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

Pontifications: By accident of timing, convergence of events, Mitsubishi is now well positioned to become major RJ player

By Scott HamiltonMay 13, 2019, © Leeham News: The regional jetliner industry is on the cusp of a major shift.

Bombardier is exiting commercial aviation. The company already is under contract to sell the Q400. It’s CRJ program is for sale, or lacking any, inevitably headed for termination.

Embraer agreed to spin off its Commercial Aviation division into a new joint venture with Boeing. Its E-175 E2, designed with changes to the US Scope Clause in mind, is too heavy to comply with contract restrictions. The predecessor, the E-175 E1, is Scope-compliant but it also is aging technology.

Neither the Sukhoi SSJ100 nor the COMAC ARJ-21 are serious competitors.

Mitsubishi, beset by five of delays that pushed its MRJ90 seven years behind schedule, has been dismissed by most as too little, too late, too heavy and not Scope compliant.

Yet MITAC, as Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp  is known, has quietly reworked the MRJ into a Scope-compliant “concept” aircraft that will be revealed at the Paris Air Show next month.

Officials said the aircraft, the name for which hasn’t yet been revealed, will be the only new generation, Scope-compliant aircraft, positioning Mitsubishi to become a key player in the regional aircraft industry.

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Pontifications: Rebuilding the MAX and Boeing brands

By Scott Hamilton

May 6, 2019, © Leeham News: Boeing has a big job ahead of it to restore faith in the 737 MAX with flight crews and the flying public.

Recertification is still weeks or perhaps months away. The return to service may be anywhere from July to August or even longer, depending on how global regulators proceed with review and approval of the revised MCAS software and pilot training.

Pilots at airlines seem split whether a “simple” computer training protocol is sufficient or whether a flight simulator training is required.

Let’s set all this aside on the safe assumption this will work itself out, whether sooner or later.

So, the question then becomes: how does Boeing repair the MAX brand—and its own.

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Pontifications: “We own it, but…”

By Scott Hamilton

April 29, 2019, © Leeham News: Boeing got roundly thumped for blaming the pilots in the Lion Air flight 610 crash involving the 737 MAX last October.

It took months before Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg issued a video in which, among other things, he said, “We own it.” He was referring to safety of the MAX.

This was widely interpreted as Boeing stepping up and taking responsibility for at least some of the causes of the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines crashes.

Last Wednesday, he took it all back.

On the first quarter earnings call, Muilenburg denied there was any “technical slip or gap” in designing the now famous MCAS system. He said “actions not taken” contributed to the crash, a thinly veiled reference once again to pilot error. (More on this below.)

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Pontifications: Collins Aerospace resolved to compete for aftermarket services

By Scott Hamilton

April 22, 2019, © Leeham News: Moves by Airbus, Boeing and Embraer to increase their shares of aftermarket services are viewed by their own suppliers with a mix of trepidation or resolve, depending on who they are.

For Collins Aerospace, it’s resolve.

It’s also about become more efficient with advanced manufacturing of its parts supplied to the aerospace industry. This reduces costs, lead times and takes advantage of Collins’ own engineers and designs for value-added services to its customers.

I spoke with two officials from Collins at the Aviation Week MRO Americas conference in Atlanta April 9-11.

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Training is a factor in the MAX crashes

 

By Scott Hamilton

April 15, 2019, © Leeham News: This column will no doubt light up the blog-o-sphere.
There’s been a major debate going on since the crash of Lion Air JT610, the Boeing 737-8 MAX that immediately became a huge controversy.

Boeing immediately blamed the pilots. So did some pilots of some US airlines, who said if the Lion Air crew had just flown the airplane, it wouldn’t have crashed. It was a training issue, some said.

Having got tremendous blow back over Lion Air, Boeing publicly held its tongue when Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302 crashed five months later.

Still, Boeing officials quietly still said there was nothing wrong with the airplane.
Some US and Canadian pilots maintained, publicly and privately, that a lack of training and pilot skills in the Third World was responsible.

They’re not entirely wrong.

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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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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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Pontifications: Boeing NewCo exec, Slattery, faces challenges

By Scott Hamilton

  • Our Monday paywall will appear at 6am Tuesday, PDT.

March 25, 2019, © Leeham News: Boeing last week announced the executive leadership for the joint venture with Embraer, the as-yet unnamed company that is generically called NewCo.

Separately, Embraer announced the departure at the end of next month of Embraer’s parent CEO, Paulo Cesar, a move that was expected.

Cesar was with Embraer for 22 years in various positions. We was president and CEO of EMB’s Commercial Aviation division and launched the E2 program in 2013.

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Pontifications: Fluid, dynamic events upend MAX story

Special Edition

By Scott Hamilton

March 20, 2019, © Leeham Co: I’ve been covering or employed in commercial aviation since 1979. I’m an aviation historian buff.

I’ve read all about the groundings of the Douglas DC-6, Lockheed Constellation, Martin 202 and de Havilland Comet. I read about how the Federal Aviation Administration didn’t ground the Lockheed Electra, choosing operating restrictions instead.

I lived through the grounding of the McDonnell Douglas DC-10 and Boeing 787. As a reporter, I walked through the debris of the American Airlines DC-10 crash that led to the grounding. I went to the crash scene of the Delta Air Lines Boeing 727 at D/FW Airport and I’ve covered many, many crashes through reporting and as a commentator.

I’ve never seen anything evolve in air accidents as has evolved in the Boeing 737 MAX investigations.

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