back to article Boeing 737 Max will return to flight after software updates, says EU's aviation regulator

The Boeing 737 Max was safe enough to fly without the controversial MCAS system but would not have met safety certification rules, the EU Aviation Safety Agency has said after confirming the airliner will return to European skies in January 2021. Flights will resume once airline pilots have received extra training to the EU …

  1. MiguelC Silver badge

    Re: "MCAS stands for Manoeuvering Characteristics Augmentation System. It was a software system installed on the Max by Boeing to compensate for the Max having larger engines than its predecessors in the 737 family of airliners. Those larger engines changed the way the aeroplane responded to its controls, requiring a software system to keep it within certifiable limits."

    Hmmm..., no, not really, it's used to compensate for the fact that the engines have been brought forward, closer to the nose of the aircraft, thereby altering the way it reacts to vertical manoeuvring.

    Or, as has been pointed out, it's used to compensate Boeing's lack of willingness to properly re-engineer the plane as it would be too costly (although, in hindsight, certainly cheaper - and less murderous, for lack of a better word - than the omnishambles it created)

    1. Oh Matron! Silver badge

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

      TL;DR The 737 was design back in a time when Airbridges didn't exist and steps were used, mandating the aircraft door being very close to the ground.The world has moved on since then, the 737 hasn't

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Steps are still used, even for higher cabin doors because airport handling has mobile stairways. Jetway bridges are only limited availability especially at European airports, many still require those passenger transfer buses for parked aircraft out on the apron. Airports are too busy for the number of terminal stands there are.

        The reason for 737 lowered stance was to make it practical at more airports that were less well equipped. Not only are the passenger door low, so are the cargo loading hatches.

        1. Kubla Cant Silver badge

          I believe the low stance was originally adopted to enable the use of on-board stairs. When the 737 was introduced, there were airports so crappy that they didn't even provide a set of steps, so the planes had to carry their own.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            >I believe the low stance was originally adopted to enable the use of on-board stairs

            Also people were a lot shorter back then.

        2. Dom 3

          Why do I keep seeing this - "The reason for 737 lowered stance was to make it practical at more airports that were less well equipped"?

          Fact is, the 737 was plenty high enough for skinny 1960s engines and there was no good reason to make it any higher than needed. Landing gear is *heavy*.

          And although some very far-sighted engineers back then *might* have predicted big fat ultra high bypass engines, nobody would have thought that fifty years later they'd be sticking them on the same airframe.

          1. werdsmith Silver badge

            Because it was low compared to a 707 for example, to enable its use beyond major airports.

            1. Dom 3

              I'm still not buying it. You can board a 707 from airport steps - I have done it myself. Nor do you need to be that close to the ground to have airstairs - the A320 series can have them (see vids on youtube of A319 deploying them). But a really really good reason to have short landing gear is to save weight.

              1. werdsmith Silver badge

                Please yourself. Nobody is talking about airport steps. It’s onboard steps for places that didn’t have airport steps. Even gravel fields. No doors on the gear wheel wells either. In the 1960s this was not just for passenger steps, but ground access for cargo doors, fuel intake etc. There were no A319s in the 1960s.

                This explains better:

                https://simpleflying.com/737s-low-to-the-ground/

                Anyway, it really doesn’t matter if you buy it or not.

      2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

        Steps are still widely used

        At one aitport that I worked on, Easyjet would not use a gate with an airbridge and insisted on remote gates only.

        Why?

        The cost. The cheapskates at EJ would rather let their suckers face 50C temps and save a few quid. Using the Airbridge directly into the aircon cooled terminal.

        1. Pangasinan Philippines

          Re: Steps are still widely used

          There was a recent picture of many Ryanair planes at Stansted airport parked away from the airbridges.

          That same thought came into my mind that Ryanair were saving by not utilising the bridges.

      3. tip pc Silver badge

        “ TL;DR The 737 was design back in a time when Airbridges didn't exist and steps were used, mandating the aircraft door being very close to the ground.The world has moved on since then, the 737 hasn't”

        The lower 737 permits ground crews to load and empty the aircraft from the ground without specialist equipment permitting the aircraft to land at smaller less developed airfields without. Perfect for low cost carriers opening up very cheap routes to new regions.

        Not everywhere is like Heathrow or Gatwick with airbridges. Incidentally private jets are the same for similar reasons.

    2. rcxb Silver badge

      Boeing's lack of willingness to properly re-engineer the plane as it would be too costly

      Actually it was American Airlines back in 2011 that required Boeing supply 100 re-engined 737s that didn't yet exist, which largely forced Boeing's to develop it. AA required the same model largely due to FAA pilot certification requirements.

      “Not only have [Airbus] sold jets to American, but they have forced Boeing’s hand into pushing for a re-engined 737,” said Saj Ahmad, an analyst at FBE Aerospace in London.

      https://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/21/business/global/american-places-record-order-with-2-jet-makers.html

      1. sgp

        "Airbus forced Boeing's hand"

        Well, they sat around without improving the fuel efficiency of their cash cow for 20 years. But let's blame Airbus and AA?

        1. rcxb Silver badge

          Re: "Airbus forced Boeing's hand"

          What are you even suggesting? That Boeing should have developed MCAS years earlier...? Boeing certainly has developed OTHER airframes in that time which are more efficient than the aging 737.

    3. eldakka Silver badge

      Hmmm..., no, not really, it's used to compensate for the fact that the engines have been brought forward, closer to the nose of the aircraft, thereby altering the way it reacts to vertical manoeuvring.

      Boeing didn't decide to move them to that position for no reason. They decided to put bigger engines on. However, those bigger engines couldn't fit under the wings in the traditional location. Therefore as a result of mandating bigger engines, they had to move them forward so that they could fit.

      Therefore it is correct to say that bigger engines caused the issue, as the relocation of the engines wouldn't have been necessary if they kept engines the same size.

      1. The First Dave

        Or they could just have fitted longer landing gear?

        Not trivial, I know, but probably better than this current lash-up

    4. Tomato Krill

      Well, both are true really - they were brought forward and up, because they were larger and those larger nacelles produced aerodynamic lift at high AoA hence reducing the force required on the stick

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I thought the engines were brought forward because they were larger and wouldn't fit under the wing without substantial redesign.

  2. Ryan 7

    After receiving the additional training, will pilots be permitted to swap between 737NG and 737MAX, or are they now two separate competencies, subject to the only-one-type-rating-at-a-time rule?

    1. anothercynic Silver badge

      If you're certified for the MAX, you will be certified for the NG, but not vice versa.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It's possible to have multiple type ratings. I know several pilots who can fly both the 737 and the 787 Dreamliner.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Whilst they may have been certified on both it's highly unlikely they're current on both, pre pandemic it was 1 flight in 30 days to stay current on a type. Ryanair we're having their pilots move planes between airports just to stay current on a type, and I believe in Asia a fair few pilots lost their rating (currency?) for 787/A380 as there weren't enough simulators available

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Actually, they were. It was quite common for some of the more experienced pilots (especially in smaller bases) to switch back and forth depending on demand. They would fly the 737 from a smaller base in the winter, then switch bases in the summer and fly the Dreamliner. Some would even move overseas to Scandinavia for the season to fly the East Asian routes.

          As you hint, going in the simulator "counts" as a flight, but it's not as simple as "one flight in 30 days" because an airline can stipulate additional requirements on top of the CAA minimum requirements. For the airline I work with it's something like "3 take-offs and 3 landings every 3 months" but they can do them in a block...so the pilots have been literally going in the simulator, doing 3 take-offs and 3 landings, then going home again.

          If it were "1 flight in 30 days" then most of the pilots in the country would have gone out of check by now as there simply aren't enough "real" flights to meet that demand.

          And..Ryanair only have one type. They fly nothing but 737s.

  3. chivo243 Silver badge
    Facepalm

    more than software

    These planes have been sitting the ground for a long time I'm guessing there will be a lot of recertification of other systems as well. HVAC, hydraulics, other electrical systems, tires and brakes. That's cost ya...

    1. FILE_ID.DIZ
      Thumb Up

      Re: more than software

      Depending on how they were stored and the agreement by which they are stored.

      The facility could have been contracted to maintain the planes as "flight-ready", meaning that all those other checks have been maintained while it sat.

      But you are correct. Planes are expensive beasts.

      As the old joke goes - How do you become a millionaire? Start as a billionaire and buy an airline.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: more than software

        There's various maintenance regimes on aircraft like this. Some things are serviced every N landings, other every M hours of operation, and yet others which are time elapsed. Apparently there's loads of things that now have to be serviced on these aircraft, many of which have only every flown once on the way to storage...

        There's also a rumour going round that some have experienced mouse infestation during storage. If that's true, that's a nightmare, because you have to go through the whole aircraft looking to see where they've got to and what they've chewed.

        Regarding the finances of the situation, there's some interesting things emerging. Airbus has, despite the global downturn in aviation, pretty much continued delivering largely to plan. The reason is because once the airline takes delivery, they often immediately sell to a lease company and rent it back straight away. The airline's better off because it's completed the transaction meaning that the money is back on their books. The lease company is happy because it's actually got a shiny new in-demand ultra-efficient asset in their inventory. The airline is happy again because it's got the use of that aircraft, ready to go as soon as the market picks up, running at maximum efficiency. And they can drop A320neos into their operations seamlessly.

        With MAX, it's more or less the complete opposite.

        It'll far easier to respond to a market recovery with Airbuses in the inventory and on order than with MAXes orders.

        And we haven't even begun to take into account the success that the A220 / Bombardier C Series seems to be becoming. 600+ orders now, and everyone seems to like it.

        So at the moment there is a propsect that the way to become a billionaire is to invest in the airlines that have the Airbuses and a good control of costs, because they might just have the market to themselves if a bunch of other airlines go bust, just as we all get the travel bug back again.

        Boeing's traditional way of levelling out the market strength enjoyed by Airbus has been to make the deal work up-front; sell the planes very cheap to begin with. RyanAir (Boeings) supposedly get a very good price indeed, and can then afford to be cost competitive with, say, Easyjet (Airbuses) because of that. The problem now is that Boeing is in a debt hole, and has probably priced all of its 4000 or so MAX orders downwards, so the margin on each one could be too small to pay off that debt.

        Airbus in contrast is rumoured to have never really had to resort to discounting, charging close to list price for each of its 7000+ A320neo orders.

        And they don't have to go chasing orders so much either, even ignoring some airlines. I read recently that when British Airways once really did want to buy some Airbuses, the BA exec basically had to go in person and go down on bended knee pleading to get Airbus to consider selling them some aircraft. Airbus had previously got pissed at BA playing silly buggers using Airbus to hammer down Boeing pricing, had stopped bothering to submit tenders, and didn't need BA's business at all.

        Being able to afford kicking an airline as big as BA out the door is pretty telling.

        1. anothercynic Silver badge

          Re: more than software

          Well, Willy Walsh loves Boeing (always has), hence his commitment to switch the airlines with short-haul jets in the IAG stable (Iberia, BA, Aer Lingus, and Vueling) to the MAX. Of course now he's left IAG and rumoured to take the top job at IATA (the world organisation for air travel for the non-aviation folks here), the question is whether that massive MAX order will stand or quietly shrink, and shrink and shrink some more. I have seen photos of the Renton and Moses Lake flight lines that show BA MAX jets ready for delivery (*grimaces*).

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: more than software

          "There's also a rumour going round that some have experienced mouse infestation during storage. If that's true, that's a nightmare, because you have to go through the whole aircraft looking to see where they've got to and what they've chewed."

          Mice infestation is always a nightmare. I can imagine it is a lot worse in an aircraft !

          BTW, how could mice ever enter the aircrafts ??? They were not locked ?

          Also, is it only SW updates ? There is still only one AoA sensor ???

          1. Eclectic Man Silver badge
            Coat

            Re: more than software

            Mice? Not a problem, just get Samuel L Jackson - 'Snakes on a Plane'. That'll sort them out.

            (I'll get my coat, it's the one with the bicycle clips in the pocket. shudders)

          2. Natalie Gritpants Jr

            Re: more than software

            The aircraft are sitting on the tarmac with wheels on the ground. Also, when flying the landing gear and region around it regularly goes way below freezing which will sort out most mammals that have stowed away.

            1. A K Stiles Silver badge

              Re: more than software

              and what sorts out the electrical looms with the gnawed insulation?

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: more than software

                Fire.

          3. Down not across Silver badge

            Re: more than software

            Also, is it only SW updates ? There is still only one AoA sensor ???

            There were/are two. MCAS just used one at a time.

            Boeing charged extra for showing a warning if the two disagree. Now they've been told to have every MAX to have that if they wish for it to return to flight. I bet the beancounters who dreamed up this "save few pennies / rip off customers for extra features" are wringing their hands as result of this greed backfiring badly.

            1. FILE_ID.DIZ
              Trollface

              Re: more than software

              I bet the beancounters who dreamed up this "save few pennies / rip off customers for extra features" are wringing their hands as result of this greed backfiring badly.

              You have it all wrong. The beancounters weren't saving a few pennies or ripping off customers. They were attempting to provide shareholder value through selling an upgrade option.

              Of course, there is a specific branch of people/training that do gamble with Shareholders' money, often quite successfully, but have a different name - actuaries.

              Clearly Boeing didn't have, or listen to, any for this project.

            2. Yes Me Silver badge

              Re: more than software

              It was a bit worse than not showing AOA DISAGREE if the AOAs disagreed. It was also an incredibly stupid software "feature" that consulted one or the other AOA on alternating flights, so an anomaly noticed on flight N would vanish on flight N+1 and reappear on flight N+2. As I read the reports, both flights that crashed were examples of N+2: an AOA anomaly had been reported two flights earlier, but signed off as transient before flight N+1.

          4. roytrubshaw
            Headmaster

            Re: more than software

            There are two Angle of Attack (AOA) sensors but it only used one at a time (in rotation I believe).

            Therefore if one AOA sensor failed there was a 50/50 chance of MCAS picking the failed sensor and causing the erroeous flight inputs.

            Hence the AOA Disagreement warning light, which used to be an "optional extra", now being fitted as standard.

    2. Mike Richards Silver badge

      Re: more than software

      When this is all settled and Boeing adds up the redesigns needed, the delayed and lost sales and the moneys paid to the victims of their criminal behaviour; let alone the colossal damage to their reputation - I wonder if the MAX will have actually turned out to have been cheaper and quicker to deliver than a clean sheet design such as their abandoned Yellowstone Y1 proposal.

      1. anothercynic Silver badge

        Re: more than software

        Ohhh, they're doubling down! They're looking at the MAX as a possible replacement for the 757 series! The mind boggles.

        1. FILE_ID.DIZ
          Unhappy

          Re: more than software

          Don't see how. The 757 is the only narrow-body plane flying around today that gets a heavy designation.

          I loved the LAX/JFK United p.s. flights back when I lived out of hotels and a suitcase.

          1. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

            Re: more than software

            Don't see how. The 757 is the only narrow-body plane flying around today that gets a heavy designation.

            Do not give Boeing any idea.

            Who knows? Boeing can start plugging in sections to make the 737 MAX carry up to 280 passengers and call it Super MAX.

            Saves Boeing planeloads of money for R&D, re-certification, pilot training, etc. Heck, the FAA might be on board too!

            1. FILE_ID.DIZ
              Trollface

              Re: more than software

              > Heck, the FAA might be an onboard tool!

              FTFY!

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: more than software

              Actually, their original plan was for the 737MAX to be a shrunk-down Dreamliner using the same composite build. This would have been great...sleek, modern and efficient..

              But American Airlines didn't like that as they wanted a plane that their 737 pilots could fly without re-certification, and a smaller 787 would be a different type. So we got the MAX instead. Yay.

              Look up "Project Yellowstone" to see what could have been...

              1. Frederic Bloggs

                Re: more than software

                And don't forget another thing that Boeing said, and then signed on the dotted line to honour: We will pay you $1 million for every pilot that needs to be recertified.

            3. elwe

              Re: more than software

              "Who knows? Boeing can start plugging in sections to make the 737 MAX carry up to 280 passengers and call it Super MAX."

              Sounds like a killer move...

              1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

                Re: more than software

                Sounds like a killer move...

                Yup, of passengers.

          2. anothercynic Silver badge

            Re: more than software

            They're considering *another* stretch. Yes. Crazy.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: more than software

          They're looking at the MAX as a possible replacement for the 757 series! The mind boggles

          Smells like an attempt at face/bonus saving: "we can recoup our investment <bla>".

          You can rest assured, however, that everything new that Boeing cooks up will get serious scrutiny - nobody trusts them anymore to get it right. I suspect Airbus is laughing all the way to the bank..

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: more than software

          Actually, that's been the plan for about a decade. The 737 could cover most of the routes that the 757 could...but the range wasn't *quite* long enough to reach places like Cape Verde. The MAX will. It also uses far less fuel.

          1. anothercynic Silver badge

            Re: more than software

            Boeing considered a concept called the NMA, and some in the aviation industry chuckled and said "dusting off the old 757 designs, eh?"

            But yeah... the MAX with another stretch, and maybe some more fuel and maybe a bigger wing... yay, there we are.

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: more than software

        Sorry to jump on this, but it's a bugbear of mine that people always add the compensation to the victims when considering the money Boeing has lost (and will lose in the future) on this. Compared to "the redesigns needed, the delayed and lost sales..." and the damage to their reputation that you correctly note, I have a depressing feeling that compensation to the families of the victims is going to be a rounding error when and if it's finally paid out.

        I recall reading that Boeing's initial compensation offers were based on the victims being poor and foreign, and were rather low.

      4. roytrubshaw
        Childcatcher

        Re: more than software

        " ... if the MAX will have actually turned out to have been cheaper and quicker to deliver than a clean sheet design ..."

        The short answer is probably "no".

    3. anothercynic Silver badge

      Re: more than software

      Well, the vast majority are still in Boeing's possession, so they'll have to do all that before any of them get handed over to customers.

      Those owned by the airlines will either have been maintained in a pretty good nick, or will have to be brought out of storage in the same way other jets are, plus all the FAA/CAA/EASA-required mods have to be applied (wiring rerouting, software updates).

      But that's not where the problem lies... it's the dearth of MAX flight simulators, and the amount of pilots who have to now be (re)certified for the plane.

  4. tip pc Silver badge
    FAIL

    Still don't want to fly on a MAX

    i will do my best to not fly on the 737 MAX.

    what else have they not found that a pilot may encounter 1 day and not be able to override.

    This is likely Boeings Airbus moment, but the shear fact Boeing intentionally misled the authorities who's job was to certify the safety of the 737 MAX makes me think there are other problems waiting to be found.

    I sure hope i'm wrong, i just don't want to be the one involved on the discovery process.

    1. Schultz Silver badge
      Stop

      Re: Still don't want to fly on a MAX

      I would gladly fly on the MAX after re-certification.

      The safety certification of passenger aircraft has been an impressive success story and I'd even say that the failure with the 737 MAX highlights how safe commercial airliners are. The world was truly shocked when those two planes crashed but at the same time we accept car accidents as inevitable. So if the FAA and EASA say the plane is safe, I would take their word for it. There is never a 100% safety guarantee, but with the extra scrutiny this plane received I would expect that it is quite safe. Just take care not to crash your car on the way to the airport!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I would gladly fly on the MAX

        You car analogy is a massive failure, cars crash largely because of the drives, not because Ford put some dumbass software mod in the ABS or some such! Or are you talking about Tesla's 'Autopilot' (sic). Where no-one takes those crashes as inevitable. So, actually, still a terrible analogy.

        1. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: I would gladly fly on the MAX

          Or like the toyotas where the carpet would bunch up under the brake pedal, rendering the brakes unusable? Yeah, definitely driver error there.

          </sarc>

          1. PTW

            Re: Toyota carpet issue

            Was "...accept[ed] car accidents as inevitable?" Was it really ac? Or are you spouting nonsense, anonymous keyboard warrior, you cheeky little imp?

        2. Eclectic Man Silver badge

          Re: I would gladly fly on the MAX

          Ford Pinto?

          https://www.tortmuseum.org/ford-pinto/

          Basically, Ford knew that the pipe to the petrol tank meant that in a rear-end collision there was a higher chance that there would be a fire engulfing anyone sitting on the rear seat, but worked out that it was cheaper to pay compensation than to do the refit. They found out later that customers do not like being burned alive, because they strangely valued the people sitting on the back seat, you know like:

          Children

          Grandparents

          Pets

          Friends

          Hitch-hikers

          Partners

          Babies

          Sulking teenagers

          Kids sports coaches

          etc.

          1. FILE_ID.DIZ
            Boffin

            Re: I would gladly fly on the MAX

            > Ford Pinto?

            To be fair, anytime someone mentions the Pinto and its supreme failure, I am obliged to mention the awesomeness known as the Chevy Vega.

            Some literally rusted on the showroom floor due to cost engineering.

            BTW - not a Ford fan. I do believe in the phrase, Fucker Only Rolls Downhill.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: I would gladly fly on the MAX

              That wasn't unusual with 1970s cars, at least in the UK. Lancia Gamma and Alfasud were notorious for rusting, not to mention anything from British Leyland. One plant supposedly had the paintshop in a separate building from the chassis line. So bare-steel cars were loaded onto open trucks and driven over to be painted. In all weathers.

              Another famous BL quality-control issue was when they got a new CEO, and issued him with a Jaguar XJS fresh off the production line as a company car. He went out to look at it, and it was a different colour at each end.

              It's a long time since I've seen cars with the little red spots on from rust treatment (red-oxide primer over the rust?). All cars seemed to have a few when I was growing up.

          2. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

            Re: I would gladly fly on the MAX

            I'm not a driver but I think that possibly hitch-hikers are dispensable?...

            1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

              Re: I would gladly fly on the MAX

              According to Homer:

              "Strangers come from Zeus."

              The Abrahamic religions warn:

              "Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares."

              Dispense with Hitch-Hikers at your peril!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Still don't want to fly on a MAX

        >> The safety certification of passenger aircraft has been an impressive success story

        As they say in investing, "past performance is not a guarantee of future returns"

        Here there are many firsts

        - Boeing had a dramatically shortened product development timescales to historical figures

        - Internal engineering complaints about the design

        - Boeing misled FAA

        - Boeing continued to knowingly deliver faulty AoA warning systems on new deliveries all the way up to being grounded

        - project owners all plead the 5th during cross examination

        - outsourcing of key SW deliveries to third parties without vetted domain expertise (i.e. Boeing treated all SW as any SW - aircraft or PC)

        Above shows an endemic cultural problem at Boeing - then and now, as even the latest pre-accident deliveries show. Past safety certifications did not deal with these new/matured cultural issues at Boeing.

        At the FAA,

        - FAA introduced self-certification initiative

        - FAA budgets cut down by congress

        - all plead the 5th during cross examination

        So another first is the evidence of regulatory capture.

        This isn't a case where the mistakes were engineering learnings in design (as past accidents were), this is a case where the "mistakes" are monetary/bean-counter inspired and there was prior internal knowledge and concerns.

        *Existing* checks, if followed without subterfuge, would have prevented it.

        The fundamentals of this 737 MAX plane's project execution is wrong.

        The solution proposes steps that seem minor and does not address why Boeing took steps to avoid it, it would seem this path was available to them from the start of the 737MAX without economic impact. It is not retyping the craft AIUI.

        So this plane was fine to be accident free all along, save for a training to give knowledge of MCAS, and Boeing chose not to take it?

        Just feels like Boeing has made a lot of bad decisions here, and as another first, past safety certification criteria, might not be enough for this new beast.

        1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

          Re: Still don't want to fly on a MAX

          Don't worry. Trump will issue a blanket pardon to Boeing so that none of the people responsible will ever face justice.

          1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

            Re: Still don't want to fly on a MAX

            That will only be a Federal pardon, there will be 50 States wanting their pound of flesh and that is without mentioning some other countries (some with extra territorial jurisdiction) having a say in it.

        2. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

          Re: Still don't want to fly on a MAX

          Do not get me wrong here but Boeing is very, very lucky these crashes did not happen on US soil.

          Even if one of them did, they'd be facing QUADRILLION of dollars in lawsuit and endless compensation claims.

      3. TVU Silver badge

        Re: Still don't want to fly on a MAX

        "I would gladly fly on the MAX after re-certification"

        I think it is safe to say that will probably be a minority opinion. I will certainly not fly in one no matter how much it is dressed up because this flawed aircraft basically remains the same as before - a fundamentally imbalanced aircraft caused by the inappropriate re-siting of heavier engines that was compensated for by a crude software kludge.

        Remember, these are the Max aircraft concerned, 737-7, 737-8 and 737-9 (Ryanair badging = 737-8200) and the equivalent International Air Transport Association codes are B37M, B38M and B39M.

        I hope that the 737 Max ends up like the MD11, i.e. unloved, unwanted and used primarily as a cargo carrier so that there are far fewer future potential human fatalities.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Still don't want to fly on a MAX

          I regret to say that I disagree with you. It may be a minority opinion of those who have been following the MAX story (such as those who have followed the Register's excellent coverage), but among the majority? They've forgotten all about the story, and when the time comes to book a holiday, they'll go purely on price.

          "They wouldn't let them fly if they weren't safe. And we saved thirty quid a ticket."

      4. heyrick Silver badge

        Re: Still don't want to fly on a MAX

        "The safety certification of passenger aircraft has been an impressive success story"

        You do realise that this is second time lucky, right?

  5. BJC

    Average crew

    "However, when it [MCAS] is lost (failed and inoperative), an averagely skilled and trained crew is still able to safely fly and land the airplane,"

    Aren't half the crews below *average*, by definition?

    1. DavCrav Silver badge

      Re: Average crew

      "Aren't half the crews below *average*, by definition?"

      So cross your fingers and hope you have at least an average pilot?

      1. DavCrav Silver badge

        Re: Average crew

        "So cross your fingers and hope you have at least an average pilot?"

        I should point out that this is a general statement, not restricted to setting foot on a MAX. (I will check my calendar before flying on a MAX, and if every day isn't labelled 'Sunday', I won't be going.)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Average crew

        Half are below the median. They can almost all be above average. It takes only one dud to pull the average down.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Average crew

          "... dud ..."

          I don't like that mode of address. It's mean.

          :P

    2. John Robson Silver badge

      Re: Average crew

      Only if you assume a normal distribution. One would hope that the low tail of that is severely truncated (through failure to attain certification).

      Unfortunately that means that *more* than half of all crews are below average...

      1. Joe W Silver badge

        Re: Average crew

        Nope, zero skew is what you need. Not necessarily a normal distribution.

        It is half of the crews that are under median skill, under any distribution.

        1. redpawn Silver badge

          Re: Average crew

          Keep out of the median. You will be run over.

        2. John Robson Silver badge

          Re: Average crew

          In general the word average, when unspecified, means mean.

          But yes, there are plenty of other symmetrical distributions, I can't see why you would end up with anything other than a truncated normal distribution though.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Average crew

            I think in the context of aviation safety 'average pilot means 'not superman' rather than any explicit measure of skills rating on a curve. And it's basically meant to avoid clever aircraft designers designing planes that can be flown, but only by Chuck Yaeger. In most jurisdictions the really bad pilots are filtered out before qualifying (though in some if Daddy is rich enough and your photoshop skills are reasonable......I'd worry a lot more about that than whether I'm being flown in a 737-MAX.)

            1. John Robson Silver badge

              Re: Average crew

              Oh - I agree. Commercial pilots should be (and from those I know are) very highly selected, so they all ought to be well above an "average" *pilot*...

              The very very best will go on to be test pilots, and there will be many private pilots.

              I don't know what proportion of pilots are military (who I presume also have a pretty high talent level), commercial, and private. I assume that the number of test pilots is sufficiently small as to be irrelevant.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Still ain't going if it's a Boeing

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Amen to that.

      "the airliner will return to European skies in January 2021"

      Not in my skies it won't.

  7. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

    First Airbus crashes due to a stupid sensor failure. Then Boeing does the same.

    I'm not sure I'd like to fly ANY modern airliner. Can I go in a an old one instead, please?

    1. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

      Can I go in a an old one instead, please?

      How about a Ju 52?

      1. DavCrav Silver badge

        "How about a Ju 52?"

        One crash since 1939? Boeing would love that safety record.

        Also, hopefully there are planes between WWII and modern ones? 747-400s are pretty safe nowadays, aren't they?

        After the whole Covid thing, and Boeing nosediving, and planes possibly not being maintained very well while grounded, I am not 100% looking forward to travelling to Germany next August. It'll be my first flight in several years now (kids and then pandemic) and I actually genuinely am a bit concerned about it.

        1. anothercynic Silver badge

          Why would you be a bit concerned about it? Fly Lufthansa, if you must, because Lufthansa Technik is known worldwide to be arguably one of the best MROs.

          The 777 is arguably the safest jet Boeing has ever produced (although the 787 hasn't had any crashes yet, there are quality concerns about the jets produced in South Carolina). If you can get on one of the 777s, you should be good. Or an Airbus A350.

          1. DavCrav Silver badge

            "Why would you be a bit concerned about it?"

            Because generally the pandemic has led a large number of people to re-evaluate their attitudes towards safety. Flying is only slightly more dangerous than before (because of issues with maintenance) but perception of risk has changed.

            "The 777 is arguably the safest jet Boeing has ever produced"

            Hops from Heathrow to Frankfurt are generally done by A320s, or possibly a 737 normal. I think all of the BA trips I've been on for that journey have been A320s, although I forget which variant. I don't think the neo.

            1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

              Lufthansa also uses the A320 on that route and frankly I prefer those Germans above Bloody Awful.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Hmmm - I think that the JU-52 safety record is a bit worse than 'one crash since 1939'. Admittedly many of them may have been aided by flying in to lumps of lead or shrapneled steel. But over 80 were lost in their post 1945 civilian or non-combat military careers.

          1. DavCrav Silver badge

            "Hmmm - I think that the JU-52 safety record is a bit worse than 'one crash since 1939'."

            It was meant to be humorous. Sorry if that wasn't clear.

    2. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

      Depends

      DC-10? cargo doors fall off, even after door manufacturer said "hey these doors are too weak and can fall off"

      DC-10 again.... quicker to take the whole engine/mount off than engine, then mount.. result.. engines fall off in flight

      747 : cargo doors fall off when hammered into place by inexperienced ground staff.

      737 : rudders go hard right when hot fluid enters cold steering mechinism.

      MD-80 : tailplane tends to fall off when controlling jackscrew is not greased according to schedule

      Airbus 300 : vertical stablizer falls off if rudder used too hard (although to be fair most planes do that too)

      You still sure about those older planes?

      Most crashes/accidents are pilot error though

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Depends

        "Most crashes/accidents are pilot error though"

        Most crashes/accidents are a combination of factors of which pilot error may be one. Very rare for an aircraft accident to be down to just one factor.

      2. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        Re: Depends

        Most crashes/accidents are pilot error though

        How about MAX? In both cases, the pilots were fighting their darn best to do the right thing. But, y'know, this thing called MCAS had other ideas.

      3. Eclectic Man Silver badge

        Re: Depends

        If God had meant us to fly, He would never have given us the Railways.

        (Potters Bar, Paddington, ... )

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Depends

        While it is fairly easy to point to individual type specific safety lapses, aviation has by any measure got much much safer - through a combination of safer aircraft, better navigation and weather forecasting, etc. etc. In 1970 there were 3000 deaths/trillion passenger kilometres. By 2000 that had fallen to under 500 deaths/trillion passenger kilometres. By 2019 that was down to 40 deaths per passenger kilometre.

        1. Scott 53

          Re: Depends

          "By 2019 that was down to 40 deaths per passenger kilometre."

          Please tell me you just forgot to add the trillion here. I don't like those odds at all.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Depends

            OOPs - my excuse is I had jut listened to Dishy Rishy's statement - what's the odd trillion here or there......

            1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

              Re: Depends

              The exceptional thing about the MAX crashes was that they were due to an aircraft fault. Most crashes resulting in total loss of the aircraft are due to CFIT (Controlled Flight Into Terrain). I must say whilst I am very sorry for the passengers and cabin crew, the poor pilots who knew what was happening and were unable to prevent it deserve great sympathy. I would hope that the Boeing and other managers responsible are reserved a special place in Hell for that.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Depends

                CFIT aka Lithospheric Braking

              2. A.P. Veening Silver badge

                Re: Depends

                I would hope that the Boeing and other managers responsible are reserved a special place in Hell for that.

                Yup, they have permanently reserved seats on flight HL666, flown with unupgraded 737MAXs and a check-in based on Hotel California.

    3. bazza Silver badge

      The thing is though that modern aircraft with their fancy electronics are, statistically, a whole lot safer than aircraft of old. It's a real triumph of intellectual endeavour.

      The thing is that new causes of crashes - e.g. the manufacturer is making some terrible business decisions, or pilot de-skilling, or drunken pilots - is overtaking the old reasons (like weather, getting lost, etc). And the current system for controlling that don't have the appropriate teeth. There's been regulatory capture of the FAA by Boeing, leading to the MAX crashes. A Korean airliner was landed short on a perfecly clear day at San Francisco because the ILS was out of service and the pilots had never landed one by themselves before, a situation that arose despite the airline's training programme being fully legally compliant.

      The only way to get that kind of accident rate down is to give the regulators more teeth to force manufactureres and airlines to bear more costs to Do It Properly.

    4. Shadow Systems Silver badge

      At the AC, re: older aircraft.

      If the farmers that live in my "cow town" are to be taken by their actions, we've got plenty of old biplanes buzzing around as cropdusters, so you might not be as far out as some would think.

      Sure you need goggles & a scarf to do it proper, and having to SCREAM at your pilot in the seat ahead of yours to stop buzzing pedestrians & giving folks TheFinger, but it's a small price to pay for the surity that your plane will be operated by someone competent.

      Just watch out for low flying ducks & the occaisional red painted triplane. =-)P

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "First Airbus crashes due to a stupid sensor failure. Then Boeing does the same.

      I'm not sure I'd like to fly ANY modern airliner. Can I go in a an old one instead, please?"

      You cannot compare the AF447 crash with this Boeing debacle.

      AF447 crashed because the crew happily flew the perfectly working aircraft to the ground because they were puzzled about the auto-pilot disconnection, indeed, caused by a sensor temporary failure.

      In the case of Lyon and Malaysian airlines, the crew struggled with despair against a defective software.

      And sadly, they failed.

      1. Outski Bronze badge

        Malaysian? No-one knows what happened to MH370, whereas MH17 was shot down by Russia. Both were 777s, but we can be fairly sure software wasn't the issue in either case.

        Did you mean Lion Air (Indonesia) and Ethiopian Airlines?

        Agreed, AF447 is not comparable.

  8. Trollslayer Silver badge
    Facepalm

    The truth comes out

    "Previously they were kept in the dark about it by Boeing, which hoped regulators wouldn't spot it and ask whether the airliner needed a separate (and expensive) certification for existing 737 pilots to fly it."

  9. Gotno iShit Wantno iShit

    The other Boing and FAA fail

    "EASA's review of the 737 MAX began with the MCAS but went far beyond. We took a decision early on to review the entire flight control system and gradually broadened our assessment to include all aspects of design which could influence how the flight controls operated. This led, for example, to a deeper study of the wiring installation, which resulted in a change that is now also mandated in the Proposed Airworthiness Directive."

    I didn't know until reading this that is was EASA not the FAA the picked up the incorrectly routed wiring issue. If that's just an example I wonder what else EASA found that the FAA had missed.

    1. FILE_ID.DIZ
      Boffin

      Re: The other Boing and FAA fail

      Yea, there's some conflicting infos on who gets to claim that wiring issue.

      If you believe Seattle Times (I have no reason not to, at least with respect to their comprehensive articles on Boeing), I recalled reading this article from way back when there wasn't (much) COVID.... (https://www.seattletimes.com/business/boeing-aerospace/faa-faces-dilemma-over-737-max-wiring-flaw-that-boeing-missed/), FAA found this.

      Apparently this incongruent routing has been in existence since the 737NG. However, when the 737NG was certified, that wire bundle routing path was legal. One more example of Boeing going, "hey, let's lean on the old ways of doing shit to save on re-engineering and re-training costs."

      Reading more into the EASA (https://ad.easa.europa.eu/blob/EASA_PAD_20_184.pdf/PAD_20-184_1), they do mention Service Bulletin 737-27-1318, Revision 2... but I find also listed in the Federal Register (https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2020-11-20/pdf/2020-25844.pdf).

      Interestingly enough - they speak about hot wires and control wires, or likely high voltage and low voltage wiring, respectively shorting across another. Incidentally that is likely what contributed to the downing of TWA 800 way back when.

      1. anothercynic Silver badge

        Re: The other Boing and FAA fail

        Dominic Gates is an excellent aerospace journalist and an absolute asset to the ST. Him and Jon Ostrower of TAC have been digging up the dirt on this Boeing debacle pretty much from the start.

        The NG itself had a lot of things grandfathered in from the Classic that were not legal for new planes as well... This is what happens when you take what is a 50-year-old design (the 'Original') and glom more and more things on to eventually have what is almost a new plane (the 4th generation, the MAX), and use supplemental type certificates to get around the other engineering debt you should fix in the old designs but can't be bothered with.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "This is your Chaplain Speaking"

    [from an old Private Eye DC10 cartoon]

  11. Dan 55 Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Maxes returning to airline service must have flight control software updates installed as well as display system updates that show a critical warning caption to pilots titled AOA DISAGREE. This alerts them that the two angle-of-attack sensors are no longer giving roughly similar readings, meaning MCAS could falsely activate and produce undesired control inputs.

    Adding another AOA sensor (i.e. doing it properly) would have taken too long for Boeing's beancounters so it was asking for too much I guess.

    1. Remy Redert

      IIRC both sensors were present on every plane delivered. But without the optional AOA element, the AOA display wasn't part of the instruments on the display and because of that, the AOA disagree warning wouldn't show up.

      In other words, the hardware was there all along. The software to display this warning was there all along. It just didn't work unless you paid for an optional flight instrument.

      If they had included the AOA disagree warning on every plane, we may have never found out how flawed MCAS really was, or at least it would have taken a lot longer.

      1. Down not across Silver badge

        AoA disagree

        IMHO given what MCAS does, it shouldn't be just AOA DISAGREE warning, it should also deactivate/disable MCAS as it may be operating on incorrect sensor data.

      2. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        IIRC both sensors were present on every plane delivered.

        You do recall correctly, but there really should be three, redundancy in case one is faulty.

        1. Robert Sneddon

          AoA sensors

          Until MCAS was introduced the AoA sensors only provided a warning indication to pilots that they were approaching a stall. If the AoA sensor failed it could be ignored by the pilots who could fly the plane perfectly well without it.

          MCAS as implemented on the 737MAX uses inputs from one of the two AoA sensors to drive control surfaces without pilot input if the sensor reports an approach to stall condition. If the sensor fails and reports an approach to stall in certain circumstances MCAS will pitch the plane's nose down forcefully even if it's flying level or in a climb.

          Fitting an extra AoA sensor would require a lot of recertification paperwork, engineering changes etc. After that the MCAS system would need to be restructured and rewritten to deal with two-out-of-three voting and even then it still might fail on occasion. Doing all this would have indicated to the licencing authorities that something was wrong and it's possible the 737MAX would have required certification as a new aircraft type. Preventing this certification change from happening was the entire point of MCAS in the first place.

    2. Aitor 1

      It was an extra

      More like it was an "extra" you could buy for a non small fee, even if it was standard on NG.

      The MCAS in my humble opinion as implemented was criminal.. not only it had too much authority but they decided to hide it from the Pilots, and purposefully did not tell them about the system for monetary gain.

      Now it will be fine and safe, almost for sure.

      1. anothercynic Silver badge

        Re: It was an extra

        Incorrect. The 737 has always had a pair of AoA sensors. But that's the problem. They're a pair, not an odd number (like 3 or 5). To deal with that, MCAS only used one sensor per flight, alternating between flights.

        The 'optional' was AoA DISAGREE indicators in the cockpit.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: It was an extra

          I used to deal with safety related systems, once upon a tiswas, longtime sinceupon. If I'd been found to have engineered anything like that I think I'd have been fired.

      2. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

        Re: It was an extra

        This entire MAX/MCAS fiasco has several culprits or "parties" involved. And they are:

        1. Airbus has three AoA vanes (two on the pilot side) but Boeing only has two. For Boeing, if one AoA vane is broken there is no way to determine who is telling the truth. Some people in Boeing identified this logical flaw, however, "a Boeing engineer falsely assumed that MCAS would not allow that to happen and “shut down”"

        2. The entire MCAS system, with the help of the FAA, was "hidden" -- It was buried in the flight manual and no operator took the time to RTFM. The cockpit crew of the previous Lion Air flight "accidentally" turned the actuators off. This mistake made them able to gain control of the plane, however, after they landed they did not log it into the logbook and this knowledge was not passed on to the next flight crew of the fatal flight.

        3. MAX flight sims DO NOT INCLUDE MCAS. Operating the MCAS was deliberately omitted in MAX flight sims.

        5. AOA DISAGREE - Boeing admitted that >80% of the AOA DISAGREE warning DO NOT ACTUALLY WORK -- So even if people kept saying "AOA DISAGREE should've been enabled free" or "AOA DISAGREE would've save the lives" the answer is a big fat "I do not think so" because there is no way to determine if it actually work (or would work) in both fatal flights. Remember, more than 80% do not work. So even if both planes had AOA DISAGREE enabled, there was a high degree of probability it would probably not have helped (because it was not working).

        6. AOA DISAGREE - Not only did Boeing know the AOA DISAGREE had a high degree of failure but Boeing kept this information "confidential": Boeing "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.

        7. Do not fly with the MCAS on - The main idea why the MCAS was ever on the MAX all boils down to fuel efficiency. The commercial airline industry is a cut-throat business. The winner is the one who has the lowest operating expenses. Fuel savings is big money. Without MCAS enabled, the plane will fly with "sub-optimal flight profile" -- In English, if the nose is pitched >0.95% higher or lower then it results to higher fuel consumption. The "argument" is this: If you fly the MAX, pilots MUST engage MCAS. If pilots do not want to use the MCAS, fly the older (NG) models.

        NOTE: Yes, I know of the other "reason" why MCAS must be used -- To avoid stall. However, there are a lot of tried-and-tested method for pilots to identify and avoid getting into stall. Regardless, MCAS is, primarily, a fuel savings system and a serves as a secondary purpose of "flight safety".

        and finally

        8. FAA - US Congress savagely cut FAA's budget year after year. FAA staff with technical knowledge, background and experience left. And with too many things to do with so little human resources left, the FAA had no choice but to accept the option to get Boeing to help the FAA certify Boeing's work.

        All in all, 346 lives were lost. Some people in Boeing got away with murder -- Literally. No one. Nadda. Zero. Zilch.

        Please accept my apologies for this long response.

    3. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

      Adding another AOA sensor (i.e. doing it properly) would have taken too long for Boeing's beancounters so it was asking for too much I guess.

      Boeing is claiming that it will take, a minimum, 3 week$ to get a $ingle MAX out of $torage and into the $service.

      Boeing will do everything in it$ power to $top thi$ idea from $urfacing or trying to $upress thi$ idea from reaching the pre$$.

      Here are $everal rea$on why Boeing i$ $trongly oppo$e on the idea on having a third AoA $en$or retrofitted to the MAX:

      1. The co$t;

      2. The delay getting the 3rd AoA $en$or in$talled;

      3. The delay by re-writting the code$ that now allow a 3rd AoA $en$or;

      4. The ri$k that FAA will/may require for the 3rd AoA $en$or to be certified; and

      5. The co$t.

  12. Potemkine! Silver badge

    Nonetheless...

    ... I'll try to avoid to ever board a MAX, thank you.

    The design of that plane is bad, period.

    1. Oh Matron! Silver badge

      Re: Nonetheless...

      Easily done: Just avoid Tui, RyanAir and the The World's least favourite airline, BA.

      1. FILE_ID.DIZ

        Re: Nonetheless...

        And Southworst, over here in the States.

    2. nautica
      Stop

      Re: Nonetheless...

      from an earlier Register article’s comment:

      

      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."

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

      "UK airline passengers won't always know if they are due to fly on a Boeing 737 Max - with Ryanair saying it would be 'impossible' to let customers know in advance"

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

  13. Mike 137 Silver badge

    Not weaselly understandable

    '"In the case of the MAX: the MCAS is necessary to meet the safety regulation and obtain the necessary safety margins. However, when it is lost (failed and inoperative), an averagely skilled and trained crew is still able to safely fly and land the airplane," said a spokeswoman.'

    As an engineer, I can't quite get my head round how the first and second sentences form a single cogent argument. I would have thought you either have the required safety margin or you don't. I have to wonder to what extent commercial interests may have intruded on the decision.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not weaselly understandable

      Working in defence component supply, we get this all the time

      Product 1 has a tolerance of + 10%

      Product 2 has a tolerance of + 30%

      The maths says there is a tolerance minimum needed of +9%. Both products will work fine but the regulations are published specifying Product 2, because Product 1 has only has a failure margin of 1% and product 2 has a greater margin of 21%.

      What they are saying here is that with MCAS the desired margins in the regulations are met, but without it then the hard limits will still be met.

      1. Mike 137 Silver badge

        Re: Not weaselly understandable

        Entirely valid for defence, AC. The difference is that defence personnel are by definition expendable. Ideally, airline passengers shouldn't be.

    2. Kubla Cant Silver badge

      Re: Not weaselly understandable

      According to an article I read elsewhere, the first sentence refers to a general requirement that civil aircraft should default to a stable flight mode. MCAS is supposed to make that happen. With MCAS disabled, it doesn't do this, but it's not necessarily difficult or dangerous to fly.

  14. cpage

    I shall also avoid flying 737MAX that means avoiding Ryanair

    Mr O'Leary has said that their 737MAXs will return to service and that they will not inform passengers if their plane is due to be a 737MAX. I have used Ryanair a few times in the past and the flights have been fine, but if he does that I shall never use that airline again. He may find that there are enough of us willing to pay a tiny bit more to use another airline that he will regret that decision.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I shall also avoid flying 737MAX that means avoiding Ryanair

      I've flown once on Ryanair and have avoided them ever since - irrespective of which planes they fly.

      Add to that the current Covid19 situation and I really don't want to fly in a plane that was designed for 180 people but which Ryanair modded so they could cram 200 in, and the idea that O'Leary apparent opinion that cheap equals to people not having any rights (to the point of avoiding legally required refunds) and it is unlikely he'll see any money from me any time soon.

    2. Kubla Cant Silver badge

      Re: I shall also avoid flying 737MAX that means avoiding Ryanair

      Agreed.

      I've never really understood the intense odium to which RyanAir is subjected. As far as I'm concerned, air travel in the 21st century is a pretty vile experience whatever the airline. The flight and the associated horrors of the departure terminal are the price I pay for foreign travel. The difference between an expensive flight and RyanAir is that between nasty and very nasty.

      But I won't fly on their 737-MAXes.

    3. nautica
      Boffin

      Re: I shall also avoid flying 737MAX that means avoiding Ryanair

      "UK airline passengers won't always know if they are due to fly on a Boeing 737 Max - with Ryanair saying it would be 'impossible' to let customers know in advance"

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

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

      From an earlier Register 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 [emphasis added], 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..."

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So what changed since last week?

    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 Administration’s view that the Max is now safe enough for passenger flights again.

    https://www.theregister.com/2020/11/20/eu_737_max/

    Did someone in Brussels get an IOU for a few Biden Bucks?

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    American "regulator" certifies strategic American domestic product for revenue generation

    What's not to like?

  17. naive

    Suppose Boeing was Chinese

    The CCP would have jailed and executed any whistle blowers. Officials of other countries would not have been granted access to emails and other documents involving the design of the plane. It would continue production of it without changing anything or admitting there were faults causing the crashes.

    Instead it would accuse officials and countries of being anti Chinese, and threaten them with trade sanctions if they would press on with investigating faulty 737-Max planes.

    All press concerning issues with the plane would be suppressed using the huge influence they have on Western media outlets.

    Since there would be flying many of those planes in the US, since the 737 MAX is a much beloved plane due to its specs, crashes would happen quite frequently.

    The fake news press and their enthralled snowflakes would accuse president Trump of being the cause of all these crashes.

    Given that everything concerning the 737-Max has been widely publicized, the US government did take the required steps to fully re-certify the plane, the ignorant criticism of "American" this and that is quite undeserved.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Suppose Boeing was Chinese

      Nope, your anti-Chinese rant doesn't work here and fails to deflect from the can of worms that Boeing and the FAA emerged to be.

      When it comes to these sorts of international agreements, the Chinese do play ball properly because (unlike that lot in the US) have a keen appreciation of long term consequences. That's not to say they're angels or above reproach (certainly not on Human Rights), but in this case I think you have it dead wrong.

      1. naive

        Re: Suppose Boeing was Chinese

        You are right.

        The CCP virus that is plaguing our society, is a lightning example of Chinese "playing ball properly" when it comes to living up to international agreements.

        I apologize for my mistake, I forgot that bribing the head of WHO to keep his mouth shut and killing whistle blowing doctors is part of those agreements.

      2. DavCrav Silver badge

        Re: Suppose Boeing was Chinese

        "but in this case I think you have it dead wrong."

        They literally did this with a pandemic, about a year ago. (Human-to-human transmission was known to CCP long before they announced it, unless they just happened to start buying massive quantities of PPE and respirators for no particular reason for two weeks or so before the announcement.)

        They have since slapped massive sanctions on Australia for asking difficult questions.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Suppose Boeing was Chinese

      Sorry to contradict your "Those eeevil Chinese!" trip, but I think the results would be quite different. Simply because Honor is very important (even essential) in China.

      The Chinese government would definitely have jailed the managers responsible for bringing disgrace to the country. Note they still would had made efforts to hide the incident from the general public (local and international), but simply to avoid the embarrassment.

      Cheating and stealing is okay (proves you're smarter), but showing incompetence or weakness is a huge no-no in Chinese culture. Do it, and you're henceforth a shunned nobody.

      1. DavCrav Silver badge

        Re: Suppose Boeing was Chinese

        "The Chinese government would definitely have jailed the managers responsible for bringing disgrace to the country. Note they still would had made efforts to hide the incident from the general public (local and international), but simply to avoid the embarrassment."

        I don't think that's quite right. They would have jailed/executed the managers responsible for face reasons, but they would have dressed it up as tax evasion or corruption, rather than let the real reason be known. (Like with all the other people jailed/executed for corruption in real life.) What I mean is, they wouldn't have 'made efforts to hide', they would have tried to cover it up entirely. And that includes jailing/executing any whistle-blowers as well. Then produced a software patch and try to silently install it on those jets in service. Hopefully without anyone noticing.

  18. Erix
    Facepalm

    So MCAS was not really even needed?

    "We also pushed the aircraft to its limits during flight tests, assessed the behaviour of the aircraft in failure scenarios, and could confirm that the aircraft is stable and has no tendency to pitch-up even without the MCAS."

    So it boils down to 346 people dead because of a bodged software fix to a theoretical problem. You could not make this up. This is truly the modern equivalent of having propeller blades jammed with red tape.

    1. Retro Man

      Re: So MCAS was not really even needed?

      Well spotted !

      Some questions need answering.

      If the aircraft had no nose-up tendency what was the purpose of MACS ?

      Was MACS put there because the handling was different to previous versions and Flight Sim re-training was deemed too expensive ?

      MCAS and is variants of paid-for-enhancements was just really a money spinner for Boeing ?

      The more you look into this mess, it actually gets worse, not better.

      1. Robert Sneddon

        Re: So MCAS was not really even needed?

        If the aircraft had no nose-up tendency what was the purpose of MACS ?

        There are legally-enforceable flight regulations that limit the amount of force needed on the control stick for stall and approach-to-stall. The 737MAX enlarged engine nacelles and their forward positioning on the wings means the pilots need to input more force than the legal limits in certain (and rare) flight conditions. MCAS, when it works properly, automatically prevents the plane from going nose-up too fast hence reducing the amount of control force needed. When MCAS goes wrong it pushes the plane's nose down even if that's a bad idea at the time.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Baldrick's solution was correct all along

    https://forums.theregister.com/forum/all/2020/09/23/boeing_737_max_faa_balpa/#c_4114570

  20. Big_Boomer Silver badge

    COVID MAX

    Given the depressed state of the Air travel industry, I certainly won't be buying shares in Boeing or Airbus any time soon. Even once Covid is "beaten" it will take years to recover, and given the new found realisations that business *CAN* be done by WFH and video calls/confs, I suspect that it will be several years before flights get back to pre-Covid levels. Those aircraft simulators must be busy as **** given the numbers of grounded pilots, or are the airlines also rotating their pilots to give them enough flight hours?

    1. Commswonk Silver badge

      Re: COVID MAX

      Even once Covid is "beaten" it will take years to recover, and given the new found realisations that business *CAN* be done by WFH and video calls/confs, I suspect that it will be several years before flights get back to pre-Covid levels.

      Well... perhaps. A lot depends on individual "reasons for travel". A tremendous number of flights are for personal reasons rather than immediate business purposes and while I might agree that business will have found alternative (and possibly cheaper) ways of working without flying I suspect that the holiday market will bounce back fairly robustly, subject to the caveat that many may find that they don't have the money to fly because of precarious employment circumstances, including not having any employment to pay for a holiday in the first place.

      Having said that the really big unknown is that of actually "beating Covid"; at the moment the probability of vaccines being imminently available is still just a probability and there is a lot of work to do between that probability and the certainty of them (the vaccines) being rolled out to a sufficiently large number of the world's population and being effective for long enough (another unknown I suspect) for Covid to more or less wither away.

      A question of "woe; the end is not nigh".

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Note to self

    Don’t fly until 2023.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    and so the

    E.U. caved and bent over.

    Who would have thought?

    Cheers.. Ishy

    1. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

      Re: and so the

      E.U. caved and bent over.

      Exactly, what are you proposing the EU to do or say to Boeing (so Boeing can get the MAX re-certified for operation across Europe)?

  23. JimC

    A bit too much spin for my taste.

    Yes, with MCAS eliminated a typical crew would be able to fly the plane perfectly safely in typical circumstances. But the control weight requirement, which is universal, not just US, eliminates a very nasty handling vice. What happens is that if the aircraft is pitched up higher than it should be, whether by pilot or bizarre circumstance (wind effects for instance) the control goes light, and the whatever newtons of force you were applying to the controls now push the elevators to the stop. So a solution was definitely needed, or sooner or later some poor crew, most likely aided by meteorology, would have stalled the aircraft, and possibly too low to recover.

  24. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

    Donald Trump’s mooted China sanctions to throw spanner in the works of COMAC C919 passenger jet plans

    The source speculated that the Trump administration may be including Comac on the list as a way of pressuring Beijing into authorising Boeing’s troubled 737 MAX to resume flying in China.

    Chinese airlines will need 8,600 new aeroplanes worth US$1.4 trillion over the next 20 years

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    used Airbuses?

    I heard that due to tariffs, U.S.-based airlines will pay hugely more for a new Airbus plane than for a new comparable Boeing one. However, used Airbuses are not tariff'ed (or at least not as much). "Used" is defined as any aircraft having been flown more than testing and delivery miles. So, as reported, some clever bunnies are having Airbus units delivered to an airport, flown to a second airport, and then buying them as "used" for use by U.S.-based airlines. Don't remember which airline(s) found and are using the loophole, but good on them for finding a workaround to the 737MAX.

  26. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge
    WTF?

    FAA and Boeing manipulated 737 Max tests during RECERTIFICATION

    FAA and Boeing manipulated 737 Max tests during RECERTIFICATION

    Boeing “inappropriately coached” some FAA test pilots to reach a desired outcome during the recertification tests, and some were even performed on simulators that weren’t equipped to re-create the same conditions as the crashes.

    The FAA is also accused of retaliating against whistleblowers, possibly obstructing the Office of the Inspector General’s investigation into the crashes, failing to hold senior managers accountable, and allowing Southwest Airlines to operate dozens of improperly certified planes.

    In one particular FAA test performed on the right simulator, a whistleblower says Boeing officials were present and told the test pilots when to hit the switch that killed MCAS.

  27. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

    Boeing Set to Produce New Mid-size Aircraft (NMA)

    Boeing Set to Produce New Mid-size Aircraft (NMA)

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