Boeing May Halt Production of 737 Max Aircraft If Issues Not Fixed by End of Year: ずくなしの冷や水


Boeing May Halt Production of 737 Max Aircraft If Issues Not Fixed by End of Year

Congressional Deregulation Has Left Air Safety Standards ‘Out of Control’ of FAA
A new report by the New York Times reveals the extent to which Boeing was allowed by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to effectively self-regulate when it came to the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) software, the failure of which caused the crashes of two Boeing 737 Max 8 jets, killing 346 people.

Dr. Alan Diehl, an award-winning aviation psychologist and safety consultant, a major 1990s air safety whistleblower and the author of the book “Air Safety Investigators,” joined Radio Sputnik’s Loud & Clear to highlight how the FAA has been passing off approval of airplane systems to manufacturers for years.

“Full disclosure: I used to be an aircraft design engineer,” Diehl told hosts John Kiriakou and Brian Becker. “Not for Boeing, but even back 40 to 50 years ago, we had what are called designated engineering reps; these were actual company employers [delegated by the FAA] that were in charge of certifying. But this system has gone out of control now. In 2005, Congress - lobbied by the [George W. Bush] administration - basically forced the FAA to authorize this extensive delegation of inspection authority” to manufacturers, he explained.

According to a New York Times article published over the weekend, Boeing carried out its own assessment of the MCAS, which was not tested by the regulator. In addition, the agency allowed two “relatively inexperienced engineers” to “oversee Boeing’s early work on the system,” according to two people familiar with the matter who spoke to the Times.

On March 10, a Boeing 737 Max 8 plane operated by Ethiopian Airlines crashed soon after taking off from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, killing all 157 people on board. In October 2018, a Lion Air-operated 737 Max 8 crashed into the Java Sea just minutes after taking off from the Indonesian capital of Jakarta; all 189 passengers and crew were killed.

In both crashes, the plane’s new flight control feature, the MCAS, has been implicated as a cause. Initially designed to be a safety feature, MCAS is supposed to evaluate sensor data and push the plane’s nose down to keep it from stalling in the event that the nose of the plane reaches too steep an angle of attack (AOA).

The New York Times piece also reveals that during the development phase, Boeing introduced a riskier version of the MCAS that “relied on a single sensor” that could push the plane’s nose down even further than before.

“Boeing did not submit a formal review of MCAS after the overhaul. It wasn’t required by FAA rules. An engineering test pilot at the regulator knew about the changes, according to an agency official. But his job was to evaluate the way the plane flew, not to determine the safety of the system,” the Times reported.

Following the Lion Air crash, FAA officials decided not to ground the 737 Max, instead opting to publish a notice for pilots outlining emergency procedures. According to anonymous sources who spoke to the Times, an FAA manager told agency engineers to remove the only reference to the MCAS from the notice.

“If you look at the genealogy of this huge problem that ended up killing these 346 people … I call it the three D’s. In 1957, when the FAA was formed, it was given [the responsibility to] promote as well as regulate aviation. After 1996, there was a terrible Valujet crash, and Congress said, ‘Well, don’t do the promoting anymore.’ They’ve been doing it for decades. Most of the FAA employees, it’s in their DNAs; they want to see manufacturers and these airlines succeed.”

“So, the first problem, the first D, was the dual-mandate, historically. Then we had: in 1978, Congress deregulated the airlines, which affected the manufacturers. Now, everything became bottom line. Congress didn’t give the FAA any more employees to oversee this vastly expanded industry. And then finally, in 2005, Congress mandated increased delegation [to manufacturers],” Diehl explained.

And that is exactly what the sources told the New York Times: that the FAA has been heavily relying on manufacturers’ engineers to certify aircraft.

“For decades, the FAA relied on engineers inside Boeing to help certify aircraft. But after intense lobbying to Congress by industry, the agency adopted rules in 2005 that would give manufacturers like Boeing even more control. Previously, the agency selected the company engineers to work on its behalf; under the new regulations, Boeing could choose them, though the FAA has veto power. Many of the agency’s top leaders embraced the approach. It would allow the FAA to certify planes more efficiently and stretch its limited resources. The regulator had also been finding it harder to compete for talented engineers, their government salaries unable to keep up with the going rates in the industry,” an excerpt from the Times reads.

According to Diehl, Boeing has already taken most of the necessary steps required to make the 737 Max safe again.

“Clearly this airplane should never have been certified, the way the MCAS system operated. But … I think they’ve [Boeing] done most of the things they need to do to make it safe … I’m not sure if the FAA will mandate this, but I think they need one other type of fix, and that is a so-called AOA alert, and here’s why. It’s not a complicated software patch, but the pilots need to know if the MCAS is going to start shoving their nose down. If you give them a hint that this is an MCAS problem, I think if that had been on the earlier aircraft, we wouldn't have lost those two planes and 346 people,” Diehl explained.

On its website, Boeing has released a statement on the “AOA Disagree alert,” stating that it is “issuing a display system software update, to implement the AOA Disagree alert as a standard, standalone feature before the MAX returns to service.”

Boeing May Halt Production of 737 Max Aircraft If Issues Not Fixed by End of Year
TEHRAN (FNA)- Boeing may reduce or halt the production of its 737 MAX aircraft series if the company is unable to fix a software glitch in the plane's system by the end of the year, President and Chief Executive Officer Dennis Muilenburg said during a teleconference on the second-quarter earnings.

"Should our estimate of the anticipated return to service change, we might need to consider possible further rate reductions, or other options including a temporary shutdown of the MAX production," Muilenburg stated in the teleconference on Wednesday, RIA Novosti reported.

However, Muilenburg added that they expect to maintain the current monthly production rate of 42 deliveries per month and by 2020 increase it to 57.

Global aviation authorities grounded the 737 MAX following two crashes - in Indonesia and Ethiopia - that killed a total of 346 passengers and crew because of a software glitch that prevented pilots from turning off a defective autopilot system that forced planes into the ground shortly after takeoff.

Boeing attempts to repair the defects are taking longer than expected, and the company does not expect the planes to be declared safe to fly by the US and other regulators until November at the earliest.

※ Business Insider認証済みアカウント @businessinsiderの2019/7/6のツイート
What's next for Boeing?

Boeing 787 Dreamliner caught in deepening probe into 737 MAX disaster

Anything to cut costs? Boeing accused of outsourcing 737 MAX software at $9 an hour
Boeing has been partially outsourcing software development to low-paid subcontractors to save costs, Bloomberg has learned, suggesting that inadequate quality control practices may have contributed to fatal 737 MAX crashes.

Newly graduated programmers employed by third-party software developers – including Indian HCL Technologies Ltd and Cyient Ltd – were making as little as $9 an hour, roughly four times less than their own experienced engineers who Boeing was actively laying off. The company reportedly outsourced flight-display software and programs for flight-test equipment. While the final code allegedly complied with their strict specifications, the efficiency of such work was below expectations, as subcontractors were pressured to avoid any major changes that could cause delay.

“It was controversial because it was far less efficient than Boeing engineers just writing the code,” Mark Rabin, a former Boeing software engineer who worked in a flight-test group that supported the MAX, told Bloomberg.

It took many rounds going back and forth because the code was not done correctly.

The American aerospace giant is in hot water following two fatal 737 MAX crashes which claimed a total of 346 lives. Both the Lion Air crash in Indonesia and the Ethiopian Airlines disasters were linked to the improper work of the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), which was designed to prevent the plane from stalling, but instead sent the aircraft into nosedives.

While both Boeing and HTC stressed that subcontractors were not involved in developing either the notorious MCAS nor the critical cockpit warning system, Bloomberg claims that third-party engineers did participate in some of the 737 MAX's software development. At least one HTC employer apparently claimed in their resume that they had come up with a “quick workaround” that helped “resolve [a] production issue” that could have caused delays and cost Boeing a lot of money.

“Boeing was doing all kinds of things, everything you can imagine, to reduce cost, including moving work from Puget Sound [outside of Seattle, Washington] because we’d become very expensive here,” a former Boeing flight controls engineer, Rick Ludtke, told the publication.

In addition to saving costs and production time, the involvement of Indian companies in particular “appeared to pay other dividends” for the American corporation, which was able to secure multi-billion-dollar contracts with the Indian military and commercial airlines, according to the report.

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