Pontifications: Remembering two other mysterious 737 accidents

By Scott Hamilton

April 8, 2019, © Leeham News: Boeing’s corporate response to the crash of Lion Air JT610 was initially to blame the pilots of the former and defend the airplanes in that accident and the Ethiopian Airlines ET302 crash.

Neither is surprising in this world of instant lawsuits.

These actions are also in Boeing’s corporate culture.

But in a major shift in corporate tone, Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg last Thursday issued a video in which he said Boeing “owns” the MAX accidents. This is very un-Boeing. (It will be interesting, however, to see how Boeing’s legal team responds to the lawsuits.)

I’m reminded of the last time the 737 was involved in two mysterious crashes in which Boeing blamed the pilots in one of them. The causes of the two accidents turned out to be placed squarely on the airplane, however.

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Boeing MAX production cut signals long grounding

  • Airlines seeking interim aircraft leases of six months.
  • At least one sees MAX grounding lasting until November.
  • Impact to Boeing is already significant and growing.
  • Impact on the NMA decision.

April 6, 2019 © Leeham News: Boeing’s decision Friday to reduce the production rate on the 737 MAX was a surprise in timing and scope.

This came so quickly and was steep, cutting production from 52 MAXes per month to 42. It comes on the heals that a second software problem was found, delaying submission of the MCAS software upgrade to the FAA for review and approval.

The production rate cut is effective in mid-April. This is lightning speed in this industry, where rate breaks, as changes are called, typically have 12-18 month lead times.

Boeing hasn’t announced what the second software problem is. LNA is told it is the interface between the MCAS upgrade and the Flight Control System, but specifics are lacking.

LNA interprets these combined events as indicative the MAX will be ground well past the Paris Air Show in June.

The impact to Boeing is going to be huge: customer compensation, deferred revenue, lost revenue, potentially canceled orders and potential lost orders in sales campaigns. The hit to the Boeing brand and impacts of multiple investigations won’t become clear for months to come.

A partial line-up of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft stored at Paine Field, Everett (WA). Photo by Jennifer Schuld.

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

Bjorn’s Corner

April 05, 2019, ©. Leeham News: The preliminary accident report of the ET302 crash was released yesterday. It confirmed what we wrote about earlier in the week, the pilots followed the prescribed procedure to stop MCAS. Yet they didn’t make it.

Part of why we presented Wednesday. Here follows additional analysis after studying the information in the Preliminary Crash Report.

Figure 1. The general Flight Data Recorder trace from ET302. Source: ET302 preliminary report.

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Ethiopia issues preliminary report of ET302 accident

April 4, 2019: Ethiopian aviation crash investigators today issued the preliminary report into the Ethiopian Airlines ET302 crash.

The report may be downloaded here: Preliminary Report B737-8 MAX (ET-AVJ).

LNA will have a report on the finding today or tomorrow.

ET302 used the Cut-Out switches to stop MCAS

By Bjorn Fehrm

Note: The article offered a Video as an example of the effects of not trimming to neutral before hitting Cut-Off. After reviewing the effects of the video in the context of the article, MentourPilot decided we should leave the text but not include the video any longer. MentourPilot’s YouTube channel is an independent initiative to offer the public correct and positive information of all the work which is behind their safe travel in the skies. In the sensitive situation of an ongoing investigation of the crash of ET302, where not all facts are on the table, he concluded after discussing the impression the video left with a colleague, it was not in line with his intent of setting up the channel. In the haste of the change we took this as his company not wanting the video aired, it was not.  As facts in the ET302 case comes forward we will discuss with MentourPilot if this situation changes. 

April 03, 2019, © Leeham News: The crew of Ethiopian Airlines ET302, which crashed with 157 people on board, used the prescribed Stabilator Trim Cut-Out switches to stop MCAS, according to an article by Wall Street Journal today. Yet still, they crashed. We’ve had the information this could indeed be the case for several days, but we didn’t want to speculate in such a sensitive matter.

The Wall Street article cites information coming from the investigation. By it, we can now reveal how it’s possible the aircraft can crash despite using the Cut-Out switches. To verify, we ran it all in a simulator together with MentourPilot Youtube channel over the last days.

Figure 1. ET302 ground speed as long as FlightRadar24 could follow the flight. Source: FR24.

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Returning the MAX to service

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Introduction

April 1, 2019, © Leeham News: Returning the Boeing 737 MAX to services following its grounding should reasonably be a straight-forward affair, if past groundings were examples.

But, to mix a metaphor, there are plenty of unchartered waters with this grounding that stand ready to complicate matters.

Bloomberg reported Saturday that Europe’s FAA equivalent, EASA, skipped last week’s Boeing meeting of 200 pilots and regulators.

Summary:
  • US FAA is no longer the leader or gold standard.
  • EASA, Transport Canada want their own reviews.
  • China, the first to ground the MAX, also suspended plane-by-plane certification.

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Pontifications: I don’t know what to make of this

By Scott Hamilton

April 1, 2019, © Leeham News: One can’t help but think, a lot, about the two Boeing 737 MAX crashes and the facts that Boeing created the system, linked it to one sensor, not two, didn’t tell the airlines pilots about it, didn’t include it in pilot manuals, didn’t have a safety alert system as standard equipment, initially blamed the Lion Air pilots and reportedly lobbied Donald Trump not to ground the airplanes.

But my thoughts haven’t stopped here.

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WTO appeals court rules against Boeing; Airbus claims minimum $15bn in harm

March 28, 2019, © Leeham News: The World Trade Organization appeals panel today upheld European claims that Boeing received billions of dollars in illegal tax breaks and subsidies from the US Department of Defense, Washington State, Kansas and South Carolina.

The report may be found here.

From a previous set of rulings, the WTO also agreed that the US and Boeing failed to cure illegal tax breaks used under a federal program called Foreign Sales Corporations of FSC (pronounced fisk) dating to before 2006.

The adverse decision comes at a time when Boeing is on the defensive over two fatal accidents of its 737 MAX program and criticism over the development and approval of the MCAS stall recovery system believed by some to be at the heart of two crashes.

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MCAS upgrade requires half-hour of pilot training

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Introduction

March 28, 2019, © Leeham News: Boeing 737 MAX pilots learning about the revised software upgrade to the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) will need a half hour of computer-based training (CBT), the company told the media yesterday in a briefing.

Pilots of the 737 NG who have not yet made the transition to the MAX also have to be trained on the MCAS now. Boeing did not specify if this will take longer than those already trained on the MAX.

Summary
  • No estimate to MAX return to service.
  • Waiting for investigations of the crashes.
  • More information for pilots.

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Boeing presents MCAS fix to pilots, regulators and media

By Bjorn Fehrm

March 27, 2018, © Leeham News.: Boeing presented the software fix to the MCAS problem in a press briefing ahead of meeting 200 Pilots and Regulators in Seattle today for a briefing around the 737 MAX update.

Here is what Boeing presented in its briefing to media:

Figure 1. Pilot’s Primary Flight Display with modifications after the software update. Source: Wikipedia and Leeham Co.

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