Boeing halts 737 production

Dec. 16, 2016: Boeing said it is suspending 737 MAX production.

Here is the full press release.

CHICAGO, Dec. 16, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — Safely returning the 737 MAX to service is our top priority. We know that the process of approving the 737 MAX’s return to service, and of determining appropriate training requirements, must be extraordinarily thorough and robust, to ensure that our regulators, customers, and the flying public have confidence in the 737 MAX updates. As we have previously said, the FAA and global regulatory authorities determine the timeline for certification and return to service. We remain fully committed to supporting this process. It is our duty to ensure that every requirement is fulfilled, and every question from our regulators answered.

Throughout the grounding of the 737 MAX, Boeing has continued to build new airplanes and there are now approximately 400 airplanes in storage. We have previously stated that we would continually evaluate our production plans should the MAX grounding continue longer than we expected. As a result of this ongoing evaluation, we have decided to prioritize the delivery of stored aircraft and temporarily suspend production on the 737 program beginning next month.

We believe this decision is least disruptive to maintaining long-term production system and supply chain health. This decision is driven by a number of factors, including the extension of certification into 2020, the uncertainty about the timing and conditions of return to service and global training approvals, and the importance of ensuring that we can prioritize the delivery of stored aircraft. We will continue to assess our progress towards return to service milestones and make determinations about resuming production and deliveries accordingly.

During this time, it is our plan that affected employees will continue 737-related work, or be temporarily assigned to other teams in Puget Sound. As we have throughout the 737 MAX grounding, we will keep our customers, employees, and supply chain top of mind as we continue to assess appropriate actions. This will include efforts to sustain the gains in production system and supply chain quality and health made over the last many months.

We will provide financial information regarding the production suspension in connection with our 4Q19 earnings release in late January.

118 Comments on “Boeing halts 737 production

    • Yes. Exports of commercial aircraft from US, which means Boeing, is around the same value as agriculture, food and beverages exports.
      The effect on the Dow Jones of Boeings share price is even greater.

      • Well … there hasn’t been a single 737MAX exported for almost a year, so no impact on the trade balance there.

        • My point was to show the relative size of the US commercial aircraft exports in relation to other sectors. Agriculture is massively subsidised by the taxpayers as well.

    • @ John
      No, I don’t think it does put any more pressure on the FAA, as that is probably impossible anyway. What it does though is finally bending to the pressure of the FAAs to stop bitching around for a swift return to service when lots of questions are wide open and many demands of the international regulators are not addressed or even taken seriously.

      It appears Boeing has been in denial of the severity of this whole MAX disaster just like too many Boeing fans, until this past weekend. Many Boeing devotees still don’t get the message, as you can tell from several of the posts below.

      I understand this so that the BOD has finally understood that a software update will not suffice to bring the MAX back into service. Because that is the only real reason why the production would be stopped altogether. What I would love to know if the R&D departments have already worked on this or if they are starting only now.

      • I agree, it appears the posturing of the past 14 months has gone and is being replaced by an acceptance of reality. The reality being 800 aircraft grounded or undelivered, critical uncertainty as to acceptability of the fix and concern over the original certification process. The only question being, why was there no realisation of this position at least 10 months ago. Nothing has changed in terms of the external pressures or the original problem. The only thing that has happened is that by burying their heads in the sand management have incurred billions in terms of additional cost, lost future sales and damage to company credibility. You really couldn’t make it up!!

      • That’s one possibility. Another is that these threads are filled with projection and wish fulfillment fantasies from parties who would like to see Boeing destroyed. As also seen in some of the comments below.

        • “”like to see Boeing destroyed””

          Can Boeing be competitive without cheating?
          Not if they buy back stocks and so on …

  1. Boeing is finally acknowledging that a software fix of their flight control system (MCAS included) is not enough for keeping the MAX within the flight enveloppe in all circumstances under the fail-safe sheme. Some hardware changes are now required, the extent and feasibility of which are unknown at this time.
    In any case, a change in the rate of production assembly of modern aircraft takes a lot of time, typically 12-18 months, so we will continue this discussion well into 2021.

    • Really? Can you point to the paragraph in the press release where Boeing “admits” what you claim?

      • Of course it is not in the PR. Does anyone really think this is a simple software fix ? And still not delivered after 12+ months (or 9+ months if resources were allocated only after the Ethiopian event) ? Come on, it is not possible. The requests made by the regulators are like asking Microsoft developers to run Windows 10 on a 1985 PC/AT. Boeing finally understands that it will not bypass the authority of regulators and that some serious hardware changes (in the aircraft, not the onboard computers) are required.

        • Well that is about as confused a post as we have seen.

          So then you go on to say Windows 10 (which is an operating system – granted not much of one) that requires a computer (as is the 1985 ref which is an Atari?) I was running a Kaypro with with a CPM operating system back then

          So what is it? On board computers or what here?

          • What I am saying is that 9+ months is way beyond the time required for a software fix. At a minimum the flow charts and decision trees (not the actual coding or testing) should have been provided to FAA many many months ago – and approved if correct. Instead, there has been complete silence, just vague bs talks.
            Which means that some scenarii in extreme flight conditions and/or degraded equipment, although *very* rare, end in the loss of the aircraft.
            Again, if these scenarii could have been fixed by software, a new release would have been delivered a very long time ago.
            Thus the software – given the fixed properties of the hardware (the aircraft) cannot solve all issues.
            Thus the hardware must be changed.

          • @TW, I have seen many posts from you that were a lot more confused than this one by aviafun. So I guess you are not the one who should offer such kind of comments. Why don’t you just offer a proper argument and stop treating other people here like children who you have to explain the world. They might be smarter and more educated than you.

          • Aviafun, the MCAS 2.0 solution was complete in May. But the increased scrutiny surrounding the MAX, resulted in a more stringent cosmic ray test that forced Boeing’s hand in June. They had to reconfigure the flight computers into a dual-master mode, with one monitoring the other. That took until some time in October.

            Then the FAA/EASA said they wanted a software audit of all the changes. Boeing gave them their documentation, but it wasn’t in the format the auditors wanted. So, there was a delay of about a month while they reformatted the documentation. Now we are waiting for the results of the audit.

    • Well that would be totally without any foundation.

      Nothing has suggested they need a hardware fix.

        • The hardware comments is near as I can tell code for its unstable TFH group.

          I have yet to hear anything definition on the manual trim.

          But that also is not a MAX issue, its an NG and Classic issue.

          It is both bizarre and unresolved but are they going to ground 5000 additional aircraft? Its a tough argument as they let it go all these many years. So an issue but not a MAX.

          AOA is still software resolution within MCAS unless they again they decide the NG has to comply as well.

          Manual trim issue has never changed for MAX, and why did EASA let it go all these years? Its been there since the 707.

          • Also, EASA has made demands of the FAA, and it appears they are not satisfied with Boeing’s Software Solution. This was known 2 months ago, so it doesn’t surprise me that Boeing is getting certified.


            EASA’s demands on the FAA are as follows:

            1.Design changes proposed by Boeing are EASA approved (no delegation to FAA)
            2.Additional and broader independent design reviewhas been satisfactorily completed by EASA
            3.Accidents of JT610 and ET302 are deemed sufficiently understood
            4.B737 MAX flight crews have been adequately trained

          • “”Manual trim issue has never changed for MAX, and why did EASA let it go all these years? Its been there since the 707.””

            EASA never checked in detail, trusted FAA.
            It took 346 lives to get the lead and check in detail now.
            The trim wheel changed on the MAX, it became smaller.

            You have to imagine this, if MCAS was little bit better designed and both crashes didn’t happen, Boeing would have gooten away with it and could still cheat and selfcertify.

    • And some thoughts that are interesting and or echo my own

      “At the same time as it announced the suspension, Boeing also disclosed its board approved paying a $2.06 per share dividend to shareholders.”

      Well that is nice, biggest crisis in company history (well arguably the 787 debacle) and lets pay out more! With the 787 lightening protection still waiting (yt9u knew it was coming) in the wings!

      “It’s going to be a painful couple of months, for everybody involved,” says aerospace analysts Richard Aboulafia of Teal Group. “It isn’t a huge surprise, but I would’ve thought they would lower the production rate rather than suspend output.”


      And the nut is:

      “A halt in production, however short, could ripple through Boeing’s supply chain, which includes large suppliers like engine maker CFM International and fuselage maker Spirit AeroSystems, plus untold numbers of smaller parts providers.”

      “But he questioned how much money Boeing would save by stopping the production lines, noting Boeing’s contracts with many suppliers require the company provide nine-months of notice for rate changes. In other words, Boeing may still need to keep taking 737 supplies, letting them pile up until production resumes.”

      Stay tuned

      • Ever thought that Boeing notified their suppliers on Day one of the grounding, which was what? Oh, some nine months ago!

        If that is true, however unlikely, what would that say about Boeing’s thinking, planning and behaviour?

    • I think the relatively simple software fixes to the MCAS algorithm themselves may not have been the problem. The problem may have been the fundamental operating system and software architecture which may not have supported the required changes very well such as comparing sensors, communication, distribution and time stamping of data. It may have required a deep rewrite. If hardware changes (such as a 3rd sensor) is required this nightmare may get worse if the software doesn’t support that.

  2. Does ‘production’ mean the Renton only 3 FAL ( except the P-8 one) and production of major sub assemblies and parts continue ?
    Shutting down full parts production means you basically can never get it back.
    Is this being done because Boeing will have to account for the Southwest settlement ( and others?) in the December accounts and they need to find a large cost to offset the cash flow loss?

    • Clearly you can get production back, but what it amounts to is its a legal issue between Bo0einad and the suppliers and what each contract reads.

      Boeing has some experience in stepping in with failing suppliers (787) and shoring them up or in a couple cases buying them out.

      Boeing must feel it can resume. Another wait and see how it goes.

      I am surprised they did not ramp 5-20 down vs total stoppage.

      As noted the P-8 will continue.

      • They had to stop because they overcooked RTS estimations and PR muscles and didn’t cut ot earlier.

  3. Interesting that they’re now saying they will prioritise delivery of stored frames over new production. I think that’s a reversal of what they said previously.

    It would also seem to open up the possibility that production may be stopped longer than just to RTS. I can’t believe it will be shut down until all the stored planes are delivered (there’s a lot of them), plus all the previously delivered ones. However, it might allow a more gradual ramp-upp of production once they start again.

  4. The WSJ article had an interesting graphic. Spirit AeroSystems has 6.3million of value in each 737. That puts an upper bound on the cost of the fuselage structure. Assuming robotics can shave 30% off the cost that is a saving of 2.1million/aircraft.

    Substantial (and it assumes the fuselage is the only part Spirit supplies) but not a slam dunk for a new fuselage production system.

  5. Worldwide tide turned against Boeing after last week’s Capitol Hill hearings where FAA Administrator said they predicted 15 more MAX crashes, but let plane fly –
    Highly doubtful it will get recertified –

    • Disagree on getting certified.

      All indicators are its a lot slower than Boeing claimed.

    • And what was the 737 Max predicted crashes over the 45 yr lifetime anyway, even if Mcas was never a problem..40?
      At that stage there was only limited knowledge of Mcas issues which led to first crash

  6. Years of pushing, sponsoring congress to further streamline and delegate certification of US aircraft, the rebirth of grandfathering and using aging requirements, to safe costs time is meeting its Waterloo.

    Time for congress to show courage in self reflection and honesty. Admit they were wrong and correct.

    • Keesje:

      First and foremost, courage and self reflection is about as rare in a politician as integrity and the other stuff.

      Admitting they were wrong? Wow.

      The the US system has two houses, each is split in two factions, one is total science and fact denial and the other is a combo of political and some common sense.

      The deniers control one side of the congress while the more normal group the other.

      Nothing moves through the deniar side these days that might indicate intelligence, quite the contrary.

      Ergo, you are spitting into the hurricane to think that is going to change.

  7. It’s interesting to look at some of the reactions to the halt in production of the 737 MAX

    Here’s a particularly weird response from Capitalist Pig hedge fund’s Jonathan Hoenig in a “discussion” at Fox Business. He’s agitated and screaming that “regulators want to act tough right now”…. “it’s become a political issue…..” and blah-blah-blah.

    • Well you can’t argue it has its political aspects.

      787 Lighting protection is being kept on the political back burner when it should be front and center (they are studying it)

      Until (if) it becomes a hot potato like the MAX.

      Good news is with MAX grounded press has to look elsewhere and it may be the attention it deserves.

  8. Boeing should have halted production a long time ago. They knew a long time ago that this plane was flawed and should have never let people fly on this aircraft. They now have over 300 bodies to account for, they are not the only ones, the folks at the FAA that allowed the manufacture to over see the safety of the flying public should go to jail along with the engineers at Boeing that knew about the problem years ago.

      • It is really surprising that with all modern software and computer power that they did not discover the “too small elevator” in the computer runs when the stick force linearity was analyzed as well as trim wheel forces for a mistrimmed aircraft. Or they actually did get those results in the computer runs but it was igonerd by top program management waiting for test flight results instead?
        When test flight results came in they did not look back into the computer runs and see how different elevator sizes influenced the stick force linearity but decided to go for a “flying tail” using the stabilizer actuator instead and some extra software. In the future a hot selling book might put light on the history.

        • IMHO they were busy looking at anything but .. .
          What looks like oversight has been carefully crafted
          to look that way. If they can make that stick in the long run it is the difference between intentional or not in court. Boeing is dominated _not_ by engineering thinking. More like legal and MBA style.

          • To promise a customer that it will be minimal change before the Aircraft is fully analysed with the latest software tools and tested is dangerous. I think GE got into similar situation with the CF6-80C2 going to the CF6-80E1 when the latest software tools and computers were used, necessary changes crept in “everywhere” and management were forced to swallow the cost and time it caused. Still Boeing today is not GE under Brian Rowe.

        • @Claes
          I see a cascade of measures happening after admitting in the open that the installation of the larger engines is wreaking havoc with the aerodynamics of the MAX. The “beautiful” trick with the hidden MCAS was they did could keep all the grandfathering rights and avoid any additional training. That all suited the market share and profit driven thinking at Boeing.

          If they had fitted a larger elevator and/or stabilizer it would not only have driven production and development cost up and increased weight and drag but worst of all they would have had to explain it!

          That explanation would have had consequences and might have risen curiosity into how bad this really is. And in the end many more hardware changes might have become necessary and the timeline would have been pushed to the right by at least one year. Plus it might require pilot training etc.. To sum it up, it would have spoiled the financial outlook quite a bit and that would not be tolerated. Playing with peoples lives though was fully acceptable.

        • the “too small elevator” is a myth you seem to be particularly interested in promoting.

          the size of the elevator was not, is not and has never been the problem.

          the root problem is the increased movement of the center of pressure at high AoA caused by the new engines and their position.

          the elevators have plenty of authority, but the CP movement causes the stick force curve to dip rather than remain linear.

          the problem with MCAS was that it was not redundant nor was it capped in total movement, leading to the trim tab overpowering the elevator.

          The A320 (and all modern commercial jets) also have main tailplains large enough to overpower the elevators should the pilot or system overtrim.

          • Bilbo, the size of the stabilizer is in fact a major factor for the stability of any aircraft. When I was a boy I used to design my own model planes as I could not afford to buy kits. So I found out the hard way how that works. If the MAX indeed has a stability issue, increasing the size of the stabilizer is one proper way to address it as it automatically creates a counter force at high angle of attack, and in the case of the MAX, more is better. Increasing the size of the elevators improves control both at low and high speeds, just like MCAS addresses both the control at low and high speeds (supporting the apparently too small elevators.) That is why I promote to look into this solution.
            Tell me where I’m wrong. Always happy to learn.

          • @gundolf

            you are incorrect in that the size of the elevator (as stated above) is not insufficient. there is plenty of area.

            the issues is that the effort curve of pulling back on the stick is not linear due to shifting Center of Pressure, which changing the size of the elevator would have no effect on.

            increasing the size of the elevator would increase control authority, but it is not control authority that is lacking.

            what is lacking is linearity of effort relative to control authority. the problem was never the ability to control the aircraft as CoP moved, it was non-linearity of effort which could fool a pilot into thinking the tailplane had stalled.

            this non-linearity is not a problem on the A320 precisely because there is absolutely no feedback whatsoever in the A320 controls, whereas the 737 still has physical force feedback through the stick.

          • I could see the variables to the horizontal stab moment countering the engines at high AOA as, the size of the horizontal stab, its angle, and its distance from the wings.

            Obviously MCAS deals with angle, but one has to wonder how size or distance from the wings factor into this scenario. If the size was bigger, the angle would be set less, so maybe that would have worked.

          • bilbo,

            But wasn’t this debated earlier on this site. If the elevators maintain your authority throughout the envelope as you claim, than MCAS is unnecessary and the problem could have been solved more conventionally using the elevators as controlled by the flight computer or a “stick pusher” or something similar. Isn’t this what was being argued by Philip et al?

          • @bilbo

            my understanding is that a larger stabilizer would reduce the non-linearity of the pitch-up moment. Maybe someone around here has an idea how strong this effect might be.

            A larger elevator is certainly needed. Otherwise Boeing would would not have actuated the stabilizer with MCAS but simply modified the stick pusher.

          • @gundolf

            once again, with feeling..

            this is not and never has been an aircraft stability issue. the aircraft is never in danger of stalling or otherwise losing control due to the movement of the CoP (until you get waaaay past stall, which is not where MCAS comes in to play).

            this whole horrifically screwed up system was put in place so that the pilot flying the plane would feel consistent effort levels as he pulled back on the stick (as mandated by the FAA) rather than having the required effort decline as he pulled back on the stick (which could confuse the pilot’s natural expectations and cause him to do wrong things in response).

            there is _no_ aerodynamic reason for a larger stab or elevator, just human reasons for introducing artificial feel into the control chain.

            why not the stick pusher? it is a crude instrument not intended for fine feel control, probably would have cost a lot of money to modify the part and control software. implementing 787 style artificial feel on the 737 yoke was probably likewise deemed too expensive and invasive. tweaking the existing speed trim system to add another use case was probably considered trivial and cheap.

          • Gundolf and Claes Eriksson,

            bilbo is absolutely correct. The “too small elevator” and the “too small stabilizer” are indeed myths.

            While it is true that the stabilizer size does greatly affect pitch stability, this was never the issue with the MAX. As bilbo has explained (as well as Bjorn, Rob, myself and others) the problem was a reduction in the stability (not unstable) at high pre-stall AoA’s that resulted in a column force per g change that did not meet the safety regulations.

            The stability reduction is caused by the flow around the engine nacelles remaining attached at high pre-stall AoA’s when at the same time the region of flow separation near the wing trailing edge starts to grow. The high engine mounting, nearer to the wing underside, keeps the nacelle flow attached longer than it would if the engines were mounted lower, farther away from the wing.

            Making the stabilizer larger has no effect on the engine nacelle flow, so the high AoA stability reduction would still be an issue. A larger stabilizer would make the whole aircraft more stable and therefore reduce the relative affect of the reduced stability region, but there would still be an abrupt change in column force per g. It would just be smaller percentage.

            Too much static pitch stability is actually not a good thing. It makes control more difficult and therefore everything is much bigger and heavier. Why would Boeing make this change if the MAX doesn’t absolutely need it because it is statically stable? Elevator effectiveness actually increases when an aircraft is less stable and decreases with increased stability.

            Check out:

            Boeing used the stabilizer instead of the elevator because it was easier. Why some people think an easy solution is a bad solution just because it is easier than alternatives is beyond me. The 737 elevator is not directly controlled electronically, but the stabilizer is electronically controlled through the speed trim system. Adding a software function to speed trim was by far the easiest solution, and also had the lowest technical risk because of uncertainty surrounding various proposed aerodynamic solutions.

            Finally, Boeing is NOT trying to implement a “flying tail”. The 737 stabilizer is only used for trim, phugoid damping (speed trim) and now pitch stability augmentation on the MAX.

          • The main point was how Boeing’s integrated computer simulations of aero, Aircraft dynamics and Controls of stick force linearity did not show this problem of that it maybe did show it but was not handled correctrly higher up.
            The elevator size and moment arm have substantial influence on above and the computer runs should show that. Using the slow moving stabiliser thru its THSA actuator to help the elevator is risky as it has its own failure modes and overpowered the elevator as two 737MAX accidents show. The are a number of AD’s historically on the ballscrew trimmable horisontal actuators, the Alaska Air MD80 caused one of them.

        • Claes Eriksson,

          Is this the problem? Is it settled now? This has been so hotly disputed on this site and rejected, I think, by Bjorn. It’s similar to Philip’s position, however. Now, what are they going to do? How can they now salvage the Max if it requires changes to its tail. Here is what Philip said in November:

          “My own view is that it can work provided that the stabiliser is upgraded to an all moving stabiliser with end to end fail safe redundancy that use high speed/high precision servo hydraulic actuators. … But I’d still prefer a bigger stabiliser and elevators … Anyway, Boeing are going to have to prove that this tortoise of a stabiliser with an electric motor and a jack screw brought from Walmart and computers brought from Walmart can act as a primary control/manuevering system and can do it safely. ”

          So, do physical modifications include “a bigger stabiliser and elevators,” or “an all moving stabiliser with end to end fail safe redundancy that use high speed/high precision servo hydraulic actuators”? I simply can’t imagine it.

          Will they scrap the Max altogether? What I see is eventually a new president cleaning house and MASSIVE layoffs in the future. The Max is a very sad corporate debacle of epic proportions. It’s a lemon.

          • A stabilator is not needed because MCAS has to go.
            But Boeing made the stabiliser/elevator stronger, obviously because of increased forces, but without updating the jackscrew and without increasing the elevator size. EASA might look into this.
            Then put the engines under the wings with longer gears.
            Then the other stuff, rudder wires, manual trim wheels, …
            Third AoA after a transitional time (maybe 3 years?).

          • A Stabilator would work just fine but last time the FAA approved a steel wire Stabilator on an airliner, the Lockheed L1011 Tristar, they wanted quadruplicated hydraulics. Either way you would be looking at a revamped hydraulic system with a lot more redundancy, a Ram Air Turbine or some kind of molten salt thermal battery, and if you go the more modern route of Fly By Wire for the tailplane and use EHA (electro Hydrostatic Actuators) and EHBA (electro Hydrostatic Backup Actuators) you’ll need an equally redundant electrical system.

  9. Real information on where re-certification is not exactly easy to find. Lots of rumors vs actual data.
    It’s surprising that Boeing just doesn’t publish a table with all the items that they need to complete and status (Complete, in-progress, not started). It would be much more informative and less of a PR nightmare compared to what has been issued so far.

  10. In reading between the lines, as also mentioned above, this could be more about Boeing finally kowtowing to the FAA for the first time in many years. I sensed a little “crow for dinner” in their announcement. But as also noted, the ball would be in the FAA’s court now. Hopefully, this step will expediate this whole process. I did not sense that it means hardware changes, but more testing and validation.

    • A lot of it now depends on what the FAA wants to be going forward. The ball is in the FAA’s court, but there’s a good chance that there’s no gentle way to return it to Boeing’s.

      Continuing to be merely a rubber stamper for the certification work devolved to Boeing seems unlikely.

      Taking a close look only at the proposed fix for the MAX may be seen as insufficient!worldwide; should they be looking underneath other carpets too to see what’s been swept there? I mean if the FAA doesn’t and the EASA does and finds things, then the worldwide role of the FAA may as well be forgotten about.

      If the FAA decides to go over everything with a fine tooth comb and starts finding lots of things that are wrong, that might be the end of Boeing. It might in principle lead to massive disruption across the entire aviation industry. If one tots up the current issues that we know about (MAX, 787 & lightning, NG pickle forks) and assume the worst, that alone could be large swathes of the industry getting grounded with no easy way out.

      I feel very sorry for this new head who’s inherited the FAA’s problems. There’s no easy and good way out of the current situation. The best long term option is that last one, but it may take government intervention to save the company, jobs, etc.

      To be fair I think the EASA is also in a mess, though less obviously so. We all know now that a bad mistrimmed NG or MAX cannot be manually retrimmed. At least not unless you’ve got 10,000+ feet to play with. Is that reason enough to ground NG as well as MAX? We’re only one NG crash away from the answer to that question being “yes” followed by accusations that the EASA could have taken preemptive action. Basically the EASA is also having to take carefully balanced decisions on safety vs business. They’ve been put into that situation by Boeing and the FAA, but the EASA actively chose not to do some checking of their own…

  11. They should have decreased production sensibly at start of the grounding. In a sense this is one more instance of Boeing incapable of predicting the future.

    • And you could see that it would cascade like this?

      You do know no one can predict the future? If they could they would invest in stocks and be rich.

      Granted they got rich but not because they could predict the future (actually they seem to have gotten rich despite the fact they can’t, hmmm)

      My take is what should have happened long ago is the upper Boeing management should have been purged because they are a half assed, totally incompetent addled bunch of twits.

      • “You do know no one can predict the future?”

        You even have to invent the past in your posts.
        to wit:
        Reasonably competent people can with some precision predict the future. Some things are even “in your face obvious”.
        You should stop posting “alternate facts” to bolster your injections here.

        • Plus, TW is quite the keyboard warrior on this posting. Enough awready!!!

      • But…

        Unless communication within Boeing is so awful that those who decide production rates were all unaware, they did know how ugly things were (all the probelms highlighted by whistleblowers etc., all the issues with 787, KC46 etc. that would drive perception of Boeing) below the surface.

        So, just as the opportunity was there post the Lion Air crash, when they knew very quickly they would need to act but it appears chose to bluff and do (financially) bare minimum, so post Eithiopian any competent and knowledgeable people there would have seen how very likely it was that things would play out with revelation after revelation after revelation and yet it appears they chose again to bluff and do (financially) bare minimum.

        With Boeing’s priorities in recent years appearing to be skewed toward quarter by quarter share price and share buybacks, I wonder to what extent the decision to keep a high production rate was driven by these priorities (and correspondingly less to do with financials out in the future) rather than a more wide eyed and/or medium term analysis of the issues to be dealt with.

      • @TransWorld

        yes indeed, sometimes it is very easy to see the future and a cascade of things. And if it’s not so easy for a simple minded person, it may still be easy to spot for a more intelligent, knowledgeable and experienced person.

        I take it that the Boeing management was perfectly aware of their own cheating with the MAX certification and that there is a chance that this will come to the light. The clever move to have the most options would have been to cut the production by about 50% immediately.

        It would also have been clever to start on various options with several team in parallel. Team A would try the quick solution of a software upgrade. Team B would try to fix the plane under the assumption that the A failed. Team C would look at the MAX as if it was a new plane, needing a completely new certification and determine what need to be done to pass that, so probably quite a lot of hardware. Team D would develop a replacement product based on all existing technology, production lines and suppliers to ensure the fastest possible entry into service.

        This would give Boeing the freedom to make the right decisions. In the meantime their oh so smart simplistic one-way strategy is quickly developing into a dead-end road.

        • @ Gundolf

          Amazing. If only Boeing leadership could implement a coherent plan like your outline, one could imagine a happy conclusion to the MAX saga, or better yet, they wouldn’t even be here.

          Unfortunately, the actual multi-layered Boeing plan reads something like this:

          Team A: work on MCAS 2.0 software. This will fix the issue or we will get our way by pressuring the local governments, the WH and other resources on the hill.
          Team B: Market the raw NMA, it’s okay if you don’t have a business case, an engine, or have to fake some of the numbers. It’s okay if it doesn’t make any sense or is not in any way competitive. Just constantly send teams on business-class ’round the world tours to convince the airline execs that they need this plane in their fleet come 2025.
          Team C: Focus on the supersonic business jet venture with Aerion. Is there anything we can help them with? Sexy concept renderings and catchy videos are critical to our success here.
          Team D: Why don’t you sketch a hypersonic commercial transport? Make sure it has giant windows and a comfortable elliptical cross-section just like the NMA.
          Team E: How about a commercial glider? Hey, those don’t burn any fuel right? What a great idea, who wouldn’t want them? Why have we not worked on this before? Those idiot boomers.
          Team F: How about autonomous electric air taxis? They are trendy, are we doing anything about those? We must.
          Team G: How about a single-engine commercial airplane? Half the engine, means half the fuel burn(!), maintenance cost, and noise. Has anyone figured a roundabout way of certifying one? maybe we can use a backup rocket motor? Maybe a virtual engine will pass cert? We got to jump on this idea before Airbus gets here.

          Sarcasm aside, They would work on anything and everything, except what would help the situation. There are many reasons for this behavior, here are a few (1) there is no culture of ownership and accountability, and no one wants to be voluntarily associated with the 737 mess, (2) leadership doesn’t know any better, lacks technical/strategic competence and vision (3) there is no cohesion between directions from different leaders, (4) no immediate change in funding is possible with less than a 1-year notice (5) they need to keep the staff calm and to do that, they must give the impression internally that nothing is at risk. As a result, almost no reasonable action can be taken.

          One could go on and on.

          They say the titanic orchestra played quite well on that faithfull night, right up to the moment they were ankle-deep in freezing seawater. Let’s hope Boeing doesn’t have to deploy any life rafts.

      • “You do know no one can predict the future? If they could they would invest in stocks and be rich. ”

        But you can predict “climate” aha! something much more complex including planetary motions, cosmic rays and many factors some we might even not know…
        Two issues that Boeing might not have accounted for are:
        Bureaucracy would protect themselves first this time after indulging Boeing for a long time. That shows to me that management do not account for changing conditions.
        Technical complexity to fix the problem: maybe the communications between engineers and management in Boeing is subpar or that the engineer side have some delusional people there. I vote for the former but still the hack job made in first MCAS version leaves me in doubt it is only management.

        Now with this stoppage we have another round of bad front page news to the public for this model. In Telegraph, a British newspaper web page today :
        Boeing to halt production of 737 Max jets after fatal crashes

        • It isn’t predicting climate anymore. All they are doing is extrapolating data based on models; ceteris paribus.

          You are making a large issue over improbable events destroying the extrapolated models in order to undermine the basic data which is the same thing my children do when they ask me what would happen if a volcano begins in our basement or similar factually plausible but terribly unlikely events.

        • When there’s an earthquake in the ocean, there will be a Tsunami on land.

          Sometimes its easy to predict the future, and I think it was in this case. Anyone with a mind realized this was going to be a Tsunami after the Seattle Times came out with its articles about the Max, the old design of the 737, the need to compete with Airbus, and the engines that didn’t fit. When I spoke to an aircraft mechanic about the article, he exclaimed with shock: “they changed the aerodynamics!” He seemed to feel this deep within the marrow as someone who spent his adult life working with airplanes. He immediately began to lament the loss of jobs. He’s been an American worker a long time, and he knows how newspaper headlines and corporate executive promises of no jobs lost become tens of thousands of jobs lost and real hardship.

          Yet, Boeing treated this as a stock price issue; a question of perception; a PR problem, because they believed their own hype for such a long time. But anyone who just looked through the window at the antiquated nose of the 737 realized that this whole thing had gone on for too long and that it was just a matter of time. The 50 year old airplane just couldn’t keep up with the 21st century anymore and had become dangerous. Everyone could see it. It was hidden in plain sight like the naked Emperor: everyone but the Emperor and his minions who were blinded by the hype.

          And still, we are blinded. This is a disaster of epic proportions. There should already be talks at the highest level of government about how to save Boeing and the jobs of its workers. There is a very, very real possibility that the Max may never fly again. Just that very possibility alone is staggering and nothing any of us want to see.

          But truly, Boeing needs vision it simply doesn’t seem to have. The 737 Max is not really viable. Neither is the NG. They are not the future of aviation — not even 5 years into the future (the amount of time Southwest says it will take to diversify its fleet).

    • In March after ET302 Boeing still believed they were in the regulatory business certifying 96% of its work. But EASA stripped their regulatory business. Now Dickson told Muilenberg to prepare all documents for certification, so EASA will check everything and many items the FAA never saw (96% selfcertification). Few days later Boeing halts production.

      Since Boeing was in the cheating business with undue pressure on engineers you have to assume that EASA will find mistakes in Boeing’s 96% selfcertifications. Question is how many mistakes.

      It could be a landslide that so much was fake engineered and that all 800 produced MAX are trash. Also because the capabilities of the MAX will decrease with hardware changes and could not meet promised qualities.

      If EASA finds many mistakes it will question Boeing’s selfcertification of all other Boeing models. EASA already mentioned the manual trim wheel which will also touch the 737NG. Then 787 too. Turns out the Dreamliner was a Nightmare.

      • Bravo, Leon, all this is probably completely true. And if the 800 MAXs are not trash, at least they are significantly reduced in their market value AND need some expensive changes.

    • From a processes way of looking at it production rate should have been stepped down continuously beginning in summer ’19.
      But the primary motivator is wagging the dog. Appearing to expect near term lifting of the grounding.
      Sensible decisions fall by the wayside in this way of acting.

  12. This episode will be taught for decades to come as an example of how a company can take a bad situation and make it dramatically worse. It’s kind of the polar opposite of Johnson & Johnson’s response to Tylenol poisoning back in the 1980s, which was widely praised as an excellent example of crisis management.

    From the beginning, Boeing tried to minimize the issue, at every point they’ve tried to create expectations of a quick return of the aircraft. Even today you see them continuing to pay a dividend, as if everything is completely fine.

    Boeing created a perception that its regulator was being forced to approve the recertification of the MAX. Regardless of how ready the MAX is to be returned, the FAA cannot afford to be seen as allowing Boeing to push it around, so it’s now pushed back very hard, publicly – good for the FAA. Another own-goal by Boeing.

    Put aside its culpability for creating the circumstances under which the original MAX certification was botched. Boeing’s board and senior management deserve to walk the plank for its total mismanagement of the post-grounding MAX debacle.

    • ” Boeing’s board and senior management deserve to walk the plank for its total mismanagement of the post-grounding MAX debacle.”

      yep but when they step off the plank, they get to pull the ripcord on their silver, gold, and platinum chutes and drift down to the golf course, world cruise, and spend more time with families.

      The grunts get a sturdy pair of shoes to walk to the food bank, and a hand cart to carry their belongings.

      Especially in Seattle area. Not so in Chicago !

  13. This frees up a lot of workers to get all those planes out of storage faster. I also think they will increase the build rate quickly once they restart. The supply chain will keep going and build up a cushion will help with the increase efficiency.

    • Now finally for some good news! Hallelujah! Thank you for showing us the light!

  14. Could this result in CFM being able to produce more LEAP-A’s and AB being able to produce mostly more A320N’s?

    • Most of the parts are not interchangeable, despite them sharing the name. GE had to make a smaller core to allow an effective BPR larger from the reduced fan size than the Airbus version.

      • Of course, if the MAX production will be halted for an extended time, not the tooling, but all machines and production lines could be switched over from Leap-B to Leap-A. I’m quite sure that such plans are worked out long since and things are being discussed between CfM and Airbus and between CfM and their suppliers.

        But the same applies for all other suppliers of MAX components, interiours etc., last not least Spirit. They will all look for other buyers, and Airbus USA currently looks like the only real possibility.

      • Thanks, understand, but this could be a window for CFM to catch up on the backlog of LEAP-A supply to AB. Think especially lessors would like to see an increase in A320N production under the current circumstances, the A321 has its own issues at this stage.

    • Yes, that has been the main limiting factor in A320neo production ramp up. There are other problems like the A321neo cabin flex line in HAM but their robots are finally good enough I think and will improve step by step during 2020. When Airbus totally satisfied the A380 hangars after final delivery will probably be rebuilt to make A321neos. There is a chance it will be copied to Mobile as well for an additional FAL after the A220 FAL is done.

    • Snecma is less affected than GE by the halt in MAX production, since final assembly for the LEAP-1A engine is exclusively performed at the Snecma facilities in Villaroche, France.

      If GE would decide to start final assembly of the LEAP-1A engine in the US, the production capacity for the LEAP-1B engine would very likely lead to permanent curtailment of LEAP-1B production capacity.

      Gareth Richards, joint LEAP programme director at GE Aviation has revealed the joint venture’s initial plans to allocate final assembly of LEAP-1A engines for Airbus A320neo-family aircraft, LEAP-1B engines for Boeing 737 MAX jets and LEAP-1C engines for Comac C919s.

      Speaking to MRO Network News this week, Richards (whose counterpart is employed by Snecma, GE’s joint-venture partner in CFM International), says CFM will perform final assembly of all of the 1,000-plus LEAP-1C production engines required to power the 517 Comac C919s which Chinese carriers have ordered to date at Snecma facilities in Villaroche, France.

      In addition, Snecma will assemble all LEAP-1A engines and a sizeable number of LEAP-1B engines. Meanwhile, GE Aviation will concentrate on LEAP-1B assembly for the 737 MAX family. Meanwhile, GE Aviation will concentrate on LEAP-1B assembly for the 737 MAX family.

      • Yes . Thats the final assembly line, bring together all the components. I understand Villaroche plant can do both versions and the final assembly process with moving overhead frames can be adapted for either version.
        Not so easy for the components though ,Albany Engineered Composites , a major Leap supplier based in Rochester, New Hampshire has also opened a plant in France

      • The size of the Engines are different but that effect mainly the last 2-3 days of final assembly and test cell acceptance run. The main costs are in the parts to assemble the modules. Those parts comes mainly from the same suppliers for the LEAP-1A and LEAP-1B. Some use the same castings and forgings but other differ a bit in size. So changing the mix of -1A and -1B parts at these workshops (many are Safran GE owned) is pretty quick and thus will increase the flow of parts for the LEAP-1A Engines. GE could pretty quick increase the LEAP-1A build rates for Mobile. When Safran gets a larger parts flow they can increase build rates and truck engines to the EU A320neo FAL’s. Maybe they need 1-2 more testcells for the final acceptance tests that probably is done in approx 1-2hrs nowdays.

  15. December 16th:

    Boeing Market Cap down to $182bn

    Berkshire Hathaway Cash on Hand up to $128bn.

    I can’t be the only person who thinks that, as these two lines continue to converge, the chances of Boeing remaining a public company deminish.

    • we can only hope. Buffet has a history of installing competent management at the companies he buys.

      • Actually, Buffet invests in companies that have a business case so simple that a ham sandwich could run it, because sooner or later one will.

  16. I am an auditor, if Boeing don’t get the max in the air in 2 years time, Boeing will be bankrupt

  17. Boeing senior management is paid 70-90% based on stock price value. To keep the stock value high for the next quaterly, it really helps to overpromise, half tell, confuse, be overly optimistic and say what everybody wants to hear.

    Now everybody wants to hear Boeing is doing great. Including congress, White House, millions of family stock holders and many states. So everybody plays along, get what they want and is rewarded for it. Reality becomes a
    perception that can easily be outcommunicated for willing ears.

    Free cash flow, accounting blocks, huge forecasts, EBit, nobody understands, wants to understand, look at our stock, groupthink all around.

    Program 787 accounting block is 1400, other programs make no profit & there’s $30 billion in inventory on the tarmac at questionable book value. I expect some real high level intervention.

  18. I still think it’s about money. Very soon contracts start to become void. Boeing may be left with airplanes in storage for a long time if airlines walk away taking their deposits with them.

    I do hope the regulators get a grip of this. Boeing have been persistently wild and inflammatory, continuously trying to muscle the regulators and everybody else into obeying them.

    There is a clear aerodynamic safety issue to be addressed. Secretly repurposing a secondary system into a primary system without telling the regulators to address the isue isn’t just a sin it is evil. But to add to the sin the evil, the secondary system was not upgraded to comply with the safety requirements of a primary system.

    Even now they are still trying to avoid the necessary upgrades. But then to do it properly is 2-3 years, probably 3. It would have been easier to take out the safety issue by addressing the aerodynamics.

    The regulators must make clear to Boeing that their behaviour is unconditionally unacceptable. Nothing else is acceptable. The safety of air travel depends on it.

    Anyway to me it’s still about money. They gave the shareholders a bung.

    • Philip,

      If it takes 2 to 3 years, who will want this airplane? If it involves physical changes, do these also change the fundamentals? Increase drag? Lower efficiency? Render it much more costly to operate? Will it involve substantial pilot training, when the original advantage of the plane was that it didn’t require any? How about the cost of the plane? MCAS made it cheap; physical changes will eat into the profits or even make it unprofitable. And the world moves on, even the Airbus A320 series is already over 30 years old! This aircraft has no future! It didn’t have one when it was redesigned 10 or 15 years ago. This is so sad, and indicative of so much betrayal by greedy, short-sighted corporate executives who have way too much power over our lives.

  19. Why cut back production to zero? To me that is the action of a company that sees the writing on the wall for the product line.

    It would be typical of Boeing’s PR machine to start moving people to be ready to accept a program closure announcement by initially describing it as a temporary production halt.

    • I accept that international regulators don’t want to certify the MAX with MCAS. That’s been clear to me for a long time. With regard to the FAA I don’t know which way they will go. The FAA do have significant doubts.

      But look at the numbers, 800@$50 million for airframes + 800@$10 million for engines + interiors. It’s over $50 billion with $3 billion a month.

      But contracts may become void. So I think next year, Boeing people will do the software upgrade and prepare stored airplanes for immediate delivery expecting certification within the next 3 months. In other words, Boeing are still of the view it’s done and dusted.

  20. What is the real reason to stop production? Are they running out of parking lots for finished planes, or have they discovered a serious flaw which can´t be solved in an appropriate amount of time?

    Isn´t an industrial break of production incl. all the suppliers work much more expensive und more risky and also hurting the relationship with the customers?

  21. Lot has been said here. 737 Max -MCAS issue is another big symptom
    The root cause is -Boeing’s top managment getting into “incrementalism” for new plane decisions. It started with extending 737 with NG , then Max ; Chicago overriding Jim Albaugh’s recommendation to go for a NSA as a replacement for 737 – financial evaluation will always tell you that incremental capex for Max (2B$) over a 10B$ capex for NSA is better- given the short term cash flow you give up for the new plane . And Wall Street ( greedy/quarter values ) rewarded the stockholders with higher prices – on the assumption of a 50/50 duopoly with A 320. It encouraged Chicago leadership to do the same for the 777 X as well – instead of a composite body for this plane, they minimized the investment with a new composite wing (only), again underestimating the 350-900 and 1000 and betting on heavier -8 to cover the smaller niche market ; again incrementalism .
    This is the same company which “engineered” the 777 and 300 ER ; then Alan Mulally (head of 777 development) was not chosen to head Boeing ; instead Jim McNerney was made the CEO ( again on the basis that Jim M had “run way” -another American obsession in CEO decisions ; and he famously said, there will be no longer moon shots ie like the 787 .
    Now the future of Boeing is in doubt – in terms of a 50/50 duopoly;at best ,for the next 2 decades, it is highly probable that it will be 40:60 against Boeing , a significant shift in the industry structure. With that goes the pricing power, cash flow et al and yet the market seems to discount these in the share price still 320$ or above.
    Boeing – wake up , it was fine in the 60’s when America was the biggest market in aviation with no credible player outside the US; now we have a strong player in Europe ,with China and Russia muscling in and Japan playing its long game.
    Boeing, go back to your engineering roots ; starting with a change in the Chicago office. (and do not worry about the stock price , it will finds it level ).
    my two cents.

    • > The root cause is -Boeing’s top managment getting into “incrementalism” for new plane decisions.

      Actually if anything the industry does not have enough “incrementalism”. Or “continuous refinement” if you want to use a less pejorative term.

      Woe to Boeing if Airbus figures out how to continuously refine the a320 on a 10 year rather than 20 year cadence keeping the same industrial base and build rate while matching or close to matching performance of a NSA.
      * new carbon wing and engines in next Neo
      * then new robotic assembly optimized fuselage in next one
      * each time updating cockpit, avionics, systems etc.

      Nothing wrong with this strategy, just the old 737 design does not provide a good starting point. The a320 (and a220) do.

      • There are already weaknesses showing up in the Airbus FBW system: lack of motorised throttles, newer sidesticks now provide some force feed back, the problem of duel input in stressful situations, the lack of synthetic air data, only triplicated alpha and pitot static sensors. There will come a time when this legacy will be a serious disadvantage.

  22. Lot of doom and gloom. But I don’t think this signals anything new discovered about what it will take to get Max back to flight.

    I bet Boeing is still confident the Max will fly again with the MCAS fix as it is now, just months later than they hoped. The shutdown is driven by the financial numbers. Sum up cost of storage, cost of maintaining inventory, cost of bringing a Max out of storage etc. Then consider that because the industry will take time to plan the integration of new aircraft a 42/month rate would mean Max’s will continue to accumulate even after deliveries start.

    I bet Boeing finance concluded a planed pause followed by a restart would be less expensive than to continue building.

    • “I bet Boeing is still confident the Max will fly again with the MCAS fix as it is now, just months later than they hoped. ”

      Interesting. What gives you reason to think that?

      • Because anything else requires mendacity, malicious intent and probably criminal behaviour across much of Boeing. I just don’t believe it. I believe Boeing seriously messed the implementation and failure analysis of MCAS v1.0 . They also completely messed up the corporate response to the ensuing crisis, always aiming to misdirect, minimize or under state the issue, and understate the possible impact of failure. The result was a burning of any goodwill they had with regulators foreign and domestic. That is going to hurt them for a long time, well after the MAX issue is behind them.

        I don’t believe there is a criminal conspiracy within Boeing to push an unstable aircraft that flies thanks only to a non-redundant MCAS. I believe the 737 has exactly the issue Boeing and others experts say it has, a non-linearity in stick force vs AOA close to stall. I believe the MAX is perfectly flyable right up to stall by pilots knowing what to expect. However this anomaly is not allowed by by certification regulations and MCAS is designed to fix that.

        • “Because anything else requires mendacity, malicious intent and probably criminal behaviour across much of Boeing. I just don’t believe it.”

          Really? You wouldn’t believe such a thing from a company capable of hosting a Natoinally Televized Rollout of its “Dream Plane” that was nothing more than the bolted together shell of an aircraft that wouldn’t be ready to fly for yeasr? And yet all the Boeing Mangers and Engineers and Line Workers that knew about this scam stayed silent!

          Really? Boeing has done scummier things, so why not this?

        • jbeeko

          You might start by reading Hanah Arendt’s: Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil. Look particularly at her discussion of the Wansee Conference. And then look at Irving Janis’ work on Groupthink. And it’s indeed possible for American corporate executives to have criminal intent and place profit over everything else. It’s obvious to me that something went radically wrong with the decision making process and Boeing’s judgment. And here is what I think. For the past 40 years, corporate America has denounced federal “regulations” as hampering competitiveness. And so I wonder whether Boeing executives felt that FAA regulations were too cautious, too stringent and over the top. Indeed, that was the only real advantage of the 737 — much of it could escape new regulation because it was grandfathered. So, what about triple redundancy, etc.? What about fail safe systems (for systems that might not have failed in years or ever failed)? Was that too much regulation? What did the statistics show about those regulations? So, I think they took a huge gamble on a 60 year old airplane; updated it with 21st century technology; took advantage of grandfathering that never would have allowed some of the old systems to fly today; and desperately tried to hold Airbus at bay. They might not have thought they were behaving criminally, but scoffing at regulations (like the rest of corporate United States), and meanwhile undermining labor while lining their pockets with ridiculous amounts of cash — ridiculous! — was, to begin with, unfeeling and cruel. In the end, it resulted in the deaths of nearly 350 people. You know, the US is completely intolerant and unforgiving of such callousness among the less wealthy (take for instance when a drunk — who has successful done this his whole life! — toys with regulations and statistics and climbs into a car after a night of carousing and unwilling kills a family of four in an accident). No, Boeing’s behavior is indefensible. One last thing: I don’t think Boeing was waiting on a successful software fix — a version of which they’ve probably had for months. I think they were waiting on regulators to cave into pressure, as they always had. And, so fart, that has been a miscalculation.

          • RealSteve, I don’t think Boeing scoffed at the regulations. Leeham did an excellent article on the development of the MAX concept.

            Boeing doubted that the Airbus decision to re-engine an existing airframe would get much traction in the market, because their own analysis of re-engining the 737 indicated the benefit would be minimal. So they dragged their feet in deciding whether to develop a new plane, but were leaning that way, and thought they had some time yet. In the meantime, they did some preliminary work on the MAX.

            Then when reception of the Airbus NEO series was much better than expected, they realized they were caught empty-handed. So they kicked the MAX development into high gear. When they looked at the LEAP engines, they realized that like Airbus, they could get 15% or more out of an existing design. So that sealed the deal.

            Even the MAX was a gamble, there was no guarantee the market would receive it. But they did, quite well in fact.

            It was really about a competitive market, not about evil intent. Boeing actually favored the clean-sheet design, but there was no way to bring that to market in time to compete with Airbus. Even with the most advanced aircraft in the world, you need customers.

            Even now, they are hesitant to do the clean -sheet design, because things have changed so quickly that they aren’t sure what the market will want in 2030. The A380 is an example of designing for a market that changes too quickly.

  23. Boeing is still making the 737 because of a type rating commonality, and no need to retrain pilots? If SWA decided to buy 757’s with a new LEAP engine, could Boeing do it, in terms of fuel efficiency? All SWA pilots would have to get a 757/767 type rating. And learn to fly with FBW. Why does Boeing keep making 737’s? All Airbus have 3 AoA’s and FBW, and still have problems with 2 of 3 or 3 of 3 AoA’s freezing up etc. Boeing’s MAX bubble gum fix with only 2 AoA’s taking automated control of a flight surface is not as safe as the A320 system. If they put 3 AoA’s and FBW on the 737, then you’re asking for a new type rating and more training. Why not just dust off the 757 design and stick the LEAP engines on where they should be? Airlines would have to sue conveyor belts instead of directly crawling into the cargo bay, but, most other aircraft do that now.

  24. I think the future of the MAX will depend on how quickly FAA, EASA, and other regulators can get on the same page regarding which problems must be resolved before flight, and which must be resolved in the longer term.

    If the answer is all problems must be resolved before flight, there will likely be a long delay, mainly due to the uncertainty that is created by that position. After 9 months we still don’t know what the all problems might be, much less the solutions. That process is unbounded and open-ended.

    If the answer is those problems related to the accidents (specifically MCAS) must be resolved before flight, with others (such as rudder cables) to follow on later, there can be a shorter delay before RTS, with work continuing after that. This process has bounds in the short term defined by the accidents, but remains unbounded in the long term.

    That in turn depends on objectivity, fairness, and optics. If each problem is viewed separately as to whether it would require grounding or not, then most of those unrelated to the accidents would probably not, they could be addressed by directive instead. The vast majority of known issues are resolved by directive. But if they are viewed as being collectively ground-worthy, or if the optics are such that the appearance is that the MAX is still not safe, then that may not be tenable.

    Ordinarily we could expect the regulators to sort that out based on technical reasoning. I think now, it depends on willingness of all sides to set differences in perspective aside and make sound engineering decisions.

    As far as we know right now, work is progressing on evaluating the software changes, and that will be followed by test flights to evaluate MCAS and the new software. If the focus remains on that track, there is reason for optimism.

    But if the track expands to broader certification issues, with the view that all must be resolved before RTS, there could be a very long line of questions. Even if all were answered positively and successfully, the result ends up the same as not, no RTS.

    Again it comes down to the regulators and how reasonably and fairly they choose to approach things. When FAA invited other regulators, I think the expectation was that there would be a full analysis, but with emphasis on the accident issues and ensuring safe RTS. That has been our assumption over the last 9 months. So we’ll have to see whether that will be the focus, over the next few months.

    • Rob, What about the Trim Wheel? That’s part of the trim runaway procedure. Is any regulator going to leave that on the back burner?

      • Richard, I think the trim wheels only become an issue at certain combinations of speed and altitude.

        Under normal flight conditions, beginning from a trimmed position of a few degrees stabilizer deflection, a pilot can operate them with one hand, even without the crank. As the loading on the stabilizer increases, the crank is needed. If it increases significantly further, both pilots cranking might be needed. Under conditions of overspeed, they become extremely difficult to move, as apparently occurred in the Ethiopian flight. That would require the stabilizer to be unloaded in some manner. Without electric trim, the only way is aerodynamic maneuver (the roller coaster method).

        So the question becomes, what are the reasonable expectations, and what are the reasonable solutions? That is up to the regulators to decide. It’s not reasonable to declare the trim wheels patently unsafe, but possibly they could be improved, with some sort of servo assist, similar to power steering.

        If this is a workable solution, I don’t think this would be a grounding issue, it could be resolved by directive to modify airframes over time.

        Just my thoughts.

        • many many many months ago- the subject of somehow providing enough torque to the manual trim wheel was discussed- proposed.
          The denial , flak and /or silence and deflection games was noticeable. One such relatively simple method described in overly simple terms was a separate switchable battery powered, properly geared ‘ drill motor ‘ attached via a clutch and located ‘ under the cockpit floor ‘. And available when all other electrics were shut off.

  25. many many many months ago- the subject of somehow providing enough torque to the manual trim wheel was discussed- proposed.
    The denial , flak and /or silence and deflection games was noticeable. One such relatively simple method described in overly simple terms was a separate switchable battery powered, properly geared ‘ drill motor ‘ attached via a clutch and located ‘ under the cockpit floor ‘. And available when all other electrics were shut off.

    • Yes, either at the pedestal or in the tail where the drum/clutch/gearbox assembly is.

      If it was done well, it could eliminate the need to use the crank. The pilot could start the wheel with a push and grab or apply friction to stop, in either direction. It would need to be clutched. The crank could remain for fully manual operation.

      I think pilots might like that as many report bruised shins from using the cranks. Not a lot of space down there.

  26. Boeing doesn’t care about the 300 plus bodies they have on their hands or they would not have released the MAX. Without question they knew a year more it could be a death trap, all they wanted to do was to get a competitive plane to market to compete with Airbus and make money for the shareholders.
    The FAA isn’t any better, they turned inspection over to Boeing, that was like having a “fox guard the chicken coop”.

    • “”The FAA isn’t any better””

      The FAA isn’t independant and was restricted by Congress.

      Trump is involved more than I thought. He grounded the MAX on March 13 and then
      On December 15, President Trump called Muilenburg, to inquire about the potential shutdown of 737 MAX production. Muilenburg assured Trump that the shutdown, set to begin in January 2020, was temporary and it would not cause any staff layoffs.

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