Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
March 12, 2019

Boeing, The FAA, And Why Two 737 MAX Planes Crashed

On Sunday an Ethiopian Airlines flight crashed, killing all on board. Five month earlier an Indonesian Lion Air jet crashed near Jakarta. All crew and passengers died. Both airplanes were Boeing 737-8 MAX. Both incidents happened shortly after take off. 

Boeing 737 MAX aircraft are now grounded about everywhere except in the United States. That this move follows only now is sad. After the first crash it was already obvious that the plane is not safe to fly.

The Boeing 737 and the Airbus 320 types are single aisle planes with some 150 seats. Both are bread and butter planes sold by the hundreds with a good profit. In 2010 Airbus decided to offer its A-320 with a New Engine Option (NEO) which uses less fuel. To counter the Airbus move Boeing had to follow up. The 737 would also get new engines for a more efficient flight and longer range. The new engines on the 737 MAX are bigger and needed to be placed a bit different than on the older version. That again changed the flight characteristics of the plane by giving it a nose up attitude.

The new flight characteristic of the 737 MAX would have require a retraining of the pilots. But Boeing's marketing people had told their customers all along that the 737 MAX would not require extensive new training. Instead of expensive simulator training for the new type experienced 737 pilots would only have to read some documentation about the changes between the old and the new versions.

To make that viable Boeing's engineers had to use a little trick. They added a 'maneuver characteristics augmentation system' (MCAS) that pitches the nose of the plane down if a sensor detects a too high angle of attack (AoA) that might lead to a stall. That made the flight characteristic of the new 737 version similar to the old one.

But the engineers screwed up.

The 737 MAX has two flight control computers. Each is connected to only one of the two angle of attack sensors. During a flight only one of two computer runs the MCAS control. If it detects a too high angle of attack it trims the horizontal stabilizer down for some 10 seconds. It then waits for 5 seconds and reads the sensor again. If the sensor continues to show a too high angle of attack it again trims the stabilizer to pitch the plane's nose done.

MCSA is independent of the autopilot. It is even active in manual flight. There is a procedure to deactivate it but it takes some time.

One of the angle of attack sensors on the Indonesian flight was faulty. Unfortunately it was the one connected to the computer that ran the MCAS on that flight. Shortly after take off the sensor signaled a too high angle of attack even as the plane was flying in a normal climb. The MCAS engaged and put the planes nose down. The pilots reacted by disabling the autopilot and pulling the control stick back. The MCAS engaged again pitching the plane further down. The pilots again pulled the stick. This happened some 12 times in a row before the plane crashed into the sea.

To implement a security relevant automatism that depends on only one sensor is extremely bad design. To have a flight control automatism engaged even when the pilot flies manually is also a bad choice. But the real criminality was that Boeing hid the feature.

Neither the airlines that bought the planes nor the pilots who flew it were told about MCAS. They did not know that it exists. They were not aware of an automatic system that controlled the stabilizer even when the autopilot was off. They had no idea how it could be deactivated.

Nine days after the Indonesian Lion Air Flight 610 ended in a deadly crash, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued an Emergency Airworthiness Directive.


The 737 MAX pilots were aghast. The APA pilot union sent a letter to its members:

“This is the first description you, as 737 pilots, have seen. It is not in the AA 737 Flight Manual Part 2, nor is there a description in the Boeing FCOM (flight crew operations manual),” says the letter from the pilots’ union safety committee. “Awareness is the key with all safety issues.”

The Ethiopian Airlines plane that crashed went down in a similar flight profile as the Indonesian plane. It is highly likely that MCAS is the cause of both incidents. While the pilots of the Ethiopian plane were aware of the MCAS system they might have had too little time to turn it off. The flight recorders have been recovered and will tell the full story.

Boeing has sold nearly 5,000 of the 737 MAX. So far some 380 have been delivered. Most of these are now grounded. Some family members of people who died on the Indonesian flight are suing Boeing. Others will follow. But Boeing is not the only one who is at fault.

The FAA certifies all new planes and their documentation. I was for some time marginally involved in Airbus certification issues. It is an extremely detailed process that has to be followed by the letter. Hundreds of people are full time engaged for years to certify a modern jet. Every tiny screw and even the smallest design details of the hardware and software have to be documented and certified.

How or why did the FAA agree to accept the 737 MAX with the badly designed MCAS? How could the FAA allow that MCAS was left out of the documentation? What steps were taken after the Indonesian flight crashed into the sea?

Up to now the FAA was a highly regarded certification agency. Other countries followed its judgment and accepted the certifications the FAA issued. That most of the world now grounded the 737 MAX while it still flies in the States is a sign that this view is changing. The FAA's certifications of Boeing airplanes are now in doubt.

Today Boeing's share price dropped some 7.5%. I doubt that it is enough to reflect the liability issues at hand. Every airline that now had to ground its planes will ask for compensation. More than 330 people died and their families deserve redress. Orders for 737 MAX will be canceled as passengers will avoid that type. 

Boeing will fix the MCAS problem by using more sensors or by otherwise changing the procedures. But the bigger issue for the U.S. aircraft industry might be the damage done to the FAA's reputation. If the FAA is internationally seen as a lobbying agency for the U.S. airline industry it will no longer be trusted and the industry will suffer from it. It will have to run future certification processes through a jungle of foreign agencies.

Congress should take up the FAA issue and ask why it failed.

Posted by b on March 12, 2019 at 20:39 UTC | Permalink

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@realist, the pilots on the previous Lionair flight had managed to get the airplane under control easily. So easily that maintenance didn’t even bother to make sure the problem couldn’t happen again.

IF this pilot is correct that the MCAS can potentially get the airplane into unrecoverable problems when faulty sensors are involved, that’s obviously a big problem.

That said, it’s totally irrelevant to crashes where the pilots ignored correct procedures.

Posted by: Steven | Mar 14 2019 8:02 utc | 201

Ethiopia is right to prefer sending the black box to anyone BUT the US government. Although Trump and the FAA were forced to backpedal under social and political pressure and ground the planes, they'd already shown their hand: They were determined to cover up for Boeing, keep the planes flying, barge ahead with business as usual.

So obviously no sane person would expect anything but a white-wash from any US government agency on this. Same as for all other corporate crimes. (Of course that's not just "Trump"; it's universal through all administrations and will continue to be for as long as the corporate system exists.)

Posted by: Russ | Mar 14 2019 9:31 utc | 202

@acementhead, steven
I think the Airliner who had bought off these airplanes would demand the MCAS to be turned off by default and can't override their pilot control at any time. Would be interesting to see if the pilot then reported another problem somewhere else in plane. You just can't make this up anyhow if there is indeed critical design flaws. Boeing would need to address the issue and release a real fix that can hopefully safe the model and their stock prices and whatever blame game they play the trust have been broken.

Posted by: HW | Mar 14 2019 9:52 utc | 203

If the plane were indeed to complex for operations in the so called "third world" then i believe the so called "third world" as well would happily find an alternative in Airbus or other companies model. Boeing would still lose the market then.

Posted by: HW | Mar 14 2019 10:07 utc | 204

HW, the airplane is not remotely “too complex for operations in the third world.” It is too complex for operations by inadequately trained or incompetent pilots anywhere. And there are far more of these in the third world. Even Switzerland has had passenger jets crashed by pilots with long histories of incompetence, but it’s rare.

MCAS is apparently needed to keep certain characteristics within regulatory limits. It makes it much harder for incompetent pilots to suddenly and presumably often irrecoverably lose control of the airplane.

In the hands of incompetent pilots, bad things happen, but that’s always the case with incompetent pilots.

Posted by: Steven | Mar 14 2019 11:04 utc | 205

Two same models within months.
Two eerily similar crash profile.
Too much for coincidence.

Let's just see what the investigation finds before judging anything shall we ?

Posted by: HW | Mar 14 2019 11:13 utc | 206

@206. Yes, I agree. I should have added “from what we in the general public know today” the airplane seems safe to fly.

The stories I could tell you about aviation in the third world... things that would get people fired and blacklisted in North America happen almost daily...

Posted by: Steven | Mar 14 2019 11:24 utc | 207

b: just so we’re clear: I never said or implied pilot quality depends on skin color. That’s obviously absurd. What I did say is that in poor countries there’s less money for training and pay, and this obviously does affect pilot quality.

Don’t put words into others’ mouthes.

Posted by: Steven | Mar 14 2019 11:33 utc | 208


begin quote (same Pilot) --

By regulation, when a system fails (as designed) the pilot MUST be able to recover:

- in 3 seconds when in cruise

- in 1 second when on approach

- when in the landing phase - immediately!

Such a system would be certifiable.

Most modern airliners have ~10 "memory items" that are procedures that are to be recalled and applied immediately without consulting any checklists. Runaway stabilizer is such a memory item.

But first you need to recognize the issue as such..

It bears to mention that the 737 is riding on it's "grandfathered" certification status from the 60's, getting a free pass on many newer requirements that are subjected to airliners designed today. This is why it doubly makes sense for the bean counters to not design a new aircraft.

-- end quote( emphasis added

Posted by: Realist | Mar 14 2019 12:46 utc | 209

@208. Nicely put Steven. You have weathered the charges of 'fake pilot','Boeing troll' even racism with patience. I for one appreciate your input.

Posted by: dh | Mar 14 2019 14:00 utc | 210

> There can be many reasons for a sudden nose down

Posted by: b | Mar 13, 2019 3:15:28 PM | 151

True. However, if it was due to MCAS then MCAS (as far as it reported) only controls stabilizer.

1. When stabilizer trim is moved by electromotors - the mechanical wheel on that video is also rotated and wit ha great noise it does. Including when those motors are commanded by MCAS.
That is why the rescue cheat-sheet tells pilots to grab the stabilizer trim wheel with hands and hold it overpowering the electric motor - because they are mechanically connected.
Which means that pilots could see there trim "living life of its own", while they did not know what causes it - they could see what control plane is moving.
And priorly pilots - without knowing about MCAS - succeeded in identifying big wheel rotating near their knees and then stopping that rotation by cutting off the electric motor used both by pilots buttons-control and MCAS.

Of course there are yet worse options too.
2. Maybe it was not MCAS but something yet else and Boeing has two problems not one.
3. Maybe it was MCAS but it was commanding something else but the trimmer, and then Boeing is misinforming pilots about what MCAS is and what it can do.

> The quality of a pilot is independent of the color of the skin

But it is dependent upon the overall situaio nof their nation/state. Like education, corruption, etc
And state structure may to some degree be influenced by dominant religion.

Posted by: Arioch | Mar 14 2019 14:36 utc | 211

the hatred to steven i believe is bordering on the antisemetic an experience captain comes here to give us his decades of experience in these matters.tries to explain to the herd why we cannot trust the arabs and general blackamoors with these highly complex machines and the farm yard goes crazy.

sometimes the farmer has to dish out the beatings when the animals rise onto 2 legs getting ideas above station steven is noah in these regards fighting the captain is just not cricket.

boeing will be fine we have to except that lessons must be learned on the education training front after all you would not put a bus driver into a f1 ferrari the airlines need to pay for good pilots isreal has hundreds of pilots overly skilled on this bird maybe they can help?

Posted by: ariel | Mar 14 2019 14:52 utc | 212

- Then windows asked three times in intervals of ~10mins, both at work and home:

> I need to update.
> < Cancel. (I am in the middle of something)
> Restart, no message at all this time around. (No work saved!!! F*CK)

Posted by: Vasco da Gama | Mar 13, 2019 6:28:29 PM | 170

Granted, you could just press an adjacent button "Cancel for 4 hours".

That being said, sometimes even 4 hours are not enough and you better just shutdown Windows Updater for good.
Just... do not forget to restart the updater (or the computer) when the rash hour ends :-)

Also, Windows is consumer tool, like those camera-phones with auto-zoom, etc.
So, it acts assuming you be just a thinking-averse consumer.

Even Linux seems to go that way now...

Posted by: Arioch | Mar 14 2019 14:58 utc | 213

> the pilots on the previous Lion air flight had managed to get the airplane under control easily. So easily that maintenance didn’t even bother to make sure the problem couldn’t happen again.

Posted by: Steven | Mar 14, 2019 4:02:22 AM | 201

1. It was alleged that they did NOT reported to their maintenance that they had AOA inconsistency and runaway trim problems, until after the plane crashed

2. Yeah, indeed, they did "get the airplane under control easily". What does it mean? It means the aircraft first did escaped form they control, so they had to hunt the fled aircraft and force it back onto their leash.

When the aircraft is insistent on getting off pilots control - then laws of big numbers kick in.
It becomes only a matter of time before the aircraft finds the "weak link", finds the pilot that for any reason would fail to capture it back.

The dead crew is definitely guilty of failing to couple with the emergency, once.

The aircraft is definitely guilty of generating this emergency again and again and again, persistently, until finding that less that perfect crew it can have its way over.

Posted by: Arioch | Mar 14 2019 15:36 utc | 214


Well before the Al Jazeera documentary, in 1987 there was the film Wall Street. I had a lot more to add but IE reset the page and my 90 minutes worth of writing was erased, and I'm not going to replicate it. However, the incident does serve to prove just how destructive uncontrollable technology can be. Just one note from that lost text: Interesting how the most corrupt and immoral Empires that have existed--Roman, British & USA--have all had the prefix 'Pax'--i.e. Pax Romana--applied to them to obfuscate their horrific realities.

Posted by: karlof1 | Mar 14 2019 16:34 utc | 215

reminds me of the Challenger disaster. Engineers said "slow or no". Non-engineers said "go". The non-engineers should be in prison or executed as they are murderers.

Posted by: stevelaudig | Mar 14 2019 16:49 utc | 216

Several pilot reports on problems with max 8. Reports are below the article.

Two of the reports involve the nose pitching down when engaging auto pilot after take off. Remedied by switching auto pilot off.

The Qantas incident I linked to early was under different circumstances and occurred when auto pilot was disengaged or supposed to change to a different mode. The article speaks of modifications to the auto pilot but reading through the article, it appears to be a Boeing modification.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Mar 14 2019 17:12 utc | 217

Posted by: Arioch | Mar 13, 2019 9:10:18 AM | 106

2. The deactivation of MCAS is very simple - just start manual control of stabilizer via buttons on a rudder, and the automation is said to step away.

No, it is not simple! The manual trim control buttons on the rudder do not deactivate MCAS. Even worse. They deactivate it for 5 seconds, before it kicks in again. To deactivate MCAS you have to switch of the trim motors and use the manual trim wheel. See:

What is the Boeing 737 Max Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System? - The Air Current

Posted by: Petri Krohn | Mar 14 2019 17:26 utc | 218

Correct, i should had mentioned that it was to "temporarily deactivate".

However, if you got the gist, then pressing a button once per 5 second is doable.
As soon as the wheel star turning - press the button.

Now, that the emergent emergency got offset, make a deep breath, open the book and read what you are supposed to do when the stupid wheel wants to be turning on its own.

Posted by: Arioch | Mar 14 2019 17:52 utc | 219

Petri Krohn
This what I could find on Horizontal stabilizer controls for the 737
The four systems mentioned here do not include MCAS so that makes it five. Also there is no direct mechanical or hydraulic linkage. All including the manual wheel are electric signals.
Pitch trim is applied to the stabilizer. The stabilizer can be moved by four systems. The stabilizer trim (figure 1.2) is operated through the wheel on the side of the control stand on the pedestal. A scale indicates how much the stabilizer is trimmed. The green band shows the safe takeoff trim range. On the left side of the scale is the trim wheel itself. The inputs of this wheel are send to the stabilizer trim part of the trim motor in the tail cone. The trim motor then adjusts the position of the stabilizer. This is a manual way of trimming and is normally not used.

The main electric trim is the second way in which the stabilizer is moved. The main electric trim is operated through two switches that can be moved up and down on the control wheel. The trim switches move the trim wheel and uses the same system as the stabilizer trim. The speed of the trimming depends on the speed of the aircraft. If the aircraft flies at a low airspeed, the trimming is faster than when the aircraft flies at higher speeds.

The autopilot trim is the third way the stabilizer is controlled. It sends a direct signal to the auto-pilot part of the trim motor, which moves the stabilizer to the commanded position.

The speed trim is the last system, and it operates at low speeds, aft centre of gravity, low gross weight and high thrust conditions, such as takeoff and go around procedures. It helps the pilot in controlling the aircraft in critical situations.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Mar 14 2019 19:03 utc | 220

@arioch @211

if it was due to MCAS then MCAS (as far as it reported) only controls stabilizer.

1. When stabilizer trim is moved by electromotors - the mechanical wheel on that video is also rotated and wit ha great noise it does. Including when those motors are commanded by MCAS.
That is why the rescue cheat-sheet tells pilots to grab the stabilizer trim wheel with hands and hold it overpowering the electric motor - because they are mechanically connected.

Manual turn does not "overpower" the motors. There are two buttons to electrically trim for and aft which override MCAS for five seconds. Manual pushing of the wheel is only done when those motors are off.

Which means that pilots could see there trim "living life of its own", while they did not know what causes it - they could see what control plane is moving.

The wheel might turn because another system is moving it. The speed trim system (SPS) does such and the pilots are used to see the wheel moving. It is not an extraordinary signal they would immediately react to.

Neither would the pilots hear the noise the trimming makes because the stick shaker would also go off as well as several other alarms.

And priorly pilots - without knowing about MCAS - succeeded in identifying big wheel rotating near their knees and then stopping that rotation by cutting off the electric motor used both by pilots buttons-control and MCAS.

The Ethiopian Airlines pilots in the flight that earlier had such problems but recovered did know of MCAS and were trained the new procedures. (Happened after the Indonesian event.) Despite that it took them some five minutes to get the plane back under control. The second crew that experienced the problem did not have that much luck.

BTW: Ethiopian Airlines is a Star Alliance member bound to Star Alliance standards. Its pilot and mechanics are trained by Lufthansa. To suggest that their qualification is somehow lower than that of any 'western' pilot is pretty ridiculous.

Posted by: b | Mar 14 2019 19:58 utc | 221

@ b who wrote
BTW: Ethiopian Airlines is a Star Alliance member bound to Star Alliance standards. Its pilot and mechanics are trained by Lufthansa. To suggest that their qualification is somehow lower than that of any 'western' pilot is pretty ridiculous.
So how much more are the new barflies Steven and icementhead as well as others going to discuss human competency instead of the human morality at issue here?

Posted by: psychohistorian | Mar 14 2019 20:09 utc | 222

reply to Grieved 196
"Only the real people of talent and integrity can offer any hope of redemption for this nation drained empty, if it is to overthrow its corrupt managers and restore to US life the notion of quality."

For some time starting back when the US oil tanker rail disasters began I keep wondering when Dagney Taggart(Atlas Shrugged) would show up. At this point, given the US has been effectively hollowed out economically and ethically I think she's left town for good.

Posted by: frances | Mar 14 2019 21:02 utc | 223

apologies, re 223 post
the last line should have read(correction in caps):
"..At this point, given the US has been effectively hollowed out economically and ethically I think she AND HER ILK HAVE left town for good."

Posted by: frances | Mar 14, 2019 5:02:53 PM | 223

Posted by: frances | Mar 14 2019 21:16 utc | 224

Exactly my point Arioch.

Automation is supposed to transfer the burden of routine tasks away from whom employs it. And while it is relatively difficult to accommodate all particular uses for each task, therein enters customization, where the user adapts away/against the programmed average use (the default) as he deems fit. The system is broken whenever presents the user an option which will be routinely ignored, in which case it might as well do without such pretend option. Not to mention actual user deception, when programmed against acquired practices, read, against the presumed average use, ie. when you cancel, you cancel - cancelling for a window of time is the odd option out, not otherwise (if one existed, I did not even see that option BTW).

It is a sneaky behaviour. 10secs active for each 5secs idle. That idle time allows the user to presume he defeated whatever he was fighting against, only to be surprised by the same nefarious situation once again later on, begin doubting his initial action actually had been effective and the correct one in the first place. It really does not matter the insistence of the system being explained by some emergency or whatever other apparently acceptable reason, such system is designed against human common sense/psychology, which is the best humans can do before novel scenarios, under time pressure, within their legitimate ignorance.

Now, I am alive enough to prove windows issues are just a sad state of IT affairs today. Pilots unable to keep planes aloft is not merely sad I am afraid.


On a totaly different note, let me add since it was mentioned: Whatever this was, it was not "AI" in strict sense, there is no point in mentioning AI in any other sense than strict. Programmed systems are simply programmed. Multiple situations/scenarios are strictly enumerated and conditioned for, all outcomes are pre-planed, even when they're not, which just means, whichever programmer, left some scenario not rationalized, in other words, he left it to chance (or some undisclosed logic, ie. unknown (un)determinable reality).

There is no magical transfer of responsibility from whoever was behind some computer program, be it team or individual, to some, as of yet unproven, entity called AI. The later is merely marketing speak for, strictly speaking, a "mathematical solution to a minimization problem" (ie. linear regression, trend fitting - in dimensions > 2). Addressing complexity (the above enumerable scenarios) with sheer processing power. At best a programmer armed with such tools will be able to "fit" his pre-planned outcomes in an efficient manner to an amount of scenarios hardly enumerable by a human. (Yes that was how humans lost to computers in GO and Chess)

The real human decision in question is: what range of significant decisions, including life and death ones, are humans willing to surrender to bad planning, materialized in computer programs or otherwise?

Posted by: Vasco da Gama | Mar 14 2019 21:25 utc | 225

@psychohistorian #222 &b #223

If you had read and understood my comments, you’d have noticed that I only ever commented on the Lion Air crash, where we already know what happened.

But since you put words into my mouth and mention Ethiopian airlines:

Ryanair is considered the shittiest airline in Western Europe in part because it hires crew members with significantly less experience than competitors. Pilots at competitors like to rag that they’re less safe.

The minimum requirements to be a directly hired first officer (co-pilot) in a 737 with Ryanair are:

*at least 1200 hours flying time
At least 1000 hours in large 2 engine aircraft
At least 800 hours in a 737.

The first officer on the crashed Ethiopian airlines plane had a grand total of - wait for it! - 200 hours flying time! The pilot, 29 years old, the youngest with the airline, had a been flying the 737 for - wait for it!- 1 year and 4 months.

Now when you say that putting a pilot with almost no 737 experience together with a first officer who wouldn’t be hired at Ryanair, into a new,, and somewhat different, version of the 737, is a good idea that happens all the time in Western Europe - and fly it out of an airport that by all accounts is particularly unforgiving - other readers can judge how intelligent or unintelligent you two are.

Posted by: Steven | Mar 14 2019 21:28 utc | 226

steven didn't reply to b's comment @151 immediately below..

"Boeing did not inform MAX pilots of MCAS until AFTER the crash in Indonesia."

stevens first comment on this thread..

"You omit important facts: the pilots know by heart how to quickly cut off electronic control of the stabilizers and fly manually. The pilots on the preceding lion air flight had had the same problem, and immediately solved it. The defective sensor should have been immediately replaced, and would have in the United States. On the next flight, the pilots (the copilot being quite unexperienced) spent 10 minutes not doing what they were trained to do in an emergency where the stabilizers are out of control: disable them.

When some flight crews get it right, but others don’t, it’s not a design flaw but a problem with the flight crews.

I can’t agree with your conclusions.

Posted by: Steven | Mar 12, 2019 5:26:50 PM | 13"

Posted by: james | Mar 14 2019 21:48 utc | 227


James, as a pilot has already explained above, off of autopilot if the trim will turns for ANY reason on a 737 without the pilot giving input to make it happen, it is out of control, and the pilots are instructed to immediately disable the electronics that can make this happen.

It doesn’t matter if it’s MCAS, a short circuit, or computer hackers. Yes, you read that right. A short circuit can and has in the past made trim wheels turn without input. The point is, the system is out of control.

The pilot isn’t supposed to do one thing if a short circuit or electrical problem causes stabilizer movements, and another if MCAS makes the stabilizers move without his command. Whatever the cause, he’s supposed to do ONE thing. So it makes no difference WHATSOEVER whether he knew it was MCAS or thought it was a short circuit.

As for your telling me that you “can’t agree with my conclusions,” I am not at all surprised. I’ve already seen you make breathtakingly uniformed statements, and disparaged your cognitive performance.

Posted by: Steven | Mar 14 2019 22:28 utc | 228

Russ @ 202:

News just in is that Ethiopian Airlines have sent the black box flight recorders to BEA in France for analysis.

Until BEA publicise their findings, perhaps we should cease and desist from disputing whether the Ethopian Airlines pilots or Boeing Company through the MCAS are to blame.

It is trolls like Ariel, Daniel and their fellow college student pals at the Tel Aviv government trolling call-centre who should be thumped, for their racist comments about the pilots, their own failure to observe English punctuation rules - if they're as biologically superior as they believe they are, they'd know to follow punctuation rules of a foreign language - and perhaps their inability to get part-time or casual work that pays better.

Posted by: Jen | Mar 14 2019 22:49 utc | 229

Grieved @ 174, thank you for that fine comment. It's Corporo-totalitarianism v The People, now.

Posted by: Bill7 | Mar 14 2019 22:51 utc | 230

@steven - the comment - "I can’t agree with your conclusions." is your comment from @13 post...

you really know how to alienate yourself here! have you always been an asshole? looks like it..

Posted by: james | Mar 14 2019 23:03 utc | 231

@ Steven with the ongoing focus on pilot competency

Your comments suggest strongly that you put corporate profit over customer safety. Is that true?
If not, where do you draw the line?
If so, are you being paid for your comments?

Posted by: psychohistorian | Mar 14 2019 23:31 utc | 232

Seems to me Steven is talking about safety. He obviously thinks competence and experience are major factors in aviation. But he made a big mistake by referring to the third world.

That said I think anybody will have a hard job defending Boeing.

Posted by: dh | Mar 14 2019 23:50 utc | 233

Following the first crash (October 29, 2018)of Boeing 737-MAX, belonging to Indonesia's Garuda Airline, a Chinese Aeronautical Engineer, at the Chinese National Aeronautic Institute, has wrote a report, on the possible cause of this accident.

The report was published on November 27, 2018, one month after the Indonesian crash. The Chinese FAA did not have the gut to ground the Boeing 737-MAX, after the first crash.

The Chinese Investigators pinpointed 737-MAX's new stall-prevention MCAS (Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System) as the most likely culprit of the crash. This system was designed to monitor the Angle of Attack (AoA), so the plane will not stall, and crash due to lost of lift.

And this system will automatically kick in, and will lower the nose of the plane, to prevent stalling of the wing, when certain AoA was exceeded.

Using various reports and Boeing Patent filings of the MCAS, Patent Number: CN106477055A, the Chinese investigators have discovered the following:

1. Boeing did not disclose the newly installed MCAS on the Boeing 737-MAX, to the airlines and pilots, consequently, the pilots don't know about the existence of this system, and therefore, they were not trained on how to handle this system.

2. The MCAS rely on a single AoA sensor, and so there is no logic, to check whether the input from the sensor is correct. This checking of input's correctness requires multiple sensors.

Faulty readings from this single AoA sensor, may be the fatal cause of 737-MAX's crash.

3. Airbus, in contrast, requires their planes, to have 3 separate AoA sensors, and if any one of the sensors do not agree with the others, their stall-prevention system will ignore all of them, and will inform the pilot.

4. The Chinese investigators further discovered that if the pilots intervene, after the MSAC kicked in, by pulling up the plane, the plane will still dive for 10 seconds, and then MSAC will order the plane to dive again, after 5 seconds.

5. The MSAC will only release the control of the plane, only if it thinks, the pilot is nose diving the plane, enough, to prevent the stall. If the Pilot pulls up, the MSAC will regain the control, and order the plane to dive again.

6. Since Boeing did not disclosed the existence of MSAC to the airlines and pilots, the pilots will simply don't know how to turn off the MSAC, even if it could be turned off.

7. Since the Boeing 737 is a 50 years old plane, FAA did not required Boeing to re-certify the plane after the upgrade.

I believe the model shouldn't have never be sold as if it's the same with it's previous model and Boeing should require the crews and pilots to complete new training and certification to fly them.

Posted by: HW | Mar 15 2019 0:07 utc | 234

Following the Lion Air crash when MCAS became known US airlines and many others apparently updated their manuals and training to inform pilots about the MCAS and train them on how to disengage it when needed. Apparently Ethiopia did not do so. Perhaps still relying on Boengs manual which ignored the MCAS

I think its fair to assign some blame to Ethiopian Air Lines if they did not respond to the Lion Air crash. If they did and the pilot ignored his subsequent retraining then there is some pilot error here too.

Boeing/FAA still deserve the lions share of the blame, just less so than for the Lion Air crash

Posted by: Pft | Mar 15 2019 1:01 utc | 235

According to this maybe pilot error

“Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde Gebremariam said its pilots had received special training on how to deal with the sensor problem. “After the Lion Air crash, questions were raised, so Boeing sent further instructions that it said pilots should know,” he said.

Boeing said it supported the FAA’s decision to ground 737 Max 8 planes, even though it continues to have what it called “full confidence” in the safety of the model.”

Probably need to hold off judgement until the recorders are analyzed. Perhaps the disengagement procedure did not work for some reason

Posted by: Pft | Mar 15 2019 1:08 utc | 236

I sure hope this black box gets the truth out faster than the one from the 777 shot down over Ukranie.

Posted by: steve | Mar 15 2019 1:46 utc | 237

'Here’s What Was on the Record About Problems With the 737 Max':

Posted by: Carey | Mar 15 2019 2:05 utc | 238

Pft 236

There is more going on here that Boeing is staying quiet about. Boeing built the max series to fly the same as the older aircraft. This negated pilot retraining and boing having to go through the process of certifying a new type.
They used software and sensors to make it fly the same as the old aircraft.
The reading I have done in the last few days makes me wonder if its a glitch in the software rather than faulty sensor.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Mar 15 2019 3:27 utc | 239

As an after thought to my post @239, a glitch in the software may occur only when the AOA sensor is faulty.
From what I can make of it, there must be a computer which inputs are fed into, the computer then operating the horizontal stabilizer. I have read conflicting reports on the manual trim as to if manual is electric or the electric motor can be disconnected and direct mechanical drive from the trim wheel can the operate the trim. Very little solid information on the max 8.

This is the emergency airworthiness directive put out by the FAA Nov 7 2018

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Mar 15 2019 3:39 utc | 240


My understanding is the system can be disengaged and trim adjusted manually. However, one must consider in light of the latest accident with airlines/pilots aware of this if there is a glitch preventing disengagement. If not then perhaps pilot error.

Corporate greed can be understood if not tolerated. A more serious concern IMO is FAA complicity in allowing Boeing not to require pilot training on nor even know about such an important system, without which the plane never is airworthy and uncertifiable. Also the lack of redundancy in an important safety system is shoddy work at best

Corruption in federal safety regulation has reached absurd levels across the board. Might be safer without any regulators at all. Just bring back unlimited court damages where owners lose all by putting out unsafe product instead of a slap on the wrist or in some cases (vaccines) no liability at sll

Posted by: Pft | Mar 15 2019 4:49 utc | 241

I knew you would censor('moderate') my comment on The Truthseeker.
You have to censor this message also, you do not have a choice.

The faithful witness

Posted by: Duke | Mar 15 2019 7:15 utc | 242

Steven is correct.(#90)

Send in the Clown.

Posted by: Duke | Mar 15 2019 7:36 utc | 243

For the sake of your readers, here is a copy of my posting on The Truthseeker.

There are a number of errors in this message.

” Neither the airlines that bought the planes nor the pilots who flew it were told about MCAS. They did not know that it exists.”

This is not true MCAS is mandatory for the aircraft to be certified.

” MCSA is independent of the autopilot. It is even active in manual flight. There is a procedure to deactivate it but it takes some time.”

Not true MCAS is active only when the autopilot is disengaged.

The problem is not one of design,or lack of training, it is a software problem.
” Boeing 737 Max Software Fixes Due to Lion Air Crash Delayed ”

Boeing 737 Max tragedy update:

Hopefully this message will not be censored by the ‘moderator’.

Posted by: Duke | Mar 15 2019 7:55 utc | 244

The only certain thing these days, in addition to death and taxes, is that as soon as something important happens an army of paid trolls is unleashed to obfuscate and confuse issues. Like this cretin who claims some low flying hours for the dead pilot which do not agree with the public record, and his buddy who jumps in to say that our attitude to the cretin is "bordering on anti-semitism". Or "I am a pilot too and 'John' is right, read what he wrote!" It is simply hilarious, I love it.

One way to recognize paid trolls is that they have the points that they are making divided between them, occasionally they will support each other's point, but in most of the comments they will just keep repeating the disinformation point allocated to them. For example, the farm will get 10 points from the customer's PR manager and these 10 points will be divided between trolls. Usually, trolls are allocated to online publications, but sometimes they are allowed to handle two. This is why some of the content is recognizable between publications.

There are commercial, government, military even police trolls. As MSM decline in importance, trolling is becoming a sophisticated industry with a degree of specializations. If I were not busy with other things and trolling for money was not so terribly unethical, I would have joined the industry to run a farm. But for my own dignity I would rather clean toilets then be online Stevens, Johns, acementheads etc.

Posted by: Kiza | Mar 15 2019 11:18 utc | 245

> Manual turn does not "overpower" the motors.
> There are two buttons to electrically trim for and aft which override MCAS for five seconds.
> Manual pushing of the wheel is only done when those motors are off.

Posted by: b | Mar 14, 2019 3:58:45 PM | 221

Yes it does. In one of my first comments here i posted the YouTube link to the demonstration of "grab and hold".
That is a standard technique to exactly overpower the runaway motor.

Surely, in normal situations it is not needed. But in emergency when you have no time - it can be and it is designed to be.

>> Which means that pilots could see there trim "living life of its own", while they did not know what causes it
> The wheel might turn because another system is moving it.

Then the "they did not know what causes" criterion would not fit.

> The speed trim system (SPS) does such and the pilots

Quote: Speed trim adjusts the trim of the aircraft in pitch, because the faster the aircraft flies, the greater the nose-down tendency.

Quote: An electrical stabilizer trim input automatically controls certain aircraft attitude conditions when undergoing large thrust changes in the lower speed region, such as takeoff and go-around. These conditions require high thrust settings and are especially present with a low weight aircraft and a relatively aft center of gravity where the aircraft wants to “nose up”.

While ther ewas "take off" condition, there hardly was "large thrust changes".
So, functional STS is ruled out.
Malfunctioning STS is possible, but should had triggered the "runaway stabilizer" checklist execution.

> are used to see the wheel moving.

In some specific patterns of movement during some specific patterns of flight.
No outside of them. Not with alien patterns.

I had one mate, a businessman (though with eduction in mathematics and programming, but he became entrepreneur instead), who once called me saying "i think i got a virus on computer. The HDD lamp on computer is blinking... wrong. It ususally blinks ... differently.

You know what? I laughed. I said exactly what you say. I said "this lamp ALWAYS blinks, who cares".

But he kept insisting that this lamp is blinking WRONGLY. Even if he could not realize and word wat exactly was wrong, he was sure it was not what it used to be.

To get him off i told him how to check, which exactly program is stressing HDD (thus triggering the blinking).

Hour later he called me back with gratitude. He said he used this method and caught a new virus not yet detected by any antivirus suit in the world.

He was not professional pilot. He had no special training. He did not had to do lamp-spotting (while pilots do have to watch the wheel). He was just mere user of this home computer. And it was enough to tell usual pattern from wrong pattern.

So should had been with the trim wheel abruptly turning not in condition and not in the pattern that SPS would do.

Posted by: Arioch | Mar 15 2019 12:43 utc | 246

> And priorly pilots - without knowing about MCAS - succeeded in identifying big wheel rotating near their knees and then stopping that rotation by cutting off the electric motor used both by pilots buttons-control and MCAS.

Which to a degree proves Boeing point that knowing about that new system was not strictly required to cope with its malfunction.

> The Ethiopian Airlines pilots in the flight that earlier .... were trained the new procedures.

Everything i read to the day says there is not any NEW procedures for pilots related to MCAS malfunction, and all what is needed is fast application of OLD procedures about runaway trim.

With the only possible correction mentioned by Okan, about using electric motor via rudder buttons to bring the trim to neutral position, before the cut-off (because in extreme positions trim may have airflow push strong enough to prohibit manual control). However even this correction is generic, it is about extreme positions whether those were triggered by MCAS or anything else.

> Despite that it took them some five minutes to get the plane back under control.

Sure. Stress is stress. And symptoms are usually shared by many diseases. So they had to check and strike out one potentially possible cause after another, until they narrowed down on "runaway stabilizer trim" diagnose.

> The second crew that experienced the problem did not have that much luck.

*if* they had the same problem, which is most probable but not 100% proved.

And, they were fighting the aircraft for like 11 minutes for what i read.
So, if we think the aforementioned 5 minutes is the minimum time to get themselves in control - they had this time.

So, i can only repeat, that to the moment i think the most probable assessment is
1. Crew is guilty of failing to diagnose standard emergency condition (even if maybe unusual flight phase) and applying standard remedy to it.
2. Aircraft is guilty of serially creating this emergency and throwing it onto one crew after another.

> BTW: Ethiopian Airlines is a Star Alliance member bound to Star Alliance standards. Its pilot and mechanics are trained by Lufthansa.

I can not obviously comment about it.
Maybe just that recent year my respect to many Western bodies was shaken time and again.
Whether Lufthansa skills checking and certification rewarding has the same worth as 20 years ago i can only hope but can not feel assured. Granted, this is totally a layman's gut feeling, not an informed assessment.

Posted by: Arioch | Mar 15 2019 13:04 utc | 247

> So how much more are the barflies .... going to discuss human competency instead of the human morality at issue here?

Posted by: psychohistorian | Mar 14, 2019 4:09:54 PM | 222

False dichotomy.

There is not "instead".

Both routes are open for exploring, independently from one another.

Posted by: Arioch | Mar 15 2019 13:09 utc | 248

> There is no magical transfer of responsibility from whoever was behind some computer program, be it team or individual, to some, as of yet unproven, entity called AI

Posted by: Vasco da Gama | Mar 14, 2019 5:25:07 PM | 225

it would not matter even if there was an AI

Customer requests some service fulfilled. However another party chosen to do it - failure is their responsibility.
If i call a Taxi service and request transportation - they have a choice would would be driver.
Human, non-sentinel computer, sentinel computer, alien from Mars, invisible ghost, whoever.
But the car should transport me timely and safely, and if it does not - the service is responsible first, not the driver they chosen.

So, even if there was true AI, is would not change the thing. Would Boeing or someone make their choice of deploying some "digital ghost" as part of their plane - they carry full responsibility for that ghost's action, sentinel or not.

Posted by: Arioch | Mar 15 2019 14:08 utc | 249

> desist from disputing whether the Ethopian Airlines pilots or Boeing Company through the MCAS are to blame.

Posted by: Jen | Mar 14, 2019 6:49:49 PM | 229

False dichotomy again.

There is on "OR", there is "AND"

There is but no significant technological disaster that was caused by one single failure instead of unlucky combination of several failures.

Posted by: Arioch | Mar 15 2019 14:15 utc | 250

@ Posted by: Grieved | Mar 14, 2019 12:39:16 AM

I think that North America, its economy and mentality, will not recover from the current downward spiral until it cleans itself from MBA mentality, and Marketing and PR rule over the industry. MBA idiotic mentality, with their spread sheets and overhead childish presentations, which pays the most attention to the next quarter's bottom line, connected at the hip with idiots in marketing telling engineers and scientists what to do ( 2 Dilberts linked by karlof1 earlier & 03-13) have already destroyed industrial base and moral of most employees in NA.

@ Posted by: karlof1 | Mar 14, 2019 12:34:37 PM

In order to preserver your longer comments I would recommend you to write them in a draft mail message, or word processor, or text editor, and then at the end copy them into Post a comment. Also, I would strongly recommend not to use EI for anything ...

Posted by: ex-SA | Mar 15 2019 14:15 utc | 251

> Airbus ....if any one of the sensors do not agree with the others, their stall-prevention system will ignore all of them, and will inform the pilot.

Posted by: HW | Mar 14, 2019 8:07:49 PM | 234

Is it so? In Quantas case decade ago Airbus computer started ignoring the only working sensor but took input from two sensors, that failed equally. Maybe they changed their programs since that case, dunno.

But the informing of pilots was very important: in the end it was this informing that enabled pilots to consult with maintenance on the ground and to figure out how to save the flight.

> Boeing/FAA still deserve the lions share of the blame, just less so than for the Lion Air crash

Posted by: Pft | Mar 14, 2019 9:01:18 PM | 235

Actually, i think is is MORE so, not LESS so.

With the first crash we may think everyone was caught by surprise, including FAA and Boeing.
1. They made an oversight, a cruelly blatant oversight.
2. They did not document the new system.
But that was it, to the moment. They quite possibly were not in the know (they should had been, but maybe they were not).

After the first crash Boeing and FAA were in the know most certainly.
After the first crash Boeing even issued some short notice to pilots, like "yeah, there is that something MCAS but nevermind!" ...and it was all.

So, when the second crash happenned, Boeing and FAA
1. They made an oversight, a cruelly blatant oversight.
2. They did not document the new system.
3. Being informed about potentially deadly danger of those mistakes did not fix it.
4. Being informed about potentially deadly danger of those mistakes still avoided alerting and informing pilots, playing down the issue.

In the end, the more pilot trusts to Boeing and FAA - the more unprepared and confused he (and his passengers) would be in the case of MCAS-triggered danger.

Posted by: Arioch | Mar 15 2019 14:29 utc | 252

@ Arioch who accused me of false dichotomy

I didn't say it was one or the other but was asking where the thread was going from here.....project much to myself and others

I am fine with saying that the same moral failure that led to the potential competency issue with the pilot is the same moral failure that is putting pilots in that position....PROFIT

Boeing use to make safe airplanes until profit became the primary driver in the company.

The drive for profit killed all those people

Posted by: psychohistorian | Mar 15 2019 14:40 utc | 253

I have an immediate visceral reaction when I hear "Lets wait until the get the black boxes and the facts are known." Suspend any critical thinking capability, do nothing and wait for the 'facts' to be released. Like those discovered after a thorough OPCW investigation. Or those offered by TEPCO and nuclear regulators. "It's the best we have" may be an accurate statement, but it does no equate to "It's the unvarnished truth."

The black boxes record whatever 'facts' in whatever manner Boeing has programmed its systems to send them. Whatever is eventually released publicly would have been what Boeing and the FAA wanted you to see, at whatever level of detail they choose to show. The specifics of the sensors and Boeing algorithms that interpret them are not public information. In the last decade or so, we're even led to believe that some manufacturer's engineering secret sauce is needed to download and obtain 'accurate' data from the black boxes. Why is that? Will BEA end up with a different, less accurate set of raw date than Boeing/FAA would produce? Could competent engineers really destroy or otherwise alter the black box data without some kind of special 'help' by the aircraft manufacturer?

You have no idea how many heads are exploding right now at Boeing and the FAA. Not because anyone knows for certain that there are secrets or trickery in recording/extracting/interpreting the data, but because it is SO EASY for a nobody engineer at Boeing or a mid-level manager at the FAA to BELIEVE that their superiors (or the corporate lawyers) would do this. Is that even possible? I don't know, but Ethiopian Airlines is clearly worried about something.

Accurate raw data helps, but it is still not 'the truth'. Some outside engineers have issues with the Lion Air JT610 flight data graphs released so far, but so what? Twenty degree difference in the AOA sensors DOES NOT necessarily mean one of the sensors itself was bad, and tells us nothing of how Boeing's computers uses the two AOA sensor's input if they disagree. Worse yet, is there even a maintenance procedure to compare the two AOA sensors against each other on the ground after replacement, or do the passengers on a revenue flight get to air test it?

If anything, a replacement AOA sensor showing the same kind of erroneous high but constant offset suggests it was being biased electronically (offset) externally by the flight computer. Maybe these AOA sensors NEED to be offset (calibrated) by the computer and this one wasn't. So are we seeing the actual mechanical position of the bad AOA sensor or an offset figure as interpreted by the flight computer? There could be valid engineering reasons for doing either, but we'll never get a glimpse behind the wall of corporate law protecting everyone. Do the JT610 flight data recorder graph channels for the AOA sensors (or anything else) mean what we think it means?

Wait for the flight date recorder 'facts' so we can learn the truth? Heh... yeah. I would rather have BEA pulling the data than Boeing and the FAA, but there's still a long road between accurate raw data and 'the truth' - Boeing and the FAA are still driving the bus. It's not like huge sums of money or reputations are at stake here, right? Besides, the jobs...

Boeing and the US government are moral and ethical champions. Trust them... what could possibly go wrong?

Posted by: PavewayIV | Mar 15 2019 16:53 utc | 254

So, for all the people who accused me of being a “racist,” and the fool “psychohistorian” who insisted Ethiopian airlines is up to western standards.

You basically put a student pilot in there': The copilot of crashed Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 had just 200 hours of flight experience

EU minimum to be a first officer: 500 hours. (Most airlines want much more.”
USA minimum to be a first officer 1’500 hours.

Ethiopian Airlines: 200 hours.

The 737 max is a new airplane; new airplanes always bring bad surprises.
Addis abeba is a notorious “hot and high” airport. It’s much easier to crash an airplane around them.

Draw your own conclusions.

Posted by: Steven | Mar 15 2019 17:06 utc | 255

@ Steven who calls me "the fool “psychohistorian” who insisted Ethiopian airlines is up to western standards"

Lets be clear now. I stated specifically that those standards were related to business morals.
Just because Ethiopian airlines is applying those sick profit morals to personnel instead of however one summarizes the sick Boeing moral failure does not make me seem foolish as you assert.

You haven't answered my questions about morals or if you get paid by the word in a previous comment.

Posted by: psychohistorian | Mar 15 2019 18:34 utc | 256

Yes, psychohistorian, I owe you an apology. You quoted “b,” who made ignorant claims; you didn’t make them. I apologize. I should have directed my criticism at “b.” And I know it doesn’t make me look clever.

No, I’m not a paid poster. I follow moon of Alabama on twitter, and all in all approve quite strongly of his positions on Syria, and want his site to succeed. We need people who question corporate and neocon media.

When he began tweeting that the 737 had new *wings* (it absolutely doesn’t, rather new engines) and that everything is evil boeing’s fault, I realized that his understanding was not adequate. And he corrected his article.

I wanted to describe the situation as I understand it; people can then make their own opinions.

And yes, I’ve insulted people who make claims that are frankly absurd. Accusing people of murder without really good evidence is outrageous behavior, and a crime (libel.) just because you read clickbait articles by incompetent or unethical journalists doesn’t guarantee that you understand the situation. people who behave like this are unfit for any job with responsibilities, and should be condemned in public. Perhaps they can still learn.

As for Boeing. Yes, it should have disclosed the MCAS, even if it diminished profits. That’s a fair criticism. But Boeing’s obligation is to deliver a plane that won’t crash if pilots do as trained, not to deliver a plane that incompetent pilots can’t crash. There is no such airplane. In the lionair crash, pilot error was in play; even when the plane was stable they didn’t disable electronic controls. In the Ethiopian case, everybody is guessing.

Lionair’s responsibility was to a) see that maintenance kept the plane safe and b) see that it hired competent pilots with enough experience.

It’s really amazing and speaks for low cognitive capacity that people aren’t asking if the plane could have crashed because lionair put corporate profits above safety.

And, of course, the regulators need to be making sure that airlines (and in applicable cases manufacturers) don’t put profits above safety.

I hope this helps.

Posted by: Steven | Mar 15 2019 18:56 utc | 257

Perhaps we can all agree that the West doesn't have a monopoly on low moral standards.

Posted by: dh | Mar 15 2019 19:02 utc | 258

@ Steven with the measured response...appreciated

I am 70 with an undergraduate degree in macro economics, a career in supply chain computer system engineering and a utility patent I sold in 2013. That means I am full of myself and having watched the world devolve since I got my degree and understood about private finance I am incensed that humanity can't seem to evolve beyond global private finance.

You know planes and I grew up in Tacoma and know the Boeing culture that got ripped out with the move to Chicago under the rapacious maw of financialization that has been going on since the early 70's

I am the One Note Samba at MoA that keeps bringing the focus back to the perspective that what we are watching on a global scale is a war between global private finance and any opposed to their hegemony. Everything is tied to faith in monotheistic religions with God of Mammon the un discussed but obviously lifeblood religion of usury, private property and ongoing inheritance to keep it in the "family".

I post that humanity has outgrown the Western social contract with profit at the center and will be overrun by other nations approaches.

I want structural change and your arguments are for incremental/no change where I continually see the need for changing the social contract.

Posted by: psychohistorian | Mar 15 2019 19:25 utc | 259

i think it is best now that we wait for the official enquiry to conclude before blame gaming a great piece of usa engineering.
as stated earlier complex technology requires crew up to the task.we must always expect higher churn on the crash front from third world countries.
you would not drink the tap water would you?
you would filter
like the dice man you makes your choice.
my suggestion is we take a break as i cannot take the sight of any more of these beatings.
poor james has been well and truelly whacked like a joe peschi victim in goodfellas.
out of all the theories stevens seems most plausible as an ex dc1,mc11 and 707 pilot myself waiting for the official story and naming of the lessons that need to be learned is always the safest route going forward.

Posted by: barbera | Mar 15 2019 19:45 utc | 260

psyco @ 259---
Sort of like this?

Posted by: arby | Mar 15 2019 20:17 utc | 261

That article reminds me of Obama always saying "That's not who we are" when there was undeniable evidence of that's exactly who we are.

Posted by: arby | Mar 15 2019 20:24 utc | 262

Steven@257 - The the F/O was one of the 200-hour wonders that US for profit flight schools have been churning out for a decade or so. This may have even been his first 'real' flight since flight school and type rating. Instructors are encouraged to pass marginal students and clear the way for new, paying foreign students. How does one even get type certified and checked out with 200 hours?

Some foreign airlines have a much higher experience requirement that the US, some far less. The 200-hour guys usually go to foreign cargo airlines though. Second officer in a PAX airline if you know someone. First officer with 200 hours total flying a 737 passenger aircraft is just insane in most of the world. I would say it borders on 'immoral' as well - I don't owe anyone who can afford a year of flight school a career as a pilot by letting them practice their flying skills with unwitting passengers. That's what cargo airlines are for. But then I don't consider someone dragging a banner over the beach for two years to be particularly better-qualified to F/O a 737 flying my family anywhere either - the US doesn't require 1500 multi-engine, multi-crew jet hours. Maybe they changed it.

Posted by: PavewayIV | Mar 15 2019 20:47 utc | 263

Hero of Hudson enlisted for Damage Control is using the same BS talking point used here--training and the lack thereof. Real convenient for the New Zealand terrorist to push this entire story off the front page and off BigLie Media.

Posted by: karlof1 | Mar 15 2019 21:00 utc | 264

To 'steven' and 'acementhead' a couple of flight sim jockeys that have never seen th inside of a real flight deck. Thanks for the good laugh.

Cementhead claims that pilots are trained to turn off the electric power as soon as the autotrim makes an 'uncommanded' input. Does that include when the flight attendant is wheeling that cart down the aisle and the autotrim is spinning that wheel? LOL

And your knowledge of geography is amazing. I didn't realize Indonesia, a nation in the South Pacific, is now considered to be part of the 'Middle East'. Remind me not to fly long-haul with you, even on your flight sim excursions.

You two have no idea how a 737 actually works. Amazing that you are able to even fool some people here. You don't know that a number of US pilots have reported flight stability issues to the NASA reporting system?

You also don't seem to know that even a warning light about the two AOA sensors not being in agreement is an extra price OPTION, as is an AOA indicator on the primary flight display. Neither o the two accident aircraft had these OPTIONS.

But you are quick to jump on fellow airmen because they fly for 'third world' airlines? That's a new one on me. All my colleagues in the REAL PILOT community know enough to hang together instead of defending corporate interests.

Not one fellow professional pilot I know is saying the BS you two are spouting. The 737 MAX is an inherently unstable airplane due to the nose-up pitching moment at high alpha produced by the big new engines that actually generate lift at high alpha. Because they had to be mounted far forward of the wing leading edge, the wing's natural pitch down stability at high alpha was nullified. This is because the lift from those engine nacelles comes far forward of the wing leading edge, thereby multiplying the lift force by the moment arm distance.

MCAS is a bandaid fix for an unstable airplane. This is a serious issue for real aviators, and we are treating it as such. We believe passenger aircraft should have natural pitch stability as they always have had. And that a computer is not an appropriate patch for an unstable airplane. Please stop pretending to be pilots. Your act is embarassing.

Posted by: flankerbandit | Mar 15 2019 21:58 utc | 265

@205 flankerbandit... thanks for expressing all that..

Posted by: james | Mar 15 2019 22:11 utc | 266


Posted by: Arioch | Mar 15 2019 23:05 utc | 267

Quote: A senior captain named Yared Getachew with a cumulative flight hour of more than 8000 and with a commendable performance was commanding the flight along with first officer Ahmed Nur Mohammod Nur who had a flight hour of 200.

I wonder if this alone would be posted...
Previous comment was deleted by the blog.

Posted by: Arioch | Mar 15 2019 23:07 utc | 268

1) it looks like the 2nd pilot really WAS the student of much more experienced Captain. Nothing very new. USSR used to fly young pilots as students in 1960-s through 1980-s. Granted crew back then were 4 men rather than 2. Granted, there was no advanced computers of today and on-ground training facilities were nowhere close to real aircrafts, so this was kind of inevitable. And still this education sometimes led to stupid tragedies...

Posted by: Arioch | Mar 15 2019 23:10 utc | 269

2) Yared Getachew... What a name, huh? It looks so similar to Ahmed Nur Mohammod Nur, right?
Or maybe i am just hearing things and that is normal African name, dunno.

But really, with all the racial and counter-racial accusations we are exchanging here out of nothing, let's at least make them substantiated!
With captain having name like this we have a low hanging fruit of going into the real and most typical racial "holy war"!

Posted by: Arioch | Mar 15 2019 23:12 utc | 270

> Hero of Hudson enlisted for Damage Control...

Posted by: karlof1 | Mar 15, 2019 5:00:34 PM | 264

"It has been obvious since the Lion Air crash that a redesign of the 737 MAX 8 has been urgently needed, yet has still not been done, and the announced proposed fixes do not go far enough," Sullenberger wrote.

That is Boeing defense? Really?

Posted by: Arioch | Mar 15 2019 23:14 utc | 271

> you would not drink the tap water would you?

Posted by: barbera | Mar 15, 2019 3:45:11 PM | 260

Actually i would.
I live in Russia.
Our tap water system were designed and build in USSR.

> you would filter

Filters are very slow, and unless you would wash them out with lires of water every day (which makes filters exhausted soon), they tend to become jars of "standing water", which is not very healthy too.

If your tap water is really unsafe, then perhaps buying bottled water is better?


> I didn't say it was one or the other

> but was asking where the thread was going from here...

Posted by: psychohistorian | Mar 15, 2019 10:40:35 AM | 253

You said "instead". In my book, "instead" is "one or the other".

Where the thread goes? Guess it goe s to nowhere. Granted, it is already three pages of comments. Quite a number for MoA.

The technical route would soon dry out, as it seems no more technical facts would be exposed in next weeks, maybe blackbox records would be more or less published, maybe not. But at very least i do not expect any new factual data before blackbox read. So, technical route would dry up.

The moral route tends to become "grass was greener" like preaching. True, even truismish - but unapplicable.
Talks about morality or pretend-morality an go on infinitely, as politician and their pet journos show way too often.
And i think most barflies had have enough of them already.
So unless they really can provide some genuinely new moral system to this world - which the world really needs, but which no one seems able to deliver - they barflies would be largely avert from what looks like flogging dead horse round and round.

With these both routes running dry - the thread would die out too.
And eventual new MoA posts with their comment threads would help this one die faster.

Posted by: Arioch | Mar 15 2019 23:31 utc | 272


so we had a russian pilot and a mohammeden co pilot soundslike the rumours of mental health and possible suicide issues could be a possibility.

maybe mossad,mi6 and the cia need to take a closer look at this go deep with the background checks isis,fsb,kgb check if they where gay like the salsbury russian fsb killers maybe a lovers tiff who knows?

Posted by: karl | Mar 15 2019 23:41 utc | 273

You missed the mark, Karl.

While the surname may sound like Slavic, i'd say like Bulgarian, buit i do not think it actually is. Well, who knows. Surnames can be inherited by so long lines, that no more showing the actual ethnicity. So, maybe Slavic, let it slide.

What amused me much more was not surname but the name.

Would you kindly make some investigation for me?
I hear there is a man, someone Trump, allegedly USA president of recent.
And rumors were, he had a daughter.
More than that, allegedly that daughter of his had a husband.
And maybe there were some leaks about what was his name, i just cant find anything now... ;-)

Posted by: Arioch | Mar 16 2019 0:36 utc | 274


If the plane is on autopilot and makes small trim adjustments because people are walking around in the airplane (as it should), that’s one thing. If it’s not in autopilot and begins to dive (which it absolutely shouldn’t) that’s quite another. You are comparing apples and oranges. Also, you seem to misunderstand basic concepts. A trim adjustment on autopilot isn’t an uncommanded trim adjustment.

You don’t need an AOA display to know that the plane has suddenly began to dive, and that you need to do something, or something bad will happen. This is totally irrelevant. For some reason the airplane has pushed it’s nose down, and your choices are to take control and get it flying level again, or to fly into the ground. You don’t need any optional equipment to realise this.

You also misrepresent why the MCAS was installed, and what it does. First of all, the MCAS doesn’t kick in any time more thrust is added, but only when more thrust is added while the airplane is in a reasonably steep turn and is pulling gs or when the airplane is close to stall speed in flap up flight. Outside of these too not terribly common scenarios, it doesn’t trigger. So it’s not needed “to keep the airplane stable” generally. Secondly the MCAS isn’t necessarily triggered to keep airplanes from crashing, but because there’s a maximum pitch up momentum set by law, and with the new engines the MAX raises its nose slightly faster than regulators will allow.

As for reporting problems to nasa / faa. Any new airplane is going to have small problems. Not every problem that is reported actually even exists, and not every problem that is reported is necessarily more than a trivial problem. Journalists have incentives to blow things up and get clicks. We’d have to talk to people who know the database well to get a feel for how serious these reports are.

As for your comment that you didn’t know that Indonesia is in the Middle East, as you allege cementhead wrote. He said he worked for a Middle Eastern airline “based in Jakarta.” Most airlines will base pilots in some cities they fly to. There is nothing unusual about this.

It should also be pointed out that some airbus models have had problems with faulty sensors. On an airbus flight from Brazil a few years ago, a relatively inexperienced pilot didn’t understand what was happening when speed indicators failed, and managed to crash the airplane.

Posted by: Steven | Mar 16 2019 0:40 utc | 275

> Does that include when the flight attendant is wheeling that cart down the aisle and the autotrim is spinning that wheel? LOL

Posted by: flankerbandit | Mar 15, 2019 5:58:07 PM | 265

1. What is the total weight of that attendant together with that cart? What is the total weight of taking off 737 with all the cargo and all the fuel for all the flight?
I find it hard to believe that even given the moment arm ONE person can significantly offset the whole loaded aircraft's centre of masses.

2. I already told about patterns above. So, yoiu think, pilots thought the trim wheel was rotated by "flight attendant is wheeling that cart".
I find it hard to believe it is customary for Boeing flight attendants to push that Coca-Cola cart down the hall during take-off.
I find it hard to believe it was expected for that flight attendants to be wheeling that cart during few minutes of mostly uncontrolled up-down-up-down-up-again evolutions.

Also which of many subsystems you meant by "autotrim" ? Part of autopilot ?
I find it hard to believe the perished pilots could think their 737 is taking off guided by an autopilot.

Posted by: Arioch | Mar 16 2019 0:54 utc | 276


Posted by: arby | Mar 15, 2019 4:17:47 PM | 261

A good rant. Every -ism failed mankind, and Americans are so stupid they would be failed the worst way.
Sadly, while decrying but eveyrthing it seems to propose no salvation. Still, as a rant that was good and kind of enjoyable.

What was especially hillarious though was prefacing this rant about American society and capitalism with that plackard, mixing orthodoxly Soviet graphic style with so aSoviet message. This "social ad" weird on its own already was made even better by pairing it with this text so remote from it in all senses. Enjoyed them both, thanks!

Posted by: Arioch | Mar 16 2019 1:41 utc | 277

Arioch @271--

The man was using the same lack of training spin/talking point/narrative being used to deflect blame from Boeing and the FAA. You can read the comment I left at that article along with those on this thread. Boeing royally fucked-up. The FAA fucked-up even worse than Boeing by approving the totally inappropriate patch. Profit was--AGAIN deemed more important than human lives. That's the fucking bottom line!!

Posted by: karlof1 | Mar 16 2019 2:38 utc | 278

First off, I don't have a lot of time to waste arguing with someone who doesn't actually fly or know much about flying...I have posted here only because I am astounded at the depth and breadth of your bullshit, and your un-airmanlike attitude towards a pilot taking off from a 7,000 msl field and never getting 1,000 feet above the surrounding mountainous terrain. That really rubs me the wrong way.

When some goofball says that a pilot on climbout from a 7,000 ft field should have known to cut the electrical power to the trim [the only way to disconnect MCAS, since it doesn't cut out like auto-trim when you pull back on the yoke or command thumb button trim]...I call bullshit. That is not something a real pilot would say. Sorry sim jockey.

Also you obviously don't understand what I said about the aerodynamics. It has nothing to do with thrust, it has to do with the fact that the engines on the MAX are mounted so high and so far forward that when the airplane is in a nose-high attitude those engine nacelles are making lift and pushing the wing further up at precisely the moment when you want the opposite; the wing's natural pitch-down moment to push the wing down. Those engine nacelles, the way they are mounted, are pitching the wing even higher and going AGAINST the natural nose-down pitching moment of the wing.

A second effect is that they actually blanket the airflow over that part of the wing. You probably don't know enough about flying to know that with increased angle of attack comes increased lift, and with that increased lift comes an INCREASED NOSE-DOWN PITCHING MOMENT, which acts precisely against that nose up attitude. That's the definition of a pitch-stable airplane.

If a portion of that wing is blanketed by the engine nacelle that blocks air from even flowing over that part of the wing, then the wing's natural pitch-down moment will be decreased, and the airplane becomes pitch nstable, av ery dangerous quality.

So both of those effects are what made MCAS necessary in the first place. The airplane is pitch unstable to a point where it should have been redesigned aerodynamically instead of applying a computer to fix it.

Not only that but the computer is faulty. I guess you haven't heard of the software fix that Boeing is getting ready to roll out which will make the the MCAS system get info from BOTH AOA sensors, instead of just one as is the case now.

Even that may not be enough to fix this thing. There are more possible fixes on the table such as limiting the total trim travel that the MCAS could command. Does that sound like everything is hunky dory as you and your fellow shill here are claiming?

I mentioned the mickey mouse instrumentation aspect and you are going to tell me that a warning light that says the two AOA sensor are reading DIFFERENTLY IS NOT A GOOD IDEA?

Posted by: flankerbandit | Mar 16 2019 2:53 utc | 279

I have looked a few of the professional bus and truck driver forums over the last few days, and see that most are discussing the technical aspects, Boeing and FAA. The Boeing public relations info-ops team that has hit this blog seem to have different opinions.
flankerbandit has covered most of it.

Arioch, flankerbandit is using sarcasm.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Mar 16 2019 3:12 utc | 280

flankerbandit.. thank you again...

peter au quote - ..."the boeing public relations info-ops team that has hit this blog".... i wonder when the new posters will come and again confirm stevens comments for us? where would we be without them? dh, are you still around??

Posted by: james | Mar 16 2019 3:26 utc | 281

flankerbandit 279

You posted as I was writing mine @280.
Thanks for posting your comments here. My experience is not in commercial aircraft although I operated mine commercially. First 3000 thousand or so hours in one I had bought and modified over time and lat couple of thousand in one that I designed built maintained and flew. Very different to a large passenger aircraft, but the need inherent stability in the design does not change. My flying was hands on one thousand percent of the time - no auto pilot and early on I made some mods to lighten the stick which reduced the ability to trim for straight and level flight. A case of robbing peter to pay paul, but as I used full stick travel when working stock I wanted it relatively light.
In the case of the Boeing max, Boeing have robbed the passengers of their lives in order to pay boeing in cash.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Mar 16 2019 3:34 utc | 282

@281 Sure. Been here since Billmon days and no plans to leave. Waiting for the black box data and hoping it will be conclusive. Meanwhile it looks like both Boeing (faulty plane) and Ethiopian (inexperienced FO) are at fault. That's all I can say at this point.

Posted by: dh | Mar 16 2019 4:08 utc | 283

dh "Waiting for the black box data and hoping it will be conclusive."

The backbone of the problem is geo-political. US Boeing vs French Airbus. US vs France. Ethiopia did the right thing send the flight recorders to France, though it still depends on how much leverage US has over the top frogs.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Mar 16 2019 4:33 utc | 284

@284. Quite. I imagine we'll be discussing the black box data for a long long time.

Posted by: dh | Mar 16 2019 4:37 utc | 285

dh... thanks... i admire your neutrality! yes, lets wait and see.. i do believe the reason all these 737's have been grounded, which wasn't the case when b first made this post, hinges on enough data to know something is wrong with the plane... blaming a pilot when they've grounded all the 737's after the fact suggests to me it is more an issue with the plane, then the pilot.. yes - lets wait and see what they find.. my concern is like peter aus - hopefully the judgment is impartial..

Posted by: james | Mar 16 2019 5:17 utc | 286

To second those who have criticized the "wait and see" notion, exactly which government body would you trust to give an accurate report?

Also, although I don't specifically know much about black boxes and airplane wreckages, if they're anything like other corporate products they must be swaddled in an intellectual-property straitjacket such that Boeing will have one of the leading roles in any investigation and have editorial power over the report. Who would trust that?

Posted by: Russ | Mar 16 2019 5:35 utc | 287

flankerbadit @ 279

" Not only that but the computer is faulty. I guess you haven't heard of the software fix that Boeing is getting ready to roll out which will make the the MCAS system get info from BOTH AOA sensors, instead of just one as is the case now.

Even that may not be enough to fix this thing. There are more possible fixes on the table such as limiting the total trim travel that the MCAS could command. Does that sound like everything is hunky dory as you and your fellow shill here are claiming? "

Agreed the BOEING Max is in deep trouble. I have my reservations about a faulty sensor, in my view the crux of the problem is in the computer software.

Posted by: Duke | Mar 16 2019 8:56 utc | 288

Duke, Difficult to tell if you are simply a dickhead, or part of the boeing team. What is your flying background.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Mar 16 2019 9:14 utc | 289

This seems to confirms that it was an MCAS incident

Investigators find 2nd piece of key evidence in crash of Boeing 737 Max 8 in Ethiopia

Investigators found a device known as a jackscrew in the wreckage. The jackscrew, used to set the trim that raises and lowers the plane’s nose, indicates the jet was configured to dive, according to John Cox, a former pilot and an airline-safety consultant with the Washington-based aviation-safety consulting firm Safety Operating Systems.

Brazilian regulators noticed that MCAS was a danger and the pilots needed to be trained on it. The FAA, which practically lets the manufacturer certify itself, ignored the issue.

How the FAA allows jetmakers to ‘self certify’ that planes meet U.S. safety requirements

The [Brazilian] regulators mandated an interactive course for pilots to go over the changes and recommended “two legs of SLF,” or supervised flight, according to a copy of their report obtained by The Washington Post.
In the years between the time Boeing launched the Max 8 design in 2011 and the first plane rolled out of production in 2016, the inspector general criticized the FAA’s handling of the “self-certification” system in three successive reports. The federal watchdog said in 2011 that the FAA’s system for deciding which technologies carried the highest safety risks was not effective.
In a statement to The Post, the FAA acknowledged that its training guidelines for the Boeing 737 Max 8 did not mention the anti-stall program, known as MCAS. But it defended that decision, saying the protocols pilots use to deal with other stabilizer and trim failures would address any MCAS issues.
Swamped with what some FAA engineers had already come to see as an unmanageable oversight role, the agency did not forcefully resist. In 2009, it delegated authority to Boeing and the first of what would become more than 80 aviation companies allowed to certify the safety of their own products.

Posted by: b | Mar 16 2019 10:51 utc | 290

I find this one of the more interesting threads on MoA.

And I will state the only knowledge I retain about flying (or more correctly riding on) commercial aeroplanes is how much I intensely dislike the experience overall, from being forced to pack my little special 3 oz toiletries to meet govt regs, to rushing to the airport in order to be 1 and 1/2 hours early as instructed, to praying traffic will be light enough so I can make the proper time, to having to pay $25 to check a bag, to grappling my way through security, removing my shoes, belt, forgetting to remove my car keys which leads to being manhandled and x-rayed down to my skeleton, then sitting around bored on uncomfortable seats interminably in the terminal as I discover my plane has now been delayed two hours because of a climate crisis-induced thunderstorm 1,000 miles to the northeast, to perusing the fast food and alcohol choices while I wait, succumbing to the tedium and getting drunk off my ass on beer, chips and salsa in the Cantina to alleviate my intense feelings of dislike of the flying experience, to finally boarding the plane (in the last boarding group because I cant afford first class), to being squished into a too small seat (and I am not a large human) next to someone who goes at least 275 dripping wet who hoards the shared armrest, to passing out from inebriation before takeoff, to waking mid flight with a mild hangover, cotton mouth and the need to crawl down the aisle to take a huge piss, to standing in line for 15 minutes before the smelly nasty toilet praying the flight doesn't hit some unexpected turbulence which will obliterate on the ceiling (or whatever the term for the proper avaiation term for a jet top) whatever little remains of my drug/alcohol addled brain, to finally landing some 250 miles from home 6 hours after leaving the house and then trying to find my way to the bus to the rental car barn.

It's only then I realise had I simply loaded up the car and driven directly to my destination I would not only feel 1000 % better about myself, but I would also have arrived at my destination sooner at a fraction of the cost.

Posted by: donkeytale | Mar 16 2019 11:58 utc | 291

Reminds me somehow Three Miles Island nuclear meltdown.

Technically it also was caused by crew f-up.
But the crew f-up was enabled by NPP design flaw.
Where position of crucial safety valves was not shown "in cockpit" unless extra option was purchased.
It was not.
If safety is extra pay, then it is not required.

Crew f-d up, 3MI NPP did not show it to them, as that option was not purchased.
When the crew finally realized what they did wrong - it was already too late to salvage melting reactor.

To a degree, Chernobyl can be also described as lack of information about safety conditions (it was much worse than that actually, but this part also was there)

Posted by: Arioch | Mar 16 2019 14:51 utc | 292

Peter AU1:

Thanks for your comment. Yes there are paid Boeing shills going around discussion sites like this. Boeing is one of the most powerful companies in the known universe and they spend literally hundreds of millions of dollars on information management, ie corporate propaganda and psyops.

I could tell right away these two [steven and acementhead] were not legit aviators, there is no question about that.

I see some people here still making an issue of the 200 hour first officer. That is bullshit because this is the same in Europe. There are government-sponsored pilot training programs that go from ab inito [never flown any kind of airplane] right to a first-officer seat on an airline. There is nothing inherently wrong with this idea if done right and is similar to the immersive pilot training in the military, where the cadet makes a similar jump in a similarly short timeframe.

Also that first officer was not flying the airplane, the captain was. And I have mentioned already the very challenging terrain of HAAB, the Addis Ababa airport.

Even after the Lion Air crash it became clear to many experts, including former Boeing engineers that the MAX was seriously flawed. Here is an excerpt from the Seattle Times last November:

Three former Boeing flight control experts were startled by the FAA’s description last week of the new MAX system. In an airworthiness directive, the FAA cited an analysis by Boeing that “if an erroneously high single angle of attack (AOA) sensor input is received by the flight control system, there is a potential for repeated nose-down trim commands” that will swivel the plane’s horizontal tail to pitch the nose downward.

The fact that the plane’s nose could be automatically and repeatedly pushed down due to one false signal shocked Peter Lemme, a former Boeing flight controls engineer, who said it looks like a design flaw.

“To contemplate commanding the (horizontal tail to pitch the jet) nose down clearly is a major concern. For it to have been triggered by something as small as a sensor error is staggering,” Lemme said. “It means somebody didn’t do their job. There’s going to be hell to pay for that.”

Likewise, Dwight Schaeffer, a former Boeing electronics engineer and senior manager who oversaw development of systems, including the 737’s stall management computer, said the brief description in the FAA’s airworthiness directive “blows me away.”

“Usually you never have a single fault that can put you in danger,” said Schaeffer. “I’ve never seen any such system.”

So that was after Lion Air and BEFORE Ethiopian. Now after Ethiopian some asshats here are blaming the crew that took off from a height of over 7,000 ft above sea level and never got more than 1,000 ft above terrain.

I'd like to see these sim jockeys and how they would do when right after takeoff the airplane noses over and heads straight down. An airliner is not a kite that it can be turned on a dime, even if the pilots in this case managed to shut off the electrical power to the trim [the Boeing excuse that supposedly makes this airplane okay]...IT MIGHT BE TOO LATE BY THEN WHEN YOU ONLY HAVE 1,000 FEET UNDERNEATH YOU.

That is just very basic aviation knowledge and experience. Having the plane nose over on climbout is a BLOODY CATASTROPHE. Anybody blaming the pilots here is just a moron who doesn't know anything about flying even a small airplane, never mind a big one.

PS: Thanks for your aviation story Peter. Designing, building and flying your aircraft is quite an accomplishment. I have been thinking about doing something like that as I get closer to retirement.

Posted by: flankerbandit | Mar 16 2019 15:07 utc | 293

> karlof1, 278

Because all the parties f-d up.
You seem to take some crusade-like approach.
Bipolar, Manichean one.

Either we are angels and they are demons, or they are angels then we are demons.
Something like American foreign policy, where anyone slightly worse than shining beacon automatically is worth total destruction by any mean at any cost.

There is now disasters in complex systems having only one isolated reason.
Boeing & FAA are guilty in their part.
Crew in their part.
And airlines company in their part, too.

And the guy who took the aircraft in incomparably worse and incomparably more unpredictable condition and managed to save it in less than 2 minutes against all odds, he knows what thoughtful and ready pilot can do

Posted by: Arioch | Mar 16 2019 15:16 utc | 294

> in my view the crux of the problem is in the computer software.

Posted by: Duke | Mar 16, 2019 4:56:48 AM | 288

I hope so. That would mean there is no The Problem in long run.
What i fear is maybe MCAS#1 computer just have no physical wire to get data from AoA#2 sensor and vice versa.
Then purely software fix would hardly be adequate. At best they maybe would be able to make both MCAS computers somehow exchange data sending it around through internal network and other computers. Which would be much less reliable than directly reading the sensor. At worst hardwqre modifications would be required, with re-certification and what not.

Posted by: Arioch | Mar 16 2019 15:27 utc | 295

It appears it might become worse than simply fixing a design flaw in the control system and imposing adequate pilot training. I tend to think there is something fundamentally incompatible between the whole B737Max airframe and the new LEAP engine replacement. Up to the point that only a redesign of major parts of the wing/body could eventually constitute an acceptable solution. Such a solution, given it's cost, is likely to be stonewalled with all the corporate and institutional weight available, as it effectively was so far, while presumably resulting in two downed birds.

Too Big To Fail Banks, imposed misery and death on tax payers globally, but they benefited from an apparently vague link between the cause and its effect. TBTF Boeing does not share that benefit, their failure directly translates in death/injury, before everyone's scrutiny. It will be interesting to follow the developments of this story. The comparatively low quality of the manipulation and mystification to be achieved. Gladly there are signs it will be inadmissible any kind at various levels of influence in the global scale.

Premises bellow:

- Boeing needed to respond to its competitor in a relevant market sector (A320neo).
- Its solution implied an upgrade (new more powerful, efficient engines), to one of its reliable existing products (B737).
- Negative implications of such upgrade were identified (required alternative engine placement, degrading aerodynamics).
- Instead of a design overhaul, a solution was worked out to minimize/nullify the negative impact (MCAS).
- Recognition of the existence of the system would reveal the compromise in safety (Reduced or non existent specific pilot training).
- MCAS fails in operation, resulting in two lethal accidents. By aviation standards, leaving no much room for accidental coincidence.
- Mitigation factors, perceptualy stay of that nature, reinforcing failure in addressing safety critical factors, no matter the rationale advanced.

Posted by: Vasco da Gama | Mar 16 2019 17:12 utc | 296

Arioch probably works for Boing or some of the alphabet agencies.

The quantity of bullshit is huge in this one comments.

Including Chernobyl not being human failure.
40 years later and people still spread desinformation.
The reactor was safe operating properly. End of story!

Posted by: Zico, The Musketeer | Mar 16 2019 17:50 utc | 297

I am a Software Architect with over 25 years of experience in the design and implementation of real time software systems.
It appears More emphasis was placed on preventing a stall resulting from the forward placement of the engines and solely relying on the sensor inputs and as a result ignored the dangers of unwarranted and undocumented nose dives. This kind of closed loop one way logic , not considering factors such as proximity to terrain and blindly enforcing the nosedive commands at best can be described as bizarre and dangerous.

Primarily unstable design in commercial planes is a bad idea. However there is no excuse for the Software team for having messed up their design.

Its also worrisome the scenario missed Boeing's own testing and FAA . Fix can be made with software alone. System should be more intuitive to recognize pilots actions to over ride the MCAS and relinquish control to the pilot.

Having said that,

Pilots could over ride the MCAS by Switching off the electric trim cut-off switches . Another way to turn off MCAS is by extending the flaps. Pilots could have done any of these procedures to get control of the plane and climb to safer altitude or return back safely.

These are supposedly basic procedures every 737 pilot is trained.

Its a different matter that MCAS software had a problem in enforcing the nose down regardless of the altitude and Terrain Proximity and should have been more robust in differentiating wrong sensor inputs, and various other secondary inputs to conclude about imminent stall or super stall before initiating nose down commands.
It should not necessarily result in a crash had Pilots reacted with some logic. Lion Air pilot in the previous flight did take the right steps in turning off the trim cut-off switches and landed safely. Compounding the problem is Boeing did not make the pilots aware of MCAS and that it gets activated when pitch or AOA is too high, flaps are retracted . Few Pilots could get spooked when suddenly nose pitches down and respond wrongly and loosing control.

As a 737 Max 8 pilot , you would expect these pilots to do some research and keep themselves updated atleast and its worrisome how the crew reaction has such catastrophic results.

Posted by: VMREDDY | Mar 16 2019 21:02 utc | 298

a minute ago
[Capt Tajer(leader representing American Airlines pilots flying 737 Max) said, some of the (Boeing)company's top engineers were apologetic.

"We said, 'shame on you.' They said, 'I know.'"]

[A federal flight safety reporting system contains about a dozen reports by pilots expressing exasperation about systems that limited their control of the 737 Max.."How can a captain not know what switch is meant during a pre-flight set-up?" asked another. "Poor training and even poorer documentation; that is how."]

Pilot complaints raise questions over Boeing's response to Lion Air crash

[MCAS only activates if the autopilot is turned off.[153] Boeing had advised pilots to disengage autopilot in nose-down incidents, though MCAS initiates nose-down in response to stall incidents.[154][155] A stabilizer trim jackscrew found in the wreckage of Ethiopian flight 302 was set for nose-dive position.[156]]

MCAS required 3 switches to disable, how many pilots are able to do if they don't even know what these buttons for. There are only 4 737Max flight simulators, one in US. Only Brazil didn't passed FAA, insisted training on new Max model. The rest just go with it.

Boeing recommended to deactivate MCAS when nose dive happen. But its supposed to activate only when autopilot is off, yet it will run independently without pilot notice in both autopilot/manual mode. That really sound contradicting, ie it will overwrite pilot until 3 switches are pressed to disable it during emergency.

Thses articles sum up well, Boeing screwed up lifes for profits, starting from a cost cutting flaw redesign involving larger engines, then trying to solve hardware flaw(nose up) with software MCAS(nose down). To promote sales & save training cost, skip all notification & training of new MCAS & changes. After Lionair crash, promised to patch up but never, with "at least" 5 recorded complaints & 12 reporting of lost controls in US alone. Finally come the unlucky EA crash, leading to global voluntary shutdown airspace for MAX as no one trust FAA & Boeing, who are still insisting Max is flight safe up till this moment.

Posted by: DrTT | Mar 17 2019 3:47 utc | 299

@ DrTT with the updates and support of my castigation of the folks at the top..."....Boeing screwed up lifes for profits,...."

It will be interesting to see if Steven and icementhead respond further. I doubt we will read icementhead but Steven may eat some crow

Posted by: psychohistorian | Mar 17 2019 4:25 utc | 300

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