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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 19th Oct 2019, 12:17
  #3181 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Bend alot View Post

Two guys have rampant MCAS operations - when it should not operate!
That alone should have rang massive alarm bells - they were not having an arvo out in a toy, they were testing and evaluating a aircraft (to be sure it was safe).
These were not the test pilots, these were the technical pilots who were trying to write up the systems for regulators and operators. Later on, these two complain that the test pilots were not telling them anything.

It will be much more interesting to see messaging exchanges between the test pilots...

Silver

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Old 19th Oct 2019, 12:18
  #3182 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by derjodel View Post
I believe this is a chat exchange. E.g. SMS/iChat, Whatsapp, Slack or the like. It was still stored on somebody's device or server, so it's a "record".
Most likely Microsoft Office Communicator or Skype which automatically archive conversations into a Microsoft Outlook folder. Should be easily retrieved from a users email account, along with regular email, when collecting evidence to forward to an external agency.
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Old 19th Oct 2019, 12:19
  #3183 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by silverstrata View Post

Later on, these same technical pilots then ‘forget’ to mention anything about MCAS in the manuals they were writing. How did that happen? Where did the pressure come from, for two professional technical pilots to completely miss out a safety system from the FCOM - the pilot’s manual?

Silver
IIRC it was he who asked FAA to not include it.
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Old 19th Oct 2019, 13:00
  #3184 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by joe_bloggs View Post
IIRC it was he who asked FAA to not include it.
It was indeed, and also the same bloke who went around to other regulators and, paraphrasing, lied straight to their faces about the extent of authority embedded in MCAS.

So, not so much a question of 'forgetting' to implement MCAS in the FCOM, but a deliberate and successful attempt to hide it out of view. We know now what the real motive was behind that decision, and it wasn't at attempt not to overburden the pilots with too much technical information. We now also know, why he sought work outside of Boeing, lawyered up and pleaded the 5th when the investigators came knocking

A smoking gun directly linking this knowledge of MCAS to senior management has yet to be uncovered, as far as I know. But it does sound extremely unlikely that nobody from the pool of test pilot and technical pilot has not, at some point between 2016 and certification in 2017, held up their hand in a meeting, email or chat conversation involving one or more senior managers, and said WTF is going on. If that happens, and it's sadly becoming increasingly likely that it will, the consequences for Boeing will be dire.

And what Boeing did to their regulator, on whom their only hope of resolving the Max debacle rests, is nothing less than astounding. Anybody who's ever been involved with Boeing will testify to their institutional arrogance, but this one takes the cake at a level I didn't think possible.

Be surprised if we see the Max operating any airline service this side of summer 2020.
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Old 19th Oct 2019, 13:04
  #3185 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by silverstrata View Post


These were not the test pilots, these were the technical pilots who were trying to write up the systems for regulators and operators. Later on, these two complain that the test pilots were not telling them anything.

It will be much more interesting to see messaging exchanges between the test pilots...

Silver

I was very determined to not say they were Test Pilots and they were testing the aircraft to make sure it was safe, a technical pilot is not a desk job.

A test pilot would fly an aircraft for testing purposes in this case at extreme and beyond envelope conditions - a Tech Pilot just within the envelope after Test Pilots have confirmed the envelope limits.

But that was in the good old days, could be Test Pilots is just a theory thing now days - because the Tech Pilots will pick it up later.

I am pretty sure there is more idle chat about MCAS from both the Test and Tech Pilots to be released.
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Old 19th Oct 2019, 13:58
  #3186 (permalink)  
 
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The new FAA Administrator should revoke the type certificate for this airplane, and direct Boeing to re-certify the airplane.
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Old 19th Oct 2019, 14:08
  #3187 (permalink)  
 
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A few random thoughts, in no particular order:

1. It is worthwhile to read the entire exchange and not just the posted excerpts. This was obviously a casual conversation between co-workers that neither party thought would see the light of day. Besides the exchange on MCAS, I thought the most interesting aspect were the comments indicating the pressure they were under to get the work done.

2. Context is extremely important in evaluating this conversation, and unfortunately we do not have all the context necessary. As has been mentioned before, Forkner, as a technical pilot, is not acting as a test pilot. In this example, it appears that he is trying to confirm that the sim behavior conforms to the known aircraft (including MCAS software) behavior. Aggressive activation of either the Speed Trim or the MCAS does not seem to be appropriate at the stated conditions (230 KIAS, 4000' level flight), so this could have very well been either a Flight Control Computer or a sim programming issue they had stumbled on.

3. What is really needed to evaluate this conversation, and what we don't have right now, is what happened next. Did Forkner communicate his findings up the chain? If so, what was the result of that communication? Were changes made to any software?

Waiting for the next shoe to drop......
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Old 19th Oct 2019, 14:16
  #3188 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Tomaski View Post
A few random thoughts, in no particular order:

1. It is worthwhile to read the entire exchange and not just the posted excerpts. This was obviously a casual conversation between co-workers that neither party thought would see the light of day. Besides the exchange on MCAS, I thought the most interesting aspect were the comments indicating the pressure they were under to get the work done.

2. Context is extremely important in evaluating this conversation, and unfortunately we do not have all the context necessary. As has been mentioned before, Forkner, as a technical pilot, is not acting as a test pilot. In this example, it appears that he is trying to confirm that the sim behavior conforms to the known aircraft (including MCAS software) behavior. Aggressive activation of either the Speed Trim or the MCAS does not seem to be appropriate at the stated conditions (230 KIAS, 4000' level flight), so this could have very well been either a Flight Control Computer or a sim programming issue they had stumbled on.

3. What is really needed to evaluate this conversation, and what we don't have right now, is what happened next. Did Forkner communicate his findings up the chain? If so, what was the result of that communication? Were changes made to any software?

Waiting for the next shoe to drop......
If I recall correctly the pressure was compared to an airline and not from a Third World.
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Old 19th Oct 2019, 14:19
  #3189 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Bend alot View Post
Why was the "Shocker Alert" - MCAS now active down to M.2 said.
The interesting part here is: Why are they surprised MCAS is active down to M.2? From all that has been said before MCAS was designed as a patch to get a positive stick force gradient at low airspeeds when at high AOA the engine nacelles produce lift and a large ANU moment. Therefore it would need to operate at the slowest part of the operating envelope down to stall speed. 230kt should be above minimum clean even at higher mass.
So far we where told that MCAS was initially designed to work only at very low speeds. Later on, during test flights, they discovered they also need it at higher airspeeds with even more authority.

Therefore, either MCAS was initially designed to work at higher speeds only, or he actually meant, he was surprised to see MCAS active UP to M.2 and not down to M.2. When that is the case, his statement that he lied to the regulators makes sense as well.
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Old 19th Oct 2019, 14:25
  #3190 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by EDML View Post
...So far we where told that MCAS was initially designed to work only at very low speeds. Later on, during test flights, they discovered they also need it at higher airspeeds with even more authority....
It was the other way round. From the JATR report:
Observation O3.4-A: The original implementation of MCAS was driven primarily by its ability to provide the B737 MAX with FAA-compliant flight characteristics at high speed. An unaugmented design would have been at risk of not meeting 14 CFR part 25 maneuvering characteristics requirements due to aerodynamics.
Observation O3.4-B: Extension of MCAS to the low-speed and 1g environment during the flight program was due to unacceptable stall characteristics with STS only. The possibility of a pitch-up tendency during approach to stall was identified for the flaps-up configuration prior to the implementation of MCAS.

https://www.faa.gov/news/media/attac...A_Oct_2019.pdf

One of the many scary parts here: the tech pilots were left in the dark by the test pilots and aero developers a mere four month before certification. So they knew of the high speed / limited authority implementation, but apparently were surprised by the later low airspeed high authority part. Sounds like the left hand had no clue what the right hand was doing...
A hectic last minute change to cover for an airframe instability, with dire consequences. As Tomaskî said, the interesting part is how this alarming discovery from 2016 was followed-up, and how a real review of this was avoided (until two years and a crash later).

Last edited by spornrad; 19th Oct 2019 at 14:57.
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Old 19th Oct 2019, 14:25
  #3191 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by pilotmike View Post
Hey, we've not seen one of those comedy, 'here today, gone tomorrow' pop-up shills for Boeing on these pages for a while, trotting out their monotonous mantra:
It is entirely possible to believe the following things simultaneously:

1. Boeing really, really screwed up the MAX design process.
2. The FAA really, really dropped the ball when it came to oversight, and other certificate authorities were too prone to trust them.
3. The maintenance process at Lion Air had some glaring deficiencies.
4. The current training regime present at many airlines does not properly equip pilots to deal with problems that present multiple malfunctions and/or ambiguous symptoms.

I think it would be a shame not to address each of these.

Last edited by Tomaski; 19th Oct 2019 at 15:21.
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Old 19th Oct 2019, 14:54
  #3192 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by derjodel View Post
I believe this is a chat exchange. E.g. SMS/iChat, Whatsapp, Slack or the like. It was still stored on somebody's device or server, so it's a "record".
Actually, if one looks at what was released, they used their boeing email address. It probably took boeing perhaps 1/2 to one hour after A request to find ALL emails over the last three to 5 years between all those involved and less than that to sort thru their emails based on word or phrase search.

Boeing has used an equivalent to a VPN for decades which allow any employee to use their boeing email from almost anywhere in the world. They were using sat communications for AOG in the 60's.

Last edited by Grebe; 19th Oct 2019 at 15:04. Reason: a bit more explain
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Old 19th Oct 2019, 15:02
  #3193 (permalink)  
 
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OldnGrounded: "I pointed out in post #3145 that it is common for investigators to withhold information during active criminal investigations. WillowRun expressed skepticism that DOJ would do that with so much riding on the FAA/NTSB investigations. I agreed that it is nearly incomprehensible, but that's what seems to be happening."

....three quick points before returning to the academic stratosphete of commercial and civil aviation:
1. Comparison to handling of document disclosure in the aftermath of the crash of TWA 800 is false; there obviously was not a type certificate grounding (or an effort to re-certify), unless Canadian air perhaps has buffeted my memory units.
2. Post previously could fairly be read as expressing skepticism - "my bad." In the spirit of a forum thread, I was trying for "disbelief, disbelief-plus-indignation." And the reporting certainly does force suspension of the disbelief.
3. But the indignation persists, is it not so? Yeah I've read some stuff put up on Twitter by "popehat" and if there's stuff on this situation or the MAX more broadly, the suggestion to see it is appreciated. But....where a type certificate has been pulled, worldwide (without legal challenge as after the DC-10 1979 grounding), and two crashes totaling 346 fatalities....all the generalities in the world about lawyers, cops and evidence aren't going to be enough. Maybe more insight by those directly involved will, in the end, suffice, to explain.
By the way, that total number of fatalities? Same as in the Turkish DC-10 crash outside Paris, 1974. Strange, isn't it?
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Old 19th Oct 2019, 15:03
  #3194 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Tomaski View Post
It is entirely possible to believe the following things simultaneously:

1. Boeing really, really screwed up the MAX design process.
2. The FAA really, really dropped the ball when it came to oversight, and other certificate authorities were too prone to trust them.
3. The maintenance process at Lion Air had some glaring deficiencies.
4. The current training regime present at many airlines does not properly equip pilots to deal with problems that present ambiguous symptoms.

I think it would be a shame not to address each of these.
I agree - then post accident list the 4 points
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Old 19th Oct 2019, 15:24
  #3195 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Tomaski View Post
It is entirely possible to believe the following things simultaneously:

1. Boeing really, really screwed up the MAX design process.
2. The FAA really, really dropped the ball when it came to oversight, and other certificate authorities were too prone to trust them.
3. The maintenance process at Lion Air had some glaring deficiencies.
4. The current training regime present at many airlines does not properly equip pilots to deal with problems that present ambiguous symptoms.

I think it would be a shame not to address each of these.
That is true as far as it goes. However, 2 and 4 apply widely and the overall safety trend has been positive for many years. Then one airplane type enters service...
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Old 19th Oct 2019, 15:57
  #3196 (permalink)  
 
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I assume that the references to "sim" are to the in-house e-cab <Boeing: The ?e-cab? ? a test flight deck>? Which presumably has software that is at the same level as the test aircraft, or slightly ahead as a last step in verification before loading to the aircraft?

<<The simulator is equipped with all of the controls and hardware that pilots will use in a real airplane, and it's the closest thing to flying without leaving the lab. New to this e-cab are the larger flight deck display monitors. The four 15-inch (38-centimeter) monitors of the 737 MAX are the same as in the 787 Dreamliner. "Being able to fly the e-cab before flight testing gives us the chance to practice our maneuvers and try out the new electronics systems that drive the flight controls for the new aircraft," said Christine Walsh, 737 MAX Deputy Chief Test Pilot. "It's a chance to feel the airplane before first flight."

"We've coined a term that has become a very important focus for us: right at first flight," said Keith Leverkuhn, Vice President and General Manager for the 737 MAX program. "It means making sure that by the time we put the airplane in the air for the first time on our flight test that we know how these systems are going to act and that they are mature enough. If it weren't for certification requirements, the systems would be ready to enter our customers' fleets.">>
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Old 19th Oct 2019, 15:59
  #3197 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Tomaski View Post
It is entirely possible to believe the following things simultaneously:

1. Boeing really, really screwed up the MAX design process.
2. The FAA really, really dropped the ball when it came to oversight, and other authorities were too prone to trust.
3. The maintenance process at Lion Air had some glaring deficiencies.
4. The current training regime present at many airlines does not properly equip pilots to deal with problems.

I think it would be a shame not to address each of these.
LowObservable.

You forget that number 3. is also widespread in smaller airlines and some third world airlines. That is why most aircraft have multiple redundancies, and don’t have safety-critical systems running from just one sensor.

And then along came the Max.
Which brings us back to point 1.......

Silver


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Old 19th Oct 2019, 16:03
  #3198 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by LowObservable View Post

That is true as far as it goes. However, 2 and 4 apply widely and the overall safety trend has been positive for many years. Then one airplane type enters service...
Granted, aviation has been getting safer, in large part to improved procedures, technological aids (GPWS, TCAS, GPS, and the like), more reliable aircraft designs as well as the appropriate use of automation. But at the same time, I think what has occurred with the MAX underscores one of the unintended consequences of these improvements - less diligence elsewhere. I think the proper term for this is "risk homeostasis" - decreased risk on one area leads to a change in behavior that increases risk elsewhere. An example would be the Telsa owner who pays less attention to the road conditions because they have an autopilot-type device "protecting" them.

There is an unrelenting pressure for all manufacturers and operators to cut costs or maintain schedule where they can. Though not for the same reasons, even regulatory agencies like the FAA deal with similar pressures, and yielding to those pressures can impact the overall safety of aviation. Any adverse changes may not show up readily at first because other layers of the safety net trap and contain the issue. However, when one of the foundational layers is removed - in this case a basic design problem with the aircraft - then the deficiencies in these other areas become very apparent.

There's a well-known quote by (I think) Warren Buffet applying to the finance world: "You don't know who is swimming naked until the tide goes out." I think the tide went out with the MAX, and we are seeing quite a few parties embarrassed by their sudden nakedness.
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Old 19th Oct 2019, 16:23
  #3199 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by WillowRun 6-3 View Post
....three quick points before returning to the academic stratosphete of commercial and civil aviation:
Quick response before we return: I don't think we have any serious disagreements, WillowRun.

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Old 19th Oct 2019, 16:40
  #3200 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by boaclhryul View Post
I assume that the references to "sim" are to the in-house e-cab <Boeing: The ?e-cab? ? a test flight deck>? Which presumably has software that is at the same level as the test aircraft, or slightly ahead as a last step in verification before loading to the aircraft?

"We've coined a term that has become a very important focus for us: right at first flight," said Keith Leverkuhn, Vice President and General Manager for the 737 MAX program. "It means making sure that by the time we put the airplane in the air for the first time on our flight test that we know how these systems are going to act and that they are mature enough. If it weren't for certification requirements, the systems would be ready to enter our customers' fleets."
Mr. Leverkuhn appears to have actually convinced himself that they could safely deliver airplanes without flight testing, if not for those annoying certification requirements. And this is the guy in charge of the MAX program.
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