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767 APU Hung Start



 767 APU Hanging at 30% During Start

FlowSensing 0420During the APU engine start, the IGV (Inlet Guide Vanes) are supposed to be closed. This allows all incoming air to be directed into the combustion chamber. After start with a air demand (main engine start or air conditioning pack operation), the IGV vanes open allowing bleed air output.


We purposely pulled the IGV actuator arm out (vanes open) to see if it would would close them on initial rotation. It did not.


With the drain on the air bleed system, the APU could not accelerate beyond approximately 30% and it would shut down.

More troubleshooting here.

 

 

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Boeing Troubles Continue

From Market Crumbs

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Boeing has had a rough couple of years, starting with two separate 737 MAX crashes in October 2018 and March 2019, respectively, which killed a combined 346 people.

Boeing saw net total orders drop to negative 87 airplanes last year, its worst in decades. For comparison, its main competitor Airbus saw a net 768 orders last year.

Boeing's troubles continued into this year as production of the 737 MAX continues to remain halted. In January, Boeing reported zero net orders, while in February the company reported negative 28 net orders.

With Boeing already facing significant challenges, the coronavirus outbreak has added additional pressure to the company.

Boeing has made a handful of moves over the last month to bolster its financial position. The company drew down its entire $13.8 billion secured loanhalted hiringsuspended its dividend, as well as offered voluntary layoffs and early retirement packages.

Boeing is also seeking federal aid from the U.S. government, but won't do so if it requires the government to take an equity stake in the company.

Over the weekend Boeing announced it is "extending the temporary suspension of operations at all Puget Sound area and Moses Lake sites until further notice" after about 135 Boeing employees have tested positive for COVID-19.

"These actions are being taken in light of the company’s continuing focus on the health and safety of employees, current assessment of the spread of COVID-19 in Washington state, the reliability of the supply chain and additional recommendations from government health authorities," Boeing said in a statement.

The decision affects about 30,000 production employees, who will no longer receive pay after Wednesday. Despite still receiving medical benefits, they now must take vacation and sick time or apply for unemployment.

With things at Boeing going just about as badly as possible, it will be interesting to see how the company comes out of all of this.

Even once the coronavirus subsides, Boeing is still faced with its 737 MAX issues and lack of any net orders for its airplanes.

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Boeing to Shut Down Puget Sound Production Due to Coronavirus

From Travel Pulse

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By Donald Wood

Due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak in Washington, Boeing announced Monday it would temporarily shut down its Puget Sound production operations starting on March 25.

Boeing officials revealed in a public statement the temporary shutdown would last 14 days and impact the more than 70,000 employees in the Puget Sound region.

During the closure, employees will be asked to work from home as the company conducts full cleanup efforts and develops a “rigorous criteria for return to work.” Workers who can do their job from home will be paid for the initial 10 working days of the suspension.

“We will keep our employees, customers and supply chain top of mind as we continue to assess the evolving situation,” Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun said in the release. “This is an unprecedented time for organizations and communities across the globe.”

Boeing’s announcement came just a day after a report from the Seattle Times (h/t KOMONews.com) said an employee at the company’s production plant in Everett died from coronavirus. The worker, identified as Elton Washington, reportedly worked for the manufacturer for 28 years.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee released a statement regarding the closure:

“I spoke with Boeing Commercial CEO Stan Deal early this morning. I applaud Boeing’s decision to implement an orderly shutdown and continue to pay its workers during this difficult time. Now is a time for bold actions like these, and we will continue to look at what can be done statewide.”

Last week, Boeing announced CEO Dave Calhoun and Board Chairman Larry Kellner would forego all pay until the end of 2020 and the company will suspend its dividend and extend its pause of any share repurchasing until further notice.

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Congress Rips Boeing's "Culture Of Concealment" ....

By Zero Hedge

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Congress Rips Boeing's "Culture Of Concealment" & FAA's 'Jeopardizing' Public In Scathing 737 MAX Report

By Tyler Durden

In a sense finally making the long developing scandal official in terms of where blame lies and who covered it up, Congress has blasted Boeing's "culture of concealment" which recklessly pursued cost-cutting over safety, made worse by the Federal Aviation Administration’s woeful lack of oversight, leading to twin deadly crashes of Boeing's 737 MAX jets and 346 lives lost in late 2018 and March 2019. The report cites "efforts to obfuscate information" involving an automated system that "violated Boeing’s own internal design guidelines."

Preliminary findings issued by Democrats on the House Transportation Committee Friday afternoon found Boeing executives and FAA regulators ignored the fatal software glitch which was simply shipped by default with all new 737 MAX planes instead of being repaired.

Boeing “failed in its duty to identify key safety problems and to ensure they were adequately addressed during the certification process,” the House committee found

"Friday’s report details Boeing’s determination at various levels — years before the MAX won approval by the Federal Aviation Administration — to avoid putting any pilots through costly ground-simulator training," the WSJ writes. And further summarizes, "That single-minded goal was evident across Boeing’s engineering, marketing and management ranks, according to the report, and resulted in various efforts to mislead or withhold information from FAA officials during the lengthy certification process."

The Congressional report, which comes as the result of a series of five public hearings into the MAX's design and production after it was ground world-wide last March, also excoriated the FAA for its “grossly insufficient” review of the plane which ultimately "jeopardized the safety of the flying public with its inherent conflicts of interest”  even though it's supposed to be the final impartial safety watchdog.

Here are key damning conclusions from the report per The Seattle Times:

  • Extensive efforts at Boeing to cut costs, maintain the MAX program schedule, and not slow down the MAX production line undermined the safety of the jet.
  • Faulty assumptions led Boeing to fail to classify new flight control software on the MAX called the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS, as a safety-critical technology that demanded more scrutiny.
  • In order to avoid greater FAA scrutiny and increased pilot training requirements, Boeing practiced a “Culture of Concealment” that withheld crucial information from the FAA, its airline customers, and pilots.
  • Inherent conflicts of interest among authorized representatives of the FAA, who are Boeing employees authorized to perform certification work on behalf of the FAA, ”jeopardized the safety of the flying public.”
  • Boeing’s influence over the FAA’s oversight resulted in FAA management rejecting safety concerns raised by the agency’s own technical experts at the behest of Boeing.

After these and other scathing critiques in the Congressional findings, the FAA instead of a full-frontal acknowledgement to the public of its role leading up to disasters involving hundreds of deaths and grieving relatives, merely lamely stated that “we are a learning agency and welcome the scrutiny.”

“The lessons learned from the investigations into the tragic accidents of Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 will be a springboard to an even greater level of safety,” the FAA statement added

However, we doubt that few among the traveling public will find such an 'assurance' believable or comforting, also considering the potential expanding nature of the safety issues and cover-up, as the WSJ notes additionally: "More broadly, the reports also details examples of FAA managers overruling safety concerns of their own technical experts related to another Boeing airliner, the Boeing 787."

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"Absolutely Unacceptable" .... 'Debris' Found In 737 MAX Fuel-Tanks

From Zero Hedge

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"Absolutely Unacceptable" - Leaked Boeing Memo Shows 'Debris' Found In 737 MAX Fuel-Tanks

By Tyler Durden

With airline after airline pushing back their 'return-to-service' dates based on Boeing's total lack of clarity on the path forward for the 737 MAX, the troubled aircraft maker (and the troubled aircraft) now faces more problems.

According to an internal memo, seen by ReutersBoeing found debris that could pose potential safety risks in the fuel tanks of several 737 MAX aircraft that are in storage and waiting to be delivered to airlines.

To be clear about what 'debris' means, Reuters  details that:

"an industrial term for rags, tools, metal shavings and other materials left behind by workers during the production process."

And notes that this 'debris' problem has been a quality control issue for various Boeing aircraft, such as its KC-46 tankers.

Foreign-object debris (FOD) “is absolutely unacceptable. One escape is one too many,” Mark Jenks, a Boeing vice president and general manager of the 737 program, said in a message to employees that was viewed by Reuters.

“With your help and focus, we will eliminate FOD from our production system,”

The FOD problem on the MAX was first reported Tuesday on Scott Hamilton’s Leeham.net aviation site:

“There’s a systemic issue with Boeing’s quality control that hasn’t been corralled yet,” said Hamilton in an interview.

“This is not related to the MAX crashes or exclusively a MAX issue. Boeing has these FOD issues on other airplane programs.”

A Boeing spokesman confirmed the memo’s authenticity; and Boeing now having to inspect more than 400 stored 737 Max jets, but Bernard Choi said “it’s still undecided if we will inspect the rest” of the MAX fleet - another 385 aircraft that were delivered to customers but have been grounded for almost a year and are parked at airfields around the world.

“Obviously, we’ll do what’s right for safety,” Choi added.

Boeing spokesman Chaz Bickers was, however, careful to claim that the company does not see the debris as contributing to delays in the jet’s return to service. (The inspections will take two to three days per aircraft. Fuel must be drained from the wings before a mechanic can go in and do a thorough check.).

The Federal Aviation Administration said it was aware that Boeing “is conducting a voluntary” inspection for debris in the undelivered aircraft “as part of the company’s ongoing efforts to ensure manufacturing quality.”

It may delay the airlines' decision to accept delivery of the jets though (as its not exactly reassuring to crew members and passengers of the company’s commitment to manufacturing quality and safety!)

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30 Year Boeing Quality Manager Says "Fly Something Else", Refuses To Fly On 787 Dreamliner

From Zero Hedge

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By Tyler Durden

Slipping through the cracks of the Boeing controversy - which has taken on new twists and turns almost daily - were comments we recently uncovered by a former Boeing quality manager, who said last month that he thinks Boeing's problems aren't just limited to the 737.

John Barnett was a quality manager for Boeing for 30 years before he was transferred to South Carolina to work on the 787, according to Big Think.

It was there that a new leadership team who had previously worked on Boeing's military projects began overseeing work on the commercial airliner. 

Barnett says that team lowered safety standards significantly. He stated: "They started pressuring us to not document defects, to work outside the procedures, to allow defective material to be installed without being corrected. They started bypassing procedures and not maintaining configurement control of airplanes, not maintaining control of non-conforming parts — they just wanted to get the planes pushed out the door and make the cash register ring."

At first, it was just administrative issues, Barnett said. But then, it got worse.

"Over time it got worse and worse. They began to ignore defective parts installed on the planes and basic issues related to aircraft safety," he said.

According to Barnett, one audit uncovered that 25% of oxygen masks didn't work. Defective parts were getting lost in the system before being discovered flying on aircraft. Barnett says he remembered "several defective bulkheads being installed without having been repaired."

He also said that there was an issue with metal slivers. 3-inch-long slivers of razor-sharp metal would fall into areas where planes have sensitive wiring and electronics, he said. 

He continued: "That surface below the floor board is where all of your flight control wires are, that's where all of your electronic equipment is. It controls systems on the airplane, it controls the power of the airplane. All of your electronic equipment is down where all of these metal slivers are falling."

He said these slivers would cause shorts and fires at the plant. As planes vibrate, these metal slivers work their way into wire bundles and can cause issues during flights, he said. Barnett filed complaints with multiple members of the Boeing team, which he said led to his reassignment to a department that isolated him.

The FAA performed an audit substantiating his claims and even telling Boeing that no more planes could be delivered with those metal slivers. Meanwhile, 800 planes that include them have already been delivered and Boeing felt customers didn't need to be informed.  

"Every 787 out there has these slivers out there," Barnett said.

Barnett also filed a complaint with OSHA, which is reportedly still under investigation. 

He concluded: "...as far as the 787, I would change flights before I would fly a 787. I've told my family — please don't fly a 787. Fly something else. Try to get a different ticket. I want the people to know what they are riding on."

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Boeing Mocked Lion Air "Idiots" For Requesting Extra Training For 737 MAX

From Zero Hedge

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By Tyler Durden

Lawmakers have finally followed up last week's bombshell release of internal Boeing communications with more extremely damning internal messages exchanged by employees. This time, the messages revealed that Boeing employees successfully persuaded Indonesia's Lion Air to forego forcing their pilots to use a full flight simulator to train them on the 737 MAX 8.

According to Bloomberg, which published unredacted copies of the messages, offering full flight simulator training to Lion Air would undermine a key selling point of the 737 MAX 8: The fact that Boeing advertised the plane as needing no additional training for pilots and crew, apart from a basic computer-based course.

One Boeing employee wrote in June 2017 - a little over a year before the deadly Lion Air crash in October 2018 that helped inspire the universal grounding of the plane by regulators - that "friggin Lion Air was pushing for a "flight sim."

However, the Boeing employee promised his co-workers that he would "unscrew" the situation.

"Now friggin Lion Air might need a sim to fly the MAX, and maybe because of their own stupidity. I’m scrambling trying to figure out how to unscrew this now! idiots," one Boeing employee wrote in June 2017 text messages obtained by the company and released by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

In response to news about Lion Air's request, another employee exclaimed that their sister airline, Malindo Air, was already flying the MAX without need simulators.

In response, a Boeing colleague replied: “WHAT THE F%$&!!!! But their sister airline is already flying it!” That was an apparent reference to Malindo Air, the Malaysian-based carrier that was the first to fly the Max commercially.

However, Boeing's fixation on the bottom line ended up being a penny wise and a pound foolish. After all, in a report on the Oct. 29, 2018 accident, Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Committee explicitly cited a failure by Boeing to tell pilots about MCAS, a flight control feature that has been implicated in MAX crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia. 

Apparently, it only took Boeing employees, including the company's chief technical pilot, to convince Indonesia to forego the training.

The communications include a 2017 email from Boeing’s chief technical pilot on the 737 in which he crowed to colleagues: "Looks like my jedi mind trick worked again!" The email was sent two days after the earlier messages expressing alarm about Lion Air potentially demanding simulator training.

Attached was a forwarded email exchange in which the person warned an unnamed recipient against offering simulator training for Max pilots, pushing instead for the computer-based course that regulators had already approved for flight crews transitioning to the Max from earlier 737 models.

"I am concerned that if [redacted] chooses to require a Max simulator for its pilots beyond what all other regulators are requiring that it will be creating a difficult and unnecessary training burden for your airline, as well as potentially establish a precedent in your region for other Max customers," the Boeing pilot wrote in the forwarded message.

While Lion Air was not identified in the redacted emails, the discussions are consistent with those Boeing held with Lion Air at the time, according to people familiar with the matter.

Once again, lawmakers have released damning communications from internal Boeing employees revealing a glaring negligence that appears to have been a cause, in part, of two deadly accidents that killed a combined 346 people.

These exchanges will almost certainly be cited in lawsuits by victims' family members alleging gross negligence on Boeing's behalf.

And once again, Boeing shares don't appear to care.

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Boeing Employees Mocked F.A.A. and ‘Clowns’ Who Designed 737 Max

From The New York Times

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The company expressed regret at the embarrassing communications it sent to investigators on Thursday, which included a comment that “this airplane is designed by clowns, who are in turn supervised by monkeys.”

By Natalie Kitroeff

Boeing employees mocked federal rules, talked about deceiving regulators and joked about potential flaws in the 737 Max as it was being developed, according to over a hundred pages of internal messages delivered Thursday to congressional investigators.

“I still haven’t been forgiven by God for the covering up I did last year,” one of the employees said in messages from 2018, apparently in reference to interactions with the Federal Aviation Administration.

The most damaging messages included conversations among Boeing pilots and other employees about software issues and other problems with flight simulators for the Max, a plane later involved in two accidents, in late 2018 and early 2019, that killed 346 people and threw the company into chaos.

The employees appear to discuss instances in which the company concealed such problems from the F.A.A. during the regulator’s certification of the simulators, which were used in the development of the Max, as well as in training for pilots who had not previously flown a 737.

“Would you put your family on a Max simulator trained aircraft? I wouldn’t,” one employee said to a colleague in another exchange from 2018, before the first crash. “No,” the colleague responded.

In another set of messages, employees questioned the design of the Max and even denigrated their own colleagues. “This airplane is designed by clowns, who are in turn supervised by monkeys,” an employee wrote in an exchange from 2017.

The release of the communications — both emails and instant messages — is the latest embarrassing episode for Boeing in a crisis that has cost the company billions of dollars and wreaked havoc on the aviation industry across the globe. The Max has been grounded for nearly 10 months, after the two deadly crashes. A software system developed for the plane was found to have played a role in both accidents, and since then the company has been working to update the system.

There is still no indication when the Max might be cleared to fly again, as the company and regulators continue to discover new potential flaws with the plane.

The messages threaten to further complicate Boeing’s tense relationship with the F.A.A. Both the company and agency indicated Thursday that the messages raised no new safety concerns, but they echoed troubling internal communications among Boeing employees that were previously made public.

In several instances, Boeing employees insulted the F.A.A. officials reviewing the plane.

In an exchange from 2015, a Boeing employee said that a presentation the company gave to the F.A.A. was so complicated that, for the agency officials and even himself, “it was like dogs watching TV.”

Several employees seemed consumed with limiting training for airline crews to fly the plane, a significant victory for Boeing that would benefit the company financially. In the development of the Max, Boeing had promised to offer Southwest a discount of $1 million per plane if regulators required simulator training.

In an email from August 2016, a marketing employee at the company cheered the news that regulators had approved a short computer-based training for pilots who have flown the 737 NG, the predecessor to the Max, instead of requiring simulator training.

“You can be away from an NG for 30 years and still be able to jump into a MAX? LOVE IT!!” the employee says, following up later with an email noting: “This is a big part of the operating cost structure in our marketing decks.”

Requiring simulator training can be costly for airlines and even after the crashes, Boeing told the F.A.A. it was not necessary. It was not until Tuesday that Boeing said it would recommend simulator training for pilots who fly the Max.

Boeing on Thursday expressed regret over the messages. “These communications contain provocative language, and, in certain instances, raise questions about Boeing’s interactions with the F.A.A. in connection with the simulator qualification process,” the company said in a statement to Congress. “Having carefully reviewed the issue, we are confident that all of Boeing’s Max simulators are functioning effectively.”

“We regret the content of these communications, and apologize to the F.A.A., Congress, our airline customers and to the flying public for them,” Boeing added. “The language used in these communications, and some of the sentiments they express, are inconsistent with Boeing values, and the company is taking appropriate action in response. This will ultimately include disciplinary or other personnel action, once the necessary reviews are completed.”

The messages outraged several lawmakers, who saw a disregard for safety and broader problems with the culture at the company.

Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut, said in an interview that he would push for new congressional hearings to question Boeing leadership about the “astonishing and appalling” messages.

Boeing said that it notified the F.A.A. about the documents in December and that it had “not found any instances of misrepresentations to the F.A.A. with its simulator qualification activities,” despite the employee’s comment about “covering up” issues with the simulator.

Lynn Lunsford, a spokesman for the F.A.A., said in a statement that the messages did not reveal any new safety risks.

“Upon reviewing the records for the specific simulator mentioned in the documents, the agency determined that piece of equipment has been evaluated and qualified three times in the last six months,” Mr. Lunsford said. “Any potential safety deficiencies identified in the documents have been addressed.”

Mr. Lunsford added that, “while the tone and content of some of the language contained in the documents is disappointing, the F.A.A. remains focused on following a thorough process for returning the Boeing 737 Max to passenger service.”

The relationship between Boeing and the F.A.A. has been a complicating factor for the company as it works to persuade international regulators that the Max is ready to fly. Last month, Boeing fired its chief executive, Dennis A. Muilenburg, whose optimistic projections about the plane’s return to service created a rift with the regulator.

Stephen Dickson, the new chief of the F.A.A., has struck a more assertive tone in public comments about the Max, urging his employees to ignore outside pressure to quickly lift the plane’s grounding and telling Boeing that there is no set timetable for the Max to return.

In a meeting with Mr. Muilenburg last month, Mr. Dickson told the company not to make any requests of the regulator and to instead focus on completing the paperwork necessary for regulators to evaluate the update.

Last year, Boeing disclosed internal messages from 2016, in which a top pilot working on the plane told a colleague that he was experiencing trouble controlling the Max in a flight simulator and believed that he had misled the F.A.A.

“I basically lied to the regulators (unknowingly),” the pilot, Mark Forkner, said to his colleague, Patrik Gustavsson.

Boeing did not inform the F.A.A. about the messages when the company first discovered them, waiting until about two weeks before Mr. Muilenburg was set to testify in front of Congress to send them to lawmakers. The conversation, which took place before the Max was approved to fly, angered key F.A.A. officials, who felt misled by the company, according to three people familiar with the matter.

After the congressional hearings, Boeing moved Mr. Gustavsson out of his role working on the certification of new planes

On Thursday, Representative Peter DeFazio, a Democrat from Oregon who is leading the House investigation into the development of the 737 Max, called the newly released messages “incredibly damning.”

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

 

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New, Potentially “Catastrophic” Wiring Issues Found In Boeing 737 Max

From Zero Hedge

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By Tyler Durden

As if Boeing needed any more bad news.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) conducted an internal audit in December of the Boeing 737 Max and found wiring issues could potentially cause a "catastrophic" short circuit at the rear of the plane and lead to a crash, a senior engineer at Boeing and three people familiar with the matter told The New York Times.

Boeing is examining if two wiring harnesses at the rear of the plane are too close together that would result in an electric short that would cause the plane's tail to malfunction in flight, said one of the sources.

If Boeing decides to fix the wiring problem, it would mean that more than 800 Max jets would have to see wiring reconfiguration. 

Of course, Boeing told The Times that the fix is relatively simple. Spokesman Gordon Johndroe said Sunday the "identified issue is part of a rigorous process, and we are working with the FAA to perform the appropriate analysis. It would be premature to speculate as to whether this analysis will lead to any design changes."

It was unclear, however, if simple also means cheap, and some have speculated that a full-blown recall could cost tens ofd billions.

An FAA statement Sunday said investigators are "re-analyzing certain findings from a recent review of the proposed modifications to the Boeing 737 MAX." The agency will "ensure that all safety-related issues identified during this process are addressed."

The FAA said the wiring harnesses are too close together, located at the rear of the plane, would cause the motors that control the stabilizer, a horizontal fin on a plane's tail, to malfunction (short circuit) and could lead to a potentially "catastrophic" crash.

Max engines have also become another focus for FAA investigators.

All of these issues, of course, are separate from the MCAS software that was likely the cause of two separate Max crashes, killing 346 people.  New Max issues could delay the ungrounding even further. There is no clear timeline of when the planes will return to the air.

Meanwhile, confirming that things are going from bad to worse, the WSJ reported that Boeing is mulling raising more debt to "improve finances", read fund buybacks, as costs related to the grounding of its 737 MAX are raising. The paper reports that Boeing is also considering cutting CAPEX, freezing acquisitions and cutting on R&D to save cash. In total, analysts expect Boeing to raise as much as $5BN in additional debt to help cover expenditures that could rise to $15BN in 1H 2020. It was not clear if all of this new money, or just most of it, would to repurchasing BA shares.

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Airbus Deliveries Soar To Record High As Boeing's Crash

From Reuters

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Airbus beats goal with 863 jet deliveries in 2019, ousts Boeing from top spot

By Tim Hepher

Airbus has become the world’s largest planemaker for the first time since 2011 after delivering a forecast-beating 863 aircraft in 2019, seizing the crown from embattled U.S. rival Boeing (BA.N), airport and tracking sources said on Wednesday.

A reversal in the pecking order between the two giants had been expected as a crisis over Boeing’s grounded 737 MAX drags into 2020. But the record European data further underscores the distance Boeing must travel to recoup its market position.

Airbus, which had been forced by its own industrial problems to cut its 2019 delivery goal by 2-3% in October, deployed extra resources until hours before midnight to reach 863 aircraft for the year, compared with its revised target of 860 jets.

Deliveries rose 7.9 % from 800 aircraft in 2018.

Airbus declined to comment on the figures, which must be audited before they can be finalized and published.

Planemakers receive most of their revenues when aircraft are delivered - minus accumulated progress payments - so the end-year delivery performance is closely monitored by investors.

Airbus’s tally, which included around 640 single-aisle aircraft, broke industry records after it diverted thousands of workers and canceled holidays to complete a buffer stock of semi-finished aircraft waiting to have their cabins adjusted.

Airbus has been hit by delays in fitting the complex new layouts on A321neo jets assembled in Hamburg, Germany, resulting in dozens of these and other models being stored in hangars to await last-minute configurations and the arrival of more labor.

Such out-of-sequence work drives up costs and could have a modest impact on Airbus profit margins, but the impact will be largely blunted by the high volume of planes and already solid profitability for such single-aisle aircraft, analysts say.

Still, the problems in fitting complex cabins have curtailed Airbus’s ability to take advantage of the market turmoil surrounding Boeing’s 737 MAX - grounded since March following two fatal accidents.

Boeing delivered 345 mainly long-haul jets between January and November, less than half the number of 704 achieved in the same period of 2018, when the MAX was being delivered normally. For the whole of 2018, Boeing had delivered 806 aircraft.

Airbus production plants traditionally halt over Christmas and New Year. But the company’s delivery centers and completion facilities were humming well into the afternoon of New Year’s Eve to allow Asian and other airlines to fly away new jets.

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Boeing Considers Suspending Or Reducing 737 MAX Production

From Zero Hedge

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By Tyler Durden

Sources have told The Wall Street Journal that Boeing could temporarily halt production of the 737 Max amid concerns the timeline of ungrounding the aircraft could be pushed further out. The decision to disclose the fate of the 737 Max production could arrive as early as Monday.

Boeing hosted a regular board meeting on Sunday in Chicago. Sources said the fate of the 737 Max production comes days after US regulators criticized Boeing for providing unrealistic timelines for when the plane will return to the skies.

In April, Boeing slashed production by 20% from 52 to 42 planes per month. A more extended cut or even production halt could be absolutely damaging to the global aerospace industry, as any reduction in planes could ripple down the supply chain and cause financial hardships for suppliers. 

 Boeing's board meeting is expected to conclude on Monday. Sources weren't exactly sure when the production-related announcement will be released. 
 

"We continue to work closely with the FAA and global regulators towards certification and the safe return to service of the Max," Boeing stated. "We will continue to assess production decisions based on the timing and conditions of return to service, which will be based on regulatory approvals and may vary by jurisdiction."

We've noted in the past that production cuts could have severe consequences for the US economy. Over 600 suppliers provide 600,000 parts needed for each plane; the brunt of the shock would be seen down the chain at smaller firms. 

Some Max suppliers have already cut production rates after Boeing reduced plane output by 20% in April. There are other reports that some suppliers have already furloughed employees and shut down equipment as the groundings enter the ninth month.

"It's easier to ramp down gradually and then ramp back up," said John Scannell, chief executive of Moog Inc., which makes control motors for the MAX.

The upcoming production decision isn't easy for Boeing since two of its Max planes experienced flight control system malfunctions and crashed in the past year or so, killing 346 people.

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Boeing-FAA Cabal Exposed: Internal Document Shows FAA Ignored 737 MAX Safety Risks

From Zero Hedge

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By Tyler Durden

Over the past nine months, the WSJ has led the media pack when it comes to scoops about the lapses at Boeing and the FAA that allowed the Boeing 737 MAX 8 to continue flying, even after a crash in Indonesia raised questions about the plane's safety that were apparently ignored, because a similar crash happened in Ethiopia less than six months later, bringing the combined death toll to above 300.

Earlier on Wednesday, Boeing shares dropped on reports that the 737 MAX won't fly again before the end of the year, even as deliveries "could" resume later this month.

These revelations about the culture at both Boeing and the FAA show very clearly how the agency has lost its way, and how its lapses in oversight opened the door to unimaginable human suffering.

WSJ reporters got their hands on an FAA internal report that was published back in November 2018. An internal FAA analysis of the Lion Air cash, it's expected to be released in full for the House committee hearing Wednesday.

According to the report, experts spotted the risks in the 737 MAX 8's anti-stall system, MCAS, and warned that these planes could average more than one crash a year.

In an aviation industry that sometimes goes almost a decade without an accident, these numbers are obviously unacceptable.

On Tuesday, an FAA spokesman delivered a statement to WSJ: "It was clear from the beginning that an unsafe condition existed," adding that the analysis "provided additional context in helping determine the mitigation action." In an email, the spokesman said such analyses tend to overstate risk because they take the most conservative approach and because specifically identified problems likely appeared more serious than they did in the operating fleet.

After Lion Air, the FAA’s analysis projected as many as 15 similar catastrophic accidents globally over the life of the MAX fleet (roughly 30 to 45 years) unless major fixes were made to a particular automated flight-control system (fixes that Boeing has scrambled to make over the past year).

"The potential for 15 projected crashes “would be an unacceptable number in the modern aviation-safety world," said Alan Diehl, a retired FAA and Pentagon air-safety official, who hasn’t had any involvement in the MAX crisis.

Even still, it might take more than that to win back public confidence, since WSJ and Boeing characterized the MAX as the most crash-prone Boeing model in modern history.

In total, the 737 MAX was projected to log as many crashes s Boeing’s 757, 767, 777, 787 and the latest 747 models combined. The MAX fleet was eventually anticipated to be nearly 5,000 jets world-wide, slightly larger than the combined global fleet of the earlier models that are still in service while the other fleets together total slightly more than 3,800 aircraft.

 

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But in the document obtained by WSJ, the FAA anticipates that Boeing will update the flight control software on the 737 MAX 8 within the next seven or eight months. Of course, there were more deaths before the new software could be finished.

The FAA document anticipated that in roughly seven months, Boeing would devise, test and with the FAA’s approval install revised software for MCAS, the suspect stall-prevention system that led to the October 2018 crash in Indonesia. Meanwhile, the FAA also concluded that it could buy time to prevent another accident by reiterating to airline crews world-wide how to respond in the event of a similar MCAS misfire. If crews were aware of the risk and knew how to respond, the FAA determined it was acceptable to let the planes continue carrying passengers until a permanent design change was in place. That fix is still in progress.

More than any other previous piece of evidence, this document exposes the Boeing-FAA cabal and how corporations and the government conspired to put the lives of millions of unsuspecting travelers at risk.

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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

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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

737_101119

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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