Bjorn’s Corner: The challenges of airliner development. Part 2. Why Certification?

By Bjorn Fehrm, Henry Tam, and Andrew Telesca.

May 7, 2021, ©. Leeham News: The major challenge with developing commercial aircraft is the certification process. You can’t just develop the aircraft based on your unique knowledge and ideas, you must do it according to a detailed rulebook written with the knowledge from thousands of accidents and incidents.

From the beginning of the design process when you’re thinking about how big your engines would need to be or whether you can carry enough passengers to have a competitive advantage the certification rules influence (and sometimes govern) your design decisions.

Beyond just scrutiny of the design of the vehicle and its components, the process by which it is designed, the production site & methods used, and the organization doing the work all go through certification processes.

Figure 1. The FAA certification rules website. Source: FAA.

The Certification Process of a commercial Aeronautical device

When you review the results of a development project for an airplane, a UAM, or drone, there is one component that is almost always there:

  • The certification process took much longer than we planned.

Let’s first go through why we have certification. Today’s certification rules have developed over a century of aviation, and each incident or accident has been reviewed to learn what went wrong.

Independent if it’s Pilots failure or material or some external influence like weather, it results in improved rules for future flights. Otherwise, we don’t learn from experience and continue to hurt or kill people.

We can therefore conclude, certification is there so we learn from experience and can fly without incidents, caused by airplane problems, planning mistakes, air traffic separation, or pilot faults. 

Areas that are subject to certification

All the areas around commercial flight are therefore subject to certification scrutiny; 

  • The airplane, helicopter, UAM, or Drone, can hurt not only any crew or passengers but also the general public on the ground in case of an accident. This includes not only the design of the product but also its components and how it’s put together to ensure what was designed and tested is consistently built. Once built, its continued maintenance, repair, and any modifications are also subject to certification rules.
  • The airport for takeoff and landing must be certified. There are rules for parking, tanking, taxing and takeoff, and landing procedures and surfaces. The facilities are heavily scrutinized for everything from runway markings to wildlife control.
  • The operation has many governing rules.  A person who operates an aircraft for leisure is subjected to very different requirements compared to those of air taxis or airlines.  This leads to differences in the preparation of flight and training requirements. For commercial operations, systematic rules for how an organization operates and manages safety (it’s “Safety Management System”) are included in the regulatory process.
  • The preparation of flight is subject to strict rules. There are minimum and maximum limits for crew health, weather, fuel calculations, fuel reserves, and what route alternatives are acceptable for flying over large stretches of water.
  • How air traffic control is done in the different phases of flight is strictly prescribed. Commercial flights are seldom flown without active Air Traffic Control, ATC.
  • Finally, there are strict rules for commercial crew training and periodic testing of its capabilities. The air safety authorities in each country prescribe what skills are necessary for different types of flight (fair weather only according to Visual Flight Rules ( VFR) or Instrument Flight Rules (IMC) when bad weather is acceptable on the flight).
What we cover in this series

We will focus on the development, production, and support of the air vehicle in this Corner series and leave the other areas for later Corner series.
We will cover larger commercial aircraft like single-aisle and widebody airliners but also the smaller regional types. In addition, we cover the UAM and Drone areas as these are hot right now with hundreds of upstarts getting into such projects without much experience on what to go through.

66 Comments on “Bjorn’s Corner: The challenges of airliner development. Part 2. Why Certification?

  1. Dear Bjorn,
    Thank you for this post.
    I am a regular reader and enjoyed your series on aircraft powered by H2.
    I have been quite involved in aircraft certification from a rule making and practical perspectives. I am retired from EASA and French CAA.
    I would also have quoted the EASA website:
    This site includes domains such as aircraft and products and also regulations. Like the FAA site, it provides a lot of useful information.
    I would also comment that licences for pilots, mechanics (that release aircraft to service), Air Traffic Controllers are actually certificates.
    Another comment is that only drones used in high risk operations will be certified.
    All the best,

    • Bjorn:

      Not nit picking but I can’t flip this around to see what the intent was?

      “As written in the ingress, “

    • Thanks, Yves, good info. EASA web and documents will feature as we go on.

  2. Because of the large impact of certification on development costs of a new airliner, there is economic incentive for companies to avoid a full certification review of a new design. (An obvious recent example is the 737-MAX certification process which has/is being reviewed, along with the ODA process) The FAA was blindsided on the MCAS changes because of the fear of additional review and certification by Boeing.
    Strapping on Turbo-jet engines on the old DC-3 was accomplished by only a STC
    How do you balance the safety/cost factors, into a certification process? If regulatory agencies require decades of certification review and testing, it can dictate design modification decisions to actually have a negative effect on safety. Development decisions based on avoiding additional certification, and not common sense safety requirements. Designers and Engineers are then more focused on avoiding the additional certification requirements.
    When Designers, Programmers and Engineers main goal is avoiding additional testing and review rather than safe and efficient aircraft designs, troubles will show up.

    • I agree, this can be a problem in many safety critical industries besides aviation e.g. railway, petro-chemical etc. In particular the complexity and cost of certification sometimes prevents the adoption of new technologies that could easily and cheaply enhance safety.

      As a result systems are often very outdated and overly reliant on procedures & routines to maintain safety, therefore more liable to lapse due to human error Vs systems that are automated via technology.

      However there are signs that some regulators are aware of this and are becoming more pragmatic with certification requirements in some areas, such as condition monitoring.

    • They strapped on turboprop engines, not turbojet engines.

      • The STC is a whole interesting area and worth a discussion.

        I don’t know that regulators in normal aspects make it worse.

        The MAX is a case in point that by definition there was a required solution (be it aerodynamic or MCAS type) solution.

        I continue to think that area is subjective as there is no specification attached, but a “handling has to remain the same”

        The original handling of MAX by a probably o f 99.999 to the 100th exponent would never have been a factor (the regs also are not sorted out as to relevant from the past and just keep getting added to so there is a factor of cleaning them up as well, Passenger Jets were never envisioned when they were written)

        I have never read any crash reports of a stall being the causing factor in a LCA crash.

        There are a number of crashes that involved total loss of orientation (they lost the horizon and did bizarre things) and the aircrat crashed. There may have been a stall involved but it was not the cause, it was part of a sequence.

        • You are right it wasn’t regulations that directly caused MCAS it was driven by a desire to avoid additional training requirements. No excuse to Boeing but if certification requirements were straightforward it wouldn’t make any sense to try to avoid them.

          But it’s easier for regulators to cover their own backsides by sticking to the status quo, rather than taking a long hard look at what actually works.So we are left with an excessively rigid system, with many complex rules that are no longer relevant because they were written in a different time and context.

          The result is that the regulation is sometimes confusing and contradictory and does not promote change, even when change could improve the situation.

          • Adding in a bit, if area is not data driven and it becomes and opinion.

            Pointing out the STC world is also illuminating as those can be significant changes and its allowed without the same scrutiny (or theoretic scrutiny).

            Or the case of the GE GenX where they supplied hand built engine for the certification’, then they were allowed to make a major change in the shaft coating for industrialization (see note) . Followed by shedding of turbine blades on a ground test run.

            Why would you adhere to rightfully tight process then allow a major change without testing ? (the shed turbines were a production engine meant for service)

            RR while not the same, lost quality control on the oil manifold fitting and there was an all to near to crash failure.

            note: Industrialization is one of those odd areas where you transition from hand built (hours to build and wasted material) not an object into mfg where you make it at as low a cost as possible maintaining (theoretically ) the quality it was certified at.
            You would think they work hand in hand as the item moves through its initial unit to final but there is still a jump at the mfg end.
            And as the MAX, they keep inserting new processes despite the basics of the MAX system not having changed.
            Its not that there is anything wrong with it by itself, its the issue of proving the new process is at least as good as the certification’s process.

  3. Hello Bjorn,
    Could you devote some attention to the subject of enforcement/policing of the certification process? It would be interesting to hear how enforcement/policing is supposed to occur according to the rule book, how it has actually occurred in recent years (MAX self-cert fiasco), and what changes are being considered/implemented to get this vital aspect of certification back on track?

    • Such as the 100% Self Certified in China 919?

      How it works in a country that has independent (slanted yes, but interdependent in they don’t get thrown in prison or poisoned ) courts (UK, US, EU, Brazil, Japan etc) vs how it works (ahem) elsewhere are two diametrically opposed worlds.

      • Hopefully the rest of the series will proceed without too many further rants against the inevitable…

        • Agreed that the discussion is far better without rants.

          I did not want to pass it up the opportunity to point that out though after so many rants I have seen. Perhaps some reflection on that is in order?

          Its a deep and complex issue(s) and worth good posts that aviation benefits from for having something more than the MAX is falling to contribute to.

          • The term “compliance monitoring” covers a lot and can be very general covering environmental, financial, stack market, legal or your own quality control and policies etc.
            Some generalizations would be
            1 Compliance auditors shouldn’t report to general managers or CEO. They are to be independent auditors and go direct to board on serious matters.
            2 The Moment FAA allowed self certification Boeing needed independent internal compliance auditing.
            3 Spot checks are part of the solution.
            4 Main way I’ve seen is getting line managers to complete compliance reports signed in their own blood and career is probably the main way of seen it. These reports go straight to corporate and bypass managers boss and bosses boss.

          • William:

            I fully agree on the self certification though if you look at the elephant in the room the FAA bailed on the DC-10 and the 737 Classic.

            That said, we see C919 hypers saying we should d horse trade with China and get the MAX certified while we certify the C919 (which is impossible but that is the world they live in)

            C919 is self certified (on steroids)

            And its ok to put an accident waiting to happen (MAX per them) into China service?

            The logic failures make one want to go bang their head on a concrete wall to make the pain go away.

    • The term would probably be “Compliance Monitoring”. In some Industries Occupational Health and Safety & Environmental produce reports that bypass General Management and the CEO and go direct to corporate or the board. I saw that in the mining industry.

      • Yes, “compliance monitoring” is a suitable term.
        But how is this actually done in the case of (for example) FAA certification?
        – Is it only done on the basis of spot checks?
        – Is absolutely everything monitored for a prototype, after which it is just assumed that no slips will be made in subsequent line production?
        – Is any of it outsourced (e.g. to the OEM, or an engineering contractor)?
        – Is it a paper exercise, or hands-on engineering inspection?
        – How thoroughly is software vetted?

        • Bryce, I accidentally responded to Transworld instead of you, above.

  4. Since the ice has been broken on mentioning the B737 and MCAS, and with this Corner clarifying all the engineering, all the safety reviews, all the quality oversight, all the Configuration Management that goes into creating a new vehicle – I become even more perplexed on how an aircraft manufacturer could pass on the CSeries for a mire 5 Billion. Good series and looking forward to the next chapter.

    • Sam1:

      You have to separate Corporate stupidity from product. Boeing in this case was driven by bean counters and were only latter aware (probably BCA bought tit to their attention) that they acualy sell aircraft.

  5. Ahh, spot on topic

    I have found it interesting that Pundit are all agog of the Self Certified 919 by an authoritarian regime but death to the MAX that had oversight (deficient but oversight )

    • The MAX only had oversight on paper; if it had had actual, real-world oversight, it wouldn’t be in the mess it’s in now. In reality, it was never certified properly — just “rubber stamped” by an ineffective (and easily hoodwinked) bureaucracy. By all appearances, it *still* hasn’t been properly vetted by regulators, because it’s now the subject of yet another embarrassing grounding and delivery stop. The FAA has, however, announced an “audit” of manufacturing process changes at BA. This is an example of *reactive* oversight — but what’s needed is *proactive* oversight.
      That’s the whole crux here: “certification” is just an empty word if it isn’t enabled by actual, hands-on checking & enforcement.

      • No, the reality is that the MAX did have oversight.

        A critial aspect in MCAS was deliberately hidden (my view but evidence supports it very strongly)

        Just as clearly when Boeing resumed production, the Grounding Wiring failure occurred. The questions that are key to improvements and to stop it are (at least some of the aspects)

        1. Did Boeing pull the MCAS again?

        2. With revised FAA oversight, would this get by (if so then there needs to be more revising and I am good with that and have supported returning the ODA fully to FAA control

        3. FAA oversight has failed for 40 years before regulatory y capture. Not understood is the FAA split personality that is a result of Congress and how the FAA is structured (an enforcer and an Aviation Cheerleader)
        A number of congresspeople have proposed to change that, they also have my support.

        So yes we need a fully independent FAA enforcement agency.

        Equally there is no perfection in the world either.

        But also valid is where does that leave the C919 and other Chinese aircraft that have none of that?

        • “”No, the reality is that the MAX did have oversight.
          A critial aspect in MCAS was deliberately hidden””

          Boeing never had independent software audits till EASA asked for it. Then an audit was made for the MAX accidents part, but only that.
          There is still much software on 737 which never had independent software audits and the same goes for ALL other Boeing planes.
          NO Boeing plane was ever properly vetted by regulators since regulations ask for independent software audits.
          Might be a reason why we see delays in 777X certification now and Tim Clark asking if there is new embbeded software and Boeing already started to count a $6.5b loss on the 777X.

          • Leon:

            As a former mechanic/technician and assigned an engineer position (no letters), my first question.

            1. What do you base that on?

            What you are doing as near as I can see is assert that the MAX and the A320 FBW are the same.

            In fact, they are not . Both are two totally different design approaches one legacy mechanical controls and one a FBW computer operated.

            In the case of 737 software (no its not FBW but it does have computer ops in systems) two software teams build the software for the two computers and then its loaded and maintained separately into each computer.

            There never was a requirement for two out of three computers as no computer controls the backups (which is what the two out of three computer voting system is and does)

            I believe Airbus actually has 5 computers from some reading a while back and I am sorry I did not keep that link.

            I in fact worked on a Boeing type system (ground not air) and have some familiarity with the hot swap process entailed. It in fact had a bug they never got out that you could swap from one to another but not back (shut it all down then start Processor 0 and it assumed the lead and would then swap to the 1 processor if it failed)

            Now if you don’t like the regulations and feel all non FBW aircraft should be grounded, certainly entitled to that view and good luck.

            If you are asserting that Boeing has to follow a no applicable process for the 737, then that is simply an unsupported view.

            Boeing clearly has failures to answer for (or should) but following the regulations that apply to the aircart they are building is not one of them.

          • TW,

            how could EASA ask for software audits if there is no regulation for it. The audit delayed MAX re-cert for months and cost Boeing billions.
            It seems EASA draw a line, NOW the new 777X can’t be without software audits.
            The 777X was designed under Muilenburg with self-certs and undue pressure. That won’t fly anymore and audits will likely find mistakes. Boeing will have to do much 777X work all over again.
            Interesting is what other regulators will do, if there is a regulation for independent software audits and all Boeing planes have none. Some regulators might be more strict than EASA. Could be it will be swept under the rug, it doesn’t matter, I won’t fly Boeing.
            SJ182 wouldn’t have happened with an auto-throttle software audit, maybe the audit wasn’t needed by regulations for the Classic at that time.

          • Leon:

            You are agog at software audits which tell you nothing.

            Its fault analysis and does the logic string work?

            I can design a perfectly fine working bit of software (and have) that failed to do what was needed.

            If EASA feels that Boeing did not comply with the regulations in regards to FBW on the 777 (or 787) then they are free to and should look into it.

            What you cannot do is input a design spec for a mechanical aircrat that has a totally different backup approach than a FBW aircraft.

            And all software has bugs, you test to ensure they are not fatal.

            We have had A330 take sudden nose dives no one has explained (fortunately at altitude)

            But if you have sources then list them that address the subject in regards to the 777 that has been flying a long time with a perfect track record on the Boeing systems (engine issues no, but few and avoidable except the RR oddity that like the GP7000 was not ever seen before)

    • I thnik it is the opposite that both Japan and China CAA management and staff are inexperienced, very conservative and careful, hence it slows the certification process down and in China easily force solutions to be copies of 20 year old Airbus design solutions. Had the Chinese rocket designers been more involved it would be more high tech and quicker to certification. We will see if China demands normal FAA cert work of the C919 before the 737MAX is allowed back in service. If the C919 can handle 3000 MTOW cycles with only line mainennace and no repairs it would prove they are pretty far along.

      • I would imagine that, for the first few years, COMAC won’t bother to seriously pursue certification by the FAA: they’ll put in a request, and may or may not keep the MAX on hold while the request is processed, but the relationship between the US and China is too tarnished to expect any fruitful outcome.

        COMAC will be more than happy if the C919 proves to be reliable in the Chinese market, which is huge. A child has to crawl before it walks: if, as you state, a certain level of reliability (and mass production) is achieved, then confidence will be boosted enough to take things to the next level. There are countries near China that would be very interested in the C919 for domestic use (Indonesia, Myanmar, Mongolia), and also countries within Africa: there’s a whole spectrum of flight paths that don’t go anywhere near North American, European or Australian airspace.

        For non-US/non-EU aircraft use, it is totally irrelevant whether Chinese certification rules/procedures are compatible with those of the FAA/EASA. You don’t see the Chinese asking the US/EU to certify Chinese high-speed trains or ships, do you? Australian “road trains” would never be certified for use on European roads, but that doesn’t bother the Aussies, does it?

        Airbus doesn’t give a hoot whether the C919 is as good as the A320 neo or not: all that matters is that, if the C919 is a domestic success, it will take a serious bite out of Airbus sales to China, because the Chinese will have become self-sufficient vis-à-vis narrowbodies. The US administration may attempt to frustrate this process by putting an export ban on LEAP engines, but this will only incentivize the Chinese to make a success of their CJ1000 aeroengine. It will also tick off the EU, which is tired of a never-ending list of US export bans: I wouldn’t be surprised if the EU nudges Safran to become more independent in this regard.

          • I have repeatedly told Bryce (and bring in Claes) the FAA was working with Chinca on getting tyheir certfiaon process working where it met the FAA/EASA requiremtns (which is waht Bjorn is starging a Corner on).

            China failed to follow any of it. The FAA tried to get them to go back to the basics and re-do the whole process as that is the ONLY way to get it. You can’t just say, you have to proves it and you have to document it (not a simple slam dunk)

            China can’t ask the FAA or the EASA to certify the C919 because its impossible to determine what they did on it.

            The only place a C919 can fly is a non certified country.

            It can’ fly to Vietnam, Singapore, Taiwan, India or even Russia (unless Putin waive their own regulations)

          • @ TW
            You seem to be under the mis-impression that countries such as “Vietnam, Singapore, Taiwan, India or even Russia” are somehow “bound” by what the FAA/EASA does. But they’re not: they have their own regulators, and they make their own decisions. A painful illustration of this fact is that none of these five countries have re-certified the MAX, even though the FAA/EASA green-lighted it months ago. Vietnam and India only allow over-fly, and India explicitly refused a request from FlyDubai to service India using a MAX. A painful illustration of the fact that the FAA/EASA are no longer an irrefutable gold standard.

            If any or all of these countries decide that they want to admit a Chinese or Russian plane, they are perfectly entitled and enabled to make that decision, and there’s nothing that the FAA/EASA can do about it.

          • Bryce:

            Do not twist words down that do not reflect what I say.

            Vietnam recognizes the FAA and EASA. It can take a higher standard (and has on the MAX) but they are not going to take a lower standard (or no standard in the case of the C919)

            Of the countries listed only Russia would waive certification for political reasons and I doubt they wold as that would make their hard earned certification authority (which they have FAA/EASA) worth nothing (no longer certified)

            Unless you have some kind of documentation to prove otherwise you are just spewing hypotheticals to spew hypotheticals.

            Your logic failures are becoming legion.

            One minute the MAX is the modern Exploding Pinto the next you will do the impossible and absurd horse trade certification with it for the C919.

            This is not a Space Opera. Save the Drama stuff for Facebook and the like

          • @ TW
            The fact that you consider Chinese standards to be lower doesn’t mean that countries think similarly.
            Singapore (on your list) is making widespread use of Chinese vaccines — so are you now going to say that it has “lowered its standards”?
            The same applies to Malaysia, Thailand, Bahrain, and the UAE, for example…all lowered standards, according to you?

            If Chinese standards are so low, then why does the US import more than $500B worth of Chinese goods each year?

        • I think China has similar ambitions regarding the C919 and its successors to their high speed trains and tracks that are making inroads in many places around the world. They might need to fund another iteration of it and start the FAA/EASA cert process with everything they did learn on this one and customer input on what need improvement to exceed the A320neo. China has they money and can decide to invest another $20-30bn + $10bn in domestic engines. Still it can quickly come to a standstill and all trade/travel to/from China stop if they make a wrong move on Taiwan or Indonesia and thus become a new Cuba.

          • Alternatively, COMAC can just decide to ignore the US/EU and concentrate instead on the rest of the world…which still is most of the cake.

            How many countries are currently using Chinese vaccines despite the fact that these have not been approved by the US/EU? Even developed “western” countries like Singapore, Turkey and Hungary are using Chinese vaccines, without any concern on what the FDA/EMA have to say on the matter.

          • Yep, we have seen the huge increase in China vaccines failures to work in many places.

          • @ TW
            Got any links to back up this assertion of “huge increase in China vaccines failures to work in many places”?

            Or is it just another random and structureless anti-China rant?

          • @Bryce

            WHO has approved Chinese vaccine from Sinopharm. Poster living under a rock hasn’t gotten the news, yet. While the “Anglo-American” horde vaccines, and countries like India stopped export, what can the world do? Wait?

        • I thought that GE made that engine in Brazil. If made there, US might not be able to say where it goes…

          • Nowadays, the US *always* finds a way to say that something can’t be exported. And if it can’t target the export itself, then it puts sanctions on any companies that have dealings with the importer. Not only is this tedious, but it’s actually coming back to bite the US, e.g. by incentivizing countries to construct dollar-free mechanisms for trade, and stimulating them to find ways to remove US-made parts from their products.

          • GE doesn’t make any engines in Brazil, who has no jet engine industry to speak of, apart from overhauls.
            And even the say Leap engines built in France can’t be sent on elsewhere as the major components could still have US production.
            Bryce seems to suggest Comac planes could have a bigger market , wishful thinking as those countries still have certification that works along Western lines.
            Obvious example is spread of existing Chinese built aircraft, which is a handful of countries…like kingdom of Tonga and a few others. Oh dear…… the problem with copying is you don’t understand the original design parameters.
            Something that I have followed closely is how China even steals protected fruit and vegetables varietes.. Once that didn’t matter much but it certainly does since the 50s and 60s.

  6. From WSJ:

    “Today, China is an acclaimed global leader in air safety. Despite frequent double-digit annual growth in the number of hours its airlines fly, their most recent fatal-accident rates are lower than America’s and Europe’s.”

    “The transformation from worst to first reflects how the Chinese government has proved able, with significant foreign help, to overhaul a sprawling industry whose safety record was tarnishing the country’s image, taking advantage of foreign assistance and insisting on compliance by Chinese companies. […]”

    “China has emerged as the envy of developing countries struggling with too many planes, too few pilots and inadequate airports. The FAA wants to use the CAAC model to help India expand its aviation safety. According to the FAA’s Ms. Blakey, Chinese authorities “early on recognized there simply was no place for secrets when it came to aviation safety. They never let egos get in the way.”

    • Considering that the ARJ21 and the C919 failed certification’s process let alone have not path to get it and the Chinese refused to do what was needed to get it, that falls flat on its face.

      In fact they actively fought the FAA who was attempting to put that in place.

      I never heard of this Ms. Blakey, but that is spin of the most inane kind.

      • The improved airline safety was totally the change from russian arliner types to western made ones.

        • don’t detract and belittle!

          With western planes they have less fatalities per gob of $relevant-metric than EU or US airlines using the same types apparently.
          Explaining that away with “totalitarian regime” is inane.

          • Crashes are so rare now, a single crash can create bumpy stats.
            before Covid daily US passenger boarding’s were around 1.7 mill, while China was around 1 mill per day.
            Last major airliner incident in China was A330 which caught fire at
            Beijing airport gate and was burnt out and thats was 2019. Like other countries once you get down to regional jet/ prop level risk rises.
            In general their safety is same as western countries ‘as they are flying same western planes’. with same maintenance and pilots trained to same levels. I wouldnt have an issue flying with one of their major carriers and apart from Japan you wouldnt necessarily say that for other airlines in Asia.

          • “…apart from Japan you wouldnt necessarily say that for other airlines in Asia”.

            – Singapore Airlines is gold standard. Its offshoots Scoot and SilkAir also have an excellent record.
            – Vietnam Airlines has a top-notch safety reputation.
            – Both China Airlines and EVA Air (Taiwan) have an excellent safety reputation.
            – Jetstar Asia gets 7/7 for safety from
            – Korean Air and Philippine Airlines also get 7/7.

            It seems that some people have a very narrow world view…

          • Not narrow at all. Check the carrier and aviation safety site:
            Korean Air
            especially worrying for KAL
            19 Aug 2018: JTSB: failure of HPT disk caused Boeing 777-300 engine fire accident on takeoff from Tokyo-Haneda, Japan
            29 Jun 2018: Korean Air Boeing 777-300 suffers main gear axle failure after arrival at Tokyo-Narita Airport, Japan
            29 Apr 2018: Germany issues safety recommendations after two Boeing 747-400F cargo aircraft lost flap parts
            10 Apr 2018: Korean Air Boeing 737-900 suffers tail strike accident on landing at Osaka-Kansai Airport, Japan
            07 Apr 2018: Final report on runway serious incursion incident at Cheongju, Korea: B737-800 misses A319 by 3 m

          • Duke:

            Good links, not that it will change those who live in the illogical posting illogical.

          • @ TW
            I mentioned 9 airlines: DoU only commented on one (Korean), plus another that wasn’t in my list (Asiana). Moreover, the examples given didn’t involve any injuries or hull losses: a similar list (though much longer) could be compiled for any US carrier.

            And then you accuse others of being illogical?

  7. Error Richard Davenport: The Basler conversion of DC-3s installs a turbo_PROP_ engine, not a turbo-jet.

    (It also lengthens forward fuselage, which perhaps help compensate for lower weight of new engines, and helpfully gets pilots out of the arc of propeller blades.
    And modifies wing aerodynamics to improve stall characteristics.)

    People have done far more under STCS, which are not inherently bad things.
    (And may vary with usage of aircraft and limitations placed on it – the sensing wires on booms around a dash7 are a wild modification.)

    • Amazing plane, the Bassler uses more gas but it’s a bit bigger. With extended range tanks it can go 2000 miles. They’ve made almost 70 of them. Would be something to have a ride on one.

      • Turbines tend to be less fuel efficient than piston engines, but more reliable. But efficiency depends in large part on payload, which may be higher for the turbine conversion (weight of longer forward fuselage perhaps balanced by lighter engines.)

        Long range is helpful in Antarctica, to get to the South Pole research station. Ken Borek Aviation goes there with Twin Otters as late and as early in the summer season as they can.

        KBAL has the DC3T.

        (Heavy lifting to the South Pole is often by Hercules freighter on skis, in summer, last I heard by the New York National Guard.
        Yes, C-130 on skis, they tuck up to the landing gear pods nicely.
        Perhaps not shut down at the pole normally, offload and return right away. We at Pacific Western Airlines were surprised at reliability problems despite Antarctic use, such as APU controls, brake seals, and prop seals, we modified the airplanes.

        Unfortunately the founder of KBAL died in a single vehicle crash driving back from his hometown in NE BC to his office in Calgary.

  8. Richard Davenport:
    IMO the major omission of Boeing and FAA was not necessarily the result of changing an existing design.
    Boeing botched by not updating safety analysis and not paying attention.
    FAA say they were sandbagged by Boeing not telling them about the new system, I suggest at least part of the error was high workload an inexperienced people.

    • I would say we need to see what the investigation shows (probably form Congress)

      Equally there is some water under the bridge and while I believe in Verify before trust, I would like to see the assessment of how this occurred.

      Could it happen again post NOW, under Boeing and FAA changes?

      As was pointed out, how Boeing is handling this is a change. It may be a attempt to look good or it could be a real change.

      The FAA has also had significant changes imposed on it by congress and those are not going to have occurred overnight let alone in that time period the Grounding/wiring issue occurred.

      I am also delighted to see the FAA come back to Boeing and tell them they want more data and documentation on the changes and what else may be affected to ensure there are no dropped balls.

      That is the way oversight should work.

      It may be the FAA spinning things as well, but we have to see how this plays out short and long term to know for sure.

      • The only ‘how’ question is deep internally in both Boeing and FAA.

        We already know sloppiness and gethomeitis in Boeing enabled failure to update safety analysis and think generally about the changes in MCAS. And perhaps keeping perspective in the face of complaints from pilot experience in the simulator as the project progressed.

        The question is in leadership and overt pressure from managers. DOJ/FBI already investigated for criminal acts, IIRC not finding any. A top executive said some people were replaced, eventually he was too.

        FAA was understaffed with experienced people, that is in part due to leadership in Congress – every time pay is delayed due it futzing around some longtime employees decide to retire. (Some become DERS, so that is good. For example, the renowned software expert – who had good perspective – became one. And Greg Dunn did, he was good in SACO.)

    • I think the ODA process, with Boeing paying and controlling the reporting lines of communication, between ODA inspectors and the FAA is a big component of the problem. That plus the overly political weighted Board of Directors of Boeing.

    • Lets look at her data

      She ha had nothing to do with the FAA for 14 years so she is not the FAA.

      I do not have access to the WSA, I question the date of the article let alone the period it she would have been commentate under (Bush and the push to give US industry to China)

      She is a Trade Group president currently, not anything to do with the FAA.

      Certainly some questionable practices under he watch.

      Facts matter. Context matters.

      And this make her

      • Typo:

        She HAS nothing to do with FAA currently.

        Relevancy matters, she has none.

  9. “A person who operates an aircraft for leisure is subjected to very different requirements compared to those of air taxis or airlines” and from this we can see the difference in accident rates and therefore the value of certification.

    • Actually if you look at air taxi crash and incident rates (there are no accidents) you will fine that they are quite high.

      Its a cold blooded assessment as to what the market can bear.

      It plain awful in Alaska and has not gotten better.

      I saw a Prime example of it in Ketchican in 2019, one plane that clearly could see another cut across in front of it so they could land a minute sooner.

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