back to article What was Boeing through their heads? Emails show staff wouldn't put their families on a 737 Max over safety fears

Boeing this week turned over damning new documents around the design and response to its ill-fated 737-Max airliner. The aviation giant provided an archive of employee emails and messages to investigators in both US Congress and the FAA covering the design and handling of accidents in the error-prone plane. Those messages …

  1. Stuart Moore
    Facepalm

    Inconsistent with Boeing values

    In that they actually we're thinking about the plane's safety not just the bottom line?

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: Inconsistent with Boeing values

      ""We regret the content of these communications, and apologize to the FAA, Congress, our airline customers, and to the flying public for them. We have made significant changes as a company to enhance our safety processes, organizations, and culture,""

      I wonder if those changes include removing ALL of the staff and bosses who would countenance, prosecute or aid and abet the corner cutting and lying that led to a situation that includes two downed aircraft and 346 deaths?

      I feel Boeing's biggest regret is being found out, as an arms manufacturer I doubt they will lose much sleep over some passenger deaths.

      1. SkippyBing Silver badge

        Re: Inconsistent with Boeing values

        'I wonder if those changes include removing ALL of the staff and bosses' I mean Muilenburg isn't getting severance pay. Just the $60 million in stock options, so I guess no?

        1. macjules Silver badge

          Re: Inconsistent with Boeing values

          His severance package includes a seat on the first 737-MAX to take to the skies, along with the rest of the board, on a worldwide reassurance tour.

          Oh, and the pilots are clowns wearing monkey suits.

          1. Strahd Ivarius

            Re: Inconsistent with Boeing values

            Wouldn't they be safer with monkeys wearing clown makeup?

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Wouldn't they be safer with monkeys wearing clown makeup?

              No, that's BoJo's job.

              1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

            2. Rich 11 Silver badge

              Re: Inconsistent with Boeing values

              Wouldn't they be safer with monkeys wearing clown makeup?

              Just as long as the monkeys don't switch off the autopil… oh.

          2. BebopWeBop Silver badge

            Re: Inconsistent with Boeing values

            Maybe better make it monkeys wearing clown suits?

            1. macjules Silver badge

              Re: Inconsistent with Boeing values

              No, that's the software developers for MCAS. There's one short of a billion of them.

      2. LDS Silver badge

        "and the company is taking appropriate action in response"

        Now they know which employee to fire - and I'm sure they are not who approved the MAX design.

        And they'll ensure next time there will not be any evidence.

      3. Persona Bronze badge

        Re: Inconsistent with Boeing values

        It would be truly interesting for a similar email deep dive to be done on a plane with a perfect safety record. It worries me that we would still see emails like these. Certainly the "designed by clowns managed by monkeys" type comment sounds damming yet in a different context it would be seen as banter.

        Please note I'm not excusing Boeing in any way. What I want is some assurance that this isn't the norm for the industry ..... particularly so as I will be flying on an Airbus A320m, an Airbus 321neo and a Boeing 787-9 in the next few weeks.

        1. JimC

          Re: "designed by clowns managed by monkeys" type comment sounds damning

          Although context is everything. If its about the people designing the airframe that's one thing, if its about the people designing the storage for the food trays in the kitchen maybe another...

          1. HildyJ Silver badge
            Mushroom

            Re: "designed by clowns managed by monkeys" type comment sounds damning

            It is damning. In an IEEE Spectrum article, the author states: "By substituting a larger engine [in pursuit of fuel efficiency], Boeing changed the intrinsic aerodynamic nature of the 737 airliner." The clowns knew of the problem and the MCAS hardware and software were developed as a workaround.

            You can read the full article at:

            https://spectrum.ieee.org/aerospace/aviation/how-the-boeing-737-max-disaster-looks-to-a-software-developer

            1. Malcolm Weir Silver badge

              Re: "designed by clowns managed by monkeys" type comment sounds damning

              The problem, though, is not the changed "aerodynamic nature", but the pressure to conceal that, so as to "common rate" the 737 Max with the 737NG.

              Too often in these sorts of arm chair quarterback discussions it is assumed that there's something wrong with a 737-type airplane with different handling characteristics. I mean, if anyone thinks a RAAF Wedgetail E-7 with a honking great RADAR antenna bolted on top handles the same as Southwest flight 1169 from Oakland, they're clearly not qualified to comment!

              So the problem is not the different handling, but the effort put into making customers (and particularly their line pilots) believe it behaved the same as the older models when it clearly didn't, and depended on a rather half-baked MCAS system to try to make it look like it did.

              1. robidy

                Re: "designed by clowns managed by monkeys" type comment sounds damning

                You need to look behind Boeing for the source of some pressure.

                If the MAX is a new aircraft, it's new training, new facilities, new processes, most costs....but for who?

                Airlines willl have to spend more money on facilities, training and staff wages for additional or NEW multi plane skilled pilots.

                What if it could be a refresh of an existing plane with similar handling...cue a bit of dodgy code that goes a bit um wrong.

                We know Boeing had their fingers in the pie...who else got a pound of flesh for the corner cutting. We shouldn't look at this in isolation.

          2. Justthefacts

            Re: "designed by clowns managed by monkeys" type comment sounds damning

            The context here is interesting, and uncomfortably relevant to most people’s practice I think.

            The specific project “designed by clowns” was the *simulator*. Which being only a simulator was effectively decided as “non-critical” at project level, hence outsourcable to HCL.

            The actual MCAS issue here wasn’t a “bug”, it worked exactly as designed at the software level (given only one sensor, act in accordance with what it indicates) but which had been specified at the system-level by muppets. The problem could only be caught by Validation (check spec does what the user actually needs) which requires experienced pilots using the simulator. They should have executed each and every “book” operating procedure on the simulator, but clearly didn’t otherwise they would have seen the repeated MCAS swoops as the effect of following the manual.

            One immediate problem was that the simulator wasn’t in a fit state to actually do the Validation (only P0 bugs addressed, dozens of open P1 and P2 bugs -sound familiar?) and that’s one reason why the fatal failure mode wasn’t found.

            But the root cause includes that Test teams are usually considered of less than rockstar developers, and less than critical. If the test platform isn’t rock solid, nobody ever halts the production software date on that. Again, does that sound horribly familiar? On a safety critical system, the Validation platform software should have been assessed as the same criticality as the systems it was testing, and the outsourcing policy treated identically. But it wasn’t.

            And finally, there were review boards, with technical people voting, who knew there were serious problems. But several managers *and technical leads* decided their job was to come up with excuses of why those weren’t blockers for delivery. I certainly recognise that situation too - including technical leads using the exact phrase that they’ve “Jedi mind tricked” their peers at the subsystem customer to accept a particular test failure.

            1. veti Silver badge

              Re: "designed by clowns managed by monkeys" type comment sounds damning

              Step 1 in software development: fire all the "rockstars" except one. I don't want your goddamn rockstars, I want honest workers who will do a solid 3-4 hours' work a day.

              Step 2: get an honest project manager who will tell you how things are really going.

              Step 3: put in place verifiable, objective milestones to make sure the PM is honest.

              Step 4: whenever a milestone is missed, tell the sponsors that there's a revised timeframe and it cannot be negotiated with. It may technically be possible to buy it off, but you really wouldn't believe how much extra that will cost.

              Step 5: remember that rockstar we kept? - put him (it's bound to be a "him") in charge of the test team, make it clear that he's solely responsible for signoff. You need someone in that role with the self-confidence and bloody-mindedness to say "no" to the whole goddamn company.

      4. Chris G Silver badge

        Re: Inconsistent with Boeing values

        Ooh! 2 down votes, does someone at Boing read El Reg?

        And yes the typo is deliberate.

        1. herman Silver badge

          Re: Inconsistent with Boeing values

          Obviously it was down voted by the previous CEO and the new CEO.

        2. robidy

          Re: Inconsistent with Boeing values

          I suspect the arms comment at the end was the issue...would have been more powerful without it....we all know arms dealers have a warped view.

          1. Hans 1 Silver badge

            Re: Inconsistent with Boeing values

            An aircraft manufacturer that does not care "enough" for pilot safety is quickly out of business ... regardless of what type of aircraft (civil, military) it builds.

            Besides, you do not have the same engineers working on military and civil aircraft ...and certainly do not have the same managers.

            As for here, Boeing engineers were expected to do the impossible and they tried the best they could, given the funding, the deadlines, they were not helped by management outsourcing vital components to cheapest inexperienced bidder.

            At least Boeing has now learned a lesson, I hope they have, you rarely get a third chance, and now it has happened once, any new issues will amplify the feelings ... your McDonnell Douglas colleagues can confirm.

            DISCLAIMER: I am biased, Airbus fanboy!, but lack of passenger safety affects all manufacturers.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              @Hans 1 - Re: Inconsistent with Boeing values

              Boeing can't and will not go out of business for any reason whatsoever. That's why they don't need to care enough for pilot or passenger safety.

              It reminds me of Equifax who after a major blunder received a juicy fat contract from US government.

              Say it ain't so!

      5. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: Inconsistent with Boeing values

        "I feel Boeing's biggest regret is being found out, as an arms manufacturer I doubt they will lose much sleep over some passenger deaths."

        The answer is right here, next paragraph:

        "The language used in these communications, and some of the sentiments they express, are inconsistent with Boeing values, and the company is taking appropriate action in response."

        When a company says "inconsistent with values", you know anyone who complained is about to be fired.

        1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

          Re: Inconsistent with Boeing values

          ”I feel Boeing's biggest regret is being found out, as an arms manufacturer I doubt they will lose much sleep over some passenger deaths.“

          I think that’s a little unfair; top bods will lose sleep over this. They will have deep and lasting regret, and will be looking to do their utmost to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

          After all, unplanned deaths are bad for business.

          1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

            Re: Inconsistent with Boeing values

            2 downvoters didn’t get the sarcasm <sigh>

            1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

              Re: Inconsistent with Boeing values

              Hahaha apparently they did get the sarcasm but work for Boeing :-))))

      6. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Inconsistent with Boeing values

        "I feel Boeing's biggest regret is being found out, as an arms manufacturer I doubt they will lose much sleep over some passenger deaths."

        I wonder how the eventual fine for American Boeing will compare with the fine for foreign VW?

        1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

          Re: Inconsistent with Boeing values

          I bet Boeing will pay peanuts, which says something about those collecting the fine.

          1. Roj Blake Silver badge

            Re: Inconsistent with Boeing values

            A fine of peanuts will really upset those monkeys that were supervising the clowns though.

        2. sodium

          Re: Inconsistent with Boeing values

          In America? Probably peanuts.

          In the rest of the world? Only time will tell...

      7. dorkian

        Re: Inconsistent with Boeing values

        "We regret the content of these communications, (...) We have made significant changes as a company to enhance our safety processes, organizations, and culture,"

        translation: "We regret that this was put in writing" and "We will make sure to cover our tracks better next time as we put profit before safety."

    2. Persona Bronze badge

      Re: Inconsistent with Boeing values

      "the plane's safety not just the bottom line" .... ironic really because the planes safety is their bottom line.

      1. paulll Bronze badge

        Re: Inconsistent with Boeing values

        The plane's safety is the *future* bottom line. "Ee'll cross that bridge if-and-when, odds are I'll have moved on by that point."

        I came here to say what you said, though, about whether emails of those nature are actually peculiar to the 737 MAX project,,,

    3. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Inconsistent with Boeing values

      Taking action...

      Hmm, visions of The Pelican Brief, The Insider, Absolute Power and other books come to mind, with dissenters suddenly meeting an unexpected demise...

      This whole story could come from Baldacci, Grisham.

      Oh, wait, Michael Crichton already wrote the novel, 25 years ago!

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Airframe_(novel)

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Inconsistent with Boeing values

      "While the tone and content of some of the language contained in the documents is disappointing, the FAA remains focused on following a thorough process for returning the Boeing 737 MAX to passenger service,"

      "The language used in these communications, and some of the sentiments they express, are inconsistent with Boeing values, and the company is taking appropriate action in response."

      Is it just me being negative or do I read through those 2 statements, "we will find the buggers who leaked this and will come hard on them", rather than "we will fix our industrial mistakes to avoid killing people".

      1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

        Re: Inconsistent with Boeing values

        It's not just you - I read it in exactly the same way.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Inconsistent with Boeing values

        A hitman to get rid of some malcontents is a lot more economical than fixing problems on a multi-million dollar aircraft...

        1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

          Re: Inconsistent with Boeing values

          A hitman is also a lot more economical than all those golden parachutes.

    5. Caffeinated Sponge

      Re: Inconsistent with Boeing values

      ‘Inconsistent with Boeing values and appropriate action is being taken’

      While we still give money to companies saying things like this when they actually needed to accept and apologise, we are as guilty as they.

      Boeing clearly intend to witch-hunt the staff involved and take measures to ensure that their next cynical attempt to sell a polished turd has no smoking guns waiting to be found.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The FAA, for its part, brushed off the unflattering comments made about its staff and vowed to press forward.

    Internal and external regulatory staff are generally cut from the same cheap cloth. The wonderful exceptions are extremely unusual.

    1. Denarius Silver badge
      Unhappy

      AC. nothing changed in decades. Look for book "Safety Last". A retired airlines pilots critique of the FAA and airlines in general. Published in 1970s.

      1. Kubla Cant Silver badge

        Also worth reading Destination Disaster from the same decade, which covers the Paris DC10 crash. Short version: the DC10 cargo door tended to blow out, but McDonnell Douglas were in financial straits, so the FAA was induced to soft-pedal demands for rectification.

  3. chivo243 Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    How many other manufacturers?

    Is VW going to spill internal emails too? I know dieselgate isn't in the same category, but I think the big company mind set is present across the board. Pump out the product, ready or not, if we make enough money, we can pay the law suits...

    Missing: Middle finger icon

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: How many other manufacturers?

      Sadly, Dieselgate might be in a *worse* category. One study attributes 6800 premature deaths to diesel vehicles cheating on emissions requirements -- and that's just for the EU in the year 2015 alone.

      Plane manufacturers tend to kill lots of people at once, which of course grabs headlines. Car manufacturers tend to kill lots of people one at a time and in VW's case, a little bit at a time, which tends to go unnoticed until somebody does the math. (Readers of Terry Pratchett's "Going Postal" will be familiar with this concept...).

      (Citation: https://euobserver.com/health/137907)

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. TRT Silver badge

        Re: How many other manufacturers?

        It's a bit like that guy who developed both CFCs and put lead in petrol. Thomas Midgley.

        1. Stork Silver badge

          Re: How many other manufacturers?

          To his defence, at least the CFCs solved a very real problem; that the refrigerants used until then were toxic, flammable, or both. I think the problems were only discovered much later.

          1. Benson's Cycle

            Re: How many other manufacturers?

            I had a refrigerator using pentane for years. Being flammable in a well designed fully sealed system is not a problem. I suspect it was far more about factories wanting to minimise safety spend at point of manufacture.

            And there is no defence for the introduction of leaded petrol. The stuff was known to be highly toxic. It was just that the vehicle industry didn't want to have to develop better engines that didn't need anti-knock.

            When they were forced to, of course, it turned out to be possible.

            1. Stork Silver badge

              Re: How many other manufacturers?

              Safety wise, the real problem is with industrial plants where ammonia was used. That is both flammable and a bit toxic, and the amounts used significantly more than the couple of lighters' worth in a domestic fridge.

            2. AndyD 8-)&#8377;

              Re: How many other manufacturers?

              "I had a refrigerator using pentane for years. Being flammable in a well designed fully sealed system is not a problem."

              but when there is a problem it burns very very hot, somewhat similar to acetylene - and as recent history shows this can be disastrous. Organic halides otoh are mostly extinguishers of fires.

              1. Benson's Cycle

                Re: How many other manufacturers?

                Really? The problem with acetylene is that it's prone to going bang in the absence of air unless dissolved in acetone, thus making an acetylene cylinder a potential double whammy - yet people use them all the time. The amount of pentane in a refrigerator is less than the amount of butane in one of those lighter refill cans. It is possible to get an explosion when pentane is mixed with air and ignited, see also methane, propane, butane and other stuff you can buy at garages or hardware stores. To what specific recent history are you referring?

          2. TRT Silver badge

            Re: How many other manufacturers?

            To his defence, he contracted polio and managed to accidentally hang himself in the ropes and pulleys of a contraption he built himself to aid his mobility.

            Midgley has done more harm to the environment and as a result has probably killed more people than anyone else in the history of the Terran biosphere. When you take the cumulative effect of the murder rate linked to lead in petrol, climate change from vehicle use (he made the internal combustion engine cheaper to produce and easier to use), the consequences of the ozone hole... again, like dieselgate almost impossible to break out definite, direct and incontrovertible linkage, but it can't have helped the statistics! Mind you, I guess the same could be said of people who found religions, when it's all added up.

            TL;DR Time tends to smear the perception of mortality and muddy the waters of causality, whereas the human coincidence machine loves a good, easy to understand, mass-death event such as a plane crash.

    2. steviebuk Silver badge

      Re: How many other manufacturers?

      Only if you have someone on the inside who can grab the emails without being spotted. Its rare to have someone in that position.

    3. Kabukiwookie Silver badge

      Re: How many other manufacturers?

      While VW received huge fines for cheating somewhat on their emissions tests, where are the huge fines for Boing?

      1. Benson's Cycle

        Re: How many other manufacturers?

        VW made the mistake of not being a US company with a large stake in the MIC.

        It's like the lawyers not going after Round-up until Monsanto had been safely sold to Bayer.

      2. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

        Re: How many other manufacturers?

        where are the huge fines for Boing

        Boeing didn't cheat emission test so no fines.

        Seriously, Boeing has paid "blood money" to all the victims' family. I suspect part of the compensation will be a key phrase: No admission of guilt/negligence.

        Boeing has gotten away with murder (literally) and a sizeable "contribution" to both Republican and Democrat congressmen/congresswomen, senators and a few more would have been made, I suspect. Again, "no admission of guilt/negligence" and/or "no Boeing executive will be convicted" will be part of the deal with the politicians.

        The party must go on.

        SIDENOTE: Next episode of "How to Get Away with Murder: Boeing MAX" with a side title "This is how it is done."

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Re: How many other manufacturers?

          We are the Boing. We are one. You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile.

          1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge
            Coffee/keyboard

            Re: How many other manufacturers?

            Bravo

  4. SkippyBing Silver badge

    Safety Culture

    Culture has been described as what you do when no one is looking*, in which case the emails are exactly what Boeing's values are. Which makes you wonder what yet has to be discovered on their other aircraft programmes?

    *Ironically enough by the Herb Kelleher founder and former CEO of SouthWest Airlines, a major 737 Max customer, although he may not have coined the phrase.

  5. quattroprorocked

    "Regret the content", I'll bet they do.

    1. Peter2 Silver badge

      I bet the employees do. They'll be fired.

      The Managers that created the situation resulting in hundreds of people dying and the company having it's reputation destroyed (and losing how many billions?) will be rewarded and promoted.

      That is unless business as usual comes to a screeching halt over this, which I doubt since pretty much the entire management is going to be complicit.

      1. Crazy Operations Guy Silver badge

        I wouldn't be too worried about Boeing's profits, any losses they incur from the civil aviation market will be made up by sales of missile kits, fighters, bombers, and other war bric-a-brac now that the US has plunged itself into another completely pointless war.

        1. Mark 85 Silver badge

          And any financial losses will be a tax write off for them.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "unless business as usual comes to a screeching halt over this, which I doubt"

        If it has enough bad effect on sales it could well have that effect. Of course the armaments side of the business wouldn't be affected and the US govt obviously has an interest in keeping that going. I wonder if we'll see the corporation split to protect that.

  6. Duncan Macdonald Silver badge
    Unhappy

    If the FAA can be forced to do its job

    Then the FAA would go through the full certification of the 737 MAX 8 as a new aircraft with no grandfathering of safety certificates or pilot type qualifications from previous 737 models. As Boeing have proved themselves untrustworthy, all the tests would be carried out by the FAA with none of them delegated to Boeing.

    Given the amount of money that Boeing can afford to pay out in "election campaign expenses" (ie bribes), I do not have much hope that this will actually happen.

    1. Robert Forsyth

      Re: If the FAA can be forced to do its job

      I understand your sentiment of FAA testing everything, but that is not how it works (nowadays).

      There are companies which crash cars for manufacturers, so the manufacturer can show reasonably low risk of harm or minimal harm to the occupants and conformance to the regulations.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: If the FAA can be forced to do its job

        Regulation that relies on a regulatory agency testing everything will never work in the real world.

        Consider some options (using aircraft manufacture as an example):

        a) The Regulator really does set out to test everything - with thousands of inspectors at numerous stages of production (including down the vendor chain, right to raw material manufacturers), and flight testing every aircraft that comes off the production line.

        b) The Regulator establishes standards for the manufacturers to follow (competence, practices and behaviours as well as technical product standards) and monitors the manufacturer (and supply chain) to verify that they are being met. That can be accomplished through combinations of system audits, surveillance, sample inspection and test.

        c) The Regulator decides a thorough process is not possible and relies solely on the manufacturer.

        In my career I've been involved with all three of these situations. The first (a) just didn't work: production would slow to a crawl and the manufacturers would pull back on their own inspection and test as it would just be duplicating what the Regulator is doing. The Regulator's representatives would become so embedded in the production lines that they could rarely remain independent. The result wasn't pretty. The third (c) was low cost for the Regulator and did work well is certain areas - though not in a wholly commercial environment. The middle (b) was the most reliable; it's still a large Regulator workload and far from perfect, but possible if the will is there (and the industry recognises it bears a lot of responsibility for its own regulation).

        In summary, perfection is rarely possible but, with the right people in charge, we can get close...

    2. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: If the FAA can be forced to do its job

      I understand your sentiment of FAA testing everything, but frankly I am not going to trust the FAA to get it right.

    3. Stork Silver badge

      Re: If the FAA can be forced to do its job

      Another interesting question arising from this sorry saga is to which extend other regulators will trust FAA. Less than before, one should hope.

    4. Fursty Ferret

      Re: If the FAA can be forced to do its job

      It wouldn't pass if put through certification as a new aircraft type.

    5. Electronics'R'Us Bronze badge
      Holmes

      Re: If the FAA can be forced to do its job

      The problem is not so much that Boeing did all the testing, but that Boeing did not do adequate testing and also did not properly classify MCAS as safety critical. The reason is clear to me; time to market in the face of new competition and therefore profits and share price. The (criminally liable) ability to tell the airlines that previously certified 737 pilots could do just an hour of non-simulator time was (to Boeing and the airlines) an added bonus.

      To call the compensation to the families of the victims of these decisions blood money is not an exaggeration in any way.

      In its original definition, MCAS was not supposed to have full authority over the horizontal stabiliser but when that proved to not solve the problem (whereby it would not pass Part 25 - passenger transport aircraft - regulations) it got more than just a bit of design creep to the point where the system had full authority over the horizontal stabiliser, which the elevators, under pilot control, could not overcome even if they were at their full travel.

      When it got to this point, an updated FMECA (which was probably never done) would have shown conclusively that MCAS would have to be treated as safety critical.

      Here is where regulatory capture rears it's very ugly head; the bean counters would have looked at the time and money required to certify the system as safety critical and told the engineering staff to shut up and pushed the DER to make sure it was not so classified in any document not merely to the FAA but also to all the other certification agencies around the world if they had asked - it is for this reason that none of those authorities is likely to trust anything from the FAA (or Boeing) for a very long time.

      I have commented before that surely the engineers involved (and not just at Boeing - the electronics behind MCAS was almost certainly designed by a third party) would have serious questions about the effects of the decisions being made by bean counters and not engineers.

      Having designed and verified safety critical avionics I can state that it is a time consuming and somewhat expensive process when done properly but it is also necessary; when something fails in verification testing, it gets fixed - no ifs, ands or buts. There are times when an analysis shows it may not be necessary to do a direct fix, but that full analysis needs to be done and documented. This clearly did not happen in the case of the 737MAX (and very possibly on 787 and newer 777 products).

      That is where the tone of these messages make sense; the engineers did not want to shut up (although they did as far as the public and the FAA were concerned) and although I can sympathise with them to a certain extent, the only decent thing would seem to be to quit and go public but with the sure knowledge that Boeing, with all it's money and political connections, would be looking for blood and to completely discredit any such individual (as, most likely, would the FAA).

      If those people did not have the wherewithal to withstand such an assault (there are numerous documented cases of whistle blowers being hounded, sometimes to the point of suicide), then it is difficult to blame them (where the blame really lies is in the laws that fail to protect legitimate whistle blowers - i.e. politicians who receive bribes campaign contributions from mega-corporations such as Boeing)

      I personally would not trust a Boeing aircraft designed after the original 777 to actually be safe by design.

      I don't fly much (if at all) now, but SWMBO does, and I carefully scrutinise what aircraft are scheduled for the routes she will be flying; a little bit of hassle, but at least I know the aircraft was properly designed and all the equipment within it properly classified and designed and tested to that classification.

      1. Malcolm Weir Silver badge

        Re: If the FAA can be forced to do its job

        " I carefully scrutinise what aircraft are scheduled for the routes she will be flying; a little bit of hassle, but at least I know the aircraft was properly designed and all the equipment within it properly classified and designed and tested to that classification."

        No. No you don't. You just have a greater comfort level in your belief that it was. The industry has plenty of examples where "correctly" designed and tested systems failed because of unexpected circumstances -- in the 737 world, the Aloha Airlines Flight 243 or United 585/US Airways 427 are examples. You mentioned the 777, but BA38 was one of that family!

        The biggest indicator of "solid design" is age of the aircraft. Older = greater chance that the crew know it's bad habits!

        1. Mark 85 Silver badge

          Re: If the FAA can be forced to do its job

          " I carefully scrutinise what aircraft are scheduled for the routes she will be flying; a little bit of hassle, but at least I know the aircraft was properly designed and all the equipment within it properly classified and designed and tested to that classification."

          And if the airline makes last minute changes to the aircraft type (and they do) then what?

      2. Mike 137 Bronze badge

        Re: If the FAA can be forced to do its job

        " it got more than just a bit of design creep to the point where the system had full authority over the horizontal stabiliser, which the elevators, under pilot control, could not overcome even if they were at their full travel."

        Actually it was even worse than that. At the maximum down trim set by MCAS, the resulting aerodyamic forces apparently made it physically impossible for the pilot to recover using the trim wheel (which had been reduced in size from previous models, further exacerbating the problem).

      3. imanidiot Silver badge

        Re: If the FAA can be forced to do its job

        A FMECA was probably done when the system was still designed to have limited authority. When the change was made to give it full authority, likely someone called for redoing the FMECA analyses, but got overruled. I have no doubt some sort of FMECA was done, it's just when it was done that can make a huge difference. Not that this makes it any more excusable.

        The problem for a whistle blower in the aviation world is not only that the organisation that they left will go after them. The aviation industry in general is quite small and "I know a guy that knows a guy". So finding another job with any relevance to your previous one will be completely impossible.

    6. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: If the FAA can be forced to do its job

      Then the FAA would go through the full certification of the 737 MAX 8 as a new aircraft

      The FAA may or may not. They haven't said. But apparently other counties have said it will need to be re-certified from the wheels up. The FAA will probably take the other certifications as "good" and save time and money by that.

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: If the FAA can be forced to do its job

      The problem there is that the Max would be unlikely to be certified at all as a 'new' aircraft. It was first designed in the early '60's. Too much of it is based on grandfathered design that would not pass certification today.

      Boeing needs a new narrowbody. Trouble is, engine and materials tech has yet to progress far enough to make a new design sufficiently cost-effective for everyone involved. Airbus is laughing because the A320 design is 20 years younger, much more of its design is current, and its longer undercarriage allows it to carry larger engines without having to have them right in front of the wings for ground clearance, thereby upsetting the C of G and stall behaviour compromise.

      And, Airbus bought the Bombardier CS, a genuinely new design, for $1. The A220-300 is already a direct replacement for the A319, and the CS can obviously be stretched when necessary to replace the A320, and perhaps even the A321.

      Boeing is in the doo. The Max will turn out to be the C21 Comet.

      1. VulcanV5

        Re: If the FAA can be forced to do its job

        Kudos for the best post on this thread, and fo ra timely reminder of the crux of the problem: that Boeing's "values" go no further than Boeing's stock value. . . one which is set to diminish further as Airbus's success continues to grow. Boeing loathes Airbus. It has been clear for several years that what Boeing needs to protect its future in civil aviation is an Airbus killer -- obviously not merely one a/c, but one would be a start.

        Boeing's "values" were and are such that money was at the core of its considerations: you can't develop and build and sell a completely new aircraft nowadays without expenditure of $millions by both manufacturer and client

        .

        And Boeing knew that at the very top of the management pyramid and at every seat around the table in the Boeing boardroom. And thus it was decided to challenge Airbus on-the-cheap. Take an existing aircraft and modify it (and hey, if hardware problems develop as a result, no matter: this is the era when everything is easily sorted with a software fix: easy-peasy!) and assure existing and prospective clients that the new Boeing brings with it no significant on-costs -- it isn't even necessary to spend money on additional training for crews: after all, the 737 MAX is just another 737, folks!

        Except, it wasn't and isn't. And was blatantly not a 73-800 sibling to anyone who ever saw it in the early stages of design, whether they worked at Boeing (or ran Boeing) or not. With those thumping huge engines pushed so far forward on its wings so as to avoid the undersides scraping along the ground, the 737 MAX was visually portended a disaster-waiting-to-happen long, long before any actually did.

        So. No mystery about Boeing's values. The company put the value of itself first and last. Hence the 737 MAX, the Airbus killer that turned out -- pretty much inevitably -- to be a people killer.

        Boeing as a corporate entity will, I'm sure, regret the deaths of so many who departed this life courtesy of the 737 MAX. But I'm guessing that such regret is as nought to the annoyance felt at the highest levels over the fact that one of the 737 MAX's victims should, of all people, turn out to have been Ralph Nader's grand-niece.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fuck you Boeing

    You've just released documents that detail your engineers have serious concerns about the safety of your aircraft and training systems.

    Your response?

    You "regret the content" of these emails.

    How about you regret being so fucking shit that your management disregarded the concerns of your engineers to the point that your fucking planes fell out of the sky.

    Pilot error? Go read the one about simulator trained pilots.

    This is what happens when you let dicks who are too concerned with share price run the show. They forgot that the fundamental strength of an aircraft maker is not price to earnings ratio but your products not killing people.

    Back in the day your manager would have been an engineer too and know what he's doing... and understand the implications of what their staff are telling them.

    You now use 'professional' managers who are incentivised to risk long term viability (and peoples' lives) for short term bumps to factors affecting shareprice [I]and you can't see that[/I] let alone apologise for it.

    Fuck you.

    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: Fuck you Boeing

      Frankly, I am not going to fuck Boeing, I think the chances are too high of catching something nasty.

      1. macjules Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Fuck you Boeing

        You are certainly not going to catch a 737-MAX for the foreseeable future.

        Mine's the one with the secret FAA report in one pocket and a P45 in the other.

        1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

          Re: Fuck you Boeing

          Catching a 737-MAX is easy, just sitting ducks and not even on water.

          1. Jonathon Green

            Re: Fuck you Boeing

            ‘Catching a 737-MAX is easy,...”

            Just buy an acre of land and then wait?

            1. Sanctimonious Prick
              Pint

              Re: Fuck you Boeing

              "Just buy an acre of land and then wait?"

              PMSL!

              I didn't see that coming!

            2. Problem Adult
              Pint

              Re: Fuck you Boeing

              Upvoted for the "Captain Lockheed and the Starfighters" reference.

              1. Jonathon Green

                Re: Fuck you Boeing

                By a strange, dark coincidence I’d just (re)listened to that album for the first time in years when I came across this story, and, well...

                Synchronicity works in strange, sometimes rather disturbing ways - it’s a reminder that we’ve been here before and that unless something surprising and unlikely happens to human (or corporate) nature we’ll probably find ourselves back here again.

              2. Fr. Ted Crilly

                Re: Fuck you Boeing

                well here in the Cap'n Lockheed Bier Garten...

                (Background of beer garden sounds - singing - clicking glasses -)

                Voice of German youth: (alcoholic shout, building up in tone)

                Anybody want's to buy a Starfighter?

                (Silence)

                Well, then buy an acre of land....and wait...

                Close up of LOUD belch

                Roaring laughter, clicking glasses - background sounds resume...

                https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ptEotBL0y8

                Check out Aircraft Sales man (a door in the foot)

    2. Cederic Silver badge

      Re: Fuck you Boeing

      So you'd support my plan to invite the Boeing board and as many senior managers as will fit onto a free 737 Max tour of Iran?

      1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        Re: Fuck you Boeing

        I would recommend a direct and unannounced flight from Seoul to Pyongyang.

  8. Adair

    As I've said before,

    if Boeing has any integrity at all they should:

    1. sack the entire board - they are responsible

    2. sack the Head of Design - they are responsible

    3. sack the Head of Safety - they are responsible

    The fact that none of this has happened shows that the company is an irresponsible money grubbing self-serving zombie that just happens to build aeroplanes as a means of serving its actual needs - the enrichment of its top people.

    Almost all big corporations reach this stage of senescence eventually.

    1. Peter2 Silver badge

      Re: As I've said before,

      I'd actually go further than that because Boeing's safety culture needs to change. You'd have to sack middle management down to line management that created and accepted the culture.

      1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        Re: As I've said before,

        I'd actually go further than that because Boeing's safety culture needs to change be rebuilt from the ground up, it currently doesn't exist. You'd have to sack middle executive management down to line management that created and accepted the culture.

        FTFY.

    2. tony2heads

      Re: senescence

      At that point they should be put down, with the entire company closed. Try selling your share options then.

    3. Crazy Operations Guy Silver badge

      Re: As I've said before,

      I'd prefer they'd load up their management, starting from the top, into 737-MAX aircraft and let the problem solve itself. Sure, not all of them will die, but the survivors will certainly be scared into prioritizing safety from then on...

    4. oldphart

      Re: As I've said before,

      Problem is, you cannot sack the board. They are elected by the shareholders.

      You can hold them legally responsible, though. And they should probably not be re-elected by shareholders who know what is good for them.

      1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        Re: As I've said before,

        Just pay out the next dividend in 737-MAX tickets (non-refundable and non-transferable) for the shareholders and their families instead of cash, problem solved.

  9. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

    No words

    Nothing much more to add. I wanted to say something but it’s covered by the other commenters. When are we going to learn that not everything boils down to profits?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: No words

      The entire industry has a long running habit of blaming every crash on "pilot error".

      Not the best way to improve design safety.

      1. Benson's Cycle

        Re: No words

        The "pilot error" consisted of getting into the plane and turning on the engines.

        1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

          Re: No words

          Wrong, those are perfectly safe things to do, the "pilot error" consisted of taking off, just taxiing to the next airport would still have been safe.

        2. Andrero

          Re: No words

          You missed out "taking off"...

    2. David M

      Re: No words

      Even if everything does boil down to profit, profit depends on selling aircraft, which in turn depends on customers trusting your aircraft not to fall out of the sky. So even a pure profit motive should engender a strict safety culture.

      1. cantankerous swineherd Silver badge

        Re: No words

        and this is one of the many counterexamples which disprove your point.

      2. jonathan keith Silver badge

        Re: No words

        And there's the true root of the issue: the difference between long and short-term thinking.

  10. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

    I guess

    Boeing never got a copy of the challenger diaster report, or read anything by the morton thiakol engineer involved in the SRB design.

    We mock the phrase "the laws of physics are a harsh mistress" as if they dont apply to us, but in a competition between say the law of gravity and a badly designed computer system on an aging aircraft design, my money is on gravity winning.

    But I dont think that the MCAS system is at fault or the 737 max , or the guys who were flying the thing.

    The blame entirely lays with Boeing management for wanting the cheapest solution to a problem, the problem was the Airbus aircraft competing with the 737, so it was one sensor for a safety critical system , programming the MCAS to fly the 737 max as if it was a previous 737, deciding 3 hrs of tablet training was good enough for type conversion, not explaining to pilots what the MCAS did, and the airlines for saving a few pence by not installing the light that says "MCAS on"

    In a few years time , I'm fairly sure the 737 max will be flying again, but the events and decisions at Boeing involving the 737 will be used in engineering courses world wide as what happens when the bean counters over rule the engineers, just as the Challenger disaster is used as an example now.

    Not a subject for a jokey icon

    1. Peter2 Silver badge

      Re: I guess

      You know, I wouldn't compare this to Challanger. I'd compare it to the de Havilland Comet.

      The Comet's early problems doomed both the Comet aircraft and ultimately British passenger aircraft as Boeing was able to take the market.

      The Boeing 737Max has now been grounded 9 months and doesn't look like it's going to be flying in the next 9 months at this rate. Frankly at this point even if companies are allowed to fly 737Max, who's going to want to buy them at this rate?

      If Airbus doesn't end up totally owning the market over this, then it's probably going to be attributable to a lack of production capability to suddenly take up the entire market share that Boeing had this time last year.

      1. SkippyBing Silver badge

        Re: I guess

        'If Airbus doesn't end up totally owning the market over this, then it's probably going to be attributable to a lack of production capability to suddenly take up the entire market share that Boeing had this time last year.'

        That's the problem, Airbus has delivery slots for the A320 filled out to something like 2023 so it's not as if airlines can start replacing their undelivered 737 Max this year. In the long run I think that may be a good thing as I don't think monopoly suppliers are ideal in any market.

        1. Denarius Silver badge

          Re: I guess

          I believe the Russians have twin jet passenger aircraft designed recently available. China also producing its 737 equivalent. Weirder things have happened than the ruins of the Wests aviation industries evaporating in a decade. How likely ? Yogi Beras comment comes to mind

          1. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

            Re: I guess

            I believe the Russians have twin jet passenger aircraft designed recently available. China also producing its 737 equivalent.

            Russia has the Sukhoi Superjet 2000. The sales have stalled after the Aeroflot 1492 crash.

            COMAC (China) has introduced C919 a few years ago. The flight certification has stalled because of design issue.

            As I've said in my other response, the C919 still requires western-made engines. Chinese-government hackers have been trying to hack GE, CFM, RR to get the design blueprints of engines. It is currently unknown (not open to the public) on how much information have the hackers been able to pilfer.

            Once China gets hold of a complete engine blueprint, it will be "game over" for Boeing and Airbus.

            1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

              Re: I guess

              "Once China gets hold of a complete engine blueprint, it will be "game over" for Boeing and Airbus."

              Assuming airlines would want to buy a China made pirate copy airliner. I wouldn't.

              1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

                Re: I guess

                Assuming airlines would want to buy a China made pirate copy airliner. I wouldn't.

                Michael O'Leary would.

              2. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

                Re: I guess

                Assuming airlines would want to buy a China made pirate copy airliner.

                Like any Chinese-made product will dump the prices so low. There will be operators willing to sacrifice "something" for profit.

                Oh, did I mention about "Type A" and "Type B" products that are made in China?

                When the Syrian uprising started, some middle eastern countries supported the rebels. One of the countries wanted to supply the rebels with man-portable SAM. The only country willing to sell them the SAM was China for "no questioned asked". The first batch of weapons were tested and sure enough 10 out of 10 fired their missiles out. Next batch, same thing. So they ordered more.

                Next batch, 50% started failing. Another batch, 80% failed.

                The buyer then asked the weapons dealer. He asked around and came back with the following answer:

                Chinese weapons come in two categories: Type A and Type B. Weapons that have components tested to be 100% working are called "Type A". Weapons that failed testing are called "Type B".

                Type A weapons are destined for local use, however, they are also sold to "showcase" to customers in limited amount. Once the customer has been satisfied with the initial batch, Type B will be delivered to complete the order.

                Funky stuff, eh?

            2. SkippyBing Silver badge

              Re: I guess

              I believe in the past the other problem the Chinese have had is with the metallurgy, i.e. they can't make the high-spec materials needed for the hot bits of the engine. Considering they've been licence building R-R Speys for decades you'd have thought they'd be able to develop something of their own by now to be honest.

      2. Peter Christy

        Re: I guess

        To be fair, I don't think anyone anticipated the failures that brought down the early Comets. The failure that destroyed the Challenger was not only anticipated, but flagged up and ignored.

        1. Imhotep

          Re: I guess

          Yes, the Comet designers were the first in new territory and without the knowledge and tools we have today. Pressurization/depressurization cycles and metal fatigue were a relatively new problem.

          1. Benson's Cycle

            Re: I guess

            Actually they were far from a new problem and were well known, it's just that aircraft designers didn't know they had anything to learn from steam boiler designers, who had been dealing with those issues, often empirically, for over a century.

            1. graeme leggett

              Re: I guess

              In two of three early crashes Comets failed at a aerial cover where the panel supports had been riveted instead of glued per design spec. And punch riveted not drilled.it was also designed in excess of the requirements set. The other was overstressed in bad weather.

              1. Benson's Cycle

                Re: I guess

                That's interesting because punch riveting was a well known cause of boiler failures. The quality of the rivet holes was known to be an important factor in safety for many years before welding started to take over. Gluing, of course, is not really an option for steam boilers.

                1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                  Re: I guess

                  "Gluing, of course, is not really an option for steam boilers."

                  Why not? You just need the right type of "glue" and a very high temperature, such as from a sustained electric spark :-)

              2. Denarius Silver badge

                Re: I guess

                Comet crashes ? I understood the square windows concentrating stresses caused at least one

            2. Cederic Silver badge

              Re: I guess

              In their defence when a steam boiler reached 20,000 feet it tended to be because it had failed around 1.7 seconds beforehand.

              1. Benson's Cycle

                Re: I guess

                Unfortunately the usual methods of boiler failure project the débris, along with large quantities of explosively boiling water, sideways rather than up.

                My nick is after the Benson who looked at a 34 foot long, 72 tonne steam boiler and thought "there must be a better way."

                1. Andronnicus Block

                  Re: I guess

                  Your comment just reminded me of the saying that “the past is a different country” and of advertising material I saw from the mid 1850’s in the UK for what was then cutting edge technology in the shape of steam hauled passenger trains.

                  They obviously didn’t have a lot of faith that any particular train would reach its destination without the boiler exploding - but sought to reassure passengers by recommending that they sit toward the rear of the train. If the boiler did explode the guidance continued, they would likely only suffer broken bones or amputated limbs - but were very unlikely to be killed!

                  Perhaps Boeing could take that as inspiration for some updated 21st century promotional material for the 737-MAX when it is eventually allowed to fly sgain

                  1. Martin an gof Silver badge

                    Re: I guess

                    I'd be interested to see that. Is it available online somewhere?

                    M.

                2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

                  Re: I guess

                  A properly designed steam boiler (the fire tube type) will firstly try to vent the excess pressure through the safety valve. If that failes then a plug in the roof of the firbox is designed to blow out and drench the fire with steam/water thus putting it out.

                  The only time a boiler of this type will explode differently is due to external matters such as explosives or bullets or a devastaing crash.

                  Testing Steam Boilers involves two types of test. Firstly there is a hydraulic test. No heat but the liquid inside pressurised to well above normal operating pressure and left for a number of hours. If there are no leaks then a Steam test is performed. The pressure is again raised well above normal operating pressure and there is a check for leaks.

                  Water Tube Boilers ( as used at sea ) have different mechanisms for coping with excess pressure.

                  1. imanidiot Silver badge

                    Re: I guess

                    The melt plug in the firebox only works if the top of the firebox is uncovered due to insufficient water level in the boiler. If there is sufficient water in the boiler it can still over-pressurize.

                  2. Benson's Cycle

                    Re: I guess

                    That was what my post was about.It's not good having a safety valve set of a certain pressure if repeat heat/cooling cycles eventually weaken the riveted joints till they give way suddenly. That's why regular inspection is needed, and why a lot of research went into designing riveted joints. For the best results, it seems, the rivet holes should be reamed,and the USN required that holes be drilled in situ to avoid any possible shear stress. As I say, all those lessons were available to the aircraft designers, had they chosen to investigate.

                    According to my textbooks,which I checked after making the first post, riveting on boilers should be designed so that steam starts to leak well before the joint is liable to give way catastrophically. That's all very well, but you can easily imagine how that lesson was learned. And in hard water areas the combination of scum (from cylinder oil) and precipitated solids might make a mixture that plugged leaks for a while.

                    It also took a number of iterations before satisfactory safety valves were devised.

      3. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

        Re: I guess

        If Airbus doesn't end up totally owning the market over this

        The American public will never allow Airbus to monopolize anything. Too much is at stake with the word "Pride" take the top nine spots.

        Before the MCAS debacle the American government Boeing is in a tariff/trade war with Airbus.

        Sukhoi's market is tiny. The latest crash (Aeroflot 1492) put a damper to everything.

        China's COMAC is something to watch out for. They only the last bit of the puzzle the Chinese government cannot reverse-engineer. The engines. But all the hackers need is one break and it will be "game over" for Boeing and Airbus commercial jets.

        And when COMAC becomes a dominant force in ten years time, no American president can stop it (from getting much, much bigger).

      4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: I guess

        "a lack of production capability to suddenly take up the entire market share that Boeing had this time last year."

        Sub-contract some of the work to Boeing? But inspect it very, very carefully.

      5. eldakka Silver badge

        Re: I guess

        I'd compare it to the de Havilland Comet.

        I wouldn't. The Comet was a pathfinder, the first to produce a commercial craft of its type. Therefore unknown aeronautical engineering problems were hit. The type of metal fatigue caused by the repeated pressurising and depressurising of the aircraft were unknown at the time.

        All of the problems experienced by the 737 MAX were all known issues. There was nothing new in what it was doing. Fly-by-wire is a long used and established technology. AoA sensors and computer's taking control of the aircraft based on these is well-established. The issues of not being able to manually adjust trim once a certain airspeed and angle of attack was reached are known, and in fact in earlier iterations of the 737 were actually taught as part of pilot training.

        Every single issue the 737 MAX experienced was a known potential issue - failing sensors, sorftware bugs, lack of training, fraud, lieing to regulators/certifiers, putting profits over safety. It was all human negligence and deliberate deception.

    2. Commswonk Silver badge

      Re: I guess

      Not a subject for a jokey icon

      Nor one for the usual El Reg play on words in the headline; What was Boeing through their heads is IMHO being facetious with a subject that is tragic on so many levels; the loss of so many lives; the corporate greed that seems to have been the driving force behind it all; the apparent disregard for the warning signs that seem to have been there had anyone had the sense to recognise them.

      There are times when a jokey headline is perfectly in order, but I don't think that this is one of them.

      1. james_smith Bronze badge

        Re: I guess

        I'll hazard a guess you're not a Brit. We make jokes about the grimmest of events - it seems to be a coping mechanism, and deeply rooted in our culture. It's not a sign of disrespect or dismissing the gravity of an awful event.

        1. Commswonk Silver badge

          Re: I guess

          I'll hazard a guess you're not a Brit.

          As chance would have it I am, and resident in Britain.

          1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

            Re: I guess

            In that case you also most definitely don't have any Jewish ancestors for at least the last 100 generations.

            1. Benson's Cycle

              Re: I guess

              Let's face it, if you lived in Poland or Belorussia, if you couldn't laugh at pogroms there wouldn't be much to laugh about.

          2. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

            Re: I guess

            After the July 7 bombings a few years back I, like everyone, went straight to the pub. There was a comic on who made the observation that it is very difficult to bomb Britain into submission, as we immediately head to the pub and drink until we either find it funny, or can't remember what happened.

        2. Malcolm Weir Silver badge

          Re: I guess

          Aye! 30 years ago last month an off-duty copper was down the pub (in Cumbria) joking with my uncle about the luckiest sheep in Scotland... which just missed being killed by a falling 747.

          Being a policeman on duty in Lockerbie in 22 December 1989 was harrowing experience that I wouldn't wish on anyone. Telling jokes helps.

          1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

            Re: I guess

            Telling jokes helps.

            Having the wit to laugh at those jokes helps even more.

        3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: I guess

          "I'll hazard a guess you're not a Brit. We make jokes about the grimmest of events - it seems to be a coping mechanism, and deeply rooted in our culture. It's not a sign of disrespect or dismissing the gravity of an awful event."

          Correct. And it's much cheaper than having a therapist on speed-dial :-)

      2. Denarius Silver badge

        Re: I guess

        @CommsWonk: Having been very recently involved in a similar but much smaller storm in teacup/incident I suggest you take two tablespoons of cement and harden up. When dealing with stress and other serious subjects dark humour is a survival strategy. By taking everything seriously you become that most unlovely of all things, a bureaucrat.

    3. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

      Re: I guess

      The comet was a different kind of diaster, where the engineers had next to no idea a big square window with sharp'ish corners, combined with some less than good quality machining/assembly could result in the aircraft blowing apart.

      Challenger was NASA with 'rush to launch' managers, combined with Thiakol management who could only see the losses caused by the engineers recommended delay to launch.

      Thiakol knew of the problem with the O rings, and went ahead on the launch even though on previous low temperature launches there had been erosion of the primary O ring.

      And yet it seems that that lesson had not been learned by boeing manglement

      Outsource, reduce costs , more efficiency etc etc are fine for a organisation thats producing say washing machines, but in aerospace , you cannot cut corners, and its the culture that needs to change at Boeing starting at board level and working their way down to the shop floor. with implementing a way of reporting failures, defects and faults with the design too

      And my jokey icon comment reffered only to my previous comment , el-rag is free to stick whatever headline they like on their stories

      1. druck Silver badge

        Re: I guess

        Even organisations which make washing machines need to consider safety and not cut corners. There have been many deaths from fires of overheating tumble driers.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I guess (Boing should know better)

      This is not the first 737 problem. Saw about this on a Modern Marvels rerun.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_737_rudder_issues

      Took two crashes to get it figured out. Just not as close together (3 years between crashes) so I don't think they grounded the planes. And I think there was a workaround for the pilots if they knew it was happening.

      1. SImon Hobson Silver badge

        Re: I guess (Boing should know better)

        I wouldn't put the rudder problem into the same category as the MCAS f**k-up. There's a big difference between knowing that there's a deliberate design problem and actively hiding it, and having a latent design problem that no-one had anticipated. As to whether the thermal shock/cyling issues were reasonably forseeable is another debate. As to whether the MCAS debacle was forseeable - I don't think there's any debate about that.

    5. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: I guess

      and the airlines for saving a few pence by not installing the light that says "MCAS on"

      If an MCAS light did come on, most pilots would see it and go "WTF is that?". IIRC from an earlier article, the only mention of MCAS in the flight manual was in the index.

  11. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "the FAA remains focused on [..] returning the Boeing 737 MAX to passenger service"

    I'm not sure that that is a good idea. It seems that there are more issues than the MCAS problem. It seems that the plane should be retired and a new one made from scratch, properly this time.

    Of course, that is one thing that will never happen. Boeing and the FAA prefer to put band-aids over a shoddy model because the billions put into the design would otherwise be a write-off.

    Since I've heard that there are airlines that will "rename" the 737 MAX in order to hide the true nature of the flying coffin people will be in, I have no choice now but to decide that I am boycotting Boeing until they put out a new model that is safe from the paper to the plane.

    1. Scott Pedigo
      Unhappy

      Re: "the FAA remains focused on [..] returning the Boeing 737 MAX to passenger service"

      >> It seems that the plane should be retired and a new one made from scratch, properly this time.

      That's what I was thinking. They should stop production and scrap the existing planes.

      From what I've read in various news articles, they needed to add bigger, heavier engines to get more power or better fuel efficiency, and this changed the center of gravity to the rear, making the aircraft less stable. To compensate, the MCAS was added.

      I suppose the proper thing to do would have been to change the engine mounts or move the wings farther forward, but doing that would have counted as a significant design change and necessitated a costly re-certification. Which is what they were trying to avoid.

      I recall several old adages, such as "There's never time to do it right the first time, but there's always time to do it again.", or "You can pay me now, or you can pay me later."

      Like all engineers, software developers, and any other professional who has a sense of responsibility and takes pride in their work, sometimes I want to choke the bean counters.

      Interestingly, for fighter planes, this kind of instability is important for superior maneuverability. There are bombers and fighters which are difficult or impossible for human pilots to manually control, and fast acting computers are needed to constantly adjust the control surfaces to stabilize the flight. But there, the trade-off makes sense.

      1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        Re: "the FAA remains focused on [..] returning the Boeing 737 MAX to passenger service"

        From what I've read in various news articles, they needed to add bigger, heavier engines to get more power or better fuel efficiency, and this changed the center of gravity to the rear, making the aircraft less stable. To compensate, the MCAS was added.

        I suppose the proper thing to do would have been to change the engine mounts or move the wings farther forward, but doing that would have counted as a significant design change and necessitated a costly re-certification. Which is what they were trying to avoid.

        I suggest you read up on the matter. Those bigger and more powerful engines were already mounted further forward so they good be moved upward because of lack of ground clearance. The combination of greater cowls placed further forward increases the lift beyond normal pilot control in any significant nose-up attitude like when taking off. The compensation (MCAS) malfunctioned, resulting in too many avoidable deaths.

        1. Malcolm Weir Silver badge

          Re: "the FAA remains focused on [..] returning the Boeing 737 MAX to passenger service"

          This is the usual narrative, but it's not true. The truth is actually that in certain circumstance the repositioned engines created a pitch up force beyond the normal ability of a pilot to compensate ... WITHOUT CHANGING THE FLIGHT SURFACES.

          Having the engines where they are is not a problem. Having the engines where they are and not reworking things like e.g. the horizontal stabilize position, the wing position and airfoil, etc to compensate is the problem.

          (For example, changing the sweep of the wing so that the tip is further back would comfortably balance the "pitch up" moment of inertia. It would also allow the thing to fly faster than Mach 0.78. But that's "too big" of a change...)

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: "the FAA remains focused on [..] returning the Boeing 737 MAX to passenger service"

        "I suppose the proper thing to do would have been to change the engine mounts or move the wings farther forward, but doing that would have counted as a significant design change and necessitated a costly re-certification. Which is what they were trying to avoid."

        I'm probably wrong here, but from what I've been reading, MCAS is only required because they wanted the aircraft to handle like previous models and so save costs on simulators and training. If proper simulators and training is intriduced and thus pilot certification on the 737-MAX, then MCAS wouldn't be needed at all. Can someone in the know confirm this or tell me I'm an idiot for suggesting it?

        1. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

          Re: "the FAA remains focused on [..] returning the Boeing 737 MAX to passenger service"

          MCAS is only required because they wanted the aircraft to handle like previous models and so save costs on simulators and training.

          The MAX featured the relocation of the wings a little bit forward. Without the MCAS, the plane has the tendency to "pitch up". Too much pitch up has two consequences: If the pitch up keeps increasing, the plane might stall. And if the plane is pitched up it will cause the plane to burn up too much fuel. The last reason is the main reason why MCAS is there in the first place. It was to ensure the plane doesn't burn up too much fuel.

          The biggest issue with the MAX design was that Boeing was forced to accelerate everything about the MAX. Design and testing was squeezed from six years (three years to design, three years to test) to two. And we still don't know how long was the "actual" testing. (NOTE: Boeing is currently trying to lobby the FAA to allow them, Boeing, to do computer-based simulation and testing.)

          Aside from the fact that the MCAS were deliberately omitted from the training manual, Boeing also made sure additional features that would warn the flight deck that the MCAS has activated was made an "optional extras". Only Southwest Airlines exercised this option.

          After this information broke, Boeing retrofitted all the MAX to have this and the AoA Disagree for free.

          1. Sir Lancelot
            Alert

            Re: "the FAA remains focused on [..] returning the Boeing 737 MAX to passenger service"

            Firts: MCAS is not about fuel burn. It's about correcting unwanted aerodynamic behaviour in very specific circumstances such as being in a banked turn with high angle of attack close to a potential stall.

            Secondly, the "AoA Disagree" alert does NOT signal MCAS activation. It simply reports an excessively different AoA being reported by the left and right AoA sensors of the 737 Max.

            Recommended reading: https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/times-watchdog/the-inside-story-of-mcas-how-boeings-737-max-system-gained-power-and-lost-safeguards and https://www.satcom.guru

            1. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

              Re: "the FAA remains focused on [..] returning the Boeing 737 MAX to passenger service"

              the "AoA Disagree" alert does NOT signal MCAS activation. It simply reports an excessively different AoA being reported by the left and right AoA sensors of the 737 Max

              Your description of the the AoA Disagree is correct. In the 737 MAX there are only two AoA vanes: What happens if one of the two AoA is faulty and sends incorrect/conflicting readings?

              Remember, both Lion Air and Ethiopian Air crashed because the one (of two) AoA vanes were sending incorrect and conflicting signals to the flight computer. The incorrect AoA sent no warnings to the flight deck.

              In both cases MCAS took the reading of the faulty sensor and pitched the nose down until the both planes crashed.

    2. Martin Gregorie Silver badge

      Re: "the FAA remains focused on [..] returning the Boeing 737 MAX to passenger service"

      With any luck the 737MAX will be obsolete and unsaleable by the time it gets re-certified, if it ever does. Failing that, fixing the design and avionics followed by conversion training for the aircrew who will fly the redesigned, modified and re-certified air-frames will be so expensive that no airline will buy them. Unless, that is, Trump's last act at the end of his second term is to mandate its use by all US airlines.

      Not that I care. At least the 737MAX fiasco, coupled with cancellation of the one Ryanair route I'd want to use has given me the kick I needed to never fly with them again. I hope they choke on the 737MAX options they picked up cheap after the first crash.

      1. Robert Sneddon

        Decent aircraft

        The 737MAX is an OK aircraft as it was designed and built. The problematic part of its development was Boeing's flailing attempts to make it handle just like its predecessor in a very small and rare part of its flight envelope, the nose-up approach-into-stall condition. To be accepted as "just like all other 737s" for certification the control yoke and airframe response to this imminent stall had to feel the same to the pilots trained up on earlier 737s and it didn't, hence the MCAS bodge which has intrinsic and disastrous failure conditions.

        Get rid of MCAS, take the financial and marketing hit of having the MAX certified as a new aircraft, pay for training for all 737 pilots who need it to fly the MAX and it's good. Boeing will eventually end up doing something like this, I think but they still have to get through the five steps of grief (denial, blaming others, bargaining etc.) before they arrive at acceptance.

        1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

          Re: Decent aircraft

          It is not an OK aircraft, it goes too quickly into a positive feedback loop in the nose-up attitude, which isn;t exactly a small and rare part of its flight envelope, it occurs during every take off. MCAS was supposed to correct that (and usually does), but is dependent upon a single angle of attack sensor. Once that single AoA sensor gets out of whack, the plane is more or less doomed.

          1. Robert Sneddon

            Re: Decent aircraft

            it goes too quickly into a positive feedback loop in the nose-up attitude, which isn't exactly a small and rare part of its flight envelope, it occurs during every take off.

            The MAX has slightly greater positive nose lift from the extended engine cowls but it's not particularly excessive. The problem with the 737 MAX is that the controls don't feel the same to the pilots as its predecessors like the 737NG in the same situation -- it's still a entry-into-stall situation the pilots can readily cope with. The solution is to train pilots to fly the MAX as a new-type aircraft, cover this new behaviour in training and the sims and qualify all MAX pilots and first officers appropriately. MCAS was an attempt to avoid this expensive, time-consuming and operationally intrusive requirement, mostly at the behest of the big 737 customers like South West, Ryanair etc.

            1. Adair

              Re: Decent aircraft

              But it's not a 'new' aircraft is it? It's a mutation of an old tried and tested design that has been pushed beyond what the existing airframe is capable of safely handling, i.e. the aircraft does not default to neutral handling characteristics, which is an important quality for civilian passenger aircraft. The 'safe' handling characteristics are, instead, dependent on synthetic controls, which have been installed ona 'lets keep this as cheap as possible' basis.

              Those engines should have been fitted to an airframe designed to safely cope with their size and weight by default. Instead money won out over safety, with the inevitable result. There are people in th eupper hierarchy of Boeing who should be sacked without benefits, some of the should probably face criminal charges, or maybe more appropriately the whole of Boeing should face 'corporate manslaughter through gross negligence' charges and it wouldn't be too much to ask the Boeing be broken up and sold off. No one is above the law and no corporate entity has a right to exist, certainly not fo rthe selfish benefit of shareholders and senior staff.. The whole thing is an utter disgrace.

              1. Schultz

                "But it's not a 'new' aircraft is it? "

                As I understand it, the problem is that the Max is very much a new airplane. Using sensor inputs for computer controlled flight attitude adjustment is quite different from the old Boeing philosophy of giving the pilot direct control over the airplane, but is not inherently bad - Airbus uses a comparable "fly by wire" concept for quite some time and it works.

                The problem is that they built a new airplane but pretended that it was not new. When confronted with unexpected behavior of this new plane, the pilots were lost.

                Oh, and there are two attitude sensors on the Max, but they wouldn't integrate/analyze/verify the data in the computer because that would be obviously different from the old 737 type. Can't have that if you want to avous a new certification.

                They should fire the managers that made the bad decisions, not the engineers that recognized and commented on those bad decisions in their emails.

                1. Adair

                  Re: "But it's not a 'new' aircraft is it? "

                  New subsystems is not the same as new airframe. The Max is based, according to all the reports I have ever read, on the existing 737 family airframe - hence the difficulty encountered mating the engines to the airframe in an airworthy fashion.

                2. A.P. Veening Silver badge

                  Re: "But it's not a 'new' aircraft is it? "

                  As I understand it, the problem is that the Max is very much a new airplane.

                  It still is the old air frame.

                  Using sensor inputs for computer controlled flight attitude adjustment is quite different from the old Boeing philosophy of giving the pilot direct control over the airplane, but is not inherently bad - Airbus uses a comparable "fly by wire" concept for quite some time and it works.

                  This in itself doesn't make it a different air plane, provided the handling characteristics don't change.

                  The problem is that they built a new airplane but pretended that it was not new. When confronted with unexpected behavior of this new plane, the pilots were lost.

                  You are basically correct.

                  Oh, and there are two attitude sensors on the Max, but they wouldn't integrate/analyze/verify the data in the computer because that would be obviously different from the old 737 type. Can't have that if you want to avoid a new certification.

                  Besides that, two is one too few, you need at least three for this kind of decision making.

                  They should fire the managers that made the bad decisions, not the engineers that recognized and commented on those bad decisions in their emails.

                  Not only those managers but also the button sorters above them, all the way to the top. Boeing used to be a company of aviation engineers with just the minimal amount of bean counters necessary to keep the financials in the black (at least on average, the B747 pushed the company deeply into the red during development). That changed with the take-over by McDonnell-Douglas (I know, the official story and financial records point the other way, but look at what really happened at management level and above).

              2. Denarius Silver badge

                Re: Decent aircraft

                @Adair. ITIRC that Boing had that aircraft. 757 or 767 but that required recertifying pilots which costs money. A design can be be extended only to a point when it becomes a different design. Even in the light recreational planes I fly, one can feel significant different in one part of flight envelope between two models from same manufacturer. eg newer DG gliders are different in landing attitude. One has risk of breaking the tail wheel. Never had that issue before, yet it is just another two seat trainer. Not.

              3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                Re: Decent aircraft

                "it wouldn't be too much to ask the Boeing be broken up and sold off"

                I can imagine something of that sort happening. The US would want to preserve the armaments business. If the loss of reputation on the passenger side were to put that at risk then breaking it up might follow PDQ.

            2. Malcolm Weir Silver badge

              Re: Decent aircraft

              Robert knows whereof he speaks!

              Both the Lionair and Ethiopian crashes could have been prevented had the pilots disabled the MCAS and throttled the engines back BUT THEY DIDN"T KNOW / WERE NOT TRAINED TO DO THAT.

              (And the MCAS-with-single AoA sensor was profoundly wrong. But fix that and train the pilots what to do, and the Max becomes -- probably -- safer than the 737 Classics, if only because the 737 classics -- 737-200/300/400/500/600 -- have older, smaller emergency exits)..

              1. JC_

                Re: Decent aircraft

                Not to mention the cacophony of alerts that went off, some of which may be false and others that have contradictory steps to resolution.

                Having a sane and simplified warning system (as on a modern plane) would have been possible, but again would have put the type-rating at risk.

              2. Strahd Ivarius

                Re: Decent aircraft

                The pilots were not trained to do that because it was not officials a new plane but only an evolution of an existing one they had been trained for...

                1. regadpellagru

                  Re: Decent aircraft

                  "The pilots were not trained to do that because it was not officials a new plane but only an evolution of an existing one they had been trained for..."

                  And they were never informed of this MCAS system !

              3. QuBitMac

                Re: Decent aircraft

                Even those ‘Trained’ to follow the procedure could NOT get it to work..

                So it was a definite DEATH TRAP

            3. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              S

              "The MAX has slightly greater positive nose lift from the extended engine cowls but it's not particularly excessive."

              Tell that to the late pilots from Lion Air 610 and Ethiopian Airlines 302 !

              "The problem with the 737 MAX is that the controls don't feel the same to the pilots as its predecessors like the 737NG in the same situation -- it's still a entry-into-stall situation the pilots can readily cope with."

              No, the problem is the manual override, in case of MCAS failing, due to its single sensor cheap design, DOESN'T FUCKING WORK, unless you have the physical strength of Hulk !

              "The solution is to train pilots to fly the MAX as a new-type aircraft, cover this new behaviour in training and the sims and qualify all MAX pilots and first officers appropriately."

              Well, if, by "train", you mean making sure a pilot knows how to recover a desperate situation, like being 800 meters above the ground in a looping aircraft with all engines down, maybe.

              The real solution is to disable MCAS and make sure the aircraft can fly without this turd.

              1. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

                Re: S

                The solution is to train pilots to fly the MAX as a new-type aircraft, cover this new behaviour in training and the sims and qualify all MAX pilots and first officers appropriately

                Easier said than done.

                First off, Boeing manual states that the "recommended" method to correct the MCAS misbehaving is to use the trim wheel. Guess what, it doesn't work. Too many turn of the trim wheel just to correct a single "point" of a degree. And that is when the aircraft is on the ground. Once flying, turning the trim wheel is extremely difficult.

                The only method to "correct" a misbehaving MCAS is to disable it using the circuit breaker. This is what previous pilot of Lion Air did. He disabled the MCAS by accident and was able to safely land the aircraft. Unfortunately, he was unable to pass this knowledge to anyone else because no one (not even the pilot) knew about the MCAS.

                And if I remembered correctly, shutting the circuit breaker to the MCAS is not a "recommended" method based on Boeing's manual because nowhere in the manual does it ever mention MCAS. Remember, Boeing is trying to downplay the importance of the MCAS.

    3. paulll Bronze badge

      Re: "the FAA remains focused on [..] returning the Boeing 737 MAX to passenger service"

      Surely it should read,"The FAA remains focused on [..] keeping the Boeing 737 MAX out of passenger service until it is proven to be safe by design." I mean, there's your problem right there.

    4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: "the FAA remains focused on [..] returning the Boeing 737 MAX to passenger service"

      I wonder to what extent the FAA's [lack of] involvement in all this should be counted as state aid, something the US has been vocal about in others and particular others who were competing with Boeing.

  12. mihares
    Flame

    You've got the wrong problem

    "The language used in these communications, and some of the sentiments they express, are inconsistent with Boeing values, and the company is taking appropriate action in response."

    No, Boeing, dear: you are concentrating on the wrong problem. The problem is not the language and the sentiment expressed, which are consistent with what everyone with a shred of technical literacy thought of the MCAS system.

    The problem is that those voices and sentiments have not been considered before releasing and selling a death trap. The problem is Boeing's """values""" and corporate culture that allowed a plane designed by clowns, supervised by monkeys to be put into operation.

    Changing the CEO is not enough: Boeing management should be killed with fire ---->

    1. tony2heads

      Re: You've got the wrong solution

      Send management up in the planes for 10 short flights, perhaps to the airports where the cockpit displays freeze

      When the retrofit is done this should be easy as they have many lying around

    2. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

      Re: You've got the wrong problem

      Fuck me, even Iran fessed up and admitted their ‘mistake’ today!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: You've got the wrong problem

      Or the management jailed - for (1) Manslaughter. (2) Fraud - passing off a known dangerous aircraft as airworthy.

  13. Danny 2 Silver badge

    CAA 101

    The first lesson I learned subcontracting at the CAA was not to answer when anyone excitedly asked me, "What flight were you on?"

    They'd always respond with some scary tale. There are far more near misses than are reported. Yet the CAA staff still fly using their employee benefits.

    I'm not scared of dying in an aircrash, been in a non-fatal one so I know, but everyone else was and I'm surprised so many still fly for no good reason.

    Check if your flight is over a war zone. If so, delay or take the train. You can look and tell a Boeing 737 Max visually, and weigh your life against the ticket price.

    I don't think Boeing will exist in five years. Nobody trusts the FAA today. All the adults have left the Whitehouse.

    1. Magani
      Black Helicopters

      Re: CAA 101

      "Check if your flight is over a war zone. If so, delay or take the train...."

      It's a bit difficult getting a train from Oz or NZ or even Trumpistan.

      I retired from telling pilots where to go quite a few years ago when a near miss would get you tea and biscuits and an intimate chat with the SATCO, but I hear such courtesies are now long gone. However, I still try to run an eye over Captain Speaking and First Officer Here before setting foot on today's aluminium tubes.

    2. Imhotep

      Re: CAA 101

      I'm quite sure Boeing will be around in five years. The US is not going to allow itself to be without a domestic airliner manufacturer or a source of spares.

    3. Andy Towler
      FAIL

      Re: CAA 101

      Tell me how to take a train from Manila to Paris.

      1. Imhotep

        Re: CAA 101

        It would involve a long ramp and really outrageous acceleration.

      2. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        Re: CAA 101

        Which Manila and which Paris? I am pretty sure there is a Manila somewhere on the North American continent and there is a Paris in Texas. And there is a Manila Bar in Malaga, Spain.

        1. Denarius Silver badge

          Re: CAA 101

          and Oz has at least one of each. A pair in NSW ITIRC

      3. Danny 2 Silver badge

        Re: CAA 101

        Well, first you take a slow boat to Mandalay.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: CAA 101

      "Trumpistan"

      First, have an upvote, second, refund me my keyboard, pls :)

  14. John Doe 12

    The whole Boeing attitude can be summed up by this scene from Fight Club....

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SiB8GVMNJkE

  15. steviebuk Silver badge

    Reading...

    ...the articles the other day about this makes you wonder how they didn't think emails could be used as evidence and a very clear sign or very clear evidence a lot of them need to do prison time for corporate manslaughter.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That's interesting..

    I'm actually surprised they handed these over. I mean, if you're trying to cover up a bad design, and you're determined to not get caught, then shirley you would find these emails, accidentally delete them and then only hand over emails which make you look good?

    I'm just surprised, that Boeing actually provided such emails to the authorities so easily. That is unless staff (such as those who wrote said emails) have been waiting for an investigation, so ensured it would get published? It's interesting.

    For example, when Facebook or Google get investigated there is always no evidence of any wrongdoing within the company ;-)

    1. Krassi

      Re: That's interesting..

      It's a kitchen sink job. The new boss gets all the bad things in the open and blames them on the previous regime. Yes , I know the new guy was part of that regime and the tactic doesn't stand much scrutiny, but that's the routine. Expect big write-offs and losses in the next set of accounts - it will all make the recovery under new leadership look that more impressive. I don't know if it is likely, but it is not impossible that the Boeing Commercial division could even be restructured in creditor protection / bankruptcy. If it is going to happen, now is the moment.

      (The financial status of Boeing commercial wing all depends on what value you place on all that undelivered stock ... if the approval from FAA keeps being delayed, at what point do they have to start writing it down and take huge losses in the balance sheet ? The cash flow of course has been awful since deliveries to customers stopped.)

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: That's interesting..

        You have to wonder how much of that stock will ever get delivered.

    2. TrumpSlurp the Troll Silver badge

      Re: That's interesting..all those emails.....

      This is like pleading guilty to indecent exposure and asking for 2,143 other offences to be taken into consideration.

      Gets it all {cough} out in the open so there is nothing to be ...errr.... exposed as a new scandal later.

      I wouldn't be surprised if people have been told to actively search out anything that could be considered incriminating so it can all be packaged up and written off in one go. Far better than concealing stuff then having it emerge later when the new squeaky clean image is being polished. Also removes any leverage for blackmail in the future.

  17. Jamesit

    MCAS, Might Compromise Aircraft Safety.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      >MCAS, Might Compromise Aircraft Safety.

      May Crash Aircraft Severely

      Any more ?

      I'm reminded of Blazing Saddles and just what a Boeing board meeting must be like.

      1. SuperGeek

        MCAS - May Cause Arsehole Shrinkage? Parrrp, scuse me!

    2. adrianww

      MCAS

      Monkey-Clown Aircraft Systems?

    3. low_resolution_foxxes

      Meddling Computer Attacks Simians.

    4. Scott Pedigo
      Trollface

      MCAS

      Manufacture Crap And Sell

  18. Robert Forsyth

    To the Armchair Engineers

    Evolving a design is usually better than starting from scratch (Agile verses Waterfall).

    All those old parts have proven infield use and safety.

    You can iterate changes to lower the cost of manufacture and fitting of each component while maintaining safety.

    You can test each change.

    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: To the Armchair Engineers

      Evolving a design is usually better than starting from scratch (Agile verses Waterfall).

      Usually, not always.

      All those old parts have proven infield use and safety.

      But will they fit with the new parts? And is the combination still safe (enough)?

      You can iterate changes to lower the cost of manufacture and fitting of each component while maintaining safety.

      Nice theory, however, in the case of the 737-MAX reality seems to trump it.

      You can test each change.

      Testing is nice, doing something useful with the results is even better.

      In this case the Boeing 737-MAX clearly evolved into an evolutionary dead end.

      1. Malcolm Weir Silver badge

        Re: To the Armchair Engineers

        "Nice theory, however, in the case of the 737-MAX reality seems to trump it."

        Selective reality, dude. The 737NG (third generation) supports it. As does the 747-400 (2nd) and 747-8 (3rd). As does the MD-11 (2nd).

        The 737 Max accidents were a training / categorization failure, both related to the MCAS. Address that, and your assertion that it's a "dead end" is shown to be... false.

        1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

          Re: To the Armchair Engineers

          The 737NG is already an edge case, already also shows an increased tendency to pitch up, but it still is manageable.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: To the Armchair Engineers

            Sounds like the 737 Max needs to go back to smaller engines..

            Then at least it could operate as a 737..

        2. jonathan keith Silver badge

          Re: To the Armchair Engineers

          Say what you like, but I'm never getting into one.

          1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

            Re: To the Armchair Engineers

            Say what you like

            If it is Boeing, I ain't going.

    2. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

      Re: To the Armchair Engineers

      You CAN test each change. So long as you DO test and do it properly. I believe there was a lot of simulation going on, which purported to pass for testing.

    3. Electronics'R'Us Bronze badge
      Stop

      Re: To the Armchair Engineers

      Evolving a design is usually better than starting from scratch (Agile verses Waterfall).

      Sometimes; in a safety critical system, any single change requires a complete re-evaluation of the FMECA when done properly. That may show everything is OK, but quite possibly it will not. A single line of code change to DO-178B/C certified code requires extensive testing to ensure that the bug / feature intended to be dealt with has indeed done that, and nothing else at all in the code is affected. Hardware changes likewise as that can easily affect software and the system level impact needs to be evaluated.

      All those old parts have proven infield use and safety.

      Within the context of where they were previously used, yes. Outside of that context the answer is a resounding NO without a full evaluation within the new context.

      You can iterate changes to lower the cost of manufacture and fitting of each component while maintaining safety

      Which means you have to iterate the verification testing and analysis to show that the change has introduced the feature you intended and has not affected anything else

      You can test each change

      Not on actual flight operations until several 100s of hours (at least) have been run in the test rigs and even then it is a test pilot who has to fly the aircraft as an experimental flight sequence.

    4. Strahd Ivarius

      Re: To the Armchair Engineers

      Agile is all about teamwork, transparency, and technical excellence.

      And nobody in his right mind will try to apply the concepts of the Agile manifesto to something other than software development.

      And even in dev, if you have to deliver the result to something other than servers, then you can forget the "deliver frequently" part.

    5. martinusher Silver badge

      Re: To the Armchair Engineers

      >Evolving a design is usually better than starting from scratch

      Up to a point. The problem with this plane isn't the MCAS but the elevator trim mechanism. This 'runaway trim condition' isn't new to the 737MAX, its been known about since the earliest 737s and was even described in the early manuals. MCAS was a software kludge designed to address this problem but it apparently can cause the condition its designed to prevent.

      From everything I've read the underlying issue sounds lie a problem with the tailplane design not evolving as the size and performance of the plane grew. This shows up a fundamental problem with the Agile mindset -- if you don't keep your focus on the overall system it just becomes a posh name for 'gopher bashing'.

    6. bazza Silver badge

      Re: To the Armchair Engineers

      Evolving a design is usually better than starting from scratch (Agile verses Waterfall).

      It'll take you a very long time to arrive at a working airliner that way. Airbus put significant effort into their Systems Engineering, and have a superb understanding from the outset about what it is that passengers and airlines really want. They have a very successful waterfall approach.

      All those old parts have proven infield use and safety.

      Maybe true, but they also are proven to be overweight and inefficient.

      And this is just as easily incorrect. The pickle fork issue afflicting 737NG at the moment is a sign that what was thought to be proven and safe isn't necessarily so.

      You can iterate changes to lower the cost of manufacture and fitting of each component while maintaining safety.

      Then again, you can get it wrong. That's what Boeing thought they were doing - grandfathering - but it's backfired spectacularly.

    7. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: To the Armchair Engineers

      "You can test each change."

      "Can" and "will" are different words with different meanings and consequences.

    8. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      Re: To Robert Forsyth

      "Evolving a design is usually better than starting from scratch (Agile verses Waterfall).

      All those old parts have proven infield use and safety."

      So, according to your argument I can just put a Mitsubishi Evo VIII engine (old part with proven infield use and safety) into my twenty-year-old diesel Ford Transit (old parts with proven infield use and safety). Clearly, there are many other issues that need to be taken into account, all of which need a lot of consideration (fitting the engine and mating it to the gearbox (then fitting a stronger gearbox!), fuel supply, brakes, suspension etc).

      The point I'm making is that some things are not best served by evolving a design - the original design just isn't up to it.

    9. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: To the Armchair Engineers

      "Evolving a design is usually better than starting from scratch (Agile verses Waterfall).

      All those old parts have proven infield use and safety."

      Absolutely not ! Single component testing != holistic testing. The whole MAX fiasco is a proof of this.

  19. low_resolution_foxxes

    Honestly, I think every engineering project I've ever worked on has had similar comments to this during the prototype stage. Us engineers are a sarcastic bunch of drama Queens when put under pressure.

    The problem is, it's bad PR to kill hundreds of people, for an entirely avoidable design flaw, where internal records show your staff were well aware of the design flaw, have gone to great length to prevent the regulator knowing about it, where your staff have literally defined the steps required to prevent it, but the commercial managers still force it through due to competitive pressures.

    1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

      "Honestly, I think every engineering project I've ever worked on has had similar comments to this during the prototype stage."

      But Max wasn't in the prototype stage. And this isn't your average project, where greed trumps quality. Oh, wait...

  20. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

    Maybe Boeing had adopted Microsoft's strategy for testing

    1. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

      Maybe Boeing had adopted Microsoft's strategy for testing

      I disagree: MS's testing strategy doesn't involve 346 lives.

      Boeing is in a league of their own: I don't care how many people you're going to kill just get it done.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      ie don't do any proper QA, let the customers test it and find the bugs?

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    One can't help but think there are several people who should shortly be starting a considerable period of time in jail

  22. Slx

    This actually makes me nervous about Boeing in general. I mean their *entire business* hinges on being beyond repute when it comes to safety and a culture of safety, yet they did this. They're not making PC or televisions. They're making aircraft that can potentially crash, killing hundreds of people.

    I'll be trying to fly on Airbus aircraft until this is fully resolved.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      >their *entire business* hinges on being beyond repute when it comes to safety

      Their *entire business* hinges on being the only domestic aerospace supplier to a country with a $2Tn defense budget. At this point the USAF and "Space Force" are subsidiaries of Boeing corp

      1. Malcolm Weir Silver badge

        Oh, nonsense. You have apparently forgotten about Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman?

        Boeing is the only domestic large commercial aircraft manufacturer, but Airbus is not without flaws (AF447, anyone?) and Superjet and COMAC are _really_ not without flaws.

        1. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

          but Airbus is not without flaws (AF447, anyone?)

          There are two major flaws which contributed to the crash of AF447.

          1. The flight traveled into a severe weather pattern. This froze the pitot tube and the pitot tube heater failed. This gave incorrect reading to the flight deck and the computer. Boeing also had a problem when pitot tubes were faulty. In two flights, they gave the flight computers error readings and both flights crashed killing everyone on board. These crashes are Lion Air 610 and Ethiopian Airlines 302.

          2. In the case of AF447, it has been identified that the CRM on the flight deck was inadequate. One pilot was pushing the stick forward and the other was pulling it back. And neither of the two pilots were communicating to each other.

    2. Phil Endecott Silver badge

      Remember that Boeing is also a weapons company.

      I mean their *entire business* hinges on .... killing hundreds of people.

      The people who run this company must have a “balanced” attitude to the relative importance of human life vs. corporate profit, else they wouldn’t sell weapons. Once you’ve started to think in those terms, things like this are inevitable.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      These recent issues were enough that my company bought a refurbished BeechJet. Well, not just this, but other issues like flying between small airports in the US and Canada has become a nightmare, usually requiring 2 or more layovers. Which is especially annoying when the two points are only like 400 miles apart, but end up flying 1000+ miles because there are no directs. Then there are the interminable security lines, and that airlines still haven't figured out how to efficiently load people onto a plane.

  23. Snowy Silver badge

    Lots of concern but no much care.

    [quote]"These newly-released emails are incredibly damning. They paint a deeply disturbing picture of the lengths Boeing was apparently willing to go to in order to evade scrutiny from regulators, flight crews, and the flying public, even as its own employees were sounding alarms internally,"[/quote]

    Yes they sounded the alarm internally but no one was brave enough (or concerned) enough to sound the alarm externally?

    I guess sending a sharply worded email counts as "doing something" so when the brown stuff hits the air mover you can say "well I tried to do somethings about it" rather than doing something about it.

    Guess this could be down to whist they have the Whistleblower Protection Act in the USA that only covers federal whistleblowers. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whistleblower_Protection_Act)

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Lots of concern but no much care.

      "that only covers federal whistleblowers."

      It does?

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is simply the epitome of American corporate culture

    1) Profit above everything else, including safety.

    2) Executives granted God-like authority and status without any responsibility or accountability whatsoever.

    I'm not surprised by this sorry episode in the slightest and I'm just very glad neither nor anyone I care about has to fly regularly for business.

  25. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Boeing has stopped making planes

    Boeing has outsourced EVERYTHING, including wings and fuselages, to the point they've had trouble putting planes together because the parts don't fit. They're now mostly a final assembly point.

    This changed the corporate culture from "we're making airplanes. do the work right." to "it's somebody else's problem, and I don't have the ability/authority to fix it"

    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-boeing-dreamliner/special-report-a-wing-and-a-prayer-outsourcing-at-boeing-idUSTRE70J2UX20110120

  26. Nathan 13

    Every industry, unless closely scrutinised by a competent regulator, starts to slowly but surely errode standards and safety over a period time. Its always driven by cost, and people at the top are ruthless about profit and if given the chance will happily cut whatever corners they can to obtain more and more profits.

    In such a safety critical industry this does (and has in this case) cost lives.

  27. Jan 0

    Nominative determinism?

    In the UK the name Calhoun has a silent L and is pronounced "Kahoon". In the USA, is it more like "Kerlown"?

    (Sorry, I can't do phonetic symbols).

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Nominative determinism?

      "Cal-hoon"

  28. This post has been deleted by its author

  29. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

    Why don't we address the "elephant in the room": Who-authorized-what and when is he/she/they going to jail?

    For example, someone decided/authorized that MCAS be omitted from flight manuals (or the importance of the MCAS) and flight simulation. 346 lives were lost by this one decision.

    Remember the saying "can get away with murder"? Guess what? No one is going to jail for this. No one.

    In the meantime, the US Government is planning to have Mike Lynch extradited to the US to stand trial for "conning" HP into buying Autonomy for $8bn.

    Like I've said in earlier comments, the US justice system works very "differently".

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      This character would surely be an ideal candidate to face a long stretch inside:

      "I want to stress the importance of holding firm that there will not be any type of simulator training required to transition from NG to Max," Boeing's 737 chief technical pilot at the time, Mark Forkner, said in a March 2017 email.

      "Boeing will not allow that to happen. We'll go face to face with any regulator who tries to make that a requirement."

      https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-51058929

      It simply beggars belief how any pilot, let alone the chief technical lead could have such an attitude towards safety.

    2. Imhotep

      You seem to be disparaging our justice system. I'll have you know that it is widely recognized as the best that money can buy.

    3. low_resolution_foxxes

      MCAS was deliberately not included in the user manuals.

      Pilots can only be trained to fly one type of large planes at a time. So A 737 pilot is only allowed to fly 737-type planes. If there are too many design and handling changes, you lose type certification and you need different training programmes.

      Boeing hoped MCAS would be automatic and never used, so they tried to hide it in the name of corporate and logistical convenience.

      The idea was that pilots of the 1980s 737 planes should be able to pilot a 737 max plane without retraining.

  30. martinusher Silver badge

    All too typical, unfortuantely

    This is what happens when you get marketing led companies that separate management and finance from actual engineering. Those of us in the trade have lived this particular tale over and over -- I'm more or less retired now but in 50 years this process has been the bane of nearly every company I've worked at, first in the UK and then in the US. Life as a developer was a never ending sucession of crimped budgets, rushed development, pressure to meet imaginary schedules, everyone running like mad to try to keep up with the managment living the Life of Reilly while explaining that whatever shortcomings in the product were our fault for not working hard enough, costing too much and generaly being inadequate people. (If you did strike gold once in a while then fine, they'd be only too pleased to pat themselves on the back, pay themselves enormous bonuses and options and maybe a bit of that would come your way but all too often the company was laden with debt due to people paying themselves forward so you just spent your time playing catch up.)

    Fortunately for me I never worked on airliners or anything else that would fail spectacularly. Most of the stuff I helped devleop worked but in the end it was always cheaper to outsource.

    (FWIW -- My comments are general rather than being about Boeing but coinciendally my daughter spent a summer working at the 737 plant a decade or so back when she was an aeronautical engineering student. She told me about the 'hollowed' out company -- the people there were either old timers or newbes. Nothing in between. Budget cuts meant they weren't hiring fulll time engineers (she got a job elsewhere. having got the equivalent of a first). In retrospect it was just as well since she'd have been stuck in a cube in Seattle being jerked around while the division -- or even the entire company -- slowly circled the drain. In the modern world there's nothing to be gained from working at the coal face, you've got to be out there at Head Office 2000 miles away "making decisions".)

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: All too typical, unfortuantely

      Your general comments are generally spot on.

      It is beyond the pale how many companies have killed people in the name profit.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re-branding exercise

    Fly the ALL NEW:

    Classic Max

    Max 2.0

    Max Thunderdome

    Max Deadroom

    No?

    1. Blane Bramble

      Re: Re-branding exercise

      Cherry Max

      Max Lite

      Max Max?

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The law does not apply to the rich

    Those who raked in milliins in salary whilst overseeing this cost-cutting shitshow will be protected. It helps that they also bribed the Republicans with 'campaign donations'.

    The only ones going to jail will be the minions who wrote 'the management are daft twats' in an email.

  33. FozzyBear Silver badge
    Flame

    I don't get it.

    Honestly I don't.

    If a person causes the death of another through, negligence, lack of duty of care, or failed to take resasonable actions (Death by Omission) that individual is charged with manslaughter.

    We have seen the reports, know about the emails, we know senior mangement made decisions based on potential profit. They intentional misled. They intentional omitted information in their submissions. They deliberately ignored safety concerns and flaws from the experts.

    Why are there not investigations to find the individuals who made these decisions? Based on email threads and notes from meetings this would be relatively easy to do. Defending themselves from 300+ Manslaughter charges should be these assholes primary concern now. Not whether they are getting a bonus.

  34. ecofeco Silver badge

    Insanely damning

    Those emails should put to rest any blame going anywhere else other than upper manglement.

    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: Insanely damning

      Please don't forget the FAA. If the FAA had done a proper job, none of this would have happened.

      1. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

        Re: Insanely damning

        If the FAA had done a proper job, none of this would have happened.

        The FAA was caught between a rock and a hard place.

        FAA's operating budget has been cut so severely they couldn't pay technical people to stay. The only way was to "sub-contract" a lot of the work. The only "sub-contractor" willing to do the job was Boeing. So in the end, Boeing staff, seconded to FAA, were certifying Boeing's work. Talk about "conflict of interest".

        All in all, it's a f*cked up world.

        1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

          Re: Insanely damning

          I won't deny the funding problems the FAA had (and still has), but I don't think "sub-contracting" was the only (or even correct) solution. The correct solution would have been to halt (or at least seriously slow down) certification and tell the customers and their employees to complain to Congress.

          And yes, a large part of the blame for this whole clusterfuck lies with Congress.

          1. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

            Re: Insanely damning

            The correct solution would have been to halt (or at least seriously slow down) certification and tell the customers and their employees to complain to Congress

            No, I disagree.

            Try telling that to Boeing that their 737 MAX certification, already >3 years "late" compared to Airbus' 320neo that is selling like hotcakes, will be slowing down because of lack of funding.

            Boeing has sunk billions of dollars into the development of the MAX and haven't sold a single airframe.

            And don't forget: Boeing has a lot of friends in a lot of places. If you're lucky, you can be out of the job. If not one can find their names in an aviation "blacklist" -- a career ender right there.

            1. TrumpSlurp the Troll Silver badge

              Re: Insanely damning

              If Boeing haven't sold a single airframe, what crashed?

              1. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

                Re: Insanely damning

                If Boeing haven't sold a single airframe, what crashed

                The question was "The correct solution would have been to halt (or at least seriously slow down) certification and tell the customers and their employees to complain to Congress".

                My response to the question was: When Boeing was getting the MAX "certified", try telling Boeing that the MAX certification will be delayed due to lack of operational funding.

                Note: No one can sell any airframes if a product isn't certified by the FAA.

                While Boeing was getting the MAX certified, Airbus' neo was already flying.

                Does this answer your question?

  35. Milton Silver badge

    Doomed?

    Boeing Employee: "Would you put your family on a Max aircraft? I wouldn't"

    Regardless of the FAA and even the airlines, this is an unforgettable question that some, perhaps many pax will ask. I can't see Boeing getting away with renaming the plane. It just might be doomed. The DC-10, remember, was pretty much killed by early bad press due to accidents (avoidable accidents*, whose root cause was understood even before the plane was certified, and which the manufacturer neglected to fix even after an almost fatal accident: pace Dan Applegate).

    I wonder if Boeing has advanced contingency panning for a write-down sale of the entire 737 MAX project—blueprints†, tooling, dies, jigs, unwanted planes and all—to China?

    * Though to be fair, the Chicago crash was due to improper maintenance when changing engines; and the Sioux City accident was down to an inclusion in a titanium ingot used for the turbine; neither had anything to do with the notorious cargo door problem, or overall aircraft design. That said, the DC-10 was a lazy, conservative, unimaginative effort, whereas its contemporary rival, the Tristar L-1011, was a fabulous, advanced and exceedingly safe design.

    Silly me: the complete blueprints for the plane, stolen from Boeing, are stored on a server in Bejing, next to the seventeen and a half terabytes of data on the F-35, stolen from Lockheed‡.

    Unfortunately, the Chinese aren't going to build an exact copy of F-35 ... they still think it's an elaborate American trap to get them to spend a ton of money constructing a laughably terrible aircraft.

  36. Aqua Marina

    Ironically

    As a result of all the additional scrutiny, the Max will become the safest plane in the world. Literally and statistically.

    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: Ironically

      Correct, there are no records whatsoever of accidents caused by stationary planes without fuel in their tanks.

    2. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

      Re: Ironically

      "As a result of all the additional scrutiny, the Max will become the safest plane in the world."

      Now you are assuming that the kludges Boing did are acceptable. To me they seem unacceptable, and should never have been allowed in the first place.

      1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        Re: Ironically

        Those kludges aren't acceptable, but non-flying planes are rather safe.

  37. Milton Silver badge

    Greed + Kludge = Dead

    Scott Pedigo wrote: "From what I've read in various news articles, they needed to add bigger, heavier engines to get more power or better fuel efficiency, and this changed the center of gravity to the rear, making the aircraft less stable. To compensate, the MCAS was added.

    "I suppose the proper thing to do would have been to change the engine mounts or move the wings farther forward, but doing that would have counted as a significant design change and necessitated a costly re-certification. Which is what they were trying to avoid."

    Not quite. the problem was that Boeing saw rival Airbus's A320neo fuel economy as a serious threat. They wanted to offer similar economy in a similarly sized aircraft but didn't want to suffer the cost and time to market in developing a completely new aircraft. (Mistake#1: Greed).

    To get the required economy from the by-now ancient 737 basic airframe design, engines with bigger fans were needed: as it turns out, much bigger fans. But the 737 is almost uniquely ill-suited to having larger diameter engines because of its already low ground clearance. (It's why previous 737s had those 'bulgy' looking engines, because they had to relocate the gearbox when re-engining the planes, in order to keep this clearance; it's only 17 inches.) To accommodate these much fatter engines, the only option was to move them forward and upward on the wing, changing the mounts. (Mistake #2: a nasty kludge.)

    Having done this, they realised that this mucked up the plane's CG and, even worse, greatly increased the pitch-up-on-power experienced by all planes which have podded under-wing-mounted engines (the position of the engines creates an upward pitching moment when they power up.) The plane's handling characteristics were now different enough from its predecessor that fresh pilot training and certification would be required. This would cost the airlines a ton of money. Boeing decided to find a way to pretend that such training wouldn't be needed. (Mistake#3: Greed, again.)

    (Even so, they needed to lengthen the undercarriage to keep the clearance at 17 inches.)

    MCAS was created to counteract the pitch-up—which might have led to a very dangerous stall, if the angle of attack became excessive—by noting the AoA and, if too high, forcing the plane's nose down. In this way, the aircraft's new, potentially nasty habit, would be concealed. (Mistake#4: a nasty kludge, needed because of the previous nasty kludge.)

    Anyone who's designed hard- or software will recognise this vicious cycle, whereby a seemingly sensible kludge later means you have to make another kludge, which then means you have to ... sigh, we've all been there. We've all reached the point where we've looked in the mirror, said "Shit, what am I doing?" and started again from the beginning. With a new design.

    Boeing still made things infinitely worse. By making MCAS dependent upon the AoA, it created a very dangerous situation: a rogue AoA readout could force the plane's nose down very suddenly, even when close to the ground. It was easy and straightforward to minimise this risk by using two AoA sensors (or even three) and making sure that if they disagreed, the pilots would be told. It would be called an 'AoA Disagree Warning'. Instead of making this available by default, Boeing decided it would be a paid-for optional extra ... without explaining the new, potentially grave consequences of relying upon a single AoA sensor. (Mistake #5: Greed ... and yes, again.)

    Al of this, and the invertebrate nature of the so-called regulator, FAA, meant that Boeing could pretend that pilots didn't need expensive sim time in order to fly the new 737 ... based on a half-century old airframe design. (Mistake #5, by the FAA: being spineless, captured, and beholden to the corporate interests it was supposed to regulate.)

    Consequence: a single AoA sensor—a cheap part known for its fallibility—goes wrong. MCAS kicks in. Pilots who weren't even told that MCA existed are taken entirely by surprise. Their iPad-based "training" does mention how to disable it, but to do so required specific and unusual action, and in particular, recovery of the plane meant that pilots would need to reduce power and airspeed during climb-out (to reduce forces on the control surfaces, especially the elevators). This is a bit like expecting a show-jumper to loosen the girth before competing a course: it's completely counter-intuitive. No pilot—especially one who's suspicious of stall warnings produced by an AoA reading—wants to pull the throttles back, and thereby lose airspeed, when still near the ground. It is in pilot DNA to keep airspeed up, with lots of nice lift, when flying low. Else you can die very quickly.

    Greed drove kludges, which then multiplied as they are wont to do; greed drove deception and spin, which led to fatal reliance on single points of failure; greed drove the misleading of airlines and, even worse, pilots who, when confronted by something they weren't warned about and didn't understand, could have saved themselves only by performing counter-intuitive actions that they were not drilled or trained in.

    Yes, it's true that pilots properly drilled could almost certainly have saved both aircraft. (It's also true that Sully could have landed back at the airport instead of in the Hudson ... but only if he had perfect knowledge of what was happening and acted instantly.) The pilots of the two doomed planes would in fact save their planes and passengers' lives, given a second chance. But they didn't know then what we know now.

    As Boeing's previous actions these emails reveal: they were driven by greed to cut corners and build kludges upon kludges, compounding their disgraceful behaviour with lies and deceit. If the flying public refuses ever to set foot in a 737 MAX, Boeing deserve everything they get.

  38. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

    "The language used in these communications, and some of the sentiments they express, are inconsistent with Boeing values, and the company is taking appropriate action in response."

    WTF?

    It's not the communications that are the issue, FFS! It's the inability to act on the safety issues.

    This is what happens when marketing and beancounters take over.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    From the archives.....

    ......the last paragraph being the most relevant? https://www.aviationbusinessme.com/aviation/2011/feb/14/61924

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Golden ejector seats

    The "Sacked" CEO Dennis Muilenburg is getting $62 million

  41. Czrly

    Priority List

    > "We regret the content of these communications, and apologize to the FAA, Congress, our airline customers, and to the flying public for them."

    The fact that "the flying public" are last in that statement and that the VICTIMS of Boing's negligence were not explicitly mentioned speaks volumes about Boing's priorities.

  42. s. pam
    Trollface

    Would the Sussex's fly on one?

    That'd be telling though for a price Megxit will do anything Goofy it appears.

  43. heyrick Silver badge

    and the company is taking appropriate action in response

    Cue the sound of somebody frantically hitting the Delete key...

  44. Extreme Aged Parent

    Non Flying Pigs!

    I have read many articles on the design and subsequent modification of the 787 to 787 Max, and I wonder whether it is worth while continuing to find work arounds for the problems generated by increasing the engine size. I would call them botches...

    Boeing should scrap the Max version and follow Airbus, and that was to design a new aircraft around the new engines.

    My thoughts are basic and simple, you have a pig, you put lipstick on it, you still have a pig...

    Scrap them Boeing!

  45. WONKY CLERKY

    Once upon a time in Building Trade Land, there woz a thick bricky who descended to do quality logging work.

    He noted that every time a Contractors Bean Counter stood up and said the magic phrase:

    'I can make a saving'

    the Client's Bean Counter rep' went into a swoon, knowing The Client would cream his knickers and accede without question

    (for after all, The Client would get his head patted by THE MONEY for being such a good EFFICIENT Front-Man and if anything did go wrong then they, THE MONEY were too far removed to blame, could replace The Front-Man - The Client (+ his Bean Counter), with ease, and continue business as/usual).

    So, wot happened + happens + will happen ? . . . ......

    a) Many things were thinned down and they got away with it.

    Great pronouncements of success were announced by The Bullshitters of All Parties and many yellow coated, hard hat photo ops were had by all.

    +

    b) Many things went wrong.

    Most were swept away in the flow of further events.

    For the ones that couldn't be obscured, a few Bean Counters + a few Clients were replaced.

    The Bullshitters were told to quieten things down and pass the parcel to wherever they could.

    Business went on, and continues to, go on as/usual.

    So, in another totally different trade, there we have a direct correlation to the situation above in the aero industry -

    If you want to to be seen as 'EFFICIENT', then you cut costs.

    (I read some little Bean Counter has been given his head to 'Make A Saving' without scruiteny and low and behold - he's done just that).

    How to remedy the situation is contained in the only conclusion you can come to from the adage:

    'If quality is a product of price (ie. You get on average what quality outcome you get in any market of the time for the price you pay),

    how is it that the 'man' [more accurately the men (and bollocks to PC)]

    (ie. The Clients Job Bean Counter, and his string puller The Client, and his string puller THE MONEY),

    who accedes to the price particular for a job (macro or micro), isn't responsible for the quality outcome?'

    Further, when the perspective alights on them, why don't they, The Client, pursue on all occasions The Contractor who sold them the lemon?

    >Yup, I do know, but this rant is getting too long and you're getting the ob's + inferred advice for nowt!<

  46. Marty McFly
    FAIL

    There is a lesson here....

    ....about watching what you write in email communication. NEVER put anything down that you wouldn't want to become public information.

    I sure wouldn't want to be outed for writing 'this plane sux' and then have to face an entire plant of union employees who are currently out of work due to the 737 MAX production line shut down.

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Using computers to fix bad aerodynamics

    Using computers to fix bad/unstable aerodynamics might be great in military fighter jets but obviously not in commercial airliners. The real problem at Boeing was they saw the Airbus 3xx series being successful and chose to use computer assisted flight dynamics instead of the longer path of re-designing the 737 to use new wings/engines in an aerodynamically benign way. Bad choice, in retrospect.

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