“Downfall” and “Boeing’s Fatal Flaw”

Feb. 17, 2022, (c) Leeham News: Tomorrow the documentary movie Downfall will be available on Netflix and, probably, Youtube. Unveiled during the Sundance film festival, Downfall is about the Boeing 737 MAX crisis.

The producers’ staff of Downfall contacted me during their research. I told them, among other things, that you had to know what else was going on at the time at Boeing when MAX was launched in July 2011 in order to understand the full context of Boeing during that period. The underlying thesis–that re-engining the 737 and decisions made–wasn’t only about profit, shareholder value, or greed, as many suggested. In fact, Boeing reported a $4bn in 2011 despite the pressures.

  • The 787 hadn’t been delivered. It was three years late. Boeing was billions and billions over budget.
  • The 747-8 was late and billions over budget.
  • The tanker contract had been awarded the previous February with a bid 10% less than Airbus—and as we now know, it, too was late and billions over budget.
  • Boeing’s engineering resources were stretched to the point where engineers were diverted to the 787 from other programs and outsourcing engineering work to India and Russia was done. The work from India on the 747-8 was poor and had to be re-done by SPEEA, further straining resources.

Good people made bad decisions

I also told the Downfall crew that I didn’t agree that the MAX shortcomings were about greed. Yes, shareholder value was the top priority—but as I wrote in Air Wars, good people made bad decisions. Complacency was also at work. Nothing like this had happened before, so it won’t happen now. In any event, the pilots are the backstop. Or so Boeing engineers thought.

There is nothing in it for Boeing to develop an unsafe airplane. There are also always pressures to control costs and meet delivery schedules. On every program. At Boeing, at Airbus, etc.

In the end, these producers didn’t use me. I don’t know if I didn’t fit into their narrative—I haven’t seen the movie yet. But Frontline’s PBS special did. I appear at  10:00 and 11:12, 12:15 and 12:40 (what else was going on at the time) minutes.


Air Wars details the MAX development

My book, Air Wars, The Global Combat Between Airbus and Boeing, describes in detail how the development of the MAX came about. Boeing had two designs under study. One was a new, clean-sheet airplane. The other was re-engining the 737. Executives chose the latter when American Airlines was on the cusp of ordering up to 400 Airbus A320 family members. The MAX wasn’t “rushed” to design, as many charged–the basics were already done. But, as the cliche goes, the devil is in the details.

Air Wars is available in paperback and eBook form at Amazon and in paperback at Barnes & Noble.

Royal Aeronautical Society

Named to the Top 10 List of Aerospace Books for Christmas Choices, 2021

Puget Sound Business Journal

(Seattle area.) No. 1 on the Christmas list of aerospace books for 2021.


No. 1 on its list of Best New Aerospace eBooks to read in 2022.

Chris Sloan, The Airchive

“A worthy successor to ‘The Sporty Game,’” the 1982 book by John Newhouse, considered at the time to be the definitive book about the competition between Boeing, McDonnell Douglas, and the emerging Airbus.

Dan Catchpole, Aviation Writer

Air Wars is a tour de force look behind the curtain of Boeing and Airbus’ global competition and, in part, a biography of Airbus’ head salesman, John Leahy, the man who forced Boeing’s hand to re-engine the 737. Longtime aerospace analyst and journalist Scott Hamilton takes readers through the twists and turns of the decades-long battle between the two companies.

Dan Reed, Aviation Writer

Using John Leahy’s long and monumental career as a vehicle for telling readers about the 51-year battle between Airbus and Boeing is both an interesting and inspired choice by the author.


129 Comments on ““Downfall” and “Boeing’s Fatal Flaw”

  1. If it wasn’t greed then one can certainly classify it as MONUMENTAL shortcut-taking and abandonment of basic engineering tenets — which points to at least one of incompetence, indifference, arrogance, or greed.
    Take your pick…which is worse?

    • Obviously MAX itself was no longer strongly about greed.

      But what motivational decisions stood at the beginning
      of this string of mishaps ( which at the “MAX moment” had clearly gone into avalanche mode.)

    • Here’s the thing;

      I respect Scott’s opinion, experience and knowledge – but he is asking us to look into the hearts and minds of the individuals involved with the Max crashes.

      All we really have to go on, is their actions and what they have said.

      Are their actions the result of good people makin bad decisions? What would a good person, who was in charge of a company who had two of their products kill 350+ people do?

      Sorry, but from where I come from, when you hold the reigns of responsibility – you own your mistakes. That’s what a good person does.

      Did the executives and BoD own the mistakes they made?

      Anything but.

      • Let me act as advocatus diaboli here:

        There is NO reason!
        The non US pilots made the mistakes.
        Now those are unfairly used to draw down that excellent all American Corp Boeing.

        back to giving the unpleasant Hun:
        it is a cultural thing. These unpleasant things are never owned.

        • ” The non US pilots made the mistakes.”

          Mixing odds and probibility rarely gets a correct answer.

          Is there any record of U.S pilots in real life- commercial service at similar altitude and terrain having the same problem and by U.S ‘ superiority’ doing the exact right thing with the same lack of certain alarms and equivalent flying hours of PIC?

          If so, please list source and details. Other than that suggest you cool jets.

          • Few MAX frames were delivered inside the US.
            IMU there are no reports on (unexpected) MCAS intervention from the US.
            ( you ask for MCAS cutting in and pilots doing the right thing. a reportable incident? )

            i.e. apparently no chance to prove superiority.

  2. Hopefully you will have influenced the film maker to take a intellectual approach to understanding what went wrong. Film makers often fall into the good guy bad guy antagonist/protagonist structure. It’s easy but it’s wrong

  3. Interesting timing of Steve Dickson’s resignation announcement (see LNA Twitter Feed / Seattle Times today).

    The new documentary is going to shine a very painful light on the various failings of the FAA. That comes at a time when the FAA has recently lost face with the 5G rollout, and also when lawmakers are asking why the FAA isn’t taking more punitive measures against BA for the MAX fiasco.

    • -“Lawmakers” caused the problem by defunding the FAA and forcing self regulation with all of its flaws. Now they’ll run a circus or which hunt looking for a scapegoat in which they are the performing heroes.

      • Just because a regulator is compromised doesn’t mean that entities under his regulation are free to exploit his weaknesses. After all: do you speed on a highway just because there are no cops around…or do you exercise common decency and stick to the rules?
        Shoddiness, corruption and haste at the OEM are what “caused the problem”. And I’m inclined to add “greed” also, despite the content of the article above.

        • well, considering my daily commute is on a “55 mph” road and the slowest car is going 70 and the average is more like 75, yes, we speed on the highway when there are no cops around (for that matter, the cops cruise at 75 on this road)

          american business, as a rule, has a don’t get caught principle of operation.

          • Well, then, let me ask a related question:
            If your speeding behavior causes a fatal accident, what’s your defense going to be?
            “Your Honor, it’s not my fault: the cops should have been patrolling, but they weren’t! Pin the blame on them”.

            Sounds a little hollow, doesn’t it?

          • @bryce

            I am generally one of the slower cars on the road.

            point is, society as a whole has decided most laws are meant to be broken.

        • “Just because a regulator is compromised doesn’t mean that entities under his regulation are free to exploit his weaknesses. ”

          Now why again was the regulator hamstrung in the first case: Yes, to allow exploiting the created weakness.

          See the run up to the GFC. FAA maiming is a “rinse repeat” project not an unintentional bad luck thing.

        • “After all: do you speed on a highway just because there are no cops around…or do you exercise common decency and stick to the rules?”

          I don’t know where you live, but pretty much everywhere I’ve gone, most people will speed (at least a little).

          • ” most people will speed (at least a little).”

            The trick is to scope in the environment and adjust your speed accordingly. physics hard at work 🙂

          • It has been proven that people will follow speed limits if they believe that speed limits are reasonable. Years ago I was living in Australia and near my work was a main road where the speed limit was 50kph and nobody followed that. The speed limit was increased to 70kph and the average speed dropped as new speed limit was considered reasonable.

            People will follow rules if they consider rules reasonable, but in some cases like engineering that includes understanding what you do. I am pretty sure most Boeing engineers understood why certification rules are in place and would have adhered to it. Beancounters see it as “unnecessary (=expensive) red tape” and the results are not very good.

            I have done many software releases for automotive engine controllers and every time we did such a release we worried if we have missed something which affects quality. I never liked the paper trail needed but after being burned big time on one release (it was an internal development release, not even production), I never ever cut a corner ever again.

          • Try the German Autobahn no speed limits where you can overtake the cops at 275/300 mph and the cops don’t bat a eye lid.

          • A380 SAID ” Try the German Autobahn no speed limits where you can overtake the cops at 275/300 mph and the cops don’t bat a eye lid.”

            Amazing- one would think he/she would know the diff between KPH and MPH. 300 kph approx 180 MPH

            Few road cars can hit 300 mph anywhere but on salt flats- and then with much preparation and safety issues.

        • -I don’t know if you’ve worked in an engineering office or droughting office or any office where complex communications and decisions are done. Sales and legal can be pretty complex. I don’t know if you have any experience in quality systems. Been involved in reconstructing a serious accident with a root cause analysis.
          -Humans are fallible, they need a system of independent review to weed out errors and omissions. By independent I mean someone else in their buro and then someone outside as well,
          -Humans can’t see their own mistakes, get tired, get group think and go with the teams opinion. Humans rationalise things like not flossing their teeth every night to assuming that MCAS was safe working the same way STS speed trim did. Humans with a doubt go along with the crowd.
          -When “Self Certifying” came in some designated areas some of the layers of independent review went. The FAA inspectors present no longer not longer had the bandwidth they had to ask pertinent nosy questions.
          -The above are not immoral in the sense of a “deadly sin”. They are a sin in the sense of human shortcomings. (Human flaw)
          -I have seem ‘immoral’ quality control. Like the Chinese supplied faulty welds to my company in which the faults were covered up by silicon to hide the flaws. Using Melamine to line milk containers and then when it was discovered that it tricked protein tests repeatedly and systematically adding it as a powder to pet food, milk and infant formulae to trick the protein test is immoral. Folks in Communist China did that repeatedly.
          -What happened at Boeing is very serious but it is not greed. Desperation maybe. A Goon culture of ‘get with the program” maybe. But I don’t think they even realised it was happening to the at senior management.
          -One thing about quality control is as Demming said “blame the system not the people”. When you blame people they hide their mistakes. They won’t even call the mistakes to notice for fear of hurting a work colleague.
          -Legal punishments and recriminations will backfire for the nation.

          • Engineers know that there are rules and protocols — particularly when they work in an industry where safety is critical.
            An OEM with a century of certification experience is well aware of the specifications that it has to meet: having a regulator looking over its shoulder is part of the system of checks and balances, but it shouldn’t be a prerequisite to adhering to basic design rules.
            You’re confusing the role of “regulator” and “babysitter”.

      • “forcing self regulation”


        Questions about the FAA’s oversight of Boeing that have emerged in the wake of the two fatal crashes underscore long-standing concerns about industry capture of the FAA, from lobbying by the aerospace industry—Boeing spends millions lobbying Congress and federal agencies each year—to the revolving door between the FAA and Boeing and other companies and lobbying groups in the industry.



        Boeing LOBBYIED for these changes, spent millions to get it done.

        But I know, it doesn’t fit your defense narrative of BA – hence I’m guessing your going to call this out as ‘fake news’ and the media trying to smear BA.

      • Yes, even if Boeing let program people rule over engineering and old engineering procedures that was not followed this time, it is the FAA that was the lead certification agency and was tasked to make sure the aircraft was safe, some blame should fall on the EASA that should have discovered the FAA funding and skills shortcomings back then.

        • Remember that Boeing was granted ODA. That delegated the oversight to BA and places the FAA in a monitoring capacity wihin the scope of the ODA priveleges and limitations.

          • The change from FAA-DER to FAA- ODR oversight was pushed byh Boeing- Stonecipher- McNearney after the SPEEA strike in 2000-2001. When SPEEA went on strike the Boeing BR Ass assumed that no big deal- and the IAM was prohibited from honoring the strike line. So production was supposedly NOT affected. On one level that was true- but when the DER Engineers also walked out with SPEEA, BA discovered that they could NOT deliver planes, and certain work in the factory needed sign off. Boeing sort of settled- I say sort of because there were a few underhanded things going on.

            After the smoke cleared-Boeing Brasses wanted to make sure that kind of production halt would never happen again. Part of the solution was the the ODR system, and part was good old back scratching for certain union types.

            Combined with the profit uber alles mantra, the slippery slope turned to ice.

  4. Good points. I would even postulate that the course into trouble was already set with the massive budget overrun of the 777 program, which cost $12 billion to develop instead of $6 billion planned. The massive cheating on accounting block sizes, the unsuccessful low-cost 757 and 767 makeovers, and the Aircraft Creation Process Strategy (the Black Diamond of the day) that led to the 787 debacle were a direct outcome. All the ensuing efforts to reduce and recover cost, plus the blood-letting triggered by 9/11, kept eroding the skilled workforce and the quality culture. Add executive’s GE mindset and you have a perfect storm. Not sure any of these issues can be fixed with Model Based Engineering.

    • “Not sure any of these issues can be fixed with Model Based Engineering.”
      These are cultural problems and they need to be addressed. The model based engineering should help alleviate some issues such as the massive cost over runs but technology can only do so much.

  5. ‘There is nothing in it for Boeing to develop an unsafe airplane. There are also always pressures to control costs and meet delivery schedules. On every program. At Boeing, at Airbus, etc.’

    A truism which stops short of the problem, incentives were skewed too far towards development and meeting marketing commitments without sufficient checks and balances.

    A clear example being the desperate fight to avoid having additional training for pilots on the MAX.

    • Another example: embodying MCAS to effect larger pitch adjustments than previously documented, and not telling the FAA about the change.

      Another example: failing to do a proper FMEA on MCAS.

    • “There is nothing in it for Boeing to develop an unsafe airplane.”

      Brinkmanship going over the brink 🙂
      Issue comes up when the actors are soaked in Adrenaline from waling the walk and have lost all feeling for what is down in the deep ravine traversed.

      • “There is nothing in it for Boeing to develop an unsafe plane….”
        I would respond: You know that and I know that….did Muilenberg and the board know that? Did Caroline Kennedy know that? How about Niki Haley? The rest of the retired generals and finance guru’s whose expertise is booking profits today and directing them all to shareholders while amortizing failures to makes them disappear, did they know this?
        These people thought planes never crash, designs are never inadequate, and time and money spent on certification is largely wasted.
        They would have cut, and cut the process further and further until some tragedy occurred. If it wouldn’t have happened on the Max it would have been the next program. Calhoun and friends talk nice about safety, quality, blah, blah, blah. Where is the beef? Where is the new focus on safety? Are they still trying to slip one more past the FAA goalie with the 787?
        Looks like the goalie finally woke up!

        • IMU all the people at the helm or “lounging on the bridge” live in an environment where “projection of a fake reality” works. ( Does Nikky Halley actually know about reality?)

          Unfortunately physics ( and thus safety stuff ) is not impressed much. it will bite with relish.

  6. The decision to re-engine the 737 was not wrong from a product strategy against the prevailing competitive scenario. However, the way it was executed was simply shoddy, especially, the deliberate intention to hide the presence of onboard MCAS (configured callously with utter disregard to safety) from the pilots was outright criminal. It was akin to making astronauts board the space shuttle without telling them about the defective heat shields onboard. Boeing could instead have informed the FAA and borne the cost of certification and additional pilot training over simulators while adjusting it in the new airplane sales & discounts to the carriers going forward. That way Boeing would have paid the price for being reactive for decades in terms of product strategy decisions in the narrow body segment and thus could have come clean while still being profitable rather than creating the colossal MAX disaster for itself. Afterall, there are no alternatives to doing what is the right thing to do in a given scenario in order to get things right. Neither competitive pressures or avarice or anything else give an organization the license to play with lives.

    Would highly recommend the following #1 Bestseller in Commercial Aviation on Amazon on the Airbus-Boeing arch-rivalry for those looking for a real deep dive from the strategy perspective.

    Available as free download for today at:


  7. Boeing CEO Calhoun’s take on the competence of non USA citizen pilots is very disturbing. I would label it outright racist. If this what Boeing thinks of foreigners, if I was a decision maker from and Asian, African or Latin American country, I would never buy a Boeing aircraft.

  8. You know I respect your opinion Scott, but I think you are off the mark, here;

    “I also told the Downfall crew that I didn’t agree that the MAX shortcomings were about greed. Yes, shareholder value was the top priority—but as I wrote in Air Wars, good people made bad decisions.”

    Certainly a lot to unpack, in just this one statement.

    Most everybody in the C-Suite and the BoD have stock/options in the company they are at, no? Unless you have either very moralistic people in those slots OR people who genuinely care about the company/industry – the door is open to let greed rule the day.

    You say it yourself; “shareholder value was the top priority”

    So by default; safety, quality and customer satisfaction are behind it on the list, no?

    Now we’re talking about reading into the minds of the C-Suite/BoD. It’s already clear what their actions were – making as much money for the shareholders and themselves, at the expense of everything else.

    Look at Calhoun, who was on the BoD from the Max get go. When he was given the CEO job, did he say, “Hey – let’s fix this and get our company back in shape again!”

    Nope. “Pay me $7 million to get the Max back in service”

    What is that, if not greed??? Do you think he suddenly developed this behavior overnight, when offered the job?

    What was BA’s response to the Max crashes?

    – Max is safe, no grounding needed.
    – Foreign pilots are the problem
    – It’ll be a quick fix
    – No new training needed

    and on and on. They say these things because…

    …any impediment (read: grounding or blame on them) affects how much money they make.

    “but as I wrote in Air Wars, good people made bad decisions.”

    What would a good person do/say, in response to the crashes? Wouldn’t you be sick to your stomach, if this happened on your watch? Would you ask for another $7 million?

    To borrow an expression from a friend of ours in WA;

    “These aren’t airplane guys”

    Ok, so if they aren’t in love with making shiny things fly – why are they there?

    For the money.

    If you have the ability to control how much money you can make, you really think these guys, who are used to having it their way – are going to take less?

    Maximizing shareholder value and putting everything else in second place, is at it very basic, the definition of greed.

    (from Webster)
    Definition of greed
    : a selfish and excessive desire for more of something (such as money) than is needed

    Calhoun NEEDED that extra $7 million to make ends meet, I guess.

  9. Intractable management examples.
    When Management won’t listen to reason, and then tries to cover up their blunders.

    The Challenger Space Shuttle disaster, Morton Thiokol keeping secret their Engineers viewpoints from NASA and having management signing off the OK to launch.
    The Engineers had to watch managements decision kill 7 astronauts helplessly. Morton Thiokol Engineers knew instantly, what happened after the accident.

    The 737-MAX, MCAS secret solution, keeping the FAA in the dark and controlling the information flow to the FAA through Boeing management.
    Keeping the world in the dark about the actual details of MCAS, and why an automated flight control system (MCAS) can never be allowed to be shut off.
    The Boeing Engineers knew instantly, what happened after the first accident.

    The great mRNA “vaccine” experiment failure, keeping secret the ingredients of the “vaccine” from the worlds doctors,
    covering up the adverse event data, and when it does begin to leak out, the DOD shuts down the database to fudge multiple years worth of data,
    and attempting to have the FDA keep the approval data from the world secret. It’s the same Big Pharma owning the FDA, CDC, HHS, government approval and regulatory agencies
    playbook. Big Pharma makes Billions, and millions die, forced to take a secret, experimental, injection without being allowed access to safe medications,
    or the information about what they are taking and the adverse events happening. FDA top doctors are resigning in protest. Top research doctors are trying to raise the alarm. But, they can only watch helplessly the slow destruction.

    A common theme, management fights to keep the Engineers / Ph.D data from the public. Lying to government regulators, who are now more and more in bed with the companies
    they regulate. Disaster ensues, and they double down on their cover up, not matter what the cost. The truth is trampled in the process. Engineers / Ph.d’s need a better
    process to make their views heard by the public.

  10. If Boeing had launched the NSA in 2011 as they intended to do in response to the NEO and the CSeries, it would have attracted the best engineers because it is more exciting and attractive to work on a new programme than a 50 year old model.

    So why did Boeing choose to skip the NSA in favour of revamping the 737 once again? Because they preferred to sacrifice the long term viability of the company for immediate and sustainable returns. Besides, there is no risk here because we are in a duopoly.

    And while we are at it let’s buy back as many shares as possible instead of wasting money on expensive and risky R&D. Anyway, our competitiveness is protected by a grandfather clause, so we can milk this old cow for as long as we want.

    But why stop there. Let’s outsource everything that can possibly be built by terrorized contractors. And move down south so that we can get rid of those nasty unions. Built it and we will come.

    If as a consequence of our decisions we can’t compete with Airbus and Bombardier let’s sue them. If necessary let’s sue the Air Force as well if they don’t want to give us this lucrative tanker contract. Next we will sue the FAA for not letting us certify our own aircraft.

    If all this is not greed then what is it? Cupidity, rapacity, or just plain stupidity?

      • PNW: one has to login to get those files. Can you copy-and-paste, or something?

          • With respect, patents say nothing about a company’s commercial intentions.
            Big companies use patents to create broad minefields for possible future competition, without knowing what the future holds. There’s generally lots of chaff and very little corn. Lots of “weeding out” gets done once an actual development direction has been established.

      • “Ultimately you have to listen to the people who buy your products and build what they will buy”

        If Steve Jobs followed that advice, the iPhone would’ve been a music player (iPod) w/ phone features or an existing phone (Blackberry) with music features.

        Most folks don’t know what they want. That’s why you hire good, creative, intuitive people and support their ideas. But that’s if you care about coming up with something good rather than something derivative.

  11. I saw Downfall at Sundance at about the same time the Frontline documentary aired. I thought both documentaries had very similar arguments, similar messages, and similar production values.

    Boeing’s business model is designed specifically to benefit shareholders, and puts all other stakeholders at a disadvantage – customers, suppliers, employees, taxpayers, and regulators. Responsibility for that falls on the executives and Board. Peter Robison’s book makes the same case.

    I don’t want to put words in Scott’s mouth, but I seem to recall him making similar arguments.

    • @Stan is correct in his summary and that I’ve made similar statements. But, as too many do, to reduce what happened with MAX to simply “greed” is simplistic. I said in this post and in more detail in “Air Wars” that there were many other factors that led to the choice to re-engine the 737 instead of doing a new airplane and pressures to maintain cost and schedule are true with every airplane program at every OEM. Competitive pressures, costly and delayed concurrent programs at Boeing also were factors. It’s the thesis that only “greed” was involved and Boeing “rushed” the design of the MAX that I especially object to. The fundamental re-engine design was already done. It was the devil in the details that tripped up Boeing. From program launch to EIS was just shy of 6 years, which was not out of line with other derivative programs.

  12. I certainly resonate with the line on greed since measures like the stock buy backs and the shift towards shareholder value in the last couple decades do not demonstrate a long term commitment towards a robust product line and quality.

    But I agree with Scott. To reduce these events to corporate greed oversimplifies the situation and more importantly glosses over the nuances that are vital to dissecting what the sequence of events were and the factors that led to these tragedies. It is not only greed, but complacency by engineers and their regulator counterparts. It is a lack of will and policy opportunism to resolve industry-legislative interface in the last decade.

    • GE-Jack Welch- Mcdouglas -Sundstrand and Boeing had a common Virus
      “When I say I changed the culture of Boeing, that was the intent, so it’s run like a business rather than a great engineering firm. It is a great engineering firm, but people invest in a company because they want to make money.”

      Harry Stonecipher, 2004, former CEO of The Boeing Company, reflecting on the late 1990s

      And then came McNearney and a few more Welch interns

      The Welch virus still infects Boeing , and GE has been very sick.

  13. Go back to the first crash, and ask, why didn’t Boeing ground the plane, why didn’t the FAA ground the plane, based on the information they had available. It was obvious a plane crashed, it’s not like Forkner somehow hid that from the world. Yet, no action until another crash with the entire Boeing/FAA braintrust who should have been digging deep into MCAS at that point.
    The whole thing is psychological groupthink that everything must be OK since a few people think so, or dissenting voices are not heard.

  14. To put it bluntly, symptoms are not causes.

    Ergo, what got Boeing into the corner was Profit and Greed, it was just more profit and greed than they were getting (or keeping the good times, to some , flowing) –

    If you are short engineers you have cut engineers

    If you outsource the 787, its because you don’t have the people and you want someone else to share the cost so you can buy back more stocks and pay more dividends.

    If your organization is in disarray, that been caused by cutting staff and shifting staff around (kill a job in Seattle, open one up in San Antonio, same job, you have to apply all over again at a lower wage)

    One person I knew that worked at Boeing said you could always get a better salary at one of the sub mfgs and he was always stressed as he was always loosing people to the outside which put massive burden on him.

    • “If you outsource the 787, its because you don’t have the people and you want someone else to share the cost so you can buy back more stocks and pay more dividends.”

      787 is the most subsidized design ever apparently.

      Outsourcing enabled Boeing to indirectly drink from those founts (via the risk sharing partners in other nations ) while simultaneously lambasting Airbus for RLI use.

      Boeing’s aim was for reaping large profits from distributing work share around and clicking the results together.

      • Yes. this was their dream, but they were spectacularly naive about this. Boeing management has been suckers for a slick PowerPoint presentation from 20 something business consultants. They saw that their big markup was on final integration. Solution: outsource everything except final integration. Snap it together like legos and make $$$.
        Problem is, the more you outsource the harder the job of final integration becomes.
        These people have spent the last 20+ years looking for some magic bullet which will allow them to accomplish a $15 billion program for half price. The latest gimmick is the Metaverse. Whatever! How about just recognizing that designing and building airplanes is hard and requires commitment and attention to detail, not shortcuts and the cheapest vendor.
        That story doesn’t move the stock.

  15. In my opinion, there is just no excuse to build in a single point catastrophic failure into your design, just to avoid retraining pilots to fly the modified design, i.e., MAX! It is forbidden territory in design philosophy and ethics! On top of that, to conceal the very presence of MCAS, even from pilots who have to fly the MAX, is unforgivable, no matter what. Disclosing MCAS and tolerating pilot training would have made Boeing lose a few orders and bucks, but would have been the right thing to do. But given the culture of share buybacks, huge executive pays and “shareholder value” nonsense at the cost of R&D, quality personnel and manufacturing prowess, etc, something like this was bound to happen, if not with MAX but something else. “Something is rotten in Denmark” as the saying goes!

  16. A rather embarrassing article for BA:
    Reuters:”FAA needs ‘systemic fix’ to Boeing 787 Dreamliner production issues”

    “The FAA said Tuesday it will retain the authority to issue airworthiness certificates until it is confident “Boeing’s quality control and manufacturing processes consistently produce 787s that meet FAA design standards.””

    “Boeing did not immediately comment.”

    “The FAA said earlier it wants Boeing to ensure it “has a robust plan for the re-work that it must perform on a large volume of new 787s in storage” and that “Boeing’s delivery processes are stable.””


    • Another article on this subject.
      One can surmise that BA’s proposal to just inspect 1 (or 3) out of every 10 airframes is now definitively binned: the FAA is requiring every single frame to meet spec before it can be certified for delivery.

      “FAA will not allow Boeing to certify 787 Dreamliners for flight until manufacturing process meets its standards”

      “In a statement on Tuesday, the FAA said that it would continue to approve 787 Dreamliner aircrafts for flight until Boeing’s quality control and manufacturing process “consistently produce 787s that meet FAA design standards.”

      “”This will allow the agency to confirm the effectiveness of measures Boeing has undertaken to improve the 787 manufacturing process,” the statement said.

      “Boeing could not confirm to Insider when deliveries of the Dreamliners would return.”


      • remember the contaminated wings issue?
        how can FAA be sure that 787 meet FAA design standards ?
        contaminated wings should be changed
        from the Seattle times:
        “Contamination of composite material
        The internal FAA memo relates how, early this year, Boeing reported to the FAA that Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in Japan — which builds the jet’s carbon composite wings — had discovered contamination of the composite material during fabrication that could potentially weaken the bonding when two composite parts are bonded together with adhesives.
        For example, when a stiffening rod is bonded to the inside of the wing skin.
        In the fabrication process for composites, carbon fiber tape impregnated with epoxy resin is laid on a mold, then hardened in a high-pressure oven called an autoclave.”

        “Bags are placed around the composite material to create a vacuum, and a thin sheet may be placed between the composites and the mold to facilitate release when it comes out of the autoclave. The contamination occurred because some of the bagging and release materials contained polytetrafluoroethylene — commonly known by the brand name Teflon.
        The use of PTFE, which left a residue after removal, did not comply with Boeing’s manufacturing specifications.”

        • Uhh frog ? It is rare that a’ stiffining’ rod is bonded to either upper or lower wing skins. Stringers running the length of the wing are ei/ther part of the autoclave- molding process or fastened with’ nut and bolt’ type fasteners such as hi locks, huck bolts, etc.

          Ribs are most commonly fastened by similar bolt/nut combinations.

          The contamination problem affects the surface of the part, both inner and outer, relative to painting, sealing, and maybe some ‘ ding’ repair issues. But not usually structural issues.

          And possibly some lightning protection issues- but such analysis is complex

  17. “Good people made bad decisions.”
    Would it be more accurate to say: “Mediocre people made bad decisions and good people did the best they could in a terrible situation?”
    The biggest decision to launch the Max in the first place was made by McNerny and rubberstamped by his compliant board of directors. Is McNerny “good people”? I suppose his mother thinks so.
    Then the myriad terrible decisions taken in execution of the MCAS system, were these bad decisions by good people?
    Perhaps, but evidence points to larger systemic problems.
    Better to say, good people were placed in untenable situations by a systemically flawed company run by people who didn’t care about anything beyond finance and lobbying.

    • You do know that the MAX was launched at the request of the 737 operators that turned down a clean sheet replacement airplane. Boeing hit the street with the Y1 concepts and were flat turned down. Its incredibly hard to fault launching a program your customers ask for. Boeing was on record as not wanting to re-engine the NG. What was McNerneys option? When your customers turn down your new design and TELL YOU they want a re-engined 737 derivative done on a minor change cert basis, please explain to me a batter path forward than the MAX. MCAS was created AFTER the MAX was flying as a patch to get the stickforce per G into cert compliance. You should reall go back and look at the actual history.

      • That clean sheet replacement was nothing more than a 4Color Glossy. No idea how it would look, how to build it for acceptable money, no acceptable time frame no acceptable efficiency distance to existing frames.

        It was a FUD leader ( together with some collution with financing to keep Airbus away from the GTF NEO.

        Airbus called that bluff.

      • Multiple sources say the critical push for McNerny to launch the Max was the large order of the Neo by American, I believe. Does this mean “customers requested the Max” or does it mean that McNerny was too greedy to accept temporary loss of orders during extra time required to develop a clean sheet plane?
        Even if we accept your version of the launch, the question is, how did Boeing allow itself to be maneuvered into this position? By 2011 the 737 was a 45 year old airframe at the end of its useful life. Aircraft development is a long term chess match in which players must think several moves ahead. Yet Boeing was somehow shocked when Airbus launched the NEO? One single move and….checkmate!
        Of course, the story does not begin with the Max, it goes back to the 787 development and before. In the early 2000’s Boeing had grandiose plans to build a family of planes using the 787 technology. Those plans were killed by the fiasco of the 787 development. Overnight Boeing went from the aggressor to the passive reactionary in the aircraft development battle.
        Bottom line, it was their own previous stupidity and incompetence that brought Boeing to a place where it difficult for them to NOT launch the Max.
        Then, even if we give McNerny and friends a pass for the launch, the design and certification of MCAS is a whole series of poor decisions and negligence: single point failures, huge redesigns not passed on to FAA, system repeatedly over rides pilot inputs, omission from operating manuals, no pilot sim training……

        • “Drug Addiction”
          The lower design requirements are a major competitive leg up for the 737.
          Boeing would have had to do a new frame significantly more efficient than the 737NG _that also provides for the current basic certification requirements ( i.e. beefier structure, higher thrust engines ).

        • Lots to unpack here.
          1) I agree BA was forced to do the max for 2 reasons. The customers didnt buy their clean sheet Y1, and the NEO was too good to continue against without a response. Mcnerney had to launch the plane they didnt want to build.
          2) You seem to think that BA hadn’t designed a clean sheet airplane, they had worked out replacements for their entire product line. You suggest that they had a plan to expand the 787esq technlogy across the company, not quite, the fact was that the Yellowstone program was way down the road and there were 3 programs. Y1, Y2 and Y3. Check here. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_Yellowstone_Project
          Y1 was was a family of aircraft to replace the 737 and 757. Y2 was the 767 replacement and Y3 was the replacement for the 777 and 747 class aircraft. The Y2 was built and became the 787, The Y1 was passed on by the 737 operators.
          3) Your comment about the 737 being 45 years old isnt really correct. The TCDS may be that old, but there is virtually nothing on the airplane today that was flying on the -100s, The NG had a new fuselage, new wing, new engines, new avionics, we all know this, so its quite disengenious to say its a 45 year old airplane when the TCDS is on Revision 65 showing an airplane with 28,690 lbs continious thrust vs 12,600lbs continious on the old -100. FWIW. I believe the use of the derivative development rules is fundamentally wrong……
          4) As far as MCAS gos, so much is going on there that people not in the business get skewed views and the truth is hard to sift out. The issue with the incorporation of MCAS had a lot to do with Major vs Minor change classifications related to the cert basis. Some of the rationale for not training on MCAS makes sense, MCAS has no off switch, so the crew can take no action to disable it. And lacking an intervention path, there is no lesson to be taught. Then again, the symptom of an MCAS failure trim action IS different enough that the usual box training the crews go through for trim runaways might be insufficient. I vote for that. Those who understand the BA drawing release process for supplemental chnges vs Basic Changes and how the change board operates arent suprised that the single point failure path got through unnoticed, a horrible oversight that words cant cover. Add that to the loss of knowlege from retiring Engineers and Techs, and the isiosyncrosies of airplanes themselves, and you have a bad mix. Ultimately, i dont think its greed per se, but really a case of not enough good people remaining to do the job.

          • “3) Your comment about the 737 being 45 years old isnt really correct. ”

            It did get a modified wing. The basic structure has not changed. beefed up extended, reprofiled to something that leans on supercritical but is not there.
            It got new funky Screens. newish engines were hung with rather extended effort : fall out MCAS !
            It got a longer fuselage and a new ass.:-)
            All around long and ugly accessorizing. nothing more. grandfathering allowed to not look left and right into change fall out. Still a 9g fuselage, dual lobed/lobotomized instrumentation, after thought addons that only work from one side lobe…. (AMS)

            All that did not change the aged basic design concept.

            ” I believe the use of the derivative development rules is fundamentally wrong……”

            You are onto something. there 🙂

          • Hey UWE
            Im not sure of what most of your reply was about because it mostly read as an incoherent rant, But the 9 G fuselage was factual enough to be able to look at a bit more closly.

            You are right, the 737 has a 9 G fuelage……… JUST LIKE ALL AIRBUS A320’S, A321S INCLUDING THE XLR, BECAUSE THATS THE CURRENT LAW. LAST UPDATED IN 1997.

            § 25.561 General.
            (a) The airplane, although it may be damaged in emergency landing conditions on land or water, must be designed as prescribed in this section to protect each occupant under those conditions.

            (b) The structure must be designed to give each occupant every reasonable chance of escaping serious injury in a minor crash landing when –

            (1) Proper use is made of seats, belts, and all other safety design provisions;

            (2) The wheels are retracted (where applicable); and

            (3) The occupant experiences the following ultimate inertia forces acting separately relative to the surrounding structure:

            (i) Upward, 3.0g

            (ii) Forward, 9.0g

            (iii) Sideward, 3.0g on the airframe; and 4.0g on the seats and their attachments.

            (iv) Downward, 6.0g

            (v) Rearward, 1.5g

            Your tossing this about like it is a bad thing, and old, and applicable to the the 737 design from long ago is clearly wrong, if not laughable. How about we be intellectually honest enough to say that it applies to everybody, OOPS you cant because AIRBUS designs its aircraft to the same standards and that makes your needless mudslinging laughable……. Have a great day

          • With regard to whether or not the 737 is a 45 year old airframe, I would ask why did the 737 require an MCAS software cluge while the A320/321 did not?
            I have read it is because the basic 737 airframe was designed in the 1960s when some airports lacked modern equipment to handle baggage. Since the A320 was designed a couple decades later when this was no longer a concern, it’s fuselage sits higher off the tarmac. This means the A320 platform can be readily re-engined while the 737 platform has reached (or exceeded) it’s limits.
            Certainly the 737 airframe has been stretched and modified, but in critical ways it remains a 60’s design in ways that mean it cannot be stretched and re-engined any further.
            So I would say that Boeing backed itself into this corner by not investing in a new narrow body platform at some point,, one which could be stretched and re-engined without creating an instability requiring a software cluge.

          • And on feb 22 ‘John” posted ” I would ask why did the 737 require an MCAS software cluge while the A320/321 did not?”

            Please John- take the time to read- research-the details of MCAS and why it was incorporated. It had zip to do with Body age/design and most of the other claims you make. I’ll try an over simplified explanation which I am sure will be corrected if I miss the basics.And I know there are many links and videos that provide more complete details. I had such links a few years ago-but lost track of them. They do NOT include NYT articles

            a) regs require a smooth variation/ transition of stick force when trying to drop the nose to prevent a stall when ” flying” in a very rare /unusual combination of thrust and attitude leading into a stall.

            B) the combination of engine placement and CG issues on Max resulted in a possible combination of airspeed, thrust, attitude which at the extremes would result in a ‘ non smooth’ transition of stick position and force/feel.
            C) To ‘ fit the smooth curve ‘ of force-feel- a software change was made to force the nose down in case of this rare condition ASSUMING normal flight speeds and sufficient altitude.

            D) But testing showed this rare condition might happen at a lower speed also, which then required a faster larger movement of the horizontal stabilizer then at higher speed and altitude.
            E) So the change was made to allow- require MCAS to move the stabilizer faster and further than initial design.

            F) ASSUMPTIONS were made that ‘average’ pilot could identifiy and correct or disconnect system in very few seconds( I’m avoiding numbers here deliberately ). And it would cost company money if they had to train for that case.
            G)way too late after two crashes, and in a simulator, they found out that ASSUMPTIONS were FUBAR even when pilot knew ahead of time what and when to expect the simulation to engage.

            The rest is history

            It is really not that difficult now to search and find facts and data re the above.

          • John.
            First, The A320 has a system that looks and acts a lot like MCAS. Its called Alpha Floor Protection. It is a stall protection component of Normal Law. The reason you dont hear about seperate STAB AUG programs within the Airbus Flight Control System is that its REALLY complicated. There is a PILE of programming involved, and they have crammed so many different pieces of Stab Aug into the flight controls its amazing. Even with all that, the A320 had recent problems requiring a flight control programming patch and was restricted from carrying people in the last few rows of seating due to aft CG limit issues and stickforce/g problems this caused. But they patched it, and the restriction was lifted. It happens to everybody as you fly the edges of the envelope and find stuff the CFD misses. I just refuse to shit on them here because it happens to everybody, But back to your question……
            The reason MCAS is there is to patch a Stickforce/G non-linearity in high alpha flight above 12.3 degrees alpha where elevator yoke forces to not meet the regulations. Its a patch added to the speed trim component of the FMC on a mechanical flight control system. The aircraft was built and flying before it popped up, it was not predicted by BA’s CFD programming which is understood to be on the conversative side. They couldn’t stick on anything easily to change the light elevator feel, So they grabbed MCAS off the 767, modded it and effed it up terribly.
            As far as your question why they didn’t do a new airplane instead of the MAX, they did one, had it through prelim design and went to shop it to the operators. It was the Y1 out of the Yellowstone project. Flight Global published a piece on the 737 replacement team being named in 2006, so it was recognised and developed long before the MAX needed to be put onto play. The Y1 airplane was great, but the operators were universal in their rejection of it. They were all competitive with their existing 737 fleets against the A320 and didnt see the need to obsolete their fleets, add all the stuff that comes with a new fleet, and grow it slowly. right airplane, wrong timing. BA didnt want to re-engine the 737, replacement was the plan all along, but the operators wouldn’t go to the new airplane and wanted a derivative. You can’t build what you cant sell. BA had the MAX on paper as a backup and NEO forced the MAX to happen because the NG was uncompetitive against it. With the MAX, BA closed the gap to the NEO, almost, as it is sub optimal in quite a few places. Youre right that the NEO has the advantages of being 20 years younger, but the MAX and the NEO are different enough that the competitiveness of the airplanes is very route specific. Did that get you your answers?

          • @Bubba
            A,B,C,…. :: fleißig!

            What you enumerate is not
            “holes in cheese that unfortunately and unexpectedly align” just bad luck.
            but a “high capacity pipeline bored with imbecility though that same cheese”. This is intentional. fall out expect able had not every body involved given the “3 apes” show : no see, so say, no hear.

    • When I say good people made bad decisions, I’m talking about the engineers. @John is correct (in my view) that there is (was) a larger systemic problem at Boeing. When five of the last airplane programs have big losses (787, 747-8, MAX, KC-46A, 777X), two of these programs were grounded (787, MAX), new deliveries of the 787 have been blocked for more than a year and the FAA rescinded ticketing authority on two programs (MAX, 787), there is clearly a systemic issue. And this doesn’t even get into the defense unit.

      • I think I’d nuance your first sentence even further by saying:
        Some good people who want to make good decisions are coerced, overruled and/or sidelined by “higher organizational layers” to such an extent that bad decisions eventually get effectuated.
        Somewhere in those “higher organizational layers” there are senior, managing “engineers” who somehow lack a spine and/or a conscience and/or a sufficient understanding of some pretty basic tenets of engineering and statistical analysis. I hope they sleep really badly at night — though I somehow doubt it.

  18. Scott is right, it isn’t greed, it’s much more than that: it’s basically the Anglo-Saxon version of an extreme, unregulated, profit-maximizing capitalism controlled by a short-term oriented, bonus-obsessed finance industry, that lead into this disaster with Boeing. People, who believe in all the ideological talk about free markets, shareholder instead of stakeholder value, excessive manager bonuses, self-reliance and trickle down, have difficulties to adjust to the reality of the destructiveness of this form of capitalism: socially, ecologically, politically, technically and economically. Boeing is exhibit No. 1 for this kind of disaster capitalism.

    • Wow – all those words you typed. Couldn’t you just have said….Gr-

      You’re right, disaster capitalism. I like that…

      • No, Frank, “greed” is just an individual, human motivation, but the failure of Boeing isn’t because of individuals, it’s systematic. We need to go back to a responsible, e.g. regulated form of capitalism (like it existed until the eighties.). To simply exchange individual industry leaders and hope they would behave differently, is naive.

        BTW, I appreciate your very informative, factual comments.

        • The “disease” of trickle down economics has not finished running its course. As far as Boeing’s symptoms that is being made very evident by recent books and these documentaries in the media. About the year 2010 I was a contractor at one of the top three suppliers to Boeing. I said to a fellow worker: What do those guys do? in the group of desks next to us. He said: Those are software guys that fix coding that was outsourced to India.

          Outside my cube occasionally level one managers would chat. More than a few times I would hear them complain about level three managers telling them to give them ideas for more positions that could be outsourced to LCCs (low cost countries.) In this case, Mexico and India.

          I thought I read Boeing had some software outsourced to LCCs. Now I’m sure Airbus tries to make a profit. But it seems “their system” is at least tempered by some kind of morality. This rationalization of total commitment to shareholder value is just another justification for profit at all cost. They’ve got to add back into these MBA Schools some ethics requirement. Maybe a one credit class that covers the environment, sustainability, and god, yeah God. In any form of interpretation. Just some modicum of spirituality. Something that won’t distract too much from their focus.

  19. This publication blames the 737 MAX fiasco squarely on greed:

    “‘Downfall’: How Boeing Put Profits Over People, With Catastrophic Results
    A new Netflix documentary explores the corruption behind Boeing’s disastrous 737 MAX.”

    “Any entrepreneur watching the film would be hard-pressed to miss the lesson that short-term gain can come at the expense of long-term success.”



    I can’t imagine the avalanche of scathing articles that we’re going to be seeing in the mainstream (and aviation) press this weekend, after the Netfilx documentary has finally aired.

  20. I can’t seem to find answers to Two questions …
    1) Has the Final report on the Ethiopian ET302 Max accident been released yet? There’s a Preliminary report out and an Interim report out, and I’ve seen reports in the past that the Final report is soon to be released, but, I haven’t heard anything else?
    2) Has it ever been found out what caused the brand new AOA sensor to fail on the ET302? It was suggested that a bird strike may have taken it down, but, nothing finalized? It may never be able to be established for sure, but, just wondering if anyone has heard of any final disposition.

    • Richard. I havent seen the final report, but I have seen the explaination supporting the bird strike hypothesis. What generated that opinion was the fact that all was well until the pitch vane went from a nominal normal climb value to a very high unattainable value instantaneously. IIRC, it was something around 70 degrees AofA, an unattainable in flight value. Coincident with the change in value was a CVR recording of a loud bang on outside of the right side of the cockpit. This doesn’t PROVE it was a bird strike, but there are very few scenarios that match the forensics.

  21. One thing that gets lost in all the noise is that the Max strategy was actually a reasonable strategy poorly executed.

    Boeing’s contention (and I think AB agrees) is that the industry is ripe for a reinvention of production systems to reduce cost and increase automation.

    But developing that takes time and will have a long ramp up. So to prevent the Osborne effect Boeing’s idea was to build the Max and keep cash flowing. Then design a new aircraft above the Max (the infamous NMM) and develop the production systems there. Then move it down to the high volume single aisle space.

    But for a botched failure mode analysis of MCAS this could well have worked.

    • Only if the product that you’re “updating” isn’t already severly over-stretched and/or out of date. Trying to dress up a steam locomotive in the era of high-speed electric rail is a completely futile exercise. The 737 is a 60-year old design…50% more than the competing AB product, which has FBW, doesn’t hunch to the ground, and can take containerized freight.

    • jbeeko,
      I completely agree.

      I’ve never seen any credible arguments that the 737 was too “out of date” to be safely updated (Airbus marketing talking points don’t cut it).

      I think Scott has it right: bad Boeing culture allowed good engineers to be pressured into making hasty/bad decisions.

      • Yes, a cable-and-pulley manual trim wheel that potentially requires the strength of two (male) pilots to operate it…that’s soooooo 2022! 😏

        • The 737 manual trim wheel is easy to operate within the safe flight envelope, just like the manual trim wheel on the A320.

          Which large commercial aircraft has 2022 technology?

          • Sure…runaway trim never occurs, right?
            That’s why the FAA produced several pages on the subject in an amended manual for the 737. An amusing amendment, since one can ask who is actually flying the plane if both pilots are toiling over the trim wheel.

          • @ Richard
            A US pilot would never allow the plane to get out of trim in the first place…remember?
            Runaway trim only happens elsewhere 😏

            Pilots are never occupied by other emergencies, of course: they can always devote 100% of their attention to trim.

            What an idealized world view 😇

          • Bryce,
            Never said runaway trim never occurs, and I support the FAA mandated changes to the AFM to “facilitate the crew’s ability to recognize and respond to undesired horizontal stabilizer movement and the effects of a potential AOA sensor failure.”

            How does any of this prove that the 737 is too “out of date” to be safely updated??

          • @ Mike B
            Which part of “both pilots toiling over a mechanical wheel with attached cables and pulleys” did you miss?
            Did you look at page 80 of the document that Richard D posted? It lists circumstances in which “pilots are unable to turn wheel”.

            We’re now in the 21st century…not stuck back in the steam age.

          • Bryce,
            “A US pilot would never allow the plane to get out of trim in the first place…remember?”
            “Runaway trim only happens elsewhere 😏”
            “Pilots are never occupied by other emergencies, of course: they can always devote 100% of their attention to trim.”

            Ha! I see you’ve never met a straw man argument you didn’t like.

            Safety problems occur with every aircraft ever designed. That is why regulators issue AD’s that the manufacturer’s must adhere to. Every regulator in the world knows about the issues surrounding the 737 trim wheels. What was their response to this issue?

            So, again, how does any of this prove that the 737 is too “out of date” to be safely updated? The trim wheel issue is well known and can be changed if needed.

          • The reversion to manual trim in the A320 is via cables but it is always hydraulically assisted. Safety comes from several levels of redundancy.

          • @ MB
            “I’ve never seen any credible arguments that the 737 was too “out of date” to be safely updated”

            Well, there’s a difference between “seeing” and “acknowledging”. You can drag a horse to the well but you can’t make him drink.
            Still waiting for a reaction to page 80 in Richard D’s document.

            If the 737 is still “au courant” in your opinion, then why bother with the hassle of an NBA? Why not just do a “MAX Plus”? That would be a REAL seller 😏

      • “I’ve never seen any credible arguments that the 737 was too “out of date” to be safely updated (Airbus marketing talking points don’t cut it).”

        OK lets roll back all the certification markup that happened in the last 50 yeas. Apparently they are of no use, no gain.

        Why do crashed 737 tend to come apart and kill people around the pickle forks ( either end of the wingbox )

        • “OK lets roll back all the certification markup that happened in the last 50 yeas. Apparently they are of no use, no gain.”

          Who is saying this? I’m not. The A320 has had plenty of “certification markup” in the last 35 years, but we never hear a peep from you about how that makes it unsafe. Airbus talking points.

          “Why do crashed 737 tend to come apart and kill people around the pickle forks ( either end of the wingbox )”

          Show us some real data on the crash survivability of the 737 vs. say, the A320. If there are significant differences to be found there, then make your case. Otherwise, pardon me that I take your statement merely as more Airbus talking points.

          Even if what you said has is true, it still fails to demonstrate that the 737 is too out of date to be safely updated.

          • I don’t know how this was resolved, or did Boeing consider the wiring grandfathered?
            .. as it worked in the past, so we don’t need to change it … sort of the same mentality that lead to the MCAS only being tied to one AOA sensor, as it was like that for the Speed Trim System, so it must be ok for MCAS, as they do the same thing, sort of, but, we’ll just tweak MCAS at the last moment to be quicker, without looking at the entire system. Why certify the entire system again, as it’s worked in the past just fine.

          • This was supposed to go somewhere else:
            The nice thing with the US PTO is that you can patent nigh anything. It does not check for prior art or if the patent makes any sense at all.
            The onus is on others to kill the patent. ( See the Basler winglet patent(s)

            The flat oval fuselage is imho a demanding force management task. failure modes would demand more and weighty structure in the floor.

          • Who is saying this?
            IMU you are.
            If the 196ties 9 g fuselage of the 737 is sufficient and safe why bother with the increased crashworthiness introduced juste before EIS of the A320?
            going by your words there are no benefits.

            737 is build lighter with the downside that the fuselage has a knack of breaking just ahead and back of the Center Wing Box ( .. and killing people! See the AMS crash, some others. compare with the A320 in Russia that ski jumped off a runway berm)

            Amusing: today’s A320 seems to be marginally lighter while delivering a couple of Gs more crashworthiness.

            IMHO the MCAS desaster and the following gyrations to “close fix” the issue shows off the jurassic base design. Onionlayer upgraqded designs regularly bite! Each new layer contracts the acceptable solution space.

            sideline story: Atari had a vastly competent main designer ( concept and ASICS for the (MEGA)ST line of products.
            The “product designers” following that guy where rather common. The basic ST was expanded _by adding periphery and curlygigs around the ASICS.
            They never managed to remove the now hampering bugs in the set of ASICS. didn’t last long.

      • How does the FAA determine when a new modification of an aircraft needs a new type certification? It’s rather hazy on the specific requirements. The original 737 has about 1/2 the thrust of the 737-MAX. A lot of regulations, in the last 50 years have been grand-fathered into the 737-MAX. Good designs can stand the test of time (the DC-3 etc). But, common sense dictates that improvements in safety in the last 50 years should be required in new modifications.

        • Richard,
          I agree with you that care must be taken when determining whether or not a modification requires a new type certification. It’s not an easy question to answer.

          I hear the “grand-fathered” argument a lot. I suspect this is more Airbus talking points. I would be very interested in knowing the specific areas where the 737 does not at least achieve equivalent safety to the current regulations. Remember, these are the cases where the current regulations aren’t strictly met, but analysis shows that the level of safety is the same.

          Are you implying that Boeing has made no modifications over the last 50 years to improve the safety of the 737?

          • 737 frame is crash rated lower than current standard. If i remember correctly the NG was not achieving the crash rating of the era. Not sure about the Classic.

            I imagine it would take significant strengthening (and weight increase) to rectify it. Potentially not being practical within reasonable costs/weight increase, making a new program the economical choice over the MAX.

  22. Why Boeing doesn’t have an “OFF” switch for MCAS, I keep harping on. If the Stabilizer cutout switches were kept as they had been in the previous NG version, the pilots in ET302 could have turned on ONLY the Manual Electric cutout, leaving the Autopilot (and MCAS) off or put in a 3rd switch to keep MCAS off. So that they could still have control of the Stabilizer. Why Boeing doesn’t have an “OFF” switch for MCAS baffles me. Airbus has 3 AOA sensors and 5 computers to use automation in their aircraft, but, Boeing had 1 AOA sensor and 1 computer originally and now has 2 AOA sensors and 2 computers for their automated 737-MAX. Airbus has even had 2 AOA’s fail at the same time confusing it’s voting logic.

  23. Scott,
    Thanks for saying this.

    “There is nothing in it for Boeing to develop an unsafe airplane. There are also always pressures to control costs and meet delivery schedules. On every program. At Boeing, at Airbus, etc.”

    I’ve never met an engineer who isn’t under significant pressure when actively working on a real project. In my experience, engineers will take as much time as you give them to complete their work. The trick is to figure out what the minimum time is for each engineer to perform a complete and thorough job within their given set of requirements.

    • Please don’t abuse/soil the term “engineer” by using it to refer to whatever third-rate amateur was responsible for conceiving/executing MCAS 1.0.

      An undergraduate engineering student would have done a better job.

  24. Mike Bohnet said ” The trick is to figure out what the minimum time is for each engineer to perform a complete and thorough job within their given set of requirements.”

    Sounds like a bullet point on a power pointless presentation to the beancounter crowd.

    So how to predict how long it took OG to develop the wheel ? And then the brakes ? and how long for a math major to fully develop a gravity relationship after observing the apple falling from the tree/ And now about Copernicus and earth sun issues ??
    Or tesla and power transmission ?

    Or wesinghouse and air brakes and or AC power?

    All without an iphone or desktop computer.

    • There is a difference between making discoveries and doing engineering. As an engineer who manages a team of engineers on a daily basis, I understand that. I also know the people on my team. I’ve worked with them enough to know when the schedule is truly hard on them and when they are merely bitching about a reduction in their “water-cooler” time.

      • My point perhaps poorly stated was that the line- definition-between ‘ engineering’ and ” discoveries ” is very fuzzy. its one thing to work to or with a given set of requirements such as design to 25,000 pound load applied thus and so to a certain type structure, etc and to ‘ develop ‘ a process that does X. I was a mechanical engineer in Boeing Manufacturing Research ( which at the time 60 years ago was not only a separate org from engineering but considered to be the home of 2nd quality engineers and thus a 10 to 15 percent lower salary schedule from ” real engineers ” with top salary limits about 10 percent lower).

        I got a simple assignment – take a NASA developed electromagnetic dent remover used on Saturn fuel tanks and use it to drive Titanium /A286 rivets on the B2707 supersonic transport program ( 1967-68 ).

        Which I did. I labeled it as EMR ElectroMagneticRiveter

        But since it was on a partially funded govt program, I could not patent it.
        Work was transferred to Commecial, and a patent filing was made by others- not including myself.When the 2707 program folded, I was laid off.
        Patents were granted in 1971-72. I was rehired a few years later.
        Eventually, the concept was improved via use of lower voltages and was the basis
        for a firm now known as Electroimpact.

        And yes, Peter Z knows who I am and the full background story. I’ve had a personal tour of his factory in Everett in 2017.

        So was EMR an “engineering assignment “or a “discovery” or simply a ‘ development’.

        Model Number; B2707
        Program Number: 659-029 5/7/69
        (The above was MY report )

        Inventors: —–, Auburn; —- Seattle, both of Wash.
        Assignee: The Boeing Company, Seattle,
        Wash.Filed: Aug. 1, 1968

        U.S. Patent, 3704506,—-, issued 12/72
        U.S. Patent, 3559269, —— issued 2/71

        —–, Auburn, Wash., and —
        , assignors to The Boeing Company,
        Seattle, Wash.
        Filed Nov. 15, 1968, Ser. No. 776,014

        • Bubba2,
          My guess would be that EMR was a development project. It seems there was a clear expectation that it would work based on prior experience, but there were also still significant questions that needed answering.

          My team and I do primarily development work, which in my opinion, is harder to schedule than engineering work, but easier to schedule than research. My main point to Scott was that in my experience, engineers in general are almost always under pressure. It comes with the profession. Those that assume pressure only happens at Boeing are naive.

          Check out US7305912, US7028807, and US8584585 on google patents if you have nothing better to do.

          • “Those that assume pressure only happens at Boeing are naive.”

            How come the engineers at Airbus — who, in line with your argument, are also “under pressure”– have never managed to produce a monumental piece of junk of the magnitude of MCAS?

          • Don’t forget the Airbus A320 when it first came out. The Alpha floor protection was switched off by a pilot, for a low pass, and crashed the aircraft. This obviously wasn’t the planes fault, but, does make one wonder if this is a reason Boeing won’t install an “OFF” switch for the 737 MAX MCAS? (it would place the 737-MAX in an unprotected mode of safety, rather than strictly being a feel-ability issue). There was a question raised about the A320 crash investigation, but, doesn’t seem plausible to me.
            and the response by Airbus

          • IMU nothing was switched off.

            The plane was “hanging at the limit” in alpha protection. Engines at idle. just enough energy to coast along the runway ( already in ground effect?)

            Terrain at the runway end was forested and rising.
            Thrust demand especially in scope of time to spool up was absolutely (too) late.
            Essentially the end was controlled flight into terrain which enabled a benign crash.
            Non FBW alternative would have been a stall, loss of lift .. with a more catastrophic outcome.

          • @Uwe
            I was going by page 8 of the Airbus reponse .. where they said the pilot intended to switch off Alpha protection for the procedure.
            In the English translation of the Final accident report on Page 20, it seems to indicate that the “Alpha floor function (1) disengaged”,
            meaning that the Capt was intending to have the Alpha protection “off”. Later on, on page 35, it appears there is a “priority mode”
            Alpha protection that kicks in at 17.5 degrees with some other variables, that couldn’t be shut off, then there is a power thrust increase
            that kicks in lower than 100 ft, if the AOA is greater than 15 degrees. Later on, on page 52, it mentions that the Alpha Floor protection
            can be turned off, if planning to fly at high AOA’s (this cuts off the automatic thrust above 100 ft) (if after 30 sec, this mode locks in
            for the rest of the flight). On page 54, it says the Alpha Floor protection was automatically turned off. I haven’t looked at this to
            figure out the flowchart of Alpha Protection above and below 100 ft and which part of it can be switched off or not. If you’re going to
            be flying an A320, I’m sure this system is drilled into pilots.
            In the “miracle on the Hudson” Capt. Sullenberger, used the Alpha protection function on the A320 to great effect. Obviously, he wasn’t
            planning a low pass, for an air show.

            A good overview of the A320 crash at the Paris Airshow
            An overview of Alpha protection on the A320 … (it almost sounds like the function MCAS performs)

        • what one/I take(s) away from the Habsheim crash is that FBW can’t replace a sane pilot but it could alleviate the bad outcome of this case of energy mismanagement.
          ( insane pilot: start with having the idea of doing a LOW path “toucha, toucha, touch me” without any reserves
          into rising terrain. )

  25. Interesting application of F=ma and KE= mv^2/2 principles. EMR used two opposing magnetic drivers and a sliding mass to drive a ‘ slug’ type rivet from both sides with near zero net displacement of the workpiece. Allowed one shot hand riveting on 747 inner wing panels on 747 where normally used large c- frame hydraulic riveters could not reach.
    In 1967 – Using a light weight c frame suspended by a chain – drove aA-286 1/4 inch slug rivet in a 1/2 inch thick titanium stack with a glass beaker of red water sitting on top of horizontal 2 lb clamped specimen- with barely a ripple as shown in camera shot. normal squeeze force to do that was over 30,000 lbs. larger dogbone skin stringer panels used the same setup and had significantly improved fatigue life- and away we went.

    Riveters using that principle are now used all over the world.

    And of course my name is not on patents. But I still have a few still photo shots of the tests in 1967 and the C frame shown in patent application.
    As to a development project with expectations – the direction was simply do it. When I asked to purchase 2 air pressure relief valve to back the sliding mass and apply clamping pressure ( for about $20 each ) the answer was NO- if you cant do it without such I’ll find someone who can. So at about 4 times the cost by having two made in house I continued on.
    No pressure.

    • conventional riveting but with two opposing same speed masses working as rivet formers?

      This is different from electromagnetic forming ( material displacement via induction/eddy current forces ) , right?

      • The choice of words- title- description on the patents was not mine. Nor was I aware of the patent filed by by ex manager- supervisor till several years AFTER they were filed. Splitting hairs re technical descriptions is not worthwhile.

        I coined the words Electro Magnetic Rivet(er) [EMR] in 1967 on the Boeing SST program. This probably prevented the use of the same words on the patent since it would leave a trail to a process partly developed by government funding.

        Yes the process IS/WAS different than electromagnetic forming

        ..” two opposing same speed masses…” is partially correct. The ‘masses ‘ involved weighed about 10 lbs each. A 1/4 inch 8 inch dia copper plate fastened to a steel plate of same size attached to a 1 inch dia rod about 8 inches long with a forming die attached. Opposing the plates was a spiral wound coil – imbedded in “plastic” attached to a 80 to 100 lb ‘ mass’ in a fiberglass tube and backed by a air pressure cavity. Thus the only forming was the rivet done by impact forces driven by magnetic induction. This was no doubt why the company founded by Peter Z is known as ElectroImpact.

  26. Very interesting read on the USS Fitzgerald:


    and the aftermath of ass covering by the heads of the Navy:


    and the guy who tied to cover his butt:


    and where he is now:

    On October 25, 2019, Boeing announced that Richardson had been elected to its Board of Directors as a member of the Aerospace Safety Committee and the Special Programs Committee.[4]

  27. When first class posterior covers are needed- go for the best.

    Damm the torpedos, full speed ahead.

    And in the words of the immortal John Paul Jones- ” We have not yet begun to fight’

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