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MAX’s Return Delayed by FAA Reevaluation of 737 Safety Procedures

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MAX’s Return Delayed by FAA Reevaluation of 737 Safety Procedures

Old 11th Oct 2019, 18:34
  #3021 (permalink)  
 
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JATR report

Here is the JATR report of Oct 11, 2019 as posted on the FAA website
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Old 11th Oct 2019, 21:23
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Originally Posted by edmundronald View Post
Reuters has the summary of the JATR report on both FAA and Boeing. It’s neither better nor worse than expected. Add pilot training issues and maybe maintenance errors and you get a few hundred so fortunately mostly not american dead.

If the corpses had been American in majority the response would have been more effective, the Boeing CEO would have been dumped, and very probably the airframe and training would get properly updated.

https://www.google.fr/amp/s/mobile.r.../idUSKBN1WQ0H8

Edmund
As a pilot and former Reuters journalist the key question is the 737 Max aerodynamicly stable if all the electric systems fail.
I draw your attention to a recent 737 electrical failure in the UK.
Boeing 737-4Q8, G-JMCR https://assets.publishing.service.go...019_Lo_Res.pdf
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Old 11th Oct 2019, 21:53
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Originally Posted by STN Ramp Rat View Post
and here is the evidence of that ........”NEWBIE CANT POST LINKS” Airbus would not be able get away with this if Boeing did not have the issues that they have.
BINGO! More to follow as well. The industry needs both manufacturers to be in tip top shape. When one side of a duopoly falters the entire sector of that industry loses. Look for the price of ‘bus approved toilet paper to cost $1000 a roll with a 1% “stocking fee”. (I know, extreme exaggeration but...)
Originally Posted by Chris2303 View Post
The trouble is that the bean counters and MBAs won't see it like that.

All they can see is $$$$ signs and for some of them the 346 lives lost is probably just collateral damage.
A big stick ($$$$) straight in the chops is going to force them to see it exactly like that. We’ve seen minimal public analysis (or guesstimates, for reason) on the overall cost of this catastrophe but the 100 mil claimed by SWA pilots is a drip on the drop in the bucket! In addition, it gives us a glimpse into the future and that future will be the worlds biggest bonfire of cash going up in smoke. Oh, but but...guess what? Those arrogant bean counters and their MBA buddies will bail out in their golden parachutes leaving other entities to hold a collective bag of misery.

Even if they clear the Max next week (not happening) it will be an astronomical number. The harsh reality of the most current reports/speculation makes it seem more like months, not weeks, with the Max being grounded. This could easily approach the one year mark when all the dust settles. There’s a reason lips have been essentially stitched shut. The war room at Boeing must have a revolving door with turnstiles. And I’m trying to be optimistic here.
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Old 11th Oct 2019, 21:54
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Originally Posted by Tomaski View Post
Because the current procedure actually delays the crew response to an actual runaway stab trim. I believe this may have been one of the issues in the E-CAB test failure in which the FAA determined that the procedure took too long to implement.
I think that's one possibility / interpretation, but back in June at theaircurrent.com Jon Ostrower suggested that it took too long because the test pilot "found the electric trim switches on the pilot’s yoke unresponsive". If that is correct and the cause of delay is overwhelmed FCC (as is also stated in that article) then the implication is that manual electric trim doesn't override autopilot (with relays or switches) but rather manual trim is a request to HAL which then decides (in software) if it will allow you to override its trim command.

I will state very clearly: I struggle to believe that interpretation and the implication, because I can't see how you could do it that way without triplex redundancy and voting etc. - but I may very well be wrong. I await more definitive information with interest.
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Old 11th Oct 2019, 22:30
  #3025 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by infrequentflyer789 View Post
I think that's one possibility / interpretation, but back in June at theaircurrent.com Jon Ostrower suggested that it took too long because the test pilot "found the electric trim switches on the pilot’s yoke unresponsive". If that is correct and the cause of delay is overwhelmed FCC (as is also stated in that article) then the implication is that manual electric trim doesn't override autopilot (with relays or switches) but rather manual trim is a request to HAL which then decides (in software) if it will allow you to override its trim command.

I will state very clearly: I struggle to believe that interpretation and the implication, because I can't see how you could do it that way without triplex redundancy and voting etc. - but I may very well be wrong. I await more definitive information with interest.
While that was how the test failure was initially reported, later reporting refuted this particular detail. A subsequent article discussed how an intentionally induced fault (caused by "flipping bits" on the processing chip) created a runaway stab trim situation with the A/P engaged. It was said that this fault had nothing to do with MCAS and was only theoretical as it had never been seen in actual operations. The evaluating pilot judged that it took too long to intervene and complete the runaway stab procedure.

I'm reading a bit between the lines here because the report did not go into a lot of detail. However, a stab runaway with the A/P engaged would likely first present as a "Stab Out of Trim" annunciation. This light illuminates when the A/P is holding too much elevator pressure and usually warns that the A/P trim is not keeping up with stab trim inputs. This occasionally happens with rapid speed and configuration changes that require more than the A/P trim rate. The first step of the Stab Out of Trim NNC directs the crew to see if the stab is actually moving. If so, then their instructions are to "Continue normal operations" and exit the checklist. If the stab isn't moving (A/P not working), they are directed to disconnect the A/P and trim with the Main Electric trim.

If the underlying problem, however, was not a case of A/P stab trim getting behind, but rather a runaway trim, then the time to run this checklist ( see the annunciation, designate the flying pilot, pull out the manual, turn to the correct page, read the execute the steps, put the manual away) are all seconds delaying the response to a runaway trim. If the flaps are extended and the A/P is trimming at the high rate (.27 degrees/sec), this is not a trivial amount of time. If the actual malfunction is a trim runaway, then the crew may not realize it until the A/P disconnects in an already highly out of trim state.

Instead of exiting the checklist, this non-normal should direct the crew to monitor the direction of the trim for reasonableness (trim up if slowing, trim down if accelerating) and be prepared to intervene if runaway trim is suspected. BTW, this issue would affect the 737NG as well as the MAX.
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Old 11th Oct 2019, 22:48
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from seattle times today oct 11 about 2 pm pst-

By
Dominic Gates
Seattle Times aerospace reporter
An international panel of air-safety regulator experts convened by the Federal Aviation Administration released a damning report Friday that criticizes both Boeing and the FAA for the way they assessed and approved the design of the 737 MAX automated flight control system implicated in two fatal airliner crashes.

More broadly, the panel’s review questions how systems on the the MAX were certified as derivative of a now-50-year-old aircraft design and recommends the FAA examine the criteria for determining when an airplane is so different from the original model that it requires an entirely new type certificate.

The panel further recommended that airplane safety systems address the new reality of increased cockpit automation by building in protections by design and reducing the reliance on pilot action to respond to emergencies.

The Joint Authorities Technical Review (JATR) panel found that the MAX’s new flight control system, which played a central role in the accidents in Indonesia and Ethiopia that killed 346 people, “was not evaluated as a complete and integrated function in the certification documents that (Boeing) submitted to the FAA.”

As first reported by the Seattle Times on March 17, the panel found that Boeing submitted to the FAA for evaluation an inadequate technical description of the airplane’s new Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) that lacked full details of when the system activated and the extent of its power to push an airplane nose down.

The report states that technical details of MCAS were “not updated during the certification program to reflect the changes to this function within the flight control system.”

“In addition, the design assumptions were not adequately reviewed, updated, or validated; possible flight deck effects were not evaluated; the (System Safety Assessment) SSA and functional hazard assessment (FHA) were not consistently updated; and potential crew workload effects resulting from MCAS design changes were not identified.”

“The lack of a unified top-down development and evaluation of the system function and its safety analyses, combined with the extensive and fragmented documentation, made it difficult to assess whether compliance (with safety regulations) was fully demonstrated,” the report states.

Undue pressure

The report also found that the FAA had “limited involvement” in the evaluation of MCAS and left most of the work of assessing the system to Boeing itself.

“In the B737 MAX program, the FAA had inadequate awareness of the MCAS function which, coupled with limited involvement, resulted in an inability of the FAA to provide an independent assessment of the adequacy of the Boeing-proposed certification activities associated with MCAS.”

“In the context of the B737 MAX, the JATR team’s assessment is that MCAS should have been considered a novelty (and therefore clearly highlighted to the FAA technical staff) owing to the important differences in function and implementation it has on the B737 MAX compared with the previous MCAS installed on the B767-C2 (tanker).”

The report, confirming a Seattle Times report on May 5, also cites indications that Boeing employees working on the certification of the airplane on behalf of the FAA faced “undue pressure” from managers who prioritized cost and schedule.

“Signs were reported of undue pressures on Boeing … engineering unit members performing certification activities on the B737 MAX program,” the report states. It attributes the undue pressure within Boeing to “conflicting priorities and an environment that does not support FAA requirements.”

The report recommends revision of the system whereby the FAA delegates much of the oversight of airplane certification to Boeing, a system known as Organization Designation Authorization (ODA) within which Boeing appoints its own engineers to do the certification analysis and testing and they report to managers within the Boeing organization who relay the results to the FAA.

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The JATR recommends adjusting this structure so that authorized engineers at Boeing be provided “open lines of communication to FAA certification engineers without fear of punitive action or process violation” to ensure they “are working without any undue pressure when they are making decisions on behalf of the FAA.”

This recommendation mirrors the advice of experts cited in that May Seattle Times story who advised that the FAA revert to elements of an earlier oversight structure — called “Designated Engineering Representatives” or DERs — in which the Boeing engineers who act on behalf of the FAA were appointed by the FAA and reported directly to their technical counterparts at the FAA.

Pilots unable to cope

The panel also addresses the assumption in the FAA regulations that pilots will recognize something wrong within a second during manual flight and will respond with corrective action within 3 seconds. The report indicates that the 737’s crew alerting systems that tell pilots when something goes wrong may not be adequate for such an assumption.

“The 3-second reaction time may not be appropriate, depending on the cockpit alerting philosophy and trim system architecture and controls,” the report states.

The JATR recommends that, when a system fault or inappropriate operation results in cascading failures and multiple alarms the FAA should address “how adequately the certification process considers the impact of multiple alarms, along with possible startle effect, on the ability of pilots to respond appropriately.”

“Inherent in this issue is the adequacy of training to help pilots be able to respond effectively to failures that they may never have encountered before, not even in training,” the report states.

Last week, the Seattle Times reported that Boeing pushed the FAA to relax certification requirements for crew alerts on the 737 MAX. In doing so, Boeing used a process called the Changed Product Rule.

In reviewing how this rule was applied to certification of the MAX’s flight control system, “the (JATR) team determined that the process did not adequately address cumulative effects, system integration, and human factors issues.”

JATR therefore recommends a top-down reassessment of how derivative models are certified, to determine “when core attributes of an existing transport category aircraft design make it incapable of supporting the safety advancements introduced by the latest regulations and should drive a design change or a need for a new type certificate.”

The report states that the FAA raised concerns to Boeing about the cumulative effect of cockpit system changes from the previous 737 model to the MAX that might create a need for simulator level pilot training.

“Boeing’s response to this concern was that there was no precedent” in previous certifications of derivative models. “The FAA accepted Boeing’s response on 26 January 2016,” the report states.

In a teleconference call Friday, JATR chairman Christopher Hart, former chair of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)), said that the increasing prevalence of automation on aircraft means that “this is not just an airplane problem, but an airplane/pilot problem,” which he said complicates decisions about grounding and ungrounding an aircraft and is likely to become a major issue in future.

“As automation becomes more and more complex, pilots are less likely to fully understand it and more likely to have problems and more likely to encounter scenarios in real operations that they haven’t seen even in a simulator,” he said.

Hart called on the FAA and regulators worldwide to recognize and address “this new reality of super-complex automation and pilots not necessarily understanding how to operate it.”

The JATR report says that “as systems become more complex, the certification process should ensure that aircraft incorporate fail-safe design principles.”

“These principles prioritize the elimination or mitigation of hazards through design, minimizing reliance on pilot action as primary means of risk mitigation,” the report goes on.

The panel separately recommends that “the FAA should review the natural (bare airframe) stalling characteristics of the B737 MAX to determine if unsafe characteristics exist.”

This suggests JATR wants the FAA to assess the safety of the MAX without MCAS in operation. Boeing has said that the purpose of MCAS is not to prevent a stall but simply to make sure it handles exactly like the earlier model 737 when going through certain stall testing.

Some criticism of the company on social media has been skeptical of this, proclaiming the MAX “inherently unstable” because it needs software to fly safely.

To demonstrate otherwise, Boeing test pilots this summer repeatedly flew that required stall test on the MAX — an extreme maneuver called a “wind-up turn” — both with and without the revamped MCAS operating. Boeing says it is satisfied with the results.

The FAA and overseas regulators will conduct their own flight tests, likely next month.

MCAS upgraded

JATR was convened in April by the FAA to independently evaluate all aspects of the design and certification of MCAS. The panel is made up of technical safety experts from the FAA and NASA along with the civil aviation authorities of Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, the European Union, Japan, Indonesia, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates.

Boeing did not directly address the report’s findings Friday but said in a statement that it “is committed to working with the FAA in reviewing the recommendations and helping to continuously improve the process and approach used to validate and certify airplanes.”

FAA Administrator Steve Dickson issued a statement thanking JATR for its “unvarnished and independent” report.

“I will review every recommendation and take appropriate action,” Dickson said. “We welcome this scrutiny and are confident that our openness to these efforts will further bolster aviation safety worldwide.”

EASA, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency, called the report “thorough.”

“We will analyse all recommendations made to assess their relevance to the European system and take action wherever necessary,” EASA said in a statement.

MCAS consists of new flight control software added to the MAX. If a sensor that measures the jet’s angle of attack, the angle between the wing and the oncoming air flow, indicates that the nose of the aircraft is pitching up, MCAS is designed to swivel the jet’s horizontal tail — called the horizontal stabilizer — so as to push the nose of the aircraft back down.

The JATR report notes the failure in communication between Boeing and the FAA during the certification process as MCAS evolved “from a relatively benign system to a much more aggressive system.”

The result was a failure to address the potential unintended consequences that resulted from “designing software for one scenario — in this case, high-speed windup turns — and then modifying the software for a different scenario — in this case reducing the pitch-up tendency at higher angles of attack at low speeds.”

Boeing has prepared a redesign of MCAS that addresses the inadequacies of the original design, which was activated by a single angle-of-attack sensor. On both crash flights, the accidents were initiated by a false signal from that one sensor.

The updated MCAS software will be activated only if both such sensors on the aircraft show the same high angle of attack. In addition, the system is now redesigned so that it can activate only once.

And Boeing has changed the overall software system architecture to compare readings from both flight control computers, instead of using only one, and to shut down MCAS in less than a second if the computers disagree.

But as regulators evaluate those improvements and the pilot training that will be required, the 737 MAX remains grounded worldwide seven months after the second crash.

On Friday’s teleconference, FAA spokesman Lynn Lunsford said that because the FAA is doing an entirely new safety analysis of all the changes to the MAX before it give the plane clearance to return to service, “the majority of he return to flight issues that have been raised by JATR are being addressed.”

“We are going through the recommendations one more time to make sure that any of them that aren’t being addressed will be as part of the current review,” Lunsford added.
++++

FWIW Lunsford covered Boeing and Aerospace issues for years at WSJ. He is/was an excellent reporter and knows many in the field.
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Old 12th Oct 2019, 00:14
  #3027 (permalink)  
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Boeing CEO loses chairman title as company separates roles after 737 Max crisis

Boeing CEO loses chairman title as company separates roles after 737 Max crisis

Boeing’s board removed CEO Dennis Muilenburg as chairman so he can focus on running the company after the 737 Max crisis, the company said Friday.Boeing is facing numerous investigations and criticism over its 737 Max planes, following two fatal crashes within five months of one another that killed a total of 346 people.

The manufacturer is scrambling to get regulators to allow its 737 Max planes to fly again. They have been grounded worldwide since mid-March, after the second of the two crashes, an Ethiopian Airlines flight with 157 people on board. A Lion Air 737 Max went down in Indonesia shortly after takeoff on Oct. 29, 2018, killing all 189 people on the flight.Boeing said the changes will allow Muilenburg to focus on getting the Max back to service and that lead director David Calhoun will serve as non-executive chairman.

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Old 12th Oct 2019, 00:23
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The question is will the FAA comply the JATR report recommendations, prior to rushing the MAX certification this quarter?

If the FAA wishes to regain any credibility they will, but I expect they will soldier on with the certification process as is.

The civil aviation authorities of Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, the European Union, Japan, Indonesia, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates will then be very unimpressed.
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Old 12th Oct 2019, 00:24
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Originally Posted by fgrieu View Post
Here is the JATR report of Oct 11, 2019 as posted on the FAA website
Thanks. Here we had long discussions over where the balance should be between "let's make aircraft designs better" and "let's train pilots better". Related to that, I found an interesting statement in the report:

in the hierarchy of safety solutions, mitigation by design should be prioritized over warnings and training/procedures
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Old 12th Oct 2019, 00:29
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By
Dominic Gates
Seattle Times aerospace reporter
With pressure mounting on the Boeing board and increased public concern about a need to revamp the company’s safety culture, the board on Friday took away Dennis Muilenburg’s role as company chairman, separating that position from his chief executive role.

Muilenburg will remain CEO and president, and will stay on the board of directors, while lead director David Calhoun was elected to replace him as chairman.

Having both chair and CEO titles, which he inherited from his predecessor and mentor Jim McNerney, put Muilenburg in an unassailable position of power. As CEO he is an employee of the board. But as chairman of the board, he would effectively control the direction and make-up of that body.

It’s generally viewed as poor corporate governance policy to have one person in both roles. And now, following the two fatal crashes of the 737 MAX, with the board being criticized for lack of oversight of the company culture, Boeing has finally bowed to the reality that the board needs more independence.

The board’s decision follows its creation last month of a new Aerospace Safety Committee and a series of recommendations to both realign the company’s engineering and safety reporting structures for enhanced accountability and to re-examine the long-standing assumptions around flight deck design in new airplanes.

This flurry of board activity flows from the pressure of the 737 MAX crisis.

Just last week two aviation analysts, Ernie Arvai of AirInsight and Scott Hamilton of Leeham.net, called for Muilenburg to be fired.

Hamilton went further, saying that “the long-serving Board members who were there at the beginning of the MAX program launch should be on the list to go.” Such a list would include David Calhoun.

Speaking on Thursday from Europe, Leeham.net analyst Bjorn Fehrm gave his assessment that “it’s time to let the MAX fly again” because he believes the aircraft will now be very safe following all the scrutiny of the revamped software on the jet.

But he added: “It’s also time to start to criticize Boeing’s business culture and to look at the board and the top management.”

He said a lax safety culture driven by cost-cutting to goose the share price has resulted in two new airplanes that were grounded for safety reasons within six years: first the 787 when the batteries began smoldering in flight in 2013, and now the MAX after 346 deaths in two crashes of almost new aircraft.

“Is this kind of culture going to be allowed to continue and bring this great company down?” Fehrm asked.

The spread of such sentiment within the aviation world has spurred the board to act, though well short of making any heads roll.

And Boeing on Friday sought to play down the move as any personal judgment of Muilenburg.

“The board has full confidence in Dennis as CEO and believes this division of labor will enable maximum focus on running the business with the board playing an active oversight role,” Calhoun said in a statement, with Muilenburg adding that he is “fully supportive of the board’s action.”

Calhoun said the board also plans in the near term to name a new director, someone “with deep safety experience and expertise.” The only engineer currently on the board is Muilenburg.
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Old 12th Oct 2019, 00:31
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CEO Dennis Muilenburg I think has been one of the biggest problems, post the MAX grounding. He has been the face for Boeing and certainly seems to be regurgitating lawyers words and directing blame. Strange move by the Board in my opinion.
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Old 12th Oct 2019, 00:37
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Deck chairs being rearranged.
This is a pusillanimous response to a crisis that is threatening the US's leadership in civil aviation.
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Old 12th Oct 2019, 01:11
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Originally Posted by etudiant View Post
Deck chairs being rearranged.
This is a pusillanimous response to a crisis that is threatening the US's leadership in civil aviation.
Yup. Interestingly, I've received, today, separate emails from three people around the world, all saying almost exactly what etudiant has written here.

Boeing appears not to have figured out, yet, that it faces an existential crisis. And the same goes for the FAA, which isn't facing threats to its existence, "merely" to its world leadership.
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Old 12th Oct 2019, 01:18
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in the hierarchy of safety solutions, mitigation by design should be prioritized over warnings and training/procedures
and this is a new idea???
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Old 12th Oct 2019, 01:59
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Originally Posted by Bend alot View Post
CEO Dennis Muilenburg I think has been one of the biggest problems, post the MAX grounding. He has been the face for Boeing and certainly seems to be regurgitating lawyers words and directing blame. Strange move by the Board in my opinion.
I quite agree. Is this go fix the problems you created with your corporate culture (and that leaves me with little confidence), or you are killing are company so go fix a problem that might not be resolved? I wonder if this is a response to airline pressure and a vote of lack of confidence for the entire Boeing product line?
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Old 12th Oct 2019, 07:40
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A lot of people are saying this comes from the top, not the engineers. There is prime example of a dysfunctional management, the CEO is also the Chairman of the Board. One of the key princples of proper governance of a company is that the Board overseas the CEO, not that the CEO is like a dictator. The alarm bells should have been ringing back then.
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Old 12th Oct 2019, 09:42
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Originally Posted by LookingForAJob View Post
and this is a new idea???
FTFA (fly the f***ed-up aircraft) is not exactly a new idea either, and based on this and previous threads here there is no clear winning strategy that'll satisfy everyone.

I've only got part way through the JATR report but the impression is, boy has the FAA got some work to do. It looks devastatingly thorough, and they don't look to be pulling any punches. Overall looks like the FAA gets a C- at best and more likely a D- or lower - unacceptable in multiple areas requiring immediate improvement to scrape a pass grade.

Forget the news reports and take the time to read the source, because you could pull enough soundbites from it to feed a dozen threads the size of this one. It looks like almost every worst-fear suggested here and elsewhere about the MAX certification process is going to be either confirmed or listed as requires further investigation. And I'm not even halfway through it yet...
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Old 12th Oct 2019, 10:56
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Without spelling out how MCAS was tested, they note the Boeing eCab does not reproduce loads on the trim wheel (at all).

In places they come close (e.g., ‘cannot see how compliance was demonstrated’) to saying the Max should not have been certified.

And reading between the lines, the comments on the competence and culture of the ODA and BASOO are about as bad as it gets.

Last edited by SLF3; 12th Oct 2019 at 11:27.
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Old 12th Oct 2019, 11:17
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Originally Posted by SLF3 View Post
Without spelling out how MCAS was tested, they note the Boring eCab does not reproduce loads on the trim wheel (at all).

In places they come close (e.g., ‘cannot see how compliance was demonstrated’) to saying the Max should not have been certified.

And reading between the lines, the comments on the competence and culture of the ODA and BASOO are about as bad as it gets.
And {luckily} we have had the best safety record (passenger commercial ) of only one death in the last decade. Is all that is missing from the Boeing and FAA narrative - and any variant to any safety aspect or certification process.

Followed by SAFETY is our highest priority.

The FAA asked for a assessment of how they did with the MAX certification - they still think they did an A job! even though they got a F-346.
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Old 12th Oct 2019, 13:16
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Bombshell in JATR report?

Originally Posted by fgrieu View Post
Here is the JATR report of Oct 11, 2019 as posted on the FAA website
Finding F3.5-C The JATR team considers that the STS/MCAS and EFS functions could be considered as stall identification systems or stall protection systems, depending on the natural (unaugmented) stall characteristics of the aircraft. From its data review, the JATR team was unable to completely rule out the possibility that these augmentation systems function as a stall protection system.

(my emphasis)
In my words, it seems unclear to this day, whether the MAX is sufficiently aerodynamically stable in pitch or not. Whether the MAX requires a full blown stall envelope protection including all the mandatory redundancy, or not, may decide the fate of her certification.

Last edited by spornrad; 12th Oct 2019 at 14:05.
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