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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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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Pontifications: Compensation claims against Boeing beginning to ramp up

By Scott Hamilton

May 27, 2019, © Leeham News: Airlines are increasingly going public with desires to be compensated by Boeing for the grounding of the 737 MAX.

Norwegian Air Shuttle and Spice Jet said shortly after the MAX grounding March 13 they were going to seek compensation from Boeing.

Air China has asked for compensation, reports Reuters. Other airlines with grounded MAXes are also beginning to notify Boeing about compensation claims.


  • Today’s paywall will be delayed to take advantage of the Embraer pre-Paris Air Show briefings that begins today. I’ll be reporting from Brazil.

Compensation for delivery delays is also a risk to Boeing. This already has reached $1bn, one aviation lawyer estimates, and stands to climb by billions more, depending on how long new deliveries are delayed.

But Boeing is preparing to take a preemptive defensive move against these latter claims.

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This is not simple

By John Cox

John Cox

May 20, 2019, © Leeham News: The latest version of the Boeing 737 is the MAX. It has new engines, new flight deck screens and the latest in-flight entertainment systems for passengers. It is quite a change from the 737-100 that first entered service 51 years earlier in 1968.

After flying operationally for 15 months (May 2017 to October 2018), there was a loss of a 737 MAX 8 in Indonesia. Five months later, another MAX 8 crashed. Something was wrong. How could such a proven workhorse have two accidents in such a short time in very similar circumstances?

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Pontifications: Mandate sim time for MAX return to the skies

By Scott HamiltonMay 20, 2019, © Leeham News: “Safety is our top priority.”

So says Dennis Muilenburg, CEO of The Boeing Co.

As stories drip, drip, drip out in The Seattle Times, New York Times, Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and other media about Boeing’s development process of the 737 MAX, one can’t help but wonder otherwise.

Pilots weren’t told of MCAS. Switch functions were changed. Warning lights were inoperative, but the pilot manuals indicated otherwise. Boeing discovered one problem but didn’t tell the FAA for a year. A single point of failure. The absence of information about the MCAS in the pilot manual. A second software glitch is found in the flight control system. Boeing said it didn’t want to “inundate” pilots with information. Blaming the pilots for the accidents.



But nothing is Boeing’s fault. There was no failure, no gap, no technical problem. Or so says Muilenburg.

Yet within one week of the Lion Air accident, in which Boeing pointed the finger at the pilots, Boeing was diving into the MCAS design.

It goes on and on.

If “safety is our top priority,” it’s time for Boeing to man up and do the right thing, regardless of the legal liabilities.

It’s time to back simulator training on MCAS before pilots can fly the MAX. Read more

How Boeing named, promoted the MAX in early days

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Introduction

May 16, 2019, © Leeham News: As a Congressional investigation into the Federal Aviation Administration’s oversight and certification of the Boeing 737 MAX development ramps up, LNA dipped into its archives to review what the company was telling the public.

The MAX was hastily launched in July 2011, when American Airlines informed Boeing it was about to place a record-setting order for nearly 500 airplanes. Airbus was lined up to snare it all with the A320ceo and neo families unless Boeing could make a credible offer.

Within 48 hours, Jim McNerney, then-CEO of Boeing, made the decision to launch the re-engined design of the 737. This later was branded the MAX.

It was a plane Boeing designed but didn’t want to build.

Once launched, Boeing had to play catch up to Airbus, which had a seven month lead with its neo. The public messaging was long on bashing the A320. There were few technical details presented in public, but the basis for what’s become in focus today after two fatal crashes was there.

Summary
  • Boeing promoted commonality between NG and MAX.
  • Making a virtue of basic design.
  • Integrating the larger engines.
  • Promoting the same simulators.

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Boeing to support MAX simulator demo (Update)

  • Boeing CFO meetings show confidence in recertifying MAX sooner than later.
  • Returning to pre-grounding production rates will be “gradual.”
  • FAA clearance anticipated in 4-5 weeks.
  • Boeing will urge pilots, regulators to witness simulations of MCAS flight characteristics.
  • NMA, 777X delays likely.

UPDATE: Cowen & Co issued a revised note today, with new language concerning simulations of the MCAS flying characteristics. Boeing is not urging sim training. Rather, it is urging regulators and pilots to go to sites where MAX MCAS flying characteristics may be witnessed and understood.  Cowen tells LNA it misunderstood what Boeing said.

May 10, 2019, © Leeham News: In a sign that Boeing is confident it’s on track with the fix of the MCAS for its 737 MAX, the chief financial officer of the company Wednesday and Thursday made the rounds in New York and Boston with aerospace analysts and key institutional investors.

Greg Smith

Coming out of these meetings is news that Boeing will support simulator training for pilots to fully understand MAX handling characteristics, one analyst reports.

Greg Smith gave the financial analysts Boeing’s latest thinking about progress in returning the MAX to the skies across the globe. He also said Boeing is using the production slowdown (from 52/mo to 42/mo) to allow suppliers, notably engine maker CFM, to catch up from their own delays and strains. The suppliers maintained the 52/mo rate.

Spirit Aerosystems said it hopes that CFM, which has been running two-three weeks late with engines–will return to rate 52 in June. This is faster than suppliers were told by Boeing when the rate was cut in April. At that time, June’s rate ramp up was goal was 47/mo, with 52 in August and 57/mo in September. Boeing last year planned rate 57 in June this year.

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