How the Boeing 737 Max Disaster Looks to a Software Developer – IEEE Spectrum

https://spectrum.ieee.org/aerospace/aviation/how-the-boeing-737-max-disaster-looks-to-a-software-developer
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.

126 Comments

  1. Tomi Engdahl says:

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-12-20/boeing-s-profit-push-may-have-left-737-max-pilots-unprepared

    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.

    Reply
  2. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Lentokonevalmistaja Boeing antoi potkut toimitusjohtajalleen – yrittää palauttaa luottamuksen yhtiöön https://www.is.fi/taloussanomat/art-2000006353606.html

    Reply
  3. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Boeing CEO out following 737 Max fiasco, will be replaced by current board chairman
    https://tcrn.ch/2ZgJTm1

    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.

    Reply
  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
    https://bit.ly/2szu5yw

    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.

    Reply
  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
    http://on.forbes.com/61801XhVp

    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.” 

    Reply
  6. Tomi Engdahl says:

    NYT: 40 prosenttia matkustajista ei halua käyttää Boeingin turmakonemallia – lentokielto jatkuu ensi vuoden puolelle
    https://www.mtvuutiset.fi/artikkeli/nyt-40-prosenttia-matkustajista-ei-halua-kayttaa-boeingin-turmakonemallia-lentokielto-jatkuu-ensi-vuoden-puolelle/7671442#gs.o6pugm

    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.

    Reply
  7. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Boeing Can’t Fly Its 737 Max, but It’s Ready to Sell Its Safety
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/24/business/boeing-737-max-survey.html

    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.

    Reply
  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.”

    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/24/business/boeing-737-max-survey.html

    Reply
  9. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Boeingin yritykset pelastaa maineensa ontuvat pahoin, yhtiö antoi raskauttavia lisätietoja 737 Max -koneen turvallisuudesta
    https://www.hs.fi/talous/art-2000006354527.html

    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.

    Reply
  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
    http://on.forbes.com/61811kBDT

    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.

    Reply
  11. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Here’s the gruesome truth of how much Boeing’s 737 Max debacle is expected to hurt the US economy
    https://bit.ly/2SkJxth

    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.

    Reply
  12. Tomi Engdahl says:

    It’s Not Just Software: New Safety Risks Under Scrutiny on Boeing’s 737 Max
    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/05/business/boeing-737-max.html

    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

    Reply
  13. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Crash Of Boeing 737 In Iran Raises Questions
    http://on.forbes.com/61891w4R3

    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.

    Reply
  14. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Boeingin työntekijöiden karut sisäiset viestit tuhoisista 737 Max-koneista julki: ”Tämä lentokone on pellejen suunnittelema, joita vuorostaan valvovat apinat”
    https://www.is.fi/ulkomaat/art-2000006368091.html

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

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

    Reply
  15. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Internal Boeing Messages Say 737 Max ‘Designed by Clowns’
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-01-10/-incredibly-damning-boeing-messages-show-employee-unease-on-max

    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.”

    Reply
  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.
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-01-10/-incredibly-damning-boeing-messages-show-employee-unease-on-max

    Reply
  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
    https://edition.cnn.com/2019/08/20/politics/faa-boeing-737-max/index.html

    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.

    Reply
  18. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Boeing Statement on Employee Messages Provided to U.S. Congress and FAA
    https://boeing.mediaroom.com/news-releases-statements?item=130600

    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.

    Reply
  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”

    [https://www.cnn.com/2020/01/09/business/boeing-documents/index.html](https://www.cnn.com/2020/01/09/business/boeing-documents/index.html)

    Reply
  20. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Boeing 737:ssä käsittämätön bugi: tähän ei yksikään pilotti haluaisi törmätä lennon aikana
    https://www.tivi.fi/uutiset/boeing-737ssa-kasittamaton-bugi-tahan-ei-yksikaan-pilotti-haluaisi-tormata-lennon-aikana/15aa461b-bbc1-4317-93cf-13440abd6224

    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)
    https://www.theregister.co.uk/2020/01/08/boeing_737_ng_cockpit_screen_blank_bug/

    http://rgl.faa.gov/Regulatory_and_Guidance_Library/rgad.nsf/0/3948342a978cc27b862584dd005c1a60/$FILE/2019-25-17.pdf

    Reply
  21. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Boeingin lentoturmissa tahriintuneen 737 Max -konemallin paluu siirtynee kesään
    Ilmailuviranomaiset eivät ole vahvistaneet tietoja.
    https://yle.fi/uutiset/3-11169372

    Reply

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