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Boeing, and FAA oversight

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Boeing, and FAA oversight

Old 11th Jan 2020, 05:27
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Originally Posted by DieselOx
this seems worse than VW.
I cannot agree. The unspeakable crime of manipulating a computer chip in the engine to fake environmental readings cannot be compared to something as trivial as a system that flies a passenger plane into the ground.
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Old 11th Jan 2020, 07:04
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Originally Posted by UltraFan
I cannot agree. The unspeakable crime of manipulating a computer chip in the engine to fake environmental readings cannot be compared to something as trivial as a system that flies a passenger plane into the ground.
The diesel pollution controls are there because the production of particulates and other pollutants are known to end lives. The difference between particulate emissions and airplane crashes is that it's not evident which lives, but the statistics are such that the effect is certain to happen.

The difference between the companies is that VW and Bosch not only knew that falsifying the software would indeed increase the number of unnecessarily early deaths, they also knew that they were acting specifically towards that outcome in order to make sales. Boeing, in contrast, does not seem to have known their efforts would lead to deaths.

The two cases, though with similar outcomes based on similar capitalistic motives, are (unless some memo or whistle blower says different) entirely different in their origin and morality.
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Old 11th Jan 2020, 07:50
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Originally Posted by MechEngr
The diesel pollution controls are there because the production of particulates and other pollutants are known to end lives. The difference between particulate emissions and airplane crashes is that it's not evident which lives, but the statistics are such that the effect is certain to happen.

The difference between the companies is that VW and Bosch not only knew that falsifying the software would indeed increase the number of unnecessarily early deaths, they also knew that they were acting specifically towards that outcome in order to make sales. Boeing, in contrast, does not seem to have known their efforts would lead to deaths.

The two cases, though with similar outcomes based on similar capitalistic motives, are (unless some memo or whistle blower says different) entirely different in their origin and morality.
This is incorrect.
VW defrauded on the NOx emission not on particulate emissions. There are no meaningful studies on the effects of NOx exposures at the level of road traffic. In fact workplace exposure limits - which in turn are based on actual studies - are 20 times higher than those for a busy road.
The numbers of premature deaths claimed by certain special interest groups are based on general studies that people in more polluted environments have lower life expectancy than in less polluted environments (suprise, suprise), no evidence that the NOx (which is by the way disintegrated to N2 and O2 when exposed to sun light) is responsible has ever been provided. Other pollutants and social economic factors are far more likely the cause.
This shall not defend the actions of VW in any way - laws and standards are to be followed by anyone be it automotive or aeronautical. But the claim that anyone died by VWs actions is rather steep.
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Old 11th Jan 2020, 08:08
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Originally Posted by MechEngr

The difference between the companies is that VW and Bosch not only knew that falsifying the software would indeed increase the number of unnecessarily early deaths, they also knew that they were acting specifically towards that outcome in order to make sales. Boeing, in contrast, does not seem to have known their efforts would lead to deaths.
VW and Bosh were only mind Jediing a test, other companies and older models had/have similar or worse emissions to the cheated VW's - without the new VW the deaths would still be the same or worse, so the companies could believe they were reducing early deaths, just not by as many as if they could pass the tests without cheating.

The 117 pages recently released paint a picture that Boeing did indeed know and were told of safety issues and two key personal would not have their families fly on the MAX. From that I can assume they expected MAX could crash fatally. They seem to have numerous points of concern of the MAX and never mentioned MCAS as one of them.

We can also note great concern in the emails about the 777X program and Boeing senior management culture.

Quote - Probably true, but it's the box we're painted into with the Level B training requirements. Remember, this is just the manufacturer's min training required. Operators can elect to make the training more robust. A bad excuse, but what I'm being pressured into complying with.

Thanks. I fear that skill is not very intuitive any more with the younger pilots and those who have become too reliant on automation.
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Old 11th Jan 2020, 10:02
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As I understand it, these e-mails were the ones that Boeing found that presumably their general counsel agreed met some or other criteria and should be passed on to the FAA. Personally I generate about 3000 to 4000 emails per year. When you think about the thousands of people that worked on the program through design and testing and beyond, a couple hundred pages out of the tens of millions of emails that must have been sent over the project lifetime isn’t a lot. It’s in everyone’s interest that the Max flies again, quickly and safely. How does FAA know that they have caught the safety related issues that people may have been worrying themselves sick about but were not confident enough to raise. An option might be for FAA to work with Boeing to initiate a rapid amnesty program for employees and retirees who worked on the program to express their concerns privately and on a non attributable basis. Just a suggestion to increase confidence in the outcome.

Last edited by Pinkman; 11th Jan 2020 at 10:45.
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Old 11th Jan 2020, 10:49
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Boeing took a design that was not intended to run active fly by wire systems and then added flight dynamic control software (MCAS) and perhaps other stuff onto an avionics infrastructure platform that was never designed to cope with mission critical flight control. There needed to be three systems, voting, separate busses, permanent magnet generators, etc. etc. to implement MCAS as a mission critical system.

To put that another way, 737 Max was a hot rod, not a production car. It looked like a 737, but it was a kludge.
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Old 11th Jan 2020, 10:56
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Boeing blaming pilots (again!).

From the Seattle Times , Boeing’s apology for the foul talking in the emails..

A Boeing official added that the communications “involve a small number of employees,” primarily Boeing pilots and other personnel involved with the development and qualification of its 737 MAX simulators.
They really don’t like pilots, do they?
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Old 11th Jan 2020, 12:00
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It just shows that there is still no concession of wrong doing and from management perspective this is really a communication problem caused by disloyal empolyees.
Worth considering when defending the current delegation practice.
I have had the fortune in the past of having a trustful relationship with colleagues from suppliers and customers. But when kept on short lesh and gagged by superiors to sugarcoat and conceal issues nothing good will arise from such a setup. Times are like that in any international dow, ftse, dax, whatever coorp
Time to implement a new regime.
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Old 11th Jan 2020, 12:50
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Originally Posted by Ian W
IIRC the vibration gauges were placed one above the other instead of side by side. The side by side placement made it obvious which engine was vibrating the vertical placement not so.

AAIB Report on Kegworth Crash
That is not correct. It is unfortunate you saw fit to post (wrong) hypothesis given that you even took the trouble to post a link to the AAIB report, which says no such thing.

The quirk of the engine instruments on the 734 (and some others) was that the block of main engine instruments (in 2 columns, engine 1 on the left and engine 2 on the right) was positioned just to the left of the block of secondary engine instruments (again with 2 columns, engine 1 on the left and engine 2 on the right).

The problem was that looking only at the 2 central columns of instruments, ignoring the outer 2, you were seeing the main instruments for engine 2 (right engine) on the left, and the secondary instruments for engine 1 (left engine) to the right. So a very odd situation of engine sides apparently being reversed IF ONLY the 2 central instrument columns were examined.

In the Kegworth case, the high vibration indication of the number 1 (left) engine was positioned just to the right of the number 2 (right) engine N2 instrument. This might well have compounded confusion, appearing to confirm a right engine problem in a pressurised, high workload moment.

Last edited by pilotmike; 11th Jan 2020 at 13:59. Reason: To make it even clearer for 'retired guy', refering to his own picture
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Old 11th Jan 2020, 13:10
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Originally Posted by BDAttitude
I have had the fortune in the past of having a trustful relationship with colleagues from suppliers and customers. But when kept on short lesh and gagged by superiors to sugarcoat and conceal issues nothing good will arise from such a setup. Times are like that in any international dow, ftse, dax, whatever coorp
Time to implement a new regime.
But how does the FAA ensure that the new regime is operated by a trustworthy manufacturer rather than gamed/ worked around as appears to have happened to the existing regime?
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Old 11th Jan 2020, 13:25
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Originally Posted by SamYeager
But how does the FAA ensure that the new regime is operated by a trustworthy manufacturer rather than gamed/ worked around as appears to have happened to the existing regime?
I’m afraid the FAA needs a regime change of its own. Beginning with the Associate Administrator of Aviation Safety, and continuing with the “me too” managers down the line.
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Old 11th Jan 2020, 13:30
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Originally Posted by UltraFan
I have a feeling Boeing doesn't like us humans.
I mean no defense of the Boeing emails. But they reveal the natural and unavoidable tension between the regulator and the regulated. No excuse for lies and cover-ups. But the FAA, decades degraded oversight procedures that tied the hand of certification engineers from
performing independent technical oversight of delegated engineering representatives allowed this happen. Will that change?
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Old 11th Jan 2020, 13:40
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Originally Posted by UltraFan
I cannot agree. The unspeakable crime of manipulating a computer chip in the engine to fake environmental readings cannot be compared to something as trivial as a system that flies a passenger plane into the ground.
Whilst accepting VW's apparent attempt to deceive and cheat for profit, there is a more generous way to interpret their actions.

Car manufacturers were obliged to produce cars which could pass the emissions standards tests. And they achieved that. - cars that passed emissions tests. Car manufacturers also need to have their fuel economy tested by very specific (non-real world) tests. It is no secret that cars / engines are tuned to perform particularly well in such tests, where it is well known that the real-world performance is a whole lot worse than the official figures show after some very inventive tweaking. What happened in the emissions scandal was pretty much exactly the same as that; some devious manipulation by some clever engineers, to achieve a pass for certification - it just went a step further than the economy 'tuning for the tests'. It is all a matter of degree, of optimising a car to pass tests.

An interesting analogy to Boeing 'optimising' systems to keep within the 'not different enough to need re-certifying or additional sim training'. The devil is in the detail.

Last edited by pilotmike; 11th Jan 2020 at 16:38.
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Old 11th Jan 2020, 13:43
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Originally Posted by pilotmike
That is not correct. It is unfortunate you saw fit to post (wrong) hypothesis given that you even took the trouble to post a link to the AAIB report, which says no such thing.

The quirk of the engine instruments on the 734 (and some others) was that the block of main engine instruments (in 2 columns, engine 1 on the left and engine 2 on the right) was positioned just to the left of the block of secondary engine instruments (again with 2 columns, engine 1 on the left and engine 2 on the right).

The problem was that looking only at the 2 central columns, you were seeing the main instruments for engine 2 (right engine) on the left, and the secondary instruments for engine 1 (left engine) to the right. So a very odd situation of engine sides apparently being reversed IF ONLY the 2 central instrument columns were examined.

In the Kegworth case, the high vibration indication of the number 1 (left) engine was positioned just to the right of the number 2 (right) engine N2 instrument. This might well have compounded confusion, appearing to confirm a right engine problem in a pressurised, high workload moment.

Please see post NO 31 where I posted image of 737-400 EIS display. I am not sure what you guys are talking about because it seems to me that the gauges are perfectly normal with No 1 on the left and No 2 on the right. Can you be more specific ? I could be seeing things at my age!
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Old 11th Jan 2020, 13:56
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Originally Posted by retired guy
Please see post NO 31 where I posted image of 737-400 EIS display. I am not sure what you guys are talking about because it seems to me that the gauges are perfectly normal with No 1 on the left and No 2 on the right. Can you be more specific ? I could be seeing things at my age!
R Guy
I really can't be more specific without writing a 60 page PhD thesis on it. Please, just re-read the paragraph that I carefully wrote, being sure to have a copy of that photo in front of you as you read it, to cross reference every point I carefully made, and you'll see exactly what I am saying.
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Old 11th Jan 2020, 14:16
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Originally Posted by Takwis
I remember discussions in one or more of the closed MAX threads, about Synthetic Airspeed, and how it could be used to supply a third airspeed reference for comparison. Well right here on the first page of the emails, we find that the technical pilots had a problem with that:



The second page shows that they are actually skirting FAA oversight, by planning to hide things from them.



How can the FAA provide oversight if Boeing is deliberately hiding things from them?
Hi there Takwis
I agree that things should not be hidden, but should be the subject of robust discussion between the regulator and the design team. If the designers are correct, then the regulator should accept that. Likewise management should listen to comment from line pilots and take note of what is being suggested.
A lot of those email exchanges are in my view perfectly normal disagreements which are bound to occur between all the design people and test pilots about how to proceed.
Take the one about "we won't be forced by FAA to bring in simulator training for the MAX". What is wrong with that I wonder? I would say the same. The two planes fly pretty much the same so a sim ride in a MAX simulator,, while nice to do, is not going to make much difference. Imagine there had been MAX simulators available to Lionair and ET and that those pilots had say a two hour session? It would have made no difference at all to the two crashes, would it? An NG sim can perfectly well simulate pretty much anything that is going to happen on a MAX in terms of handling, (and could even be programmed to be more like a MAX) including MCAS if that had been known about. I could simulate MCAS today on any 737 sim by just introducing runaway stab, and the removing the fault after 10 seconds. And then repeatedly introducing it if that were something that we wish to demonstrate.

Then exchange between the two technical pilots about "....this is egregious....". He was referring to a sim ride and some aspect of the simulation - not about MCAS itself. The style of the exchange was friendly banter. Yet the exchange was presented as proof that MCAS design flaws were being hidden.

Over the years in my own airline I have heard and seen far more disparaging remarks, even ugly ones, about the "management", from line pilots than those we have seen in these exchanges - many of them unprintable. Yet the airline made money for decades and has an impeccable safety record.
What is important is that management do not refuse to listen to complaints no matter how much they seem to be a "whinge", because it might be true. The only stupid question is the one that is not asked.

Synthetic airspeed/. This is a great idea in principle but is fitted to very few aircraft world wide, and does need a total rethink on how you train pilots for a total loss of airspeed scenario. You probably could not fly a dual fleet with half of them fitted with synthetic airspeed, or indeed half of them with AOA displays.
So I fully see why this is a major issue. Now fit it to all your fleet, NG and MAX and retrain all the pilots, then you have a solution that works. In the absence of synthetic airspeed we have well understood pitch power settings which work perfectly well. If LN and ET had set 4 deg NU and 70% N1 at 1000 aal, and sat down for a while to review what was actually going on things might have turned out differently, and you don' t need synthetic airspeed to do that.
Lots of good stuff coming out of these exchanges.
Talk soon
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Old 11th Jan 2020, 14:40
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If the designers are correct, then the regulator should accept that
In between those two is the demonstration and finding of design compliance for certification. The "applicant" (in this case Boeing) desires that their product receive FAA certification. When the applicant, with uniform intent within their certification division, has determined that design compliance is ready to be demonstrated, they "declare" this to the regulator, who then may review (read/witness testing/review test data) the demonstration of compliance, and then within their scope, find that design compliance has been demonstrated. When there is a record of a finding of design compliance for every affected design requirement, design approval will be issued.

Much of the foregoing process may happen entirely within an applicant's delegated organization, and be subject to surveillance oversight, Or, the FAA may hold the findings of design compliance to themselves, in which case, the applicant waits. The regulator should only accept what they are confident about in within the terms of delegation. Otherwise, the regulator acts on behalf of the taxpayers to directly serve the applicant.

It is a reality that in our increasing technology world, there are more "novel" features being presented for certification, and in some cases, the existing design requirements do not embrace the new technology (electric power aircraft are certainly an example of this). In such case, the FAA and industry must work together to create new design standards, to which the novel design may be found to comply. When this happens, it is very likely that the knowledge base for the novel feature will reside much more with the applicant, than with the FAA, who will still be playing catch up - as they did not invent it. So it's a difficult balance for the FAA to strike to satisfy the industry by encouraging innovation, and creating new design standards to be met, yet satisfying the taxpayer expectation of bulletproof design standards to which the new feature may then be found to comply - without adding hundreds of new staff to the public payroll.
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Old 11th Jan 2020, 14:42
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The analogy to VW would be if instead of MCAS, Boeing developed a system that produced acceptable stick forces at the expense of (say) excessive fuel consumption, and then (somehow) programmed the system to be active only during certification tests. I think we'd all agree that was wrong, and would be even if the aircraft was not actually unsafe with the system off.

I find the emails troubling, but not conclusive. There can be legitimate disagreements about what should or should not be said to a regulator. And messages between employees could be based on misunderstandings, or be exaggerated for effect (presumably no one thinks the company was run by actual monkeys). Clearly the emails need to be looked into, and presumably that's happening. But it would take more to show fraud.
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Old 11th Jan 2020, 15:49
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Originally Posted by Chu Chu
Clearly the emails need to be looked into, and presumably that's happening. But it would take more to show fraud.
Agreed, like for instance regulators apparently "looking the other way" after exchange of brown envelope. Oh wait, that is in the emails...
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Old 11th Jan 2020, 16:05
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Originally Posted by Sunfish
Boeing took a design that was not intended to run active fly by wire systems and then added flight dynamic control software (MCAS) and perhaps other stuff onto an avionics infrastructure platform that was never designed to cope with mission critical flight control. There needed to be three systems, voting, separate busses, permanent magnet generators, etc. etc. to implement MCAS as a mission critical system.
It looked like a 737, but it was a kludge.
There are two more new, quasi FBW systems added to the MAX that have not gotten much attention. One is the "Landing Attitude Modifier", added because of the 9" nose gear extension.
"To maintain acceptable nose gear contact margin, LAM symmetrically deploys flight spoilers on approach to reduce lift and force the aircraft to use a higher angle of attack. The amount of spoiler deflection depends on the approach speed. Deflection begins approximately 10 kt above VREF."

The other is the "Elevator Jammed Landing Assist System", added because...?
"If a jam occurs in the aft elevator control mechanism, both control columns have a limited range of motion. During approach and landing, the Elevator Jam Landing Assist System uses the flight spoilers for small changes to the flight path."

In an email exchange on 5/29/2015, our favorite Jedi Master is talking with his sidekick about the "jammed elevator/DLC" (I don't know what DLC stands for.)

"I suck at flying jammed elevator without DLC"

"It's tough, huh?"

"I crashed big time my first few times, that's what scares me about showing this to any of them. You can get decent at it after 3-4 tries, but the first few are ugly."

"They are going to tweak the elevator effectiveness a little. Yeah, we talked about using a reasonable cg to make it doable without dlc. We want them to succeed without DLC". [If they can't show that it can be flown without DLC, then it wouldn't be 'just like the NG'.] "it is easy to start chasing pitch and power and get in a PIO."

"ultimately, you have to have it trimmed up pretty well when you start your appr descent, and the thrust coupling is way more effective than the DLC, at least that's what I found. you of course have to pretty much disregard your airspeed "


[I can't wait to try it out. The conversation continues, a little farther down....]

"unfortunately I think she is going to suck so bad at flying them, she's going to demand this be trained in the sim. I started thinking last night, what if we mandated the training in the NG starting in 2016, so everyone was trained on it ahead of MAX, (like RCAS?) if there [sic] real concern is being trained on it in general, then it should be sufficient to get everyone trained on the NG, the theory being again that if you can do it in the NG, you can do it in the MAX."

I can't find it now, but there was another conversation about installing a system (RCAS?) on ONE NG, then it wouldn't be a change on the MAX, because the NG had it. It was somewhere in a conversation about Lion Air.



Last edited by Takwis; 11th Jan 2020 at 16:17.
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