Pontifications: Why I’d fly the MAX; lessons learned and still to come

Nov. 23, 2020, © Leeham News: I’m okay with flying on board the Boeing 737 MAX.

Yes, it’s gone through the wringer in the 20 months since it was grounded.

Yes, Boeing and the US Federal Aviation Administration screwed up royally.

And yes, there’s solid reason to distrust the company and the agency, wondering if they got it right this time.

Which is why for me the tipping point is the involvement of Transport Canada and Europe’s EASA are the reasons to trust getting back on the MAX.

LNA addresses the safety in our new podcast feature, 10 Minutes About. The inaugural podcast, 10 Minutes About the Boeing 737 MAX recertification may be heard here.

Transport Canada and EASA

It may be remembered that Transport Canada and EASA grounded the 737 before the FAA. Transport Canada also said early on that it will likely require simulator training. EASA said it will likely require installation of a third Angle of Attack sensor, in the form of a synthetic one.

These telegraphed punches appear ready to come to pass. Both said last week they will require additional conditions for recertification compared with the FAA. From a practical standpoint, if these conditions are associated with the airplane (as opposed to training), Boeing will make changes common to the global fleet.

Then there is the involvement of global regulators in the joint technical review board that reviewed the design and certification process.

Finally, the FAA took away Boeing’s lead role for certifying each plane before delivery, a humiliating blow. The FAA will certify each and every plane before it’s delivered to the customer.

If recertification was relying only on the FAA’s oversight and review of Boeing’s work, I’d be skeptical. But the involvement of Transport Canada and EASA is crucial.

The next chance Boeing and the FAA have to redeem themselves is the certification of the 777X. (Certification of the 7 MAX and 10 MAX don’t count in this context; these are part of the greater MAX process.)

Entry-into-service for the 777X is now planned for 2022. There’s plenty of time to get the 777X “right.” How this will be demonstrated to the flying public, via the media, remains to be seen.

Lessons learned

What are the lessons learned coming out of the MAX crisis?

  1. Congress offered up a bill to revise the certification process, strengthening the FAA’s role.
  2. Assumption is the evil mother of mistakes. “Assumptions do Not Always Lead to Mistakes, but Most Mistakes are Caused by Assumptions.” This is true for Boeing. It’s true for the FAA.
  3. In combat, there is a saying: “Complacency kills. Let your guard down and you are dead.” This is true in aviation, too.
  4. Internal dissent is good. Challenging the prevailing opinion results in better outcomes.
  5. Shareholder value should not be the No. 1 priority in an aviation company. Safety should be.
  6. Have someone on the Board of Directors who actually understands the business of your largest business unit.
  7. Cooperate with your largest labor groups. Don’t view them as the enemy.
  8. Learn from your international peer groups, in this case, EASA, Transport Canada, etc., before the worst happens.
  9. Have free-flowing communication throughout a process. Don’t retaliate against nay-sayers.
  10. Don’t cut corners.

Boeing still hasn’t learned some of these lessons. Notably, the Board of Directors remains, for the most part, a good-old-boys network shockingly absent of expertise in commercial aviation design and production. Chairman Larry Kellner doesn’t count. He comes from the airline industry.

I previously suggested that adding representation from SPEEA and the IAM 751 would be a good idea. I was under no illusions that this would happen, however.

Bringing a top expert from the supply chain, whether retired or a consultant, also would be a good idea. Having a couple of retired Navy Admirals on board is fine—and this is good for the defense side—but what do they truly know about commercial aviation?

Boeing learned many lessons. It still has many to go, however.

96 Comments on “Pontifications: Why I’d fly the MAX; lessons learned and still to come

  1. Scott you have made a great article, though I am not so sure you are correct about the 737 MAX being a great airplane and it never will be as it is fundamentally flawed from the beginning… a rush job and cheap approach to try and stay up with Airbus. But that is a discussion for another day.

    As a former Navy pilot, I can tell you that talent does not stay in the military, they leave for the real world where performance and skills and vision mean advancement, Navy Admirals and Army/AF Generals are paperpushing but kissers that followed a path of not rocking any boats… having them on Boards is only fooling the companies who pay them for their skewed view of the world. Engineers built Boeing and they are now relegated to irrelevance, and the 777X is full of problems, so many to list you have not the space on this site, and we know it first hand as we are in the aerospace engineering industry that supplies these types of aircraft. Boeing does not need an airline exec as boss, it needs to get its focus back to building the best in the world with particular focus on defense and space now, and you do not learn anything by running an airline that applies.

    • @Nielsen: I didn’t say the MAX is a “great airplane.” Don’t put words in my mouth. 🙂

    • Hurray’s to Nielsen.
      The Boeing Board is flooded with Yes persons. The pay is too good
      to raise questions and roil the waters.

      Admirals live a sheltered life. Tons of yes, yes sirs at every moment.
      Boeing’s rep has fallen ever since the engineering area was sublimated by the business folks. Profit has replaced all other goals such as a great product and quality.

      • Nielson puts it spot on, though I am hearing the arrogance has devolved as low as captains in the US Navy. The Roosevelt Covd outbreak was and continue to be a national embarrassment (an Admiral hiding in his rooms leaving a captain dangling in a Hurricane)

        Like Scott, I will be ok flying the MAX but they continue not to address the Manual Trim issues (two).

        Dickson showed how out of touch the FAA is, he claimed withing days EASA, Canada and Brazil would be on board.

        EASA says end of December.

        As noted before, a bit of shuffling does not constituent reform where reform is needed desperately.

  2. Your editor must have been on break:

    “through the ringer” = “through the wringer”

    “Boeing still hasn’t learned some of these lessors” – not sure that’s what you meant, but it made me smile.

    Coming back to more important issues, if EASA still wants a third AoA sensor, why is it safe to fly now?

    And yes, a tremendous loss of prestige for Boeing, which is both sad and worrying.

      • Thats it, blame the software.

        Face it, like me (not nearly so bad) you simply do not proof read it and MS is a handy foil to blame it on.

        You know its going to miss stuff and still you persist.

        Was it Einstein that said doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result was the path to insanity?

        If something is not cutting it, fire the help.

        Me? I blame it all on the small window (non MS) I have to work with.

        • Rather prepare your comment in Word, Notes or similar programmes/apps in which you can review your reply, then copy over to Comments.

      • @Scott Never trust a computer completely, you always need an “off” switch, to maintain the ultimate control. You always need to trust but verify. If you leave it to MCAS computers to control the airplane, Dominion computers to control the ballots, or Microsoft computers to correct the spelling, without any verification and control, then you’re doomed to failure. You need to watch the 1983 movie “Wargames”, to see how computers can’t be trusted. (grin)

  3. It’s the thought of both the pilots desperately trying to control the manically spinning wheels that worries me most now.
    Perhaps you can get Bjorn or one of your many contacts to explain why there has never been an 737 NG crash caused by this problem?
    Transport Canada and EASA made a major mistake by trusting the FAA and not grounding the MAX after the first crash.

    • The NG doesn’t have the altered aerodynamics caused by the Max’s enlarged engines and nacelles, which drove the addition of the problematic MCAS software.

      • Also the trim wheels are manageable within the normal flight envelope, as determined by the regulators. In the JT043 flight, they were used without issue.

        As well as in every instance of use in the NG, except for a few cases of alleged jams, that were not serious. Another issue with the NG is that electric trim could be maintained in the event of computer malfunction. Although there are only a few instances of that actually happening.

        The conditions in ET302 where extreme enough that they weren’t adequately represented in the simulators. That’s been corrected now.

        • Of course that is why we don’t need abnormal flight testing, it never happens so we don’t have to worry about it.

          No sir, we don’t have to test those boilers safeties. Its an abnormal condition and they are just there for show.

          Have to love the illogical process – none so blind as those who will not see. .

  4. 11. Never ever risk throwing your earned, good reputation to the dogs. The truth will out.

    • And Boeing management is still not reformed.

      Its is the new norm, no consequence for your actions. The following is a quote

      “In June 2020, the U.S. Inspector General’s report revealed that MCAS problems dated several years before the accidents.[75] The FAA found that Boeing had violated regulations in deciding to not fix a known defect with the aircraft”

      Some will deny that but that is factual.

  5. I understand that for MAX type certification, pilots will need to undergo some training (how much ? what kind ?) whereof one (?) proper flight simulator session (duration ?)… The assumption for this training package to effectively qualify those pilots to henceforth master flying the (still tricky on parts of its flight envelope !) MAX is that CAE and concerned kin simulator OEMs will have modified MAX simulator hardware and software to correctly reproduce the actual characteristics of the updated MAX. Whose job is it certify that this is actually the case ? The condition sine qua non is that Boeing shall have released in due course to the concerned simulator OEMs the full open book with pertinent data accurately reflecting the revised MAX’s flight envelope/characteristics ie data which if revealed could prove embarrassing to Boeing who no doubt would rather keep a veil on such sensitive data ?

    • All of this is covered in the final AD from the FAA, as these questions were asked by commenters during the public comment period. The document below is probably the best summary of the work that was done by FAA. It contains links to the original source documents.


      Quick answer, the FAA certifies flight simulators as well, and they have certified the Boeing software load as well as the simulators themselves, to correctly represent the MAX. Test flown by FAA pilots. Only these simulators are approved for the MAX training.

      • “”the FAA certifies flight simulators as well, and they have certified the Boeing software load as well as the simulators themselves, to correctly represent the MAX. Test flown by FAA pilots.””

        FAA failed at this in 2017. Ethiopian sims played fake MAX behavior.

        On the photos I saw, Boeing pilots flew cert flights.

        • The simulators had not been calibrated for the extreme conditions encountered in ET302. That has been corrected now. There was no fakery involved, that assertion is completely false.

          • Rob:

            The 737 performance and manual trim at high AOA and or airspeed has been known since the first flights.

            Stalls are part of Sim training and are required to be 100% fidelity and were not.

            Actually its been a known factor since they came out with the 707 (probably the B-52 and B-47 as well)

            Any manual trim requires a yo you maneuver at high speeds.

            You really should quit presenting falsehoods.

            You insist your posts are factually when in fact they are build on sticks of straw that are afire.

          • TW, my remarks were in respect to the airspeed being well above the safe operating speed for the MAX, as well as the elevator and stabilizer controls also being significantly crossed. Those are extreme conditions for which the simulator was not calibrated.

          • Rob:

            Yes they are, you need to review that.

            AF447 crash put in place the requirement for extreme attitudes (stall)

            Boeing like the did so much else (aka Fukshima) cherry picked the data to ensure that the Manual Trim did not reflect its real affect.

            Boeing is fully aware of it, they acualy test aircraft in those extremes to get certification.

            Clearly they were successful as the Fidelity was wrong when they did the sim testing post Ethiopian 302.

            That is when the 8&^% hit the fan, and it was, why are your simulators not programed correctly?

            When an airline flies with a part that should be changed they get fined for non compliance.

            Each Sim session should have been a fine to Boeing but was covered up by the FAA.

            If a simulator is non compliant the training is also non complain and the pilot certificates are illegal.

            Boeing has all that data on chip from the flight tests. The sims are mandated to be 100% to the flight tests.

    • “The condition sine qua non is that Boeing shall have released in due course to the concerned simulator OEMs the full open book with pertinent data accurately reflecting the revised MAX’s flight envelope/characteristics ie data which if revealed could prove embarrassing to Boeing who no doubt would rather keep a veil on such sensitive data ?”

      As a TDM (Training Device Manufacturer) employee I can tell you that they do not release a full open book at all, and are doing a good job of keeping up the veil. In the old days, the data package provided to TDMs used to be quite extensive and the TDM was responsible to develop and code the flight models based on the data provided. However, nowadays the trend moves more and more in the direction that sensitive data is provided as encrypted software with the flight model computations embedded by the OEMs themselves, which we as TDMs integrate into our own software. The MAX Simulator so far has moved the furthest in this direction to my knowledge.

      It is the job of authorities such as FAA/EASA/TC to certify simulators as well as per FAA Part 60 or EASA CS-FSTD(A) (both publicly available). Authorities have put additional emphasis on any training regarding MCAS for MAX simulators ever since the accidents.

      • I’m sure they are legally liable for those clauses. One would hope they will not be a feature of future contracts, as they allow airlines to avoid training costs that could only be a benefit to the flying public. There is no downside to training except for cost, but like other forms of maintenance, it shouldn’t be an avoided cost.

  6. A few clarifications to this article:

    1. FAA withdrew airworthiness certificate authority from Boeing, only for newly assembled 737 MAX aircraft. Boeing retains that authority for all other aircraft. The exception for the MAX was created in the context of the accumulation of 400 aircraft during the grounding, and the full-court press by Mullenberg to accelerate the recertification process and clear that inventory. It was done to ensure process integrity as that backlog was cleared, and will likely end once that occurs. There was no intent of humiliation by the FAA in that act, only justifiable caution in an unprecedented circumstance.

    2. Although EASA and TCCA have presented their own requirements, they are both minor additions and both have said the MAX is safe without these enhancements. Both have also expressed confidence in the FAA and the process that was followed. To imply that the FAA can only be trusted because of their presence, is not an accurate representation. In fact the outcome was still determined almost entirely by the FAA. The true value of EASA, TCCA, and the other regulators was to have process transparency, that could not be achieved in any other way, as only the regulators and safety agencies have the power of discovery with Boeing. But that in no way implies that FAA could not obtain the same result independently. One need only read the extensive FAA documentation on recertification to confirm this. Throughout the long grounding period, the regulators have always maintained there was little daylight between them, which is to be expected for co-equal partners with the same goals.

    3. The value of tolerance for internal dissent and naysayers within an organization is correct, however it should be pointed out that these were not found to be factors in the events leading to the missed MCAS flaws, either at Boeing or the FAA. There is no evidence that anyone stood up to object and was put down. Rather, the evidence shows that the assumption problem also highlighted in the article, was the root cause, together with failures in communication that prevented questioning of the assumptions.

    4. The allegation that shareholder value and safety are competing interests is not fully valid. One can correctly argue that Boeing’s pursuit of shareholder value was excessive, and their implementation of safety management, in the case of MCAS, was deficient. But it’s wrong to relate the two so that one necessarily implies the other. That implies intent where none was present.

    5. Although things like shareholder value, and board membership & representation, are areas for improvement at Boeing, they were not causal factors in the MAX problems. One can argue that there is an influence in the culture that is created, and that can always be improved. But these things become subjective and remove the focus from the objective causes, which are the true problems requiring remediation for the MAX to be safe.

    I think it’s important to raise the above points, because they feed into conspiracy theories that cannot be proven or verified, but cause lingering doubt. To read this article objectively, one would conclude that the MAX is in fact NOT safe to fly, as no evidence for that case is given, apart from reliance on EASA and TACCA.

    No mention of the quantity or quality of work that was done, or the proper exercise of diligence that actually and factually determines the safety of the MAX. Yet I know that was not Scott’s intention, and the headline perhaps represents that intent better than the article contents.

    Sorry Scott, I value your opinion and am not claiming your points are wrong, just that the presentation tends to reinforce the crisis of confidence in Boeing and FAA, in ways that focus on the unarguable subjective rather than the factually arguable objective.

    When I read comments from the public on the MAX, I see some of these same points come up. FAA can never be trusted, Boeing can never be trusted, therefore the MAX can never be trusted. The conclusion is wrong because the premise is wrong. In order to correct the premise, one has to show that the FAA can be trusted. I think they have demonstrated that, although perhaps you will disagree.

    Boeing has a longer road ahead, with progression by degrees. They need to demonstrate commitment over time, and with improvement, to build trust again.

    • The FAA has been proven to be untrustworthy. After the first crash they calculated that there would be more crashes and didn’t ground the MAX , after the second crash it was actually the idiot president that had to ground it.Its also hard to believe that Boeing wasn’t privy to the FAA research. I would be very interested to know if they shared this information with EASA, etc.

      • Again just to clarify, the FAA ran the industry standard statistical analysis to determine the likelihood of additional incidents, if no action was taken. The result was 15 incidents over the 20 year life of a fleet of 4,500 aircraft.

        Based on this, they ordered Boeing to correct the flaws in MCAS, and issued an AD and NOTAM to inform pilots that repeated un-commanded stabilizer activations could occur on the MAX, and the procedure to deal with them. That procedure was an already well-known and well-trained memory item checklist.

        These two actions addressed the risk as they had determined it at that time. They believed recovery was possible, as it had occurred on the day before JT610, on JT043. But clearly the risk was not fully addressed, as the ET302 crew, like JT610, would respond in unexpected ways. As would pilots in the random testing that followed. Hence we now have mandatory pilot training involving those same recovery procedures, as well as thorough fixes for the original MCAS flaws.

        As far as Trump grounding the MAX, that would have happened anyway as FAA was reviewing the satellite data to determine if the pattern was similar to JT610, and it was. The chairman of the JTAR review board, Chris Hart, a former NTSB chairman, commended the FAA in testimony before Congress, for evaluating the data before making a decision. He emphasized how important it was for FAA/NTSB decisions to be data driven and not political.

        That was a subtle rebuke to Trump’s claims. Trump’s version of events, as we have seen countless times in his tenure, are both heavily deluded and heavily weighted toward emphasizing his own importance.

        In the end, the mistake made by the FAA was the same made by Boeing in the MCAS design, over-reliance on pilot actions to prevent the loss of an aircraft. Bjorn has pointed this out, and the FAA in the certification process, specifically looked for further instances of this in the MAX, and eliminated those they found. Dickson has also said this will be a focus of all other certifications going forward.

        • Again to clarify, China grounded the MAX.

          FAA followed when the rest of the world followed China.

          Unprecedented Definition: Self Inflicted

        • All of the other authorities that grounded the MAX before the FAA were wrong then?

          • Not wrong in grounding the MAX. They made an assumption and it turned out to be correct. The FAA correctly measured instead of assuming. The other authorities had that option too.

            China waited about a day. The EU and other countries, 2 days. Canada and the US, 3 days. The extra time made no difference but the protocol for grounding was followed.

            The first satellite data received on the second day lacked sufficient resolution. So FAA/NTSB asked the vendor to refine the data, which took another day, but the new data were unequivocal and provided the basis for grounding under FAA rules.

            Also I’d point out that I have never accused the other regulators of being wrong, but you have accused the FAA of being wrong. I was only defending their process, as NTSB and JATR have also done.

            In the end, this is a meaningless argument. No material difference in the outcome. One was not evidence-based, one was. It’s not wrong to use evidence. The press howls and says China is now better than the US. But look at China’s air safety record as opposed to the US. It’s all nonsense.

  7. I’d have to disagree with your wording of #5. If you said “short term shareholder value” I’d agree, because safety is required to preserve long term shareholder value.

    The $20bn in cost from this shortcut plus damage to orders and reputation comes straight out of shareholders’ pockets.

    • @Peter Frost

      The concern of Safety is, above all, to keep passengers alive

      With respect; shareholder value depends on many factors, that the company or it’s Directors take a long term view as opposed to a short term, as well safe maintenance of company reputation, a recognition that shareholders do not have an exclusive, nor even a overriding claim to benefit from revenue accumulated…well the list is long

      As you say the short cutism and short termism on display by Boeing management cost $20B at least, some calculate a lot more

      • Top Importance: it cost 347 lives directly (a diver was killed in Indonesia)

        Consequences: Thousands of lives were impacted directly, tens of thousand indirectly.

        Wives and children’s lives are shattered when this occurs.

        At best its a long road to living with that loss, in an unknown percentage , they never recover and suffer for the rest of their lives.

  8. Fixing the wiring issue is one issue which didn’t have to do with the crashes, but there might be many other issues.
    How can Dickson justify not checking all cert documents, when he knows that the MAX was certificated with undue pressure, Jedi mind tricking and cheating???
    Dickson might do his own QC after the next crash, same as Boeing is doing QC on the 787 now for the first time after many years.

    • The FAA explained in the preliminary and final AD’s, as well as the summary document. that they reviewed the original MAX certification in detail. The allegation that they haven’t done this is completely false.

      • The fact we cannot trust the FAA is true.

        While I agree that MAX is fixed (other than manual trim and that also affects at leas NG) that does not eliminate the FAA as suspect in future work.

        As this is not the biggest event in aviation history, we know from past data that is the playbook you use to get out of hot water.

        Assuming the FAA is changed in fact is total speculation and saying so is equally false.

        Equally, the original 737 had dual trim motors (not sure if Classic did)

        Why they were allowed to go away and what role they played in the original certification’s for the 737 has not been reported on (nor am I qualified to guess).

        We do need to know. This is classic Boeing Management stripping away layers of safety.

        That in fact is the history of engineering. FAA oversight and the certification process was in place to keep that from happening.

        The FAA has had a long history of failures, I have no idea why people are shocked at this failure. Its just another one in a long string of them (including the 737 Rudder debacle that also had two aircraft crashes and a number of near crashes)

        The FAA has needed a major reform since the get go. You can’t be the aviation cheerleader and its enforcement of the regulations at the same time, its a total conflict and aircraft mfgs will corrupt the process each and every time (actually all corporations not just aircraft thought that is the subject here)

  9. Malfunctioning AOA sensors were pinpointed as the cause of the fatal chain of events resulting in both crashes. Evidence of their defects (bad overhaul of one), and suspected malfunctioning (bird strike of the other), was known at the time of the accidents. Boeing knew it. The FAA knew it. And Boeing had almost two years to integrate a third sensor (or reliable computed data into the FCC) as a failsafe provision. Instead, they did nothing. If the planes are truly safe, why do it now?

    • That’s pretty much the heart of the problem to me. At some point they realized that one malfunctioning sensor would initiate MCAS function and move the tailplane to nose down. I believe the FAA calculated it would happen once a year over the life of the program after the fact.
      But, that Boeing did not calculate that in advance, have the foresight to see the implications of linking MCAS to one sensor, was just a blatant organizational break down, that there was no process, checking, and agreement by multiple design and engineering staff.
      Did Boeing know that MCAS would malfunction once a year due to a faulty AOA sensor and assume that a line crew would always catch it in 3 seconds by turning off electric trim?
      How many people at Boeing agreed that was a good assumption? The person who made it and several people up the chain of design hierarchy whose obligation was to challenge the validity of assumptions?
      If the assumption was agreed to by the best and the brightest at Boeing, why was it not tested in the simulator, or the aircraft with unknowing line pilots, before that assumption was put to risk with the flying public?
      I don’t doubt that Boeing has enough smart people and brain power that this was an easy catch. To me, clearly it was a break down in internal process, which is forgivable. What is not forgivable to me, is that it is not identified as a process error that can be improved so it can be avoided in the future.

      • Ted, the IG report brings these issues into focus.

        In the original safety analysis and certification review of MCAS, the authority of MCAS was 0.67 degrees. That was not enough to challenge the pilots. It would take 4 or 5 unopposed activations of MCAS to reach a level of concern. Even that level has been evaluated today as being manageable by the pilots in the current certification.

        So this was the basis of the one-sensor dependence. A failed AoA sensor was not a significant event, in the original MCAS, because the additional safeguard of the accelerometer would also block MCAS activation.

        Add to that, Boeing’s conviction that pilots would not allow successive repeated activations of MCAS, as they are trained to turn the stabilizer off in the event of malfunction.

        Add to that, Boeing’s conviction that pilots would not attempt to fight the stabilizer with the control column & elevators, because they are trained that the area ratio between them makes that impossible. The stabilizer will always win, and the cross-control of the elevators and stabilizer makes things much worse. Even though fighting is the instinctive initial response, it must be followed by addressing the stabilizer problem, as the only solution.

        Add to that, the late-stage enhancement of MCAS that basically tore up the prior safety analysis and assumptions, yet were viewed as routine, and reported as such, by the flight test team. They gave MCAS authority of 2.5 degrees (4 times magnification), and removed the accelerometer safeguard that ensured the aircraft met the high-alpha requirement for MCAS activation.

        It’s vital to understand what actually happened, and how things progressed to an unsafe design, in order to prevent a reccurrence. It feels good to freely make assertions that beat up Boeing, but the criticism has to be targeted to do any good.

        So in this context, there were two primary errors:

        1. the over-reliance on pilot actions. Rather than designing around the pilots for safety, safe operation was routed through the pilots. You may be able to show this is statistically valid, as Boeing attempted to do, but it’s not an optimal design process.

        2. the dismantling of the MCAS safety assumptions and analysis, without any apparent concern for the risks that were being created and introduced. This progression was not recognized, ether at Boeing or FAA. That speaks both to the safety cultures and communication structures within both entities.

          • Don:

            In fact, Boeing cherry picked its data. They have enormous records of AOA failures due to all causes.

            The chose to only use inherent failures of the mechanism, despite their long history of ramp hits and bird strikes causing them to fail.

            Japan allowed the same cherry picking of data on the Fukishima disaster.

            Japan has an very long written history of Tsunami’s (quake in general as well). One town in the strike area still had the Monument erected as to how close NOT to build to the sea based on a previous Tsunami .

            They builders were allowed to use a cutoff date that avoided the data of that previous Tsunami.

            The Inspector General in fact found Boeing was deliberate in their actions and FAA was complicit in the MCAS 1.0 lethality.

            A grand jury proceeding is on going.

        • “Add to that, the late-stage enhancement of MCAS that basically tore up the prior safety analysis and assumptions, yet were viewed as routine, and reported as such, by the flight test team. They gave MCAS authority of 2.5 degrees (4 times magnification), and removed the accelerometer safeguard that ensured the aircraft met the high-alpha requirement for MCAS activation.”

          As I said, “To me, clearly it was a break down in internal process, which is forgivable. What is not forgivable to me, is that it is not identified as a process error that can be improved so it can be avoided in the future.”

          Now, to extrapolate on professional pride, and why the CEO’s testimony sounded beyond the pale to me.
          Boeing’s position should be, we are so good, we are the best, that we make the safest aircraft 100% without even the need for the FAA to double check us, but that is a good check to have none the less. Anyone in engineering or engineering school should be driven by the professional integrity of getting it right. In construction, I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard, I’m just a dumb carpenter, I’m just a dumb pipeline guy, I’m just a dumb nail pounder, glorifying ignorance in an average job. For the CEO to stand in front of congress, and basically say, we’re just dumb airplane builders, the holes in the cheese lined up, was pathetic. He desecrated the legacy and integrity of people like Joe Sutter and all the great designers, engineers, and test pilots who set high professional standards for themselves and others.

          • I think people can make mistakes, and processes can miss them. That’s a well known part of aviation history, otherwise there would be no accidents.

            We know that 90% of aviation accidents involve pilot error on some level, but that does not imply all pilots are incompetent or bad. In fact some of those errors are made by the very best pilots. You can’t infer one from the other.

            Same thing can happen to engineers, and when it does, we must have processes in place that catch those errors Those processes failed at Boeing and FAA, for the reasons I gave above. They are both now working to correct those process issues, and improve the safety cultures.

            A far as Mullenburg’s testimony, I agree it was weak and informed by the Boeing lawyers. That’s frustrating but it is what it is, that advice is present in all liability cases.

            I don’t think he said Boeing was just a dumb plane designer/builder that didn’t know any better. I thought he said that he knows they screwed up, that mistakes were made, and they are working to do better.

            When Congress went after him on direct causes related to liability, he said that those factors were approved by the FAA. I agree that’s a weak defense and avoids the issue, but was consistent with not admitting specific fault or liability while cases are in progress.

            We were never going to get to the truth in a Congressional hearing. That’s almost a contradiction in terms. As bad as Mullenburg was, I thought some of the legislators were far worse. There were a few thoughtful and good questions, but they were by far in the minority.

            In the end, fault and liability have to be determined by the courts, in an adversarial process. Cause and remediation are determined by a cooperative process with FAA/NTSB. In this case. also with EASA, TCCA, ANAC, JATR, JOEB, TAB and IG.

            Therefore I look to those reports as being definitive and authoritative, in terms of understanding what happened.

          • In fact it was not a breakdown in internal process – it was delibeatley covered up.

            The inspector general has found it was deliberate on Boeings part and complicit by the FAA.

            You can see the trajectory over the years as Boeing has pushed to loosen the ODA to the point it no longer works.

            Internally, Boeing cozy relationship with the FAA (and specifically the NW region division that covers Boeing) has been such that the FAA managers override their own experts.

            Boeing has been ardent about dismantlement of its own internal safety as well.

            It was not a matter of IF, it was a mater of WHAT and WHERE a failure would take place. In this case MCAS.

            Back to Drinking and Driving.

            You know your drinking impairs your driving, you know its illegal . You just don’t know if you will kill Mrs Jones and her kids or Mr Potter, or, if you get by this trip and no one dies.

            That does not mean you were not impaired. It just means others were lucky.

            Statistically you keep it up (and they do and did) there is going to be a crash, and then there are dead or injured.

            You see the same thing on the 787 and more specifically the lightening protection around the fuel tanks. There were 5 layers in place of safety and they have whittled it down to one.

            While not a direct analogy, in the control world we call that as using an operating control as a safety.

            The operating control can fail, its used and functions continuously The safety is only tested at some interval.

            There are also two different types of safety that deal with a Boiler say. One is over temp but the other is over pressure.

            If the over temp safety fails, the over pressure safety will vent the energy safely (there is also a low level safety)

            Once you get up to a certain size boiler, it has to have TWO low level safeties and they have to be different types of low level measurement (now its a mechanical float and an electronic probe sensor)

            Back when there were not electronics, it was two float types but they did not share any of the same piping.

            They were attached at two complete separate points on a boiler.

            All this was as a result of a history with boilers and their failures and the people they killed.

            An Estimated 1549 Union Troops were killed post Civil War on a river boat.

            Now any boiler repair can only be done by certified people.

            Early air crashes lead to a system that keeps them from happening until the process is corrupted.

          • TW, your remarks are unsubstantiated, as usual. If you have evidence of these conclusions, could you please provide it?

            They are serious accusations which involve obstruction of justice, if you have evidence and are withholding it.

  10. @Scott Hamilton

    The recognition that was forced on the FAA and The Boeing Management, it took some time, was that the world outside the US was absolutely essential to the survival of the significant role of the FAA as well as the survival of the company full stop

    It was necessary to make the importance of this recognition clear, as you have done

    (It is to be wished)

    That the FAA may now grow a few more teeth

    That Congress may be inclined to reform the regulatory process

    That Management may have learned the limits of the importance of shareholder value

    That The FBI/DoJ investigation as well as the various lawsuits keep up maintain legal and media and public pressure on BA and FAA to further reform and clean up over the next years

    That the Federal Gvmt institute a well conceived authority or plan to contain the current covid chaos, in general, and in particular with regards to aviation and airtravel, with the active participation of the airlines airports OEM’s and so on


    • Gerrard:

      I think that all falls under wishful thinking at best and complete contradicted by the track recorded and reality.

      I never fixed anything by wishful thinking though its a common part of the Corporate and in this case FAA spin machine.

      • @TW

        I did use the phrase -It is to be wished

        But there should be some discipline imposed on BA and FAA by the rest of the world, market and regulators, Canada, EU, China

        Lawsuits and FBI/DoJ investigation too, maybe

        • @TW

          Also discipline will come from Max uptake by public, worldwide

          As per covid vaccine

          Qantas made a vaccine mandatory the other day which is another example of PR wishful thinking and virtue signalling – the cart before the horse

          Although he did say

          « “There’s a lot of logistics, a lot of technology that needs to be put in place to make this happen.” »

          And if he thinks about a little more he’ll admit it is a very very complex international situation/project to realise

          And he too assumes people will want to fly in something approaching the previous numbers –but what is the airline actually going to do in order to survive, apart from wishful thinking about a project or a situation over which they can have no (very minute input) control ?


  11. @Scott Hamilton

    As an addendum to my comments addressed to you, please find-

    I have previously suggested an article about aviation covid and protection

    Up for debate is this, amongst of course many more issues : mandatory and coerced vaccination, detainment

    « As well as enforcing quarantine measures, the existing law empowers the authorities prohibit access to public institutions, supermarkets and shops, public and private nursing homes and hospitals, and also to impose restrictions on access to public transport. »

    To which we can add ‘to airports and airtravel as well ? or not ?’

    Outgoing and incoming international as well as domestic


      • @Scott Hamilton

        I am aware of the articles concerning the measures taken to ensure that the airplane, and to a lesser extent the airport, is safe

        My reference is to the resumption of international (but also domestic) airtravel via the establishment of an administration of the protocols for testing and quarantining and vaccine and all other measures needed to co ordinate between countries, for safe travel and pax uptake

  12. Excellent article Scott, accompanied by a great group of commentators.

    I only hope, that when this bird finally is airborne again, that it has to be Faultless, otherwise it may mean the End of BOEING and the FAA.

  13. Below are two excerpts from an Alaska Air Group Inc. 8-K filing with the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) on 11-23-20, and from a press release that was appended to it.

    “On November 23, 2020, Alaska Air Group, Inc. (the Company) announced a transaction with Air Lease Corporation (ALC) to sell 10 owned Airbus A320 aircraft and replace those aircraft with 13 new leased Boeing 737-9 MAX (MAX) aircraft. The 13 new MAX aircraft will be delivered beginning fourth quarter 2021 through 2022. The Company will lease all 10 Airbus A320 aircraft back from ALC in the interim period between sale of those aircraft and delivery of the first 10 MAX aircraft. As a result of the transaction, certain debt which was previously collateralized by the 10 Airbus A320s was prepaid. Prepayment of the debt and the associated fees totaling approximately $272 million, as well as sales proceeds received, are excluded from our cash burn projections in the fourth quarter.

    The Company has issued a press release related to the transaction. The press release is attached as Exhibit 99.1.”

    “The 13 leased aircraft are in addition to the 32 MAX Alaska currently has on order with Boeing – five of which are expected to be flying by summer 2021. Alaska will begin flying the 737-9 MAX in March 2021. Read more about how Alaska will prepare to fly its first MAX at alaskaair.com/737MAX.”

    See the link below for the full SEC filing.


  14. The harvard, kellogg and Wharton schools of short term shareholder value based business are the root of almost all that is bad in american buisiness culture.

    throw in the GE “at all times 10% of your employees need to be fired”, Unions are evil and corporate lobbying to manipulate the market and you have a full house of awful.

    across the board, long term success and stability of a company takes a back seat to short term paper profits.

    this mentality needs to be eradicated in order to build a strong and long term successful company that produces quality products.

    one could argue that our nation as a whole suffers from the same problems.

    • Bilbo: The nation suffers problems, I think the cause is other than the HKW gang (that is said tongue in cheek)

      You should add in that management is compensated via shares and that is an automatic patch to corruption. I would call it the prime cause.

      We saw how much Muilenberg walked away with after his failure (and Calhoun saying he was not aware of what was going on which is damning as well as that is his (was) job.

      So we have the evil of share buy back involved as driving the shares higher artificially in turn means you get more money. That means you have to max out shares while you are CEO (and others) before your time is up.

      The bottom line is reform how management is paid and share buy backs made illegal and you solve a lot of the issues that short term gain over long term success.

      Calhoun gets a bonus when the 737 is certified (is that not amazing, you get a bonus for being on the board that screwed up its oversight (not to mention CEO and Board Chain the same position) as well as doing the job you were hired to do as CEO.

      Its no wonder Boeing is failing so badly.

  15. Scott is, in my opinion, correctly focussing on the mechanism’s and drivers behind the crashes and grounding.

    I think up to 2018 Boeing felt invincible:

    – They butched the Dreamliner (4yrs 28B) still kept stock/ bonusses high.
    – They lost the tanker competition and still won.
    – They were the largest exporter, huge supplier of the militairy, had their own state export bank.
    – They were able to have congress sideline the FAA. (2012 Reform, Streamlining).
    – Tax cuts & IP were thrown on them, objections swept away.
    – The changed product rule/ grandfathering was re instated after being curtailed by the FAA
    – Stock holders were convinced free cash flow was what really matters. Not debt.
    – Stocks soured & everyone cheered the succes & benefitted.

    Boeing were above the law, set the rules and self certified.

    • Keejse:

      I agree with all of it other than the KC46.

      You do keep ignoring that the USAF violated its contract terms in the award. That is illegal.

      That in turn lead to a non partisan US Govt agency to overturn it (those are rare). Note that Airbus walked away with 1.4 billion or so on contact award (there is a flaw in the award process that needs fixed)

      Boeing then underbid Airbus by a huge amount. In the contractor world its called leaving money on the table. Normally you shoot for 1% if you really want it, no more than 2 or 3%. Boeing went 10%. Nuts. Stupid.

      Where I do agrees is Boeing then hosed up what should have been a simple job (by aviation and tech standards)

      That is a separate issue. Airbus had its issues with the A330MRT and it took Australia 5 years to get full operational capability.

      Its a bit more complicated as the USAF had requirement that Airbus A3300MRT had never met (they had not been contracted to but would have had to meet them for the KC contract )

      We will never know how Airbus would have done. Our only guide is the Australians and only because its public knowledge (we don’t know how long i took to get full operational with the other contracts)

      In fact, Airbus is now offering upgrade features that match the KC46 specs (I don’t think the ballistic protection is part of it but could be wrong)

      Regardless, the KC contract award is totally separate from the MAX, 787 and all the other Boeing Management performance issues.

      The subsequent screw ups on the KC46 are part of the MAX issue in regards to incompetent on Boeing Management part.

  16. The other thing that should be good are pilots.
    There is no guarantee you will have two good pilots in the cockpit.

    • The mandatory MAX training is attempting to address that. Pilots will be evaluated by their instructors and will need to show proficiency on the recovery procedures. It’s not a cure-all but at least a step in the right direction.

      • Factually the mandatory training is only applied to the US, Europe, Canada etc.

        It does not and in fact cannot mandate to Ethiopia or Indonesia which have very low skill level required for the Co-pilot (to use an old term) .

        Boeing is the only entity that can design a world standard cockpit that addresses the lower standards of countries like Indonesia and Ethiopia.

        What I can tell you from personal experience bells, whistles and screaming alarms do not help the situation one iota. They are a severe distraction. Many crashes they are total distraction.

        This is not all on Boeing, Airbus has its issues with alarms.

        Unfortunate is MO in the controls worlds.

        A big deal was made of the lack of AOA disagree light and the AOA value. That has two aspects.

        1. Its one bit of data in a panel screaming at you.
        2. MCAS was mandated out of the Pilots awareness. It would have mean nothing unless you knew something.

        What was found in the controls world is you simply need to know what the issue is, not 50 million bits of data surrounding it.

        You then focus on a rubber meets the road problem, solve that and the 50 million bits of data go away.

        Its an issue in all controls. The good tech (me) eliminate all the spurious stuff and focus on, where does it HURT?

        What needs to be done is simplify the cockpit and that is a particular but not exclusive issue with the 737 as its older and kludged on to 4
        generations now.

        Its an item in the reports that has not gotten its deserved attention.

        There is also a complete lack of standardization across airline mfgs so that no two systems operate the same.

        All aircraft should have moving throttles (Boeing does to their credit) all aircraft should operate Auto Throttles the same (Airbus and BBD have the right setup and Boeing has by far the worst which was cited by the NTSB)

        • TW, Ethiopia and Indonesia submitted comments to the FAA on the MAX and the required training. Both intend to require the training from the US FSB report, according to published reports.

          While the US does not have enforcement jurisdiction in other countries, it’s expected that most, if not all, world regulators will comply, as well as the individual airlines. Boeing has been gearing up to assist airlines in that process.

  17. In my view what has been missing in this entire discussion on the 737Max has been the effect of organizational structure and psychological factors combine to create unsafe conditions.

    As I have read through the public record, it appears to me that the fundamental error was the result of a determination in 2013 to consider MCAS as not a new and novel feature based upon the implementation on KC-46, and as a consequence the FAA then delegating finding compliance to Boeing. It is this initial determination that permits the system and how it operates to be not fully documented.

    In general, it is good engineering practice to presume that a prior implementation and certification of a feature will result in a safe design. It can be argued that how MCAS originally was intended to be used under a high-g and high-alpha flight regime which relied upon two dissimilar sensors that this was an acceptable approach. From my understanding, it is extremely unlikely to ever be in this portion of the flight envelope which makes it a reasonable decision to remove mention of MCAS in the draft FCOM. The presence of MCAS functionality would have no bearing on how pilots would be training for this extremely unlikely event. Furthermore, erroneous activation of MCAS would be remote as two sensors would need to fail to trigger an uncommanded activation.

    From my reading, the question is never asked within Boeing as MCAS is extended to the low-speed flight envelope and the system architecture is revised to remove the g-sensor whether MCAS should remain with its initial designation of “not new and novel”. Instead it is presumed that the initial determination as concurred by the FAA remains applicable and appropriate. Remember here at the time of the architecture change to MCAS during flight test all certification documents have been drafted and are ready for submittal subject to flight test validation.

    The failure of the organizational structure is that neither the FAA or Boeing had processes in place which were robust to a late design change which could invalidate prior certification agreements.

    The failure of psychology is that it was too easy in the implementation of MCAS to rely upon past precedence to justify the change, specifically that this was just like the KC-46 and that pilot corrective action is just like a runaway stabilizer trim.

    In support of this viewpoint, I would point to the JTAR report where the first recommendation is to revise the Changed Product Rule and associated guidance “should be revised to require a top-down approach whereby every change is evaluated from an integrated whole aircraft system perspective.” This finding indicates that the criteria for establishing what is “not new and novel” was incorrectly applied as it evaluated changes by engineering discipline exclusively but not the cumulative effect across disciplines.

    The Challenger disaster taught us the important lesson in that we should never ask to prove the negative, specifically that the design is unsafe. The 737Max disasters should teach the important lesson in that engineers and regulators need to closely scrutinize extending designs to new applications which may not be directly applicable.

    • I would agree, and would also emphasize that revisions to already analyzed designs must cause the designs to be re-evaluated. That lesson outweighs the other about transfer of technology, such as MCAS from the KC-46.

      In fact only the concept of MCAS was borrowed from the KC-46, the designs are completely different, separate and distinct. The KC-46 MCAS followed accepted design standards and is not a risk. The 737 MAX MCAS started out as a marginal system with marginal design (not optimal), then deviated into significance while retaining the marginal design, and thus became a risk at the end of the development program.

      • You have to ponder the gross stupidity and incompetent in an 100 + year old aircraft company that has a perfectly good working design (KC46) and does not use it.

        Equally you do not depend on single devices ever, let alone with a crash capable element like the elevator.

        They could not have done worse if they set out to do it from the start.

        • TW, there was no possibility of transferring the KC-46 MCAS design to the MAX, there had to be a new design. Also the use of a single sensor is allowed, depending on the safety classification of the system.

          The original MCAS system met that criterion, but no longer did after the modifications. Hence the need for a new analysis and classification after a significant design change.

  18. Well I always likes the Airbus approach of triple redundancy. So where I have a choice I fly them. There needs to be an urgent review of grandfathering. design is constantly moving on. Each new or seriously revised aircraft should have a total design review.

    • Harry:

      This is a misconstrued aspect.

      Triple redundancy is a derivation of FBW. If the computers stop, the aircrat is virtually uncontrollable (hard to fly and almost impossible to land)

      Ergo, FBW = Computers.

      The 737 is multi back up, its a mechanical backup though and does not use triple redundancy of AOA, computers or actuators.

      In fact, MCAS should not have been capable of doing what it did as it violated another system backup (Manual Trim)

      The MAX (as do the prvious 737s) uses comuters, just not in the same way a FBW does.

      It still only has two computers and there is no intent by anyone (EASA etc) to make it triple redundant .

      There is a fault check built into the computers that will cause a hot swap (this was a result of the look but not a factor in the MAX crash)

      The hot swap has been advocated for some time.

      In this case due to the nature of the 737, it also has a manual swap so that the pilots can shift to the Pilot Flying (whoever that is)

      In fact the 737 does have triple speed redundancy. There is a totally separate system that feeds only into the backup instruments.

      You could in fact use this by feeding that data into the two computers and vote out a bad result out of any of them.

      We have one case of where the triple system failed, the AOAs all froze up on an A320 so there was no vote the bad one out.

      And in fact the pilots still have to ensure that you don’t have two bad computers (or data inputs) as that then creates its own problems.

      Having worked with fault trees on program logic, the old stuff is simpler as there is limited faults.

      Computers are capable of untold faults.

    • @HarryM

      Grandfathering is lazy and hazardous and applied without due consideration – as has been pointed out here and recently

      However it is a common feature and failure of modern industrial and corporate practices, that is to say failure to innovate in an integrated manner across all aspects of the product, and failure to regulate such, on the contrary to encourage & protect such practices via patent law, copyright, or by ‘confidential propriety information’

      It is common in Pharma – tinkering in a trivial manner at the periphery with a product in order to renew patents, known as ‘evergreening’ – this is a mirror of grandfathering

      Here, as with BA/FAA, significant restraint has had to come from the outside world, notably patent law in India to where a high % of pharma manufacturing has been off shored

      The FDA has been as guilty as the FAA of in effective oversight, and for the same reasons

  19. I am disgusted at all the web content promoting Boeing and it’s deathtrap aircraft.
    Boeing should be allowed to suffer the financial impact that comes from major criminal neglect for public safety … If thousands will lose their jobs, so be it, the entire Boeing workforce is complicit.

    • AJ:

      I have been on that pointy end of the spear and no, the entire work force is not complicit.

      Most do their jobs and do not know what is going on.

      I only knew and tried to correct and the end result was changing nothing and loosing my job.

      So, if you knew and you are spitting in the wind anyway, why would you impact your family?

      Systems were in place to stop this and they were corrupted. Its Boeing management and the FAA management that is complicit and should face prison.

      Currently a Grand Jury is empaneled on this, I don’t hold out a lot of hope.

      You saw what came out of Enron, white collar crime even be it homicide is excuses by the legal system that is setup to protect those very people.

      Justice need not apply.

    • As noted above, the legal system is deigned to protect them.

      People in power and or money are immune.

      Its applied to riff raff like us to keep us in line.

      Police in Minneapolis quit in large numbers rather than be held to standard and accountable for their actions.

    • They have committed no crimes, nor have any crimes been alleged at this point. We still live in a democracy where the rule of law prevails, along with the presumption of innocence.

      So the pitchforks and torches need to be put away for now, unless like TW, you have evidence for your claims that prove otherwise, which you have not yet brought forth.

  20. Report on vaccine distribution which includes the quote that 8,000 cargo flights will be required for international distribution, although there no signs given of any concrete planning with gvmts airlines or airports as to the protocols and procedures and testing required to operate such international aircargo distribution


    So far even US distribution has not been worked out in any detail : parallel private Pfizer and Federal and State plans : contrary to previous reports Pfizer is planning their own distribution although apparently only to State level, as per Fed distribution plans

    « « The administration is paying healthcare logistics company McKesson to oversee the delivery of many of the vaccines, although not the Pfizer one which the pharmaceutical company itself is responsible for — albeit with government money and assistance. » »


    Emphasis is made on US reluctance to take a vaccine, a recent opinion poll gives 42% only favourable to uptake

    Even as other countries move to make vaccination mandatory the question of how distribution is to be achieved has not been addressed


    • Wow, where to begin?

      1. Pfizer has coordinated with Warp Speed and their distribution can begin within 48 hours, it will be through FedEx, UPS and DHL, which can do direct on-site delivery. States will determine the delivery sites and the priorities. The cold chain is ready and the capacity is available. This has been in planning for a long time with the initial rollout set for the end of 2020.

      McKesson will handle the distribution for the Moderna vaccine, also ready within 48 hours, and others that may be approved later. These have lesser cold chain requirements that are aligned with the flu vaccine that McKesson has been distributing for many years. Again, extensive planning in place.

      So the distribution network is in place and ready to go. States will need to coordinate the inoculation sites and tell Warp Speed where the vaccine is needed, and when. The last challenge is for the inoculation sites to manage the flow & number of patients, and match to the availability of workers and vaccine.

      That is probably the biggest single hurdle of the process. In my area, the healthcare facilities are gearing up and asking for volunteer aides, to assist patients and help with logistical support. I will volunteer as I can.

      2. Recent polls show a dramatic expansion of people willing to take the vaccine, based on the extremely positive results of the trials, and the lack of any serious adverse effects. Currently about 60% and growing, with another 25% willing if the initial rollout goes well. That number already far exceeds the initial amount of vaccine available, so there will be 100% uptake initially.

      The Ad Council is going to roll out a $1.5B campaign to explain the vaccines on behalf of CDC and NIH. Dr. Fauci is already on-board, as are other experts. That will help to grow the willing base. It’s expected that demand will outweigh supply throughout the first quarter of 2021, and probably longer.

      It’s estimated there are about 15% who definitely don’t want the vaccine. These include the anti-vaxxers and people whom they’ve persuaded. Even if they refuse, they are not a large enough group to limit the effectiveness of the vaccine.

      Also there are talks ongoing with social media to enforce the same disinformation rules for vaccines as for the election. That will limit the anti-vaxxer message and label it as false.

      So Gerrard, as I mentioned you are not going to stop with the negative messaging, but neither will I stop bringing the facts forward. They are becoming more positive with time, and the message should reflect that. I’m willing to see that it does.

      • @ Rob

        Read the FT article and the Department of Defense pdf with more attention

        You can dispute the accuracy and veracity of the Financial Times and the US Dept of Defense, if you like to think you are better informed than they are

        However this is to cast doubt on the veracity/validity of the US Government statements, as well as approved MSM reporting – which could lay you open to charges of conspiracy to subvert, and given this is a military operation in part at least, terrorism charges could be brought against you for spreading anti US Government propaganda

        Tone it down ; let’s say your Missionary Zeal has led you astray – you do not want to get on the wrong side of the Law

        • Gerrard, this one is a real hoot! Operation Warp Speed is headed by General Perna, who is in command of the military logistics arm. I’ve reported his positions because I’ve looked into them and believe them to be accurate.

          So I’m not too worried about being labeled a subversive. You, on the other hand ….

          You are posting opinion pieces here that are questioning and critical of these positions, then claiming that the opinion has more value than the facts as we know them. But they are only opinion at this point.

          If this effort rolls out and fails, then you will have grounds to make the claims you’ve repetitively made here. Until that time, undermining it serves no useful purpose. Notably neither you nor the people you quote offer solutions or improvements to address the proclaimed problems.

          When people criticize from the sidelines, but don’t pitch in to help, they can be safely ignored. A lesson my grandfather taught me long ago. Bitching vs pitching, as he called it.

          • @Rob, I admonished Gerrard, now it’s your turn. Tone it down.

            That said, this post was about the MAX. From this point forward I will delete all discussion on this post about COVID and related topics.


          • @Rob

            Please moderate your language

            I advise you to read the DoD report again – you will observe that with this and the FT article I link to them with little comment, there is no need for they speak for themselves

            Neither of these reports are critical of the situation and measures being taken, if one takes the word to mean disapproving rather than offering a critique, or commentary

            They are however reasonable and realistic and discuss, as the IATA and the WHO reports I have linked to, the task in hand without putting on happy face

            You should not make personal comments ‘as from the sidelines’, for this you can not know

          • That’s fine Scott, I will comply. My purpose has been to counter attacks on the vaccine, which I find really concerning, as its success depends upon broad public acceptance. I’m relieved you are shutting it down.

      • @Rob

        IATA recently issued a PR, a vaguely worded wish list :


        From which the full report may be downloaded

        The full report appears to be cognisant of many of the difficulties, but, unless I have miss read, does not raise the issue of how to utilise pax planes, outlines much of what needs to be done, but gives little or no evidence of any practical progress, indeed takes care to state the contrary

        The focus of this Leeham website is aviation : aircargo has a determining role in global distribution of this vaccine, to which I have referred several times, only effective global distribution and uptake will contain this virus : By this we all stand or fall

        The subject is rarely evoked and very under-discussed – the operation is complex in importance degree and scale far beyond any operation ever attempted, yet remains as elusive in detail as a chimaera

        To give only one example, pax configured planes are required for this distribution : even to plan for this, let alone to achieve this, would require an immense administrative and organisational effort – cargo planes are running at full near full capacity in most of the world – t&t not installed for pax arrivals- quarantines and closed borders everywhere

        And -This is the subject you decline to address, continually preferring to Pfizer on about fridges and warpers, slogans now from the ancient times

        You are best advised to be moderate in your language and to be reasonable in your remarks

        There are too many notes of hysteria and holy zeal which condemn your posts to the periphery, hence a great number of commentors here have condemned your ‘craven’ prettyfication of Boeing

        Your usefulness here as well your avowed intent is to perform and signify mainstream corporate compliance : not to hold in scorn the views of others, especially not MSM nor the US Government

        NB Everybody to date says their vaccine is 90% to 95% effective – they can not all be wrong, can they

        • @Gerrard, ratchet back your language. No personal attacks allowed.


          • @Scott Hamilton

            Will do, I ought to be the first to take my own advice and be moderate and reasonable

  21. 737 50 years of service flight safety record … 737-MAX had only 6 months of service .. and it’s safety record compared to the 737-classic/NG simply rots.
    We’re depending on Boeing, who had sloppy, secret, computer programming to begin with, to have fixed their sloppy, secret, computer programming now. The
    actual changes are hidden in non published software modifications. We hear they they have put in a new dual channel computer architecture. No previous
    737’s have this MCAS or dual channel computer architecture. These new computers and programs, we are told, will send signals to the stabilizer, which is more
    than pilots knew originally from Boeing about the new 737-MAX aircraft. But, even a flowchart of the programming and it’s exact parameters, is still secret.
    Software can be changed in minutes, if not seconds. Airbus software is certified at a standard to control the airplane. Boeing’s software hasn’t gone
    through the same software certification standards, but, is allowed to control a major flight control surface. Boeing doesn’t allow the 737-MAX to be flown
    by Pilots with direct electrical control of the stabilizer, without the possibility of the computer (MCAS), interfering. Pilots can turn off the Auto
    Pilot, the Auto Throttle, in a second, via switches. But, MCAS they never are able to turn off, without losing their direct electrical control of the
    stabilizer motor. WHY??? This trouble plagued software, which has caused two 737-MAX crashes in just months of entry into new service is still not able
    to be turned OFF via a simple switch. WHY NOT??? Why not have a single OFF switch for MCAS, as the Auto Pilot and Auto Throttle have? Why not have
    the same Stab cutout switch design as every previous 737 design (classic and NG) and most all other Boeing aircraft have? Why did Boeing circumvent the
    ability that every other 737 has, to shut off computer control of the Stabilizer motor, but allowing Pilot control, in the new 737-MAX?

    • Richard, once again, all these questions were raised and addressed in the public comments and the final AD. You were among those commenters and your concern was addressed. That result has been ratified by EASA and other world regulators.

      You don’t agree and that’s fine. But we have the authoritative result now. You’re basically claiming that you know better than all these other expert agencies. That is a very common claim here at Leeham, the assertion of personal opinion over all else. But you cannot confuse your refusal to accept the results, and consequent elevation of your own opinion, with the objective and independent veracity of those results. At some point, you have to acknowledge the work and effort that went into them, and that those people are competent and capable.

      The FAA invited other regulators into the process so as to create objective third parties and transparency. Those parties share in the right of discovery at Boeing, which we as members of the public do not have. So unless you believe there is a conspiracy and all these disparate agencies are in cahoots to deceive the public, there is not a reason to doubt or distrust the outcome.

  22. Yes, Boeing and the US Federal Aviation Administration screwed up royally………

    NO, the FAA AND BOEING intentionally misled causing nearly 350 deaths……

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