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Boeing 737 Max Recertification Testing - Finally.

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Boeing 737 Max Recertification Testing - Finally.

Old 19th Apr 2023, 22:59
  #1081 (permalink)  
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More thoughts, but this time having Zoomed to a group of youngsters, most of which helped me around the skies on simplistic types. One mentioned today how he felt going back to the 737 for a while after Airbus luxury. Until the crashes, I'd assumed the massive cable run up and down the length of the aircraft was a kind of payment for having that high mass human link to the horizontal stabilizer. Now it seems even the earlier 73's have been burdening the Real Pilot's aeroplane with some weighty cabling that doesn't promise . . . really, promise, to deliver the goods when most needed.

A stray thought. Didn't we give the Americans the flying tailplane to save lives while testing supersonic flight? That was one heck of a free lunch.

Another mental ramble sees me in a factory where we are making frames, this time for 737's. It's me that's got to get it right. Well, contrary to an above post, I think it matters very much what method we use when we've agreed, as in this case, to use state of the art technology while making this part. CNC it has to be, but why?
Like doing a pass on a lathe, the work has to be back to reference temperature after each pass. CNC takes all that into account. When they say 1/3,000", that's what it's got to be at reference temperature. What else? We know they take a bit of pushing in, but this requires not chiselling metal off the receiving surface with sharp edges. The minimised CNC'd CORNER edges will allow the metal to fold around them without cutting their way in over time. You'd be able to run your palms down my edges.

I frankly don't know if a surfeit of frames would be of help to the fabricators. In my world they would. To make, there would be minimal loss of materials and time on all but the outer edges which is in software anyway. When the Real McCoys' have done their work, they can be cut out along the dotted line - sacrificed at minimal cost. CNC makes that cheep 'framing' totally disposable.

The Pattern jigs for aircraft have been historically horribly expensive. A great BTW. Boss sold our Viscount nose pressure bulkhead jigs to Cambridge for 20k ??? Then the Ministry of Planes ordered him to fit radar - which needed a non pressurised nose-cone. It cost about that for each aircraft - which the nice men at Cambridge could do, 'cos they'd got our jigs.
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Old 20th Apr 2023, 03:15
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Originally Posted by Imagegear
Just a comment from someone who has nothing to contribute from a technical or political perspective however,

I personally have never travelled on a "Max 8", and never will. There was just so much subterfuge from Boeing and the FAA about the issues, not to mention airlines and politicians, that I could not even begin to unravel it all. Even on the PPrune, contributors were and still are putting alternative perspectives and very different ideas about what the problems really were.

In the Max 8 situation, I saw additional crew training, disabling of functionality, etc., as workarounds, but again no proper fix. The politics and technical aspects are still being discussed here and elsewhere. No one appears to be in full agreement as to whether the aircraft is really safe to fly or not. This led me to think that the problem had been dumped on pilots, introducing another level of "what do we have do now"

As with the B787 battery fires, putting them in a box was never a solution but a workaround to get aircraft delivered and flying. Normally a workaround gets fixed. To date, the workaround remains, but no fix. How did these issues get past the FAA.

I am fully aware that there is an acceptable level of failure given survivability, catastrophic failure vs revenue and known punter acceptance of risk. A vast majority of punters are quite prepared to ignore any risks and go for price and convenience. Should they be thinking this way in regard to this, and other aircraft issues?

I look forward to an unequivocal statement that these issues are definitely fixed.

IG
I have bad news for you.

The whole airplane, not alone the B737-MAX, is full of these "fixes". Create something to make use of physical properties and you will find secondary effects, which need to be handled, etc. Nothing strange.

The important aspect is, that all the resolutions for all these "things to be handled" need to comply with the regulations put in place. In general, engineers take care of this happens, and it's their job. It's the manufacturer's task to take care of, and the engineers do have the opportunity to do so.

This is where things did go haywire around the B737 MAX development. Boeing created such a development environment, the engineers were not in a position to do their job properly. And Boeing did this intentionally, just to save development money (and time) and take care, the final product did not deviate from what was commercially wanted.

As such, the "new" MCAS feature did get insufficient development attention from the engineers to a level that Boeing did all that it could to just shield the existence of the MCAS from the FAA (and the customers). Just to avoid critical questions, which could trigger additional engineering attention, and potentially (better: probably) change the final product towards a worse commercial proposition. This costed >300 lives and Boeing > USD 20B.

So, yeah, as tdracer mentions, the B737 MAX did get a MAX scrutiny for regulatory compliance.

A secondary effect, though, is due to the regulations allowing grandfathering of old-though-historically-regulatory-compliant inheritance style, effectively, the B737 MAX does have the regulatory quality of 50+ years ago. So the B737 MAX does have a significantly lower technical quality than (for example) an Airbus A220 series airplane.

So, all in all, a B737 MAX is from the regulatory perspective not worse than a B737NG (not better either, due to the Jurassic inheritance).

Having flown the B737 MAX a couple of times as a passenger (SQ Business), the passenger experience is a little more comfortable than the B737 NG, though it doesn't reach the passenger experience, an Airbus A321neo reaches.

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Old 20th Apr 2023, 03:27
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Originally Posted by Loose rivets
More thoughts, but this time having Zoomed to a group of youngsters, most of which helped me around the skies on simplistic types. One mentioned today how he felt going back to the 737 for a while after Airbus luxury. Until the crashes, I'd assumed the massive cable run up and down the length of the aircraft was a kind of payment for having that high mass human link to the horizontal stabilizer. Now it seems even the earlier 73's have been burdening the Real Pilot's aeroplane with some weighty cabling that doesn't promise . . . really, promise, to deliver the goods when most needed.

A stray thought. Didn't we give the Americans the flying tailplane to save lives while testing supersonic flight? That was one heck of a free lunch.

Another mental ramble sees me in a factory where we are making frames, this time for 737's. It's me that's got to get it right. Well, contrary to an above post, I think it matters very much what method we use when we've agreed, as in this case, to use state of the art technology while making this part. CNC it has to be, but why?
Like doing a pass on a lathe, the work has to be back to reference temperature after each pass. CNC takes all that into account. When they say 1/3,000", that's what it's got to be at reference temperature. What else? We know they take a bit of pushing in, but this requires not chiselling metal off the receiving surface with sharp edges. The minimised CNC'd CORNER edges will allow the metal to fold around them without cutting their way in over time. You'd be able to run your palms down my edges.

I frankly don't know if a surfeit of frames would be of help to the fabricators. In my world they would. To make, there would be minimal loss of materials and time on all but the outer edges which is in software anyway. When the Real McCoys' have done their work, they can be cut out along the dotted line - sacrificed at minimal cost. CNC makes that cheep 'framing' totally disposable.

The Pattern jigs for aircraft have been historically horribly expensive. A great BTW. Boss sold our Viscount nose pressure bulkhead jigs to Cambridge for 20k ??? Then the Ministry of Planes ordered him to fit radar - which needed a non pressurised nose-cone. It cost about that for each aircraft - which the nice men at Cambridge could do, 'cos they'd got our jigs.
Let me help: Due to the availability of CNC machines, for example, the wing design itself can move away from all those individual little mechanical pieces, into far fewer bigger components. Components, which are easier to handle, created more precisely, with better predictable characteristics, that the whole wing construction from its individual components will move away from large-scale craftsmanship of many not-fitting-so-well pieces to assemble a few big properly fitting components.

This "wastes" a huge amount of material in the CNC machine, though this can all be recycled relatively cheaply (in contrast to the craftsmanship labor to assemble all the individual small pieces, which is gone, forever).

All in all, it does require a change in design mindset, so in general only suitable for "new" designed from scratch parts.
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Old 20th Apr 2023, 03:54
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Didn't we give the Americans the flying tailplane to save lives while testing supersonic flight
I'm afraid that nonsense was something propagated by Eric Brown and is one of the enduring aviation myths. His story is that the US pinched the idea from the M.52 project and used it on the XS-1, nothing is further from the truth, the XS-1 used the exact same set up as a B737, had the XS-1 used a slab it would have required powered controls because of control surface pitching moments, the only power on the XS-1 was batteries for the recorders and nitrogen for cockpit pressurisation, gyros, flaps, gear and stabiliser trim. The first jet to have an all flying tailplane was the F-86E, it wasn't a slab though, the "stabiliser" portion had a range of 6 up and 10 down and the "elevator" portion had a range of 3 down and 10 up, the elevator portion being geared in movement to the stabiliser, sort of a compound slab. A true slab was introduced on the F-86H. Slabs had been investigated on both sides of the Atlantic, they were a feature on the WWI Morane-Saulnier G, Fokker Eindecker and Halberstadt D.II aircraft, have to remember that the Wright brothers used a slab for pitch control. Sorry to wear the anorak coat LR.
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Old 20th Apr 2023, 10:32
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What shall I dine out on now

I'll blame Winkle. I've got the raw BBC first cut of his interview in my garage somewhere ( I used to fix the editing recorders - the tape was jamming the machine). He certainly had a convincing way about him.
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Old 20th Apr 2023, 23:53
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He certainly had a convincing way about him
If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it - attributed to Joseph Goebbels.

Unfortunately, as the UK's premier test pilot folk naturally believed he knew what he was talking about. I think he was disgruntled that the US won the "first" supersonic crown, snatching the fame from the UK. He had the presumption, because of his status, that he would have been the pilot for any UK attempt, presumption on his part because the committee had not selected a pilot. His book on the M.52 is a novel, as it contains very little fact, every page is a thinly disguised swipe at the US.
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Old 21st Apr 2023, 15:47
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AVTalk Podcast

737 MAX deliveries paused after fresh quality issue

A sub-contractor of Spirit Aerosystems used a “non-standard manufacturing process” that has affected some of the attachment points for the fitting between the 737-7, 737-8, 737-10, and P-8 fuselage and vertical fin. Approximately 50 undelivered aircraft are affected and nearly all 737 MAX aircraft built since 2019 will need rework.

IG
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Old 24th Apr 2023, 23:31
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Not exactly a prediction but . . .

Well, another re-acquaintance with the joys of FL 400 completed, and basing the post on suggestions of how discussions at a certain aviation subject matter conference this SLF/attorney attended could be both interesting and relevant, I'll share some content. (Referencing posts #1034 and megan response #1048; and #1058 re: Atlantic alliance perspective, and safetypee response #1065 [for those interested more in form than in substance].)

One participant, legal counsel with substantial importance in litigation matters on behalf of the accident victims and their families, was asked about what he envisioned or perhaps even anticipated would be done in the event the Deferred Prosecution Agreement were in fact re-opened. (The DPA's status is the subject of an appellate action at present.) The questioner had imprecisely suggested that the accidents had been investigated as fully as possible. The answer given by the legal counsel was that much has yet to be uncovered with regard to Boeing's actions and failures to act in the aftermath of the Lion Air accident.

Another participant, also an aviation attorney with substantial importance (and not necessarily limited to adversarial roles), railed vehemently against casting aspersions against the integrity of Boeing's officials, including at least one whose area of responsibility was referenced. To the contrary, the responding legal counsel stated, the Boeing officials were and are people of integrity.

The difference(s) of opinion were not resolved.

If the Court of Appeals remands (sends back to the Distrcit Court) the DPA with instructions to re-open it and further discovery is conducted.... there's no way for someone without relevant and material personal knowledge to say with certainty, but if the Dominion case against Fox sets any example, there is a lot, lot more yet to see the light of day.

Over on the other 737 MAX thread currently running, there's a compelling post by soarbum (#276) about information Boeing knew but failed to act upon; also a spirited rebuttal in post #279. As SLF/atty the particular information about operating the aircraft and how the various systems work together (or don't) would be way outside my airway. I mean, my lane. But, per Viper (the Sunday morning scene at Viper's seaside home), "A good pilot is compelled to always evaluate what's happened, so he can apply what he's learned."

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Old 2nd May 2023, 02:30
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New Dept of Transp. Inspector General report

Issued April 26, 2023, Report AV202325 - third DoT Inspector General report.

"FAA Has Completed 737 MAX Return to Service Efforts, but Opportunities Exist to Improve the Agency's Risk Assessments and Certification Processes."

https://www.oig.dot.gov/library-item/39461
Edit
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Old 2nd May 2023, 04:59
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I may be misunderstanding what the big picture is here, but it seems to me that the FAA has a lot of "regulatory" and "codifying" work still to complete before they be able to properly determine the causes of accidents with aircraft and manufacturers, alike. In the meantime, aircraft are continuing to be designed, manufactured and flown without the necessary corrective actions being completed.

Comment?

IG
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Old 2nd May 2023, 07:27
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Originally Posted by Imagegear
I may be misunderstanding what the big picture is here, but it seems to me that the FAA has a lot of "regulatory" and "codifying" work still to complete before they be able to properly determine the causes of accidents with aircraft and manufacturers, alike. In the meantime, aircraft are continuing to be designed, manufactured and flown without the necessary corrective actions being completed.

Comment?

IG
Comments: Yes, it's the FAA's task to do everything BEFORE accidents happen (prevention), the NTSB comes "after" the accident.

And more in general: When an organization lets (severely) slip on the standards, it's extremely difficult to raise the bar again, without a complete overhaul, including replacing people at a large scale.
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Old 3rd May 2023, 01:11
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The FAA has never done anything before accidents happen. The design and manufacture regulatory task of the FAA is to close the doors after the horse has left the barn ablaze, but only if the community wants those doors closed. They sat on their hands and failed to prevent:

1) an unauthorized change to engine replacement procedure that crashed the DC-10 in Chicago
2) that two nuts in series isn't a back-up system when the wear of one nut allows the back-up to wear - Alaska Airlines
3) the use of unauthorized tools and skipping the manufacturer inspection method allowed both nuts to completely wear away - Alaska Airlines
4) not ensuring pilots know to never try to fix the plane from the cockpit instead of landing as immediately as possible and avoiding changing configuration - Alaska Airlines
5) allowing unauthorized people into the cockpit of an in-flight aircraft for any reason - 4X 9/11
6) failing to require smoke and fire detectors in cargo holds - Valujet (also numerous other safety problems)
7) allowing a dual-use calibration system that miscalibrated an AoA sensor - LNI610 (Lion Air)
8) failing to require on-aircraft verification of AoA sensors following replacement - LNI610
9) continuing to fail to require ADS-B Out on ALL manned aircraft (No electrical? Too bad. Don't fly.) Too many mid-airs in G/A to count. But G/A says "Costs too much"

It's not the FAA that is primarily at fault - it is the operators and owners of aircraft who also know of these problems and press the FAA to not act. The FAA acts when industry needs the public to know that "such things won't be tolerated anymore" while the industry continues to do other such things. The balance is that it is usually in the operator's best interest to have operations go well. Marginal operations and invulnerable operators break that model.
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Old 3rd May 2023, 03:47
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So if I am understanding you correctly, the FAA is stating that as far as they concerned, they abrogate responsibility to the company or individual, to regulate themselves, and by the way when it all goes pear shaped, it cannot the FAA's responsibility?

IG
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Old 3rd May 2023, 10:02
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Originally Posted by Imagegear
So if I am understanding you correctly, the FAA is stating that as far as they concerned, they abrogate responsibility to the company or individual, to regulate themselves, and by the way when it all goes pear shaped, it cannot the FAA's responsibility?

IG
Partially, though the main goal, is to "make clear", that the manufacturer of the items does not carry any blame about their mishaps........

Boeing is completely innocent, Boeing does not attempt to blackmail the FAA and/or their customers, it's all the fault of the FAA and the customers, never Boeing fault. How much they do intentionally mislead all other parties.
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Old 3rd May 2023, 14:09
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No, the assessment of the FAA as stated in several recent posts is not correct. Recall the Federal Aviation Administration is part of a presidential Cabinet-level Department in the Executive Branch of the United States Federal Government (Transportation, obviously); recall further that the Executive Branch is what in the U.S. system of government is a "political branch." This means that accountability is held to be exercised by the voters. There is neither abdication by FAA of its role nor a complete lack of recourse (again, through the electoral process).

Obviously FAA's fidelity to the high standards by which its functions are to be performed has been badly lacking in particular recent matters. Nevertheless, what I would pay to watch a dialgoue between those who claim FAA completely abdicated its role (and has no accountability), and a professional like Billy Nolen, who I'll venture to assert would stridently dispute those claims.

There are, of course, exceptions, in that legal claims can be brought against agencies of the Executive branch in statutorily specified situations.

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Old 3rd May 2023, 20:06
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Originally Posted by WideScreen
Comments: Yes, it's the FAA's task to do everything BEFORE accidents happen (prevention), the NTSB comes "after" the accident.
.
On prevention : The FAA is a complex and atypical organisation . I cannot speak about aircraft certification but practiced them a lot them on the ATC side over decades. . Atypical is that they are both regulator and service provider when dealing with ATC . They suprevise themselves. On safety they are always reactive, basically waiting for accidents to occur , and reacting on the reports recommendations to change things. They never were procative in Safety , and this is historical. And then , unlike most of they counterparts in other countries, they are also subject to political pressure and very sensitive to lobbies.
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Old 4th May 2023, 09:21
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Originally Posted by ATC Watcher
On prevention : The FAA is a complex and atypical organisation . I cannot speak about aircraft certification but practiced them a lot them on the ATC side over decades. . Atypical is that they are both regulator and service provider when dealing with ATC . They suprevise themselves. On safety they are always reactive, basically waiting for accidents to occur , and reacting on the reports recommendations to change things. They never were procative in Safety , and this is historical. And then , unlike most of they counterparts in other countries, they are also subject to political pressure and very sensitive to lobbies.
Yep, let me add some more about prevention: I consider laying out a whole scheme of certifications, etc, validation of these schemes, etc, to be all part of the "prevention".

And, yes, the FAA is a typical US organization, where politics want to have a big influence in what is happening, as well a mix-up of safety and commercial/operational. Historically. Other (EU) countries have a better implementation of these things, usually through independent governmental organizations. Still not perfect, though, I think, better than the wish-wash the FAA has on its plate. And recent Boeing history shows, these mixes of responsibilities don't work that well.
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Old 4th May 2023, 09:57
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Originally Posted by WideScreen
Yep, let me add some more about prevention: I consider laying out a whole scheme of certifications, etc, validation of these schemes, etc, to be all part of the "prevention".

And, yes, the FAA is a typical US organization, where politics want to have a big influence in what is happening, as well a mix-up of safety and commercial/operational. Historically. Other (EU) countries have a better implementation of these things, usually through independent governmental organizations. Still not perfect, though, I think, better than the wish-wash the FAA has on its plate. And recent Boeing history shows, these mixes of responsibilities don't work that well.
I'm conflicted; would like to say the FAA is not doing a good job, but then, compared to the rest of the world, that would be nonsense. The FAA still remains a gold standard in working out a system that functions. I don't agree with all of the direction it takes, and the X numbers of FAA's that exist due to the regional balkanising of the regulator is frustrating.

I do think that there is a time for an epiphany in many areas, we cling to outdated standards and processes that add nothing to the operational effectiveness, and in fact constrain the implementation of far better, more reliable modern technology that would not add any adverse burden to risk, it would reduce risk.

The FAA is, neither bad nor perfect, it does a job that is thankless. On Alaska 261 and the Boeing QA issues it did itself no favours, it knew better and was constrained in response.
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Old 4th May 2023, 12:33
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Originally Posted by fdr
I'm conflicted; would like to say the FAA is not doing a good job, but then, compared to the rest of the world, that would be nonsense. The FAA still remains a gold standard in working out a system that functions. I don't agree with all of the direction it takes, and the X numbers of FAA's that exist due to the regional balkanising of the regulator is frustrating.

I do think that there is a time for an epiphany in many areas, we cling to outdated standards and processes that add nothing to the operational effectiveness, and in fact constrain the implementation of far better, more reliable modern technology that would not add any adverse burden to risk, it would reduce risk.

The FAA is, neither bad nor perfect, it does a job that is thankless. On Alaska 261 and the Boeing QA issues it did itself no favours, it knew better and was constrained in response.
Apologies to offend you, this is not my intention. Let me elaborate.

When an organization does have to fulfill conflicting targets/roles, it will be difficult to do so. This is something the FAA is confronted with, simply due to the law environment it has to operate in. This does not imply, the individuals, each and all, at the FAA don't do "a good job". Though the diverging law based targets make that each and every individual at the FAA will have a different interpretation, where the focus should be and what aspects will get priority.

Not to say, the diverging targets make it much easier for individuals to deviate from a not-so-clear route (muddy). This is what we saw happening with the Boeing MAX disaster. Individuals at the FAA, who did have to decide for their own, how much leeway Boeing got (too much).

As such, it would be better, from a reduction-of-conflict-of-interest point of view, to have the conflicting targets being served by independent government related (but at a distance) organizations. This is a framework that is created (more or less) in Europe.

Oh, in IT, this is called: Garbage-in, Garbage-out. Whatever you do your best, the result will be disputed. The impossible task.

So, the issue is not so much with the FAA itself, though with the conflicting tasks it has to fulfill, the butcher that does quality control on its own meat.
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Old 4th May 2023, 12:35
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WideScreen's quote pales in the real world
. . . it's extremely difficult to raise the bar again, without a complete overhaul, including replacing people at a large scale.
I think we should go back to the vast pair of threads that followed the accidents. The impression I was left with was that the FAA's workload for Boeing was so great that Self Certification became an unspoken norm. Unspoken? Huh, 'They filled in the paperwork and I just signed it', is still ringing loud in my ears. The workload of redoing what Boeing had already done took them to the realms of new buildings - which would need filling with a good proportion of totally new staff - so great was the symbiosis by then.


A building full of D W Davies' standing full square against the world would be nice. (stick pushers) Yeh, dream on. That kind of determination is very rare.
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