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Boeing 737 Max Recertification Testing - Finally.

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Boeing 737 Max Recertification Testing - Finally.

Old 20th Sep 2020, 02:41
  #301 (permalink)  
 
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Won’t argue with your points but I might suggest one more. Engineers, even those with no supervisory authority, have a profound responsibility, one that properly exercised can cost their employment. It is a moral responsibility to do their work thoroughly, carefully and honestly. Passivity in the face of improper demands of management, makes them enablers, sharing the blame with the bean counters and demanding managers. Everyone is responsible for their actions and inactions.
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Old 20th Sep 2020, 02:55
  #302 (permalink)  
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etudiant

It is up to Boeing's CEO and Executive Management to interpret the Committee Report regarding Friedman's work; that would go for almost all private, unelected more-powerful-than-government corporate entities. There is a point at which Friedman works so both investors and owners "win", if that's what it's called. But that's not what occurred here, (or in Flint's water system disaster, or...). William Starbuck & Frances Milliken called their 1988 paper on the Challenger accident, "Fine-tuning the Odds Until Something Breaks". While NASA wasn't a "profit-oriented" entity at the time, the "cutting technical funds and redistributing same to technically-non-involved people, 'until something breaks' is essentially the same thing.

From the Committee Report, pg. 37 :
Boeing’s stock price and financial success undermined the emphasis on technical achievements and innovation. William Lazonick, a Professor in Economics and Co-Director of the Center for Industrial Competitiveness at the University of Massachusetts in Lowell, Massachusetts, has written that Boeing’s attempts to profit undermined its efforts to protect the flying public.204 Lazonick’s research highlighted the fact that between 2013 and 2019, during the critical 737 MAX design, development, and certification process, Boeing spent $17.4 billion on stock dividends and an additional $43.1 billion on stock buybacks.205 Lazonick wrote that these investment strategies may have played key roles in Boeing not spending enough money on issues critical to the safe design and development of the MAX, including adequate testing and safety analyses.206

Financial and economic competitiveness also played a key role in Boeing’s eventual decision to re-engine an existing airplane rather than design a new airplane in choosing its next product. In 2011, the estimated cost of building a brand-new airplane hovered around $10 billion while the cost of re-engining the existing 737 NG to develop the new 737 MAX airplane was only about $3 billion, according to Richard Aboulafia with the aviation industry market analysis firm, the Teal Group.207

Multiple current and former Boeing employees who have contacted the Committee since our investigation began have relayed dismay at the path they believe Boeing has taken since its merger with McDonnell Douglas. They have described their excitement and enthusiasm at joining one of the world’s most esteemed companies decades ago. They were thrilled to be working with smart, intelligent, and dedicated colleagues. They viewed Boeing as an engineer’s paradise where they could innovate and create leading edge technologies where safety was always at the forefront of engineering decisions that were part and parcel of the business development process.
However, that emphasis changed slowly, but dramatically, over the years, according to these employees. The prowess of the engineers’ technical designs and innovative diagrams were replaced by the accounting acumen and financial decisions of business executives. Production schedules and monetary costs, not technical specifications and safety considerations, began to drive Boeing’s commercial aircraft programs, they say.

footnote 206 refers to American Prospect, May 31, 2019, copy this link into a browser - for some reason it doesn't work otherwise. https://prospect.org/environment/mak...holders-richer
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Old 20th Sep 2020, 14:10
  #303 (permalink)  
 
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What will Boeing and the FAA learn

Looking ahead, what will be learnt from from the events. The report considers this and summaries the initial, disappointing responses from Boeing and the FAA.
Boeing report a list of activities which could be the basis of a 'Dilbert' calendar, full of management speak, ambiguous intent, with little substance. Similarly disappointing from the FAA, with interpretations ranging from not knowing what to do, to a canned 'regulate everything', but unable to regulate themselves.

Both Boeing and the FAA require cultural change, but this will take time, a generation. Unfortunately we might not be able to judge because in the same timescale the aviation industry will have change beyond recognition; there will be little on which to compare improvement, only different.

The report is open to the world, the events have damaged the reputations of the FAA and Boeing.
Furthermore this will reflect on world safety; with organisational credibilities lost, those knowledgeable individuals representing regulation and industry from these organisations will inappropriately and unjustly suffer degraded credibility which will hamper safety initiatives.

We should emphasise with the workers; not their fault, but now hold responsibility and means to effect change.
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Old 20th Sep 2020, 17:03
  #304 (permalink)  
 
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Are people here familiar with how the regulations are created by EASA? I am an American but led an engineering group in France. The EU standards for the product line for which I was responsible were created by members of the engineering staffs of all European manufacturers of the product as our staffs lived and breathed the products. It was not possible for the EU to build expertise equal to what had been built up over 100+ years. So in my particular case the standards leaned toward the German's input as they had more manufacturers than any others. There was not input from manufacturers outside the EU but in order to sell their product in the EU, they needed to meet EU standards. I mention the German influence as it did tend to sway regulations to their benefit. As an American citizen I could not attend the relation creation sessions but I had excellent staff who did their job well. The end result, however, was regulations created by the engineers doing the work. Then we self certified that we met the regulations which did involve many design changes to meet implementation deadlines as a group we realized that issues had been overlooked. In our industry the documentation showing that we met each requirement stayed with us. I do not recall any EU audit during my time served in the position - most likely to happen if there was an accident.

So having knowledge of how the EU works on mobile ground based equipment, how is EASA different. Are they blessed with an abundance of engineers so prolific that they can spot something the people who work on the designs everyday have overlooked? And lets remember that companies such as VW, Mercedes, and BMW are now paying the price for having be self regulating on emissions standards that had been established.

As for Boeing culture, I have a 1st cousin once removed who got an engineering job with Boeing in the 1940s and worked through projects like the B-29 on up until being assigned to the 2707. Great to work as a structural analysis engineer on such a high tech project. Along came 1971 and the 2707 was axed along with my relative after over 25 years. Then it was a move from their beloved Pacific NW to Southern California where the jobs were. He retired as a partner in his small group working on a contract basis for the B2. At a family reunion I asked him why he didn't encourage Eddie, my second cousin, to be an engineer. He said no loyalty by management to the hard work and accomplishments. If one's goal in life is to be a great engineer and not aspire to move into management, your career is only as good as the black ink. The discussion here about Boeing going downhill after the merger with MD - George would disagree. B-29, B-47, B-52, 707, etc., all out the window following an unfortunate management path - made in the 60's.
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Old 20th Sep 2020, 17:51
  #305 (permalink)  
 
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GlobalNav

To an engineer, integrity is more important than ability.
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Old 20th Sep 2020, 18:06
  #306 (permalink)  
 
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Sadly the thin end of the wedge is usually very thin, so integrity is often very close to paranoia. The rewards system is designed to eliminate integrity, half done sooner is rewarded, while well done later is penalized.
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Old 20th Sep 2020, 18:57
  #307 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by GlobalNav View Post
Won’t argue with your points but I might suggest one more. Engineers, even those with no supervisory authority, have a profound responsibility, one that properly exercised can cost their employment. It is a moral responsibility to do their work thoroughly, carefully and honestly. Passivity in the face of improper demands of management, makes them enablers, sharing the blame with the bean counters and demanding managers. Everyone is responsible for their actions and inactions.
I think this is unfair. Some of them might be very junior and new to the world of work. These would reasonably expect to be shown good working practices and perhaps thought they were, or didn't realise the shortcomings of what they were being trained to do. Those with a little more experience might well have raised concerns with their supervisors and been rebuffed. Then what?

What do you expect the junior engineers to do, all resign en mass?


......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.
Not automated systems per se, there are some very good ones out there; The Boeing 737's problem is that it is now a technological basket case, with extra bits being bolted on here and there as they became desirable, e.g. MCAS. But there was no proper integration of the extra systems with what existed and MCAS was only needed because there wasn't enough room under the wing with the short undercarriage to fit bigger engines, so they had to go further forward. There has never been a proper cockpit, avionics and flying control system redesign.

The A320 family is an order of magnitude better than the B737 in almost every respect you can think of, especially automation, which is very well designed, developed and integrated.

The only reason the B737 is so popular with airlines is that it is cheap and just about does the job.

(Do the cabin crew still have to lift the girt bars in and out of the 737 floor brackets every time the main doors are armed or disarmed?)
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Old 20th Sep 2020, 19:30
  #308 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by GlobalNav View Post
Passivity in the face of improper demands of management, makes them enablers, sharing the blame with the bean counters and demanding managers.
That's completely ridiculous and quite delusional. Do you expect engineers to hold up their Professional Engineer card, and say "sorry boss, I am over-ruling your cost saving decision for engineering reasons!".

The only choice engineers have is do what you are told, or lose your job. And management know that.
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Old 20th Sep 2020, 20:18
  #309 (permalink)  
 
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Have it your way, but that’s how I conducted myself as an engineer. We usually have limited control of our situations but we have full control of our response. It does not come without risk or cost.
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Old 20th Sep 2020, 23:57
  #310 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by donotdespisethesnake View Post
That's completely ridiculous and quite delusional. Do you expect engineers to hold up their Professional Engineer card, and say "sorry boss, I am over-ruling your cost saving decision for engineering reasons!".
Nope, engineers usually can't and don't overrule management cost decisions, they can't reassign budgets or move funding.

They can, and should, refuse to do what is unacceptable when asked, that is part of what being a professional is about.

The only choice engineers have is do what you are told, or lose your job. And management know that.
Soldiers on the other hand only have the choice of following orders or court-martial (and maybe summary execution, especially if at war). Is that your defence?

Anyway, as a professional, management can end your job, but a "fitness to practise" hearing, or whatever the equivalent, can end your entire career. Professional bodies have the larger sanction precisely because the reputation of the profession has a far higher value than any one job. It isn't used (or doesn't exist) in engineering as much as in other professions, and quite possibly it should be used more. Otherwise what is the value in claiming to be a profession?
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Old 20th Sep 2020, 23:57
  #311 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by donotdespisethesnake View Post
The only choice engineers have is do what you are told, or lose your job. And management know that.
Unless, of course, the engineer has a union to oppose unjust dismissal.
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Old 21st Sep 2020, 00:51
  #312 (permalink)  
 
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Which was a substantial factor in Boeing's efforts to become less dependent on Seattle, where there is still a strong union culture.
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Old 21st Sep 2020, 13:32
  #313 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by infrequentflyer789 View Post
Nope, engineers usually can't and don't overrule management cost decisions, they can't reassign budgets or move funding.
They can, and should, refuse to do what is unacceptable when asked, that is part of what being a professional is about.
So then they join the pool of unemployed professional engineers, and management prefer to employ non-professional, non-unionized engineers - and continue to get away with bad decisions. How does that help anyone?

Really, the idea that engineers can "make a stand" against management.decisions is like expecting to stand on the beach and commanding the tide to run back.

Soldiers on the other hand only have the choice of following orders or court-martial (and maybe summary execution, especially if at war). Is that your defence?
I am not interested in creating cute legal arguments, I am interested in improving safety. It is has been well documented over many decades that pressure from management has a chilling effect on the integrity of the engineering function in an organization. It is surely without question to any sane person, that an employee given responsibility to sign off on safety who is also a direct report to their management has an inherent conflict of interest, and that it will lead to management effectively overriding safety decisions in favor of cutting costs. This is exactly what the report mentioned above finds, and shouldn't be a surprise to anyone.

Putting pressure on people to "do the right thing" who have the least power is simply not a practical or effective way to improve safety. Management have the power and responsibility - it must be their feet who are held to the fire, otherwise nothing will change.
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Old 21st Sep 2020, 18:42
  #314 (permalink)  
 
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I’m an engineer. I’ve said ‘no’. I’m still employed. I’ve had the ‘this could be bad for your career conversation’ more than once and always outlasted the managers I had the conversation with.

It is a very brave (or stupid) manager who over rules a senior engineer playing a well reasoned safety card.

As Boeing are now demonstrating.
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Old 21st Sep 2020, 19:02
  #315 (permalink)  
 
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The whole Boeing - FAA saga is an example a 'human' system accident.
The lower echelons, responsible designers, engineers, regulators, encountered undue pressure. They believed that they could release their responsibilities upwards because of the instructions given.
The top echelon, CEO and management, believed that they could delegate responsibilities downwards. This could be more difficult to justify, but defendable by not being able to know everything.

Somewhere in the middle, managers have to be responsible, but at whatever level is considered there would be someone above - upwards delegation, and as extra cover, someone below - downwards delegation. Thus the more confident the middle management could be in their delegation; they didn't need to be responsible.
In the end no-one believed that they were responsible; no-one was, but all were.

The safety process in manufacturing and regulatory management, depends on both a good safety culture and responsible leadership, who can encourage and share responsibility for safety and product excelence, but who oversees that process.

The FAA should have managed ssfety oversight of Boeing, it did not.
Who should have managed the oversight of the FAA.
Who holds that responsibility.
Why did this fail, … see all above.

Last edited by safetypee; 22nd Sep 2020 at 07:10. Reason: Typo
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Old 21st Sep 2020, 19:32
  #316 (permalink)  
 
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CHICAGO (Reuters) - American Airlines AAL.O said on Monday it is starting to schedule Boeing Co BA.N 737 MAX training for its pilots in November, a sign that it believes a return to service of the grounded jet could be near. https://ca.reuters.com/article/us-bo...-idCAKCN26C22C
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Old 21st Sep 2020, 22:23
  #317 (permalink)  
 
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safetypee

Exactly what Haddon-Cave discovered and why he enforced the concept of duty holder to the MoD.
AOCs have to appoint the safety manager who holds the responsibility for safety. Why not the manufcturer. This will be a Haddon-Cave moment for Boeing and the FAA unless they are golf partners with the current administration in the White House. Mind you it might all soon change.......
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Old 22nd Sep 2020, 01:06
  #318 (permalink)  
 
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A radical thought: responsibility lies in proportion to salary. They've got to be being paid for something.
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Old 22nd Sep 2020, 02:44
  #319 (permalink)  
 
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I'm wondering if engineering works something like the legal profession, with regard to a given professional standing up and saying "no." Though possibly irritating to folks for whom lawyers are automatically disreputable, the thought is best illustrated by a pair of anecdotes (brief ones).

Client had a one-page memo of agreement with a product designer and it covered the types of designs for which the designer would get paid commissions if the client accepted a design and manufactured it, and other conditions. As it was a "be your own lawyer" kind of business contract, no surprise that it had a lot of ambiguities and, of course, a dispute erupted. But it turned out that the client's adult son/or/daughter also had a copy of the one-pager. On which they had written some notes about what the ambiguities really meant. Which supported the designer's claim, quite. So client instructed yours truly to just cover those notes with "white-out" typo correction ink. And said that if he went to 10 lawyers in Chicago the first nine would do what he was telling me to do, and probably all 10. Though I could envision the senior partner in the firm (who held the client relationship) being enraged at my call I did say "no." It didn't exactly call for any subtle thinking, on the issue itself.

But then in law firms there can be a more widespread yet less stark reality - that clients are looked upon primarily as just revenue streams. That the relationship with the client is for the client's own good, that the client may think that the lawyers care about things like the culture of the business and how employees are treated and corporate philanthropy . . . but really it's just about hitting law firm budgeted revenue targets and being able to divide up the firm pie in line with the reigning status quo. Which means that clients sometimes do not receive advice about avoiding legal problems before they occur. Not merely client newsletters and seminars, but getting aligned with the business and giving legal guidance regardless of dollars billed or received. No instruction to white-out contradictory evidence is available to which "no" could be the response; if the financially mercenary model it isn't why a person went to law school then pick up and find some other way to practice within the profession.

There were some, though perhaps not many, instructions in effect to "just cover it up" about the MAX aircraft and its systems. At the same time the cultural decline, all of the factors that have been underlined here (and in the related thread about 787 production problems) - wasn't this a broader and less starkly revealed problem? And FlightlessParrot's point has to be correct: if responsibility does not correlate with compensation level, what does it correlate with? And how is comp at management and executive levels possibly justified?

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Old 22nd Sep 2020, 05:17
  #320 (permalink)  
 
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We shouldn’t simplify the issue as a matter of saying “No” to a manager. It’s a matter doing the technical work and arriving at the right or at least a right answer. And if time and resources to do so are not made available, to say the design process is incomplete or invalid.

Also remember, some of the Boeing engineers hold positions as Designated Engineering Representatives (there is a different term for this meaning the same thing the ODA). In this position the engineer has the solemn duty to determine that regulatory compliance to the safety standards of 14 CFR Part 25 has been established.

This is not mere paperwork, it is based on technical engineering data and analysis from actual tests. The DER must not say compliance has been established when it has not. This is the engineer’s duty as DER. And if management pressure is applied to abbreviate the work or to sign a compliance document when compliance has not been established, then the DER has the DUTY to report it to the FAA. It may cost the engineer’s job depending on the integrity of the management, but the engineer’s word is at stake.
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