back to article Boeing's 737 Max woes trigger BEEELLIONS in losses – and that's just for the latest quarter

American aeroplane maker Boeing has swung to a $3.38bn loss from operations in its latest quarterly financial results following well-publicised woes over the 737 Max crashes and software failure. Revenues for calendar Q2 ended 30 June of $15.75bn were way, way down on the $24.25bn reported a year ago. This included $13.09bn of …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Such a shame !!!

    I am so so so so sorry that Boeing have lost so much in the latest quarter !!!

    I was hoping for more !!!

    They deserve every Dollar lost.

    BTW:

    I wonder how the families of the two Crashes victims are doing ???

    I am sure they feel for boeing's loss !!!

    1. pintofbitter

      Re: Such a shame !!!

      I heard they run windows 10,,,,,

      1. Michael Habel Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: Such a shame !!!

        Let's kick 'em when they are down it's soo much fun!

    2. Kabukiwookie Silver badge

      Re: Such a shame !!!

      Unfortunately for any US tax payers out there, they're too big to fail. Capitalism for the regular people, corporate socialism for the people who have enough to last them several.life times already

      You wanted those pot-holes fixed? Probably not going to happen this year,

      1. Archtech Silver badge

        Re: Such a shame !!!

        Not only are they "too big to fail", they have been anointed as "strategic" by Washington. The Pentagon thinks it needs Boeing's "expertise", and I am sure Congress and the White House (and hence Commerce and State) think that Boeing's success is important for the success of the USA.

        "Capitalism red in tooth and claw", eh! So much for the ruthless battle of competition where the weakest go to the wall, and innovators are encouraged to grab market share, thus ensuring consumers get the best value for money.

        Trouble is, all that competition causes uncertainty; and governments (not to mention megacorps) HATE uncertainty.

        1. Michael Habel Silver badge

          Re: Such a shame !!!

          The weakest North American, Rockwell, McDonnell, and Douglas (and, I'm sure a great deal more), were already so weak as to have been sowllen.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Such a shame !!!

      May find the latest story from NYTimes of interest:

      https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/27/business/boeing-737-max-faa.html

      Shows the level of abdication of duty performed by *both* the FAA & Boeing !!!

      This might possibly change the minds of the Downvoters !!!???

  2. Tom 38 Silver badge
    Trollface

    Waiting for Trump to declare that Airbus is a threat to national security

    1. jgarbo
      Devil

      Oh dear, will it be Freedom Fries again, after the last French disagreement? Will Melania be shopping at Walmart to fly the flag for MAGA? Will Boeing go back to designing wonderful aircraft with engineers instead of accountants? So many questions but just one answer. No.

    2. Hot Diggity

      Waiting for Trump to Make Boeing Great Again. D'oh, wrong initials, must be Make Airbus Great Again.

  3. PghMike

    Will the 737 MAX ever be safe?

    An honest question. Clearly, the flawed software is required to make the 737MAX fly like earlier 737s, which it apparently doesn't do accurately enough to be safe for untrained (on the new plane) pilots to fly.

    What I'm wondering about is whether the plane, with its forward placed engines, will always be significantly more unstable than other planes, even after training pilots on accurate simulators for the MAX. I'm wondering this, because it sounds like the plane has a serious tendency to pitch upwards in scenarios that wouldn't be a problem for other planes, and correcting for this behavior with software doesn't seem to be working particularly well. After all the misinformation Boeing has spouted so far, I certainly wouldn't fly on a MAX, no matter what software it's running.

    If the plane is never going to be as stable as an older 737, I'm guessing that the only solution will be to put older engines back on the plane, with Boeing paying some compensation to companies that already purchased a MAX. If thats' the case, Boeing better be designing a new, better plane starting about 5-10 years ago.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Will the 737 MAX ever be safe?

      There are other solutions available. It would be better to slap on another AoA vane (or two) plus a new dedicated microprocessor for MCAS than to revert the model to the old engines.

      There are also more aggressive physical aerodynamic tools possible if MCAS is trashed completely. Boeing initially tried some vortex generators which didn't quite work but that didn't have to be the end of the story. They could attach additional larger surfaces to the wings or tail to increase stability. Any such changes would be expensive and likely to decrease fuel efficiency, but they would still be better than going back to the old engines.

      1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

        Re: Will the 737 MAX ever be safe?

        Safe fly-by-wire is possible, but only if it is developed correctly and tested and reviewed in thorough detail. That seems to be Boing's problem - they rushed it out, the FAA rubber-stamped it, and it now is apparent that it was not good enough for an acceptable level of safety (i.e. is seems to have have at least one "single point of failure" in using just one AoA sensor per device, and clearly some buggy software/hardware as well).

        Given time and money/effort the 737-MAX could be OK, even quite good, but the real question is if customer confidence will be high enough following the serious laps of corporate integrity in this case?

        1. Richocet

          Re: Will the 737 MAX ever be safe?

          In theory yes, however the extra levels of complexity and lack of transparency allow corners to be cut, managers who don't understand all the detail to make bad decisions, and makes it unfeasible for safety and regulatory bodies to adequately test and regulate the operation of these aircraft.

          My friend and I are electrical engineers - he worked on aircraft control systems for Boeing years ago. He is trained and experienced enough to do this job correctly, but I doubt that enough of the staff at Boeing are - especially software developers. You just couldn't find enough people who were control system experts, had a general engineering background, and were capable software developers. And if you could, it would be too expensive to employ an army of these people to develop systems like EMACs.

          It can be done - think of the NASA space program, but it doesn't seem to be commercially viable.

          1. EnviableOne Bronze badge

            Re: Will the 737 MAX ever be safe?

            well Airbus seem to be doing it just fine

        2. Kabukiwookie Silver badge

          Re: Will the 737 MAX ever be safe?

          Given time and money/effort the 737-MAX could be OK

          With Boeing announcing that they want to start simulating their materials stress tests in a computer, I would not place any bets on that.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Will the 737 MAX ever be safe?

            "With Boeing announcing that they want to start simulating their materials stress tests in a computer, I would not place any bets on that."

            There are a lot of "known unknowns" in structural design, which we allow for in the design process. The problem with removing the step of physically testing a part is that you need to allow a bit bigger safety margin in the design of a part to allow for the "unknown unknowns".

            A bigger safety margin equals more mass, which you don't want in an aircraft, but if you don't physically test a design, you have no absolute proof that an error hasn't been made in the design (and simulation) of a part, so you *need* a bigger safety margin.

            When you validate a structure using computer modelling, you *can* certify that structures are safe by calculation alone. You design a part using design factors to increase the applied loads in the simulation or to decrease the assumed strength and/or stiffness of a material to allow for uncertainties in the modelling process.

            Design factors take account of many things, such as material variability, uncertainty in applied loads and in the actual manufactured dimensions and mass of an assembly, variation in material strength with environmental factors like temperature and humidity, or contamination of a part with fuels or lubricants.

        3. TVU

          Re: Will the 737 MAX ever be safe?

          "Given time and money/effort the 737-MAX could be OK, even quite good, but the real question is if customer confidence will be high enough following the serious laps of corporate integrity in this case?"

          The 737 Max has shown itself to be dangerous (no doubt channelling the spirit of the DC10) so airline purchasing managers ought to insist on the 737 NG or go elsewhere.

          Two of the prime problems are systemic - insufficiently rigorous internal Boeing testing and wholly insufficient and ineffectual FAA external testing and certification. There must be a complete separation of manufacturer and FAA testing and delegated internal certification must end for all US plane manufacturers no matter what the cost since, and as we've seen with the 737 Max, not doing that also comes with huge costs and great loss of lives.

          1. SkippyBing Silver badge

            Re: Will the 737 MAX ever be safe?

            The problem is no one will insist on the 737NG because it's less fuel efficient than an A320. Radical idea, Boeing develop a new single aisle design rather than doing a pimp my ride on a 50 year old design...

        4. Orv Silver badge

          Re: Will the 737 MAX ever be safe?

          "Given time and money/effort the 737-MAX could be OK, even quite good, but the real question is if customer confidence will be high enough following the serious laps of corporate integrity in this case?"

          Probably, if only because most people couldn't pick a 737-MAX out of a lineup and really have no idea which generation of plane they're flying on. Avoiding *all* 737s would be pretty well impossible.

      2. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: Will the 737 MAX ever be safe?

        The answer is yes. Turn off the system and train the pilots on how to handle the aircraft. The plane flies well without the use of the system.

        That’s the simple answer.

        The longer answer is to build in redundancy and to redesign the software.

        The point of the software and sensors was to limit the rate of climb so that the pilots didn’t clime too fast and then go in to a stall. (Assuming I understood the details of the problem.)

        The truth... Boeing cut corners and pushed things out to subcontractors who didn’t operate within the same requirements. So there wasn’t a set of senior engineers double checking the work. And those doing the work were not really trained or qualified. (Free clue... no one raised concerns over the lack of redundancy. )

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. Electronics'R'Us
          Holmes

          Re: Will the 737 MAX ever be safe?

          The problem with just turning MCAS off is the aircraft would not be certifiable under FAR Part 25 rules (Airworthiness Standards: Transport Category Aircraft).

          The specific requirement is that for a given pull force on the column, the rate of AoA must remain constant, which it does not at certain parts of the flight envelope - in fact the rate increases dramatically due to extra lift being generated by the engine cowlings when at an already high AoA and speed; it is this specific behaviour that MCAS was implemented to prevent (quite apart from not having to retrain pilots as it also had the effect of the handling appearing to be the same as any other 737).

          We know MCAS was (and remains) a kludge, but without something to ensure the rule is met the aircraft is simply not certifiable.

        3. phuzz Silver badge

          Re: Will the 737 MAX ever be safe?

          "The point of the software and sensors was to limit the rate of climb so that the pilots didn’t clime too fast and then go in to a stall. (Assuming I understood the details of the problem.)"

          Sort of. The main change between the 737, and 737 MAX is the oversized engines, which are really a bit big for their position on the wing. Changing the throttle will push the nose up or down, so the MCAS is there to stop them from pushing the nose up too far and causing a stall (by simply commanding the nose down slightly).

          1. SkippyBing Silver badge

            Re: Will the 737 MAX ever be safe?

            'Changing the throttle will push the nose up or down, so the MCAS is there to stop them from pushing the nose up too far and causing a stall'

            Not the actual problem, the larger engine cowlings actually generate lift at high angles of attack pushing the nose higher up as detailed by a previous response. The engines could be turned off and it would still be a problem. Although not the biggest one you'd have at that point...

      3. Blank Reg

        Re: Will the 737 MAX ever be safe?

        Even if it can be made safe, will it ever be perceived as safe by the general population?

        There is a chance, but from now on there will be zero tolerance for failures. If another 737 Max goes down then I think that model is done. People just won't want to fly on it.

        1. seven of five

          Re: Will the 737 MAX ever be safe?

          And if the next MAX goes down in the US (instead of idontcareistan), it will take Boeing with it.

          Boeing management should be aware they gamble the company on the next release of the 737.

        2. EastFinchleyite

          Re: Will the 737 MAX ever be safe?

          "will it ever be perceived as safe by the general population?"

          First step is to re-name the plane. Drop the 737-Max brand; it is now toxic. Why not use the EASA designation such as 737-8200

          Ooops, that has already been done on a Ryanair plane awaiting delivery

          https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/jul/15/boeing-737-max-ordered-by-ryanair-undergoes-name-change

      4. anoncow

        Re: Will the 737 MAX ever be safe?

        A bulldozer would be a nice solution. Just bulldoze that decrepit old museum piece of a deathtrap airframe into the nearest deep pit.

    2. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

      Re: Will the 737 MAX ever be safe?

      My understanding was that the computer systems were installed to change the Max 8's handling so that pilots wouldn't need training for a brand new aircraft (Which would cost lots of time & money). Operators would also ask the question: "What do Airbus have in this area?" Not a question Boeing would want their customers to be asking.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Will the 737 MAX ever be safe?

        >"What do Airbus have in this area?

        A multi year backlog of orders for the A320NEO

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Will the 737 MAX ever be safe?

          "A multi year backlog of orders for the A320NEO"

          Unfortunately, so does everyone else (including Boeing)

          The current backlog of orders for A320 and 737 families is about 6000 EACH - changing horses mid race simply isn't possible. This is WHY there's been a scramble for other makers to push into the lower capacity end of the market and why orders are still being announced for 737MAX that won't even be metal coming out of the foundry for another 5+ years (good PR but it's still not a shipped aircraft)

          This is _the_ sharp end of the market. The larger stuff is high risk, high expense, high profile technology that costs billions and has sunk a lot of makers who made the wrong call at the wrong time - DC10, L1011, Convair990, A380, Saunders-Roe Princess, Brabazon, etc

          737 and A320 production numbers pretty much eclipse every other jet transport _combined_ and would likely come close to matching all multi-engine commercial transports produced since 1935

          The utterly stupid thing was that Boeing might have lost a bit of face and time developing a new airframe but their order book is so full it wouldn't matter and more importantly Airbus' order book is so full that adding more orders simply adds production delays. The MAX was a case of "we've gotten away with rat rodding this thing so far to compete with Airbus, the FCC have given us the nod even though the NG shouldn't have passed. We should be able to do it at least one more time"

          Instead Boeing have shot themselves in both feet with both barrels. They can afford to halt/delay production on 777s or 787s because only one of each of ships each week (which gives lots of elasticity in the line) and there's a fairly narrow profit margin, plus customers are relatively forgiving of short delays. 737s are the true breadwinners and every day without 2 of them flying off the assembly line into (increasingly irritated) customer hands is another day closer to going out of business.

      2. defiler Silver badge

        Re: Will the 737 MAX ever be safe?

        Moving to Airbus is a big commitment for an airline, though. Not only do they need trained pilots (and fully type-qualified, not just a quick iPad update), they also need ground crews that are familiar with the aircraft. They need maintenance crews who know the different procedures. They need a comprehensive parts store for the different manufacturer's components. They need bigger lifts to raise mechanics up to the higher engines. They need taller steps to get passengers on and off. It's a step-change in infrastructure at the back end.

        Largely these are one-time costs. Higher steps will cost slightly more at each replacement, for example, but the rest are swapping out one Boeing cost for one Airbus cost. Still, airlines are not keen on making these changes, and I expect that many will just carry on as usual with Boeing unless the passengers vote with their feet. Many won't.

        And for the poster above who suggested backing out the engines to the previous models and fixing the aerodynamics accordingly, airlines pay for fuel for every mile they travel. The moment your plane costs more in *fuel* that the competitor's is the moment your customers dry up.

        Boeing are committed to a race with Airbus such that they can't back out of the 737 MAX. They need to get it running, and they need to have another team in the background designing the next generation of craft in this size and preparing it for production, because the wheels are clearly coming off the 737 model nowadays. Boeing need to see the MAX as a stop-gap until that new model is in production.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Will the 737 MAX ever be safe?

          Admittedly I'm not even an armchair expert on this subject, but surely the steps to the aircraft for the passengers are the responsibility of the airport who will already be handling all types and sizes of planes? Similar with ground crews, also provided by the airport?

          The bigger lifts, surely they just keep pressing 'up' a bit longer to reach up higher?

          Maintenance crews will need retraining but they also require extensive retraining for each iteration of an aircraft anyway. Even if the pilots need a quick refresher, the guys who work under the hood will be seeing a lot of differences.

          Sure the Pilots will need comprehensive re-training but it's good to get them to ensure CPD throughout their careers.

          1. defiler Silver badge

            Re: Will the 737 MAX ever be safe?

            Of course the steps are the responsibility of the airport, but they'll pass their costs on. And what if the options are 737-height steps vs jet bridge? That means many many airports will have to reduce volume or expand the terminal. My closest airport is Edinburgh (EDI), and I'm struggling to think of a time in the past 5 years that I've used an enclosed jet bridge to board the plane rather than steps on the tarmac.

            The bigger lifts - can they? Everything works to a budget, so if you need a lift that'll take you up 2m, the manufacturer does one that takes you to 2.2m, you buy it - all good because that was the nice cheap one. Then you find you need a lift that raises 2.5m for the new aircraft. New lifts are more expensive and old lifts need to be replaced. I'm just plucking numbers out of my arse on that, but the 737 is famously low to the ground (which is why it's in this position today). If you're budgeting for maintenance of a 737 fleet (let's pick Ryanair as a real-world example), do you spend the extra on bigger lifts because they'll also accommodate the Airbus planes that you don't have and nobody is looking at purchasing? Of course not.

            You're right in that retraining needs to happen anyway, but differential / incremental training is much, much cheaper than starting at the basics on a totally new aircraft. And when it comes down to it, airlines are companies - cost is critical.

            Boeing may be able to make some concessions on a new model such that major components are identical in parts / maintenance to the 737, which would help to assuage the short-term concerns of the airlines. On the other hand, that may constrain their ability to produce a better aircraft, and they land in the same situation 15 years down the road.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Will the 737 MAX ever be safe?

              "Of course the steps are the responsibility of the airport, but they'll pass their costs on. And what if the options are 737-height steps vs jet bridge?"

              Are you saying there are airports that have committed to being "Boeing 737" only airports?

              Airports already have steps to reach any of the aircraft that may land there. The ones on the back of the truck move up and down to any height. Edinburgh airport currently has plenty of Airbus flying in and out of it.

              1. defiler Silver badge

                Re: Will the 737 MAX ever be safe?

                Of course I'm not saying that. What I'm saying is that the 737 doesn't need the jet bridge, so airports are free to expand capacity cheaply. If they're forced to use the jet bridges for all aircraft rather than just the higher ones, these facilities can easily become oversubscribed. Then what? The airport can build more, but at a cost. That cost goes straight on to the airline, which they won't like (and will pass on to passengers).

                In the past 5 years I've been in and out of Edinburgh on 737s, Dash-8s and Embraer 190s. All low enough to use the steps. The last time I was on the jet bridge was for an Airbus (Easyjet) in April(?) 2014.

                I know EDI has plenty of Airbus aircraft operating in and out - they sound different, so I notice them flying past. In fact, there's one going by right now...

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Will the 737 MAX ever be safe?

                  The airbus A320neo doesn't need a jet bridge either it can also use stairs, so I don't really understand your point.

                  It's a very strange argument to make.

            2. Stoneshop Silver badge

              Re: Will the 737 MAX ever be safe?

              If you're budgeting for maintenance of a 737 fleet (let's pick Ryanair as a real-world example), do you spend the extra on bigger lifts because they'll also accommodate the Airbus planes that you don't have and nobody is looking at purchasing? Of course not.

              Smaller airlines (not RyanAir and the like, and SouthWest who fly 737's exclusively for compatibility reasons) tend to not have their own ground and maintenance crews, especially not ground crews at all airports they service. That's usually done by some service company, who probably deal with multiple aircraft types anyway.

        2. EnviableOne Bronze badge

          Re: Will the 737 MAX ever be safe?

          Airbus have further efficiencies in cockpit cominality, so if they have any Airbus in the fleet it will be a quick retrain for type certification on the A320neo and a lot of the parts are common, providing you stick with the same engine OEM, ground crews are generally employed by the airport and trianed to handle both.

          the issue is the Airbus line has had a massive re design, the 737NG to MAX is just a warm over and is not as good an upgrade.

          Boeing were hoping it would stopgap them 10-15 years until they get their Yellowstone 1 new design to replace the 737 (basically a smaller single aisle 787,) but it looks like they might have to bring that forward a bit and skip the NMA (757/767 replacement)

        3. Stoneshop Silver badge
          Boffin

          Re: Will the 737 MAX ever be safe?

          because the wheels are clearly coming off the 737 model nowadays.

          Quite

    3. Alistair Silver badge
      Windows

      Re: Will the 737 MAX ever be safe?

      The engines were moved forward of the wing so they could be raised up higher. The newer more efficient and powerful engine is substantially larger than the design original engine. The cut corner here is redesign and restructure of the aircraft undercarriage to allow for additional ground clearance. This would have tagged the aircraft for a full schedule of testing as a new airframe, creating delays both having to redesign the aircraft and then run through a full flight testing program. Competition from Airbus applied financial and scheduling pressure on Boeing's management to avoid those delays.

      Why? because it would have meant a delay in profits and *returns on investment* which the wall street cowboys that run businesses around the world just *will not* stand for. Until people ended up dead wall street were happy. Now the wallstreet cowboys will have to fork out some cash to silence the relatives of the dead bodies. No lessons learned here.

      <what? no, I'm not a cynical, cranky old bastard at all see icon>

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Will the 737 MAX ever be safe?

        "The cut corner here is redesign and restructure of the aircraft undercarriage to allow for additional ground clearance."

        longer legs == utterly redesigned wheel bays (the wheels almost touch as they fold under) and a major fuselage redesign necessitating major wing work which means certification as a new aircraft and that means fixing a couple of hundred _OTHER_ issues that wouldn't pass muster on a new bird (including that tailplane jackscrew setup). At that point you'd also address the factor that the 737 can't take aviation containers (a major shortcoming if you've ever seen ground handling of their cargo)

        That means "new aircraft time"

        There's a saying that aircraft are designed around their engines, but it's even more true to say that they're designed around their undercarriage, because changing the way the wheel bays are built into the fuselage usually affects positioning of serious structural components, balance, wing, fuselage, fuel and cargo handling components.

        The design might START around the engines and wing but in practice they can be changed a little over time. Once the leg design is locked in place, those CAN'T be changed without scrapping the body and starting over.

        1. Malcolm Weir Silver badge

          Re: Will the 737 MAX ever be safe?

          The point about the 737's not carrying containers _is_ a major issue with some (most?) operators, but for others it's actually a benefit. Southwest Airlines, for example, like the low-cost ground handling equipment (aka "people"). You can climb into a 737's cargo bay (and wheel wells) without ladders.

          (Well, I have done. although to be exact the 737 I did it on was pretending to be an E-7A Wedgetail)

          1. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: Will the 737 MAX ever be safe?

            "but for others it's actually a benefit. Southwest Airlines, for example, like the low-cost ground handling equipment "

            I've sat on several SW 737s during stops and watched 'em being unloaded and reloaded.

            It might be advantageous for SW, but it's definitely NOT good for the cargo - especially when the weather's bad and that "low cost handling equipment" starts wanting to take unloading "shortcuts", or plain and simply doesn't really care that the conveyor is setup properly.

            Of course that's not just a 737 problem. I had a £100k shipment from LAX to LHR arrive in pretty beaten-up condition a few years back and as near as we could figure the pallet it was on had been dropped at least a metre.

        2. eldakka Silver badge

          Re: Will the 737 MAX ever be safe?

          longer legs == utterly redesigned wheel bays (the wheels almost touch as they fold under) and a major fuselage redesign necessitating major wing work which means certification as a new aircraft and that means fixing a couple of hundred _OTHER_ issues that wouldn't pass muster on a new bird (including that tailplane jackscrew setup).

          If they raised the height of the aircraft to fit the new engines entirely under the wings (rather than their forward-elevated aspect) would also require a major redesign and construction work at thousands of airports around the world.

          Many airport and airline services and structures (placement of boarding tubes, height of mobile stairs, loading equipment, servicing equipment, gantries) are all designed around the physical dimensions of the 737, such as the height above ground of access hatches and doorways.

          One of the advantages of, and the reason for, the 737 being so low to the ground was for use at smaller regional airports, to make access easier to the aircraft when there aren't flexible, adjustable boarding tubes such as found at major hub airports. All that would have to be rethought if the height characteristics of the aircraft changed. This is in addition to airline pilot training costs.

          1. Stoneshop Silver badge

            Re: Will the 737 MAX ever be safe?

            All that would have to be rethought if the height characteristics of the aircraft changed.

            Or they couldn't use the MAX to service those airports, having to revert to other 737 models and other aircraft types for those routes.

            Would there really be that many airports where a less low aircraft, comparable to a 737MAX in capacity and efficiency, could not (easily) be handled?

            1. Orv Silver badge

              Re: Will the 737 MAX ever be safe?

              Many low-traffic airports lack jetways entirely, or don't have enough jetways, requiring air-stair boarding. They also tend to have rather simple luggage equipment not designed to deal with tall airplanes. To some extent regional jets have taken over some of that market, but there's still a niche that only a 737-sized aircraft can fill; the largest Bombardier CRJ, for example, holds half to 2/3 the number of passengers that a 737-MAX does.

    4. steelpillow Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: Will the 737 MAX ever be safe?

      As this sorry tale shows so graphically, safety is about more than just the plane. Had the pilots been properly trained, the accidents were avoidable, if only by throttling back to shuck off speed and then lowering the landing flaps to force a change in software mode.

      There is nothing intrinsically wrong with the basic design, as the accidents also graphically show that the control system has sufficient authority to correct excess pitch-up should it actually occur. With the proposed software and hardware fixes in place and debugged, whether the plane is safe will depend more on whether Boeing are allowed to keep up the "we don't need no stinkin' simulator training" farce they are still trying to maintain.

      Alternatively the planes could be made more fail-safe/idiot-proof, but that would delay things a lot longer.

      So, yes it can be made safe, but whether it will is another question.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Will the 737 MAX ever be safe?

        "Had the pilots been properly trained, the accidents were avoidable, if only by throttling back to shuck off speed and then lowering the landing flaps to force a change in software mode."

        You're that close to the ground, the plane is doing its level best to kill you by pointing itself down and you find you have to both throttle back AND let off on the yoke in order to adjust the trim?

        Sully (Yes, that Sully) flew the Ethiopian flight data in a simulator shortly after the crash. His statement was that he found it almost impossible to fly and in his opinion most pilots wouldn't have been able to save it even with hours of training. Yes it really IS that dangerous.

        It's bloody easy to armchair-quarterback but you're not facing 90-120 seconds of situational overload and trim controls requiring several hundred POUNDS of force to turn thanks to aerodynamic pressures whilst being required to make flight changes that every fibre of your being screams NO about ("Always maintain thy airspeed, lest the ground rise up and smite thee", and "Never fly into the ground. It hurts") - actually LETTING an aircraft that's determined to fly itself into the ground DO SO - even momentarily - so you can frantically wind the wheels and _HOPE_ you can adjust them enough before you hit the ground.

        1. steelpillow Silver badge
          Megaphone

          Re: Will the 737 MAX ever be safe?

          "Had the pilots been properly trained, the accidents were avoidable, if only by throttling back to shuck off speed and then lowering the landing flaps to force a change in software mode."

          "You're that close to the ground, the plane is doing its level best to kill you by pointing itself down and you find you have to both throttle back AND let off on the yoke in order to adjust the trim?"

          The point is, they opened the throttles to try to gain speed and burn their way out of trouble. That was exactly the wrong thing to do because raising the flaps is what enables MCAS and they cannot be lowered again until your speed falls back below the threshold level. So doing the intuitively wrong thing would actually have been the right thing. That is why training is so necessary.

          What you do with the yoke is then no longer countered by MCAS.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Will the 737 MAX ever be safe?

            > The point is, they opened the throttles to try to gain speed and burn their way out of trouble.

            No they didn't.

            1. steelpillow Silver badge
              Flame

              Re: Will the 737 MAX ever be safe?

              Oh yes they did. Check out the graph of altitude and speed at https://www.theverge.com/2019/5/2/18518176/boeing-737-max-crash-problems-human-error-mcas-faa

              MCAS kicked in when the flaps were retracted a minute or so after takeoff. They continued to climb to 5,000 ft - hardly an "OMG I'm hitting the ground" panic zone as you claim. They did not shuck off all the airspeed gained in that initial dive and over the next 8 minutes it slowly increased again. It was this high airspeed, which they had full control over and deliberately kept up. Speed and altitude are the classic "burn our way to a safe zone" kneejerk drilled into any pilot but, in this case, the speed was the wrong thing to do because it made the manual trim wheel too heavy so they kept resorting to autostab, which on the MAX kept letting MCAS back in. Had they allowed airspeed to drop and redeployed flaps, the plane would have stabilised. And had they been properly trained they would have known to do that. Part of the system fix needs to provide a mode allowing autostab to work without MCAS taking over - and they will still need to be trained in its use.

              So, all you merry kneejerk downvoters out there, let' s hear what YOU think happened and the informed evidence behind that.

              1. tip pc Bronze badge

                Re: Will the 737 MAX ever be safe?

                You don’t appear to realise that the pilots followed the correct procedures in both cases. The second case they followed the revised procedures, found the issue with the rear flap not moving due to air flow being too strong for the jack screw so turned mcas back on in the hope it would help power the flap back up.

                Let’s put you in an older 737, let you fly continuously for 5 years, then shove you in a max, let you fly safely for many months and then suddenly throw you in a few stall warning situations, then some months after that throw you in an mcas bad situation just 5kft above the ground and see if you land safely. Hind sight gives you an edge, but if you’ve never experienced anything remotely like it then most people would fail badly or misinterpret the situation as something else, especially when you know your just seconds from disaster.

                Blaming the pilots is not justified here. Blaming Boeing and the regulator is.

                1. steelpillow Silver badge
                  Flame

                  Re: Will the 737 MAX ever be safe?

                  Who's blaming the pilots here? The point is, the "correct" procedures were inadequate. It is not me failing to realise anything, it is you who fail to realise that the accidents were preceded by at least one similar incident in which a third, experienced but off-duty pilot stepped forward to offer an unapproved procedure that the duty pilots were not trained for, and that allowed them to recover the situation. It's even explained in the frikkin' link I posted.

                  Let's try again, and please pay attention this time. Inadequate training is not the fault of the trainee, it is the fault of the greedy goons who pushed it through. But that does not stop there being a way out if the pilots HAD been trained adequately. Now, if that is "blaming the pilots", then please explain to me how that works.

              2. werdsmith Silver badge

                Re: Will the 737 MAX ever be safe?

                I don't know, but unlike a motor vehicle on the ground, speed and altitude can be traded and your air speed is not necessarily a function of opening the throttles. Flying tends to use power settings combined with attitude to get the combination of speed, climb or descent that you want. To gain airspeed the first action is forward stick, nose down.

                1. steelpillow Silver badge
                  Boffin

                  Re: Will the 737 MAX ever be safe?

                  "To gain airspeed the first action is forward stick, nose down."

                  Except, MCAS has just done that for you bigtime and you need to recover your altitude. Given you are now climbing, the throttle is the only remaining option.

              3. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Will the 737 MAX ever be safe?

                I don't know anything about flying a plane however what I'm pretty sure about that any commentator on these 737 Max crashes who takes the line of "all the pilots needed to do was xyz" probably doesn't know what they are talking about and has little understanding or appreciation for the situation.

                1. steelpillow Silver badge
                  Flame

                  Re: Will the 737 MAX ever be safe?

                  You didn't read the link I posted did you? It explains how the pilots avoided a crash in a third, similar incident that had already taken place. Don't pin that opinion on me, pin it on the tech experts the journo interrogated.

              4. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Will the 737 MAX ever be safe?

                > Oh yes they did. Check out the graph of altitude and speed at https://www.theverge.com/2019/5/2/18518176/boeing-737-max-crash-problems-human-error-mcas-faa

                Oh no they didn't.

                At the very start of the incident the plane had just taken off; and so was at full throttle during climb and the pilots had auto-throttle engaged. This is normal. When they realised there was a problem developing the pilots disengaged auto-pilot but forgot - or for whatever reason - to disengage auto-throttle and the auto-throttle kept them at full throttle until the end.

                They did not however try to 'power out' of anything. That is your misinterpretation.

              5. SkippyBing Silver badge

                Re: Will the 737 MAX ever be safe?

                The throttles remained at the take-off setting throughout so they didn't open them up, they were always open. Secondary effect of controls, throttling back lowers the nose, the last thing they wanted to do with an aircraft whose primary controls are already fighting them to do that.

          2. commonsense

            Re: Will the 737 MAX ever be safe?

            Do you think it's acceptable to design a system for which you should do the exact opposite to what intuition tells you to do, and opposite to what you would do with a previous version of that system?

            1. steelpillow Silver badge
              Facepalm

              Re: Will the 737 MAX ever be safe?

              "Do you think it's acceptable to design a system for which you should do the exact opposite to what intuition tells you to do, and opposite to what you would do with a previous version of that system?"

              Is anybody here saying they do? Wow! Please point us to where they say it, we are all agog.

              1. commonsense

                Re: Will the 737 MAX ever be safe?

                Please point us to where they say it, we are all agog.

                Ah, the royal 'we'. Um...

                Speed and altitude are the classic "burn our way to a safe zone" kneejerk drilled into any pilot but, in this case, the speed was the wrong thing to do

          3. DavCrav Silver badge

            Re: Will the 737 MAX ever be safe?

            "That was exactly the wrong thing to do because raising the flaps is what enables MCAS and they cannot be lowered again until your speed falls back below the threshold level."

            So your suggestion is to work with the known lethal software? This is post-fact bullshit. We now know that MCAS is causing major problems, so you are positing (potentially incorrectly, I do not know) a solution that assumes you already know the cause of the problem, are familiar with how the software works and can try to kill you, and know how to stop it.

            Of course, if you knew all that, you would refuse to fly in the piece of shit until the software is fixed and properly tested.

            1. steelpillow Silver badge
              Facepalm

              Re: Will the 737 MAX ever be safe?

              "So your suggestion is to work with the known lethal software?"

              Well, when you are in a plane with software that has just revealed itself to be lethal, I think that NOT working with the software you have got is a dumbass thing to do, much like posting such a dumbass suggestion.

              "Bullshit" does not do justice to someone who asserts that desperately avoiding a crash is the same thing as a certifiable long-term solution, in order to avoid reading what an OP actually wrote.

        2. Archtech Silver badge

          Re: Will the 737 MAX ever be safe?

          We ought to bear in mind that, when designing a commercial airliner, safety must come way up the list of priorities. Knowing corporations, it's too much to hope that they would put safety first. But whereas it's acceptable to design a fighter to be dynamically unstable and kept aloft only by continual computer adjustments, that's not a good idea (in principle) for an airliner.

          The rule should be KISS (keep it simple, stupid).

      2. JimC Silver badge

        Re: Will the 737 MAX ever be safe?

        Its striking that in the three incidents the one were they saved it was the one where they had a 3rd experienced body on the flight deck. It does seem as if the amount of information overload and everything else was simply too much for two crew.

        Its all very well saying that a really top class trained crew might have saved it, but that's besides the point. The aircraft needs to be safe not for an excellent crew, nor even for an average crew, but for the lowest ability crew that is going to handle it.

        1. steelpillow Silver badge
          WTF?

          Re: Will the 737 MAX ever be safe?

          Who is saying shit about top-class crews? Type conversion training is even more important for the rest of 'em.

      3. ridley

        Re: Will the 737 MAX ever be safe?

        I think that you misunderstand the problem.

        The MCAS system was trying to "correct" a pitch up that didn't actually exist. It was the AoA sensor that was giving false readings leading to MCAS kicking in, repeatedly. No amount of pitching down was going to correct that.

    5. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Will the 737 MAX ever be safe?

      No.

      The 737NG can't be recovered from a stall if the engines are throttled up before the nose is pitched down, pilots have to nose down, gain airspeed and THEN throttle up, or else the engines will keep pitching the nose up.

      That means the NG airframe shouldn't have been certified. The MAX simply makes the problem worse.

      Regulatory capture writ large

      And then there's the issue of the FAA looking the other way when whistleblowers came forward about damaged ribs with falsified documentation(*) being fitted to NG airframes - and Boeing employees bashing the shit out of things to force them to fit, then covering up the damage and creating more falsified documentation thanks to management pressure. 7-10 deaths so far, potentially a couple of potential Comet-style failures in future. The whistleblowers got outed and tossed under a bus.

      (*) They're supposed to be precision CNC milled/drilled but were hand bent/drilled and way out of tolerance, which means things didn't fit and the "forcing" them in (aka bashing the shit out of things and filling gaps with green goo) may have overstressed panels and built in fatigue cracks. 3 airframes have broken when they shouldn't have so far on minor runway overruns and as the NGs are certified for more cycles/higher flights on the basis of the precision assembly possible due to the CNC milling of the ribs, there's a good chance of a mid air structural failure as they age.

      1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

        Re: Will the 737 MAX ever be safe?

        Do you have any links for this? I tried googling but could only come up with links about the engine issue.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Will the 737 MAX ever be safe?

          "Do you have any links for this?"

          The 737NG parts issue was covered in 2010 and affects aircraft built in the first 5-7 years of the production run:

          https://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/peopleandpower/2010/12/20101214104637901849.html

          https://www.researchgate.net/publication/258260315_Whistle-blown_into_nothingness_The_Boeing_Story

          The handling issue (stalling and the inability to power-on out of it - at ANY altitude) is well-known and part of pilot training as a result.

          Mentour Pilot covers it in his videos about flying 737NGs. Because it's PART of pilot training/certification on 737NGs it's not regarded as a big deal by pilots (who tend not to be physicists or safety engineering analysts), but the aviation industry is full of tombstone safety shit like this - "It hasn't killed anyone yet, so it must be safe" (similar to NASA and O-rings, or blocks of foam being shed from tanks).

          The fact is that the procedure is to cover a quite dangerous handling deficiency - Stall recovery is normally done by powering up and putting the nose down at the same time - having the engines able to force the nose to _remain_ high thanks to a loss of handling authority or a willdy out of balance torquing moment is inherently dangerous. Whilst older 737-(400-800) models have this tendency it's able to be overcome and other civil transport aircraft aren't susceptable to it or they simply wouldn't get type approval.

          1. Orv Silver badge

            Re: Will the 737 MAX ever be safe?

            Part of the nonchalance here is there's an assumption that pilots simply won't stall transport aircraft; that the stick shaker and stick pusher systems will let them avert an incipient stall. For that reason those aircraft can get certified even with some pretty vicious stall behavior, like the unrecoverable deep stalls that some T-tailed aircraft are susceptible to.

            1. Alan Brown Silver badge

              Re: Will the 737 MAX ever be safe?

              "For that reason those aircraft can get certified even with some pretty vicious stall behavior,"

              Older aircraft sure. Newer ones are highly unlikely to get it(*). Standards change and a design susceptable to deep stalls putting dirty air over the elevator is unlikely to ever get off the drawing board.

              In the case of the 737NG, the stall condition power-on nose-up isn't a deep stall to start with - but it gets turned into one thanks to the loss of control authority plus the torquing of the engines plus the lift they generate at such steep angles (This wasn't new to the MAX - changing angle of attack too much with throttle change under normal flying conditions was)

              (*) As a certifying authority, once you know a design has a fatal flaw you're likely to let it through with major handling caveats in 12 foot high red letters due to the fact that the design is already committed and tooling created - but you're NOT going to allow a second such design to come out of a clean sheet exercise OR allow changes which make the tendency to become worse.

              This is where the FAA showed its regulatory capture by waving the MAX through despite inheriting the same nasty stall characteristics of the NG and then some. MCAS or no MCAS, this bird should have had its pinions clipped before it left the drawing board.

      2. Malcolm Weir Silver badge

        Re: Will the 737 MAX ever be safe?

        The assertion about 737NG stall recovery seems contradicted by this thread: https://www.pprune.org/tech-log/563327-737-800-high-altitude-stall-recovery-techniques.html

        The "nose down" bit (for high altitude stalls) is not not because the engines will force the nose up if you throttle them up, but because they are thrust limited: you can't throttle them up enough to do the job promptly.

        At low altitudes (from the same comment): "The pitch up moment is very strong with full thrust. At full thrust settings and very low airspeeds, the elevator, working in opposition to the stabiliser, has limited control to reduce the pitch attitude. This must be countered by forward elevator and immediate forward stabiliser trim otherwise there will be insufficient elevator control to prevent the nose from pitching up under the influence of high thrust."

        But in both situations, there is no regulatory requirement that a specific technique be usable to address a particular situation. If the 737NG _can_ recover from a stall by, I don't know, waving and yelling, then that's OK (as long as the process is documented and trained).

        My guess is that the OP's point is that the 737 Classic _could_ recover from certain stalls using max throttle before pitching down, but the 737NG _cannot_, and therefore Boeing's offense is not in building the plane that behaves as it does, but rather in claiming that the 737NG was "the same as" the 737 Classic from a pilot, training and operator perspective. By contrast, consider a 747-200 and a 747-400: similar name, but being a rated pilot on the one doesn't let you fly the other. This is certainly what Boeing should have done with the 737 Max; the implication above is that they should have also done it with the 737NG.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Will the 737 MAX ever be safe?

          "in both situations, there is no regulatory requirement that a specific technique be usable to address a particular situation."

          Indeed, but pilot training for stalls has always been "nose down NOW, throttle to the firewall"

          The 737NG requires that pilots _un_learn this behaviour (which is so trained in that it's muscle memory by the time you have enough hours to be on a transport left or right seat) and learn "nose down, gain speed, THEN throttle up" - and the extra 50 feet or so that procedure costs may be the difference between clearing the runway fence or ending up on the golf course just in front of it.

    6. TechnicalBen Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: AFAIK

      AFAIK it's not the aircraft is unsafe. It's pretending it's a different aircraft/flight characteristic or pretending new training/certification is not needed that is dangerous.

      The equivalent of pretending an automatic transmission car is a manual one. Neither is worse or better safety wise if all else is equal. However, not telling the driver if it's manual/automatic, and hoping software/computers hide the fact, might end up with it in the wrong gear, and bang... :P

      1. TechnicalBen Silver badge

        Re: Lol at the downvote.

        Lol the downvote with no comments or corrections.

        The 737 Max is a safe aircraft to fly, providing it is either manually flown with the known new characteristics (vs other 737 flight characteristics), or with better software/hardware redundancy (thus no runaway trim faults). However, it's current setup means pilots both don't get the full retraining required for such a different aircraft design, and the software/hardware that makes it "the same" as other 737s can fail, catastrophically.

        1. steelpillow Silver badge

          Re: Lol at the downvote.

          "Lol the downvote with no comments or corrections."

          This is an El Reg forum. You'll get used to it.

        2. steelpillow Silver badge

          Re: Lol at the downvote.

          Mind you, some of the software features and bugs are downright unsafe and are having to be fixed. The hardware is inherently OK as long as AoA indication is not safety-critical and the pilots can take over when they need to. Not sure if those qualifiers are fully met with the current round of Boeing revisions. I certainly don't think the training regime is being properly addressed yet.

      2. SkippyBing Silver badge

        Re: AFAIK

        I down voted, I'm not bothering with the correct explanation of the system because I and others have already posted it here multiple time.

    7. Adair

      Re: Will the 737 MAX ever be safe?

      If I ruled the world I would say "Bollocks to any civilian passenger aircraft that is inherently unstable by design, i.e. that requires constant digital corrective input to maintain stable flight!"

      It's just a disaster waiting to happen (as we've seen), and basically only arises because such a configuration suits the money grubbing suits, not because it is of any benefit whatsoever to paying passengers nor to the pilots.

      1. TechnicalBen Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Will the 737 MAX ever be safe?

        It is not inherently unstable by design. It flies *differently* to other 737s. Thus requires either expensive retraining and recertification and tests... or cheap software "fixes" to hide the different flight profile.

        Guess which one they went with. ;)

        But your sentiment is right, we should not let this kind of fudge go through!

        1. Adair

          Re: Will the 737 MAX ever be safe?

          As I understand it the basic balance of the aircraft is compromised by the attempt to fit engines that are too big for the airframe design, so instead of having neutral handling characteristics the aircraft completely relies on software to compensate for a fundamentally unstable design.

          I realise all modern passenger jets rely on computer systems to interface between flight crew and control surfaces, but this is effectively an outlier that puts the plane much closer to the limits of safety - the margin for error/failure is clearly much closer to irrecoverable disaster - and for no other reason than profit.

          That is what stinks: human lives being unnecessarily put at greater risk so that Boeing can satisfy the greed of shareholders; instead of fronting up with the cost of a new airframe to succeed the venerable and thoroughly admirable 737 design.

      2. steelpillow Silver badge

        Re: Will the 737 MAX ever be safe?

        "Bollocks to any civilian passenger aircraft that is inherently unstable by design, i.e. that requires constant digital corrective input to maintain stable flight!"

        That's basically any airliner designed in the last 30 years, as well as most any new commercial plane that flies from here on in. Air safety has improved substantially during that time. The MAX was a piece of shit and shit crashes whether it is digital or lumpy. Look, there's a printing press near where I live, you can borrow my sledge hammer and go smash it to bits if it'll make you feel any better.

    8. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: Will the 737 MAX ever be safe?

      The answer is yes - but to do so it would need changes that would make it have to be completely re-certified as it would no longer be a linear descendent of the previous 737 model.

      Of course, it could be argued that it already wasn't and should have been fully re-certified anyway - something that Boeing wanted to avoid because of the expense..

      Since the certification process would have cost less money than they are currently losing I'll bet that they are starting to regret their penny-pinching.

  4. ma1010 Silver badge
    FAIL

    Manglers

    Boeing brought this on themselves with their beancounter manglers trying to save a couple of bucks by cutting corners. How'd that work out for you, guys? Not so good, eh? I'd guess they have lost at least 10x, probably more like 100x whatever amount they "saved" by cutting those corners.

    I remember when Boeing was a great company. Shame the beancounters have taken over from the engineers.

    I doubt it will happen, but it would be nice if other beancounter manglers would take note that when you cut corners, you often end up bleeding.

    1. Miss Config
      Thumb Down

      Re: Manglers

      beancounter manglers

      actually beancounters full stop. If beancounters in any way shape or form OVERRULE engineers then Boeing is fucked. End of.

      1. Archtech Silver badge

        Re: Manglers

        To guarantee a good profit for one or two quarters, fire everyone productive.

        To prevent any losses, shut down the company.

        From the beancounter point of view, those are perfectly sound recommendations. To get sound advice, senior managers need to combine the beancounter view with others.

        1. Fatman Silver badge

          Re: Manglers

          <quote>From the beancounter point of view, those are perfectly sound recommendations. To get sound advice, senior managers need to combine FIRE the beancounter view with others.</quote>

          FTFY!

    2. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge

      Re: Manglers

      Do you honestly think that this is the only company?

      Look around.

      Free clue... IBM has been in a death spiral because of this.

      1. Reg Reader 1

        Re: Manglers

        Agreed! So many once great companies being or have been driven into the ground after accounting and/or marketing gained control and we can't forget hedge funds buying enough stock to force issues good, in the short term, for the hedge fund but not the company.

      2. martinusher Silver badge

        Re: Manglers

        >Free clue... IBM has been in a death spiral because of this.

        That's the beauty of business software development -- when the project falls in a heap you can Powerpoint your way out of trouble or even to a new even more lucrative contract. Your business might shrink but the upper echelons should be able to keep their jobs, pay and bonuses until the very end.

        When you make things like planes the result of a project screw up can be a flaming pile of wreckage. Its difficult to talk your way out of this, even if you do have a close relationships with government and regulators. (See....

        https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2019-07-22/boeing-737-max-latest-friends-in-high-places

  5. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    Okay board members, are we clear on why adding big fucking engines to an existing airframe, screwing up the CG so badly it is no longer able to fly, then trying to fix it with software that overrides the pilot is a Bad Thing?

    We aren't? Well, on to the next fiasco then.

    1. Adair

      Re: Bah!

      Ideally your post should end:

      'We aren't? Well, up against the wall then.'

      But we're not that kind of people, perhaps we should just confiscate their pensions and off-shored accounts, with extreme prejudice.

  6. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Ryanair

    Ryanair have ordered them and are calling them the 737-8200.

    The sad thing is, they know their passengers and it will probably work for 90% of them.

    1. colinb

      Re: Ryanair

      I would not read much into it. from the pictures there is no 737 MAX either it is either -7,-8,-9. although the -8 is so popular it is often referred to as 737 MAX

      the 'Ryanair' model (it is not exclusive to Ryanair) always had the Variant type of 737-8200 as displayed on its LOPA,

      It just looks to me that had a shortage of space to put the label so they took the short code in both cases.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Ryanair

        I fully expect the documentation to have the specific model number, but the marketing name has certainly changed. You can see the before and after Twitter photos embedded in the article (or possibly not if it's adblocked).

        1. colinb

          Re: Ryanair

          Maybe Boeing has it in the pipeline but my company is buying 200 of the MAXs, there is no marketing change from our side that I am aware of.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Ryanair

            BA right? In a deal that weirdly Airbus wasn’t even invited to pitch on. Can you say backhanders?

            1. Dan 55 Silver badge

              Re: Ryanair

              No, just really cheap, as that's BA nowadays. Boeing must be desperate to get a flag carrier on board as airlines everywhere are cancelling orders.

              1. jms222

                Re: Ryanair

                Does than mean with a "Priority" ticket I not only avoid being punched in the face at the gate but get a seat that's less likely to kill me when it crashes ?

              2. MJI Silver badge

                Re: Ryanair

                What the hell has gone wrong at BA?

                Used to be respected, they even had Concordes.

                Used to aim for buy Rolls Royce engines if possible.

                Now they are buying this crap!

            2. colinb

              Re: Ryanair

              Nope, Lessor, which buys an equal number of Airbus.

              As for IAG that Boeing only was probably to beat Airbus in the next negotiation that comes up. Although they are less negotiation more arm-to-arm combat in this space.

    2. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: Ryanair

      The sad thing is, they know their passengers and it will probably work for 90% of them.

      It wouldn't work for me, but I won't fly Ryanair anyway, so I suspect you are right about your numbers.

    3. SkippyBing Silver badge

      Re: Ryanair

      Amusingly I don't they'll be able to change the 4 digit ICAO code which is B38M for Boeing 737-800 Max.

  7. herman Silver badge
    FAIL

    They won't fly again

    The Max will not fly again. The cert authorities will keep finding new flaws every few months. Would you want to be the agent who signs off on the plane only to have it crash again?

    1. JimJimmyJimson

      Re: They won't fly again

      Plenty of aircraft over time have had initial teething problems - even recurring fatal issues - and have recovered. In 12 months time this will be completely forgotten.

      I still suspect that flying in a 'buggy' 737 MAX is much safer than driving. Irrespective of any flaws. I'm happy to take that risk every day - it woulld be illogical to have different thresholds for personal safety based on the mode of transport.

      1. Archtech Silver badge

        Re: They won't fly again

        "I still suspect that flying in a 'buggy' 737 MAX is much safer than driving".

        And driving a defective Ford Pinto with a full tank of gas in heavy traffic was safer than eating ground glass.

        What's your point here?

      2. EnviableOne Bronze badge

        Re: They won't fly again

        tell that to the thousands of comets that never flew after teething issues,

        compared to the 40 yrs + of serice out of the few that were sold later

        1. Stoneshop Silver badge

          Re: They won't fly again

          tell that to the thousands of comets that never flew after teething issues,

          Err, look at the production numbers of jet airplanes since the Comet came on the market.

          The Caravelle (1955-1972) sold 202, the Boeing 707 (1957-1991) reached 858, and the DC8 (1958-1972) sold 556. After these, numbers sold started increasing.

          So one might be tempted to say that the market for jet airliners wasn't exactly huge for at least the first ten to fifteen years since Comet, and stating that De Havilland would have sold thousands had they not had two of them rip open during flight[0] sounds to me to be somewhat optimistic. And the largest part of Comet sales was post 1952 anyway, so airlines weren't exactly shunning them.

          [0] not even directly attributable to their mode of propulsion, although that allowed flying higher, putting more stress on the fuselage skin. The Lockheed Constellation (and the Boeing 307, but only 10 of those were built) had been using pressurised cabins for a couple of years already without problems.

      3. eldakka Silver badge

        Re: They won't fly again

        I still suspect that flying in a 'buggy' 737 MAX is much safer than driving.

        That would only matter if the only (flying) alternative to driving was the 737 MAX. There are a dozen or so safer flying alternatives to driving that don't involve the the 737 MAX.

        If people refuse to fly on the 737MAX, they have alternatives to take other flights or even take their business to other airlines if an airline won't accommodate their preferences for not flying a MAX. And an airline who doesn't have customers won't be an airline for long. And if airlines do accommodate their customers, and stop taking deliveries of the MAX, then Boeing would stop making them as it'd have no customers for it.

      4. SkippyBing Silver badge

        Re: They won't fly again

        In a purely logical sense you may be correct about the relative risks. However airlines try to sell tickets to human beings who tend not to be purely logical and have different safety thresholds depending on whether or not they're in charge of the vehicle.

        And those airlines are the people Boeing are trying to sell 737s to.

    2. Archtech Silver badge

      Re: They won't fly again

      "The Max will not fly again. The cert authorities will keep finding new flaws every few months".

      Flaws which were there all along, but which they didn't look close enough to see until two aircraft crashed and hundreds of people died.

      I think they call that a "system failure" - the FAA is simply not fit for purpose. It blindly waves new aircraft and variants through, until the shit hits the fan - and then (perhaps) starts doing its job.

  8. Zack Mollusc

    The closest I have been to piloting an aircraft is standing on a stepladder, but it seems really odd that the TRIM can have a bigger effect on the aircraft than the CONTROL SURFACE.

    Is this normal for aircraft ?

    I imagined the control surfaces controlled where the aircraft pointed and the trim would be just fine tuning of those.

    Crappy car analogy : tracking==trim steering==elevators your tracking can be way out but you can override it with steering input.

    1. martinusher Silver badge

      >but it seems really odd that the TRIM can have a bigger effect on the aircraft than the CONTROL SURFACE.

      The design of the horizontal stabilizer is a small wing that tilts for trim with an elevator for pitch control. Its actually a good idea since the elevator isn't used unless you're maneuvering so you can design it to have a fair bit of control authority without the extra drag it causes being significant. The trim just alters the angle of attack of the tailplane so the pilots can set the trim without introducing extra drag, something you'd get with conventional trim tabs (small elevator surfaces).

      The problem seems to be that Boeing have used the design for years and as the aircraft got faster the center of pressure of the tail -- that where the aerodynamic forces appear to act -- moved further and further from the pivot point. This meant that you needed more and more force to operate the trim control, especially if the trim was really out of adjustment and the plane was going quite fast. Dealing with this has been an issue with 737s for years but the MAX finally got to the point where that software could get the trim so out of adjustment that the pilots were physically unable to wind the trim back.

      Those of us who develop stuff know how this story goes, about how incremental improvements gradually move us to the edge without anyone noticing. Fortunately for most of us the result isn't a serious crash with significant loss of life.

    2. werdsmith Silver badge

      On light aircraft the elevator trim can be used to fly the aircraft, as a bad habit by a particularly lazy pilot.

      The correct procedure is to set the attitude with stick and then trim off the load so the attitude stays. It's tempting to fine tune the attitude with the trim wheel but it's not the right way.

      Having the trim in the wrong place can make the for some very heavy controls at high airspeed and some rapid spinning of that wheel.

      1. TechnicalBen Silver badge
        Facepalm

        And that's why I always crash in space flight sims... I trim the OTHER way. XD

    3. Alan Brown Silver badge

      " it seems really odd that the TRIM can have a bigger effect on the aircraft than the CONTROL SURFACE."

      Older aircraft "trimmed" by means or "trim tabs" - small bits hanging off the elevators,

      In the case of modern civil transports, they actually have an "All flying tailplane" design - the entire tailplane swivels and "trimming" is done by adjusting the angle of the _entire_ tailplane. This is a slow process (done with a jackscrew on 737s), so elevators are still used for quick changes - but under normal flying conditions the elevators play little part in control as they induce drag.

      You can pretty much fly a 737 using the electric "trim" control alone and leaving the elevators entirely alone (I played with this in a -200 simulator at one point, including takeoff) but it's "NOT RECOMMENDED" for a number of reasons.

      1. seven of five

        " but it's "NOT RECOMMENDED" for a number of reasons."

        With a list going like:

        1. fireball

        2. ...

        1. SkippyBing Silver badge

          To be honest flying on the trim isn't a major issue in terms of the airframe, however it doesn't allow accurate flying. Unless you're the autopilot which in some cases does it all on trim.

          Some helicopters, e.g. Lynx, Wildcat, are flown almost entirely on the trim.

  9. JaitcH
    FAIL

    I Prefer Aircraft Designed By Engineers, NOT Venture Capitalists and Bean Counters

    Simple: Give your real, live, travel agent an instruction - IT IF IT'S BOEING, I AIN'T GOING.

    The FAA is too wedded to Boeing. They modded the regulations about flight time to the nearest airport when the two-engined 777 hit the air. Now the FAA allows self-inspection by Boeing paid employees.

    When I was involved with electronics for Commonwealth Countries, way back in time, I dealt with the Crown Agency (now known as Crown Agents for Oversea Governments and Administrations Ltd) they were very, very, particular and skilled in their inspections. Companies used their compliance with The Agency as a bonus in choosing suppliers.

    Pity Boeing doesn't doesn't replicate their practices.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: I Prefer Aircraft Designed By Engineers, NOT Venture Capitalists and Bean Counters

      ETOPS was sensible and took 40 years of operations proving turbines were hundreds of times more reliable than piston engines before it started happening.

      1. Orv Silver badge

        Re: I Prefer Aircraft Designed By Engineers, NOT Venture Capitalists and Bean Counters

        Indeed, ETOPS hasn't resulted in a rash of ditchings due to double engine failures, so it's hard to argue with it. Stuffing a third engine in the tail, where it's nestled among lots of vulnerable hydraulic lines, has proved to be a less-than-ideal option anyhow.

  10. MJI Silver badge

    An airline twatted about safest and most dangerous seats in an airliner

    Most dangerous should have said in a 737 Max 8

  11. Jason Brooks
    Facepalm

    Common sense is not so common after all

    First rule of 'building things hoomanz travel in': double up on every safety sensor.

    How a system that, as standard, relies on a single sensor ever made it through certification, goes beyond me. And whomever decided that the 'sensor disagree' feature was going to be sold as a paid for add-on, should be jailed.

    This is industrial engineering and programming 101... you have two sensors, read both, define a difference tolerance and when that tolerance is exceeded, flash a light, shoot up a flare, send an email or text, sound a horn or whatever you need to do to alert the vehicle operator. It's not that difficult.

    Now we've already seen two planes down - numerous people perished, their families unimaginably affected for the rest of their lives, all this because a big corporation decided to sell a safety feature that should have been standard out-of-the-box functionality in the first place.

  12. -v(o.o)v-

    Remember now, it's very simple:

    "If it has split scimitars, I'm not going."

  13. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    So, how is that outsourcing working out for you, eh Boeing?

    Ever heard of penny wise, pound foolish?

    1. Col_Panek

      situation normal

      I was just reading the story of the B-47, which had a propensity to blow up in flight due to flexing of the wings breaking the fuel lines. Went on for months without grounding the fleet because Boeing was too big to fail back then. Some things never change.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Air crashes

    Did the Comets crash because they needed a windows upgrade?

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019