Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
September 03, 2019

737 MAX - Boeing Insults International Safety Regulators As New Problems Cause Longer Grounding

United Airline and American Airlines further prolonged the grounding of their Boeing 737 MAX airplanes. They now schedule the plane's return to the flight line in December. But it is likely that the grounding will continue well into the next year.

After Boeing's shabby design and lack of safety analysis of its Maneuver Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) led to the death of 347 people, the grounding of the type and billions of losses, one would expect the company to show some decency and humility. Unfortunately Boeing behavior demonstrates none.

There is still little detailed information on how Boeing will fix MCAS. Nothing was said by Boeing about the manual trim system of the 737 MAX that does not work when it is needed. The unprotected rudder cables of the plane do not meet safety guidelines but were still certified. The planes flight control computers can be overwhelmed by bad data and a fix will be difficult to implement. Boeing continues to say nothing about these issues.

International flight safety regulators no longer trust the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) which failed to uncover those problems when it originally certified the new type. The FAA was also the last regulator to ground the plane after two 737 MAX had crashed. The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) asked Boeing to explain and correct five major issues it identified. Other regulators asked additional questions.

Boeing needs to regain the trust of the airlines, pilots and passengers to be able to again sell those planes. Only full and detailed information can achieve that. But the company does not provide any.

As Boeing sells some 80% of its airplanes abroad it needs the good will of the international regulators to get the 737 MAX back into the air. This makes the arrogance it displayed in a meeting with those regulators inexplicable:

Friction between Boeing Co. and international air-safety authorities threatens a new delay in bringing the grounded 737 MAX fleet back into service, according to government and pilot union officials briefed on the matter.

The latest complication in the long-running saga, these officials said, stems from a Boeing briefing in August that was cut short by regulators from the U.S., Europe, Brazil and elsewhere, who complained that the plane maker had failed to provide technical details and answer specific questions about modifications in the operation of MAX flight-control computers.

The fate of Boeing's civil aircraft business hangs on the re-certification of the 737 MAX. The regulators convened an international meeting to get their questions answered and Boeing arrogantly showed up without having done its homework. The regulators saw that as an insult. Boeing was sent back to do what it was supposed to do in the first place: provide details and analysis that prove the safety of its planes.

What did the Boeing managers think those regulatory agencies are? Hapless lapdogs like the FAA managers`who signed off on Boeing 'features' even after their engineers told them that these were not safe?

Buried in the Wall Street Journal piece quoted above is another little shocker:

In recent weeks, Boeing and the FAA identified another potential flight-control computer risk requiring additional software changes and testing, according to two of the government and pilot officials.

The new issue must be going beyond the flight control computer (FCC) issues the FAA identified in June.

Boeing's original plan to fix the uncontrolled activation of MCAS was to have both FCCs active at the same time and to switch MCAS off when the two computers disagree. That was already a huge change in the general architecture which so far consisted of one active and one passive FCC system that could be switched over when a failure occurred.

Any additional software changes will make the issue even more complicated. The 80286 Intel processors the FCC software is running on is limited in its capacity. All the extras procedures Boeing now will add to them may well exceed the system's capabilities.

Changing software in a delicate environment like a flight control computer is extremely difficult. There will always be surprising side effects or regressions where already corrected errors unexpectedly reappear.

The old architecture was possible because the plane could still be flown without any computer. It was expected that the pilots would detect a computer error and would be able to intervene. The FAA did not require a high design assurance level (DAL) for the system. The MCAS accidents showed that a software or hardware problem can now indeed crash a 737 MAX plane. That changes the level of scrutiny the system will have to undergo.

All procedures and functions of the software will have to be tested in all thinkable combinations to ensure that they will not block or otherwise influence each other. This will take months and there is a high chance that new issues will appear during these tests. They will require more software changes and more testing.

Flight safety regulators know of these complexities. That is why they need to take a deep look into such systems. That Boeing's management was not prepared to answer their questions shows that the company has not learned from its failure. Its culture is still one of finance orientated arrogance.

Building safe airplanes requires engineers who know that they may make mistakes and who have the humility to allow others to check and correct their work. It requires open communication about such issues. Boeing's say-nothing strategy will prolong the grounding of its planes. It will increases the damage to Boeing's financial situation and reputation.

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Previous Moon of Alabama posts on Boeing 737 MAX issues:

Posted by b on September 3, 2019 at 18:05 UTC | Permalink

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"The 80286 Intel processors the FCC software is running on is limited in its capacity."
You must be joking, right?
If this is the case, the problem is unfixable: you can't find two competent software engineers who can program these dinosaur 16-bit processors.

Posted by: Choderlos de Laclos | Sep 3 2019 18:15 utc | 1

You must be joking, right?
If this is the case, the problem is unfixable: you can't find two competent software engineers who can program these dinosaur 16-bit processors.

One of the two is writing this.

Half-joking aside. The 737 MAX FCC runs on 80286 processors. There are ten thousands of programmers available who can program them though not all are qualified to write real-time systems. That resource is not a problem. The processors inherent limits are one.

Posted by: b | Sep 3 2019 18:22 utc | 2

Thanks b for the fine 737 max update. Others news sources seem to have dropped coverage. It is a very big deal that this grounding has lasted this long. Things are going to get real bad for Boeing if this bird does not get back in the air soon. In any case their credibility is tarnished if not down right trashed.

Posted by: Meshpal | Sep 3 2019 18:24 utc | 3

@1 Choderlos de Laclos

What ever software language these are programmed in (my guess is C) the compilers still exist for it and do the translation from the human readable code to the machine code for you. Of course the code could be assembler but writing assembly code for a 286 is far easier than writing it for say an i9 becuase the CPU is so much simpler and has a far smaller set of instructions to work with.

Posted by: BraveNewWorld | Sep 3 2019 18:35 utc | 4

@b:
It was a hyperbole.
I might be another one, but left them behind as fast as I could. The last time I had to deal with it was an embedded system in 1998-ish. But I am also retiring, and so are thousands of others. The problems with support of a legacy system are a legend.

Posted by: Choderlos de Laclos | Sep 3 2019 18:52 utc | 5

Thanks for the demise of Boeing update b

I commented when you first started writing about this that it would take Boeing down and still believe that to be true. To the extent that Boeing is stonewalling the international safety regulators says to me that upper management and big stock holders are being given time to minimize their exposure before the axe falls.

I also want to add that Boeing's focus on profit over safety is not restricted to the 737 Max but undoubtedly permeates the manufacture of spare parts for the rest of the their plane line and all else they make.....I have no intention of ever flying in another Boeing airplane, given the attitude shown by Boeing leadership.

This is how private financialization works in the Western world. Their bottom line is profit, not service to the flying public. It is in line with the recent public statement by the CEO's from the Business Roundtable that said that they were going to focus more on customer satisfaction over profit but their actions continue to say profit is their primary motive.

The God of Mammon private finance religion can not end soon enough for humanity's sake. It is not like we all have to become China but their core public finance example is well worth following.

Posted by: psychohistorian | Sep 3 2019 18:56 utc | 6

So again, Boeing mgmt. mirrors its Neoliberal government officials when it comes to arrogance and impudence. IMO, Boeing shareholders's hair ought to be on fire given their BoD's behavior and getting ready to litigate. As b notes, Boeing's international credibility's hanging by a very thin thread. A year from now, Boeing could very well see its share price deeply dive into the Penny Stock category--its current P/E is 41.5:1 which is massively overpriced. Boeing Bombs might come to mean something vastly different from its initial meaning.

Posted by: karlof1 | Sep 3 2019 19:13 utc | 7

Arrogance? When the money keeps flowing in anyway, it comes naturally.

Posted by: bjd | Sep 3 2019 19:22 utc | 8

I'm surprised Boeing stock still haven't taken nose dive

Posted by: Bob burger | Sep 3 2019 19:27 utc | 9

Such seemingly archaic processors are the norm in aerospace. If the planes flight characteristics had been properly engeneered from the start the processor wouldn't be an issue. You can't just spray perfume on a garbage pile and call it a rose.

Posted by: What did I just read | Sep 3 2019 19:49 utc | 10

Boeing is finished as a commercial airline manufacturer. Russia needs to fill the gap with a wide body International carrier.

Posted by: William H Warrick MD | Sep 3 2019 20:08 utc | 11

In the neoliberal world order governments, regulators and the public are secondary to corporate profits. This is the same belief system that is suspending the British Parliament to guarantee the chaos of a no deal Brexit. The irony is that globalist, Joe Biden’s restart the Cold War and nationalist Donald Trump’s Trade Wars both assure that foreign regulators will closely scrutinize the safety of the 737 Max. Even if ignored by corporate media and cleared by the FAA to fly in the USA, Boeing and Wall Street’s Dow Jones average are cooked gooses with only 20% of the market. Taking the risk of flying the 737 Max on their family vacation or to their next business trip might even get the credentialed class to realize that their subservient service to corrupt Plutocrats is deadly in the long term.

Posted by: VietnamVet | Sep 3 2019 20:31 utc | 12

Thank you b for reporting on this total outrage where Boeing shows no respect for people's lives. Boeing must go down over this.

Posted by: Norwegian | Sep 3 2019 20:35 utc | 13

It doesn't get any TBTF'er than Boing.
Bail-out is only phone-call away.
With down-turn looming, the line is forming.

Posted by: jared | Sep 3 2019 20:55 utc | 14

"The latest complication in the long-running saga, these officials said, stems from a Boeing BA, -2.66% briefing in August that was cut short by regulators from the U.S., Europe, Brazil and elsewhere, who complained that the plane maker had failed to provide technical details and answer specific questions about modifications in the operation of MAX flight-control computers."

It seems to me that Boeing had no intention to insult anybody, but it has an impossible task. After decades of applying duct tape and baling wire with much success, they finally designed an unfixable plane, and they can either abandon this line of business (narrow bodied airliners) or start working on a new design grounded in 21st century technologies.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Sep 3 2019 21:11 utc | 15

Boeing's military sales are so much more significant and important to them, they are just ignoring/down-playing their commercial problem with the 737 MAX. Follow the real money.

Posted by: Ken Murray | Sep 3 2019 21:12 utc | 16

That is unblievable FLight Control comptuer is based on 80286!
A control system needs Real Time operation, at least some pre-emptive task operation, in terms of milisecond or microsecond.
What ever way you program 80286 you can not achieve RT operation on 80286.
I do not think that is the case.
My be 80286 is doing some pripherial work, other than control.

Posted by: Arata | Sep 3 2019 21:57 utc | 17

It is quite likely (IMHO) that they are no longer able to provide the requested information, but of course they cannot say that.

I once wrote a keyboard driver for an 80286, part of an editor, in assembler, on my first PC type computer, I still have it around here somewhere I think, the keyboard driver, but I would be rusty like the Titanic when it comes to writing code. I wrote some things in DEC assembler too, on VAXen.

Posted by: Bemildred | Sep 3 2019 22:11 utc | 18

Arata 16

The spoiler system is fly by wire.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Sep 3 2019 22:14 utc | 19

arata @16: 80286 does interrupts just fine, but you have to grok asynchronous operation, and most coders don't really, I see that every day in Linux and my browser. I wish I could get that box back, it had DOS, you could program on the bare wires, but God it was slow.

Posted by: Bemildred | Sep 3 2019 22:17 utc | 20

Boeing will just need to press the TURBO button on the 286 processor. Problem solved.

Posted by: Tod | Sep 3 2019 22:28 utc | 21

> The FAA was also the last regulator to grounded the plane

TYPO!

- to ground ?
- have grounded ?
- to have gorunded ?

Posted by: Arioch | Sep 3 2019 22:37 utc | 22

Ken Murray @15--

Boeing recently lost a $6+Billion weapons contract thanks to its similar Q&A in that realm of its business. Its annual earnings are due out in October. Plan to short-sell soon!

Posted by: karlof1 | Sep 3 2019 22:43 utc | 23

I am surprised that none of the coverage has mentioned the fact that, if China's CAAC does not sign off on the mods, it will cripple, if not doom the MAX.

I am equally surprised that we continue to sabotage China's export leader, as the WSJ reports today: "China’s Huawei Technologies Co. accused the U.S. of “using every tool at its disposal” to disrupt its business, including launching cyberattacks on its networks and instructing law enforcement to “menace” its employees. The telecommunications giant also said law enforcement in the U.S. have searched, detained and arrested Huawei employees and its business partners, and have sent FBI agents to the homes of its workers to pressure them to collect information on behalf of the U.S."

https://www.wsj.com/articles/huawei-accuses-the-u-s-of-cyberattacks-threatening-its-employees-11567500484?mod=hp_lead_pos2

Posted by: Godfree Roberts | Sep 3 2019 22:56 utc | 24

I wonder how much blind trust in Boeing is intertwined into the fabric of civic aviation all around the world.

I mean something like this: Boeing publishes some research into failure statistics, solid materials aging or something. One that is realyl hard and expensive to proceed with. Everything take the results for granted without trying to inependently reproduce and verify, because The Boeing! Some later "derived" researches being made, upon the foundation of some prior works *including* that old Boeing research. Then FAA and similar companyinstitutions around the world make some official regulations and guidelines deriving from the reasearch which was in part derived formoriginal Boeing work. Then insurance companies calculate their tarifs and rate plans, basing their estimation upon those "government standards", and when governments determine taxation levels they use that data too. Then airline companies and airliner leasing companies make their business plans, take huge loans in the banks (and banks do make their own plans expecting those loans to finally be paid back), and so on and so forth, building the cards-deck house, layer after layer.

And among the very many of the cornerstones - there would be dust covered and god-forgotten research made by Boeing 10 or maybe 20 years ago when no one even in drunk delirium could ever imagine questioning Boeing's verdicts upon engineering and scientific matters.

Now, the longievity of that trust is slowly unraveled. Like, the so universaly trusted 737NG generation turned out to be inherently unsafe, and while only pilots knew it before, and even of them - only mose curious and pedantic pilots, today it becomes public knowledge that 737NG are tainted.

Now, when did this corurption started? Wheat should be some deadline cast into the past, that since the day every other technical data coming from Boeing should be considered unreliable unless passing full-fledged independent verification? Should that day be somewhere in 2000-s? 1990-s? Mayeb even 1970-s?

And ALL THE BODY of civic aviation industry knowledge that was accumulated since that date can NO MORE BE TRUSTED and should be almost scrapped and re-researched new! ALL THE tacit INPUT that can be traced back to Boeing and ALL THE DERIVED KNOWLEDGE now has to be verified in its entirety.

Posted by: Arioch | Sep 3 2019 23:18 utc | 25

Boeing is backstopped by the Murkan MIC, which is to say the US taxpayer. Until the lawsuits become too enormous.
I wonder how much that will cost. And speaking of rigged markets - why do ya suppose that Trumpilator et al have been
so keen to make huge sales to the saudis, etc. etc. ? Ya don't suppose they had an inkling of trouble in the wind do ya? Speaking of insiders, how many million billions do ya suppose is being made in the Wall Street "trade war" roller coaster by peeps, munchkins not muppets, who have access to the Tweeter-in-Chief?

Posted by: Miss Lacy | Sep 3 2019 23:19 utc | 26

@6 psychohistorian

I commented when you first started writing about this that it would take Boeing down and still believe that to be true. To the extent that Boeing is stonewalling the international safety regulators says to me that upper management and big stock holders are being given time to minimize their exposure before the axe falls.

Have you considered the costs of restructuring versus breaking apart Boeing and selling it into little pieces; to the owners specifically?

The MIC is restructuring itself - by first creating the poltical conditions to make the transformation highly profitable. It can only be made highly profitable by forcing the public to pay the associated costs of Rape and Pillage Incorporated.

Military Industrial Complex welfare programs, including wars in Syria and Yemen, are slowly winding down. We are about to get a massive bill from the financiers who already own everything in this sector, because what they have left now is completely unsustainable, with or without a Third World War.

It is fine that you won't fly Boeing but that is not the point. You may not ever fly again since air transit is subsidized at every level and the US dollar will no longer be available to fund the world's air travel infrastructure.

You will instead be paying for the replacement of Boeing and seeing what google is planning it may not be for the renewal of the airline business but rather for dedicated ground transportation, self driving cars and perhaps 'aerospace' defense forces, thank you Russia for setting the trend.

Posted by: C I eh? | Sep 3 2019 23:25 utc | 27

To illustrate this i'd suggest reading a part from "Los Alamos from Below" - memories of American nuclear bomb development.
http://lib.ru/ANEKDOTY/FEINMAN/feinman_engl.txt#27

.....When I went back to work on the calculation program, I found it in a
mess: There were white cards, there were blue cards, there were yellow
cards, and I started to say, "You're not supposed to do more than one
problem -- only one problem!" They said, "Get out, get out, get out. Wait --
and we'll explain everything."
So I waited, and what happened was this. As the cards went through,
sometimes the machine made a mistake, or they put a wrong number in. What we
used to have to do when that happened was to go back and do it over again.
But they noticed that a mistake made at some point in one cycle only affects
the nearby numbers, the next cycle affects the nearby numbers, and so on. It
works its way through the pack of cards. If you have fifty cards and you
make a mistake at card number thirty-nine, it affects thirty-seven,
thirty-eight, and thirty-nine. The next, card thirty-six, thirty-seven,
thirty-eight, thirty-nine, and forty. The next time it spreads like a
disease
.
So they found an error back a way, and they got an idea. They would
only compute a small deck of ten cards around the error. And because ten
cards could be put through the machine faster than the deck of fifty cards,
they would go rapidly through with this other deck while they continued with
the fifty cards with the disease spreading. But the other thing was
computing faster, and they would seal it all up and correct it. Very clever.
That was the way those guys worked to get speed. There was no other
way. If they had to stop to try to fix it, we'd have lost time. We couldn't
have got it. That was what they were doing.
Of course, you know what happened while they were doing that. They
found an error in the blue deck. And so they had a yellow deck with a little
fewer cards; it was going around faster than the blue deck. Just when they
are going crazy -- because after they get this straightened out, they have
to fix the white deck -- the boss comes walking in.
"Leave us alone," they say. I left them alone and everything came out.
We solved the problem in time and that's the way it was.

....Now, that was only in few days work intertwined fabric, few weeks at most. And it was made by most brilliant scientists USA scrubed all aroudn the world. Those who did not tried to conseal their errs, but did al lthey could to find nd then to fix it as fast as they could.

Civic aviation industry has now body of knowledge from past to today into the future measured in years and decades.

And since some yet unknown Day B - every "card" that has any "number" in it sourced from Boeing - is the "disease spreading point" that goes wider and wider with each next year bringing more and more works based upon those. It all now has to be found, identified and re-done. All those "cards" and derivative cards through all the years, or the whole industry should be scrapped and re-done anew.

Posted by: Arioch | Sep 3 2019 23:28 utc | 28

....I wish I could get that box back, .... you could program on the bare wires

Posted by: Bemildred | Sep 3 2019 22:17 utc

But you can. Take something of "Arduino" class - and you have those "bare wires".
They won't be of x86 family of course, but basic ARM M5 will outrun that old 20MHz max processor anyway.

Or, if you do not want to buy the real box, you can just run a virtual computer, it is called DosEmu an runs on Windows and Linux and Android and everywhere :-D

Posted by: Arioch | Sep 3 2019 23:42 utc | 29

As readers may remember I made a case study of Boeing for a fairly recent PHD. The examiners insisted that this case study be taken out because it was "speculative." I had forecast serious problems with the 787 and the 737 MAX back in 2012. I still believe the 787 is seriously flawed and will go the way of the MAX. I came to admire this once brilliant company whose work culminated in the superb 777.

America really did make some excellent products in the 20th century - with the exception of cars. Big money piled into GM from the early 1920s, especially the ultra greedy, quasi fascist Du Pont brothers, with the result that GM failed to innovate. It produced beautiful cars but technically they were almost identical to previous models. The only real innovation over 40 years was automatic transmission. Does this sound reminiscent of the 737 MAX? What glued together GM for more than thirty years was the brilliance of CEO Alfred Sloan who managed to keep the Du Ponts (and J P Morgan) more or less happy while delegating total responsibility for production to divisional managers responsible for the different GM brands. When Sloan went the company started falling apart and the memoirs of bad boy John DeLorean testify to the complete disfunctionality of senior management.

At Ford the situation was perhaps even worse in the 1960s and 1970s. Management was at war with the workers, faulty transmissions were knowingly installed. All this is documented in an excellent book by ex-Ford supervisor Robert Dewar in his book "A Savage Factory."

Posted by: Lochearn | Sep 3 2019 23:45 utc | 30

Posted by: Arioch | Sep 3 2019 22:37 utc | 21
(TYPO)

The thing which irritates me about ppl rushing to correct a simple & decipherable typo is that if the typo wasn't simple and obvious then it wouldn't be POSSIBLE to correct it.
(I couldn't think of a useful/ thoughtful contribution either)

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Sep 3 2019 23:47 utc | 31

Well, the first thing that came to mind upon reading about Boeing's apparent arrogance overseas - silly, I know - was that Boeing may be counting on some weird Trumpian sanctions for anyone not cooperating with the big important USian corporation! The U.S. has influence on European and many other countries, but it can only be stretched so far, and I would guess messing with Euro/internation airline regulators, especially in view of the very real fatal accidents with the 737MAX, would be too far.

Posted by: dus7 | Sep 3 2019 23:53 utc | 32

Arioch @27: By Windoze 3 the OS would not let you meddle with the interrupts, or rather it would meddle with your meddling. After that it got worse. You are right that I could whip one up, but I am old and lazy and prefer to babble on the internet. I moved the editor to VAX, then Unix, using Xwindows, carried it around with me for work, but never got back to the keyboard handler, it was all windows based after that. Funky but fast.

A DOS box is not bare wires, and anyway what I really want is to be that young and energetic again ...

Posted by: Bemildred | Sep 3 2019 23:58 utc | 33

Please read the following article to get further info about how the 5 big Funds that hold 67% of Boeing stocks are working hard with the big banks to keep the stock high. Meanwhile Boeing is also trying its best to blackmail US taxpayers through Pentagon, for example, by pretending to walk away from a competitive bidding contract because it wants the Air Force to provide better cost formula.

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/despite-devastating-737-crashes-boeing-stocks-fly-high/

So basically, Boeing is being kept afloat by US taxpayers because it is "too big to fail" and an important component of Dow. Please tell. Who is the biggest suckers here?

Posted by: david | Sep 4 2019 0:09 utc | 34

Arioch @21: "The FAA was also the last regulator to ground the plane" is probably best, most direct, "to have grounded" is grammatical but not better.

Posted by: Bemildred | Sep 4 2019 0:11 utc | 35

re Piotr Berman | Sep 3 2019 21:11 utc
[I have a tiny bit of standing in this matter based on experience with an amazingly similar situation that has not heretofore been mentioned. More at end. Thus I offer my opinion.]
Indeed, an impossible task to design a workable answer and still maintain the fiction that 737MAX is a hi-profit-margin upgrade requiring minimal training of already-trained 737-series pilots , either male or female.
Turning-off autopilot to bypass runaway stabilizer necessitates :
[1] the earlier 737-series "rollercoaster" procedure to overcome too-high aerodynamic forces must be taught and demonstrated as a memory item to all pilots. The procedure was designed for early Model 737-series, not the 737MAX which has uniquely different center-of-gravity and pitch-up problem requiring MCAS to auto-correct, especially on take-off.
[2] but the "rollercoaster" procedure does not work at all altitudes. It causes aircraft to lose some altitude and, therefore, requires at least [about] 7,000-feet above-ground clearance to avoid ground contact. [This altitude loss consumed by the procedure is based on alleged reports of simulator demonstrations. There seems to be no known agreement on the actual amount of loss].
[3] The physical requirements to perform the "rollercoaster" procedure were established at a time when female pilots were rare. Any 737MAX pilots, male or female, will have to pass new physical requirements demonstrating actual conditions on newly-designed flight simulators that mimic the higher load requirements of the 737MAX . Such new standards will also have to compensate for left vs right-handed pilots because the manual-trim wheel is located between the .pilot/copilot seats.
================
Now where/when has a similar situation occurred? I.e., wherein a Federal regulator agency [FAA] allowed a vendor [Boeing] to claim that a modified product did not need full inspection/review to get agency certification of performance [airworthiness].
As you may know, 2 working, nuclear, power plants were forced to shut down and be decommissioned when, in 2011, 2 newly-installed, critical components in each plant were discovered to be defective, beyond repair and not replaceable. These power plants were each producing over 1,000 megawatts of power for over 20 years. In short, the failed components were modifications of the original, successful design that claimed to need only a low-level of Federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission oversight and approval. The mods were, in fact, new and untried and yet only tested by computer modeling and theoretical estimations based on experience with smaller/different designs.

<<< The NRC had not given full inspection/oversight to the new units because of manufacturer/operator claims that the changes were not significant. The NRC did not verify the veracity of those claims. >>>

All 4 components [2 required in each plant] were essentially heat-exchangers weighing 640 tons each, having 10,000 tubes carrying radioactive water surrounded by [transferring their heat to] a separate flow of "clean" water. The tubes were progressively damaged and began leaking. The new design failed. It can not be fixed. Thus, both plants of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station are now a complete loss and await dismantling [as the courts will decide who pays for the fiasco].

Posted by: chu teh | Sep 4 2019 0:13 utc | 36

In my mind, the fact that Boeing transferred its head office from Seattle (where the main manufacturing and presumable the main design and engineering functions are based) to Chicago (centre of the neoliberal economic universe with the University of Chicago being its central shrine of worship, not to mention supply of future managers and administrators) in 1997 says much about the change in corporate culture and values from a culture that emphasised technical and design excellence, deliberate redundancies in essential functions (in case of emergencies or failures of core functions), consistently high standards and care for the people who adhered to these principles, to a predatory culture in which profits prevail over people and performance.

Phew! I barely took a breath there! :-)

Posted by: Jen | Sep 4 2019 0:20 utc | 37

@ 32 david

Good article. Boeing is, or used to be, America's biggest manufacturing export. So you are right it cannot be allowed to fail. Boeing is also a manufacturer of military aircraft. The fact that it is now in such a pitiful state is symptomatic of America's decline and decadence and its takeover by financial predators.

Posted by: Lochearn | Sep 4 2019 0:22 utc | 38

Lochearn | Sep 3 2019 23:45 utc

re yr Boeing case study. That's a tease!

I would like to read it if readily available. TIA

Posted by: chu teh | Sep 4 2019 0:24 utc | 39

Posted by: Jen | Sep 4 2019 0:20 utc | 35

Nailed, moved to city of dead but not for gotten uncle Milton freidam friend of aynn rand.

Posted by: jo6pac | Sep 4 2019 0:39 utc | 40

I don't think Boeing was arrogant. I think the 737 is simply unfixable and that they know that -- hence they went to the meeting with empty hands.

Posted by: vk | Sep 4 2019 0:53 utc | 41

They did the same with Nortel, whose share value exceeded 300 billion not long before it was scrapped. Insiders took everything while pension funds were wiped out of existence.

It is so very helpful to understand everything you read is corporate/intel propaganda, and you are always being setup to pay for the next great scam. The murder of 300+ people by boeing was yet another tragedy our sadistic elites could not let go to waste.

Posted by: C I eh? | Sep 4 2019 1:14 utc | 42

@ > chu teh | Sep 4 2019 0:13 utc | 34 about the steam gnerators... for deeper information visit fairewinds dot org. Gunderson is expert and w blower par excellence.

I tend to agree with the similarities to the defective airplanes.

And to the idea that Boeing is being kept afloat by financial agencies.

Posted by: Walter | Sep 4 2019 3:10 utc | 43

Aljazerra has a series of excellent investigative documentaries they did on Boeing.
Here is one from 2014. https://www.aljazeera.com/investigations/boeing787/

Posted by: Willow | Sep 4 2019 3:16 utc | 44

For many amerikans, a good "offensive" is far preferable than a good defense even if that only involves an apology. Remember what ALL US presidents say.. We will never apologize.. For the extermination of natives, for shooting down civilian airliners, for blowing up mosques full of worshipers, for bombing hospitals.. for reducing many countries to the stone age and using biological
and chemical and nuclear weapons against the planet.. For supporting terrorists who plague the planet now. For basically being able to be unaccountable to anyone including themselves as a peculiar race of feces. So it is not the least surprising that amerikan corporations also follow the same bad manners as those they put into and pre-elect to rule them.

Posted by: Igor Bundy | Sep 4 2019 3:17 utc | 45

People talk about seattle as if its a bastion of integrity.. Its the same place Microsoft screwed up countless companies to become the largest OS maker? The same place where amazon fashions how to screw its own employees to work longer and cheaper? There are enough examples that Seattle is not Toronto.. and will never be a bastion of ethics.. Actually can you show me a single place in the US where ethics are considered a bastion of governorship? Other than the libraries of content written about ethics, rarely do amerikans ever follow it. Yet expect others to do so.. This is getting so perverse that other cultures are now beginning to emulate it. Because its everywhere.. Remember Dallas? I watched people who saw in fascination how business can function like that. Well they cant in the long run but throw enough money and resources and it works wonders in the short term because it destroys the competition. But yea around 1998 when they got rid of the laws on making money by magic, most every thing has gone to hell.. because now there are no constraints but making money.. anywhich way.. Thats all that matters..

Posted by: Igor Bundy | Sep 4 2019 3:26 utc | 46

You got to be daft or bribed to use intel cpu's in embedded systems. Going from a motorolla cpu, the intel chips were dinosaurs in every way. Requiring the cpu to be almost twice as fast to get the same thing done.. Also its interrupt control was not upto par. A simple example was how the commodore amiga could read from the disk and not stutter or slow down anything else you were doing. I never seen this fixed.. In fact going from 8Mhz to 4GHz seems to have fixed it by brute force. Yes the 8Mhz motorolla cpu worked wonders when you had music, video, IO all going at the same time. Its not just the CPU but the support chips which dont lock up the bus. Why would anyone use intel? When there are so many specific embedded controllers designed for such specific things.

Posted by: Igor Bundy | Sep 4 2019 3:54 utc | 47

Initially I thought it was just the new over-sized engines they retro-fitted. A situation that would surely have been easier to get around by just going back to the original engines -- any inefficiencies being less $costly than the time the planes have been grounded. But this post makes the whole rabbit warren 10 miles deeper. I do not travel much these days and find the cattle-class seating on these planes a major disincentive. Becoming aware of all these added technical issues I will now positively select for alternatives to 737 and bear the cost.

Posted by: imo | Sep 4 2019 4:00 utc | 48

@igor Bundy

Is something wrong with Syrianperspective.com? I haven't been able to access for two days, and it (my browsers) doesn't give me a diagnostic.

Posted by: joeymac | Sep 4 2019 4:16 utc | 49

I'm surprised Boeing stock still haven't taken nose dive

Posted by: Bob burger | Sep 3 2019 19:27 utc | 9


That is because the price is propped up by $9 billion share buyback per year. Share buyback is an effective scheme to airlift all the cash out of a company towards the major shareholders. I mean, who wants to develop reliable airplanes if you can funnel the cash into your pockets?

Once the buyback ends the dive begins and just before it hits ground zero, they buy the company for pennies on the dollar, possibly with government bailout as a bonus. Then the company flies towards the next climb and subsequent dive. MCAS economics.

Posted by: Joost | Sep 4 2019 4:25 utc | 50

@ joeymac | Sep 4 2019 4:16 utc | 47

Using Opera.

'GoDaddy - NOTICE: This domain name expired on 8/28/2019 and is pending renewal or deletion.'

Posted by: Hmpf | Sep 4 2019 4:45 utc | 51

Thanks a bunch.

Posted by: joeymac | Sep 4 2019 4:58 utc | 52

Hi , I am new here in writing but not in reading..
About the 80286 , where is the coprocessor the 80287?
How can the 80286 make IEEE math calculations?
So how can it fly a controlled flight when it can not calculate its accuracy......
How is it possible that this system is certified?
It should have at least a 80386 DX not SX!!!!

Posted by: Henkie | Sep 4 2019 7:04 utc | 53

moved to Chicago in 1997 says much about the change in corporate culture and values from a culture that emphasised technical and design excellence, deliberate redundancies in essential functions (in case of emergencies or failures of core functions), consistently high standards and care for the people who adhered to these principles, to a predatory culture in which profits prevail over people and performance. Jen @ 35
<==yes, the morally of the companies and their exclusive hold on a complicit or controlled government always defaults the government to support, enforce and encourage the principles of economic Zionism.
But it is more than just the corporate culture => the corporate fat cats
1. use the rule-making powers of the government to make law for them. Such laws create high valued assets from the pockets of the masses. The most well know of those corporate uses of government is involved with the intangible property laws (copyright, patent, and government franchise). The government generated copyright, franchise and Patent laws are monopolies. So when government subsidizes a successful outcome R&D project its findings are packaged up into a set of monopolies [copyrights, privatized government franchises which means instead of 50 companies or more competing for the next increment in technology, one gains the full advantage of that government research only one can use or abuse it. and the patented and copyrighted technology is used to extract untold billions, in small increments from the pockets of the public.
2. use of the judicial power of governments and their courts in both domestic and international settings, to police the use and to impose fake values in intangible property monopolies. Government-rule made privately owned monopoly rights (intangible property rights) generated from the pockets of the masses, do two things: they exclude, deny and prevent would be competition and their make value in a hidden revenue tax that passes to the privately held monopolist with each sale of a copyrighted, government franchised, or patented service or product. .
Please note the one two nature of the "use of government law making powers to generate intangible private monopoly property rights"


Posted by: snake | Sep 4 2019 7:35 utc | 54

The thing which irritates me about ppl rushing to correct a simple & decipherable typo ....

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Sep 3 2019 23:47 utc

If enhancing articles by fixing typos irritates you then ask B to install another avenue to report them. A special forum thread, for example. Or any of fast report scripts, like Orfus, "select wrong text and press one button" kind

Posted by: Arioch | Sep 4 2019 10:13 utc | 55

There is no doubt Boeing has committed crimes on the 737MAX, its arrogance & greedy should be severely punished by the international commitment as an example to other global Corporations. It represents what is the worst of Corporate America that places profits in front of lives.

Posted by: Canthama | Sep 4 2019 10:37 utc | 56

@53

Not having the FP coprocessor does mean it can't process floating point data. It can albeit slower.

Also do we know if it is indeed lacking the FP coprocessor?

Posted by: Vasco da Gama | Sep 4 2019 10:37 utc | 57

@57
That is true , it takes the 80286 a very long time to do it..
And time is critical!
Further can not preform the norm IEEE math!!!! very critical!!

Posted by: Henkie | Sep 4 2019 11:49 utc | 58

How the U.S. is keeping Russia out of the international market?

Iran and other sanctioned countries are a potential captive market and they have growth opportunities in what we sometimes call the non-aligned, emerging markets countries (Turkey, Africa, SE Asia, India, ...).

One thing I have learned is that the U.S. always games the system, we never play fair. So what did we do. Do their manufacturers use 1% U.S. made parts and they need that for international certification?

Posted by: Christian J Chuba | Sep 4 2019 11:55 utc | 59

Ultimately all of the issues in the news these days are the same one and the same issue - as the US gets closer and closer to the brink of catastrophic collapse they get ever more desperate. As they get more and more desperate they descend into what comes most naturally to the US - throughout its entire history - frenzied violence, total absence of morality, war, murder, genocide, and everything else that the US is so well known for (by those who are not blinded by exceptionalist propaganda).

The Hong Kong violence is a perfect example - it is impossible that a self-respecting nation state could allow itself to be seen to degenerate into such idiotic degeneracy, and so grossly flaunt the most basic human decency. Ergo, the US is not a self-respecting nation state. It is a failed state.

I am certain the arrogance of Boeing reflects two things: (a) an assurance from the US government that the government will back them to the hilt, come what may, to make sure that the 737Max flies again; and (b) a threat that if Boeing fails to get the 737Max in the air despite that support, the entire top level management and board of directors will be jailed. Boeing know very well they cannot deliver. But just as the US government is desperate to avoid the inevitable collapse of the US, the Boeing top management are desperate to avoid jail. It is a charade.

It is time for international regulators to withdraw certification totally - after the problems are all fixed (I don't believe they ever will be), the plane needs complete new certification of every detail from the bottom up, at Boeing's expense, and with total openness from Boeing. The current Boeing management are not going to cooperate with that, therefore the international regulators need to demand a complete replacement of the management and board of directors as a condition for working with them.

Posted by: BM | Sep 4 2019 12:48 utc | 60

From ZeroHedgelink:


If Boeing had invested some of this money that it blew on share buybacks to design a new modern plane from ground up to replace the ancient 737 airframe, these tragedies could have been prevented, and Boeing wouldn’t have this nightmare on its hands. But the corporate cost-cutters and financial engineers, rather than real engineers, had the final word.

Markets don’t care about any of this. They don’t care about real engineers either. They love corporate cost-cutters and financial engineers. They want share buybacks, and if something bad happens, they’ll overlook the $5 billion to pay for the fallout because it’s just a “one-time item.”

And now Boeing still has this plane, instead of a modern plane, and the history of this plane is now tainted, as is its brand, and by extension, that of Boeing. But markets blow that off too. Nothing matters.

Companies are getting away each with their own thing. There are companies that are losing a ton of money and are burning tons of cash, with no indications that they will ever make money. And market valuations are just ludicrous.

======

Thus Boeing issue is part of a much larger picture. Something systemic had to make "markets" less rational. And who is this "market"? In large part, fund managers wracking their brains how to create "decent return" while the cost of borrowing and returns on lending are super low. What remains are forms of real estate and stocks.

Overall, Boeing buy-backs exceeded 40 billion dollars, one could guess that half or quarter of that would suffice to build a plane that logically combines the latest technologies. E.g. the entire frame design to fit together with engines, processors proper for the information processing load, hydraulics for steering that satisfy force requirements in almost all circumstances etc. New technologies also fail because they are not completely understood, but when the overall design is logical with margins of safety, the faults can be eliminated.

Instead, 737 was slowly modified toward failure, eliminating safety margins one by one.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Sep 4 2019 13:23 utc | 61

Posted by: Canthama | Sep 4 2019 10:37 utc | 56


Is Ziad coming back?

Posted by: jo6pac | Sep 4 2019 13:50 utc | 62

Regarding the 80286 and the 737, don't forget that the air traffic control system and the ICBM system uses old technology as well.

Seems our big systems have feet of old silicon.

Posted by: morongobill | Sep 4 2019 14:08 utc | 63

Quote @ 59:

"How the U.S. is keeping Russia out of the international market?"

Today, Putin and Modi signed a 14,5 billion USD multi-year contract for Russian weapons delivery and manufacturing localization in India. AK-100s, manpads, helicopters.The Russians said that "the deal is veery beneficial" for both sides. And that they have overcome all issues related to clearing such deals outside the usd... (the S400 deal was the test run).

And let us not forget that it was the Indian contracts during the 2000s that saved Sukhoi with the SU-30 MKI (afaik more than 200 planes delivered or assembled in India from Russian parts) and Uralvagonzavod with the T-90 (again more than 300 pieces I remember of). So, it took quite a lot of time and foreward thinking to reach at this point.

Sorry for no link.

---

Posted by: BG | Sep 4 2019 14:49 utc | 64

B, Penny for your updated thoughts on the US/Taliban negotations underway...

Posted by: prodigalson | Sep 4 2019 14:55 utc | 65

Boeing has apparently either never heard of, or ignores a procedure that is mandatory in satellite design and design reviews. This is FMEA or Failure Modes and Effects Analysis. This requires design engineers to document the impact of every potential failure and combination of failures thereby highlighting everthing from catastrophic effects to just annoyances. Clearly BOEING has done none of these and their troubles are a direct result. It can be assumed that their arrogant and incompetent management has not yet understood just how serious their behavior is to the future of the company.

Posted by: Allan Bowman | Sep 4 2019 15:15 utc | 66

......in fact, new and untried and yet only tested by computer modeling and theoretical estimations based on experience with smaller/different designs

Posted by: chu teh | Sep 4 2019 0:13 utc

...and that was also how USSR created Chernobyl.
The experience with smaller military reactors was solid. They have their rough edges, but they were known, so were the consequences of taking risks.

....so if we take a well-known cheap design and just scale it like 4-fold no new and unexpected nuances can come to being, right? It would be the same old chunk of iron just bigger! ...what could possibly go wrong?..

Posted by: Arioch | Sep 4 2019 15:25 utc | 67

Before they are allowed to fly again they should take a random sample and make them Air Force 1.

Posted by: Tobi | Sep 4 2019 16:04 utc | 68

Once the buyback ends the dive begins and just before it hits ground zero, they buy the company for pennies on the dollar, possibly with government bailout as a bonus. Then the company flies towards the next climb and subsequent dive. MCAS economics.

Posted by: Joost | Sep 4 2019 4:25 utc | 50

Well put!

Posted by: fx | Sep 4 2019 16:08 utc | 69

Computer modelling is what they are talking about in the cliche "Garbage in, garbage out".

The problem is not new, and it is well understood. What computer modelling is is cheap, and easy to fudge, and that is why it is popular with people who care about money a lot. Much of what is called "AI" is very similar in its limitations, a complicated way to fudge up the results you want, or something close enough for casual examination.

In particular cases where you have a well-defined and well-mathematized theory, then you can get some useful results with models. Like in Physics, Chemistry.

And they can be useful for "realistic" training situations, like aircraft simulators. The old story about wargame failures against Iran is another such situation. A lot of video games are big simulations in essence. But that is not reality, it's fake reality.

Posted by: Bemildred | Sep 4 2019 16:11 utc | 70

#36 San Onofre most certainly could have been fixed, but the anti-nuke activists have too much strength in California. By the way, the problem was caused by Mitsubishi, who designed the heat exchangers.
#43 Gundersen is a person who has made a living as an anti-nuke for decades. He is also a well-known liar.

I don't have the energy to dig up all the information after all these years on San Onofre and Gundersen, but you can find it, if you like.

Posted by: SteveK9 | Sep 4 2019 16:14 utc | 71

"The thing which irritates me about ppl rushing to correct a simple & decipherable typo ....

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Sep 3 2019 23:47 utc

If enhancing articles by fixing typos irritates you then ask B to install another avenue to report them. A special forum thread, for example. Or any of fast report scripts, like Orfus, "select wrong text and press one button" kind

Posted by: Arioch | Sep 4 2019 10:13 utc | 55"

--------------------

You grammar nazis should perhaps install some software to catch your own mistakes before you post your comments?

--------------------

"> The FAA was also the last regulator to grounded the plane

TYPO!

- to ground ?
- have grounded ?
- to have gorunded ?

Posted by: Arioch | Sep 3 2019 22:37 utc | 22"

--------------------

What is gorunded ??

Posted by: Trond | Sep 4 2019 16:16 utc | 72

...
If enhancing articles by fixing typos irritates you then ask B to install another avenue to report them. A special forum thread, for example. Or any of fast report scripts, like Orfus, "select wrong text and press one button" kind
Posted by: Arioch | Sep 4 2019 10:13 utc | 55

Well, since b has corrected the typo you hilighted, you can probably assume that b found your aspirations for MoA's image more seductive, and less irritating, than I did :-)

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Sep 4 2019 16:30 utc | 73

@ 71 > "He is also a well-known liar."

Big claims need big evidence, comrade. I am sorry that you have not the energy to support your canard. And hope you feel better soon.

Generally the unsupported adhomenim is considered to be a concession, indicating a poorly concealed actual agreement in logic and rhetoric. Whether Mr G is actually a liar is obviously irrelevant to the objective reality of the economics and physics of atomic stations. About as relevant as what breed of dog peed on his tires.

San Onofre is fixed the only way a fubar can get fixed. Blaming the people for the bad decisions capitalists make to enrich themselves and impoverish the future as well as the multitudes today is as old as fascism, friend. The conspired to pull as fast one, and got caught.

I myself did nuclear work for GE...and I know what I saw and heard. Dope dealing, cover-ups of negligent deaths and injuries, radioactive parts being carried into the clean side machine shop by hourly crafts.., engineers shaking their heads muttering about a "pig in a poke"- all entirely consistent with what Mr G says.

Posted by: Walter | Sep 4 2019 16:37 utc | 74

‘Requiem for the American dream’ (RT) in two parts is heavy with conscience and facts... Recommended.

I do suppose somebody will now claim Hedges is a "well known liar", but in fact it is ripe with what the fascist cabals themselves have written...about, for example, the desirability of creating "employment insecurity" to suppress wages... Uttered and written by Greenspan... and tons more.

Posted by: Walter | Sep 4 2019 16:41 utc | 75

Allan Bowman | Sep 4 2019 15:15 utc

... "It can be assumed that their arrogant and incompetent management has not yet understood just how serious their behavior is to the future of the company."...

How can that be assumed? For example at San Onofre Nuc plants...

Hired top manager: [pointing at containment bldgs. for the 2 reactors] See those 2 domes?

Newly hired deputy manager: "Yes, boss."

Hired top manager: "They are full of money. Our job is to empty them!"

Posted by: chu teh | Sep 4 2019 16:41 utc | 76

Hoarsewhisperer @73--

How about an editing function so typos can be corrected? The mistakes b most often makes are due to his using a non-native language that produces errors that grammar/spell check miss and he subsequently misses while editing.

IMO, sudden appearances by previously unseen Grammar/Typo Cops is usually an attempt to delegitimize b's credibility in the eyes of those ignorant that he's German writing in English.

Posted by: karlof1 | Sep 4 2019 16:42 utc | 77

fx | Sep 4 2019 16:08 utc and others

"...MCAS economics."


See above

Posted by: chu teh | Sep 4 2019 16:46 utc | 78

@ SteveK9 71 "By the way, the problem was caused by Mitsubishi, who designed the heat exchangers."

Ahh. The furriners...

I once made the "mistake" of pointing out (in a comment under an article in Salon)that the reactors that exploded at Fukushima was made by GE and that GE people was still in charge of the reactors of american quality when they xploded. (The amerikans got out on one of the first planes out of the country).

I have never seen so many angry replys to one of my comments.

I even got e-mails for several weeks from angry amerikans.

Posted by: Trond | Sep 4 2019 17:01 utc | 79

@Henkie #53
You need floating point for scientific calculations, but I really doubt the 737 is doing any scientific research.
Also, a regular CPU can do mathematical calculations. It just isn't as fast nor has the same capacity as a dedicated FPU.
Another common use for FPUs is in live action shooter games - the neo-physics portions utilize scientific-like calculations to create lifelike actions. I sold computer systems in the 1990s while in school - Doom was a significant driver for newer systems (as well as hedge fund types).
Again, don't see why an airplane needs this.

Posted by: c1ue | Sep 4 2019 19:44 utc | 80

@ Posted by: Arioch | Sep 4 2019 15:25 utc | 67

Except for the fact that the USSR, and later the Russian Federation, learned with Chernobyl and fixed the RBMK. There are still (fixed design version) RBMK in operation in Russia plus a successor (MKER) based on the same design.

The HBO series has many dramatisations that border propaganda. The most grave of them, in my opinion, was during the fictional Legasov speech, when he stated the RBMK was designed purely because the USSR liked to make its stuff "cheap". The RBMK was indeed much cheaper to produce than its competitors of the time, but its design was legit, with many even revolutionary aspects (being small and powerful for its size). It was updated and produced the aforementioned successor. It certainly wasn't "cheap" in the sense the USSR disregarded human life as the TV series made it look like.

Posted by: vk | Sep 4 2019 19:44 utc | 81

re SteveK9 | Sep 4 2019 16:14 utc | 71
who stated "...the problem was caused by Mitsubishi..."

What problem are you referring to? A problem caused by Mitsubishi is a different problem than the one I spoke of, namely, the failure of Federal Agency regulation, otherwise known as Regulatory Capture by the vendors being regulated:

<<< The NRC had not given full inspection/oversight to the new units because of manufacturer/operator claims that the changes were not significant. The NRC did not verify the veracity of those claims. >>> [see aboove, chu teh | Sep 4 2019 0:13 utc | 36]


The NRC did not verify the claims that mods were minor and not significant, thereby allowing the NRC to do full inspection/oversight under the rubric that any changes/substitutions were merely like-for-like substitutions; not new designs that could introduce unforeseen/unanticipated problems.

There were several known, potential problems considered by engineers/physicists/chemists,etc but these maters were adjudged by highest-level managers as falling within the like-for-like category of differences.

Despite this, an Edison vice-president Dwight Nunn wrote to Mr. Sawa, General Manager Mitsubishi Heavy Industries
in 2004 warning that some differences were not, in fact, like-for-like matters. And I quote:

...represents a significant increase in size from those that [MHI] has built in the past...
...a new design beyond which they currently have available.
...new and significantly larger steam generator..
...challenge the capability of existing models and engineering tools used for proven steam generator designs.

...a new and larger 2-loop design.
...potential water hammer as a result of the design of the distributing ring...
...failure to meet this requirement [satisfy licensing basis of 106% of the original flow rate] would have significant impact on the operation of San Onofre including the potential inability to operate the units.
...although the old and new steam generators will be similar in many respects they aren't like-for-like replacements.

[There is much more truth in the above source correspondence.]

Oh, and did I mention being on-site for the prep and install of the new steam generators?

Posted by: chu teh | Sep 4 2019 23:20 utc | 82

Quoting Walter: I myself did nuclear work for GE...and I know what I saw and heard. Dope dealing, cover-ups of negligent deaths and injuries, radioactive parts being carried into the clean side machine shop by hourly crafts.., engineers shaking their heads muttering about a "pig in a poke".

Were these the actions of the capitalists making bad decisions "to enrich themselves and impoverish the future as well as the multitudes today" or were these the actions of run-of-the-mill dope dealers, dope users, couldn't give a damn workers and their similarly minded supervisory staff, careless engineers doing "mortgage engineering" as they muttered silently to themselves complaining when they knew no-one would hear and apart from that doing absolutely nothing whatsoever?

It is all too easy and oh so ideologically convenient to blame some mysterious group of nefarious and all-powerful magicians for various troubles, vexatious problems and disasters. Most of the time though, the people who are causal and ought to be called to account for their actions are unremarkable, average and common.

The take home message is that irresponsibility, careless and toxic behaviour (along with excuse making for same) starts and ends with each individual person. Look carefully to yourself. What would you have done? What should you have done? What did you actually do? There are no excuses.

Posted by: Siotu | Sep 5 2019 0:22 utc | 83

my typo at chu teh | Sep 4 2019 23:20 utc | 82

4th paragraph should read "thereby allowing the NRC NOT to do full inspection/oversight...

Apologies all around.

Posted by: chu teh | Sep 5 2019 1:11 utc | 84

Except for the fact that the USSR, and later the Russian Federation, learned with Chernobyl and fixed the RBMK. There are still (fixed design version) RBMK in operation in Russia plus a successor (MKER) based on the same design.

Posted by: vk | Sep 4 2019 19:44 utc

It is quite possible that Boeing will learn from 737MAX and will fix MCAS design. However i was focusing on how catastrophes were allowed to happen, rather than on aftermath.

There is no "fixed design version" RBMK in operation. Fix would require change in the basic geometry of it. And that was allegedly done with "gen.3" RBMK, first of which should had been built as Chernobyl units #5&6. They were not. And none other planned RBMK Gen.3 unit was ever built.

RBMK Gen.1 and Gen.2 units have the same inherently unstable design (graphite core and uranium channels geometry), it can not be fixed.
But they were equipped with something like MCAS, add-ons that monitor and avoid approaching dangerous modes. They were mostly known before the disaster but were not implemented "to keep sheets clean" and to avoid design flaws get known.

MKER is pure speculation, just like RBMK-2400 and RBMK-4800. Perhaps it can be developed into a real reactor if someone would fund it, but i won't hold my breathe.

> RBMK design was legit, with many even revolutionary aspects (being small and powerful for its size).

Legit is very vague word. 737MAX design is legit too.

Small it was only compared to gas-cooled reactors like British AGR.
PWR design, like VVER in USSR is still the most "condensed" one by large margin. Then goes BWR.
One can see a scheme showing cross-sections of different reactors drawn over one another at Wikipedia.

Also, no other nation chosen such an approach (graphite moderation with water cooling with channels instead of vessel), which might be a hint.
That said, Canadian CANDU reactors also remain a unique combination that no one else cares to repeat.
However PWR was/is produced by many nations, and there should be objective reasons why it became mainstream and RBMK never did.

Posted by: Arioch | Sep 5 2019 2:44 utc | 85

Wasn't the Chernobyl "accident" caused by operator recklessness? After all, it was the operations staff who were conducting a highly unconventional experimental test during which safety systems were disabled and defeated by their deliberate and conscious acts. That was a costly "mistake" to make, but make it they did. It is difficult to blame the design of the RBMK for that.

Posted by: Siotu | Sep 5 2019 3:17 utc | 86

@ 84. "What did I do?". I stopped doing critical work on or for corrupt enterprises. I stopped working for companies in transition from legitimate engineering to illegitimacy. A close pal at Boeing quit that company, possibly for similar reasons - he said that he was having terrible dreams that his work was leading to building machines that would kill people. My skill set let me pick pretty much any job I wanted - I had a protean education. This was not true for most of the engineers at the N stations - they were afraid of job loss all the time, and the "incentives" lead to all sorts of marginal inactions and dangerous choices. People got killed. The NRC, to give an example of the ambience, was said to stand for "nobody really cares". There was a grundnorm of conspiracy and deception. Incompetent persons got promoted - thus creating "accidents". Less dire, the same is true for every power station, coal, NG, biomass, even solar...

as to the rest, it's well-known that the dope business is one and the same with imperialism and imperial intelligence and banking - see Gary Webb et al as well as Alfred McCoy's "Politics of Heroin..."

Blaming individuals for systemic corruption is capitalism 101, amigo. It's perhaps akin to blaming a machine failure on defective parts when the design is fundamentally flawed.

Like the 737 NFG (er "MAX"), atomic power stations are uninsurable and uneconomic machines that transfer the commons to individuals while ruining a part of that commons for a very long tome. Governments like the power, the political power, said transfer creates. They are an example of the Old Army Game... (that's a swindle,a con job, and basic capitalism).

see (for a charming example), Carol Dempster and W C Fields in "Sally of the Sawdust" and also Fields and Louise Brooks (a babe!)in "The Old Army Game"... Of course the swindles are more professional these days...

"power stations" are indeed power collectors. Political power goes from the schmucks paying for the electricity to the people trashing the commons... They are power collectors.

Posted by: Walter | Sep 5 2019 3:36 utc | 87

Walter | Sep 5 2019 3:36 utc

Thanks W C Fields refs. I'm on it.

Posted by: chu teh | Sep 5 2019 4:47 utc | 88

Posted by: Siotu | Sep 5 2019 0:22 utc | 84

The take home message is that irresponsibility, careless and toxic behaviour (along with excuse making for same) starts and ends with each individual person. Look carefully to yourself. What would you have done? What should you have done? What did you actually do? There are no excuses.

Yes indeed, and each and every nuke supporter is personally responsible for all the human and ecological death and injury caused by this noxious, ecocidal technology. The same goes for every other such technology.

Posted by: Russ | Sep 5 2019 4:56 utc | 89

@Henkie #53
You need floating point for scientific calculations, but I really doubt the 737 is doing any scientific research.
Also, a regular CPU can do mathematical calculations. It just isn't as fast nor has the same capacity as a dedicated FPU.
Another common use for FPUs is in live action shooter games - the neo-physics portions utilize scientific-like calculations to create lifelike actions. I sold computer systems in the 1990s while in school - Doom was a significant driver for newer systems (as well as hedge fund types).
Again, don't see why an airplane needs this.

Posted by: c1ue | Sep 4 2019 19:44 utc | 80

In a Real Time System and OS , time is very critical
A CPU takes 350 till 700++ cycles where a FPU just use less then 35 cycles for the same calculation.
IEEE math routines should be THE STANDARD on these systems , always calculate in 64 bit!!!!!! or more....
Do need special pipeline to DMA and Cache....
So they just have to piggy bag the 287 on the 286 to get more time for there MCAS.....

Posted by: Henkie | Sep 5 2019 5:47 utc | 90

Fields' first paying job, they say, was as a professional drowning victim. He'd swim out from a tourist beach and then pretend to drown, thus creating a crowd. Then his confidants would fleece that crowd. Yes, a summer job, but it was a start... A form of TOAG is the Ponzi Scheme. It is legend in some clubs that it not worth the trouble to attempt to cheat an honest man...one leverages the mark's greed.

737NFG leveraged the marks' (aka customers) greed.

There is one mark you can not beat. The mark inside. Boeing forgot that...

Posted by: Walter | Sep 5 2019 10:26 utc | 91

> Wasn't the Chernobyl "accident" caused by operator recklessness?

Just like 737MAX crashes were called by pilots recklessness.

Instead of connecting dots sparsed here and there in manuals, forums and rumours, then reverse-engineering the machine design and running it around pitfalls they recklessly flew aircrafts into catastrophic mode it was not suited to operate in.

And just like with 737MAX grounding, all RBMK new production works were grounded once and forever, at the cost of cascading USSR economic collapse.

If it was pilots error that flew RBMK into earth so drastic measures would be uncalled for.

> After all, it was the operations staff who were conducting a highly unconventional experimental test

1. There were TWO experiments not one
2. None was one the reactor, both were in adjacent building.
3. Both were to be started after reactor was turned off. However the very turning off sequence was one of two conditions that make RBMK uncontrollable. (another one was starting it, like SPb RBMK blast of 1976 demonstrated).
4. One of those "unconventional" experiments was a mandatory proof of safety, it was conducted on Chernobyl #4 for the third time (1983 and 1984 were prior attempts), so it actually was a routine one. More so, all RBMK reactors that did not pass the safe shutdown proof experiment violated post-1969 USSR laws. IOW 100% of RBMK-1000 reactors.

> during which safety systems were disabled

They were not.

1. The only system that was turned off was pressurized cold water tank, which was mandatory to run reactor at low power, when its own pressure was too low to keep the tank from spontaneous discharging. Also, that tank was only present in Gen.2 reactor and Gen.1 reactors were not and are not retrofitted with it meaning it was AUXILLARY system.

2. During the 4.5 seconds of reactor explosion there were THREE events of "AZ-5" - "disaster protection, 5th category".
While one of them could be crew turning the reactor off (first one by crew, last one or none by architects), rest were logging attempts of safety systems to kick in, those very systems that "were disabled".

3. Control rods on original RBMK design took almost 30 seconds to be inserted. It took 4.5 seconds for reactors working stably at 20% power to go exponential as the reaction to "turn off" command.

> and defeated by their deliberate and conscious acts.

None of which was ever listed anywhere.
It is the same story of Russiagate, where repetitions substitute evidence.

However if that was true the correct action would be having a "chekist with Mauser gun" in the control room to shoot down any next experimentator. And to go on with USSR economic global plan including finishing and laying down more RBMK power plants and factories and cities. Instead it was scrapped and half-built factories and NPPs were abandoned disregarding invested costs all around the land, few years later USSR collapsed and economically Russia swung to Africa grade for 20 years.

Won't you say this was a bit of overreaction to the malicious "crew action" to destroy the whole state economy that no sane government would ever do?

Also, why safety system did not scram the reactor before? Failure of safety systems, even caused by suicidal crew, should had been enough of the reason. According to USSR 1970-s nuclear laws control systems of civic NPPs were required to keep reactors in safe state under any possible circumstances.

> That was a costly "mistake" to make, but make it they did.

Elaborate with specific mistakes list?
Or read INSAG-7 which mostly repeats USSR-provided INSAG-1 but adding notice after every crew misconduct like "did not effected process or consequences of the disaster" and then added the whole new section that interprets the disaster completely different way, and then leaves it at it without specifying which of two mutually denying versions is IAEA position.


> It is difficult to blame the design of the RBMK for that.

It is equally difficult to blame 737MAX design for some few clueless pilots deliberately flying it into the ground.

Afterall the share of safely flying 737MAX aircrafts is much larger than share of safely working RBMK-1000 reactors.

Posted by: Arioch | Sep 5 2019 10:43 utc | 92

@ Posted by: Arioch | Sep 5 2019 2:44 utc | 86

Except for the fact that there were two more generations of RBMK, and, until now, we still have them operational (the oldest design still operational). That, and the fact that is spawned a successor (MKER), corroborates to the hypothesis that the RBMK design not only could be fixed, but indeed was.

The original 737 is definitely a legit design. The problem arose when Boeing tried to fit a next generation engine into a previous generation design. Each case is a case in the world of engineering, and, in this specific case, the only solution was to create a new design (design can -- and oftern are -- created to be "future proof", but the original 737 was really old, and engineers don't have a crystal ball).

But the gravest difference between the two is that Chernobyl was really an unexpected mistake: the RBMK was cutting edge and what happened shouldn't happen according to what the nuclear scientists of the time believed. 737 MAX was a calculated error: Boeing didn't want to invest in a new design and calculated any lawsuits, deaths etc. etc. were worth the money saved in bending the FAA. That it calculated badly is not of concern here, but it was made.

Posted by: vk | Sep 5 2019 15:17 utc | 93

This Boing fiasco is part of a larger trend/issue.
Where is the outcry over:
- the sloppy engineering by Boing
- the lax over-sight by FAA
- the dishonest justification (by the intelligence "community") for the war in Iraq
- the torture and general weird goings-on at Abu-Garihb
- the pursuit of Assange on frivolous claims and now incarceration for same
- the on-going bombing and killing and interfering with foreign nations in ME and in South/Central America
- the inhumane treatment of the Palestinians
- the mis-handling of Jeffry Epstein
- the involvement by many still in power with Jeffry Epstein
- the funding of Jeffery Epstein by Leslie Wexner using funds from his Victoria Secret operation
- use use of american military as agent of US businesses

Oh yeah, it's this:
https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2019/09/05/now-official-us-visa-denied-if-you-or-your-friends-critical-american-policies/

Brexit is just a side-show.

Posted by: jared | Sep 5 2019 15:56 utc | 94

@ Russ | Sep 5 2019 4:56 utc | 90 > In a sense, yes, but they were delusional as a result of a massive propaganda campaign over decades. This is engineered "consent". They came, by induction, to believe in an atomic ideology. They are "true believers", when in reality nothing but B/S covers the physics... You burn U, you get Pu... and so forth. Leave the poisons where they are. An engineering dictum I got from an cancer-dying field engineer (on my very first GE turbine overhaul! (In those days the very rocks still smoked)) was this> "If you can't stop it, don't start it."

Bless his wisdom.

Posted by: Walter | Sep 5 2019 16:14 utc | 95

>cthe RBMK was cutting edge and what happened shouldn't happen according to what the nuclear scientists of the time believed.

You may to a degree say so about gen.1 RBMK-1000 and before 1976 accident. But not after that.

> 737 MAX was a calculated error: Boeing didn't want to invest in a new design

And NIKIET & MinSredMash did want to invest neither into radical redesign of existing projects and stations, nor even into significant augmenting it.
It would had expose their flaw which they sought to conceal at all costs. The cost turned out to be rather large.

> and calculated any lawsuits, deaths etc. etc. were worth the money saved in bending the FAA.

Maybe. But i rather think it was a decision of many employees weighing they TODAY salary and honorable titles vs some potential corner case that maybe will never happen or at least will not be traced to them personally. Like the event chains that led to STS Challenger and Columbia disasters.

But that was also applicable to RBMK-1000. Hey, there is that fluctuation of parameters that makes different reactors have a shred of a percent characteristics different from theoretic model. And the global optimum was non-existence of reactor, as opposed to local optimum of steady operation. And there is that corner case of operating reactor at low power, beyond 20%, when process inertia can in some corner case be not enough to overcome some possible rare unlucky mutual amplification by random deviations. Which maybe never will actually happen. And if it will, no one runs reactors at low power as only 90-100% of power is economically viable. And we even introduced a special chapter in our manual prohibiting commercially at loss exploitation of NPP. And we even sacrificed as much as reducing profits by switching them from cheap 1.8% enrichment fuel to expensive 2.2% enrichment!

So, there is no chance this hyper-hypothetical scenario can happen! Afterall dozen of RBMK-1000 reactors are working hour by hour year by year and none of them blasted yet! So it can not happen. And our salaries, dachas and academic carriers are real thing.
....and then one unlucky April night...

Posted by: Arioch | Sep 5 2019 16:56 utc | 96

Boeing’s 737 Max Software Outsourced to $9-an-Hour Engineers of India HCL. On return, Boeing get a $11B deal from India gov.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-06-28/boeing-s-737-max-software-outsourced-to-9-an-hour-engineers

More indepth story how Boeing outsource all its coding to low grade India coders.

Posted by: Edison | Sep 5 2019 17:46 utc | 97

That is unblievable FLight Control comptuer is based on 80286!
A control system needs Real Time operation, at least some pre-emptive task operation, in terms of milisecond or microsecond.
What ever way you program 80286 you can not achieve RT operation on 80286.
I do not think that is the case.
My be 80286 is doing some pripherial work, other than control.

I once needed a real time operation system on an Intel 8086 DOS box. As none was readily available I wrote my own. Snapped the timer interrupt for time slicing/sharing, programmed a task handler for register swapping and a memory handler for mem swaps. Some simply queue handling for asynchronous signals and that was it. Most of it was assembler with some pascal for higher routines. Took me about six weeks and ran flawlessly in a real production environment.

These old processors were quite easy to program. They also ran deterministically. A huge advantage over today's processor with three level of caching, speculative executing and the mess that comes with it (think meltdown and spectre bugs).

I am convinced that an 'old' deterministic processor like Intel Pentium, fabricated in a modern process, with a ballast free, user friendly operation system would outrun any new Intel i9 system with Windows 10

Posted by: b | Sep 5 2019 18:17 utc | 98

As someone who cut his programmer teeth coding assembly for the 6502 I can assure younger readers that the 80286 is an adequately powerful processor. Real time programming is not about how fast the hardware is but rather about designing the software to run on that hardware. The point b raises above is important. It is impossible to do REAL real time programming on hardware that is not deterministic, regardless of how many GHz that processor runs at, while coding real time applications for old dinosaur processors like a 1.5MHz 6502 is very much doable. The mindset in which one solves a computer performance problem by throwing more clock cycles at the problem is precisely the kind of mindset that got Boing into this problem.

Boing started with a hardware problem (dangerous aerodynamic characteristics under certain conditions) that they attempted to correct with software (MCAS). This, as well as decades worth of other "features" added to the aircraft's control code then left the flight control computers task laden. The absolute wrong answer at this point is to just throw more hardware at the problem.

Just as Boing needs to go back to the drawing board and fix the problem of positive feedback at high angles of attack, the code running on the flight control computer needs to be rewritten from scratch. That is, of course, assuming they can still find any real software engineers whose answer to problems with the performance of their code is not "More hardware!" or "Performance is a hardware problem!", as you hear a lot in Redmond.

Boing started with a hardware problem that they tried to fix with software. That left them with a software problem that they are likely to try and fix with hardware. See where this is going? Bandaids upon bandaids.

Posted by: William Gruff | Sep 5 2019 19:42 utc | 99

Boeing outsource all its coding to low grade India coders.

Posted by: Edison | Sep 5 2019 17:46 utc

Indian coders might be good, providing two things:

There are absolutely verbose and checked specifications, describing EVERY possible state and behavior. IOW specifications of the detail level that fine that they themselves became a program, if not in programming language. Then coders just do coding, translating specs from spec language into programming language. I doubt Boring today has project managers competent to make such specs rather than looking whom to offsource specs designing too.

The hardware is strong enough to run literal translation of specs lacking any optimisations.
I doubt Boeing can increase both memory volume and speed of their 80286 processors in the FCCs without ruining the rest of FCC hardware. Although as far as i remember ISA bus was asynchronous, of course if that is the bus used in FCCs.

Posted by: Arioch | Sep 5 2019 20:28 utc | 100

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