back to article Boeing brings back the 737 Max but also lays off thousands

Boeing has resumed production of the 737 Max, its passenger plane with software so flawed that its certification was yanked after being found to have caused two fatal accidents. A brief statement from the firm said “more than a dozen initiatives focused on enhancing workplace safety and product quality” are now in place at …

  1. Chris G Silver badge

    As a token of appreciation for the inevitable bail out they be getting at some stage perhaps they will donate a Max for use as Airforce One.

    The rest of them can be used to shelter the homeless ( on the ground).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I'm sure there's room in the cockpit for a farm jack strong enough to overcome the autopilot, and perhaps such a simple trick wouldn't require recertification.

    2. Steve Kerr

      To show how "safe" they are, a senior Boeing exec must fly on a scheduled passenger plane running the exact same versions with the pilots having the same training as other global airlines.

      I think this is the one of the major ways for Boeing to dig themselves out of this mess.

      If their senior management won't get on them, they're not safe.

      1. iGNgnorr

        "If their senior management won't get on them, they're not safe."

        You are assuming there won't be a defeat device which detects the presence of top brass and allows the pilots to actually fly the aircraft properly.

        1. Klimt's Beast Would
          Holmes

          ... assuming there won't be a defeat device...

          Boeing paging Volkswagen! Boeing paging Volkswagen!

          I cheat, therefore I am.

          Sherlock icon, because that's not my hand lighting the pipe... (honest!)

        2. AlbertH

          It wouldn't matter if there was a "defeat switch". The airframe is fundamentally unbalanced, and the inappropriate engine choice just makes the situation worse! There is no way to "fix" this aircraft except by a complete re-design from the ground up.

          It astonishes me that a company like Boeing could be so misguided as to believe that software could correct basic aerodynamic flaws.....

      2. nematoad Silver badge
        FAIL

        "...make the plane easy and safe to build."

        There seems to be a problem with the thinking of the top brass at Boeing. They want to make the 737 Max "easy and safe to build." but no bloody mention of "safe to fly."

        See, it's always the bottom line with this bunch of chancers, keep the bonuses rolling in and to hell with the safety of their passengers and crew.

        Do they have corporate manslaughter on the statute books in the US?

      3. julian.smith
        Alert

        Goodbye America

        If it's Boeing ... I'm not going

        I supect that China won't be certifying them any time soon

      4. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

        You think Boeing senior execs are capable of judging safety?

        Not much sign of that so far.

    3. Twanky Bronze badge

      donate a Max for use as Airforce One

      ...with a special version of the software?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: donate a Max for use as Airforce One

        And ejector seats for the crew? I am not in favour of collective punishment.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: donate a Max for use as Airforce One

          Don't see much point really.

          They lack the capacity to seat all of Congress. I mean, if you're going to wish, wish big.

          1. HildyJ Silver badge
            Devil

            Re: donate a Max for use as Airforce One

            I'll settle for just the Republican senators.

    4. eldakka Silver badge

      for the inevitable bail out they be getting at some stage

      They won't be getting a bailout any time soon, as they have had an injection of $25B through private investment and debt raising in April.

      Boeing rules out federal aid after raising $25 billion of bonds

      Boeing’s company debt now larger than New Zealand’s after huge bond sale

      Boeing’s ‘monster’ debt offering is a double-edged sword

      If that money runs out within 24 months they will be so debt-laden I doubt they would be recoverable as a going concern at all unless the government nationalises them. They would probably go into bankruptcy and be split up and sold off as multiple independent business units, say military aircraft to LM or another large - solvent - defense contractor.

    5. Mark 85 Silver badge

      As a token of appreciation for the inevitable bail out they be getting at some stage perhaps they will donate a Max for use as Airforce One.

      I thought they were using the Max for a tax write off for profits from the arms side of the company. But still a great idea on donating one.

  2. Evil Auditor Silver badge

    Our industry will come back, but it will take some years to return to what it was just two months ago.

    For Boeing I hope they will not return to what they were two months ago. Then they would rather pull the plug right now. And from what I've learnt from a far distance, they should not only enhance product quality but also and especially production quality including their corporate culture.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It's a little bit funny how things have changed. I have a mate who is a maintenance engineer for QANTAS. 20 years ago he loved Boeing and hated Airbus. If QANTAS had a problem with a Boeing plane, a fix would be on his desk within 24 hours (at the very latest, it was often less than 6 hours), and if needed they would send Boeing staff there to help out. No questions asked. Airbus would never send anyone out and the turn around time was never less than a few days.

      Just 20 years later, it's the complete opposite. He'll happily take Airbus aircraft over Boeings. Especially the newer Boeings.

      Funny, how quickly higher ups in a firm forget what made them so popular in the first place.

      1. Mike Richards

        There seems to be a widespread opinion that this change all goes back to the takeover of McDonnell Douglas by Boeing. The engineering-led culture of Boeing was replaced with MDD's corporate culture and the move of Boeing HQ to Chicago further separated the engineers from the people making the decisions.

        1. Gene Cash Silver badge

          Here's an article to back up that opinion a bit:

          https://qz.com/1776080/how-the-mcdonnell-douglas-boeing-merger-led-to-the-737-max-crisis/

        2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          >takeover of McDonnell Douglas by Boeing.

          <sings> I believe that pigs and even DC-10s can fly ... </sings>

          1. rpark

            DC-10 humor

            ...reminds me of a popular joke during that time -> 'There's a new cocktail called the DC-10 - drink just one and your nuts fall off.'

      2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        I just checked Boeing's Company page. There is a list of 12 people, and 10 of them joined the company after 2007. Only 2 have been there longer, one since 1982 and one since 1988.

        So no, not funny at all and rather inevitable.

  3. macjules Silver badge

    "more than a dozen initiatives focused on enhancing workplace safety and product quality"

    Have Boeing received FAA clearance in order to resume production? Have they fixed the 400 planes they have waiting on delivery? Have they fixed all the other grounded 737MAX aircraft and upgraded them?

    1. CliveS
      FAIL

      Re: "more than a dozen initiatives focused on enhancing workplace safety and product quality"

      Short answer; no, no, no, and no.

      1. Kevin Johnston Silver badge

        Re: "more than a dozen initiatives focused on enhancing workplace safety and product quality"

        Long answer: Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo etc etc

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "more than a dozen initiatives focused on enhancing workplace safety and product quality"

      Once you stop production on such a large and complex product, manufacturing skills quickly decline. There has to be a real risk to Boeing that if the line is shut down long enough it may never restart. Even the most automated production process has a lot of critical human intervention.

      1. seven of five Silver badge

        Re: "more than a dozen initiatives focused on enhancing workplace safety and product quality"

        It actually is no large and complex product. In fact, it is soooo simillar to the original 737, anyone can fly one.

        1. macjules Silver badge

          Re: "more than a dozen initiatives focused on enhancing workplace safety and product quality"

          Quite. It is a shame that such a superb aircraft as the 737 should be subject to somewhat shoddy software development in its next incarnation. I was told by an aerospace engineer at Airbus that it was down to Boeing using cheap computers that, while ok with the 737, are just underpowered for the requirements of the MAX. Dunno if that is true or not.

          1. AlbertH

            Re: "more than a dozen initiatives focused on enhancing workplace safety and product quality"

            No it's not. The MAX is a lengthened 737 with new, "enhanced efficiency" engines fitted with a bizarre kludge so bad that the whole airframe becomes unstable in anything other than straight, level flight in calm air. The geniuses at Boeing decided to try to overcome the instability issues by manipulating the operation of the flight control surfaces by software - often cutting the pilots out of the loop altogether. The upshot was that the software often couldn't cope with situations that happen in real flight conditions (such as the momentary loss of a sensor signal or two) and so the doomed aircraft would do very bizarre, self-destructive things.....

      2. TeeCee Gold badge
        Alert

        Re: "more than a dozen initiatives focused on enhancing workplace safety and product quality"

        You mean they can decline more than they already have?

      3. DavCrav Silver badge

        Re: "more than a dozen initiatives focused on enhancing workplace safety and product quality"

        "manufacturing skills quickly decline"

        Unfortunately, the plane also had a habit of declining. Into the ground.

    3. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: "more than a dozen initiatives focused on enhancing workplace safety and product quality"

      all good questions. Hopefully they have. We're not hearing this, so I'm guessing "yes"? Otherwise, why would they resume production?

      1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

        Re: "more than a dozen initiatives focused on enhancing workplace safety and product quality"

        Umm... because they're desparate to restart production before the product implodes completely?

        Boeing haven't openly proclaimed there've been "yes" responses to all those questions. Had all answers been "yes" I'd expect a very public, very excited announcement to that effect.

        Therefore, my money's on the answers to all being firmly "no".

    4. Saruman the White

      Re: "more than a dozen initiatives focused on enhancing workplace safety and product quality"

      Boeing don't need FAA clearance to build the planes. They do, however need clearance to fly the plane commercially - this is something that I believe they are unlikely to get in the near term.

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Re: "more than a dozen initiatives focused on enhancing workplace safety and product quality"

        Also independent certification from all other civil aviation authorities, because none of them will take the FAA at their word after the MAX.

      2. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

        Re: "more than a dozen initiatives focused on enhancing workplace safety and product quality"

        They do, however need clearance to fly the plane commercially

        Boeing needs approval from aviation regulators from other countries and not just the FAA.

        Because of the MAX fiasco, the FAA has lost all "credibility". All the world aviation regulators, from Japan, China, EU, AU & NZ, Russia, etc. now have a "say" in it as the FAA "rubber stamp" is no longer worth any currency.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "more than a dozen initiatives focused on enhancing workplace safety and product quality"

        "Boeing don't need FAA clearance to build the planes. They do, however need clearance to fly the plane commercially - this is something that I believe they are unlikely to get in the near term."

        Sure, you can build whatever you want, but WHY would they build aircrafts that are:

        1- grounded

        2- unlikely to fly soon

        1. Wellyboot Silver badge

          Re: "more than a dozen initiatives focused on enhancing workplace safety and product quality"

          Last time I saw any pictures they'd no room left anywhere onsite to put them, so are they allowed to fly them out of the factory?

          1. seven of five Silver badge

            Re: "more than a dozen initiatives focused on enhancing workplace safety and product quality"

            Given the current price of jet fuel, it is now economic to drive them directly to the Boneyard in Nevada.

            1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: "more than a dozen initiatives focused on enhancing workplace safety and product quality"

              Probably better fuel consumption that the average SUV too,

          2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: "more than a dozen initiatives focused on enhancing workplace safety and product quality"

            "fly them out of the factory?"

            Like this?

            1. rpark

              Re: "more than a dozen initiatives focused on enhancing workplace safety and product quality"

              ...nah, a little more like the RT footage below:

              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lksDISvCmNI

          3. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

            Re: "more than a dozen initiatives focused on enhancing workplace safety and product quality"

            Fly them out of the factory and straight into the ground* - problem solved!

            On auto, of course, (unless piloted by members of the board and/or the beancounters).

        2. julian.smith
          Mushroom

          WHY would they build aircrafts that are: 1- grounded 2- unlikely to fly soon

          ... because American arrogance and greed have no limit?

        3. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: WHY would they build aircrafts that are: 1- grounded 2- unlikely to fly soon

          Because it looks good on the front lawn.

        4. Scroticus Canis
          Holmes

          Re: "WHY would they build aircrafts that are:"

          3 - likely to be completely rejected by passengers

          I for one will never set foot upon one again.

      4. vtcodger Silver badge

        Re: "more than a dozen initiatives focused on enhancing workplace safety and product quality"

        My guess would be that Boeing has a bunch of customers with contracts signed many years ago that are obligated to either take the aircraft -- certified or not -- or pay a substantial contract cancellation payment.

        I mean, why, other than locked in prior bad luck/judgment, would anyone buy an aircraft from Boeing or anybody else given the current air travel market? I should think that there will shortly be hordes of slightly used aircraft available for lease or purchase at very attractive prices.

        So ... perhaps one more year of whopping bonuses for Boeing management ... then ...

        1. ciaran

          Re: "more than a dozen initiatives focused on enhancing workplace safety and product quality"

          Airlines pay a deposit when they order, but they have a loan arrangment to cover the total cost of the plane when they receive it. So taking possession of the airplane is cash-flow positive - they get their deposit back, basically. Which for certain airlines is a very important consideration...

        2. eldakka Silver badge

          Re: "more than a dozen initiatives focused on enhancing workplace safety and product quality"

          My guess would be that Boeing has a bunch of customers with contracts signed many years ago that are obligated to either take the aircraft -- certified or not -- or pay a substantial contract cancellation payment.

          Bad guess. They have long-running contracts with customers for airworthy 737 MAX aircraft. If an aircraft is not certified, it is not airworthy, therefore Boeing would be in breach of their supply contract.

          There was an article in the Seattle Times (Boeing's "home town" newspaper, therefore they have a local interest in Boeing journalism) about large cancellations of 737 MAXs vs Airbus aircraft (A320's) from the same airline (i.e. airline A had both 737 MAX and A320 orders, and they cancelled or reduced their MAX orders but leaving A320 ones untouched) because it was easier for airlines to get out of their purchase contracts weith Boeing because they could cite Boeing for non-compliance, where they had no such get-out with Airbus-ordered.

          Ah, found the article, Boeing takes new blow with Avolon scrapping $3.8 billion 737 MAX order and this is the relevant quote:

          “I do expect this to be the start of loads of deferrals and cancellations. I suspect that the Max is easier to cancel, and get back your deposit, as its been grounded for almost 13 months now,” said Nick Cunningham, an analyst at Agency Partners in London.

      5. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "more than a dozen initiatives focused on enhancing workplace safety and product quality"

        > this is something that I believe they are unlikely to get in the near term.

        Until Trump's kid gets made head of the FAA

    5. Tinslave_the_Barelegged
      Thumb Down

      Re: "more than a dozen initiatives focused on enhancing workplace safety and product quality"

      >"more than a dozen initiatives focused on enhancing workplace safety and product quality"

      That's about one "initiative" per 30 dead passengers. What more do you want?

  4. Blofeld's Cat Silver badge

    Er ...

    "Some of our customers are reporting that reservations are outpacing cancellations on their flights for the first time since the pandemic started."

    The same effect would be produced when most reservations in the system had been cancelled, as fewer bookings with the potential to be cancelled would remain.

    In such circumstances an actual drop in the number of reservations could still meet the stated criteria.

  5. John Sturdy

    It still doesn't look good for air travel

    Putting the 737 Max back into service could cause another massive drop in bookings for the airlines that use it, particularly now that Covid-19 has got people used to not flying. I certainly wouldn't take the risk myself, until they've been flying for a couple of years without accidents. And I presume they have to get approval from each country they fly over, and find pilots who're prepared to fly them. I think the most sensible thing to do would be to rebuild them all as an earlier model of 737; and the second-best would be to use them for cargo only, between coastal airports and flying only over the sea.

    1. Lotaresco Silver badge

      Re: It still doesn't look good for air travel

      Ryanair had apparently agreed to buy several of the 737 Max. It will be interesting to see if they fly them and possibly slightly terrifying to think that the alternatives will be extending the life of the current 737 fleet, some of those aircraft are looking "tired" these days, or taking a flight on a Max.

      1. jaywin
        Facepalm

        Re: It still doesn't look good for air travel

        No no no, they're not 737-MAX's, they're 737-8200's - a completely different beast unrelated to the MAX so nobody needs to get worried about getting on one of Ryanair's examples.

        (It's actually the specific model number of the high-density -8 version of the MAX generation of 737's, but strangely was not being used by anyone in their paintwork until after they started falling out of the sky)

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: It still doesn't look good for air travel

          >they're not 737-MAX's, they're 737-8200's - a completely different beast unrelated to the MAX

          May I suggest 737-Sellafield ?

        2. Steve K Silver badge

          Re: It still doesn't look good for air travel

          Yes - it's a Ryanair-specific MAX variant I believe, with an extra pair of overwing doors, which will allow denser seating as you noted (as there is a seats to doors/proximity requirement in certification or something).

      2. Oh Matron! Silver badge

        Re: It still doesn't look good for air travel

        Unless the EU grant it certification, Ryanair won't be flying it. And I can see, given that no one trusts the FAA any more, that certification taking forever (especially when there will be a subconscious effort to promote Airbus)

      3. iGNgnorr

        Re: It still doesn't look good for air travel

        "extending the life of the current 737 fleet, some of those aircraft are looking "tired" these days"

        Tired, but properly designed, built and maintained aircraft can carry on safely for many years. They don't need to look pretty, just work.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: It still doesn't look good for air travel

          "They don't need to look pretty, just work."

          Yep, Aeroflot proved that :-)

    2. KarMann Bronze badge
      Alien

      Re: It still doesn't look good for air travel

      I didn't mean to say that the 737 MAX should be hauling garbage, but that it should be hauled away as garbage.

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: It still doesn't look good for air travel

      "Putting the 737 Max back into service could cause another massive drop in bookings for the airlines that use it, "

      People have short memories, especially if they have even bigger memories to block them out with. I doubt that when air travel starts becoming relatively common-place again that most people will be thinking about the 737MAX. They'll just be glad of a little normality.

      On the other hand, it'll take a while before numbers of flights ramp back up and the MAX is still grounded anyway. Maybe there'll be more than enough certified aircraft to cope, even without any of the 737MAX aircraft.

      1. eldakka Silver badge

        Re: It still doesn't look good for air travel

        People have short memories,

        Ted Danslow (Ernest Borgnine) said it best in Baseketball

    4. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      Re: It still doesn't look good for air travel

      "... particularly now that Covid-19 has got people used to not flying."

      I don't think so - most people regularly go months or years between flights. It won't have made any difference except to make people look forward to flying more (getting out of HMP UK looks very attractive).

  6. seven of five Silver badge

    useless

    “more than a dozen initiatives focused on enhancing workplace safety and product quality”

    Honestly, I don't fucking care whether John Doe does´t cut his finger anymore during assembly.

    I

    do

    not

    want

    to

    die

    in a goddamn fireball 'cause they cut the corners during type approval.

    Is that so hard?

    1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Is that so hard?

      Sadly, for Boeing exec's, yes.

      Those dozen+ initiatives are way cheaper than getting recertified as safe to fly. Thus they'll focus on what they have (apparently) done, definitely not on what they want to avoid at all costs. As a bonus they think it will sound good.

      Combine with regulatory capture and a general loss of critical-thinking ability across the board, and I fear a lot of people will buy into this. Even those who really, really shouldn't.

  7. A K Stiles Silver badge

    Approvals

    Even if the FAA approve them (and hopefully it's a full type approval process and not just the same shtick as last time), Boing are going to have to do some serious work to convince the rest of the world that they are safe to fly. Then they are also going to have to convince the global public that they are safe. Much like cars and IT I suspect that the vast majority of the flying public have no real interest in the plane they'll be on, but if there's a plane people will be checking for, it's going to be this one. As an airline, at a basic level, it's some interesting sums to consider loss of bookings vs potential running cost savings.

    1. Julz Silver badge

      Re: Approvals

      Surly given the current circumstances there will soon be a whole host of secondhand efficient airliners available without the Boeing stamp on them to choose from.

  8. IneptAdept

    They are to big to fail

    It doesn't matter what happens with Boeing

    How many people they kill

    How many rockets they blow up

    They have so many contracts with so many governments, that they will never fail, to many people will have too many egg on their face

    1. My-Handle

      Re: They are to big to fail

      Don't bet on it.

      They're too big to financially fail, but one too many politically embarrasing situations and Boeing will start to lose those big contracts. Then they'll start losing money and cutting jobs (after all, they won't need the people who were working on those contracts anymore). They might get one or two bailouts, but no politician wants to be challanged on why they're spending so much money on an embarrasment of a company, and with less people working at Boeing there's less incentive for politicians "bringing jobs to their states". That's when the government will yank support and Boeing will go down hard.

      The death Boeing dies will be a political one.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: They are to big to fail

        So the current regime is going to let Boeing fail and have proud Rednecks being flown around the motherland on damn commie surrender-monkey built Airbuses ?

        And where are they going to buy fighters from Lockheed-Martin (snigger)

        1. ciaran

          Re: They are to big to fail

          Airbus has a "Airbus U.S. Manufacturing Facility" in Mobile Alabama, where they produce A320 family planes since 2016.

          I believe that Northrop Grumman has a big hand in the Boeing fighter programs, so they could probably take over Boeing Defense. But I agree, the US fighters are in a dire situation between obselescence and disfunction, both causeing increased costs and lower availability. They should probably look to replace their older F-16s with the Gripen.

        2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: They are to big to fail

          "surrender-monkey built Airbuses ?"

          I'm pretty sure the "surrender monkeys" only build the nose section and cockpit.

        3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: They are to big to fail

          <sings>

          Staaaaaaarfighters, across the USA

          boldy going forwards

          'cos they can't turn away

          </sings>

          Now I think about it, didn't the Starfighter have similar tendencies to lithobraking like the 737MAX?

          1. seven of five Silver badge

            Re: They are to big to fail

            Only (Mostly) the F104-G, where they tried to make a multirole attack craft out of a perfectly good fighter.

      2. Gene Cash Silver badge

        Re: They are to big to fail

        > Boeing will start to lose those big contracts

        Some say this is why Boeing didn't get any of the Moon lander contract, despite having an attractive technical solution.

        1. Argilvie

          Re: They are to big to fail

          This topic was covered extensively in Captain Lockheed and the Starfighters.

          A 1974 concept album by Bob Calvert - with a nasty satirical tone the music is quite good as well - worth a listen.

      3. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: They are to big to fail

        That's when the government will yank support and Boeing will go down hard

        Boeing is one of those establishment that is considered "too big to fail".

        But, who knows. Maybe some country in the Far East Asia might start churning out knock-offs called Boings.

        1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

          Re: They are to big to fail

          Bouncing would be better than a horrible death in a fire-ball!

  9. Mike Richards

    “more than a dozen initiatives focused on enhancing workplace safety and product quality”

    Is definitely something you don't want to see when several hundred of these planes have already been delivered.

  10. alain williams Silver badge

    What will insurance premiums be ?

    If/when the 737 MAX takes to the air they are going to need to be insured. How will Lloyds, etc, assess them as a risk ?

    It would have been far cheaper for Boeing to have done a proper redesign job and made it higher off the ground when the fitted the bigger engines. The few bob saved on retraining pilots just would not be noticed compared to the consequential loss from by cutting corners. This is what you get when you let bean counters rather than engineers make decisions.

    1. Stork Silver badge

      Re: What will insurance premiums be ?

      I think I read that there is not room for more undercarriage - the 50+ year old original design has hit the limit of what can be done.

      It is already higher than 737-100.

      1. alain williams Silver badge

        Re: What will insurance premiums be ?

        not room for more undercarriage

        Exactly: which is why it should have been redesigned, but that would have taken it out of spec as far as 737 pilots certification - so the pilots would have had to do some training. They were afraid that the training need would have reduces sales - so they pushed the engines forwards which made the plane unstable, so they came up with a software bodge to correct the instability.

        Unstable: engines in front of the center of gravity, so more thrust pushes the airplane nose up.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: What will insurance premiums be ?

          Incorrect; power/thrust centerline is a minor issue (faced by all aircraft designs with low-slung engines), already dealt with by "Speed Trim System". MCAS was meant to combat an additional pitch-up tendency caused by lift generated by the engine nacelles at high angles of attack (especially at low speeds). CoG has nothing whatsoever to do with this; it is unlikely that CoG changed by very much vs the NG, and is extremely simple to compensate for during loading. Aircraft are also capable of flying with CoG in quite a wide range, and it changes throughout flight. Not unstable, unless you shove it to the edge of its flight envelope .

        2. jtaylor

          Re: What will insurance premiums be ?

          "it should have been redesigned, but that would have taken it out of spec as far as 737 pilots certification....They were afraid that the training need would have reduces sales"

          You're not far wrong. Redesigning the landing gear and related parts (like wing storage) would have changed too much from the 737 Type Certificate, so the plane would have required all new FAA certification. The product, not the users. Training was also a concern, but independent of the TC. Airlines didn't want to pay for training, and Boeing offered to save that cost.

          "so they pushed the engines forwards which made the plane unstable, so they came up with a software bodge to correct the instability. Unstable: engines in front of the center of gravity, so more thrust pushes the airplane nose up."

          They did move the engines forwards, but that wasn't the problem. "Center of Thrust" is often not at the "Center of Lift." The problem was that 1) Boeing kept the same "pilot feel" to avoid retraining, 2) To maintain that same pilot experience, they added a feature (MCAS) to alter control behavior...and didn't tell pilots, 3) They used insufficient hardware for MCAS, 4) They botched the MCAS software, and 5) They made safety-critical alerts an optional feature for extra cost.

          Pilots could be trained to fly the 737MAX without MCAS...just as they could be trained to fly the A320NEO.

          If the 737MAX were a pizza, Boeing changed some ingredients. But then added Chrome Yellow so that customers wouldn't be put off by the color. And conned the regulator into letting them not mention it on the label.

      2. fobobob

        Re: What will insurance premiums be ?

        737-MAX 10 has main landing gear that extend by several inches when fully down: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F4IGl4OizM4

        1. AlbertH

          Re: What will insurance premiums be ?

          Dear Deity! That smug Salesdroid is a "chief project engineer"? Boeing are certainly doomed.

  11. PhilipN

    Reservations outpacing cancellations ...

    Because there are hardly any flights?

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Reservations outpacing cancellations ...

      You're just looking for problems.

      Late arrivals, lost luggage and passenger complaints are at an all-time low.

      1. rpark

        Re: Reservations outpacing cancellations ...

        ...not to mention fatal air crashes.

  12. Dale 3

    isit737max.com

    In the spirit of the multitude of "is it..." websites, would someone please build isit737max.com, so you put in a flight number and it comes back with "YES, you might die" or "NO, you're probably alright". It can't be too difficult, seeing that sites like SeatGuru are already able to identify the plane type by flight number and present the seating configuration.

    I for one am in no hurry to fly any route that uses 737MAX, and will be checking before booking in future.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: isit737max.com

      When the planes started crashing, Ryanair announced that the substantial number they were buying (50?) would be part of their general fleet, rather than flying on specific routes. So the only way to be sure would be to line up at the gate and read the registration on the plane. Of course, you could always walk away from the gate. But Ryanair would still have your money by then, which is what they care most about.

      Unless all Ryanair flights are marked as "MAYBE - do you feel lucky?", which rather defeats the point of the site, then the information isn't going to be all that helpful.

      1. The First Dave Silver badge

        Re: isit737max.com

        Anyone who flies on RyanAir already (clearly) doesn't care too much about anything - no-one who has read anything about them in the press can be under any illusion that the passengers matter at all.

        1. MrNigel
          Happy

          Re: isit737max.com

          @Dave - yeah like the info you find via a Google search of "Ryanair" is all true.... Flew 48 times to/fro my home in Spain in 2019 plus several European business trips all on FR. Guess what? I am still under the illusion that I am alive. Why do I choose to fly FR? Because you only pay for the services you use, unlike every other airline that add "free hold baggage", "free reserved seating", "free hand baggage" etc to the price of your ticket. BTW, it is Ryanair, not RyanAir.

      2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: isit737max.com

        >Unless all Ryanair flights are marked as "MAYBE - do you feel lucky?",

        Free(*) lottery ticket with every 737-MAX flight

        * Free tickets with a £10 service charge, £3 convenience charge for printing your own lottery ticket and a £5 credit card fee for not charging your card,

      3. julian.smith
        Flame

        Third world airlines like Ryanair

        I avoid third world airlines such as Ryanair - the benefit does not outweigh:

        - the risk of dying

        - having to mix with Ryanair quality passengers

        - Ryanair's well known concern for its customers

        1. Dom 3

          Re: Third world airlines like Ryanair

          "risk of dying"??? Ryanair has an excellent safety record.

          Anyway - Ryanair has changed. I think Mr O'Leary realised that some of his policies were so extreme as to alienate passengers to the point that they would refuse to fly on his planes. And I still meet^W used to meet people who hold this position. I fly with them four to eight times a year, because they are the only option using my nearest airport and going where the rellies are. I've had reason to phone them a couple of times to get a name changed (cos I didn't make the booking) to match the passport - done without quibble and without charge, despite their Ts & Cs. And they no longer really enforce the cabin bag size rules. I have yet to see someone get pulled over, even when their backpack is clearly *way* outside the 55x40x20 limit. As long as it is "cabin-size", it's fine.

  13. Duncan Macdonald Silver badge
    Stop

    Why ?

    With world airlines losing lots of cash, it is unlikely that there will be any new orders for Boeing (or Airbus) before next year. Many airlines are likely to cancel their existing 737 Max 8 orders to recover their deposits as soon as they can do so without penalties. It would not surprise me if some of the current 400 parked 737 Max 8 aircraft never carry passengers.

    Why build more ?

    1. nematoad Silver badge

      Re: Why ?

      "Why build more ?"

      Stock options, bonuses and keeping their masters on Wall Street happy. It's just business as usual.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Why ?

        Production is up and customer complaints are down - what's the problem ?

    2. The First Dave Silver badge

      Re: Why ?

      Quite possibly, deposits is part of the point - if Boeing cannot deliver a plane then presumably _they_ will suffer the penalties, whereas if there is a plane on the tarmac, the airline will be the one forfeiting.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wishful thinking

    “Our industry will come back, but it will take some years to return to what it was just two months ago.”

    For a start, I think it's highly unlikely that business travel will ever return to pre-COVID levels. Videoconferencing is all you need in the vast majority of cases.

  15. Klimt's Beast Would

    Rebranding

    Further to Trump's suggestion of rebranding the MAX, I propose:*

    737 MEX - Made in Mexico (a reflection of the post-truth world we now live in)

    737 MIX - What happens to those onboard when it crashes (aka 'A Kenwood')

    737 MOX - Public fooled again? (But not The Who - also not to be confused with Mixed OXide nuclear fuel unless it crashes in to an NPP)

    737 MUX - Converted to air transport of swine, though all the pigs I've known have been very clean.

    *I'm sticking to three letters and vowels - no Toad, Badger or Mole.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Rebranding

      737 SUX - The most luxury 737 you're never going to set foot on

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Rebranding

        Is that the one with the inflatable autopilot with emergency manual inflation point?

        1. ChrisC

          Re: Rebranding

          No, it's the one where RoboCop is onboard as the air marshal...

  16. martinusher Silver badge

    The software is just a fig leaf

    Readers here will be familary with the idea of a software workaround to cure a system design issue. Normally this is just a nuisance, it might irritate people when it doesn't work but it doesn't usually result in fireballs like it does when its applied to aircraft. The fundamental problem that the MAX had, the 'out of control trim' situation where the plane found itself unflyable with the cockpit crew unable to correct it, is something that's been lurking since the earliest models of the 737. It hasn't made headlines because the problem was understood and even documented in the manuals for early plane versions. Where the MAX screwed up was that by moving the engines they made a nuisance problem into a truly dangerous one and their drive to keep development timescales, costs and avoid re-certification meant that they applied a software workaround which 'should have worked'. (Many of El Reg's readers know exactly where that's going.) Anyway, since the MAX is designed to turn what was a short haul plane into a long distance capable aircraft with configurations designed to mimic cattle car traveling conditions -- the'MAX' refers to MAX profits -- the idea of spending any time on that plane doesn't appeal to me. There are alternatives.

    1. jtaylor

      Re: The software is just a fig leaf

      "Readers here will be familary with the idea of a software workaround to cure a system design issue."

      You mean like TCP retransmits to handle lost packets? Or automatic choke in a car? Sure.

      "The fundamental problem that the MAX had, the 'out of control trim' situation where the plane found itself unflyable with the cockpit crew unable to correct it, is something that's been lurking since the earliest models of the 737."

      The 737MAX "out of control trim" problem is MCAS. That feature is new with the MAX. The earliest 737s in 1967 did not have anything like MCAS. Previous generations of the 737 have had problems, like the rudder, but I don't know of a persistent runaway trim problem. Perhaps you will enlighten us.

  17. rcxb Silver badge

    if the Max is allowed to fly again its lower operating costs may be welcome.

    I understand the bulk of those lower operating costs is lower fuel consumption, while fuel is quite cheap right now.

    Of course that won't be the case in the long-term, but it seems like the already delivered 737MAX planes would be sufficient to handle the lower public demand for quite some time, if they were allowed to fly.

    I guess Boeing is getting cheap enough loans that it will still be profitable to build jets now, and warehouse them for years until anybody wants one at anything like normal price.

  18. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

    "workplace safety" is the main concern, for sure. Not customer safety.

    Personally I think both Airbus and Boeing should have pilot overridable anti-stall systems. (And in Boeing's case, non-automatic massive trim adjustment.)

    The novelty of actually flying an aircraft not relying on faulty AOT sensors and other sh*t...

    1. jtaylor

      "I think both Airbus and Boeing should have pilot overridable anti-stall systems. (And in Boeing's case, non-automatic massive trim adjustment.)"

      They do. Pilots can choose lower levels of automation. The Ethiopian pilots disabled (cutout) the automatic trim when they suspected a fault in the automation.*

      "The novelty of actually flying an aircraft not relying on faulty AOT sensors and other sh*t..."

      Novel to whom? Anyone with IFR, including all commercial pilots, are trained to fly "partial [intrument] panel". If it really goes to hell, they can just set Pitch (degree of nose-up) and Power (engine setting) and the aircraft will go pretty much straight ahead. This will hopefully give time to troubleshoot why the Angle of Attack sensor, speed sensor, windshield, etc, are unpleasant.

      Take an exploration flight at your local flying school. You'll find there's an awful lot of common sense and an awful lot of Plan A/B/C and an awful lot of "that seems like a good idea, but here's what really happens and why." The details can be overwhelming, but I think you'll be much reassured that airplanes are pretty well designed and that pilots are well prepared to fly them.

      *p15 of the Interim Report http://www.aib.gov.et/wp-content/uploads/2020/documents/accident/ET-302%20%20Interim%20Investigation%20%20Report%20March%209%202020.pdf

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Me? Cynical?

    There are so many MAX carcases languishing unsold or belonging to airlines about to go bust, and such a long ramp back up to normality once covid is beaten, that one wonders where on earth a market might be found for yet more hulks with nowhere to store them.

    A cynic might suggest that by "restarting production", Boeing is doing something quite different. Firstly, casting a bit of ground bait to restart the sales effort for all those existing carcasses in its car park. Secondly, avoiding lawsuits for all those component supply contracts it signed just before the virus hit.

    But, dear Boeing lawyer, I am of course no such cynic (even if you did worm my ID out of Vulture Central's systems).

  20. rpark

    Not our fault

    “Our industry will come back, but it will take some years to return to what it was just two months ago.” - particularly when you keep reducing staff due in part to your own self-inflicted quality control failures, and the FAA's inability to protect/ cover for your egregious failures resulting in the death of 100's.

  21. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge
    Coat

    I'm waiting for Trump to issue a presidential edict demanding China's aviation regulatory body to approve the 737 MAX is safe to fly.

  22. toffer99

    When the 737 comes up as a subject, I still think of the dead crews. Imagine fighting the control column for minutes on end as it repeatedly tries to dive you into the ground, eventually overcoming your puny human strength to kill you and your hundreds of passengers.

  23. Ashto5

    Facepalm

    How many of the jobs going are executive jobs ?

    I mean they will need those guys to fix the problems with the plane won’t they ?

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