back to article Boeing aircraft sales slump to historic lows after 737 Max annus horribilis

Boeing's deliveries of new airliners have slumped to a reported 11 year low following the 737 Max software flaw which caused two fatal crashes. The US company has also lost its title as the world's largest planemaker after net orders (after cancellations) last year came to just 54 aircraft. The BBC reported that in 2018 Boeing …

  1. ForthIsNotDead

    It's not just the 737...

    30 Year Boeing Quality Manager Says "Fly Something Else", Refuses To Fly On 787 Dreamliner

    "John Barnett was a quality manager for Boeing for 30 years before he was transferred to South Carolina to work on the 787, according to Big Think.

    It was there that a new leadership team who had previously worked on Boeing's military projects began overseeing work on the commercial airliner.

    Barnett says that team lowered safety standards significantly. He stated: "They started pressuring us to not document defects, to work outside the procedures, to allow defective material to be installed without being corrected. They started bypassing procedures and not maintaining configurement control of airplanes, not maintaining control of non-conforming parts — they just wanted to get the planes pushed out the door and make the cash register ring."

    https://www.zerohedge.com/technology/30-year-boeing-quality-manager-says-fly-something-else-refuses-fly-787-dreamliner

    1. Mike Shepherd
      Meh

      Re: It's not just the 737...

      Military standards are very different: you can get away with killing a few dozen customers, largely because they don't have a choice and the figures are lost in the noise of other military deaths. Commercial customers do have a choice, as we are now seeing.

      1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

        Re: It's not just the 737...

        I think ForthIsNotDead's point is that the ex-military guy saw that the civilian team's standards were way too low.

        1. Splurg The Barbarian

          Re: It's not just the 737...

          My reading of it was that while Barnett was there working on the airliner, a new leadership team who had overseen the military projects arrived. This NEW team put the pressure on the commercial project team to lower the standards of their work. It was the commercial project team that had the higher standards and were told to cut corners by the new military project team that was now in charge.

          The stories coming out of Boeing are truly frightening for a "respectable" company. But then again when you see some of the things they have got up to historically, have they ever been "respectable"

          1. Wellyboot Silver badge

            Re: It's not just the 737...

            I read it the same as A non - military have higher standards.

            During WW2 getting airframe out of the door was priority one as they're not expected to last very long, in field fixes get applied as they are developed, even so, the initial development work was comprehensive.

            Military brass like to have their expensive toys delivered as designed & working correctly, compare the 737MAX with the KC46* tanker which took just over 4 years between first flight and first delivery (with some outstanding minor issues).

            The MAX had only 16 months between first flight and delivery, commercial pressure to deliver being king?

            * KC46 is an updated model of the 767 tanker that has been in service for over a decade with other air forces, The changes are mostly internal systems and refuelling boom design (aerodynamic impact), this model also uses a MCAS system that only operates when the pilots aren't actually moving the controls and has dual sensor inputs.

            1. PTW
              Coffee/keyboard

              Re: Military have higher standards....

              Exhibit A: SA-80

              Exhibit B: M16

              etc., etc.

              1. Wellyboot Silver badge

                Re: Military have higher standards....

                No argument, you could add the first version of almost any new military system to that list at some level!

                Generally the shortcomings are known and accepted (with a plan to fix) or produced by unforeseen changes in operational use.

                - SA80 was designed for northern Europe & didn’t like being in the hot & dusty places where it has spent most of its ‘in use’ time, still it shouldn’t have taken so long to fix.

                - M16 problem was the use of the wrong propellant in the bullets resulting in fouling & jams when used operationally in the jungle for the first time, the correct propellant wasn’t available in the quantity needed as the weapon was rushed into army service, this was fixed very quickly.

                1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

                  Re: Military have higher standards....

                  The M16 was switched to the 'wrong' propellant because somebody insisted it had a better TopTrumps score than the opposition.

                  However they allowed manufacturer acceptance testing with the lower energy "proper" propellant because the one actually used used in the field (jungle) caused too many jams.

                  Eventually they agreed to upgrade the metalurgy for the "wrong" propellant

                2. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  hot and dusty

                  It was a bit more than sand.

                  It can't safely be shot left-handed, by anyone, even left-handers! Bayonet made of chocolate, corroded bolts, extractor issues, broken firing pins, faulty, and unguarded magazine release mechanisms.

                  It was a turd when launched, and now it's a turd with an extra £460 worth glitter sprinkled on each and every one

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Military have higher standards....

                Exhibit A: SA-80

                I recall my first ever "skills at arms" lesson - "This is the L1Axx know as the SA80 - it's (swear words) sh*te - best thing you can do is to f*** it off and grab a (swear words) AK". [Rifle was throw into the corner of the room]. "I want my old SLR back"... We then went on to learn the misfire drills and how to clean it. It always misfired and we were always cleaning it, one officer talked some rubbish about it not firing as it was not clean!"

                The actual word "standard" is derived from military (think staff / colour sergeant). Back in the day Rome outsourced its military and.... well, the same sort of story as Boeing really.

            2. Thorsten
              Headmaster

              Re: It's not just the 737...

              The relevant quote from the original article (https://www.corporatecrimereporter.com/news/200/john-barnett-on-why-he-wont-fly-on-a-boeing-787-dreamliner/):

              [quote]

              “The new leadership didn’t understand processes,” Barnett told Corporate Crime Reporter in an interview last week. “They brought them in from other areas of the company. The new leadership team – from my director down – they all came from St. Louis, Missouri. They said they were all buddies there.”

              “That entire team came down. They were from the military side. My impression was their mindset was – we are going to do it the way we want to do it. Their motto at the time was – we are in Charleston and we can do anything we want.”

              [/quote]

              Also, the "they" in the quote in the Big Think article relates clearly to the "new leadership team", i.e., the ex-military guys. The grammar couldn't be clearer.

              Grammar nazi icon, because, well, obviously...

              1. Electronics'R'Us Bronze badge
                Alert

                Re: It's not just the 737...

                The new leadership team – from my director down – they all came from St. Louis, Missouri. They said they were all buddies there

                The St. Louis site is from McDonnell Douglas (a primarily military site); clearly the effective takeover of Boeing by McDonnell Douglas at the executive and senior management level extended far beyond the (relocated) head office in Chicago.

        2. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

          Re: It's not just the 737...

          I think you've got that backwards

      2. JetSetJim Silver badge

        Re: It's not just the 737...

        Ryanair haven't announced any cancellation of their order of many hundreds of these - I wonder if they're trying to renegotiate the price down a bit rather than do this...

        1. SW

          When is a Max not a Max

          Ryanair will also NOT be calling them a 737-Max

          1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

            Re: When is a Max not a Max

            So what, changing the name won't change anything else.

            If you call the tail of a dog a leg, how many legs does that dog have? Still only four it can walk on.

            1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

              Re: When is a Max not a Max

              So what, changing the name won't change anything else.

              Ironically, a lot of the problem here stems from the fact that the 737-Max is evolved enough to no longer be a 737 type aircraft, yet Boeing chose *not* to change the name

              1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

                Re: When is a Max not a Max

                Not only Boeing's choice, there was a lot of customer pressure (and not enough back pressure from Boeing).

            2. Cynic_999 Silver badge

              Re: When is a Max not a Max

              Changing the name does not change the product one iota, but it can change the way the product is *perceived* by a huge amount. "Riot" vs "protest". "Terrorist" vs "Freedom fighter." "Pro-abortion" vs "Pro-choice" Etc. Etc.

              1. Chris G Silver badge

                Re: When is a Max not a Max

                Let's wish RyanAir all the best as even their customers refuse to fly in 'The Rose Max'.

                The only part of a passenger that RyanAir cares about is getting the arse on a seat, or at least the money for that arse. As an ex air frame guy I would have to be desperate to get somewhere if it means flying with them, they don't fill me with confidence although I must confess that some of their pilots are good.

            3. Carpet Deal 'em Bronze badge

              Re: When is a Max not a Max

              It'll change the number of people who recognize it as a problematic aircraft. If few enough people are aware that 8200 = Max, the airlines can get away with using their existing fleets instead of having to retire them(assuming they're still there by the time the Max is allowed to fly again).

            4. paulll Bronze badge

              Re: When is a Max not a Max

              "So what, changing the name won't change anything else."

              Apparently if you change the name of row 13 to,"Row 14," people will sit in it without bitching, so ...

          2. Ken 16 Silver badge
            Trollface

            Re: When is a Max not a Max

            737-Min?

            1. zuckzuckgo

              Re: When is a Max not a Max

              737-LAX

      3. SkippyBing Silver badge

        Re: It's not just the 737...

        Read the Haddon-Cave report and the MAA's body of regulation to see what happens when this goes too far. Although there isn't much noise of other military deaths these days, so people tend to notice aircraft piling into the ground more.

      4. Cynic_999 Silver badge

        Re: It's not just the 737...

        Yup. The average military bod has a tad higher "acceptable risk" limit than the average holidaymaker.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: It's not just the 737...

          >The average military bod has a tad higher "acceptable risk" limit than the average holidaymaker.

          I was hoping that nuclear weapons are built with slightly higher safety standards than a deckchair

          1. Strahd Ivarius
            Joke

            Re: It's not just the 737...

            Since a chair doesn't usually explodes, should the weapons do the same?

            1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
              Joke

              Re: It's not just the 737...

              Dunnoi, but a deckchair is way more complex!

      5. Claptrap314 Silver badge

        Re: It's not just the 737...

        Maybe that is true for some traitor in procurement, but the entire purpose of military hardware is to complete the mission will minimal loss of life.

        Of course, that's if you are actually in the military. Not some civilian sucking off the government teat.

        1. BoldMan

          Re: It's not just the 737...

          No the entire purpose of procurement of military hardware is to support your friend's companies with the plan that you get a nice directorship when you retire from the military.

        2. katrinab Silver badge

          Re: It's not just the 737...

          There is a trade-off between loss of life and getting the mission done.

          Whereas preserving life always takes priority over getting a holiday done.

      6. toejam

        Re: It's not just the 737...

        There is a good chance that the managers who came from the military side of the house also came from the McDonald-Douglas side. That toxic culture was very prevalent over at MD and was probably one of the causes of their eventual failure.

        When Boeing bought out MD, that culture came to Boeing. You can see the results in all of their latest aircraft.

        1. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: It's not just the 737...

          One of my friends (who currently designs missile guidance systems) recalls interviewing with McDonnell-Douglas back in the nineties and declined to take the job on the basis that the managers he talked to by and large had questionable ethics. It's only a single anecdote, but he was certainly unsurprised to find Boeing having its current issues following the merger with MD.

      7. not.known@this.address Bronze badge
        Mushroom

        Re: It's not just the 737...

        Military standards are often more stringent than the civilian versions - but the use cases tend to be much more strenuous than their civilian equivalent; whilst a civilian airliner will ideally spend its life flying well within the available performance envelope, a military aircraft will be running a lot closer to the design limits if used properly - and if used "for real", pushing those limits to the maximum the soft, pink squidgy bit in the cockpit can take.

        As for "get(ting) away with killing a few dozen customers", letting people who regularly train in the use of lethal hardware and who often have a propensity for violence know that you think making a few more cents for the shareholders is more important than their lives is possibly not the best way to guarantee yourself a long and comfortable retirement...

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fixed the typo.

    Boeing aircraft sales^H^H^H^H^H slump to historic lows after 737 Max annus horribilis

  3. Electronics'R'Us Bronze badge
    Headmaster

    Level D?

    In among those messages, seen by The Register, are multiple specific references to a 737 Max simulator installed at London Gatwick Airport. Boeing staffers appeared concerned that the sim wasn't going to meet its Level D certification (the highest level, necessary for the most demanding pilot training) because it wasn’t realistic enough.

    In my experience, level D is one grade up from garage-ware (certainly in the DO-178 definitions); the most demanding is level A (failure is catastrophic).

    Interestingly, ISTR that MCAS was originally classified as level D (I do not think any level above that would permit a single sensor and single processor for something that can operate flying control surfaces).

    1. robin48gx

      Re: Level D?

      Have they re-classified the simulators? What level is FAA Phase 3 from say 1990?

    2. SkippyBing Silver badge

      Re: Level D?

      You're confusing software levels and simulator levels. Simulators are classified from A to D with A being the most realistic. Software as you correctly state goes from D as the least demanding to A as the most.

      Presumably the two groups didn't speak to each other to start with, although as it's very hard to get a catastrophic failure in a simulator that's possibly not surprising. Plus simulators pre-date software so I can't see them changing!

      1. Jos V

        Re: Level D?

        SkippyBing, you have it the wrong way around:

        Full Flight simulators:

        FAA & EASA classify FFS's into four levels:

        FAA / EASA Level A - 3 axis motion / night visuals

        FAA / EASA Level B - 3 axis motion / night visuals / ground handling simulation (lowest level of heli sim)

        FAA / EASA Level C - 6 axis motion / night & dusk visuals / dynamic control loading / higher fidelity

        FAA / EASA Level D - 6 axis motion / night, dusk & day visuals / dynamic control loading / highest fidelity

        There are different catories for flight procedure trainers:

        The FAA groups FTD's into seven levels (levels 1, 2 & 3 are no longer issued)

        FTD Level 1 (not used for new devices / various grandfathered devices)

        FTD Level 2 (not used for new devices / various grandfathered devices)

        FTD Level 3 (not used for new devices / various grandfathered devices)

        FTD Level 4 - basic cockpit procedural trainer / often a touch screen procedural trainer

        FTD Level 5 - specific class of aircraft [S/E, M/E etc] / meets a specific FTD design criteria

        FTD Level 6 - high fidelity / aircraft specific / specific aerodynamic modelling

        FTD Level 7 - helicopters only / all controls & systems modeled / vibration system / visual system

        1. SkippyBing Silver badge

          Re: Level D?

          D'oh, you are of course absolutely right, I'd even checked a list identical to yours. And then presumably typed the A and D the wrong way round in a rush!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      MCAS

      The MCAS system was specifically omitted from the training. It wasn't "forgotten", it was specifically omitted.

      1. toejam

        Re: MCAS

        That was done on purpose. Boeing signed an agreement with Southwest Airlines in which Boeing would receive a bonus on each 737 MAX sold if no simulator training for pilots was required.

        The FAA was rather arbitrary in its decision making, so Boeing management pushed engineering to make as few cockpit changes as possible to reduce the risk that the FAA would require simulator training. That meant that the disagree light was omitted as a baseline feature. We know how that turned out.

  4. Anomalous Cowshed

    Flying

    These days civil aviation has become a heavily standardised, say even industrialised process. passengers are squeezed and processed into flimsy flying tubes of aluminium wirh minimum levels of comfort and safety, in order for a chain of big corporations to achieve minimum costs and maximum profits.

    There is also the dismal airport experience.

    And now, this!

    Is it really necessary to put ourselves through such a stressful experience on a regular basis? Or can we try to do without it, a bit?

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Flying

      wirh minimum levels of comfort and safety, in order for a chain of big corporations to achieve minimum costs and maximum profits.

      There are two major errors in that statement that I feel it's important to correct. As it's very easy to adopt the position of world-weary cynicism and forget that by-and-large we're living the dream nowadays.

      Fistly air travel has never been safer. Didn't we have our first year without a major airline crash causing a death a while back? Just checked and yes - 2017 no large commercial jets crashed at all with no loss of life - just 2 small turboprops were lost causing 13 deaths. Obviously military and small aviation aren't as safe - but then don't tend to have the headline large death tolls. And remember this is at a time when passenger miles travelled has been increasing massively.

      Probably Boeing have got complacent and this will either be a salutary reminder that will cause major corporate change, or they'll lose a load of sales to Airbus.

      Secondly according to Warren Buffet (admittedly in a throwaway remark) the air industry as a whole has made a loss over its lifetime. There are some airlines that make a profit consistently, but it tends to be a highly cyclical industry where everyone takes a bath in recessions. Plus it's an industry prone to panic, such as the large drop in flights after the September 11th attacks.

      Obviously I'd agree about the every more people being crammed into smaller spaces on the planes. Though it should be pointed out that the industry is also carrying ever more passengers at still reducing costs.

      1. cdegroot

        Re: Flying

        Flying also never has been cheaper (unless you're taking a domestic flight here in Canada but that's an entirely different topic). Back in the late '70s/early '80s, my parents took us to Spain for the summer vacation. A charter ticket Amsterdam - Alicante cost NLG 600, or EUR 275. In today's money that'd be at least 500-600 Euros, an amount for which Air Canada will fly me not to Alicante (2 hours), but to Toronto (7-8 hours).

        Apparently airlines are making the correct trade-offs. People want cheap tickets and will take a bit less legroom in turn. Grumbling is a favorite sport of our species (I guess really the only think that sets us apart from chimps?), so they're probably right to ignore it and just look at the rising passenger numbers.

        1. SkippyBing Silver badge

          Re: Flying

          'I guess really the only think that sets us apart from chimps?'

          You should hear what they say about you.

          1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            Re: Flying

            >'I guess really the only think that sets us apart from chimps?'

            From local observation the only difference is that chimps drink tea (specifically PG Tips) and our primates drink coffee

            1. Hans 1 Silver badge
              Coat

              Re: Flying

              You forgot folk who drink Darjeeling or Assam tea and not whatever was scraped up from the floor and put in PG Tips tea bags.

      2. Anomalous Cowshed

        Re: Flying

        I agree that purely from a formal interpretation of my post, your corrections and explanations stand. But only if interpreting it from a strictly formal point of view.

        I would like to answer your points as follows:

        1. Safety

        Does the fact that no crashes occur in a given year mean that you are safe? Or are you, effectively, "on a wing and a prayer", and betting on the statistical unlikeliness of an accident occurring, though should an accident occur, you're unlikely to survive it?

        How safe, given the endless cost-cutting, do you think you are when flying in cramped conditions on a plane?

        How much of a "dream" do you think you are living when you are going through the overall experience?

        Conclusion: would it not be sensible to reduce the amount of times we fly in airplanes, at least a bit? The current attitude towards flying - that it is a normal part of life - is surely merely the outcome of massive marketing and advertising campaigns to induce us into adopting what some might contend are unnatural and unsustainable behaviours, in order to increase the profits of giant corporations.

        Which leads me to:

        2. When I refer to the civil aviation industry, I am not only addressing the airlines alone, but also the travel companies, hotels, tourism organisations, airport operators, the service providers to airlines and airports, including the providers of the security staff, suppliers of equipment, etc.

        1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: Flying

          would it not be sensible to reduce the amount of times we fly in airplanes, at least a bit?

          That seems highly subjective. Some people can justify flying relatively frequently, for jobs they find rewarding or family visits or what have you.

          Personally, I am happy to be flying much less frequently these days, even though it means I do several long-distance (18-24 hours of driving each way) car trips every year. And yes, those car trips are significantly more dangerous than flying - though in the best case I'd still have significant driving even if I did fly, and unless I spent several hundred dollars more for each trip to fly in and out of tiny regional airports, it would be hundreds of miles of driving, as there are no hub airports near my origin or destination, and public transportation in the US remains laughably inadequate.

          If I never fly again, I wouldn't miss it.

    2. Cynic_999 Silver badge

      Re: Flying

      I have flown periodically in commercial aircraft for over 50 years, and in my experience the comfort level has *increased* during that time. Obviously the service depends on how much you pay, same as a hotel, but even in economy class you get entertainment systems that not even the most expensive 1st class passengers had a few decades ago. Seat pitch and width in economy can be a bit tight, but not excessively so unless you are bigger than average. The cost of the flight (relative to average income) has also decreased to the stage that overseas weekend breaks are a realistic option for people other than the very wealthy. When I was a child, for a great proportion of the population a trip on an aircraft was a once-in-a-lifetime dream.

      Much of the "cattle class" criticism is because the sheer volume of passengers means that you *have* to manage them collectively rather than giving individual service.

      My first ever flight (UK to Africa in a 727) had no choice of entertainment - there was a fixed in-flight movie projected onto each bulkhead and you were lucky if your view of the screen was not blocked or you were so far away you needed binoculars to watch it. (You also had to select the right sound channel for the movie at your bulkhead - I believe the film was fed overhead from one projector to the next so there was several seconds time difference between the different screens).

      The last flight I took was business class in a Dreamliner. Wow! After an 8 hour flight I stepped from the aircraft fully rested and feeling 100%. The seat could recline to become a fully flat bed that was wide enough to curl up on. There was a good selection of movies and music, and also WiFi. It was no less comfortable than being at home for the day - except I didn't have to make my own tea or coffee!

      1. eldakka Silver badge

        Re: Flying

        but even in economy class you get entertainment systems
        An entertainment system is not part of 'comfort'. It is there to distract you from the the physical discomfort of economy class.
        The last flight I took was business class
        Oh, that explains it:

        "business class is great, I don't now what all you peons in economy are complaining about!"

        1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: Flying

          Agreed. And on some airlines those "entertainment" systems now bombard you with advertisements before and after the main part of the flight, and can't be switched off during those periods. In fact, the last time I flew, the controls on my unit were broken and the damned thing showed ads the whole time. I had to jam a piece of paper behind the bezel.

          I've always brought my own entertainment when I fly, using a cunning portable device called a "book".

          As far as I'm concerned, there's been one significant improvement in air-travel comfort in my lifetime: banning smoking.

          1. eldakka Silver badge

            Re: Flying

            I've always brought my own entertainment when I fly, using a cunning portable device called a "book".

            What is this "book" you speak of? Some sort of proprietary Apple technology? Do the batteries last long enough for a long-distance international flight? Can I use it on a flight in airplane mode without cloud access?

    3. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Flying

      flimsy flying tubes of aluminium

      Agree about passengers being squeezed in, but I can't think of a practical design for passenger aircraft that's not a "flimsy flying tube of aluminum".1 Should we go back to wood? Anything other than thin-walled aluminum is going to be significantly less fuel-efficient, unless it's made out of prohibitively expensive materials.

      Structural integrity of airliners has sometimes been a cause of fatalities, but usually (AFAIR) due to incorrect maintenance, as with Japan Airlines 123.

      1The "aluminum" spelling was Davy's official nomination and etymologically justified; IUPAC now accepts both spellings. See Aldersey-Williams, Periodic Tales, or the Wikipedia article on the element, which actually has a decent discussion of the matter.

    4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Flying

      "These days civil aviation has become a heavily standardised, say even industrialised process. passengers are squeezed and processed into flimsy flying tubes of aluminium wirh minimum levels of comfort and safety, in order for a chain of big corporations to achieve minimum costs and maximum profits."

      It's also one of the metrics used in "greening" their carbon footprint, ie more people per ton of aircraft.

  5. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Mushroom

    "This is what happens when you scrimp on software dev, testing and docs"

    Damn right. 890+ orders down to less than 60. Hey, beancounters, whaddya think of that ? Did you succeed in diminishing costs enough ?

    Hey, board members ! Happy about pushing your engineers to cut corners ? Pleased that you have worked in the best interests of your shareholders ?

    I am pleased as punch with this result. Orders down by a whopping 94%. Now if that doesn't provide an incentive to do things right, I don't know what will.

    If there is any professionalism left, the entire board will be sacked and an actual engineer put back in control.

    Here's hoping.

    1. Red Ted
      FAIL

      Re: "This is what happens when you scrimp on software dev, testing and docs"

      However the former chief executive Dennis Muilenberg will receive $62m in additional compensation, despite being almost-but-not-quite-fired. So the risk in it for him for overseeing this mess was what exactly?

      1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

        Re: "This is what happens when you scrimp on software dev, testing and docs"

        Well, with his reputation in tatters, he'll probably never work again. The poor soul is going to have to make that $62m last for the rest of his life

        1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

          That is a penalty I could live with without any problem.

        2. Cynic_999 Silver badge

          Re: "This is what happens when you scrimp on software dev, testing and docs"

          "

          ... he'll probably never work again

          "

          I dunno. He'll probably make loads as an after-dinner speaker. "How I ruined the largest aircraft manufacturer in the World". Or, "From riches to rags in 3 years"

          Bliar did.

          1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

            Re: "This is what happens when you scrimp on software dev, testing and docs"

            That isn't what I call working but making money.

        3. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: "This is what happens when you scrimp on software dev, testing and docs"

          I don't know about that. I've known other CEOs who left in a cloud of disgrace and found a new sinecure pretty damn quickly. The old-boys network protects its own, and the public's memory of company officers tends to be very short.

          At the very least he'll likely have some cushy board positions.

      2. Electronics'R'Us Bronze badge
        Devil

        Re: "This is what happens when you scrimp on software dev, testing and docs"

        I sense a shareholder lawsuit in the making here; he presided over a total failure to introduce a safe updated 737, a massive drop in delivered aircraft, a massive drop in orders (thus making the long term share price lower) and a significant drop in current stock price.

        In the USA (in particular) I have seen shareholder lawsuits for less than that.

      3. Snake

        Re: "This is what happens when you scrimp on software dev, testing and docs"

        "Damn right. 890+ orders down to less than 60. Hey, beancounters, whaddya think of that ? Did you succeed in diminishing costs enough ?"

        "However the former chief executive Dennis Muilenberg will receive $62m in additional compensation, despite being almost-but-not-quite-fired. So the risk in it for him for overseeing this mess was what exactly?"

        Welcome to modem America's corporatism, err capitalism, umm, systemic belief in fairness and mortality. Hope you like it here, the neoliberal economic agenda is a winner for sure.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "This is what happens when you scrimp on software dev, testing and docs"

          >Welcome to modem America's corporatism, err capitalism, umm, systemic belief in fairness and mortality.

          Don't know its not as bad but the former Thomas Cook board doesn't look like they will be going on the dole any time soon. The US is the most extreme example but late capitalism is blooming in most of the developed world as far as I can see. And when 1%er actually face any kind of consequences for their action we get to hear what a tragedy it is.

        2. Qumefox

          Re: "This is what happens when you scrimp on software dev, testing and docs"

          Orders are different from deliveries. They had 890 deliveries, i.e. completed aircraft built to meet past orders. Aircraft manufacturers don't maintain inventory. they build on demand, often with a long queue. The lack of orders likely won't affect their deliveries for this year much. Next year however...

        3. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge

          Re: "This is what happens when you scrimp on software dev, testing and docs"

          Welcome to modem America's corporatism, err capitalism, umm, systemic belief in fairness and mortality. Hope you like it here, the neoliberal economic agenda is a winner for sure.

          Welcome to "failing upwards". It's the new orange. Has been for quite some time, if you follow the right mags.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "This is what happens when you scrimp on software dev, testing and docs"

      "Damn right. 890+ orders down to less than 60. Hey, beancounters, whaddya think of that ? Did you succeed in diminishing costs enough ?"

      Yes, I was thinking the same. Such a crash in orders backlog is pretty much damning !

      BTW, this was a good article summing up pretty nicely what exactly went wrong at Boeing ... There is so much inaccurate info on this in the interwebs ...

    3. Randy Hudson

      Re: "This is what happens when you scrimp on software dev, testing and docs"

      No, it says 890 planes down to 54 orders, even though it makes no sense to compare these two numbers. Poorly written article, or perhaps written for dramatic effect?

      If you read it carefully, they delivered 380 planes, compared to 890 planes before. 54 was the total number of orders, which is not an interesting number since obviously some orders were for multiple planes.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: "This is what happens when you scrimp on software dev, testing and docs"

        Orders are almost always per plane - manufacturers don't announce they have 1 order and then in the small print point out that it was for 500 airframes

        1. anothercynic Silver badge

          Re: "This is what happens when you scrimp on software dev, testing and docs"

          Actually, that's exactly what happens. Any airshow PR announcement will usually say something like "So-and-so airline and Boeing announced an order of 20 airframes of X with options for a further 15 of Y", not "So-and-so airline and Boeing announced 20 orders of X airframe...".

          And when the tally comes at the end of the airshow, it's "Boeing led the order book with 25 orders totalling 225 airframes with options for an additional 100...".

  6. ridley

    I am impressed that they delivered nearly 3 a day last year, that's going some.

    All commercial?

  7. Oh Matron!

    Airframe

    By Micheal Crighton, continues to be an excellent and relevant read, and, despite being written in 1996, it still incredible relevant given the self certification by airlines of new aircraft...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Airframe

      Agreed. When I first read that book I thought it was purely fictional. Now I'm not so sure...

      1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        Re: Airframe

        Boeing C-level saw it as a manual.

    2. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Airframe

      Yep, I posted a reference to that in yesterday's Boeing story.

      It was one of the first books I read, when I learnt German. I went through the whole book in just over a day. Until then, I had been taking at least a week to finish a book. I just couldn't put it down, even though it was in a foreign language.

    3. anothercynic Silver badge

      Re: Airframe

      Crichton's books were always very well-researched. Airframe was not pretty (from that perspective). It's exceptionally insightful.

  8. andy 103
    Unhappy

    Accountability

    "When MCAS kicked in, inputting nose-down trim in bursts that pilots weren't expecting, hadn't trained for and didn't fully understand how to override"

    Still don't see how not training pilots with that was seen as acceptable by anyone. You're talking about a major change to the function of what they know.

    This isn't going to be the decision of 1 person. It would have to go through various different people and levels of the organisation. Anyone involved in that decision should be held accountable, and nobody else should fly or purchase those aircraft until the situation is deemed as resolved by an independent third party. Ideally more than one party in this instance.

    Boeing have massively fucked up here and their reputation has pretty much been irreversibly tainted overnight.

    1. ForthIsNotDead

      Re: Accountability

      Exactly right Andy, which is why the company deserves to vanish into oblivion.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: Accountability

        US Government will not allow them to disappear anywhere. Expect there to be some new very large defibrillation procurement contracts from Washington DC to Washington State.

        1. Zolko

          Re: Accountability

          US Government will not allow them to disappear anywhere

          the US government doesn't need the name Boeing to survive though. What they might do is a symbolic name change, the "company" Boeing will be left bankrupt (so they won't have to pay the penalties) and a new entity will emerge. Heck, it might even be an old one, like Mc-Donald-Douglas. Or Fairchild.

          The rest of the world will laugh like "Ha, we got them" and the US government will laugh like "Ha, we don't care"

          1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            Re: Accountability

            >the US government doesn't need the name Boeing to survive though

            The purpose of Boeing isn't to support the USAF

            The purpose of the USAF is to support Boeing shareholders

            1. Wellyboot Silver badge

              Re: Accountability

              You're nearly spot on. The purpose of the USAF is to support protect Boeing shareholders and the shareholders of every US company (aka the US public) from the most extreme kind of hostile takeover.

            2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

              Re: Accountability

              The purpose of the USAF is to support Boeing shareholders

              It's symbiotic - there's money and power on both sides. That was Eisenhower's point about the military-industrial complex.

      2. andy 103

        Re: Accountability

        Exactly right Andy, which is why the company deserves to vanish into oblivion.

        Wasn't sure whether that's sarcasm. But in any case they're responsible for the deaths of hundreds of people due to this so essentially they shouldn't be allowed to continue in their current way of operating. They certainly don't deserve to thrive and prosper off it.

        1. ForthIsNotDead

          Re: Accountability

          Andy,

          No - it wasn't sarcasm - I was agreeing with you.

          Cheers

    2. mevets

      Irreversibly?

      Seattle area companies in particular seem to come back from all sorts of engineering ineptitude, management malfeasance and the like. Although they don't deserve it, they will be back. One day, many of us will be in a MAX8 spilling a CharBux coffee onto a windows laptop.

    3. Electronics'R'Us Bronze badge
      Holmes

      Fixing MCAS

      This will not be a simple matter.

      Without MCAS (or a system that effectively does that function), the aircraft cannot pass part 25 of FAA regulations (transport aircraft) because the nose can pitch up more than the commanded (yoke) input without it.

      They could:

      A. Use both AoA sensors and both electronics units and if a disagree occurred (not an uncommon issue apparently for the AoA sensors on the 737) then MCAS gets out of the way and a cockpit alert is issued.

      This would require a massive amount of total simulator time (once they actually get the simulator to properly recreate the actual aircraft handling) apart from other training. It will also incur quite a significant cost for the electronics and software involved (although that is a one time cost).

      I am not sure the regulators outside the USA would permit a duplex system that disengages at a critical phase of flight (by definition, it only engages when it 'thinks' the aircraft is about to enter a dangerous phase of the flight envelope), but it would be a potential method.

      B. Add a third AoA sensor (and pitot tubes apart from a great deal else) and a properly designed triplex computing system for a properly redundant triplex system.

      This would require a complete rethink and re-statement of the system requirements and might be achievable in a couple of years (not including flight testing) but re-casting the system to level A (which it should have been anyway) will incur a great deal of testing and review (at the hardware, software, mechanical and system level).

      Either option would require pilot training and re-certification which would not be a 'standard' 737 certification which means the airlines would not be able to schedule any '737' pilot to any aircraft. That would put the airlines off (they were the ones, after all, who were demanding 'just another 737, but more fuel efficient', without pilot re-training costs and simulator time).

      Either option makes this a 'new' aircraft, in my view (others may differ).

      I cannot see how this problem could be addressed without doing one of these (apart, of course, from just scrapping the programme in it's entirety which includes, lest we forget, the 737-8, 737-9 and 737-10).

      I also cannot see it while the bean counters are in charge although they should be crying about all the beans they did not get to count this time.

      The FAA might approve the design, but a complete re-certification from the other regulators around the world is likely to take years anyway.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Fixing MCAS

        "Either option makes this a 'new' aircraft, in my view (others may differ)."

        Yes, because it IS a new aircraft, even though it was travestied into the old 737 !

      2. Cynic_999 Silver badge

        Re: Fixing MCAS

        Instead of additional AoA sensors (all of which tend to fail at the same time in icing conditions), they cound add an algorithm & inputs to *derive* the aircraft AoA from other data (airspeed, "g" loading, aircraft configuration & mass), and check that it matched the AoA sensor value.

        1. Martin Gregorie Silver badge

          Re: Fixing MCAS

          Good point, but with the caveat that the calculated AOA may only be used as a check on the MCAS system and must not ever be used to control the aircraft.

    4. robin48gx

      Re: Accountability

      MCAS. Did it drive the trim, or just load the column? I was under the impression it moved the stabilizer trim; but reading other stuff, it seems it was altering the control loading. I guess hitting the stabilizer would have the effect of loading the column anyway, but I'd like to know the full/real story.

      1. robin48gx

        Re: Accountability

        Have any angle of attack to pitching moment graphs from the 737-MAX been released?

        Does it have a sudden change in pitching moment?

      2. Electronics'R'Us Bronze badge
        Go

        Re: Accountability

        You can find a pretty good primer description at The Air Current

        1. robin48gx

          Re: Accountability

          thanks, yes. it just adjusted the stab trim.

  9. baileyhouse

    Stories to keep

    During my years in IT have have been asked a similar question in interviews - namely how do you convince an organisation to do the right thing in IT projects. My stock answer is that I collect bad news stories and relate them to the all too eager for shortcuts project managers. If the story has a financial element, then all the better. Thank you Boeing for adding to my collection.

  10. KjetilS

    Also engineers at Boeing called Lion Air pilots "idiots" because they felt they needed simulator time to fly the 737 Max safely.

    It's a shame two planes needed to crash to prove the Lion Air pilots right.

    https://jalopnik.com/boeing-called-indonesian-pilots-idiots-for-wanting-more-1840999747

    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Just for that the charge should read aggravated homicide.

    2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Corporate culture

      One thing that really stands out to me is how insulting the internal emails are in general. I've worked for several large international corporations, and I've never seen junior or senior staff insulting customers in email. At most people might note a 'challenge', or list a customer rep as being "not as helpful as I'd have hoped", but using 'friggin...', 'their own stupidity' and 'Idiots' about customers in an internal email would have the sender severely bounced by his/her boss. You have to wonder what sort of corporate culture Boeing fosters.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Corporate culture

        "'friggin...', 'their own stupidity' and 'Idiots' about customers in an internal email would have the sender severely bounced by his/her boss. You have to wonder what sort of corporate culture Boeing fosters."

        Not only that, but the incident killed 100+ people. Lives were wasted FFS ! How can Boeing staff be so casual about the matter ?

        Surely the pilots were not suicidal and had a huge issue that need to be addressed in other ways than calling them names.

        1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

          Re: Corporate culture

          To be fair, the CEO did make the prediction that the new aircraft would make a killing ...

        2. Alister Silver badge

          Re: Corporate culture

          Not only that, but the incident killed 100+ people. Lives were wasted FFS ! How can Boeing staff be so casual about the matter ?

          I think you are misunderstanding: the email comments were made before the Lion Air crash happened, not after.

      2. hoola Bronze badge

        Re: Corporate culture

        And Trump is now telling Boeing to get it sorted out quickly. From everything we are hearing, this is exactly what caused the problem in the first place. I am sure they he will find another raft of tariffs to level against Airbus to attempt to level the playing field.

        The entire debacle is about money and market share with both being put ahead of delivering a working product. This is just how big business in the west and particularly the US now works. Politicians and Management ae incapable of looking beyond next week yet alone a year ahead.

        The result of all this short term shareholder/politicians gain is exactly this. It has been inevitable that it would occur and the resulting coverups by all involved is symptomatic of the culture.

        The fact it took two crashes before anyone acted shows how deep the problem is. It may have been a bit quicker if is was a US carrier, but probably not much. There was too much at stake.

        As an aside I am not so sure Trump would have been stating that anyone can make a mistake in the 737 incident in Iran if there had been US citizens on board. It is a similar issue, non-US carrier, therefore it is not the fault of a US company.

  11. regregular

    Not surprised. Friend of mine works in a dying biz... brick and mortar travel agency. Mostly customers of settled age that don't trust booking through this newfangled interweb thing.

    She says customers have started inquiring what planes the trip is using. And once a Boeing is mentioned, even a reputable model like the 777 they start asking for different flight routes or abandon the destination for something different.

  12. Dwarf Silver badge

    Grounded

    So they have had the fleet grounded in the past. This time though it seems to be because nobody wants to get onto them.

    Let companies learn that customers call the shots irrespective of what management think.

  13. Randy Hudson

    Gareth please proof read your article

    "..last year came to just 54 aircraft"

    "Deliveries of new aircraft to customers halved to 380"

    Both of these numbers can't be right. Seems like that should say 54 orders, which is a meaningless piece of data.

    1. Randy Hudson

      Why the thumbs down? Are there readers who enjoy numbers being improperly labeled?

      1. KjetilS

        They received orders for 54 aircraft last year, and delivered 380. Most of the delivered aircraft were probably put in order in 2018 or maybe even 2017, depending on the lead time for a new aircraft.

        Some of the 54 aircraft ordered in 2019 are probably for delivery in 2020 and beyond.

        It would not surprise me if the time from order to delivery of a 737 is more than a year.

        Edit: But I am guessing if you want one delivered in 2020, or when (if?) they are allowed to fly again, you can have one delivered *really* quickly.

        1. Robert Sneddon

          Forward order options

          One airline ordered a number of 737 MAXes in the middle of last year, after the Ethiopian Airlines crash and the grounding of all MAXes worldwide -- the negotiations for the order had been going on for some time. The first completed airframe of that order wouldn't, under normal circumstances, get to the customer until 2023 or thereabouts, the rest of the order would be spread over a number of years following.

          I recall hearing that Boeing has/had over four thousand 737 MAX orders in its books with scheduled deliveries reaching into the 2030s.

        2. Ivan Headache

          With Amazon Prime you can get one delivered tomorrow!

      2. Steve K Silver badge

        Probably because you can hit a "Tips and corrections link"

        Probably because you can hit a "Tips and corrections link" instead of posting

        Steve

  14. CJatCTi

    They still haven't learnt.

    The new boss's priority is to to get the MAX flying again.

    How about actualy put safty first, not planes out of the door?

    How about remove the software that makes it feel like a normal 737 and get it feeling like a different plane and get that new plane properly tested?

    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Because that will take too long (they will miss a mortgage payment if they don't get their bonuses on time).

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Because it might not be possible.

        Classifying it as a new type might mean every part has to meet 2020 rules and regulations.

        It's really a problem with all the certifications, FCC and FDA aswell as FAA. The rules are so strict that the only way is to work around them. So the response to this is to make the rules more strict.

        I have had it happen with old university buildings. We couldn't add a fire alarm because it would trigger a new fire plan, which would mean new fire exits, disabled access, improved insulation standards etc etc. Adding a small amount of safety to an old high fire building is impossible because of all the new safety rules.

        1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

          Not impossible, just difficult. The attitude of "it can't be done" because of the knock-ons is part of the problem that led to two 737 Max falling out of the sky.

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

  15. herman Silver badge
    Devil

    Reverse take-overs

    Maybe Antonov or Embraer can bail Boeing out...

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Reverse take-overs

      There was a north american alternative to the 737, but with better fuel efficiency

      So Boeing had a chat with Washington and it earned a 300% tarrif

    2. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: Reverse take-overs

      Maybe Antonov or Embraer can bail Boeing out...

      I give Fokker a better chance, has more experience being bankrupt and dissolved.

  16. LeahroyNake Silver badge

    Defenestrated

    One of my favourite words. I believe the first time I read it was in a BOFH?

    Still I propose using the window of an Airbus Neo with an actual solid gold parachute.

    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: Defenestrated

      Preferably behind the wing, there is no reason whatsoever to even risk damage to an innocent engine.

  17. John Sturdy
    FAIL

    Boeing installed a new larger version of corporate greed, which could cause instability, so to avoid having to have the company decertified and re-opened under a new name, they tried to fix it with a work-around of lies. However, this failed to fix the instability, and the company is now in a nose-dive. Seems to fit.

  18. Speltier

    Pesky Cost Centers

    Some years ago, Boeing laid off a pile of engineers. Prior to the 787MAX. I was wondering what work they were doing that would no longer get done, or done correctly. Now, I guess I know.

    Doc Wallstreet and his/her MBA buddies ordered a corporate pre-frontal lobotomy to save the bottom line, it is just so expensive supporting brains, who needs them? Clearly not Wallstreet or MBA bottom fishers.

  19. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    According to NPR the Boeing simulator wasn't much better than the actual aircraft.

    From comments inside Boeing during the build, experienced pilots reported crashing in the simulator "the first few times" a landing was attempted in the MAX.

    And Boeing *still* recommended to airlines that no simulator time was needed.

    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: Bah!

      According to NPR the Boeing simulator wasn't much better than the actual aircraft.

      Depending on your point of view, it was either much better or much worse as it didn't kill anybody.

    2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Bah!

      >, experienced pilots reported crashing in the simulator

      And yet the article argues that the simulator didn't accurately model the behaviour of the real aircraft

  20. H in The Hague Silver badge

    TFTFY

    This is what happens when you scrimp on software dev, testing and docs common business sense. TFTFY

    I get the impression the Boeing bosses have been reading

    https://www.waterstones.com/book/the-art-of-war/tzu-sun/john-minford/9780140455526

    instead they might want to read

    https://www.waterstones.com/book/winning-not-fighting/john-vincent/sifu-julian-hitch/9780241318379

    (just reading that, highly recommended, basically what my tiny business (and many others) have been doing for ages)

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm intrigued to see how Calhoun can be the right person change around this (lack-of-)safety culture when he has no technical expertise, and has clearly been asleep at his job as a Boeing director.

  22. ashdav

    Just an observation

    I live near the Airbus wings plant in Cheshire where the Belugas go over my house.

    Flights have tripled over the last 4-5 months.

    Just saying.

    1. Strahd Ivarius
      Trollface

      Re: Just an observation

      That is in preparation of Brexit perhaps?

  23. smot

    Their managers came from McDonalds? Sheesh.

  24. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge
    Flame

    Boeing goes down -- and takes the FAA with them

    Just want to remind everyone that Boeing isn't the only one in trouble: FAA

    For political reasons, the FAA was "caught sleeping on the job". And after the 2nd MAX crash the FAA was "seen" to be looking at Boeing for "guidance" -- like a child being reprimanded by a teacher, in front of the father, while the child is waiting and hoping for the father to defend his child.

    It took China's aviation regulators to push the FAA to issue a grounding of all MAX. By this time, the USA was the last country to have MAX flying in it's airspace.

    If you think that was bad, the next blow was fatal to the FAA: News emerged that Boeing staff were seconded to the FAA in order to "help" certify Boeing's kit.

    And that, ladies and gentlemen, is it. The fat lady has sung.

    FAA's reputation is no longer in tatters -- it is ripped, torn, shredded and burnt to ash.

    The MAX is still grounded because none of the aviation regulators from other countries trust the FAA. Everyone is poring into every detail of the MAX and verifying.

    It takes two to tango: Boeing's difficulties is not all due to Boeing's f*ck-ups. FAA and Boeing -- a secret marriage that was bound to go down in flames.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Boeing goes down -- and takes the FAA with them

      Well that's it, I'm going to vote with my feet and use a different Federal regulator for all my flights

      That was the reason the NTSB was formed, the FAA was in charge of both promoting aviation and investigating the cause of accidents

    2. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: Boeing goes down -- and takes the FAA with them

      While I completely agree with you, part of the FAA problem (lack of funding) is to blame on Congress.

  25. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge

    "737 Max annus horribilis"

    annus maximus horribilis?

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: "737 Max annus horribilis"

      >annus maximus horribilis?

      Wasn't he in Gladiator ?

      1. Aussie Doc
        Coffee/keyboard

        Re: "737 Max annus horribilis"

        "Are you not entertained?"

      2. Ken Shabby Bronze badge
        Angel

        Re: "737 Max annus horribilis"

        He has a wife, you know. You know what she's called?

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Can't believe nobody noticed that's a 747 in the header pic

    Too expensive & on the cusp of retirement perhaps, but not plagued with the problems of the later models. Four engines is the dead giveaway. Nobody wants to fly four engines any more, they're so 2010's...

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Can't believe nobody noticed that's a 747 in the header pic

      Still one of the best looking airliners

      1. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

        Re: Can't believe nobody noticed that's a 747 in the header pic

        Still one of the best looking airliners

        Especially when it is flying.

  27. eldakka Silver badge
    Coat

    after previous chief Dennis Muilenburg was defenestrated over the Max fallout.
    Are saying Muilenburg has gone to that other well-known Washington state company, the maker of Windows, Microsoft?

  28. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    And they want to remove pilots from the cockpit?

    Yeah right.

    1. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

      And they want to remove pilots from the cockpit?

      Worst. Boeing is lobbying the FAA to scrap physical certification and replace this with computer simulated testing.

      By the way, Boeing never tested (in computer simulation) how the MCAS was going to react if one of the two AoA was faulty.

  29. martinusher Silver badge

    The real problem is corporate culture

    See https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2020-01-17/nocera-boeing

    The article pins the ultimate blame on corporate culture, how the cult of maximizing share holder value (and executive compensation) takes priority over engineering decisions that might be better for the company. Boeing is in a unique position because when it has product failures they're spectacular (unfortunately) and because of the very long lead time involved in product development. This means that decisions taken about product development 10 or even 20 years ago can be crucial to the survival of the company.

    This isn't just a boardroom failure, its now baked into our culture. If you take Elon Musk's ventures you find that they're controversial -- its all focus on personality and the only thing that matters about a company like Tesla is its share price in the media. Every negative, every glitch is seen as a bellweather for stock price movement. Every one of Musk's idosyncracies, no matter how trivial, is seied on as tabloid headline material. He's got to fail because failure is easier than success and the shorts need to make their pile. Creating technology? Doesn't matter -- as far as we're concerned the less we have to do with the actual business of manufacturing, the hard work of researching method, testing and trial, failing but working towards success is just a drag on profits. Those of us who've worked in engineering are all too familiary with the prototype culture -- everything has to be done too quickly and too cheaply to satisfy the financial engineers. Its a hard road for anyone who tries to push back against this mindset.

    One other quirk of corporate culture is worth mentioning here. Before the MAX disasters my news feed was continally being pumped with stories about how Boeing was creaming Airbus -- the 380 was a failure, the 320 wasn't good enough and so on. This all stopped overnight. Reading these stories gave me the impression of a well honed communications department running on overdrive. Its good to have a well groomed public face for your company -- but ulimately you will live or die by your products.

POST COMMENT House rules

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

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2020