Pontifications: A few rays of sunshine emerge in MAX crisis

Feb. 10, 2020, © Leeham News: The was plenty of angst among suppliers last week at the annual Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance conference.

By Scott Hamilton

Worries about the production shutdown, its duration and lack of communication from Boeing prevailed.

But there were in fact rays of sunshine beginning to break through the dark clouds of the last year.

Some suppliers—not many—reported that they’ve been told to begin shipping parts and components as early as March 1.

This gives hope that production will resume in April.

To be sure, the good news is mixed with a lot of bad news for suppliers. Some laid off workers and more layoffs are yet to come.

Low initial rate

LNA was the first to reveal two weeks ago that Boeing’s hope is to resume production in April, initially at the rate of 5/mo.

It won’t be until late 2022 that Spirit Aerosystems, which produces the 737 fuselage, is back to rate 52. This is the pre-grounding rate.

Going to rate 57 won’t happen until 2023, four years later than planned.

These timelines will put pressure on a large number of the ~650 suppliers within the 737 system.

Skeptics

Boeing says anticipated recertification is for mid-year and production will resume a couple of month earlier.

But skeptics at the PNAA conference have seen the recertification move before. The movie, however, seems caught in an endless loop.

Several suppliers said they will believe it when fuselages from Spirit are loaded on the trains in Wichita for shipment to Renton.

There is a long, long way to go, especially for the small- and medium-sized suppliers, before there is a return to normalcy.

Three more years

It will be two years before the MAX production rate returns to the pre-grounding rate of 52/mo. Spirit Aerosystems says it won’t be back to this rate before the end of 2022.

Boeing planned to move to rate 57 by the end of 2019. This new rate won’t happen until 2023.

Suppliers who were ready to move to rate 57 in many case spent money to prepare. This adds to the cash squeeze experienced by the rate reduction from 52 to 42 in April and then the shut down in December.

Airbus bribery scandal

I received the settlement documents late last week for the Uk Serious Fraud Office and US Justice Department investigations into the Airbus bribery scandal.

The SFO document is here: SFO v Airbus – Statement of Facts 2020_01_30 (1)

The Justice Department document is here: US DOJ Statement of Facts on Airbus Bribery 2020_01_31 (1)

 

109 Comments on “Pontifications: A few rays of sunshine emerge in MAX crisis

  1. Some suppliers might add the A220 corresponding parts/Components while 737MAX is at zero or reduced volumes. If Airbus is smart they will redo the sourcing among 737MAX suppliers some of which maybe quickly can get on-line and use its existing idle equipment to produce A220 parts unless its existing A320neo suppliers already are under contracted to start deliver at agreed times.

    • Spirit is already taking steps to be less dependent on Boeing / 737MAX – for example they purchased wing factory in Belfast that supplies A220 program.

      • There’s little doubt that many suppliers are knocking on Airbus doors, offering capacities. The problem at Airbus is that they can’t make use of these capacities right now. First of all they need to crank up their capabilities in Toulouse. That will take about one year I guess. By then we will all know if the MAX is re-certified and how they will be delivered.

        But – it’s not so easy for Spirit to make fuselages for the A320 and I’m not sure Airbus even want’s to go down that road.

  2. Resuming production even at low rate is quite inappropriate if a scope of remedy for all MAX’s flaws, not only MCAS, is not known and settled among Boeing and regulators. Apart of MCAS nothing substantial came to press about it, so it’s not resolved. Boeing could stockpiling parts to help suppliers instead.

    • The fact that nothing has come to press is an indicator that nothing serious has been discovered. Since the new year, Boeing has been disclosing all new issues as a matter of transparency. So I suspect we know everything at this point, and will have to see what the regulators will require in terms of remedies.

      • @Rob,
        remember the placement of the rudder control cables we talked about a while ago?

        Imagine an incident like Southwest Airlines Flight 1380 happening to a MAX.

        • Julian

          And Southwest Flight 3472, very similar, but luckily no injuries, or fatalities. So statistically it doesn’t happen that often, but the engine placement on the MAX is different, and so is the engine itself, so current statistics don’t really factor.

          I’d like to see the assessment based on science, is it possible for a blade to penetrate the fuselage, and hit the control cables ? If it is, then what would be the outcome, and what is needed to prevent such an event from happening ?

          Let’s see what the regulators decide.

          • JakDak
            High pressure turbine disintegration fragments are considered to “infinite” energy projectiles. So hull penetration must be considered. This is not unreasonable, for example fragments of the turbine disk from the GTF that disintegrated after an oil vapour explosion while testing on the A220 did penetrate the aircraft hull. It then comes down to a statistical analysis of how likely it is a fragment will sever both control cables.

            From what I understand older regs allowed the placement of the cable runs, current ones would not but Boeing obtained a waiver by arguing the cost would not be commensurate with the increase in safety.

            IANAAE (I am not a aerospace engineer)

      • About the previous message.
        Yes it’s not news. That issue has been known for a while.
        The reason I mention it, is because since the issue has been known to the pubblic, there has been zero indication Boeing will fix it.

        • Julian, that will be up to the regulators to decide. In November, Congress asked the FAA to report on the rudder cable issue. I haven’t been able to find any results on that, so don’t know where they are currently.

        • @Julian

          Good example with SWA1380. Boeing is only talking about MCAS fix, like MCAS were the only flaw found in B737, ignoring publicly anything else.

      • @Rob

        Eg. unoperable trim wheels means anything to you? I guess not.

        Or changed logic of cutout trim switches? What prevented ET crew from disabling computer trimming commands. I guess not either.

        Regulators requires a safe aircraft. Proposing and implementing remedies is on Boeing side. I haven’t heard any, apart re MCAS.

        • Trim wheels are operable under normal conditions, but are difficult to move at overspeed conditions. Regulators are aware of this, they will have to decide.

          ET302 did turn off MCAS, but turned it back on again. The error was in not using the electric trim buttons to counteract MCAS. Regulators are aware of this as well. Hopefully the mandatory training will address those issues.

          • BernieNZ,
            @Rob
            My understanding EASA’s will only recertify the 737 Max after the following technical issues have been resolved to the EASA’s satisfaction:

            1) After a stabiliser runaway the excess manual trim wheel forces are brought down to a level easily managed by every pilot – male/ female.
            2) The inadequate system failure monitoring that triggered the stabiliser runaway has been fixed.
            3) The high crew workload following some failures (e.g AOA) which caused so much confusion on the flight deck as been adequately resolved.
            4) The slow autopilot disengagement when nearing a stall.

            The FAA and Boeing were officially inform of the above issues by EASA over six months ago. I have heard nothing since.

          • “”ET302 did turn off MCAS, but turned it back on again. The error was in not using the electric trim buttons to counteract MCAS.””

            I’m sure ET302 pilots used the trim wheels during sim training successfully, but it didn’t work on ET302. Then they turned electric trim on again and used it as it was mentioned in the buletin. Electric trim was slow as could be seen from the FDR. That MCAS kicks in again after 5 seconds was written on another page of the buletin in a different chapter.

            The error was providing a stupid buletin (booby trap) as solution against MCAS (death trap).

          • Bernie, all those issues will be tested in the certification flights, if not beforehand in the simulator. We know #2 has been fixed for sure (AoA disagree indicator). EASA has been fully involved and will do their own testing. So we’ll have to see the results.

            Leon, overspeed conditions played a significant role in ET302. That had nothing to do with the bulletin. Also the captain consistently trimmed back only to 2.4 units, unlike JT043 and JT610 where the captains both trimmed back to the neutral position. The first officer in JT610 also did not trim fully back. That was the deciding factor in the loss of control events.

            As stated before, none of this absolves Boeing or MCAS of the failures which caused the trim runaway. That remains a major contributing factor in the accidents.

          • @Rob

            “trim wheels… are difficult to move at overspeed conditions”

            That’s not factual. Trim wheels are inoperable at normal speed when aircraft is considerably out of trim, not necessarily as much as in MCAS case, which has been proven on simulators.

            ET crew was doomed because they couldn’t disable computer commanded trims because Boeing changed the logic of trim switches.

            Sim training is not a proper remedy for basic flaws of aircraft. Civil aviation is not for a superhero pilots. Civil aviation is about safety for everyone.

          • @Rob

            “The first officer in JT610 also did not trim fully back. That was the deciding factor in the loss of control events.”

            You final statement is again far from truth. The deciding factor was that Boeing hid MCAS from pilots and airlines. Boeing hid the proper description of logic of MCAS when it activates (one AoA) how acts (multiple & strong trims down), and when disactivates (flaps extended).

            ” ET302 did turn off MCAS, but turned it back on again.”

            You can’t say then turn off system, because:
            – at that time the system even hadn’t been named by Boeing,
            – there is no switch for MCAS,
            – they didn’t know how to make MCAS inactive because Boeing hid this information from public,
            – they were putting off and on cutout switches of trim wheels, not MCAS.

            You are ignoring again facts to repeat a conclusion that pilots made deciding errors. They didn’t.

            @Scott

            Sorry, I tried to be concise.

          • “Trim wheels are operable under normal conditions, but are difficult to move at overspeed conditions.”

            overspeed is less of a concern than a strongly miss trimmed tailplane ( actually the reaction forces created via counter deflection of the elevators to compensate.
            Reason for the see saw receipt for getting to grips with high actuation forces.)

            Whatever, the situation is unsatisfactory as is.

          • Rob,
            Again, this blames the pilots, and we have endlessly talked about this. I even posted a pilot’s view of the ET302 accident, which took into account what it mean to be an veteran, 737 pilot flying out of a high altitude, high temperature airport and experience an event – the stick shaker – that most pilots only experience in a simulator. I think the grammar of “pilot error” doesn’t apply here. The grammar of “pilot error” might apply if the pilot were making irrational mistakes in a forgiving plane. As I have stated elsewhere, even Sully made a mistake by not following the checklist and throwing the “ditch switch” before landing the plane on a river. Indeed, for the Max to be safe again, Boeing has to include rigorous pilot training as part of its program (which it did not include in the beginning and which the ET302 captain didn’t have). And Boeing has fixed mechanical problems that have kept the plane on the ground for a year. Again the ET30s pilot wasn’t flying a plane that had this remedy. This plainly means that it is just WRONG to even bring up pilot error in relationship to ET302. The captain had not had the additional training that Boeing will now require, and he wasn’t flying the plane that Boeing plans to remedy. The captain “flew the plane” as if it were a conventional and forgiving 737 and had just seconds to complete a checklist that didn’t make sense while experiencing radically contradictory instrument readings and warnings. Please let him rest in peace.

          • The question the regulators may be asking themselves is if the trim wheels are less responsive than they were in the NG. We can’t necessarily use the statistics built up over the years with the NG unless aerodynamically there is no difference between the NG, and the MAX.

            I suspect the yo-yo recovery method will make an appearance in the updated training. Which is useful, if you have the altitude to play with, if a little uncomfortable / unnerving for the passengers in the back.

            Hopefully we’ll know what the regulators have decided soon !

        • Guys, there are no complaints about the trim wheels being inoperative, nor was that an issue before ET302, where we clearly know the cause. They have over 300 million hours of safe operation in the 737 and other families.

          I’ll drop this now as we don’t want to get into another unresolvable argument. We’ve debated all this at length before. Ultimately we will know when the regulators issue their remediation requirements for the MAX.

          • @Rob

            “Guys, there are no complaints about the trim wheels being inoperative”

            No complaints??? I’m speechless by your bias.

            By the way MAX deserves completely new statistics.

            And I’ll leave it here right away…

          • How often had Max pilots needed to use the trim wheels before the plane was grounded?

            How often have NG pilots used the trim wheels?

            What is the trim wheel as a safety measure?

            What are the cases where its use is part of a checklist?

            Are these cases “abnormal conditions” that might require more force than can be applied?

          • “”Are these cases “abnormal conditions” that might require more force than can be applied?””

            Boeing made stabilizers and elevators stronger and forgot about everything which is connected. Instead the trim wheels became smaller. What a garbage system without motor or gorilla.

            Now they want to introduce the yo yo rollercoaster back into training … I can already see a Ryanair commercial
            “With us you can get a rollercoaster ride for free”.

            How can the MAX ever fly again for decades without massive hardware changes??? I can’t imagine other regulators are that stupid.
            The MAX is grounded for one year and Boeing changed nothing.

          • RealSteve, we’ve been over this before but here again is a link to research done by Peter Lemme, on the 37 pitch trim incidents in the 737 family since 2000.

            Note that in two of the incidents, pilots reported difficulty in moving the trim wheels. In the first, the electric trim motor had seized, and additional force was needed to breakout the clutch that connected the wheels to the motor. TW had discussed this at some length in earlier posts.

            In the second, a circuit breaker popped leading to failure of the autopilot trim motor, which in turn led to the autopilot running out of elevator authority. The pilot turned off autopilot and decided to trim manually even though electric trim was still available. He reported excessive trim wheel forces, but it was found he was inadvertently flying with stabilizer trimmed against elevator.

            In the other 35 incidents, no difficulty was reported in using the trim wheels.

            https://www.satcom.guru/2019/05/737-pitch-trim-incidents.html

          • Rob,

            Thanks for the link. I find it difficult to understand or interpret. Can it be safe to say that most incidents involving the use of the trim wheels occurred when there was a malfunction preventing automatic trim, so the pilots mostly used the wheels to tweak alignment? Next, is the 737-800 the same as the NG?

            In looking over the report, I only found the use of the trim wheels as a solution to the encountered problem in a 737-800 twice. Once was on 2011-05-20. I wasn’t quite sure what was summarized there. It’s not quite clear whether manual trim functioned or not (it functioned on the ground, they say). The second time was on April 26, 2018 and they reported a jammed trim wheel.

            I’m not sure you can really say pilots reported no problems with the trim wheels that have a design similar to those on the Max and NG. The evidence doesn’t amount to anecdotal since there seem to be only two cases — one of which reports a problem; and the other of which might report a problem. Am I reading things wrong?

          • RealSteve, the manual trim wheels are used if the cutoff switch is used. The 737-800 is the NG.

            If you search on the word “wheel”, there are 16 references to it working successfully. In some cases it’s not mentioned explicitly but presumed that the pilots would have used it. In other cases, electric trim might still be working so wheels were not needed, or were used momentarily during diagnosis.

            The only two cases that involve the MAX are JT043 and ET302. For JT043, the wheels were used successfully. In ET302 they were not, but we know the reason was overspeed.

            Peter Lemme’s conclusion was that the 737 trim systems are reliable, including the trim wheels. However in other articles, he also talks about general pilot unfamiliarity with situations where loading is high or trim wheels might be needed to augment electric trim. Although these are known by Boeing and the regulators, they are rare in practice so not emphasized in training. I suspect that will change now.

          • Rob,

            You say: “If you search on the word “wheel”, there are 16 references to it working successfully. In some cases it’s not mentioned explicitly but presumed that the pilots would have used it.”

            Are you saying there are 16 references to it working successfully on the 737-800?

            I’m not sure “presume” is a good word here for a discussion of an item that EASA has questioned, and others have suggested is seriously problematic on the Max and NG. The reports seem to be fairly detailed. They have to be. They seem either to say pilots used the trim wheels and they worked or they did not work.

            I’m not sure you can reliably use this report to argue that pilots have successfully used the trim wheels on the 737-800 (which are similar in size and placement to those on the Max, though the wiring on the cut-off switches, I think, is different) and have made no complaints. There is no reliable evidence to back this up — only presumption.

          • RealSteve, the facts are plainly there, as is the conclusion. If you don’t want to accept them, that’s up to you.

            24 of the 37 considered instances were on the NG series. Pilots wrote up concerns on all the reported incidents. If they had trouble with trim wheels, it was mentioned. It was not mentioned if no problems occurred. Similarly it is not mentioned in pilot forums, and there has not been an outcry or demand from pilots that there is an issue. All these things align. They are not presumption. In all places you might care to look for real-world evidence of an issue, there isn’t much to be found.

            In another article, Peter presents the original ruling by EASA on the NG trim wheels, where they accepted and approved the design. Their concerns were minor at that time.

            We don’t know what the current EASA position is. The last reporting was from 6 months ago. In the meantime, any concerns can easily be tested in the simulator.

            As we are approaching certification with no mention of the trim wheels, it seems likely the differences have been worked out, most likely via better training. But we should know within a few weeks.

          • Originally on the 737-200 the trim wheels were designed for fine tuning, that’s why there is a fine scale for adjusting.
            On the NG most pilots never used the trim wheels.
            Now on the MAX MCAS changed the whole game. Suddenly there is a big mistrim and the trim wheels need to be used, but not for fine tuning, DEGREES need to be changed. A completely different game. As Philip said, a motor is needed because it’s degree changing and because of high forces.

          • Rob,

            I’m just not clear on what the facts are. It’s possible that most pilots have not reported incidents with the trim because they haven’t had to use them. Or, if they did have to use them, it might have been for what Leon calls “fine tuning” or adjusting. Again, it’s not clear to me that 737-800 pilots ever had to use the trim wheels from the report you provide except in two cases. It is presumed that they did. The problem, I think, might be placing the use of the trim wheel on a checklist to correct an extreme misalignment, which, in the case of a dive for instance, produces excessive speed and places high forces on the stabilizer. In such cases, it is not clear that the trim wheels work. Have they actually been designed for this? I am not looking to disregard facts; just to understand them. I am uncomfortable with the word “presume” as a fundamental part of the argument. Furthermore, I think that most pilots’ experience of using the trim wheel comes in simulators which had not been properly calibrated to represent true forces — at least that is my understanding. Finally, am I to understand that new training for the Max will include teaching pilots to counter these forces through what has been called the yo-yo or roller coaster technique? Does this put the issue to rest? Has all of this been tested in actual, low altitude flight?

          • Leon, that’s not true. The trim wheels were always intended as a manual backup for the trim motors, with an even wider control range.

            What is true, is that before the NG, there were two trim motors, one for autopilot and one for electric trim. With the NG and MAX, there is only one motor with two interfaces. The control forces on the wheels are pretty much the same for all versions. The yo-yo maneuver was documented in the 60’s.

          • RealSteve, we’ve been over this multiple times. All your questions have been asked and answered before. You don’t accept the answers, even when well sourced, so you keep asking the same questions, and that’s fine.

            My argument is that pilots not mentioning problems in their reports, in forum discussions, in press interviews, is evidence that the problems are not significant.

            Your argument is that the lack of mention is presumptive, and pilots may have had significant problems but just don’t talk about them or report them. Or they have never used the trim wheels, even though that is part of their training. Or their training was incorrect.

            The simulator issue, as has been discussed, had to do with extreme forces outside the safety limits of the aircraft. The simulators were corrected over the summer. Since then dozens of pilots have used the corrected simulators without this being raised as an issue.

            Ultimately it doesn’t matter what either of us think. What will matter is the objective evaluation of the regulators. So I await that as the final answer.

          • “” The yo-yo maneuver was documented in the 60’s.””

            Jon Ostrower – The Air Current:

            In the early 1980s a problem was found with the 737-200 model. When the elevator operated to raise or lower the nose, it set up a strong force on the trim jackscrew which opposed any corrective force from the control systems. When attempting to correct an unwanted deflection using the manual trim wheel, exerting enough hand force to overcome the force exerted by the elevator became increasingly difficult as speed and deflection increased and the jack screw effectively jammed in place.

            A workaround was developed called the “roller coaster” technique. Counter-intuitively, to correct an excessive deflection causing a dive the pilot first pushes the nose down further, before easing back to gently raise the nose again. During this easing back period, the elevator deflection reduces or even reverses, its force on the jackscrew does likewise and the manual trim eases up. The workaround was included in the pilot’s emergency procedures and in the training schedule.

            The problem was encountered on earlier 737 versions, and a “roller coaster” emergency technique for handling the flight condition was documented in 1982 for the 737-200 but did not appear in training documentation for later versions (including the MAX).

          • Leon, your reference from the 1980’s is correct. However Peter Lemme went back farther, and found evidence of the same discussion of relieving aerodynamic mis-trim forces, using the stick, for the 707 in 1961.

            “To trim the stabilizer manually while holding a high stick force on control column. As the airplane changes altitude, crank in the desired trim change. Correct airplane attitude after a few seconds with elevators. Relax stick force again and crank in more trim. Repeat this procedure as necessary until proper ‘trim’ position of stabilizer is established.”

            Also there was a more general article in 1967 describing potential issues that can develop with a variable-incidence tail-plane, and how to address them. It also mentions relieving force with the stick until trim becomes operable. So this concept was recognized well before 1980.

            This article also mentions the futility of trying to correct for mis-trim with elevator only, as the stabilizer is a more powerful surface. Even though that action is instinctive, it’s not effective. That’s also why pilots are trained not to rely on the column cutout switch, but to use the trim controls instead.

            Here is the link, articles are about 1/3 way down the page.

            https://www.satcom.guru/2019/04/stabilizer-trim-loads-and-range.html

          • Jon Ostrower:
            “The problem was encountered on earlier 737 versions, and a “roller coaster” emergency technique for handling the flight condition was documented in 1982 for the 737-200 but did not appear in training documentation for later versions (including the MAX).”

            So why didn’t the roller coaster continue to appear in NG training documents? Was it because pilots never used the trim wheels? Did the trim wheels on the NG decrease in size? Did regulators when certifying the NG not worry about the trim wheels because they were not really needed?

            Now regulators have to think about the trim wheels because now on the MAX they are needed.
            Is the size big enough and the place good enough for handling?
            Stabilizers and elevators were made stronger on the MAX, obviously because of increased forces, but the jackscrew and the trim wheels were kept the same. Was this checked under Boeing’s self-certification practise? I have doubts, the Canadian stab guys Alarie and Primeau reported that the movements of the jackscrew are easily observable, and disallowed according to Regulation 395A.

            If Boeing doesn’t want to make the jackscrew and trim wheels stronger, Boeing need at least weaken the stabilizers and elevators to NG level again and that might not be enough since the trim wheels are needed on the MAX, on the NG they are not needed because regulators didn’t care about them.

          • Leon, I don’t know why the passage on handling mis-trim by relieving stick forces was dropped. It might have been helpful to the pilots on ET302.

            With regard to FAR 23.395a, it says that controls must be designed to 125% of the maximum loads to be applied by either pilot or autopilot, and that they must be rugged enough to withstand jams, gusts, inertia, friction, and other auxiliary but expected loads.

            The small motion observed could be considered not rugged enough, but it would be a subjective call. Also the aircraft was again operating at or beyond Vmo, so very high loads. So my guess is the regulators did not consider it a significant finding.

            As far as the stabilizer & jackscrew sizing, we’ve been through that before and I’m sure the regulators would identify that as a problem, especially with the scrutiny the MAX has received. There’s been no evidence or discussion of that as an issue.

          • Rob,

            I’m just trying to use logic to understand the issue. I aske: “Finally, am I to understand that new training for the Max will include teaching pilots to counter these forces through what has been called the yo-yo or roller coaster technique?”

            If this is the case, it explains a great deal about the efficiency of the trim wheels and whether pilots were able to use them.

            If I were a pilot and if I were an airline whose pilots were being trained in this technique, I’d be wary of the aircraft. At the best, it gives the pilot something to do, whereas in a true fly-by-wire system; there is nothing for the pilot to do except to sit back and wait on some level of redundancy to kick in — for the plane to correct itself. Here there is actually an intervention. But this 1960s intervention in a modern aircraft would make me wary if not terrified.

            Is MCAS a fly-by-wire, Mechanical Turk?

    • I think last December there was a deal between FAA and EASA. EASA agreed without sim training but didn’t accept Boeing self-certification. So Dickson asked Muilenburg to provide all self-certification documents. MAX production stopped and 3 issues were discovered. Then the pilot pool sim training let Boeing agree to sim training. Suddenly no new issues were found, maybe because the deal between FAA and EASA wasn’t valid anymore because of sim training.

      But of course there are other regulators who are stricter than EASA and they might not made a deal and might want to check everything.

  3. It think it is remarkable that positive news, or even the unconfirmed rumor of positive news leads to a jump in stock value. While real worrying, confirmed negative news leads to small declines only. There an enormous pressure of the stock to perform well, or at least better than (someone?) expected. “How does the stock” is a more important question than “where does the money supposed to come from”

    • Tesla Effect… Sign of an overvalued market… Bubble inflating even more before a bigger burst… But what will trigger it?

      • totally agree with Keesje and BernardP
        2019 very ugly year
        2020 very ugly year
        2021 787 going down, MAX coming back with smallish volumes, future sales will be at reduced prices
        2022 787 going down 8/month what will be done with carried costs?
        if 777 X is certified, what production level? 3/month? 4/month Nobody dreams of coming back to 7,3/month
        I agree with the Bubble analysis!
        No cash cow in Boeing’s farm…

  4. What are the top 10 suppliers that are in danger?

    The most reported are Spirit and GE, while they should be able to survive this hurdle.

  5. Last week, seven MAX 8 were ferried from their storage locations to Renton. This is quite unusual, normally 737s leave Renton at their first flight and never return. One can speculate they are being upgraded with whatever changes is required by the regulators prior to further testing.

    • “”speculate they are being upgraded with whatever changes is required by the regulators””

      How many MAX are stored in Renton?

      If Boeing is still doing flight testing it makes sense to give the stored MAX some action.

    • Updates to software can be done at the storage locations . Victorville is Boeing maintenance centre
      There are two types of stored plane , those in service with airlines and those not yet delivered.
      Generally those in airline service would be modified at the airlines maintenance centre

  6. Is this actually syncronised with the FAA?
    ( or is the next admonishment in the chute?)

  7. FAA has said certification flights will begin within a few weeks. So they are on track for recertification in April, as previously suggested to airlines. That may more or less coincide with restart of MAX production.

    It may be that the recent ferry flights back to Renton are also elated to this activity.

    • The language I’ve seen from the FAA is “could begin..”, not “will begin”.

      • @Carey

        Thank you for pointing this out. Sticking to reality and facts is important.

        Flight test by FAA / EASA could have begin in near future, yeah, why not, if plane is ready. But we heard it also 2019 almost every month, again and again.

    • EASA has never waivered from their desire to do their own flight testing. That will likely occur within the same time frame as the certification flights.

    • The article on EASA is four months old. A lot has happened in the world since then. Britain has officially succeeded from the EU. China is suffering serious economic decline in the wake of the trade war and the Caronavirus. I don’t know what EASA’s relationship is to the EU, but I think that everyone is shaky about the economics of shattered and emerging international market relationships. If EASA doesn’t go along with the FAA, will Europeans fear reprisals from the US, which since 2016 hasn’t feared circling the wagons and undercutting the status quo for the sake of nationalism? Europe had a connection to the US through the UK. With the UK gone, is that connection hampered? Does Europe have the strength to go it alone? Does China have the will to connect its destiny to Europe? Do these questions make any sense?

      • @RealSteve – you really don’t know much about the status between the EU, UK and USA, do you? Currently the UK is official no longer a member of the EU. It has lost all influence in the decision making. Still, until the end of this year it is subject to all EU rules, including that of the FAA and is still part of the common market. That may or may not change by the end of this year.

        The UK has not been a major factor in the relations between the EU and the USA for decades. Sure the UK is striving for a role and their government hopes to win some significance on the international stage, but it may not come to that after all. 50% of all exports from the UK go to the EU. They will keep open access to this market only if they accept all EU rules and stay within the customs union. In that case there is no room for any special “deals” with the USA. The UK will be something like a EU colony. Isn’t that ironic?

        The EASA is as much an independent institution as you could have it. Just like the European Central Bank for example. They act according to their mission and are not subject to any governmental direction. This may be hard to understand for Americans who have not seen much except their own country, but that’s how it is. I doubt that the UK will bring up a new organization/institution like the FAA, as that would be way to expensive, but continue their membership in the FAA.

        • Gundolf

          What percentage of EU exports go to the UK ?

          I mostly agree with your last paragraph, there is a big difference between the FAA, and EASA.

          The FAA combines promoting the airline industry with their safety / regulatory role. EASA is only tasked with safety / regulation.

          There is currently no “President of the United States of Europe”, EASA is in essence politically unencumbered.

          I am certain the UK will remain a part of EASA, in the same way that Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland, and Iceland are members of EASA even though they are not EU member states.

        • I’m just asking questions. But isn’t the UK a member of EASA, not the FAA?

          I am indeed American. But I have also lived quite a bit in Europe, and I actually studied the EU in a classroom in a French chateau in the early 1980s before it became what it is. And surprise, surprise, I even speak other languages. And I know many, many Americans with much more international experience.

          All of these organizations are supposed to be independent and isolated from political pressures. Our safety depends on it. And the FAA was the gold standard of regulators — until this crisis. So, this, to me is a disorienting time of realignments and populist demagogues. I don’t know what they mean. I just hope it means that the aircraft I fly will be as safe as is humanly possible.

          • @RealSteve, yes sure, the UK is a member of the EASA, please excuse my typo.

            To me it is quite bewildering when I read US newspapers, watch US news or visit US websites – it’s almost as if the rest of the world doesn’t exist. I have also experienced on many occasions that US business people expect that business is done around the world in exact the same fashion as they are used to at home, or that governments work the same way. They don’t.

            This doesn’t mean that institutions in work much better all the time, like if you take a look at this Diesel crisis – that was quite a similar debacle as the self-certification of the MAX.

            Still, to me the EASA seems to be tough and straightforward in their demands regarding the re-certification of the MAX, and I see no political influence. So it’s really easy to make a prediction: As long as Boeing doesn’t fulfill all their requirements you won’t see a MAX flying in the EU.

            My take is that other regulators will rather follow EASA than FAA.

            What I really can’t even guess is how serious Boeing takes the EASA. Do they really think that EASA will simply follow FAA in re-certification? They can’t be that stupid, can they?

          • “”Still, to me the EASA seems to be tough and straightforward in their demands regarding the re-certification of the MAX. As long as Boeing doesn’t fulfill all their requirements you won’t see a MAX flying in the EU.””

            I’m not sure about this, EASA seems not to be very strict. They didn’t care about sim training but didn’t accept Boeing self-certification. Now that Boeing agreed to sim training we don’t hear about new self-certification issues anymore when I would expect many issues.

            Maybe EASA is only cool and they know that MCAS can’t survive flight testing. As Scott wrote, “The movie seems caught in an endless loop”.

        • @gundolf

          Your take on Brexit is not only contemptuous (with reference to a colony) but overconfident of the eventual outcome, and wholly concentrated on the assumption and application of economic motives as the only worthy consideration in this case and by extension into others or all others

          Which is curious as you, as many others, have criticised Boeing for precisely this – an unique concentration on obtaining maximum quick profit, to the expense of all else (safety, culture, engineering, work conditions)

          Yet with Brexit you turnaround and apply Boeing’s philosophy to a whole Continent, or Union

          • Gerrard

            The economic realities of Brexit may finally force some sensible discussions. It may be that 50% of the UK’s exports go to the EU, but also there is a great deal that the UK import from the EU.

            Peter Kofod a Danish MEP (Member of European Parliament) recently stated “Denmark joined the predecessor to the EU precisely because we wanted to trade with the UK.”

            I hope common sense (at least economic sense) will prevail, and a sensible trade deal is struck. If not the UK will be free to export to the rest of the world a great deal more, and import a lot less from the EU.

            A post Brexit UK will be able to adapt / take advantage much more rapidly than 27 states all trying to reach consensus.

            The EU, and the UK are far better working closely together. If a trade agreement isn’t successful, you can expect the UK to aggressively pursue a number of other trade deals to cover any EU losses.

            Freeports are just the beginning, there will be tax breaks, government subsidies…

  8. Of course the real action may be in software labs with teams feverishly auditing lines of code, looking for the next booboos sending payloads into boosters or whatever the MAX equivalent of this would be.
    It is reminiscent of the scramble to clean up Windows when Unix started rising its head. Different kinds of repeated crashes but still feels familiar

    • @jakdak Your comments are very reasonable, hardly anyone is opposed to negotiations and treaties and rational arrangements of economic affairs

      However this was not the point of view expressed by Gundolf who’s single minded concentration on economic considerations to the exclusion of all others when it came to the EU is reminiscent of BA’s narrowminded prioritisation on the Max, which it seems is largely responsible for the failures of this product

      Gundolf was foolish enough to ascribe purely economically driven motivations and thought processes to LNA

      For nations and their inhabitants to behave as BA is to be as un reasonable and as inefficient as BA, in fact more so, in the past such behaviour has usually lead to war, the most dramatic indicator of in efficiency (The American Colonies, WW1, etc)

      Most reasonable and informed posters on this site have mentioned the other necessary priorities BA neglected, & you will find the same process within Brexit ; of course these priorities or some of them are much less quantifiable than economic, or even deliberately sentimentalised, but it may also be true that not all motivations and their discussions are easily reduced to statistics or procedures

      In discussions of BA it is necessary to go beyond basic economics of the industry or the plane ; to raise issues such as climate change or the large hidden subsidies afforded air travel, therefore politics or the wider social context (which BA also got wrong)

      To discuss whether the conventions, regulations and commerce of airtravel which have been created for the advanced economies of the US are necessarily applicable to the rest of world, if so what steps must be taken to properly adapt such

      It is obvious both from both cases, BA and EU, that an exclusive concern with limited economic gain leads to breakdown and failure

      (I believe that Denmark and England were trading prior to the EU, Danegeld is a very old institution to the EU version of which some of the élan for Brexit may be attributed)

  9. Scott, thanks for publishing the Airbus scandal links. The DOJ link spells out the arms & ITAR violations in more detail. That was the principal case in the US.

    I wanted to add a third link from the UK judiciary. It lays out the European case, as well as the reasoning for the Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA). The potential negative impact to the European economy, if prosecution had proceeded with Airbus convicted and disbarred from public contracts, was $200B. So deferment was in the public interest.

    https://www.judiciary.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Director-of-the-Serious-Fraud-Office-v-Airbus-SE-1.pdf

    • Luckely innocent people didn’t get killed & wrong doing isn’t overrulesmd, lobbied, voted away for a higher interest, national or strategic reasons.

  10. Luckely innocent people didn’t get killed & wrong doing isn’t overrulesmd, lobbied, voted away for a higher interest, national or strategic reasons.

  11. What will happen if passengers refuse to fly the MAX? I think some people at Boeing and other places are underestimating this possibility. Based on such a scenario, what is Boeing going to do if airlines have to cancel orders or delay deliveries?

    • I think the majority of the non-technical public will look to the pilots primarily for confidence. If the pilots feel they are forced to fly something unsafe, the public will stay away. If the pilots seem assured and confident after their training, the public will be too.

      Some people will never be convinced and will stay away regardless. As long as they have that freedom and are not forced to fly, that should be ok too.

    • With all the flying I have done over many years I have yet to hear a passenger inquire what type of plane I will be flying on. Past accidents such as the DC-10 and the A330 had very little if any effect on passenger acceptance.

      • Years ago I didn’t care if it was Boeing or Airbus, I respected Boeing. I recognized poor comfort, one of the worst was with 757, great was with 767.
        I’m sure most people don’t know the model they are flying on. You have to imagine this, they buy a ticket and don’t know what they get, a paradise for the 10-abreast airlines.
        But my respect is gone, I will never fly MAX and will avoid Boeing’s culture. I’m happy to pay more to fly Airbus. Most people still might not care, but people fly more and will take more attention to the ticket they buy, if 20% care it will shift the business. I’m sure all Airbus airlines are very happy.
        People will recognize if a 737 breaks apart and if old crashes are investigated again. Boeing can’t blame pilots anymore.
        Airlines are watching this all, especially Boeing’s MAX compensation policy. Some try to milk Boeing, Ryanair makes an offer for MAX-10 and Boeing isn’t signing it. Others shift to Airbus, United ordered 321XLR. Hard for Boeing to earn a dollar.

      • The DC10 problem was solved quickly and the A330 made headlines for a few weeks at the most. However, the B737Max “tragedy” has been going on for 12 months since grounding and longer if you take the time the LionAir went down then followed by the Ethiopian crash. The DC10 was grounded in 1979. and at that time no Internet, Twitter, Facebook and online Media was available. TV coverage worldwide like CNN, BBC and others did not exist. I think the media of the 21st Century and the resulting implications should not be underestimated.

    • It depends how much fixed MAX will be by Boeing.

      A fully fixed for all flaws – no problem.

      Only with fix for MCAS – a problem. Only FAA and some minor regulators recertificacion – a problem.

      So for this moment impact is unpredictable.

    • I think it will be more on airlines and their confidence in Boeing than on the passengers. Has it ever been adequately explained why Delta didn’t order any 737 Maxes. I think the chances of crashing on a Max — even if it has all the worst aerodynamic qualities that some banned posters say it has — are infinitesimally fewer than crashing in the car I get in every day. But I have lost confidence. I will pay attention to the airline I fly; and I will do my best to chose Delta if the Max gets airborne again. I definitely will try to avoid Southwest – and I used to love that airline. To be honest, I don’t like anything about the whole greedy process that led to the Max. So, that guides me as much as anything.

  12. Scott,

    Does LNA have any info on rumors that Airbus may acquire Bombardier’s share of A220? Are they just rumors or is there any truth to it. This buyout is big news, if true.

  13. @Julian

    Good example with SWA1380. Boeing is only talking about MCAS fix, like MCAS were the only flaw found in B737, ignoring publicly anything else.

    • I wonder why ‘analysts’ are terrified to mention the EASA trim force requirement. EASA were explicit about it being one of four conditions for return to service.

      I don’t recall Scott or Bjorn ever uttering a word yet its way harder to fix than MCAS.

      Is it simply too scary for them? Are they afraid of boeing? Do they just not comprehend? Are they certain EASA will be forced to cave in?

      • Boeing going bankrupt and the cascade of suppliers that might follow them would certainly disrupt the business of LNC in a most severe fashion. So it’s easy to see why they don’t want that to happen.

        • @Gundorf: This is about the silliest comment I’ve seen in a long time.

          As for TimM’s question, I’m not a technical guy so I am not qualified to comment on that trim question. As for Bjorn, he will have to speak for himself but I don’t think it’s been on his radar. We’ve never discussed that issue.

          • Hello Scott, sure, yes, my comment is probably a bit far fetched, but I just like to think through the unthinkable. I found that a very good exercise for my own companies, especially as I have been through some really tough times in the past and thus know from my own experience how ugly things can go. All over sudden a company finds itself in a flat spin. And the difference between a giant or a tiny company is basically only the collateral damage that it creates. In case the MAX won’t be re-certified, just in case, just for an thought experiment, would Boeing survive? And what would that cause in the industry?

          • @Gundolf: this is what struck me as silly: “would certainly disrupt the business of LNC in a most severe fashion. So it’s easy to see why they don’t want that to happen.”

            There is no correlation between Boeing’s health and ours.

          • But EASA has made 4 requirements. You seem happy to comment on the MCAS fix – – which is way more technical. Surely the issue which is by far the most serious would at least merit discussion?

            The article could even have a click-baity title like ‘If EASA sticks to its guns, the MAX will never fly again’.

            So my question remains. Why on earth would ‘analysts’ ignore this? Pleading ignorance isn’t an option now that we’ve told you about it 🙂

          • As I said, I am not technically qualified to address it.

          • I found this rather funny.
            Scott Hamilton has been accused (state side, and by Boeing fans) of being against Boeing and for Airbus for over a decade.

          • Sorry folks, I never meant to suggest that LNC is in any way directly connected to Boeing, just as I never suggested you would be with Airbus.

            LNCs predictions regarding re-certification have been overly optimistic in my view, and I try to understand what’s behind that. Maybe just optimism, maybe some industry contact that turn out to not deliver reliable information only, but have their own agenda,… my conclusion is that it may be just a bit too painful to really think through a scenario in which EASA or even FAA come to the conclusion that the MAX’s certification must be withdrawn.

            One thing is for sure: Too many good people and trustworthy companies would be in serious trouble without ever doing anything wrong.

        • Bankrupt no.
          Reorganized, heck yes, and rather quickly! And reasonably easy to do:

          1) spin off ULA into truly autonomous entity.
          2) hive off the defense side into a new entity with probable DOD equity participation.
          3) BA entity retains the commercial side, with a tremendous haircut for current shareholders and participation of private equity vultures who go out and hire Enders or sonebody like that to run the show.

          Interesting to note Bernstein – up to now a stalwart BA defender – just unloaded the stock.

          • “3) BA entity retains the commercial side, with a tremendous haircut for current shareholders and participation of private equity vultures who go out and hire Enders or sonebody like that to run the show.”

            — and gets purchased by a Chinese company

            ( https://www.imdb.com/title/tt9351980/ )

          • “”Bernstein””

            haha … everyone with a right mind knows what kind of garbage they swallowed and needed to spit out

        • Kind of an “out there” hypothetical, but if we entertain it I’d say the incentives go the other way. Both of the LNC revenue streams:
          * subscriptions to in-depth analysis
          * bespoke analysis

          Are driven by clients needing expertise and insight they don’t have to help make decisions where the right course is not obvious. Big upheavals in the industry would raise the demand for those services not diminish them.

      • No, it’s just not much of an issue in the minds of 737 pilots or people knowledgeable of the aircraft. I looked through several pilot forums for references to the trim wheels, there aren’t many to be found and none of them reference being inoperable.

        I suspect that training will now reinforce the notion of airspeed control, and will practice in particular operation of the trim wheels and runaway trim responses. It was clear from the accidents, and also in the random pilot testing that followed, that further training on this was needed. That’s why Boeing reversed position on the sim training. It was never really right to view it as an avoided cost. Hopefully that will be one of the lessons learned out of this.

        • But EASA says trim forces ARE an issue. What pilots chat about on forums isn’t relevant here.

          One might expect to see equal coverage of each of the 4 EASA requirements for return to service. Yet nothing on this one?

          I can understand why boeing would want to make it go away – their PR machine was excellent at spinning the line that it was pilot error. Please don’t tell me that the jedi mind-tricks work on Scott and Bjorn too 🙁

  14. Boeing and FAA will be judged on what they do, or don’t do.
    Not on what they say. If just an MCAS fix is proposed, this
    programs risks hitting the wall. Too much surfaced on the
    total 737 MAX certification process and it’s implementation.

  15. Boeing has begun test-flying the MAX out of and between airports, beginning with Kansas City International. Here is their statement:

    “The Boeing 737 MAX started flying to various airports on February 7, 2020 to conduct a series of engineering flights with the updated software. These non-commercial test flights with a small test team on board will exercise short- and long-haul flights, seeking out weather and altitude conditions that will help satisfy specific test conditions for the updated software. These are not certification flights.”

    They also are contracting for rural airport time and space at Clinton-Sherman in Oklahoma, for testing both 737 MAX and 777x beginning in March.

  16. At this point, Boeing could be way ahead of the game if they forgot about Embraer; helped Bombardier buy back the part of the A220 program they “gave” to Airbus; and then slowly ramped up the A220 program ultimately taking it off of Bombardier’s hands. Airbus doesn’t appear in on the A220 a 110%. From what I read, they appear to be bargaining to get a whole NSA for a steal.

    • AirBus has 51%, so control of the program. Plus the right to buy the balance at market rate in a few years. Assuming AirBus believes in the A220 why would they let Boeing get even 0.0001% of the program?

      • Yes, I hear what you are saying. I presume Airbus has a few 100 million in this program by now. But essentially, Bombardier made them a deal they couldn’t refuse – which was spend a little and then who knows what will happen, maybe the program will work for us. Well, it appears to me Airbus does not have a whole lot of reasons to invest money in this program. On the other hand, in the news today Boeing isn’t getting any orders for planes. They have a big need for a NSA. If Airbus was offered more for something they got little in, maybe they part with it – even to a competitor. I know this proposition does not have a high probability, but it might be good for aerospace.

        • What you write doesn’t make all that much sense.

          Boeing’s MoO would be to kill the CSeries.
          They tried it once before. IMU Boeing lacks the mindset for synergistic cooperation.
          A culture that is all about winning doesn’t have the DNA. Embraer has a sad future if ..

    • I think Airbus is investing overall billions in the A220 program and breakeven is years away. Also because ramp up is slow.

      That said, it seems a good investment because it covers a segment where the A318 and A319 weren’t really competitive for most operators.

      Airbus will probably take full ownership, BBD wants to step out.

      https://www.nasdaq.com/articles/airbus-in-talks-to-buy-bombardier-remaining-stake-in-a220-passenger-jet%3Areports-2020-02-08

      If products volumes are up significantly a bigger A220-500 seems in the cards.

      • Why should Airbus throw all their weight behind the A220 as long as they own only 51%? I expect to see quite a shift in the pace once they own it completely.

        When I schemed to get rid of a financial partner in my company I made sure our bottom line stayed in the red for a while. We simply reduced production by working intensely on the processes, machinery and tools, made some larger investments, started some research and development projects, etc… The year after they had bailed out we had the most profitable year ever. 🙂

        Ours is only a small company, involving only small money, but the A220 is big, and Airbus with their majority are the ones who are in control over all the planing and accounting. Why should they not pull the same trick?

        So don’t be surprised when you see production surging and the whole venture turning profitable once the Bombardier share in the A220 is in Airbus hands.

        • Almost…

          Quebec’s share goes up to 25%, at least until 2026

          “As part of the deal, Quebec will stick to its shareholding in Airbus Canada for three years longer than initially planned and remain a part-owner until at least 2026. Its shares are then “redeemable by Airbus” – giving it the option for full control. Details and conditions of that arrangement are confidential.”

          • Correct. But I do not think that Quebeck would hinder Airbus in developing further variants of the A220.

          • Agree, Quebec don’t build aircraft, Airbus do, they need to let Airbus get on with it.

    • What could Airbus get for their 50.01% share of the A220 program?

      The size of the A220 is made for turboprops, a new plane could beat the A220 easily or Airbus could do some hocus pocus and pull a 12-abreast Maveric out of the hat.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.