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Boeing 737 Max Recertification Testing - Finally.

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Boeing 737 Max Recertification Testing - Finally.

Old 17th Dec 2020, 17:27
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Transport Canada Press Release re the MAX Transport Canada validates the design changes to the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft (newswire.ca)
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Old 17th Dec 2020, 22:11
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Wasnt there some deal with SW that no one will get a better discount than them?

With the airbus A321LR and XLR in the mix, would Boeing consider producing a B737MAX-LR version?
I think the MAX 10 is about as far as they can push that platform.
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Old 18th Dec 2020, 23:09
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There has been a coverup between Boeing and the FAA according to a damming Senate report just released tonight to get the aircraft re-certified and that Boeing inappropriately coached pilots during re-certification.

Last edited by LTNman; 18th Dec 2020 at 23:21.
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Old 18th Dec 2020, 23:44
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Boeing 'inappropriately coached' pilots in 737 MAX testing -U.S. Senate report
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Old 19th Dec 2020, 04:16
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Boeing just see to digging themselves a deeper and deeper hole.......
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Old 19th Dec 2020, 09:09
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Should the response of the FAA be the primary concern?

Sorry if this is repeated, but my first post was stopped due to having a link to the Senate report.

Out of the seven most significant findings, only one explicitly concerned Boeing, where they had foolishly tried to influence the outcome of Human Factors reaction time testing.

Five of the findings concerned the FAA and arguably the remaining one as well, as the FAA operate under the remit of the DOT OCG. The continued obstructiveness of the FAA and persecution of whistleblowers indicates that 'Lessons have not been learned' and that a complete purge of tainted managers is well overdue. I wonder who the individual displaying 'possible lack of candor' was?

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Old 19th Dec 2020, 10:16
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Why are Boeing sending 160 pilots, trained by them, to fly with 737 Max flights with airlines. Are they expecting problems ?
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Old 19th Dec 2020, 10:17
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737 Max: Boeing 'inappropriately coached' pilots in test after crashes.https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-55372499
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Old 19th Dec 2020, 11:48
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Since the company changed it's fundamental approach some 20 years ago - they cannot change back overnight. All those managers who got where they are by working the way they were told? Now they have to go in reverse. Until one person speaks up - no one does. So let us hope that we are seeing the cracks in their shell.

The same was true of the politicians who started out thinking that Covid was nothing much. For them to change is very difficult - but we have seen the start.
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Old 19th Dec 2020, 14:13
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I don’t think the corporate mindset of the Boeing company or FAA Aviation Safety is easily changed back. Managers were hired to fit it and support it.

It didn’t just happen all at once 20 years ago, it was a gradual but accelerating change over decades. There were key milestones in the 90’s and since. People fought it, raised alarms over it, were silenced, to the detriment of their careers and many left.
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Old 19th Dec 2020, 15:59
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Correct GlobalNav The rot is now bred through the layers.

One of the certainties of life is that, when a corporate / governemnt says that something is FINE - it turns out there was a person or people, warning and telling the truth. The first big one to spring to mind was cigarettes. If I recall correctly, scientists were warning in the 1950s that they were deadly. Took decades for governments to overcome their love of money to start changing the rules.
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Old 19th Dec 2020, 22:07
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That's quite an investigative report, from Senate Commerce Science and Transportation majority staff. Just about 100 single-spaced pages covering let's say about 18 topics and subtopics, with a heavy focus on the role of whistleblowers. Yeah, there goes much of holiday break, reading this monster doc.

But prelim, two things kind of leap out. One is the recital of how FAA gamed the Committee investigation process with regard to documents relating to or containing communications between Mr. M. Forkner and FAA employees. But from all appearances, gamed the system rather ineffectively. I've read a lot of document production timelines, and for looking bad, this one is high-altitude.... - see the report at 39-41 and especially the "sock it to me" litany at pp 40-41. Also, from again a prelim read, the DOT OGC (Office of General Counsel) looks like, well, has got some Counsel-'Splaining to do, seems like: "The failure of DOT OGC to produce documents previously requested by the Committee only to view them in media reporting and finally from FAA legislative affairs, suggests DOT OGC intentionally withheld relevant information requested by the Committee." (emphasis added)

Also, about the calling attention to the pickle switch. I'm not getting into a debate here about whether every whistleblower no matter what is completely honest and must be 100 percent believed - that's not the issue. The point is that giving the whistleblower the full credit of assumed complete veracity, nonetheless, has the process of a Committee staff investigation replaced all other pertinent fact gathering and investigation? Is there more to the facts of the particular whistle-blown "coaching" incident, such as it having been deliberate to see what the actual response time turned out to be, as one among a much larger number of tests with no "coaching"? (I'm surmising that pilots and others who actually know simulator run processes could think of many other facts which might add to and/or modify the picture painted by the scandalous tone of this section of the report.)

I'll refrain from saying much of anything about what a complicated project would be entrained in order to modify labor and employment laws at the federal and state levels to better handle the legitimate and necessary concerns of whistleblowers (not a reason to avoid tackling it, but resource the project properly or don't bother).

I hope the majority staff gets a vacation, they need it after spilling all this ink....
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Old 20th Dec 2020, 01:15
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I have no comment about the FAA nor Boeing, however, I know, and have flown with one of the pilots who evaluated the changes on behalf of Transport Canada. That pilot would not let any non compliance slip past, I have entire confidence in him, and the job he would have done. If he signed off on it, it was compliant and safe. You have to place your faith in something in life, and I trust him. I'll ride in it.
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Old 20th Dec 2020, 11:48
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Seattle Times

Congress on the brink of major FAA oversight reform in wake of Boeing 737 MAX crashes
Dec. 20, 2020 at 4:22 am
By Dominic Gates
Seattle Times aerospace reporter

A sweeping reform of how the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approves new commercial aircraft is on the brink of passage in Congress, propelled by a rare bipartisan push and public outrage over the Boeing 737 MAX crashes that killed 346.

Democrats and Republicans in U.S. House and Senate committees reached agreement in down-to-the wire negotiations last Sunday evening on a bill tailored to address the FAA’s oversight failures in its original certification of the MAX.

The legislation is expected to be incorporated into the massive $1.4 trillion omnibus spending bill that Congress must pass to avoid a government shutdown. That could be voted on as early as Sunday and would make passage into law all but certain.

According to details of the bill obtained by the Seattle Times, the legislation strengthens the FAA’s direct oversight of the Boeing engineers who conduct safety assessments on behalf of the agency.

While the FAA would still delegate to Boeing a great deal of the certification work on future aircraft, new provisions aim to ensure the FAA’s safety experts keep a closer eye on how that work proceeds and that Boeing’s cost and schedule targets don’t dominate decision making.

The bill also requires greater disclosure and analysis of safety-critical systems at the outset of the certification process.

And it creates new penalties for supervisors who exert undue pressure on employees raising safety concerns, establishes new whistleblower protections, and sets up safety reporting mechanisms for FAA’s front-line technical staff.

Additionally, the bill authorizes new funding to build up technical expertise at the FAA and to conduct more human factors research into how pilots interact with automated flight control systems.

And it boosts Congressional oversight of the FAA, requiring the agency to provide Capitol Hill with reports, briefings and disclosures on how it’s meeting the goals laid out in the bill.

Rebalancing how certification work is delegated

Current FAA procedures have been criticized for delegating too much of the certification work to Boeing and for allowing the company’s managers too much control over the engineers who do the technical assessments on the FAA’s behalf — undermining their independence and giving Boeing the lead in the process while restricting how much the FAA is aware of details.

The proposed legislation, called the Aircraft Certification, Safety, and Accountability Act, rolls back some of the changes made in recent years that shifted the balance of oversight from the FAA toward Boeing.

The measure requires an upfront review of any critical new technology systems before any decision is made to delegate certification of those systems, including scrutiny by an independent panel of experts from other federal agencies such as NASA and the Air Force.

And the agency cannot delegate any oversight work until it has reviewed and validated the underlying assumptions related to pilot reactions to system failures.

These clauses reverse the yearslong trend of increasing delegation to the manufacturer that culminated in the 2018 FAA Reauthorization Act. That law, passed just a month before the first MAX crash of a Lion Air jet in Indonesia in October 2018, mandated maximum delegation of certification work by requiring the FAA to make a case if it wanted any specific piece of the oversight work not to be delegated.

In an interview, Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington, who before the MAX crashes was an advocate of more delegation but aggressively pushed the new legislation in the Senate Commerce Committee, said that relentless trend toward industry self-certification is now over.

“We’re putting a big stop sign in the road right here,” Cantwell said.

The bill provides that the Boeing engineers assigned to work on behalf of the FAA must be approved or removed not by the company, as is the case now, but by the federal agency. And each will have a direct line of communication with an FAA safety inspector acting as an adviser and overseer of the work.

One damning finding of a major investigation into certification of the 737 MAX was that Boeing presented to the FAA only fragmented and partial information about the new flight control system that caused the crashes — the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS).

Under the new legislation, any such critical new system design must undergo a comprehensive safety analysis of how it might affect existing systems and the assumptions made about how pilots would react to system failures.

The bill also provides that an individual supervisor at Boeing or another manufacturer who exerts undue pressure on staff doing the certification work, or who fails to disclose safety critical information to the FAA, can be held personally liable and subject to heavy civil penalties.

To avoid FAA decisions on safety being compromised by Boeing’s business goals, the bill repeals existing laws allowing FAA employees to receive bonuses or other financial incentives based on meeting manufacturer-driven certification schedules.

And the bill repeals authority for industry-friendly advisory panels to set FAA performance goals that do not prioritize safety.

In response to internal FAA surveys that showed employees feared reprisal for raising safety issues, the bill provides anonymous reporting channels and whistleblower protections for front-line FAA engineers who wish to flag safety concerns.

Many of the detailed provisions in the bill follow the recommendations of various investigations into the MAX crashes and target very specific mistakes in the Boeing jet’s development and certification.

For example, one clause directly prohibits any contractual arrangement similar to the one Boeing made with Southwest Airlines, committing to refund the carrier $1 million per plane if its pilots were required to have new flight simulator training for flying the MAX.

Another detail directs the FAA to revoke the license of any pilot who fails to disclose safety critical information on behalf of a manufacturer.

The impetus for this is made plain in a summary of the legislation compiled by Senate staff, which notes in reference to this clause that former Boeing 737 Chief Technical Pilot Mark Forkner “is under federal investigation for intentionally lying to the FAA about the nature of MCAS.”

Another provision states that the FAA cannot certify an aircraft without conducting a safety review of the flight crew alerting system and assumptions about how pilots would respond to the cockpit warnings.

If that directive had been in place when the MAX was certified, the FAA might have caught the MCAS design flaws. Instead, Boeing was exempted from meeting the latest crew alerting safety standards, and the assumptions it made about pilot reactions proved catastrophically wrong.

An FAA safety engineer, speaking on condition of anonymity to protect his job, welcomed the provisions in the bill as “a good step forward.”

“The tools are here to address a lot of what’s gone wrong,” he said.

However, he cautioned that in practice much will depend upon the FAA administrator shifting the agency’s culture away from a focus on giving industry what it wants, and robustly implementing these new safety protocols.

Cantwell responded to that concern by saying she sees the bill as “a down payment.”

“We’re going to push the Biden administration to look at further reforms at the FAA beyond this legislation,” she said. “We need to make sure we have the right message coming out of the FAA … to ensure the law we are putting into place is going to be enacted and carried out.”

Cantwell said assuring aviation safety is necessary not only to protect the flying public but to protect the future of the airplane manufacturing industry and the jobs it brings to the Pacific Northwest.

She said the bill aims to do that by emphasizing that when safety decisions are made, “the engineers on the ground are in charge.”

Heading on a fast track into law

The wording of the FAA reform legislation is expected to be included in the year’s final “omnibus bill,” according to multiple sources. This is a catchall lawmaking package that’s intended to ensure passage of essential legislation before Congress adjourns.

To fast-track the process ahead of adjournment, no amendments are allowed on the omnibus bill. It is voted up or down in total and so, barring some extraordinary political upheaval, whatever makes it into the bill will become law.

The FAA reformdeal was driven by Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Roger Wicker, R-Miss.; Cantwell, the committee’s ranking minority member; and House Transportation Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio, D-Ore.

Michael Stumo, father of 26-year-old Samya Rose Stumo who died in the Ethiopian Airlines MAX crash in March 2019, followed the legislative process closely and lobbied relentlessly in person for passage of the FAA reforms.

He said the most important improvements to the certification process that he and the other families of victims had pushed for were retained in the final deal.

Stumo, who was present at the markup session at the end of September that finalized the House version of the bill, noted that DeFazio got “full Republican buy-in” for the proposed reforms from ranking minority member Sam Graves, R-Mo., and his colleagues.

“It was full agreement. There was no dissent,” Stumo said. “I stood up and clapped when they all passed it.”

Similarly, in the Senate, Cantwell said, conservative Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, worked alongside liberal Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., to suggest improvements in the bill.

On Friday, as a prelude to the new legislation, the Republican majority on the Commerce Committee published a scathing investigative report listing “significant lapses in aviation safety oversight and failed leadership in the FAA.”

The final recommendation in that report pointedly demands that the FAA “should support legislative reform by implementing law completely while fulfilling the intent of Congress.”

The rush to try to get the bill through Congress this weekend is the culmination of many months of political maneuvering that followed aggressive investigations into the MAX crashes and testy hearings last year when FAA Administrator Steve Dickson was grilled and criticized by lawmakers in both the House and the Senate.

Even though the House and Senate committees had by this month each agreed on their separate versions of the aircraft certification reforms, soon after the election the prospect of getting a bill into law seemed unlikely as time ran down for this Congress.

While the House had passed its version of the bill, the full Senate had not. The top political priorities were a defense reauthorization package, now passed, and a possible COVID relief bill.

Over the past weeks, negotiations on the details of an FAA reform bill that could be agreed between House and Senate went on late into the night, Congressional staffers said.

Since the bipartisan deal was finalized between the two committees late last Sunday, the sponsors have held back from publicly announcing it — fearing a last-minute block. However, in the political horse-trading that has held up the omnibus bill in the last few days, the FAA bill was not an issue.

If, as expected, the text of the new FAA legislation is published Sunday as part of the omnibus bill then — barring a veto by President Trump, which would trigger a government shutdown — this landmark reset of the way the FAA conducts airplane certification should become law within days.

Dominic Gates: 206-464-2963 or [email protected]; on Twitter: @dominicgates.
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Old 20th Dec 2020, 13:06
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I think it is positive that action is being taken to address the flawed Boeing / FAA relationship, but the Senate Report conveys a feeling that the plane is still unsafe due to a questionable recertification process.

From one of the articles:

“It appears, in this instance, the FAA and Boeing were attempting to cover up important information that may have contributed to the 737 Max tragedies,” the committee said.

Has Sully voiced a favorable opinion about the current state of the 737 MAX?

Until then I'm not letting any of my family members fly on that plane.
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Old 20th Dec 2020, 14:21
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the bill provides anonymous reporting channels and whistleblower protections
The protection of whistleblowers is always a nice goal to put in a law, a regulation or a company code of conduct., it is unfortunately worth no more than the usual : " our people are our most important asset " . Having in my line of work seen a few times over the years what happens where a serious concern is being flagged up by operators of a system introduced by top management. It is nearly always seen as a critic of the said management or, it it becomes public , being unroyal to the company , and it most of the time it does not end too well for the whistleblower.

One Safety management guru once said : A Safety culture takes years to build , 10 minutes to destroy. and decades to restore it afterwards.
Here at Boeing , they had built a good safety culture ,and they took years of efforts to destroy it. bit by bit for profits...The trust is gone. I do not know how long it will take to get it back, but one thing is for sure , it has to come from the inside. A report from a committee will not in itself alter a corporate culture.
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Old 20th Dec 2020, 14:57
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From the report quote above:
"One damning finding of a major investigation into certification of the 737 MAX was that Boeing presented to the FAA only fragmented and partial information about the new flight control system that caused the crashes — the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS)."

If that's true, and if it was intentional, a felony violation of the false statements prohibition in 18 USC 1001 was committed. It specifically includes misleading statements as false statements to the government.
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Old 20th Dec 2020, 15:43
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I awoke this morning unaware of some actually good news. A measure to turn the wrench on the FAA and its relation with airframers is reported to be near passage in the U.S. Congress. Who woulda thunk it?

I'm still holding off on banging out a few (dozen) paragraphs on what is needed to protect whistleblowers (this free-lance lawyering gig does impose some constraints, altho "self-employed" still has pizzaz, ain't it?). I'll just say that the model of litigation and pre-suit investigation process that most comes to mind is the so-called "qui tam" lawsuit, brought on behalf of Uncle Sam by a particular class of whistleblowers (who are richly rewarded for their risk-taking, where such claims are proven up).

I haven't been introduced to the former CEO of the airframer whose decisions led to such calamitous results, and which may yet become the provocation for wrenching, real reform and - dare an old SLF/atty hope - rejuvenation of the big ol' manufacturing bays that once made Scoop Jackson an impressive and unmovable character in the U.S. Senate. I will say, however, that the look on the former CEO's visage when he had to turn around at hearing and look upon the assembled survivors of the crash victims -- like the credit card advert says, priceless?---no, it was very costly, indeed, in human suffering and carnage, and in terms that cannot be expressed in legislative terms, provisions or codifications. But I climbed off my rack this morning in a free society, and its elected representatives are on a path to do the right thing. Can love be far behind?
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Old 20th Dec 2020, 17:30
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We, the public, don’t have the information to judge the safety of the Max. With all due respect for his professional knowledge and judgement, neither does Sully. We can wonder why Boeing wasn’t confident enough of their solution that they felt they needed a thumb on the scale. We can wonder at the established certification processes and whether they have changed enough to produce a honest result. We have heard of one certification test pilot that believes the solution is satisfactory, and that’s good news. I think we can hope that Congress has uncovered important lapses in the processes and will mandate effective changes. Personally, I hope that somehow real leaders with integrity move into the most influential positions in both Boeing and FAA. The real solution will take time, it will be painful and it is essential.
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Old 20th Dec 2020, 21:05
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But we are not the public we are pilots on this forum so I think we can judge. Even a humble PPL like myself can see why it all went wrong.
The engines are to far forward due to their diameter so at high AoA they generate lift so the centre of lift moves in front of the centre of gravity so the nose will keep pitching up.
So the real solution is to fit longer undercarriage legs and move the engines back no MCAS needed. But at unimproved airports without special high lift support vehicles
would make it difficult to service. The MCAS could have worked with a little more thought into failure modes, should have been more fault tolerant and customers should have not have been able to delete multi channel AoA sensors just to save a few dollars and better pilot training for trim runaway on all 737s because manual trim loads can be so high it can be impossible to manual trim.

My humble thoughts.
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