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Boeing pilot involved in Max testing is indicted in Texas

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Boeing pilot involved in Max testing is indicted in Texas

Old 18th Oct 2021, 19:24
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Marketing should get more of the blame

Marketing should get more of the blame for Boeing's demise. There is one rule at Boeing that everyone follows. You don't argue with Marketing.

On 787, we had a former cellphone executive running Marketing. And the result was that we had gimmicks like naming the 7E7 airplane. Marketing also really liked the "shark fin" rendition of the airplane and told Engineering to make the airplane look like the marketing promotion materials. Marketing really liked the hump of the 747 as it created "product differentiation". And they wanted the same thing on the 787. Passengers for the most part don't really care which airplane they fly on for the most part, but Marketing wanted the 787 to stand out. So there are features on the 787 that make no appreciable benefit technically but look "cool". Take a guess as to who decided the roll-out date of July 8, 2007? And once that date was selected, everyone worked to maintain the charade that the airplane would be ready on that date. To be frank, everyone on the Engineering team was embarrassed by the state of the airplane at that event. It was a sad and demoralizing event for those who really understood the state of the airplane. I don't think any of the 787 Program leadership at that point had any say in this decision because they are essentially just following Marketing's marching orders.
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Old 18th Oct 2021, 19:29
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I have to think Forkner isn’t going down without a fight. His lawyers are going to drag in all his bosses and the picture they will be able to paint to the jury won’t be pretty for Boeing.

Personally I think this is the beginning of the end for Boeing commercial. Their window to show a material change in the company culture that will stop the bleeding caused by the continuing QA and design escapes, is closing rapidly.

As the trial develops the inevitable drip,drip, drip, of revelations of corporate malfeasance will destroy the remaining trust in the company and the downward spiral to failure will accelerate.

What a shame, that such an impressive example of innovation and engineering excellence was destroyed by MBA bean counters that knew the cost of everything but the value of nothing….
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Old 18th Oct 2021, 20:15
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I worked in the aviation industry right out of college until I retired at age 60, the last 26 years for a major aircraft engine company plus 2 additional years to restore a relationship that was nearly destroyed by the current Boeing CEO when he was still at the aircraft engine company. There are various reasons for their ultimate positions, including the "Peter Principle". For another example, we had a former VP moved up to corporate level to be in charge of the company's corporate jets. We had three corporate jets. The reality is that most dead heads windup in corporate level positions, doing either nothing or being roadblocks to what needs to be done.

Harry Stonecipher's name came up. He was an absolute jerk, and it got him fired. Each year the aviation engine company reserved a day called "Engineer's Day" to recognize the achievements engineers made fo the business and to publicly recognize achievements of deserving engineering individuals that might go unrecognized and unrewarded. It was a happy day until Stonecipher came along. He used his time at the mike that day to chastise engineers and turn the day into a big downer. The the head of the company heard what had happened, he ended Stonecipher's career, telling him was no longer an employee, go find a job in some other company.

Often the problem is that the buildup of veneer attached to individuals is not removed to get at the person him or her self. Once it is removed, often the true person is discovered to be much different than that from the veneered one. Another problem is that managers tend to hire people less capable than they are, job protection I guess. I did the opposite, I tried to hire people more capable than myself which gave me freedom to do the things I liked to do and yet run a strong organization knowing it was in good hands and functioning well. Just some thoughts in response to your questions.
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Old 18th Oct 2021, 21:18
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There is a connection. McD-D was in competition with Lockheed at the time for a three engine wide body aircraft. Lockheed was engineering driven and McD-D was cost driven. It was McD-D's cost driven approach where all the controls were stuffed inside the leading edge of the wings that lead to the Chicago crash. Lockheed's approach was to not do that but use a more safety engineering approach. Additionally, American Airlines, as a cost reduction measure, decided to use forklift trucks to raise and lower engines from the pylon engine mounting points. By employing this cost reduction method rather than the proven fixture method, the engine mounts were damaged and the damage wasn't noted. So a combination of cost reduction methods by both McD-D and American Airlines, short cuts to save time and money, resulted in the Chicago accident.

The move to Chicago was strictly a personal motivated move by Condit. He wanted to be near where he planned to retire. But things may not be working out as planned:
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Old 19th Oct 2021, 01:43
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Turbine D;

Old expression :

"The best US aircraft would be designed by Lockheed, built by Boeing, with Sales & Marketing by Douglas".
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Old 19th Oct 2021, 02:46
  #66 (permalink)  
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I think that Turbine D nails many points to the table. I worked in the corporate field (Telecommunications) for 27 years, including for an American Merchant Bank. I have worked in retail, finance, shipping, chemicals, local govt and several others both permanent and contract, UK, Europe and international. I then changed career (still freelance) but have seen identical problems in my current field.

I have seen the cost-saving problem where mgmt get praised for saving money and then - when it breaks - they have to spend MORE money to fix it. My father's world, and the one when I started work in 1977, was that mgmt got promoted for keeping things running smoothly. By the time we were in the mid-1990s, I saw that they got praised for fixing the problems they had created! Also, people didn't get fired so often. Incidentally, we have seen this enthusiastically taken up by both the USA and UK govts. There is always a more junior person to blame. The Peter Principle is still alive and well in UK commerce and govt.

Marketing? I saw this when I was in retail. The 'shop window' got money thrown at it and the back office had to wait for things to break and be proved that they could not be patched up. I recall a conversation with a colleague who ran the telecomms in a very large and prominent UK hospital. Budgets always had money for the (much needed) operating suites and equipment not the back office. One day, he quietly showed the CEO irrefutable proof that people had died because the telecomms system was in such a poor state. He got the new system.

Boeing reached the same point that Kodak did - they stopped listening because they were the best and everyone said they were the best. They had the ear (and wallet) of govt, they thought they were brilliant and the usual stuff when they get feet under the big table. Old companies do this all the time - just ask the citizens of Detroit.

On a lighter note. The marketing nonsense of the 787 was a good laugh. It was obvious that the kids in marketing hated that the 747 had been nicknamed Jumbo outside their control and that the 380 was being called Super Jumbo. So they had to find their own name. Easy, think of a name and then have a 'competition' to find it. All the wavy paint lines were just fashion. Probably 80% of my friends and family have zero idea what machine or manufacturer they are in. BUT they can tell you the price they paid for the ticket!

Turning to an earlier post as to why Boeing financial stock is still riding high: My guess is that Wall Street consider Boeing 'Too Big To Fail'. They are probably betting that Washington DC will bail them out because they build too many toys for the military. Not to mention 'national pride' and all that nonsense.
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Old 19th Oct 2021, 05:13
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Big Pistons Forever

As PAXboy notes, I seriously doubt Boeing would be allowed to fail - it's too important. Just as the government bailed out GM and Chrysler, they'll do what they need to keep Boeing going (that being said, I do have my concerns that my Boeing pension could take a serious hit in the process). I do see signs that things are getting better, including the self reporting of quality escapes (although I can see why it might not look that way to an outsider).

As I noted before, discovery is going to be interesting. While I have no doubt that the issues extended beyond Forkner - perhaps well beyond - you'd have to be an idiot to put something in writing that you thought could be considered unethical. Most people understand email is forever, so in spite of Forkner's "Jedi Mind Trick" emails, it's highly unlikely there is anything like a smoking gun in writing. Heck, even Hitler and his henchmen knew better than to put the orders for the "Final Solution" in writing.

I haven't been prime in an accident investigation since Lauda (pre-email), but even in a secondary role, you're instructed to save any and all email communications regarding the accident investigation. At best it's a hassle - and if you forget you can get into big trouble. It's enough that if I wanted to discuss an ongoing investigation, rather than writing an email that I had to make sure I saved and kept track of, I'd just go find the person in question and actually talked to them about it.
I doubt I was an exception...
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Old 19th Oct 2021, 09:37
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I don't think discovery will find emails from the top to the bottom instructing them to do unethical things, but I'm certain they'll find email and messages starting from the bottom (engineers, pilots) and going up raising issues about MCAS and it's design suitability for deployment to airlines. And it'll be the total dearth of documented responses from the higher levels, ie the sound of silence, that will show culpability.
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Old 19th Oct 2021, 12:35
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Now here's the thing. As an engineer in a different industry that has also been damaged by corporate mismanagement, I have every sympathy with Boeing engineers who have been frustrated in their work.

But if airline passengers are really only interested in the lowest cost ticket, perhaps the finance-led management style is the one the customers are choosing, and the resulting deaths are just part of that price?
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Old 19th Oct 2021, 15:24
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and not only discovery.....

Having not represented any clients in federal criminal matters, I'm not going to say anything about how the civil case discovery process compares to what takes place in a criminal case, with the exception of noting the prosecution's obligation to disclose exculpatory evidence.

But there is a lot of discovery (or its close equivalent) already taking place in other matters in a number of courts. There is likely to be easy access to, and sharing of, document sets from ongoing matters. For instance, the pre-filing disclosures in the Delaware shareholder (derivative) lawsuit. If there are protective orders of confidentiality in place, those would limit the sharing of documents produced in other matters, presumably.

In an earlier phase of career, an opposing attorney indicated her plan to call all of my client's main witnesses as "adverse witnesses" in her case-in-chief. It was a mostly garden-variety employment discrimination case; I was on the defense. Having not encountered adverse witnesses called by the plaintiff previously, I obtained a set of recordings from a plaintiffs' lawyers group about using adverse witnesses in the case-in-chief. I recite this bit of career history for one simple reason: the program material had almost nothing about the actual witness examination at trial -- and several really insightful presentations about crafting and presenting "the story" at the trial.

In other words, the defense of Mr. Forkner will have volumes of material to work with, in crafting the story of what happened, to the judge and the jury. And "story" is not a pejorative term here. Obviously, in a courtroom in an adversary system, it's a fight. And given what is already in the public domain, and what Forkner's counsel said in the press, there will be quite a fight, quite a fight indeed, mounted by his defense.
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Old 19th Oct 2021, 17:48
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Level Playing Field?

All this talk of discovery, document research and calling adverse witnesses leads me to wonder where Forkner will find the money to pay for it

Perhaps if he is acquitted, his lawyers can pursue Boeing for his legal fees
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Old 19th Oct 2021, 18:52
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Indeed, I agree. For the last 40 years the UK has gone down the road of Lowest Price Wins. We have seen people abandon trusted suppliers to save a handful of pounds. The UK has fully adopted the USA idea that lowest must be better and, even if you have some difficulties? Hey, you saved money. Afterwards, moan about the poor service / delayed flight / hotel not finished / extra costs / etc.

We have seen the success of a pricing structure that I call, [insert name of well known LCC] pricing. That is, to keep the headline price as low as possible and then stick on extra costs wherever possible. This can work when dealing with things that stay on the ground. But, ultimately, it works its way back. Since Boeing had postponed a brand new narrow body project for too long - they then made savings. In the USA another well known LCC told Boeing that they would not buy an aircraft that required a major conversion course. So they agreed not to have a major conversion course. Bingo. As is often the case, the lowest price turned out to be the most expensive.

I have noticed that, whenever there is a new type of major disaster - engineers and regular staff have been warning about it, increasingly in email and by photo and keeping records. In the UK there was terrible disaster on the London Tube system in 1987 Kings Cross fire Wikipedia and there was the ghastly end of Shuttle Challenger. The top dogs say 'lessons have been learnt' but all they had to do was listen in the first place. Any staff member knows that corporate approach is set from the top table. Think of certain well known media companies, their owner always says the Editors and Correspondents report as they see fit. It is no secret that they report in the style that will ensure they continue to get paid. Whistleblowers often lose out.

It is my view that the USA and UK have the govts and commercial systems they voted for [and that the corporate world paid for]. On current evidence, they are sticking with their choice. Many quotes are said to be Mark Twain, but there is no doubt these words have been around for a long time, in many countries:
We have the best government that money can buy.
The greatest test for the USA system is what happens to the men at the top of Boeing who made these choices.

Last edited by PAXboy; 21st Oct 2021 at 00:38. Reason: typo
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Old 20th Oct 2021, 09:17
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Well written PAXboy , could not agree more. There is no such thing as a fully "independent" regulator, and calls for it to intervene when things have gone wrong are just the usual way to pass the buck to the next level. But the USA and the UK , especially the UK, are ( were) always used as the standard to aim at in term of independent regulation , but in this case here we see the limits of the system. Corporate lobbying influences politics and Boeing cannot fail . Still the regulatory system in those 2 countries are far, far better than most parts of the world we should not loose sight of this..
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Old 20th Oct 2021, 13:28
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Managers come in on a short term basis and get bonuses in return for cutting costs, they aren't concerned with the long term consequences as they will have moved on by the time the effects are felt. This can only go on for so long before the wheels come off, in the case of Boeing quite spectacularly and tragically.

The US car industry is a good example of the long term decline this leads to, the Japanese are the opposite and try to continually improve their products.
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Old 22nd Oct 2021, 22:18
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A lot of discussion on Forkner here, who certainly appears to have been negligent in performing some of his specific duties. But what about Michael Teal, the Chief Project Engineer? From a technical and certification standpoint, the buck stops with the CPE. He had the ultimate responsibility for the completeness and correctness of all certification deliverables submitted to the FAA. Here's his testimony before the Committee on transportation and Infrastructure: https://transportation.house.gov/imo...20(9.9.20).pdf

It's 148 pages of testimony and covers a lot of ground, but I think the portion that starts at the bottom of page 70 is most interesting because it discusses in detail the internal business process by which MCAS was modified to extend into the lower speed regime, and how the FAA was informed of the change.

Many of the interesting parts of the testimony can be found by searching for the phase "I don't know".
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Old 23rd Oct 2021, 09:50
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What other interesting parts of his testimony might be found by searching for other phrases:

"I don't remember". "Not to the best of my knowledge". "I can't recall". "You should ask Michael Teal about that".

Last edited by SpyPilot; 24th Oct 2021 at 08:59.
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Old 23rd Oct 2021, 11:18
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It's 148 pages of testimony and covers a lot of ground,
Seems appalling that the 737 Max Chief Project Engineer had no knowledge of the DC-10 blowout failures, and says he did not know it was grounded [page 68].

One thing this seems to point to is there will be a likely reluctance to take these various safety roles on projects in future, because Boeing management are saying that if the aircraft project is a success they will take all the credit and the Boeing bonuses/stock options, while if there is a significant problem those involved are on their own with the law and there will be no Boeing support.

I don't quite know how you are ever going to staff another project having said that is the corporate ethos.
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Old 23rd Oct 2021, 16:09
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slacktide, thanks for reminding this SLF/atty that sometimes the legal stuff is worth the time it takes to read and consider what it means. (Also, I've often wondered just how different an "interview" by Congressional committee staff counsel is, compared to a deposition under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure in a case in federal district court -- Answer: Very different (no objections, at least through the first 75 or so pages)).

This witness, following the Lion Air accident, was not part of the internal effort by Boeing to address what had happened. It is known, if the allegations in the Delaware derivative suit are even just mostly true and correct, that the corporate leadership decided to treat the accident as a routine, not extraordinary, event. So perhaps it is not striking, not unusual, that the chief project engineer would not have been in the loop. Nevertheless, part of defense counsel's task will be (IMHO) to ask, repeatedly and often, "what if?" Here, specifically, what if there were discussions at some approximately, or actually, senior levels about consulting Teal, and a decision was taken to leave him uninvolved? Why did the company do that?

Second, confronted with some rather obvious instances where design problems were revealed by accidents, the witness relies on, "we learn and evolve the process". Leave aside the escape from significant knowledge of the history of the DC-10, in the Turkish accident and then the American accident in Chicago - I realize counsel was trying to make a point and wanted to reach other examples (but this was artful dodging by the witness, and he got away with it). The "Special Conditions" (might not be exact terminology) for certification of the batteries on the 787, the subsequent grounding,... just, "we learn and evolve the process"? Well, maybe this is the Big Leagues today, and to wish for more dedication to right answers is naive. But if that is the case, then process has grown too large and all-powerful. The logical implication of this answer is to say that the 737 MAX accidents and what led up to them was just fine, because we can learn and change the process. In fact didn't the witness refuse to say that specific attributes of the MCAS were mistakes? - in what Process-Worshipping world is that an acceptable answer?

Third, without casting any criticisms at the attorneys who conducted the interview, it's too bad we (the flying public, the regulators, the pertinent Congressional committees, etc.) do not yet have a comprehensive and detailed timeline of how all of the relevant events and communications transpired. Example: this witness does not have knowledge about the interactions with Southwest leading up to the million-dollar contract provision. Well, somebody knows!! And would it not stand to reason that there are plenty of facts, lots of facts, about how that contract term eventuated, and how its pendency and move toward final agreement with the airline was communicated to senior levels? Senior levels who certainly knew something about MCAS and Level B and speed trim subroutine and flying or handling characteristics and the four-second reflex standard.

The more I read about the prosecution of the former chief technical pilot, the more unfair and politically motivated it seems. It may seem unrelated, but I lost count, in the first 75 or so pages, of how often Mr. Teal used the phrase "to be honest." A witness should not ever say that, for the obvious reason it can create impressions of less than honesty where it isn't recited. Then too, legal counsel for the witness are from a top-drawer firm, of course.
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Old 24th Oct 2021, 13:21
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Maybe someone is on their own with the law because that someone on their own broke the law. This has already been discussed by TD Racer about when the company will and will not defend you. Do something knowingly illegal which costs many lives and untold billions and you may find a company reluctant to defend you.

Using an example.....How many people here bashing Boeing would be eagerly defending some construction contractors they hired to fix their house, on a tight timeline for a sale, in which the contractor did something blatantly illegal(while you were out at work) that killed the mail delivery man. Answer honestly.

And maybe Boeing is sending the right message to employees.....do this sort of thing and you are on your own.

Is there any chance that if Boeing was defending the employee that broke the law, the same people would be bashing Boeing for defending someone who broke the law.

Last edited by punkalouver; 24th Oct 2021 at 13:44.
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Old 24th Oct 2021, 14:00
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There are so many things wrong with that as an analogy, it's hard to know where to start.
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