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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 16th Dec 2019, 20:46
  #4561 (permalink)  
 
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Exclamation Boeing to stop production of MAX in Jan

Per announcement on cable news after close today

Note they normally take a week or two off over XMAS

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Old 16th Dec 2019, 20:54
  #4562 (permalink)  
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Muilenberg just doesn't seem able to stop himself.

From WSJ (full text from behind the paywall):

Boeing’s Crisis Management Keeps Falling Short

Jon Sindreu

Boeing’s BA -4.29% latest clash with regulators adds little information about the actual financial risks faced by the company. But it is yet another indictment of how its upper management is handling those risks.

On Monday afternoon, Boeing’s stock dropped more than 3%, based on reports by The Wall Street Journal that the plane maker could suspend or cut production of its 737 MAX jet, which regulators are keeping grounded. Building these planes without selling them is a huge cost for Boeing, which has relied on cash from its 787 Dreamliner and higher debt issuance to keep production rates at 42 a month.

The report has stoked fears that Boeing’s 12,000-employee factory in Renton, Wash., could shut down temporarily. Consequences would be felt across the U.S. economy. Shares of Spirit AeroSystems, which makes the MAX’s fuselage, were down 3% Monday.

For Boeing, cutbacks on production will save cash but damage earnings, given that the company accounts for MAX’s profit margin based on projections of its whole life cycle—and selling fewer of them means fewer profits per unit. Sheila Kahyaoglu, analyst at Jefferies, now calculates an additional 6% damage to earnings-per-share in 2020.

However, it is unlikely that this news caught investors entirely off guard.

Delays in the MAX’s return to service beyond January were always thought to imply production cuts. And given that recertifying the plane has become very politically charged, it has been entirely uncertain when it may be able to fly again. Indeed, carriers such as Southwest Airlines have been rewarded by the market for penciling in conservative assumptions about the MAX’s return.
What should worry investors is that Boeing’s Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg, who is already under pressure to resign, hasn’t chosen to be conservative as well. In October, he maintained that 2019 recertification was still on track.

Last week, it emerged that this in itself created pushback, leading the Federal Aviation Administration to criticize Boeing for an “unrealistic” schedule that could be “designed to force FAA into taking quicker action.”
Boeing has a great plane catalog and can certainly overcome the MAX fiasco, but

Mr. Muilenburg’s priority after the grounding was to get officials on board by erasing perceptions of a culture of short-termism. This is even more important now that the FAA, whose image also has been tarnished by the MAX’s crashes, is trying hard to get both the public and overseas regulators back on its side.

Somehow, Boeing’s management is failing to take this on board.
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Old 16th Dec 2019, 20:56
  #4563 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by Grebe View Post
Per announcement on cable news after close today

Note they normally take a week or two off over XMAS
I guess we'll find out tomorrow whether the market has already priced this in. Stock down 4.29% at close. Looks like about another 1% after-hours at the moment.
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Old 16th Dec 2019, 20:58
  #4564 (permalink)  
 
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WSJ Exclusive

https://www.wsj.com/articles/boeing-...ry-11576532032

​​​​​​Boeing to Suspend 737 MAX Production in January
Plane maker will temporarily halt production of grounded jetliner involved in two fatal crashes

By Andrew Tangel
Dec. 16, 2019 4:33 pm ET

Boeing Co. will temporarily halt production of its 737 MAX jetliner in January, according to a person briefed on the matter, escalating the crisis confronting the aerospace giant and raising the prospect of job cuts and furloughs across the global aerospace industry.

The company has continued to assemble around 40 planes a month at its plant near Seattle since the MAX was grounded in March following a second fatal crash of the aircraft in five months.

That has created a backlog of around 400 jets as Boeing has sought regulatory approval for the MAX to return to service. Airlines and government officials don’t expect that approval to come until February at the earliest.

Boeing’s decision to halt production of the 737 MAX is likely to reverberate throughout the U.S. economy. The plane maker is the nation’s largest manufacturing exporter and one of the top private employers.

A Boeing spokesman didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Write to Andrew Tangel at [email protected]
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Old 16th Dec 2019, 21:25
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Stopping production will hit suppliers and both their staff and budgets very soon. This hold buys only some very limited time.
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Old 16th Dec 2019, 21:45
  #4566 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by Less Hair View Post
Stopping production will hit suppliers and both their staff and budgets very soon. This hold buys only some very limited time.
Fuselage manufacturer Spirit's stock was down about 1.5% while NYSE was open and has lost about 6% more in after-hours trading (as of now). News in Wichita is that Spirit will be extending its holiday closure for a few days, and that was announced before the Boeing production halt was official. GE and Safran were down about 1.5% and 2.2%, respectively.

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Old 16th Dec 2019, 22:05
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I can’t post a link but it seems they will also pay a quarterly dividend of USD2.05 per share to shareholders on the register in February.
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Old 16th Dec 2019, 22:05
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Originally Posted by Snyggapa View Post
Sully was type rated on 737. From the NTSB report:

https://www.ntsb.gov/investigations/...ts/AAR1003.pdf

"The captain, age 57, was hired by Pacific Southwest Airlines on February 25, 1980.16 Before this, he flew McDonnell Douglas F-4 airplanes for the U.S. Air Force. At the time of the accident, he held a single- and multi-engine airline transport pilot (ATP) certificate, issued August 7, 2002, with type ratings in A320, Boeing 737, McDonnell Douglas DC-9, Learjet, and British Aerospace AVR-146 airplanes."

So I suspect that he is qualified to comment despite his "celebrity status" on the A320
While it's nice that Sully has a 737 type I suggested him because he has the gravitas to reassure the public. You could put almost any airline pilot in the seat in the MCAS envelope and have him decide if it's a hindrance to have a non linear stick force without MCAS. Maybe Boeing should take up that Canadian regulators suggestion and get it certified without MCAS in Canada.

Last edited by jimtx; 17th Dec 2019 at 00:03.
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Old 16th Dec 2019, 22:12
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Originally Posted by GordonR_Cape View Post
Short answer: The autopilot and MCAS are different sub-systems running on each FCC.

The autopilot is a 3-axis system, and demands high integrity data from muliple sensors to operate safely.

MCAS is a subroutine of the speed-trim system, and both operate on a single axis of pitch via the horizontal stabiliser.

IMO this is where things went wrong. Speed trim is a closed-loop system, with limited authority in pitch, and failure is not catastrophic. MCAS was supposed to be closed-loop, but due to AOA failure it became open-loop. It also had larger authority, and unlimited scope.

Thus a safe and trusted sub-system became a monster, due to a combination of hardware error, faulty design, and lack of foresight.
Speaking as an engineer SLF, the number of bad design decisions and implementation errors impinging on this subsystem are amazing: To the actual repeat/cyclic MCAS with lethal authority, add

- single AoA use in MCAS
- AoA disagree light inoperative
- column override switch mods
- missing/removed MCAS documentation
- simulators with no clutches on trim wheels to feedback extreme trim force

I can only imagine that the engineering team was dysfunctional with respect to safety checks.

Edmund
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Old 16th Dec 2019, 22:49
  #4570 (permalink)  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Loose rivets A stick nudger is totally different and not at all what was required to solve the aerodynamic problem.
Well . . . but what, exactly, is the aerodynamic problem? We've been told that it's a pitch-up tendency in some corners of the envelope and that MCAS was required to create linear stick forces to help keep the airplane out of those corners. OK, but using the H-stab for that job is pretty radical. Also, as Grebe and others have pointed out, stab trimming is inherently slower than the elevator movement controlled by the yoke, so it seems like an odd choice for that reason.

I think most of us are still trying to figure out how any of this makes good engineering sense -- even if the system design hadn't been so truly awful.

"A pitch-up tendency" is probably technically okay but if I understand it correctly, Boeing like to define the issue as a lightening of stick loads in circumstances that might lead the pilot flying into a trap. We know this means being shepherded into a dark corridor and stalling the aircraft, but it's all about words and the way we use them.

I missused the word eloquent for the MCAS logic. People steal that word a lot these days, but I imagined MCAS working as it was intended, a scenario of say, a last minute runway change and four eyes staring into the blackness for the new centreline. A child of the Magenta Line and an auto-throttle forgotten, so much would depend on the feel of the controls. (shudder)

I suppose that's typical of why that particular certification criteria was put in place. Indeed, the smooth re-datumising of the aircraft's pitch, I begrudgingly concede is best done with the horizontal stabilizer. That jack-screw is perfect for the job: easily electronically controlled and perfectly smooth in operation . . . and ultimately powerful. And there's the rub, just one short period in Boeing's history of design and a ghastly cluster of mistakes allows, what did I call it, the uncensored use of that ultimate power. One faulty, possibly 'bogus' part and there was nothing but the operating aircrew to override the nightmare. Boeing's faith in the crews to catch a runaway situation is touching, or would be, if on the other hand they hadn't blamed said crews for failing to be that firewall.
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Old 16th Dec 2019, 22:54
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Originally Posted by edmundronald View Post

I can only imagine that the engineering team was dysfunctional with respect to safety checks.

Edmund
I don't believe for one second this is an engineering problem. The dysfunction lies entirely with the executives of Boeing and the structure of "compliance or the door" control over those employees responsible for the self-certification system.
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Old 16th Dec 2019, 23:16
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Originally Posted by CurtainTwitcher View Post
I don't believe for one second this is an engineering problem. The dysfunction lies entirely with the executives of Boeing and the structure of "compliance or the door" control over those employees responsible for the self-certification system.
I agree with you partially. You are right, that the fault wasn't caught on review was an issue of abusive self-certification. But certification relates to CHECKING the design. No reasonable engineer would have DESIGNED a single-sensor AoA input into MCAS. This design is the result of engineering incompetence, or carelessness, not pressure. Any engineer asked to do that design with an aero sensor in the loop would normally have started with a multi-input spec because sensors are notorious for going on the blink.

The elevator where I live tried to go through the roof because a position sensor failed; it was caught and stopped by a failsafe switch. Sensors are notorious issues in engineering, in the same way I guess as crosswind on landing is notorious for flying. They fail, the design catches it.

With respect, I believe there is a safety culture for pilots,which is taught via pilot training and then on-the-job in addition to flying skills. In the same way engineering companies have a culture for getting their product out the door, and this culture is pervasive inside the company. At Boeing the engineering culture has gone bad, and an MCAS fix won't cure that.

Edmund
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Old 16th Dec 2019, 23:17
  #4573 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by Loose rivets View Post
Boeing's faith in the crews to catch a runaway situation is touching, or would be, if on the other hand they hadn't blamed said crews for failing to be that firewall.
And if they had deigned to tell them about the new and substantially-different type of runaway they were expected to recognize and catch.
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Old 16th Dec 2019, 23:46
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Originally Posted by edmundronald View Post
I agree with you partially. You are right, that the fault wasn't caught on review was an issue of abusive self-certification. But certification relates to CHECKING the design. No reasonable engineer would have DESIGNED a single-sensor AoA input into MCAS. This design is the result of engineering incompetence, or carelessness, not pressure. Any engineer asked to do that design with an aero sensor in the loop would normally have started with a multi-input spec because sensors are notorious for going on the blink.

The elevator where I live tried to go through the roof because a position sensor failed; it was caught and stopped by a failsafe switch. Sensors are notorious issues in engineering, in the same way I guess as crosswind on landing is notorious for flying. They fail, the design catches it.

With respect, I believe there is a safety culture for pilots,which is taught via pilot training and then on-the-job in addition to flying skills. In the same way engineering companies have a culture for getting their product out the door, and this culture is pervasive inside the company. At Boeing the engineering culture has gone bad, and an MCAS fix won't cure that.

Edmund
Sadly the evidence supports this negative assessment of Boeing's engineering culture.
The company has had a succession of egregious cost and schedule issues, in civil most notably with the 787, but also in defense, with the 767 tanker versions the poster child, hugely late for Japan, for Italy and now the USAF.
The firms current NASA work follows the same pattern. Nowhere is there a recognition that something stinks, so the rot keeps spreading. .
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Old 16th Dec 2019, 23:52
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Originally Posted by Loose rivets View Post
One faulty, possibly 'bogus' part and there was nothing but the operating aircrew to override the nightmare. Boeing's faith in the crews to catch a runaway situation is touching, or would be, if on the other hand they hadn't blamed said crews for failing to be that firewall.

Or if they had bothered to properly inform said crews about the way MCAS was supposed to work, how to use it, and when to turn it off. Or perhaps they could even have let the crews experience various operating and failure modes of MCAS in the sim. But no. A short video watched on a tablet that made no mention of key information required to save your own life and that of the unknowing riding along behind you.

How did it ever come to this? One day, hopefully soon, the board is going to have to carry the can for this.
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Old 16th Dec 2019, 23:56
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Originally Posted by etudiant View Post
Sadly the evidence supports this negative assessment of Boeing's engineering culture.
The company has had a succession of egregious cost and schedule issues, in civil most notably with the 787, but also in defense, with the 767 tanker versions the poster child, hugely late for Japan, for Italy and now the USAF.
The firms current NASA work follows the same pattern. Nowhere is there a recognition that something stinks, so the rot keeps spreading. .
I have no understanding of cost and schedule, but as regards engineering safety aspects, in my opinion management interventions won't help as the process is now rotten. My guess is that when they have figured it out and fired Dennis Muilenburg they will attempt to poach away some engineering managers from Airbus, from the defense aerosapce industry, or possibly hire in ex-FAA execs with the requisite culture as this is about culture and not technology.

It would be ironic if the people they hire to fix their safety problem turn out to be ex-Boeing engineers from better times.

Edmund
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Old 17th Dec 2019, 01:07
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Originally Posted by edmundronald View Post
I agree with you partially. You are right, that the fault wasn't caught on review was an issue of abusive self-certification. But certification relates to CHECKING the design. No reasonable engineer would have DESIGNED a single-sensor AoA input into MCAS. This design is the result of engineering incompetence, or carelessness, not pressure. Any engineer asked to do that design with an aero sensor in the loop would normally have started with a multi-input spec because sensors are notorious for going on the blink.

The elevator where I live tried to go through the roof because a position sensor failed; it was caught and stopped by a failsafe switch. Sensors are notorious issues in engineering, in the same way I guess as crosswind on landing is notorious for flying. They fail, the design catches it.

With respect, I believe there is a safety culture for pilots,which is taught via pilot training and then on-the-job in addition to flying skills. In the same way engineering companies have a culture for getting their product out the door, and this culture is pervasive inside the company. At Boeing the engineering culture has gone bad, and an MCAS fix won't cure that.

Edmund
Guess I'll disagree re your view of engineers. The original version of MCAS used mach and G limits and minimal change in horiz stab at a rare portion of envelope. granted the use of a single AOA was not appropriate. But after telling FAA what the system was- it was later changed to eliminate g and mach inputs and rely only on AOA and at a total movement 4 times that of origional. Those who disagreed apparently had career and family issues in mind.

And for over 2 decades, the bean counters ruled.

So while one might question maybe two or three " engineers" it is inappropriate to tar all.

Last edited by Grebe; 17th Dec 2019 at 05:03. Reason: fat fingers
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Old 17th Dec 2019, 01:43
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Originally Posted by Toruk Macto View Post
Can a link be made between Boeing been controlled by wall st to this debacle and the demise of once great airlines by non aviation financial experts ?
I disagree with the premise. The desire to show good financial performance and higher stock price is pressure perhaps, but not control. The CEO, the Board of Directors have control. They decide what pressures to yield to. The business goals and the means to use for achieving them are up to the company leadership. They gave in to greed, bonus hunger. They bear moral responsibility for the priorities they set. Public expressions that safety is their highest priority means nothing compared to how company resources were actually allocated.
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Old 17th Dec 2019, 01:49
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Looking at pictures on the BBC site, brings home the dilemma of storage. Since the loss of hundreds of aircraft would probably be fatal for Boeing, I'm wondering if they couldn't be flown to customers on a unique agreement that the hardware could be used for static training and engineering familiarity. By this I mean sending only to customers that have a serious intent to purchase - they have everything to gain by keeping the aircraft in good fettle. Those in the customer's livery first on the list.

Why take that risk? Well, storage is obvious, but having the product sample right there, encouraging the buyer is a plus. Trained up engineers learning while they're looking after the ever increasingly neglected hulls. Possibly the savings reflected in the final price. Let's face it, there's going to be some deals in the early stages. If these hulls were in the heat of San Antonio for example, they wouldn't be getting near the same attention.

It's getting to be a nothing-to-lose operation. The stored aircraft do not represent money in the bank. They could well be in better hands than scattered in the US.

So how to get them there. It seems incredible to me that with the software being modified by thousands of man-hour engineers, they can't easily present an off-switch instruction for the MCAS algorithm. I'd want that one button-press away anyway. There has to be a way of flying the darn thing without flaps.

I guess MCAS is so deeply embedded that it's hard to do, but given they've reportedly made radical changes, it's hard to imagine there's no OFF input.
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Old 17th Dec 2019, 02:41
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Originally Posted by Loose rivets View Post
Looking at pictures on the BBC site, brings home the dilemma of storage. Since the loss of hundreds of aircraft would probably be fatal for Boeing, I'm wondering if they couldn't be flown to customers on a unique agreement that the hardware could be used for static training and engineering familiarity. By this I mean sending only to customers that have a serious intent to purchase - they have everything to gain by keeping the aircraft in good fettle. Those in the customer's livery first on the list.

Why take that risk? Well, storage is obvious, but having the product sample right there, encouraging the buyer is a plus. Trained up engineers learning while they're looking after the ever increasingly neglected hulls. Possibly the savings reflected in the final price. Let's face it, there's going to be some deals in the early stages. If these hulls were in the heat of San Antonio for example, they wouldn't be getting near the same attention.

It's getting to be a nothing-to-lose operation. The stored aircraft do not represent money in the bank. They could well be in better hands than scattered in the US.

So how to get them there. It seems incredible to me that with the software being modified by thousands of man-hour engineers, they can't easily present an off-switch instruction for the MCAS algorithm. I'd want that one button-press away anyway. There has to be a way of flying the darn thing without flaps.

I guess MCAS is so deeply embedded that it's hard to do, but given they've reportedly made radical changes, it's hard to imagine there's no OFF input.
There may also be a problem with the insurance underwriters until "the fix" is in place.
Customer acceptance flights probably haven't taken place on the parked jets.
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