Pontifications: MAX RTS, Emirates 777X order, Suspending 737 production, more

By Scott Hamilton

Editor’s Note: News reports Sunday indicated Boeing is considering reducing or suspending production of the 737 MAX. LNA reported this possibility Dec. 11.

While Sunday’s reports suggest Boeing will halt production, LNA is told a rate cut to between 10-20 airplanes a month is also possible in order to minimize impact to the supply chain.

Dec. 16, 2019, © Leeham News: It’s time for catching up on a variety of topics.

Topics this week:

  • 737 MAX Return to Service.
  • Emirates Airline 777X order reduction.
  • Suspending or reducing 737 production—it’s not the first time.
  • E175-E2 first flight.
  • Airbus wins Project Sunrise.

737 MAX

From a pilot for a US carrier:

The Max is going well -we are just waiting for the AD for Return To Service.

The MCAS is absolutely rock solid – the software upgrades are 100% perfect in testing and I believe the incredible scrutiny on the jet is making it the safest passenger aircraft in history.  I have logged a few hours on the Boeing Sim and we will have a Max sim in place in May.

The Transport Canada quote is ignorant at best.*  MCAS is not a system – and it cannot be removed.  Rather it is a component of the Speed Trim System and a required element for certification. The cert was done correctly and MCAS met the requirements at the time. However, I agree that MCAS was ill-designed because it originally lacked the requirement of fail passive from redundant sensor sources, it has since been completely redesigned and now has survived the most rigorous testing of any single component of avionics in aviation history.

* A Transport Canada manager urged that MCAS be removed from the MAX. (My notation.)

Another of the “influencers” who attended a recent Boeing meeting intended to restore confidence in the MAX provides his report here.

Boeing stepped in it again with the FAA. From Dec. 12.

Emirates Airline 777X order reduction

Boeing updated its Orders and Deliveries website last week. In the Unfilled Orders section, by Customer, it now shows Emirates Airline with 115 orders for the 777X, down from 150. Emirates did not announce which model of the 777X was reduced, but it had 35 -8s on order and the reduction was 35.

Boeing hasn’t added EK’s 30 787-9 orders to its website yet.

And Boeing still shows the 25 777Xs for Etihad Airways, even though the carrier has been clear it’s only taking six. Boeing shows the 777X backlog at 305; by our count, it’s now 286.

Suspending or reducing 737 production

With no end to the 737 MAX grounding in sight, Boeing may have no choice but to suspend or reduce production. LNA was the first outlet to raise this issue following the FAA’s appearance before Congress Dec. 11. A decision may come as early as this week.

Suspending production of the 737 wouldn’t be the first time.

In 1997, Boeing stopped production of the 737 and the 747 for three weeks due to overstressing the supply chain and muffed implementation of a supply chain tracking system, the forerunner of today’s ERP/SAP systems. This shutdown led to Boeing’s first annual loss since World War II. It also shut down production in 2008 for 57 days during a strike.

E175-E2 first flight

The first flight of the smallest member of Embraer’s E-Jet E2 family occurred last week.

The E175-E2 is the successor to the E175-E1, which is widely used in the USA by regional partners to the US major airlines. The E1 is Scope Clause-compliant. Scope is the pilot union contract that limits the number, seats and the weight of the aircraft that can be operated by the regional partners.

The E2, however, weighs 2,000 lbs more than allowed. Therefore, US regional partners can’t operate the airplane to its maximum design capabilities. The unions won’t amend this weight limit, at least in the current round of negotiations.

Embraer has no firm orders for the airplane,  though it hopes for some non-US orders by year end.

Airbus wins at Qantas

Qantas Airways selected the Airbus A350-1000ULR over the Boeing 777-8 or 777-9 for its Project Sunrise.

This project is the ultra long range route from Sydney to London. Tis non-stop service is an ambition that Qantas has had for decades.

The -1000ULR allows the service. So did the 777-8, but Boeing (as first reported by LNA Aug. 5), delayed development of the airplane two years after the 777-9.

Boeing offered the larger 777-9 as an interim solution by blocking seats to gain range. However, the -9 is delay at least a year and probably more by engine issues and likely FAA certification process changes from the MAX crisis. It’s not clear the -8 will even be built, despite Boeing statements it will.


122 Comments on “Pontifications: MAX RTS, Emirates 777X order, Suspending 737 production, more

  1. “From a pilot for a US carrier: ..”

    Too many fluff words and no real content.
    Talking up MAX for money?
    ( IMU Mr. Marko offered “remove MCAS” to get out of that certification impasse tensioned by the involved parties.)

  2. The quotes from the “pilot for a US carrier” don’t inspire me with confidence and sound instead like someone who simply loves Boeing and has their back up. I mean, “making it the safest passenger aircraft in history”. Really? And referring to the Transport Canada specialist (quote) as ignorant seems odd as I presume the pilot is somewhat less of a specialist in this field.

    Did Boeing actually volunteer this person to be quoted? Bizarre.

    • Pilot for a US carrier, name, rank/position, experience, employer unknown.

      Jim Marko of Transport Canada.

      Linh Le System Safety Engineer at the FAA.

      So who to believe ? Which of these individuals is more likely to know how close the FAA, and Transport Canada are to un-grounding the MAX ?

      “MCAS is not a system – and it cannot be removed. Rather it is a component of the Speed Trim System” – Unknown US carrier pilot.

      I don’t agree, STS existed on the NG before MCAS was added to it. It is a software modification, it CAN be removed !

      What I think the unknown pilot may be saying is that for the MAX to be certified, the pitch moment curve has to be dealt with, and MCAS is there to deal with it.

      “Authority confidence in robustness of the architecture and safety assessment – LOW” – Jim Marko

      Jim Marko appears to be expressing concern that MCAS cannot be made safe enough to certify. He is offering an opinion that MCAS be removed, and other measures taken to ensure that the MAX is safe in the areas of the envelope that MCAS has been implemented to deal with.

      I have not seen any evidence that any of the certifying agencies have contradicted Jim Marko.

      “The FAA said in a statement that its international partners have “engaged in robust discussions at various stages in this process as part of the thorough scrutiny of Boeing’s work. This email is an example of those exchanges.”” – Reuters

      ““The email reflects working-level discussions between highly trained aircraft certification experts of key aviation authorities who have been given wide latitude for assessing all issues and looking at all alternatives for the safe return to service of the aircraft,” Transport Canada said in a statement.” – Reuters

      “highly trained aircraft certification experts” by Transport Canada’s own admission, Jim Marko is such.

      “working-level discussions between” … “experts of key aviation authorities”

      “Linh Le, a system safety engineer at the F.A.A., shared Mr. Marko’s message with others at the agency. He noted that the Canadian official believed that “MCAS introduces catastrophic hazards that weren’t there before,” that “it and the fix add too much complexity,” that “there have been many revisions to the software” and that “each was a band-aid.”” – https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/22/business/boeing-canada-737-max.html

      Now I am sure everyone will have been reminded of confidentiality, and any relevant NDAs, but it seems to me that the MAX will be certified when it is safe, and MCAS may or may not be a part of that certification. If all concerns are not satisfactorily addressed, there will be leaks, and I’m sure there will be resignations.

      Boeing looking at cutting the rate at which they are building MAXs could be an indication that in fact there is more work to be done before the authorities will un-ground the aircraft.

    • @Woody: Boeing did not volunteer the pilot. I asked the question of him.


      • Thanks Scott. Did he seem neutral to you or did he seem like a Boeing or USA 1st type (I hope that doesn’t sound insulting. It isn’t intended to be)? From my end (s)he really sounds like a Boeing fanboi.

        Also, is (s)he correct or is Marko correct re the possibility to remove MCAS if desired? Surely only one can be correct and I lean strongly to believing the actual technology expert rather than a pilot on this.

        • The pilot’s airline operates Airbus and Boeing aircraft. He happens to be 737 rated but knows the systems on 737 and A320 family very well.

          I’m not qualified to opine on Marko’s view.

        • ‘Boeing fanboi[sic]’ is silly.

          It’s a sneer tactic, common from people who can’t be rational and criticize on specifics against values.

    • @Woody

      Regards the ““making it the safest passenger aircraft in history” quote.

      The Max is already responsible for 347 deaths (includes the diver lost).

      There have been civil airliners that have been operated for several years without the lost of a single live. The old Handley Page’s flown by Imperial Airways in the 1930’s spring to mind.

      A meaningless comment made by person who obviously doesn’t know history

      • True. And claiming the “the most rigorous testing of any single component of avionics in aviation history” seems entirely unbelievable too.

        Of course, if (s)he was simply sloppy with their language and meant to say “making it the safest passenger aircraft in history (in its modified returned to service version and ignoring the initial version)” it does have the potential to be that. Time will tell.

    • When I was reading “pilot from a US carriers” statements I was actually chickling to myself. I enjoy reading Scott but this was quite Jolly. I though he was an ironic wit.

  3. Uwe,

    I do think the US pilot inadvertently provided some clarity. But before I offer the clarity, I want to address the inflammatory language.

    I’m not of the view that the Canadian authorities ever said that MCAS could be withdrawn without replacement. I think the Canadian authorities are well aware that MCAS addresses safety critical issues, which must be addressed. So I think the Canadian authorities were always saying withdraw MCAS and then address safety critical issues by other means.

    This then comes to the inadvertent clarity of the US pilot. He said that MCAS is a “required element for certification”. In using those words, the US pilot is accepting that MCAS does address safety critical issues.

    Safety critical systems are primary systems. Primary systems need to demonstrate fail-safe redundancy and be sufficiently responsive to address the safety critical issue. Sufficiently responsive means significant built-in margin to remove the possibility of error. Those words don’t represent MCAS.

    We now have three international authorities making clear their concerns about MCAS. First, the European Authorities. Second, the Canadian Authorities. Third, the Chinese Authorities (see FlightGlobal).

    It does need to be withdrawn and replaced with something that meets safety regulations.

    • That is an interesting interpretation that also has substance. Thank you.
      This would put this pilot, though presented as non partisan, in a position of collusion with Boeing. ( my allegation.)
      Again Thank you :-))
      Lastly we are back to “a rose by any other name” MCAS being of a “cheat device”. _Foreign_ auto manufacturers, especially VW, have been lambasted for such a deed to no end and fined heavily. .. and we are back at “.. Jovi, non .. Bovi ..”

      • I hope you don’t think I was suggesting you used inflammatory language. I was referring to the US pilot, who accused the Canadian Authorities of being ignorant. The Canadian Authorities come across as entirely competent

        I do think the US pilot does confirm what most people know. The MAX suffers from severe pitch instability and therefore cannot be certified without correction.

        • Well as MCAS looks to be a fact of life, more better to accept it than spit into the Hurricane.

          I can guarantee you what spitting into a strong wind does.

          One of the great certainties of life.

          A bit like jumping into shark infested waters with fish guts smeared all over your body, it does not end well for the jumpee.

    • To clarify, an official from the Canadian Authority has expressed his opinion regarding MCAS. The Canadian Authority has been careful to say that this opinion does not represent the view of the authority itself, which is still under review. That was echoed by the FAA as well. It’s work product and represents one of a number of possible views. It’s not a definitive result or position of any regulator.

      • Yep, just like the pilots view that MCAS was solid.

        clearly it is not but when everyone has an opinion?,

        I like facts myself. Not that people don’t argue with them but you can beat them to death with facts when they do.

        MCAS 1.0 was clearly total garbage factually so you take that pilots opinion and put it in the recycle bin.

        They taught 10s of thousand of people to fly in WWII, that did not make them pilots, just someone with a skill set that varied form very good to god awfull.

  4. I think “a pilot for a US carrier” will understand the 737MAX meets the safety requirements grandfathered in over the last 50 years. That sets how safe it is.

    We are far past the the time this kind of muscle talk had value in Congress, FAA or CNBC offices. Mainly because 350 people died.

    EASA will flight test 737MAX without MCAS to make sure it is safe with the redundancy and interface requirements adopted by the FAA (not a stall prevention system). And the rest of the world will ask EASA what they found out.

  5. Do you ask a taxi driver how the ECU within their motor works?
    Of course you don’t.
    The line pilot should shut their mouth and defer to those that really understand the details. A test pilot would have an opinion worth listening to.

    BTW – the person within TC casting doubt on MCAS was not merely a “manager” – but rather a man in a position more akin to a principle engineer with a team under them.

    • DV:

      Pilots are people to. Some stupid, some in between, some very good.

      I have seen people here express gross ignorance as well.

      So if the pilot should shut up?

  6. On other matters.

    I was of the view that Lufthansa changed 14 777X orders to options. So it’s now 272 orders for the 777X. That’s less than the orders for the A330neo, even with Iran Air removed. Equally, the customer base for the A330neo is looking good.

    The A350-1000 selection by Qantas most interests me. It will have another fuel tank. But does that mean they are going to do to the A350-1000 what they did to the A350-900, or does it mean a belly tank. Airbus have said it isn’t a ULR, it’s just the new standard A350-1000 with a MTOW of 319 tonnes. So probably not a belly tank.

    The A350-900/1000 is becoming a beast of an airplane.

    But returning to the 777X. The continued A350 range extensions without having to do anything special is something to watch. Airbus claim that the 2022 version of the A350-1000 will have seat/mile costs 13% better than the 777-9. The Qantas deal appears to show that is right. Not looking good for the 777X

        • Lufthansa had announced an “overall” order for 34 frames. Potentially egged on by Boeing for good looks vs the A350 order at the same time.
          Boeing then only ever rang up 20 LH orders for 777-9X.
          Lufthansa announced that they are now less interested in that overhang. Softening options? or just telling how it was all the time? no idea.

          to come to and end: No change to Boeing’s order book in relation to 777X orders now.
          20 777-9X for LH.

      • I think it rather did, those 14 aircraftswas a firm order. Firm orders are in backlog.

        • When Lufthansa announced their 777X order, they said they were buying 34. When Boeing updated their order pages, it only showed 20. It appears the remaining 14 were not sufficiently firm for Boeing to include in their backlog.

          Subsequently (earlier this year) LH decided they weren’t going to take the extra 14 and reduced their status even further.

          Since Boeing had never listed them in the backlog, they didn’t need to be removed. LH still has 20 777X on order.

          • I get confused as to what an order is. Boeing only ever listed Lufthansa as ordering 20. The other 14, making 34, we’re never listed. We are then told that Lufthansa converted 14 orders to options, meaning 6 are left.

            If I’m wrong, I’m wrong.

          • The 14 were “purchase rights,” which are reconfirmable into orders. Purchase rights don’t rise to the level of an order (hence never listed on Boeing’s website), but are a step above Options. Converting purchase rights to options is a downgrade.

          • Which in turn is a step above a possibility but we don’t want to put any money down.

  7. “the software upgrades are 100% perfect in testing and I believe the incredible scrutiny on the jet is making it the safest passenger aircraft in history.”

    The safety aircrafty in history, the 737MAX? He must be joking.

    It seems simulator testing of MCAS 2.0 caused new confusion. More than half the tested pilots reacted with the wrong procdures. I expect Boeing won’t get away blaming pilot training this time though..

    • > More than half the tested pilots reacted with the wrong procdures.

      I suspect this is endemic to the industry across aircraft types. People just don’t do that well when dropped into rare, stressful situations that require rapid analysis and response.

      I bet a review of pilot responses will show there is always an element of muddling through the situation rather a crisp hitting of ever item on the checklist first time.

      • question of “harmony”.
        You just don’t do “Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde” kind of interface turnabouts. The “green guy” Hulk comes to mind too. imagine riding a Hulk like horse 🙂

      • jbeeko,
        I have to disagree. And I simply cannot speculate. I cannot suspect that confusion in a simulator is “endemic to the industry across aircraft types.” Otherwise, I would never get in an airplane again. Pilots are professionals, and professionals at responding to a crisis. That is the whole reason they are there in an airplane that can just about fly itself. They are there and trained to respond to crises calmly and save lives. It kind of sent chills down my neck when I read the transcript of the “miracle on the Hudson” flight and Sully’s calm: “my aircraft.” And it was his aircraft. I think the Max is unusual because it is difficult to tweak and manage alerts because if its hybrid system and lack of critical redundancy in areas that we now know of. There is a computer overload which is then switched to a pilot overload that does not happen in aircraft with more robust and modern flight control computer systems. The Max must be an exception! — otherwise I may never fly again. It’s my sense that much of what confuses pilots on the Max can be resolved by a dialogue between flight control system that decide how to prioritize messages. This wasn’t quite possible on the Max which had inserted an additional system into the mix that was operating more or less invisibly and n a novel way and it was triggered by just one sensor that normally wasn’t that important.

      • Yes, jbeeko. Not only that, but many here are taking the 1302 testing out of context.

        “1302 tests, so named for their section of the FAA regulations, focus on the human factors relating to systems and how crews respond to abnormal situations with the prescribed procedures”

        If you read the full story, as well as those reported by Seattle Times and others, all the pilots successfully dealt with the problems they were given. They were evaluated on a pass/fail basis. But somewhat under half did not initially select the right checklists. Also this happened in “rare but possible” scenarios.

        Pilots went down another path before identifying the right one. As you said, that would be expected, especially in rare scenarios, and is likely true for any aircraft or group of pilots. The purpose of the testing was to identify those kinds of issues, so they can be improved.

        In general the tests were considered successful, both because the pilots were successful, and also because the tests identified areas for improvement, both in pilot training and checklist formulation.

      • I believe that the level of automation in aircraft is so big, that pilots are more used on selecting heading, airspeed and altitude targets using autopilots forgetting about the basic principles of flight. And the way the modern autopilots are built lead to this confusion. For example: in a regular manual flight, the elevator is used for adjusting speed and throttles are used to set the flight path angle: throttles up for climb, throttles down for descent. Therefore, in a stall situation, the correct recovery maneuver is throttles at idle and nose down. With the autopilot engaged following a vertical/constant flight path it is the opposite, the elevators are used for controlling flight path and throttles used for speed. Imagine a commercial pilot which flies several hours a day, for years, using autopilots from takeoff to landing, and someday he encounters an airdata failure for example, with misleading information, several alerts at the same time.

        • This is tough problem for sure and the next frontier in aviation safety. If you look at recent fatal accidents they all involve problems in the human factors design.

          All systems will need to ensure a smooth slow failsafe failure mode to give pilots time to take control. Displays and error notification systems need to surface on the the most urgent to not to swamp pilots.

          The basic principles of this have been known and incorporated into many industrial control systems since the Three Mile Island accident. However aviation has been slow to take on board these lessons since it clings to the notion of the heroic aviator and the narrative that we should just let him fly the plane. That is not how you want your nuclear power plant (refinery etc run) and not how you want your aircraft flown, not any more.

          • Precise comment! I agree fully with the parallels you provided.

          • I agree, with the exception that man plus machine can be superior to machine only, because of the different strengths involved. So a good human factors design enhances the strength of both elements, while minimizing their weaknesses.

            After Three Mile island, there was a surge in human factors research, and much of it was in directed towards aviation. But I think the interface tools have advanced significantly, and perhaps the designs have lagged behind. Another constraint on aviation is space and layout. It can be a challenge to work with a confined display area.

  8. Obviously many know I’m a Boeing koolaider here but I’ve been VERY critical of Boeing management as well as Boeing’s BOD.

    IMHO they need to be eventually given the boot. They have been irresponsible as well as reckless (i.e. -not grounding the MAX after the first accident).

    They’ve had very little vision to counter Airbus planes (especially against the A321 and A350-1000). Add to the A220 which is gaining market share as well.

    I’m surprised there hasn’t been too much of shareholder revolt against Boeing (especially by the large hedge funds, etc.). Maybe the stock needs to go down by another 20%-30% before we hear of something.

    Sad to see what’s happening to a great company.

    • Agree on shareholders. The damage to the company has not been translating in stock value. If that happens, those wake up but don’t know much & so far could easily be confused into a wating pattern. Apparently it is hard to replace Boeing top management & they get away with millions anyhow..
      IMO for Boeing a real good NB by 2027 seems the only way back to comfortable market share..

    • The problem is focusing on shareholders as the sole reason for being for a company like Boeing that is an integral part of the nation’s economy and engineers and builds products that can risk our lives. Look at the dismissed Exxon lawsuit, where it was claimed they were defrauding their investors and cooking two sets of books. The problem? The presumed fraud was making money — in the short run — for investors, who weren’t complaining. Therefore, there was no tort. So, propping up the value of Boeing stock with smoke and mirrors is more important than engineering right now. Of course the tsunami will eventually hit, but they will try to have everything in place before then.

      • I agree that “shareholder value” is more important than anything else. Of course, management, employees, retirement accounts, etc. want stock/stock option appreciation however it should not nor ever be at the expense of “cutting corners”. I feel Boeing management has done a disservice to many.

    • jacobin777:

      I think they should boot now.

      You can add in the 787 debacle with the wing tank protection that they removed and then told the FAA.

      Clearly Boeing needs a top to bottom cleaning out.

      • I think removing everyone at one time would be problematic from running such a large company. That being said, some management and all in the BOD can be and should be removed.

  9. > Add to the A220 which is gaining market share as well.

    Indeed, it is now being build at 10% the rate of the 737.

  10. Emirates is reducing 777X and Quantas is choosing A350 says a lot. Makes me wonder why Emirates cancelled A350 in the first place, but of course it’s uncertain when 777X will come . Will this ultra long range be a niche when two A321XLR could do the same with one stop.

    It’s great that Airbus is improving its models and airlines can benefit from from updated versions. Lower deck sleeping modules might be available for the A350 too.

  11. Boeing are sweating like a man with explosive diarrhoea desperately waiting for a free stall to become available.
    Probably this is just because all sorts of expensive legal and maintenance deadlines expire a year after grounding, but it’s really late in the day to be suggesting disabling MCAS, so maybe they are stuck again.

  12. In terms of scope of review, if it is just MCAS, then the MAX should be flying soon. If the whole MAX certification is under review, covering everything and anything, then the possibility of a few years is in play.

    As an automated system, does MCAS have to perform at the same level of reliability as speed trim, mach trim, or yaw damper, or is it required by code to be more reliable?

    • JATR & EASA have been questioning if MCAS is an anti stall system after all & want to live test that. That would bump the required level of redundancy & reliability. Boeing staunchly denied so far it has anything to do with stall prevention. But EASA is not FAA..

      • If I recall correctly, the JATR specifically sought data on the matter, and Boeing refused to hand it over (corrections welcome). Talk about inviting criticism, and asking people to reach their own conclusions…

        Perhaps the EASA will get to do their own flight testing soon. They won’t publish their findings (that’s not their job), but if they demur on allowing it back into service I think that would be a pretty solid indicator.

        • JATR has means at its disposal to require Boeing to release this data, or could ask the FAA to act as proxy. I’m not aware that Boeing has been uncooperative

          I think a more accurate understanding would be that JATR was not satisfied that the data from Boeing fully resolved their questions. So EASA wants to develop their own data in a test flight program, using their own pilots, and their own test points (which number about 70, I believe). Boeing has cooperated in that as well.

      • keesje,

        Great post. Thanks.

        Also, let me add that I’m sure the MCAS is an anti-stall system…and if you run with that working hypothesis then it explains everything Boeing has been saying and doing about MCAS throughout the 737Max development, production, operations and investigations. EASA, the FAA and other regulatory bodies have let Boeing run wild with their little MCAS story and, as a result, when it is confirmed what MCAS really is an anti-stall system, then people are going to see just how deep that 737 Max rabbit hole goes. I believe it’s going to be a long, hard schlog for Boeing to pilot its way out of this MCAS mess it has created for itself, and I believe that the experience could very well hurt the company despite the incredible backlog of orders it has. Meanwhile, I won’t be looking holding my breath and waiting for a 737 Max Return to Service any time soon.


  13. I understand why Leeham news has to quote an unnamed pilot. If they said it was John Doe from ACME Airlines, then the press would jump on it saying that an ACME Airlines pilot said this officially. The airlines are very sensitive about their pilots offering public comments, as well they should be. But, in this case, I think the Airlines that have large fleets of 737’s and 737-MAX’s should be issuing comments from maybe their chief pilot, or their pilot’s union spokesperson, reporting on what feedback they are hearing from the rank and file that have flown the sim. and other comments from their pilots on what they want in terms of training and operation and procedure explanations in flight manuals etc.

    • Richard Davenport,
      You said: “I think the Airlines that have large fleets of 737’s and 737-MAX’s should be issuing comments from maybe their chief pilot, or their pilot’s union spokesperson, reporting on what feedback they are hearing from the rank and file that have flown the sim.” Well, that goes if their response are positive. It becomes more complicated if they are afraid the Max is (in the word of a congressman), “a flying coffin.” Then, you probably won’t hear anything.

      • RealSteve, you are essentially saying here that if a positive comment is expressed, it’s only because negative comments are not permitted. That’s a back-handed way of invalidating any positive comment. Only the negative comments could be assured to be truthful, with that logic.

        I think Richard was interested in the full range of opinion, good or bad, of people who have either participated in the testing or are reviewing it. I would like to hear that too, in order to get a sense of the truth. If those people don’t wish to be identified, they could do it off the record, as with Scott’s source.

        If the source is highly biased, either pro or anti Boeing, we should be able to discern that for ourselves.

        • Rob. Agreed. This logic applies in a neutral situation. But in this case there is a massive, powerful, too-big-to-fail machine disseminating positive information. Meanwhile, everyone affiliated with this industry is terrified of harming this company or becoming the oject of its ire. The stakes are just so incredibly high.

    • From the information about when their 737 Max Sim ( ‘max Sim in May’) arrives its most likely United Airlines.

      I dont think this is always true , but isnt something like the 737 the bottom rung of the pilot career ladder and ‘in general’ the better pilots move up to wide bodies and then up to the biggest wide body. The pay scales reflect the progession. United has 767 , 787 and 777 wide bodies

  14. Lufthansa orders is still 20. LH originally order 34 but only paid deposits for 20. Boeing never put it on the order list . Only 20 was listed and is still listed.

  15. It’s a nice win regarding the a350-1000 ‘ulr’ (if it is a ulr and not a new belly tank – hope it’s the ulr as it would seem more ‘built-in/familial)… I like the win because it forced AB to further optimize and review the stellar a350 and have yet another ‘option’ available for consideration when airlines are choosing a type. AB (and BA even more so) can be very reactionary as opposed to proactively exploratory when it comes to familial flexibility.

    As for the 737… Ick! Jaded with the franken-liner.

  16. As I understand it the A350-1000 is a toilet tank.

    Not sure where else you put an add on tank but as its not a belly tank then its got to go somewhere!

    • Airbus put a extra belly fuel tank in the A340-500 that was outside the fuselage shell or wing centre section. So there is that option instead of taking hold space.

      “Although the -500 shares much commonality with the larger A340-600, it is unique in having a 19,930 litre (5,260USgal) rear centre tank (RCT). According to Airbus, this is a permanently installed fuel tank located in the lower fuselage outside the pressurised area, aft of the centre landing gear bay.”

      • Thanks Duke, the point is they can call it what they want but a belly tank is a belly tank.

        And they will have to trade range for pax numbers.

        Singapore has 172? on the Singapore NY run.

        Australia is not exactly Singapore – NY for high paying seats.

        • Pax and fuel will be interesting, but it’s a 19 hour flight, the max will be 8-abreast seeting and more comfortable than 9-abreast on a 777X.

          • No . Its expected to be a full payload, and normal A350 is 9 across, the 777X will be 10 across with its changed interior cabin ring frames. For Qantas it wont only be ‘Sunrise’ flights to JFK and Heathrow, they have the last of the 747-400ER still in service and flights to South Africa and possible places in US like Chicago and Dallas

          • Duke,

            I think it’s 300 passengers for Sydney/London but full load for Sydney/New York.

          • Most aircraft with full payload don’t reach max range.
            MZFW = 223t, if MTOW increase to 319t then 96t are left for fuel, that’s only 75% of a 159000L fuel tank.
            With 159000L fuel 36.8t are left for 368 pax.
            Since fuel needs to be added more than 300 pax can’t be expected.
            A350-900ULR is using 8-abreast seating too.

            The 777-9X with MTOW=351.5t, OEW=181.4t, fuel=197977L can carry 117 pax. With 159000L fuel 429 pax but should be less than 6000nm range.

      • The whole fuselage (right out to the skin) is pressurized back to the pressure dome. The tank must be in the baggage hold.

    • A330 has 6230L in the stab, maybe possible in the A350 too.
      That’s peanuts but still 50 minutes of flight and a good way to trim.

      • Airbus, in the step to the A350 the task for lowering drag has been moved from CoG management to CoL management ( i.e. change camber and center of lift )

        Nobody from Airbus has stated anything about the available volume in the A350 wings. Known today is that 165kl do fit without hassle.
        You could wake up tomorrow and read a little press notice from Airbus that 185kl of tankable fuel is just another PIP to fuel sensors and the fueling computer config files. 🙂

        • The ULR version , from the airport planning docs is 165,000 litres.
          The -1000 version says 156,000 litres only.
          However the -900ULR had the complete forward cargo bay deactivated, presumably as MTOW compensation.
          The A340 series had centre line undercarriage gear in the under belly fairing as well as the space for the 20,000 litre tank in the later -500 version.
          So 3 choices really, the extra volume in wing tanks , cargo space tanks or the secret squirrel space in under belly fairing (if they develop the work done on the different 340-500)

        • Duke,

          Sealing the forward hold was because of CoG caused by having all of the very heavy business class seats at the front. It’s not a safety issue. It’s just efficiency.

          Also, apparently, Airbus had a bit of a square off with airlines with regard to the A340-500/600 for the same reason. Airlines put lots of business class seats at the front. This caused a reduction in range below guarantees.


          You are right, they are moving to CoL, but first generation. Also right with regard to 165K. An Airbus executive talking to Aviation Week did say that there was still some room left in the centre wing box.

          It will be staggering if Airbus can do Sydney/London with 165K of fuel and 300 passengers. If that’s true, the 777X is nowhere.

          • ” An Airbus executive talking to Aviation Week did say that there was still some room left in the centre wing box.”

            Quantified? 10+kl maybe 🙂
            How much would be needed?
            The A340-500 got an added “nook and cranny” tank with 20kl volume!

          • Sydney-London is less than 9300nm.
            9300nm / 488nm/h = 19,06h
            19h x 7t/h = 133t fuel = 166250L

            Fuel tanks -900 / -1000
            wings 2x29924L / 2x29434L
            small center 80947L / 78435L
            big center 107039L / ??????
            The A35K should already have at least 158790L.

            I wonder how big stabilizer tanks could be.

    • Rear cargo hold starts at the rear of the gear bay.
      The MLG trucks are longer ( 1 frame ) and have smaller wheels.
      Quite a bit of space available below the floor between rear of center wing box and the hold bulkhead.
      ( if they even need bespoke tankage beyond wing spar/center wing box available volume.)

  17. What’s the process? The FAA and EASA are deciding if hardware changes to the MAX are needed? Nine months into this, when do they expect to make a decision? Can that question be asked? 3 months to six months? Will they have a decision by March or June? Then add the time needed to design and certify new hardware. Then retrofit it onto existing aircraft.

    • I think they are waiting for the software audit. After that they start flight testing.

        • Let’s hope that’s true. If there is a redesign of the hand trim wheels, or a new trim motor, or rudder cable armoring, I could see this lasting a little longer.
          If Boeing needs to be punished, then fine them. In terms of the interest of workers at Boeing, Spirit, and the supply chain, the FAA and WA state governor and legislators had an obligation to see this resolved on a critical path timeline. I think to bring up hardware changes this late in the game would be in poor form for the FAA and elected officials who represent those workers.

    • Ted, from my reading, the testing of the MCAS 2.0 software has gone well, it’s been exhaustively flown in both sim and real flights. However there are lingering questions about the classification of MCAS, and how it should fit under the regulations.

      Remember that a JATR finding was that an issue paper could have been written by Boeing for MCAS, to answer those questions before it went into production. Since that did not happen, the questions are going to be answered now, before RTS. Those are the flights with/without MCAS that are scheduled.

      If it’s found that the classification of MCAS should be different, then Boeing will have to respond in some way. Without a determination of the change, it’s difficult to say what the remedy would be. That is what’s causing the uncertainty, these questions have been raised only after extensive investment in MCAS.

      The original FAA directive was to remediate the deficiencies of MCAS, which Boeing has done. But now the focus has moved to the classification issue, and that has been driven mostly by EASA. So Boeing is facing shifting goalposts, which I think underlies their frustration and anxiousness. In theory this could go on forever, and incur a huge cost for only a marginal or paper gain in safety.

      So we have to hope that reason and common sense prevail, and that there will be an engineering focus rather than bureaucratic or political. Any required change is ok as long as it’s for the right technical reasons, and provides a substantial & measurable improvement in safety.

      What puts that in doubt, is that MCAS itself may be the result of regulation, since Bjorn and others say the MAX can be flown safely without it. So it comes down to the definition of safe, and the universal definition we have for that is the regulations. If MCAS is found non-compliant, then one or the other has to yield, or possibly some combination of both. We just have to wait and see.

        • Rob: I think you missed aspects of it and I don’t know that any one listed is the reason.

          Most complex is the fact that as a separate issue, FAA determined the computers were not failure proof enough and required a remedy.

          Totally separate from MCAS other than MCAS was the trigger fore the review.

          Boeing itself is responsible for the so called goal posts moving, if they had done it right in the first place it wold not have come up.

          Also in discussion is training.

          Much like the 787 wing, Boeing has been trying to rush the moving goal posts and present a fati de comple rather than keep it internal and discuss with the regulars.

          As there has been no listed FAA or EASA actually flight testing, that pushes that into January.

          Which in turn means its not going to see flight by commercial operators until March and flights maybe in April (the FAA looks to be aligned to they will only release when at least EASA is happy).

          That will not only take tests but the evaluation, re-tests as needed and the approvals all taking time.

          That in turn begins to make sense for more slowdown or stop production.

          I would think slowdown just to maintain the lines though if they slow down it will be a big one.

          • TW, I agree that the FCC re-configuration was another issue that required time, but is not the one that is still outstanding. The main question we are waiting to resolve is still the MCAS question.

            The moving goalpost in this case is not time, it’s what needs to be done to attain recertification. Ted is right, after 9 months we are still not sure.

            I agree also that Boeing has announced RTS prematurely, both to reassure their customers & the public and to bring indirect pressure on the regulators. They rejected that and rightfully so, Boeing cannot determine the schedule.

            As far as being their own fault, I agree up to the point that they are responsible for fixing the problems that were known to have been factors in the accident chain. But as the goalpost for the requirements begins to move and include new things, that were not causative factors, that adds a new dimension, because their movement may become subjective and open to disagreement. If that becomes the perception, there will likely be an international division that serves no one. We’ve done pretty well to avoid that so far. I hope that continues.

          • “”there will likely be an international division that serves no one””

            Who is buying Boeing products, it seems nobody. But it makes sense to order MAX and 777X, because if they are never built you get compensation.
            It was another mistake Emirates made, changing to 787-9 instead ordering A339, they lost future compensation and took a bad offer.

            It serves the flying public and the people walking below flying killers. It also serves the victims to get better compensated and I think some crashes from the past will be looked into again when Boeing blamed pilots. It serves that crimals face justice.

        • MS in Mechanical Engineering with specialty in thermal systems, fluid dynamics, and control systems.

          Worked as consultant mainly in research projects, for example testbeds for direct combustion engines (no turbines) and rockets. Government or military projects.

          Also completed the requirements for PhD except thesis, consulting work always got in the way. Served as engineering instructor for a time, thermal sciences area, 200-300 level classes.

          In a second career, developed web-enabled database software back when that was a thing, equivalent is done in the cloud now. That led into building management software and controller programming.

          Being honest, I would say I have more breadth of knowledge than depth, but am still constantly learning.

      • @Rob
        FAA/EASA aren’t moving the goal posts.

        Boeing is adjusting to deal with the goal posts not being moved towards them.

        • Julian, as of today. we still don’t know where the goalposts are exactly. Knowing that would go a long way towards resolving RTS.

          Boeing has been responsive to every goal that’s been set before them. But they can’t respond to what they don’t know. So we just have to wait and see.

          • I’m sure Boeing is well aware of all certification requirements.

            What Boeing isn’t aware of, is if the FAA will give Boeing a pass on some of the requirements like they used to do. Like when Boeing proposed it would be “uneconomical”, informed them after the fact or so late it would put huge pressure on the FAA (B787 wing fastener caps, and metalic mesh in composite of the wing), or just plain hide things from the FAA (MCAS change vs what the paperwork Boeing send to the FAA said).

            EASA isn’t playing hardball, from what it looks like they are making sure the MAX is getting it’s certification done correctly.
            I’m not sure I understand you correctly, but do you make the case they shouldn’t look into other certification issues on the MAX because that wasn’t the original scope of the grounding?

          • Julian, I don’t think Boeing is asking for a “pass” at all, just a clear statement of what is needed and the reasoning for it. We all know that it’s not just regulations that must be satisfied, but the regulator’s interpretation of the regulations. We are still waiting for a full definition of that as applied to the MAX.

            The uncertainty here is not due to lack of effort by Boeing, but rather lack of clarity regarding the finish line. The long periods allowed for the various reviews were supposed to provide clarity, but the reviewers also have formulated new questions, which now must be answered.

            If those questions stray outside the rationale of the original grounding, then perhaps one way to address uncertainty and establish clarity, would be to first resolve the original FAA directive to remediate MCAS, in the context of the original classification and certification. Boeing has essentially already completed this work. If that is established, we can move on to the next issue.

            The advantage would be that this narrows the issues rather than broadening them, and moves toward resolution rather than away from it. If questions of classification remain, they can be brought up in the context of a remediated MAX, which would be the most appropriate comparison.

            Without this, on the present path, there can be no certainty until all questions are asked, but future questions are themselves open and uncertain. That more or less describes the process thus far. We just don’t know what might happen. That shouldn’t be the outcome of good regulation, which should introduce certainty rather than uncertainty.

          • Boeing is hoping to get a pass on a number of things that weren’t up to standard and Boeing is proposing a fix, or still aren’t meeting minimum requirements.

            MCAS (Boeing is suggesting it’s not an anti stall system. MCAS 2.0 doesn’t seem to meet the requirements for an anti stall system.)

            Rudder control cables, placement of the steel cables that connect to the hydraulic control valves in the back (Boeing isn’t fixing that, their argument is it’s uneconomical to fix).

            Flight computers (Boeing has proposed a fix).

            Maybe a number of cases of grandfathering which the FAA might have to review.

            These aren’t marginal issues.
            For instance the placement of the rudder control cables is a real thing, with real consequences in how safe the MAX is. Fixing that wouldn’t be some “paper gain in safety”.

          • “That shouldn’t be the outcome of good regulation, which should introduce certainty rather than uncertainty.”

            I think all (most?) of us here agree that the 737MAX itself is not an outcome of good regulation, given how the original (grandfathered) certification was done.

            The pendulum has now swung to the other side, and the regulatory agencies, including the FAA, are understandably going to err on the side of caution rather than giving free rein to Boeing management to slapdash together the certification documents.

            Boeing may not know where the goalposts are now, but that is a direct outcome of their own behavior during the original 737MAX development and certification process.

          • Perhaps the simplest statement of the issue is:

            If an aircraft is grounded due to discovery of problem X, and while grounded, problem Y is also discovered, but problem Y would not in itself be a cause for grounding, should problem Y be a reason to maintain the grounding after problem X is resolved?

            Bearing in mind of course, that we have the more common directive process to deal with problem Y, and that in the absence of grounding (which is rare), problem Y still has the most frequently used solution path available.

            I would say no, problem Y should not extend the grounding, but should be addressed as a directive instead. But I realize most of you here will disagree.

            I think Thysi’s comments are apt, the pendulum has swung the other way, so it’s not really a matter of what makes sense, it’s where the pendulum is now that matters. So we will have to see how influenced the regulators are by the pendulum.

            The true accident chain involves mistakes made by Boeing, FAA, airlines, maintenance and multiple pilots, all of which were serious and none of which were trivial. Nor did EASA or any other regulator spot the potential issues any more than the FAA did (except in hindsight as we all have), or disagree with the FAA’s initial risk assessments and actions.

            If these things were kept in perspective, there would be more willingness to resolve the accident issues on the MAX, rather than to keep it mired in uncertainty. I just don’t see the benefit of uncertainty, it clouds the issues rather than making them transparent. Uncertainty is not required to hold Boeing accountable. Certainty actually works better in that regard.

  18. The 777 X doesn’t stand a chance against the A350-1000 unless and only unless the airline needs to haul lots of cargo. The A350 is brilliantly designed with room to grow in range or in size.

    • That’s bit harsh. But early on, when the extend of the 777x mods (wings, engines) and its empty weight became clear, many expected it would become a tough battle for the 777x. Not even touching the amazing 777x (grandfathering) certification strategy.

      • Boeing has flooded the market with cheap new 777-300ER planes in the last few years, that can’t help those thinking of the A350 for their fleet , especially with fuel prices staying where they are . No Queensbury rules when it comes to beating your opponent to an order

    • Boeing should’ve taken the B787 platform and applied it to the B777 series (CFRP, etc.). Boeing was smart with the B778 being the size of the B77W but not making it weight efficient and using the newest technologies was ill-advised (again, to save money). Granted that quad VLA’s haven’t sold, but having a plane built light with CFRP would’ve allowed Boeing to seriously take on the A350-1000 as well as allow carriers to increase capacity with a larger plane.

      Boeing simply were too “risk-averse” and now we’re starting to see the A350-1000 starting to eat Boeing’s lunch in that market segment.

      Once again, this fall on the lap of the BOD & management. Shame on them for not understanding proper market dynamics and the competitor.

  19. AB must be building confidence to launch a stretched A350-1000. The MTOW of the 350K now 319T, exit limit increased, RR-UF’s available around 2025 (?). So could be tough times ahead for the 777-8/9.

    • It seems that even the 350K is too large now. I don’t think 350L is that close.

      • What you say is correct, but I think the operative word is NOW. The 777-9 is a good A380/747 replacement aircraft but if you look at EK, QTR and many others operating 77W’s its in either a high density layout for shorter routes and standard 3-3-3 layout for longer missions. Seating for the 2 layouts are generally 350-370 and 400-420 respectively.

        The 35K and 35L could be very competitive to serve as replacements in this big market.

  20. Beyond the prestige of the order, the potential to sell more (non ULR) into Qantas in the future, and stopping a potential 777X sale, what is the rationale for presumably significant effort going after this specific small order? Does it inform and/or move forward future 350 developments? Inform and/or move forward other product line developments? Keep staff busy? Provide good training?

    • Certainly, the MTOW increase could be applied to the ‘base’ 350-1000 so will be useful to all customers. Whether anyone else requires the extra fuel capacity remains to be seen.

      • It also means that the there is room to stretch the -1000 to the size of the -9 and still beat it in range

  21. What does this mean for Embraer now. They could be sure to sell some E2 on their own. Especially if it’s true that E2 is much cheaper to produce than A220.

    Why merge with Boeing?

  22. Why should we trust a random pilot as opposed to a technical specialist? Pilots trusted Boeing and 4 of them are dead as a result. The process will look much deeper then a simulator which can only simulate known failure modes. Certification is meant to probe much deeper then this. The TC official sad what he said out of conviction. If Boeing wants to proceed, his words will ring LOUDLY in the massive lawsuits that will result from any MCAS accident. “are you feeling lucky punk?” comes to mind.

  23. @Rob – If problem Y is discovered while fixing problem X.

    If problem Y is critical to flight safety, then absolutely the plane should remain grounded until both problems are fixed.

    • Problem Y was defined as not requiring grounding, and further as having a solution available via airworthiness directive. Thus not critical to flight safety.

  24. Regarding your comment elsewhere against shrinks, I point out that it depends on wanted performance, such as range or field length (lower weight) or capacity need.

    Some operators purchased the 737-700 to get range, was popular west coast to HI at one time.

    And of course, for those with white hair, there was the 747SP to get range to places like South Africa. Better size for POTUS though I’d have wanted as an extra the full flap system of the original to give operational flexibility.

    Of course there are other ways to get better airfield performance, IIRC Boeing modified the design of one of the 737-x00 models.

    And Pacific Coastal Airlines just acquired two Beech 1900D that have an antiskid option, for some of their airfields.

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