Increased Scrutiny forces Major 737 MAX Software Redesign

From the Seattle Times

Lots of lessons here for the shipboard automation people.




An older article, also from the Seattle Times but more background.

The inside story of MCAS: How Boeing’s 737 MAX system gained power and lost safeguards

Yes, but it still focuses on the people directly involved and (like a lot of accident investigations) fails to walk the cat all the way back to the corporate environment that allowed or encouraged the adverse behavior.

In the case of Boeing (which I usually refer to as “McBoeing”) the downfall began with the acquisition of McDonnell Douglas. I saw both corporations from the inside as a subcontractor. MD was a toxic, beancounter-driven place and Boeing was an engineer-driven family. The MD culture took over and pulled such stunts as moving the headquarters to Chicago, hiring a scotch tape and potato chip guy as CEO, and moving production to South Carolina to break the union. And here we are, looking at the death throes of a once-great American institution. Sic Transit, baby.



I lived in Seattle at that time and thought the move was so the new management would never have to look the workforce in the eye. It was a long distance buttf**k.

The article is a smokescreen, a single sensor can fly the plane into the ground when flying manually. There should be 3 sensors. cheap arse update…

Yet are we not forgetting the airlines that want modified planes but with the same cockpit so no training required to save money??
As there are very few sims with MCAS ( none in Asia) they give the pilots a tablet with a presentation on it.
Clearly they dont read it, as counter intuitive as it is ( when there is an issue) when you turn on the autopilot it disconnects the MCAS from having control which would have avoided those 2 accidents.
Boeing clearly conned the FAA that a single sensor couldnt crash the plane but it can as proven in any simulation.
The knock on from that is the EU can no longer trust the FAA so all aircraft are going to be tested twice before flying outside of the USA.
Perhaps no passenger will ever set foot on one again or just boycott them?

anyway thats the gossip from the weekends bbq with a few pilots and a 737 800 sim operator

I see what you’re saying. I’d had that article bookmarked for some time.

There is another article, maybe Atlantic Magazine (?) that traced the issue from the fundamental contradiction between the fact that bigger diameter engines are more efficient and the 737 wings are too close to the ground to accept a bigger engine.

How that problem get solved in the end boils down to company culture.

This might have been the article I saw.

One of the issues for Boeing is that it takes more work to put new engines on the 737 than on the A320. The 737 is lower to the ground than the A320, and the new engines have a larger diameter. So while both manufacturers would have to do work, the Boeing guys would have more work to do to jack the airplane up. That will cost more while reducing commonality with the current fleet. As we know from last week, reduced commonality means higher costs for the airlines as well.

What did they have to say about the concept of just pulling the power back and turning the system off? It looks to me like a complete failure in training and a great success by Boeing management in convincing their captives in the FAA that no training was required.

depends on the issue, if the mcas is faulty and its a offset you will use the trim wheel to compensate but if the mcas then fails or gets worse so you disconnect it you cant unwind the trim wheel fast enough when you are at 100’
My mate tried that in the sim

Considering none of the accidents or incidents occurred at 100’ that is kind of a strawman argument.
In each case the aircraft was well into its departure climb.

It is hard to believe the FAA let Boeing get away without having a single switch to disable MCAS while still maintaining electric trim capability. The fact that neither pilot thought about reducing power is understandable but still boggles the mind.

for a conventional straight take off the mcas is not needed.
It was only needed for a pull up and turn on takeoff, not something that happens very often in 99% of airports. Thats airshow stuff

I don’t know what point (if any) you were trying to make but the “positive rate” callout isn’t often made, processed and cross checked much below 100’ anyway unless the aircraft is hot, heavy, and high, so the strawman comment applies.

whatever, make it 500’ so you have a better life

I never understood this fact too. When the MCAS goes goofy and does bad things, the situation it creates is essentially a “run away trim”, at least that is my understanding. All pilots of all types should be well trained with super fast muscle memory to deal with run away trim scenarios.

However, it is not often mentioned the differences in performance standards and ability of pilots around the would of differing nationalities.

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It’s obvious Boeing cut corners to avoid additional training to their customers in a competitive international market. Another factor although I haven’t confirmed is that I read the runaway trim is fast and requires up to thirty revolutions to bring back to its original angle. If this is correct, it’s a big distraction to a pilot who hasn’t been trained to deal with it.

I’ve been told by an airline pilot that the planes are designed that a regular man can overpower runaway trim.

As for foreign skill, see also: Asiana Airlines Flight 214

" Most of all, decisions about what could and could not be delegated were being made by managers concerned about the timeline, rather than by the agency’s technical experts.

It’s not entirely clear at this point why the FAA was so determined to get the 737 cleared quickly (there will be more investigations), but if you recall the political circumstances of this period in Barack Obama’s presidency, you can quickly get a general sense of the issue.

Boeing is not just a big company with a significant lobbying presence in Washington; it’s a major manufacturing company with a strong global export presence and a source of many good-paying union jobs. In short, it was exactly the kind of company the powers that be were eager to promote — with the Obama White House, for example, proudly going to bat for the Export-Import Bank as a key way to sustain America’s aerospace industry.

A story about overweening regulators delaying an iconic American company’s product launch and costing good jobs compared to the European competition would have looked very bad. And the fact that the whole purpose of the plane was to be more fuel-efficient only made getting it off the ground a bigger priority. But the incentives really were reasonably aligned, and Boeing has only caused problems for itself by cutting corners."

Seems the Max was bad idea from the start. BUT…
Boeing had help selling their turd sandwich to the FAA.

FAA and Boeing.
Regulatory capture. FAA is not much different from SEC, USCG and most other regulatory agencies in that regard.

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And the winner is…Airbus.

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I’m no pilot but a yacht that is unbalanced doesn’t win any races but it doesn’t kill you. One of the greatest fallacies I have seen is “ I have a degree in management and I can run any company regardless of what it does.”

I’d be surprised if many here know what the Ex-Im bank is, but I find it funny it mentioned in your quote (where is the source, by the way?).

It is surprising to me that Boeing is one of the main users of the Ex-Im bank…well, at least was. I have a feeling the original intent of Ex-Im was to assist small businesses with exporting their products to foreign markets, not to help one of the largest crony-corporations have access to favorable lending for foreign buyers.