A Boeing Spokesperson said:
Safety is and always has been Boeing's top priority.
This is a lie.
Software updates to Boeing's Jumbo Jet, Dreamliner, and 777 introduced flaws that degraded flight safety and caused the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to publish warnings to aviators. Recent updates to the Boeing 777 and 787 autothrottle have changed how the safety-critical systems operated, prompting a warning from …
My initial thought was a harsher "Bullshit" for that one, but yeah - agree.
Saying "Safety is our priority" means nothing without actions to back it up.
Until Boeing stop cutting corners to maximise profit and start testing their shit properly, these will remain completely empty and baseless words...
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You have conflated the subject of this article and expose with an event in Dubai of the 777 Emirates’ crew who completely messed up their rejected landing procedures in response to windshear on very short final, and loused up their go-around, resulting in a crash, total destruction of the airplane, but mercifully no loss of life, in large part because Boeing builds strong and robust aircraft.
As a 777 instructor with 25 years of experience, I have cited this very incident to my customers whilst training them, showing how a less than thorough understanding of aircraft Systems as published by the manufacturer, the documentation clearly spelling out such, the procedures required to execute such manouveres in the AFM, all require proper training, crew resource management and at the end of the day, still flying the airplane! In every aspect, the Emirates crew here failed as detailed in numerous post accident official reports. Whilst I agree that the vagaries of the design elements contributed to this accident, and that Boeing has considered software design changes to mitigate, it still remains the responsibility of the Flight crew and training managers to reinforce prevailing approved standard operating procedures.
What I find troubling is the less than robust testing of the latest software revision from Boeing in the core of this expose. In light of the MAX tragedies, it is unfathomable that there remain such poor quality controls, and worse, Senior management’s continuing failures to provide adequate safeguards to prevent or stave off such lax end products to market.
I was always a strong supporter of the 777 program-me, and I still firmly believe that it was the best designed and built jet to come from Boeing. This latest revelation saddens one to the plight of many whose reputations are being eroded by the actions of a few who have failed themselves, their fellow colleagues, and eroded the trust of their customers without whom their very existence is placed in jeopardy without due cause.
" In light of the MAX tragedies, it is unfathomable that there remain such poor quality controls,"
I think that was the bit that surprised me most. You'd think that after all that has gone before they'd be a little bit tighter on their software design and testing but it seems they've not learned enough yet.
The 737MAX flaws revealed that the system Boeing had in place for managing software was inadequate. By definition any software produced under that regime has to be questioned. The fact that these software failings seem to have been found in service rather than in bench test is pretty worrying.
The 777 classic is indeed a sturdy beast, as is any airframe designed and built at the same time or later, because there are standards for that kind of thing. Boeing built it that strong because they were obliged to build it that strong.
They're quite content to also build 737s which, being based on a 1960s design standard, has a tendency to come to pieces in crashes. Also these are exhibiting signs (eg pickle forks and other structural defects) of being less than adequate for today's high cycle usage. They're allowed to do this, and indeed were pressing to remain allowed to do so whilst also designing the 777 classic, because money talks.
So yes, you might have fond memories of the 777 classic but remember it was built by people who even back then, pre merger with MacDonald Douglas, actively refused to apply the same design standards to other aircraft they were building at the same time. That was the mindset of the people building the 777 classic.
It's taken 25 years for those chickens to come home to roost, but Boeing's market share decline is the inevitable consequence. This latest gremlin is simply another nail in the coffin of a company that arguably hasn't been great since the 1950s
showing how a less than thorough understanding of aircraft Systems as published by the manufacturer, the documentation clearly spelling out such, the procedures required to execute such manouveres in the AFM, all require proper training, crew resource management and at the end of the day, still flying the airplane!
I would recommend you find a way to construct easier paragraphs or split them up and never write flight manuals. In the time it took me to parse this (which needed two cups of coffee to boot), a plane would have been in trouble..
That said, I cannot thank you enough for the detailed and factual background to that incident to set the record straight. It is a fact, Boeing has done itself no favours with the MAX saga, and it also delivered a massive blow to the credibility of the FAA in the process. Both are going to have to work very hard to regain trust, and it's going to take a long time. On the plus side, clearly there WAS something to correct - I just hope that next time the problems are picked up before it loses lives.
>These are words I've been told to say. Are they supposed to mean something?
Yes it means the person saying it isn't an engineer and doesn't understand engineering
An engineer would never say that, because then you would build aeroplanes out of rock with no wings or engines. Making them as safe as possible while still economic to operate is the top priority.
Making them as safe as possible while still economic to operate is the top priority.
That's one of those contradictions that needs to be resolved in any aircraft design. If it were easy, anyone could do it. There are, of course, many other "design contradictions", like structural strength vs weight, fuel capacity vs range, seating comfort vs packing enough people in like sardines to make it profitable to fly at all, and so on.
(this concept of resolving contradictions is part of 'Triz', which was developed by a soviet think tank back during the cold war, and is still championed by at least one Russian engineering company I used to work with back in the day)
who said boeings were economical to operate
they just arent for a given generational/type combination, the boeing is probably less economical
McDD execs have one proiority and thats the almighty dollar.
they will show lip service to anythign as long as it increases the margin they can make on each bird the manage to flog
Yeah, subtle difference though......
If you throw a cat forward, and cut the 'power'/force that threw it forward, then despite the lack of 'power' the cat still safely lands on it's feet.....
Maybe we should strap moggies to the underside of the 737 Max.....
I agree entirely,
but what companies state and reality appear to be an ever widening chasm these days, solely aimed to protect shareholder interests. Another often used lie is:
"It affected just a small number of our customers" = half of Europe
Icon, because its happened too many times already.
Yet more software bugs in safety critical systems. One really does have to wonder at the imbeciles that create this, test it & then release. There is so much software released now with major flaws and it barely causes a raised eyebrow.
I am not blaming Agile directly but it has a lot of input in the shite that is spewed out now. That and far too many people in the chain of creation, evaluation and approval just don't get the plot. Software is seen as easy to fix and is why so much of the expensive quality control around hardware systems has gone.
It is a cultural issue driven by the numbers of people in the system now who have never ever had to go and remake an entire part on workshop machines because the cocked up.
"It is a cultural issue driven by the numbers of people in the system now who have never ever had to go and remake an entire part on workshop machines because the cocked up."
Around four, five decades ago one of my friends studied mechanical engineering at a UK university. The course included basic metalworking classes and one of the exercises was to make a steel die (as in 'dice'). They were given a 50 mm cube and had to cut and file it down to 25 mm and then drill the dimples in each face. The size reduction took a lot of time and was checked with a go/nogo gauge. Finally they checked if the dimples on opposing faces added up to 7 - if not they were given a fresh 50 mm lump of steel and learned the hard way to get things right first time.
"one of the exercises was to make a steel die (as in 'dice')."
been there done that, then had to make a cube on a milling machine, then another cube on the lathe.
However the OP is right, theres a world of difference between software created to run your glitzy website, and the software created to run a criticial application.
In one case , you website goes down and cant process orders/bank details, in the other, people die as a result.
Even the likes of me have to be careful programming robots/lathes, one false data entry and I could be looking at several hundred pounds of metal being rammed into another large chuck of metal that spinning at 2500rpm... which is extremely loud.. and you go straight to brown alert without any intermediate stages....
But the difference is lost on beancounters who only see the cost of the software and look at ways to get it done cheaper.
And always remember the buyers creed. you can have 2 of the 3 following things , cost, delivery, quality
"Finally they checked if the dimples on opposing faces added up to 7 - if not they were given a fresh 50 mm lump of steel and learned the hard way to get things right first time."
As it happens, that's not enough to check that you correctly produced a die. There are two possible dice that satisfy this criterion. Find the vertex surrounded by 1, 2 and 3. If they ascend in an anti-clockwise direction, the die is Western, if it's clockwise it is a Chinese die.
Yet more software bugs in safety critical systems.
It's worse than that. It's new bugs in safety critical software that weren't there in previous versions.
It's all very well pilots saying that they can deal with this kind of thing, and in isolation I'm sure that's true. However, it is another hole in the cheese, and all pilots know that accidents occur when they all line up. It's simply not acceptable that new holes have been introduced through carelessness.
The pilot comments rely on the pilot making the correct and immediate response to an unexpected response of the avionics. All very fine until the pilot doesn't.
The only way to get manglement to get their finger out and actually treat safety as a priority would be to ground the fleet forthwith every time one of these comes to light with criminal prosecutions of anyone trying to prevent them coming to light. The resulting drop in share price would lead to the shareholders ensuring change - and maybe a change in management, not just behaviour.
Ironically for free-market capitalist American types - if there really was a genuine market for jets they would be safer AND there would be no need for an FAA
If a Boeing crashed and they couldn't convince the customers that they had fixed the problem then the customers would all switch to one of the 100s of other competitors and Boeing would go bust.
No, TLDR; if there were an unsubsidised free market, planes would still be made of wood and glue.
The development costs of a modern plane exceed what any unsubsidised company can afford, whether incentivised by competition or not. It’s not even that a (single) totally new body could cost $150bn+ to develop. It’s *where would you find the trained peasants to do the work?*. It’s trivial to see that the world only needs a couple of successful such designs every thirty or forty years. Well, as an employee, hands up if you fancy spending your own money to train as an aerospace engineer for ten years, for a single project that will last maybe ten years at only 50% more pay than any other engineer, after which there won’t be any more work for you for thirty years? Nobody would do that. Governments have to invent endless gravy trains of military projects like F15s, JSFs, to give Boeing any reason to maintain a skilled workforce. There just isn’t any other way to make it happen.
The IT angle is that the semiconductor fab industry is exactly the same. It *doesnt* make single-company economic sense to design and build a new fab at $10bn leading-edge. And even if it did, the next node or so it becomes irrelevant, because even if it were profitable on a spreadsheet, nobody has the capital to invest $50bn in one lump to get back $70bn in a couple years time. You can’t invest it if you don’t have it. Which is why, of course, TSMC and UMC are in Taiwan, which is state-run capitalism, and Samsung is in Korea which is chaebol. *For the Taiwanese state* it makes them world-leading for TSMC and UMC to exist. The free-market Democratic alternative has been fully tested, and ironically has been unable to compete in the global free market.
Austrian economists are simply wrong, as conclusively proved by global testing of their theories for decades Free markets are *ultimately less efficient at producing complex high-tech goods* than state capitalism. I’m rather unhappy that this is the case, but the evidence is overwhelming. I very much continue to support democracy as the way to run things, because it is the best thing for us as humans. But let’s be honest and admit that it is less efficient, and that we are prepared to pay for our freedoms, rather than prance about insisting that there is no trade off. It just looks childish.
Not sure why you mention democracy, nothing about state capitalism or free market capitalism requires a democracy. Democracy doesn't imply freedoms (52-48 loss of freedom of movement *cough*) , democracy doesn't imply free market capitalism unless the majority want it. Nothing about democracy excludes the means of production being owned by the workers.
I 100% agree with you.
The problem is that a lot of people think that three different things are intrinsically linked: democracy, free markets, capitalism, whereas they are completely orthogonal. There are plenty of states with one without the others.
The currently fashionable response to a challenge to unfettered libertarian free markets is to claim that it is a challenge to democracy, which it isn’t. And they even sneak that in by claiming it’s against freedom. Most authoritarian governments are democracies. Just we don’t like what their people voted for. Monarchs don’t really care what you do, as long as you pay your taxes and don’t slag them off.
This appears to be the flight management computer (FMC) and although auto-throttle has been around a long time, the flight control computers are in the 777 and 787 (although different) but the 747 is not a fly by wire aircraft and therefore does not require them.
It would not surprise me if this is a common platform across the models and it is highly likely to be made by a different company.
This does not excuse Boeing who are supposed to run these in the rigs and exercise them against all possible issues (including the specific scenario addressed) and if there are issues go back to the supplier and tell them about it.
Note that Boeing would have sent whatever company it is a requirement specification (which used to be great from them but not now, it appears) for whatever upgrades they were suggesting.
It is not unusual for features to be added to avionics over the life of the aircraft (and they are often subject to redesign due to obsolescence) but I find it interesting (and appalling at the same time) that such a pretty standard issue clearly did not get thoroughly tested.
With this little beauty crawling out of the woodwork I wonder what other flaws, bugs and other defects are incorporated in Boeings products. I read with some amazement about FOD being found in fuel tanks due to sloppy QA so it's not just the software that is suspect but the whole attitude and approach to manufacturing.
I sincerely hope that airlines will inform potential customers of the aircraft they will be flying on. To be honest I don't want to have to take a chance on a shonky bit of Boeing equipment failing. That's too much like Russian Roulette for my liking.
I already had doubts about how they seem to be attempting to bodge the MCAS.
Now several FMC issues on multiple aircraft. What else is terribly broken, but we just don't know yet?
As for pilots saying "Nah, not an issue". Does that apply to every pilot? Especially when taken by surprise. I know they are very well trained, but ultimately human and take-off and landing are the most unforgiving parts of the flight.
Just reinforces "If it's Boeing, I'm not going".
I am a private pilot that hasn't flown for about 30 years. Almost all my time is in a tandem 2-seat prop plane with no electronics and only the basic instruments needed for safe flying in good weather. However, I knew how that plane would react, even in adverse conditions. There was no "safety" features to change how the plane would fly when conditions changed. The last thing any pilot needs is for a flight computer to hand him what is effectively a new model aircraft by changing throttle settings; aileron, rudder, or elevator performance; automatically putting on reverse thrust when a go-around is needed, pulling back the throttles when more thrust is needed. The pilot should be in command, not some pimple-faced engineer or software designer who doesn't know his ass from a bagle. Too many major aircraft accidents and near accidents have occurred in the past when aircraft manufacturers put in these little "safety" features in their flight control systems and don't properly document the "features" or put the same changes into simulators. During an emergency situation is not the time to tell the pilot he is now flying a different aircraft.
"But it's such a little change"
"Yes, but its effects on software of this complexity are unpredictable. We have to retest everything"
"But that'd take as much time, money and labour as the original certification tests"
"Yep, that's regression testing for you"
"We can't afford that"
"You can't afford not to"
"Oh, yeah? Just watch me ... ... ... Oh, shit!"
Kind of okay to duck out in a social networking service, less so in a safety-critical flight system or three.
Makes you wonder how far they really took regressions with the Max MCAS, doesn't it? [Terrified smiley]
Unless a lot of people stop flying, that's not going to happen, since their duopoly with Airbus means there is no 3rd party to fulfill most of those orders if they go bankrupt. They'll be saved somehow, a large chunk of our world economy is riding on the products of those two companies.
Oh really Mr O'Leary!
Spending $22bn on dubious aircraft.
How about coughing up some small change to refund me for my cancelled flight due to COVID.
I paid the £329 out of my small pension in September. Get your f****ng priories right at a time when we are struggling to make ends meet.
All I get is "We are processing your request as quickly as possible" - funny how you took my payment in seconds.
You are a disgusting excuse for a CEO.
It's not clear from the article.
I presume it wasn't Boeing, can't see them testing code they've already released.
I would have thought that the FAA would have objected to updates with known bugs...
So was the bug only found when a pilot noticed it and thought "Auto thrust gone to idle? I'd better go manual!"?
Airplanes are being treated like cell phones, my Pixel-3 gets about a dozen software updates every couple of days ... I expect that the airplane software is being written the same way, hopefully the plane will not update and reboot while attempting to land.
These days software is written with the idea that it can be updated ... so there's no need to worry about getting it right in the first place. And it's not just software, read about the Grenfell cladding tests - that was caused by the same issues. 50 years ago you had to PROVE that the building would not be inflammable, these days you just have to claim that you think it's safe.
Boeing 'inappropriately coached' pilots in 737 MAX testing: U.S. Senate report (via Reuters and elsewhere)
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-boeing-737-max-idUSKBN28S314 (18 Dec 2020)
"Boeing officials “inappropriately coached” test pilots during recertification efforts after two fatal 737 MAX crashes killed 346 people, according to a lengthy congressional report released on Friday." ...
"The committee concluded Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Boeing officials “had established a pre-determined outcome to reaffirm a long-held human factor assumption related to pilot reaction time ... It appears, in this instance, FAA and Boeing were attempting to cover up important information that may have contributed to the 737 MAX tragedies.”
The report citing a whistleblower who alleged Boeing officials encouraged test pilots to “remember, get right on that pickle switch” prior to the exercise that resulted in pilot reaction in approximately four seconds, while another pilot in a separate test reacted in approximately 16 seconds.
The account was corroborated during an FAA staff interview, the committee added.
Numerous reports have found Boeing failed to adequately consider how pilots respond to cockpit emergencies in its development of the 737 MAX."
Does burying bad news at Christmas work these days?
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