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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I have just seen Steven's #90

"While Boeing and anyone else is certainly open to justifiable criticism.

There are about 10 emergency procedures that 737 pilots must know in their sleep, by heart, and be ready to do instantly. They train these until pilots can do them while sleepwalking. One of them is disabling electronic control of the stabilizers and using only mechanical control."

Steven is 100% correct.

Posted by: acementhead | Mar 13 2019 10:19 utc | 101

The use of only two flight-control computers, only one of which was handling a safety-critical operation, violates generations of standard practice in safety-critical systems.

The 747 standardized the TMR (triple modular redundancy) method, wherein three equal controllers vote on each step of control algorithms. In this case, the one with the faulty sensor (the most common cause of such problems) would have been outvoted, ignored, and flagged as defective. Any engineer or manager who even suggested the 737Max system should be fired. Clearly the most piggish opportunists were involved at high levels, which is the normal operation unregulated market economies.

So the good outcome is that people will not trust products from unregulated market economies.

Posted by: Sam F | Mar 13 2019 11:00 utc | 102

The statistics of this problem are fascinating. There are 340 MAX 8 in service at present. This (presumably) translates to many thousands of drama-free take-offs and landings which suggests that the combination of circumstances which preceded the 2 crashes were of an extremely rare nature. It would be interesting to discover what kind of reputation the MAX 8 has among pilots.
i.e. is it a 'pig' or is it 'just another airliner'?

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Mar 13 2019 11:09 utc | 103

The use of only two flight-control computers, only one of which was handling a safety-critical operation, violates generations of standard practice in safety-critical systems.

The 747 standardized the TMR (triple modular redundancy) method, wherein three equal controllers vote on each step of control algorithms. In this case, the one with the faulty sensor (the most common cause of such problems) would have been outvoted, ignored, and flagged as defective. Any engineer or manager who even suggested the 737Max system should be fired. Clearly the most piggish opportunists were involved at high levels, which is the normal operation unregulated market economies.

So the good outcome is that people will not trust products from unregulated market economies.

Posted by: Sam F | Mar 13 2019 11:09 utc | 104

anekdotal evidence about software in aircrafts, in MUCH smaller ones than 737

blog of 2013, in Russian -

Read viw

Posted by: Arioch | Mar 13 2019 12:54 utc | 105

> 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.

Russian Boeing pilot and blogger Denis Okan (he himself flies Boeing NG, but he long worked for the company that now operates the only two Boeing MAX in Russia) says that:

1. Lack of MCAS documentation was always in complains of attentive pilots. But Boeing mostly ignored those complains and when they finally sais something - it was a short internal memo like "nothing important, don't worry" without issuing updated flight manuals.

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.

3. Even if pilots forgot about those buttons or were afraid to press them, there was nothing so very specific about this MCAS problem, it was within the condition of standard "RUNAWAY STABILIZER" malfunction. The same standard symptoms (large wheel between pilots starts rotating and rattling) and the same standard operations (grabbing that very abnormally rotating wheel by hand and holding it, then switching trimmer electro-motor off) would remedy the problem on 737 aircrafts with or without MCAS.

4. The aircraft had this problem like 3 last flights, and engineers on the ground tried to "fix something" after each flight and they could not, which should had been alarming, but obviously it did not alarm bosses.
4.1. The aircraft with significant malfunction of unknown source was set to fly again and again.
4.2. The pilots were probably in accumulating stress, so perhaps they could not think and remember straight, so they missed their standard documented salvation steps mentioned above.
4.3. Still, pilots were expected, if forced to fly on malfunctioning aircraft, to refresh in their memory all the adjacent disaster scenarios, including that very "runaway stabilizer" cheat-sheet, which would save them if they followed it.

Posted by: Arioch | Mar 13 2019 13:10 utc | 106

Oh, forgot, some software engineer in Okan's blog said, that by his (non-aviation) experience the lack of MCAS documentation is much more likely showing not to any conspiracy, but simply to adding new subsystem in the very last moment before "public release" of the new aircraft.

He thought, Boeing just had no time to make any public documentation on MCAS.

Which implies, Boeing only had so much time for testing of that hastily hacked-together new system and finding/fixing any problem in it ir in its interactions with other systems.

Posted by: Arioch | Mar 13 2019 13:16 utc | 107

They cite the same old "I was only following orders" defense which was rightly rejected at Nuremburg. Nuremburg didn't buy it, nor would anyone with a shred of humanity left, in the many cases of corporate mass murder like this one.

Posted by: Russ | Mar 13, 2019 6:12:06 AM | 98

Ah, education these days! If you break the orders in a way that makes your superiors look bad, you may pass some 70 year old precedent, but you are screwed in proportion to the position of the said superiors. Check Chelsea (Bradley) Manning. Cooperating with order breakers is even worse (check Wikileaks and Assange). As you can learn from MSM, such miscreants deserve no mercy. It is different if the superiors were enemies of the Free World (or whatever it is called nowadays).

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Mar 13 2019 13:16 utc | 108

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

@ Steven #13

That is wrongly extreme, just on the opposite side.

I can equally say: When some victims survive knife stabs right, but others don't, it's not a knife stab flaw but a problems with some victims.

Or i can remember Chernobyl, which initially for politic reasons was blamed on crew. By exactly same logic: RMBK-type reactors were in service for more then ten years before the disaster, and other crew managed to turn them off every year without the following blast. So, the mistake is not in the reactor design (made inherently unstable on low power for the sake of profit efficiency on high power, but with reactor documentation evading saying it own - rings some bell?) but in the crew.

Or i can remember STS Challenger exploded due being launched into frosty morning. We can say, there was not design flaw in Challenger, because so many STS after Challenger disaster and before it (including Challenger itself) did successful launches, so obviously it was the astronauts, crew at fault, right?

What we had there was a double failure. A failure form Boeing to design reliable aircraft. And then failure of the crew when suddenly exposed to Boeing failure to rectify it emergently in flight. As usual with disasters, it was a combination of several failures, that together brought the ball home. Not any single flaw, but all them together.

Were crew at fault for failing to fix Boeing's oversight? Surely they were.
Which actually means the opposite: there WAS the design flaw by Boeing if crew had to (and failed to) fix it.

And there maybe (just maybe) was pressure from Boeing salesman who could well be sweet-talking Ethiopian Airlines to buy Boeing MAX advertizing it as so smart and advanced and safe, that what extra E.A. would spend on Boeign they can then save by hiring cheaper less able pilots.

Posted by: Arioch | Mar 13 2019 13:36 utc | 110

Personally, I'm not sure this wasn't another "Shanksville"

Posted by: Johnny Walker Read | Mar 13 2019 13:38 utc | 111

"The use of only two flight-control computers, only one of which was handling a safety-critical operation, violates generations of standard practice in safety-critical systems."

This design fault is so obvious that it should be clear to ANYONE with minute (or better) knowledge of math. The reason to use more than one sensor is that if may fail with some frequency, say p (e.g. once in 100,000 flights). If we have two sensors, and both fail, OOPS. But if one fails, what gain do we have? If the set-up fails with even one sensor, then we simply doubled the frequency of system failure, from p to 2p. But how to decide which sensor to follow when they disagree? Since we do not see any difference between "A fine, B wrong" and "A wrong, B fine", we can randomly follow one of them, and the probability of system failure is back to p. No gain in reliability whatsoever!

With three sensors, we can reliably recover if only one is wrong, and the probability that more than one is wrong is
roughly 3p^2, so if p = 1/100,000, we fail with probability 3/10,000,000 that may be acceptable. That assumes that there is no positive causal relationship between sensor failure like external conditions, being faultily maintained at the same time etc., but the design should make sensor failure being a "random freak accident".

Basically, using an even redundancy is a total waste, 2 is as bad as 1, 4 as bad as 3 etc. Then there is a question of software failure that is more tricky to address, a faulty processor may send different messages to its partners. In this case, with a proper protocol, 4 processors may tolerate 1 of the being faulty, 7 may tolerate 2 etc. but this is tricky so I would be a part of a college course in control theory or on distributed systems.

Short conclusion: the ONLY benefit of double redundancy is in sales, "we have redundant systems".

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Mar 13 2019 13:44 utc | 112

>> "How or why did the FAA agree to accept the 737 MAX with the badly designed MCAS?"

> Because it would be against the state religion to stop, or delay, a huge corporation earning even more money.

Posted by: Tom Welsh | Mar 12, 2019 5:34:56 PM | 15


However 10+ years ago Westinghouse Electric unroll their ambitions AP-1000 nuclear plant design.
That back then could take the world, as very first of a kind.

NRC shot them down and kept doing it year after year.
Despite it was "stopping a huge corporation earning even more money" ( in the end W.E. run bankrupt )
Desptie it was playing into French and Russian and even South-Korean hands who were finishing their own next-get NPP projects.

Still they consistently and repeatedly were stopping W.E. in tracks.

Posted by: Arioch | Mar 13 2019 13:46 utc | 113

@95 acementhead
Having traveled some of these airlines, and yes, there are a lot of Aussies and Kiwis flying the planes as well as ex-air force pilots, again I ask the question, why did two similar accidents happen to the same model of aircraft in so short a time? Do you fly 737 Max aircraft? How do you know the crew was shit? And, why are Boeing releasing a 'fix' if this was due to a shit crew? And why didn't Boeing tell the good crews about this feature? If you have the answers, let us know.

Posted by: aspnaz | Mar 13 2019 13:47 utc | 114

if p = 1/100,000 than 3p^2 = 3/10,000,000,000, which indeed gives a good chance that a fleet of 1000 planes flying 1000 times a year for 1000 years will not get this problem.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Mar 13 2019 13:48 utc | 115

@99 acementhead
"Every competent Boeing pilot knows how to stop any undesired stab trim movement. It takes a fraction of a second."

Given that these are international pilots, trained to international standards, you make it sound like they are deliberately committing suicide. What is it about the 737 Max that makes pilots and their crew want to commit suicide? Your argument, which is basically "Trust me, I'm a doctor" just doesn't hold water. You have provided no explanation for these accidents other than "I am a pilot, this is impossible" which is not very persuasive. Same plane kills 400 in five months, I don't care what you think, that is a huge outlier in the statistics of airline aviation and therefore it should be investigated. If you really are a pilot then I am your client and neither I or my wife will be flying the 737 Max for a very long time, if ever, even if this is all the fault of some unskilled air crews.

Posted by: aspnaz | Mar 13 2019 14:01 utc | 116

i agree with steven he is the only qualified captain here.
boeing does a great job 24 and 7 and we have to ask why is it these problems are happening in islamic countries it would seem to me we must ban these folks from flying for all we know these 2 crashes could have been more cases of pilot suicide isis and alqueda should also not be ruled out here ethipia has many radical elements that hate are freedoms

Posted by: daniel klein | Mar 13 2019 14:08 utc | 117

> Short conclusion: the ONLY benefit of double redundancy is in sales, "we have redundant systems".

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Mar 13, 2019 9:44:15 AM | 112

This all was build on the premise >>Since we do not see any difference between "A fine, B wrong" and "A wrong, B fine"<< - and even the nit is still wrong.

1. Those systems are more complex than one isolated sensor. Even if this premise was true about the sensors - there are much more units in the system, which could also fault, and whic hfault could be more detectable.

2. Even a sensor failure can be often detectable (of course, if system bothers to do so, which MCAS seemingly did not). If (just for example) outside air temperature is reported +1000 C - then we can assume flying in the middle of nuclear blast - or having one specific sensor went to overdrive. The second assumption is safe to take, as if we REALLY do fly in the nuke blast we have nothing to care about anymore. With the Boeing case, if MCAS changes the aircraft pitch, the altimeter and air-horizon both show fuselage reacted to the control action, but AoA sensor still reporting the same constant value - it seems obvious the sensor is off the rail. If only MCAS bothered to check it.

3. Okay, let as assume there is TOTALLY no way to tell which of two sensors is failing (and maybe both of them failes at once, just to a different degree, that is possible too). Does it mean redundancy have totally no value here? NO!
Firs of all, it gives (should had given) "situational awareness". For example when speed sensors disagree, pilots are informed of "unreliable airspeed" emergency. Knowing this pilots can do things to make the aircraft flying in safe, if not in commercially optimal way. Where a single failed sensor would make pilots fly in a cuckoo-land, the two differently failed sensors should make them aware to the very fault. That actually is a lot per se. More so, at times pilots can analyze sensor data and deduce which one is wrong, then manually disengage it, binding controls to the working one.

Here the situation was MUCH worse than "two conflicting sensors".
Airbus had THREE AoA sensors, and what do you think - TWO had failed. So the majority was on the wrong side and the computer rejected correct data in favor of wrong but repeated one.

Still, the very fact of sensor disagreement was reported to pilots, made them situationally aware.
After consulting with engineers on the ground pilots disengaged all the sensors and made safe landing.

See, the initial trigger was worse than one with Boeing, not the clear "no reliable data" condition, but "wrong was reliable majority, correct was unreliable minority" one.
The difference was in the computer.
While Boeing computer did not bother to check all he sensors, Airbus computer did look and compare.
While Boeing computer did not alerted pilots to the very fact of technical failure, Airbus computer did.
Both Airbus and Boeing crew were caught ambush and did not know what to do, than trying to manually counter computer's "crazy" actions. It could work for a while but not forever (eventually fuel runs out, even if nothing crashes the plane before).

What was different, Airbus computer using redundancy informed pilots of hardware failure and about which of many "dark corner" of all the subsystems failure was around. MCAS perfectly could do the same, but chosen not to.

Then pilots of Airbus were buying time manually fighting crazy computer, and ground engineeres - made aware! - managed to make proper instructions to get out of disaster, and pilots followed those commands and brought passengers to safety.

MCAS system using 2-redundancy of AoA sensors perfectly could do the same.
But the real MCAS system was designed ignoring redundancy (2-redundancy is nothing, it is just buzzword, right? so let us just ignore it).

And pilots had no awareness, could not make engineers aware, did not have a safe exit from the trap. Well, they SHOULD had remember the cheat-sheet, but the fact is they did not, they failed that one chance they should had be trained to take. But! after that their failure they also were robbed by the non-redundant nature of MCAS of their second chance. And un;like the Quantas case, they could not get help from ground engineers and it only was a question of time when computer would overpower their efforts.

Both airplanes had AoA sensors failure, Airbus has it even worse than Boeing (2/3 vs 1/2).
Both crews were caught by surprise.
Both crews were buying time knowing not how to fix it.
Redundancy-aware Airbus computer gave pilots clues enough to make "buying time" productinve and eventually saving.
Anti-redundancy design of Boeing MCAS gave pilots no awareness and their "buying time" was futile and fatal.

Posted by: Arioch | Mar 13 2019 14:17 utc | 118

@117 daniel klein
You think Steven is a pilot because he says that darkies don't know how to fly planes? Nice! This is about statistics, not piloting, I am sure that every pilot is like every coder, they think they are the best there has ever been: self assessment is self delusion. Explain the statistics of two crashes in such a short time, with similar characteristics, and explain why Boeing are providing a 'fix' for something that is not broken.

Posted by: aspnaz | Mar 13 2019 14:27 utc | 119

@76 psychohistorian

In defense of snake, I actually enjoy his comments regarding EZ. I find his label is a suitable shorthand to describe & explain the numerous historical data points I have thus far come across. I also agree with & appreciate your comments as well, private finance is indeed a massive, pervasive cancer to this world. But where I believe your description falls short, IMHO, is it is too nebulous & hence difficult to battle, whereas snake "pins the tail on the donkey" as it were. And there is a LOT of data to support that - too much to state on this thread, so I will save it for the next open one

Having said that I truly appreciate your contributions here, and snake too, and many others. I am definitely the "poorer cousin" to most folks here, but thanks to b and MoA, am learning more each day!

Posted by: xLemming | Mar 13 2019 14:33 utc | 120

@ Posted by: acementhead | Mar 13, 2019 6:19:30 AM | 101

No, @Steven is 100% wrong.

The MCAS was not in the new manual, so no pilot was aware it existed. This in itself is already a crime.

To top it off, it was projected so it remains active even in manual mode. This makes the MCAS essentially a dummy pilot.

Boeing's CEO himself called Trump to stifle the investigation. This is admition of guilt.

@99 acementhead

So, have you ever piloted a 737-8? How do you know it was just a "undesired stab trim movement"? By the description of the problem, it seems a system designed to correct AoA will hardly make just a "trim movement".

Posted by: vk | Mar 13 2019 14:38 utc | 121

Wikipedia: "The new 737 series was launched on August 30, 2011. It performed its first flight on January 29, 2016. The new series gained FAA certification on March 8, 2017. The first delivery was a MAX 8 on May 6, 2017".
I wonder which directives FAA was following by March 8, 2017.

Posted by: V Vieira | Mar 13 2019 14:45 utc | 122

Someone mentioned Boeing was in competition with Bommbardier (a Canadian airplane manufacturer) which had developed a new passenger jet (C series). The USA imposed a 220% tariff on the jet, which crippled its sales. Thereafter, I saw many ads on Canadian TV by Boeing promoting Boeing and stating how Canada could also profit from Boeing sales - just after destroying through tariffs the launch of a new Canadian jet.
One might conclude that in the present time, profit is paramount in decisions made by Boeing and this is supported by US government agencies in whole or in part through fair means or foul.

Posted by: Tony Manolis | Mar 13 2019 14:58 utc | 123

Damn good journalism!

I had no idea the FAA already was aware of the problem and DID NOT force a fix after the first crash. As you say,,, This will cost them dearly. It's also unbelievable that engineers would design a system with only one sensor. IMO both computers should run synchronous with each other and compare each others inputs. Any difference should warn the pilots and suggest they either pick the one that is correct or shut down that particular function. Pilots should land ASAP. With two sensors each for a total of four, chances are three would read the same and it would be easy for the computer or pilots to choose the correct system.

It appears Boeing chose the accountants rather than engineering for safety. I imagine there will be so much excrement thrown around we may never know the facts but only one sensor????.

Makes me wonder about the 767 that crashed going into Houston. It nose dived as well. Does it have a MCAS comparable system?

If the FAA has been compromised by the American aircraft manufacturers (the MIC) then this could be the end for American aviation other then military. It will also put in doubt all FAA certified aircraft.

Posted by: Ken | Mar 13 2019 15:03 utc | 124

Psychohistorian makes good points, but why wouldn't each MCAS be designed to look at BOTH AOA sensors (use one, monitor the other?) to at least detect diagreement/error and possibly allow (under either condition) Simplified Pilot Manual Override of MCAS, or at least some other form of pilot intervention. The Logic being that MCAS doesn't care if it hits the ground, but the pilots certainty do...

Posted by: Waldo | Mar 13 2019 15:38 utc | 125

@123 tony

Similar skulduggery scuttled the Avro Arrow as well... the Outlaw US Empire was hard at work in Canada, even back then

Posted by: xLemming | Mar 13 2019 15:46 utc | 126


Totally forgot to mention the little known the Canadian Avro Jetliner, which is even more apropos!

It was the first jet passenger aircraft in North America, and was only beat by the British Comet by 2 weeks, for the world title

Even the infamous Howard Hughes took a shine to it, but international interest dried up in it for some reason...

And then the day Boeing announced their new 707 as the ONLY passenger jet plane in N/A, the Jetliner pilot showed up to the hangar only to find that the plane had been unceremoniously cut in half!

US corporate greed & sabotage goes WAY back!

Posted by: xLemming | Mar 13 2019 15:54 utc | 127

I think I have to agree with Arioch 118. I'm no expert, but I find Steven and especially acementhead's (Synonym for stubborn?) comments really harsh and judgmental.

Airbus AF447 was a case of what one might call the perfect storm, and I'm not referring to the weather that was well known in that flight path, although ice crystals were a pivotal factor. There were a combined 19,000 flight hours on that flight that together could not get the plane under control. Of course the least experienced co-pilot's reactions played a part, but when you combine all the crazy Murphy's Law factors generated by the controls, shaking, alarms and false airspeed measurements on that airship, those pilots, and the unfortunate passengers on that flight didn't stand a chance.

What did Lion 610 and AF447 have in common? The startle effect of the pilots? Not really, as they were not the CAUSE of what went wrong with either flight. Don't ask the impossible from human nature!

What was common to both was that something triggered incorrect/inconsistent airspeed measurements causing the autopilot to shut down or be shut down and from there computer unreliability creating a panic environment took over. Both planes experienced chaotic altitude issue, Airbus increasing altitude at dramatic speeds and Lion nose diving, and both stalling before all hell broke loose and impact was imminent.

Yes, Lion Air should have grounded that plane after the previous day's malfunction and not relied on Boeing's manual to correct the problem with one of the AoA sensors and then resumed flight.

The question lingers, in the case of AF447 ice crystals in the pitots caused inaccurate airspeed reads, but what was the reason for the inconsistent airspeed reads on the Lion? This issue triggered manual control on both flights and computer unreliability.

Boeing is in a heap of trouble here and not just because it was allowing these planes to fly around with a computer defect, but failure of due diligence on pilot training for its enhanced and altered 737, and lack of transparency seem to be at fault in a serious way.

I humbly rest my case.

Posted by: Circe | Mar 13 2019 15:58 utc | 128

@127 xLemming

I grew up in Pointe Claire under the glide path to Dorval Airport in Montreal. I remember seeing the Avro Jetliner pass over. It was amazing.

Posted by: brian | Mar 13 2019 15:59 utc | 129

@127 xLemming

I grew up in Pointe Claire under the glide path to Dorval Airport in Montreal. I remember seeing the Avro Jetliner pass over. It was amazing.

Posted by: brian | Mar 13 2019 15:59 utc | 130

@97 peter au.. ditto.. thanks..

@steven... one thing is clear - you're an arrogant asshole... that ain't comedy either.. i say we have to wait for more results, but as @b notes @86 is in wsj article - why all the pressure from the usa all of a sudden?? sure looks like boeing/ faa fucked up.. being subservient to wall st might be the main problem here..

Posted by: james | Mar 13 2019 16:07 utc | 131

David Park @ 5. I tried to dig up some clues about the Venez. blackout. Found this link interesting, its accuracy, pertinency, I can't judge.

As for short-term Profits being placed above *idealistic* principles such as: safety, security, avoiding harm / undue risk (precautionary stance), and most pointedly, doing “the best” (some worked out version..?) for people, animals, nature and physical world, that is not flash news.

The USA, naturally, is not alone, but it leads the way in several areas. Crazed competition for short-term profits, kudos, the attendant advantages, etc. are no longer bridled by “Gvmt” agencies, watch-dogs - or only superficially so and ‘for the gallery’ - as the USA is now an openly declared corporate oligarchy. (Health care is the no. 1 ex. imho.)

Posted by: Noirette | Mar 13 2019 16:15 utc | 132

@129 brian

I would've loved to have seen either plane (Jetliner or Arrow)

1959 was the year Canada lost its spine (if it ever had one) and became a vassal of the US

At least Trudeau (senior) thumbed his nose at the US with his relations with Cuba... I'm sure he would not be happy with junior's sell-out vis a vis NAFTA 2.0 and it's TPP trojan horse

Posted by: xLemming | Mar 13 2019 16:17 utc | 133

The Canadian government just grounded the 737 Max:

Posted by: Lavrenty | Mar 13 2019 16:24 utc | 134

boeings design bureau is based in moscow this is a pilot error a pilot mental health issue or an issue with russian bad design.
the question is what did the russians know and when if putin was in on the loop then this is a big problem for many of the sub contractors who will have to be made to pay.

Posted by: daniel klein | Mar 13 2019 16:37 utc | 135

weird world

Established in Moscow in 1993, BTRC has cooperated with Russian aerospace research institutes on a wide variety of projects. The center currently has 40 contracts with Russian aerospace research institutions and companies in several locations, including Moscow, St. Petersburg, Novosibirsk, Voronezh and Ekaterinburg.

By contracting with research institutes, Boeing enables about 300 of Russia's top aerospace engineers and scientists to remain employed by these research facilities. This allows the institutes to maintain their skills base while providing these professionals access to Boeing equipment, processes, and people -- either in Moscow or in the United States.

Boeing Celebrates Anniversary with New Design Center in Moscow

Posted by: dave | Mar 13 2019 16:44 utc | 136

Tom Welsh is right, the same scenario plays out in Westinghouse example you gave but in that case, the state was protecting a much bigger fish - the oil industry.

Posted by: mourning dove | Mar 13 2019 17:07 utc | 137

Posted by: dave | Mar 13, 2019 12:44:18 PM | 136

weird world

Nothing weird there, that time Russia was young, budding and promising democracy under Yeltsin, it was good, loyal and reliable partner... Alas nothing lasts forever, even our memories of good old times of love and friendsheep fade and go away...

Posted by: hopehely | Mar 13 2019 17:13 utc | 138

I love acementhead's attitude.. If a site agrees with his nonsense and excuse then its a great site and the most logical.. Everything else is just garbage.. After all whitey discovered civilization.. All others are basically retarded incompetent chimps.. Look at the problems in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Venezuela, Yemen.. If they dont want to starve let in whitey and do what whitey wants and says..

Posted by: Igor Bundy | Mar 13 2019 17:17 utc | 139

> The MCAS was not in the new manual, so no pilot was aware it existed. This in itself is already a crime.

Posted by: vk | Mar 13, 2019 10:38:01 AM | 121

Not quite so.

It was mentioned in the - ta-dam! - list of abbreviations.

That was why the most scrupulous pilots started asking Boeing what-dis-zhit-fooling-is-dere???
And they even got a kind-of-answer "Night is calm in Baghdad, sleep fair citizzens"

The photos taken from 2018-november-12 blog post mentioned above, if anyone cares use to read

Posted by: Arioch | Mar 13 2019 17:18 utc | 140

Concerning this incidence, most comments are taking the statements of the MSM and the FAA for facts. I honestly think we should not.
Should we not consider statements of people like Donald J Trump and the subordinated FAA, with utmost circumspection?
Did not the US government and their worldwide lackeys lie through their teeth in the case of TWA 800, SR 111, Egypt Air 990, 9/11 etc ??
The pictures of the crash site in Ethiopia do not look genuine at all, there is even a video on on the net on the subject.
We are living in crazy times, the “credible” MSM informed us of the planned passenger flight around the moon, by the government sponsored “genius” Elon Musk, with his magic SpaceX rocket, with revolutionary features which look like oversized fly flaps. The wonderful rocket can reenter the atmosphere without burning out and land on tiny landing pads on the high seas!!
The flight had been planned for 2018, the entire project proved to be a heap of FAKE NEWS.
Could it be, that this 737 MAX story is an undertaking, to scare people away from flying, because the production of Jet-Fuel can not cope with demand? The story looks to me like the childish machinations in Europe concerning the diesel engine driven cars, which are suddenly supposed to be bad for environment.

Posted by: Caveman | Mar 13 2019 17:27 utc | 141

James, may I assure you, IMO you are not a clown, never were, never will be. Your point was well made and Steven is out of line with his remark, again IMO.

Posted by: frances | Mar 13 2019 17:33 utc | 142

Posted by: Caveman | Mar 13, 2019 1:27:46 PM | 141

"Could it be, that this 737 MAX story is an undertaking, to scare people away from flying, because the production of Jet-Fuel can not cope with demand?"

If they wanted to scare people away from flying they'd just remove all the government subsidies so that people had to pay the real cost for a ticket. That'd scare 'em good, and it would be the end of commercial air travel.

Posted by: Russ | Mar 13 2019 17:33 utc | 143

> boeings design bureau is based in moscow

so is airbus'es

all your base are belong to us
resistance is futile
please just die so we hadn't had to pull all those beautiful birds from the skies!

Posted by: Arioch | Mar 13 2019 17:35 utc | 144

> the same scenario plays out in Westinghouse example

Posted by: mourning dove | Mar 13, 2019 1:07:50 PM | 137

No, the opposite.

For Boeing US gov't suppressed information about technical flaw to heklp Boeing get early-to-market and grab money
For Westinghose US gov't suppressed business developments until technical flaws (or what gov't thought could be named flaws) are ironed without caring if Westringhose would be first to market, last to market, or never to market (as it really happenned)

Posted by: Arioch | Mar 13 2019 17:38 utc | 145

Also try to read - via as awful as it gets - two blog posts of the real practicing Boeing (NG-generation not MAX) pilot, who loves to brag about safety.

With his clear love for Boeing and lack of classified information that for example FAA has, still his ideas are worth considering. - March 12th - MArch 13th

Posted by: Arioch | Mar 13 2019 17:45 utc | 146

B. The FAA's decline goes back to Regan when he fired 11,000 ATC's and then pushed business as usual. The US is under total corporate control, the "revolving door" from business to government back to business has turned into a six lane expressway. The only way to get any relief from corporate control is BSD.

Posted by: Tobi | Mar 13 2019 18:09 utc | 147

Been educational reading the many attempts at damage control, which is an offhanded way of telling b he's doing an excellent job making powerful people nervous! Now, if the world's nations would treat the Outlaw US Empire's illegal sanction regime as they just treated the FAA and Boeing, the world would be a better place almost immediately. NTSB people trying to hijack the investigation is yet another sign a corporate crime was committed that needs to be covered up ASAP. Shortsell Boeing; it's stock's going to nosedive for awhile.

Posted by: karlof1 | Mar 13 2019 18:50 utc | 148

The US has now grounded all 737 Max planes.

Posted by: Lavrenty | Mar 13 2019 19:03 utc | 149

reply to Johnny Walker Read 111

I think your link deserves to be re-posted, yes I think they are pulling a fast one, there is clearly no plane at this site.

"Personally, I'm not sure this wasn't another "Shanksville"

Posted by: Johnny Walker Read | Mar 13, 2019 9:38:52 AM | 111"

Posted by: frances | Mar 13 2019 19:06 utc | 150

Some remarks regarding claims of Steven, acementhead, and others


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

The pilots on that flight did not even know they had a trim problem. There can be many reasons for a sudden nose down and all have to be taken into account. But pilots can take only those in account they know of.

After the Indonesian flight crashed the FAA issued an Emergency Airworthiness Directive 2018-23-51 on Nov 7.
The FAA issued a the final AD 2018-23-51 on December 23 2018.

The AD lists a number of symptoms that can all point AoA sensor failure but could also show other faults. The reaction to a MCAS failure is not just one step but several.

The standard procedure ends in using the STAB TRIM CUTOFF Switches at the back of the console between the pilots.

As soon as that's done the pilots have to manually trim the plane which can require many rotations of the trim wheel depending on how much MCAS already screwed up. It is thus better to use the electric trim to bring the plane back to normal before cutting the electro motors off.


We know that problem occurred (twice) shortly after take off at only some 3000 feet high. That is a critical phase of the flight and the pilots are busy even without problems. When the problem occurs there is little time before hitting the terrain. No time to go through checklist ...


Boeing was working on a fix for the MCAS problem. It should have been ready a month ago but Boeing and the FAA disagree about the solution. (Looks like the FAA wants more than Boeing is willing to do.) (paywalled)

A company spokesman confirmed the update would use multiple sensors, or data feeds, in MAX's stall-prevention system -- instead of the current reliance on a single sensor. The change was prompted by preliminary results from the Indonesian crash investigation indicating that erroneous data from a single sensor, which measures the angle of the plane's nose, caused the stall-prevention system to misfire. Then, a series of events put the aircraft into a dangerous dive.

The lawyers will cite plan that as an admission of guilt for a bad design.


It isn't the trust of the new engines that creates the nose up effect. The new engines are much larger than the old ones and their nacelles are right in front of the wings. When the plane is in a climb the nacelles, together with the wings, create additional aerodynamic lift in front of the center of the plane. This is the nose up effect. This additional lift increases when the AOA rises which then again increases the "lift" effect until the plane stalls. This made MCAS or some other control necessary.


737 MAX flown by American Airline have two extra AOA sensor readouts in the cockpit. The pilots can actually see when the two sensors disagree. AA is the only airline that has this feature on its MAX birds.


The quality of a pilot is independent of the color of the skin or/and the belief of the pilot. There are plenty of bad "western" white color pilots around.

Posted by: b | Mar 13 2019 19:15 utc | 151

Hoarsewhisperer 103
For an answer to your question, you would have to ask a pilot that has flown it manually under all conditions. That it required special sensors and software to keep its trim makes me think it would be dangerous though perhaps doable to fly manually. Nice software and fly by wire can sweep all sorts of dirt under the rug. While the sensors and software were working it most likely was ok to fly.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Mar 13 2019 19:26 utc | 152


There have be additional 737 MAX reports of a sudden nose-down effect in the moment the pilots switched the autopilot ON. The problem was solved by switching the autopilot off.

The can not be MCAS failures as MCAS is only on when the autopilot os OFF.

But these could be sensor failures where the auto pilot gets a wrong AOA reading and reacts to it. I do not know the technical details of the issue.

Posted by: b | Mar 13 2019 19:30 utc | 153

 vk | Mar 13, 2019 10:38:01 AM | 121

“The MCAS was not in the new manual, so no pilot was aware it existed.”

Of course (just in my opinion) pilots should have been informed, and the MCAS documented in the AFM, but the point is that even absent any knowledge at all every pilot should have no trouble 'saving the day' if the MCAS has a malign active failure. As Steven has pointed out the pilot action is easy and should be automatic. Just move one toggle switch to the other position.

“ This in itself is already a crime.”
Certainly wrong in my opinion; I don't have enough knwledge to say whether a crime or not. On consideration, in the USA it probably is a crime as almost everyting is. (Even unlawful onsell tickets to a sporting or cultural event.)

“To top it off, it was projected so it remains active even in manual mode.”
Now here you have it exactlly arse backwards. MCAS doesn't “remain” active in manual flight, it is active only in manual.

“This makes the MCAS essentially a dummy pilot.”
YES and a VERY poor one

“@99 acementhead
So, have you ever piloted a 737-8? “
Nope , never flown 8Max, just early models, but Boeing keeps same layout. Stab trim cutout in same location even 747 layout same as 737

“How do you know it was just a "undesired stab trim movement"?”
In manual flight ALL stab trim movement that was not pilot commanded is undesired. In manual flight if stab trim moves and you weren't touching the C/W trim switches then Stb trim to cutout. Never had to do it on any aircraft in 35 years.

Editorial aside: Why I prefer Boeing to Airbus.
Boeing philosophy is to leave the pilot in charge. Boeing has correct control loop systems. Feedback in the flight controls, thrust levers and stab trim. Airbus no feedback. Captain can see F/O flight control movements. Not on the 'bus. Boeing if Auto thrust changes power setting at all the thrust levers move. The Aeroplane tells you what it is doing. Not on the bus. Thrust levers stay wherever they were in one of the detents. Stab trim the same, as trim moves for whatever reason the wheel moves. I've never flow the 'bus but it might not even have pilot controlled stab trim. It's FBW so could be unneccesary. Don't know,don't care.

“By the description of the problem, it seems a system designed to correct AoA will hardly make just a "trim movement". “

Your incredulity notwithsatanding YES that is exactly what it does.

I most probably won't write more about this here. If somebody has a genuine query(not pushing a barrow) that I see I will probably answer if I have time.

Posted by: acementhead | Mar 13 2019 19:38 utc | 154

it was not trumps idea to ground the planes it was boeing not because of recent issues but just to give the engineers some breathing space
i am sure once the haters evil doers and airbus trolls have moved on this great bird will be back up like the eagle she is soaring like she never soared before.

take a chill pill folks and listen to steven

Posted by: brad | Mar 13 2019 19:42 utc | 155

Trump steps in and grounds all 737-MAX aircraft in United States. Are all except a handful of Democrats in Congress going to add this to lomg list of felonies they'd like to charge Trump with? Is the #resistance going to resist populist Trump for doing the right thing? Are they going to insist on flying by 737 MAX on principle? Are they fuck?

Posted by: Ghost Ship | Mar 13 2019 19:44 utc | 156

@b 153 This would be one of those incidents.
"A Qantas flight attendant broke her leg and another suffered numerous injuries when their aircraft's autopilot unexpectedly disengaged as it descended into Canberra Airport last year.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau's investigation into the incident has found a modification made to the Boeing 737-8 meant the pilot's attempt to stop the aircraft going too fast inadvertently triggered an abrupt change in speed and angle."

Also from 151 "When the plane is in a climb the nacelles, together with the wings, create additional aerodynamic lift in front of the center of the plane"
I take it by climb, you mean angle of attack.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Mar 13 2019 19:56 utc | 157

i would hate to be the pilots family member if it was a mental health suicide mission
or even an engineer at the boeing design centre in moscow russia.
all very sad for the private company sub contractors

Posted by: barbera | Mar 13 2019 19:57 utc | 158

reply to Tony Manolis 123
That is one hefty tariff, did Canada impose a reciprocal tariff on Boeing or ban them from being considered for govt purchases maybe?

Posted by: frances | Mar 13 2019 19:58 utc | 159

@156 GS

Oh fer f's sake ! Most Dems were for grounding! Quit the Trump hero-worship crap!

Posted by: Circe | Mar 13 2019 20:07 utc | 160

Commentary at an article announcing Ralph Nader's Grand Niece was killed in the Ethiopia crash said there've been at least 3 close-calls along with the 2 crashes. The commentator provided no link with which to verify. In b's updates, he cites 2 close calls and several other problems that may or may not be related. I tried searching to discover if any articles about the close calls existed but could find none. So, commentator mentions 3, and b 2, close calls, thus begging the question of how many more don't we know about. Good to see Trump bowing to the political pressure and grounding the planes. Regarding the failing of sensors, paraphrasing another commentator remarks: Isn't it reassuring to know as you strap yourself into your seat that the vast majority of the airplane's components were supplied by the lowest bidder. And another question being begged: Why was American Airlines the only one outfitted with the additional safety features?

Posted by: karlof1 | Mar 13 2019 20:11 utc | 161

aspnaz | Mar 13, 2019 10:01:58 AM | 116

I know they were "shit pilots", your words not mine, by the result. One of the jobs of an airline captain is, when extreme events happen, even totally uncontemplated ones, to save the day. Sometimes, very seldom, one needs to take an action outside the manuals, even the reverse of the normal procedure. This happened to me once only. Called for landing lights to be turned OFF, good copilot complied instantly although would not have been expecting the call, and was thus able to complete a safe landing. It was a DC3 at night unforecast fog at destination and alternate closed due unforecast bad weather. Non-precision approach, Twin ADF, flown manually very precisely. Turning landing lights off allowed the runway lights to be seen. A/C precisely positioned so we landed safely by doing the opposite of what the Ops manual called or. If I'd stuck to the manual we were Fd.

Pilots to do the best job need to be able to think. I pity pilots nowdays; they are not permitted to fly.

Posted by: acementhead | Mar 13 2019 20:11 utc | 162

B, I'm very impressed. So you can do aviation as well...

Regarding Boeing, the current CEO is one Dennis Muilenburg. He's a proper aviation/engineering guy by profession, and he has been Boeing's CEO only since 2015. The man to look to for responsibility for how the 737 MAX was conceived and rolled out, is of course Muilenburg's predecessor. James McNerney, Master of Business Administration and basically a CEO mercenary - from Procter & Gamble to McKinsey to GE to 3M to Boeing. Judging by his ever more staggering Boeing salary I guess his motto, all along, must have been "to get rich quickly or let others die trying."

Do any of you know this wonderful song - For the love of money by The O'Jays? It was mostly coincidence, but I was just listening to it while digging a little into the Boeing history, inspired by B's excellent piece here.

Posted by: Scotch Bingeington | Mar 13 2019 20:12 utc | 163

Peter Au 1.

Sorry, you have absolutely zero understanding of what you’re talking about, and unfortunately you appear to think it makes you morally superior.

737 Pilots have about 10 emergency procedures they have to lean by heart, and know so well they can do them in their sleep. They’re called “memory items,” because they have to get them right from memory every single time, because there’s no time to get a checklist out. If they can’t get them right every singe time, they have no place whatsoever in a cockpit.

One of these is for vertical stabilizers that are malfunctioning for any reason. stabilizers can go out of control for several different reasons like short circuits.They press one switch (which takes half a second) check a few things, and then steer the plane mechanically, as it is designed to do. The pilots on the The first lion air light had the same problem did what they were trying to do in their sleep and landed the airplane just fine.

It was spectacularly incompetent to let the airplane fly again until the mechanics were absolutely sure the problem had been fixed, and even more spectacularly stupid to have malfunctioning stabilizers and spend 10 minutes trying to outwrestle the autopilot rather than disable the electronic controls.

And you are only slightly smarter, because you have zero understanding of the problem, trust clickbait journalism, and then inform me that I’m “posting for Boeing.”

Boeing is expected to make an airplane that pilots can still fly when something has gone wrong, IF they follow their training. There is no system or remedy for pilots who don’t follow their training. That said, Boeing should have informed pilots of the MCAS, because a few less idiot pilots would kill themselves and their passengers by deciding to ignore their training.

Posted by: Steven | Mar 13 2019 20:19 utc | 164

Ghost Ship | Mar 12, 2019 5:04:07 PM | 6

"I don't know if this is true by my sister who was an engineer working on military jets said that she'd heard that because of various design requirements, the 737-MAX was inherently unstable but stability was provided by the fly-by-wire system. In military jets, this feature provides greater maneuverability and survivability but has no place on civilian aircraft as the outcome of a system failure would be catastrophic with the pilots being unable to do anything about it. Anyone heard anything similar?"

Ghost Ship your sister heard wrong. B737 is not FBW. The 8 Max is not "unstable" either deliberately or perforce, due to the new engines. Because of the change of the engine there is a slight increase in trim change with power change. But where the greatest trim change takes place in flight, on G/A(go around from on final approach) the MCAS is not active(because flaps are not up).

Posted by: acementhead | Mar 13 2019 20:27 utc | 165

Well, out here in Flyoverland it seems time to deploy the duct tape and bailing wire as no amount of damage control will undo the 737-8 MAX's fundamental design errors. Top execs will collect their options and sell all their shares as fast as possible; the outstanding orders will be cancelled; the existing planes properly fixed or scrapped; and a phalanx of corporate lawyers deployed globally to engage in as long-as-possible delaying actions. Nobody gives a shit about the victims; the only worry is expressed for the manufacturer and primary users.

Posted by: karlof1 | Mar 13 2019 20:40 utc | 166

Boeing should be heavily penalized for its highly profitable but equally dangerous shortcuts to a nose-up, negatively stable commercial airliner and patchwork attempts at correction. Its planned fix to the software is insufficient. For certification, I suggest requiring inherent positive stability of the air frame, even if that requires rebuilding with prior 737 engines or ballast toward the nose, with the attendant less efficiency. Let the sales drop where they may, as Boeing deserves. Also, as I've learned from most of my engineering career consulting to government agencies, it's common for them to promote rather than regulate those they oversee, and FAA deserves blame for the 737 Max certification. Terminate those responsible. The actions against Boeing and FAA would set a much needed example for unethical business and corrupt regulators. Sorry if my position seems to harsh, but we must not forget what cost hundreds of lives, great sadness and hardship for many more survivors, and justifiable fear of flying among the general public.

Posted by: Bob Cutler | Mar 13 2019 20:56 utc | 167

These accidents have the potential to break Boeing's back badly, the situation will escalate when law suits and order cancelations mount, by now Boeing's shares are holding and I believe it is being held artificially, main holders are managing things to avoid big loses but soon things will get really bad (all 737 MAX are now grounded) and Airliners will start pressuring Boeing big time. This has the potential to bring Boeing dow hard, maybe not an existential one but it will be big.
Meantime both Russia and China are pumping billions into 737/A320 competition, timing is everything, should this mele continues for months and months, it could point to a point of no return for the 737 line, and market share would go to the bottom.

Posted by: Canthama | Mar 13 2019 21:50 utc | 168

MAX cant fly anywhere....

Posted by: Zico, The Musketeer | Mar 13 2019 22:08 utc | 169

So much for vertical take off planes. This one was twice tail up! You could actually figure all that crap was marketing bs given the body-length/wingspan aspect ratio is completely off in all videos (ie. top down views reveal the real ratio).

Some facts and a pattern:

- Pick up a photo camera some decades ago and after auto-focus, auto-exposure became a thing, any one could become insta-photographer. The real pro would use automated features to confirm, not replace their judgement on what light they intended to capture.

- About then you started writing some stuff on your word processor and when enumerating, the bastard would replace the minus sign with the dash ("Sory for favouring math, this is no dialogue, stop bugging me")

- Then, you would type down a web address in its due browser place, and before noticing you missed a key, google was suggesting supposedly convenient somesite. The inverse (filling google's home page with a full actual address) would provide you with ad supported results. So much so, a lot of confusion persists in webnauts about what is what.

- Do you want me to save your login information? for ever! for all sites! For now browsers still ask.

- On the other hand, lets just assume you agree with us regarding:
+ never ending
+ list of privacy
+ invasion features
+ all of them enabled
+ by default
+ pretending to be
+ in your convenience
+ and exclusive interest
+ except some
+ lines down
+ about where
+ you have already
+ switched page
+ and missed all
+ the relevant
+ drill downs

- Then windows automatic updates wanted to download. Fair enough, but please just notify me of those. I'll check if I will need them, there is no need to fix something not broken. I have unnecessarily opened cans of worms before.

- Windows again? I opted: NOTIFY ME. DO NOT ENABLE yourself without me knowing, you already know my system requirements. How many times should I fix you?

- 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)


Do you guys see the pattern? It used to be basic inconsequential decisions that were hidden or altogether removed from our conscious judgement, increasingly, more subjective and relevant decisions disappear from reach, some of negative consequences or of higher value are pre-made in some office some place, more often than not against your very interests.

Apparently it is evolving to life/death threats. Planes are falling now.

Posted by: Vasco da Gama | Mar 13 2019 22:28 utc | 170

...because a few less idiot pilots would kill themselves and their passengers by deciding to ignore their training.

Again, I'm no expert but calling the pilots who died idiots seems somewhat armchair quarterbacking to me and presumptuous. No one knows yet exactly what the pilots were dealing with. I'm thinking of all unexpected factors that contribute to a catastrophic crash. For instance, on Airbus AF447 the pilot took a recommended break and just 6 minutes later the pitots blocked by ice malfunctioned triggering auto-pilot shutdown. The co-pilot at the controls was the least experienced of the 3 as the other co-pilot had just returned from his break when the pilot left for his own. To make matters worst the co-pilot was also dealing with turbulence while in manual control. No doubt the captain who was resting was thinking we hit the usual turbulence, and thought nothing more of it. Had the icing blockage occurred 6 minutes earlier perhaps everyone could have been saved.

Posted by: Circe | Mar 13 2019 22:30 utc | 171

One more thing, Trump pretended to take credit for grounding the planes. FALSE. The planes were grounded by the FAA based on data collected on site and by satellite, which is the same reason Canada gave for grounding the aircraft.

Posted by: Circe | Mar 13 2019 22:42 utc | 172

Jen | Mar 12, 2019 6:02:28 PM

"Steven @ 13: The Indonesian Lion Air jet still crashed with all onboard dying, even after the pilots did as you said. B's post explains why: the MCAS system has to be deactivated separately as it is still active when autopilot is off and the pilots are flying manually. The Indonesian pilots did not have the time to figure out and realise that something else was controlling the plane's flight, much less deactivate what is effectively a second autopiloting system."

Sorry Jen but your understanding of this matter is zero. Steven's on the other hand is complete.

The MACS is not "active even when the autopilot is off" it is active ONLY when

1) The autopilot is off
2) When the flaps are selected fully retracted.

In manual flight with aicraft clean the MCAS is live but, if functioning normally, it will never do a trim input with competent piloting. It will do nose down trim if, and only if, the angle of attack becomes too high. Angle of attack is not the same as pitch attitude. With competent flying the MCAS NEVER gets close to doing an input(nose down trim). If the MCAS erroneously senses angle of attack too high then it will input nose down trim. The pilots are advised of this both visually(the trim wheel moves) and aurally(clicking sound that the trim wheel makes as it moves, which it is designed to do).

The "deactivation" of the whole trim system for a competent pilot is automatic and takes a fraction of a second. It is the movement of a single toggle switch to the other position.

Jen | Mar 12, 2019 6:02:28 PM

Posted by: acementhead | Mar 13 2019 22:42 utc | 173

Congratulations, b, as others have said, on being important enough to bring out Boeing's Damage ConTROLL unit. People here may not be experts on airplane safety - although several are - but they do know how to spot a thread disruption.


This crash is a matter of deflection. If we can snare everyone into endless debate over how to react in an emergency, and maybe even blame the pilots if we're really persistent, then we can deflect people from focusing on the original sin here - that Boeing put out a plane not capable of withstanding everyday usage.

Everyday usage applies to all civil aircraft around the world. There will be better and worse pilots, better and worse conditions, luckier and unluckier actions taken. But despite all these varying conditions, planes and crews stay in the air. The safe planes don't crash unless there are actual causes. But planes that crash because of their inherent design are not safe planes.

And everyone around the whole world knows this. At the most inexpert, ordinary-consumer level, everyone knows that coincidence is absolutely forbidden in this situation as the explanation for killing a planeload of passengers.

And this is what these self-styled plane pilots wasting our time here in this thread cannot defeat: the fact that non-experts can very easily put this 2+2 together to make 4. Two crashes under the same lack of obvious cause and under the same level of unlikelihood, is a fact sitting way outside of anyone's probability.

There's a reason the world has grounded this plane. That reason is the directorship of Boeing, and the collusion of the FAA. It's not so much to do with the plane or the pilots. It's everything to do with the lying, corporate shit we see crawling out of the wreckage, desperately trying to deflect blame.

Posted by: Grieved | Mar 13 2019 23:20 utc | 174

Vasco da Gama @170--

Thanks for the serious humor. I flashed onto Scottie telling Kirk he'll do what he can to get more from the warp drive as if there were some manual controls for that machinery. Then there's the infallible teleportation device that properly retains everything down to your genetic sequencing, and so forth. Hell, humans still haven't come to grips with the drastic cultural alterations and subsequent dysfunction caused by the so-called Agricultural Revolution of 10,000+ years ago. The point being, humans are exceedingly slow in adapting functionally to technological changes that on the surface seem miniscule and are totally helpless when faced with major technological change. Occasionally, the broken clock that's Trump says something that's correct; in this case it was his comment about older planes being simpler and thus easier to pilot. One must wonder if the Damage Control Officers who visited earlier are humans or bots given it was human error not that of the machines that was singled out by them for causing the calamities. Ah, but what of the unknown number of potential calamities that were avoided?!

Spin such as we've witnessed isn't anything new. The tension surrounding Pandora's jar opening will confound anyone not an expert. I think it telling that modern renditions don't rectify the 500 year-old error that morphed the pithos/jar into a pyxis/box--oh, it's just a tiny coding error that doesn't alter the story (or does it?). But never fear, some new dirty laundry will soon be aired and eclipse this story in the media, and we'll all hone our wits to make it comprehendible.

Posted by: karlof1 | Mar 13 2019 23:49 utc | 175

Some commenters making things complicated.

The problem is as stated by b

“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.”

Presumably the FAA was not informed either.

This is fraud pure and simple. Dont blame the engineers. Start from the CEO and move down the org chart about 10 spots and lock them all up.

Posted by: Pft | Mar 13 2019 23:51 utc | 176

i find it hilarious the amateurish astroturfing going on by these pretend pilots supporting each other by callinng “steven is right” repeatedly while posting in arrogant manner attacking everyone’s post and claiming they are correct..

You can put steven and all who agreed with “steven” in ine box , boeing astroturfer division.

we all knew and experience the hasbara trolling 101 , compared to hasbara trolls , these boeing astroturfers are amateurs.. one do not openly put “i agree with steven” or “everyone should trust steven” or “steven know it all” and then start insulting everyone else..

if this is the level of astroturfing Boeing can buy , no wonder they in trouble

Posted by: milomilo | Mar 13 2019 23:58 utc | 177

Milomilo, if you were a more intelligent person, instead of insulting me as doing “Boeing hasbara,” you’d talk to a 737 pilot personally, or use google to find information. Googling “737 memory items” would have been a good start.

But like these now dead pilots, you prove that there is no herb or pill to fix low IQ.

Posted by: Steven | Mar 14 2019 0:13 utc | 178

And here we go, Boeing now says it will be month to fix the system bug. Prepare for a deep dive in stock prices but we still have not seen order cancelations, family law suits due to hundreds killed and less but not least the airlines compensation for months with the planes in their operations. We are talking about maybe tens of billions of USD in accruals for Boeing, basically destroy company value in a big way. They may have to fire sell businesses in 6-12 months.

Posted by: Canthama | Mar 14 2019 0:16 utc | 179


begin quote --

Pilot here. Correct, in most aircraft that incorporate a trimmable horizontal stabilizer, elevator authority will be insufficient to counteract the aerodynamic effects of a the entire tailplane having deflected through a certain point. Thus it is important to quickly recognize and correct a runaway trim situation.

Of even more significance is that is currently unclear if it is even possible for a pilot, once it has disengaged the trim motors (following faulty commands from MCAS) to manually correct the trim as per Boeing procedure [1].

The problem lies in the fact that it makes a lot of sense to haul back on the yoke as hard as you can if the nose starts dropping. Elevator upwards deflection loads the tailplane aerodynamically in such a way that it becomes harder to trim the tailplane in the required direction. Called colloquially a yo-yo maneuver, you are then require to "offload" the tailplane (think - push yoke forward..) in order to be able to manually correct the runaway trim.

Plane going nose down, push yoke forward at 500ft? I do not envy the crews at the pointy end of those flights. My heart breaks just thinking about it.

The Lion Air pilots must have been pulling back on the sticks until their tendons break, to no effect. I hope there is a special place in hell for Boeing execs.

[1] 737 Flight Crew Training Manual, chapter Non-Normal Operations/Flight Controls, sub heading Manual Stabilizer trim:

"Excessive air loads on the stabilizer may require effort by both pilots to correct mis-trim. In extreme cases it may be necessary to aerodynamically relieve the air loads to allow manual trimming. Accelerate or decelerate towards the in-trim speed while attempting to trim manually."

-- end quote

Posted by: Realist | Mar 14 2019 0:38 utc | 180

Canthama @179--

You missed the plural--"months needed to fix … software" says FAA, not Boeing, and for all MAX 8s & 9s. And given human imperfection, that patch won't be a perfect fix so another will be needed, and so forth. Notice the FAA didn't say 'Pilots need retraining.'

Posted by: karlof1 | Mar 14 2019 0:43 utc | 181

Hey professional damage conTROLLS, I hope you realise by the most recent comments that you have over-done it. Self exposure is not what you are being paid for and MoA is not your typical place of work. I do not mind that b allowed you to roam here, because it is interesting how keyboard jockeys can turn any script given into quasi-debating comments. As to you being pilots, then I have flown a secret spacecraft to Mars and back.

Posted by: Kiza | Mar 14 2019 0:43 utc | 182

@ Steven who wrote
But like these now dead pilots, you prove that there is no herb or pill to fix low IQ.
You keep pushing competency and we keep pushing morality which makes any level of IQ irrelevant.

Maybe you came into the wrong bar but your screed and personal insults won't make you long lived here anyway.

We can only assume from your comments that you value the profits Boeing has made from its business decisions higher than the morality of those decisions.

Posted by: psychohistorian | Mar 14 2019 0:48 utc | 183

@183 psychohistorian... Spot on!

As excellent as b column is/was, in addition to the contributions by the regular patrons, this has been an extraordinary exercise in Trollspotting... well worth the price of admission! Thanks everyone...

Posted by: xLemming | Mar 14 2019 1:07 utc | 184

Damage Control to CNN:

"CNN host Brianna Keilar connected the Sunday crash of Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302 with the recent temporary government shutdown in the US.

"Talking with US Rep. Dan Kildee (D-MI) Wednesday, Keilar asserted that the plane crashed because Boeing had failed to implement a pilot software upgrade in January, as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) was non-operational due to the shutdown."

Posted by: karlof1 | Mar 14 2019 1:10 utc | 185

@142 frances... thanks dude! the thread got hijacked with a few unfriendly folks.. it's best to ignore them.. i tried conversing politely first - my mistake!

@151 / 153 b.. thanks.. these same folks don't have them jam to respond direclty to your comments. that's very informative in itself.

@177 milomilo.. they might all be the same person.. either way, they are up to no good based on their approach..

meanwhile, boeing epitomizes all that is wrong with corporations today...

Posted by: james | Mar 14 2019 1:14 utc | 186

Not worth arguing about but clearly the scenario I was referring to is the one that you quoted from Tom Welsh. Efficient nuclear power threatens the oil industry which is much more deeply entrenched in US politics. The state will protect Boeing, just as it has protected the oil industry.

Posted by: mourning dove | Mar 14 2019 1:21 utc | 187

Psychohistorian says, blaming the engineers is blaming the wrong people.

He blames the accountants.

LOL as a retired accountant let me tell you we have ZERO influence over the decisions made by the sociopaths in the executive suites, or their invisible networks of "owners" and other 'powerful people'.

Posted by: Todd Boyle | Mar 14 2019 2:15 utc | 188

>>>>> Circe | Mar 13, 2019 6:42:41 PM | 172

One more thing, Trump pretended to take credit for grounding the planes. FALSE. The planes were grounded by the FAA based on data collected on site and by satellite, which is the same reason Canada gave for grounding the aircraft.

>>>>> Circe | Mar 13, 2019 4:07:20 PM | 160

Oh fer f's sake ! Most Dems were for grounding! Quit the Trump hero-worship crap!

Says who? The FAA? Boeing? MSM? Are any of these trustworthy sources anymore? I'm inclined to believe not? Is Trump being honest? On his past record maybe not. As for the Trudeau regime, it's reputation is in tatters with the continued employment of Chrystia Freeland and the SNC-Lavalin scandal. The grounding order came out of the White House so until someone proves otherwise, that is where responsibility lives.

While Americans might not understand why SNC-Lavalin is a scandal, it's very similar to Tony Blair killing off the Al-Yamamah arms deal investigation with the bullshit claim that it was in the "public interest", which should have seen Blair being prosecuted for obstruction of justice.

The Democrats have been banging on about Trump being prosecuted for obstruction of justice with respect to that fake shitpile Russia-gate. Trump is one of the few people who knows if there was collusion between Trump and Putin, so perhaps his comments about Mueller's investigation being a witch-hunt are well founded and Schiff and Pelosi among others are just lying turds.

This doesn't mean I like Trump but it's difficult to work out what he's actually up to. The degree of ambiguity between what he says and what he does or what actually happens is so great that there a number of possible narratives about what he's actual up to. Which narrative is the correct one will probably only become apparent when he leaves office.For example, he claims that ACA is bad and to be honest it is but that's not to say that what he's currently replaced it with is any better or worse. Same with the JCPOA, it's bad for Iran and the United States in many ways principally because of its failure to lift sanctions.

As for the hero worship, Trump maybe a c**t but most of the Democrats are corrupt, lying hypocrites and while there are certain pleasures to be had with c**ts such a repeatedly sticking it to most Democrats, corrupt, lying hypocrites are beneath contempt. BTW, all that Pelosi demonstrated with that sarcastic hand clap, is that she's a moron who doesn't understand sarcasm.

Posted by: Ghost Ship | Mar 14 2019 2:30 utc | 189

RT reports that travel agencies have begun to change their search filters so that travelers can add the make of plane into their search.

Travel agents add aircraft search filter to address tourists’ safety fears of flying Boeing 737 MAX

Tourist agencies and travel websites have started to adjust search options allowing their clientele to choose the jet type on which they fly amid safety concerns over two deadly crashes involving Boeing planes in recent months.

Why in the world would anyone with a choice choose to fly Boeing now?

When a brand gets hammered, the damage is for a long time. Maybe the manipulators can stop Boeing shares from crashing in value right now, but after the next quarter's revenue losses are revealed, nothing will be able to stop it.

Posted by: Grieved | Mar 14 2019 2:45 utc | 190

@ Todd Boyle for calling me out for blaming the accountants

I agree that you do what you are paid to do but I am 70 and have never seen one not put profit over morals, whether it was product quality or worker safety....from Fortune 100s to state/local government

Can you not admit that for the most part accountants are paid to be acolytes for the God of Mammon religion and many do their job with fervor?

Posted by: psychohistorian | Mar 14 2019 2:49 utc | 191

@ Grieved who wrote
When a brand gets hammered, the damage is for a long time. Maybe the manipulators can stop Boeing shares from crashing in value right now, but after the next quarter's revenue losses are revealed, nothing will be able to stop it.

I very much want to believe Boeing will go down and take the Fake economy with it but Boeing is TBTF and will be kept afloat by government contracts if nothing else.

I keep hoping this train wreck we are watching will result in positive results but there is more down to go I suspect.

It is clear that the US is going under the bus but will global private finance go with it? I seem to be the only one with that plan in mind......

Thanks for the upthread response to acementhead

Posted by: psychohistorian | Mar 14 2019 3:00 utc | 192

One of the Ethiopian pilots was 26 years old, the other pilot had less than 300 hours flight time. Lion air is Indonesian. When you have third world airline pilots flying state-of-the-art aircraft and possibly Boeing using H-1B visa software engineers from India and China, you have a disaster.

Posted by: BHO | Mar 14 2019 4:08 utc | 193

Boeings demise is greatly exaggerated. They do have insurance and the expected court cases will be tied up for years so they wont be paying the piper for awhile

Boeing and Airbus are a monopoly in a growing industry. China may someday pose a competitive threat but thats not anytime soon. Their future prospects are good. Even if things got rocky they are too big to fail. Uncle Sams got their back.

Sure, share prices may get pummelled but these are paper losses suffered only by shareholders and managers with stock options. Frankly it might be a good buying opportunity for corporate buy backs

Obviously they must serve some heads on a platter to restore credibility. And they have to fix that dumb design that is made dumber by hiding it from the pilots and airlines they sold them to.

Posted by: Pft | Mar 14 2019 4:30 utc | 194

Nader has a nice letter worth reading

Dont hear much from him anymore, he has been muzzled along with other safety advocates

Posted by: Pft | Mar 14 2019 4:38 utc | 195

This plane crash is one illustrative part of an entire story, the story of a superb aircraft company brought low by modern capitalist greed, over many years.

We should refuse to be sidetracked by the mechanics of losing control of a plane, and instead look at the systemic corruption of a legendarily safe manufacturer whose corporate principles were deliberately changed following a merger (with McDonnell-Douglas), and over the next years and even decades, quality was lost, and caring workers were ground into the dust.

All of this took a long time. Some of the old cultural words remained in the new managers even after the reality of quality control had been suppressed by fear, or driven away and robbed of its pension rights. It's not the workers and the whistle-blowers or even the engineers or accountants who should be blamed for this great fall. The blame lodges higher than this.


The Al-Jazeera documentary cited by "dave' back in comment #11 is actually a superb view of what has happened to US industry in recent decades. Vietnam Vet at #67 also offered his personal experience with the epochal decline of Boeing over a long time. There is a lot of ruin in a nation, and it also takes a long time to bring down a great company, but such is the story of Boeing. Perhaps it is wrong to blame it on the "bean counters" when in fact the blame lies with managers who have to produce results, and who have authority over the quality engineers who produce safety.

This is the documentary, which I earnestly recommend:
The Boeing 787: Broken Dreams l Al Jazeera Investigations

I encourage readers to view this documentary, which studies how Boeing turned from a world-class company with an engineering culture focused on the need for no plane ever to fail, into a greed-driven shell of its former self. Parallels with the entire US economy will not be hard to find. The documentary is competently made, and the journalist was given a year to research and write it.

What is clear from the documentary is that the obscene levels of personal profit made possible by this modern economy has simultaneously hollowed out the institutional moral character of the US economy. The documentary shows how this happens on the work floor - and doesn't intend to, by the way. It simply tells the story of Boeing, but we can see with tremendous clarity that this is the story of the entire, financialized US economy.


Boeing is not a story of one failed plane - the 737 Max - but also of an earlier disaster, the 787 Dreamliner, which this documentary of 2013 relates. All of Boeing's current revenues come from its earlier planes, those legends in which we have all flown, perhaps even all our lives. But the new Boeing is a death machine built by cheap labor that refuses to fly in its own planes. A system of commerce did this. It was done. And perhaps it can be undone.

And so I urge readers not to let this story die, and not to be gulled by the simplicities of the Stevens, or to think that this is a short-run crash story with a simple software fix on a simple stupidity of design.

I encourage readers to study the story of Boeing as a fable that tells of the great national tragedy, of native US talent destroyed by a tidal wave of mediocrity - something that the nation must come to understand well if it is ever to overcome it and return to its old, "can do" culture on the work floor.

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.

Posted by: Grieved | Mar 14 2019 4:39 utc | 196

It used to be most everybody flew on commercial airliners. Airplane safety was rigorously enforced. When the first British airliners were crashing too regularly - they solved the problem pretty quickly - it was the same problem that had bedeviled the British navy since steel ships were adopted - holes (the windows in the planes) were stress accumulators - tiny cracks started there. Now all the really important people fly on private jets. So a few crashes here and there are now acceptable.

Posted by: gepay | Mar 14 2019 5:15 utc | 197

The fact that the two AoA sensors already disagreed on the ground before the aircraft was even taxiing seems like pretty awful engineering. My vacuum clearner has a more reliable self-test function. AoA vanes have heaters IIRC, so there should also be an 'exercise' test to see if they can travel through their full range. There should also be some designated, verified park position for when the aircraft is on the ground. Letting the vanes flop around freely until you're rotating the aircraft seems like a bad place to determine if they agree. Worse yet, NOT having their measurements on each Pilot Flight Console is inconsistent with the way you usually troubleshoot suspect gauge readings - check left PFC against right one and a third independent one if available.

Simply turning off a wonky MCAS and STS is a good emergency fix, but the aircraft is NOT airworthy without those functions. They're not simply 'nice to haves' - they are important for keeping the plane from destroying itself.

And judging by the system's maintenance messages found the last couple of times they repaired the AoA and airspeed/altitude issues, I'm not sure they are one bit closer to understanding the root of this problem.

Posted by: PavewayIV | Mar 14 2019 5:45 utc | 198

Paveway "Simply turning off a wonky MCAS and STS is a good emergency fix, but the aircraft is NOT airworthy without those functions. They're not simply 'nice to haves' - they are important for keeping the plane from destroying itself.

... I'm not sure they are one bit closer to understanding the root of this problem.>

Both of these are my thoughts also.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Mar 14 2019 6:12 utc | 199

Ethiopia refuses to send black box from crashed Boeing 737 Max 8 to United States

thiopian Airlines has decided to send the black box from its crashed airplane to Europe for analysis rather than to the United States, where the Boeing 737 Max 8 was manufactured.

The decision is in defiance of U.S. requests in the wake of an Ethiopian Airlines Max 8 crash on Sunday near Addis Ababa that occurred just six minutes after takeoff, killing all 157 people on board, including 18 Canadians..
Ethiopian Airlines officials told reporters Wednesday that they had decided to send the voice and data recorders to European safety experts. Later in the day, they said the devices would be sent to German aviation authorities, but the German authorities soon responded that they could not analyze the black box because it was a new aircraft with new software. By Wednesday evening, it was unclear where the black box would be sent for analysis.

In recent days, U.S. officials had been quietly pushing for the black box to be sent to the United States for analysis, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal. The decision by the airline to reject the U.S. requests is unusual because the black box is not normally sent to a country that was not involved in a crash.
Also on Wednesday, Ethiopian Airlines said that moments before the crash, the pilot reported a flight-control problem, and that there was no indication of any external cause for the issue.

Posted by: b | Mar 14 2019 7:04 utc | 200

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