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777x woes

Old 28th Jun 2021, 23:03
  #21 (permalink)  
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I think this is the direct result of the Max fiasco, and the attendant scrutiny the FAA received. Whatever cozy arrangement Boeing used to enjoy now seems pretty frosty. I wonder if Boeing actually thought that it was still going to be business as usual after their recent behaviour?
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Old 29th Jun 2021, 03:21
  #22 (permalink)  
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I think it is pretty clear that Boeing management is still insisting on the cheapest way to do everything, rather then the right way, and when they are caught out it’s the usual Boeing playbook, deny, obfuscate, dissemble. The problem is the regulator is wise to Boeing’s Shyte and both it and increasingly their customers, are not putting up with it.

The 777X is Boeing’s last chance to show they can deliver a safe and compliant new aircraft design. So far it is not looking good…..

Sad really, Boeing use to be the envy of every other nation who aspired to have a commercially successful airline manufacturing industry.
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Old 29th Jun 2021, 04:56
  #23 (permalink)  
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I have to disagree, the FAA is just acting to avoid repeat embarrassment. No balls where grown, such would act against it’s own interests.

The answer is less government, not more. The reason Boeing has, and continues to make such poor decisions, is that government always comes to pay the bill when it all goes bad. Sadly, you see it in all big industries, not just Boeing. Removal of moral hazard has destroyed them all.

If Boeing had to pay for their own messes, they wouldn’t make them in the first place. And if they did, they wouldn’t be around and the free market would fill the void.

Thats the way of big business these days. They lobby government to kill the competition with over-regulation, then they offload all the losses to the taxpayers.

Boeing “refused” the last bailout, opting for super cheap money from bonds, courtesy of the Fed. That’s like you refusing money offered by your Dad, but then turning around and asking mom for a 0% interest, no time-limit loan.

Get rid of the Fed and most of the world’s problems would sort themselves out.
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Old 29th Jun 2021, 05:04
  #24 (permalink)  
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My father is 98 years old. He started with Boeing during WWII as an engineer and become a (commercial aircraft) design exec early on. Back in the day he tells me, the engineers and the factory had good communication and respect for each others' opinions and management would listen. That's how the company's solid reputation was built. He was heartbroken about the "merger" and predicted trouble ahead once Douglas was in charge. I believe the 777X will get sorted out but at what cost to its orders I leave to the experts.
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Old 29th Jun 2021, 09:17
  #25 (permalink)  
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Back to the root of this letter ; The "Uncommanded pitch event".
"@ 568
during the design phase of the 777x and due to the longer fuselage, a system like the 737 MAX (MCAS) was probably needed to satisfy the stalling characteristics of the 777x.
Anyone has more info is this event was due to an MCAS-like feature ?
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Old 29th Jun 2021, 09:20
  #26 (permalink)  
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This is where PPRuNe needs a like button. So much of the failing of the west has its roots in ZIRP (free money) and loss of moral hazard. The longer it carries on the worse the fallout will be. The Fed and other central banks behave like a parent giving their sick child sweeties instead of the required bitter medicine.
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Old 29th Jun 2021, 09:45
  #27 (permalink)  
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tdracer ?
An informed option is needed.
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Old 29th Jun 2021, 13:25
  #28 (permalink)  
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I am waiting for that as well.
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Old 29th Jun 2021, 17:53
  #29 (permalink)  
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Allegedly there were rumblings early on that the 777x was using the same software (FCS) from the 777, so hard to say what's going on as all this Boeing proprietary information.
I believe that most of the software for updates and patches is "offshore" so it will take time for the lab test and subsequent install of patches.
Could be that an update broke an existing install, but that is as far I would like to go until the facts (if released) are known.
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Old 29th Jun 2021, 19:01
  #30 (permalink)  
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It appears quite likely that in aftermath of FAA reform legislation passed and enacted into law last year that the agency heard and got the message - at least in large part. The reforms included items which were written in order to give the Congressional committees with jurisdiction for FAA authorization, oversight, and spending more effective capacity to fulfill those responsibilities.

As a previous post noted, possible that a high-integrity engineer quietly urged FAA to hold nothing back. (Kind of like the basketball coach in "Hoosiers" quietly urging the ref to eject him from the game.)

Got to wonder whether the changes made by the reform legislation with regard to delegation to Boeing were written in such a way as to give some impetus to restoring the company corporate office to the Seattle area. I swear by Chicago, but Carl Sandburg wrote of railroads, hogs and wheat not airframes and powerplants.
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Old 29th Jun 2021, 19:42
  #31 (permalink)  
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Afraid I don't have much to add. Most of what I know of the specifics is from reading the Seattle Times - just like the rest of you. In particular, I know absolutely nothing more about the "pitch upset" during flight test aside from what's in the linked article.
A few somewhat generic comments - getting TIA is always a somewhat contentious process, with the FAA/EASA wanting more and more data and the airframer wanting it granted so they can get on with cert testing. I always found it interesting that - before TIA was granted - the FAA had absolutely no problem with the aircraft flying around with a dozen or more Boeing employees on board doing/observing testing - but insisted it was far to dangerous for an FAA employee to come along and get actual first hand information regarding whatever the issue was.

I did have first hand experience with the Boeing "Regulatory Authority" - RA - and I often considered it borderline incompetent. There were some good people in the RA, but for the most part it was made up of mindless bureaucrats who only knew processes, not the product. Worse, the RA put specific rules in place to prevent free and open communication between the Boeing engineers (ARs - Authorized Representatives - the delegated equivalent of a DER) and the FAA. They actually prohibited the ARs from 'cold calling' the FAA - if we got a call from the FAA we could respond to it, but we couldn't simply call the FAA with an issue or question. As a result, stuff that I could have straightened out with a 10 minute phone call to my counterpart at the FAA instead turned into a week or more process of working the issue through the RA bureaucracy.
The FAA side made it even worse - as a DER there were several FAA specialists that I'd worked with regularly. We knew, trusted, and respected each other and could have open and honest dialog. When Boeing went the delegated route, the FAA moved all those people I'd worked with out of the cert process and created a new group - staffed by new people - to interface with Boeing cert. So all those years of knowledge and trust was thrown away. Worse, the last ten years turned into a brain drain on both sides - as the Boeing and FAA experts from my generation retired, they were largely replaced with young, relatively inexperienced engineers that didn't know how to focus on the important aspects. One FAA specialist in particular (often quoted in coverage of the MAX fiasco) I had major issues with - this person only knew when to check the box that something had been done - not that it had been done well or correctly, or if the conclusions were valid, only that it had been done and they could check that box.
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Old 30th Jun 2021, 00:01
  #32 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by tdracer
I did have first hand experience with the Boeing "Regulatory Authority" - RA - and I often considered it borderline incompetent. There were some good people in the RA, but for the most part it was made up of mindless bureaucrats who only knew processes, not the product.
This is, and has been, widespread policy over a huge range of human activities since "managers" decided that they could manage everything, whether or not they knew anything about it. So, you have to have judgement by process, which ends up with boxes to tick. The people you interacted with might have been deeply frustrated by the whole thing, too; or, they might have been box-tickers hired to fit in with the New World. It's part of the retreat from giving competent professionals some trust and respect. Everywhere, I'm afraid.
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Old 30th Jun 2021, 07:12
  #33 (permalink)  
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So after all those lessons learned we are blaming aviation authorities to be "bureaucrats" again? Seriously?
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Old 30th Jun 2021, 13:17
  #34 (permalink)  
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In the aftermath of, first, the MAX disasters; second, the decline of Boeing's engineering virtuosity and excellence in the grip of bean-counters; and third, the general issue of regulatory capture, it seems imprudent to defend FAA other than on an individual-by-individual basis. But I would NOT say NTSB, under current leadership, has become bureaucratic in the negative sense of the word. (This stuff is too important to leave to broad generalizations, so I thought I'd take your post beyond its rhetorical question.)
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Old 30th Jun 2021, 13:26
  #35 (permalink)  
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I hope Boeing gets the 777X sorted soon. But putting certification authorities under any new pressure now would be totally wrong from my point of view.
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Old 30th Jun 2021, 16:16
  #36 (permalink)  
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Not wishing to take this out of context, could you expand on exactly what you mean?
There were always going to be new lines drawn in the sand after the MAX fiasco and I for one think this is good. Max issues stemmed from original classic design, that's not the case in the 777, however Boeing seem to be following the same path in that they want to avoid recertification.
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Old 30th Jun 2021, 16:26
  #37 (permalink)  
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It is very well possible that administrative and legal matters play a role too big these days in aircraft certification. So this is what might be perceived as being "bureaucratic". But we are just passing some big crisis where issues within some certification campaign and oversight lost have been left unnoticed by both a manufacturer and authorities. One second later facing the next problem the spin seems to start again blaming authorities for being slow or whatever. This is what I was opposing. I support certification by the book taking as long as necessary. Please don't ever press certification authorities to rush things again.
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Old 30th Jun 2021, 17:33
  #38 (permalink)  
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In fairness to both the FAA and Boeing, airplanes are becoming increasingly complex, particularly with mechanical, electrical, electronic interfaces. The increase in the requirement for very specialized knowledge makes it harder and harder to keep track of the unintended consequences of the introduction of new technology or changes to that technology.

Unfortunately this fact now exists in a corporate culture that incentivized short term cost savings and a regulatory framework that was never intended to provide oversight for these kinds of systems.

25 years ago an outfit I worked for hired a retired mechanic to help them out. His claim to fame was he had authority to sign out any maintenance release for every repair on any part of the Boeing 737-200. Structural, hydraulic, electrical, avionics, engine, everything. It was basically the only airplane he had worked on in his entire career and he knew the airplane so well he would get calls from overall around the world to ask for advice.

That kind of an aviation polymath is impossible to envision for any of the modern airliners. While I realize I am talking about maintenance, not design, the fact is the Boeing 737-200 was a pretty simple airplane and that simplicity made it possible to keep the big picture in focus. That is a lot harder today, especially when the only expertise for new technologies exists at the manufacturer and is proprietary.
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Old 30th Jun 2021, 19:38
  #39 (permalink)  
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Less Hair

Less Hair, let me explain/elaborate a bit. At both Boeing and the FAA, there are "Specialists" and "Bureaucrats". The Specialists understand the system(s), figure out if it's working properly, and pass judgement. The Bureaucrats deal with the paperwork and associated processes. Pre-ODA, the Boeing Specialists dealt directly with the FAA Specialists (and visa-versa), then when we were both happy, we'd communicate that to our respective Bureaucrats and sign off the approprate forms, and the Bureaucrats handled the paperwork and did the actual cert. In some cases (e.g. Service Bulletins) - where the FAA had granted the appropriate delegations - as soon as I'd signed the approval form (8110-3), it was considered certified and Boeing could release it.
With ODA, the Boeing and FAA Specialists all but stopped communicating with each other. Instead the Specialists communicated with the Bureaucrats, who would then communicate with the others Bureaucrats, who would then communicate with their Specialists. Seriously! Since the Bureaucrats seldom knew anything about the subject matter, stuff got lost or muddled in translation, and things that formerly got done in hours or days suddenly started taking days or weeks. Often, in order to straighten out what the Bureaucrats had muddled, we'd have to wait for the Bureaucrats to set up a meeting between the Specialists (with the Bureaucrats in attendance to make sure they could check all their process boxes) so we could un-muddle it... I can't speak for other groups, but within Propulsion, every AR I knew that had been a DER previously hated ODA.
Worse, as I noted, the FAA formed a new group to deal with Boeing. The FAA guy that was the focal for Propulsion - Tom - was a good guy and pretty sharp, but he was inexperienced at what some of the Propulsion disciplines did and how we did it. At one point we asked him - point blank - why so much stuff that pre-ODA had been routinely delegated was now being retained by the FAA. His response was he really didn't know what we were doing or how we tested the software! By contrast, pre-ODA, one of the FAA Specialists I routinely dealt with had been in my group before he went to the FAA and so knew exactly how it worked. And some of the people under Tom were simply horrible - one was so bad that his name became almost a swear word - as in if you found out your cert plan had been assigned to him, you'd been "(name)ed".

Now, I'm not saying ODA was a complete mistake - there were areas where it made a lot sense - interiors comes to mind. Every single interior configuration has to be certified - just adding or deleting a row of seats means the entire interior needs to be recertified and it was a major cost and time drain. ODA was made for that. Similarly, relatively minor systems changes on a mature system. But for certifying a new aircraft or a major derivative, ODA was a disaster. I honestly don't think the MAX fiasco would have happened with the old, pre-ODA system.
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Old 1st Jul 2021, 01:54
  #40 (permalink)  
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So we basically have a stretched version of an existing type with larger diameter engines which needs software to correct handling issues. Sound familiar ?

Boeing can't afford another MAX debacle with a new type, a disaster with an aircraft of this size would be far worse. The FAA can't be seen to lack oversight a second time.

The entire project needs to be halted whilst Boeing and the FAA go through every step of the design and construction with a fine tooth comb and fix any deficiencies before it gets signed off. The cost of this would pale in comparison to a hull loss and the resulting consequences.
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