March 14, 2019

"Boeing executives sat down last November with pilots at the Allied Pilots Association’s low-slung brick headquarters in Fort Worth."

"Tensions were running high. One of Boeing’s new jets — hailed by the company as an even more reliable version of Boeing’s stalwart 737 — had crashed into the ocean off Indonesia shortly after takeoff, killing all 189 people on board the flight operated by Lion Air. After the crash, Boeing issued a bulletin disclosing that this line of planes, known as the 737 Max 8, was equipped with a new type of software as part of the plane’s automated functions. Some pilots were furious that they were not told about the new software when the plane was unveiled. Dennis Tajer, a 737 captain who attended the meeting with Boeing executives, recalled, 'They said, "Look, we didn’t include it because we have a lot of people flying on this and we didn’t want to inundate you with information."'"

From "At tense meeting with Boeing executives, pilots fumed about being left in dark on plane software" (WaPo).

126 comments:

rhhardin said...

It's a job security issue. The software is taking over.

Hagar said...

That, and I always thought it was a mistake for Boeing to merge with McDonnell-Douglas. M-D's bad habits as a defense contractor came with it and the infection has spread.

Fernandistein said...

I guess this wasn't true:

"We tested your software. The good news is nobody got hurt."

Johnathan Birks said...

A tragedy of course, but also a preview of coming attractions. Imagine the same software controlling 260 million cars in the US alone.

richlb said...

Here's my beef: they installed this additional "safety feature" for what reason? I don't recall a string of crashes as a result of jet liners stalling on takeoff. I don't even recall a single incident. Was this a matter of Boeing going the car manufacturer route and installing a feature for no other reason than they could?!

rhhardin said...

The news is soap opera narrative. How do you get people to click. Bad corporation, good pilots.

Great software bugs aren't good narratives. There was one that took down the AT&T long distance network long ago that was good, but that's about it.

There's lots of software the pilots don't want to know about; the line isn't clear.

I've never flown with software. You can trim up a dumb airplane so it flies hands off for a couple hundred miles, but you have to keep your feet on the rudders. Control height with occasional power setting changes as balance changes.

Limited blogger said...

Can I still buy a 737 with manual transmission?

rhhardin said...

The nose-down stuff was to counteract the more-forward engines causing a nose-up pitching moment at low airspeeds (high angle of attack). I don't know why they can't let the pilots do that themselves. I mean I always did right rudder at high power and low speed to counteract the propeller wash hitting the left side of the rudder. It's sort of automatic. Indeed it can screw you up if you fly an old British airplane, with the propeller going the other way, without thinking about it.

rehajm said...

The routine in question was designed to intervene to counter inattentiveness of the pilots. I wouldn’t want to tell them either...

It sound exatcly like the auto pilot routine what brought down a 747 over the ocean a few decades ago. ‘Dynamic control’ problem- who, exactly is in charge of flying the plane?

Original Mike said...

Does airplane software get "updates" (a.k.a. bug fixes) nightly like my desktop computer?

I hate the idea of software flying airplanes. Hubris.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

rhhardin said...

It's a job security issue. The software is taking over.

Putting suicidal hijackers out of work. Women, children, and the ground hardest hit.

rhhardin said...

Maybe the software will say "727 MAX8 is no longer supported. / [] Don't show this message again" like XP does.

Tregonsee said...

I flew the 737-800, retiring before the MAX was even considered, so I have no professional knowledge of this issue. However about 15 years ago when the 737-800 was entering service, there was a bug in the engine control software (FADEC) which could cause an engine to go to full power uncommanded. The only solution was to shut it down. After this happened to both Southwest and American Airlines flights, Boeing admitted that they knew this was possible, but considered it vanishingly unlikely. Turned out not to be vanishing enough.

Original Mike said...

I got a Windows 7 update two nights ago and now the popup window asking for the administrator password for certain operations doesn't popup. I need to initiate it manually. This isn't a fix, it's just a change. I think I'm looking forward to Windows 7 coming off "support".

chuck said...

I'd dearly like to know what happened but I don't trust the WaPo to tell me.

EDH said...

The Terminator: The Skynet Funding Bill is passed. The system goes on-line August 4th... Human decisions are removed from strategic defense. Skynet begins to learn at a geometric rate. It becomes self-aware at 2:14 a.m. Eastern time, August 29th. In a panic, they try to pull the plug.

Sarah Connor: Skynet fights back.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

The new software was intended to fix a problem resulting from the new engine placement. It's fine to try to detect the issue, and to warn the pilot. And if auto-pilot is on, it's fine to take corrective action.

The problem is the system takes corrective action even when the auto-pilot is off, and even when the pilot is intentionally trying to perform the opposite action.

The system should have just set off some sort of alarm, warning the pilot to check airspeed and angle of attack.

JHapp said...

The only reason I am not sure the planes were sabotaged by foreign agents is that it may be a software problem. On the other hand, software control makes it easy to sabotage.

exhelodrvr1 said...

And, per usual, Trump's tweet (about the complexity being an underlying cause) was valid.

Nonapod said...

From what I understand with regards to this second crash so far it hasn't really been confirmed that it was an MCAS problem, although preliminary signs seem to point to it. So far the prevailing narrative is that some pilots (especially in these fast growing airlines in places like Kenya and Ethiopia) weren't clearly informed about the proper procedure in the event of the MCAS system behaving improperly. But since the black box data from the second crash hasn't been analyzed yet, this may not prove to be the case.

AlbertAnonymous said...

That French Air plane that crashed into the ocean 10-15 years ago was kind of similar. Some sensor or another malfunctioned and the “plane” kept telling the pilots to pull up. Apparently they were so used to the “automated” flying that none of them (other than the captain - who was on a break out of the cockpit because it was a long flight) could fly the plane by feel.

I read the black box transcript years ago. So sad. They were in a stall and didn’t know it. Plane dropped out of the sky 30,000 feet because it had no lift, but they had so much time to correct it except they never just “flew the plane”. Captain got back to the cockpit, plane was losing all kinds of altitude and one pilot says something like “why are we dropping I’ve been pulling back on the stick the whole time”

Finally the captain says “noooo — push forward, lower the nose” trying to get airflow back over the wings to create the lift, but it was too late.

Really sad. Captain’s last word on the recorder .... “merde”.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

exhelodrvr1 said...

And, per usual, Trump's tweet (about the complexity being an underlying cause) was valid.

A sure sign that Trump colluded with Russian hackers to bring down the plane...

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Ignorance is Bliss said...

A sure sign that Trump colluded with Russian hackers to bring down the plane...

I mean really, how would Trump know about the complexity if he was not involved...

Paul said...

"What you don't know won't hurt you.... but it might kill you!"

gilbar said...

The problem is the system takes corrective action even when the auto-pilot is off, and even when the pilot is intentionally trying to perform the opposite action.

apparently, ONLY when the auto-pilot is off. The auto-pilot is smart enough not to stall the plane; but stupid humans Are. And once they stall the plane, a stupid human will probably KEEP pulling back on the yoke (otherwise, he wouldn't be stupid). So, if the software detects that a stupid human is trying to stall the plane by pulling back on the yoke, the plane won't let him. SAFETY!

Of course, The Problem IS: the only way the software can tell that a stupid human has asked for a too high angle of attack, is through a sensor... Which has to be kept cleaned and maintained by ANOTHER STUPID HUMAN. If the sensor is fucked, so is the plane. Stupid humans!

Christopher said...

Here's my beef: they installed this additional "safety feature" for what reason? I don't recall a string of crashes as a result of jet liners stalling on takeoff. I don't even recall a single incident. Was this a matter of Boeing going the car manufacturer route and installing a feature for no other reason than they could?!

This 737 isn't just a slightly modified version of its predecessors. The engines in particular are larger and their weight and positioning altered the aircraft's center of gravity. So they behave a bit differently in flight, and the MCAS system under the microscope is a safety feature that forces the nose down in certain circumstances. This is new. You can disengage it but you have to be on to of things and familiar with the aircraft's systems. Some pilots feel they haven't been adequately trained on that and other changes.

MCAS is a bit of a kludge. You wouldn't design an aircraft from scratch this way.

rhhardin said...

I imagine the thinking is that the pitch-up is unstable. Power from the engines at high angle of attack (low airspeed) causes a pitch-up moment; that pitch-up raises the effect further, and so on. A classic instability, and not commanded.

Whereas traditional airplanes, and hence pilot instincts, are used to stable airplanes - if you take your hands off, the airplane recovers by itself. If it's going too slowly, the nose falls and speed increases; if it's going too fast, the nose rises and it slows down. In this case if it's going too slowly, the nose rises further, making it worse.

So probably they though some active-control-like intervention was needed.

The problem comes in with a bad sensor, probably; or maybe a double failure.

rhhardin said...

The engines in particular are larger and their weight and positioning altered the aircraft's center of gravity.

It's not the center of gravity but that the thrust is ahead of the center of gravity, and directed downwards at high angles of attack; that produces a pitch-up moment, and that dynamics produces an instability in the airplane pitch if uncorrected. (Bigger pitch-up moment as the pitch-up gets bigger). Whereas normal airplanes are stable, namely correct anything unusual without a command to the contrary.

gilbar said...

This goes to automatic cars this way:
If we stipulate that the super computer is a better driver than a stupid human (better vision, better road feel, faster response time);
Then that is Only true is the car is maintained properly.

Who's better at detecting an object in the road? a stupid human? or a malfunctioning LIDAR?
Of course, the machine Should be better at detecting mechanical failures; but, they're not

rhhardin said...

Basically, you could say, downward directed thrust ahead of the center of lift makes the airplane tail-heavy. Tail-heavy airplanes are unstable.

gilbar said...

rhhardin, i never realized you were a pilot;
isn't it hard to key while flying? or do you break down and use voice?

Martin said...

There was an article at MarketWatch (iirc) yesterday about how it might be a good time to buy Boeing shares on the dip.

After this, not so much.

rhhardin said...

Too much ignition noise. My planes never had a radio, however. No starter, even.

rhhardin said...

Stability if the enemy of manouverability. Fighters tend to be neutral stability, or (if they have active controls to counteract it) unstable.

Boeing is thinking of the software as an active control.

exhelodrvr1 said...

gildar,
"Then that is Only true if the car is maintained properly. "

Not to worry. The Federal Department of Automatic Car Maintenance will be taking care of that, with their semi-annual inspections and required periodic maintenance that only certified mechanics can perform and validate.

rehajm said...

Who's better at detecting an object in the road?

Yes. What about if that object in the road is a cyclist emerging from stopped cross traffic against the light? My money’s on guy.

Oso Negro said...

Blogger Tregonsee said...
I flew the 737-800, retiring before the MAX was even considered, so I have no professional knowledge of this issue. However about 15 years ago when the 737-800 was entering service, there was a bug in the engine control software (FADEC) which could cause an engine to go to full power uncommanded. The only solution was to shut it down. After this happened to both Southwest and American Airlines flights, Boeing admitted that they knew this was possible, but considered it vanishingly unlikely. Turned out not to be vanishing enough.


Risk management, however quantitative, isn't a precise science. It's why I am uncomfortable on new jets until they have a few years of service behind them. It is a challenge to decide what to train and not train on software, even in simpler process control situation like refining.

AlbertAnonymous said...

Speaking of self driving cars. I glanced at something yesterday (think it was VOX) claiming that the sensors were better at detecting pedestrians that were white and therefore the cars were more likely to run over blacks. Even the frigging computers are racist!

Michael K said...

The problem comes in with a bad sensor, probably; or maybe a double failure.

Maybe the H1B visa holder writing the software,

Ingachuck'stoothlessARM said...

"low-slung brick" is not a phrase you want re: airtravel

iowan2 said...

Big picture.

Not enough pilots are available to fill the cockpits. The US pilots have flight hours. A large swath of the balance of the industry is getting their 'hours' on simulators. I have seen in the media? the co-pilot of the latest crash had 200 hours. If you look and aircraft crashes in the US, you have the Sioux City crash, and the ditching on the Hudson. I know the Sioux City crash that had over 180 survivors with about 100 deaths. It took months, with dozens of different pilot crews, thousands of attempts before anything close to the controlled crash that the Capt Haynes accomplished. The Hudson river ditching had a much better outcome as far as no lives lost, but Sullenberger was racked over the coals for making the choices he did. Only after lots of simulator attempts did his actions get vindicated.
The point is simulator time does not equal actual flight hours. These two pilots would have likely crashed and lost all aboard, if their experience was on flight simulators.
To address situation of the lower experience of pilots, plane manufacturers have compensated by more of the flight being computer controlled. More computer control, coupled with pilots lacking sufficient flight hours, results in pilots not understanding if the plane is acting wrong, or just responding to computer commands.
We are at this time attempting to balance between experience, and technology. It will get worked out in time.
Air travel is still safer than any other travel.

Michael K said...

It sound exatcly like the auto pilot routine what brought down a 747 over the ocean a few decades ago. ‘Dynamic control’ problem- who, exactly is in charge of flying the plane?

Yes, a pitot tube iced over and the airspeed input went away. The software could not cope.

Big Mike said...

Here's what happens when software takes over a plane. This was the first flight of the Airbus A320. Yes the pilot was too low and too slow, but he applied normal takeoff/go around control inputs and the plane's software wouldn't let him pull up.

WisRich said...

iowan2 said...
Big picture.
--------

Agreed. Your comment reminds me of the Aisana crash in San Francisco. Pilot was too reliant on automated flying and couldn't handle a visual approach, even on a calm sunny day.

johnhenry100 said...

A problem with automatic control of anything, including planes, is that the operators, pilots in this case, get no experience.

Because they have no experience, other than just monitoring operation, when something happens, they don't know how to handle it. Not necessarily that they can't figure it out given time. But a lot of times there is no time to figure it out.

I worry about automated cockpits.

The problem is actually a plot point in Neal Stephenson's book "Reamde" (one of his great books. Portal). In that case with airport security guards.

John Henry

SGT Ted said...

"Here's my beef: they installed this additional "safety feature" for what reason?"

Yup

Nonapod said...

Who's better at detecting an object in the road? a stupid human? or a malfunctioning LIDAR?

To be fair, if the system has been designed logically a LIDAR that wasn't working properly would cause the system to switch to manual control anyway. I know I get warning messages when the collision warning sensors in my car have been obstruted by snow or road salt or whatever.

It's a virtual certainty that a properly designed driverless system will be far superior to a human in terms of safety. Driverless cars will eventually (most likely) reduce casualities due to motor vehical accidents by hugely siginificant amounts. But it's also true that no matter what, there will still accidents that will be unavoidable. If a huge tree suddenly falls into the middle of the road right in the immediate path of the vehical it doesn't really matter if a human or computer is controlling the car.

Of course there will be bugs, errors, and general design flaws that will crop up that may occasionally lead to accidents as well. But I still suspect that overall those types of incidents will be exceptions rather than the rule, that the lives saved will greatly outweigh the lives lost because of these edge case scenarios.

Robert Cook said...

"It's a job security issue. The software is taking over."

No. It's an issue of not knowing what new software has been installed or what it does or how it may interfere with the pilot successfully operating the plane, especially in emergency situations.

Original Mike said...

"They said, "Look, we didn’t include it because we have a lot of people flying on this and we didn’t want to inundate you with information."

How many more things did they hide in the software without telling the pilots?

johnhenry100 said...

Blogger rhhardin said...

Whereas normal airplanes are stable, namely correct anything unusual without a command to the contrary

RH (and any other pilots)

I seem to remember reading an article years ago that some instability in an airplane is a good thing. Perhaps having to do with maneuverability? The instability would have to be controllable by the pilot, of course, or the software.

Could you comment on this? I'm not a pilot though I did take ultralight flying lessons 30 years ago.

I told one of my students that I was learning to fly ultralights. He was a Naval Aviator, Commander, had flown in Vietnam. He thought I was nuts. No way he would fly one of them. "Too dangerous" (Says the guy who was shot at)

John Henry

johnhenry100 said...

Never mind, I now see you already did.

John Henry

mockturtle said...

To me, it seems miraculous and wonderful that so many planes take off and land every day without mishap.

Original Mike said...

"Of course there will be bugs, errors, and general design flaws that will crop up that may occasionally lead to accidents as well. But I still suspect that overall those types of incidents will be exceptions rather than the rule, that the lives saved will greatly outweigh the lives lost because of these edge case scenarios."

I'm sure Boeing engineers used exactly this rationalization. Problem is, there's no evidence to this effect. It's just blind faith. My gut tells me the opposite. Pilots/drivers getting no experience actually causes more crashes. Who's to say who's right?

exhelodrvr1 said...

johnhenry,
"A problem with automatic control of anything, including planes, is that the operators, pilots in this case, get no experience"

That's what simulators are for - it will be very interesting to find out if the changes this software causes (good and bad) have been incorporated into the simulator training syllabi.

Big Mike said...

After this happened to both Southwest and American Airlines flights, Boeing admitted that they knew this was possible, but considered it vanishingly unlikely. Turned out not to be vanishing enough.

@Tregonsee, as the retired designer of computer systems the part of Boeing's rationale I highlighted in your comment just totally infuriates me. In mathematics there is a Law of Large Numbers that relates observations to true expected value. But I have a different Law of Large Numbers: if it involves computers and it can happen, then it will happen.

A couple decades ago a Fokker 100 being flown by the Brazilian TAM airlines had an uncommanded thrust reverser deployment during takeoff. There was a failsafe control that was supposed to prevent that from happening, but it failed. No problem -- there was a backup failsafe that automatically retarded the throttle on the engine with the deployed thrust reverser so that the pilots didn't have to deal with one engine trying to take off and one trying to slow the plane down. But because failure of the failsafe was vanishingly unlikely, no one coached the pilots what the throttle moving back to idle meant. The first officer wrestled with the throttle until he broke the second failsafe and moved the throttle to takeoff power, and at that point a fiery crash became inevitable.

BJM said...

Something smells bigly. Were pilots given simulator time on the new systems? If not, why not? If so, did Boeing rig the simulators?

Michael K said...

Your comment reminds me of the Aisana crash in San Francisco. Pilot was too reliant on automated flying and couldn't handle a visual approach, even on a calm sunny day.

That incident was the opportunity for one of the great pranks in the history of TV news.

johnhenry100 said...

Iowan said

The Hudson river ditching had a much better outcome as far as no lives lost, but Sullenberger was racked over the coals for making the choices he did.

Nobody's ever heard of Jeffery Skiles (unless they attend my troubleshooting workshop)

I was impressed with Sullenberger landing the plane in the Hudson safely. I don't know what other options he might have had. Having seen the animation of the flight and listening to the cockpit voice recorder, I don't see any. (Perhaps I need to see the movie)

Skiles was co-pilot and actually had more hours as pilot in command than Sullenberger. When the engines failed, the first thing he did was turn control over to Sullenberger. Then he pulled out a paper manual, turned to the page for emergency engine restart, and started going through the paper checklist.

I play the animation and recording to emphasize the need for checklists in plant operations and eliminate the common excuse of "When a machine is down I don't have time to use a paper checklist"

I sat next to a deadheading pilot on a flight several years ago and discussed this with him. He pulled down his Jep case, pulled out a manual and quickly found the restart checklist. He said he would never attempt a normal start much less an emergency restart without the checklist.

He also said that he would do it with paper. The electronic display is more convenient but could go bad at the worst possible moment. Paper never fails.

The animation is really cool and you can see it here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jZPvVwvX_Nc

The other reason I use the simulation is because of how calm everyone is. I've seen people get more excited getting a hamburger at McD's. Getting excited is a sure way to fail.

(For Ann, Tom Wolfe addressed this calmness regarding fighter pilots in combat in "The Right Stuff)

John Henry

Big Mike said...

Experience airline pilots may want to weigh in, but my impression here is that Boeing wanted to save money by not redesigning the wings and pylons even though the new engines on the 737 Max 8 are larger and heavier. If the plane is grounded for good, the way that the DC-10 should have been grounded after American Airlines flight 191 crashed in Chicago.

Big Mike said...

I also understand that President Trump personally ordered the FAA to ground the 737 Max 8 right effing NOW.

Guy's got common sense. No wonder he seems so out of place in politics.

Regarding my comment at 10:31, make that permanently grounded.

gilbar said...

johnhenry100 said... when something happens, they don't know how to handle it. Not necessarily that they can't figure it out given time. But a lot of times there is no time to figure it out.

Of course, this is Not a problem. IF the pilot has a note from his doctor, the world will give him more time (and, a relaxing environment to work in); just like schools do with testing

gilbar said...

johnhenry said... Getting excited is a sure way to fail.

Truer words have never been spoken

Darrell said...

The House Speaker needs a plane.

Robert said...

That incident was the opportunity for one of the great pranks in the history of TV news.

Thanks, Michael K -- that makes my day every time.

Michael K said...

the way that the DC-10 should have been grounded after American Airlines flight 191 crashed in Chicago.

That was a maintenance error, not design. The Iowa City crash was related to the third engine.

johnhenry100 said...

Just a side note on Checklists: A great book on the use of checklists is "The Checklist Manifesto" by Dr Atul Gawunde.

As a doctor he focuses on hospital OR's but also on other areas including industry and F-1 racing.

One reason we hear about instruments being left inside patients, wrong limbs or organs removed and other horror stories is absence of checklists.

There is a BBC documentary that covers most of the info in the book here. Well worth watching. I can't find it on Youtube just now but there is a lot of other stuff by Gawunde. Here's one that looks promising. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yo1oAxF7YO4

In case anyone has not figured it out by now, I am a HUGE believer in both SOP's (very detailed. For training and reference) AND checklists (simplified version of SOP. For daily use)

John Henry

Michael K said...


Blogger Big Mike said...
Here's what happens when software takes over a plane. This was the first flight of the Airbus A320. Yes the pilot was too low and too slow, but he applied normal takeoff/go around control inputs and the plane's software wouldn't let him pull up.


That incident was also a possible example of cheating by the manufacturer to blAme the pilots.

The TV documentary series Mayday also reports claims in Season 9 Episode 3 that the flight recorder might have been tampered with and indicated that four seconds had been cut from the tape; this was shown by playing back a control tower tape and comparing it to the remaining tape. The pilot argues that he attempted to apply thrust earlier than indicated in the flight recorder data. When he increased throttle to level off at 100 ft, the engines did not respond. The pilot claims that this indicated a problem with the aeroplane's fly-by-wire system rather than pilot error.

Big Mike said...

@Michael K, the Turkish Airlines crash in France was caused by poor DC-10 design, and the maintenance error that caused the American 191 crash was also -- arguably -- caused by poor design. The crash of United 232 was caused by the "vanishingly unlikely" design error trap.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

The issue of risk is that the odds of a passenger who flies 3 or 4 roundtrips a year getting killed in an airline crash is quite low. But airline crew fly much more than that and so their odds are much higher. Pilots have the most information and incentive. Ground mechanics might have more information, but the least personal incentive.

Andrew said...

The Left has a new talking point (from Maddow and others). Trump is to blame for the Boeing accidents because of both deregulation and the government shutdown. If you look online people are saying Trump has blood on his hands. These people are delusional.

BleachBit-and-Hammers said...

Boeing is a private company. How on earth could the shut down have anything to do with Boeing?

The left lie lie lie and their dutiful faithful hivemin eat it up with a spoon.

Joe said...

This strikes me as very much a management cover-your-ass thing. There are likely plenty of emails from underlings warning of the exact problems encountered along with recommendations to make the software feature opt-in, but management overruled these recommendations and went ahead. I've seen this scenario play out numerous times in my career, though never with deadly consequence.

Leland said...

I don't recall a string of crashes as a result of jet liners stalling on takeoff. I don't even recall a single incident.

It doesn't just function at takeoff. However, the single incident was Air France 447.

The published instructions for a stall at takeoff for a large commercial jet is to go to full throttle and maintain a nose up attitude. The concept being that there is sufficient thrust at low level to power through a stall. That doesn't mean hold a very high pitch angle, but it works.

For Air France 447, the stall was occurring at cruise flight level. Here, normal stall procedures taught in early flight training should be used, which is: get the nose down, build up speed, regain stability. Unfortunately, the co-pilot followed low-altitude stall procedures and tried to maintain a positive pitch. The result was the loss of 228 people. Throughout the plummet the CVR picks up the stall warning, but none of the crew acknowledged that warning. It was only in the final seconds that a senior pilot, that was on rest and rushed to the cockpit to figure out what was happening, noticed the co-pilot holding back pressure on the stick. Air France 447 was an Airbus 330, which has separate flight control sticks and does averaging of command inputs. The flaw was mostly in the Airbus design, but Boeing decided to implement a feature to help prevent the situation.

rhhardin said...

Rush is explaining the 737 MAX. As when he explains economics, he gets everything wrong.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

BleachBit-and-Hammers said...

Boeing is a private company. How on earth could the shut down have anything to do with Boeing?

The FAA does regulate the airlines, and it is conceivable that Boeing would have an upgrade ready to roll out, need FAA approval, and not have anybody available to grant the approval. But if that was the issue, then the upgrade should have rolled out right after the shutdown ended.

And if either the FAA or Boeing thought this was an urgent issue, the FAA could have kept people working on it. Neither the FAA nor Boeing thought it was that urgent.

BleachBit-and-Hammers said...

Ig is bliss - that is such a stretch.

Michael K said...

the maintenance error that caused the American 191 crash was also -- arguably -- caused by poor design

I would be interested in the reasons. What I have read suggested that is was a shortcut used in engine servicing that resulted in damage to the mounting bolts.

During the investigation, an examination on the pylon attachment points revealed some damage done to the wing's pylon mounting bracket that matched the shape of the pylon's rear attachment fitting. This meant that the pylon attachment fitting had struck the mounting bracket at some point. This was some important evidence, as the only way the pylon fitting could strike the wing's mounting bracket in the observed manner was if the bolts that held the pylon to the wing had been removed and the engine/pylon assembly was being supported by something other than the aircraft itself. Therefore, investigators now could conclude that the observed damage to the rear pylon mount had been present before the crash actually occurred, rather than being caused by it.

They had used a forklift the support the engine.

The story is here.

The design issue, I have always thought, was the third engine, which was involved in the Iowa City case. The compressor failed and damaged the controls of the tail.

Eventually, the DC10 lost out because three engines were more expensive than two,.

rhhardin said...

The selling point of the 737 was that it's low to the ground, making servicing of all kinds easier. But it limits the engine size, starting off a series of design work-arounds.

Leland said...

An eyewitness told AFP the plane came down in flames.

“The plane was already on fire when it crashed to the ground. The crash caused a big explosion,” Tegegn Dechasa recounted at the site littered with passenger belongings, human remains and aeroplane parts around a massive crater at the point of impact.

“The plane was in flames in its rear side shortly before the crash. The plane was swerving erratically before the crash.”


For all the newly minted aviation experts; I'd like an explanation of the eyewitness account claiming the aircraft was already on fire when it crashed. My understand is the MCAS automatically trims the pitch down. Can one of the experts explain how a trim down creates a fire?

Michael K said...

Is there video of the crash ? "Lie like an eyewitness" is an old term,.

rhhardin said...

Eyewitnesses, unless they're aviation experts, get everything wrong.

BleachBit-and-Hammers said...

My point is also - Boeing was not shut down.
I have no idea why 2 of their Max planes crashed. These planes crashed outside of our nation. Until we get the real answers, the left keep spinning their standard daily "Get Trump" agenda. News as narrative. That is the bigger story.

So much for "news" in the US. It's not curious or real - it's D-Party state run.

rhhardin said...

The odd thing about Rush is he seems to lack normal guy interests, or anyway the capacity to pick guy stuff up.

rhhardin said...

Both of Rush's parents were pilots of their own Cessna 180, so Rush didn't pick up anything from that either.

rhhardin said...

Might have been Cessna 170. Anyway a tail-dragger.

Francisco D said...

That incident was the opportunity for one of the great pranks in the history of TV news.

Everyone needs to see that video. It is hilarious!

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

"Look, we didn’t include it because we have a lot of people flying on this and we didn’t want to inundate you with information."

Not a smart move IMHO. Boeing can not now say: "Look! It is right there in the book. Do you folks not read the books we put out with the equipment?"

Oso Negro said...

@JohnHenry100 - What kind of plant operations are you involved in?

MayBee said...

Boeing said, "It's un-sinkable!"

Salubrious201 said...

rhhardin: Your unsupported assertions are factually incorrect. Rush worked for a baseball team, is a huge football fan, and loves planes and technology. I understand you don't like him, but I think there is some confirmation bias at work.

johnhenry100 said...

Oso,

I am a consultant and focus on measuring and improving manufacturing operations. Particularly reducing changeover time between products (Think of Coke changing from a 12oz bottle of Coke to a 16oz bottle of Sprite. 2-3 times a shift sometimes)

I also have several workshops on Changeover, Troubleshooting, Tool Usage, Vibratory feeders, OEE, production line design as well as custom training.

I work in all industries including food, beverage, pharma, medical device, machining, household goods, plastic molding to name a few. Even spent a week in Mexico once working with a guy setting up a chain of dialysis clinics. I helped him work some kinks out of his prototype clinic.

More info at changeover.com or call/email me if you want to discuss. I am always happy to chat about manufacturing.

John Henry

BleachBit-and-Hammers said...

Good thing our crack-fire leftwing press are SO amazing in their curiosity and due diligence as it pertains to investigative work.

CNN - MSNBC, ABC, CBC, NBC Vanity Fair... et al... they really are the Coveington teen - Jussy Smolette press.

Sam L. said...

"'They said, "Look, we didn’t include it because we have a lot of people flying on this and we didn’t want to inundate you with information."'"

Sounds like criminal negligence to me.

MayBee said...

Mary Shiavo said last night that the programming talent at Boeing far outstrips the ability of the FAA, so they rely on Boeing to test and report their software. And to be fair, that probably is enough because Boeing doesn't want their planes to crash any more than the FAA dos. But it may start creating a bubble, where the designer's assumptions about how well it works get built into the cake.

Anyway, I hope they work this out quickly with no more loss of life.

bagoh20 said...

"Imagine the same software controlling 260 million cars in the US alone."

I wish cars could be as reliably safe as the worst commercial planes.

Look at it another way: Imagine if commercial planes were flown by the same people who drive next to you on the road.

I'm a pretty good driver myself. I can roll a joint with a can of beer between my legs while Googling the closest weed dispensary and propositioning a streetwalker, and do it all at double the speed limit. That's why I would be a great pilot. I have 120 solo hours in a Cessna 172, and hundreds of hours in a hang glider. Those maneuvers are exceedingly more difficult in the air though, and I have yet to pull of the propositioning part. The ladies don't seem to hear me, or are intentionally ignoring me.

gilbar said...

this is way manual transmissions should be banned! They are Completely unsafe!
If you are eating a burger and tuning the radio (or texting); you NEED both legs to safely steer!

Original Mike said...

"this is way manual transmissions should be banned! They are Completely unsafe!
If you are eating a burger and tuning the radio (or texting); you NEED both legs to safely steer!"


I manage it (well, not the texting part).

Inga...Allie Oop said...

“The odd thing about Rush is he seems to lack normal guy interests, or anyway the capacity to pick guy stuff up.”

Maybe he’s a soap opera woman.

Michael K said...

Rush's interests seem to include sports and women. What else is there?

mandrewa said...

From what I understand there are two main theories out there about what is going wrong.

One idea is that the problem lies with pilots who have a lot of experience flying Boeing 737s and not expecting the change in behavior of the new Boeing 737s. So we have the uncommon situation where if the plane starts to, well I'll skip the description of the situation, but there is a great deal of experience the pilots cumulatively have about what to do in that situation. But with the new software if they do what they used to do, then they fly into the ground. And this all happens within seconds, which is wonderfully reassuring for anyone taking a flight. On the other hand if the pilot does nothing, the software will probably correct the problem on it's own. Or the third hand, if the pilot believes there really is a problem that he or she has to solve, the key is to get the software turned off, because when the pilot and the software are fighting for control of the plane, it ends up diving into the ground.

And what a number of pilots have reported that have survived apparently similar situations is that it is difficult to turn off the software flying the plane. There is more than layer for one thing. You can think you have it off, but you don't really. And it is easy to get confused.

The second theory is that the whole problem is driven by a critical sensor that has been damaged and the software is getting bad data and it's flying the plane into the ground. Recovering from this requires the pilot to shut down the software, which is more difficult than it sounds, etc.

Underlying all this is the belief on the part of the aircraft manufacturers that statistically the software makes fewer errors than the pilots, and therefore they try to improve the software so that it can correct for pilot 'mistakes.'

Here's airline pilot Juan Brown's exploration of the sensor error theory on the Lion Air loss and also a step-by-step walkthrough of what the pilots would be seeing and doing.

Here's Juan Brown's presentation of what we know on the Ethiopian Airline crash. He's not making any speculations, just the information so far.

wholelottasplainin' said...

rhhardin said...
Too much ignition noise. My planes never had a radio, however. No starter, even.
**********

Then, how did you get clearance to land?

exhelodrvr1 said...

"Then, how did you get clearance to land?"

There is a lot of uncontrolled airspace and a lot of uncontrolled airports.

Jim at said...

There is a lot of uncontrolled airspace and a lot of uncontrolled airports.

Yep. If I've learned one thing from watching Airplane Repo, it's that.

daskol said...

I'm guessing simulators: no radios, no starters

Leland said...

Is there video of the crash ? "Lie like an eyewitness" is an old term,.

Eyewitnesses, unless they're aviation experts, get everything wrong.

I fully agree. Now imagine people, with no video and no other information beyond that a similar vehicle crashed, making technical assumptions as to what happened. Eyewitnesses are notoriously bad at recalling, but experts and non-experts thousands of miles away making assumptions are a bit worse, don't ya think? The NTSB has a rule of not issuing final reports until at least one year has passed from the incident, precisely to avoid jumping to conclusion prior to sufficient time to study the evidence.

Curious George said...

“The odd thing about Rush is he seems to lack normal guy interests, or anyway the capacity to pick guy stuff up.”

See, that seems more like you.



gilbar said...

rhhardin said..Too much ignition noise. My planes never had a radio, however. No starter, even
technically, i can top you there; no plane i ever flew had an engine. just altimeter, compass, rate of climb , ball in a tube, spoiler control. oh, and tow release. that was it

Drago said...

rhhardin: "The odd thing about Rush is he seems to lack normal guy interests, or anyway the capacity to pick guy stuff up."

Note to self: Football, golf and women no longer considered "guy stuff".

Drago said...

rhhardin: "The odd thing about Rush is he seems to lack normal guy interests, or anyway the capacity to pick guy stuff up.

Note to self: Football, golf and women no longer considered "guy stuff".

Addendum: Rush is also a big techie and has demonstrated a more than passing familiarity with the underlying programming and technical issues with particular technology products and technology in general.

So....

Note to self: Football, golf, women and technology/gadgetry no longer considered "guy stuff".

Drago said...

At this point, one feels compelled to ask rhhardin to define precisely what "guy stuff" is really in question here.

exhelodrvr1 said...

Are we talking Republican-guy stuff, or Democrat-guy stuff?

Drago said...

exhelodrvr1: "Are we talking Republican-guy stuff, or Democrat-guy stuff?"

An appropriate distinction.

Robert Cook said...

"The odd thing about Rush is he seems to lack normal guy interests, or anyway the capacity to pick guy stuff up."

What would those "normal guy interests" be?

iowan2 said...

Cigars, fine liquor, The NFL, golf, women, tech, leader of your profession, aviation.

OK I'm lost,if these are not "guy interests", what are guy interests? My gonads are shriveling as I type.

Mountain Maven said...

I'll wait for a respectable news source to report it.

rhhardin said...

The good result is whatever Aviation Week says about it.

rhhardin said...

I wonder if they turned off the system and had to confront the high angle of attack instability manually.

It might be like a beginner trying to deal with a tailwheel airplane, which is directionally unstable on the ground.

I have no idea how bad the instability is manually on the 737. Bad enough to put in a system to damp out beginnings of oscillations.

It's not preventing an unnoticed stall, I'd guess - pilots are perfectly capable of spotting that. But about making the dynamic instability go away with tiny automatic corrections that the pilots don't notice. Serving as an active control.

rhhardin said...

One way out of the instability is to cut the power. The power causes it.

JML said...

When we were doing a test with the C-17, we had some low level routes that required 'hand flying' the whole flight, ending with a manual released air drop. They needed a crew to volunteer to do so, and out of 11 crews, none wanted to. As an old 130 guy, I just didn't understand.

mockturtle said...

Apparently the latest word is that it's "a jackscrew, a mechanism that controls the angle of the horizontal stabilizer", according to a Seattle news source. My grandson says the pilot only needs to turn off a switch to disable it but perhaps some pilots haven't been fully instructed. One would hope that, if this is the offending mechanism, it can be easily removed or corrected. The 737 was a perfectly good plane so I'm not sure why it was necessary to add this device.

Hey Skipper said...

There is an epic amount of ignorance here. Truly epic.

Here is an expert's opinion as to what went on, and what should have.

How do I know? It's mine. And that I'm a B757 Captain, with only a fair amount of first hand experience to go on.


For Air France 447, the stall was occurring at cruise flight level. Here, normal stall procedures taught in early flight training should be used, which is: get the nose down, build up speed, regain stability. Unfortunately, the co-pilot followed low-altitude stall procedures and tried to maintain a positive pitch.

No. A "child of the magenta line" didn't know how to fly the airplane, and consequently put it into a stall.

I don't recall a string of crashes as a result of jet liners stalling on takeoff. I don't even recall a single incident.

Stalls on takeoff aren't the issue. Rather, stalls in other flight regimes — mishandled go-arounds, for instance — are.

In order to certify the airplane, it has to have certain handling characteristics. Changes to the MAX 8 put its behavior during recovery from low airspeed, low thrust stalls outside acceptable bounds. MCAS was implemented to compensate for those issues.

My grandson says the pilot only needs to turn off a switch to disable it but perhaps some pilots haven't been fully instructed.

That isn't correct.

An MCAS failure is an instance of uncommanded pitch trim. As a pilot, I don't care why the pitch trim isn't doing what it is supposed to do; rather, my focus is on dealing with the consequences. Which are the same regardless of the cause: remove power to the primary pitch trim (which, through the jack screw, controls the angle of the horizontal stabilizer).

mockturtle said...

remove power to the primary pitch trim

Maybe that's what he meant. His remarks came to me via my daughter so maybe she interpreted as 'turning off a switch'. Anyway, thank you for the information. Can you enlighten me as to why this feature was added to the Max 8?

Hey Skipper said...

Avoiding as many details as possible, the B737 Max had engines that were larger in diameter than anything that had ever been installed on the 737. This presents an engineering problem, as the original 737 design had very short landing gear struts. As engine diameters have gotten larger, this has required more elaborate ways to keep them from hitting the ground during crosswind landings. With the Max, this meant mounting the engines further forward, and higher, than previously.

The result aggravated what has always been a handling issue with airplanes having wing mounted engines. The correct response to stall recovery is to do two things simultaneously: reduce AOA (lower the nose) and increase thrust. However, because the engines are below the wings, increasing thrust creates a very pronounced nose-up force, to the extent that if a stall is entered at and low speed and idle thrust, the upward force generated by increased engine thrust can overcome the aerodynamic force available to push the nose down.

With the Max, Boeing decided that the thrust induced nose-up pitching moment had gotten sufficiently pronounced that the flight control system needed to step in and automatically trim the airplane nose down in order augment the pilot's response.

Hey Skipper said...

I forgot to add that both the increased diameter of the engine cowlings and their positioning further forward also, because of the air flowing around the engines at nose high attitudes, aerodynamically increased the nose up pitching moment.

mockturtle said...

Thank you, Skipper!

Hey Skipper said...

mockturtle:

Among the commenteriat here, I hold you in the highest esteem.

You are more than welcome.