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Boeing 737 again in the news

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Boeing 737 again in the news

Old 5th Nov 2021, 13:08
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Given that US claimant lawyers typically scoop up to 50% of such payouts for their fee, and that from Indonesia and Ethiopia not everyone will go through with such a convoluted US legal process, it looks like the Boeing stockholders may have done better financially out of the 737 crashes than those killed.
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Old 5th Nov 2021, 14:35
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Fifty percent? Possibly airplane crash litigators work differently, but the standard attorneys' fee share in a contingent-fee lawsuit is, quite consistently in the U.S., one-third, not one half.
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Old 5th Nov 2021, 20:32
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OK, so only USD 150m for the stockholders and USD 75m for their lawyers, all agreed. Meanwhile :

the catch is that victims' families have to take action (file a lawsuit/claim) to collect. That process is only getting started.
Of course, the stockholders could announce that they are donating their USD 150m windfall to the victims' families support fund. But I'm not holding my breath.

Last edited by WHBM; 6th Nov 2021 at 15:31.
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Old 6th Nov 2021, 14:16
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The reported agreement to settle the derivative lawsuit in Delaware was (at the time of the news report, at least) pending court approval. I think the principal plaintiffs in the lawsuit are major institutional shareholders.

Perhaps among their presumably eminent attorneys and counselors, some lawyer whose idealism hasn't yet been crushed and shredded by the arts of law practice - pulling constantly "the drag-chain of the law" - will realize that a motion to modify and amend the agreement would be well taken at this time. Motion For Equitable Distribution and Assignment, or something. It would take some atypically creative legal thinking, so holding of breath still not recommended or advised.

(Drag-chain reference attributable to Howard Cosell on a tv sports broadcast - he was an attorney before gracing the airways, I mean airwaves.)
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Old 6th Nov 2021, 15:28
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I'm sorry, but is there a Plain English version of the above.
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Old 6th Nov 2021, 16:20
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Sure, but plain English writing incurs a higher hourly rate.

The institutional shareholders - I'm not looking it up but my recall is that they're big pension funds or the like - wouldn't see any material benefit to the value of their shareholdings over the long term from the cash infusion into the corporation, as opposed to sending their settlement (even net of atty fees) to the victims' families fund.

The negotiated agreement for settlement doesn't contemplate this essentially public-spirited, even charitable, transfer. It would be a heavy lift for an enterprising lawyer somewhere on the service lists (that is, lists of the several attorneys who must receive copies of all papers filed in court)`who could see the opportunity to take some of the absurdity here and bring it before the court. It is a court of equity - Chancery - where interests recognized by law although not necessarily articulated in statute, codes or rules, can be vindicated.

The Howard Cosell item is just because he gives lawyers a good name, if one bothers to learn the bio..
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Old 6th Nov 2021, 16:52
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About the compensation for the attorneys representing the plaintiffs:
The WSJ article in the weekend edition (by Andrew Tangel) reports that the attorneys' fees (and expenses) as stated in the negotiated settlement are a lot less. The article reports that the attorneys' fees (and expenses) are allocated in the amount of 29.7 million dollars (U.S.), or 12.5 percent of the settlement.

Also, as the article notes, this action in Delaware Chancery is a shareholder derivative suit, quite different from a securities fraud case. Among the objectives of such litigation are "governance changes". Whether the addition to the Board of a director with as-yet unspecified qualifications for "aviation, engineering or product-safety oversight experience" merits more than a cynical "yawn, so what? - same bean-counters in control, can't undo the McDonnell merger, too much damage done [insert other favorite indictments of Boeing here]" probably is more a matter of personal opinion than fact, so far. Maybe the specification that the Board include at least three directors with such experience (according to the article) could make a difference.
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Old 14th Nov 2021, 10:28
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FAA says Boeing is appointing people lacking expertise to oversee airplane certification
  • Brain drain: during the downturn from the pandemic Boeing offered early retirement to many more senior FAA-authorized safety engineers.
  • An FAA letter of complaint to Boeing last week states that many of the replacement Boeing safety appointees the agency interviewed this summer did not measure up.
  • New rules are scheduled to take effect before year end that will require every proposed appointee to be interviewed by the FAA and then either approved or rejected by the agency.
  • Some lacked “direct experience requiring expertise in the general certification process.”
  • Some were not “cognizant of related technical requirements and problems related to civil aircraft approval.”
  • Some did not know the “technical and procedural requirements involved in obtaining such approvals.”
  • Weaknesses in the Boeing panels that appointed these engineers: lacking independent assessment of a candidate’s experience and technical capability.
  • The appointment process appear to be just a formality instead of being an independent validation that the candidate had made the grade.
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Old 14th Nov 2021, 14:13
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The FAA should revoke Boeing’s ODA and should probably not approve ODA at all in the future.
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Old 14th Nov 2021, 15:01
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This goes way beyond Boeing and other OEMs, it affects every organization in the industry. Regulators need to be confident that Boards, accountable and nominated persons (postholders) are "suitably qualified and experienced", yet they often have little influence over the appointment of people who are clearly ill-equipped to do the job. You can coach someone to get through an accountable manager interview but that is not the same as ensuring the individual understands, retains and uses the information.

We can all point to examples of managers applying pressure to short-cut or go beyond boundaries to improve returns to shareholders and by extension to themselves. Those who do this do not normally understand the system in which they are operating, the 2nd and 3rd order consequences of their decisions (such as the effect on safety culture), or even the basic principles of safety management. They are people who only see risk as being real in terms of profit/loss, who assume safety risks will not materialize on their watch, and who happily 'accept' safety risks on behalf of those who will bear the physical consequences of an accident.

It is time we did something about it, starting with requiring executives to demonstrate relevant knowledge. If we can't do that, then we should as a minimum expect some effort to learn the basics.
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Old 14th Nov 2021, 16:41
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Unbelievable !

After everything that has happened and knowing that they are under a FAA microscope it is just same old same old with people appointed that management can count on to deliver the cheap, fast and nasty "solution" to every part of the aircraft build and certification process.

I am already seeing the effects of Boeing's malfeasance in other regulators. They are definitely much more risk averse and more skeptical with any industry certification submissions. The result is significantly longer times to process applications. Boeing's greed and incompetence has ruined aviation certification processes for everybody.
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Old 14th Nov 2021, 16:55
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GlobalNav

ODA is a vital part of the certification process, especially now with technologically advanced aircraft. The FAA will never have the resources or depth and breadth of experience to do all the certification work for Boeing. The problem is not the ODA process itself, it is Boeing management pathologies that has poisoned every level of the company. Personally I think Boeing is so broken it is not fixable without burning the company to the ground and starting over.
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Old 14th Nov 2021, 17:36
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Big Piston, a lot of the time in big corporations promotions are a case of who you know not what you know.
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Old 14th Nov 2021, 21:03
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Big Pistons Forever

ODA is not the only way to do delegation. Delegation has been done for a long time, including Boeing, before ODA was ever approved. Boeing does not have the corporate character (integrity) required for ODA to work as intended.
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Old 14th Nov 2021, 23:05
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Two aspects that really stick out to me in that article. First off was the FAA finally recognized a fundamental flaw in the Boeing ODA system - the lack of direct contact between the Authorized Representatives (ARs) and the FAA. When I was a DER, if I had a concern or question, I simply picked up the phone and called my FAA advisor and talked to them about it (we actually become pretty good friends). In the ODA system, the ARs were specifically told not to directly contact the FAA - we had to go through the Boeing Cert Group. We could respond to calls from the FAA, but we were not to cold call the FAA. Although many of us ARs complained about this, and considered it to be counter productive, it was to no avail. During the 747-8 cert flight testing - we expedience a strange anomaly. During the post flight, the FAA pilot asked me to let him know when we figured it out - I responded 'So you're asking me to call you'. Puzzled look, to which I said 'just say yes'. The FAA pilot couldn't understand what I was talking about until another FAA specialist explained that I wasn't allowed to 'cold call' the FAA. The FAA pilot was flabbergasted, but it didn't change... Ten years later, the FAA finally recognized that they needed more open communication with the ARs, but it cost hundreds of lives.

Second, when I was there, becoming an AR was far from 'just a formality'. I mentored an "ARit" (AR in training) through the process - it took nearly two years, with independent check by other ARs to make sure he knew what he was doing before we got the final approval. It probably could have done more quickly (we were in the middle of the 747-8 program and really busy) but no way it could be done in less than a year - it was quite involved.
It sounds very much like Boeing got caught short handed due to the brain drain from all the early retirements, and simply did not have the time and resources to properly backfill all the ARs that were lost to retirement, so they short circuited the process with predictable results.
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Old 17th Nov 2021, 15:19
  #76 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by tdracer View Post
It all traces back to one bad call - the failure of MCAS was deemed to be no worse than "Major" - basically that if the stab trim started doing something unexpected or that the crew didn't understand, they'd simply disable it (which used an existing procedure). "Major" failures don't require redundancy in design. In 20-20 hindsight, that was a fatally bad call, but at the time it must have seemed reasonable. All the problems with the MCAS trace to that - had it been identified as "Hazardous" they never would have implemented it the way they did.
Agreed.

The part I find scary is that (as I understand it) they did not reclassify it during the updates. It is still not implemented with the proper by now fairly well understood design techniques for redundancy in software control systems. Nor will it have had the same level of testing / review scrutiny of a critical s/w system (at least it wouldn't have been formally required to, perhaps for this particular fix they will have, but wouldn't be required to repeat that in the future).

The reason seems clear: difficult to retrofit. But it seems clear it should have been hazardous in retrospect after the two accidents. While the new intended limits (single activation, etc) should keep it out of hazardous range, it should have the proper redundancy & testing to confirm that software keeps it in the non-hazardous range. I.e. the potential is still hazardous so the software that makes it non-hazardous ought to be implemented to the higher standard. And as I understand it isn't.

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Old 30th Nov 2021, 14:05
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As reported by FlightGlobal the Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, together with the Chairman of its Aviation Subcommitee, have issued correspondence to the FAA Administrator, pointedly seeking answers to two additionally specified issues concerning the 737 MAX. At the risk of omitting very significant details, the two issues are the inoperability of the AoA Disagree alert, and Boeing efforts to downplay the significance of the MCAS modification of the aircraft.

Though written in typical legal style associated with the Congressional legislative and Committee processes, this SLF/attorney believes the letter is worth the time to read it closely -- specifically because it constitutes a focused effort to implement the provisions of the Aircraft Certification, Safety, and Accountability Act, passed and enacted into law in the prior Congress. As the letter itself notes, the legislation is central to the context here; as it also notes, the letter is direct follow-up to recent testimony by FAA Administrator Dickson (rather pointed follow-up, one might note). As everyone following the 737 MAX saga recognizes, the legislation grew out of the several investigations by various authorities, in which the T&I Committee's work was an immensely heavy factor.

Letter to FAA Administrator (link from Committee website, accessed Nov. 30, 2021) follows. The Committee website also presents a relevant press release.
2021-11-29 - DeFazio-Larsen-Stanton LTR to FAA-Dickson RE Boeing Accountability - Enclosure Included.pdf (house.gov)
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Old 2nd Dec 2021, 13:14
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China AD for return to flight ops

Reported by The Wall Street Journal today (on website):
"China Sets Boeing 737 MAX Directive for Flight Resumption" (byline, N. Khan and D. Cameron).

Article states that the CAAC, Civil Aviation Administration of China, has issued an AD requiring "certain software installation and a revision of the flight manual, among other changes." However no date has been provided for resuming flight operations.

Article quotes the CAAC: “After conducting sufficient assessment, CAAC considers the corrective actions are adequate to address this unsafe condition.”
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Old 2nd Dec 2021, 15:48
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Unsurprisingly, the AD does not appear to contain any technical changes other than (presumably) those that have been applied to the Max in the rest of the world.

Per Reuters:

"The directive outlines specific procedures for pilots to perform in case of problems similar to those that emerged in two deadly crashes before the plane's grounding in March 2019. It also lists all the systems that must be functioning in order for the plane to be dispatched."
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Old 14th Dec 2021, 07:25
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a short resume of the Whistleblowers report .
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