Pontifications: Congressional hearings on Boeing dominated by grandstanding–but damning documents revealed

By Scott Hamilton

  • Senate hearing largely theater.
  • House hearing has grandstanding, but substance, too.
  • House reveals some damning documents.
  • Muilenburg claims no knowledge of legal strategy, but top lawyer reports directly to him.

Nov. 4, 2019, © Leeham News: Last week’s Congressional hearings about the Boeing 737 MAX crisis was just as I expected: theatre, lots of grandstanding, little substance and testimony that elicited little in the way of new information.

The US Senate hearing was a perfect example of playing to the television by many Senators.

The House hearing certainly had its share, but in more lucid moments, some House members produced new documents that were especially damning to Boeing.

Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg and John Hamilton, VP and chief engineer, did no harm to Boeing, which was probably the prime objective. (Hamilton is no relation to me.)

Muilenburg did harm to himself, however, and some Members of Congress landed some damning blows.

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Bjorn’s Corner: Analysing the Lion Air 737 MAX crash, Part 1.

By Bjorn Fehrm

November 1, 2019, ©. Leeham News: We start the series on analyzing the Lion Air 737 MAX crash by looking at what went wrong in the aircraft. It’s important to understand MCAS is not part of what went wrong. It worked as designed during all seven Lion Air flights we will analyze in this series.

It was a single sensor giving a faulty value that was wrong with these aircraft. How a single faulty sensor could get MCAS to doom the JT610 flight (called LNI610 in the report) is something we look into later in the series. Now we focus on why the sensor came to give a faulty value for five out of seven Lion Air flights and how these flights could be exposed to two different sensor faults.

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A year since the Lion Air JT610 crash

By Bjorn Fehrm

October 28, 2019, ©. Leeham News: Tomorrow it’s one year since the crash of Lion Year JT610 into the sea in Indonesia. The aircraft which went down was a brand new Boeing 737 MAX 8 and the world was stunned how such a new aircraft could crash.

The crash triggered the deepest crisis in Boeing’s 100-year history and revealed shortcomings in Boeing’s and FAA’s airworthiness work and supervision. The Lion Air JT610 final report was issued Friday and we now know what happened.

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Bjorn’s Corner: Analysing the 737 MAX crashes

October 25, 2019, ©. Leeham News: To better understand what went wrong in the Boeing 737 MAX crashes I have over the last half-year run Corner series around aircraft Pitch stability and Aircraft Flight Control systems and how these attack the problems of today’s airliners need for stable characteristics over a very wide flight envelope.

With this as a backgound, we will now in a series of Corners go into the Lion Air final crash report which is issued today, to understand what happened and why.

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737 MAX special report

Oct. 16, 2019: AlJazeera produced a 30 minute special report on the Boeing 737 MAX.

Unlike the hour-long hit piece on the 787 several years ago, undertaken with questionable tactics, this one is well done.

See the report below.

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Pontifications: Muilenburg loses chairman’s title; are his days numbered?

By Scott Hamilton

Oct. 14, 2019, © Leeham News: Look for Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg to leave in 2020.

At least this is my view.

But some aerospace analysts I spoke with over the weekend are split. Some believe Friday’s action by the Boeing Board of Directors “stripping” (as most media headlines and stories positioned it) the chairman’s title from Muilenburg, while his retaining the president and CEO titles, is the first step in easing him out the door next year. This is my view, too.

Muilenburg also remains on the Board.

Others think handing the non-executive chairman’s title to lead director David Calhoun is actually an effort to save Muilenburg’s job.

Here’s the divergent thinking. None of the analysts wanted to be identified because by investment bank policy, their remarks hadn’t been cleared for quotation and none had yet issued research notes in reaction.

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Pontifications: Safety changes good for Boeing, the industry

By Scott Hamilton

Sept. 30, 2019, © Leeham News: Boeing’s announcement last week that it’s establish a permanent Board level safety committee, realigning some functions and creating new lines of reporting is a good and necessary step.

It’s not only good and necessary for the 737 MAX return to service, it’s good and necessary for Boeing and for the industry.

It’s also just a first step in restoring confidence in the MAX and the Boeing brands.

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Boeing Board Aerospace Safety Committee recommends realignment, enhancement of procedures

Admiral Edmund Giambastiani (Ret). Photo credit: Wetheitalians.com

Sept. 25, 2019, © Leeham News: Boeing today outlined the results of the investigation of a special Board of Directors committee formed in August that creates new processes and organizational structures aimed at preventing another 737 MAX crisis and improving safety within Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

The Board-level Aerospace Safety Committee is the four-member committee announced by Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg following the second fatal accident of the MAX in March.

Admiral Edmund Giambastiani (Ret), a former nuclear submarine officer, chaired the committee. As a result of the committee’s work, the following recommendations have been made:

  • Create a Product and Services Safety Organization;
  • Realign the Engineering Function;
  • Establish a Design Requirements Program;
  • Enhance the Continued Operation Safety Program;
  • Re-examine flight deck design and operation; and
  • Expand the role and reach of the Safety Promotion Center.

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Bjorn’s Corner: Cutting corners in aerospace costs a fortune

By Bjorn Fehrm

July 05, 2019, ©. Leeham News: It seems more and more likely the 737 MAX grounding will go well beyond six months and it can approach nine months to a year depending on developments in the next months.

The costs to Boeing for the MAX debacle are now approaching the costs of a new aircraft development.

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Pontifications: The elephant in the room

By Scott Hamilton

June 17, 2019, © Leeham News: The Paris Air Show opens today and the elephant in the room is the Boeing 737 MAX.

There is no telling when the airplane will get FAA approval to return to service. According to some news reports, Boeing will hasn’t turned over the MCAS revisions to the FAA for review, testing and approval.

The acting administrator of the FAA said he expects the MAX to be back in the air by the end of the year. Some leapt to the conclusion this means December—and it may, but let’s remember September, October and November are before the “end of the year,” too.

There’s no telling how other global regulators will act, and when, to conduct their own review and approvals. Airlines would like a global action. It’s tough to tell customers one country sees the airplane as safe but others don’t.


  • Leeham News will be at the Paris Air Show this week, with coverage by Scott Hamilton, Bjorn Fehrm and Judson Rollins. All coverage will be open to all readers.

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