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

From The New York Times


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

From Zero Hedge


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

From Zero Hedge


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

From Zero Hedge


"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 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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Airbus Deliveries Soar To Record High As Boeing's Crash

From Reuters


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


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


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.




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


By Simon Calder

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



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," 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" 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


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:




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


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


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


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.


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



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 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


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.




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


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. 




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


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.




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



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.




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


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.




 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


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.





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


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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