aircraft was legally certified by FAA/EASA and the rest.
            Still today after 2 crashes everybody sees the system faults that nobody saw back then.
            That tells you the system need to be improved and that check lists ticked with a fault get evaluated carefully and some changes triggers full risk analysis and testing with combination of induced faults. Top engineering and FAA certification skills are Required to sort thru 1000’s of Changes and decide which requires what actions if not already defined in the FAA/EASA certification or Boeing internal design rules documents as an approved Aircraft design organisation.

          • Claes,

            you mean Boeing can’t build safe planes anymore or doesn’t want to.

            The MAX wasn’t legally certified, you only get documents in your application certified, not documents with changes you keep under your pillow. Boeing doesn’t have a legal certification for the MAX.

            Regulators don’t need to check everything 100%, but Boeing needs to respect and follow regulations 100%. If they want exeptions from regulations they need to apply for it and describe how regulations are met.

        • They should going back to fix the original design flaw first rather than trying to certify that flying coffin. By the way who is going to fly that plane with “obese” GE engines on it?

      • ” I suspect that the B737 MAX was still statistically safer than undertaking the same journey by _road transport in Ethiopia or Indonesia_ , its no consolation or an excuse for what happened but it might put it in context. ”

        That my dear is not the relevant peer group for a safety related comparison in context of air transport.

      • How can you use such arguments : ” I suspect that the B737 MAX was still statistically safer than undertaking the same journey by road transport in Ethiopia or Indonesia, its no consolation or an excuse for what happened but it might put it in context “

        • I’d like to hear the same guy “express himself” if the MAX had been an Airbus product. Eardrum piercing shrilling trepidations.

      • The real need is full integration, safety should not be a thing on its own.

        The JTAR report recommends Boeing integrate better.

        I see the un-natural split as supported by the Kant-Marx fork off of Plato’s mind-body dichotomy.

        Of course

      • So William you think it any serious job by Boeing have an MAX MCAS doing something completely different to NG, no new simulator training , missing references in manuals?

        What are your excuses for this?

        I don’t deny that the media is worse than Boeing overall but you can still get to some information to what happen when it is a big case like this.

    • That’s Capitalism run by evil greedy Capitalists….a USA tendency since Reagan who’s policies of greed and prejudice I’m sure are sadly the political father of Trump. I suggest we stop the evil and vote out ALL GOP heard hearted evil men and the few misguided women subservient to them. Maybe think the future with Social Capitalists – with emphasis on “social”, not shareholders.

      • What was aviation safety like under China’s Mao and the USSR? What was aviation safety like in Cambodia under Pol Pot (no capitalists and very few aircraft). Aviation accident rate has reduced from about 0.6 per million flights prevalent in early B747/DC10/B737 classic to less than 0.08 for the B737NG. All under capitalism with a legal framework of course. Anyone under capitalism that produces bad products goes out of business or bankrupt. In a centralised system they are protected by their political position. The A320neo has never had a fatality nor has the B787 or A350. I think we’ve had one B777 accident caused by a faulty approach. Without ‘greedy capitalists’ you either don’t have air crashes because the economy is so bad no one can afford aircraft or you have a lot because poorly maintained second hand aircraft crash. Ronald Reagan (once a Democrat who remarked he didn’t leave the democrats, they left him) was a affable and decent man. He doesn’t deserve to be singled out as uniquely bad. Under President Reagan, federal revenues increased even with tax cuts, federal spending did not decrease, the country experienced the longest period of sustained growth during peacetime in its history, and the rich paid more taxes proportionately than they had before the tax cuts were implemented. I’m not even American.

        • William wrote: “Anyone under capitalism that produces bad products goes out of business or bankrupt. In a centralised system they are protected by their political position.”

          In September Muilenburg stated that the MAX might return in phases around the world due to the current state of regulatory divide on approving the airplane.

          FAA will protect Boeing. Obviously Boeing and FAA don’t want to respect regulations and the world will know. I can see a bankrupt Boeing.

        • William, you apparently don’t understand the fundamental difference between Communism and Social Capitalism.
          Social Capitalism in its best form can be found in countries like Sweden, Norway and Denmark, closely followed by Germany, France and many other European countries. These states differ from “free” capitalism like in the US for example in that the state has a health care system, an pension (retirement) system, an education system and more like it obligatory for every citizen. These states have also a closer control over food controls, safety for workers etc. So in many ways there is more state control over companies and individuals than you may be used to.
          Is that bad? Is is Communism?
          I don’t think so. Part of that Social Capitalism is that institutions like the EASA are all fully staffed and nobody would dare asking them to outsource parts of their work to the industry.

          • Actually Gundolf I think EASA do delegate some aspects to the airframers, if they have far more technical expertise, it makes sense to do so, but, and it’s a very big but, EASA retain oversight.

            Patrick Ky is quoted in

            “Yes, there was a problem in this notion of delegation by the FAA of the MCAS safety assessment to Boeing,” Ky told the EU Parliament committee.

            “This would not happen in our system,” he insisted. “Everything which is safety-critical, everything which is innovative … has to be seen by us and not delegated.”

            EASA relied on the FAA to be doing something similar with BA, as it turn out not to be the case, the FAA will have to prove themselves to EASA all over again, they’re not just going to take the FAA’s word at face value anymore.

          • The small export oriented family life oriented Scandinavian kingdoms and the republics Finland and Iceland run an expensive system that they still barely can afford.
            Their system would not work in a bigger country like the US and they often copy trends from the US with a time lag of 10-20 years. Still I agree that they are pretty quick to enforce EU regulations and be ahead of standards in their products, the gouverment keeping track of who owns and earns what for a prettty effective computerized tax collection that quickly is spent of health, welfare and education.
            Still the US is much different even though with a big historic German and Nordic Immigation in the 1900’s it should work out its unique solutions. Just look at the minor different “Swedish” Wisconsin/Minnesota, “Finnish” Michigan UP and “German” Ohio/Illinois is from the rest of the US.

        • The problem with blogs is that people can create unsupported history and vent pure ideology. Reagan’s first act was the anti-labor, anti-union firing of the air traffic controllers. What was aviation safety like under Mao and the USSR? I know that the USSR’s innovation and aerospace program rivaled and sometimes exceeded that of the USA. Meanwhile, the New Deal, Keynesian economics embraced by the USA which mixed both capitalism and socialism transformed the western world producing a quality of life that was unparalleled in history. Reagan and Margaret Thatcher set out to dismantle this system and now we are reaping the fruits of their efforts.

          • The USA already is “social capitalist” by any measure of this somewhat oxymoron term. The generosity and proportion of wealth distribution in the US is no less astonishing. It’s German, not so much Scandinavian in origin having been developed by Otto von Bismark as “social insurance” to promote social harmony eliminate class warfare that threatened to combine with Marxism to destabilise. The Germans(Prussians) were the First Nation to have free compulsory schooling and the USA copied it. It’s somewhat a response to Napoleons invasions of the German states which showed organisation at a national level was necessary. (The Prussian System was decried at the time since it focused on practical literacy rather than a classic education etc) Social Insurance: first retirement, sickness and finally unemployment protection was added in. It’s probably a tendency of cold climate people who have an atavistic fear of freezing and dying of lung infections. Scandinavian socialism is stronger because of natural resources, cognitive advantages and the avoidance of war and ethnic conflict. Changing for the worse now. These system will self destruct. Where there are resources easier to plunder by appropriation rather than toil parasites inevitably develop. They include both elites, aliens and lower groups. I’ve seen young Swedish boys sleep rough in the cold (in kiruna and elsewhere) and in the cold and I pretty much regard social activism as little more than virtue signalling than compassion.

            In an effort to keep this relevant its obvious that Government involvement in the creation of Airbus was essential but it took the form of creating a cooperative common market for the Airbus product to get economies of scale which France and Britain recognised. You can call the mover and shaker behind airbus Franz Josef Strauss whatever you like but certainly not socialist.

          • Let’s not go down this path of political debate.


      • We’ll vote them out right after we build AOCs bridge between the USA mainland and Hawaii.

      • “since Reagan who’s policies of greed and prejudice”

        Full of prejudice no facts, tell me the there was increased or worse airline safety since Reagan?

        I mean you are obviously a person that thinks everything is political, so i am sure you can answer that and give the appropriate political praise…

        • @Alex, @Joe: This is not a political forum. Dial it back.


  2. Interested hearing Bjorn rate the Lionair pilot’s efforts as better than average. Might upset some people, though.

    • “Better than Average”? When the prior crew of the same airplane had the same fault and were saved by an Observer pilot in the flight deck who told them to flip the Stab Trim Cutout switches to “Off” and saved that prior flight? This Al Jazeera video is disappointing. It only interviews those with self-serving interests. Did Boeing screw up? Absolutely. Shameful. But let’s ensure all “links” in the accident chain are identified. Stab Trim Cutout is a standard response to a runaway stabilizer. Neither crew used it to save the flight. Ethiopian did, but couldn’t recover with throttles at takeoff thrust. So they turned the Stab Trim Cutout switch back to on, which doomed the flight. Other pilots around the world have experienced the same fault, and reacted – per the QRH – to recover the airplane without breaking a sweat. This is not about cost. This is not about pressure. People doing the work (at the working level) ultimately have good intentions. It was a design screwup, no doubt. But it always takes several links to create the accident chain. Insufficiently trained pilots is one.

      • Why are you repeating these company talking points, which have been clearly refuted — most recently by Sully Sullenberger? In a letter to the New York Times, he states: “I am also one of the few who have flown a Boeing 737 MAX Level D full motion simulator, replicating both accident flights multiple times. I know firsthand the challenges the pilots on the doomed accident flights faced, and how wrong it is to blame them for not being able to compensate for such a pernicious and deadly design. These emergencies did not present as a classic runaway stabilizer problem, but initially as ambiguous unreliable airspeed and altitude situations, masking MCAS.”

        • The B737MAX does not conform to 25.1322 Flightcrew alerting since it received dispensation due to its age which I think may be why the MAX has not yet been ungrounded. MCAS of course had no alerts at all and the removal of the using both sensors seems to have been a way of trying to let the pilots know that there was a fault by manifesting the fault as an upset rather than have it linger. Obviously more should be done to avoid letting faulty alpha sensors effecting air speed and altitude data as the effect of angle of attack on the pitot static tubes must be minimal.
          FAR 25.1322
          (a) Flightcrew alerts must:
          (1) Provide the flightcrew with the information needed to:
          (i) Identify non-normal operation or airplane system conditions, and
          (ii) Determine the appropriate actions, if any.
          (2) Be readily and easily detectable and intelligible by the flightcrew under all foreseeable operating conditions, including conditions where multiple alerts are provided.
          (3) Be removed when the alerting condition no longer exists.
          (b) Alerts must conform to the following prioritization hierarchy based on the urgency of flightcrew awareness and response.
          (1) Warning: For conditions that require immediate flightcrew awareness and immediate flightcrew response.
          (2) Caution: For conditions that require immediate flightcrew awareness and subsequent flightcrew response.
          (3) Advisory: For conditions that require flightcrew awareness and may require subsequent flightcrew response.
          (c) Warning and caution alerts must:
          (1) Be prioritized within each category, when necessary.
          (2) Provide timely attention-getting cues through at least two different senses by a combination of aural, visual, or tactile indications.
          (3) Permit each occurrence of the attention-getting cues required by paragraph (c)(2) of this section to be acknowledged and suppressed, unless they are required to be continuous.
          (d) The alert function must be designed to minimize the effects of false and nuisance alerts. In particular, it must be designed to:
          (1) Prevent the presentation of an alert that is inappropriate or unnecessary.
          (2) Provide a means to suppress an attention-getting component of an alert caused by a failure of the alerting function that interferes with the flightcrew’s ability to safely operate the airplane. This means must not be readily available to the flightcrew so that it could be operated inadvertently or by habitual reflexive action. When an alert is suppressed, there must be a clear and unmistakable annunciation to the flightcrew that the alert has been suppressed.
          (e) Visual alert indications must:
          (1) Conform to the following color convention:
          (i) Red for warning alert indications.
          (ii) Amber or yellow for caution alert indications.
          (iii) Any color except red or green for advisory alert indications.
          (2) Use visual coding techniques, together with other alerting function elements on the flight deck, to distinguish between warning, caution, and advisory alert indications, if they are presented on monochromatic displays that are not capable of conforming to the color convention in paragraph (e)(1) of this section.
          (f) Use of the colors red, amber, and yellow on the flight deck for functions other than flightcrew alerting must be limited and must not adversely affect flightcrew alerting.

          • The last crew to fly the Lionair frame did have an AoA sensor warning. It was called an off duty pilot. I think William has hit the nail on the head regarding the reason behind the continuing grounding. I wonder whether the FAA will ever be sued for failing to enforce the US’s own FARs? Might wipe out the savings made from undermanning. What a farce. The underfunding will end up costng US aerospace billions, nor just with the MAX but in the reguatory skepicism which future US models will face in other markets.

          • There are no details of the AoA sensor reading on the flight before. It’s very possible that the sensor corrected itself and the spare pilot did nothing.

          • @philip, I don’t know how often MCAS triggers in real life. It’s expected that it’s quite rare, but I”ve not heard of any numbers. Once a year in a large fleet, once a day, once an hour? As for the AOA on the previous flight (JT043), there is data in the preliminary report from KNKT. I’m not sure if this is raw AOA data or FCC AOA data. (They refer to the previous flight JT043 as PK-LQP in the KTNT report, page 19)
            one thing that is interesting .. in Peter Lemme’s analysis, he mentions on the JT610 accident flight, they put in flaps, (which should kill MCAS) and the aircraft still trimmed but, not due to speed trim correctly? As Boeing is now redoing the FCC, it makes you wonder if something with the FCC software is in error? Or if the flap switch wasn’t working? Something with a hic-cup? This aircraft had issues with the speed system previously, and that why they changed the AOA sensor, in the first place. I hope someone has taken a look at the errors produced by the electronic aircraft logs in the past and tried to figure out what was going wrong. If it pointed to the AOA sensors or maybe also something else with the FCC? From Peter Lemme’s analysis…
            3) Flaps Down
            Trim event from FCC, but with flaps down it should not be MCAS
            and it goes the wrong way for speed trim (still working what this is)
            see JT610 in this link for the above verbage)

          • “”3) Flaps Down
            Trim event from FCC, but with flaps down it should not be MCAS
            and it goes the wrong way for speed trim (still working what this is)””

            when EASA made tests they recognized that the FCC was very slow, I think it was engaging and disengaging the autopilot.
            LA610 pilots might have tried many things, MCAS too, but if the FCC is slow maybe some comnands were still waiting in line to be processed.

      • Jayson

        “I am also one of the few who have flown a Boeing 737 MAX Level D full motion simulator, replicating both accident flights multiple times. I know firsthand the challenges the pilots on the doomed accident flights faced, and how wrong it is to blame them for not being able to compensate for such a pernicious and deadly design.”


        Perhaps re-read https://leehamnews.com/2019/10/11/jatr-study-damning-to-boeing-faa-new-york-times-says/ carefully.

        Your “Other pilots around the world have experienced the same fault, and reacted – per the QRH – to recover the airplane without breaking a sweat.” could you provide evidence please ? I’m sure we’d all be very interested to see it.

        Yes training can always be improved (1 hour on an iPad should cover it or can it )?

        Lion Air pilots were not aware that MCAS existed !
        “did not present as a classic runaway stabilizer problem, but initially as ambiguous unreliable airspeed and altitude situations, masking MCAS” again from Capt. “Sully” Sullenberger same link as above.

        Ethiopian didn’t throttle back; the nose is pointing towards the ground, you’re getting “Don’t sink” warnings, stick shaker stall warning, and running out of altitude; Q. What happens to a 737 when you reduce power ? A. The nose drops which is the opposite of what you’re trying desperately to achieve.

        It’s way more complicated, please do some more research.

  3. Yes Boeing has a responsibility here. But some industries are regulated for a reason – the interests of the company are in conflict with the interests of society.

    The FAA’s responsibly was to represent society. To understand what happened imagine a classroom with a teacher to keep order.

    1. The teacher keeps order and all is well.
    2. Then to save money it is decided perhaps sometimes while the teacher is out designated students will try keep order and report issues. This may still work.
    3. Then it is decided that the students reporting issues report not to the teacher but class leaders who report to the teacher. But those class leaders are (implicitly) graded on how often there are issues.

    I think everyone agrees this will never work. Yet that is the system the FAA and Congress ended up at. This has nothing to do with the integrity of the organizations and people it is just matter of getting what you incentive.

    • You are making a fundamental mistake in what the FAA is.

      The FAA is two tasked.

      one if to encourage aviation (cheerleader). The other is to regulate it.

      Those are contradictory and its often been suggested that this be split.

      NTSB is the one with the publics interest only, its hampered (deliberately) by its investigation and conclusions are recommendations not mandatory.

      The FAA decides if its economical feasible (cheerleader) to implement them. While there is merit to that need to weigh risk vs consequences , it also has a downside.

      Ironically something like 250 to 400 thousand deaths are due to medical errors each year. Air crashes are so much more dramatic than a single patient going belly up.

        • No. absolutely not.
          NTSB works well because it has no clash of interests and no power to enforce and thus does not have the eye of “optimizing” politicians.
          FAA works significantly less well because it is servant to ( at least ) two masters : regulating air traffic and furthering US aerospace interests and the attached industries.
          It has power and that attracts those forces that lobby for various interest groups. common denominator for all those is they want demotion of (controlling) regulations.

          • FAA is divided in 4 ‘lines of business’
            Air Traffic
            Aviation Safety
            Commercial Space Transport

            Aviation safety should be separate bureau to FAA, much like FBI is independent but within the Justice Department.
            You dont have the FBI and Bureau of prisons within the same bureaucracy

      • That was a strained metaphor for the ODA system and recent changes to it. For a long time the FAA designated reps were paid by Boeing but reported to the FAA. I believe this is workable as long as the independence of those reps is protected. But recently the system was changed, those reps now report to Boeing managers who are the only channel to the FAA.

        This new system is clearly fraught with potential conflict of interest and should be changed.

  4. “….last year 96% of Boeing’s certification was delegated to the company…” It would be interesting to know how much of that delegation was on the 737 MAX. The delegation of findings of compliance by an aircraft manufacturer falls into different categories. Many delegated findings in a company like Boeing may not be on Type Certificate approval (new designs like the MAX), but may be on other not Type Certificate approvals, given by Boeing to operators for in service issues not covered in approved manuals (Structural Repair Manuals, Aircraft Maintenance Manuals, etc.). Again it would be interesting to know how much of that delegation was on the 737 MAX.
    Regulatory delegation to industry has been used successfully in the past and continues to be used successfully in other companies and in other countries. The reported relationship between Boeing and the FAA on the MAX certification has taken that delegation process too far. Shame on both Boeing and the FAA.

    • Certification wise busy Boeing projects in 2018 ( my guess):
      737MAX10, 777X.
      737MAX7-9 are done.
      The 737 is more susceptible to take up/produce intricate issues
      as it is a more convoluted product “Rube Goldberg Design”.

      you can’t have people going for brinkmanship and winning at all cost and a toolbox of “anything goes”
      have their way more or less unsupervised on environmental and/or safety critical things.

    • Not to excuse the shifting of more delegation from the FAA to Boeing ODA, but they did not say if that 96% figure is only on new first of model airplanes, or it includes all certification activity. If it is the latter, that means every airplane that goes out the door has some level of certification completed on it.

      I would argue a system that was meant to help process certification and changes works well for that purpose when it is on later airplanes. But for major changes or using the Changed Product Rule for new model airplanes, I think there needs to be a re-visitation of ODA.

      • ODA has been around for quite a while. What has changed recently, is the Designated FAA rep’s reporting chain. Previously they reported to the FAA but, were paid by Boeing, but, I believe selected by the FAA. In the 737 and maybe a bit before, they report to a Boeing manager, paid by Boeing, and I believe selected by Boeing. Only Boeing management talks to the FAA now. If a Designated FAA rep see’s something or wants to ask about an issue, they don’t ask the FAA, they ask Boeing management, who might or might not talk to the FAA. Boeing after the grounding has changed this now .. and now instead of reporting to a Boeing manager, now they report to a Boeing manager in a Boeing safety office (not a big difference in my view). Since the 737-MAX accidents, and reviews after the groundings, I haven’t seen any change that would stop an MCAS like issue to slip through the cracks again. Has anyone else? I take that back. The FAA now, is not being accepted blindly by foreign certification authorities. That has changed. The level of trust between Boeing, the FAA and the rest of the industry has also gone down. I don’t see the changes to restore the trust in the system yet. I hope to.

  5. @William. You write a response that is numb and dumb at the same time. Wonder if you would have written the same, had one of your family members travelled and died on one of the 2 flights that crashed. It can be concluded that you have run out of human ethics that value life and instead you approve of the deceit and lies that Boeing used to present the MAX as the same plane in flying characteristics when compared to the MG and the classic. Lies abound in Boeing marketing and sales to the airlines who were duped and suckered into an aircraft that is unfit to carry passengers commercially.

    • Not to defend Boeing, but from what I’ve been reading, some airlines (lead by three large American companies) seem to have preferred the update of the 737 NG in favor of an NSA for the simplicity of cost savings on training and commonality. All these companies would have engineers, chief executive officers (CEOs,) lead pilots and mechanics who served as experts in selecting the MAX. I’m sure they were all aware of the weight of those new LEAP engines being moved forward on the wing and the consequences of that.

      • Sam, I think that most airlines depend on Boeing for aeronautical knowledge. I don’t think they have any in house engineers There may be an unofficial engineer, maybe a pilot with some engineering background, but, I doubt anyone with a background like Bjorn in an official capacity. I think they did push on Boeing to minimize any changes, and any additional training. And maybe had some pilot and mechanic input, but, Boeing is the expert, they depend on for the details of the planes on how to fly and fix them.

        • The truth is, everyone could see that Boeing had gotten just about everything it could out of the 737 with the NG. For some reason, Southwest and other American companies still thought Boeing could be the miracle worker — like old can-do Americans of the past (Capt. Kirk, Capt. Dan Roman, etc) –and pull it off. How long did Southwest realistically think it could go on with its magical business model? The same basic airplane for 30, 40, 50, 60 years? Stocking the same parts? No extra pilot training? And now, the fuel efficiency of sleek, plastic, much younger models? It was like discovering the fountain of youth. They pushed Boeing to promise more than it could deliver. And everyone, for some reason, believed it could do it and that it had done it with the Max — a 20th century airplane in the 21st century.

        • “ . I don’t think they have any in house engineers There may be an unofficial engineer, maybe a pilot with some engineering background, but, I doubt anyone with a background like Bjorn in an official capacity‘

          You would be incorrect.

  6. It is amazing, that Airlines who have vested their future in this aircraft which has demonstrated to be a Flop, besides the MCAS issues, have not altogether cancelled these very compromising B737 MAX’s for their flying public. It is a fact that other underlying issues on this aircraft have not been dealt with yet, such as the more forward positioning of these more powerful engines which caused a change in the aircrafts stability and dynamics. The MCAS “Patchwork” is not the ultimate solution to the B737 MAX issues.

      • Very few aviation experts can grasp the whole picture including multiple aspects of aircraft technology (aerodynamics, controls, sensors, computing…), certification, production, finance, supply chain, airline interests, pilot skills, politics, public opinion, etc. etc.. Thus, most of the pundits fall back to the principle of hope, because it has always worked out in the past somehow, because Boeing is too big to fail.
        But this situation is unprecedented.
        Look out for the flight tests with MCAS switched off.

        Regarding the airlines, those sales contracts are quite binding and not easy to cancel outright. Plus, they have no alternative. Airbus is sold out for many years to come.

      • The 737 MAX problems can be overcome but not just with a software fix.

        We will see what JATR member countries say with regard to a software only fix.

        With regard to the contractual obligations of airlines. They will begin to run out and perhaps they are already beginning to run out. The issue? What is the alternative, as Bernardo pointed out.

        • I am assuming by “overcome” you mean something that begins with complex longer landing gear, like that envisioned for the Max 10, which will be followed by a different tail. Has that landing gear or something like it ever been tested? How long will this take. How much will this cost. Won’t these innovations also require lengthy certification. Won’t this make the Max a new aircraft?

    • That is the wrong way. Such simulations are for training purpose. Nobody would have detected the MCAS through such simulations. You simulate errors someone else already expected.

      Someone rather tried to hied errors so how could have pilots detected that error?

      Boeing should have done a full analysis of MCAS in first place. Maybe they even did and disliked the results. It is very hard to delete all the relate E-Mails.

      • In scope of finding design issues:
        Simulator flying is good for interface problems and fine tuning.

        For finding design deficiencies you need in depth analysis
        and weighing of probabilities.
        Boeing created the appearance of avoiding this “by accident”.
        But it was a concious process and effort to create a defect
        that allowed profitable leveraging. ( and her enters Mr. Murder IMHO)

  7. I am glad that AlJazeera focuses on the effect on people, showing raw footage of a husband.
    My humble view is that the fault lies at the door of the FAA. Boeing did what they do, it is the FAA that must provide oversight. Every system works with tension, with two sides looking in to ensure full 360 coverage.

    • No, it’s Boeings responsibility to follow worldwide regulations. FAA certifications mean nothing outside US. Other countries trusted FAA, but that plane has crashed.

      If Boeing wants to fly in other countries they need new certifications in each country they want to fly.

    • Boeing has responsibility to provide a product that does not kill people by incompetent design.

      It is irrelevant is FAA exists or not.

      Boeing 737MAX is called Boeing it is not called Boeing-FAA

  8. It amazes me that people who obviously have NO IDEA what they are talking about want to jump on the “Boeing kills” band wagon. What everyone here fails to realize is that US airlines have been flying multitudes more hours in far more MAX aircraft than all non-US airlines combined, and they never had a problem with the aircraft’s performance once. They also completely fail to see that the airlines that had the crashes have pilots that are put in a plane with a small fraction of the hours that US pilots are required to have and far less training than US pilots. There is also the fact that these little third world airlines have horrible maintenance records to boot.

    The long and short of it is, if you have no idea what you are talking about, just keep your mouth shut. If there were any real justice in this world, the media would be on trial for their constant fear mongering and overly dramatic/light on real facts approach to making millions on other people’s misery approach to reporting.

    • Bla bla pilot fault bla bla American superiority bla bla.
      We’ve been through this for some time now. Why don’t you read up and get educated?

    • Apart from any other inaccuracies, pilot hours do not directly indicate competence.

      Pilot A, 2200 hours, broken down into 200 hours on 737, and 2000 on Cessna 152, 172, ATR 72, and other twin turbo prop aircraft.

      Pilot B, 1000 hours, broken down to 800 hours on 737, 200 on Cessna 152, 172, and other twin turbo prop aircraft.

      Pilot C, 330 hours, broken down to 100 hours on 737, 80 hours Cessna 152 / DA42, 150 hours intensive 737 Level D/Type 7 FFS training with every possible failure scenario covered repeatedly under extreme pressure.

      Pilot D, Captain Eric Melrose “Winkle” Brown.

      Pilot E, Bob Hoover.

      As the last two listed are sadly no longer with us, I’d pick pilot C, or pilot B if I had the option.

    • It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s super Ryan!

      Presumably you have not read the JATR report. Then perhaps you have, but discarded it because wasn’t written by Americans and therefore cannot be right!

      • The JATR report was written by Christopher A. Hart, a former NTSB Chairman.

        • I went overboard. I stand corrected. But Mr Hart didn’t write the report. JTAR did.

    • Ryan, a bird strike on an AoA sensor is not very seldom. The MAX should never crashed because of one sensor failure, maintenance doesn’t matter with bird strikes. Boeing did not flight test a scenario in which AoA malfunctioned. Tell me why.

      On March 14, Boeing reiterated that pilots can always use manual trim control to override software commands, and that both its Flight Crew Operations Manual and November 6 bulletin offer detailed procedures for handling incorrect angle-of-attack readings.
      On April 24, 2019, Muilenburg said the aircraft was properly designed and certificated, and denied that any “technical slip or gap” existed.
      Ryan, you were right if you meant Muilenburg has no idea.

    • Nonsense – were that the case the 737NG would be falling out of the skies all over the world due to infantile pilots and scheming mechanics. Its simply the fact that the MAX was a deathtrap to pilots anywhere.

      • Well said, David Hughes. The poster to which you are replying, Ryan Waldron, perhaps missed what Bjorn Fehrm said in the video, that in his view the Lion Air pilot was “…a more than average pilot in the mastering of the attack which we later learned was MCAS….” , or perhaps he chose to ignore that.

    • @Ryan Waldron

      Aee you serious?

      You miss the fact that US pilots were very lucky to not had an AOA sensor failure during a flight in MAX. Just it, a sheer luck.

      In US jet fighter pilots are ready to fly with only 300 flight hours.

    • Having trained Ethiopian pilots on Boeing aircraft I find your comments indicative of your ignorance and “we are the best” attitude. Maybe you should speak with the test pilots who flew the simulator black box data from the crashed aircraft. I HAVE. Guess what? They crashed as well. Yes, there were some incidents of MCAS with U.S. carriers but one thing you fail to mention is where were they in the flight profile? To paint the picture for you, How close to the ground were they when they had their failure? And, by the way, I am not a foreigner.

    • It amazes me that every day another Boeing astroturfer is released from his cage and starts to spout Fake Information.
      Up front: 3/5+th of in use max frames flew for non us arlines. Then endless hours learning bis imitating Lacke in blaue.

  9. Have watched this slow motion train wreck for awhile and find it amazing that more investigation & focus has not been put into the “why” the MCAS system activated. It is apparent the system should have never been designed as a single channel non cross talking system with no external fault notification/warning light. That’s pretty standard on 737’s systems such as FCC’s, SMYD’s & Cabin pressurization control. The max is not the 1st 737 to have underlying systems that effect the control surface movement with no pilot input or notification either. Speed trim, Mach Trim, auto slat, flap load relief & elevator shift are all systems that operate without the pilots knowledge. Back to my original question…what caused the MCAS system to activate… AOA sensors are notorious for their good reliability & dependable operation. I suspect from some prior experience there may be some wiring quality issues that are being overlooked. Hopefully investigators are not myopic in focusing only on the system operation but also what caused it to activate repeatedly in the first placen

    • 737Dr, I agree. We know that the Lion Air replaced the AOA just before the accident and that the previous flight had problems. But, what problems on a shiny new 737-MAX caused them to change the AOA in the first place? They had a few error codes listed in the preliminary accident report. There were incorrect speed readings etc Is there some overload of the FCC that mimics an AOA sensor problem? The Etheopean accident had the AOA signal suddenly change drastically. Some think this may have been a bird strike, but, no proof of that has been reported yet. Peter Lemme (former Boeing flight controls engineer), has an excellent web site with articles into the details.
      New information confirms that MAX is similar to the NG, that the AoA analog interface is connected to two different computers, the Stall Management Yaw Damper (SMYD) and Air Data Inertial Reference Unit ADIRU) (which supplies the Flight Control Computer (FCC)). The SMYD uses AoA for Stall Warning and is evident by activation of Stick Shaker. FCC hosts MCAS, and if AoA from ADIRU too high it can trigger MCAS. The significance is that both SMYD and FCC responded to AoA large bias on JT043/JT610, and therefore, the AoA sensor must have been producing that erroneous output. The AoA sensor is what failed.
      I’d like to find out if the flight recorder takes it’s signal directly from the AOA (probably), or from the flight control computer (FCC). The KC-46 also uses another AOA sensor system rather than just the wind vane (gyro accelerator system), which makes good sense to me. Two AOA vanes have frozen up in the past.

      • Richard,

        I did read your links. Functionality appears to be in unexpected places. For example, the SMYD activates the stick shacker.

        I think we are beginning to understand why there are multiple conflicting alerts on the flight deck and why failures are not being isolated among other things.

        I don’t think there is a single channel, never mind dual or triple channels. Not according to the true definition of a channel.

        A channel must receive all sensory inputs and the results of processing any sensory inputs. That means a channel doesn’t have to process a sensory input. That can be delegated. But a channel must know the results of processing a sensory input. This allows a channel to provide the necessary coordination. There are many parts to coordination. But to address two: Isolating sensor failures and eliminating conflicting alerts.

        If I took a guess, the reason is the size of the CPUs in the FCCs. They are 80286 processors. I don’t think they are big enough to hold all of the logic required to act according to the definition of a channel. So logic has been placed elsewhere and the FCCs are not coordinating the logic. But it’s a guess.

        Peter Lemme is very, very good. He’s picking up on all sorts of things.

        • Philip, I worked for most of my career on large scare IBM Mainframe databases. I’ve done a little bit on UNIX
          and also at the end of my career on the midrange AS/400. No realtime, event driven programming as they do on
          flight controls but, I did see the real differences in “channeled I/O”. On the mainframe, the CPU is kept busy
          by keeping it fed doing computations by sub processors, that gather the data out to the I/O buss. When the main CPU is stuck waiting on an input/output (I/O) channel looking up data, it says, I”m going on to the next guy, phone me when you get the data available to the sub procssor. It then starts dealing with the next guy in line. On a UNIX type operating system, the main CPU is stuck on that same single channel/thread. It has to wait until the I/O is done and gets the data to the CPU for processing. Sort of like the difference between a toll road with one toll taker and one with multiple toll takers. The one with multiple lanes can handle much more traffic per hour. For realtime, event driven systems, the I/O isn’t usually the bottle neck. It needs fast CPU’s to do calculations, not gather data. But, if you substitute I/O for data sensor readings, I think the same conditions apply. Channeled data on the bus being processed. If you toss too much data at the CPU, too quickly, overflowing the buffer, it will choke. If you have another CPU channel to offload some of the tasks, and have a traffic cop directing data, things would be better, and if you have health reports being used to see which CPU is getting sick (over heated etc), then you can shift to the other CPU easily to pick up the slack. But, that type of processing, (parallel processing doesn’t seem to apply here), is very complex. The traffic cop and health reporting tasks really need a lot of co-ordination. Think of ATC handling traffic at a one runway (channel) airport. You can get so many takeoff’s and landings per hour as long as the runway is clear. ATC handles any missed approaches etc. But, at a large airport with 4 parallel runways, they might have two towers (dual channel) handleing a lot more traffic per hour, and be able to handle a closed runway etc. But, the two towers and regional approach have to work closely, feeding in the and co-ordinating things. It’s involves a lot more complexity than at the simple one runway (channel) airport. If one tower (channel) closes down, the other has to be able to pick up the other traffic suddenly and work around the issues. Imagine trying to flowchart all of the possibilities. At the one tower airport, if the tower closes, you are back to manual backup. There was a youtube video of Las Vegas tower having a medical emergency. I’m not sure on the details, but, the one controller at a late hour had a stroke or a diabetic reaction and started issuing slow very confused commands to aircraft. Finallly some aircraft spoke to approach and got someone up to the tower to relieve them. Until then, some very confused pilots were questioning what was going on. Consider this as the CPU getting sick. To program for cases of one CPU getting sick is complex.

        • Yep,

          I know. When I left university after studying aeronautical engineering, I started a career in Computer Aided Design. I was always better at the theoretical side. So, whilst I was an engineer providing mathematical solutions in accordance with the laws of physics, I did end up finding out an awful lot about computers.

          I always remember the CDC Cyber 200, the ultimate number cruncher of the 1970s. I’m old.

          But I do know the meaning of pre-emptive multi-tasking, symmetric multi-processing, array processing and so on. I ended up knowing messaging semantics, symmetric and asymmetric.

          But my purpose was engineering. The use of computers to develop engineering solutions.

          So I do understand the word “channel”. It’s a coordinator, a controller, in the case of airplanes, the coordinator the controller for the purpose of flying an airplane. I don’t think the 737 MAX FCC comply with that definition. Especially given what Peter Lemme keeps writing

        • PS

          I never used anything so small as a 80286. So I needed to look it up. I don’t believe it supports pre-emptive multi-tasking. Anybody correct me. But if it doesn’t support pre-emptive multi-tasking then getting sick really means getting sick. One part of the FCC can corrupt another part of the FCC. But then you know that.

          • Philip, Many moons ago, in college, I played with the ‘new’ RCA COSMAC microprocessor, programming with it in hex. You really had to optimize your code back then. It looks like Boeing is trying to use two CPU’s, which like I”ve said is very complex programming. Rewriting their current FCC code to work on two CPU’s with the associated control programming between the two is not trivial. After it’s done, they’re going to have to really test it from start to finish, and then some. That’s a major project. I’m sure that’s part of what’s taking time. You can’t allow any errors to slip through, and there is a ton of testing to verify everything works correctly.

          • Richard, I not in your league on this. I think we agree. I once said 2 years to do dual channel answer with all necessary flight control logic. But I don’t think the CPUs are big enough

      • AoA sensor signal is “analog”. Analog signal requires proper “shileding and grounding” to prevent signal errors. AoA sensor itself may work fine and produce correct signal. But without proper shielding and grounding of connecting wires, the signal is corrupted along the way, and destination computer gets erronous signal.

    • 737 Dr,

      Automation is standard on modern airplanes. But the automation must be coordinated and the pilots must know at all times what the automation is doing.

      You suggest wiring issues? If there were wiring issues, it should have been picked up by error logic that isolates the issue.

      Another term is diagnosis. Ensuring a sensor is healthy, but on a continuous basis. As the left alpha vane was a single point of failure, I think that is important. Equally, as the airplane costs $50 million, I think Boeing should have provide it.

      • It is quite like a wiring problem. Not sensor itself but connection from AoA sensor to flight computer.

        • Are you sure. This is a $50million airplane. It can’t do the wiring between an alpha vane and the FCC.

          The alpha vane is important.

          • The electrical connection between AoA sensor and computer (ADIRU, SYMD, or FCC .. I don’t know which one connected first to AoA ) is problematic.

          • I keep reading Peter Lemme, to gain insights into the detailed technical issues with the AOA and computers. I”m a bit confused by his conclusions on this more recent article of his.
            in it he states for his conclusions after saying that AOA errors should be detected in the Air data computer and yaw damper system by those systems the following…
            It would not be reasonable to persist 737 MAX grounding solely on the basis of false trigger of stall warning or airspeed/altitude disagree due to undetected AoA sensor failure, when the same issues are present on other 737 models and other Boing models. It would be far more palatable to issue an AD or otherwise compel Boeing to enhance AoA failure detection in both the ADIRU and SMYD in an expeditious manner on all 737, and to look at all other models as well.
            I’m confused. In other Boeing models, the failure of an AOA vane causes stick shaker and speed indication problems. BUT it doesn’t try and crash the plane into the ground, by every few seconds pushing the nose down. In a 737-NG, an AOA failure is troubling but, you don’t have to hit the stab cutout switches. In a 747-400 you don’t have to hit the stab cutout switches. But on a 737-MAX, you had better remember to do this quickly or there’s a good chance you’re dead. We’re back to the “how critical is MCAS”, so we can determine how redundant a system do we have to design question again. Boeing test pilots wanted more MCAS power. Boeing is now moderating it down. How does the MAX fly without MCAS? Is the moderated down version of MCAS reliable enough and powerful enough? And of course an indication of when it’s triggering is needed. And an OFF switch.
            And is it MCAS or the air data computer or something else? Previously an AOA vane failure was rated hazardous, now it seems like it should have been rated catastrophic.
            In the future, who or how should changes in design or original design decisions be made to properly determine how dangerous a system malfunction is? Obviously in the MCAS case, the decision made was a poor one. They assumed the existing speed trim safeguards were adequate to add on MCAS and to up the power of MCAS as the last minute without more review.

    • ” Back to my original question…what caused the MCAS system to activate… AOA sensors are notorious for their good reliability & dependable operation.”

      Bird strike- ramp rash due to higher nose gear ?

      • Et: aoa turned to near 90° and lost most signal noise. Guess vane broken off and angle now determined by the (internal) counterweight following gravitx/acceleration.

        • If it was something like a bird strike, would the cockpit voice recorder pick up anything? As someone has suggested previously, could a short in wiring cause a sudden AOA signal etc. That question hasn’t been nailed down I guess folks would have to experiment with an AOA device to see if they can reproduce the same sudden change. In the Lion Air crash, they hopefully have the previous AOA sensor that they replaced the day before to analyze. If it’s in perfect working order, it does point more questions towards the wiring and computer systems.

  10. If you want a certification in my country you need to follow my regulations. If I accepted certifications of other countries in the past but these certifications were allowed through cheating and you flew in my country without respecting my regulations you will have to pay fines for each flight with unsafe planes, especially when your intentions were not safety and you killed my people.

    If Boeing and FAA want to go their own way and disrespect other countries Boeing is done.

    • Whatever happened to Japan as an economic powerhouse? They still produce great cars and amazing products. I think Boeing’s days as #1 are over — and that’s not a problem. Perhaps it can get back to designing and producing excellent, cutting edge, and reliable aircraft. The fact that its future is now dependent on a decrepit 50-year-old air frame, and that they might be looking to a 30-year-old one to rescue that future is significant. And despite what many here say, this does indeed represent a crisis of contemporary, unfettered neo-liberal capitalism. While Boeing performed all of the necessary libations (cost cutting, high executive salaries, stock buy backs, outsourcing, relocating to right to work states, paying low taxes, etc., etc., etc.), it was outperformed by Airbus, a company hamstrung by powerful unions, draconian state taxes, and the ignominious social safety nets of countries like France, Germany and the UK. It’s time to read between the lines. It’s the end of an era. It’s the 21st century. The rules have changed.

      • What on earth is ‘ignominious’ about social safety nets? Most would consider them variously a blessing, a benefit, a christian duty, a required protection and on and on – very, very few consider them to be some kind of demeaning plague.

        • Reagan/Thatcher treated them like a “demeaning plague.” Indeed, they’ve been treated like weakening, social engineering by the closet eugenicist and social Darwinists who have manufactured American “common sense” over the last 40 years. And in this Darwinian battle — just look at the weak, unfit, mutant 737 Max and compare it to the A320 Neo.

        • Well for a start Social is always coercive. So it implies violence.
          The safety nets are not much about safety but about power.

  11. @Ryan Waldron: “The long and short of it is, if you have no idea what you are talking about, just keep your mouth shut.”

    If you met Chesley Sullenberger in person would you say the same thing to him?

  12. “FAA says Boeing withheld ‘concerning’ messages about the 737 Max”
    see: https://www.cnbc.com/2019/10/18/boeing-shares-slide-on-report-faa-is-concerned-it-was-misled-about-737-max.html

    Doesn’t seem be on the path to clearing up or a near term RTS in sight.
    If things deteriorate further and endanger Boeing I fear that US supportive action will pull out all stops to help “open toolbox”.
    Massive bloodletting is OK for foreign entities but not for the home team.

    • I had expected this type of information to start leaking much earlier. The professionals — the engineers and the test pilots — must have known what was problematic from the very beginning, which includes the air tunnel tests. And while most people succumbed to groupthink, which is that standard form of thinking these days, there had to be people who objected and wrote messages, letters, and memos that detailed their arguments. And now, these will start coming out and the picture they paint will get worse and worse and the executive leadership of a major US corporation will look more and more greedy and even more and more amateurish. And then, we’ll wonder why we hadn’t seen all of these things before, which were hidden in plain sight — a 50 year old aircraft being hawked and sold as the cutting edge of aviation technology. It would make P.T. Barnum proud.

      • Been there, done that on a non lethal scale. They don’t listen nor care and pay the bucks when it goes South – most of the time they hide it so it does not count towards their bonus.

      • Steve,

        When it’s really bad there is always a wall of silence. Bit by bit the wall is being dismantled. There is more to come.

        It is becoming increasingly clear that the severity of the pitch up tendency was known for quite awhile. It would be useful to know when in 2016 the messages were sent. The 737 MAX first flew in Jan 2016.

        Equally, the speed gets lower and lower. The article says 230knots. As it was a SIM, presumably the alpha vane wasn’t broken.

        I’ve been saying it for months. More and more to come.

        Sadly, if Boeing had owned up, manned from the beginning and put in bigger stabiliser and a bigger elevator the delay would not have been more than a year. A bigger stabiliser/elevators is a cheap option

      • These must have been the documents that were in the news a few months ago where the employee tried to use the fifth amendment to protect himself from having to turn them over.

      • Steve,
        Forkner didn’t lie.
        I think in March 2016 Forkner tested MCAS 0.6 degrees, the version the FAA certified. Then they changed MCAS without telling them. In November 2016 Forkner tested MCAS 2.5 degrees and it went crazy. Forkner thought he lied to the FAA in March, but he didn’t lie, he just didn’t know that they made MCAS 4-times stronger.
        In some weeks we might know who made it 4-times stronger, who is responsible for it and responsible to keep it secret, and of course who is responsible not to make it weaker again and keep MCAS crazy.

        If the FBI got this information in February 2018 and worked through it and understood it, they could have prevented ET302 crashing.

        • @Leon, in my opinion you have this right but in your explanation you are missing a key element that can be found in the letter written by Christopher A. Hart to Ali Bahrami of the FAA and which can be found at the beginning of the JATR report.

          There it says that “designing software for one scenario – in this case, high-speed windup turns – and then modifying the software for a different scenario – in this case reducing the pitch-up tendency at higher angles of attack at low speeds.”

          That is what Forkner was alluding to when he wrote this:

          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

          M .2 actually means Mach 0.2, which is very low speed indeed. He had not been informed of this “minor” change and therefore was caught off guard when MCAS kicked in at that speed.

          If he had crashed he would have survived unscathed however because he was in a simulator at the time.

        • sorry, I meant 2019

          If the FBI got this information in February 2019 and worked through it and understood it, they could have prevented ET302 crashing.

  13. I’ve seen highly intelligent people being dumb, arrogant and reckless before, but never on this scale. What in the world could possibly have triggered this?
    My only explanation is that the big guys at Boeing have completely lost their connection to real live. They must have been staring at their bank accounts and the stock exchange all day long. And when Airbus out-manoeuvred them with the NEO their pride and self-esteem was also in danger. This has probably triggered a sharp rise in Testosterone as no one in the company would accept defeat and settling in for number 2 behind the Europeans. And of course, developing a NSA and fading out the 737 would have reduced the income of every higher manager at Boeing for 10 years or so.
    What followed is a criminal act on a scale the world has rarely seen. We may compare it to TEPCO-Fukushima, where the Japanese managers and government collectively disregarded the most obvious danger of a tsunami. Or maybe the Deepwater Horizon, where greed and a lack of oversight also led to a catastrophe.

    I really wonder if the MAX still has a future and if Boeing can survive this. Not many people will still believe in the “software-solution”, right? A larger elevator and a reworked trim system is the least that has to be done, but maybe that would still not suffice. It is probably impossible to replace the landing gear and the pylons and/or to implement a full-FBW system. New CPUs too… Changing them back to NGs, but who would buy them? So here I go:

    My prediction is that the entire fleet of MAXs will have to go to the scrapyard and Boeing will enter chapter 11 as a consequence. Actually right now I don’t see a way how that could be avoided. Any ideas?

    • I think re-engine the 767 is not a good idea, but I don’t understand why the 717 is not talked about. Sure the 717 doesn’t have the range of a A220 but many airlines don’t need it anyway. A longer version is possible too. There is a reason why Delta loved it. Maybe useless now with the 195-E2.

      And to be on topic, how sad it is for all the victims and this stupid reason.
      I have no idea if Boeing can survive this. The JATR report might only be the top of much more. Many people will think this too, why should it only be the MAX.

      • The ARJ21 in development by the Chinese Aerospace industry is as close to a Boeing 717 or MD95 update as one can imagine. Essentially, it is a DC-9-30/40 slash shorter MD80 with updated engines. Even with these updated engines, it will not be considered on par with an A220-100.

        As I’ve noted before the chance of all the B737MAXes being scrapped is fairly low to non-existent. Engineering (due to budget constraints by management) got the MAX into this situation, and engineering will get it out of it. Boeing has between $200 to $250 Billion worth of orders for this plane, and the customers still want it.

        • Arj21: commonality is limited to the fuselage.
          Noch idea how far that goes beyond Loks.

        • Boeing has a 10% margin, right, might be higher for the MAX but not very much higher. If they fix the MAX it won’t be cheap. I doubt they can earn something because they promised little training and sims. Training alone will cost billions, for how many pilots, 200 thousand, and not only once, training for the lifetime of each MAX, could be 1 million pilots. How can they earn, Boeing will have to pay for each MAX they deliver.

    • That is exactly what I am expecting, too.
      All MAXes being updated to beer cans, and Boeing going Chapter 11.

      Try to picture the global consequences. An upheaval of unheard dimensions.

      In any case, Boeing will survive one way or the other. America cannot afford its loss. The current shareholders, however, will regret their focus on short-term stock price inflation.

  14. Might be time for Boeing to split their stock into two companies, one with Defense, Space and Global Services and the other commercial division

    • The prevailing thought at the time when Boeing and McDonnell merged, was to create an aerospace giant that did not suffer the cyclical business of the commercial side of the business. I would tend to think there are no spinoffs in the near future. But if things went South, you never know. Oh would those executives get great Golden Parachutes if that happened.

  15. Richard,

    You are asking the right questions.

    But to me it’s always the same question: Is MCAS a primary control system or a secondary control system?

    JTAR asked the same question, page 17 of the report, page 37 of the PDF. Recommendation 3.

    To use the word hazard, as in a Functional Hazard Analysis, FHA as used by the JTAR report. If MCAS is addressing a minor hazard then it can be designated as a secondary control system. If MCAS is addressing a major hazard then it must be designated as a primary control system.

    If a primary control system, then FAA regulations require an end-to-end action/reaction loop to prevent the major hazard materialising. Equally, FAA regulations require end-to-end fail-safe redundancy if a system. End-to-end means from flight deck controls all the way to the control system that is activated. In the case of MCAS, the stabiliser is the control system that is activated.

    So what is the hazard? It’s the pitch-up tendency. Is it a minor hazard or a major hazard? Boeing have clearly designated it as a minor hazard, allowing all sorts of FAA regulations to be by-passed.

    If outside regulators re-designate the pitch-up tendency as a major hazard, Boeing are done. The 737 MAX won’t fly for 2 or 3 years. Boeing will need to remove the major hazard by removing the pitch up tendency or develop a primary control system to prevent the major hazard from materialising.

    The wall of silence is being dismantled brick by brick. The text messages make clear the hazard – the pitch up tendency – isn’t just in high speed nose up turns. It’s also at low speed. The text messages use 0.2 M. Presumably that means 0.2 Mach or 120-150 knots, depending on altitude.

    But please remember the pitch up tendency is a separate issue to mutiple conflicting alerts on the flight deck and runaway trim stabiliser. Those are also hazards. So there are three hazards to evaluate:

    1) A pitch up tendency.

    2) Multiple conflicting alerts on the flight deck.

    3) Runaway trim stabiliser.

    Boeing have designated all three as minor. The JTAR report strongly suggests that JTAR members don’t agree. At least they want Boeing to prove that all three are minor hazards.

    Functional Hazard Analysis, FHA, is a well known way of deciding whether a problem is a hazard, whether it should be addressed and how it should be addressed.

    Unfortunately, managers don’t like the word “major” for that always busts their budgets. So they put a lot of pressure on engineers to downgrade the FHA designation. I’ve been there, so I’ve been subject to the pressure. Too often. Shall we say I’m happy to be retired.

    Let’s see how JTAR members address this. But I think Boeing are in very serious trouble.

    • Philip, You are stating the problems much better than I am. There is a Technical Advisory Board, make up of NASA, the U.S. Air Force and others that are supposed to be evaluating the 737-MAX not from a certification process review standpoint, as the most recent international review report was, but, from a purely technical aspect of the 737-MAX’s problems and reviewing Boeings solutions from a technical perspective. Not much has been published about this group, but, I like it’s task. It sounds like it’s trying not to access blame as to who knew what when (did the CEO’s of Boeing know about MCAS and the pitch up problem? In the days of Bill Boeing running the firm, I bet he would have and would have personally signed off on the solution if it was MCAS or not). Today, I’m not sure if the CEO’s made that decision or even knew about the technical details) I wonder what this Technical Advisory Board is going to tell the FAA about Boeing’s current solutions? I hope the technical journals (Aviation week etc, along with Leeham) will have a good write up on the technical issues of the 737-MAX eventually. Otherwise, future designers might have to reinvent the wheel.

      • Thanks Richard,

        With regard to Peter Lemme. He’s looking for structure but can’t find it. That why some of what he is saying is confusing. Take that into account then you realise that he is making clear all sorts of things.

        For example, the alpha vane connection to the SMYD and IRS. Does it make sense? No.

        Peter Lemme is doing very good work.

  16. According to Reuters, an urgent board meeting takes place on Sunday in San Antonio, TX. No need to say that the crisis is now brought to a fever pitch (pun intended). The FAA has been humiliated, they can’t certify again the MAX quickly, at least before many months. The cash blood bath is running like crazy, the Boeing board has no choice but taking drastic actions. Very hard times to come for Boeing and its employees. Wall Street just starts to understand and this is not the end. On June 14th 2006, the EADS stock fell by 25% in one day just because Airbus disclosed a delay of 6 to 7 months to the A380 program. The stock market has always been more indulgent towards Boeing than Airbus but even that could change.
    “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”
    It’s time for Boeing to find its Churchill.

      • This meeting will be about how to stop production of the MAX and probably about hardware changes. Sadly it will probably not be about the NSA.

      • Don’t expect the Boeing board to fall on their sword. Typically the next stage is to blame the engineers. Another option is to defy the regulators, but that would require the support of politicians. But, given the behaviour of the board, I don’t think they will take responsibility. In fact, it is more likely they will present themselves as the saviours of Boeing.

        Boeing can’t continue production at the current rate unless there is some kind of signal from the regulators that there will soon be a return to service. The JTAR report sends the opposite signal.

  17. A question:
    Is my Observation correct that Boeing avoids delivering early production Samples to us Airlines? ( afaics valide for 787 and 737max)

  18. It seems obvious from reading this blog that the proposed software fix is a stalling, PR ploy. To fix this, Boeing will have to seriously re-engineer each Max that it sold at a major loss. The company is too big to fail, though it has lost its competitive edge to Airbus for at least a decade to come. What the company now needs is radical restructuring and a CEO with the vision of Steve Jobs (those come along once in a generation) — because no one seems see a viable future and a new marketable product for this company (re-engineered 767? NMA?, etc?). It’s very sad, and a tragedy that happened 15 years ago. How many other ticking time bombs like this are out there in America, set in motion by greed, short term profits, no vision, contempt for labor and professionalism, and basic (yet richly rewarded) incompetence?

  19. Made some ballpark estimates of possible damage for Boeing. Unfortunately I cannot post it as a table or figure here, see below. But it is obvious that Boeing MUST bet on a software fix, and have that approved soon. A hardware fix that implies scrapping the 300 or so delivered planes and the 42/month produced planes since March is a bill of over 36 Bio$. If a hardware fix just would add a few % of costs to produced and contracted planes, it is still 10-20 Bio$. If there is no re-certification of the Max soon, production must halt, and supply chains will disintegrate. Such scenarios are killing for BA – a company with a 100 Bio$ turnover of which 60 Bio$ in the commercial airplane division and 200 Bio$ market cap. I fear that this is why BA kept on pushing a software fix as the way out of the current crisis, and pushed it as the only solution for any problems found during the development process of the MAX. They had and have no alternative. But if in the end it is indeed a fundamental design flaw, things are bad.

    Value of 600-800 grounded planes till end 2019 (@ 60 Mio/each) around 36-48 Bio
    Value of +/-5000 ordered planes (@ 60 Mio each) around 300 Bio

    Compensation of 350 victims (up to 3 Mio/pp max) up to 1 Bio
    Cost of grounding 400 delivered (25 k/day, 6-9 Months) Estimated from https://www.iba.aero/insight/the-direct-cost-of-grounding-the-boeing-737-max-8-9-fleet/ 2-3 Bio Excludes rerouting pax
    Cost of grounding 250 undelivered produced (20k/day, 6 Months, see ref above) 1 Bio Parking and revenue loss
    Cost of simulator training (100-200 k per plane @ 5000 orders) up to 1 Bio Probably means longer grounding
    Cost of software fix (100-200k per plane @ 600-800 groundings) lower than 0,5 Bio
    Cost of hardware fix -depends on what. But if 3-5% of value per order ??10-15 Bio?? Means longer grounding
    Cost of hardware fix of a type that implies scrapping grounded planes around 36-48 Bio See above. Not bearable for BA
    Cost of supply chain disruption if production to zero ??? Probably disastrous

    Boeing revenue 2018 around 100 Bio 60 Bio from commercial aircraft
    Boeing profit 2018 around 10 Bio
    Boeing market cap (at 380$/share) around 200 Bio

  20. Interested in hearing other posters and this website’s staffs views on the allegations and information reported in the following articles:



    Seems like they should be taken seriously if proven factual and may be relevant in the understanding of the entire situation involving the MAX, and may need to be taken into account as and if the situation is to be resolved properly and widely and long term.

    • Yeah, we all should take our eyes away from Boeing and take a good hard look at Lionair and Ethiopian because that’s where the real story might be.


    • Astroturfer?
      However exposed: mcas as installed on737max was and stays uncertifiable.
      Even if these two newsbytes have any hard substance ( which i doubt : too well timed for q3 reporting ) they do not dilute boeing’s misconduct and responsibility.

  21. The last Boeing’s statement is purely pathetic. They blame the simulator which were not finalized although the same rampant and egregious MCAS behaviour has made 346 deaths later on. The simulator was right and it should have open the ayes of the Boeing’s managers. The same eyes wide shut managers are still keeping the same mantra : “to make a safe airplane even safer”. Nobody trusts them, they just deserve to be fired, not because of the technical fault but because they try to mislead people to protect themselves. At corporate’s level, it’s an unforgivable fault and the Boeing’s board must break out the denial.
    As of the criminal case, justice will tell. After the last letter from Sully, Boeing’s attorney will have hard time to explain that the fault were at pilot’s level.

  22. So far , Boeing failed to sort MAX problem, I highly recommend for Boeing to approach Airbus to sort this issue. I am sure Airbus has the caliper to sort it in short time.

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