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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 21st Oct 2019, 21:20
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re global nav who said
The reliability of AoA sensors is fairly well known in transport aviation,
But such numbers do NOT include bird strike, fubar installation, or damage by passenger loading ramps
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Old 21st Oct 2019, 21:23
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Originally Posted by BDAttitude
My life and my career have taught me that in such circumstances it is best to pause, think for a moment, then do what you have to do and ask for forgiveness later. Otherwise as an engineer in a big coorp. you are no longer in control and could easily find yourself in a situation like Mr. F.
As an EE I'd hope I'd do the same too.
But just how far one would actually go is hard to say until in that situation.

It's one thing to bring something up and have higher management overrule you. Big difference going several levels higher, over lower level heads.
Going to an outside organization (ie, whistleblower to FAA) is quite another.

1 is normal. 2 could have some repercussions in most organizations. 3 is likely to ruin your carrier and financial stability.

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Old 21st Oct 2019, 21:24
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Originally Posted by GlobalNav
The reliability of AoA sensors is fairly well known in transport aviation, certainly by the world leaders in transport airplane manufacturing. I would blame the OEM manufacturer, who chose to rely on a single AoA at a time, and failed to determine and understand what the consequences of failure could be.
I would blame the manufacturer of a plane who chose to rely on a single AoA at a time, and failed to determine and understand what the consequences of failure could be.
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Old 21st Oct 2019, 21:35
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Originally Posted by MechEngr
There isn't a fundamental problem with MCAS; there is a fundamental problem with the AoA system that tells pilots and other systems incorrect information about the status of the airplane. Had the FCCs simply dropped out when the AoA became unreliable, it would have taken MCAS with them. There was no need to report a stall condition when there wasn't one and no need to correct for a high AoA when that was also untrue.
Yes, there is. First of all, the MCAS functional system includes the sensors designed to interface with it. Just because there was no software coding error that caused the fatal accidents, doesn’t mean MCAS is not at fault. If there was absolutely nothing wrong with MCAS, then why is Boeing changing MCAS? Angle of attack sensor technology and reliability are well known by Boeing and other OEMs. There is no mystery that an AoA sensor can malfunction, and the system safety requirements for certification require taking such information into account. It’s hard to understand how Boeing could not have known about and failed to adequately analyzed the failure conditions of the MCAS function. Perhaps, as many posts have suggested, Boeing managers chose not to devote the required time and resources to do so. May the truth be revealed.
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Old 21st Oct 2019, 23:01
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Originally Posted by GlobalNav
Yes, there is. First of all, the MCAS functional system includes the sensors designed to interface with it.
I think they meant the concept of what MCAS was supposed to do. Poorly implemented but sound concept.
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Old 21st Oct 2019, 23:38
  #3306 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by ST Dog
I think they meant the concept of what MCAS was supposed to do. Poorly implemented but sound concept.
Sound, perhaps, if you accept that hanging the LEAP engines on the 737 airframe was a sound choice from the beginning. I think it might be a good idea to test the airframe without MCAS, as per the JATR recommendation, before coming to a conclusion about that.
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Old 22nd Oct 2019, 00:13
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MCAS can be relatively easily fixed. Add sensor redundancy, fault logic, improve emergency warning system, training.

I think the safety culture and certification process are the bigger problen now.

It seems Boeing had the rule makers (congress) and regulator (FAA) in the pocket over the last 8 years.

Boeing, congress and FAA fought shoulder to shoulder against the foreign competition.

Far reaching grandfathering of requirements and design was re-allowed, responsibilities delegated and FAA forcefully "Streamlined"

JATR recommendations and GAO reports are 100% contradicting on FAA aircraft certification & it is totally clear to me who the more objective:

Congress (GAO) 2017: https://www.gao.gov/assets/690/683649.pdf
JATR 2019: https://www.faa.gov/news/media/attac...A_Oct_2019.pdf
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Old 22nd Oct 2019, 00:36
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Originally Posted by keesje
MCAS can be relatively easily fixed. Add sensor redundancy, fault logic, improve emergency warning system, training.

I think the safety culture and certification process are the bigger problen now.

It seems Boeing had the rule makers (congress) and regulator (FAA) in the pocket over the last 8 years.

Boeing, congress and FAA fought shoulder to shoulder against the foreign competition.

Far reaching grandfathering of requirements and design was re-allowed, responsibilities delegated and FAA forcefully "Streamlined"

JATR recommendations and GAO reports are 100% contradicting on FAA aircraft certification & it is totally clear to me who the more objective:

Congress (GAO) 2017: https://www.gao.gov/assets/690/683649.pdf
JATR 2019: https://www.faa.gov/news/media/attac...A_Oct_2019.pdf
None of the regulators investigating MCAS and its consequences seem to agree that it can be easily fixed, mostly because they don't believe that the stes you outline would result in a safe and effective system.

As for the the GAO report, it was intended to review FAA's efficiency, particularly in implementing the provisions of the 2012 act and serving as a taxpayer-paid advocate for (mostly) Boeing in international markets. There was nothing "objective" about the Act and the GAO review was clearly meant to report on the FAA's performance as industry facilitator and cheerleader, which we know it is better at than . . . some other things. It's no surprise that the JATR document is more objective and more useful.
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Old 22nd Oct 2019, 03:31
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Oh that explains it - it was the sim software that fouled up- everyone relax -- gosh- geee-- and we've got this bridge . .
From seattle times mon night 8 pm
Simulator software, not 737 MAX’s flight control system, likely caused erratic behavior cited in pilot messages
Oct. 21, 2019 at 8:16 pm
Boeing 737 MAX jets were parked on a closed runway at Paine Field in Everett this summer as the company awaited FAA approval to resume commercial flights. (Mike Siegel / The Seattle Times)
Boeing 737 MAX jets were parked on a closed runway at Paine Field in Everett this summer as the company awaited FAA approval to resume commercial... (Mike Siegel / The Seattle Times) More
Dominic Gates By Dominic Gates
Seattle Times aerospace reporter

After the release Friday of an instant message chat between two senior Boeing pilots, the jetmaker faced skepticism when, two days later, it denied it had suppressed what seemed like early evidence that its 737 MAX flight control system had “run rampant” during simulator testing in 2016.

But Boeing’s defense stands up, according to three sources who spoke to the Seattle Times on Monday — two citing direct knowledge of inside information about the matter and the third an expert outside pilot analyzing the flight details in the chat.

The bottom line is that the erratic behavior described in the 2016 chat by 737 MAX chief technical pilot Mark Forkner revealed a software bug in the MAX flight simulator he was using, a pilot training machine that he and his colleagues were then fine-tuning to get it ready for the MAX’s entry into service.

It was not evidence of the flaws that later showed up on the real airplane’s new flight control system — known as the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) — that caused the accidents in Indonesia and Ethiopia.

The question is important because the release of the messages sparked a furor with members of Congress and regulators, raising new doubts about Boeing’s integrity and transparency just as it prepares to seek approval to put the long-grounded MAX back into commercial service.

A former senior pilot at Boeing, who worked with Forkner in a similar role and who has direct knowledge of the type of simulator evaluations that Forkner was preparing at that time, said that the flight parameters mentioned in the chat indicate clearly that MCAS could not possibly have been engaging even though the simulator faults made it seem so.

Furthermore, he added, it would have been impossible for Forkner to have been flying in the simulator any pattern similar to the accident flights, in both of which MCAS was triggered by a faulty angle of attack signal.

“I can tell you 100%, he couldn’t have been flying the scenario that occurred on the accident airplanes, because there was no physical way in that simulator to shut off one angle of attack sensor,” said the senior pilot, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he doesn’t wish to be drawn into the Department of Justice’s ongoing criminal investigation of the 737 MAX.

Bjorn Fehrm, an aerospace engineer and former fighter pilot who now is an analyst with Leeham.net and who has publicly criticized the MCAS design, concurred that the altitude and airspeed Forkner cited when the simulator flight controls went haywire rule out a real engagement of MCAS and indicate instead a glitch in the simulator.

“He was in normal flight. What’s wrong with the original MCAS design is not apparent when flying normally,” said Fehrm. “That said to me, this is just a simulator implementation issue.”

The problem Forkner identified in the simulator “was logged contemporaneously” apart from in his chat messages, according to a third source familiar with the relevant documents, and Boeing afterwards fixed the simulator software.

“The issue was not experienced in later sessions,” said this source, who also asked for anonymity because he’s involved in one of the MAX investigations. “The issue could not be recreated in mid-December.”

PR disaster

Boeing faced an epic public relations disaster last Friday when a Congressional committee released the text of the chat, in which Forkner described to his colleague Patrik Gustavsson a MAX simulator session that day in mid-November 2016 when MCAS started pushing the nose down or “trimming” the jet.

“It’s running rampant in the sim on me,” Forkner wrote. “I’m levelling off at like 4000 ft, 230 knots and the plane is trimming itself like craxy (sic). I’m like, WHAT?”

“Granted, I suck at flying, but even this was egregious,” Forkner added.
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Forkner also stated that since MCAS had evolved from its initial design and now —”Shocker AlerT,” as he put it — activates at low speed as well as in the originally-intended high-speed scenarios, he “basically lied to the regulators (unknowingly).”

The disclosure understandably drew outrage from members of Congress, airline pilot unions and aviation experts who interpreted it as clear evidence that Boeing knew before the MAX entered passenger service that MCAS could behave erratically and dangerously.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) had not been informed of this document, which Boeing had provided to the Department of Justice last February, the month before the second MAX crash. On Friday, FAA Administrator Steve Dickson sent an angry letter to Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg demanding an immediate explanation.

Both Fehrm and the former senior Boeing pilot also initially reacted with dismay, until they read the transcript of the chat. Then their knowledge of flying and of the way simulators are developed led both to a different conclusion.

Technical pilots versus test pilots

Forkner was chief technical pilot on the 737, managing pilots in a group called Flight Technical and Safety within Boeing’s customer services division. This is an entirely separate group from the test pilots who fly the planes under development, who are part of a different corporate division: Boeing Test and Evaluation.

As Forkner’s chat makes clear, the two don’t necessarily communicate well. “The test pilots have kept us out of the loop,” Gustavsson complains at one point.

The job of the technical pilots is to develop the pilot training simulators and manuals that airlines will use when the plane is in service. They typically don’t fly, but work in flight simulators.

Full flight simulators are complex machines, essentially an airplane cockpit recreated inside a closed box sitting on hydraulic jacks. The buttons and switches and control column inside are just like on the real airplane, but all are connected to multimillion-dollar computers that attempt to simulate what happens in a real airplane.

For this to work, engineers must enter reams of flight data, developed first from wind tunnel tests and computer simulations and then in the final stages from actual flight tests. Forkner’s exchange with Gustavsson indicates that new data related to the design change to MCAS had only then been fed into the simulator system.

It’s only toward the end of flight test that all this data can be finalized to make the simulator a true mirror of the behavior of the real airplane. At the time of the chat, Forkner was working to develop the first MAX simulator at Boeing’s facility in Miami. It was manufactured by TRU, a Canadian-American simulator maker, a subsidiary of Textron headquartered in Goose Creek, S.C.

Like pilots, who must pass a test to be qualified to fly any specific airplane, simulators are also inspected and tested before they are qualified to be used by airlines. The FAA sends out inspectors every year to re-test all the qualified simulators and make sure they are still working as they should.

According to the former Boeing senior pilot, the first MAX sim was not yet qualified and TRU personnel were working non-stop alongside Boeing software engineers to get the machine properly calibrated and the software finalized.

Still, “there were a lot of discrepancy reports. The sim was not performing as specified,” he said. In the chat, Forkner mentions signing some DRs, Discrepancy Reports.

Ferhm believes that what happened in Forkner’s simulator on Nov. 15 was just another simulator discrepancy, something wrong with the coding.

He notes that Forkner says he was flying level at a low 4,000 feet altitude and at 230 knots. This is an appropriate speed for that altitude and he calculates the angle of attack could have been no more than about 5 degrees.

The design of MCAS would have required at least twice as high an angle to be triggered. And to get to such an angle, Forkner would have had to pull back the controls creating a severe force of around 2 Gs, the sort of extreme maneuver an airline pilot would never execute unless in a sudden emergency like pulling up to avoid a mountain.

Fehrm said that it’s clear from the chat Forkner wasn’t trying any such extreme maneuver, and so when he complains about MCAS kicking in, he’s referring to a crazy activation in the simulator that isn’t behaving as it would in a real airplane.

Fehrm has harshly criticized Boeing’s original design of MCAS and says that he has “a real problem with Boeing’s culture.”

“I’m all for criticizing when it’s due,” he said. “But you have to be fair.”

The former Boeing pilot concurs about the flight pattern not remotely fitting an activation of MCAS. He notes that Gustavsson says he experienced something similar in the simulator “on approach,” meaning coming in to land.

But when a plane is on approach, the flaps on the wings are extended, which automatically disables MCAS.

In addition, the former Boeing pilot points out that the MAX simulator at that time was set up so that the operator could push a button on a console to simulate various standard emergencies such as an engine failure. But there was no such button to simulate an angle of attack vane going wrong. There was no physical way to make that happen on the simulator, he said.

His conclusion was that the problems Forkner described were glitches that simply revealed the shortcomings of the simulator ahead of final qualification and “don’t relate to the MAX accident scenarios.”

“I have no loyalty to Boeing or to Mark Forkner,” he emphasized. “I have loyalty to the truth.”

Boeing last Friday offered no real evidence in its defense On Sunday, it offered weak evidence: just a general statement by Forkner’s lawyer. Forkner himself is refusing to talk or to provide information under his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

In addition, the second part of Boeing’s defense on Sunday — its claim that the FAA knew all about the changes it made to MCAS — is questionable.

Multiple reports, initially in the Seattle Times, and most recently in the report by a team of international regulators, show that though some within the FAA may have been aware of some changes to MCAS, the FAA safety engineers tasked with analyzing its safety did not.

However, Monday’s analysis of Boeing’s 2016 simulator issues suggests that the widely reported stories at the weekend — including by the Seattle Times — reporting on the message exchange between the pilots were indeed misinterpretations, as Boeing claimed Sunday.

It doesn’t change the conclusion that MCAS as originally designed did lead to the accidents and the deaths of 346 people.

However, it means that these messages aren’t evidence that Boeing misled the world in 2016 and hid early evidence that MCAS was a death trap.
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Old 22nd Oct 2019, 04:08
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Just in..., tomorrow [October23 2019], KNKT [NTSC], Indonesia's National Travel Safety Commission, will brief the victims' families the much anticipated Final Accident Report of the Lion Air Flight JT610, before releasing it to the public shortly thereafter..
.
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KNKT to Brief Families of Boeing 737 Max Crash with Final Report
The National Transportation Safety Committee (KNKT) announced it will brief the final crash report to families of victims who died in the Boeing 737 Max crash on October 29, 2018. At the time, Lion Air JT610’s flight crashed into the Java Sea after takeoff and claimed 189 people onboard the 737 Max jet.

Another similar accident happened to an Ethiopian Airlines’ 737 Max’s flight on-route to Nairobi, Kenya, in March of 2019. It also experienced similar problems with its aircraft that led to the global grounding of Boeing’s 737 Max.

KNKT spokesman Anggo Anurogo on Monday, October 21, said the final report of the Lion Air crash will be briefed to families first before making it public.

Based on the documents Tempo obtained, KNKT had already notified victims’ families on October 17, 2019. As subject to the report’s main priority, the brief would be held in Jakarta and Pangkal Pinang on Wednesday, October 23.
=======
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Old 22nd Oct 2019, 04:53
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GlobalNav,

The stall detection software ran the stick shaker, falsely reporting a stall condition, which caused the Ethiopian pilots to initially not reduce power, sending them down a very difficult to escape hole that rapidly closed around them. Had the AoA system simply said "I'm out of range" and the associated FCC taken itself off line, both planes would have flown fine, MCAS would never have triggered, and there would be no distraction from the stick shaker and other false stall warnings.

As it is Boeing seems to be doing a lot more with the software than modifying the MCAS response, including apparently cross-checking the FCCs for reasonable agreement. I expect the result will be that MCAS will not ever see the limits placed on it because the data supplied to it will be filtered to prevent its operation outside of the originally intended envelope.

There is something to the notion that it's all one piece, but in planes without MCAS is it reasonable to tell a pilot the plane is stalling, sounding stall horns and shaking the daylights out of the control wheel when the plane is not near stall? Should the pilot react by shoving the nose down in response or is it reasonable for the pilot to ignore the stall warnings? That's the initiator - bad AoA; fix that first and STS/MCAS/whatever else that depends on it will work correctly or fail gracefully.
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Old 22nd Oct 2019, 05:04
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"Boeing may face billions more in losses as 737 Max crisis deepens: analysts"

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/20.../#.Xa6NRUXQjMI
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Old 22nd Oct 2019, 07:00
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None of the regulators investigating MCAS and its consequences seem to agree that it can be easily fixed, mostly because they don't believe that the stes you outline would result in a safe and effective system.
You presume to know what the world's regulators are thinking? How arrogant. All the discussions are behind closed doors. Were you in the room?

Don't confuse their requirements of evidence that the problem has been rectified with them considering it anything but a simple fix.
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Old 22nd Oct 2019, 07:28
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I'm a shocked.
The 3 yr old mail transcripts of that half drunk pilot Fockner let to a sharp stock price fall,
while the expert JATR report 2 weeks ago did not.

https://www.google.com/search?q=boei...=1571729237234

Something is wrong there.
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Old 22nd Oct 2019, 09:04
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EASA not to follow FAA with regard to MAXs return to fly

https://translate.google.com/transla...er-faa-8124502
According to information from insiders, the European aviation safety authorities have finally rejected the idea of ​​lifting the ban on the Boeing 737 MAX airliner at the same time as the USA.

The final decision, according to several people familiar with the situation, was made last week by Patrick Ky, head of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), at a meeting with Earl Lawrence and Ali Bahrami, the two senior officials of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).They lead the team to tackle the MAX crisis.

The meeting, which has not yet been reported, has both symbolic and practical consequences.Symbolically, it undermines the importance and authority of the FAA in classifying aircraft as technically safe. In practice, the FAA can not achieve its goal of achieving readmission on a broad basis, if possible.
...
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Old 22nd Oct 2019, 09:22
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Keesje is so right. Why did JATR have so little impact? Media coverage was dire enough eg https://www.npr.org/2019/10/11/76960...f-737-max-jets
Icarus, please read JATR then you’ll know what the world's regulators are thinking.
JATR has 51 pages of highly technical observations, findings and recommendations. All are issues that should have been resolved before the MAX was certificated; not after 346 died.
Long ago such issues would have been resolved as each regulator did its independent validation of MAX certification

FAA certification only applies in the US. Until the 1980s many countries had their own airworthiness requirements similar to, but slightly more stringent than FAA’s. So when Ansett and Australian Airlines ordered their first 737s in 1986 the Australian Authority had to validate FAA’s certification at Boeing. I led the team.
Other foreign authorities did the same. To engineers it was worthwhile redundancy; fundamental to safety. Corner cutters saw needless duplication. Australia was first to give up validation and rubber stamp Boeing/FAA Corp certification, however dubious. And now the US tries to ban all foreign validations as a restraint on trade.
MAX will not return to service until JATR concerns are resolved. It could take months, if not years.
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Old 22nd Oct 2019, 09:38
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Not sure this was already mentioned here :
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-e...-idUSKBN1X021S

COLOGNE, Germany (Reuters) - European regulators expect to clear Boeing’s grounded 737 MAX to return to service in January at the earliest, following flight trials by European test pilots scheduled for mid-December, Europe’s top aviation safety official told Reuters.
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Old 22nd Oct 2019, 11:06
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Originally Posted by Fly Aiprt
Not sure this was already mentioned here :
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-e...-idUSKBN1X021S
No, it wasn't. And it comes as quite a shock. I read it yesterday and still can't wrap my head around it. EASA has been saying for months that it would be doing its own assessment and then conduct its own test flights. Now, all of a sudden, they, or rather, he is saying they will lift the grounding before FAA. How is that possible!? FAA says they don't have a timeline but only safety in mind, but EASA gives a timeframe? They don't even know how the test flights will go and whether any anomalies will be discovered. EASA's position has suddenly changed dramatically in relation to the MAX and I wonder why. Especially considering the recent emails and IMs revelations.

I know I'm always a bit on the dark side, but I can't help thinking that either some money changed hands or maybe Monsieur Ky was promised a cozy position on the Boeing Board. Wouldn't be the first time.
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Old 22nd Oct 2019, 11:22
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I don't get your suspicion from the story. It sounds very fact minded and constructive to my ears. They obviously don't intend to retaliate for the WTO-subsidies war via the MAX. That's a good thing.
“For me it is going to be the beginning of next year, if everything goes well. As far as we know today, we have planned for our flight tests to take place in mid-December which means decisions on a return to service for January, on our side,” EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky said late on Friday.
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Old 22nd Oct 2019, 11:25
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Originally Posted by Icarus2001
You presume to know what the world's regulators are thinking? How arrogant. All the discussions are behind closed doors. Were you in the room?

Don't confuse their requirements of evidence that the problem has been rectified with them considering it anything but a simple fix.
Be nice, now.

Seriously, it's difficult, for me, to understand how anyone who has been following this issue closely and carefully could imagine that the relevant regulators see the problem as simple to address. Do you really think the MAX would have been grounded all this time if that were the case?

Last edited by OldnGrounded; 22nd Oct 2019 at 11:35.
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