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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 20th Oct 2019, 21:33
  #3261 (permalink)  
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Big Pistons & Lake: Boeing may well want to settle cases like this, for various reasons, including limiting the bad publicity that will follow the emergence of information obtained in discovery. However, it's hard to imagine that any information related to development, testing and certification of the MAX can be kept away from the world at large. Between lawsuits like SWAPA's,investigations by multiple government agencies in various national and pan-national jurisdictions, congressional investigations and at least one criminal investigation, it's a pretty safe bet that everything is going to see the light of day. And don't forget that there are wrongful death suits simmering all around the world, although at least some of them will probably be possible to settle.
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Old 20th Oct 2019, 21:59
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It seems likely that the major bankruptcy law firms are already modeling the potential revenue opportunity from a Boeing restructuring.
There will be very many lawsuits beyond the SWAPA complaint.
Given the clear indication that the firm pulled a Volkswagen style maneuver to misdirect the regulators and that hundreds died because of this, I'd expect considerably larger penalties than the $20B VW was hit by.
Not sure Boeing can afford that now.
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Old 20th Oct 2019, 22:35
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https://www.seattletimes.com/busines...mpression=true Boeing are denying the interpretation of the social media post .This reminds me of the VW controversy and they would be a lot better just admitting the problem and paying the fines, though some employees may end up going to prison.
Blustering is only going to cause more long term problems for the company.
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Old 20th Oct 2019, 22:44
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Does anyone really think the US will treat BOEING like a foreign automobile manufacturer ?
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Old 20th Oct 2019, 23:10
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Originally Posted by gearlever View Post
Does anyone really think the US will treat BOEING like a foreign automobile manufacturer ?
The US Government can be pretty ruthless and has reacted harshly to being misled on other occasions. Also, there are plenty of ways to ensure the valuable operational assets are preserved even if the investors and corporate leadership get crushed.
That is what restructuring is all about.
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Old 20th Oct 2019, 23:23
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Their problem isnt Forkner who was just a useful mid grade employee, a “technical” pilot who did little real flying, the problem is the test pilots will get deposed, and they certainly passed on Forkner’s concerns about MCAS and probably had some if their own.

i expect the test pilots will turn out to he knowledgable and ... knowing.
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Old 20th Oct 2019, 23:24
  #3267 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by etudiant View Post
The US Government can be pretty ruthless and has reacted harshly to being misled on other occasions. Also, there are plenty of ways to ensure the valuable operational assets are preserved even if the investors and corporate leadership get crushed.
That is what restructuring is all about.
Exactly. If US commercial airliner manufacturing is seen as viable, there will be plenty of bidders eager to pick up the relevant pieces of Boeing's business -- presumably at fire-sale prices -- if DOJ/regulatory/civil actions make continuing under the current structure impossible or undesirable.

Also, there's no single "US" entity that will decide how to proceed here. Justice, the FAA, the various courts and the parties to cases in those courts will all move more or less independently. I wouldn't predict Boeing's demise, just yet, but I certainly don't think it can be ruled out. The company has blundered into very big trouble, indeed.
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Old 20th Oct 2019, 23:32
  #3268 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by tubby linton View Post
https://www.seattletimes.com/business/boeing-aerospace/boeing-denies-pilot-messaging-chat-shows-prior-knowledge-of-737-max-flight-control-problem/?amp=1&__twitter_impression=true Boeing are denying the interpretation of the social media post .This reminds me of the VW controversy and they would be a lot better just admitting the problem and paying the fines, though some employees may end up going to prison.
Blustering is only going to cause more long term problems for the company.
It's probably past time for Boeing's lawyers to tell it to stop making public statements like this. Every single word is going to be recycled in court cases and investigations of all sorts, all over the world. And every one of those words is going to be compared to all the others and tested for consistency and accuracy.

Of course, there's also enormous pressure to try to convince the world that things aren't as bad as they may seem. There may be no way to do one without imperiling the other.

Edit: That simulator problem being blamed . . .

Boeing said the erratic behavior in 2016 of the new flight control system in the simulator — Forkner in the chat with another pilot described the flight control system called MCAS as “running rampant in the sim” and causing the plane to move without pilot input by “trimming itself like craxy [sic]” — wasn’t a result of the flawed system design, but instead an issue with the simulator software.

“The simulator software used during the Nov. 15 session was still undergoing testing and qualification and had not been finalized,” Boeing stated.
. . . is with the e-cab that the MAX chief was claiming could enable delivery of aircraft without test flights, if not for those annoying certification requirements.
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Old 20th Oct 2019, 23:43
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The FAA for the sake of their international credibility are going to want to know why they were not told of the issues that have been recently publicly disclosed and will need to be seen to be taking corrective action.
As to the long term future of Boeing, whilst the current regime will do its best to protect the company by the time the cases come to court the political landscape may have changed The continuing failures of other programmes such as the frankentanker are not going to help the company in Washington.
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Old 21st Oct 2019, 00:14
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On the SWAPA lawsuit:
Actually the logic of the claim is well recognized in a variety of cases and types of damages claims. It isn't much divergent from the calculation of backpay to an employee discharged for a reason found to be unlawful - a type of legal calculation in widely accepted use since the National Labor Relations Act became law several decades ago. And I have tried cases involving claims not only for backpay, but for "front pay" as well, in other words from the time of the court judgment until a projected time of retirement or other definable intervening event. Yes, it involves expert witness economist testimony, but it is a stock-in-trade of employment litigation. And while this case isn't quite an employment law action, the idea that the lost income claims are too speculative or uncertain is completely wrong. It will have to be established and proved up, of course, but that's routine law-biz stuff.
And....
Maybe, ...and it's a big "if".... Boeing might try a "failure to mitigate damages" line of defense. The defense would be that the Southwest pilots union has thrown up monkey wrenches into the process of getting consensus on the specific training modules that will be needed for return to flight (a quite well-placed source, with access to industry labor circles, related this not long ago). They've prolonged the return to flight, the argument would go, by repeatedly finding reasons not to agree to an emerging consensus in industry labor groups. I suppose, if the standards of rigor of an airline flight training program are said to be suspect to begin with, joining a consensus premised on more rigorous underlying training previously, could be understandable. But if it's a real set of facts, not only could it support a failure to mitigate defense, but it could pull rugs out from under the whole lawsuit. I also will say, imagining about how to prep Forkner for dep or trial...I mean, what will look worse to court or jury? - Mr Forkner enmeshed in Boeing's "fast-and-cheap" MAX cadre, a cadre for which the company will pay and pay dearly in other courtrooms for other wrongs inflicted, or First Officer Forkner, hired knowing his past involvement, or, hired without finding out?
Time will tell.
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Old 21st Oct 2019, 00:26
  #3271 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by WillowRun 6-3 View Post
I also will say, imagining about how to prep Forkner for dep or trial...I mean, what will look worse to court or jury? - Mr Forkner enmeshed in Boeing's "fast-and-cheap" MAX cadre, a cadre for which the company will pay and pay dearly in other courtrooms for other wrongs inflicted, or First Officer Forkner, hired knowing his past involvement, or, hired without finding out? Time will tell.
I really don't think either side will be eager to bring Forkner in and I can't see, at the moment, why either would need to. Anyway, as long as he's potentially facing criminal charges, he's not going to testify for anyone in a civil case -- at least not to anything remotely close to the subject of those potential charges.

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Old 21st Oct 2019, 01:08
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On the SWAPA litig & OldnGrounded:
That's the conventional wisdom plus, in this instance, it's more than just conventionally correct.
But even in the - in comparative terms - small-stakes cases I've litigated, games of chicken did get played. While not predicting this (and for the same reasons you stated), still I could see a desperate litigant anticipating advantage from a tarnished witness taking the Fifth.
Actually, one also wonders what terms were stated, meaning in writing, upon this person's leaving the employment service of Boeing?
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Old 21st Oct 2019, 01:17
  #3273 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by WillowRun 6-3 View Post
On the SWAPA litig & OldnGrounded:
That's the conventional wisdom plus, in this instance, it's more than just conventionally correct.
But even in the - in comparative terms - small-stakes cases I've litigated, games of chicken did get played. While not predicting this (and for the same reasons you stated), still I could see a desperate litigant anticipating advantage from a tarnished witness taking the Fifth.
Actually, one also wonders what terms were stated, meaning in writing, upon this person's leaving the employment service of Boeing?
It's gonna be high drama if it gets to court, isn't it? And a lot of very tense and quiet drama whether it gets there or not.

However it may all play out, it's really depressing to watch what has happened and is happening to a company that I thought of as the home of engineering heroes from the time I was a kid in an airline family.
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Old 21st Oct 2019, 01:40
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O & G:
Yeah. Depressing is the word. In the WSJ article published on their website this evening there's a photo of an assembly line at Boeing. That was, once upon a time, an unimaginably holy image to this kid, all the way back to a short story in Playboy in June 1974 based on an airplane crash that didn't actually occur but turned out only to have been imagined....and the start of reading AW&ST which soon followed and...anyway.
Chairman DeFazio looks loaded for bear.
(The Taste of Gravy, by John D. MacDonald)

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Old 21st Oct 2019, 03:29
  #3275 (permalink)  
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I'm puzzled. I'd have thought that the pilots would have had to claim against their employers, and the airline bring the case against Boeing. I can't see how Boeing have a direct responsibility to people that are employed by another company.
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Old 21st Oct 2019, 04:40
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Watched last night a two hour doco celebrating fifty years of the all mighty Jumbo, documenting its gestation, birth, troubles, and service. One point made was the pressure by management on Joe Sutter to cut costs, but Joe resisted any attempt to short change engineering standards as he saw them, or the provision of redundancy in the systems. The company came within two months of bankruptcy.

I wonder if the company now has someone of Joe's character in the engineering able to withstand the various pressures applied by management, who rightfully are concerned with the money side of the business.

https://businessthinker.com/the-boei...etting-it-all/

An article by Macarthur Job on the O'Hare DC-10, I see parallels in system design re MAX.
DC-10 Design

Other designs include mechanical locking devices to prevent movement of slats by external loads following a system failure. This feature was not deemed necessary in the DC-10 because it was demonstrated that sufficient lateral control was available to compensate for asymmetrical conditions throughout the aircraft's flight envelope. Analysis of the takeoff regime showed that, with all engines operating, the aircraft would accelerate to and maintain a positive stall margin.

Even so, the analysis showed that if slat retraction, and a loss of engine thrust were to occur during takeoff, the aircraft's capability to accelerate to a positive stall margin would be compromised. But because mathematical probability showed this hazardous combination to be extremely unlikely, the design was accepted as complying with requirements. If the structural loss of a pylon had been included in the probability projection, the vulnerability of the hydraulic lines and slat position feedback cables might have been recognised.

Also, the result of the combined failure of the hydraulic and electrical systems was not considered. When the effects of asymmetric slat settings on controllability was first evaluated, it was presumed that other flight controls would be operable and that the slat disagreement and stall warning systems would be functioning.

In this accident however, the loss of those systems, intended to alert the crew to the need to maintain airspeed, was critical. The stall warning system lacked redundancy, there was only one stickshaker motor, and the left and right stall warning computers did nor receive crossover information from the applicable slat position sensors on opposite sides of the aircraft.

In summary, the certification of the DC-10 was carried out in accordance with the rules in effect at the time, and with then accepted engineering and aeronautical standards. In retrospect however, the regulations appeared inadequate, in that they did not require manufacturers to allow for multiple malfunctions resulting from a single failure, even though that failure was extremely improbable.

McDonnell Douglas considered the likelihood of the structural failure of a pylon and engine to be of the same magnitude as a failure of a tailplane or wing. The pylon structure was therefore designed to meet and exceed all foreseeable loads in the life of the aircraft.
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Old 21st Oct 2019, 05:03
  #3277 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by Loose rivets View Post
I'm puzzled. I'd have thought that the pilots would have had to claim against their employers, and the airline bring the case against Boeing. I can't see how Boeing have a direct responsibility to people that are employed by another company.
I've taken up a lot of space here, today, so I'll just suggest that your question is best answered by reading the SWA pilots' complaint.
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Old 21st Oct 2019, 05:39
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From WSJ - note survey re taking bad news to management- docs that Boeing never turned over
By Andrew Tangel and
Andy Pasztor
Updated Oct. 20, 2019 7:23 pm ET

U.S. lawmakers probing the 737 MAX jet crisis are ratcheting up scrutiny of Boeing Co. BA -6.79% leaders as new details point to management pressure on engineers and pilots in its commercial-aircraft unit.

Investigators for the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee looking into the design and certification of the 737 MAX have received details of a three-year-old internal Boeing survey showing roughly one in three employees who responded felt “potential undue pressure” from managers regarding safety-related approvals by federal regulators across an array of commercial planes. Workload and schedule were cited as important causes.

Such conflicts could become problematic, the survey found, when it came to Boeing engineers who played dual roles designing certain systems on behalf of the plane maker and then certifying the same systems as safe on behalf of the Federal Aviation Administration, as part of a decades-old agency program that effectively outsources such regulatory work to company employees.

The summary of the survey as of November 2016 also indicated that 15% of those who responded encountered such situations “several times” or “frequently.” The survey results were provided to the committee by an individual, rather than as part of Boeing’s formal process of turning over documents, and were reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.
Rep. Peter DeFazio, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said he was dissatisfied with the Boeing board’s oversight. Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg News

The survey, which hasn’t been reported before, wasn’t specifically focused on the MAX but covered employees across a range of Boeing commercial airliner programs; it came near the end of the MAX’s multiyear federal approval process. Boeing declined to comment on the survey, but a board member has said an internal review found no signs that undue pressure had compromised safety.

Boeing was conducting the survey the same months a senior company pilot involved in the development of the 737 MAX messaged a colleague that Boeing’s test pilots were “so damn busy, and getting pressure” from the program officials overseeing the aircraft’s development that they lacked sufficient time to help sort out technical issues from the two aviators, according to a transcript of internal messages reviewed by the Journal and disclosed by Boeing to congressional investigators on Friday.

These glimpses into Boeing’s internal culture provided by survey results during development of the MAX highlight conflicts that can arise from a regulatory regime that enlists company employees to act on behalf of both their employer and the regulator that oversees its products. In some cases, Boeing engineers or managers may have decision-making power on behalf of the FAA pertaining to the very same systems and components they design or build for the company. Such issues are at the heart of the escalating congressional debate around the way the MAX was approved.

Rep. Peter DeFazio of Oregon, the Democratic chairman of the House committee, indicated that at the hearing later this month he plans to ask Boeing Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg about the company’s internal culture and what he sees as a lack of accountability for two MAX crashes that together claimed 346 lives.

Boeing’s directors, expected to meet on Sunday in San Antonio, recently stripped Mr. Muilenburg of his dual role as chairman. Board members intended the move to serve as a public signal that they were holding management to account as the MAX crisis drags on, people familiar with the matter said.
Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg faces questioning from congressional committees. Photo: shannon stapleton/Reuters

“That’s not exactly major accountability, and it probably goes deeper into the organization,” said Mr. DeFazio in an interview, adding that he was also dissatisfied with the board’s oversight, which he described as “pretty lame.”

“Even if you grant that the board thought that the original crash was pilot error and bad maintenance,” he added, “certainly they should have stepped it way up after the second crash, and I haven’t seen that.”

The company didn’t respond to a request for comment about Mr. DeFazio’s criticism.

The House hearing, and another one the Senate Commerce Committee is expected to hold, come weeks after a pair of official reports, from U.S. air-crash investigators and a group of international aviation regulators, faulting Boeing for how it designed, tested and certified a MAX flight-control system, called MCAS, that authorities have said led to the crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia.

No employees at Boeing have been fired or removed from their positions because of their role in the MAX crisis, people familiar with the matter said. While Dave Calhoun, a top executive at the New York private-equity firm Blackstone Group Inc., took over the chairmanship from Mr. Muilenburg, Mr. Muilenburg retained his CEO position and is still a board director, and Mr. Calhoun has said the board has full confidence in him as CEO. Other senior executives at Boeing remain in place. Kevin McAllister is chief of the company’s airplane division, and Greg Hyslop remains chief engineer.

The Boeing board’s recent move to restructure how the company handles engineering, safety and certification matters, according to Mr. DeFazio, was a tacit acknowledgment that production pressures have threatened Boeing’s safety culture.

The reshuffling, which the board recommended after its own review, will centralize control of engineering and safety matters, giving more power to the company’s Chicago-based CEO and chief engineer. While the aim is to reduce the influence of business concerns such as costs and production schedules in engineering decisions, the review didn’t uncover signs that undue pressure or other lapses compromised safety of the MAX or other aircraft Boeing produces, according to Edmund Giambastiani Jr. , a retired U.S. Navy admiral who sits on the company’s board and oversaw the review. Adm. Giambastiani called it an “opportunity to improve the system.”
People convey a coffin during the Oct. 18 burial ceremony in Kiangai Village, Kenya, of Paul Karanja's wife and three children who died in the March 10 crash of Ethiopian Airlines’ Boeing 737 MAX. Photo: suleiman mbatiah/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

The 2016 survey nonetheless showed that 29% of the more than 500 employees who answered it by late November of that year were “concerned about consequences if I report potential undue pressure.”

The material laying out the survey results mentioned that “conflict can occur” when employees “are asked to develop and then approve” the same technical proposal.

The presentation of the results, which was apparently prepared for all project administrators and authorized FAA representatives across Boeing commercial-aircraft programs, also said that more than 80% of respondents to the survey expressed confidence that procedures were in place to address concerns about excessive pressure. The document also noted that the FAA separately had interviewed dozens of authorized representatives, and found that the “process for reporting undue pressure [was] well understood.”

Boeing declined to comment on whether Mr. Muilenburg and the board were considering personnel changes.

“Boeing’s leadership team is committed to our enduring values of safety, quality and integrity as they implement the board’s recommendations and additional actions to strengthen and elevate safety,” a Boeing spokesman said, adding they are working to safely return the 737 MAX to service.

The House committee has been delving into documents it has collected from Boeing and the government and whether the plane maker had made misleading statements to the FAA before it approved the model for commercial service in March 2017, according to people familiar with the probe. The Boeing spokesman said the company is fully cooperating with all external inquiries and reviews.

Disclosures by Mr. DeFazio’s committee on Friday of Boeing’s internal messages between the senior Boeing pilot and his colleague have been ramping up criticism of Boeing on Capitol Hill.

The messages between Mark Forkner, then chief technical pilot for the MAX tasked with winning FAA approval for the jet’s manuals and training, and a colleague in November 2016, suggest that Mr. Forkner believed he unintentionally misled regulators about certain aspects of a flight-control system.

Apparently referring to how engineers had altered the system, later implicated in both MAX crashes, to work in more typical flight conditions than it was originally designed for, Mr. Forkner said: “So I basically lied to the regulators (unknowingly).”

Months after sending that message, Mr. Forkner portrayed it differently. In a January 2017 email to an FAA official, he argued that the system known as MCAS should be taken out of manuals because it activates “way outside the normal operating envelope,” and therefore cockpit crews would practically never experience it. The email was later turned over to Mr. DeFazio’s committee and reviewed by the Journal.

Mr. Forkner’s attorney, David Gerger, didn’t respond to a request for comment over the weekend about the January 2017 email. On Friday, Mr. Gerger said the instant messages showed his client wasn’t lying but was instead referring to a malfunctioning simulator.

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D., Conn.) said he wanted to question Mr. Muilenburg and Boeing’s board members about Mr. Forkner’s exchange. “They need to be held accountable for this possible deception,” Mr. Blumenthal said in an interview.

—Rachel Louise Ensign and Suzanne Vranica contributed to this article.
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Old 21st Oct 2019, 07:06
  #3279 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by OldnGrounded View Post
I've taken up a lot of space here, today, so I'll just suggest that your question is best answered by reading the SWA pilots' complaint.
Interesting reading:

Quote from the complaint;

"117. In fact, Boeing 737 Chief Technical Pilot, Mark Forkner asked the FAA to delete any mention of MCAS from the pilot manual so as to further hide its existence from the public and pilots."

Because Mr.Mark Forkner has been mentioned in this complaint it will be interesting to see how the complaint is handled.
I am not going to comment on anything else as this is an ongoing legal issue, so I have no right to comment on this complaint until the Court has reviewed the case.

Last edited by 568; 21st Oct 2019 at 07:06. Reason: text
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Old 21st Oct 2019, 07:18
  #3280 (permalink)  
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Thought I read an article that the MAX 737 was limited during take off performance at high altitude airports.
Can anyone verify this?

Thanks.
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