By Scott Hamilton
Dec. 21, 2020, © Leeham News: The US Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee Friday issued a damning report taking Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration to task.
A 20-month investigation began in the wake of the two Boeing 737 MAX crashes in October 2018 and March 2019.
The report concluded Boeing inappropriately coached the FAA pilots during recertification simulator training to test fixes to the now-infamous MCAS system.
Details were widely reported last week.
More troubling is the larger picture painted by the Committee of an FAA for years ignoring several US airlines’ safety violations and attempts by FAA inspectors to enforce safety regulations.
Whistleblowers were subject to retaliation, Committee investigators found. The FAA and its parent agency, the Department of Transportation, refused to make FAA employees available for interviews and stonewalled when documents were requested.
The bigger picture of an agency that protects airlines more than the public raises questions of a culture that favors cozy relationships with airlines. Media reports focused on the Boeing-FAA relationship and not the larger issues.
November 27, 2020, ©. Leeham News: After the lifting on the grounding order by the FAA, ANAC (Brazils regulator) followed in the week, and EASA issued its plans for public comment.
What are the differences in the ungrounding conditions, and what are the reasons for any differences?
By Bjorn Fehrm
November 24, 2020, ©. Leeham News: Last week, we went through the core MCAS changes the FAA demanded from Boeing to lift the grounding of the 737 MAX 8 and 9. As the investigation into the MAX crashes deepened, changes were added beyond the core MCAS related changes.
A single sensor failure, like the Angle of Attack failures for Lion Air JT610 and Ethiopian Airlines ET302, triggered a multitude of failure warnings. These warnings absorbed the crew’s concentration, invalidating FAA certification assumptions on crew reaction times for critical trim failures. As a result, the FAA required additional crew alert and procedure changes for the MAX.
By Bjorn Fehrm
November 18, 2020, ©. Leeham News: The FAA has declared the Boeing 737 MAX 8 and 9 safe to fly after a 20 months grounding. On March 10, 2019, the Ethiopian Air ET302 crashed after Boeing’s pitch augmentation software MCAS triggered erroneously and caused the aircraft to crash. This accident followed a similar accident of Lion Air JT610 on October 29, 2018.
Ethiopia grounded the MAX on the day, China the day after, and the FAA on March 13. The 737 MAX has been grounded worldwide since the FAA grounding.
It has been a gruesome 20 months for Boeing, where it’s gone from denial of guilt to a full acceptance of responsibility and a complete change of attitude. With changes to the MAX verified by FAA, EASA, Transport Canada, and Brazil’s ANAC, it’s now ready to fly again.
We will cover the return to flight of the 737 MAX in several articles, the first dealing with the question: Is the 737 MAX safe to fly?
Now open to all readers.
By Bjorn Fehrm
September 14, 2020, © Leeham News: The FAA and EASA Safety of Flight authorities have examined and test flown the changes Boeing has done to the 737 MAX to make it safe to fly again. Everything points to these authorities re-certifying the 737 MAX as safe to fly in the coming months.
In a Saturday article Dominic Gates of The Seattle Times quotes from a recent interview with me and an experienced 737 Captain, Mike Gerzanics, where we both say we consider the MAX safe to fly with the changes.
Here my reasons as an aeronautical engineer why I think so.
By Scott Hamilton
Dec. 30, 2019, © Leeham News: Boeing and the 737 MAX dominated the Top 10 Stories on Leeham News in 2019.
This should surprise no one.
The year-end late-breaking news that Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg had been fired by the Board of Directors should be in the Top 10 Stories of 2019.
But coming as it did on Dec. 23, the start of Christmas week, it failed to make it into LNA’s Top 10 list.
Readership, obviously, falls off dramatically over the Christmas holidays. The fall-off continues between Christmas and New Year’s evidenced by LNA’s own decision to take a holiday (except for breaking news).
The Ethiopian Airlines crash on March 10 grabbed three of the Top 10 stories and shared, with Lion Air 610 (the Oct. 29, 2018, crash) a fourth story.
Boeing’s pickle with the 737 NG pickle fork cracking was of the Top 10 stories.
An historical review that Boeing didn’t want to re-engine the 737, preferring instead a new airplane in 2011 when what became the MAX was launched, was in the Top 10.
An April 2018 story about a potential Blended Wing Body airplane from Boeing hit the Top 10 after an enthusiast site linked it to its forum.
Other MAX MCAS stories were in the Top 10. Finally, anticipated announcements by Mitsubishi for the Paris Air Show was the only non-Boeing story to be in the Top 10 reads for the year.
Airbus didn’t hit the Top 10 but did have a #11 story concerning a pitch-up issue on the A321.
The Boeing stories propelled record readership on LNA in 2019.
Here is the rundown.
Dec. 11, 2019, © Leeham News: A new round of Congressional Hearings about the Boeing 737 MAX got underway today.
Before the hearing began at the House Transportation Committee, FAA Administrator Steve Dickson appeared on CNBC today. Among his statements: recertification of the MAX will slip to 2020, confirming what had become apparent for some time.
“Like I said there are a number of processes, milestones, that have to be completed,” Dickson said in an interview on “Squawk Box.” “If you just do the math, it’s going to extend into 2020,” he told CNBC.
December 6, 2019, ©. Leeham News: We now finalize the series about the Lion Air JT610 crash by analyzing the changes Boeing has made to the aircraft to avoid further problems with MCAS (Maneuver Characteristics Augmentation System).
The changes bring MCAS to the level it should have had from entry into service and in some aspects further.
November 22, 2019, ©. Leeham News: We continue the series on analyzing the Lion Air JT610 crash by analyzing MCAS in more depth before we go to the final part of the flight.
We look at what was wrong with the initial version of MCAS, the augmentation system that caused JT610 to crash and what has changed in the updated version. Read more