back to article EU says Boeing 737 Max won't fly over the Continent just yet: The US can make its own choices over pilot training

Software updates alone are not enough to make the controversial Boeing 737 Max safe enough for EU-regulated skies, the political bloc’s aviation safety regulator has decreed. In a decision published on Friday afternoon the EU Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) announced it would not be adopting the US Federal Aviation …

  1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

    MCAS was a software fix bodge for a hardware kludge.

    FTFY

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Most of life is a software bodge for a hardware kludge

      1. Xalran

        Anyway it was done by "clowns directed by monkeys" to avoid the cost of training pilots on a new plane.

        Which would have killed the plane in all the companies that also flew the A320 ( since the NEO is basically the same plane as an A320 with bigger engines at exactly the same location as the smaller ones ... and as such can be grandfathered. ) and made it an unpalatable option for lots of other companies. ( since they had to train pilots on it... why not jump ship and go for the other company ).

        1. cageordie

          To be more accurate it was contracted out to Indian software subcontractors who did it cheaper than the self important Boeing engineers that Boeing management despise.

    2. DS999

      No, it was a software fix to avoid having it classified as a new airframe requiring pilots be certified on it. It was not a "hardware kludge" in any way.

      1. tip pc Silver badge

        "No, it was a software fix to avoid having it classified as a new airframe requiring pilots be certified on it. It was not a "hardware kludge" in any way."

        the hardware kludge was the bigger engines on the largely existing 1960's airframe.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Which was itself a kludge to get it low enough to the ground to allow it to carry its own airstairs onboard so it could operate from airports that didn't have the infrastructure to handle jets.

          So we have bodged software to allow efficient engines on an airframe designed to be able to fly between JFK and LAX if neither of those airports were setup for jets and if the 737 still had onboard stairs.

          1. Pejoham

            MAX design

            Although I am no fan of the design 'kludges' suggested (or the reasons for them), but this response is just too far out of whack. I do not think that any commercial MAX, or even the NG, has an airstairs. These were last reasonably see on the 737 classic, except maybe in specific cases.

            1. This post has been deleted by its author

            2. anothercynic Silver badge

              Re: MAX design

              That's where you're incorrect. Ryanair flies the 737NG (up to the -900) and guess what... They have built-in air stairs. Shocker, innit?

              And yes, the kludge that spawned a kludge that spawned a kludge is... the closeness to the ground. That's why the 737 Classic and beyond has the weird squashed-egg shape of a jet engine cowl - The CFM-56 is bigger in diameter than the original JT-8D used on the 737 Original (the -100 and -200), and the Boeing engineers got around that by moving the generators and a couple of other components around to maintain ground clearance. With the MAX, the engines got even bigger and had to be moved forward and up, which changed CoG, which required MCAS to maintain the attitude of the fuselage and wings in flight.

              If Boeing had bitten the bullet with longer/taller landing gear (like they did with the 757), MCAS would've been unnecessary.

            3. cageordie

              Re: MAX design

              LOL! You so missed the point! The 737 is a cut down 707 designed in the 60s but based on a late 50s design. The low bypass JT8D engines allowed short undercarriage legs to be used and got the 737-100 close to the ground so that stairs could be used easily. Older 737s are still in service in the far north of America since they are the only western passenger jets than can be fitted with a gravel kit for operation from dirt strips. Boeing is stuck with the consequences of the design choice they made in the very early 60s. Even with the changes they made to accommodate the larger engines the MAX still has an 8.6" smaller fan on their LEAP-1B engines than Airbus has on the A320neo's LEAP-1As. Do you want me to explain why size matters to fuel economy? This is a crappy old aircraft. But Boeing management wouldn't pay the money to design a modern aircraft. So now they have lost the money, an more, in a PR disaster. This is the second time that their attempts to prove their own engineers are over paid and self important has cost them billions. At least $20 billion on the 787 program and then the thick end of another $20 billion here. Do you need that explained?

          2. Dom 3

            "Which was itself a kludge to get it low enough to the ground to allow it to carry its own airstairs " - here's a video of the airstairs on an A319.

            The 737 is that height because that was perfectly sufficient in the 1960s.

      2. Version 1.0 Silver badge

        You think that the de Havilland Comet could have been fixed with software then?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          You think that the de Havilland Comet could have been fixed with software then?

          The Comet issues were caused by the windows, so Microsoft could have issued a patch, shirley?

          <coughs>

          1. spireite

            Only if it was organised by a Program Manager <cough, cough>

        2. not.known@this.address Silver badge

          Totally different issue

          In the Comet's case, the crashes were caused by a fatal design flaw - the aircraft was withdrawn from service until the cause was found; once it became known, it was fixed properly and the lesson learned - don't put square corners on windows - has been applied to every airliner since.

          Boeing initially claimed it was nothing to do with them and blamed the pilots - even when shown evidence that the MCAS software was not behaving as it was supposed to, they still blamed the pilots. They refused to issue instructions to ground the aircraft until a proper fix could be found; the Federal Aviation Authority also failed to act in an appropriate way, relying on Boeing's assurances that there was nothing inherently wrong with the 737Max and that business could continue as usual.

          Don't forget it took the rest of the world grounding the things before Boeing admitted that, just maybe, there might be a problem after all...

          1. Lars Silver badge
            Coat

            Re: Totally different issue

            "don't put square corners on windows - has been applied to every airliner since."

            Except in the front of the plane.

            The square corner explanation become easy and popular hiding sloppy manufacturing. But that is all old history.

        3. John Jennings Bronze badge

          The Comet was fixed. It went on for many years service.

          Also, Comet v2 - v4 had over 100 planes built, and only left commercial service in the early 2010's

          It was also the Nimrod (about 50 of those) - a maritime patrol plane which operated for over 60 years.

      3. Dabooka

        It's been said already

        It most definitely was a hardware kludge. This is pretty much irrefutable.

      4. Grease Monkey

        @DS999

        It was indeed a kludge. Fitting those engines to that airframe was very much a kludge. If it wasn't a kludge they wouldn't have needed MCAS.

        Boeing have become the cowboy builders of the aviation industry.

        1. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge
          FAIL

          Re: @DS999

          In the US, calling someone a cowboy is a complement. Just so you know.

          1. Grease Monkey

            Re: @DS999

            "In the US, calling someone a cowboy is a complement. Just so you know."

            And on a UK based website I'm supposed to care?

          2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: @DS999

            What's the US equivilent then? ie contractors, especially one man bands or small operations who do half a job, badly, take the money and run?

            1. Ryan 7

              Re: @DS999

              "Predidential administration"

            2. cageordie

              Re: @DS999

              The MCAS software was done by an Indian subcontractor. Boeing's own engineers did the fly by wire system for the 777, which works very well. Boeing took the cheapest possible route on the 737, to maximize profit come what may. Well that worked out for them, didn't it? Boeing proves again that their management didn't learn the harsh lesson from contracting out work on the 787.

        2. Trollslayer Silver badge

          Re: @DS999

          This wouldn't have happened if Boeing was still run by aircraft people instead of money grabbers.

          1. Extreme Aged Parent

            Re: @DS999

            Yes they are run by 'bean counters', (Lockhead Martin I think) they even have had their headquarters moved, since their takeover there has been a lot of de unionisation, a new factory was built, strictly non union, leading to poorer quality product, never seen since they are allowed to do their own certification...This has ended up with the re-purposing of an old airframe to save monies...the rest sadly is history

            As part of the certification process the directors and shareholders of the company should fly in one of these planes, I for one will not do so.

            1. anothercynic Silver badge

              Re: @DS999

              Don't drag the honourable folks of Lockheed-Martin into this... It was McDonnell-Douglas (MD) that Boeing gobbled up. Lockheed-Martin still continues to survive on its own, staying far away from anything that can be classed as commercial aviation. It's the beancounter idiots from MD who turned Boeing into this... monstrosity. They admitted as much after they took control in senior management, and relocated Boeing HQ to Chicago.

              You may want to read about MD and their clusterf... of a PR strategy when their prize jet, the DC-10, had a cargo door problem that cost them as dearly as it has cost Boeing with the MAX. The Air Current has a great (8000 words) analysis of that and how it relates to Boeing's MAX issues. It's fascinating!

            2. cageordie

              Re: @DS999

              The Loughead brothers would be rolling in their grave. Lock-Mart is a separate company. Boeing bought MD and inherited the bean counting corporate cockroaches that ran the Douglas company into the ground. They are serial offenders, but they have become rich along the way.

      5. Oh Matron! Silver badge

        https://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-fi-boeing-max-design-20190315-story.html

        It's a bodge of a bodge. the 737 design should have been retired many years ago

    3. This post has been deleted by its author

    4. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge
      Boffin

      If the software hasn't been changed to use redundant sensors

      It's not even close to being fixed.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: If the software hasn't been changed to use redundant sensors

        It's not as simple as that.

        How do you fit redundant sensors that only apply to people paying full price in business class?

        Having the same safety for all the passengers, irrespective of what they paid, would be communism

      2. anothercynic Silver badge

        Re: If the software hasn't been changed to use redundant sensors

        Right now it is fixed within the parameters of the possible. Short of implementing synthetic airspeed and AoA (as EASA has requested), the only other option is to do what they've done, which is "if AoA sensors disagree, disable MCAS".

        Installing a third AoA sensor would be... interesting to see where you'd put it, plus all the other fun that goes along with that (don't misunderstand me, I'd very much prefer an odd number of physical sensors on a fuselage).

        1. cageordie

          Re: If the software hasn't been changed to use redundant sensors

          It's not just the three sensors. Internally the aircraft has a dual redundant control system, not triple like the 747/757/767/777/787, or more. Airbus can lose whole sets of systems and still keep flying. The 737 has plan A, and plan B. If a single failure happens in both systems then you are back to their much vaunted pulley system. Basically the 737 has a flight control system from an earlier era, tarted up to look modern. All other Boeing commercial aircraft since the 747 have reasonably logically laid out triple redundant systems. Just take a look at the overhead panel on the 737, it shows the history of the aircraft in the mixture of display and switch technologies used when each feature was added.

  2. don't you hate it when you lose your account Silver badge

    As should be

    And so the world turns

  3. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

    We're gonna need a bigger brown envelope

    1. StrangerHereMyself

      And a lot of body bags.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        The US is the biggest buyer these days, so get in line?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Ouch. Harsh, but sadly true.

    2. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

      And Martin Baker ejection seats.

      </joke>

      1. Jim Mitchell

        You got an ejection seat? Back when I was a kid, flying got you little pin on wings, playing card decks, and a chance to see the cockpit. But not an ejection seat, I'm jealous!

        1. Tom Chiverton 1

          Pin on wings? Luxury! When I were a lad all we 'ad were where etc

        2. Kevin Johnston Silver badge

          I still have some playing card decks from various airlines...in fact in my desk drawer just now is one from American Airlines, one from Lufthansa and one from Royal Jordanian

  4. cookieMonster

    Good

    see Title

  5. StrangerHereMyself

    Very wary

    Considering the enormous economic interests involved I'd be very wary to fly on this plane.

    Boeing's airplanes make up about 10% of the U.S. exports and it was therefore almost inevitable that this plane would be certified by U.S. authorities.

    If they hadn't the company would've simply gone down.

    1. cookieMonster

      Re: Very wary

      Like the two aircraft that caused the deaths of 300+ people.

    2. TVU Silver badge

      Re: Very wary

      "Considering the enormous economic interests involved I'd be very wary to fly on this plane"

      The good news is that 737 Max can be avoided by passengers and here's a quote from The Register's very own 'Proposed US fix for Boeing 737 Max software woes does not address Ethiopian crash scenario, UK pilot union warns' article:

      The 737 Max will be known as the 737-7, 737-8 and 737-9. In Ryanair's case it will be known as the 737-8200, a reference to the base -8 Max model having been fettled to fit 200 seats rather than the stock -8's 180ish. International Air Transport Association aeroplane type codes will be B37M, B38M and B39M should you want to avoid booking a flight on one.

      1. StrangerHereMyself

        Re: Very wary

        Ah! Obfuscation is being put to good use, I see.

      2. Symon Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: Very wary

        Ryanair won't tell you in advance what type of plane you will fly on.

        https://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/travel_news/article-8965701/Boeing-737-Max-Passengers-wont-know-theyre-fly-one-UK.html

        1. Kabukiwookie Silver badge

          Re: Very wary

          As if anyone needed yet another reason to avoid Ryanair like the plague.

        2. Winkypop Silver badge

          Re: Very wary

          Thanks, but I already avoid all their aircraft.

          So, not a problem.

          1. a pressbutton

            Re: Very wary

            I hope you do not live under a flightpath...

      3. Martin Summers Silver badge

        Re: Very wary

        Thank you for that information. I certainly won't be flying any airline that uses one. Its just not worth the risk. If that means avoiding Ryanair completely that's fine by me. I've never flown on a plane before and I'm nearly 40. Exciting times ahead for me!

      4. Mage Silver badge
        Black Helicopters

        Re: Very wary

        Ryanair has said they won't say if you are booked on a 737-8200. They claim they only decide a day before.

    3. Lars Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Very wary

      No, not about 10% of the U.S. exports.

    4. Arctic fox
      Headmaster

      @StrangerHereMyself Re: "Very wary...............make up about 10% of the U.S. exports"

      "For 69 of the last 70 months, the category dominated by Boeing BA +4.2% has been ranked as the nation's leading export among more than 1,250 categories, according to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau data.Aug 13, 2020".

      Not quite 10%. However, it is without doubt the largest single exporter in the US and commands just over a third of the industrial sector it operates in. That the FAA smiled upon them is not exactly surprising. I definitely would not take a flight on that example of bodgeneering under any circumstances.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: @StrangerHereMyself "Very wary...............make up about 10% of the U.S. exports"

        It is also one of the biggest military contractors.

        Imagine being a republican politician on the FAA oversight committee and saying "Dear voter, we let a government bureaucrat destroy Boeing just cos a few hundred africans died, and now we don't have any B52s to bomb commie muslim afghans"

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "now we don't have any B52s to bomb commie muslim afghans"

          shame it's the democrats that are the war mongers, ref: Barry "it didn't want to appear weak"

          1. CliveS
            Mushroom

            Re: "now we don't have any B52s to bomb commie muslim afghans"

            "shame it's the democrats that are the war mongers".

            Well history doesn't really support that assertion. You can ignore the War of 1812, as neither Republican nor Democrat parties existed. The Mexican-American War was pushed by the Democrats and opposed by the Whigs. While the Civil War was started by the Confederates (primarily Democrat), the Northern Democrats opposed secession, so looking for a partisan political cause won't wash. Spanish-American War was supported by Republican senators, but opposed by Republican President McKinley. WW1 and WW2 were nonpartisan in both House and Senate. Korea involvement was also nonpartisan. As for Vietnam, against both House and Senate gave almost unanimous support. Democrat LBJ was in favour, and Republican Barry Goldwater wanted to nuke the North Vietnamese. Gulf War was Republican. Afghanistan was non-partisan. Invasion of Iraq was predominantly supported by Republicans, with some Democrat opposition. So effectively 2-1 to the Republicans.

            1. Fr. Ted Crilly

              Re: "now we don't have any B52s to bomb commie muslim afghans"

              Gotta be careful with the term 'democrat' for most of it's existance 'democrat' was most certainly not what in political reference of the 20th century would be understood as the modern 'democrat' party...

              1. MrReynolds2U

                Re: "now we don't have any B52s to bomb commie muslim afghans"

                True... while reading up about the history of both main parties in the US it seems the democrats and republicans have almost switched sides in the last hundred or so years. The modern parties have very little in common with their original ethos.

    5. CrackedNoggin

      Re: Very wary

      Certification yes, but was it inevitable that the 10 times more time, effort, and money would be spent on lobbying and spin than actually fixing it? Don't answer that!

    6. Trollslayer Silver badge

      Re: Very wary

      I have seen US testing information on vehicles with driver assist and unless a fatal incident was clearly related to the assist system it often just gets written as something the driver did without investigation.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: written off as something the driver did

        "unless a fatal incident was clearly related to the assist system it often just gets written as something the driver did without investigation."

        See also: Sudden Uncommanded Acceleration e.g. Toyota/Lexus e.g.

        https://www.edn.com/toyotas-killer-firmware-bad-design-and-its-consequences/

        https://users.ece.cmu.edu/~koopman/pubs/koopman14_toyota_ua_slides.pdf

  6. tip pc Silver badge
    Megaphone

    Consumers need to know what aircraft will be used before they book.

    i definitely wont intentionally be booking on a 737 max.

    By law, airlines should have to state what aircraft the ticket is for and permit passengers a free refund / penalty free cancellation or a rebook on a competitor if there is a change to the advertised aircraft at anytime prior to flight.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Consumers need to know what aircraft will be used before they book.

      >I definitely wont intentionally be booking on a 737 max.

      So you trust all their other models?

      Built by the same company under the same commercial pressures and with the same 'accommodating' regulatory regime ?

      1. tip pc Silver badge

        Re: Consumers need to know what aircraft will be used before they book.

        "So you trust all their other models?"

        very true,

        When i was younger i couldn't wait to fly on a new airframe, mainly the 777 back then.

        I was in no rush to get on a 787 or A380, i'd get on a A350 though or a 737 800.

        i actually flew on a 737 800 in 2018 and was concerned both ways it might have been a max and was happy it wasn't.

        My fear is that there is too much use of carbon-fibre and composite materials, Airbus actually chose to use different composites than boeing which makes me feel better about their choice. Of course no air frames have been lost due to boeings composite choices just yet, i just don't want to be one of the ones to find out at first hand that the business that made bad decisions about MCAS also made bad decisions about other stuff and i'm no longer about to complain about them in online forums.

        Anything pre 787 is ok in my book.

        1. StrangerHereMyself

          Re: Consumers need to know what aircraft will be used before they book.

          Composite aircraft have been flying for decades, but these were mainly military types. I see no reason as of yet to have any misgivings on flying on a composite jet.

          What we will see is that if one crashes the plane will burn completely. leaving nothing but a few scraps of metal and some bodies strewn in a field.

          1. Richard 12 Silver badge

            Re: Consumers need to know what aircraft will be used before they book.

            Military airframes accumulate far fewer cycles than commercial jets, and their flights are somewhat different too.

            It's the ageing that concerns me somewhat. We came to understand metal fatigue by losing Comets, what lessons remain to be learned about accumulated carbon fibre composite stresses?

            1. tip pc Silver badge

              Re: Consumers need to know what aircraft will be used before they book.

              Questions concerning delimitation in 787’s have been around for a while now

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Consumers need to know what aircraft will be used before they book.

                Did you mean "delamination" - layers of (presumably in the context) fibre structures coming apart? If so, pray tell. Give us a link or something?

                Delamination of aluminium structures also happens - didn't Concorde drop the skin off part of its rudder somewhere over the Australian outback once?

            2. StrangerHereMyself

              Re: Consumers need to know what aircraft will be used before they book.

              From what I know there is little if any fatigue in composite structures. Plastic parts last almost forever, which is unfortunate if it's disposed in landfill and sea.

              1. JimC

                Re:Fatigue in composite structures. Plastic parts last almost forever,

                Neither of those is true. Composite structures most definitely have a limited life, and plastic doesn't last for ever. As a general rule the nastiest additives in plastics are the ones put in there to try and stop it disintegrating at the first sign of UV light...

            3. ICL1900-G3 Bronze badge

              Re: Consumers need to know what aircraft will be used before they book.

              Indeed so. The Cirrus SR20 has a parachute recovery system for when all else fails. It is not airworthy without it as there is insufficient data about the stresses of a carbon fibre aircraft.

          2. tip pc Silver badge

            Re: Consumers need to know what aircraft will be used before they book.

            Some links concerning 787 composites

            https://www.pprune.org/tech-log/print-476373-787-delamination.html

            https://www.theolympian.com/news/business/article25238002.html

            And more recently

            https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-08-28/boeing-woes-mount-with-manufacturing-defect-found-in-dreamliners

            In the olden days most issues where resolved after a few years and send flight regarded as safe given the extraordinary steps taken within the industry to engineer problems out.

            It looks like those painful lessons learned in the past have been forgotten and the new kids want cheap and have no idea why things in older days where done that way.

          3. Cynic_999 Silver badge

            Re: Consumers need to know what aircraft will be used before they book.

            In fact aluminium burns very well in an aircraft fire - not that that makes a lot of difference to the passengers in a typical airliner crash.

        2. TDog

          A300 Composite failure

          N14053 tail fell off after failure of the composite locking - this was due to excessive left right movement of the rudder - some 19 years ago.

          1. Lars Silver badge
            Happy

            Re: A300 Composite failure

            Yes but the pilot was clearly a bit mad, if I remember right he had a Scandinavian sure name, a mad Viking gene apparently.

            No planes were grounded or recalled.

            Boeing have had recent problems in fitting those cabin parts together, and as I remember only in that one factory. No accidents due to those problems though.

          2. StrangerHereMyself

            Re: A300 Composite failure

            I know, but a metal part would've snapped much earlier.

            1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

              Re: A300 Composite failure

              And IIRC Boeing, or at least a group of concerned pilots coincidentally paid by Boeing, called for the FAA to ban all composite (cough Airbus) aircraft.

              Then when Boeing announced the dreamliner it was all about how much safer composite was

      2. cookieMonster

        Re: Consumers need to know what aircraft will be used before they book.

        Yep.... for over 18 years I’ve flown on a plane at least twice a week. A majority of them were Boeing aircraft.

        None were as fucked as the Max, partially because most were designed/built before the current shower of wankers took control.

        Won’t ever get on a Max though. Thankfully I’ve a choice of airlines who fly to the destinations I’m now interested in going to, but with the current Covid situation, I won’t be flying anywhere until next year anyway. My view on all this is simple...

        OMG, I’ve saved HOW MUCH money this year??

        Wow!!

        1. low_resolution_foxxes Bronze badge

          Re: Consumers need to know what aircraft will be used before they book.

          If you want a scary read, 'the verge' had a technical breakdown of the Boeing 737 Max mcas disaster. It is humiliating reading for Boeing. I mean... gross stupidity levels.

          https://www.theverge.com/2019/5/2/18518176/boeing-737-max-crash-problems-human-error-mcas-faa

      3. martinusher Silver badge

        Re: Consumers need to know what aircraft will be used before they book.

        >So you trust all their other models?

        The early 737s had a 'sudden rudder reversal' problem that caused a few near misses and at least one crash. This type of plane was also prone to 'uncontrolled elevator trim' conditions which could be dealt with using a rather awarkward maneuver (basically "stall the plane to unload the force on the stabilizer and wind the trim back quick"). Its this later problem, exacerbated by the new larger engines, that's caused the MAX to crash; MCAS was just a quick fix to try to avoid getting into this situation.

        I'm not involved with this plane at all and I don't work in the trade but from everything I've read the fundamental problem is that the center of pressure of the full flying stabilizer is too far from the physical pivot point which means you can end up in situations where too much force is needed to operate the trim. This is borne out in practice -- the MACS got the plane into a runaway trim condition but the force needed on the elevator trim wheel to recover was far more than a pilot could exert. (Hence the originial recovery mechanism -- pull the plane up to close to a stall to unload the forces on the tail and while its falling out of the sky quickly wind the trim back.)

        I'm not actually craving a ride on one of these planes. They're the horrible over-cramped "Heaven help you if you ever manage to get into the restroom because you're never going to get out" interiors. I think I'll walk.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Consumers need to know what aircraft will be used before they book.

          The rudder reversal was due to a supplier of hydraulic valves not expecting a case where high temperature hydraulic fluid would be run through a sub-zero housing. The sudden expansion of internal components due to heat outpaced the ability of the housing to warm up and increase in size to maintain clearance. It was an effect of the fact that the rudder is little used in cruise, so the hydraulic fluid doesn't flow through it and it cools to the -30C or so of the cruise altitude. Rudder is mainly used as the plane nears the runway at lower altitude. If the plane descends rapidly there isn't time for the valve to warm before the full temp - up to 120C (estimated) fluid pours through it. Much like MCAS, no one in the industry had imagined that case. Once identified it was quickly determined exactly which valves had the small clearances and which planes those valves were installed in. The NTSB guys were puzzled about this for most of a year as they had opened one valve from the first crash and found no damage - no burrs, no galling, and the valve had worked perfectly on the test rig across the full temperature range.

          In the case of the first MCAS incident the pilots were able to fly on manual trim for some 90 minutes to a safe landing. It was never more than the pilot could exert on the manual trim wheels because the pilot on that plane maintained nominal trim before shutting off the trim motor and did not exceed the structural limit speed for maneuvering by ignoring the requirement on a stall warning to disable the autothrottle.

          The reason it go to be too much is the force on the stabilizer is applied by the elevator. If the plane is far out of trim and that trim error is solely made up for with elevator, the load on the trim jackscrew goes up. At no point in any of the three incidents did the powered trim, as operated by the trim switches on the control wheel, fail to change the trim. Even on the Ethiopian flight when they, against the AD and FCOM for the event, re-enabled the trim motor, their one push of the switch made a proportional change to trim. I expect that, at that speed that the effect was a sharp jerk at the end of the teeter totter where the pilots sit and they didn't try it again, instead leaving the system far out of whack with the trigger set.

          Sadly, the way MCAS functioned, any time the pilots use the trim the system re-evaluates. Which means their failure to actually retrim and instead to leave the path open was the triggering event. Up to then the plane had been gaining altitude. so it's not clear why they decided to chance turning the system back on.

          Look at the accident reports and the data traces to see what all the crews did and what information had been given. Then look up CP von Hoesslin on YouTube to see how hard he worked to stop the Ethiopian crash.

          1. EBG

            Yeh - blame the supplier !

            due to a supplier of hydraulic valves not expecting a case where high temperature hydraulic fluid would be run through a sub-zero housing

            You're designing the aircraft, you spec the component.

            1. Mike 137 Silver badge

              Re: Yeh - blame the supplier !

              "You're designing the aircraft, you spec the component"

              But unfortunately that's not current "engineering" practice. Design and implementation of individual components are both subcontracted in most cases, which is why some parts on the Dreamliner had to be redesigned because they actually didn't fit, and why some pipe work on a recent aircraft carrier had to hammered into alignment to connect it up.

              It's much cheaper on the initial balance sheet to farm out the entirety of component production, and that, as usual these days, is typically the bottom line. However as a senior naval officer pointed out in the second case mentioned above, the excess strain induced by the brute force installation might well cause the joints to fail under the stresses of battle, or possibly even heavy seas.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Yeh - blame the supplier - no, blame the boardroom. See also: Dreamliner.

                2001: Outsourced Profits - the cornerstone of successful subcontracting

                by Dr L.J. Hart Smith

                presented at

                Boeing Third Annual Technical Excellence Symposium, St Louis, Missuouri, Feb 2001

                (use your preferred search engine)

                2011: https://www.zdnet.com/article/the-hard-lessons-of-boeings-787-outsourcing/

                2013: https://www.forbes.com/sites/stevedenning/2013/01/17/the-boeing-debacle-seven-lessons-every-ceo-must-learn/

                2019: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-06-28/boeing-s-737-max-software-outsourced-to-9-an-hour-engineers

                2019: https://www.engineering.com/AdvancedManufacturing/ArticleID/18376/End-of-the-Line-Will-Boeing-Ever-Build-an-Airliner-Again.aspx

                Conclusion: The boardroom still haven't got the message yet.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Yeh - blame the supplier - no, blame the boardroom. See also: Dreamliner.

                  The paper also alludes to it, I recollect reading that the management from McDowell Douglas are crap, ran that company to the ground and after the merger with Boeing, kicked out the pre merger Boeing ones with politics, power plays and what not.

                  The story goes that they are now running Boeing to the ground. Maybe they're starting with their aircraft, and then the company.

            2. Lars Silver badge
              Happy

              Re: Yeh - blame the supplier !

              @EGB

              I think you are rather unfair, certainly they were specified not to fail.

              Nothing is 100% fail safe.

              Reminds me of a Finnish Army General who was heard saying that if Russian military equipment have more than two moving parts it will fail.

              Hmm, how many moving parts does a rocket have.

          2. tip pc Silver badge

            Re: Consumers need to know what aircraft will be used before they book.

            "The reason it go to be too much is the force on the stabilizer is applied by the elevator. If the plane is far out of trim and that trim error is solely made up for with elevator, the load on the trim jackscrew goes up. At no point in any of the three incidents did the powered trim, as operated by the trim switches on the control wheel, fail to change the trim. Even on the Ethiopian flight when they, against the AD and FCOM for the event, re-enabled the trim motor, their one push of the switch made a proportional change to trim. I expect that, at that speed that the effect was a sharp jerk at the end of the teeter totter where the pilots sit and they didn't try it again, instead leaving the system far out of whack with the trigger set."

            https://leehamnews.com/2019/04/03/et302-used-the-cut-out-switches-to-stop-mcas/

            The problem was that MCAS erroneously activated & moved the horizontal stabilisers so far to the extent that when the crew disabled it (also cuts the trim motors) they could not use the trim wheels to get the horizontal stabilisers back to a better angle due to the air flow over them which is something Boeing has known about on the 707 & 737 since the 1960's and came out with the roller coaster procedure to counteract it.

            http://www.b737.org.uk/runawaystab.htm#rc

            The Ethiopian crew rightly reengaged the cut out switches to get electrical assistance, but that also engaged MCAS.

            they where too low, going too fast and had no reliable method to know what the issue truly was, & even with MCAS disabled they didn't have the tools to actually amend the stabiliser without re enabling MCAS.

            They encountered a situation that no-one had ever trained for or envisaged and did the best they could, even thinking outside the box to try and gain motorised assistance. If they had this issue at 30000 ft they likely would have survived, just 6 mins from takeoff and still relatively low they had little to no chance as they had a next to no time to figure out, understand and over come an undocumented issue that should not have been a possible scenario in the first place.

            it was not the fault of that Ethiopian crew.

          3. tip pc Silver badge

            Re: Consumers need to know what aircraft will be used before they book.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maneuvering_Characteristics_Augmentation_System#Stabilizer_cutoff_switches_re-wiring

            Stabilizer cutoff switches re-wiring

            In May 2019, The Seattle Times reported that the two stabilizer cutoff switches, located on the center console, operate differently on the MAX than on the earlier 737 NG. On previous aircraft, one cutoff switch deactivates the thumb buttons on the control yoke that pilots use to move the horizontal stabilizer; the other cutoff switch disables automatic control of the horizontal stabilizer by autopilot or STS/MCAS. On the MAX, both switches are wired in parallel and perform the same function: they cut off all electric power to the stabilizer, both from the yoke buttons and from an automatic system.

            Thus, on previous aircraft it is possible to disable automatic control of the stabilizer yet to employ electric power assist by operating the yoke switches. On the MAX, with all power to the stabilizer cut, pilots have no choice but to use the mechanical trim wheel in the center console.[86]

            However, as pilots pull on the 737 controls to raise the nose of the aircraft, aerodynamic forces on the elevator create an opposing force, effectively paralyzing the jackscrew mechanism that moves the stabilizer.[87] It becomes very difficult for pilots to hand crank the trim wheel.[87] The problem was encountered on earlier 737 versions, and a "roller coaster" emergency technique for handling the flight condition was documented in 1982 for the 737-200 but did not appear in training documentation for later versions (including the MAX).[87]

            Manual trim stiffness

            In the early 1980s a problem was found with the 737-200 model. When the elevator operated to raise or lower the nose, it set up a strong force on the trim jackscrew which opposed any corrective force from the control systems. When attempting to correct an unwanted deflection using the manual trim wheel, exerting enough hand force to overcome the force exerted by the elevator became increasingly difficult as speed and deflection increased and the jack screw effectively jammed in place.[88]

            A workaround was developed called the "roller coaster" technique. Counter-intuitively, to correct an excessive deflection causing a dive the pilot first pushes the nose down further, before easing back to gently raise the nose again. During this easing back period, the elevator deflection reduces or even reverses, its force on the jackscrew does likewise and the manual trim eases up. The workaround was included in the pilot's emergency procedures and in the training schedule.[88]

            However while the 737 MAX has a similar jackscrew mechanism the "roller coaster" technique has been dropped from the pilot information. During the events leading to the two MAX crashes, the stiffness of the manual trim wheel repeatedly prevented manual trim adjustment to correct the MCAS-induced nose-down pitching. The issue has been brought to the notice of the DoJ criminal inquiry into the 737 MAX crashes.[88]

            In simulator tests of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 flight scenario, the trim wheel was "impossible" to move when one of the pilots would instinctively pull up from the nosedives. It takes 15 turns to manually trim the aircraft one degree, and up to 40 turns to bring the trim back to neutral from the nose down position caused by MCAS.[89]

        2. tip pc Silver badge

          Re: Consumers need to know what aircraft will be used before they book.

          I remember watching about some of the early 737 incidents on “air crash investigations” aka “May Day” in the US.

          They found out about the issues and came up with solutions and the 737 remained a relatively safe aircraft until they intentionally kludged it with the Max.

      4. mathew42

        Re: Consumers need to know what aircraft will be used before they book.

        > So you trust all their other models?

        No, but my limited understanding is that Boeing management chose to add larger engines to the 737 air frame, for improved efficiency. The engines were moved forward and up resulting in a pitch up tendency. This instability is deeply concerning in a commercial airliner.

        More concerning is what appears to be that senior management at Boeing have a cultural disregard for safety and risk mitigation as evidenced by the significant problems with the Boeing Starliner program. The question I have is what other issues have Boeing management suppressed?

      5. Mike 16 Silver badge

        Re: Consumers need to know what aircraft will be used before they book.

        -- Same company ...

        Not exactly. "Boeing" is the same company after the McDonnell Douglas capture (mid 1990s) in the same sense that Atari is the same company after being laundered through at least five new owners, or that AT&T is still a company that at least tried (pace - Ernestine) to keep the dialtone coming rather than spending all their effort on innovative ways to screw customers. The Fish rots from the head.

        (That said, my first commercial flight was on a DC-10, albeit after those pesky engine problems had been encountered and "dealt with". mid 1970s, so it's not clear that McD-D were quite as dodgy back then)

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Consumers need to know what aircraft will be used before they book.

          <sings> I believe that pigs, and even DC10s can fly ....

          But I can't believe Ronald Reagan is president...

        2. Kubla Cant Silver badge

          Re: Consumers need to know what aircraft will be used before they book.

          It's interesting to compare Boeing's desperate scramble to keep up with Airbus and McDonnell Douglas's similar efforts to build a wide-body competitor to Boeing. The defect with the DC-10 cargo door led to several near disasters, but the FAA, under pressure from McDonnell Douglas, mandated a low-priority fix. When the defect caused the 1974 Paris air crash, the manufacturers blamed it on a baggage handler.

      6. eldakka Silver badge
        Flame

        Re: Consumers need to know what aircraft will be used before they book.

        So you trust all their other models?

        Personally I think the fixes and extra training required will most likely make the aircraft as safe as other aircraft.

        However, as a consumer I have a right to protest against certain products by taking my money elsewhere, by choosing to not purchase a product. A protest vote if you will.

        And I wish to take that option up with respect to the 737 MAX. As a corporation, as inidviduals, as human beings, Boeing completely bodged the 737 MAX. They should have - as they had planned to do - designed a complete new aircraft and done a full-scope certification of that aircraft, rather than trying to bodge up the 737 MAX.

        Therefore I wish to protest against the sheer incompetence, the culture that led to the willful contravention of safety regulations, lying to regulators, deliberately hiding features and aspects from those same regulators, the profit-above-all mentality, and basically a job-lot of irredemable assholes who should all be behind bars for wilful negligence recklessly occasioning death at the very least. The only way I have to protest that is to choose to take my money elsewhere and not fly on the MAX.

    2. Wellyboot Silver badge

      Re: Consumers need to know what aircraft will be used before they book.

      '737-Max' was mostly a marketing term to differentiate it from the previous (third) generation 737-NG models. Now that Max has all the appeal of a polished turd other names will be used on airline booking systems.

      The 737-Max model that Ryanair are buying is the 737-8200, other designations for variations to the four basic 737-Max aircraft subtypes will be out there once the 4,000+* ordered aircraft start to be delivered, ICAO use codes B37M, B38M, B39M & B3XM good luck spotting them.

      * Outstanding orders are down from over 5,000 mostly due to Covid not the crashes.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Consumers need to know what aircraft will be used before they book.

        This can be simplified to avoid having to keep up with the obfuscation: if it's Boeing I'm not going.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Consumers need to know what aircraft will be used before they book.

      Even if the airline has to switch planes at the last minute because of an operational problem?

      By law, airlines should permit passengers a free refund / penalty free cancellation or a rebook on a competitor if there is a change to the lucky seat number they booked.

      By law, airlines should have to state what the star signs of the crew are and permit passengers a free refund / penalty free cancellation or a rebook on a competitor if there is a change to their published horoscopes.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Consumers need to know what aircraft will be used before they book.

        How long have you been in this line of work?

  7. Wellyboot Silver badge

    EASA are not accepting FAA certification

    It'll be interesting to to see how long they (and all the other national air safety bodies) take to pass the aircraft and with what requirements.

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: EASA are not accepting FAA certification

      If somehow 'The Donald' manages to survive beyond 20th Jan 2021 as 'El Presidente' I'm sure that sanctions against Airbus won't be long in coming if the EASA dawdles in its 100% approval of the 737-Max. That's how he works.

      1. Chris G Silver badge

        Re: EASA are not accepting FAA certification

        @Steve Davies 3

        You are absolutely right, with Airbus A380 threatening a major part of US industry such as Boeing, Airbus is a threat to national security.

        I don't fly much nowadays but I think I will avoid anything Boeing as studiously as I avoid flying Ryanair.

        I am also rather pleased due to the fact that my house is under a major crossing of European air corridors, and I have almost got 2500 square metres of garden straight.

      2. Velv
        Headmaster

        Re: EASA are not accepting FAA certification

        It's true, there is still a slight possibility Joe Biden won't be the 46th President of the USA.

        Pretty sure however he would then be 47th come 20th Jan 2021.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: EASA are not accepting FAA certification

      > It'll be interesting to to see how long they (and all the other national air safety bodies) take to pass the aircraft and with what requirements.

      Industry insider here, but without direct knowledge of this particular subject, which I don't even follow via industry channels.

      EASA and the FAA work very closely together so as to achieve maximum regulatory and operational coordination. FAA's approval will not have come as a surprise to EASA and vice-versa.

      I am speculating wildly here but I would guess that they have decided to go for a staggered release to service

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Re: EASA are not accepting FAA certification

        No, it's because the FAA's name is mud, they have proven beyond all doubt that they cannot be trusted to certify a Boeing airframe, most likely due to regulatory capture.

        No other civil aircraft authority is going to accept the FAA certification. Most likely most are waiting for EASA and will base their requirements on that.

        1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

          Re: EASA are not accepting FAA certification

          And EASA will most likely do this together with the Canadians, Brazilians and Chinese (and not necessarily in that sequence).

    3. Lars Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: EASA are not accepting FAA certification

      If EASA now straight away accepted FAA certification it would give the wrong signal in every direction.

      Lets see how China will deal with the certification.

    4. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: EASA are not accepting FAA certification

      What will really be interesting is seeing how the other worldwide certification bodies will now view the FAA's decisions in future.

      I think this is a landmark that will see the FAA no longer trusted by default - and that is going to be a hard swallow for the FAA and the US Government in general.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: EASA are not accepting FAA certification

      Just to be safe, let us wait 10 years to see if there is another MCAS-related incident in the USA, with or without bodies.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Canada has also not accepted the FAA decision

    Minor hardware problems. Major cultural problems at Boeing and abdication of responsibility by the FAA. Both claim these are fixed.

    We'll see!

  9. TVU Silver badge

    "EU says Boeing 737 Max won't fly over the Continent just yet"

    That is excellent news, for safety and passengers, and I am very pleased that EASA is not just rubber stamping the FAA's unsurprising decision.

    1. low_resolution_foxxes Bronze badge

      It's curious really. I recall the Boeing aerodynamic engineers emails got leaked and the internal tech sark was biting.

      What do you do, when the internal Boeing engineers admit during early testing they would not let their families fly in this plane?

      Key quotes from its own engineering team:

      "Would you put your family on a MAX simulator trained aircraft? I wouldn’t.” response:“No.”

      "This airplane is designed by clowns, who in turn are supervised by monkeys."

      "i’ll be shocked if the FAA passes this turd.”

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    China also “regrets to inform”...

    ... that they are NOT prepared to let 737max fly again according to this “stylish piece”:

    http://global.chinadaily.com.cn/a/202011/20/WS5fb6fe4ea31024ad0ba95494.html

    Somehow methinks Boeing will go boinnnggg, if things continue that way with the remaining approvals required. Only question is, if the man still in Pennsylvania Avenue will care about these facts at all.

    Regards

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: China also “regrets to inform”...

      I don't think they'll go kaputt that quickly - too many fingers in the pie. They will be put on life support by giving them enough from the military pot.

      Alternatively, Boeing will only fly above the US and so join the collection of things that can kill Americans, such as Trump's mishandling of the Covid19 pandemic, but I am admittedly a tad cynical.

      1. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

        Re: China also “regrets to inform”...

        I don't think they'll go kaputt that quickly

        Boeing will survive.

        Reuters is claiming 837 MAX are waiting for clearance to operate. Let us say each is US$60mil -- That is over US$50 bil sitting idle. Expect very unhappy airline operators will be holding their hand out saying, "I want my money back".

        Next, with the MAX production halted, workers, suppliers and support are grounded. All-in-all, these are voters. And Boeing is a very, very, very big "supporter" of both political party.

        Finally, and most importantly, PRIDE and this word sums it all up.

        No, it is in America's "best interest" to ensure Boeing is to survive.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: China also “regrets to inform”...

          They'll survive but I think they should split it up so that there is an independent commercial interest that is sorely responsible for safety just like fiduciary responsibility is to the board.

          There is evidence here that we need the legal responsibilities of the board to exceed fiscal and fiduciary responsibility alone, and not via current remedies like lawsuits, which are all post-fact and post-damage.

          (Indeed, given the FAA is equally culpable, shouldn't the US government also be sued under their current legal system?)

          Here "light touch" regulation has gone out of hand. The American principle is for remedies to be after the fact. Poisoned water, killer pharma drugs, opoids, etc. And crashing planes,

          Some things are very difficult to reverse, and far better to prevent, such as their gun violence and police brutality problems.

          1. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

            Re: China also “regrets to inform”...

            There is evidence here that we need the legal responsibilities of the board to exceed fiscal and fiduciary responsibility alone, and not via current remedies like lawsuits, which are all post-fact and post-damage.

            Look at the roster list of members of the Board. It is a very, very long list of Who's-Who. Very, very

            "prominent people" in that list. From ex-diplomats, ex-Congress/Senate members, retired US military generals (and some colonels), etc.

            Some people get elected to be board members not because of their looks or because they are smart -- Just sayin'.

  11. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

    Boeing needs China to approve the 737 Max

    Boeing needs China to approve the 737 Max

  12. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

    Investigations revealed that a critical software system aboard both airliners called MCAS (Manoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation System), fed data by a single angle-of-attack (AOA) sensor, had functioned in unintended ways that caused both fatal crashes.

    A faulty AoA sensor fed incorrect data back to the MCAS. Since the MAX only has two AoA sensors the MCAS software could not determine which of the two is "lying" & "trusted" datum arriving from the faulty unit. In both cases, each faulty AoA sensors had 20 degrees of discrepancy -- That is a HUGE difference. Next, when the MCAS started "actioning" the faulty AoA data the system did not check and verified the speed and altitude. The system just kept pushing the nose down even though all indications shows the plane was about to impact the ground at high speed.

    In an excerpt from the final report released by the Committe on Transportation and Infrastructure of the United States House of Representatives, Boeing "failed to build in essential redundancies by permitting MCAS to rely on a single AOA sensor. It allowed MCAS to activate repetitively, although at least one Boeing engineer had raised concerns about that capability. And it did not appropriately address the question of faulty AOA data and the negative implications for MCAS because a Boeing engineer falsely assumed that MCAS would not allow that to happen and “shut down.”"

    Just a reminder, the FAA has allowed for the MAX to fly again -- with two AoA sensors. The WORKAROUND is/are software "refinements" to the MCAS so it does not wrestle control of the aircraft.

    Boeing has also made the AOA DISAGREE alert a "standard" as a "compromise" to score "brownie points".

    NOTE: In the same report it is stated "Nor did Boeing do the “right thing” when it became aware that the AOA Disagree alert was not functioning on more than 80 percent of the 737 MAX fleet and then failed to alert the FAA, its customers, and MAX pilots while it continued to both manufacture and deliver an estimated 200 airplanes with this known nonfunctional component". Drink it up: >80% of the AOA Disagree system installed on the MAX fleet do not work. Worldwide.

    Is it me or does it feel like Boeing engineers and management have installed Win95 into the MAX?

    Apologies for the long post.

    1. mathew42
      WTF?

      80% faulty?

      > Drink it up: >80% of the AOA Disagree system installed on the MAX fleet do not work. Worldwide.

      WTF!

    2. low_resolution_foxxes Bronze badge

      Minor technical point. I am not aware of any failures in the "AoA disagree alert" warning system.

      I suspect you mixed up what the author intended. You may not be aware, but the AoA disagree warning light is an OPTIONAL added extra you could buy. Hence it was "not functional" on 80% of aircraft, because Boeing said it was not essential and should not be required in normal flight, so it physically wasn't installed. At least one Boeing employee is on record recommending this option must be mandatory, but was overruled by the commercial team.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "AoA disagree" indicator was optional for compatibility reasons

        Fit it and you need new training because of changes in the operational procedures - making it clear that this was no longer the original 737. Which everyone with a clue knew anyway, but many tried to hide it.

      2. Drax

        The AoA Disagree alert was a standard feature. The AoA disagree indicator was an optional feature. The failure was that without the AoA disagree indicator (optional), the AoA disagree alert did not function. This was a design failure which Boeing knew about but did not act.

        https://www.aviationtoday.com/2019/05/06/boeing-angle-of-attack-disagree-alert/

  13. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

    In my opinion, even though the FAA has cleared the MAX to fly again, there is still an "elephant in the room": Pilot training.

    1. What MAX-specific simulations are needed to make a pilot deemed "certified" or "proficient" -- This has yet to be decided and it will not happen in weeks. Each aviation safety body, hopefully, will make their own standards independently.

    2. How many flight simulators worldwide are geared up to simulate MAX?

    3. Time and cost to put each pilot through the pipe.

    My assumption, and I am open to be corrected, is the first MAX will start commercial flight by July/August 2021.

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      In my opinion a software 'fix' and pilot training, no matter how much, are not sufficient to address a design failure that is the result of deliberate corner cutting. Calling it the Max is fitting as you could hardly cut a bigger corner by modifying an old airframe with newer, more modern and efficient engines rather than designing a new model that would not only compete with the Airbus but possibly better it by a significant margin.

      Shortsighted corporate policy that resulted in deaths.

  14. Chairman of the Bored Silver badge
    Stop

    AOA disagree warning...

    ...was standard equipment on the 737-NG (third gen) aircraft, and about a $40k option on 737-MAX. I think Southwest Airlines and very few others purchased it.

    Per the Indonesian accident report, it would have been highly beneficial to have AOA readout and/or AOA disagree light.

    It's a software function, as the AOA information is on the PFF monitor. $40k for a damn software function that used to be standard and is already written.

    Shameless.

    1. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

      Re: AOA disagree warning...

      $40k for a damn software function that used to be standard and is already written

      Agree >100 times.

      The AOA DISAGREE, when it is working, is a safety feature. (Boeing finally admitted that >80% installed DID NOT WORK as advertised.)

      Boeing charged US$40k because Boeing could (and nobody complained).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: AOA disagree warning...

        You aren’t explicit so apologies if I misunderstood, But are you suggesting that all safety features be standard rather than options? Ie available at no charge?

        If so, then the car industry needs to change its ways about side airbags, maybe all cars need built in breathalysers and tiredness cameras, and all fruit and veg will need to be chlorine washed (yes i know for chicken it’s a welfare issue not a health issue, but we do chlorine wash salad in Europe for health reasons) and irradiated etc, and milk UHT’d, etc etc and we all need to expect to pay more for everything we buy.

        We as a society need to be clear about what we expect of our suppliers and then accept the consequences. This is difficult.

        Boeing clearly got this wrong on the max, and they deserve every criticism.

        1. Duncan Macdonald Silver badge
          Mushroom

          Re: AOA disagree warning...

          When it comes to enabling the safety software that is already on the vehicle - YES

          In this case Boeing decided to charge $40k to enable the existing software - the actual cost to Boeing to enable the software $0 !!!

          The software was standard on the previous 737 version - for the MAX Boeing decided that by having it disabled by default they could make more money out of their customers at the expense of safety.

          In my opinion the 737-MAX should be required to go through full certification as a new plane and not be able to rely on grandfathered safety approvals given to the original 737 models decades ago.

          Icon for what should happen to Boeing management (and the FAA people who were compliant in the approval of the 737-MAX).

          1. Strahd Ivarius Bronze badge

            Re: AOA disagree warning...

            So should Tesla provide all security features on its cars for free, since they are already implemented and software-activated?

            1. Kabukiwookie Silver badge

              Re: AOA disagree warning...

              Security features? No.

              Safety features? Hell yes. Or are you suggesting that Tesla should bring out a model without seat belts or airbags?

    2. Brad16800

      Re: AOA disagree warning...

      upselling at it's worst

  15. Giles C Bronze badge

    Non engineer here, surely if the problem is a lack of sensor then the fix should include an additional sensor(s) and the associated wiring, along with a software fix which runs a comparison of the sensors to determine which is lying. The software fix on its own doesn’t seem to go far enough.

    As far I know an AOA sensor is essentially a level probe so it can’t be that large or even that expensive, ok you will need to drill a hole in the side of the plane but looking at pictures the entire sensor is smaller than a shoebox.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      > Non engineer here

      Your lack of understanding does not come from not being an engineer. It comes from not being in aviation.

      > it can’t be that large or even that expensive

      As evidenced by that comment. :-)

      Even the smallest of changes to an aircraft triggers a huge chain of events in motion, with each event starting its own chain and so on.

      I don't want to speculate on the costs, financial and time, of a change such as what you are proposing, but they would be prohibitive.

      1. Kabukiwookie Silver badge

        a change such as what you are proposing, but they would be prohibitive.

        And these costs need to be borne by the entity that introduced this problem to begin with.

        No third sensor should be a an immediate disqualification of the design.

        If commercial will not listen to their engineers, the conpany *should* go down in a fiery ball.

        Rather them than one of their planes full of passengers.

        Maybe the next company *will* learn from this mistake and not skimp on safety or ignore engineers who siund the alarm.

        1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

          Which "next company"? There are only a very limited number of airplane manufacturers, at least where airliners are concerned and besides Boeing only two (maybe three) are relevant as the Russians are mostly out of it by now and nobody but the Chinese fly Chinese airliners. Those two are Airbus (including the former airplane division of Bombardier) and Embrear. The possible third is a Japanese company trying to develop an airliner.

          1. Mike Richards Silver badge

            Boeing very nearly got their hands on Embraer, but the deal fell apart earlier this year in good part because of Boeing's deteriorating finances. At least part of the Brasilian government is talking about linking up with China instead - which would put the cat amongst the metaphorical business jets.

            The Japanese plane you are thinking about is the Mitsubishi MRJ SpaceJet which is currently awaiting certification.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "Even the smallest of changes to an aircraft triggers a huge chain of events in motion, with each event starting its own chain and so on."

        The correct way of doing it is not to get it wrong in the first place. Then there are no costs for making a change and no costs, human and financial, from not doing so.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          > The correct way of doing it is not to get it wrong in the first place

          Even when we do get it right the first time, the system is designed to deal with the frequent, repetitive, and unpredictable nature of human error.

    2. Adelio Bronze badge

      As I recall although there were 2 AOA sensors only one was used at a time for MCAS. the sensir used swapped each time the aircraft flew.

      For safety critical systems I think they normally use 3 and cross then for any discrepancies.

  16. Tony W

    Brexit?

    What will the UK do after Brexit? If we have a no-deal Brexit I assume that we would maintain all the current EASA positions to start with, but we would be able to make our own decisions in the future. It could make for interesting choices where the US and the EU have opposing views.

    1. LogicGate

      Re: Brexit?

      You will bend over and take whatever USA wants you to do.....

      But seriously, I do not see the CAA (also known as Committee Against Aviation) being able to build up enough capacity to mirror all the capabilities that all EU national Aviation Authorities have divested into EASA by 01.01.2021. My personal suspicion is therefore that there will be a last second deal that creates an aviation related extension. ..or that the clown in No. 10 lets the UK aviation industry grind to a complete halt on January 1. Do note that the UK Aviation industry is worth more than 10 times that of UK fishery, no matter which metrics are used. EASA has it's own flaws, but the basic principle of reducing duplication of bureaucracy and increasing international influence remains valid. The flaws of EASA can be fixed.. the damage of Brexit will be harder to handle.

      1. H in The Hague Silver badge

        Re: Brexit?

        "But seriously, I do not see the CAA (also known as Committee Against Aviation) being able to build up enough capacity to mirror all the capabilities ..."

        I'm by no means an expert, but I have been following some of the developments as I have a customer who's active in unmanned aviation (drones). Certainly in unmanned aviation, the CAA seems to have simply copied the new EASA regulations. Unfortunately, once the UK is out of EASA, UK UA pilots' certificates won't be accepted in the EU. Pilots would probably have to recertify in a country where they can take the test in English (probably Ireland or the Netherlands). But that's a detail and I gather Boris is not a details man.

        https://publicapps.caa.co.uk/modalapplication.aspx?appid=11&mode=detail&id=415

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Brexit?

          > Pilots would probably have to recertify in a country where they can take the test in English (probably Ireland or the Netherlands).

          I do not know what the current status is, but while UK was still in the EU, a transfer of responsible authority was a mere paperwork and cash (potentially lots of, unless your airline has cut a deal with the relevant authority) exercise. It did not involve re-taking any exams or passing any tests. I know because I transferred my own licence ex-CAA (and kicked myself for not having done that years earlier, God they are such wankers!).

          Nowadays it might follow the same process as any other ICAO licence for which there is no specific agreement. I don't remember the exact details but IIRC it is done more or less ad-hoc on the basis of your experience and qualifications and does involve retaking at least some tests, both theoretical and practical.

          All CPL/ATPL examinations are offered in English as an option (sometimes the only option even if the country has a different national language) everywhere in EASA land.

          1. Lars Silver badge
            Happy

            Re: Brexit?

            "Pilots would probably have to recertify in a country where they can take the test in English (probably Ireland or the Netherlands".

            I would claim pilot tests and training is in English in every EU country and more or less around the world, like it is in the air, how else.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Brexit?

              > I would claim pilot tests and training is in English in every EU country and more or less around the world

              You would claim wrongly.

              > like it is in the air, how else.

              A mixture of languages are spoken in the air. Sometimes it is a national language and English, either in the same or on different frequencies, sometimes depends on the airspace volume you're flying in, sometimes it's national language only.

            2. H in The Hague Silver badge

              Re: Brexit?

              "I would claim pilot tests and training is in English in every EU country and more or less around the world, like it is in the air, how else."

              That is mostly correct for general aviation and scheduled aviation. However, training for UAs/drones is likely to be focussed on hobbyists, photographers, roofers, surveyors and many other non-aviation users. Hence training and the exams will probably be in the local language. UK pilots can obviously resit the exam in English if they go to an EU based training body. It just means more hassle, more bureaucracy.

              A greater problem might be that if you want to take your equipment (drones + cameras and scanners) to the EU you'll have to import it temporarily. Now, I'm not sure about the details, but I think that means either paying VAT on entry to the EU and reclaiming it when returning to the UK, or providing a bond, or arranging a carnet for temporary export (https://www.londonchamber.co.uk/export-documents/ata-carnet/). Lots of paperwork and costs.

        2. LogicGate

          Re: Brexit?

          The UK can keep on copying EASA regulations, in the same way that EASA and FAA certification schemes are, in most cases, paragraph by paragraph identical. However, unless the CAA can get the manpower to perform all the required audits and inspections, aircraft parts produced in the UK WILL NOT BE AIRWORTHY. This goes for wings, for jet engines, for avionics etc. etc. Pilots and airliners get a lot of attention because the UK populace will notice it if the UK airliners are not allowed to fly them in and out of the country, but the main problem (IMHO) will be the manufacturing industry. Since this will also hurt the non-UK aviation industry, the problem WILL get attention at some point, but not without a lot of hurting.

          The brexiteers can be proud of their Spitfires (complete with polish pilots), they are about to kill of the industry that created them.

          1. Lars Silver badge
            Happy

            Re: Brexit?

            "This goes for wings".

            If you refer to Airbus wings built in the UK, then that is not a problem as that factory is owned and run by Airbus. The wings are then flown to Toulouse, no British certification is needed.

            Brexit could become a problem for the factory as such, and in a worse case scenario the production will move to the continent.

          2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Brexit?

            "aircraft parts produced in the UK WILL NOT BE AIRWORTHY."

            Thy might not be certified as airworthy, but they might still be physically airworthy. This entire saga hinges on the difference between certification and reality.

            1. Strahd Ivarius Bronze badge
              Joke

              Re: Brexit?

              After Brexit you can expect airplane parts manufactured in GB to insist on flying on the left side of the airlanes...

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Brexit?

            > aircraft parts produced in the UK WILL NOT BE AIRWORTHY

            That is not correct. The country of manufacture has nothing to do with the country or countries of certification.

        3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Brexit?

          "I gather Boris is not a details man."

          Only when he can invent them.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Brexit?

        > I do not see the CAA (also known as Committee Against Aviation) being able to build up enough capacity to mirror all the capabilities that all EU national Aviation Authorities have divested into EASA

        Especially since everyone who knew what they were doing moved to Cologne to work at EASA. Last I heard the current CAA director was someone with a marketing or accountancy background or some such.

        I guess even the cooks at the *excellent* restaurant on the 7th floor of the Belgrano have deserted by now.

      3. Len Silver badge
        Meh

        Re: Brexit?

        The CAA themselves have already confirmed they don't expect to be able to handle all the work that EASA does. It's both a capacity and a skill set issue. For instance, I can easily imagine the CAA will not conduct its own airworthiness tests for new planes.

        They have also argued that the CAA should remain a member of the EASA structure as a third party.

    2. Marco van de Voort

      Re: Brexit?

      What will the UK do after Brexit wrt aviation?

      - make meals even less palatable with chlorinated chicken.

      1. idiottaxpayerhere previously ishtiaq/theghostdeejay
        WTF?

        Re: Brexit?

        @ Marco van de Voort

        This article is about Boeing and the death of 346 people.

        Somehow it descended into the "Brexit remainer" tripe.

        But you hit a new low with chlorinated chicken crap.

        What has that got to do with dead people and grieving families?

        Cheers… Ishy

  17. nautica
    Happy

    What's wrong with your "COMMENT ACCEPTANCE", Register?

    Any particular reason, El Reg, why the following, which was POSTED and ACCEPTED approximately 8 hours ago, has not made it into the comments?

    *********************************************************************************

    ICON: same.

    TITLE:

    One of the more (most?) informative articles you need to add to your "BOEING'S 737-Max Screw-Up" collection.

    COMMENT:

    "How the Boeing 737 Max Disaster Looks to a Software Developer"

    "Design shortcuts meant to make a new plane seem like an old, familiar one are to blame"

    https://spectrum.ieee.org/aerospace/aviation/how-the-boeing-737-max-disaster-looks-to-a-software-developer

  18. Velv
    Joke

    Many people don't realise BOEING got its name from history and is actually an acronym

    Broken Off Engines In Numerous Gardens

  19. cpage

    Two angle-of-attach sensors not enough

    Apparently the new software for the 737 MAX will take in readings from both sensors, but that, in my opinion, is not enough. If they disagree, what reading should they accept? The bare minimum in life-critical situations is to have three sensors so that a majority verdict will show which one is faulty.

    Two sensors has another problem, as shown by the Air France crash off Brazil a few years ago (look up AF447 crash for details). One pitot tube iced up so returned a silly value, so the autopilot switched automatically to the other one. That one was exposed to the same cold and rain, so it also iced up within a very short time. Result - autopilot disengaged (poor progamming in my opinion, had it continued to fly straight and level all would have been well). Unfortunately the not-very experienced pilots did not know how to fly without an autopilot, so they panicked and flew into the Atlantic. What one really needs is three sensors of different designs so there isn't a common failure mode.

    1. Electronics'R'Us

      Re: Two angle-of-attach sensors not enough

      AF447 had a triplex system.

      In such a system, there are 3 independent computers with their own sensor feed and they vote every few 10s of milliseconds on the parameters they read.

      For this to work properly, 2 computing lanes must agree.

      AF447 lost at least 2 pitot tubes (and therefore 2 computing elements).

      The telemetry showed this as one of the first messages was 'airspeed disagree' followed by 'alternate laws'.

      This is a well known term in avionics (and in particular flight control systems).

      The flight control system can no longer trust some inputs and the control laws are relaxed. With all 3 pitot tubes giving different readings there was no way for the flight control computer to actually fly the aircraft.

      This is where the fact that the crew in the cockpit did not know how to fly became the issue.

      1. whitepines Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: Two angle-of-attach sensors not enough

        This is where the fact that the crew in the cockpit did not know how to fly became the issue.

        This really is the crux of the matter. The computer is very good at following rules, the humans to some extent are there mainly to improvise and make best guesses as to what is actually happening when there isn't enough data for the computer to follow the rules (aided with some additional sensory powers the computer does not have, but hindered by not having other sensory powers the computer does have). The one thing the human can do that the computer cannot is make a series of guided guesses outside the normal flight rules that just might save the airplane from destruction, and even then history shows many humans fail at this fallback task when the computers give up.

        In this case the computer absolutely could have kept the airplane flying along, but it would have had to know the problem was only the pitot tubes and that the captain's decision was to treat it as an airspeed sensor failure. At that point it could have kept the wings level and set the engine power to a known safe value. However, Airbus didn't design it that way, Airbus assumed the human backup pilot would take control, do an evaluation, determine the most likely fault, determine the correct course of action for the fault, and keep control of the airplane during and after the failure. The one thing the computer couldn't do was make the decision to handle the fault as a pure airspeed failure -- it just saw disagreeing sensors and, not being intelligent, threw its hands up and said it was done flying.

        Simply put, pilots that cannot even keep the shiny side up with a single system inoperative (airspeed) using basic flying techniques are demonstrably worse than the automation in every way and should be barred from anything that looks like a flight deck!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Two angle-of-attach sensors not enough

      "What one really needs is three sensors of different designs so there isn't a common failure mode."

      Generally a sensible idea. As is proper pilot training. And proper enforcement of proper maintenance management.

      In fact if the AF447 aircraft had been up to date in terms of "recalls", the disaster probably wouldn't have happened. An Airwiorthiness Directive and safety bulletins had been issued for the specific pitot tubes on that aircraft one of the several reasons for the AF447.

    3. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

      Re: Two angle-of-attach sensors not enough

      Apparently the new software for the 737 MAX will take in readings from both sensors, but that, in my opinion, is not enough. If they disagree, what reading should they accept? The bare minimum in life-critical situations is to have three sensors so that a majority verdict will show which one is faulty.

      First, Boeing has initiated a workaround -- Emphasis on the word "workaround".

      The workaround is in software. Only. The new software update will make the MCAS act like your pretty neighbour's teenage daughter and not some deranged lunatic. Next, pilots will be taught how to disable MCAS and the actuators. Finally, pre-flight checklist now dictates that the AoA must be "calibrated" before engine spools up.

      If, during the flight, the AOA DISAGREE alert flashes, the pilots are now encouraged to land the plane as safe as possible (and not onto your neighbour's back yard).

      Finally, there is no way for Boeing to retro-fit a third AoA sensor because:

      1. The delay getting the 3rd AoA sensor installed;

      2. The delay by re-writting the codes that now allow a 3rd AoA sensor; and

      3. The risk that FAA will/may require for the 3rd AoA sensor to be certified.

      4. The cost.

      Boeing's objective is to get those planes flying. Putting a 3rd AoA sensor runs counter to the corportate organization. Any Boeing employee heard making this recommendation will be asked to be the next crash-test-dummy.

  20. ecofeco Silver badge

    This never gets old

    I love it when the EU tells the U.S. of Corporations to eff off.

  21. nautica
    Happy

    Two 'ANYTHINGS' in any avionics system IS NEVER ENOUGH!

    From a previous post of mine, back in January--

    ************************************************************************

    Sunday 19th January 2020 17:52 GMT

    nautica

    Reply Icon

    Boffin

    Re: Captain Obvious

    When I worked for Lockheed designing basic avionics and avionics systems, it was a FACT--not even, ever, questioned as to why--that anything having to do with the safety of the craft would be, at the very minimum, TRIPLY-REDUNDANT, with 2-out-3 voting among the systems happening at all times.

    Forget "...end of discussion..."; there was NEVER a discussion as to changing this FACT, and designing using any other 'algorithm'--unless it was to employ a 3-out-of-5 system implementation.

    6 thumbs up

    ***********************************************************************************************

    The sad fact of the matter is that there are no more engineers, who UNDERSTAND and KNOW what it takes to design a safe aircraft, in positions of responsibility at Boeing--if any still exist, at all. The only two important metrics at Boeing are (a) politics, and (b) the utterly, absolutely fallacious mentality that "We can solve any problem with software"--which follows, of course, directly and immediately from the fact that there are no longer any real aerospace engineers, working on the design of--and understand how to design--absolutely safe aircraft, at Boeing.

    The real engineering world simply does not work that way.

    No...that is wrong: the REAL WORLD simply does not work that way. Look no further than all the people who died because of this 'new normal' of aircraft "design".

    To use the extremely apt quote of Wolfgang Pauli:

    "That is so bad, it is not even wrong!

  22. larokus

    MCAS - what's in a name anyways

    I thought it was just a rebranding of the same software used in their Starliner space capsule :D

  23. Wolfclaw

    and has Boeing or the FAA been put in front of a judge for corporate manslaughter, nope and never will, too much money and party friends will make sure of that !

    1. Grease Monkey

      Well it won't happen in the US because the crashes didn't happen in the US. I am however disappointed that criminal cases haven't been brought in the countries where the accidents did happen.

  24. s. pam
    Stop

    No way in £$%^^ I'm flying in one

    If it's Boeing I ain't going because this software "hack" will not resolve nor address.

    Fundamentally the loading area Centre of Gravity of the wings and engines extended forward shift the pivot point of the plane. Any Aerospace Engineering student can explain the impending disaster of that.

    Software can not fix the laws of aerodynamics Boeing has violated with the redesign.

    Boeing tried to ignore:

    1) The rules of aerodynamics / gravity

    2) Software cannot fix hardware faults

    3) Not having an honest process and going after the money

  25. Grease Monkey

    People trying to defend Boeing and the FAA on the location of the engines and the installation of MCAS need to look a little deeper.

    The certification cock ups ran much deeper. The FAA allowed Boeing to carry out much of their own certification - it wasn't just the engines and MCAS there were other things that Boeing self certified too. And they failed in other areas as well. One good example was the wiring to the rear control surfaces. The regulations are very clear that there must be two diversely routed sets of wiring to every control device. The investigation found that those two sets of wiring were much too close together. Boeing agreed to change the wiring, but are on record as saying that they do not consider this to be a problem.

    Think about this for a moment. They broke the law by routing that wiring in contravention with the regulations, but documenting that the wiring actually complied. They have not been prosecuted for this. Even so they refuse to admit that building a plane that does not comply with regulations is actually a problem. Even after other very badly designed systems in those same planes have killed hundreds of people.

    In other words they have no sense of responsibility and no contrition. For them the whole thing from day one the whole exercise has been about money. Nothing to do with human life or even law. Just money.

    Given a choice I will never fly Boeing again. Indeed I am likely to give a wide berth to anything manufactured under the auspices of the FAA.

    Trust once lost takes a long time to regain.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    All this has happened before

    Lockheed L188 Electra - a turbo-prop plane from the 1960s. Three crashed before a major design flaw was found - at the right speed the engines made the wings vibrate at harmonic frequencies and fall off. The problem was fixed but the public wouldn't fly on it so it was dropped for commercial flights (also faster jet planes were being built).

    The US military took it on and it's had a long service as the P3 Orion.

  27. nautica
    Happy

    It is YOUR RIGHT TO KNOW how you are being transported.

    I have no idea how one would start the demand for full transparency, but my feeling is that it is your RIGHT to know the aircraft on which you are being forced to fly (to those of you who wish to 'pick nits', read all the way to the end).

    My feeling is that this is one of the rights which come automatically with the simple act of YOUR PURCHASE of a ticket from an airline--a valid, legally binding contract which the airline enters into the moment it accepts your money.

    This is nothing new; remember the AOG, the Official Airline Guide, which all seasoned--and a lot of not-so-seasoned--air-travelers used to carry? It listed not only all trip times, carrier, and origination and terminal destinations, but the particular aircraft used by the airline for each flight, as well. It was a veritable wealth of information

    To you, Boeing, and all you carriers which purchase 'The Max': I WILL find out...and if, somehow, you manage to "game the system' such that it is impossible for one to determine the craft used on a flight (don't put anything past Boeing, ever again, people), I have a simple strategy to counter that: I will simply refuse--within all possible reason, and appeal to rational necessity--to fly on any airline which uses 737s.

    "The solution to any seemingly difficult problem is always easy if you just look at it the right way"--Douglas Adams

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