Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
October 12, 2019

Boeing's New Problems Reach Beyond The 737 MAX

Two weeks ago the National Transport Safety Board (NTSB) released a 13 pages long recommendation (pdf) resulting from its investigation into the 737 MAX incidents. Since we dicussed that damning report more bad news for Boeing has come out.

  • Boeing's general business is not doing well.
  • A newly found structural defect on older 737 NG planes, the predecessor of the 737 MAX, will ground a significant number of those planes.
  • There are new damning revelations about the 737 MAX development process that have led to two deadly accidents. The Southwest pilot associated is suing Boeing for making false statements. A whistleblower asserts that Boeing left out safety features because of their costs. A Joint Authorities Technical Review will make it more difficult for Boeing to 'upgrade' older airplane types.
  • There are further delays in the MAX return into the air.

As AirInsight analyst Ernest Arvai summarizes:

The MAX is grounded, the 787 is being investigated for quality issues and has major engine problems, the 777-X is even further delayed with engine problems, and the KC-46 is failing to meet needs and currently restricted from carrying passengers and cargo. Now, the prior generation 737NG is developing serious premature failure of structural components that should last the lifetime of the aircraft, and could result in an additional financial drain. We’ve been looking for good news about Boeing, but simply can’t find any.

An order for 22 of Boeing's 787 Dreamliner was canceled. Without new orders the two production lines for the 787 will need only 40 more months to finish the outstanding orders. That is a relative short backlog for a large passenger jet production line. Boeing needs a new mid-range product but has little time to work on it.

Boeing's overall orderbook is shrinking:

Boeing's net order tally, including cancellations, was a negative 84 for the first nine months of 2019, also hit by the bankruptcy of India's Jet Airways, which resulted in Boeing removing 210 aircraft from its order backlog.

During the conversion of a 737 NG passenger jet into a freighter plane Boeing found serious defects on a structural component that was supposed to have a longer lifetime than the plane. Boeing notified the FAA:

The FAA has issued an Air Worthiness Directive (AD) for high time Boeing 737 NGs, requiring immediate inspections for cracks in their wing attachments called pickle forks.

The cracks were discovered on high time aircraft which were torn down for conversion to freighters. The affected 737 types are NG only; the MAX and Classic have a different wing attachment design.
The issued AD affects Boeing 737 NG aircraft with over 22,600 flight cycles (flights). These shall be inspected within one year. For aircraft with more than 30,000 flight cycles, the inspection shall be completed within one week from the effective date of the AD.

The central wingbox is the structure where the wings are attached to the planes body.


Two frames (STA 540) at the front and the rear of the wingbox carry the load into the upper body structure.


At the lower end of these frames are the forged 'pickle forks' that are riveted to the wingbox.


This is how the whole construct looks in real life.


The planes with these defects (pdf) have been grounded as such cracks tend to grow and a failure of the structure would likely end catastrophically.


The planes are supposed to make up to 90,000 flights throughout their life without such structural damages. The first inspection round showed that the problem is systematic and serious:

The results of the first week of inspections are 5% of the inspected aircraft have cracks with the lowest flight cycle aircraft with cracks at 23,600 flights.

Each plane will take three weeks to repair. But the supply of replacement parts for the cracked component is limited and it may take longer to produce new ones.

It is not clear yet what causes the cracks in the forged aluminum part. Many older NG were retrofitted with winglets on the tips of their wings. These may have led to unforeseen loads or vibrations. It is possible that some of the younger 737 NG airplanes have a similar problem.

This is bad news for those airlines that exclusively fly Boeing 737 planes. Not only are their new 737 MAX planes grounded but a significant share of their older 737 NG fleets will also come off the flight line and will require lengthy repairs.

Southwest Airlines Pilots Association has sued Boeing over its 737 MAX design:

“Boeing made a calculated decision to rush a re-engined aircraft to market to secure its single-aisle market share and prioritize its bottom line,” the introduction to the suit states. “In doing so, Boeing abandoned sound design and engineering practices, withheld safety critical information from regulators and deliberately mislead its customers, pilots and the public.

“Boeing’s misrepresentations caused SWAPA to believe that the 737 MAX aircraft was safe,” the suit goes on, then adds starkly: “Those representations proved to be false.”

The suit includes (pdf) some remarkable facts:

120. The risk profile and required risk assessment of the second iteration of MCAS was completely different from the first, and yet Boeing neither assessed that increased risk nor even attempted to mitigate it. Instead, Boeing used its ODA authority to hide this information.

This is a point we made several times in our writings about the MAX. Boeing has claimed that an MCAS failure was a 'runaway stabilizer' incident for which no extra training was needed. The Southwest pilots disagree:

229. An MCAS failure is not like a runaway stabilizer. A runaway stabilizer has continuous un-commanded movement of the tail, whereas MCAS is not continuous and pilots (theoretically) can counter the nose-down movement, after which MCAS would move the aircraft tail down again.

SWAPA is suing Boeing because the assertions it made about the 737 MAX were directly relevant for the union's negotiations with Southwest:

7. Boeing’s false representations, made directly to SWAPA, caused SWAPA to agree, despite its initial reluctance, to include the 737 MAX as a term in its collective bargaining agreement (“CBA”) with Southwest. The aircraft’s grounding is now causing SWAPA pilots to lose millions of dollars each month because the 737 MAX was removed from Southwest’s flight schedule, and from SWAPA pilots’ paychecks as well.

It will cost Boeing some $100 million to settle the suit. That will only be a small part of the total damage the 737 MAX problems caused the company. But the additional public relation damage will be significant.

A Boeing engineer has come forward to say that Boeing rejected safety upgrades because of their costs:

The ethics charge, filed by 33-year-old engineer Curtis Ewbank, whose job involved studying past crashes and using that information to make new planes safer, describes how around 2014 his group presented to managers and senior executives a proposal to add various safety upgrades to the MAX.

The complaint, a copy of which was reviewed by The Seattle Times, suggests that one of the proposed systems could have potentially prevented the crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia that killed 346 people. Three of Ewbank’s former colleagues interviewed for this story concurred.

The proposed but rejected changes would have prevented false cockpit alarms. The point is crucial because the Angle-of-Attack sensor failures that caused both 737 MAX accidents led to a number of confusing alarms which made it difficult for the pilots to diagnose the problem. It has since been revealed that Boeing had received exceptions from current regulatory rules that demand a better alarming system:

In 2014, Boeing convinced the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to relax the safety standards for the new 737 MAX related to cockpit alerts that would warn pilots if something went wrong during flight, according to documents reviewed by the Seattle Times.

Seeking an exception, Boeing relied on a special FAA rule to successfully argue that full compliance with the latest federal requirements would be “impractical” for the MAX and would cost too much.
The Seattle Times reviewed the relevant parts of the document that Boeing submitted to the FAA to win its exception. They show the federal regulator struck out four separate clauses that would be requirements for any new jet being produced today. This meant Boeing avoided having to design a complete upgrade of the 737’s aging flight-crew-alerting system.
On the Ethiopian Airlines flight that crashed in March, the pilots faced a barrage of alerts throughout the six-minute flight. Besides the stick-shaker, they heard repeated loud “DON’T SINK” warnings that the jet was too close to the ground; a “clacker” making a very loud clicking sound to signal the jet was going too fast; and multiple warning lights telling the crew the speed, altitude and other readings on their instruments were unreliable.

The use of old certification standards when updating a plane is a major point of criticism raised by a new report:

The Federal Aviation Administration, which approved the design of the jet in 2017, dropped the ball on many fronts, the Joint Authorities Technical Review found. A 69-page summary of the findings also said the panel found evidence that Boeing exerted “undue pressures” on some of its own employees who had FAA authority to approve design changes.

The JATR report is damning for both, Boeing and the FAA. It describes all the known failures and makes 12 recommendations that will change the way how old plane types can be 'upgraded' into a new version. FAA exceptions like the ones above will no longer be possible:

Changed Product Rules (..) and associated guidance (..) should be revised to require a top-down approach whereby every change is evaluated from an integrated whole aircraft system perspective. These revisions should include criteria for determining when core attributes of an existing transport category aircraft design make it incapable of supporting the safety advancements introduced by the latest regulations and should drive a design change or a need for a new type certificate. The aircraft system includes the aircraft itself with all its subsystems, the flight crew, and the maintenance crew.

If implemented the recommendation will make another 737 MAX impossible. A future upgrade of an old plane type will have to conform with the current regulation to a much larger extent and can no longer rely on the old rules to which it was originally designed. If this gets applied to the currently grounded 737 MAX, which may be possible, the plane will never fly again. Current Boeing plans to upgrade its 777 with new wings and engines might also be in trouble. Thoughts about upgrading the 767 will have to be put aside.

Other JATR recommendations criticize the FAA's delegation system that allowed Boeing engineers to self-certify some design changes.  Other points are the general lack of human factor analysis and problems with evaluating pilot training necessities.

A few observations in the JATR report will have some engineers shake their heads. This lack of functionality in Boeing's engineering simulator is, for example, inexcusable:

Observation O3.13-A: During evaluation in the Boeing engineering simulator (E-Cab), the JATR team observed that the device does not incorporate control loading on the manual stabilizer trim wheel. As a result, control forces on the manual stabilizer trim wheel are not representative of the aircraft.

The manual trim is required to bring the plane back into normal flight after the electric trim or MCAS failed. That is currently not always possible because the aerodynamic forces in certain situations are too great to be overcome with the manual wheel. The European regulator noted that as a major problem that Boeing has to rectify. That Boeing was not even able to simulate this is mind boggling.

It is also damning for Boeing and the FAA that the report's authors had to include this eternal engineering truth:

[I]n the hierarchy of safety solutions, mitigation by design should be prioritized over warnings and training/procedures.

This comment from a pilot forum is also very relevant:

Finding F3.5-C The JATR team considers that the STS/MCAS and EFS functions could be considered as stall identification systems or stall protection systems, depending on the natural (unaugmented) stall characteristics of the aircraft. From its data review, the JATR team was unable to completely rule out the possibility that these augmentation systems function as a stall protection system.

(my emphasis)
In my words, it seems unclear to this day, whether the MAX is sufficiently aerodynamically stable in pitch or not. Whether the MAX requires a full blown stall envelope protection including all the mandatory redundancy, or not, may decide the fate of her certification.

The Seattle Times has more on the JATR report.

As a consequence of all the above some industry analysts have called for the firing of the CEO and of long term board members of Boeing.

Yesterday the Boeing board took the first step and demoted its chairman and CEO:

With pressure mounting on the Boeing board and increased public concern about a need to revamp the company’s safety culture, the board on Friday took away Dennis Muilenburg’s role as company chairman, separating that position from his chief executive role.

Muilenburg will remain CEO and president, and will stay on the board of directors, while lead director David Calhoun was elected to replace him as chairman.

It is generally assumed that Muilenburg will be fired as CEO as soon as the MAX disaster is over.

This will still take several months.

While the new MCAS software is allegedly ready to be cerified there are still many open points that international certification authorities have asked Boeing to rectify. The European regulator wants more testing to be done to the changes to the Flight Control Computers:

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency recently told senior U.S. regulators it wasn’t satisfied that FAA and Boeing officials had adequately demonstrated the safety of reconfigured MAX flight-control computers, according to people briefed on the discussions. The aim is to add redundancy by having both computers work simultaneously to eliminate hazards stemming from possible chip malfunctions identified months ago; over decades, and on previous versions of the 737, only one computer at a time has fed data to automated systems, alternating between flights. The concerns were passed on by EASA chief Patrick Ky to Ali Bahrami, the FAA’s top safety official, one of the people said.
Boeing and the FAA are finishing testing the dual-computer system, and the final results haven’t been presented to EASA or other regulators. EASA has signaled, though, that it wants additional risk scenarios examined beyond those in the current testing plan, this person said.
Boeing engineers are frustrated EASA hasn’t specified what additional measures might allay its objections, according to people close to the discussions.

The last paragraph is astonishing. It is not the task of a regulator to tell Boeing engineers how to solve their problems. The regulators set the rules and check if a manufacturer's engineering solutions comply with those. 

That Boeing still does not get that and is looking for easy ways out of its problems shows that the company has yet to learn its lesson.

Previous Moon of Alabama posts on Boeing 737 MAX issues:

Posted by b on October 12, 2019 at 18:31 UTC | Permalink


About cracks and the nonlinear nature of some failure modes some may wish to read. Eberhart's Why Things Break - it is useful.

I am very sorry to see Boeing doing this stuff, especially over, it seems, years. Another icon in flames, alas...

Posted by: Walter | Oct 12 2019 18:56 utc | 1

Thanks for the ongoing coverage of the human life lost because profit b

I read on Reuters this past week that Boeing is in negotiation to purchase Embraer from Brazil who makes smaller airplanes. I con only conjecture that Boeing's ongoing financialization intentions would be to drive that company into the ground like they are doing with Boeing.

How come none of the leadership of Boeing is in jail facing murder charges?

Posted by: psychohistorian | Oct 12 2019 18:58 utc | 2

I read on Reuters this past week that Boeing is in negotiation to purchase Embraer from Brazil who makes smaller airplanes.

Boeing needs to do that because it tried to screw Bombardier and was outmaneuvered by Airbus. A failure that should have cost Muilenburg's head.

How Boeing Tried to Kill a Great Airplane—and Got Outplayed

As soon as Boeing’s top management understood what they were looking at they didn’t like it.

Another company had produced a paragon of an airplane and they had nothing to match it. And so Boeing decided they had to do as much harm to that airplane’s chances as they could—most of all, to stop any American airline from buying it.

The company was Bombardier, based in Canada. The airplane was the Bombardier C Series, a single-aisle jet that, in several versions, could seat between 100 and 150 passengers.
Boeing’s formidable Washington lobbying machine swung into action. Dennis Muilenburg, the Boeing CEO, had already cozied-up to Trump by agreeing to cut the costs of the future Air Force One jets. In September 2017, the Commerce Department announced a killing blow to Bombardier, imposing a 300 percent duty on every C Series sold in the US.
But on Oct. 16, 2017, to the amazement of the whole aerospace industry, Airbus announced it was taking a 51 percent stake—not in Bombardier itself but in the C Series program. Without any down payment.

In one stroke Airbus had changed the future of the airline industry. And out-gamed Boeing.
To ram home just how much Airbus was now able to out-game Boeing, they said they would build a final assembly line for the C Series in Alabama for those sold to American airlines, thereby removing the vulnerability to tariffs. (Many components of the jet were, in any case, made in America, in addition to the engines.)

Posted by: b | Oct 12 2019 19:08 utc | 3

@ Posted by: b | Oct 12 2019 19:08 utc | 3

Thanks for the follow up b. Since I send you a check yearly you know that Bombardier is my last name but along with that I am 7 generations removed from the linage that started the Bombardier company.

I like to think I have inherited some of the creativity of the founder and met his son and daughter in the mid 1980's. As an occasional sailor and cross country skier I detest the noise of the Seadoo and Skidoo but they have a fairly good reputation still from what I hear and read. Due to their international popularity they have conditioned me and others in my family to change the pronunciation of our last name to the French manner.....grin

Posted by: psychohistorian | Oct 12 2019 19:19 utc | 4

As the Clive Irving / The Daily Beast article that B linked to @ 3 illustrates, a culture that prizes short-term profits and cost-cutting, and which denigrates innovation, risk-taking and pride in providing a consistent standard of engineering excellence and safety, is dominant at Boeing. Sacking Dennis Muilenberg and a few other Board Directors will do very little to change that culture. The entire organisational structure needs examining and change. Even the shareholder ownership and how that is structured should be investigated and reformed.

Moving Boeing's headquarters back to Seattle to be close to where most engineers and technical support work, and where most of the manufacture of the planes is located, away from the influence of neoliberal ideology emanating from hired brainwashed University of Chicago graduates, would be a start.

Posted by: Jen | Oct 12 2019 19:36 utc | 5

Starbucks, Microsoft, Boeing. There's a theme here.

Posted by: bjd | Oct 12 2019 20:00 utc | 6

It's regulatory capture, one of the terrific by-products of naked capitalism. In essence: you count dollars, not bodies.

Posted by: bjd | Oct 12 2019 20:19 utc | 7

b. you mention Southwest, which has been Boeing’s most loyal customer for almost five decades. It was the first airline to use one make and model of aircraft exclusively – the Boeing 737. Boeing used Southwest to carry out tests on new aircraft and the Southwest fleet was always serviced by Boeing. In some respects its history mirrors that of Boeing, in other ways it doesn’t.

From its origins in the early 1970s Southwest seemed to defy business logic. It was the only airline that constantly produced expected returns for Wall Street and at one point its market capitalization was higher than those of its far larger competitors, such as Delta. But it has a strong union and was always one of the companies in the US people most wanted to work for. It’s founder and CEO, Herb Kelleher, is a most remarkable fellow. He brought in a completely new ethic of employees first just when in the late 1970s neoliberalism began to do the exact opposite and Jack Welch began to slash jobs at GE, bringing in a top down, management consultant-run, macho culture. At Southwest decision-making was devolved down to the customer-facing employee and assigning blame was strictly forbidden. A sense of fun at work was explicitly encouraged including dressing up and acting plain daft. For a few days a year roles would be switched around, so pilots worked as cabin crew, cabin crew as gate staff, etc. Even Herb himself pitched in when a plane was late. So news began to spread about how this airline went out of its way for both its staff and passengers. And, of course, staff would reciprocate by going out of their way for the airline. And tickets were really cheap due to fast turnarounds.

Other companies came to study Southwest. Even the dreaded Irish company Ryanair went to Texas. But none of them could replicate what Herb called “the emotional intelligence.” And lets not forget the remarkable COO Coleen Brennan. When a cabin crew member was failing to perform to his usual standards she discovered he had just had a very costly divorce and owed $18,000 in lawyer’s fees. Coleen wrote him a check for that sum from her own bank account.

Then Herb retired in 2005 and Southwest appears to have followed all the rest, including Boeing. Just one small example but highly indicative. A few years after Herb left they forced a young woman off a plane because her skirt was too short. In Herb’s day this would have been inconceivable. Far more likely would have been someone announcing in a joking tone: “We have to warn you all. There’s a passenger with a very short skirt so whatever you do don’t look!”

Posted by: Lochearn | Oct 12 2019 20:21 utc | 8

@Lochearn #10
I do wonder how the 737 MAX's troubles impact Southwest Airlines.
SWA pretty much is fully 737. This article from 2016 talks about SWA and Lion Air being the 2 largest customers for the 737 MAX, and that SWA was postponing some of its previous committed order even back then.
Note that Lion Air was one of the 737 MAX crashes...

Posted by: c1ue | Oct 12 2019 20:35 utc | 9

The slow-motion collapse of Boeing is due to the extraction of wealth from businesses and the middle class to financiers in the West. Boeing was the last American major manufacturing industry. No more. What is astonishing is the avoidance of looking at the reasons why except here at MofA. The collapse is visible from PG&E shutting off electricity to 2 million people in California to Boris Johnson’s Halloween. As far as I can tell, the desert approaches to Aramco’s oil facilities are still defenseless. If the Saudis don’t make peace with the Houthis, a global economic crash will result from the resumptions of missile attacks and the cutoff of oil from Saudi Arabia. But there has been no movement towards peace, re-instituting the rule of law, and jailing corporate criminals for manslaughter. Instead a Coup is underway to remove an elected President

Posted by: VietnamVet | Oct 12 2019 20:58 utc | 10

"That Boeing was not even able to simulate this is mind boggling."

This is "mind-boggling" only to a mind that is missing vital data. To wit: It was known that any use of the simulator to mimic physical demands required by a pilot to handle the trim-wheel to correct a situation would, of necessity, demonstrate pilot failure to handle situation. Such a demonstration would preclude issue FAA "air worthiness" certification.

Therefore, the simulator must not be upgraded to use the known factors of physical demands. If the physical demands were demonstrated, there would be actual records of pilot failures that could not be suppressed from regulatory exposure and resulting Boeing liability and exposure of the fraud. [Likewise, simulation tests were not conducted including full interaction of MCAS program with single or multiple false AOA signals.]

As it was, there was no record of actual failures prior to the crashes, that could not be handled by Public Relations confusion, intimidation, bribery, etc. [with emphasis on the "etc".]

The takeover of America by corporations has been accomplished, and their legal enforcer is the American government whose decision makers are real persons under control by said corporations [including trusts and foundations and other ersatz, fake, legal constructions].

That is what Mussolini meant by defining Fascism as merger of gov and corporations [which is only a handy English translation of his actual language]. And that is why he chose the symbol of the fasces. The fasces symbolized the power to judge, punish and kill that was vested in the Roman magistrate displaying the symbol.

Corporations [etc.] rule. Government is their legal enforcer.

[Why corporations, etc.? Because corporations are immortal; persons die.]

Posted by: chu teh | Oct 12 2019 21:09 utc | 11

Aren't the Iranians lucky that US embargoed the sale of these US aircrafts to Iran. Who new Trump was a Divine Intervention. By trumpeting sanctions against Iran, US saved the lives of Iranian passengers and undermined the Boeing’s bottom line. Strange how the Rota Fortunae turns.

Posted by: Amir | Oct 12 2019 21:12 utc | 12

So Boeing finally ends Chair of the Board-CEO duality by demoting Muilenburg to CEO only. This comes 17 years after the Sarbanes-Oxley act that, although it failed to mandate an independent Chair (even though that's considered obvious best practice in much of the world, including the UK), at least led many well-governed firms to give up on duality a decade or more ago.

But then Boeing hands the Board Chair role to... Dave Calhoun, who (a) is on the board to represent Blackstone, the squeeze-for-cash private equity fund that has played quite a role in putting Boeing into its investment tailspin, and (b) has been on the board since before the MAX debacle started (whereas Muilenburg can at least claim he was selling inflated weapon systems while the MAX was being designed).

If you own Boeing shares, the writing is on the wall: Sell before Blackstone itself, or some of the other PE vultures, either debt-load Boeing while stripping the cash or outright start to short the stock and take the whole company down on the back of employees, clients and ordinary shareholders.

The silver lining is that a Boeing collapse may be all the better, as far as aviation safety and progress are concerned.

Posted by: fx | Oct 12 2019 21:17 utc | 13

@ 12

Your point about the coup against Trump brings us back to last night’s quite heated discussion which some of us I think want to avoid – it’s a bit like the late Roman emperors. It's what happens when as in the legend of Ouroborus the serpent that begins to eat its own tail ie. eat up all its companies through private equity. Is Trump this or that hardly matters except maybe to postpone the Iran thing.

Posted by: Lochearn | Oct 12 2019 21:27 utc | 14

And in another mind-boggling feat of glossing over incompetence and conflicts of interest:

'SWAPA’s lawsuit mentions that in July 2016, Boeing’s 737 chief technical pilot, Mark Forkner, invited Southwest pilots to participate in training for the differences between the 737 MAX and the previous 737 model already in the airline’s fleet.
“Boeing’s differences training did not include instructions on MCAS and at no point during Boeing’s presentation did Boeing disclose the existence of MCAS or its associated risks,” the complaint states.
During the certification of the MAX, it was Forkner who suggested to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in an email that MCAS not be included in the pilot manual.
Forkner left Boeing in 2018 and is now a first officer with Southwest Airlines.
Last month, The Seattle Times reported that Forkner has refused to provide documents sought by federal prosecutors investigating the crashes, citing his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.'

That should make an interesting atmosphere in that Southwest cockpit...

Posted by: fx | Oct 12 2019 21:32 utc | 15

From b's article - "EASA has signaled, though, that it wants additional risk scenarios examined beyond those in the current testing plan, this person said.
Boeing engineers are frustrated EASA hasn’t specified what additional measures might allay its objections, according to people close to the discussions."

I cannot access the full WSJ article without subscribing, but going on the section quoted, unless EASA has stated the risk scenarios that need examining, the section quoted reads like the Europeans are squeezing Boeing out.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Oct 12 2019 21:41 utc | 16

Once denial no longer works, the predictable, and false, refrain will be ‘we’ can’t compete. My wish is that there is a pushback that drives home the real reason for the decline - the Financial Industrial Complex and Private Equity pirates, who have busted out once great companies like Boeing, with bad money driving out good people.

Posted by: Roy G | Oct 12 2019 21:42 utc | 17

..."Seeking an exception, Boeing relied on a special FAA rule to successfully argue that full compliance with the latest federal requirements would be “impractical” for the MAX and would cost too much."...

Financialized criminals in action. All criminals seek exception to the rule, and bend, twist, contort reality to suit themselves. How any one in authority, and knowledge that are still working for this zombie company, sleep at night! Well I guess when your monetary bed is feathered by crooked individuals you tend not to notice your involvement. Why is no one in jail? Ya, that's right, capitalism in action. Nothing is criminal except smoking a joint!

Posted by: Taffyboy | Oct 12 2019 21:49 utc | 18

chu teh | Oct 12 2019 21:09 utc | 13

As for "corporations [including trusts and foundations and other ersatz, fake, legal constructions]"...

Note the relevance of National Security.There are some 3-letter .gov agencies that operate globally and utterly covertly.

Now understand that MCAS is a software program that spreads beyond America; in fact, it is precisely as global as the sale of 737MAX. And the 737MAX was deliberately marketed as a global best-seller
MCAS is uniquely accessible and controlled by American entities.

Who or what could resist using such for their own quiet purposes? Including a one-off tweak, now and then, on another player on the grand chessboard? It would be so easy; and evidence-free like a disappearing ice-bullet.

Any corporate managers standing in the way could be easily brought under control by just smooth, patriotic-talk with only a hint of consequence for not being reasonable... or if that was too vague, more cooperative.

Anyone can understand the merger of corporations and .gov is a 2-way communication or deal or enterprise or path to riches or, in the most resistive case, an existential event?

Posted by: chu teh | Oct 12 2019 21:50 utc | 19

Boeing is just another Corporate America criminal company, not first and not the last one, it places profits above all other possible values, as human lives, ethics, moral and safety. This is a corruption that is deep inside Corporate America, I know from inside one large Corporation, I opted out for not agreeing with their MO.
In a normal and fair world, which we do not have, Boeing's leadership should be in jail now for intentional murder against hundreds of civilians in two 737MAX accidents, it only happened due to Boeing short cuts and bribery to FAA, this is intentional murder.
On top of that 737MAX was just one of many failed projects with short cuts, and the world is now only realizing the big issue it has on its hands, with possibly thousands of planes risking millions of people's lives every day.
Still, I do not think nothing will happen to Boeing, may a huge financial loss for few years, but nothing will change, it runs deep in Corporate America and it is linked to US MIC famous corruption.
Americans are taking too long to take their lives back on track, maybe too much fluorine in the water is removing the will to fight back these freaks in power.

Posted by: Canthama | Oct 12 2019 21:53 utc | 20

Yes @ 21 Private Equity

This is key. I spent a long time studying private equity. Maybe in the open forum tomorrow I can look over my research and make a contribution.

Posted by: Lochearn | Oct 12 2019 21:54 utc | 21

Thanks VietnamVet and fx.

Posted by: Kiza | Oct 12 2019 22:09 utc | 22

I would comment... But... Why Bother.

Later b.

Posted by: Masher1 | Oct 12 2019 22:33 utc | 23

@ 27

So why bother when you are lucky enough to be in this excellent website?

Posted by: Lochearn | Oct 12 2019 22:42 utc | 24

As pointed out - joe | Oct 12 2019 20:07 utc | 8

Not only Boing but also the FAA has been found to be lacking (negligent and incompitent).

I would say this is an prime example of us oligarchy- a result of neoliberal policy where private industry is expected to assume role of government (regulation and oversight) but then cuts corners to save money and then is indifferent to the impact on the public because after all who is there to appeal to.

Anyway fortunately US is out of commercial aircraft business for near future. Well except arms will be twisted.

Posted by: jared | Oct 12 2019 22:44 utc | 25

All the evidence points that Marx's theory is correct: capitalism is a historically specific system with an expiring date. This "expiring date" is determined, mainly, by the system's tendency of the profit rate to fall. I've already called it here the moment the first post about this Boeing debacle begun.

That means the "financialisation" -- as is being preached by the keynesians and their admirers (e.g. MMTers) -- is false: capitalism can never be predominantly financial. The proletarian class has never been bigger as a proportion to the world's population. The difference is that, nowadays, it is the middle classes of the First World countries who dominate the production of opinion on the internet, so, from their point of view, the world is indeed "dematerialised" or "financialised". That's empirically false.

The capitalists seek to go financial when the profits from their industry has been depressed to the point they either can't keep up with competition or straight up loss or stagnation. They then begin to gamble on future gains in order to prop up, at least on their books, their profit rates. That's exactly the case with Boeing.

They go financial -- and not expand or modernize their manufacturing -- because profit is the exploitation over investment differential: if you invest more, you exploit more, but you spend more. Marx's law demonstrates the proportion of the rise in investment over rise of exploitation is secularly crescent, hence, sooner or later, capital resorts to absolute exploitation (i.e. freeze/lower wages, firing workers, longer daily workdays) to try to slow down its own decline. Finance doesn't need huge investments because the profit is fictitious, so it also intensifies.

Therefore, Boeing is not doing all this because it is greedy, but because they are desperate.

And it looks like they are not alone: Apple -- whose financial department is already so huge it would be the third largest hedge fund if independent -- has launched a worst version of its smartphone for an exorbitant price (luxury markets also slow down the downfall of profit rate) and is launching its own monetary system (Apple card); Facebook is launching its own cryptocurrency.

All the while, California stays in the dark because of a natural disaster that didn't happen yet.

Posted by: vk | Oct 12 2019 23:17 utc | 26

Your celebration of the positive aspects of Southwest is well said. However, it also needs to be said: Herb Kelleher has blood on his hands. Lots of blood... here is the story...
In the 1980’s, Southwest was just getting started with flights between Dallas, San Antonio, and Houston. At that time, the Texas government conducted a study to determine if high-speed rail between the three cities was a good idea. Before the final positive recommendation was released, Kelleher the killer stepped in and bought off the participants, as high-speed rail would deliver service at half of Southwest’s price. This would destroy Southwest and leave Kelleher in millions of dollars of debt. After Kelleher bribed the government, the final report effectively killed the high-speed rail option. As a result, people who don’t fly between these cities are forced to drive. Guess what the carnage has been on the Interstates connecting these cities...
Kelleher is personally responsible for at least half of it: thousands of human deaths, tens of thousands of human injuries, tens of thousands of animals, enormous amounts of pollution, huge property damage, enormous road maintenance costs, catastrophic inability to escape Houston floods, many hundreds-of-millions of dollars in vehicle damage - shit, I can’t go on. Suffice to say, may Kelleher enjoy his frying in Hell. Good riddance, cunt.
Oh, and about that great Southwest customer service... at some point, Kelleher-the-dollar-whore must have taken a flight on Piedmont Airlines in the Carolinas before launching Southwest. He was no genius. He just saw how good an airline could be when he travelled Piedmont. After Piedmont was bought by USAirways (a catastrophe for frequent fliers), I suspect all the best Piedmont people went to Southwest - and gave Southwest such a good reputation. In those days, it was quite obvious who was former Piedmont and who was USAirways.
Kelleher is one of the most overrated executives in history. He was a drag on the economy of the entire United States, given what was possible had Texas gone with rail (and given the damages along the Interstates). Again, I hope he enjoys his sojourn in Hell.

Posted by: Robert | Oct 12 2019 23:54 utc | 27

Even with huge resistance by the US, Airbus must be smiling currently.
Boeing was taken over by the greedy capitalists, and they, as usual, put it in the trash for a few extra bucks.

Posted by: Duncan Idaho | Oct 13 2019 0:09 utc | 28

Microsoft, Boeing, Starbucks. There's a theme here. by: bjd @ 7 <= you can get MBS. out of this. ?

The collapse is visible from PG&E shutting off electricity to 2 million people in California to Boris Johnson’s Halloween. As far as I can tell, the desert approaches to Aramco’s oil facilities are still defenseless. If the Saudis don’t make peace with the Houthis, a global economic crash will result from the resumptions of missile attacks and the cutoff of oil from Saudi Arabia. But there has been no movement towards peace, re-instituting the rule of law, and jailing corporate criminals for manslaughter. Instead a Coup is underway to remove an elected President by: VietnamVet @ 12

I worked in the fibers industry during the 60s and I watched as money was taken from every place possible,
technical people were replaced by technicians. (just as is being done today with Nurse Practitioners and technical school
debt ridden 3 months of schooling grads now man the front lines of Medicine). Its a culture of don't bother me with safety or making the product work or delivery quality service, and its a policy endemic to the top brass (the elites as is probably the case at Boeing ).. No one can be Top Brass in a production environment in the USA culture today unless they fit into what I call the scum culture (the elite).. The can of worms that brought this about is wall street and its big daddy corrupt don't care about nobody but me firms. for years I have said they were intentionally collapsing the manufacturing and technical know how [Americas were so proud of] during the 50 -70s. It took 800 technical people to start that 1 mile long 316 Stainless steel yarn making plant up.. and to get it running smoothly, when I left 8 years later there were 12 professionals, 400 non-professional technicians running the joint. The process was sold to the Koreans and the fat cat stockholders live off the royalty.. But the Koreans got our technology for nothing.
I venture to say, no group of professionals trained in America could today start that process up.. it involves just about every technical expertise known to mankind. I guess Americans could hire the Koreans to come show us how to make it work?

So Boeing finally ends Chair of the Board-CEO duality by demoting Muilenburg to CEO only. This comes 17 years after the Sarbanes-Oxley act that, although it failed to mandate an independent Chair (even though that's considered obvious best practice in much of the world, including the UK), at least led many well-governed firms to give up on duality a decade or more ago. be fx @ 15.. <- no member of the culture can be blamed or punished..

Financialized criminals in action. by Taffyboy @ 22. I think i would opt for the label organized crime.

Jared at 29 points out that joe @ 8 said Not only Boeing but also the FAA has been found to be lacking (negligent and incompetent). jared @29 responds a prime example of US oligarchy <==They scream at every manufacturers meeting to deregulate .. eliminate product liability law suits . lie under oath at lawsuits layer and defendant alike hide from justice behind defense its for defense you cannot ask me those questions. nor can you or any court make me answer them.

Marx's theory is correct vk @30 <= maybe but what's happened to Americans since the USA became a hot bead of supporters of corporate criminals is not capitalism. its economic zionism.. take no prisoners, allow no one to compete, destroy everything that cannot be owned or controlled.. no one but no one is entitled to anything .. except the few. The difference between capitalism and economic zionism is free for all competition.. supervised by government and kept free of any thing approaching a monopoly.. vs the government creates the monopoly powers and gives them to the few so the few can deny all would be competition copyright, patent, and privatisation, financialization use war, sanctions and whatever to eliminate all competition.

Posted by: snake | Oct 13 2019 0:44 utc | 29

Therefore, Boeing is not doing all this because it is greedy, but because they are desperate.

Posted by: vk | Oct 12 2019 23:17 utc | 30

I disagree. Boeing spent 40 billions on share buybacks rather than spending part of the stash on developing new flying platforms. 737 was modified for more than 50 years, and it seems that in the last decade it exceeded the limitations of the original frame and some components. I understand that the computer/processor system was incapable of handling MACS as MACS should be designed, e.g. with proper sensor redundancies and proper user interface -- that requires many input streams, integrating warning into actionable summaries etc. Then there was a major logical contradiction of the approach: when pilots could not handle the plane, automatic MACS could take over, but in MACS itself was compromised, say, by faulty sensors, then the baton would be passed back to the pilot -- so was MACS needed or not? If needed, passing the control to the pilot would just confuse the blame, if not needed, why it was introduced? This setup makes some sense on a fighter plane, if the situation is too confusing, alerted crew can eject, but on a civilian plane...

Another story was that once MACS set the tail flaps wrongly while the plane was on cruising speed or close to it, reseting would require more force than the wheels rotated by hand could deliver. This is why the plane (and cars) need hydraulic systems, but something was wrong with the control of that system.

All of that can be traced to the method of making new planes by cobbling additions to an old one. For example, a new plane could be designed to be stable, and/or to have sufficiently powerful computers, hydraulics etc.

From the estimates I have read, developing plane by cobbling additions was something like 2-3 billion and perhaps 2-3 times more if a new platform was developed, so Boeing cut development costs by about 6 billion. As a result, the stock buy back would be 15% lower and the stock prices would fly a little less high than they did. To me, it looks like poor greed.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Oct 13 2019 1:06 utc | 30

@ B -

[I]n the hierarchy of safety solutions, mitigation by design should be prioritized over warnings and training/procedures.

Actually the design rule is more like:
1) Identity all hazards and degree of risk associated with those
2) Revise the design to eliminate hazards presenting high risk of injury etc.
3) ... [what you said]

So ideally they would design a plane that is fairly easy to fly maybe even self correcting (by aerodynamic performance not by banks of computers).
If there are good reasons why the plane cannot be made easy to fly even self correcting then the next step would be train the pilots - simply something like this think has a tendency to want to nose up when you are heavy on the throttle, if you experience this you should monitor for approach stall conditions and consider less throttle or counter with elevator (sorry know nothing about flying other than avoid ground contact).

But they didn't want to train instead they fabricated a mousetrap that was in itself a hazrd.

Posted by: jared | Oct 13 2019 1:14 utc | 31

b's continuing story of Boeing is a morality tale. Beautifully written and very simple.
It is a story that shows how utopian is the belief that capitalism can be regulated.
It cannot be.
You can try: legislatures may huff and puff, reformers may reform but inevitably capitalism shakes off regulation like a retriever jumping out of a lake.
The entire system is rotten. The only regulatory mechanisms that capitalists will accept are those imposed by the marketplace-the only legislature that they respect. But as Boeing so graphically demonstrates the marketplace leads to monopoly, which brooks no regulation, except those which it imposes.
If the marketplace were working, according to the fairy tales economists tell, there would not be a Boeing left in the sky. The company would be out of business and half of Congress, the Federal Regulators, the owners of the media and every economist of the Chicago school would be in jail awaiting execution.
It is one of the bitter ironies of the story that among those killed in the Ethiopian crash was one of Ralph Nader's close relatives.
Another story worth following is the GM strike and the whole story of current UAW negotiations the immediate context of which includes the massive transfer of money from the car companies to Union officials. The entire system is corrupt.
There are only two alternatives: living with the barbarism or replacing it with socialism. All the rest is gossip.

Posted by: bevin | Oct 13 2019 1:31 utc | 32

Does anybody think that these manifestations are typical of inherent systemic flaws in the corporate governmental structures coupled with behavioral abnormalities of individuals and groups of individuals involved in their operation and administration? Does anybody think that similar examples could be found in and throughout other industries that are governed and operated in the same way? Service industries? Medical? Pharmaceutical? Food production? Transportation? Automotive? Governmental? Military? Is this a tip of the iceberg sort of thing?

Posted by: Josh | Oct 13 2019 1:33 utc | 33

@ Josh who wrote
Does anybody think that similar examples could be found in and throughout other industries that are governed and operated in the same way? Service industries? Medical? Pharmaceutical? Food production? Transportation? Automotive? Governmental? Military? Is this a tip of the iceberg sort of thing?
Yes, the financialization meme permeates all services and industries, IMO

Examples from my own life are my healing of a Traumatic Brain Injury by neurofeedback/neuromodulation techniques that operate under a totally different paradigm than the current talk/drug based mental health system

Also I am now using for pain management a photobiomodulation unit (made in America) called a Medlight 630 PRO which represents disintermediation of the existing Big Pharma drug system and so is not supported by insurance in spite of being used successfully by NASA and the military speciality fighting units.....instead we have the opioid crisis.

Advances are not allowed because they would make some folks lose their lock on the money machine temporarily if not permanently.

Posted by: psychohistorian | Oct 13 2019 2:01 utc | 34

Great reporting..!

I will just add here that it's incredible that Boeing tried to pass of the MCAS as the same thing as 'runaway trim'...

Now just by way of explanation for those who may be unfamiliar with basic airmanship, the 'trim' of the horizontal stabilizer [its physical angle] on any airplane is what is used to cancel out any pressure on the control stick, either forward or back...

Flying at different speeds the airplane requires differing amounts of downforce from the tailplane...the purpose of which downforce is to balance the lift created by the wing, which tends to want to pitch the airplane nose down...therefore a downforce on the tail is require to teeter the nose back up and keep the airplane in balance...

In an airplane capable of flying at speeds from about 100 mph to 500 mph, this is not an easy problem and requires a quite elaborate mechanical or electronic control system, or some kind of hybrid...the point being to adjust the tailplane [aka horizontal stabilizer] for a neutral feel in the control stick at any speed in the flight envelope...that's called the trimmed condition.

In any case, problems with the trim can happen which will cause the tailplane to 'run away' from its desired neutral position...this could be due to an electrical fault in the system, since the tailplane trim [the angle at which it is set] is driven by an electric motor...

Or, importantly, it can be caused by aerodynamic forces, in which case it's an aerodynamic runaway...[the trim system has dual friction brakes, but those can fail]

Now here is why pilots are so gobsmacked by Boeing's chicanery...before MCAS there were two contact-type switches in the bottom of the control stick...when pulling back on the stick, that switch would open and cut electrical power to the trim...

So if it was an electrical runaway simply holding the stick stationary [as per the checklist] would bring that contact switch into play as the trim noses the airplane down...

With MCAS that switch at the base of the stick was disabled...

Now the pilot thinks it's an aerodynamic which point you don't want to pull back on the stick because it will only aggravate the situation...the force caused by the elevator 'flap' moving up [stick back] causes the nose of the tailplane to go up even more [it acts as a trim tab]...forcing the airplane into a steeper dive...

Now here is the key...if you have an aerodynamic runaway, you want to use the TRIM SWITCHES on the stick to trim opposite to the runaway...

If you cut the power, you may not be able to stop the aerodynamic runaway with your bare hands on those trim wheels...and if the plane gets all the way nose down, you're never going to budge those wheels...

The Ethiopian flight data recorder shows the pilots had exactly this desperation they turned the electrical cutout switches back on to trim with the stick switches...BUT, that only turned the MCAS back on again and nosed the plane down even more...

So it is incredible that Boeing was allowed by the FAA to at first even hide the existence of MCAS...and then later, after the first crash, to say just handle it like any runaway trim...

That's at the heart of the southwest pilots lawsuit...this is complete bullshit...

Another aspect of this is why isn't Trump firing the Transportation Secretary...and why hasn't the secretary fired his FAA chief...?

My prediction...nothing will be fixed properly...because it can't...THERE IS NO FIX

The MAX is a flying coffin due to the instability caused by those big new engines, which needs some kind of bandaid fix...and as crazy as it may sound, I expect Boeing will push through and get that deathtrap into the air again...

Folks, take your chances with this airplane at your own risk...

PS...and now we have the structural problems which is due to metal fatigue...this happened because the 737 is now twice its original weight and it is again practically impossible to just continue patching things up...and this applies to the NG as well...

Posted by: flankerbandit | Oct 13 2019 2:02 utc | 35

Anyone venture to guess how many hundreds of millions the CEO would get when hes fired? He should be in jail but in the US, people such as this gets a huge severance package just like the military getting medals for bombing weddings.

Posted by: Igor Bundy | Oct 13 2019 7:08 utc | 36

You have updated the article it seems, it would be good to put a small annotation to that effect.

Posted by: Igor Bundy | Oct 13 2019 7:08 utc | 40
Muilenburg is - just in my humble opinion - legally acting in gross neglect, and it should be possible to fire him on that basis with no severance pay. However I agree with you that it probably won't happen that way. In the event that Boeing gives him a large severance payout, it would be interesting if some small-time shareholder could initiate a class-action lawsuit against the Board (or against Boeing, or whatever) for damages resulting from the misuse of finances against the interests of shareholders.

Posted by: BM | Oct 13 2019 7:41 utc | 37

From the very first article in March I clearly stated my position that: (a) the 737MAX would never fly again, and (b) Boeing was finished, it would go bankrupt, it could not be saved.

Why was I so sure of this, when many others were saying otherwise? Because it was clear from the outset - from the article and from the comments including several from personal experience - that there very serious and fatal flaws including gross criminality in the entire top-level management of the corporation, combined with linked fatal problems and gross corruption and criminality in the FAA.

When you have that sort of situation, criminal negligence, criminal coverup, and criminal prioritisation of profits over the most basic safety never occurs in single incidents! When one such incident comes out, you can always be sure that there were plenty more where that came from. Especially so, when the top management acts with such gross dishonesty and opacity as was the case with Boeing from the outset of this incident.

Furthermore, it is a huge corporation with huge numbers of employees and former employees. When a company systematically treats its workforce badly, that is a lot of potential people with grudges who have damaging inside information - therefore it is certain there will be whistleblowers - both from hurt people bearing grudges against this or that, and from purely morally-acting people who want to do what they feel is their duty. Stuff comes out. A small trickle slowly grows. Some is not very important, but some is clear evidence of legal culpability in serious issues.

Thus, with every single development we have seen Boeing edge ever closer - slowly, step by step, but compellingly and inevitably - ever closer and closer to the endgame I declared above: (a) the 737MAX would never fly again, and (b) Boeing was finished, it would go bankrupt, it could not be saved.

Even though Boeing at this point is still relatively far from it's final desting, it cannot avoid that destiny. The problems are not limited to the passenger aircraft side but also the MIC side.

The cockups and criminality in sum total are so colossal, that salvation of Boeing through massive government intervention would be both political and economic suicide for the United States - apart from the colossal costs involved and the colossal legal liabilities, when coupled with the public image of such gross abuse of public safety, the impenetrable and unsurmountable technical problems of the 737MAX ghost, and the emerging range of problems of other aircraft in the 7x7 series, would make it impossible to retain the 7x7 series (and especially the 737 series) in the product line. Developing completely new aircraft would take too long, and in the intervening period the market position would be lost irretrievably to stronger competitors. (It is also questionable whether there are enough sufficiently competent engineers in the USA today).

If the US government were to force the bailout of Boeing and force the dangerous and improperly certified aircraft back in the air - even domestically (internationally would be impossible anyway), the gross criminality of that action in plain sight and the extreme disregard for public safety also in plain sight would so disrepute the US government that the complete collapse of the USA would be vastly accelerated.

After all, the flow of evidence of criminal culpability and the ever widening of the scandal will certainly not stop, and international regulators will certainly not allow these death traps to fly. Even US arms-twisting and blackmail of foreign especially EU regulators will not work, because too many liabilities are networked across different industries - insurance, pilots unions, passenger interest groups, airlines, manufacturers unions, victim litigation, etc - it will be impossible to reconcile, it will explode.

The USA/FAA/Boeing cannot escape from this vortex. It is like a black hole.

Posted by: BM | Oct 13 2019 8:35 utc | 38

bevin 33:

"There are only two alternatives: living with the barbarism or replacing it with socialism. All the rest is gossip."

This at least is one perfectly-cut gem of pure truth, in this whole discussion. Yet there are still millions of propaganda-bamboozled semi-literates in the Anglozionist empire who hear 'socialism' as a snarl-noise, devoid of any other meaning. Cheers bevin!

Posted by: Rhisiart Gwilym | Oct 13 2019 8:54 utc | 39

Josh @ 34:

Odd as your suggestion might sound to many barflies, it is actually spot on.

Across most industries, in many corporations you can find similar mindsets in the most senior managerial hierarchies. Let's face it, everyone uses the same accounting principles and methods, the same financial models, and these are all permeated by an outlook that considers short-term profit, measured in time periods of three months, to be more important than the medium-term or the long-term periods (themselves often measured in periods of eighteen months and three years respectively).

Indeed, there was a time in the 1980s and 1990s when everyone who was anyone in the corporate world had to get a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree. The knowledge and outlook you acquired in doing such a degree (the best universities to get such a degree were supposed to be Stanford University in California, Harvard or Massachusetts Institute of Technology) was supposed to be "transferable" across a range of industries, meaning that you could work in a company in one industry at the top or near-top level (where you are making major decisions determining the company's direction and shaping its culture) and then work in another company in another industry at the top level or near-top level, doing much the same.

So it's very likely what you suggest is at once a combination of systemic flaws in management hierarchies and the measuring tools used to determine whether a firm is doing well or not, in money terms, and a general cultural trend in which people were encouraged not to work from the bottom of the firm up to the top but rather to flit from one firm and one industry to another, spreading either their successes or, more likely, their blunders.

Posted by: Jen | Oct 13 2019 9:52 utc | 40

.."The cracks were discovered on high time aircraft which were torn down for conversion to freighters. The affected 737 types are NG only; the MAX and Classic have a different wing attachment design."...

Just out of morbid curiosity, does that mean that Boeing went with a new wing design for the NG only to revert back to the "old" design for the MAX?

Or does it mean that all three have different wing attachment designs: a "classic" wingbox, a "pickle fork" design for the NG, and Something Newer Again for the MAX?

The implications for Boeing if it is the former might be rather profound, if not downright sinister.

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Oct 13 2019 10:25 utc | 41

Does anybody think that these manifestations are typical of inherent systemic flaws in the corporate governmental structures coupled with behavioral abnormalities of individuals and groups of individuals involved in their operation and administration? Does anybody think that similar examples could be found in and throughout other industries that are governed and operated in the same way? Service industries? Medical? Pharmaceutical? Food production? Transportation? Automotive? Governmental? Military? Is this a tip of the iceberg sort of thing? by: Josh @ 34
<==I am nobody but my answer is yes, see snake at 30 .. also..
There is a giant difference in the corporate culture of the 50s and 60s vs today.. and its not just in America its in every intelligence interconnected, MSM news coordinated, armed human container ( nation state ) in the modern world. Its endemic and systemic.. which means it has both been planned and is somewhere centrally coordinated.. I suspect the intelligence services.. interconnect with the book publishers and the university:government:corporate interconnect system.. Some clues have already come out of the sex scandal investigations. The importance of those sex investigations is that they seem to be leading to the connection points which allow to link the scoundrels with the money that produces, uses and engineers into our societies amoral philosophies and controlled behavioral-isms.
This lowest level of morality coupled to the highest level of corruption environment<= produces often non functional product engineering and delivers unacceptable levels of service seems to have been (is) designed into our societies by someone and that someone needs to be identified if ever we humans are going to find peace among the nations of the world. There is so much that can be done to improve the human lot, if ever humanity could yank itself free of the nation state system. The minds of the educated working together interactively on the same problems all at once is something to strive for, but today the few educated minds are rthe private property of the corporate world. Denying people education and killing them in wars seem to be one way they deny competition. Today's technology created by educated minds are or have been encapsulated into the criminal, corrupt corporate we own it all culture..and the corporations are using it to deny competition.
Its the driving support for that culture which needs to be identified and dealt with.

Posted by: snake | Oct 13 2019 10:45 utc | 42

I studied books like "in search of excellence" and "design for the real world". Lucky to attend a three day workshop with Victor Papaneck and researched aspects of manufacturing and IT innovation. The precipitous fall of manufacturing in the USA is simply apalling. If it isn't lead in the water then it must be Chicago School economic criminals. I was astounded at manufacturing in Finland and they appear to have sustained their impetus for constant improvement.

As for Boeing and it's directors and shareholders, they should be surcharged for human and corporate neglect. Indeed all elected officials should be subject to surcharge in to pay for their failures that lead to personal or financial injury whether in a socialist or capitalist system. They must have real skin in the game.

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Oct 13 2019 11:18 utc | 43

Oh, poor Boeing! How will this military industrial complex component and imperialist capitalist tool ever survive?!? Surely the Amerikastani government will never stoop do low as to order the whistleblowers and naysayers silenced, and will not armtwist vassal governments to compel their airlines to begin flying and buying its planes, no matter how unsafe, right?


Posted by: Biswapriya Purkayast | Oct 13 2019 11:28 utc | 44

@ BM

...the 737MAX would never fly again...

You make some very good points, but I don't see it happening.

I had thought initially that this would have to be the end of the MAX...two crashes in quick succession caused by a gross airplane design defect would, in another era, spell exactly that...the end [as with the de Havilland Comet in the '50s].

The first sign that the MAX would be taken out of service would have been the firing of the FAA chief...this has not happened, despite the incredible corruption of this vital regulatory agency.

This tells me that Boeing will be allowed to get this thing back in the air. It's a political life and death situation that goes way beyond Boeing...this company is the flag-bearer of the mighty US will not be permitted to go down...

To be fair, there is no need for Boeing to disappear [and that's not realistic anyway].

For instance the triple seven is a GREAT AIRPLANE...the queen of the skies, with an amazing safety record. Out of more than 1,600 flying for nearly 25 years there have only been seven hull losses...and two of those were ground incidents while the plane was not flying...

Two were the mysterious MH370 crash, and the infamous MH17 shootdown by almost certainly Ukrainian Nazis...[but blamed on Donbass 'rebels' and Russia by a corrupt western power establishment].

The only case where passengers died in an in-flight mishap of the conventional kind was during an Asiana landing in San Fran in 2013 where the crew undershot the runway [pilot error no question].

Only three passengers died because they weren't wearing their seat belts as they were instructed to do before any landing, and were thrown clear of the aircraft...everyone else was evacuated...

Those were the first fatalities in the triple seven, after 18 years in can't ask for much more than that.

But let's look for a moment at MH17...this complete fake 'investigation' should give us all a clue about the ruling elite's disregard for ordinary folks and the flying public...they're not interested in the truth or in any kind of moral principles...

The goal has been a political campaign against Russia, using a civil aviation tragedy as a weapon...this is the level of cynicism we have in the west today.

I will also not that the triple seven was designed more than a quarter century ago, starting in fact while the Soviet Union was still around...which served to keep a check on the worst instincts of the capitalist class...and before the west descended into its moral morass.

Now we have the JATR [Joint Authorities Technical Review] which is an ad-hoc body without any legal authority is comprised of aviation experts and their report is calling for 'better' regulatory oversight...

The preliminary NTSB report is milquetoast...and the NTSB has a long record of blaming pilots and shielding manufacturers...this state of affairs didn't just happen's been a long time in the making.

So this squawking from this JATR amounts to verbiage and nothing I said, nothing is going to change because there is too much at stake for the entire imperialist system...

In the bigger context, the passenger jet business has been deeply politicized for decades...airline travel is a key global industry and the US [and Europe too] are now doing everything possible to put a stick in the spokes of a resurgent Russian civil aircraft industry because they don't want the competition.

Which competition incidentally is exactly what the flying public needs in order to keep the aviation oligarchs honest.

Posted by: flankerbandit | Oct 13 2019 11:37 utc | 45

It is not clear yet what causes the cracks in the forged aluminum part. Many older NG were retrofitted with winglets on the tips of their wings

my take: Cyclical loads need to surpass a certain threshold before they cause crack propagation. Typically dynamic loads caused by slightly altered aerodynamics (such as winglets) are not so significant, and the energy is dissipated along the wingspan. I think its more a strutural issue emanating from take off or landing loads, which are large impact forces on the structure. The crack is in the transition from the rigid forged pickle to the more elastic strap. Such transitions from stiff to elastic members cause local stress peaks, and become problematic when the material is unable to redistribute local excess stresses through plastification.

Posted by: Comp | Oct 13 2019 12:05 utc | 46

I wonder just how much % of US GDP is comprised of parasitic financial engineering. Going by healthcare costs versus other countries: At least half.

Posted by: JW | Oct 13 2019 12:14 utc | 47

You know what really is a pain in the ass for Boeing? It's the civilian airliner branch. Boeing should get rid of it. Simply not profitable enough. Consider Boeing's war department, which is doing SO good! In fact, US companies should restrict themselves to war activities, there's far more profit to be made and they're doing it SO good. Plus there is much less (no?) red-tape in those "national security" activities. The real matter is: as far as war is NOT concerned, US civilian companies should close shop. Or at the very least work with one or the other of the 17 US intelligence agencies. US civilians should emigrate to countries where civilian product know-how is still valued. The US would then be free to be a full-fledged military state.
My modest contribution...
What!? You tell me US war products are much overrated as well?!
Then I don't know what they got to do... A regime change in the US maybe?...

Posted by: Red Corvair | Oct 13 2019 12:27 utc | 48

"Therefore, Boeing is not doing all this because it is greedy, but because they are desperate."

The rest of the post by vk @27 explains it concisely, but this is the key point.

Is it key because it absolves the capitalist elites of the moral defect of greed? No, this point is crucial because it demonstrates that the problem with late stage capitalism is not one of moral decline but rather is endemic; systemic. The problem is a structural component of capitalism.

Is Dennis Muilenburg stupid or evil? Of course not. Well, maybe he is sorta evil, but that is not the problem with Boeing. It's not like Muilenburg would be a serial murderer lurking in dark places waiting for victims to pass by if he were just a Walmart door greeter by trade rather than Boeing's CEO. He's just trying to do his job, which is to quarter-by-quarter improve Boeing's profitability. Sadly for all whose livelihoods depend upon capitalism that is getting harder, if not downright impossible, to do at this stage of the game. Costs/corners must be cut and income streams refined and streamlined. The Market (hallowed be Its name) will not be satisfied with piddling 1% to 2% returns, but the aircraft marketplace is saturated, and is poised to get even more saturated as UAC and COMAC start trying to muscle in with their MC-21 and C919. Sure, Boeing should be designing new planes, but that takes many years of investment before showing any returns and The Market (hallowed be Its name) demand satisfaction now. There can be no delaying of gratification for The Market (hallowed be Its name).

It is The Market (hallowed be Its name) that has a need for greed. Business leaders just try to satisfy it. This is important because focusing upon the greediness of any individuals cannot solve the problems exemplified by Boeing. Trying to tame the greediness built right into the most sacred component of the capitalist economy, on the other hand, leaves you with something that is not capitalism. You cannot make The Market (hallowed be Its name) function without greed, and your best attempts to reorganize The Market (hallowed be Its name) to operate around humanistic imperatives will result in something that looks a lot like socialism.

Posted by: William Gruff | Oct 13 2019 12:28 utc | 49

@30 Snake no group of professionals trained in America could today start that process up. many of us are still around. I recently came back to the US in 2014. Spent years working in China. The technology transfer was amazing. Chinese are good people to work with too. I asked an older(than me... i'm old now) engineer if he thought this was a good idea. He told me to read Antony Sutton. So I did. It is amazing. It seems like they wanted to destroy the US on purpose. In China the government pays large manufacturing industry costs for utilities infrastructure and hook up. Free... all on the government. No taxes for 7 years. Half taxes for 7 years. They want it. The people want it. In the US it is "lean manufacturing". The old plants are maintained on a shoe string budget. Capital spending is sparse. The top positions are dominated by finance people where in China it is mostly engineers. The difference is obvious. I think the plan was to have China build everything with the US finance scum skimming a large share of the profits. The Chinese had other plans/ambitions and now the conflict. I think the US is much weaker than during the cold war. I think the US loses the battle this time around. The USA will be the one to collapse. It is much deserved. Hopefully the sociopaths and psycopaths who run the country don't throw a tantrum and blow us all up.

Posted by: Goldhoarder | Oct 13 2019 13:06 utc | 50

I wonder what role Boeing’s past chairman Jim McNerney has played in destroying a once great company like Boeing. He comes from GE, another once great US company that has been ruined by a type of management that has deemphasized a company’s fundamental technical strength in favor of marketing, and short term money making. The scary question is, to how many other great, technically oriented US companies has GE “exported” its brand of management? It is especially scary because the effect will become visible provably a decade or so after the damage starts.

Posted by: Nathan Mulcahy | Oct 13 2019 14:24 utc | 51

For some 30 years after WW2, capitalism was successfully regulated, and people in the West led decent lives. Capitalists allowed this because of the Communist threat.

Today, there is once again a threat, a Chinese threat, a threat of contagion from a system whose success is increasingly apparent. Don't capitalists now have the same reasons their ancestors had to allow a regulation of capitalism?

Posted by: lysias | Oct 13 2019 14:27 utc | 52

@ Posted by: Goldhoarder | Oct 13 2019 13:06 utc | 51

That is not a theory, that's exactly what happened and designed.

Mao correctly diagnosed that, in late stage of capitalism, it was the role of socialism to do the basic historic role of early stage capitalism in the Third World. Marx stated that a system doesn't fall before all of its possibilities are depleted. It is only when capitalism is completely developed that socialism can be built. This is public knowledge, Mao didn't hide his theory from anybody (on the contrary, he publicized it in China the most he could). That was also the general consensus of the CCP and still is today.

After the fall of Bretton Woods (1971), Nixon created the petrodollar and, after the Sino-Soviet schism (1969), he drew a hedge in the socialist world by dealing a preferred nation deal with China in 1972. That helped China break the capitalist siege at the height of the Cold War and use capitalist resources to industrialize itself. At the time, the Americans thought China's high growth rates were only due to its immense population; the USA was also prospering, so they didn't bother to continue to outsource its manufacturing to the Chinese. The end of the 70s was also the beginning of an era were it was widely believed in the First World that the future of the working classes would be one of "smart jobs", i.e. highly paid, low intensity, low stress, with excellent workplace conditions; they would walk in green, polution-free cities, while the Third World would to the dirty, but necessary, jobs like manufacturing and agriculture.

That's the difference beteween China and India. China had a socialist revolution, and had a long-term plan of development of the nation while India didn't. India fell for the siren song of liberalism and let the capitalists loose to exploit their people, land and infrastructure at will. End result is that, today, India's GDP is only USD 2.8 trillion; while China's is USD 14 trillion; India today must be compared to Brazil (GDP: USD 1.8 trillion) instead of China. In 1975, Brazil and China had roughly the same GDP (with Brazil, obviously, having a much higher GDP per capita); they followed polar opposite strategies of development: nowadays, the Chinese GDP is almost 10x bigger and its average wage per hour is double. That means the Brazilians cannot even play the sweatshop card anymore.

Posted by: vk | Oct 13 2019 14:28 utc | 53

flakerbandit @36 Flying at different speeds the airplane requires differing amounts of downforce from the tailplane...the purpose of which downforce is to balance the lift created by the wing, which tends to want to pitch the airplane nose down...therefore a downforce on the tail is require to teeter the nose back up and keep the airplane in balance...

I may be wrong but this sounds backwards to me. The nose is always pitched slightly upwards in order to generate sufficient lift to counteract gravitation. The higher the speed, the less pitch required. In fact a min. pitch is even integrated into the design. This constant pitch constitutes the form drag. It also leads to the nose wanting to perpetually move upwards, eventually leading to stall. This must be aerodynamically countered using the joystick by moving the wing flaps down, or causing the tail force upwards, also by moving the tail flaps down. The trim obviates this perpetual counteraction with the joystick by resetting the tail flaps in a constant position to offset the downward force, freeing the joystick. It needs to be readjusted for changed speeds

Posted by: diDre | Oct 13 2019 14:30 utc | 54

"how many other great, technically oriented US companies has GE “exported” its brand of management? It is especially scary because the effect will become visible provably a decade or so after the damage starts.

@ Nathan Mulcahy | Oct 13 2019 14:24 utc | 52

Before Boeing, McNerney raped and pillaged 3M. Thankfully, 3M is a broader-based company and the sane people of Minneapolis (not the coasts crowd) righted the ship.

The good news is that with GE trading below 1/6 of its high - which came in 2000! - and "Neutron Jack" Welsh's former deputies as dis-reputed as he has become, GE won't be such an incubator of slash-and-burners that spread like wees through industrial America.

The bad news is that they have been replaced by private equity scroundels like Dave Calhoun, who use the board to do their raping and pillaging.

Posted by: fx | Oct 13 2019 14:40 utc | 55

@ Goldhoarder | Oct 13 2019 13:06 utc | 51

Excellent point and summary.
But it's not that U.S. government are trying to destroy country it is rather that they were effectively influenced to look the other way.

Some people are becoming very wealth at the expense of the nation - zombie nation.

I am in manufacturing plants around the country on regular basis - US is non competitive in infrastructure and talent. And I will refrain from discussing experiences on military projects - working for vendor (not classified stuff).

Only US has going for it is lots of room for improvement.

Posted by: jared | Oct 13 2019 16:15 utc | 56

@ diDre...

Oh brother...sorry to sound dismissive but you are possibly confusing readers here...everything you said is total nonsense.

I say that as an aeronautical engineer and professional pilot who has spent most of my career in flight testing of military and commercial aircraft...

The wing has a NEGATIVE pitching moment which increases with lift...that means that as more lift is produced the more the airplane wants to nose down.

This translates as increasing force on the stick [aka 'yoke'] as the pilot pulls back to nose the airplane up.

He is fighting against the increasing pitching moment...if he lets go of the stick the airplane will nose back down and settle into its trimmed condition.

Pulling the nose up like this is how you slow the aircraft down...the extra lift produces more lift-induced drag...and also more parasitic drag, by exposing a greater section area of the wing and fuselage to the airstream...think of holding your hand outside the window of your car on the highway...if you hold it flat [palm down] there is much less air resistance than if you hold your palm perpendicular to your direction of travel.

If you want the aircraft to fly slow, you then set the pitch attitude to such a more nose-up configuration...and then you use trim to trim out the control the pressure it takes to hold the stick back and keep the nose up like that...

That's what trim is for, like I said earlier, so you can take your hands off the stick at any flying speed you have set...and that's also why a different trim angle is needed at different speeds.

In straight and level unaccelerated flight, the forces and moments acting on the flight vehicle must be in equilibruim...that means that lift must equal weight and thrust must equal drag.

The moments must also be in equilibrium. That means the nose-down moment that is created by the wing lift must be balanced by a downforce on the tail, which like I said teeters the nose up about the center of gravity...

Think of a fulcrum point like a teeter totter...the CG is the fulcrum point...and one side of the totter is very short but has a big person sitting on it...while the other is very long and has a small person sitting on it...they are both in equilibrium and the totter is exactly horizontal.

The tail is much smaller but is a long distance from the CG...which gives it a long lever arm...the wing lift [technically called the neutral point, which is the spot where all lift forces act, just as CG is the spot where the total weight acts] is generally about half way back along the wing chord...and is a very short way ahead of the CG...

So just like the tetter totter, we have a very big wing lift and nose down pitching moment...balanced by a quite small tail force on a long lever arm.

For longitudinal stability the neutral point is placed ahead of the CG by a small amount...this is called the stability margin. [In fighter aircraft that have fly by wire, the NP is actually behind the CG, making for an unstable but very responsive aircraft...the computer provides the stability by constant corrections, unnoticed by the pilot]

It's disappointing to see that when I try to elucidate a technical point that some people who obviously know absolutely nothing about the subject will want to speak up without even taking the time to try to learn some basics.

Posted by: flankerbandit | Oct 13 2019 17:10 utc | 57

- Now I understand why the Trump administration wants to impose import tariffs on airbus planes. Trump (/Boeing) wants to protect Boeing(/itself).

Posted by: Willy2 | Oct 13 2019 17:31 utc | 58

Have to correct myself there on the relationship between the neutral point and the CG...the CG must be AHEAD of the neutral point, for positive static stability...not the other way around...

Posted by: flankerbandit | Oct 13 2019 17:45 utc | 59

What homegrown talent can there be in US manufacturing, when the average American couldn't be bothered to grasp basic STEM skills, while the intellectuals who do would rather join finance, healthcare and law etc where there's a lot more money to be made for them in these sectors with massive rent seeking activity?

Posted by: JW | Oct 13 2019 18:07 utc | 60

@ Posted by: flankerbandit | Oct 13 2019 17:10 utc | 58

> It's disappointing to see that when I try to elucidate a technical point
> that some people who obviously know absolutely nothing about the subject
> will want to speak up without even taking the time to try to learn some
> basics.

As a scientist, get used to it... it never ends. Even in the anti-intellectual USA where people have little interest in science, everyone thinks they're the expert.

Posted by: AshenLight | Oct 13 2019 18:10 utc | 61

@ AshenLight...How true...

I spent a good deal of time working overseas and saw much less of this kind of silliness among laypeople.

Posted by: flankerbandit | Oct 13 2019 18:20 utc | 62

You are wrong about one thing. There is probably good reason for the engineer's frustration. It sounds like the Europeans are pulling a stock government stunt - vague demanding more testing. The Boeing engineers aren't asking the EASA to solve their problems. They think they have solved their problems. The role of the government in this case to say yes, they are solved or no, they are not [AND HERE's why]. At issue here will be the definition of when you've demonstrated compliance with the regulation. Sometimes it's easy - MIL-H-5440 has a requirement that all hydraulic lines less than a 1/2" from fixed structure shall be secured with stand offs (this is in there to prevent another aircraft accident like the one that killed Knute Rockne). Verifying that requirement is easy. Look at the drawings/inspect the aircraft. If, on the other hand, the requirement is that the pilot shall always be able to trim the aircraft to neutral flight throughout all portions of the aircraft's normal flight envelope without excessive force, how do you test for that requirement? I know how it's done - by picking some number of points in the envelope where the loading is expected to be the worst. You can't test every point. And it's always possible for an overseer to say, well, I think you need to look at more points. (Which ones?)

Posted by: Jeff | Oct 13 2019 18:50 utc | 63

"It is not clear yet what causes the cracks in the forged aluminum part. Many older NG were retrofitted with winglets on the tips of their wings. These may have led to unforeseen loads or vibrations. It is possible that some of the younger 737 NG airplanes have a similar problem."

Have older 737 series been retrofitted with winglets? I have seen pictures of the 500 series with winglets.

Posted by: Tom | Oct 13 2019 19:12 utc | 64

@ jeff 64

Oh my...another wannabe 'expert'...

Do you have ANY experience or credentials in the field of aircraft flight testing and certification..?

Do you know what CFR14 Part 25 means..?

Those are the US regulations for transport category aircraft...they are comprehensive, running to hundreds of pages of rules.

Boeing was able to convince the FAA to waive a lot of these seen in this document.

These have to do with crew alerts that are REQUIRED and on the books, but Boeing got a free pass.

It's clear to me you have no idea what you are talking about...the European regulators have asked specific questions about how this MCAS is supposed to be fixed.

Boeing has not given any answers.

As someone who has many hours as a flight test engineer and test pilot working on aircraft certification I know how the process works...your comments about trimming and testing for trimming are ridiculous.

As I have already explained here, this has nothing to do with conventional has to do with the fact that MCAS uses the trim system to patch over an AERODYNAMIC INSTABILITY at high angles of attack.

I have already explained this before. One requirement for handling qualities that test pilots test for is a linear increase of stick force needed to nose the plane up.

With the MAX, that does not happen at high alpha because the engine nacelles mounted far forward start making lift at high alpha, thus lessening the control stick force required by the pilot.


Thus MCAS was slapped on to nose the plane down in order to provide the missing stick's like trimming nose down, which will increase the force the pilot needs to apply to hold stick back.

In flight test, it was found that the original MCAS authority was NOT ENOUGH to fix this handling quality issue...thus the authority was increased four-fold and also made to repeat every few seconds.

This tells me as a professional that the rating the MAX got from the test pilots was quite low on the Cooper-Harper scale for handling qualities.

Now the fix is supposed to be to decrease the MCAS authority to something presumably resembling the original 'lite' version...

Which brings us right back to the problem of the airplane not meeting the handling qualities criteria...


The Europeans know it and every professional test pilot and engineer knows it.

That's why Boeing is playing these games.

Your input is ridiculous on every level.

Posted by: flankerbandit | Oct 13 2019 19:21 utc | 65

After Boeing commits suicide through incompetence and negligence, we can get to work on Lockheed.
With a bit of patience, the entire American military industrial congressional complex may fail, enhancing the world's security.

Posted by: Vonu | Oct 13 2019 21:06 utc | 66


Thanks for putting in your comments here. My own experience compared to working up and testing a large commercial aircraft is very small time. I have watched media and commentators always quick to blame the pilots when there is a crash. I ended up designing, building, test flying, and then clocking up a lot of hours in my own ultralight whirlybird, so if anything went wrong, there was only myself to blame. Commercial pilot I feel is a different game not only to what I did but also the test pilots that are involved in the building and testing of aircraft.

For pilots that did not know mcas existed or the full extent of how it functioned, the boeing max was a death trap. But other aircraft crashes in the past, aways the media kicks off with pilot error or pilot suicide ect when in nearly all cases it turns out there was some type of aircraft malfunction.
I always flew with the wind in my face and visual reference. For a pilot flying on instruments, whos job and experience is to fly from point A to point B in straight and level flight, always well within the aircrafts limitations, quickly making the correct decision when something goes wrong and the instruments are not functioning correctly would be a difficult thing.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Oct 13 2019 23:38 utc | 67

@flankerbandit 66
"In flight test, it was found that the original MCAS authority was NOT ENOUGH to fix this handling quality issue...thus the authority was increased four-fold and also made to repeat every few seconds.
Now the fix is supposed to be to decrease the MCAS authority to something presumably resembling the original 'lite' version."

I was one of the people who suggested originally that what is happening now is what must happen, but only as an absolute minimum. This is because if I have to take chances, I would rather take chances that my pilot wants to preserve his own life then trust someone who is not on the plane and who decided to take control away from the pilot through jumbled code and faulty sensors (and then hidden this from the pilot).

This rot in Boeing comes from an interplay between the greedy management, now incompetent engineers and deeply corrupt regulators and the US Government superstructure (no-one getting even fired for causing hundreds of deaths).

The real, proper, reliable solution, of course, is to redesign the plane completely to ensure full dynamic stability with specific motors. This means that 737MAX should never fly again in any normal society. Whichever government (through its regulator) allows this plane to fly again is clearly and deliberately breaching the social contract with its citizens.

Posted by: Kiza | Oct 13 2019 23:58 utc | 68

@ Peter AU1

Thanks for your input sounds like you designed and built a gyroplane or perhaps a light helo...well done!

I have a few friends that have built their own aircraft projects over the years, mostly from kits.

I've been fiddling with a design of my own that I would like to eventually build, and now that I am semi-retired [LOL] I may just actually get around to it.

The cost of a store-bought small airplane is out of reach for most regular folks...and what you get for your money is a terrible value proposition...that's why so many people are building their own...I think in the US more homebuilts are registered [by far] than newly built light aircraft.

I agree with you about the 'blame the pilot' game...I have become quite cynical about the NTSB over the years because I see them protecting the manufacturers. This is a shame because it used to be a great organization that didn't pull punches. Hopefully they will get back on track.

From the NTSB report...

Although the NTSB’s work in this area is ongoing, based on preliminary information, we are concerned that the accident pilot responses to the unintended MCAS operation were not consistent with the underlying assumptions about pilot recognition and response that Boeing used, based on FAA guidance, for flight control system functional hazard assessments, including for MCAS, as part of the 737 MAX design.

That's a good start, but it's not the major problem, in my view.

The big problem here is that the Ethiopian crash happened after the existence of MCAS was revealed, and the FAA issued an Airworthiness Directive about how to deal with it, which was to make sure to use those trim-cutout stated in the checklist for ordinary runaway trim.

Well that turned out to be insane...because the Ethiopian crew did just that, and crashed anyway. It was simply impossible to recover that airplane at that low a height when the MCAS nosed it over. It was a death sentence.

I and others had stated that in these situations that the checklist is not adequate at all. A proper emergency procedure needs to be put in place that is going to actually give pilots a chance at low altitudes.

This would also entail a switch to shut off MCAS, while leaving the electric trim on. This is the only way you are going to have a chance save an airplane that has a malfunctioning MCAS down low.

If you have enough height there is what used to be called a yo-yo maneuver, or what Boeing calls a 'roller-coaster'...where you first need to unload the tailplane by pointing the plane even more nose down, so that you can free up the trim wheels and manually trim back.

Only problem is that this takes several thousand feet of altitude. This was proved in the sim after the flight data from Ethiopian was retrieved...

Some more info on this site...

I really don't see how they are going to solve this problem if it occurs at low height where you just don't have room to do these kinds of maneuvers...and there is no procedure to quickly identify a malfunctioning MCAS and shut it off.

There actually exists a so-called 'trim override' switch on the back of the center console...this allows you to override the cutout switches in the base of the control stick that I mentioned previously.

The use of this allows the pilot to use both the elevator by pulling the stick back and the electric trim at the same time.

But I see nothing happening in terms of a new emergency procedure. Even that would entail enough changes to cost both Boeing and the airlines money.

And that's what it's all about, money. The airlines are just as bad in this regard. After all Boeing sold them the MAX on the basis of not having to spend any money on retraining existing 737 pilots.

The whole thing makes me sick.

Posted by: flankerbandit | Oct 14 2019 0:58 utc | 69

Incidentally, here's a very good article from Dominic Gates in the Seattle Times with some very good illustrations that show what is going on.

Why Boeing’s emergency directions may have failed to save 737 MAX

Like I said those existing procedures are worth diddly and were a death sentence to the Ethiopian flight.

At Kiza...everybody agrees that the MAX should never fly again, but I just don't see it. Like anybody in our ruling elite gives a flying hoot about 'social contracts'...

Posted by: flankerbandit | Oct 14 2019 1:07 utc | 70


Gyro. I preferred the rotary wing for what I was doing which was mustering cattle sheep and goats.
Rotary wing is much better in turbulence, plus it can come down in vertical decent whereas a fixed wing stalls. I originally bought a homebuilt machine which I began modifying after about 200 hours.
At 3000 hrs I built a new airframe to my design and incorporated my previous mods. did 2000 hours with that setup until health issues prevented me from flying. Most of those hours were just above tree tops or down amongst the trees and scrub.
I had lightened trim pressure until it was virtually non existant so it couldn't be trimmed to fly hands free in straight and level flight, but when working feral stock, I could through it around for several hours without my arm feeling like it was about to fall off.

When I look at commercial aircraft through, there job is to transport passengers or cargo safely from point A to point B.
These aircraft should be stable in all parts of the flight envelope. Mcas as software patch for an aerodynamic or engineering design problem ... the angle of attack allowed in the flight envelope for the aircraft should have been decreased, and if limiting AoA made the aircraft unsafe to fly then design needed to be changed.
Boeing, FAA, NTSB .. complacency and rot throughout the system.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Oct 14 2019 1:50 utc | 71


I guess the reason I think about some of this is that back when I was flying, a few people suggested I build aircraft to sell. I would have liked building them, but I did not want the responsibility that accompanies this.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Oct 14 2019 1:59 utc | 72

Peter...thanks for that great story.

Five thousand hours in a gyro...and herding livestock no that is not only impressive but sounds like a lot of fun.

I love low and slow flying...but it comes with its own dangers and is a demanding skill set in its own right.

You're right about the gyro and its ability to handle turbulence...also very safe because that rotary wing cannot actually stall, and you can autorotate straight down like you said.

I know a few gyro pilots, but haven't been up in one...would love to give it a go...

As I said I am very skeptical of Boeing's supposed 'fix'...if another MAX goes down then I think that would be the end of it...but that's a heck of a price to pay.

Posted by: flankerbandit | Oct 14 2019 2:10 utc | 73


Like a dirt bike in the sky. The flying, especially working feral stock was the best time of my life. A bit boring sometimes mustering sheep. I don't think I ever went up just for a joy flight or recreation. Mustering pilots in gyro's had about the same fatality rate as the R-22 ag pilots per hours flown, though when I was working alongside choppers for a couple of years, they would call my machine a flying coffin. The recreation crowd in gyro's though seemed to fall out of the sky like flys.
If you get into them, be wary of what is taught, especially the rotor system as this is not very well understood. I had to dump what I had been taught about them and start from scratch to understand the flex and forces that were occuring in the rotors during flight, and with that I was able to systematically eliminate all stick shake.
Rules and regs were brought into the game just before I got into it. I did about twelve hours with an instructor who knew what he was talking about. Spent most afternoons though just having a beer and talking to him and I guess a lot of what he talked about then kept me alive for the first 1000 hrs or so. He had been in ground maintenance in the airforce and got into the gyros in their earliest days.
Lot of the so called instructors I have seen since, minimum requirement now 200 hrs for instructor ticket ... the so called tech advisors that are supposed to sign off on any mods ...
I guess rules and regs would differ from country to country, but I never bothered with them as I didn't fly into any controlled airspace or land at airports. Had a pilots ticket but after the first year never bothered with rego.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Oct 14 2019 3:27 utc | 74

I remember from a number of years ago reading about the early airlines that kicked off after the WWI and more so after WWII. Many of the airforce or fighter pilots, although they could react very well to an emergency situation, it was found were not considered suitable - or of the right mindset for flying passenger aircraft. Perhaps because they were willing to take risks.. a long time since I read about it but I think that was the issue.

With this in mind, a commercial aircraft needs to be designed around the capabilities and weak points of the character types best suited to that style of aviation. I guess this is what has always bugged me when putting an aircraft crash down to pilot error or saying in hindsight this or that pilot could have made the right decision in the given situation and saved the aircraft.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Oct 14 2019 4:18 utc | 75

I did not mean to say that the “elite” do give a hoot to social contract. Printing money like crazy is a much worse example. I only mean that there is a breaking point somewhere in this progression due to accumulation. It may not be the forcing of the 737Max death trap on the naive population, but eventually there will be a straw that breaks the camel’s back.

Posted by: Kiza | Oct 14 2019 6:25 utc | 76

I took on Langewiesche's long NYT Magazine piece in 14,000 Words Of "Blame The Pilots" That Whitewash Boeing Of 737 MAX Failure

"Sully" Sullenburger now joined me with a Letter to the Editor of New York Times Magazine

In “What Really Brought Down the Boeing 737 MAX?” William Langewiesche draws the conclusion that the pilots are primarily to blame for the fatal crashes of Lion Air 610 and Ethiopian 302. In resurrecting this age-old aviation canard, Langewiesche minimizes the fatal design flaws and certification failures that precipitated those tragedies, and still pose a threat to the flying public.
I am also one of the few who have flown a Boeing 737 MAX Level D full motion simulator, replicating both accident flights multiple times. I know firsthand the challenges the pilots on the doomed accident flights faced, and how wrong it is to blame them for not being able to compensate for such a pernicious and deadly design. These emergencies did not present as a classic runaway stabilizer problem, but initially as ambiguous unreliable airspeed and altitude situations, masking MCAS. The MCAS design should never have been approved, not by Boeing, and not by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The National Transportation Safety Board has found that Boeing made faulty assumptions both about the capability of the aircraft design to withstand damage or failure, and the level of human performance possible once the failures began to cascade. Where Boeing failed, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) should have stepped in to regulate but it failed to do so. Lessons from accidents are bought in blood and we must seek all the answers to prevent the next one. We need to fix all the flaws in the current system — corporate governance, regulatory oversight, aircraft maintenance, and yes, pilot training and experience. Only then can we ensure the safety of everyone who flies.

Posted by: b | Oct 14 2019 7:50 utc | 77

"age-old aviation canard"

Good letter from Sullenburger. I suppose the NYT wouldn't have printed it if he'd included the fact that another thing that needs to be fixed is "journalism" which is nothing but laundered corporate lies, like that of the NYT.

Posted by: Russ | Oct 14 2019 8:01 utc | 78

'Sully' Sullenberger's lette to NYT Magazine in response to the William Langewiesche 737 MAX piece:

"In “What Really Brought Down the Boeing 737 MAX?” William Langewiesche draws the conclusion that the pilots are primarily to blame for the fatal crashes of Lion Air 610 and Ethiopian 302. In resurrecting this age-old aviation canard, Langewiesche minimizes the fatal design flaws and certification failures that precipitated those tragedies, and still pose a threat to the flying public.."

Posted by: Bill7 | Oct 14 2019 8:11 utc | 79

Off memory, it was "Sully" Sullenburger safely put an aircraft down in a river. I doubt the average commercial pilot could have pulled that off (not to denigrate the average pilot). It is good pilots like this are putting in their voices.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Oct 14 2019 9:57 utc | 80

b, thanks for keeping onto this. Boeing has brought things to a point that cannot be ignored. I could never stand the boredom of flying an aircraft from point A to point B, but the tendency of media and pundits (I'm guessing pushed by the manufacturers) to blame the pilots in any commercial aviation crash has annoyed me for a long time.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Oct 14 2019 10:38 utc | 81

Great to see Sullenberger call out the idiot Langewiesche...

Thanks for the update.

Posted by: flankerbandit | Oct 14 2019 11:06 utc | 82

Peter...I appreciate your discussion on gyros.

My impression is that these machines can be quite safe if properly designed and flown properly...of course your type of flying, maneuvering close to the ground carries more risk in any type of aircraft.

Now in principle, the gyro could be the safest kind of aircraft, because it cannot stall...also its ability to handle wind...I've heard from reliable sources that up to 30 to 40 knots...that would be insane in any kind of microlight, and very very sketchy in any light fixed wing such as a Cessna and such.

Another factor is that gyro development has not benefited from the sheer numbers we have seen in other aircraft types...but I have heard from my gyro friends that there are some very solid designs out there.

I agree with you about training of course...this is the key to any kind of flying...for those readers here interested in more info on gyroplanes I would suggest the FAA Rotorcraft Handbook...

A decent article here from an airline pilot who also flies a gyro...

And the Popular Rotorcraft Association...

Quick question for does the gyro rotor blade differ [if at all] from the helo blade...?

I mean the blade itself, not the head or tilting mechanism.

Posted by: flankerbandit | Oct 14 2019 11:30 utc | 83

Thanks for the Sullenberger/NYT update b in comment #78

Your efforts in support of civilization are appreciated.

Posted by: psychohistorian | Oct 14 2019 15:58 utc | 84

flankerbandit @ 83 "Great to see Sullenberger call out the idiot Langewiesche".


I can't seem to post a link right now, but for another example of corporatist toadie Langewiesche's "work", for anyone who hasn't seen it, search for 'The Lessons of ValuJet 592', at the Atlantic magazine.

Posted by: Bill7 | Oct 14 2019 20:00 utc | 85


I always stayed well clear of thunder storms as the vertical winds in them were two good for me.
The roughest weather I flew in was one time when a mob of sheep got out of a holding paddock over night and the team of shearers would be sitting around if we didn't get them back in quickly.
When mustering, I wold fly a grid pattern, 300 to 500 meters apart depending on how thick the scrub and how well the stock were moving ahead of me.
At the western side of the paddock when I turned into the wind I could hold position at between 300 to 40 knt and on the eastern side I could hold position at 50 to 60 knt. It was a bit hairy working the eastern side. Ground crew on bikes were having problems due to small branches being blown off trees in the sharper gusts.
The biggest thing with low flying in wind is understanding or reading the turbulence . I guess the mental picture I always form is that of a small boat in heavy surf.

On the rotor blade, off memory, the airfoil is optimised for auto rotation and I think generally there was a slight difference between the average gyro rotor and helicopter rotor.
In gyro rotors there are a number of different characteristics to choose from. Length, weight and blade pitch or AoA all make a big difference in how the gyro responds. A small high rpm rotor gives very fast response to stick inputs, a larger slower rotor give better lift at low air speed and in thin air. A light weight low inertia rotor increases rpm rapidly, but also loses rpm rapidly, heavy rotor slow to gain rpm but once wound up the inertia can helicopter the machine up vertically for quite a distance. The heavy blades are also smoother to fly in turbulence.

Rotor pitch also makes quite a difference. For me I found one degree pitch or AoA a good medium.
1.5 degrees pitch will respond faster and develop more lift, but the rotor disc runs at a much higher coning angle and it is difficult to completely remove stick shake.

Choosing a blade is mostly a matter of personal preference and whatever best suites a persons flying. I did most of my flying on medium weight extruded aluminium blades.
A 26ft rotor set at 1 degree for winter and a 28ft rotor at I think 1.5 degree pitch for summer.
Part of the choices for me was also wanting something that would hold together if I got a bit close to the trees. A couple of times when I landed I found a bit of sap from leaves and twigs on the rotor tips.
The likes og Magni and other manufacturers, as far as I know, make their own blades so the choice may be limited to just length preference.
A Magni came down here in Australia about fifteen years ago. Can't remember the exact cause now but from what I can remember it was not due to pilot error or poor maintenance.

Moving from fixed wing to a gyro, the thing to always remain conscious of is not to nose it over too hard. The gyros are much safer to fly in rough weather and for engine out landings, but I think have more critical moving parts that can fail. With your background, that shouldn't be an issue.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Oct 14 2019 21:53 utc | 86


Thanks kindly for those you were basically hovering in a 50 to 60 knot headwind...with that figure indicating on your airspeed indicator...?

That is amazing...because obviously you were at times on that day having that as a crosswind, or some component thereof.

Most passenger jets are going to be certified at about 35 knots demonstrated crosswind for landing [on a dry runway]...if memory serves the triple seven is at 40...but I know you can put one down at over 40 [if you really want to...LOL].

I'm actually very interested in rotorcraft blade aerodynamics...there's been some interesting stuff going on there, at least in the helo world...and I'm kind of itching to get a bit deeper into that and maybe start experimenting with some actual prototypes.

I think nowadays a lot of the blades are carbon, but I'm an old school guy and I don't fully trust this technology just yet.

I have to admit that building a gyro, even from a kit, is very appealing to me. I know one guy who has one on floats, but it's a single seater.

I have to say that you have one of the most unique logbooks I've ever heard about...5,000 hours in a gyro at treetop level...herding feral livestock...and you lived to tell the tale...very impressive my friend.

Posted by: flankerbandit | Oct 14 2019 22:49 utc | 87

I take it my indicated air speed was accurate as a local radio report that evening said winds were gusting to 55 knt.
Full time mustering pilots generally clock up 800 to 1000 hours a year. Most of my work was in the Charleville area in Queensland and I averaged about 900 hours per year there. A couple of years in the Kimberly region of western Australia where flying was only part of my work.
Another bloke flying in the Charleville area and helped me kick off had 6000 hour when he caught a powerline. It was a single line strung between two hills and he hit it just on dawn. One bloke out at Thargomindah had 17000 hours up last I heard, which was about 15 years ago. A few stories about him hanging upside down in trees and so forth.
I began looking at blade design in the last year or two that I was flying. My main interest was getting the same lift from a smaller rotor disc. What I came to at the time was that improvements to be gained from airfoil geometry were minimal. One surprising thing I did run onto was surface finish on the blades. This makes a huge difference to how they fly. I used the extruded aluminium blades and the manufacturer told me to clean them by running a steel wool pot scourer lengthways along the blade. One day out of curiosity, I decided to polish them to a mirror finish and see how they performed. They flew very poorly, very little lift and required a lot of engine power. Took them back to the shed and scruffed them up with steel wool and they flew fine again.
For a smaller rotor disc, I began looking at either wider chord blades or a four bladed rotor system. Vertical winglets From what I could find would give a minimal improvement, but I was wary of this because if one detached in flight, the rotor would be that far out of balance it may well destroy itself.
In most cases it seemed a matter of robbing peter to pay paul in trying to gain various attributes. I think the design I came up with which I wished to test was a two blade rotor for simplicity and minimal moving parts that had varying chord widths, maximum chord width in the end third of the blade where lift between advancing and retreating blade is more even, and sharply tapered at the tip where lift is lost.
In gyros, the tapered mast acts as a vibration damper or vibration isolator, although the rotor vibration still travels through the control rods or cables to the stick. Extra damping opens up more possibilities in rotor design but adds weight and complexity. Variable pitch rotors would require extra vibration damping due to varying coning angle.
If you do a few lessons you will most likely be told that the rotors maintain a constant cone angle while in flight and that the rotor tip turn a perfect circle. Garbage in both cases. Coning angle changes with every sudden loading or unloading before settling on a new rpm and resuming original cone angle. This can bet seen in the fretting that occurs at the hub bar attachments and can be felt as a slight tic tic vibration in the stick when suddenly pulled back into a hard climb.
The rotor tips travel in a flat fronted circle. I have demonstrated this in both scale drawing and also by making a model with exaggerated angles, attaching a pen to one rotor tip and having it create the flat fronted circle on a sheet of paper when I turned it.
For this reason coning angle must always be taken into account when designing rotors.

As for carbon fiber and composites. With a good filament wound and high strength high temp bond bladed there would be weight savings with weight added to just the tips to give desired inertia, though I suspect they would be somewhat fragile in any sort of rotor strike. My mate that collected the power line ended up with a chopped up eagle in his lap one day. Blood and guts and feathers all over him. They were a pain at nesting time. About three times I was lucky enough to see them coming at me from above and it was nose down if I had a bit of height and full throttle out of there.
A number of gyros were flying on hand layed fiberglass rotors. Not sure if this was structural or E glass. They usually flew very well. All the ones I saw were much heavier than aluminium rotors with a lot of inertia. Not being high temp cured, they could soften and distort in the heat when left standing in the sun. Fabricated aluminium were the lightest.
Wood blades are very good, both fatigue resistant and light, but apparently ballance is an issue due to changing and uneven moisture content.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Oct 15 2019 0:21 utc | 88

Cartercopter seem to have done a lot of research on auto rotating blades. A different looking blade here, though it is designed for helicopter takeoff and landing, auto rotating low speed flight with fixed wing taking the load in high speed flight.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Oct 15 2019 7:05 utc | 89

Boeing engineers are frustrated EASA hasn’t specified what additional measures might allay its objections, according to people close to the discussions.

The last paragraph is astonishing. It is not the task of a regulator to tell Boeing engineers how to solve their problems. The regulators set the rules and check if a manufacturer's engineering solutions comply with those.

That Boeing still does not get that and is looking for easy ways out of its problems shows that the company has yet to learn its lesson.

To which one could add...
The fact that Boeing's Board removed Muilenburg as Chairman but retained his services as CEO is virtual endorsement of his management style.
i.e. Having bullied Boeing into trouble, they're confident that he'll be able to blame someone else and bully his way out again. It'd be interesting to read the minutes of the meeting during which he bullied the Board into keeping him on as CEO...

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Oct 15 2019 8:37 utc | 90

at E1449 and at about minute 13 Max K tells us that GE (engines) is going to go away, liquidated, essentially in a manner reminiscent of Boeing, it seems. see "Will China announce it's got 10,000 tons of gold?" @ RT

How nice an alignment that two massives in the American estate will have so closely marched over the cliff as Empire's Satraps pay homage to Comrade P...

I remember guys I worked with at GE, when it was building nukes - and how they bragged about their retirement pensions... Seems the Old Army Game took in a few more marks, eh?

Now very nice.

Posted by: Walter | Oct 15 2019 13:25 utc | 91

I have linked to a few videos on gyros in a comment at the open thread.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Oct 15 2019 15:56 utc | 92

regarding the airfoil, I believe helicopter rotors generally have symmetrical airfoil. Can't remember the reason now.
R22 rotor end view.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Oct 15 2019 18:00 utc | 93

I have a bigger question in relation to the private equity influence in America. What happens when private equity destroys every last viable industry through corporate buybacks? What happens when they've extracted every last penny from once thriving and surviving industries? Where do they go next?
From Mitt Romney's spearheading the destruction of Toys R Us, to US Manufacturing, Boeing? Private Equity is now going after Bed Bath and Beyond for Goodness Sakes. What happens next?

Posted by: 346nyc | Oct 21 2019 17:04 utc | 94

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