How the Boeing 737 Max Disaster Looks to a Software Developer – IEEE Spectrum
The Boeing 737 Max has been in the news because of two crashes, practically back to back and involving brand new airplanes.
“Everything about the design and manufacture of the Max was done to preserve the myth that ‘it’s just a 737.’ Recertifying it as a new aircraft would have taken years and millions of dollars. In fact, the pilot licensed to fly the 737 in 1967 is still licensed to fly all subsequent versions of the 737.”

But some things clearly went wrong on the design process. This article tries to find out what went wrong.


  1. Tomi Engdahl says:

    in Jakarta in October 2018

    He didn’t know that one of the tiny vanes that measures the angle of the plane’s nose was broken

    On a previous flight of the same aircraft, a pilot in the jump seat had suggested flipping two switches to cut power to the stabilizer pushing the nose down but had left no mention of it in their logbooks. So Suneja lacked a crucial piece of information that might have avoided tragedy.

    Days later, Boeing issued a checklist reminding pilots they can flip the switches to disable the stabilizer. It also began work on a software update to keep a broken vane from triggering the system.

    In March, Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 took off from Addis Ababa and dropped out of the sky six minutes later.

    co-pilot quickly recognized that the rogue software behind the Lion Air crash had kicked in. They hit the cutout switches, but amid the confusion left the jet’s engines gunning at full takeoff throttle, making it difficult to control. They flipped the switches back on, and the plane dove.

  2. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Lentokonevalmistaja Boeing antoi potkut toimitusjohtajalleen – yrittää palauttaa luottamuksen yhtiöön

  3. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Boeing CEO out following 737 Max fiasco, will be replaced by current board chairman

    Boeing’s CEO Dennis A. Muilenburg is CEO no longer, the company announced today. Effective January 13, 2020, current Board Chairman David L. Calhoun takes over the top executive officer spot at the aerospace company, and becomes president, as well.

    This is far from a surprising decision: Boeing’s year has been marked primarily by its handling of the 737 Max issues it faced, which stemmed from aircraft failures that resulted in crashes and the deaths of passengers. Boeing has taken steps to address the crisis and its fallout, includingputting $100 million into a fund to be distributed to the families and communities surrounding the victims of 737 Max crashes. It also recently halted production of new 737 Max aircraft, pending its recertification for service.

  4. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Boeing was overly optimistic about the plane’s return to service.

    Boeing sees $11 billion of market value erased in just 2 days as its 737 Max disaster worsens

    Boeing announced Monday that it would halt production of the beleaguered 737 Max.

    Reports of possible production changes and the official announcement sent shares tumbling and erased as much as $11 billion in market value.

    Boeing’s stock has been dragged down by the 737 Max disaster since March, when the plane was grounded.

    Boeing’s 737 Max disaster is far from over, and it’s putting the company’s shares under increasing pressure.

    On Monday, shares ended the day 4.3% lower on news that the aerospace company was considering cutting or stopping production of its 737 Max airplanes. That dip erased $8.3 billion from Boeing’s market value.

    For investors in Boeing, issues with the 737 Max means that a dividend increase in 2020 is unlikely, according to analysts led by Ronald Epstein at Bank of America.

  5. Tomi Engdahl says:

    After 2 plane crashes which killed over 300 passengers, an aborted mission to the International Space Station and a recalcitrant attitude, Dennis Muilenburg, the CEO of Boeing, was fired yesterday.

    Boeing’s CEO Was Fired And May Walk Away With $58.5 Million After Two Plane Crashes Killed 346 Passengers

    Boeing initially boasted that their 737 MAX jet plane was the fastest-selling airplane in its history, with about 5,000 orders from more than 100 customers worldwide. The hype did not live up to expectations and the reality was the loss of lives.   

    Dennis Muilenburg was hauled before Congress as part of its investigation into the circumstances surrounding the crashes. The members of Congress aggressively grilled him about reports that test pilots and others were aware of defects in the plane’s anti-stall system. They demanded answers to why management wasn’t immediately advised of these allegations, or if they were, why didn’t they take immediate actions to ensure the safety of passengers.  

    The congressional hearing was a rare event in that both Democrats and Republicans were in unison. They jointly accused the company of putting profits ahead of passenger safety. The representatives alleged that the Federal Aviation Authority and Boeing maintained too close of a relationship, which permitted the plane to go to market too soon. 

    Senator Richard Blumenthal accused Boeing and Muilenberg of putting passengers in “flying coffins as a result of Boeing deciding to conceal MCAS from pilots.” Senator Ted Cruz said, “How come your team didn’t come to you with their hair on fire, saying, ‘We’ve got a real problem here’? What does that say about Boeing? Why did you not act before 346 people died?” In response to their concerns, Muilenberg said, “We don’t ‘sell’ safety; that’s not our business model.”  After the congressional hearing, Muilenburg was stripped of his chairmanship title but was allowed to remain the CEO of Boeing.  

    Calhoun said, “I strongly believe in the future of Boeing and the 737 MAX. I am honored to lead this great company and the 150,000 dedicated employees who are working hard to create the future of aviation.” 

  6. Tomi Engdahl says:

    NYT: 40 prosenttia matkustajista ei halua käyttää Boeingin turmakonemallia – lentokielto jatkuu ensi vuoden puolelle

    Lentokonevalmistaja Boeingin kysely osoittaa, että noin 40 prosenttia säännöllisesti matkustavista ei halua lentää Boeing 737 Max -konetyypillä, kertoo New York Times.

    Tämä on lehden mukaan jo neljäs kerta, kun Boeing selvittää matkustajien näkemyksiä turmakonemallistaan. Tuorein kysely tehtiin tässä kuussa.

    Asiakirjat vaikuttavat maalaavan ”hyvin järkyttävän kuvan” siitä, miten lentokonevalmistaja on reagoinut konetyypin turvallisuusongelmiin, kertoi eräs kongressiavustaja jouluaattona sähköpostilla uutistoimisto AFP:lle.

    Toimitusjohtajavaihdoksen tultua julki Boeingin osakkeiden arvo pomppasi 2,7 prosenttia.

  7. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Boeing Can’t Fly Its 737 Max, but It’s Ready to Sell Its Safety

    The company knows travelers are wary of its plane, so it has prepared presentations with strategies for airlines to help win back the public’s trust.

  8. Tomi Engdahl says:

    “We know we have work to do to restore confidence in Boeing and the Max,” Mr. Johndroe said Monday. “We are working closely with airlines, their pilots and flight attendants to make sure they have the information they need to provide to the traveling public to reassure them that once the certification process is complete, the Max will be one of the safest airplanes flying today.”

  9. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Boeingin yritykset pelastaa maineensa ontuvat pahoin, yhtiö antoi raskauttavia lisätietoja 737 Max -koneen turvallisuudesta

    Kongressissa avustajana työskentelevän virkamiehen mukaan uudet tiedot antavat järkyttävän käsityksen siitä, miten yhtiö on pyrkinyt vastaamaan lentokoneen turvallisuutta koskeviin epäilyihin. Hän ei suostunut sähköpostiviestissään AFP:lle erittelemään uusia tietoja. Kyse on siitä, että Boeing on yrittänyt vähätellä lentokoneen turvallisuusongelmia.

  10. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Once the 737 MAX is given the green light to return to service, new CEO David Calhoun will face the complex task of orchestrating the retrofitting and delivery of roughly 400 aircraft Boeing has produced since the plane was grounded in March. Here’s how Boeing is marshaling the planes.

    Satellite Photos Of Hundreds Of Undelivered 737 MAX Aircraft Underscore How Much Work Boeing Has Ahead

    Then there are the 387 aircraft that were already in service with customers that Boeing will have to help restore to working condition.           

    The enormity of the work that lies ahead is reinforced by satellite photos from Planet Labs of locations where Boeing is storing undelivered aircraft.

    There were 249 aircraft parked at Moses Lake as of Thursday, a few dozen aircraft away from the airfield’s capacity, says Michel Merluzeau, a Seattle-based director of aerospace and defense market analysis with the consultancy AIR. Most are on the pad in the southwest corner of the picture, which Boeing began parking planes on in October, he says.

  11. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Here’s the gruesome truth of how much Boeing’s 737 Max debacle is expected to hurt the US economy

    Boeing’s recent decision to halt 737 Max production in January will cut 0.5 percentage points from gross domestic product growth in the first quarter of 2020, JPMorgan chief economist Michael Feroli said Tuesday.

    The model is Boeing’s best-selling plane, and the production cut will pull GDP growth lower by hitting the company’s inventory growth, the economist said.

    The production pause could also harm firms in Boeing’s supply chain, as several parts manufacturers rely on the aircraft as a steady revenue driver.

    Boeing’s recent decision to pause 737 Max production will cut 0.5 percentage points from gross domestic product growth in the first quarter of 2020, JPMorgan said Tuesday.

  12. Tomi Engdahl says:

    It’s Not Just Software: New Safety Risks Under Scrutiny on Boeing’s 737 Max

    The company and regulators are looking into everything from the wiring on the plane to its engines.

    Even as Boeing inches closer to getting the 737 Max back in the air, new problems with the plane are emerging that go beyond the software that played a role in two deadly crashes.

    The company is looking at whether two bundles of critical wiring are too close together and could cause a short circuit. A short in that area could lead to a crash if pilots did not respond correctly, the people said. Boeing is still trying to determine whether that scenario could actually occur on a flight and, if so, whether it would need to separate the wire bundles in the roughly 800 Max jets that have already been built. The company says that the fix, if needed, is relatively simple.

    The company may eventually need to look into whether the same problem exists on the 737 NG, the predecessor to the Max. There are currently about 6,800 of those planes in service.

    The senior Boeing engineer said that finding such problems and fixing them was not unusual and not particular to the Max or to Boeing.

    The emergence of new troubles with the Max threatens to extend a crisis that is consuming one of America’s most influential companies and disrupting the global aviation business.

    The Max is Boeing’s most important plane, with about 5,000 ordered by airlines around the world.

    Regulators have suggested that the Max could be approved to fly again by the spring, a timetable that could still hold. The company says that even if it needs to fix the wiring issue, it would only take one to two hours per plane to separate the wiring bundles on the Max using a clamp.

    Investigations by international regulators into the cause of the two Max crashes determined that pilots of those flights did not respond as quickly or effectively as Boeing and the F.A.A., using accepted industry standards, presumed they would when designing and evaluating the MCAS software.

    So in developing a software update for the Max, Boeing and the F.A.A. recognized that the previous industry assumptions should be changed, and that they needed to consider what would happen if it took crews much longer to act in the face of emergencies.

    Using that new set of assumptions about pilot reactions, Boeing discovered that if two wire bundles placed close together toward the rear of the plane caused an electrical short, it could lead to a catastrophic accident.

    The new issues pose additional challenges for Boeing’s leadership

  13. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Crash Of Boeing 737 In Iran Raises Questions

    The crash of a Boeing 737-800 operated by Ukraine International Airlines on Wednesday morning near Tehran promises to spur intense speculation as to its cause, coming hours after Iran launched missile strikes on U.S. bases in Iraq and amid the international grounding of the latest model of the 737.

    The plane is a model of the 737 NG line of aircraft, a workhorse that is considered to have a good safety record: prior to Wednesday’s crash, the over 7,000 NG planes that have been produced since 1997 had been involved in 10 fatal accidents claiming 591 lives, according to a database maintained by the Aviation Safety Network.

    The plane is a model of the 737 NG line of aircraft, a workhorse that is considered to have a good safety record: prior to Wednesday’s crash, the over 7,000 NG planes that have been produced since 1997 had been involved in 10 fatal accidents claiming 591 lives, according to a database maintained by the Aviation Safety Network.

    The disaster is another worrying development for Boeing, which has been rocked by the grounding of the 737 MAX, the newest version of its bestselling plane, after two deadly crashes within five months that killed 346.

    The 737 NG does not contain the faulty MCAS flight control system that precipitated the two 737 MAX crashes. However, in November, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board called for Boeing to strengthen the engine covers on 737 NG aircraft to ensure that parts can’t be expelled at high velocity and damage the airplane in the event of an engine failure, as happened on a Southwest Airlines jet in 2018.

  14. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Boeingin työntekijöiden karut sisäiset viestit tuhoisista 737 Max-koneista julki: ”Tämä lentokone on pellejen suunnittelema, joita vuorostaan valvovat apinat”

    – Tämä lentokone on pellejen suunnittelema, joita vuorostaan valvovat apinat.

    – Päästäisitkö perheesi lentokoneeseen, jonka lentäjä on koulutettu Max-simulaattorissa? Minä en.

  15. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Internal Boeing Messages Say 737 Max ‘Designed by Clowns’

    Boeing Co. released a new batch of internal messages in which company employees discussed deep unease with the 737 Max and problems in flight simulators used to train pilots on the new jetliner, while also trying to avert greater regulator scrutiny of the plane.

    “This airplane is designed by clowns, who in turn are supervised by monkeys,” said one company pilot in messages to a colleague in 2016, which Boeing disclosed publicly late Thursday. The company had already provided the documents to lawmakers and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, who are investigating the 737 Max and the process that cleared it to fly.

    The communications threaten to upend Boeing’s efforts to rebuild public trust in the 737 Max, which has been grounded since March after two deadly crashes.

    “These newly-released emails are incredibly damning,”

    “They paint a deeply disturbing picture of the lengths Boeing was apparently willing to go to in order to evade scrutiny from regulators, flight crews, and the flying public, even as its own employees were sounding alarms internally,” DeFazio said in a statement

    In a statement, the FAA said it has reviewed the Boeing messages and found that “nothing in the submission pointed to any safety risks that were not already identified as part of the ongoing review of proposed modifications to the aircraft.”

  16. Tomi Engdahl says:

    One of the company’s big selling points with customers had been that pilots certified for an earlier generation of 737 jets only needed a short computer course to brush up their skills for the Max. Those assurances helped make the Max Boeing’s best-selling jetliner.

  17. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Boeing (BA) employees ridiculed the 737 Max’s regulatory certification progress and crudely expressed doubts about the plane’s ability to fly safely, according to a trove of newly released internal documents.

    First on CNN: 737 MAX panel to call for changes in FAA certification process

    An international panel created after two Boeing 737 MAX crashes is expected to recommend the Federal Aviation Administration change the way it certifies planes and address safety concerns that aircraft technology is becoming far more sophisticated than the regulations that govern it, a source familiar with the matter tells CNN.

  18. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Boeing Statement on Employee Messages Provided to U.S. Congress and FAA

    Some of these communications relate to the development and qualification of Boeing’s MAX simulators in 2017 and 2018. These communications contain provocative language, and, in certain instances, raise questions about Boeing’s interactions with the FAA in connection with the simulator qualification process.

  19. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Where are the corporate shills now saying ,”You don’t know enough about aircraft to say they aren’t safe” ,”Do you have a degree in aerospace engineering?”, “You should trust the company did it right”


  20. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Boeing 737:ssä käsittämätön bugi: tähän ei yksikään pilotti haluaisi törmätä lennon aikana

    Lentokonevalmistaja Boeingin ongelmat jatkuvat, jos kohta nyt huomattavasti pienemmissä ja osittain jopa huvittavammissa merkeissä.

    Yhdysvaltain ilmailuviranomainen FAA julkaisi loppuvuodesta dokumentin, jonka mukaan Boeingin valmistamissa 737NG-sarjan matkustajakoneissa on havaittu peräti kummallinen ohjelmistovirhe.

    Nyt havaittu bugi aiheuttaa ohjaamon kaikkien kuuden näytön pimenemisen, jos lentäjä valitsee koneen lentotietokoneesta (FMC, flight management computer = järjestelmä, joka hallinnoi esimerkiksi lentoreittiä, suoritusarvoja jne.) lähestymisen jollekin seitsemästä lentoasemasta maailmassa.

    Blackout Bug: Boeing 737 cockpit screens go blank if pilots land on specific runways
    Odd thing haunts Next Generation airliner family (not the infamous Max)$FILE/2019-25-17.pdf

  21. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Boeingin lentoturmissa tahriintuneen 737 Max -konemallin paluu siirtynee kesään
    Ilmailuviranomaiset eivät ole vahvistaneet tietoja.

  22. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Garmin’s Software Can Land A Plane Without A Pilot | Forbes

  23. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Boeing 737 MAX investigators find more flaws as manufacturer tries to get plane back in skies this year

    Flight testers have found another flaw in the software of Boeing’s grounded 737 MAX plane, which was involved in two fatal crashes.

    Key points:
    The 737 MAX plane has been beset with dramas after two fatal crashes
    Boeing will not give a hard estimate on when it thinks the aircraft may again return to the sky
    The aviation company is also working on a fix for a wiring issue

    Boeing has had several setbacks in its efforts to update software that played a role in both crashes and win approval for the jets to fly again.

    Boeing has said its best estimate was the aircraft would not be back in the air until mid-2020, after endorsing simulator training for pilots before flights would resume, and that regulators would determine the timing.

  24. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Boeing arrives at this crossroads in the wake of 2 crashes within 5 months, in late 2018 and early 2019, of its best-selling 737 MAX jetliner that took the lives of 346 passengers.

    How Boeing Lost Its Way

    Boeing is an iconic American company. The aerospace and defense giant helped put the first astronauts on the moon and played a key role in the Allies’ victory in WWII. Boeing, however, posted its first annual loss in 22 years in 2019 and ousted Chief Executive Officer Dennis Muilenburg in December, signalling a need for soul-searching and uncomfortable questions at the company. 

    Boeing arrives at this crossroads in the wake of two crashes within five months, in late 2018 and early 2019, of its best-selling 737 MAX jetliner that took the lives of 346 passengers. Now, according to Boeing’s own research, 40% of travelers are unwilling to fly on the plane, which has been grounded worldwide, costing airlines over a billion dollars in losses and shaking the confidence of investors and government regulators.

    One of the important questions Boeing needs to ponder is whether it was too focused on short-term financial results. Multiple reports have surfaced portraying a company culture at Boeing that sacrificed investment in engineering and safety for the bottom line.

    Boeing’s CFO at the time, Deborah Hopkins, said in a 2000 Bloomberg interview that Boeing employees shouldn’t overly focus on the planes themselves which, while  “obviously important,” were already assumed to be of great quality. That scandalized and demoralized engineers and the market was none too impressed. 

    The disconnect between Boeing’s world-class engineers and some of its executives seems to have persisted to the present day. In a trove of disturbing internal communications released by the company last month one Boeing employee said “we have a senior leadership team that understands very little about the business and yet are driving us to certain objectives.” Another employee described the 737 MAX as a “joke.”

    Engineers are fond of saying to project managers “You can have it good, fast or cheap. But you can only pick two.” In the design, production and deployment of the MAX Boeing seems to have picked fast and cheap, and the results have been tragic.

  25. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Boeing Seeks $60 Billion Bailout For U.S. Aerospace

    Boeing called for at least $60 billion in financial support for U.S. aerospace companies Tuesday as they struggle with a steep falloff in revenue amid the coronavirus pandemic.

    Any taxpayer-funded aid for Boeing is bound to raise criticism after a year of harsh scrutiny of its failures that led to two fatal crashes of its flagship airliner, the 737 MAX. Boeing stressed in a statement that financial support for the company would flow through to its suppliers and support the broader health of the U.S. aerospace industry. The statement didn’t specify how much of the $60 billion the company believes it needs.

  26. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Does Boeing deserve a bailout package? This article details how it spent lots of borrowed money by paying dividends and buybacks.

    Boeing left cash poor after returning $60 billion to shareholders.

    the bailout package that Boeing (NYSE:BA) requested to support the aerospace manufacturing industry, and mentioned that in a piece I had already written earlier, I found that Boeing returned $60B in recent in the past five non-crisis years and 2019. Earlier I had a look at what Boeingdid with the $25B it borrowed during the 2019 fiscal year. It turned out that Boeing spent a considerable amount of new borrowings to make debt repayments, while roughly 30% was used to return value to shareholders in the form of dividends and share repurchases.

    The big question that arises, however, is why a company such as Boeing booking significant profits in previous years needs to borrow money.

    Absent of the Boeing 737 MAX crisis, the revenues would have been $110B in 2019, a CAGR of 4%.

    From 2014 to 2019, Boeing generated $20B in profits

    Boeing returns all of its cash flow from operations to shareholders.

    Excluding 2019, we found that Boeing returns 92% of its operating cash flow and 113% of its free cash flow to shareholders.

    Boeing reserved the majority of the operating cash for shareholders. That goes well when business is good, but during times of crisis like Boeing is facing now it leaves the company with extremely little flesh on the bones and that’s how a company with over half a trillion in revenues in the past years and almost $60B in operating cash flow is left with a cash pile that grew by just $800 million since 2014, making Boeing heavily reliant on borrowings in times of crisis.

    there’s no denying that Boeing relies heavily on borrowing money while it handed its cash to shareholders

  27. Tomi Engdahl says:

    How a relentless focus on Quarterly Profits killed 346 people & wrecked one of our Nation’s greatest manufacturers…

    What happens when Wall Street controls a business and a nation?

    The ancient computers in the Boeing 737 Max are holding up a fix

    The perils of fixing a hardware problem with software

  28. Tomi Engdahl says:

    The perils of fixing a hardware problem with software

    A Abrand-new Boeing 737 Max gets built in just nine days. In that time, a team of 12,000 people turns a loose assemblage of parts into a finished $120 million airplane with some truly cutting-edge technology: winglets based on ones designed by NASA, engines that feature the world’s first one-piece carbon-fiber fan blades, and computers with the same processing power as, uh, the Super Nintendo.

    The Max has been grounded since March 2019, after some badly written software caused two crashes that killed 346 people. And while Boeing has received plenty of scrutiny for its bad code, it’s the Max’s computing power — or lack thereof — that has kept it on the ground since then.

    Every 737 Max has two flight control computers. These take some of the workload off of pilots, whether that’s through full automation (such as autopilot) or through fine control adjustments during manual flight. These computers can literally fly the airplane — they have authority over major control surfaces and throttles — which means that any malfunction could turn catastrophic in a hurry. So it’s more important for manufacturers to choose hardware that’s proven to be safe, rather than run a fleet of airplanes on some cutting-edge tech with bugs that have yet to be worked out.

    Boeing took that ethos to heart for the Max, sticking with the Collins Aerospace FCC-730 series, first built in 1996. Each computer features a pair of single-core, 16-bit processors that run independently of each other

    Even by late-’90s consumer tech standards, the FCC-730s were behind the curve. By the time they went to market

    Of course, old and slow isn’t always worse: the 737 Next Generation series is the safest narrow-body airplane ever made, in part due to these reliable, if unspectacular, computers. To keep costs down, Boeing wanted to reuse them in the next iteration of the 737 as well. The Max might still be flying today if those computers simply had to perform the same tasks that they had for almost 30 years.

    But Boeing needed them to do much more.

    Boeing would have to rush the airplane out the door in just five years — less time than it took to develop either the 777 or the 787.

    The new engines, which were larger and heavier than the ones on the Next Generation, did indeed make the Max just as fuel-efficient as its rival. But they also disrupted the flow of air around the wings and control surfaces of the airplane in a very specific way.

    Boeing could have fixed this aerodynamic anomaly with a hardware change: “adaptive surfaces” on the engine housing, resculpted wings, or even just adding a “stick pusher” to the controls that would push on the control column mechanically at just the right time. But hardware changes added time, cost, and regulatory scrutiny to the development process. Boeing’s management was clear: avoid changes, avoid regulators, stay on schedule — period.

    So the development team attacked the hardware problem with software. In addition to the standard software suite on the 737 Max’s two computers, Boeing loaded another routine called the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS). It would run in the background, waiting for the airplane to enter a high-angle climb. Then it would act, rotating the airplane’s horizontal stabilizer to counteract the changing aerodynamic forces.

    On paper, it seemed elegant enough. It had a side benefit, too: the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) doesn’t scrutinize software as hard as it does any physical change to the airframe. So MCAS was approved with minimal review, outdated computers and all.

    But Boeing’s software shortcut had a serious problem. Under certain circumstances, it activated erroneously, sending the airplane into an infinite loop of nose-dives. Unless the pilots can, in under four seconds, correctly diagnose the error, throw a specific emergency switch, and start recovery maneuvers, they will lose control of the airplane and crash — which is exactly what happened in the case of Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302.

    Since then, Boeing has been working to fix the software issue and get the airplane approved by regulators. But it’s been slow going.

    In June 2019, Boeing submitted a software fix to the FAA for approval, but subsequent stress-testing of the Max’s computers revealed more flaws than just bad code. They are vulnerable to single-bit errors that could disable entire control systems or throw the airplane into an uncommanded dive. They fail to boot up properly. They may even “freeze” in autopilot mode

    Despite all of this, Boeing insists that it can fix everything with software. Boeing has elected not to go with a new, more powerful computer or to add more of them to the two already there, in order to better distribute the workload. For comparison, Airbus’ A320neo has computers of similar vintage — but it has seven of them.

    So far, the FAA agrees: it completed its review of the software earlier this year, and it seems to be on board with the proposed software fixes. But returning the Max to service isn’t as simple as getting the agency’s approval on the software. Because Boeing essentially bullied the FAA into certifying the Max in the first place, the agency is eager to prove that it knows what it’s doing now.

    Once the Max gets the regulatory green light, it will still be several months before it can carry passengers again.

    Boeing announced that in order to get certified to fly the Max, pilots will have to go through full-motion simulator training

    This is a full retreat from one of the airplane’s original selling points: that pilots only needed a one-hour iPad lesson to fly the new 737 model.

    The problem is that there just aren’t that many simulators to go around.

    So the very shortcuts that Boeing used to rush the Max into production are now keeping it on the ground. It was once the fastest-selling airplane in history. Now, nobody wants to touch Boeing airplanes

    Boeing will once again attempt to compensate for a hardware flaw on the 737 Max with slightly rewritten software. It’s the same design philosophy that created this catastrophe for Boeing in the first place — and it’s the same philosophy that has failed, so far, to produce a safe and reliable airplane.

  29. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Aviation regulator outlines fixes that will get the 737 MAX flying again
    Software upgrade to deliver less lethally-stubborn automation

    The United States’ Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has revealed the conditions under which it will permit Boeing’s beleaguered 737 MAX to resume commercial flights.

    The 737 MAX was grounded after two crashes in 2018 and 2019 revealed that the plane had shipped with largely undocumented automation features called the “Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System” (MCAS) that could push its nose downwards. In the two accidents MCAS could not be overridden despite receiving erroneous data from an Angle Of Attack (AOA) sensor.

    Those errors cost 346 lives and saw Boeing pay at least $19bn in compensation to families of the deceased, payments to airline customers and lost revenue.

    Chinese and US aviation regulators grounded the planes weeks after the 2019 accident. They’ve been grounded ever since pending analysis of the crash’s cause and re-certification of the plane.

    On Monday the FAA revealed its conditions for the plane to be returned to the skies in a new Airworthiness directive and review of the aircraft [PDFs] that detail the necessary changes before the regulator will permit the MAX to again carry paying passengers.

  30. Tomi Engdahl says:

    DEF CON 28 Aerospace Village: 747-400 Walk through From a Hacker’s Perspective

  31. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Is Boeing’s ’737 Max’ Safe Now?

    America’s Federal Aviation Administration “laid out the proposed fixes for the design flaws in the MAX’s automated flight controls,” reports the Seattle Times, “starting a clock that could see Boeing get the green light sometime next month — with U.S. airlines then scrambling to get a few MAXs flying by year end.”

    But the newspaper also asks two big questions. “Is fixing that flight control software good enough? Will the updated 737 MAX really be safe?”
    Former jet-fighter pilot and aeronautical engineer Bjorn Fehrm is convinced. Though he calls the design flaws that caused the two 737 MAX crashes “absolutely unforgivable,” he believes Boeing has definitively fixed them. Fehrm, a France-based analyst with aviation consulting firm Leeham Company, says that with the updated flight control software, scenarios similar to the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines crashes simply cannot recur and the aircraft is no longer dangerous.

    And Mike Gerzanics, a 737 captain with a major U.S. airline, is ready to fly a MAX — despite a Boeing whistleblower’s scathing critique that even with the planned upgrade, the jet’s decades-old flight deck systems fall far short of the latest safety standards and in the two MAX crashes created confusion in the cockpit. Gerzanics, a former Air Force and Boeing test pilot and an aviation safety expert, concedes the dated MAX flight deck is far from ideal. “It’s basically 1960s technology with some 21st century technology grafted onto it. The overhead panels could be right out of the 707,” he said. “But I’ve been flying it since 1996. I’m used to it. It’s safe and it works…..”

    Aeronautical engineer Bjorn Fehrm tells them that “If MCAS is deactivated, you can still fly the aircraft and it is not unstable. The MAX without MCAS is a perfectly flyable aircraft.”

  32. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Yhdysvaltain kongressin murskaava raportti 737 MAX -onnettomuuksista julki: ”Boeing petti tietoisesti lentäjiä ja lentoyhtiöitä”
    Mikko Pulliainen17.9.202009:14|päivitetty17.9.202009:14LOGISTIIKKALIIKENNETEKNIIKKAKONEET JA LAITTEET
    Myös Yhdysvaltain ilmailuviranomainen saa osansa edustajainhuoneen rajusta kritiikistä.

  33. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Boeing’s trouble 737 Max may soon fly passengers, according to a story in the Seattle Times. Some people still question whether the plane is safe. U.S. consumer and political activist Ralph Nadar for one, whose niece died on the Ethiopian plane, said the plane even in its updated form, “remains a Band-Aid” to disguise “a physical aerodynamic design flaw,” according to the Seattle Times.

  34. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Proposed US fix for Boeing 737 Max software woes does not address Ethiopian crash scenario, UK pilot union warns
    MCAS saga still hasn’t ended as reps warn of trim wheel problem

    The British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA) has told American aviation regulators that the Boeing 737 Max needs better fixes for its infamous MCAS software, warning that a plane crash which killed 149 people could happen again.

    Airlines, in contrast, are broadly happy with proposed changes to the Boeing 737 Max, even as trade unions bellow at the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that more needs to be done.

    In public comments submitted to the FAA’s notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM), BALPA warned that one of the proposed workarounds for a future MCAS failure could lead to a repeat of the crash of Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302.

    The NPRM, published here, proposes various fixes to the 737 Max design, its software and procedures for pilots to follow in the event of a problem. One of those procedures includes disabling the airliner’s automatic trim system, operated by MCAS when the software kicks in, and having the two pilots use a manual backup trim wheel instead of the aircraft’s powerful electric motors.

    BALPA said: “Requiring both crew members to turn the trim wheel simultaneously in a non-normal scenario is extremely undesirable and goes against all philosophies of having one pilot fly and one run the QRH [quick reference handbook: reading out the emergency checklist]. No flight control system should require both pilots to operate it at any stage, let alone in an emergency.”

    The trade union added: “It is felt that this should be reconsidered (particularly in light of the smaller diameter trim wheel as fitted to the MAX to enable the new larger screens to fit, and as per the scenario observed in the Ethiopian Airlines accident).

    ET302 crashed after its pilots, who were fully aware of MCAS after the earlier crash of Lion Air flight 610 (the first 737 Max crash), tried without success to override the flawed software system.

    Its pilots disabled electric trim motors that had been activated by MCAS and, crash investigators believed, tried to use the manual trim wheel in the cockpit to physically undo what the software had done – following Boeing procedures published after the Lion Air crash. Thanks to the aircraft’s excessive speed, built up as MCAS forced its nose to point downwards at the ground, the pilots were unsuccessful. Aerodynamic forces on the control surfaces made it impossible for them to rotate the trim wheel and point the airliner’s nose back at the sky.

    Meanwhile, back with the FAA’s NPRM, the Joint European Max Operators’ Group, which includes Ryanair, Norwegian, and Tui, among other airlines, made some minor suggestions for textual edits while reassuring the FAA that they “are not intended to impact on the planned RTS [return to service] programme” for the 737 Max. Some airlines believe all will be well when their Maxes are allowed to fly again.

  35. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Could Cloud-Based Tech Have Saved Boeing’s 737 Max?
    The sharing capabilities of cloud-based technologies might have made a significant difference in the development of software for Boeing’s 737 Max.

    A software failure caused catastrophic problems with Boeing’s 737 Max. Boeing is currently working to solve the issue. Dijam Panigrahi, co-founder of Grid Raster, believes the problem could have been avoided if Boeing had better design-knowledge sharing through cloud-based technologies. “These technologies can help to prevent disastrous manufacturing scenarios such as the one faced by the Boeing 737 Max,” Panigrahi told Design News.

    He believes that leveraging cloud-based AR/VR technologies during the design process can help design engineers avoid serious problems in product development. “On-premise design technologies do not allow for proper cross-organizational info sharing, and this is critical in large-scale buildouts such as airplanes,” said Panigrahi. “Cloud technology enables greater information sharing since designers outside the organization can research critical safety elements in other buildouts.”

    DN: Explain this concept: On-premise design technologies do not allow for proper cross-organizational info sharing, and this is critical in large-scale build-outs such as airplanes.

    Related: Design Software’s Search for Compatibility

    Dijam Panigrahi: Usually large built-outs are a result of coming together of a large number of complex functional units and components. For example, airplanes are built to withstand extreme conditions and it’s as good as its weakest component. Any slight mistake in any aspect comes with costly safety risks. Hence, complex and highly technical processes are put in place to ensure any mistake is avoided at all costs. It really takes experts on each functional unit or component to ensure everything works well as a module and also as a system. It is very unlikely that the experts are at the same place. Usually, they are spread out geographically. The current on-premise design technologies fail to take advantage of remote experts as they are very limiting proper info sharing across the organization.

    DN: Explain this concept: Cloud technology enables greater information sharing since designers outside the organization can research critical safety elements in other buildouts.

    Dijam Panigrahi: This limitation can be overcome by leveraging the power of cloud computing. A cloud-based approach to the design of such large buildouts comes with immense benefits. Firstly, it provides a centralized repository of all the data and information that can be accessed across geographically different locations ensuring data currency. Secondly, this allows organizations to effectively use the know-how of experts across locations and get a diverse perspective, ensuring any fault is corrected early in the process. Also, organizations can take advantage of outside expertise such as a vendor, consultant, and others, if required. Thirdly, it significantly reduces the total cost required to get to the final design by expediting the design process and saving on travel costs.

    DN: What are some examples of large-scale buildouts that have benefited from cross-organizational sharing?

    Dijam Panigrahi: BAE Systems (UK) integrated the manufacturing knowledge to the design process to significantly improve the overall quality of their Avionics system and shrink the time to market.

    DN: What type of partners are typically included in cross-organizational sharing? Suppliers? Customers? Outside experts?

    Dijam Panigrahi: Today, customer expectations are constantly evolving. To remain competitive, manufacturers must deliver high-quality products to a diverse customer base under tight schedules at a lower cost. This involves integrating many diverse functional areas across the product life-cycle to ensure a better design. One of the consequences of the demand for this integration of resources has been the necessity for teams of engineers, often from several areas and geographical locations, suppliers, outside experts, and even customers to work together over networks, supported by collaboration tools

  36. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Hooray, 737 MAX is safe again. It will take some time to get the planes in the air – and to assure travelers that they are safe to fly.

    Boeing 737 Max cleared to fly passengers again after deadly crashes

    Returning jet to service will prove massive operation, after two deadly crashes

    The Boeing 737 Max has been cleared to fly passengers again in the US, after two deadly crashes led to the deaths of nearly 350 people.  

    On 29 October 2018, a single faulty sensor triggered an anti-stall system that caused Lion Air flight 610 to crash shortly after take off from Jakarta. All 189 passengers and crew died.

    On 29 October 2018, a single faulty sensor triggered an anti-stall system that caused Lion Air flight 610 to crash shortly after take off from Jakarta. All 189 passengers and crew died.

    In the immediate aftermath of the second fatal crash, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) continued to insist the jet was safe. But after every other major safety authority worldwide grounded the plane, the American regulator followed suit.

     After a rigorous redesign and certification, the Boeing 737 Max is likely to be flying passengers again in the US before the end of  2020.

    “The FAA must approve 737 Max pilot training programme revisions for each US airline operating the Max and will retain its authority to issue airworthiness certificates and export certificates of airworthiness for all new 737 Max aircraft manufactured since the FAA issued the grounding order.

    “Furthermore, airlines that have parked their Max aircraft must take required maintenance steps to prepare them to fly again.

    The manufacturer has been repeatedly criticised for failings and shortcuts during the design process of the Max. Boeing now says: “The company is identifying, diagnosing and resolving issues with a higher level of transparency and immediacy.”

    The FAA announcement applies only to US airlines. Other regulators, including the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority, are expected to follow suit.

    American Airlines is already selling flights on the Boeing 737 Max, departing from New York’s La Guardia airport to Miami on 29 December.

  37. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Yhdysvaltojen viran­omaiset antoivat Boeing 737 Max -lento­koneelle luvan palata liikenteeseen
    Kone ei vielä pääse taivaalle, sillä muidenkin maiden tulisi hyväksyä se.

  38. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Boeing 737 Max Completes First New Flight With Captain’s Wife, American Airlines President Aboard

    Commercial flights on Boeing’s controversial 737 MAX aircraft resumed in the U.S. Tuesday after a nearly two-year hiatus following several deadly crashes that led regulators to ground the jet worldwide in 2019 while its safety was evaluated. 

    American Airlines is the first U.S. airline to bring the Boeing 737 MAX back into passenger service after the Federal Aviation Administration cleared the jet to fly in November.   

    “This aircraft is ready to go,” Isom said at a media briefing before the flight, reiterating the airline’s confidence in the craft’s safety. 

    In 2019, regulators grounded Boeing’s 737 MAX fleet worldwide after two deadly crashes occurred in quick succession. In 2018, 189 passengers and crew on board a Lion Air flight died when the aircraft crashed into the sea shortly after taking off from Jakarta, Indonesia. Less than five months later, all 157 passengers and crew on board an Ethiopian Airlines flight perished when the plane crashed minutes after take-off from Addis Ababa. A congressional report into the incidents said the crashes “were the horrific culmination of a series of faulty technical assumptions by Boeing’s engineers, a lack of transparency on the part of Boeing’s management, and grossly insufficient oversight by the FAA,” the U.S. aviation regulator. The U.S. regulator cleared the plane for passenger flight in November, pending a series of technical fixes and crew training.

    346. This is how many died in the two crashes that led regulators to ground the Boeing 737 MAX fleet.

    Relatives of those who died in the two crashes oppose the MAX’s return, Reuters report. “I call on anyone looking to book a flight in the future to understand when they buy their ticket what type of airplane will be used so they can make an informed decision for themselves and their loved ones,” said Yalena Lopez-Lewis, whose husband Antoine Lewis died in the Ethiopian Airlines crash.

  39. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Boeing To Pay $2.5 Billion For Misleading U.S. Government About 737 MAX

    Boeing reached an agreement with the Department of Justice on Thursday that will require the company to pay $2.51 billion for misleading the government about a feature of its 737 MAX aircraft that played a key role in two crashes that left 346 dead.

    The aerospace giant entered into a deferred prosecution agreement in order to resolve a criminal charge of conspiracy to defraud the FAA’s Aircraft Evaluation Group.

    According to prosecutors, Boeing knowingly deceived the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration by failing to disclose details of an addition to its automated flight control systems when it certified the 737 MAX, the latest version of its bestselling narrow-body airliner, leaving pilots of the planes unaware of the changes.

    MCAS activated erroneously on Lion Air Flight 610 in 2018 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 in 2019, forcing the planes to descend at a sharp angle and surprising their pilots, who were unable to counteract the system, leading the planes to crash.

    Most of the money, $1.77 billion, will go to compensate airlines that own and operate the 737 MAX, with $500 million allocated for beneficiaries of crash victims while Boeing will pay $243.6 million as a criminal penalty.

    “Boeing’s employees chose the path of profit over candor,” Acting Assistant Attorney General David P. Burns said. “This resolution holds Boeing accountable for its employees’ criminal misconduct, addresses the financial impact to Boeing’s airline customers, and hopefully provides some measure of compensation to the crash-victims’ families and beneficiaries.”

  40. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Vuosia lentokiellossa ollut Boeing 737 MAX -turmakone nousi jälleen ilmaan Euroopassa – TUI vie turisteja Malagaan
    Brysselin lentokentältä aamupäivällä ilmaan noussut Boeing 737 MAX-kone kuljetti belgialaisturisteja Espanjan Aurinkorannikolle.

  41. Tomi Engdahl says:

    A federal audit makes clear the Federal Aviation Administration abdicated its oversight responsibility in the 737 Max crashes.

    The FAA and its Odious ODAs

    A federal audit of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s flawed certification process for the Boeing 737 Max confirms how the transfer of its oversight authority to the very aircraft manufacturer the agency is charged with regulating directly contributed in the deaths of 346 passengers and crew.

    Much of the U.S. Transportation Department inspector general’s audit detailing how the 737 Max 8 was certified focuses on the agency’s glaring lack of oversight. The regulatory failure stems in large measure from a 2005 decision to delegate oversight authority to Boeing under a misguided and ultimately deadly policy known as “Organization Designation Authorization,” or ODA—otherwise known as self-regulation.

    The government audit identified “limitations in FAA’s guidance and processes that impacted certification and led to a significant misunderstanding of the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), the flight control software identified as contributing to the two accidents.”

    FAA created the ODA program ostensibly to standardize its oversight of aircraft manufacturers deemed qualified to perform certain functions on the agency’s behalf, including determining compliance with aircraft certification regulations. Those designated gained the power to select and oversee employees performing oversight functions delegated to them by the FAA.

    The unrelenting push for airline deregulation, undue pressure by Boeing that ultimately led to certification of a new and faulty airframe configuration and lack of FAA resources were most often cited as rationales for the ODA program.

    In due course, passenger safety was compromised.

    Abdication of FAA’s oversight responsibility proved fatal by allowing Boeing to portray the 737 Max and its single-point-of failure MCAS system as mere modifications to an existing airframe, thereby avoiding a lengthy and expensive re-certification process.

    As the federal audit notes, “FAA’s certification guidance does not adequately address integrating new technologies into existing aircraft models.” It continues, “FAA did not have a complete understanding of Boeing’s safety assessments performed on MCAS until after the first accident.”

    It’s clear the agency did not appreciate the implications of MCAS and other airframe problems in the period between the two 737 Max crashes. The failure to ground the new aircraft in the five months between the Lion Air crash in October 2018 and the Ethiopian Airlines disaster in March 2019 is among the greatest regulatory failures in the history of commercial aviation.

    The federal audit’s conclusions regarding the Boeing 737 Max provide little reason to believe the FAA’s deeply flawed certification process for new aircraft technologies like MCAS will be fixed anytime soon.


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