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Boeing 737 Max Recertification Testing - Finally.

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Boeing 737 Max Recertification Testing - Finally.

Old 16th Sep 2020, 11:58
  #281 (permalink)  
 
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House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee report, issued by Democratic (majority) staff, is now available. Link is to the announcement by the Committee chair and Aviation subcommittee chair, with an internal link to the approx. 239-page report (which contains a link to documents referenced in the report):
https://transportation.house.gov/new...boeing-737-max
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Old 16th Sep 2020, 14:28
  #282 (permalink)  
 
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Fallout based on the report......

https://www.theguardian.com/business...icians-737-max

Boeing ‘gambled with public safety’ in run-up to two deadly crashes

Boeing jeopardised the safety of passengers by cutting costs on the development of the 737 Max and escaped scrutiny from regulators before software flaws contributed to two fatal crashes of the aircraft, according to a report by US politicians......

In a report published on Wednesday, the committee on transportation and infrastructure, made up of members of the US House of Representatives, said there had been “repeated and serious failures” by Boeing and its regulator, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), in allowing the faulty aircraft to carry passengers.

The committee’s chair, the Democratic representative Peter DeFazio, said Boeing and the regulator “gambled with public safety in the critical time period between the two crashes”. DeFazio said the committee found a “broken safety culture at Boeing” and “gaps in the regulatory system at the FAA that allowed this fatally flawed plane into service”.......

The report, the result of 18 months of investigations, found that Boeing pushed to cut costs in order to compete with its European rival Airbus.

The report said: “There was tremendous financial pressure on Boeing and the 737 Max programme to compete with Airbus’ new A320neo aircraft. Among other things, this pressure resulted in extensive efforts to cut costs, maintain the 737 Max programme schedule, and avoid slowing the 737 Max production line. The committee’s investigation has identified several instances where the desire to meet these goals and expectations jeopardised the safety of the flying public.”.......

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Old 16th Sep 2020, 15:24
  #283 (permalink)  
 
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Want to understand the term "root cause"? It's simple.
The story of the MAX will join with Deep Water Horizon as epitomes of the end result of profit outweighing safety on the scales of corporate culture. One could add Chernobyl and the Global Financial Crisis of 2008 in the mix to include the role of regulators in the causal chain.


If you have not already seen it, you might want to rent out "Dark Waters". Takes corporate greed and regulator incompetence to a whole new level. I believe it to be reasonable factually accurate as well. (And the real background story continues).

No doubt the legal eagles will be sharpening their pencils...and although most of us like to decry "ambulance chasing" legal action and large scale compensation, it undoubtedly provides an important check and balance to the ever present reality of the consequences of corporate greed amplified by p1ss P00r regulation.
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Old 16th Sep 2020, 21:01
  #284 (permalink)  
 
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I don't take any delight, as some others do, in grinding Boeing senior exec's faces in it, but I must say that if they stand up in front of the Congressional Committee and say that the 737 Max programme has been a success (page 238) then they are just divorced from reality, and surely the stockholders will seek to move such individuals on. They do their employer and the whole industry a considerable dis-service.
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Old 17th Sep 2020, 01:21
  #285 (permalink)  
 
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Is this Congressional Committee report unanimous, or a majority report with individual dissenters, or is the committee split on party lines? Reality is so politicised in the USA at the moment that one has to ask, and I don't know how to discover this sort of information for the US system.
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Old 17th Sep 2020, 01:34
  #286 (permalink)  
 
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Politicized unfortunately, on party lines.
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Old 17th Sep 2020, 02:19
  #287 (permalink)  
 
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WHBM

Politicians like face grinding. What we want is a “come to Jesus” moment for everyone and an undeniable need to make the necessary changes. The need is broad based, but it begins with Boeing management and FAA executives and I’m afraid no significant change will occur until they are replaced. Each is too invested in the value system that got us here.
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Old 17th Sep 2020, 04:16
  #288 (permalink)  
 
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About the political posture of the Committee report . . . all the work was done by "staff" (or very nearly all of it). But there are two types of staffers. One type consists of individuals whose jobs on Capitol Hill are tied to the Representative (in this case, or the Senator), and happen to get assigned to Committee or Subcommittee work for that particular office. Their experience and, where they possess it, expertise is found mostly in managing communications to and from their Congress(person) loyally and without deviation from the office's intended line of approach.

It is the other type of staffer who matters in the context of reports like this. Committees and Subcommittees develop their own separate rosters of staff, up to and including Chief Counsel. These are not quite career civil servants, but the best essentially do conform to that concept of the role.

The 737 MAX report released by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee chairman and the Aviation Subcommittee chairman on the 16th is the work of the staff. While obviously the professional (more or less) Committee staffers have party allegiances, their work does tend to be heavily, well . . . professional. This having been said, the report is not endorsed by the Democratic members of the Committee or, presumably, by the professional staff who work with and on behalf of the current "minority".

Maybe I'll have a more thoroughly cynical view about this specific report once I have read it as if it had been produced in discovery by a party adverse to a client, but on present preliminary evidence, the often crazed polarization that dominates political life and public service in the U.S. did not infect the Committee professional staff into political cheap shots or litigation-fanning publicity stunts. Then again, your loyal poster WillowRun 6-3 once upon a time went knocking on Hill doors looking for such a job with an aviation-related committee, even interviewing with the office of the late Sen. Wendell Ford (D-Ky) when he chaired the Aviation Subcommittee of the Senate Commerce Committee, so consider the source, as they say.
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Old 17th Sep 2020, 14:55
  #289 (permalink)  
 
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Are you saying a report like this one..... could be.... a question of politics?

What kind of report would then be needed to get something you can actually put a bit of trust in?
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Old 17th Sep 2020, 15:27
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The report said: “There was tremendous financial pressure on Boeing and the 737 Max programme to compete with Airbus’ new A320neo aircraft. Among other things, this pressure resulted in extensive efforts to cut costs, maintain the 737 Max programme schedule, and avoid slowing the 737 Max production line. The committee’s investigation has identified several instances where the desire to meet these goals and expectations jeopardised the safety of the flying public.”.
This is 100% true. How Boeing going to avoid criminal charges is to be seen.
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Old 17th Sep 2020, 18:36
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That timeline on page 100 is really something. Some excerpts:
Some excerpts from the timeline on page 100:
July 8, 2015
Boeing notes its test pilot’s slow, “catastrophic” reaction time to uncommanded MCAS activation in its Coordination Sheet for the first time, saying, “A typical reaction time was observed to be approximately 4 seconds. A slow reaction time scenario (> 10 seconds) found the failure to be catastrophic due to the inability to arrest the airplane overspeed.” Boeing updated this record, citing this same information, six times from 2015 to 2018 but never shared this data with the FAA.
December 17, 2015
A Boeing AR asked in an email, “Are we vulnerable to single AOA sensor failures with the MCAS implementation or is there some checking that occurs?” In the end, MCAS was certified with a single AOA sensor and erroneous AOA data contributed to both 737 MAX accidents. Boeing is now implementing changes in the wake of both MAX crashes so that MCAS relies on two AOA sensors.
June 15, 2016
A Boeing AR Advisor emailed a colleague and asked, “What happens when we have faulty AOA or Mach number?” The colleague responds, “As for faulty AOA and/or Mach number…if they are faulty then MCAS shuts down immediately.” Faulty AOA data was a major contributing factor in both MAX crashes and MCAS did not shut down in either of those accidents.
June 16, 2016
Referring to a Boeing test pilot’s problem trimming the MAX due to repetitive MCAS activations, a Boeing engineer asks, “Is this considered a safety or cert[ification] issue?” On June 20, 2016, a colleague responds, “I don’t think this is safety, other then [sic] the pilot could fight the MCAS input and over time find themselves in a large mistrim.” This is exactly what happened on both MAX aircraft that crashed.
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Old 18th Sep 2020, 08:45
  #292 (permalink)  
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Very sad to read in fact . Reminds me of the Challenger investigation .. not a question of "if " but "when" I though we all would have learned from it , apparently not.
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Old 18th Sep 2020, 13:00
  #293 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by jmmoric View Post
Are you saying a report like this one..... could be.... a question of politics?

What kind of report would then be needed to get something you can actually put a bit of trust in?
The second question is the easier one to address. The U.S. Dep't of Transportation Inspector General has begun an investigation and reporting process and issued its initial report, with more to follow. Having read much of it, I do not think it pulls any punches or (alternatively) uses inflammatory language just for effect (a known favorite device of lawyers of all stripes). A small caveat to add is that the entire set of processes, regulations and other guidelines applied or followed by FAA are creatures of the legislative process, and are supposed to be adhered to in accordance with law. At least in a country like the United States legal matters are tied to political processes as a background factor, as a matter of awareness.

As for the House Committee report, the first thing to note is that the Committee's investigation did a whale of a job in unearthing and collecting very highly relevant information. No Congressional committee report could possibly be intended or designed to trigger meaningful change in and of itself but -- there will be legislative efforts to reconfigure parts, possibly significant parts, of the FAA's safety oversight processes and methods. Obviously it will be an overtly political process especially after an election year when polarization has gone mad, but nevertheless I'd wager the legal guy equivalent of tea and biscuits that the reform legislation will be a bipartisan effort. The facts and what went wrong are just too obvious for either side of the aisle to get leverage let alone dominance over the other on either the content of the eventual reform measure or the process by which it will be reached.

Not least, the JATR report was a reliable one, not infected with politics - wasn't that a widely shared view among cognoscenti and SLFs alike? Though it hadn't drilled widely or deeply into factual matters within Boeing, that wasn't JATR's purpose. Count me as one SLF-poster who still hopes the FOIA litigation will get accelerated and require FAA to locate and disgorge the full documentary record on the basis of which the FAA proposes to base its decision to return the aircraft to flight operations, even if that requires Boeing's proprietary information to be turned over to the FOIA plaintiffs' panel of authoritative reviewers and experts. Do the lawyers in the FOIA case not have experience with tight and stringent Protective Orders to prevent further disclosure? Does the American public and indeed the international public within the aviation safety ecosystem not have a sufficiently high level of respect for Capt. Sullenberger (who is on the FOIA plaintiffs' panel) to constitute a reason for over-riding the proprietary interest factor? And come on now, we're talking about the proprietary interest of the Boeing company, you know, they could just . . . give us all some Jedi mind-trick vibes and thus any top-drawer confidential design secrets which conceivably could leak out will just flow on by, flow on by and away, like an airplane nose wildly oscillating back downward again and again.

Last edited by WillowRun 6-3; 18th Sep 2020 at 15:52.
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Old 18th Sep 2020, 16:32
  #294 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by WillowRun 6-3 View Post
. . . .
Count me as one SLF-poster who still hopes the FOIA litigation will get accelerated and require FAA to locate and disgorge the full documentary record on the basis of which the FAA proposes to base its decision to return the aircraft to flight operations, even if that requires Boeing's proprietary information to be turned over to the FOIA plaintiffs' panel of authoritative reviewers and experts.
+1
The manufacturer is expected to adhere to the highest possible design and engineering standards and the regulator must ensure that that is the case. This bi-partisan report emphasizes this clearly. For Boeing and the FAA to fix the severe problems delineated in the Committee Report, these events must be examined from the point of view of NASA's problems which led to both the Challenger and Columbia accidents.* This is an inter or meta-organizational failure on a massive scale and can't be fixed without acknowledging this.

Even as we are in a time when all words and actions are at singular risk of being politicized, I still think that this report has come closest to examining causes - for Boeing it may be a roadmap. They, especially, would do well to check the nonsensical CEOspeak, stop making impossible public platitudes of "doing better" and take what is said about their organzation seriously. These events, actions and their fall-out are a tired and familiar well-worn path of corporate behaviour.

It is worth quoting Feynman once again, who, during the Rogers Commission work, said, "For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled" which is even more critically applicable in our present times.

Through the examination of, for example, how NASA became better after Challenger and Columbia may hold answers for Boeing but only if they are understood and sincerely wanted. They are at the bottom of a dangerously-deep hole that they have collectively dug for themselves, and in real life there is no "Back" button, just the hard work of deciding what is the right balance between shareholder value and making safe airplanes.

Last edited by PJ2; 18th Sep 2020 at 17:25.
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Old 18th Sep 2020, 18:05
  #295 (permalink)  
 
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Thumbs up

As always, these comments from PJ2 are spot on.

Until now there has been nothing to indicate that Boeing leadership (Board and CEO) understand how to recreate the company as a proud example of an organization with an all-encompassing and fully functional safety culture -- and the necessity to do so. As PJ2 suggests, that understanding and commitment is the required first step in climbing out of this stinking hole.
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Old 18th Sep 2020, 18:25
  #296 (permalink)  
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Some one had suggested that this was an "SMS problem", or represents "the" problem with SMS. No way - first, SMS is an airline safety process and that is not the main problem here. Added: While there was an oversight authority within the BCA called the ODA (Organization Designation Authorisation) in place from November 2005, (Report, pg 59),pointing at SMS as a primary factor would be a significant misunderstanding of what really happened here and why. Your remarks re Boeing/board & CEO are true and demonstrate that they don't "get it" yet and so remain the kernel of the problem. The forces that led them into this hole, will lead them there again. And it's not just Boeing that has embraced that model of governance since the early 90's, but this is an aviation forum and for me, shall stay that way.

added full sentence: It's almost as if resolving this kind of an embedded/endemic corporate pathology would need a "new blood" approach given the entrenched pathways of action and relationships which are knit so tightly in the American economic/corporate fabric.

Last edited by PJ2; 19th Sep 2020 at 16:28.
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Old 18th Sep 2020, 18:32
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The Boeing leadership may be more intelligent than most people, but they lack the wisdom and moral compass to ever “understand” or even be willing to make the necessary changes. The FAA has the same leadership problem. In the Navy, when a captain runs his/her ship aground, they are replaced, even if they were not in the bridge. Boeing needs new leadership and so does the FAA, at least in Aviation Safety and Aircraft Certification.
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Old 19th Sep 2020, 16:33
  #298 (permalink)  
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GlobalNav - I think most know the "how and why" these two B737 MAX's crashed and Boeing faces a disastrous position within the American and world aviation industry. Unfortunately, as power grows within the private, (unelected) corporations, the notion of "wisdom" is eschewed in favour of raw "power" and its offspring. Wisdom certainly exists within the corporate structure as it does in populations, but at present the idea of "wisdom", like "restraint" are homeless notions. These rotting effects spread into areas where intellectual discipline is traditionally required to design and build things well and check them and check again. There is no compartmentalizing the harm from what used to be really good work.

Last edited by PJ2; 19th Sep 2020 at 18:33.
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Old 20th Sep 2020, 00:29
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Perhaps we should blame Milton Friedman's 'The Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits', which made the monomaniacal pursuit of profit above all intellectually respectable.
Certainly the single minded focus on profit has been hugely destructive. US industry once dominated the world, now they relabel imports. The profits are still great, just not sure for how long.
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Old 20th Sep 2020, 01:20
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I'm going to postulate three separate problem areas each deriving straight out of the two accidents and their massive aftermath.

First is the need for some approach more credible and authoritative than what appears to be running at present, for purposes of returning the aircraft to airline service. The FAA has the leading role at this juncture but the other CAAs who also are evaluating the reconfigured (or perhaps some other verb is more technically sufficient) airplane will have their own point of view based on their own testing. The international system of certification and acceptances by other CAAs has broken down, hasn't it? - and to be replaced by what? As a subset, the process on this aircraft's return to service, to date, does not seem to have warranted a resurgence of confidence in the FAA. The looming reform legislation (probably in the next Congress after the November election, not before) will try to address . . . where to start?

Then there is the problem of the Boeing boardroom, top management, and culture. There is no shortage of recitals of the tale of how the company drifted away, or was pulled away, from its roots in excellence, if not superiority, in engineering. Less prevalent are sober gameplans for restoration. Cleaning house is the oft-recited solution kickoff, but to be followed by what, exactly? This is not to say those who tell the story of the long-term decline of the company have no plan other than to try to turn the clock back, one mistake of the past at a time. It is to wonder what is the gameplan to make Boeing 2021 a company at least on the road to restoration.

Not least, the problems of the 737 MAX appear closely linked up to the growing role of automated systems in the control of transport category airplanes. The proliferation of systems which can control flight with limited or no pilot input can create new problems, or so the MAX crashes would suggest: things were happening too quickly and in too complicated a manner for the knowledge and abilities acquired in training to be sufficient. Of course that is not a statement of all the causal factors (like, uh, MACS wasn't a known entity whatsoever to the pilots) but it is factual (correct me if I'm wrong). And won't this mismatch get worse? - as more cockpit automation intersects with pilots who get type rated but without having acquired much (let alone a lot) of airmanship instincts.

(Two big problems not listed here because I think they're connected to the MAX situation but not about the MAX as such: the corporate governance model and whether so-called "stakeholder capitalism" would make any difference, good or bad; and what kind of magic will it take to restore the airline world to something akin to pre-pandemic levels of operation.)

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