Boeing MAX crisis dominated 2019 Top stories

By Scott Hamilton

Dec. 30, 2019, © Leeham News: Boeing and the 737 MAX dominated the Top 10 Stories on Leeham News in 2019.

This should surprise no one.

The year-end late-breaking news that Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg had been fired by the Board of Directors should be in the Top 10 Stories of 2019.

But coming as it did on Dec. 23, the start of Christmas week, it failed to make it into LNA’s Top 10 list.

Readership, obviously, falls off dramatically over the Christmas holidays. The fall-off continues between Christmas and New Year’s evidenced by LNA’s own decision to take a holiday (except for breaking news).

The Ethiopian Airlines crash on March 10 grabbed three of the Top 10 stories and shared, with Lion Air 610 (the Oct. 29, 2018, crash) a fourth story.

Boeing photo.

Boeing’s pickle with the 737 NG pickle fork cracking was of the Top 10 stories.

An historical review that Boeing didn’t want to re-engine the 737, preferring instead a new airplane in 2011 when what became the MAX was launched, was in the Top 10.

An April 2018 story about a potential Blended Wing Body airplane from Boeing hit the Top 10 after an enthusiast site linked it to its forum.

Other MAX MCAS stories were in the Top 10. Finally, anticipated announcements by Mitsubishi for the Paris Air Show was the only non-Boeing story to be in the Top 10 reads for the year.

Airbus didn’t hit the Top 10 but did have a #11 story concerning a pitch-up issue on the A321.

The Boeing stories propelled record readership on LNA in 2019.

Here is the rundown.

Top 10 2019 Stories
10.  Bjorn’s Corner: The Ethiopian Airline’s Flight 302 crash

ET302 crashed on March 10. This was a report of the initial information about the crash, based on radio transmissions to the control tower in initial radar data.

9. Boeing’s 737 in another pickle, Part 2

This is Part 2 of information obtained about the Boeing 737NG pickle fork cracking. See story #7.,

8. Bjorn’s Corner: ET302 crash report, the first analysis

The initial Ethiopian Airlines crash report investigation claimed the pilots did everything right—a view challenged this month by FAA Administrator Stephen Dickson. Dickson testified before Congress, in response to a question, that “for whatever reasons,” the ET302 pilots did not follow procedures.

Bjorn Fehrm reported the initial crash analysis and added perspective.

7. Boeing’s 737 in another pickle

The Boeing 737NG, which has been in service for 20 years, suddenly was discovered to have cracks in what’s called the “pickle fork,” so-named because of its shape. The pickle fork mates the wings to the fuselage. It’s supposed to last the lifetime of the airplane, or about 90,000 cycles. Cracks were found as low as 22,000 cycles. The cause still is unknown. Airplanes found with cracks are grounded until the forks are replaced, a complex process. So far, about 50 airplanes inspected were found with cracks, about 5% of the fleet with 22,000 cycles or more.

6. Boeing didn’t want to re-engine the 737–but had design standing by

With the controversy over the 737’s re-engined design requiring the MCAS, LNA reported that in 2011—when the MAX program was launched—Boeing officials didn’t want to do a re-engined airplane. They preferred a new, clean sheet design.

5. Don’t look for commercial BWB airplane any time soon, says Boeing’s future airplanes head

This 2018 story, for whatever reason, became a 2019 Top 10 when an enthusiast site referenced and linked it.

4. ET302 used the Cut-Out switches to stop MCAS

More data emerged on the final minutes of Ethiopian Flight 302 and what went on in the cockpit.

3. Mitsubishi sets stage for announcement at Paris

Rumors were rife that Mitsubishi was going to announce a new version of the MRJ and a deal to acquire the Bombardier CRJ program were slated for the Paris Air Show. This advance look became the #3 most read story of 2019.

2. Bjorn’s Corner: Why did Ethiopian Airlines ET302 and Lion Air JT610 crash?

In an analysis, Bjorn Fehrm analyzed the factors behind the Ethiopian and Lion Air crashes.

1. Boeing’s automatic trim for the 737 MAX was not disclosed to the Pilots

The revelations that the pilot community, including the Lion Air crew, didn’t know of the existence of the MCAS, was the #1 story read on LNA in 2019.


98 Comments on “Boeing MAX crisis dominated 2019 Top stories

  1. Boeing did make a lot of mistakes.
    In 1998 They were able to buy the Fokker company for a few guilders. Fot their portfoli that could have been a big succes to beat Airbus at the lower end. Now they spent so much money to buy Embraer. It is still possible to skip Embraer and buy Fokker.
    In 2011 the decisipon was to build the max.
    The best thing for the Boeing company is.
    To launch a clean sheet 739. Four models. 150 seater, 185 seater, 200 seater(especially for the LCC companies) and a 230 seater. The range should not be longer then six hours. To fly in a narrowbody plane for more then 6 hours is so bad for a human body.
    To launch the NMA. Two models.
    It will cost a lot of money but then they take the captain seat back from Airbus.

  2. Since the Max 8 debacle, much of the aviation world has been focused on the whys of the two crashes. From aviation enthusiasts such as I to EE and EEE types have weighed in on it sharing much valuable information. I would like to make two comments, however and then be gone from there.

    1. As previously stated, the board is due for a massive cleaning out. Too many attorney’s, accountants, Caroline Kennedy and Nikki Haley from where I sit. Repopulate with people who design a/c, engineers and even pilots instead to return Boeing, known for building leading edge a/c.

    2 Sorry Scott, everything is political as has been stated. The continuance of this will no doubt end up in Washington in front of our powerless and divided houses of Congress and the (s)elected president currently ruling us. Should Dickson the current head of the beleaguered FAA refuse Boeing and the powers that be as did EASA (at least up until now), Canada, china and indeed most of the rest of the world, he too will re fired and you know who will turn the debacle into an us versus them row as he has done in the past. I can only hope that the outcome of the MAX 8’s certification is reached without bias but I’m not very optimistic. For the sake of those 340 + souls who died in the horrendous fashion and their families I can only hope.

    • I will second that. I have been wanting to say thank you every since I found your site. Thank you for leaving so much information open to the general public.

  3. I wish all Boeing people a more positive and foreward looking 2020.

    Hopefully we can keep 737 discussions technical, legal. I guess Boeing is so big & important for the US it is inevitable to get politized.

    • Keeje:

      I can tell you from having seen the elephant, while not elected politics, internal politics run rampant even in operations so small that its not even chump change for Boeing.

      Corporations play politics all the time to get tax breaks and programs ad nausea, sadly MAX is just another day at the office as we saw Boeing trying to bums rush the process.

      FAA hit back on that one but the waffle comment on the removing of the wing grid lightening protection without an approval was the “we have to study it”

  4. Funny how commenters came boiling in when the TFH got going on the MAX.

    An unreported story is how Tin Foil prices went through the roof, shortage developed and it looked like the Bunker Hunt silver hoarding. Right now there is a surplus of Aluminum capacity that can be shifted to tin foil so that is easing dramatically .

    For everyone’s sake we can hope there are no more MAX type stories out there and the traffic goes back to normal.

  5. MAX is a seismic event, nothing will be the same.
    Look at how much BP got hammered for, Boeing can easily survive.
    If things get really tricky a new design tanker will be ordered.

    • Whilst the MAX crashes and subsequent groundings are indeed momentus events, I fear we’ve seen nothing yet.

      There’s a non-zero chance that Boeing won’t survive this; it’s difficult to see how they can survive if the MAX remains grounded, 787 sales don’t pick up and 777X cancellations increase (or certification proves problematic). Everyone is assuming Boeing is too big to fail, but without cash flow it will fail. They’ve got enormous structural costs that they can’t reduce further, and they’ve chosen to burn a lot of cash building hundreds of MAXs that can’t fly. Right now large chunks of the business aren’t generating cash flow. Leeham New’s own estimates were that Boeing would require new funding sometime around about now. I strongly suspect that this is what’s happened, and has lead to Muilenberg being sacked. It’s easier for a new CEO to beg for funds than the old CEO.

      If Boeing does go bankrupt, the knock on impact will make the MAX grounding look like a minor event. The world economy depends on Boeings flying, and (strictly speaking) that keeps happening only so long as the Boeing company as Design Authority is still in business. No Boeing, no Design Authority, and regulators have to consider grounding the aircraft.

      This is very different to the BP New Horizons disaster; that oil spill did not automatically (by regulatory obligation) cause all other established wells around the world operated by the same company to be shut down.

      • If they started today, Boeing could put a couple of small fixed stabilisers at the bottom of the tail-cone, just forward of the stabiliser.

        They would probably manage to get it certified by the end of 2020. The work force would retrofit the 800 MAXs while it went through the process.

        Yes, it’s crap. But at least it’s safe.

        • Well I have to agree with the first 3 words of the last statement!

          Purely stand alone of course.

  6. Happy new year to all!

    With regard to the MAX. The issue with the elevators being inoperative is exposed by the Lion Air crash, page 26-27 and page 48. Page 26-27 details the actions of the first officer (FO). Page 48 details the trim stabiliser.

    I will set it out. I’m sure LNA will allow it.

    Please understand, the official reports are highly loaded. They take a lot of reading. It’s particularly true of the JATR report. But it’s all in there, I’m sure of it.

    Anyway, happy new year.

    The MAX must not be allowed to fly until we all know.

      • If the MAX programme wasn’t so huge it would undoubtedly be cancelled.
        Engineers come second only to politicians when it comes to ruining an aircraft company. Don’t forget that lots of engineers must have told the bean counters that the MAX was doable and MCAS was a really clever solution.

        • “”lots of engineers must have told the bean counters that the MAX was doable””

          With all the cheating experience they gained over the years …
          But not allowing regulation control is garbage.

          • Your statement is stark bonkers illogical.

            Based on that I can say all European are responsible for Putin and his atrocities. After all, you buy your energy from him don’t you?

            Want to fund another gas pipeline don’t you?

            You clearly ignorant of mfg and engineers work.

            Engineers are told to solve a problem. There was a single engineering failure on the MAX, MCAS 1.0. So you feel all engineers are damned.

            What you are attempting to do is put the engineers into a morale dilemma based on the MAX crashes. That is udder nonsense.

            With 20/20 hindsight you can bet on the horses and win now too can’t you?

          • “”There was a single engineering failure on the MAX, MCAS 1.0″”

            If MCAS1.0 were little bit better, Boeing might have gotten away with all that jazz. But now everything will be checked, expect more parts to be fixed. The FCC should have been fixed decades ago, now the audit might check that too, causing a $1b loss per month. No end in sight.

            The overall picture is huge.
            I heard the most exported US cars are BMW SUV’s, unbelievable. Soon Airbus might be the most exported US jets.

          • Leon:

            I have to grant yo0u the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has issues but under Trump its not going to get fixed and ???? as to what it has to do with Aviation.

            So cheating engineers? Are they being unfaithful to their partners?

          • “If MCAS1.0 were little bit better, Boeing might have gotten away with all that jazz.”

            MCAS exists in an environment of “all over shaved thin safety margins”.

            If not MCAS then some other item would have risen to the surface belly up potentially causing even more death ( from having accumulated more “save” hours and thus giving more leverage to “third world pilot, duh simple” prevarications delaying a required grounding further.
            And, after RTS, there still will be room for “features” to bomb on the MAX ( or NG ).
            Under The RADAR Boeing has changed quite a bit on that type.

        • Grubbie:

          Cancel a viable aircrat? Really?

          If the Comet program was not canceled as well and it had much worse issues than the MAX did.

          787 went to 33 billion an not canceled.

          A380 went to 25 billion and not cancelled.

          • Comet mk 1was cancelled. A380 and B787 didn’t suffer from fundamental problems from inception. Bean counters can only go on what they are told.

          • Grubbie:

            That is some of the finest hair splitting I can remember since Bill Clinton.

        • “Engineers come second only to politicians when it comes to ruining an aircraft company.”

          A pretty strong statement and patently false.
          take away engineers and the profiteers would still be selling unhewn flintstone …

          “Don’t forget that lots of engineers must have told the bean counters that the MAX was doable and MCAS was a really clever solution.”

          That is about as tone deaf as “third world pilots did it”.
          MBAs and management often can’t be bothered with listening and wouldn’t grasp what they’ve been told to begin with.
          They fixed those bothersome interruptions by way of inserting further incompetent middle layers into corporate hierarchies. ( shuttle crashes being longstanding proof of the those mechanics.)

          • We don’t know what happened internally in Boeing so criticizing engineers is perfectly in kind to any other group criticism that have been around here.
            And in the end it was an engineer failure.

          • “And in the end it was an engineer failure.”

            Does Boeing employ real engineers?
            I have my doubts.
            Either they don’t have access to real engineers or the MBA and up levels were capable of keeping
            real engineers away from _deciding_ on MCAS.

            Basics you learn in the first couple of semesters towards a (worthwhile) engineering degree.

    • It’s too serious. As it stands the MAX must not fly.

      Getting to the bottom of it is very hard given the veil of secrecy. But the JATR report and the Lion Air crash report offer considerable insight.

      The Lion Air crash report does offer insight into elevator inoperability. I will post on it,

  7. Happy New Year to everyone – LNA and commenters!

    I’ve been astonished that almost none no-737 story entered to Top10. Bad business for Boeing. I was counting on more diversified stories, at least in half.

    Especially a better year to all good Boeing folks and unfortunate good Boeing suppliers’ folks. And worse for stupid B ones. Engeneering first! Foresight second! Stocks at the long end.

    • Vasco, Great video. Thanks for posting. It really is amazing that Boeing has risked everything entirely on MCAS software changes. Between the AoA Sensors and the trim motors are only the Pilots and the MCAS software. How will a Pilot know if the MCAS software has a glitch? In the 767 tanker MCAS, they have the column mounted safety switches. It will be interesting to see if the actual G-force vs Column force data is ever published on the 737-MAX.

      • Richard, I don’t know that the KC-46 has the column cutout switch. The 767 is fly-by-wire so MCAS is implemented as part of the control law. It would be more similar to the Airbus system. It responds to the pilot taking corrective action with the stick, but also has other safeties, as the new MCAS on the 737 will as well.

          • Yes. you are right the KC-46 is not fly-by-wire in the conventional sense as Airbus, but it does use control law to implement MCAS, with an enhanced pilot override that is sensitive to the stick. In that sense it is different than MCAS on the 737. Part of the reasoning for that is to not limit the flight envelope for a military aircraft.

          • ??????????????????????????????????????????????

            767 is a modern day 737.

            737 uses speed trim the same a a 767.

            MCAS is just done right in the 767.

            Nothing to do with FBW unless you turn that around to mean any computer and any automation in the handling system, which makes the F-86 FBW as well.

          • TW, the military statements regarding the KC-46 version of MCAS, were that the pilot can override with the column because that is written into the control law. That is different than the 737 where there is no input from the column. It’s also different than the normal STS cutout switch as Richard suggested.

            Also the reasoning is different. The override is meant to give the pilot access to the full flight envelope in the event of attack. Thus MCAS will back off if it senses the pilot is making countering inputs.

            I suspect that difference in reasoning is also why the same feature is not being implemented in MCAS 2.0 for the 737. The reason for invoking MCAS and the flight pitch attitude at invocation, would be different.

            That’s why I made the analogy to Airbus reliance on the embedded control law. But I mistook the boom on the Kc-46 being FBW, as applied to the entire aircraft.

          • I was going to say USAF has it’s own certification standards and doesn’t have to those of of the FAA, but the KC-46 was required to get civilian certification as well……but I’m wondering if there was any waivers for the flight side of things ,as they only wanted the FAA signoff for the maintenance benefits?

          • KC-46 has the Amended Type Certification for the 767-2C commercial combination core airframe, which includes (and is needed for) passenger service. It also has the Supplemental Type Certification for the military/tanker modifications.

            Boeing built two 767-2C aircraft in order to create the amended type certification that would be needed for the tankers.

            The KC-46 flight control system is more advanced than the 737 (flight deck taken from the 787), so the implementation of MCAS is very different. It’s aware of column movements as part of the control law. If the pilot makes substantial column inputs, it will yield and not oppose them.

            But as with the 737, the basic purpose of MCAS is to maintain consistent control forces for the pilot, whether in refueling or wind-up turn scenarios.

        • Rob,
          “Also the reasoning is different. The override is meant to give the pilot access to the full flight envelope in the event of attack. Thus MCAS will back off if it senses the pilot is making countering inputs. ”

          MCAS on the 767 Tanker is there because of weight shift (center of mass) during refueling. If a 767 Tanker never does any mid air refueling, or any fuel cross feeding, then MCAS should never be activated.

          MCAS on the 737-MAX, Boeing contends is there to provide proper stick force feedback.

          I don’t know how you can not have an OFF switch on MCAS.

          I would think after reading FAR’s 25.671 & 25.672, one would require MCAS to have an OFF switch, either directly via the column, or somewhere on the panel, as the 767 Tanker does.

        • The 767 has had minimal cable backup controls since day one.

          Thus with only a simple RAT, the Gimli glider made a relatively good landing with zero fuel

    • If he’s not prepared to board the MAX, then neither am I! Less than a ringing endorsement.

  8. I’ve been a supporter of Muilenburg, seeing him as inheriting the MAX and the problems of grandfathering a 43 year old design. Can someone confirm that he rang President Trump to ask him to overrule the FAA Directors move to grounding? Some of his statements on recertification seem optimistic they look completely absurd, like a software fix that would be ready in 2 weeks. This tendency to be wildly optimistic and preempt the FAA seems to have so damaged Boeing’s relationship with the FAA Muilnburg had to be removed. He is a human being doing his best and accepted Boeing’s responsibility but in retrospect we can see this could have been handled better.

    • Muilenberg did inherit the problems, but then he could have done something about them prior to the aircraft going into service.

      It was widely reported in the press, both aviation and general purpose, that he did ring the President. The suggestions are that this resulted in the presidential administration grounding the aircraft before the FAA could… Ouch.

      Muilenberg became Boeing President in 2013. The MAX was launched in 2011, entered service in 2017, some 4 years after it became Muilenberg’s responsibility. If in 2013 he’d binned the MAX condemning it as the deluded idea of a ridiculous predecessor, kicked off an NSA programme, sweet talked all the customers into swapping their orders over to the NSA, that aircraft would now be in service, or very close to it. Ironically the MAX, the easy option, isn’t.

      And the way things have panned out, they’d still have had at least 4000 orders for that because Airbus simply cannot build any more A320s than they’re already making. Ok, I’ve written this with hindsight, but the maxim “Develop, or Die” has never really ever been wrong. 737MAX was definitely not “Develop”.

      Ok, so such a bold strategy might not have been approved by the board or shareholders, but a proper engineer would have taken such rejection as big hint to run for the hills.

      • Thanks for the answer. Muilenburg only became CEO around June 2015 and Chairman of the Board on 1st March 2016. As President from 2013 to mid 2015 he was second in charge and should have intimately known what was going on or rather what he was doing but he was still under McNerney who launched the MAX ahead of formal Board approval in 2011 and as such Muilenburg may have lacked the power to kill the MAX as President and only got there in March 2016. By then it was much harder to do given sales were in the thousands. Still I’m still flabbergasted by the decision to operate MCAS on only 1 sensor and to delay fixing the software bug by over a year that did not show the sensor disagree alert warning. To an outsider in the automation industry that falls into a kind of idiocy that can’t easily be anticipated. Muilenburg’s use of his connections for direct outreach to President Trump, bypassing the FAA director and Transportation Secretary and his assurances to the president that the MAX was safe explain why Trump so stridently personally grounded the MAX and made comment on its bypassing of the pilot.

    • I recently re-watched the PBS Nova episode “Battle of the X-Planes”, about the JSF competition. Mullenberg (much younger) was one of the lead engineers on the X-32. So interesting to see how he thought about and managed that project. He was an advocate of the Pelikan tail, but was eventually overruled from above on that. Neither he nor Boeing were really averse to risk.

      • More than a ‘lead’, he was one of the managers as Chief Engineer for the X-32 Yet Lockheed won hands down , not helped that Boeing hadn’t produced a plane in that category …ever. Boeing won the TFX competition in the early 60s but new president Lyndon Johnson made sure the Texas built F-111 got the contract.
        The real competition was the MDD – BAE version , but for mysterious reasons, that didn’t make it to the final stage leaving Lockheed competing against a flying duck.

        However in 9 months time hardly anyone will remember what the all The fuss about the 737 Max was about…hardly anyone outside aviation geek circles.

        • The conclusion drawn from the Nova program was that Boeing emphasized the build-cost aspects of the JSF request, believing they could leverage their commercial mass-production experience to keep costs low. That strategy didn’t work as the Pentagon favors performance over cost.

          The cost element pushed the X-32 into the one-piece light-weight wing design, along with the reliance on the proven direct lift for the STVOL version, which resulted in an odd-looking aircraft. But it did satisfy the flight requirements and pilots reported that it flew well.

          In the end, Lockheed produced a more conventional but heavier aircraft with the lift-fan system, which made better use of engine power and was less vulnerable to exhaust recirculation. But as we’ve seen, it became more expensive to build as well.

          • And now Boeing is building F-15X which is Macdonell legacy…because the golden plated generation of main combat aircraft is too expensive.

          • Actually the fly-away cost of the F-15X is about the same as an F-35. And it can only displace the A variant, not the B or C variants.

            The main issue with the F-35 now is maintenance costs. Those are currently high due to scarcity of parts, but under the contract, Lockheed completely controls the supply chain.

            So either they will have to get those costs under control (they said they could do it more cheaply than the Pentagon could), or the government will break the contract and do their own parts and maintenance procurement.

            In the meantime, the F-15X is a solution to the ageing airframes of legacy 4th-Gen fighters. Its maintenance costs are lower as it has no stealth surfaces, requires no retraining, and has an existing parts inventory.

  9. I think this is a well put article.

    Mullaly would have been the right guy, not all engineers (actually most) are not CEO material.

    I was very good at telling management what needed to be done, but the manager had to figure out how to maneuver politically in the space he had with the policies at the time.

    I saw big bucks go into a heater floor system that was never used (it simply did not work for people standing on it all day) he could not get it stopped.

    Others we could limp along but limp was the word, but he could not get an approval to replace it with what would work.

    But, those policies changed all the time and he was good at dancing to the current tune and getting maximum of what he could.

    On more than one occasion I got chastised for telling people they were wrong. They were but it had to be handled differently and I was no good at that.

    Do you call an idiot an idiot or do you figure a way around to getting what is needed? Unfortunately that also can have a downside and at the end other games got played for bad reasons. Its a form or corruption you need to be aware of.

  10. The comfort and health of traveling in an aircraft I think is determined by seat width, seat pitch, pressurisation levels, aisle access and access to a small rest area to stretch. All of these can be supplied in a narrow body though statistically direct aisle access in a 3/3 narrow body is slightly less than a 3/4/3 wide body or the B767 like 2/3/2 likely in an NMA.
    Obviously if a Ryan Air B737 MAX 8200 designed for a 280NM 40 minute flight between Dublin and London (costing Probably only $25) is misused on an 7 hour overnight flight the comfort levels will be abysmal. However no one cares much that the seat doesn’t fold back or that the seat cushioning is thin or that legroom doesn’t allow seat lean back or that there are only a few toilets. Your only on it for 60 minutes and unless you take an inflight bran muffin meal and a diuretic caffein drink you won’t need the WC . An A321XLR on a 9 hour 4000NM flight will have good seat pitch with only 182 passengers not only to get the range required but because most passengers would reject 240 seats. I see narrow bodies with ever increasing range, perhaps getting to 5500NM as the key to growth. Small capacity twin aisle may succeed in this area but I wouldn’t bet on them dominating the mid range segment. When narrow bodies are able to fly 5500NM almost all of the world will be reachable with 1 stop and this may become the default. An Australian living in Canberra or Cairns who wants to get to Prague could get there by narrow body via Singapore or Bangkok. His alternative of widebody flights will be far worse.

    • Exactly right, range being equal, don’t bet against the smaller and more flexible aircraft. The 777 has killed the 7747/380. Next the 787/350 will kill the 777 size. After that large single aisles will begin eroding the 787’s market.

      The only question is how far can this trend go. With an engine and airframe pip plus a modest increase in MTOW the a220 will be a 4000nm+ aircraft.

      • Interesting comments. However the existing single ailses are compromised by their short wing span , suited for short haul small terminal gates. Start pushing the range as suggested means the efficiency falls away. Boeing found a short cut with it’s 777X by having folding wing tips , not really a good solution for say 4000nm and single aisle empty weights.
        The other secret of the current single ailses is the very high production rates which allow large economies of scale, some thing a new model like the Cseries found to it’s disadvantage. Something even Boeing with it’s financial strength is baulking at with a proposed NMA. They can do it , but have financial engineering concerns as well. Yes some complain about that, but it’s the world they live in, like it or not.

        • Agreed that a32x and especially the a321XLR is hampered by an undersized wing. But I don’t think that is true for the a220, especially not the a220-100. The latest MTOW revisions from AirBus already have the a220-100 showing a range of 3400nm. But it is still weight limited and since it has a MTOW well below the -300 there is still room for it to grow.

          As for the -300 word has it “Moxy” plans to fly it transatlantic with an additional centre tank for a near 4000nm range.

          Finally the a220 wing is still one m short of the C gate limit so there is some room for a different tip treatment (assuming wing can take the addition bending moment).

          However the above is all “implementation details” my larger point is that if the smaller more versatile and equally efficient aircraft exists, it will tend to win out. Why fly Boston to Florence via Rome if you can fly direct?

          • “Readership, obviously, falls off dramatically over the Christmas holidays. The fall-off continues between Christmas and New Year’s evidenced by LNA’s own decision to take a holiday (except for breaking news).”

            Somewhat of a self-fulfilling prophecy, circular reasoning.

            Yeah, I’m not a fan of ‘top stories’ lists.

            Yes, people are busier than normal.

          • “”if the smaller more versatile and equally efficient aircraft exists””

            Philosophies are different between airlines.
            United ordered 50 XLR to fly transatlantic while
            Norwegian quit transatlantic with single aisle.

            It’s exciting what Moxy is doing. You earn if the plane is filled. It should be easier to fill an A220-300 from Boston to Florence than an A321LR. People will love the comfort on an A220.
            Then there are pilot costs per seat.
            If every airline would use A220 the ATC would collaps.
            It’s interesting how far this downsizing can go. Maybe this is a way to keep people employed, need more pilots and traffic controlers.

          • North Atlantic- US to Europe is a ‘funny sort of region’ for passenger traffic. Its highly seasonal outside the major hubs, so having a single aisle that can have reduced frequencies in winter but ramp up in the ‘shortish’ summer season makes sense. And tourists love to get on board close to home , and without connections, get off at their final destination.
            When an airline opens a new route it costs a lot of money in marketing and other costs to establish, its the classic thin routes strategy that appeals to executives who have to establish new markets as well as growing existing routes.

  11. Thanks Scott and LNA for the hard work and good coverage of 2019. Hope 2020 is good to all of you and the readers, looking forward to an interesting year.

  12. *Why do passengers love flying the A-380?

    They feel they are flying inside an engineering marble.
    They love how smooth, quiet and stable she flyes.
    They feel they are part of a unique experience.

    *Why do passengers love flying long-haul, in a small widebody aircraft?

    Elders, passengers with disabilities and people with reduced mobility can feel disoriented inside a big wide-body aircraft.
    A small wide-body aircraft is large enough to feel comfortable and small enough to feel cozy.
    Small wide-body aircraft allow a close relationship between the passengers and the cabin crew, making the experience more intimate.

    • Well that is an interesting take on narrowbodies.

      My take is its cheap but …………………………………

    • I saw that and was quite surprised. You would think the word would be out to Boeing managers “anything that could in any way be construed as strong-arming the FAA – a) don’t do it, b) send it up the chain for action”.

      Seems this MO with the FAA is so ingrained managers don’t even think twice about it.

      • Looks like this has been in the pipeline for some time. Seems to be the same general requirement as occurred for 747’s after TWA-800, 23 years ago.

        Boeing’s basic argument is the US fleet is small and declining, foreign operators are unlikely to make the required change, and safe operation has occurred over the intervening years.

        So an unfortunate late-cycle cost, but the amount is not so large as to be unreasonable. Better safe than sorry.

        • Its not the point.

          The point is that they are fighting over diddly.

          Why would you just not go deactivation. and its done and over. Fighting over 6 in the US. Insane.

          I think its good insight into Boeing MO and how they operate and will continue to try to do so. They can’t help themselves. Knee jerk built in.

          Wait for the lightening protection on the 787 to9 hit the fan.

          I can see the management Matrix chart.

          Fight until it gets into the Public View, then give up, but as long as below the public radar, right.

          Oval with: Is anyone dead? No. Do not fix it .

    • Wow.

      “Boeing points out that 272 aircraft were built with the auxiliary tanks but only six were operated under FAA jurisdiction when the modification was originally proposed.”

      “Boeing claims the fleet exposure is continuing to decline as a result of ageing and retirements, and that the FAA’s proposals will generate unnecessary costs and will not advance air safety.”

      • No 727’s remain in passenger service, last flight was almost a year ago.

        Operators will have until February 2021 to either modify the indicator system, disable the auxiliary tank, or retire the aircraft from service. The maximum cost of modification was estimated at $125,000, much less if the tank is disabled. That’s about 12 hours of flight time (less than 2 days operating expense), or 5% of the original purchase cost in 1980.

        This tank has been in place for over 35 years, the indicator issue known for at least 20 years. It’s not really a new issue at all. I get why Boeing would have questioned the directive at this late point, but if the FAA has ruled against, compliance shouldn’t be a major issue.

        • What’s the story on the fuel tank modifications? I believe Delta and United retired their 747s because it wasn’t cost effective to fix them. Are all 747s flying in the US now have the mod? How much did it cost? How about 767, 757, or 737? How many of those have been modified to fix the problem?

          • Ted, it’s complicated because the rulings have been slow to come forth, but numerous, and opposition has been universal.

            Some rulings have been passenger only but some are freight as well. Also some are for wiring modifications and some are for tank inerting. I haven’t been able to find a good summary of the current status.

            I think all newly produced aircraft meet the new rules, but am not sure about retrofit status.

            The wiring modifications are said to be $100K to $200K. The inerting systems much more expensive, but new technologies are being tested and introduced.

        • Really? Please explain to me why a virtually non existent use aircraft is worth wasting your time over?

          I would guess you would be less than happy if one of those blew up and came down on top of YOUR family.

          • Looking back you see indications that FAA making something stick invariably has political reasons. All else gets exemptions. :-))

          • Actually the objections to those rulings have been universal, manufacturers and airlines. Especially to inerting, which has long been met with reluctance.

            Airbus aircraft have been listed as being vulnerable and requiring mitigation, along with Boeing. Basically any aircraft that has a body fuel tank with a heat source near the tank (usually air-conditioning), has been listed at one point or another in a ruling. In some cases, there were exemptions granted if conditioned air could be supplied while on the ground, to avoid heat-soaking the tank from A/C.

            Those kinds of changes are unpopular because there is a long established history of safe operation. I’m sure politics are somewhat involved, as well as economics. But the procedures have a built-in period for comment and feedback, so as to allow for input from the stakeholders. If airlines or manufacturers raise concerns, that is a normal part of the process.

            In this case Boeing raised 3 concerns, the FAA overruled them on all 3, so that should be the end of it. Boeing will now have to prepare engineering packages for the operators, to help them comply with the ruling within the constraints of the regulations. Then operators can choose which option to pursue.

            As Boeing pointed out, most foreign operators will probably do nothing with a non-binding ruling, unless their own regulators mandate it. 97% of the affected aircraft are foreign. So the ruling may only affect 3% of the remaining fleet.

  13. TransWorld

    2020 is – I hope – the start of the truth. 2019 was not telling the truth.

    There is a long way to go yet!

    • I think we can agree that one person would not know the truth if it was a T-Rex and them in the butt.

      Kelly Ann any0ne?

        • Nope, certain TFH type, hate to tell you this, but I go with facts not TFH.

          For the TFH crew KAC is their goddess.

  14. The irony was even the #11th story about Airbus A321 pitch up tendency only got there in light of the 737MAX pitch issue!

  15. Apparently Qatar has been flying empty brand new 787s out to Doha and then straight back to Boeing to be finished off or possibly stored. Presumably this is in order to grab a year’s worth of tax write off. This might explain a lot of Boeings flapping in December and why they were so keen to “pre deliver” MAXs before they were certified to carry passengers. In particular Irelands parasitic tax right off rules are known to be very important for Ryanair and various leasing companies.

    • Quatar will not be involved in Boeing sheaniagnas.

      There was a screw up in the interiors. They are going to Victorville to correct.

      As there is an elaborate inspection, flight test and hand over, someone screwed up.

      As Qatar approved the aircraft, its almost a certainty it was their rep who put in the wrong interior build list.

      Boeing can’t just fly an aircraft to Qatar willy nilly.

      Qatar has been known to reject delivery with lint on a seat.

  16. Happy New Year!
    Latest news is Boeing is considering hiving off its military/space/service sectors to its shareholders, supposedly to concentrate upon fixing the commercial airplanes operation.
    Of course a pessimistic cynic (I.e. an optimist with experience) might wonder whether this is not a ploy to shelter assets for shareholders in a forthcoming bankruptcy of the commercial airplane business.
    If so an aggressive liquidator would certainly seek to attain the hived off assets to satisfy creditors ‘ claims.
    Ah, to be a lawyer in 2020!…

    • Boeing is not considering this, it was a speculative article suggesting that Boeing could boost the stock price by dumping the commercial business and keeping the lucrative space and military business.

      That’s exactly the shareholder-first mentality that so many here have criticized. It’s written by a person who is only concerned with stock price and shareholder value.

      • Exactly. That’s what makes it plausible with this Board.
        Scott, have you picked up anything on this ?

        • Point is, it’s not news or true or an official position of Boeing. It’s purely the speculation of one person, that is sure to generate web traffic. All the articles I’ve found on this point back to the view of the same person, who is a stock analyst.

          Until Boeing comes out and says this, or there is some other factual basis, it’s best tofollow your namesake and be skeptical.

      • Lets see.

        MC21: Not certified and Russian supported, whats not to like?

        919: Not certfried, no patch for same, Chinese support, a recipe for success of course.

        929: Two of the worlds great politically driven aircraft industries attempt to kludge together a product that is mostly Chinese but is Russian certified.
        Each is rightfully suspicious of the other and the resulting meltdown will be highly entertaining. About 2045 it will get certified. Just t in time for the 2046 Olympics in Beijing.

        • If we forget about that they are from eastern countries, they try to do it right. They have western engines, western systems, Bombardier support, EASA already started certification work.

          Not a problem if it takes longer, if they want to do it right. Good they take their time instead of rushing it. They will be a success in eastern countries. I would not buy them, but that’s not the point. Forget about 787 sales to China too.

          As if the MAX was not politically driven. Politics led to the results we see now, a meltdown. If Boeing keeps a software only fix, the MAX won’t fly in 2045. If there is a suspicious brand, it’s Boeing. EASA is cleaning the mess up now.

          C919, CR929, MC21 … the MAX fits right in there. Not really, only the MAX is not FBW. Lets see which one will fly first. IIRC MC21 completed flight tests already.

          Same as Boeing, there are some greedy airlines. Some airlines will buy MC21 if it’s cheap, like IAG, SunExpress and Ryanair will check it closely.

          • Yeap, C919 will fly in 2 years, wow, very close. Lots of unsatisfied airlines will try this path, and with Chinese Gov back up on price and western certification it will be a very attractive alternative to them. Nowadays, it will be not hard to convince lots of them that the quality will be same or better then Boeing’s. Ryanair is already eying C919, only needed is a capacity increase from 160 pax to 199 pax. For now C919 is more competitor for A220 (and B737) then A321. That would explain surprisingly slow certification proces of A220 in China.

  17. And now we hear about potentially “catastrophic” (FAA speak) wiring issues on MAX which need to be addressed, fix timing unknown!😱

    Perhaps indeed it is best to melt’em and start fresh

    • Boeing found the issue itself, maybe there was a comment on a certification document. LOL
      If the FAA certified the MAX last December, this new (old) issue would have kept secret.
      There might be hundred other issues.
      Also foolish to expect that MCAS can be certified.
      Boeing can’t even do a proper wiring.
      This is EPIC

    • Boeing is being asked to check and verify everything related to the horizontal stabilizers, as that is now a strong focus of the regulators.

      In this case, two tail wiring bundles are potentially routed closely enough together, that if degradation or damage were to occur over time, a short could develop. A short in those bundles could potentially drive the stabilizer to full deflection, which is a catastrophic event.

      So they may be asked to separate and/or install an insulator between, or add other electrical protection. Needs to be in compliance with EWIS part 25.17.

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