Pontifications: To no surprise, MAX was major topic at 3 NYC events

  • Media, Twitter go mad over text messages.
  • Recertifying MAX now looks like December or January.
  • Boeing’s initial compensation offers.

By Scott Hamilton

Oct. 21, 2019, © Leeham News: New York: The grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX was expected to be a hot topic of conversation on the sidelines of the Wings Club event here Friday as well as two aviation conferences in town at the same time.

And it was.

How long would the grounding last? What’s the long-term impact on MAX values? How many cancellations might there be?

And then the media frenzy began and the Twittersphere went wild.

Reuters reported that a pilot at Boeing experienced, in 2016—two years before the Lion Air crash—the symptoms of a runaway MCAS in a simulator.

Misleading the FAA

The pilot texted a colleague about this and observed he may have unintentionally previously “lied” to the FAA about MCAS.

Boeing discovered the pilot’s text messages in February—after Lion Air but before Ethiopian’s MAX crash—and subsequently turned the messages to the US Department of Justice, but not the Federal Aviation Administration until last Thursday.

The media chased Reuters (and me), the analysts chased the media (and me) and people at Wings and the conferences (still processing initial information) couldn’t understand why Boeing withheld information from the FAA and why the pilot’s messaging didn’t raise all kinds of red flags.

There’s been plenty of reporting about why Boeing didn’t turn over the text messages to the FAA until now.

More to the point, and as yet unanswered, is why red flags internally weren’t raised and where in the Boeing chain of command the messages stopped. I would be flabbergasted (though it wouldn’t be the first time in the MAX saga) if the texts made the way to the Chicago HQ or, perhaps, even to the top at Boeing Commercial Airplanes in Long Acres.

Regardless, the revelation is not good news for Boeing. With Congressional hearings this week, at which CEO Dennis Muilenburg will testify, the sharks will be in the water and Muilenburg has a huge gash in his leg.

This is going to be another bad week of news cycles for Boeing.

Recertifying MAX

Before the above news blew up, my key takeaway from talking with people at these events is that it looks like the earliest MAX will be recertified by the FAA in December or possibly January. There is a general consensus Europe’s EASA won’t be concurrent and neither will China’s CAAC.

It’s still unclear just how much and what kind of pilot training will be required by the various regulators.

There is a growing consensus that MAX may not truly reenter revenue service until March—one year after the grounding.


While in New York, I finally was able to get confirmation of something LNA’s Bjorn Fehrm first heard in September on the sidelines of a conference in Berlin: Boeing’s opening compensation offers to airlines and lessors affected by MAX pretty much sucks.

To airlines, Boeing’s opening position is to offer credits for work by Boeing Global Services and discounts (described as steep) on 787 orders. (The 787 skyline falls off a cliff in 2022.) But no discounts on 737 or 777 orders.

Airlines are not, to put it mildly, very receptive.

Boeing’s initial offer to lessors is to reschedule MAX deliveries to 2023/24 (lessors were finding a supply-demand imbalance even before the grounding)—but pre-delivery payments and price escalations still have to be paid.

The lessors are less receptive than the airlines.

Finally, as LNA reported months ago, Boeing is also taking the position that the grounding is an “excusable delay” that protects Boeing against compensation claims. Go ahead and sue if you disagree.

Boeing also takes the position that once the FAA recertifies the MAX, this stops the clock on any claims because the FAA, not EASA, CAAC or any other agency, is the governing agency.

I picked up a lot more information but I’m still processing this.

194 Comments on “Pontifications: To no surprise, MAX was major topic at 3 NYC events

  1. With behaviour like this, why would you want to buy a Boeing commercial aircraft?

  2. One has to wonder what the US flying public will make of the time lag between FAA and EASA. Of course many won’t pay any attention, but for the notable minority who do, it may be difficult to convince them that the European delay is just a formality.

    And if there is so much as a routine in flight engine shut down in the US in that lag time, the press will run with it. “MAX diverted in frightening ordeal for passengers “ will not be a headline AA, UA, or WN will want.

    To be clear, I remain a MAX skeptic.

    • “One has to wonder what the US flying public will make of the time lag between FAA and EASA.”

      They obviously hate us for our freedom?

      • or because uncle Trump slapped tariffs on this cheaty Airbus for ruining our marvellous airspace industry 😉

      • Sadly, the savvy traveler will make all efforts to book with Delta. If it gets re-certified, I think flying the Max might be safer than getting in a car, though there is nothing safe about flying (it’s the training of the pilots and the system that has rendered flying safe — if drivers behaved like highly trained airline pilots, cars would be the safest way to travel. They’re on the ground for goodness sake). Still, it’s clear that the Max is a lemon. Flying in one would give me the heebeejeebies. I would do my best to avoid it. Southwest is not as inexpensive as it used to be so I would avoid them altogether. Price, when it comes to luggage or $10 or $20 won’t persuade me.

    • One thing that I wonder, is if the Max would be a functioning airplane to fly without the MCAS and with the right pilot training? From what I have understood, the EASAs reluctance to approve Max, originate from the assumed behaviour without a functioning MCAS.
      Since MCAS was designed to assist the pilot in some situation, wouldn’t it just be easier to just train the pilots to handle these situations and put the MCAS in the trashcan once for all?

      • The MAX sans MCAS does not meet the FAA requirement for benign stall characteristics on commercial aircraft. This is the reason why the MAX might ultimately need to be physically modified, which would prolong the grounding.

        • Which, depending on how extensive the mods have to be, could finish it off.

          A heavier empennage (as a result of needing more elevator authority) could mean mods throughout the fuselage, and before you know it it’s not a 737 any longer.

          At that point a new aircraft would be a better bet, but may not be a commercially viable option for Boeing who would by then be strapped for cash.

          And they’d have to do all that whilst also carrying out the change programme they need to complete to satisfy the JATR recommendations.

        • I think the MCAS system can be made extremely reliable fairly easily from the point of view of fault tolerant computers, redundant power supplies, even triplicated alpha sensors and pitot-static systems. Relatively Easy to modify. Much harder will be issues such as the fact that there is only one trim drive motor, that the muscle powered backup trim can not move the tail plane above a certain speed 250 knots) if there is significant elevator force. Boeing’s Limitation of down trim to allow 1,5G up reduces that problem. How would Boeing add redundancy? A second backup trim motor in the trim wheel console? A second motor on the jack screw? Airbus A320 has 3 redundant electric motors. Backing up the electric motor is a hydraulic motor supplied by two separate hydraulic systems.

          • I think you have a good point regarding B737 design.
            However, A320 THSA is not electrically piwered: the 3 redundant motors you mention are for the command at equipment level (receiving computer analogic order). They in turn command two redundant hydraulic motors (through a dual redundant mechanical command chain), which actually provide the necessary power to activate the stabilizer. Those motors can also be commanded by the trim wheel either should the computers fail or the pilotes feel the need to override the computer command.
            Airbus design is far more redundant than Boeing one.

      • I’m not sure everyone is processing the information.

        “I’m leveling off at like 4000 ft, 230 knots and the plane is trimming itself like craxy (sic). I’m like, WHAT?”

        The key words would be: LOW SPEED, LOW ALTITUDE, STALL

        • So, if the flap speed has changed on the MAX, why just not update the flap-speed schedule and re-trainee the pilots and skip MCAS. Obesely they should have done this in the first place, but now they can do it right the second time.

        • So, if the flap speed has changed on the MAX, why just not update the flap-speed schedule and re-trainee the pilots and skip MCAS. Obviously they should have done this in the first place, but now they can do it right the second time.

  3. Excellent report.

    We will need to see whether Boeing’s view of the future is right. As of today it’s not been right.

    If the FAA certifies the 737 MAX on the basis of what Boeing thinks is right, they will be isolated by world regulators

    • FAA won’t go it alone. Can you imagine US customers getting on MAXs that other regulators regard as unsafe? The ultimate “certification” will come from hundreds of “citizen regulators” who are able to analyse the engineering changes FAA, EASA, Chinese Regulators, Transport Canada, CASA have accepted.

      • I make no guesses one way or the other.

        What is needed is a current list of the issues.

        One is clearly the sudden move to dual cross check on computers. How much testing is needed?

        How much prep for that (if any) did Boeing have done?

        As with MCAS, it can be just fine approach, and then executed (or not debugged) so badly as to result in crashes as occurred.

        I will freely admit I never thought it would turn into this kind of a mess.

        I think at this point the MAX debacle clearly exceeds the Comet as the all time worst aircraft failure (Comet was not poor testing or overlook, they missed stuff though Boeing seemed to have a better handle on the issues)

      • My guess is that the FAA was thinking of going it alone, in the interests of “enabling the aviation industry”, especially as a MAX grounding is an enormous big deal.

        However, now that the FAA can say “we were decieved” (and they were) they have the perfect excuse not to go it alone. Plenty would say that they have a duty not to, given the circumstances and the JATR report. And the new guy in charge of the FAA certainly hasn’t said anything to suggest he’s in any hurry.

        As has been said many times before, Boeing’s future is vested in the opinions of just a few people in the regulatory organisations around the world. Upset them, give them a reason to say “no” and Boeing is very deep water. And guess what?

  4. It’s all hardball, Boeing have managed to get the backs up of the
    Judiciary, the regulator, the pilots (particularly foreign ones), the airlines, who else should they try to annoy and upset. Each and every time there is an issue their response is legalistic and clutching at specific definitions or clauses.

    Remember this aircraft was ‘certified in accordance with due process’ but the conveniently forget to say how they grossly manipulated that process. Where is this all leading?

    • Precisely. Boeing manipulated the process. The shareholders will be very happy if Boeing get away with it.

    • Well we have a precedent: the VW Diesel emissions scandal (also about 24 billion in cost) whereby a software device detected whether the EPA emissions test was in progress and temporality reduced NOX emissions during the EPA pollution test. US regulators came down very hard on VW in terms of brutal fines and compensation payments considering that of 23 other diesel brands VW weren’t even in the worst half. In the VW case, like I suspect will be the case for Boeing, only a hand full of engineers were involved. (VW CEO is in jail for rolling out a software fix that didn’t work much but telling the stock market it did,I suspect that apart from the grounding Muilenburg would have walked into that one)). VW hasn’t killed anyone, in-fact a Berkley study showed California NOX pollution is from fertiliser. 20 years ago it was shown that “acid rain” wasn’t killing Forrest or fish in lakes but land use was. Still on EPA history.

      My suspicion is that on top of maybe 25 billion in compensation and costs there may be billions in fines if it can be shown there was a deliberate attempt to mislead or ignore known procedural flaws.

      Incidentally VW will be 60% under NOX targets in it new models.

      • WV case was quite different … they pass the tests as requested by the regulators … the tests were not designed properly … the bad from WV is that they played around the tests.

    • All US parties involved more or less acted in collusion. But ” Sin” in US context is getting caught not the act as such.
      The current situation demands that the other colluding parties get on the moral high side. At least in public.

  5. oh wow

    I mean there is alot of stuff here thats just bad. In regards to the compensation Boeing is behaving like a Monopoly holder.

    but this takes the cake for me personally:
    “Boeing also takes the position that once the FAA recertifies the MAX, this stops the clock on any claims because the FAA, not EASA, CAAC or any other agency, is the governing agency.”

    thats not gonna fly anywhere outside the states and will generate a considerable amount of ill-will among the airlines. especially if EASA and FAA start to diverge

    thats amateur hour to the wazoo.

    there is no winning with that stance. either they have to fold on it and needlessly enraged partners or they manage to uphold it(I dont think so) and have a proper fight on their hands for the forseeable future, cause the airlines wont just take that for this AND for possible future troubles.

    This reeks again of a laywers position and not from someone in customer relations.

    all the compensation positions look crazy to me. this is penny-wise pound-foolish behaviour

    • Looks to me like Boeing is just stonewalling and hoping that their Friends in High Places can pull them though. Those Friends
      have problems of their own, though.. 😉

      • Spot on, best one yet.

        We screwed up and you just have to suffer.

        Of course you have to feel their pain watching their bonus and golden parachutes go into the trees. Who was the basketball player who told us how tough it was to live on 7 million a year?

  6. Everyone is assuming that the FAA will be the first to recertify, why would it not be another authority or perhaps one of those nations like Indonesia and Ethiopia that apparently doesn’t take aviation safety as seriously as the USA?

    • I am certainly hoping this is a very tongue in cheek comment.

      This is more to forestall somebody else getting all outraged.

      • its a JV. Im wondering if Boeings treasury dept will be saying ‘we dont have the money this year’ as $4.2 bill is a lot of money even for Boeings credit line to borrow.

      • Brazil’s ANAC was AFAIK the only agency that cought on to MCAS prior of the crashes.

        They insisted information MCAS being in the ODR (document with differences between the new and previous model) and mandated training on MCAS for pilots

    • In any way the FAA need to be the first Authority who lifts the ban because all others are only the validating ones and they need the FAA basis

  7. If the FAA is the only governing agency I wonder why other regulators were able to ground the MAX before FAA did LOL

    With all the hiding Boeing did during certification and the uncertified changes Boeing did later, Boeing never had a valid certification and should be fined for billions of dollars from the rest of the world.

    Price escalations LOL
    sure there can be escalations if product costs rise too, but not if Boeing was too stupid to build safe systems and made certain promisses. You can’t make promisses to sell your products and then don’t keep your promisses, it’s criminal.

    So I get the feeling Boeing wants to kill me too. I will never step into a Boeing or Embraer again.

  8. Wouldn’t that be a great class action against Boeing? Team up all 737 MAX clients and have them work together. Now that would be a spectacle to watch.
    On the other hand, airlines might be inclined to take what they can get, before Boeing goes bancrupt and then nothing will be left…

    • I sure did not thunk it but I am beginning to edge up on this being enough for Boeing to declare itself bankrupt.

      Between the 23 billion out on the 787 and this they may well have a case.

      Not only get out from under creditors, they can re-do the union contracts!

      • So many big private shareholders in BA, the old MD people, who would loose out in a bankruptcy that I doubt they would volantarily go down that route.

      • If we’re talking about a Chapter 11 bankruptcy, as I understand it the intention is to eventually exit the state of bankruptcy, probably restructured, to carry on trading.

        However, this one might be so big that any amount of restructuring, cajoling, etc. may be insufficient to return Boeing to being commercially viable.

        Look at it this way. If they do go bankrupt it’s likely that the MAX will have been scrapped, and that’s the cause of it. So that’d be gone. No one seems willing to buy any 787s these days. The 777X must be in some doubt because of the failings surronding Boeing’s present approaches to certification, and GE (who are also thought to be in financial trouble) are having difficulties finishing the engines.

        So, that’d be no single aisle product, a twin aisle that no one is ordering, and a big hulking wide body that hasn’t flown yet and is not guaranteed to get off the runway anytime soon.

        That’s a thread-bare catalogue to order from.

        So given all that, what airline would be mad enough to actually place an order with a bankrupt Boeing? It’d be a huge risk. And without orders flowing in and deliveries being made, there’d be no exit route to get out of Chapter 11.

        So it might simply be a straight bust. And what the world needs to ask itself now (i.e. before it happens) is, what would that mean to the thousands of Boeings presently flying? There’d be no Design Authority. And without a Design Authority, those aircraft cannot fly, not in the long run.

        Half the world’s current fleet might be grounded within just a few months. How’s that going down with one’s dinner?!

        Of course, bankruptcies aren’t new in the aviation business. But in previous cases there’s been other companies to pick up the pieces, keep what they want, life carries on. However in this day and age there’s only Boeing left (in the USA). There is no one else in the business who’d be a natural home for the Boeing Design Authority function. And Uncle Sam might have a huge job persuading companies like Lockheed to show an interest. It’d not be in their interests.

        So Uncle Sam might have to write a very big cheque to keep the company functioning, and to hell with the WTO and the inevitable (and justifiable) complaints about subsidies emanating from the EU, and even China.

        The cost to the US tax payer could be very, very large indeed.

        • There seem to be plenty of lay people on social media who want the MAX permanently grounded. To me this this is an insane and tragic waste of resources and unnecessary but it would likely be accepted by a significant portion of the US population.

          • Mathew: Wow, no one is willing to save a 117 billion dollar company?

            787s are slow, so is the rest of it. So what?

            Your stock is now worthless – you own nothing, you can borrow big time. That is why I got my raise. I could leverage they nee3dd to maintain contract and I was in a key position. While small scale it showed me how it worked.

            God, its a get out of jail free card.

            And you ignore the defense side and 767 and future 747.

            A few billion for a single aisle and off to the races.

            They probably don’t begin to meet the Chapter 11 requirements but if they do its a whole new world of Boeing.

          • Once the flying public is inconvenienced by no airplanes available its a whole different story.

          • Trans world, so the question then is Boeing actually worth $117billion? If it’s aircraft aren’t selling or can’t fly, it’s worth $0. It might take a while for stock market to realise that, ie the grounding is never officially converted into a scrapping.

            The defence side isn’t great at the moment. Orders aren’t the problem, it’s execution. Other bits of the business might be healthier but BCA dominates it all and can drag it all down.

            So who would invest in what would be a complete basket case of a company, especially whilst the liabilities arising from the MAX crashes are unbounded? I agree it’s different if the MAX is flying, but it isn’t and all company predictions have been wrong.

          • Mathew:

            You keep trying to argue something that is not there.

            Boeing has huge value regardless of the MAX.

            Inventing scenarios to convert it down to zero is simply lame.

            You are saying GM and Chrysler were worthless when they went into bankruptcy and that is patently wrong.

            Boeing may well have too much book value to go Chapter 11

            Regardless, if they ever do, the value goes to some huge value.

            80 billion? 90? You ignore the wonder of Chapter 11 and having products where you like them or not, Boeing is supply huge amounts to the armed forces and they have 767, 747, 787 and 777 (two major versions) in the system.

            Argue what the value of Boeing is now all you want, but don’t be spurious on there is not huge value there.

  9. one more question on compensations:

    Are they really so far down with production costs that they can offer steep discounts on the 787? And is that sustainable? Are they so sure they can maintain the current output till China orders them in hundreds again?

    • ChrisA

      In the single aisle market there just isn’t much competition, it’s either 737 or A320, Boeing know that Airbus can’t ramp up production to take advantage of the MAX fiasco, so there is no reason for them to discount the 737.

      What Boeing would like to do though is make the decision to buy Boeing or Airbus wide body aircraft favour Boeing.

      You discount the 787 so that an operator currently with grounded MAX aircraft looks to replace or expand their wide body fleet with 787s thus keeping the airline Boeing, and not having them defect to Airbus.

      Can Boeing give 787s away at less than cost price ? That might depend on how much compensation they decide an airline is entitled to.

      If any manufacturer can get away with getting an installed base without dumping, they may over the years get their money back on maintenance, and future purchases.

      Will the airlines go along with this ? They may do if it’s just about money, and they can gain an advantage, time will tell.

      • Why is it an assumption (a given) that Airbus can’t ramp up their production? If the market is there, if the sale are there, wouldn’t Airbus have just as much of a chance of finding a way to increase production as Boeing has of either making physical changes to the Max or finally making the software changes that need to be certified and may require additional pilot training? If I were an Airbus executive, I would be cautiously looking at ways to capitalize off of this — perhaps with traditional Boeing suppliers. Or maybe, I’d refuse to make the mistake Boeing made, and I would hold steady and begin investing in the next generation of aircraft instead of overproducing and making airlines dependent on an air frame that is already 30 years old.

        • There is a big danger to Airbus in trying to ramp up A320 production significantly.

          To justify it the MAX would have to have been scrapped. The thing is, in the time it’d take to ramp up A320 production Boeing could launch an NSA, thus robbing Airbus of a lot of A320 sales just as they’re increasing capacity to build it.

          A better strategy for Airbus would be to do an NSA themselves, around about now. If Boeing concentrated on restoring the MAX to the skies then an NSA from Airbus would further tighten the noose around Boeing’s neck. And if Boeing did an NSA, Airbus would be responding in a timely manner still with 4000 A320 orders to fund it. If Boeing exit the market, then Airbus would have capacity in the shape of a production line for their own NSA to fill the gap. I think that’s covering more bases than just ramping up A320 production even higher.

          You touch on an interesting point. Given the state of Boeing and Airbus order books today, one has to conclude that really there was no need to rush out the MAX, Boeing could have done an NSA at leisure and still gather 4000 orders or thereabouts.

          The question is, was that predictable back at the time the decision was made to go with the MAX? If so, it’s inexcusable to have gone with the MAX. My opinion is that it would have been quite bold to predict that, but even so it was still a big error to do the MAX.

      • Well, IMJ it’s not unreasonable to assume that Airbus within 5 years wold be able to take A32Xneo production to 75 per month (900 per year) and A220 production to 25 per month (300 per year) — or about the same production output as the combined deliveries of the 737-series (580 units) and the A320-series (626 units) in 2018.

        • Steve:

          Airplanes are not cars or smart phones. Each component is specific to the aircraft and often specific to areas and even one location.

          Each has to be certified and each requires an extremely tight quality control regimen. That means money, engineers, good people and top of the line equipment.

          The only large capacity in the system is the other guys suppliers. Each part mfg has to keep an eye on the long range, what Airbus would guarantee in buy and what it would cost to convert

          Airbus does not want to over-commit and a supplier cannot afford to get stuck. Airbus does not want to put up the money to make it happen. So you get this edging thing where it only happens very slowly.

          Throw in the atmosphere where things are looking like a downturn and ??????

          So, actuators for a 737 do not begin to work on an A320. Yes the maker can convert, but that takes a lot of time and money and they have to believe there is a market there to do so (and abandon the 737) and Airbus has to commit.

          Now, there are hundreds of thousands of parts in an A320 (inlcdi9ng rivets and fasteners) . You have to deal with hundreds of parts suppliers from fasteners to electric to hydraulic systems.

          If you have a finished aircraft and its missing the gear hydraulics, you have a non sale. Ergo, one piece can kill you and its more like dozens if not hundreds you wind up in that boat.

          Airbus has been pushing its supply chain and its current production is all it can do and get. They can increase slowly over time, but its 5 year periods before it can add up.

          On the big ticket items GE has had issues with the LEAP and PW has had issues with the GTF. GE in somewhat better shape.

          As my surveying boss told me yo many years ago when we were beating our way up a hilltop only to go down into a valley with 50 foot shots (that really sucks if you are a surveyor, you want 150 -200 foot shots back in the day) – if it was easy anyone could do it!

          • Thank you. That’s a solid, realistic and credible explanation.

          • You are welcome.

            People are so used to computers, smart phones and auto production that can be flipped on a dime – it seem aircraft can be to.

            Most don’t get they are hand built and very small quantities

            One of the lowest selling Fords of all time was the original Bronco, 7000 a year I think. But it shared the engine, trany, rear end , brakes, lights, and instruments with other Fords.

            Closest they come is A320 and the 737 used to share a close to common engine. No longer.

        • By first quarter of 2021 both the COMAC 919 and Irkut MC21 are likely to be entering service. Both have suffered several years certification delays over issues while the Russian suffered sometime due to sanctions effecting the delivery of composite materials from japan and US. Irkut has now overcome these using local technology. The C919 is suffering delays around cockpit ergonomic standards the B737 MAX couldnt pass. I suspect that both companies will take a part of the space Boeing has lost. Certainly the internal Chinese and CIS market. I think they will take market share In Asia and Africa.

          • Russia and China always will try to and will buy internal market stuff.

            Even if airlines are forced to take the stuff and park it.

            Neither one is going into service in 2021.

            919 can’t be sold outside China and that assumes its regulators let it fly.

    • @ChrisA: Boeing’s been engaged in a price war with Airbus over the 787 and A330 for a long time so it has pricing flexibility. The 787-10 was priced too high (hence slow sales), and it’s coming down on this.

      Is it sustainable? As long is Boeing is making money, sure. Instead of a 20% margin (for example), you get a 10% margin (for example). Still a pretty good ROI, but it pushes out the deferred cost recovery longer.

      Can Boeing maintain output: Doubtful. Huge production gap from 2022.

      • Thanks Scott for answering immediately, but this sounds like killing your best cow to me:
        10mio less at 140 planes per year is 1,4 bn less surplus.

        I also wonder, what will be Boeing’s premium product, where they make really money? The 787-9 and even the 787-10 would be best in their category and a likely candidate. 737, 748, 767, 77W: no or not anymore. So then the 77X? not so sure neither.

        If the “price flexibility” was limited to the 787-10, then I agree with you that it might indeed make sense, however only as long as each sold 787-10 is one 330-900 or 350-900 less sold.

  10. They are destroying trust everywhere around them. The public, the media, politicians, the regulators, passengers, the airlines, the lessors, the supply chain, even their own employees. How do they think they can do business with all the bridges burned?

    This will be a future textbook example of how a global champion was dismantled by hubris and greed.

    What really, really keeps rustling my jimmies is that without a doubt, many good, competent, and honest people at Boeing and at their suppliers are being abused (I’d like to use stronger language) by a caste of incompetent, greedy, ruthless, and criminal managers, protected by accomplices on the Board.

  11. Of course,it won’t have dawned on the airlines that they might be able to get a massive discount on a 787 anyway.

    • Poisoned fruit?
      787 is product of the same tainted certification process. What is in schroedingers box when you really look?

  12. I’ve already said it.
    Boeing must stop Max production (first rule of lean processes), convert urgent orders to NG and resume is production while actively developing it’s replacement as a new frame.
    That’s going to be expensive but that’s the only sustainable route.

    • What would happen to the 1000-plus CFM LEAP-1B engines that have been manufactured?

      • I would imagine that GE is well positioned to convert over LEAP 1B to LEAP 1A and LEAP 1C production. The LEAP 1B will stay with the airframe until it is brought up to the new standard. (Whatever that will be). I don’t know if the core of the 1B is the same and can be salvaged and used in a 1A or 1C. That’s unthinkable as that would mean the MAX is dead.

        • The engines might be ideal for A319 NEOs, and the price would be right!👍

        • The LEAP-1B was optimised for the MAX and has a scaled core to improve fuel burn — number of high-pressure/low-pressure turbine stages on the -1A/1B, respectively: 2+7 and 2+5. The fewer LPT stages on the -1B “compensates” the lower efficiency of fewer LPT stagrs by a higher Core Exit Mach Number (higher RPM) etc..

          Also, blades, fuel injectors, and quite a few other parts are not common with the LEAP-1A.

          Again, it would appear that GE/CFM once again were playing favourites when they decided to be more aggressive putting more adv. technology into the -1B core.

          CFM International initiated ground testing of the first all-new LEAP-1B engine that will exclusively power the Boeing 737 MAX, three days ahead of schedule. The LEAP-1B engine, installed in a test cell at Snecma (Safran) facilities in Villaroche, France, successfully completed a series of break-in runs before reaching full take-off thrust.

          The engine was on test for several weeks, during which time CFM verified its mechanical operation, operability (stall margin), and engine starts. Further validate tests covered the advanced technologies incorporated in the engine, including the woven carbon fiber composite fan, the Twin-Annular, Pre-Mixing Swirler (TAPS) combustor, ceramic matrix composite shrouds in the high-pressure turbine and the titanium aluminide blades in the low-pressure turbine. The LEAP-1B is specifically optimized for the 737 MAX with a smaller, highly efficient core and benefits from these new technologies.

          The LEAP-1B engine contributes significantly to the 737 MAX’s fuel efficiency improvement. The 737 MAX will be 14 percent more fuel efficient than today’s most efficient Next-Generation 737s – and 20 percent better than the original Next-Generation 737s when they first entered service.


          • CBL: All indicator are that the revamps on MAX get approved.

            You only go to plan B when you have to and that is not easy as a lot of stuff is cammed over to Plan A.

            Not impossible but very very very tough an hugely costly.

            And the NG has some of those same problems.

          • And Airbus went for it. You would think they would know better. sigh – what a bunch of fools.

      • Boeing could start a reengining project for a320 ceo?
        Next step in healing could be selling rebadged neo and taking over, expanding the mobile fal? ;-))))

    • They continue for ( besides other motivators ) increasing pressure in the “too big to fail” box.
      Othe one is “do what is expected if everything goes better than perfect”.

  13. I think we see a failing rule making, oversight, design and certification process.

    Congress played a big role is putting profit over safety. They pushed streamlining, demanded delegation and approved relaxed tulemaking. End they know it.


    So far it has been a joint interest of Boeing, Congress, FAA, stock and stake holders to keep this underwater. Congress grilling Boeing / FAA will avoid this topic.

    Boeing was funding congress members while those congress members reauthorized FAA budgets, demang streamlining and delegation. All driven by competitive pressure on the 737 and 777 in the last 8 years. Mainly the Obama government.


    If all this slowly comes to surface, can I see big government stepping in? Sure. From aresponsibility national interest perspective Boeing is too big to fail & we know what Trump puts first, right or wrong.

  14. Arrogant, overbearing ,tone deaf, etc…
    Situation normal and full speed ahead and damn the torpedoes.
    Move on, there is nothing to see!

    Airlines must be sweating bullets at this point, as the March 2020 date for MAX service can only apply if pure software solution is validated. If hardware changes are needed – which is increasingly likely – March 2021 or 2022!!!

    In any case all B users, such as Ryan and NW, will be looking hard at diversification and all others will be demanding significant compensation, not the crumbs now on the table.

    Even the B shareholders might start to notice soon.

    • Airlines are sweating bullets, so much so that I hear some of them are even talking to Comac, see is their offering can fit. And given that the EASA, CAAC and FAA seem to have reached agreement about certification recognition (apart from grounding the MAX that is), one has to conclude that the Chinese might very well provide the solution.

      If diversification does become the only option, it’ll be interesting to see which airlines have done the preparatory ground work behind the scenes.

      For instance, we know that Southwest Airlines have gone and taken a look at the A220 in Europe. For all we know they’ve got a deal in principal already privately agreed with Airbus, to be revealed as if by magic if the MAX is delayed too much.

      Airlines (if any) that so far have been taking Boeing at its word about a RTF date must be beginning to wonder if that was wise. There might be a sudden rush for Airbus products, and it’ll be first come, first served. Being second in the queue might mean bankruptcy.

      In that cirumstance, Airbus could pick and choose. Cracking open the market with a deal with Southwest Airlines would be a big target. In contrast, British Airways might have to buy Airbus a very large box of chocolates, a huge bouquet of flowers, and a jolly nice picnic hamper complete with an expensive magnum of Champagne if they want their plaintive letters to even be opened, never mind read. Last time BA wanted to buy Airbus they had to go personally to Toulouse, knock on the door and literally plead for a hearing.

      • Lets see, I hear they are looking at Comac who is 2-3 years from production at best.

        Who has no product that has been certified and no path to certification . So you can’t fly it because its not certified. Really?

        Your only choice is Airbus and Russia MC21 which is 2 to 3 years from cert as well.

        And you are going to plonk down big bucks on a Russian supported bird that will not be into serious prodeui9on for 5 years ?

        I don’t think so, Boeing could have a single aisle out in that time span even if its just a me too A320.

        Some possible fill in on A220 but its still ramping up and is 5 years away availability wise as it was never envisions to be 50 -60 a month so same supply chain ramp up issues.

  15. Stunning times we are living through.

    This is quite an “interesting” article, report or set of pontifcations from Scott.

    I wonder how a worldwide grounding can be rationalised away as an “excuseable delay” in a court of law. Could it be that they are hoping that it doesn’t go that far?

    What would prevent Boeing’s customers from going that far? Loyalty? Held over a Barrel?

    The text Messages from the test pilots are now being explained away as a misunderstanding on most of our parts as they only apply to the Simulator and not to the actual aircraft. I wonder who is going to buy that Bridge?

    It also seems that the stock Price took another hit and while it is still high (somewhere in the mid 300s) it does seem to be starting to lose value for ist holders. I wonder when/if some of the shareholder might dump some stocks to cut their losses, in the hope they can pick them up cheaper down the road as this whole mess finally gets cleaned up?

    The there is the logic behind the tactic of offering deep Discounts on the 787 as part of the compensation. Are they building them for that Little or is this just another excuse for a writeoff on the program? Seems strange to me, and seems some others as well.

    • ***Lawyers Cost***

      To some extent there’s little point Boeing’s customers laying into Boeing too much. If, at the end of the day, the MAX does fly again then they’re going to end up with MAXes regardless. It’s not worth calling in the lawyers until it’s clear the MAX is toast and there’s no reason to not give Boeing a hard time. In the meantime, lawyer time now is probably perceived to be money down the plughole for no net gain.

      ***Stock Price***

      The stock price is influenced in part by industry analysts’ reports. So far most of these seem to have been reluctant to state what a lot of people think is blindingly obvious. I’m guessing that an analyst has to be very confident in what they’re basing their advice on; they need hard evidence, and Boeing aren’t handing that out in pamphlets or anything else.

      What should be ringing alarm bells for analysts and shareholders is that even respected and sober observers such as Scott and Bjorn have (some months ago) been jolted into using words like “unprecedented”.

      The luxury enjoyed by us the commentariat is that we’re more free to join the dots based on circumstantial evidence, experience and inference, and in this case we can reach some ghastly conclusions that are totally unprecedented. What seems to be happening is that information is gradually leaking out that paints a picture of the situation inside Boeing being very badly wrong indeed.

      For example, how is it that a proper engineering-lead organisation can produce a system as ghastly as MCAS? The truthful answer is that it can’t. A proper engineering outfit would never in a million years have produced such a system. Therefore, Boeing is not being lead by engineeres. In which case it’s guaranteed to go bust at some point, and perhaps we’re now seeing the precursors to that.

      This could all be deduced in the days following the Lion Air crash, when MCAS first got disclosed. Whereas the FAA hasn’t made any real public comments about the State of Boeing until now, when it finds out that it’s been denied sight of this recent trail of messages.

      This is all inferred from what we know about MCAS. In contrast the hard evidence that analysts have to rely on is financial results, company statements and market analysis.

      What this does mean is that when the analysts do conclude that Boeing is in trouble, it’s going to be very sudden without warning. All it takes is something like the FAA saying “it’s got to be a hardware mod”and the analysts will be saying “sell sell sell” before the end of the news conference.

      ***787 Discounts***

      Using 787 discounts is all very well and good, but it’s no use to the likes of Ryanair, Southwest, and other 737-only operators.

    • I think Boeing would try to claim Force Majeure (unexpected circumstances beyond your control).
      The problem is, it’s laughable to claim this if you’re the main cause of the problem.

      I find Boeing’s stance very antagonistic. I don’t know the details of these contracts, but I’d be surprised if these delays wouldn’t give airlines the opportunity to cancel outright or at considerably lower cost.
      And even if airlines couldn’t cancel outright, maybe Comac would offer to pay the cancelation fees of any airline willing to jump ship.

  16. The text messages are a media beat up. Don’t forget Mark Forkner and Patrik Gustavsson were the test pilots in charge of developing the simulator, their discussions pertain to the behaviour of the simulator only. Another team were in charge of the actual test flights. To me it’s apparent their discussion did not touch on the behaviour of MCAS in actual flights. One of the pilots does say he unintentionally misinformed the FAA of MCASs behaviour because he hadn’t informed till the instant messaging discussion that MCAS was now active down to Mach 0.2. It does show FAA was known the Boeing.

    • Was Forkner flying the “regular” sim, or some kind of development/engineering sim?

  17. My guess is that

    1) the FAA allows the MAX back in the air without EASA etc agreement.

    2) Ralph Nader (who’s grand niece died in the 737-MAX crash in the Ethiopian crash) writes a new bestselling book “Unsafe at any Altitude”. The American public avoids the 737-MAX.

    3) Boeing being sued and wanting to get out from under the 737-MAX problems spin off just the 737-MAX division to a new separate tracking stock.

    4) Boeing’s new 737-MAX company declares itself insolvent and bankrupt, thereby washing it’s hands of legal and financial responsibility.

    5) A new single aisle company buys the 737 certificate and begins building 737’s again

    6) Boeing buys the new single aisle company.

  18. With regard to steep discounts on the 787. They have already tried to kill off the A330neo but failed.

    The big problem for Boeing is the A350. We will get another evolution of the A350 in 2022, both the -900 and the -1000. Airbus now say the -1000 can do Qantas’ project sunrise without auxiliary tanks. Will be interested to see what the new numbers will be!

    Then add the fact that production costs for the A350 are coming down. This means the A350 will become cheaper whilst maintaining a good margin.

    Not looking good on the widebody side either .

    With regard to the 737 MAX. Given the JTAR report, I will be very surprised if the FAA allow just a software fix. But then if they do, will others follow?

        • Yep.

          I don’t think so, but I didn’t think, a lot of things a year ago.

          What kills me is that MCAS itself was not a wrong approach (yea I know, some disagree). It was how it was executed.

          Then the dusla corss check of the compujters was done. Yes it would have been a good move with the NG, but did it muck things up for the MAX?

          It has to be done right so there is more time and another change.

          And then you get failure to release documents and the ones you finally do are damming to the point that any credit you might have build up is killed

          Pulling Jedi Mind Tricks with regulators is about as ugly as it gets short of shooting someone on 5th avenue.

          So add in I want to know the details of the hiring of their chief test pilot who held no analogous position or worked his way up but seems to have been picked out of the blue.

          Deliberate bypass of existing Boeing test pilots to get the end result they wanted (now of course its can we take that all back?)

          • ‘Jedi Mind Tricks with regulators’ is up there with ‘as long as the employees are still cowering’. Doesn’t paint a picture of a healthy business culture. That said, I don’t see the failure to inform regulators or pilots as the main issue. That being, the greatest aerospace company in the world hooked up a very strong flight control that ran beyond what was needed to one AOA and those blunders were not caught internally.

            If Boeing says ‘we just follow FAA rules’, they’re basically saying, ‘granted, we suck at designing airplanes’, except unlike Forkner, no antiphrasis irony is there.

          • Hard to argue when you make the FAA rules.

            Clearly the case they made the rule there as much as the batter on the 787 (which was correct by the RTC where it should have landed in the first place)

    • Significant cash flow problem already, Boeing can only deliver the stored MAXs at half the rate they have been producing them at and airlines can only absorb them at a certain rate. If you put enough money up front you are going to get a deal.
      If Ryanair really does want to go twin Isle, it looks like their opportunity might be coming up.

    • The NMA is getting more and more delayed, airlines need 763 replacements. Even Delta may consider the 787-8 if the price is very good to serve as an “NMA”?

      Boeing will either have to fast track an FSA/NSA (engines?) and forget about the NMA or come up with significantly updated 737 with EIS 2022/23 (?), landing gear, etc., etc., etc.

      Is the NMA/MoM market big enough that AB could consider an A338/9-X with new centre section, lighter wing/wing box and 60-65Klb R&R UF’s for EIS 2025-27? For longterm I would say rather use the 350 fuselage, nose section etc. to build a 250-280 seat “MoM”. EIS could also be around 2027 and be produced on the 350 production line?

    • “”737 MAX. Given the JTAR report, I will be very surprised if the FAA allow just a software fix. But then if they do, will others follow?””

      EASA will flight test, without and with MCAS.
      I think that MCAS is needed for a linear behaviour, so it can’t be classified “minor”. But is MCAS even enough for a linear behaviour? What if not?

  19. I’ve heard rumors that EASA may require Boeing to fit a third AOA sensor to the MAX; it seems to be more-or-less standard (in Europe, at least) to have three sensors for systems whose failure can have “catastrophic” consequences. I imagine it would be a nightmare for Boeing to have to make such a design change…especially for airframes that have already been produced.
    From the point of view of control theory, there doesn’t appear to be much merit in having just two sensors, because you still have indecision in the event that one sensor says A and the other says B. With three sensors (or a higher odd number), you can’t have a tied vote.

      • This is a very good question. If a gyroscope is sufficient to keep record of a spacecraft’s attitude, then it strikes me as being perfectly suitable for measuring attitude in an aircraft. Certainly more reliable than an AOA sensor…but also probably more expensive.
        Don’t forget that inertial guidance systems (before the advent of GPS) used gyros.

        • Of course, the AOA measures against the relative wind, but, if the gyro disagrees with the AOA vane by a large amount, you should then activate the “TILT” procedures either automatic or manual or alert lights etc. They have rather small and inexpensive gyro’s now on drones. You could probably have 9 gyro’s comparing with the AOA’s. It would seem like an inexpensive fix hardware wise, but, the what do you do when things go TILT, is the question. Procedures and programming would have to be worked out. They’ve done it on the 767 tanker program. I’m not sure why they didn’t do it on the 737-MAX.
          For some reason, the 737-MAX design team didn’t take lessons from the 767-Tanker team.

        • The reason for 3 AOA is the FBW system with its 3 computers, not some difference in opinion.

          The vast certification differences in a mechanical aircraft per 707/727 and the 737 still is huge.

          If an A320 or any other FBW aircraft took out all its computers, you would not be able to do anything but crash land.

          A 737 is still fully viable flying aircraft without its computers. MCAS is not even needed for normal flight.

          MCAS through its horrible logic intruded into normal flight big time.

          Or are we going back to we have to have 3 engine here as well?

          • I didn’t allude to the specifics of any FBW system; my comment was made from a purely control-theory point of view. Control theorists like odd numbers (of sensors and/or computers) because there is no risk of a tied vote. Parliaments/councils and law courts are the same, where possible…or they have a chairperson to cast a deciding vote in the event of a tie. MCAS will not know what to do if it has disagreeing sensor inputs from just two sensors; in such an instance, you could, of course, just freeze MCAS…but, in that case, you risk a potential stall if there genuinely is an AOA issue.

          • So, you add another input from the existing two AOA and feed all 3 to a computer that lights up a big RED AOA disagree light?

            The two computer system is not setup for a vote.

          • “Red light” aoa!=aoa

            That is what boeing sold as an option.
            ( but that function even if bought was not working.)

      • Modern IRS have accelerometers. They do know the pitch, roll and yaw of an airplane. But I think -stress I think- there is latency. Not my field.

        I think the IRS is supplied by Honeywell. There are two. Left and right as per everything else.

    • In my understanding, EASA’s bare minimum is 2 sensors, but that is to come with additional training to deal with issues due to the failure of such a system, such as in recognising and isolating the problem. 3 sensor system reduces the burden of such extra training.

      So, in summary, it seems that they’re giving the option of 2 sensors + additional training, or incorporate a 3rd sensor. It is up to Boeing to work out which one is going to be less costly.

    • yes, Peter, that is why Boeing will reduce the power of MCAS till they can say it only supports pilots to a point that it can not bring an airplane down by itself.
      It seems that exactly this will be a point where FAA and EASA won t agree. FAA will get a lot of pressure to think “American” and agree with Boeing’s view that it is now just a minor system.
      Once re-certified in the USA they will hope that others must follow, risking otherwise that airlines who ordered the MAX go bust.
      The fact that this has not been played like this yet, shows me that the American public pays more attention to these “technical” issues than FAA and Boeing would like and that most authorities seem to have indicated that they trust EASA more than FAA.

    • Dave,

      Very amusing.

      I suspect Hell may freeze over, and Southwest start operating a different manufacturer’s aircraft before their business model changes to use twin aisles.

  20. About being afraid to speakup re safety or other issues like safety which affect cost and schedule-this WSJ article shines a bit more light on the real Kulture at Boeing- Do you put ‘ the right thing’ above family, house, wife, kids? or at least percieve the result of speaking up – or have you seen it happen ?

    By Andrew Tangel and
    Andy Pasztor
    Updated Oct. 20, 2019 7:23 pm ET

    U.S. lawmakers probing the 737 MAX jet crisis are ratcheting up scrutiny of Boeing Co. BA -6.79% leaders as new details point to management pressure on engineers and pilots in its commercial-aircraft unit.

    Investigators for the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee looking into the design and certification of the 737 MAX have received details of a three-year-old internal Boeing survey showing roughly one in three employees who responded felt “potential undue pressure” from managers regarding safety-related approvals by federal regulators across an array of commercial planes. Workload and schedule were cited as important causes.

    Such conflicts could become problematic, the survey found, when it came to Boeing engineers who played dual roles designing certain systems on behalf of the plane maker and then certifying the same systems as safe on behalf of the Federal Aviation Administration, as part of a decades-old agency program that effectively outsources such regulatory work to company employees.

    The summary of the survey as of November 2016 also indicated that 15% of those who responded encountered such situations “several times” or “frequently.” The survey results were provided to the committee by an individual, rather than as part of Boeing’s formal process of turning over documents, and were reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.
    Rep. Peter DeFazio, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said he was dissatisfied with the Boeing board’s oversight. Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg News

    The survey, which hasn’t been reported before, wasn’t specifically focused on the MAX but covered employees across a range of Boeing commercial airliner programs; it came near the end of the MAX’s multiyear federal approval process. Boeing declined to comment on the survey, but a board member has said an internal review found no signs that undue pressure had compromised safety.

    Boeing was conducting the survey the same months a senior company pilot involved in the development of the 737 MAX messaged a colleague that Boeing’s test pilots were “so damn busy, and getting pressure” from the program officials overseeing the aircraft’s development that they lacked sufficient time to help sort out technical issues from the two aviators, according to a transcript of internal messages reviewed by the Journal and disclosed by Boeing to congressional investigators on Friday.

    These glimpses into Boeing’s internal culture provided by survey results during development of the MAX highlight conflicts that can arise from a regulatory regime that enlists company employees to act on behalf of both their employer and the regulator that oversees its products. In some cases, Boeing engineers or managers may have decision-making power on behalf of the FAA pertaining to the very same systems and components they design or build for the company. Such issues are at the heart of the escalating congressional debate around the way the MAX was approved.

    Rep. Peter DeFazio of Oregon, the Democratic chairman of the House committee, indicated that at the hearing later this month he plans to ask Boeing Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg about the company’s internal culture and what he sees as a lack of accountability for two MAX crashes that together claimed 346 lives.

    Boeing’s directors, expected to meet on Sunday in San Antonio, recently stripped Mr. Muilenburg of his dual role as chairman. Board members intended the move to serve as a public signal that they were holding management to account as the MAX crisis drags on, people familiar with the matter said.
    Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg faces questioning from congressional committees. Photo: shannon stapleton/Reuters

    “That’s not exactly major accountability, and it probably goes deeper into the organization,” said Mr. DeFazio in an interview, adding that he was also dissatisfied with the board’s oversight, which he described as “pretty lame.”

    “Even if you grant that the board thought that the original crash was pilot error and bad maintenance,” he added, “certainly they should have stepped it way up after the second crash, and I haven’t seen that.”

    The company didn’t respond to a request for comment about Mr. DeFazio’s criticism.

    The House hearing, and another one the Senate Commerce Committee is expected to hold, come weeks after a pair of official reports, from U.S. air-crash investigators and a group of international aviation regulators, faulting Boeing for how it designed, tested and certified a MAX flight-control system, called MCAS, that authorities have said led to the crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia.

    No employees at Boeing have been fired or removed from their positions because of their role in the MAX crisis, people familiar with the matter said. While Dave Calhoun, a top executive at the New York private-equity firm Blackstone Group Inc., took over the chairmanship from Mr. Muilenburg, Mr. Muilenburg retained his CEO position and is still a board director, and Mr. Calhoun has said the board has full confidence in him as CEO. Other senior executives at Boeing remain in place. Kevin McAllister is chief of the company’s airplane division, and Greg Hyslop remains chief engineer.

    The Boeing board’s recent move to restructure how the company handles engineering, safety and certification matters, according to Mr. DeFazio, was a tacit acknowledgment that production pressures have threatened Boeing’s safety culture.

    The reshuffling, which the board recommended after its own review, will centralize control of engineering and safety matters, giving more power to the company’s Chicago-based CEO and chief engineer. While the aim is to reduce the influence of business concerns such as costs and production schedules in engineering decisions, the review didn’t uncover signs that undue pressure or other lapses compromised safety of the MAX or other aircraft Boeing produces, according to Edmund Giambastiani Jr. , a retired U.S. Navy admiral who sits on the company’s board and oversaw the review. Adm. Giambastiani called it an “opportunity to improve the system.”
    People convey a coffin during the Oct. 18 burial ceremony in Kiangai Village, Kenya, of Paul Karanja’s wife and three children who died in the March 10 crash of Ethiopian Airlines’ Boeing 737 MAX. Photo: suleiman mbatiah/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

    The 2016 survey nonetheless showed that 29% of the more than 500 employees who answered it by late November of that year were “concerned about consequences if I report potential undue pressure.”

    The material laying out the survey results mentioned that “conflict can occur” when employees “are asked to develop and then approve” the same technical proposal.

    The presentation of the results, which was apparently prepared for all project administrators and authorized FAA representatives across Boeing commercial-aircraft programs, also said that more than 80% of respondents to the survey expressed confidence that procedures were in place to address concerns about excessive pressure. The document also noted that the FAA separately had interviewed dozens of authorized representatives, and found that the “process for reporting undue pressure [was] well understood.”

    Boeing declined to comment on whether Mr. Muilenburg and the board were considering personnel changes.

    “Boeing’s leadership team is committed to our enduring values of safety, quality and integrity as they implement the board’s recommendations and additional actions to strengthen and elevate safety,” a Boeing spokesman said, adding they are working to safely return the 737 MAX to service.

    The House committee has been delving into documents it has collected from Boeing and the government and whether the plane maker had made misleading statements to the FAA before it approved the model for commercial service in March 2017, according to people familiar with the probe. The Boeing spokesman said the company is fully cooperating with all external inquiries and reviews.

    Disclosures by Mr. DeFazio’s committee on Friday of Boeing’s internal messages between the senior Boeing pilot and his colleague have been ramping up criticism of Boeing on Capitol Hill.

    The messages between Mark Forkner, then chief technical pilot for the MAX tasked with winning FAA approval for the jet’s manuals and training, and a colleague in November 2016, suggest that Mr. Forkner believed he unintentionally misled regulators about certain aspects of a flight-control system.

    Apparently referring to how engineers had altered the system, later implicated in both MAX crashes, to work in more typical flight conditions than it was originally designed for, Mr. Forkner said: “So I basically lied to the regulators (unknowingly).”

    Months after sending that message, Mr. Forkner portrayed it differently. In a January 2017 email to an FAA official, he argued that the system known as MCAS should be taken out of manuals because it activates “way outside the normal operating envelope,” and therefore cockpit crews would practically never experience it. The email was later turned over to Mr. DeFazio’s committee and reviewed by the Journal.

    Mr. Forkner’s attorney, David Gerger, didn’t respond to a request for comment over the weekend about the January 2017 email. On Friday, Mr. Gerger said the instant messages showed his client wasn’t lying but was instead referring to a malfunctioning simulator.

    U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D., Conn.) said he wanted to question Mr. Muilenburg and Boeing’s board members about Mr. Forkner’s exchange. “They need to be held accountable for this possible deception,” Mr. Blumenthal said in an interview.

    —Rachel Louise Ensign and Suzanne Vranica contributed to this article.

    • I prefer the link if I want to read it instead of the whole article I have to scroll past.

      • The link is behind the pay wall – so if you have a $400 plus subscription to WSJ you can read it there.

        AS usual – any good deed has detractors

        • I guess it depends on what you call a good deed.

          You could just say that to start with?

  21. In terms of return to service, there is the fix and its acceptance. Figure out the fixes or added training to satisfy EASA’s list.

    The other issue is looking at what went wrong in the design of MCAS. The text is just scratching the surface of one person on one exchange. One would assume there were multiple managers taking marching orders from higher ups, designers, test pilots, software writers, simulator programmers, etc., so there is much more to it.

    Is the return to service or public confidence predicated on hearing the full story, the metaphorical black box and CVR of the initial design, and how it went awry?

    • The test pilot seemed genuinely surprised about the MCAS handling after he had flow the plane in the simulator before. He may have not know about the .6 to 2.5 change, and he mentioned if his piloting skills were rusty, or maybe there was something wrong with the simulator. The person or team that changed the .6 to 2.5 setting, didn’t publish it out to the world. I don’t know if that was an innocent change, that they wanted the test pilots to try out and then they would update the paperwork they had sent the FAA later and it was forgotten, or did someone intentionally ‘forget’ to update the FAA and everyone else. That important part of the story is yet to be told. That test pilot is no longer working for Boeing. He’s working as a line pilot for an airline. I’m wondering how many of the Boeing 737-MAX team, engineers and pilots have left the project because of the pressure to conform to deadlines and rules about no changes to the aircraft that would need more training or certification tests? When you have a death march project, (the Tesla comes to mind), and a lot of good talent leaving the company, that’s a bad sign. It would be interesting to know the numbers of former 737 engineers, programmers and pilots that have left the project and are working for other firms now. Of course, if you contract and outsource a lot of your work, that would muddy the numbers.

      • The test pilot was not a Boeing derived test pilot originally.

        That I find ?????????????????????????

        Boeing has scattered test around so far that no one was talking to anyone.

        All in cost cutting mode or so they say but???????????????????

        So good questions but we don’t have data at least yet.

        I remember the string of retirements after the 787 rollout and it was, oh oh, something smells here.

        So different jobs or retirement, how many left, how soon etc.

        • In what language are you attempting to comment?

          They read, mostly, as gibberish.

  22. “Boeing also takes the position that once the FAA recertifies the MAX, this stops the clock on any claims because the FAA, not EASA, CAAC or any other agency, is the governing agency.”

    Outrageous. What we see here is that Boeing is trying to co-opt the FAA into getting the MAX back into the air soon as possible to avoid any subsequent compensation to their non-US customers by blaming their local regulatory bodies. Non-US customers should be wary of doing future business with such a dishonourable company that is being run by lawyers and accountants over engineers.

  23. I tend to think that Boeing needs to be decapitated – Board of Directors and senior management all replaced on a wholesale basis.

    Not sure who you would ask to step in to reconstitute Boeing. They just need to stop with share buybacks and other financial engineering. They need a management team that sees commercial aviation as job 1 and that is again willing to invest in that business.

    Seems to me that perhaps the defense business ought to be hived off and Boeing concentrate again on commercial aviation only. The business has really gone to **** since the MacDac merger.

    • Maybe they could do that by shutting down everything in Chicago, including firing everybody there, and then focus on being a plane maker in Seattle….

      • Share buy back have been suspended.

        You would have your pick of people for fixing Boeing, its a challenge but you have free reign and that is not too often you see.

        Boeing as a stand alone commercial aircraft builder is weaker with the finances end.

        I am not sure the defense part plays into this at all.

        • “I am not sure the defense part plays into this at all”

          wll defense part managed to screw up 767 tanker starting in 2001, and later- and even now

          Near perfect fubar track record- P8 survived because it MOSTLY was done by competent commerical types from the get go.

          • Uhhh you know that they moved over P-3 equipment to the P-8 and used a spiral developed process?

            No disagreement the defense side has issue as well, but its a 50% part of Boeing that the USAF is still buying KC-46 from.

            Its certainly not going to be ignored in any proceedings

          • ” Uhhh you know that they moved over P-3 equipment to the P-8 and used a spiral developed process?”

            I was talking- referring specifically to the major airframe changes done at renton- not the GFE stuff which got partly honked up by ??

            AFIK- the airframe has had few issues.

      • I’m always a bit puzzled by this bon mot when I encounter it. The headquarters of Boeing Commercial Aircraft is in Renton, Washington (state), across the street from a BCA production plant. If the headquarters of the larger Boeing Corporation is to be decimated and moved why do you assume it would be moved to the Puget Sound area rather than St. Louis, Virginia, or other location with many Boeing employees?

        • Because that was where it was before they mucked around with it and moved it to a city that has NO Boeing presence.

          Everett is still the single biggest industrial site Boeing has, defense or commercial aircraft.

          • Which from a corporate governance point of view is a good reason not to have the global corporate headquarters there. [1]

            [1] Yes, I am aware the decision to move the global HQ to Chicago was made in large part to ex-MDC people having a personal dislike for Seattle, but that doesn’t mean the decision was wrong.

          • Can you say out of touch in an Ivory tower?

            As much as I love the Mid-West, Chicago selection was totally a disaster.

            Its not a cross roads to anywhere or anything.

            They might as well have put it up in Green Bay, at least they have the excitement of the Packers (Bulls having gone static)

        • It makes sense to be co-located with the subsidiary that generates 70% of total revenue.

          • Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman HQ are in Washington …….DC region.
            Walmart is in Arkansas. There is as many reasons to be in a certain place as there are big companies, but wasn’t the original 1920s United Aircraft Holding company hq in Hartford Conneticut. The split up left Boeing in control of the Western business units from Seattle, United Technologies the Eastern units in Hartford and United Airlines in Chicago

  24. William,

    With regard to your comment that the FAA will not go it alone. I hope they won’t.

    My posts are severe with regard to Boeing, but not with regard to the FAA. I know that ALL OEMs self-regulate, I also know airlines self-+regulate.

    I good example is Vietnam Airlines. They now have approval from the FAA to fly to the USA. Well done. Will the FAA be all over them. No. Vietnam Airlines, like all other airlines, will be expected to comply with US regulations. If they don’t, the FAA will withdraw their certification.

    It’s all about trust.

    Boeing have walked all over FAA regulations. They have abused the process, they have abused the system, in the FAA’s backyard, in America’s backyard.

    If the FAA allow Boeing to get away with this, the FAA will not be able to show their faces in any respectable aerospace institution.

    The FAA commissioned JTAR. They must take the report seriously. Boeing won’t. According to Boeing, the 737 MAX will be certified before the end of the year. No interpretation of the JTAR report allows the 737 MAX to be certified by the end of the year.

    As you know, my interpretation of the JTAR report requires Boeing to do hardware changes. Let’s see

    • No, its not all about Trust, its about and should alwyas be verification.

      Its about passing the inspections and proving you do what you say.

      So no the FAA did not just tell Vietnam they could fly to the US. Their record and processes was inspected and as the conformed to the requirement they were granted a certification.

      That will continue and if they don’t, the scrutiny gets turned up and failure to correct and you loose your certificate.

      US carriers interior or interior/exterior go through the same process. They have inspectors checking the ops all the time. There always is a minimum level of monitoring, there is never NO monitoring.

  25. I guess I have to get up earlier, 59 comment and by the time mine shows up probably 100!

    The Bright news was Boeing says the text is all out of context and it was not final Sim Software rev they were talking about.

    Having mucked around with software, 99% is not done but it works for most stuff with maybe a bit off in an area or two. So what degree is equally important.

    Of course they don’t explain the Jedi Mind Trick on fooling the regulator into going the the FAA pitch (Brazil did NOT go along)

    I think Iran still has some idle centrifuges Boeing could borrow.

  26. This is going to go down as a counter-point to the Tylenol crisis. After Lion Air and and before Ethiopian when Boeing first started on MCAS-2 they had a window. They could have then:
    * self grounded the MAX
    * disclosed that were re-working MCAS for all reasons they ultimately did
    * disclosed that their internal process failed to catch that the increased MCAS authority required a new failure/risk analysis
    * disclosed the mis-communication with the FAA re-MCAS authority
    * gone to a rate of 42

    Basically walk the walk on safety. Both because it is the right thing to do and because if safety is your brand don’t endanger it no matter the consequences.

    If they had done that I think they would be back in the air by now.

    This is the real reason Meulenberg has to go. Either he knew the whole story but didn’t make the call, or he was out of the loop. But either is an inditement. Reminds me of the scene in Margin Call where Jeremy Irons points out his “one” job is to sense when disaster is about to strike and make the big call.

    And yes, hindsight, 20/20 etc.

    • I also think its a mistake to try to compare the two.

      Economic impacts on pills and pulling are easy. Pills cost a penny to make and the profit is huge. Airplanes not so much.

      It would take enormous foresight to have stopped this and Boeing exhibit none of that (I don’t think they are capable of it – they are so blinded and self deluded by training and Boeing experience)

      Its all such a good old boys club the board included.

      If they can shuffle their way out of this I still don’t think that changes.

      You need a leader not a weenie and Boeing system is designed to create weenies .

      Ford and the Firestone tire issue comes to mind. Ford was really the one that screwed up with an all too close to margin tire spec.

      Firestone got their backs up.

      Ford saw the way the wind was blowing and simply offered new tires and looked good for doing so.

      I just don’t see that kind of leadership emerging from Boeing.

      Hitler at Stalingrad come to mind.

  27. Have you ever watched and/or communicated with a company that is close to bankruptcy? That’s exactly how it sounds.

    • Been there, done that, was in it!

      Best thing that ever happened to me. I got a big raise!

    • Been there done that. Unlike TW I got fired when they failed. Luckily my parachute opened!

      Don’t think BA’s behavior is quite there yet, stopping the 737 line and refusing to answer suppliers emails would be, though.

      Feel like they are trying to screw an advantage from the mess is just typical BA. The risk is that customers will reject offers of services and discounts for fear that BGS will screw them in ten years time, once their own MROs are weakened.

  28. Regardless of whether the exchange in the recently published chat conversation relates to the simulator software (as Boeing is asserting…and which is very doubtful) or the MCAS itself (much more likely from context), one has to conclude that the tone and demeanor in the exchange are disgusting. These guys have a very serious task…but they talk about it in a cheap, demeaning, dismissive manner. It must be horrific for the families affected by the MAX crashes to read that this is the degree of seriousness with which safety matters were tested/discussed at Boeing.

  29. Can somebody tell me if there is any difference in software used in sims and software in the plane, meaning would the code in the sim MCAS be the same as in the aircraft? I can’t see why it would be different. MCAS only went crazy in the sim, say BA, can anybody explain why the same wouldn’t apply to the real world?

    • The software needs to be subject to simulated inputs. But the outputs decide any additional inputs. It’s called an action and reaction loop.

      But it doesn’t matter. The simulation should have been in place and verified before the 737 MAX started it’s flight test programme. It clearly wasn’t there 2/3rd into the flight test programme.

      Seat of your pants stuff.

      My guess is the software was never verified by simulation prior to certification or by flight test. That began after certification because MCAS2.0 began development soon after certification and before the Lion Air crash..

    • I can to a degree. I worked on the exterior support (Air Conditioning supply and Power end) for a Simulator.

      Keep in mind they are two different creatures, one is the real thing and the other is faking the real thing.

      So, if we are talking about Level D sim (full motion) then all the software is different as you are making 3 struts fake out your feelings on what the motion is doing.

      One good example was what I though was a stall being done (turned out they did not do stalls at the time) was an aircraft landing (front of Sim way down, shaking and rocking to beat the band)

      Why? Because they are simulating G force on a landing and a full out thrust reverse and braking action.

      What is required is what they call Fidelity. They want it to FEEL like there is no difference. So they use the 3 hydraulic struts and their motions to do that but it has nothign to do with the aircraft software.

      What has to happen is that it all gets translated into the same feel. Big bucks. 20 million as I recall.

      One area that was not required was true Oxygen. As its a short time use and its costly, they were allowed to use compressed air.

      On the other had we had an out of balance fan making a noise getting into the cockpit and they were given notice to fix or loose the certification . We actually fixed the fan by balancing it, but the manager was so panicked he covered up the fan unit causing problems with a noise killing enclosure.

      That lead to us tearing it off to work on the fan air conditioner unit combo when it failed, then making them put it back together again as we were not “sim qualified techs!)

      As the Sim was certified to operating only with that sound enclosure intact, they had to do it.

      Years latter they got really tired of the drill to the point they ran the sound tests again and the noise was gone without it and they got a waiver from the waiver as it were.

      All the controls and instruments are identical , but the software totally different.

      To make it all work they had a computer room that was 30 x 20 that ran the simulator. So it took a lot of processing to make get the required Fidelity.

      Add in you have to have a vision system to simulate what is going on as he weather is dialed in to the scenarios as well.

      I got to land it once. Really amazing.

      • While I realize inputs are generated and outputs are put to a different use I don’t see any reason why they wouldn’t us original FCC software, why pay to rewrite what you’ve already done? Navigation sims for shipping use a lot of off the shelf displays/computer equipment. Don’t quite see the point of using anything except BA’s own, genuine, fcc processors and code. Cheaper, if nothing else

    • me too, why should it be different.

      Still what’s remarkable, the killers say McAss didn’t work in the sim, but Forkner’s email to the FAA in March 2016 was his opinion from his sim experience and something the FAA used for certification, and now the killers say the sim wasn’t working.

      • Phillip:

        No, its a totally different ball game that comes out (if done right) with the same feel. Clearly you have not a clue on that. Its not an airplane sitting on the ground. Sheese Louise.

        “The software needs to be subject to simulated inputs. But the outputs decide any additional inputs. It’s called an action and reaction loop.”

    • And adding a bit in, you take the operating characteristics of your aircraft the sim is for and model it.

      You then check sound levels, G forces and what occurs in the air and translate that to the Sim.

      One of the less mentioned crimes here is that the manual trim in the Simulator got changed so it was easy to turn all the time.

      That is a huge violation (and there should be some massive fines coming)

      If a fan noise is a violation then a functional issue like manual trim, phew. A whole story not being discussed much.

    • MartinA, The full motion “Level D” simulators that airlines use to train their pilots are basically mockup’s of a cockpit, sitting on hydraulics. They project scenery on the screen in sync with the movements of the controls. It’s very lifelike but, more in common with a Disneyworld attraction than internals of a real aircraft. After you open up the electronics bay of a simulator, you won’t find the same components as you would in a real aircraft. It fakes the rudder, yoke, trim wheel etc as close as they can. It’s designed for training pilots not testing aircraft components. The simulator at Boeing, may be designed to test aircraft components. And may have more hardware compatibility in line with a real aircraft.

      • It does not Fake, it emulates

        The Fidelity is virtually 100% (Level D) exact to the real aircraft in ALL modes of flight (or supposed to be, sans the NG sim trim wheel failure)

      • I’m sorry, but Phil and TW are confusing me in respect to everything I’ve been reading about the simulator. How can you use the simulator to test flaws in the software if it is only a simulation of the software and not some version of it running using inputs that mock reality? Throughout this whole debacle the simulator has been used to test certain ideas — to test both hardware and software changes. So is TW disabusing me of the idea that the modern Sim is basically a fully functional Holodeck?

        • The MCAS software is not a simulation, it’s the actual software to be used in the airplane.

          But it needs inputs, such as the AoA. The inputs are simulated for there are no actual alpha vanes.

          The MCAS software then produces the output to move the stabiliser. But there is no stabiliser to move. So that must be simulated.

          The simulated move of the stabiliser causes the AoA to change. The AoA change is simulated. The AoA change then becomes an input to MCAS. And so on.

          It’s called an action (inputs) and reaction (outputs) loop. Inputs generate outputs. The outputs then generate inputs.

          But, as I said, the MCAS software is the actual software to be used in the airplane. It should have been fully tested before flight testing began using simulated inputs and simulated outputs.

          Hope that helps.

      • Hi Richard, appreciate what you are saying but something needs to simulate the operation of the FCC. Do you rewrite all the same code to work in a new processor, or do you just grab an old fashioned FCC chip which costs nothing off the production line and load it with the original software. It won’t necesarily look the same or be in the same location, but I am curious to know how they simulated the FCC in BA’s MAX sim.

        • Steve, MartinA. Boeing’s simulator at their facility is a ‘super’ simulator.
          It may have the ability to ‘plug and play’ with the real FCC software, I’m not sure. But, in the world of Airline pilot training, the simulator manufacturers get official data packages from Boeing telling them how a plane operates under these conditions and they build a simulator to emulate the actual plane in terms of force feedback etc. They they must pass tests to be certified to certain levels of training. For example Level D full motion training, is probably what you’ve heard being written about. That’s what Airlines pilots use for their renewal training etc. They don’t have all of the avionics of a real 737 behind the panels, only a few boxes of computers using the data packages that Boeing supplies them making the lights blink and twirl on the panel and the controls feel like a real aircraft. After Boeing has a plane certified, do they send out data packages to the simulator folks to build their flight simulators from. For the changes in the software that they are making for MCAS II, after MCAS II gets approved, then Boeing will update their data package, send it to the simulator makers, and they will have to reprogram their simulators to mimic the changes Boeing has made and then get their simulator re-approved. I don’t know what computer languages Boeing uses for their FCC, or in what format the data package they send out is, or what the different simulator vendors use.

        • Steve:

          If its done right, then it is identical even though everything that makes it so is not.


          Note the 6 hydraulic rams attaching to 3 points on the Sim.

          Trust me, a lot of what I tho0ught I knew before we got the Sim was wrong.

          Lets take a gear raising. In the real aircraft there is noise. So when that happens on the Simulator, a recording is there (there is no gear of course).

          That is why a stupid out of balance fan is an issue, it was putting a noise into the environment when there should be no noise like that.

          Now raise the gear and you change how the aircraft is flying. So that in turn is a separate program that inputs into the control system.

          There are no flaps, ailerons, spoilers but it feels and acts like there are.

          Its more Disney World and the Jedi Fighter than anything.

          Keep in mind, you can trick the mind using motions (inner ear).

          Philip thinks you just saw the nose off a 737 and put it into a building.

          Nothing like that. It barely looks like the nose of the real thing and only because the windows have to slant the same and the panes have to look the same.

          Big projectors mounted on top. You don’t even see out the windows, you are looking at screens.

          Trust me though, its real. I about had a heart attack when they put me at 3500 feet on the approach off Anchorage and we are not moving – my pilot brain is screaming stall, stall stall (not moving)

          All you have to do is have enough triggers your brain thinks is real and the brain does a grand job of filling in.

          Young kid flying it ahead of me was hosing up the attitude and I want to grab him by the throat and throttle him for having us at stall all the time with the warning.

          Hydraulic p0ack motors were 120 hp total, we had 20 tons or more cooling and the power was like 450 KW to run the thing.

          • Dominic Gates By Dominic Gates
            Seattle Times aerospace reporter

            After the release Friday of an instant message chat between two senior Boeing pilots, the jetmaker faced skepticism when, two days later, it denied it had suppressed what seemed like early evidence that its 737 MAX flight control system had “run rampant” during simulator testing in 2016.

            But Boeing’s defense stands up, according to three sources who spoke to the Seattle Times on Monday — two citing direct knowledge of inside information about the matter and the third an expert outside pilot analyzing the flight details in the chat.

            The bottom line is that the erratic behavior described in the 2016 chat by 737 MAX chief technical pilot Mark Forkner revealed a software bug in the MAX flight simulator he was using, a pilot training machine that he and his colleagues were then fine-tuning to get it ready for the MAX’s entry into service.

            It was not evidence of the flaws that later showed up on the real airplane’s new flight control system — known as the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) — that caused the accidents in Indonesia and Ethiopia.

            The question is important because the release of the messages sparked a furor with members of Congress and regulators, raising new doubts about Boeing’s integrity and transparency just as it prepares to seek approval to put the long-grounded MAX back into commercial service.

            A former senior pilot at Boeing, who worked with Forkner in a similar role and who has direct knowledge of the type of simulator evaluations that Forkner was preparing at that time, said that the flight parameters mentioned in the chat indicate clearly that MCAS could not possibly have been engaging even though the simulator faults made it seem so.

            Furthermore, he added, it would have been impossible for Forkner to have been flying in the simulator any pattern similar to the accident flights, in both of which MCAS was triggered by a faulty angle of attack signal.

            “I can tell you 100%, he couldn’t have been flying the scenario that occurred on the accident airplanes, because there was no physical way in that simulator to shut off one angle of attack sensor,” said the senior pilot, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he doesn’t wish to be drawn into the Department of Justice’s ongoing criminal investigation of the 737 MAX.

            Bjorn Fehrm, an aerospace engineer and former fighter pilot who now is an analyst with Leeham.net and who has publicly criticized the MCAS design, concurred that the altitude and airspeed Forkner cited when the simulator flight controls went haywire rule out a real engagement of MCAS and indicate instead a glitch in the simulator.

            “He was in normal flight. What’s wrong with the original MCAS design is not apparent when flying normally,” said Fehrm. “That said to me, this is just a simulator implementation issue.”

            The problem Forkner identified in the simulator “was logged contemporaneously” apart from in his chat messages, according to a third source familiar with the relevant documents, and Boeing afterwards fixed the simulator software.

            “The issue was not experienced in later sessions,” said this source, who also asked for anonymity because he’s involved in one of the MAX investigations. “The issue could not be recreated in mid-December.”

            PR disaster

            Boeing faced an epic public relations disaster last Friday when a Congressional committee released the text of the chat, in which Forkner described to his colleague Patrik Gustavsson a MAX simulator session that day in mid-November 2016 when MCAS started pushing the nose down or “trimming” the jet.

            “It’s running rampant in the sim on me,” Forkner wrote. “I’m levelling off at like 4000 ft, 230 knots and the plane is trimming itself like craxy (sic). I’m like, WHAT?”

            “Granted, I suck at flying, but even this was egregious,” Forkner added.
            Sign up for Evening Brief

            Delivered weeknights, this email newsletter gives you a quick recap of the day’s top stories and need-to-know news, as well as intriguing photos and topics to spark conversation as you wind down from your day.

            Forkner also stated that since MCAS had evolved from its initial design and now —”Shocker AlerT,” as he put it — activates at low speed as well as in the originally-intended high-speed scenarios, he “basically lied to the regulators (unknowingly).”

            The disclosure understandably drew outrage from members of Congress, airline pilot unions and aviation experts who interpreted it as clear evidence that Boeing knew before the MAX entered passenger service that MCAS could behave erratically and dangerously.

            The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) had not been informed of this document, which Boeing had provided to the Department of Justice last February, the month before the second MAX crash. On Friday, FAA Administrator Steve Dickson sent an angry letter to Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg demanding an immediate explanation.

            Both Fehrm and the former senior Boeing pilot also initially reacted with dismay, until they read the transcript of the chat. Then their knowledge of flying and of the way simulators are developed led both to a different conclusion.

            Technical pilots versus test pilots

            Forkner was chief technical pilot on the 737, managing pilots in a group called Flight Technical and Safety within Boeing’s customer services division. This is an entirely separate group from the test pilots who fly the planes under development, who are part of a different corporate division: Boeing Test and Evaluation.

            As Forkner’s chat makes clear, the two don’t necessarily communicate well. “The test pilots have kept us out of the loop,” Gustavsson complains at one point.

            The job of the technical pilots is to develop the pilot training simulators and manuals that airlines will use when the plane is in service. They typically don’t fly, but work in flight simulators.

            Full flight simulators are complex machines, essentially an airplane cockpit recreated inside a closed box sitting on hydraulic jacks. The buttons and switches and control column inside are just like on the real airplane, but all are connected to multimillion-dollar computers that attempt to simulate what happens in a real airplane.

            For this to work, engineers must enter reams of flight data, developed first from wind tunnel tests and computer simulations and then in the final stages from actual flight tests. Forkner’s exchange with Gustavsson indicates that new data related to the design change to MCAS had only then been fed into the simulator system.

            It’s only toward the end of flight test that all this data can be finalized to make the simulator a true mirror of the behavior of the real airplane. At the time of the chat, Forkner was working to develop the first MAX simulator at Boeing’s facility in Miami. It was manufactured by TRU, a Canadian-American simulator maker, a subsidiary of Textron headquartered in Goose Creek, S.C.

            Like pilots, who must pass a test to be qualified to fly any specific airplane, simulators are also inspected and tested before they are qualified to be used by airlines. The FAA sends out inspectors every year to re-test all the qualified simulators and make sure they are still working as they should.

            According to the former Boeing senior pilot, the first MAX sim was not yet qualified and TRU personnel were working non-stop alongside Boeing software engineers to get the machine properly calibrated and the software finalized.

            Still, “there were a lot of discrepancy reports. The sim was not performing as specified,” he said. In the chat, Forkner mentions signing some DRs, Discrepancy Reports.

            Ferhm believes that what happened in Forkner’s simulator on Nov. 15 was just another simulator discrepancy, something wrong with the coding.

            He notes that Forkner says he was flying level at a low 4,000 feet altitude and at 230 knots. This is an appropriate speed for that altitude and he calculates the angle of attack could have been no more than about 5 degrees.

            The design of MCAS would have required at least twice as high an angle to be triggered. And to get to such an angle, Forkner would have had to pull back the controls creating a severe force of around 2 Gs, the sort of extreme maneuver an airline pilot would never execute unless in a sudden emergency like pulling up to avoid a mountain.

            Fehrm said that it’s clear from the chat Forkner wasn’t trying any such extreme maneuver, and so when he complains about MCAS kicking in, he’s referring to a crazy activation in the simulator that isn’t behaving as it would in a real airplane.

            Fehrm has harshly criticized Boeing’s original design of MCAS and says that he has “a real problem with Boeing’s culture.”

            “I’m all for criticizing when it’s due,” he said. “But you have to be fair.”

            The former Boeing pilot concurs about the flight pattern not remotely fitting an activation of MCAS. He notes that Gustavsson says he experienced something similar in the simulator “on approach,” meaning coming in to land.

            But when a plane is on approach, the flaps on the wings are extended, which automatically disables MCAS.

            In addition, the former Boeing pilot points out that the MAX simulator at that time was set up so that the operator could push a button on a console to simulate various standard emergencies such as an engine failure. But there was no such button to simulate an angle of attack vane going wrong. There was no physical way to make that happen on the simulator, he said.

            His conclusion was that the problems Forkner described were glitches that simply revealed the shortcomings of the simulator ahead of final qualification and “don’t relate to the MAX accident scenarios.”

            “I have no loyalty to Boeing or to Mark Forkner,” he emphasized. “I have loyalty to the truth.”

            Boeing last Friday offered no real evidence in its defense On Sunday, it offered weak evidence: just a general statement by Forkner’s lawyer. Forkner himself is refusing to talk or to provide information under his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

            In addition, the second part of Boeing’s defense on Sunday — its claim that the FAA knew all about the changes it made to MCAS — is questionable.

            Multiple reports, initially in the Seattle Times, and most recently in the report by a team of international regulators, show that though some within the FAA may have been aware of some changes to MCAS, the FAA safety engineers tasked with analyzing its safety did not.

            However, Monday’s analysis of Boeing’s 2016 simulator issues suggests that the widely reported stories at the weekend — including by the Seattle Times — reporting on the message exchange between the pilots were indeed misinterpretations, as Boeing claimed Sunday.

            It doesn’t change the conclusion that MCAS as originally designed did lead to the accidents and the deaths of 346 people.

            However, it means that these messages aren’t evidence that Boeing misled the world in 2016 and hid early evidence that MCAS was a death trap.

          • What I am not getting is to the best of my Knowledge , all inputs into the Software for a Simulator can be messed with.

            Its the only way to created emergencies.

            So while there may not have been an AOA off, I can fathom there is not an AOA bad value (and the two crashes are bad values not OFF)

            What the system does with just no AOA I do not know.

            An AOA failure be it deliberate or just some goof up and or random fault would activate the MCAS system.

            So, not arguing but am putting it under the head scratching category.

            It still fails to address Jedi Mind Tricks.

  30. If the FAA and the other regulators accept two AoA indicators and both flight control computers running concurrently, this should be sufficient to get the MAX in the air again. There should be a requirement that within a stipulated time frame either a third AoA indicator or synthetic airspeed be added to all MAX’s. The MAX 10 should be required to have synthetic airspeed from the start.
    Two friends who fly three versions of the NG (800, 900, & 900er) plus the 9 MAX are adamant that a type rating be required for the MAX.

    • There is a third air speed display totally separate and independent on the NG and MAX, but no third AOA – probably on all 737 but NG and MAX for sure.

      Something like this on the glass cockpit


      Technically its why a pilot can vote out a bad speed, its also got its own artificial horizon. At issue its small and in the middle where not easy to see or read well (my opinion)

      Theoretically you can use it to cross out a bad AOA.

      Not explained is the air speed issues with the AOA failure.

    • How would that solve anything?

      Unless they buy American or United or Delta.

      • Ryanair bought Lauda…which is an all-Airbus airline.
        It has the advantage of allowing Ryanair to do actual dealings with Airbus rather than just talking, and it allows them to do firsthand comparisons of 737s vs. A320s/A321s. They can expand Lauda without being accused of abandoning Boeing (f0r now); concurrently, Airbus probably give them sweet deals, so as to entice them to defect. It’s a win-win situation.
        I can see how Southwest might do something similar.

        • I don’t see why Airbus would want to give Ryanair a good deal!

          They continuously denied Airbus and favoured Boeing. If they want Airbus then they will have to get them at minimal discount.

          • Well, wouldn’t it be a nice PR-coup for Airbus if they managed to cause a loyal Boeing customer to defect? Ryanair is one of the world’s largest airlines (like Southwest), so they’re an attractive customer for any manufacturer. Anyway, via Lauda, Airbus now already has a foot in the door at Ryanair.
            Maybe Southwest are looking at Allegiant…which is now all-Airbus.

        • Anyone think that SW can’t just dial up 1-800-Airbus and get the head guy on the phone ASAP?

          The only out is an operation that has a lot of orders no filled.

          Norwegian anyone? Lion – Air Asia? (X, Y or Z)

          Problem is slots, would Airbus do its best? Sure

          No slots harder deal.

    • I think Southwest is pushed towards the A220-300 to start replacing their huge (500) 737-700 fleet. SW already balked (small order, deferral) on the 737-7 before the MAX crashes. Only thing is, the A220 is sold out for a decade at current production rates and Airbus already is doing all they can to pump up the production rate..

        • It gets back to supply chain and what the anticipated rate was and how ready suppliers are.

          5 a month right now is not going to get you what you need

          Your key engine supplier (only) is still having its issues.

          I just don’t see alternative out three with going back to NG as the next likely stop gap and even that has supply issues as ramp downs are in affect and ramp ups were as well.

    • One key is this section

      “EASA has not withdrawn a suggestion that only a third sensor would make the system foolproof, but says it is prepared to set its concerns aside – at least on a transitional basis – if a separate exercise aimed at improving pilot procedures can make the workload from such faults manageable for an “average” crew. ”

      And there is a technical aspect that can be considered political. Airbus throws a bazillion alarms as well, evidenced by AF447 and the QF32. Its an issue with all aircraft.

  31. Reuters article says will be certified, but possibly a ‘transitional’ certification. Goodby ETOPs? Ouch Norwegian?

    • I don’t get what transitional and ETOP has to do with this.

      There may be an ok with some further work required.

      Adding an AOA is not trivial and then do you go back and do the same for 747, 767. early A300/310?

      The main issues of an AOA trigger is gone with cross check and the amount of movement and the ability to do once only.

      You can add in realistic values as well to cutout.

      As a stall is far rarer than an AOA failure……………… frankly unless the pilot is totally off his instruments its unheard – a couple of those for sure but they were so hosed up they were not using their instruments to sort out a horizon/disorientation/vertigo issue and can anything save someone who can’t fly his instruments? and its not exclusive to a 737

        • Read article before critisizing. Transitional period is EASA’s language. You and BA might feel it’s rubbish, but that’s irrelevent, authorities will decide what the will.

      • I don’t get what a transitional certification is either. I’m trying to guess.

        • Isn’t transitional what you get when doing the flying with test pilots for the full certification?
          Max has that now though!

        • perhaps EASA is softening up it’s stance, and the international money people have entered the fray. Big money always wins.

  32. Has anyone else noticed that since the grounding the 737 will be back in service in 3 months? Just that it is 3 months from the current date. Also the assumption is that the manufactured frames will be got into service quite quickly. But surely this is determined by what changes are demanded?

    • Boeing has a habit of feeding bad news to the market (the financial market) in bite sized chunks.
      2-3 months seems just around the corner. At least soon enough for shareholders to not start dumping their shares/

    • Yes, Harry, I’ve also noticed this…and I’d say it’s really starting to tick airlines off, because they’re being consistently hoodwinked. Ryanair certainly are irritated…Michael O’Leary said publicly at the last presentation of the quarterly figures that it was “time for Boeing to get its s**t together”; well, we’re now 3 months further again, and Ryanair are still being kept on that 3-month leash.
      Ironic that Willie Walsh (BA) complained about Airbus delays when he (provisionally) defected to the MAX a few months ago; I think he’s now starting to see the true meaning of the word “delay”.
      Same, by the way, with the 777X. Tim Clark at Emirates can sense that Boeing are in continuous fudge mode with regard to the intro date of the 777-9, and Al Baker (Qatar) similarly suspects that he’s being kept on an endless leash about the 777-8. Boeing will be lucky if both airlines don’t (partially) defect to the A350-1000 as a result. Al Baker has already expressed interest in the new 319t “ULR” version of the A350-1000.

      • The 319T A35K will put the screws on the 778. The A350 is earmarked for the first R&R UF installation, my question. Will it initially be for the current models or will it appear on an “A350-2000” (~4.5m stretch)?. Such a model will give the 779 real uphill on many fronts.

      • TC wants to swap 778 for 787s. Originally the talked about the ’10’, but seem to be re-evaluating that, some analysts say they change to the ‘9’ by the time they order. A339 and B789 are quite similar aircraft, ability wise, it looks unlikely he’ll want both.

        He has an MOU for A339s and 359s, AB must already have his deposit for the cancelled A380s, and BA have a deposit for B778s, he’s not going to throw them away, so he has to take something. A359 to B779 is quite a jump, and he’s missing a ULR.

        My guess is he’ll end up taking B789s, A359s and A35k.

  33. “Regardless, the revelation is not good news for Boeing. With Congressional hearings this week, at which CEO Dennis Muilenburg will testify”

    The hearings are next week. The earnings call is this week.

  34. The Reuters report does suggest that EASA will allow a software only fix provided pilot workoad isn’t a hazard.

    Having said that, it’s clear EASA and perhaps the FAA haven’t seen anything yet. Boeing have not handed over the ‘package’ of changes. The flights scheduled for mid-October are now scheduled for December.

  35. While reading about the MCAS anti-stall software, I keep thinking about an aircraft I almost bought years ago. An Ercopue. Some of them can now be bought and flown under the sport pilot regulations. They were designed in the 1930’s as a spin proof, stall proof aircraft.
    Plane designers have been trying to build planes to avoid stalls and spins for years. The Ercoupe design dealt with this by physically limiting the ability of the pilot to pull the plane up into a high angle of attack. Newer aircraft designs also achieve this, such as the long-ez canard design, where the forward canard stalls before the main wing, causing the nose to drop, lowering the AOA.

  36. Today’s WSJ states European MAX operations by spring at the earliest.

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