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Boeing Faces Accusations Over 787 Oxygen System Dangers

The Independent

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By Simon Calder

A former Boeing engineer has claimed that the planemaker cut corners on safety aboard the Boeing 787.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-50293927" John Barnett told the BBC that some passengers on the flagship long-haul jet, known as the Dreamliner, could have been left with no oxygen in the event of a sudden decompression.

He said that tests at the South Carolina assembly line suggested one in four of the aircraft’s personal oxygen systems could fail.

 In an accusation that adds to the pressure on Boeing, he also claimed that parts known to be faulty were fitted to the jet.
 

Boeing, whose safety culture is under intense scrutiny following two fatal crashes of the 737 Max, has denied the accusations.

Mr Barnett was a quality control manager at the Boeing plant in Charleston for three decades.

In April 2019 https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/20/business/boeing-dreamliner-production-problems.html" he told the New York Times that he had discovered clusters of metal slivers that, he said, were dangerously close to flight control wiring.

“I haven’t seen a plane out of Charleston yet that I’d put my name on saying it’s safe and airworthy,” Mr Barnett said at the time.

He has now told the BBC that some of the oxygen cylinders fitted onboard were faulty.

Part of his job was to “decommission” equipment that had had to be replaced – typically because of minor damage during assembly. The work included discharging oxygen cylinders.

Emergency oxygen is carried on every passenger jet in case of sudden depressurisation, as happened to https://www.independent.co.uk/travel/news-and-advice/southwest-airlines-latest-safety-record-passenger-died-ryanair-easyjet-qantas-a8313751.html" Southwest flight 1380 on a flight from New York to Dallas in April 2018.

While the Boeing 737 was flying at 32,000 feet, an uncontained engine failure broke a window. The oxygen system worked normally, but a passenger who was partially sucked out of the aircraft lost her life.

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Mr Barnett said that some 787 cylinders did not discharge as they were designed to do, and in a subsequent test of 300 such cylinders “straight out of stock”, 75 were found to be faulty.

He complained to his managers and subsequently to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), but the safety regulator said that Boeing was dealing with the issue.

Boeing told the BBC that in 2017 it had identified some oxygen bottles that were not deploying properly, but said: “We removed those bottles from production so that no defective bottles were placed on airplanes, and we addressed the matter with our supplier.”

The 787 had a troubled introduction into service. After lithium batteries on some planes combusted, https://www.independent.co.uk/travel/simon-calder/simon-calder-dreamliner-dont-fret-about-the-jet-yet-8457228.html" the Dreamliner was grounded for three months.

It is now one of the most successful aircraft, with British Airways, Norwegian, Tui Airways and Virgin Atlantic among many using the aircraft – though some 787s are currently grounded because of https://www.independent.co.uk/travel/news-and-advice/christmas-flight-cancellations-rolls-royce-trent-1000-engine-turbine-blade-failure-boeing-787-air-a8099201.html" faults with their Rolls-Royce engines.

Mr Barnett also claimed that workers fitted faulty parts from scrap bins to aircraft on the production line.

Boeing said it had “implemented corrective actions to prevent recurrence”. 

The former manager told the BBC: “Based on my years of experience and past history of plane accidents, I believe it's just a matter of time before something big happens with a 787.”

He is currently engaged in legal action against Boeing about what he says is the company’s adverse impact on his career.

The planemaker says: “Boeing has always focused on the safety of its products and people.

“We are more committed than ever to our shared responsibility to design, build and service the safest products: safe for all the teammates who design and build them, safe for the passengers who fly on them and safe for the people who service them.”

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European And Middle Eastern Regulators Raise Scrutiny Of 777X....

From Zero Hedge

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European And Middle Eastern Regulators Raise Scrutiny Of 777X As Confidence In Boeing, FAA Plummets

By Tyler Durden

In the latest blow to Boeing, whose sagging shares are helping to weigh on the Dow in Wednesday's thin pre-holiday trade, WSJ has published a story claiming that regulators in Europe and the Middle East are ratcheting up their scrutiny of the new 777x. The news followed a report about a failed stress test by mere hours.

The move marks the end of an era for American aviation, when international regulators simply trusted the US to handle oversight. It's an important sign of the confidence that has been lost as Boeing struggles to move on from the crashes, and mass groundings, of the 737 MAX 8.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency said in a statement it is performing a “concurrent validation” of the FAA’s certification of Boeing’s 777X, a new variant of the company’s popular wide-body jet. The plane is expected to be the first new airliner design from either Boeing or rival Airbus SE to come to market since the MAX crisis began. Two recent crashes of that jet exposed problems with its flight-control systems and FAA certification procedures. Regulators around the world grounded the entire fleet, creating turmoil for airlines and passengers world-wide.

The national regulator in the United Arab Emirates, meanwhile, also plans to separately scrutinize the certification process of the 777X, according to people familiar with the matter. While a small agency, the Emirati General Civil Aviation Authority wields outsize influence over the future of the 777X. That is because the U.A.E.’s state-owned carrier, Emirates Airline, is one of the new jet’s biggest customers. It is slated to be the first airline to fly the airliner in 2021.

According to WSJ, the regulators aren't insisting on performing their own complete independent certifications, rather, they're going to scrutinize the process used by the FAA.

 
 

European and Emirati regulators aren’t envisioning a full-blown certification of their own. Instead, they will independently scrutinize the processes used by the FAA and Boeing related to a number of specific systems on the plane, including its flight-control system and Boeing’s safety classification system, according to people familiar with the matter. They will also individually review the plane’s unique folding wings, these people said.

These reviews are perhaps the clearest sign yet that the FAA's status as the world's most reliable regulator has been lost, something that President Trump will need to blame on President Obama.

The separate reviews further undercut the FAA’s once-unchallenged stature as the world’s most influential regulator. The agency had lost credibility in the days after the crash of an Ethiopian Airways 737 MAX in March. That followed the deadly crash of a Lion Air MAX, under similar circumstances, late last year. The crashed killed 346 people in total.

There's no question that this is terrible news for Boeing, Fortunately, according to the latest reports, the 737 MAX should be back in the skies by early next year.

* * *

With the FAA reportedly preparing to inspect every 737 MAX individually before it signs off on the planes' return to the air - a decision that will likely delay recertification and add to Boeing's losses - the latest bad news for the aerospace firm comes from its hometown (well, sort of, Boeing is officially based in Chicago but the bulk of its operations are located in Washington State) paper, the Seattle Times.

The paper reported that a recent stress test for a new model of the Boeing 777 resulted in the fuselage (a fancy term for the body of the plane) ripping apart just below the FAA's official threshold for certification.

Driving the story home, the paper also published a grainy cellphone pic of the damage:

 

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Back in September, the ST and a few other outlets reported that there were problems with the stress test, and that a door had flown off the handle. This, as it turns out, is not only incorrect, but it minimizes the seriousness of what actually happened.

During the test, the plane's fuselage "split dramatically" along the underside of the plane near where the landing wheels are stowed. The body of the plane was rent open with the force of a bomb. Workers in another hanger nearby said the ground the shook and they heard a load explosion. The Seattle Times clarified that their earlier reporting about a door flying off its hinges was mistaken: the 777's doors close from the inside and are larger than the holes they cover, but one door was seriously damaged.

When Boeing tested the original 777 model in 1995, it kept going until the aluminum wings snapped at 1.54 times limit load. On the 787, it chose to stop at 1.5 and then ease the composite wings back down again. Breaking a pair of composite wings could result in release of unhealthy fibers in the air, so it’s likely that with the 777X also having composite wings, that was the plan again this time.

But as Boeing personnel along with six FAA observers watched from the windows of a control room, at 1.48 times limit load - 99% of ultimate load - the structure gave way. Under the center fuselage, just aft of the wing and the well where the landing gear wheels are stowed, the extreme compression load caused the plane’s aluminum skin to buckle and rupture, according to the person familiar with the details.

The resulting depressurization was explosive enough that workers in the next bay heard it clearly. One worker said he heard “a loud boom, and the ground shook.”

Then there was the secondary damage...

That then caused secondary damage: The photos show that the fuselage skin split part of the way up the side of the airplane, along with areas of bent and twisted structure that extended through the area around a passenger door.

A day after the incident, based on incomplete information, The Seattle Times and other media outlets incorrectly reported that a cargo door had blown out.

Unlike the plane’s cargo doors, which hinge outward, the passenger doors on airliners are plug-type doors that only open inward and are larger than the hole they close. But the structure around that passenger door just aft of the 777X wing was so damaged that the pressure blew the door out and it fell to the floor.

These secondary damage sites — the rip up the side of the fuselage, the door blown out — alarming as they might seem, are not a concern to air safety engineers. “The doors were not a precipitating factor,” said the person familiar with the details.

It’s the initiating failure, the weakness in that localized area of the keel, that Boeing must now fix.

As uncomfortable as it sounds, Boeing probably won't need to do a retest: Since the rupture occurred so close to the threshold level, the FAA will likely allow Boeing to make the necessary changes independently and then show its work via analysis.

A safety engineer at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), speaking anonymously without permission from the agency, said that because the blowout happened so close to the target load, it barely counts as a failure.

Boeing will have so much data gathered on the way to the 99% stage that it can now compare with its computer models to analyze the failure precisely, the FAA engineer said. It can then reinforce the weak area, and prove by analysis that that’s sufficient to cover the extra 1%.

One engineer said the rip actually isn't anything to worry about.

The engineer said it’s not that unusual to find a vulnerability when taking an airplane structure to the edge of destruction.

"The good news is they found it and can address it," the FAA engineer said. "They found a problem they can fix. They can beef up the structure based on analysis."

And here are some more details about the test, including an explanation of the FAA's standards, as well as what happens to the test plane during the test.

The test conducted that day was the final test of this airplane, which was fixed in a test rig inside the Everett factory specifically to be stressed close to destruction. The jet was surrounded by scaffolding and multiple orange weights hung from the airframe. Wires were hooked to instrumentation that studded the surface to measure every stress and deflection, the data monitored in real time by engineers sitting at control room computers.

As the test neared its climax, weighted pulleys had bent the jet’s giant carbon composite wings upward more than 28 feet from their resting position. That’s far beyond the expected maximum deflection in normal flight of about 9 feet, according to a person familiar with the details.

At the same time, the fuselage was bent downward at the extreme front and aft ends with millions of pounds of force. And the interior of the plane was pressurized beyond normal levels to about 10 pounds per square inch — not typically a requirement for this test, but something Boeing chose to do.

All this simulated the loads in a flight maneuver where a pilot would experience a force of 3.75 G, compared to the maximum of 1.3 G in normal flight.

The combination of the bending forces  on the wing and fuselage created a high compression load on the bottom centerline of the fuselage — the keel — according to the person, who asked for anonymity because the details are sensitive.

Federal certification regulations require engineers to ratchet up the forces until  they reach “ultimate load” — defined as 1.5 times the “limit load,” which is the maximum that would ever be experienced in normal flight — and hold it there for at least three seconds.

Unfortunately for Boeing, traders weren't in the mood for excuses, and sent the company's shares lower in premarket trade...even as the broader market was set to open at record highs.

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American Airlines Staff "Begging" Not To Fly On Boeing 737 Max Planes

From Zero Hedge

death_traps_111919

By Tyler Durden

While Boeing continues trying to repair its 737 Max plane and its image with Wall Street, there's one group it certainly hasn't won back over yet: American Airlines flight attendants. 

Flight attendants for American are "fearful" of flying in the 737 Max again, even with the plane nearing regulatory approval to fly again, according to RT. The planes have been grounded for months now, following two fatal crashes that left over 340 people dead. 

The Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) says they want to be fully versed on what has changed with the plane and why it is safe to fly in again. The union is seeking information from Boeing, US regulators, American Airlines, the carrier’s pilots and others in order to make a final decision. 

APFA President Lori Bassani said: “I hear from some flight attendants every day and they are begging me to not make them go back up in that airplane. We want to know without a doubt that it’s safe to fly.”

Meanwhile, Boeing said this week that the FAA is on track to certify its redesigned flight-control software by the middle of December, at which point it could start delivering new Max jets to the world's airlines. 

Last week, American Airlines said it was going to keep the 737 Max off of its schedules until at least next March. Previously, the company had said it was going to resume flights by January. American plans on making safety "exhibition flights" to prove to customers the jets are safe, with executives, workers and reporters on board, before returning the Max to commercial service. 

Meanwhile FAA Chief Stephen Dickson, who was personally lobbied by Boeing's CEO to clear the plane on an accelerated timeline, put out a video last Friday where he told his staff to resist "pressure" to clear the plane quickly. 

 

"I know there's a lot of pressure to return this aircraft to service quickly. But I want you to know that I want you to take the time you need and focus solely on safety. I've got your back," he says.

"In this process, the only driving force is safety," he continues. 

American's President, Robert Isom, says that the company's employees must also be comfortable with the plane before it will fly again. He commented: “After the FAA has given their sign of approval, after our pilots have said ‘Yes we’re ready to go,’ we intend to fly that aircraft so that our team is comfortable. So our pilots, our flight attendants, our partners, media – you name it – all of us as executives; we intend to fly that aircraft before it goes into commercial service.”

Still, the APFA says it wants a "global consensus" on the plane's safety before its members will again work on it.

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Boeing Backlash Builds: Airbus To Win Huge 120 Plane Order From Air Arabia

From Zero Hedge

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By Tyler Durden

Two Reuters sources have been informed that Air Arabia, an Emirati low-cost airline, will abandon its interest in Boeing 737 MAX jets and order over 100 Airbus A320 jets as soon as next week.  

The decision comes after Boeing's 737 MAX jet remains grounded worldwide following two fatal crashes. 

The sources said the Emirati budget carrier would likely order 120 jets from Airbus at the Dubai Airshow next week.

The order would more than double the size of the carrier that currently operates 55 narrowbody aircraft. 

The sources said Air Arabia was divided between Airbus and Boeing, but the two 737 MAX crashes created too many uncertainties for the carrier that had to side with Airbus for fleet expansion.  

Last month, Florida-based Spirit Airlines was assessing if it should buy Airbus or Boeing planes. It decided to order 100 new Airbus A320s over the 737 MAX. 

Airbus is on track this year, for the first time since 2011, to outpace Boeing in annual deliveries amid the 737 MAX groundings. 

Airbus expects to deliver 571 jets in the first nine months of 2019.

Delivers for A321 Neo jumped 57% for the first nine months, hitting a four-month high in September.

Boeing has since halted 737 MAX deliveries and cut production by 20% to 42 per month. 

The 737 Max crisis has allowed Airbus to take in a flood of new orders. 

Boeing is dealing with the company's most massive crisis in 100 years.

The backlashing against Boeing is only in the beginning innings.

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When Was I Radicalized? (Boeing edition)

From Epsilon Theory

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By Ben Hunt

Remember Dick “Gorilla” Fuld, former CEO of Lehman Brothers, who oversaw a criminal fraud conspiracy that went by the name of Repo 105?

Dick Fuld never saw a courtroom, much less a jail cell.

 

When was I radicalized?

When Dick Fuld walked away scot-free from Lehman with half a billion dollars in cash comp and stock sales during his tenure.

I thought of Dick Fuld today when I saw this picture and read this article.

Prosecutors Face Complex Path to Charging Boeing Over 737 MAX   [Wall Street Journal]

To bring a successful criminal case against Boeing itself, prosecutors would have to show that executives repeatedly concealed or ignored the 737 MAX’s engineering problems, experts said.

And there is a larger economic and political component: A corporate indictment and potentially huge sanctions must be balanced against the economic and national-security risks of incapacitating the country’s second-biggest defense contractor.

The article is correct, of course. There’s no way that the Justice Dept. will ever bring a criminal case against Boeing, not one that hits top management or really shackles the company.

And I know that Boeing said today that Muilenburg won’t get a bonus or (more) stock grants until the 737 MAX is flying again, but this article got Radical Me thinking …

I wonder how much money Muilenburg and his management team and his board of directors have pocketed since he took over as CEO in 2015 and Chairman in 2016?

I wonder if executive compensation practices have changed over that span since … you know … Boeing started buying back nine billion dollars of stock every year?

Tell you what, I’ll make it easy and I won’t even count the cash compensation of Boeing management since 2016. I’ll just stick to the direct value of the sterilized stock options they exercised and the restricted stock units they were vested. And I won’t count any compensation of any sort here in 2019.

Over the 3-year period 2016 through 2018, Boeing management and directors pocketed $5.4 billion in exercised stock options and restricted stock units.

And by pocketed, I mean that $5.4 billion of the $25.2 billion in stock buybacks that you thought was a “return of capital” over that span was actually a USE OF CASH to either buy shares directly from management or mask the dilution of non-management shareholders.

In 2017 alone, the one good stock-performance year Boeing has had in a decade, $3.8 billion went to Boeing management and directors. That’s 29% of cashflow from operations for the year. The board totally reconfigured their stock compensation system to accomplish that. You know, the board that Muilenburg took over the year before.

And as they say on Wheel of Fortune, once you buy a prize, it’s yours to keep. There’s no clawback here. There’s no repercussion over the 737 MAX, either civil or criminal, for Muilenburg and crew. The only thing the 737 MAX debacle is going to make more difficult is for these same guys to pocket ANOTHER $5 billion.

And yes, some portion of this stock-based comp went to rank-and-file Boeing employees … I figure 5-10% is a good rule of thumb for most S&P 500 companies. But remember, I’m not even counting cash comp here. This is three years of stock comp for the management of an American icon of a company that had two so-so years and one really good year.

Is Muilenburg a billionaire from being a Boeing management lifer?

A guy who says his top management “insights” are:

“React quickly. Events can change everything. So must you.”

“Know your team. What really matters to them, on every scale?”

“Chart the course. What should the next 100 years look like?”

I dunno if he’s a billionaire yet. But he’s gotta be close.

LOL.

Yeah, It’s Still Water.

It’s the greatest transfer of wealth in 100 years. Not to founders. Not to visionaries. Not to inventors. Not to entrepreneurs. Nope … to managers.

This is the story of every S&P 500 company over the past five years.

Oh yeah, one more thing for the “Yay, Stock Buybacks!” crowd.

Over the past 20 years, Boeing has NOT bought back stock in two of those years. That was way back in 2002 and 2003, back when the top management and board jobs were just a twinkle in Dennis Muilenburg’s eyes.

Wanna guess what the total value of exercised stock options by Boeing management was in the years where they did NOT have stock buybacks to sterilize the issuance and so had straight shareholder dilution?

  • In 2002, with zero stock buybacks, the total value of exercised stock options was $31 million.

  • In 2003, with zero stock buybacks, the total value of exercised stock options was $19 million.

  • It was hundreds of millions in the years before that, when they had stock buybacks.

  • It was hundreds of millions in the years after that, when they had stock buybacks.

  • It is BILLIONS of dollars today, as Dennis Muilenburg cranks up the buyback machine to its current record levels.

I believe it is impossible to separate the modern management practice of self-enrichment through massive levels of stock-based comp from the modern management practice of investor placation through massive levels of stock buybacks … without regulating one or the other practice.

But I’m all ears for any ideas.

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If It’s A Boeing I’m Not Going

From theautomaticearth.com

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By Raúl Ilargi Meijer

During the Senate hearing into Boeing on October 29, Senator Jon Tester told the company’s CEO Dennis Muilenburg: “I would walk before I would get on a 737 MAX. I would walk.” He added: “There is no way … You shouldn’t be cutting corners and I see corners being cut.”

That’s all fine and well, but the hearing lays bare a giant gap in US law: that of accountability. Muilenburg is the “ultimately responsible” in a chain of command that is responsible for killing 346 people. But he is still the CEO, even if he was demoted from the chairman of the board position. Which was taken over by another -10 year- veteran of the company by the way. Fresh insights galore.

If you are employed by a large company, you can sign off on such decisions, the ones that kill people, and walk away unscathed. It reminds one of Monsanto/Bayer, which just annnounced that the number of Roundup lawsuits against it went from 18,000 in July to 43,000 today. Bayer at the same time announced that its turnover rose by 6% in Q3. 43,000 lawsuits and they’re doing fine, thank you.

In that same vein, Boeing shares rose 2.4% last night after the hearing (“a sign investors were relieved.”) What the “investors” buying those shares may have missed is that India’s budget carrier IndiGo ordered 300 new aircraft from Airbus, at an initial cost of $33 billion -which will be subject to a juicy discount, but still-.

Now, Boeing is America’s biggest exporter. It’s also one of the cornerstones of Pentagon policy, a huge provider for the US military. So one can only expect the Senate to be lenient, to appear to be tough but let things more or less go. Still, the fact remains that Muilenburg et al made cost-cutting and other decisions that killed 346 people. But CNCB still labeled this a “brutal Senate hearing”. Yeah. Define ‘brutal’.

Maybe the thing is that those deaths were not in the US, but in Indonesia and Ethiopia. Think maybe the Senate is influenced by that? What do you think would have happened if two 737 MAX’s had fallen out of the sky in the US, even if only in deplorables’ territory? We can sort of imagine, can’t we?

And no, it’s not an all black and white picture, some people involved made some sense (via Seattle Times):

Boeing 737 MAX Should Be Grounded Until Certification Process Is ‘Reformed’ – Senator

..at least one member of the Senate committee that grilled Muilenburg on Tuesday suggested the troubled aircraft shouldn’t be flying again until a much-maligned Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) oversight program retreats from its practice of delegating authority to Boeing and other aerospace manufacturers.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal — citing revelations in recent news reports of a Boeing engineer’s claims that the MAX’s safety was compromised by cost and schedule considerations, and that the company pushed to undercut regulatory oversight — pushed back against findings that the FAA’s practice of delegating more safety certification authority is only likely to increase.

“The story of Boeing sabotaging rigorous safety scrutiny is chilling to all of us — and more reason to keep the 737 MAX grounded until certification is really and truly independent and the system is reformed,” said Blumenthal, D-Conn.

But, you know, the entire narrative is about ‘the company’, not about the people in the company who make these fatal decisions. They can do whatever they want, secure in the knowledge they will never be held to account. For financial losses perhaps at some point, but not for the loss of life. At best, they’ll get fired and walk away with a huge bonus. And that’s just wrong.

And it’s not like there were no warning signs (via Seattle Times again, from Oct 3):

Boeing Rejected 737 MAX Safety Upgrades Before Fatal Crashes – Whistleblower

Seven weeks after the second fatal crash of a 737 MAX in March, a Boeing engineer submitted a scathing internal ethics complaint alleging that management — determined to keep down costs for airline customers — had blocked significant safety improvements during the jet’s development. The ethics charge, filed by 33-year-old engineer Curtis Ewbank, whose job involved studying past crashes and using that information to make new planes safer, describes how around 2014 his group presented to managers and senior executives a proposal to add various safety upgrades to the MAX.


The complaint, a copy of which was reviewed by The Seattle Times, suggests that one of the proposed systems could have potentially prevented the crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia that killed 346 people. Three of Ewbank’s former colleagues interviewed for this story concurred. The details revealed in the ethics complaint raise new questions about the culture at Boeing and whether the long-held imperative that safety must be the overarching priority was compromised on the MAX by business considerations and management’s focus on schedule and cost. Managers twice rejected adding the new system on the basis of “cost and potential (pilot) training impact,” the complaint states.

This one is from AP, Oct 18. These are just the most recent revelations, this stuff goes back years. Neither Boeing nor the FAA ever did anything, until the planes started falling from the skies:

Messages From Former Boeing Test Pilot Reveal 737MAX Concerns

A former senior Boeing test pilot told a co-worker that he unknowingly misled safety regulators about problems with a flight-control system that would later be implicated in two deadly crashes of the company’s 737 Max. The pilot, Mark Forkner, told another Boeing employee in 2016 that the flight system, called MCAS, was “egregious” and “running rampant” while he tested it in a flight simulator.

“So I basically lied to the regulators (unknowingly),” wrote Forkner, then Boeing’s chief technical pilot for the 737. The exchange occurred as Boeing was trying to convince the Federal Aviation Administration that MCAS was safe. MCAS was designed at least in part to prevent the Max from stalling in some situations. The FAA certified the plane without fully understanding MCAS, according to a panel of international safety regulators.

Forkner also lobbied FAA to remove mention of MCAS from the operating manual and pilot training for the Max, saying the system would only operate in rare circumstances. FAA allowed Boeing to do so, and most pilots did not know about MCAS until after the first crash, which occurred in October 2018 in Indonesia.

As I covered extensively before the issue at hand is that Boeing, in order to cut costs, among other things, decided to have just one -active- “angle-of-attack” sensor (which measures the angle of the plane vs income air, it’s located at the bottom front of the fuselage) on the plane. All it takes is one bird flying into it to compromise and/or deactivate that sensor. And then neither the software not the pilots know what to do anymore. But yeah, it’s cheaper… One sensor won’t do, nor will two, you need at least three in case one is defective. But yeah, that costs money. Seattle Times once again:

Messages From Former Boeing Test Pilot Reveal 737MAX Concerns

Boeing’s chief engineer for commercial airlines acknowledged that the company erred by not specifically testing the potential for a key sensor to erroneously cause software on the 737 Max to drive down the plane’s nose. In both fatal crashes, faulty data from one of two angle-of-attack sensors, which measure the pitch of the plane against the oncoming stream of air, caused the 737 Max’s Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS, to drive down the jet’s nose, which pilots struggled to counteract before ultimately entering a fatal dive.


John Hamilton, vice president and chief engineer of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, told senators that the company “did test the MCAS uncommanded inputs to the stabilizer system, due to whatever causes was driving it, not specifically due to an AOA sensor.’’ Senator Maria Cantwell of Washington, the Senate Commerce Committee’s top Democrat, asked if he now thought that was wrong. “In hindsight, senator, yes,’’ Hamilton replied.

They didn’t test the hardware at all, they tested the software! And all they have to say is that that was wrong. But only in hindsight! And then they tried to fix the mess they created with a new software program, MCAS, but didn’t even tell the pilots it existed. I kid you not! They did this because it might have required pilots to do more training, which raises the price of a plane, and they were already losing out to Airbus.

And lest we forget, this all happened because when Boeing was busy spending its capital on buying back its own shares, Airbus had developed a new plane to accommodate a much more energy-efficient -though larger- engine. When Boeing figured that out, they had neither the time nor the money left (because of the share buybacks) to develop their own new plane.

So what they did was they stuck such an engine (which they did have) onto a 737 model that was not equipped for the much bigger and heavier load. That in turn lead them to work on a software solution to lift the nose of the plane despite that load, which might have worked in theory but was always a bad idea, something in the vein of putting a giraffe’s neck on a hummingbird.

But Muilenburg and his people kept pushing it all, because they knew they had been caught awfully wanting, and they needed that more cost-efficient plane. And this is how all the ensuing mess started. It was all because of money. Of the execs being caught with their pants down, and trying to hide their naked hairy asses.

And then, as I started out this essay, they are still not held accountable. The company will face billions in ‘repair’ damages, some of them may lose their jobs or bonuses, but none will be held responsible for the deaths of those 346 people.

That is just not right. Not in the case of Monsanto, and not in that of Boeing. Not all Boeing planes are disasters, but the 737 definitely is. Donald Trump a few months ago suggested they should just rebrand the plane, give it another name, do some expensive PR work and bob’s your uncle. But let me ask you, would you fly on a 737, even if under another name? Far as I know, all they did was change the software, not the hardware.

Plus, the other day some airline, was that in South Korea?!, grounded a whole bunch of 787’s because of cracks on their wings. Look, I’m not saying Boeing’s in trouble. I’m just saying Boeing’s in deep trouble. But then, you know, they’ll kick out Muilenburg and some other guys, and a few FAA heads will retire, and they’ll declare the rotten apples gone, and we’re off to a whole new start. Yay! But the 346 people will still be dead.

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Mapping The World's Longest Non-Stop Flights

From Zero Hedge

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By Tyler Durden

Over the weekend, Qantas conducted a research flight to test human limits on ultra-long haul commercial services.

Statista's Niall McCarthy details  that the test flight involved a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner flying from New York to Sydney with 50 passengers onboard and it was expected to complete the 10,200-mile journey in 19-and-a-half hours.

If the research proves successful, Qantas hopes to start operating direct flights from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to New York and London by 2022.

Today, a Singapore Airlines flight connecting the city-state with Newark International Airport is the longest commercial flight worldwide, both in terms of distance and time. The journey is a mammoth 16,700 kilometers and lasts just under 19 hours. The route was in operation before with a four-engine A340-500 but it was eventually axed because it became unprofitable amid rising fuel prices.

It was eventually relaunched with a new fuel-efficient and ultra-long range Airbus A350-900. There are many ways of measuring the world's longest flights with factors such as strong head winds having a major impact on the length of time an aircraft stays airborne. As a result, claims about the longest commercial flights have always proven controversial.

 

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You will find more infographics at Statista

The infographic above provides an overview of the longest flights and it shows how the new Singapore Airlines route is undisputedly the world's longest.

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Another Disaster? FAA Finds Cracks On Wings In 5% Of Older Boeing 737s

 

From Zero Hedge

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By Tyler Durden

At this rate, maybe President Trump is right, Boeing should change their name and rebrand the company. 

A new problem for Boeing has developed in the last several weeks, and it's not related to the 737 MAX, but rather an earlier 737, called the 737 Next Generation, or 737NG.

After a comprehensive inspection of 737NGs across the world, Boeing has said 36 737NGs have developed cracked wing supports, resulting in emergency groundings of the damaged planes with pending repairs, USA Today reported.

The 36 planes only represent 5% of the 686 planes inspected. From 1997, Boeing produced 7,043 of the aircraft (as of Aug. 29, 2019 figures), there is no report on how many of these planes are currently flying and or how many Boeing plans to inspect. 

Several major carriers have already been affected by the major design flaw. 

Brazilian carrier GOL grounded 11 planes with pending repairs. Southwest Airlines grounded two planes with pending repairs, as well. 

"Boeing regrets the impact this issue is having on GOL, as well as our 737NG customers worldwide," the company said in a statement. "We are actively working with our customers with inspection findings to procure parts, develop repair and replace plans, and provide all the technical support needed to safely return every impacted airplane to service as soon as possible." 

USA Today says the cracks were discovered when several 737NGs were converted from passenger planes, stripped down to bare bones for future use in the air freight industry. What engineers found when they deconstructed the airplanes was surprising. 

The damaged component is called the pickle fork, and it looks exactly like it sounds -- a fork that attaches the wings to the fuselage. The cracks were discovered on 737NGs that were heavily flown. The FAA warns the cracks could "adversely affect the structural integrity of the airplane and result in loss of control of the airplane" if not fixed immediately. 

 

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The news of cracked wings comes several days after European flight regulators raised new concerns about the flight-control system of the Boeing 737 MAX.

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Boeing 'Whistleblower' Says Company Focused On Profit Over Safety Of Doomed 737 Max

From Zero Hedge

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Bombshell Report: Boeing 'Whistleblower' Says Company Focused On Profit Over Safety Of Doomed 737 Max

 

By Tyler Durden

The New York Times has published a bombshell report about a new complaint filed against Boeing by a senior engineer, alleging the aircraft maker concentrated on prioritizing profits over the safety of the 737 Max airliner.

The Times learned about the new development from a source who requested anonymity, said the Boeing engineer filed the complaint after the two crashes (Lion Air accident in October 2018 and Ethiopian Airlines accident in March 2019).

Curtis Ewbank, the senior Boeing engineer who filed the complaint, called out top executives for publicly misrepresenting the safety of the plane.

Ewbank designed the 737 Max cockpit systems that pilots use to monitor and control the airplane.

He said in the complaint that managers wanted him to examine a new system for measuring the plane's airspeed. The new system, known as synthetic airspeed, uses several sensors to measure how fast a 737 Max is flying.

Ewbank said when the angle-of-attack sensors, which measure the plane's position in the sky, malfunctioned, it would send bad data to other flight systems that would cause the aircraft to crash.

In both crashes of the 737 Max, it's widely believed that the angle-of-attack sensors failed, then sent bad data to the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) flight control system, which sent the planes into uncontrollable nosedives.

Ewbank said in the complaint to Boeing, "It is not possible to say for certain that any actual implementation of synthetic airspeed on the 737 Max would have prevented the accidents." He said Boeing cut corners on the development of the 737 Max, at the expense of safety, all to please shareholders.

 

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Ewbank's complaint said that Ray Craig, a chief test pilot of the 737 Max, wanted to examine additional sensors on the plane, such as the synthetic airspeed system. Still, Boeing executives frowned upon the idea because it would cost too much.

"I was willing to stand up for safety and quality, but was unable to actually have an effect in those areas," Ewbank said in the complaint, adding, "Boeing management was more concerned with cost and schedule than safety or quality."

A former senior Boeing employee, who spoke on the condition of anonymity with The Times, said senior executives considered installing the new sensors on the 737 Max, but realized it would be too difficult and risky for the plane.

Ewbank's complaint wasn't filed during the development process of the 737 Max. Ewbank feared that upper management would retaliate if he did so.

He stepped forward this year and explained in the complaint that it's the "ethical imperative of an engineer — to protect the safety of the public."

"Boeing is not in a business where safety can be treated as a secondary concern," Mr. Ewbank wrote in the complaint. "But the current culture of expediency of design-to-market and cost cutting does not permit any other treatment by the work force tasked with making executive managements' fever dreams a reality."

And by prioritizing profits, Boeing executives certainly seemed to rush the 737 Max from development into production, at the expense of safety, not just to contend with the Airbus A320neo, but to unlock billions of dollars in stock buybacks that were tied to significant milestones relating to plane's sales. This enabled Boeing's stock to rise nearly 300% in 36 months, while executives used the opportunity to dump company stock.

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737 MAX Certification Could Open Big Rifts in Global Aviation Market

From engineering.com

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By Matthew Greenwood

The European air safety regulator could break with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on certifying the Boeing 737 MAX for flight again—which could cause significant turmoil in the global aviation sector.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) is insisting on conducting its own flight tests of the aircraft before allowing it to fly again in Europe—rather than just relying on FAA certification.

“EASA intends to conduct its own test flights separate from, but in full coordination with, the FAA,” said agency spokesperson Janet Northcote. “The test flights are not scheduled yet. The date will depend on the development schedule of Boeing.”

It’s not unusual for regulators to send their own staff to conduct tests on aircraft being manufactured outside of their jurisdiction—the FAA used its own pilots to test several Airbus planes before certifying them for service in the U.S. Most of the time, regulators ultimately take their lead from the agency in the country where the plane is manufactured.

But there has never been a certification process as high-profile as this one.

At the heart of EASA’s concerns are the aircraft’s angle-of-attack vanes—sensors that detect the angle of the plane’s nose relative to oncoming air. Malfunctioning vanes triggered the two fatal crashes that resulted in the grounding of the 737 MAX worldwide. Boeing planes use two vanes, while other plane makers—including Boeing’s European rival Airbus—use three or more to strengthen redundancy.

While EASA recognizes that two vanes are “the bare minimum requirement to meet the safety objectives,” the regulator states that “an architecture with three vanes can more easily be found compliant with the regulation.”

EASA isn’t demanding that additional vanes be installed—yet. But the agency has expressed serious concerns over whether pilots could handle angle-of-attack sensor failures during crucial stages of the aircraft’s flight such as takeoff. It remains to be seen if the regulator will be satisfied with Boeing’s proposed fix—which currently still relies on just the two vanes.

 

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If the European agency tells Boeing that the aircraft needs more vanes, it could spell trouble for the 737 MAX—and indeed all Boeing’s planes, since they each use the two-vane system.

The FAA has made no such demands on Boeing, and appears likely to conduct its certification flight in October—opening the way for the jet to reenter service in early 2020.

But if Boeing needs to install additional hardware to satisfy the EASA, then the company can say goodbye to a neat and tidy global return to service. Even with FAA certification, the plane will be banned from flying to European destinations: this will cause complications for Boeing’s manufacturing and delivery schedules. And the airlines that fly the 737 MAX will also have to juggle fleets and schedules alike—something they’ve already had to do, and do well, since the MAX was grounded.

Boeing will also need to spend significant amounts of money and time to get the planes up to EASA’s standards—a project much more complicated and expensive than just the software patch the Seattle-based aerospace giant is currently working on.

This points to troubling uncertainty about the FAA’s perceived trustworthiness. Regulators have previously been content to follow the FAA’s lead on issues like new plane certification. But the 737 MAX debacle has given the FAA a black eye due to concerns over its lax testing and enforcement. It appears that regulators are losing faith in the FAA.

The FAA was one of the last agencies to ground the plane after the second fatal crash. The first to ground the fleet was the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC)—which seems to have taken over the FAA’s role as the world leader in aviation regulation.

 

 

To add to the FAA’s new-found legitimacy problems, India is joining Europe in its intent to independently certify the passenger jet. The Indian Directorate General of Civil Aviation stated that it plans to conduct its own tests on the 737 MAX as well. It would appear that India doesn’t trust the FAA any more than Europe does.

The European Union and the United States currently have an air safety agreement that aims to create a consistent safety and certification regime in both jurisdictions. And the FAA has already approved parts of the 737 MAX that EASA didn’t directly oversee. But EASA has said it will conduct a “broader review of the design of the critical safety systems on the MAX,” according to new EASA director Patrick Ky. EASA had delegated that task to the FAA in 2017 when the plane was greenlit for service—but won’t be doing so again.

The last time a fleet was grounded was in 2013 when the Boeing 787 Dreamliners were pulled from runways around the world to fix electronics and battery issues—and global regulators worked closely and collaboratively to fix the problem, with EASA content to let the FAA take the lead as the primary certification authority. That certainly isn’t the case anymore.

Going back to the vanes, EASA’s Ky stated that Boeing had not implemented changes that would rectify the regulator’s concerns over the angle-of-attack sensors—which might mean that EASA will insist on additional vanes after all. This could add another worrying chapter to the 737 MAX’s tragic tale.

Read more about the 737 MAX’s difficult road back to certification at New 737 MAX Flaw Discovered as Boeing Aims for Recertification.

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Boeing Faces First Customer Lawsuit Over 737 MAX

From Zero Hedge

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By Tyler Durden

Expectations that the Boeing 737 MAX 8 will return to the skies any time in the near future have largely faded, and now, after dedicating billions of dollars to compensating customers, Boeing is finally facing their wrath in the courtroom. The FT reports that a Russian aircraft-leasing company has filed a lawsuit against the aerospace company seeking not only the return of the deposit it paid for the 35 MAX 8s that it ordered, but also punitive damages in the hundreds of millions.

Avia Capital Services, a subsidiary of Russian state conglomerate Rostec, accused Boeing of "negligent actions and decisions" that led to two deadly accidents and roughly 350 deaths. Regulators around the world grounded the 737 MAX 8 in response to the accidents, and investigations have pointed toward issues with the plane's software as the culprit.

In its lawsuit, Avia also claimed that the design of the MAX 8 was "defective", and - embracing a more conspiratorial tone - that Boeing knew about these defects bu withheld this "critical information" from US regulators and Boeing's customers.

 

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 The lawsuit was filed in Cook County circuit court in Chicago, where Boeing is based.

Avia ordered 35 MAX 8s, and paid a cash deposit of $35 million to secure its order. In its lawsuit, the company is seeking the return of this deposit, along with another $75 million of lost profits plus additional punitive damages.

The company's lawyer, Steven Marks of the Miami aviation law firm Podhurst Orseck, said Boeing had offered the company compensation for the MAX 8's problems, but that this compensation was "inadequate." Marks is also representing the families of some of the victims.

Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg has said it's possible that the MAX 8 could be re-approved for passenger service by October. But it's entirely possible that the CEO could be jawboning to convince customers to hold off from moving ahead with lawsuits. Of course, the families of the victims who died in the two plane crashes attributed to flaws in the 737 MAX 8's anti-stall system are moving ahead with their lawsuits, even after Boeing set aside $100 million for payoffs.

In the meantime, orders for new 737 MAX 8s have dried up, and if the plane isn't given the OK to return to the skies before the end of the year, it's possible that Boeing could halt production of its most popular aircraft, according to CBS News.

American firms like Southwest (the 737 MAX 8s' largest customer) have been far more understanding and willing to work with Boeing. But how much longer until their patience runs out, and they start filing lawsuits?

Though this hasn't been reflected in Boeing shares, it's still entirely possible that a flood of legal judgments could bankrupt Boeing.

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Boeing will hire hundreds..... as it prepares for 737 MAX’s return to service

From The Seattle Times

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Boeing will hire hundreds of temporary employees at Moses Lake as it prepares for 737 MAX’s return to service.

By Dominic Gates

Boeing said Tuesday it will begin hiring a few hundred temporary employees at Moses Lake to work on the grounded 737 MAX fleet and prepare the planes for return to service once regulators gives them clearance to fly again.

The company, which will provide paid housing and a meal allowance for the temporary hires, is looking for avionics technicians, aircraft mechanics, airframe and engine mechanics, and aircraft electricians.

The marshaling of resources indicates Boeing’s confidence that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) could grant approval to fly passengers on the 737 MAX again in little more than two months from now.

When regulators finally clear the MAX to return to service, all the grounded airplanes worldwide will need to have installed a new software package designed to fix the MAX’s flawed flight-control system — the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS). That’s the system that was implicated in the crashes of the Lion Air MAX in Indonesia last October and the Ethiopian Airlines MAX in March, killing a total of 346 people.

In addition, because all the jets will have been parked for at least six months by the time final clearance is given, each will require extensive maintenance work on the engines and other systems, followed by a couple of check flights to make sure everything is working well.

Boeing said all undelivered MAX airplanes that it has stored outside the Puget Sound region will be flown to Seattle and Everett for delivery to airline customers when the jets are ready to resume commercial flights. Moses Lake will serve as a nearby staging ground to do some of the maintenance work ahead of the deliveries.

Boeing is not providing details on the number of airplanes now parked, or the capacity, at each of those locations.

 

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The timing of the jet’s return to service worldwide remains unclear. The FAA is expected to approve a return to flight first, and for training it may require only that U.S. pilots complete an online course on a computer to update them on the new MAX system.

Regulators abroad may be slower in approving a return to flight, and some are likely to require full flight-simulator training for pilots. That’s because of concern that less-experienced pilots need hands-on practice in how to cope with the type of emergency that arose on the two crashed flights, when uncommanded movement of the horizontal tail repeatedly pushed down the nose of the plane.

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Latest 737 Max Fault... Rooted In Software

From Bloomberg

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Latest 737 Max Fault That Alarmed Test Pilots Rooted in Software

By Alan Levin

As U.S. government test pilots ran through dozens of flight scenarios on the Boeing Co. 737 Max in recent weeks, a potential failure got their attention.

The plane’s flight computer tried to push the aircraft’s nose down repeatedly during a simulator run, prompted by a stream of erroneous flight data. The Federal Aviation Administration pilot concluded commercial pilots might not have time to react and avoid a tragedy in a real plane.

That flaw -- the latest discovered on the family of jets involved in two fatal crashes since October triggered by a different failure that pushed their noses down -- was revealed by FAA last month. It threw new uncertainty on the return to flight of the Chicago-based company’s best-selling model and sent its engineers scrambling for a fix.

Interviews with people familiar with the failure suggest it triggered multiple, aggressive movements to lower the plane’s nose, which alarmed the FAA pilots and other officials. However, the nose-down motion didn’t occur as a result of a computer hardware fault, according to one of the people, who asked not to be named because he wasn’t authorized to speak about the matter.

That would add credibility to Boeing’s assertions that it can fix the issue with a relatively simple software change.

“We are confident that is a software update, not a hardware update,” Boeing Chief Executive Officer Dennis Muilenburg said during an earnings call on Wednesday. “It’s an understood update and we’re in the middle of working our way through that.”

Muilenburg said the company expects it can complete a software patch by the end of September, while cautioning that the timeline remains uncertain. The FAA, which must sign off on any fix in the glaring spotlight of the 737 Max investigations, hasn’t set a deadline or agreed with Boeing’s assessment that software changes alone will suffice.

The agency has declined to comment on the situation beyond a statement it issued June 26 saying the flaw was discovered during the routine process to test the aircraft. “The FAA recently found a potential risk that Boeing must mitigate,” the agency said in its statement without describing the details.

Two people briefed on the flight test shared more details of the failure than were released when it was revealed.

In the fault, a wing at the tail of the Boeing jet known as the horizontal stabilizer was rotating in a way that lowered the nose, according to both people. That same scenario occurred during fatal accidents off the coast of Indonesia and in Ethiopia when a safety feature known as Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System activated during a malfunction.

However, the newly discovered problem wasn’t triggered by MCAS, said one of the people.

It was prompted instead by multiple erroneous data streams in a flight computer that occurred simultaneously, the person said. It was simulated in tests even though it has never been documented to have occurred during flight, the people said. Anticipating every possible outcome of even the most unlikely failures is part of how safety assessments are conducted during certification.

The failure scenario was known previously and had been assessed in a safety analysis when the plane was certified before entering service in 2017. At that time, Boeing concluded that pilots could overcome the nose-down movement by performing a procedure to shut off the motor driving the stabilizer movement.

Projecting that pilots would mitigate a hazard from a malfunction is common on jetliners, but that was part of the reason that FAA approved MCAS initially, a now-controversial decision that is being reviewed by Congress and other outside panels. Even though it was possible for pilots in both fatal crashes to have counteracted MCAS, the crews were unable to do so.

When the newly discovered computer failure began trimming the nose down in the recent test, it was more difficult than expected for test pilots to counteract, according to the other person briefed on the tests, who also asked not to be identified.

The second person wasn’t able to confirm that faulty data streams triggered the nose-down movements.

One of the ways pilots are taught to respond to a so-called “trim runaway,” which is what the computer issue prompted, is to activate switches on the control column that move the horizontal stabilizer. Doing so can counteract the malfunction, even if only temporarily, so that pilots have more time to perform other emergency actions.

Using the trim switches to halt the horizontal stabilizer movement proved difficult, though test pilots were able to respond to the failure and maintain control. As a result, they concluded that a typical pilot might not be able to respond adequately, the people said.

Because the fault was triggered by specific streams of erroneous flight data, a new software patch can be devised that monitors the computer for that highly unusual condition and prevents movement of the stabilizer when it occurs, one of the people said.

The 737 Max family of aircraft has been grounded by the U.S. since March 13 and has cost Boeing and airlines billions of dollars. Boeing announced July 18 that it was reducing revenue and pre-tax earnings by $5.6 billion in the second quarter of this year.

American Airlines Group Inc. predicted Thursday that it would take a $400 million hit on profit this year due to the plane’s woes and Southwest Airlines Co. said it wouldn’t add the 737 Max back to its schedule until early next year.

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Southwest Ends Flights Out Of Newark Airport

From Zero Hedge

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Southwest Ends Flights Out Of Newark Airport As 737 MAX Grounding Takes Its Toll

By Tyler Durden

When Southwest reported its earnings Thursday morning, it also made a stunning announcement that shows just how badly the 737 MAX 8's best customer has been hurt by the grounding.

Just as Boeing warns that it could halt production of the troublesome 737 MAX 8 if the plane's return to the skies is delayed any longer, Southwest Airlines, the 737 MAX 8's best customer, is reportedly planning to cease operations at Newark Airport. The decision is a direct result of the 737 MAX 8's grounding.

A representative for the airline said the decision is a "necessary step" to mitigate damages from the "extensive delays" in the recertification process for the MAX. The airline is planning to consolidate its New York-area presence at LaGuardia Airport in Queens, WSJ reports.

The airline is planning to cease operations in Newark on Nov. 3. The airline launched service out of Newark in 2011 and was recently offering 20 daily departures to 10 cities.

At the time of the Ethiopian Air Crash, the second of two crashes involving the 737 MAX 8 that killed a combined 346 people, Southwest had received 31 737 MAX 8s, more than any other airline, and it had orders in for nearly 250 more.

Southwest said its Newark operations have been performing below expectations, while customer demand for more flights out of LaGuardia is "strong." Customers will be offered options to change their travel plans, and Southwest employees will have the opportunity to relocate to other locations, including LaGuardia.

Because of the 737 MAX 8's grounding, Southwest expects its available seat miles, a widely watched airline industry metric of passenger-carrying capacity, to decline by 1% of 2% YoY in 2019. Before the grounding, it had anticipated capacity growth of nearly 5%.

As revealed following yesterday's earnings report, Boeing now expects the 737 MAX 8 will return to the skies either late this year, or in January 2020. According to CEO Dennis Muilenberg, Boeing expects to submit its "final certification package" to the FAA in September.

Shares of the airline tumbled 5% on Thursday in premarket trading after the low-budget carrier said it doesn't plan to fly the 737 MAX 8 again until next year. It has removed the MAX 8 from its schedules through Jan. 5. Its Q2 revenues came in slightly below estimates.

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Boeing Thinks A Human Life Is Worth Just $150,000

From Zero Hedge

boeing737max_719By Tyler Durden

Two weeks ago, we noted how, after ignoring them for months (presumably at the behest of its legal department), Boeing had decided to dedicate $100 million (roughly 1% of its 2018 revenue) to the families of the victims from the Lion Air and Ethiopian Air crashes. However, that number came with a catch: Some of the money would be used for 'community development' and 'education efforts'.

Split among the families of the 346 victims, at $100 million, each family would receive just under $300,000 - a pittance when one considers that this is compensation meant to offset the taking of a human life.

But as it turns out, the families won't even get that much, because as CNBC reported on Wednesday, Boeing is planning to distribute only $50 million to the families of victims, and will retain Ken Feinberg (famous for being the special master of the US government's Sept. 11 Victim Compensation Fund) as co-administrator of victims' fund. The rest will presumably go to these unspecified initiatives that the company has mentioned.

For the record, this breaks down to just $144,508 per human life.

We're sure the callousness with which Boeing has treated the families of the victims of the two crashes that led to the global grounding of Boeing's 737 MAX 8 (and exposed serious flaws in Boeing's safety testing processes and the FAA's oversight) will make them even more willing to settle the multitude of litigation that the aerospace company is facing.

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Boeing Loses $5.9 Billion 737 MAX Order To Airbus As Saudi Airline Loses Patience

From Zero Hedge

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By Tyler Durden

The Saudi budget airline Flyadeal has lost patience with the ongoing grounding of Boeing's flagship 737 MAX airplane, and on Sunday announced it would not proceed with a $5.9 billion order for 30 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, instead opting for a fleet of Airbus A320 jets, with options for a further 20 of the jets.

According to Reuters, Flyadeal has been reconsidering a commitment to order the Boeing jets after two MAX aircraft crashed in Ethiopia in March and Indonesia last October, and which killed a total of 346 people, triggering the global grounding of the aircraft and wiped billions off Boeing’s market value. On Sunday, it finally pulled the plug when it announced it would take delivery of 30 A320 neos ordered by its parent, state-owned Saudi Arabian Airlines, at the Paris Air Show in June.

“This order will result in flyadeal operating an all-Airbus A320 fleet in the future,” it said.

Flyadeal, which has operated leased A320 jets since launching in September 2017, will take delivery of the new Airbus aircraft from 2021.

“We understand that flyadeal will not finalize its commitment to the 737 MAX at this time given the airline’s schedule requirements,” a Boeing spokesperson said in their most diplomatic tone as the last thing Boeing wants is the rest of the world following in Flyadeal's footsteps.

Boeing said in a statement that it wished “the Flyadeal team well as it builds out its operations”, adding that its workforce “continues to focus on safely returning the 737 Max to service and resuming deliveries of Max aeroplanes”.

The latest setback for Boeing comes after the Saudi airline signed a $5.9 billion deal for the Boeing aircraft in December but found it impossible to keep waiting for Boeing's regulatory hurdles to clear. Flyadeal said the order would “result in Flyadeal operating an all-Airbus A320 fleet in the future”.

This is hardly the last order cancellation for Boeing which has hundreds of billions at stake in its order backlog as the 737 MAX remains grounded worldwide and regulators must approve the fix and new pilot training before the jets can fly again. Oman Air warned in June it would hold talks with Airbus if Boeing did not provide support and recovery for the MAX. Meanwhile, Emirati carrier flydubai said in April it could order A320neos as replacements for the MAX jets.

Meanwhile, telegraphing that the MAX will remain grounded for even longer than anticipated, on Friday Europe’s aviation regulator outlined five major requirements it wants Boeing to address before it will allow the planemaker’s 737 Max to return to service, according to Bloomberg. One of them, about the jet’s autopilot function, hasn’t surfaced previously as an area of concern.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency has sent its list to both the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing; The FAA hasn’t publicly discussed details about what changes it’s demanding on the Max, so it’s difficult to know whether the EASA demands differ dramatically -- and whether they would significantly boost the cost and time to get the Max back in the air.

EASA’s checklist includes a number of issues that have been disclosed: the potential difficulty pilots have in turning the jet’s manual trim wheel, the unreliability of the Max’s angle of attack sensors, inadequate training procedures, and a software issue flagged just last week by the FAA pertaining to a lagging microprocessor. But the agency also listed a previously unreported concern: the autopilot failing to disengage in certain emergencies.

“Any of these could significantly affect the return to service, but we don’t know if they are actually going to become requirements or are they just items for discussion,’’ said John Cox, a former 737 pilot who is president of the aviation consulting company Safety Operating Systems.

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Why Boeing May Never Recover From 737 Debacle

Via Zero Hedge

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Authored by Marshall Auerback, this article was produced by Economy for All, a project of the Independent Media Institute,

Many of us are familiar with the acronym “FUBAR.” A recent New York Times article on the Boeing 737 fiasco provides a perfect illustration of the concept. We’re now learning that the company “built deadly assumptions” into its newly designed 737 Max aircraft and, specifically, its Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS).

Even worse, the Times account concludes that the recent air crashes that have resulted in a worldwide grounding of the Boeing Max plane “might have been avoided, if employees and regulators had a better understanding of MCAS” and if the US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) itself was not operating with outdated data on the software changes (which Boeing failed to provide).

The analysis is excellent as far as it goes. But the most damning fact only briefly hinted at in the article is that the problems were evident as early as 2012, some five years before the newest 737 version was marketed and sold across the globe.

At its core, this was a hardware problem, not a software issue. Even when Boeing was using a relatively “safer” version of the early MCAS software (that was later changed to a more dangerous version), the new 737 still had an engine too large to be accommodated in its traditional spot on the plane, which ultimately distorted “the relationship between the engine’s ‘thrust’ and its center of gravity,” as I’ve written before. The resultant aerodynamic problems could not be solved with a software “solution,” no matter how “safe” the original MCAS version (that was ultimately changed to an even more dangerous version) was purported to be.

Just don’t expect any blowback from Washington. The whole episode provides yet another sick illustration of how the entire system of governance in the US has degenerated into a fully fledged “predator state.” About the only good thing that might emerge from this whole fiasco is that Boeing will provide future Master of Business Administration students with a textbook example of how not to manage a crisis. Likewise, future historians and political scientists will marvel in incredulity at the magnitude of corruption that enveloped the US during this very dark time in the life of the republic. Assuming, of course, that there still anything left worth studying by that point.

This is also a story of deception, as The New York Times points out. Throughout the process, Boeing also actively misled the FAA whenever the industry regulatory overseer raised questions. Who was the agent of deception?

In this account, the Times identifies one of the leading protagonists responsible for the Boeing disaster, Mark Forkner. Forkner was “the Max’s chief technical pilot” – not merely a “test pilot” – who was in charge of the plane’s training manuals. More significant, he was Boeing’s point man who neglected to tell the FAA that the MCAS software “was in the midst of an overhaul, according to … three FAA officials.” Forkner requested removing the description of the MCAS from the pilot’s manual, and, as The New York Times reports, “Under the impression that the system was relatively benign and rarely used, the FAA eventually approved Mr Forkner’s request, the three officials said.”

The question is, was Forkner intentionally deceptive, or simply incompetent?

In his defense, the Times suggests that “Mr Forkner largely worked on flight simulators, which didn’t fully mimic MCAS,” implying perhaps that he didn’t have a full understanding of the MCAS software overhaul. If true, that would suggest that Boeing’s senior management wrongly appointed an incompetent to deal with the FAA.

The other interpretation is that Forkner’s lawyer might be telegraphing a legal defense, diminishing his role in anticipation of a lawsuit. That may be less credible, given that Forkner himself was a former FAA employee, thus in effect a revolving-door technological lobbyist (unregistered) who would therefore be well placed to deceive the FAA training-certification engineers into approving whatever training cover-ups Boeing needed to hide to sell more airplanes. Whenever the FAA pushed, Forkner pushed back.

The New York Times also parenthetically mentions that Forkner started his flying career as a US Air Force pilot. Given how the USAF conducts its own lobbying activities in DC, this was likely a formative influence on his revolving-door ethics and yet another example of the polluting influence of the military on a once successful civilian enterprise, given the Pentagon’s (especially the USAF’s) own pathologies in this area.

Even if Forkner is ultimately absolved of responsibility, it does not absolve Boeing. Rather, it represents a monumental management failure on the part of its stability and control aerodynamicists, not its software engineers.

 

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Recall that the genesis of this disaster was a problem of hardware, not just MCAS. The extra lift of the far larger-diameter engines of the 737 Max (placed on a different position on the wing) caused the plane to pitch up whenever it approached stall angles of attack at both high and low speeds. This is a problem that should have become glaringly obvious to the greenest of aerodynamics personnel at Boeing the moment the first wind-tunnel model was tested at angles of attack higher than stall (it may have even been obvious on even earlier fluid-dynamics computer-simulation results).

The New York Times notes the observations of Ray Craig, then Boeing’s chief test pilot, that the plane wasn’t flying smoothly even during the early development phase (that is, in 2012, five years before the first sales). After high-speed tests flown in the computer simulator, Craig noted that the newer model was not flying as well as the old model. In response, he advocated a hardware solution to rectify the problem, which Boeing management rejected on the grounds that such “high-speed situations were so rare that … the software would never actually kick in,” the first of many assumptions that would ultimately prove fatal in the two eventual plane crashes.

Reading between the lines, however, it is evident that the original software designers were aware of and had already quantified the pitch-up problem in the plane (which arose because of the larger engine that had affected the plane’s center of gravity) and therefore had already programmed it into the simulator before the test pilot runs in 2012.

To mitigate the hardware flaws, The New York Times explains that “engineers initially designed MCAS to trigger when the plane exceeded at least two separate thresholds, according to three people who worked on the 737 Max. One involved the plane’s angle to the wind, and the other involved so-called G-force, or the force on the plane that typically comes from accelerating.”

It is true that the initial MCAS software for the high-speed problem was a relatively safe and competent two-sensor, G-force and angle-of-attack solution. The problem is that this “fix” would not work at low speeds because G-forces at low speed were too small to trigger an alarm in the 737 Max.

 

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It is almost beyond belief that, once having tested and found a high-speed pitch-up problem programmed into the simulator in 2012, no one – neither the chief test pilot nor the aerodynamicists (the engineers responsible for the interaction of moving objects, such as airplanes with the atmosphere) – thought to check the wind-tunnel data or test the simulator to see whether there was a corresponding low-speed pitch-up problem.

I previously highlighted that low-speed pitch-up is far more dangerous than the relatively rare problem of very “heavy” or high angle-of-attack maneuvering at high speed. This is because takeoffs and landings occur at low speed, and takeoffs and landings are always done at relatively high angles of attack. But it was not until the 737 Max prototype was flown four years later – in 2016 – that anyone reported a low-speed pitch-up problem, and then it was not an aerodynamicist but, once again, a test pilot (Ed Wilson, the new chief test pilot for the plane) who insisted there was an issue.

Here is where the problems began to cascade. Since Boeing management had already imposed the MCAS Band-Aid (in lieu of a hardware fix, albeit a relatively safe version), the cheapest, quickest and easiest-to-cover-up fix for the impossible-to-ignore low-speed problem was to issue a new, and even more ineffective, Band-Aid to the existing MCAS. In the process, it changed MCAS from a relatively safe and competent fix to a disastrously unsafe, mindlessly stupid single-sensor solution. As The New York Times reported:

“The change proved pivotal. Expanding the use of MCAS to lower-speed situations required removing the G-force threshold. MCAS now needed to work at low speeds so G-force didn’t apply.

“The change meant that a single angle-of-attack sensor was the lone guard against a misfire. Although modern 737 jets have two angle-of-attack sensors, the final version of MCAS took data from just one.”

Amazingly, the change was not subject to any further scrutiny from the FAA because, according to William Schubbe, whom the Times describes as “a senior FAA official who worked with the training group,” Boeing had told him that “this thing is so transparent to the pilot that there’s no need to demonstrate any kind of failing.” In any event, the FAA had already repeatedly shown itself to be out of its depth in terms of determining the overall safety of the plane, having in effect subcontracted much of its oversight to Boeing itself.

The Boeing 737 crashes are tragedies. But what truly moves this tragedy into the realm of sheer predation and, indeed, criminality, is the (non-)response of the US government. In spite of everything we now know, there has been no rethink of amending this long-standing laissez-faire revolving-door regulatory approach, especially in the current White House. Consider that the newly appointed secretary of defense, Patrick Shanahan, a former Boeing executive, is already under investigation for allegedly lobbying improperly on behalf of his former company.

Additionally, the administration of President Donald Trump is rolling back safety regulations in the rail sector, in effect re-creating the self-regulatory conditions that now prevail at the FAA, reports Justin Mikulka from Desmog. In short, Trump’s predatory practices continue unabated: the swamp gets filled up even further as more of these fiascos occur. And the truth is that until regulatory bodies like the FAA get a proper budget that will allow them to take on the job of becoming credible third-party regulators, their actions will continue to prove ineffectual.

We can only imagine what is next – allowing the criminals to regulate the prison system? Beyond the scale of human tragedy, the whole episode provides another sad illustration that our system of governance remains profoundly sick, perhaps terminal. Washington policymakers continue to make the citizenry even more ill through their venal corruption – that is, when their political malpractice doesn’t literally kill them in the process.

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It's Airbus 13,000,000,000 - Boeing 0, On The First Day Of The Paris Air Show

From Zero Hedge

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By Tyler Durden

As the jarring truth about Boeing's "cost-cutting above all" philosophy involving the company's deadly, ill-fated 737 MAX (or whatever the company's ill-fated plane may be called soon) receives an ever-wider public appreciation, the company is finding it increasingly difficult to do business as usual.

Take the Paris Air Show, traditionally the venue where the world's largest aircraft makers lock in deals worth tens of billions of dollars. Well, the first day of the 2019 edition of this boondoggle couldn't have gone any worse for Boeing, and alternatively it couldn't have been better for Airbus, which locked in $13 billion in orders for new jets.

Boeing's tally? $0.

Among those lining up to order Europe's iconic (if subsidized) airlines included Air Lease Corp., the giant US leasing company, which agreed to buy planes worth $11 billion before customary discounts, including the new A321XLR. Virgin Atlantic also bought eight A330 wide-bodies with options for six more.

And that's just the beginning: according to Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury, "there’s room to run up the score", as Bloomberg reports, and with good reason: while Boeing is scrambling to drag the name of its workhorse 737 Max out of the mud as it languishes on the tarmac - literally - after it was idled indefinitely in March after two deadly crashes, Airbus said it was seeing “very strong demand” for its rival A320 family of single-aisle jets.

“As far as we are concerned, you should expect a very positive Paris Air Show with a lot of orders,” Faury said in an interview with Bloomberg Television. Boeing... not so much.

Which is ironic, because just one year ago, the tables were turned. Back then, Airbus, having just gone through a jarring management transition - fallout from a multi-year bribery investigation - announced 431 orders valued at $62 billion at the alternating Farnborough air show in the U.K. That lagged Boeing’s commitments for 528 jetliners valued at $79 billion through the week last year.

Of course, most of the Boeing buyers are now considering whether to cancel their orders depending on what the fate of the MAX will be.

So it is now Airbus' moment in the sun: according to Bloomberg, "the Air Lease order in particular provided a vote of confidence in the A321XLR, a twin-engine jet that can travel 4,700 nautical miles, more than any other narrow-body on the market. The plane is positioned as a more fuel-efficient successor to Boeing’s discontinued 757, able to connect smaller cities that can’t support service by big wide-body jets."

The model is also meant to take the wind out of the sails of Boeing’s planned “new midmarket airplane,” or NMA. That jet, dubbed the 797 by analysts, is on hold while the Chicago-based company works through the Max crisis. Airbus’s decision to start sales of the XLR could help sway customers who had been looking at both options.

Airbus’s Air Lease deal also included the A220 plane that the Toulouse, France-based company acquired last year from Canada’s Bombardier Inc. and has been marketing harder, providing a further fillip.

Defiant, Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg, gave no ground on either the Max or the NMA, saying that the former will return to service before the end of 2019 and remain the backbone of the company’s short-haul strategy for years to come, in a Bloomberg Television interview. He may be overly optimistic if the best strategy Boeing can come up with is rebranding the plane in hopes of putting its troubles away.

As we reported earlier, CFO Greg Smith said - in all seriousness - that the Max’s branding could be dropped depending on an assessment of consumer and airline sentiment. Perhaps observing the uniform derision that greeted the news, Boeing emphasized in a subsequent statement that it had no immediate plans for a name change.

But if the first day was bad, the final airshow total will be devastating for Boeing. According to aviation consultancy IBA Group, firm and outline orders will total 575 planes, with 435 going to Airbus. That would compare with close to 1,000 at Farnborough.

"Like Farnborough 2018, the Paris Air Show started relatively slowly," Morris said, suggesting Monday’s action would be eclipsed in coming days. "Perhaps the fashion is now for Day 3 to be the high-water mark."

Which begs the question: yes, buyers may be recoiling at the thought of buying a Boeing, so to speak, but just how much of a global collapse is there in aircraft demand right now, and is that an indicator that the global recession has - as Morgan Stanley mused earlier today - indeed arrived?

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Is the Second Antonov AN-225 Close to Completion?

From Aviation Tribune

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By Aviation Tribune

The Antonov AN-225 is known to be the largest cargo aircraft in the world. Developed in the 1980’s, so far just one model has been introduced onto the market. However, a second Antonov AN-225 which has been in development since the cold war, is now speculated to be near to completion.

So, just how close to completion is the second Antonov AN-225 and why has the aircraft generated such a huge reputation?

What is the Antonov AN-225?

The original Antonov AN-225 first took to the skies in 1988. The manufacturer named the plane “Mriya”, which translates to “Dream” in Ukrainian. It is the largest cargo plane ever to be built and has remained in service since its launch.

It was originally created to transport spacecraft as the United States and the Soviet Union were interlocked in a space race at the time. There wasn’t any aircraft large enough to transport the large equipment and spacecraft, so Antonov was tasked with building one.

It took just three years to build Mriya, and she successfully completed her original mission of delivering a Buran spacecraft over to Baikonur. Even decades later, Mriya remains the heaviest and largest cargo plane ever built. As it is so large, the pilots flying the plane need to undergo specialist training. This ensures they can successfully deal with the challenges which come from trying to manoeuvre the aircraft.

 

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As the first AN-225 was successful, the Soviet Union planned to build an additional three models. Work began on the second in 1989 but was doomed when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. Although work continued on the aircraft, it eventually came to a stop in 1994.

What is the current state of the second Antonov AN-225?

The second AN-225 has sat half-built in a Ukraine warehouse for decades. However, in 2016, China signed a deal with Antonov to restart the second plane production. The initial goal was to complete the construction of the second plane by 2019. So, now we’ve reached that milestone, is the plane any closer to completion?

As of September 2018, the second AN-225 remains incomplete. It is thought to be around 70% completed, but additional funding is required. Antonov is hoping to secure from £190 million to £270 million in order to finalise the build.

The benefits and specifications of the AN-225

The AN-225 boasts extraordinary benefits and specifications. With just one operational model in the world, it’s unsurprisingly gathered interest from some of the biggest plane charter companies such as Chapman Freeborn.

Powered by six turbo engines, the plane is capable of traveling 9569 miles with a full fuel tank. Considering its huge size, it’s surprisingly fast too. It benefits from a maximum speed of 528mph, and a cruising speed of 497mph. One of its most impressive specifications is the fact it can carry a massive 250 tonnes of weight.

 

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The Antonov AN-225 is certainly an impressive model. If the second plane is finalized, it offers a lot of potential in the cargo sector. Being able to move large loads would reduce the need for multiple trips, in turn benefitting the environment. All of the parts of the second plane have been manufactured. It just needs the additional funding to finish the build. Experts claim that once there is a demand for this type of carrier, it won’t take long to finalize it and get it in the air.

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FAA Says No Timetable For MAX Return

From Airline Ratings

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By Steve Creedy

There is no timetable to return the Boeing 737 MAX back to flight and the decision will depend solely on whether or not the jet is deemed to be safe, a senior US Federal Aviation Administration official has said.

The comments came as the FAA and representatives of other global regulators met in an attempt to get a co-ordinated response to the grounding of the 737 MAX fleet after two fatal accidents.

Elwell was asked whether airlines that had taken the MAX out of their schedules would need to revise their plans to take into account a longer wait.

“No they don’t need to make any changes to their plans,’’ FAA acting head Daniel Elwell told CNBC. “But they just need to know there isn’t a timetable for bringing the 737 MAX back to flight.

“There are only one criteria: when we’re done without analysis and it’s safe to bring let the 737 MAX fly again.”

Elwell said it could be a month, two months or longer but it would depend on the FAA’s analysis of a software fix for the aircraft’s flight control software.

The FAA would prefer the lifting of the grounding to be global but there has been pushback from some regulators, including the Europeans.

Elwell would not be drawn on whether pilots needed to take simulator training before flying the jet again and said training was still under review.

Elwell said it was the FAA’s responsibility to make the approval and it would be the first to do so regardless.

“And if the rest of the world agrees with our analysis, which is why we have 33 countries here today, then that is the goal,” he said.

Four audits and investigations are underway into the FAA’s certification processes but Elwell said the MAX had been certified in the same way every aircraft had been certified and had made aviation the safest mode of transportation.

“We rely on those processes but we don’t sit still on those processes,’’ he said.

“We’re constantly learning how to refine them. The American public and the world will see that the 737 MAX is safe when we return it to flight and they’ll get back on the MAX and fly it again.”

“Our team, our airline customers, and regulators place the highest priority on the safety of the flying public,’’ Boeing said in a statement.

“Once we have addressed the information requests from the FAA, we will be ready to schedule a certification test flight and submit final certification documentation.”

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