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Flawed analysis, failed oversight: How Boeing, FAA certified the suspect 737 MAX flight control system

By The Seattle Times

Federal Aviation Administration managers pushed its engineers to delegate wide responsibility for assessing the safety of the 737 MAX to Boeing itself. But safety engineers familiar with the documeRead full story

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  • I’m a retired engineer who worked for Boeing for 17 years. Investigators will find out who, if anyone in Boeing or the FAA was being pressured to cut corners. Let’s face it; Engineers and their managers are human and mistakes happen. This is the point of having multiple sign-offs on any work. Accidents

    I’m a retired engineer who worked for Boeing for 17 years. Investigators will find out who, if anyone in Boeing or the FAA was being pressured to cut corners. Let’s face it; Engineers and their managers are human and mistakes happen. This is the point of having multiple sign-offs on any work. Accidents rarely happen with just a single point of failure and this article points to several and it took all of them to result in these crashes.

    Can/should we trust Boeing and the FAA in the future? Yes. Will there be future errors that cost lives? I would be surprised if none ever occurred again. Remember, the drive to the airport is far more dangerous than the typical flight.

  • This is the article to read about the Boeing crashes.

    I’m shocked by how bad the software sounds. The anti-stall system (MCAS) can swivel the horizontal tail, software limited to 2.5 degrees. But if the pilots flip a switch to turn off that system, like zeroing a scale, MCAS considers the rotated tail

    This is the article to read about the Boeing crashes.

    I’m shocked by how bad the software sounds. The anti-stall system (MCAS) can swivel the horizontal tail, software limited to 2.5 degrees. But if the pilots flip a switch to turn off that system, like zeroing a scale, MCAS considers the rotated tail position as the new zero and can move it another 2.5 degrees. After just two resets, the tail would be locked in its maximum down position, forcing the nose of the plane down as fast as possible. This actually happened on the Lion Air flight.

    Boeing claimed to the FAA that MCAS could only move the tail 0.6 degrees.

  • Cutting corners to make money. A tale as old as time itself. The aviation industry is so safe because safety is normally held above market forces like putting money above human lives. Strong regulatory bodies are critical in enforcing proper safety attitudes in any industry, and aviation is no exception.

  • This article really needs a chart to sort out all the issues on top of issues. Also shows how critical perfect documentation is as a part of a complex system (among everything else that is wrong here of course).

    Also shows how user experience can be a life or death matter: Boeing’s safety analysis

    This article really needs a chart to sort out all the issues on top of issues. Also shows how critical perfect documentation is as a part of a complex system (among everything else that is wrong here of course).

    Also shows how user experience can be a life or death matter: Boeing’s safety analysis of the system assumed that “pilots would recognize what was happening...” and cut off switches. The FAA safety engineer said “the human factors were not properly evaluated.”

  • Definitely the most detailed story on the design and certification of the 737 Max 8. I've been following this closely and still learned so much.

  • In an age of war against oversight, this is the demonstration of why we must have it and why it should be separated from entities being regulated.

  • Rushing through any processes will risk missing key errors or flaws in systems like it has for Boeing. This is a classic rabbit vs turtle situation. Slow and steady wins the race. If you do it right, the fruits of labor will come with it. If you rush, you might lose sight of your goal.

    Oversight needs

    Rushing through any processes will risk missing key errors or flaws in systems like it has for Boeing. This is a classic rabbit vs turtle situation. Slow and steady wins the race. If you do it right, the fruits of labor will come with it. If you rush, you might lose sight of your goal.

    Oversight needs to recognize the dangers of rushing specific processes. Choosing the right processes that can be sped up results in good management and efficient well developed products.

  • The fight for corporate survival and a higher stock price led Boeing management to push through a flawed redesign of an outdated aircraft without adequate disclosure and training. Hundreds are now dead. Will we trust Boeing’s fix for the problem?

  • Failure at Boeing and FAA

  • I studied aircraft design and I am appalled at how the MCAS design feature was handled. Boeing did not do its due diligence and we are talking about aircraft stability!! I have always admired Boeing! I’m very disappointed and I’m not sure how the public can trust them again!

  • The Seattle Times was figuring this failure out prior to the Ethiopian crash. This article reveals a complex mix of regulatory capture and failure to consider the human element in the cockpit.

  • I worked at Boeing for 38 years. Boeing does not push manufacturing to just get a airplane to delivery just to keep their stock price high. Boeing is very picky about the process. I have worked 777 and 747. 2 of the safest airplanes flying Boeing’s history speaks for it self.

  • A great story capturing the details of how the MCAS system works and the regulatory discussion around it.

  • It sounds like someone's about to get sued. Let's see how this pans out.

  • Whatever the cause of these crashes,any lack of independent review will severely damage the FAA's reputation. If proven this will also make Boeing less competitive because no airline can accept the additional legal risks.

    Warranted or not Boeing and the FAA will have to be scrutinized. In this case

    Whatever the cause of these crashes,any lack of independent review will severely damage the FAA's reputation. If proven this will also make Boeing less competitive because no airline can accept the additional legal risks.

    Warranted or not Boeing and the FAA will have to be scrutinized. In this case they will be guilty until proven innocent in the court of public opinion.

    The military take testing seriously and do it

  • Still waiting for real answers, not speculation...

  • Sounds like Morton Thyacol /Challenger O-ring

  • The implication is a fallacy; there is no reason to believe any different design outcome would have occurred under a different process.

    What would contribute more to understanding would be to know the other prior failures of this system in the field. We know the Lion Air had a failure of the system

    The implication is a fallacy; there is no reason to believe any different design outcome would have occurred under a different process.

    What would contribute more to understanding would be to know the other prior failures of this system in the field. We know the Lion Air had a failure of the system on the prior flight - which the pilots properly responded by isolating the system and continuing to fly the aircraft. This could have occurred no other times, a handful of other times, or a lot of other times. But if it has - and likely it has - the pilots properly isolated the system- as they are trained to do with malfunctioning electric trim systems.

  • If found to be true. FAA bosses and Boeing executives should be charged with multiple counts of murder. Corruption at this level is unforgivable.

  • MUST read about the Boeing crashes

  • Boeing has been sweethearted by the FAA for a long long time. Human lives need to be redeemed. Hopefully congressional subpoenas looking into the relationship will help.

  • I suspected immediately what the problem was after the Indonesian aircraft of Garuda airlines crashed. The successive nose down adjustments suggested it. Also, accidents have happened before when sensors were blocked or misread flight angle and speed. As new information has come forward my original suspicions

    I suspected immediately what the problem was after the Indonesian aircraft of Garuda airlines crashed. The successive nose down adjustments suggested it. Also, accidents have happened before when sensors were blocked or misread flight angle and speed. As new information has come forward my original suspicions have only been reinforced.

  • Too much automation,little regulation,ineffective testing,corporate greed-perfect mix for an #AviationDisaster Shows how important it is to work as 1 product instead of in verticals #faa #boeing

  • There’ll be some serious lawsuits coming out of this one, I’d think.....seems to be extreme negligence on the part of Boeing....

  • Dive Dive Dive...FAA is for nuclear submarines or jumbo Jets ? Thanks for technical analysis of MCAS.

  • Trevor Sumner, CEO of Perch Experience has tweeted must reading material on the crashes. Lion Air appears to have had unreported/unresolved maintenance issues and, as one analyst reported on TV, the plane should never have left the ground. Boeing has an option, an extra AoA vane and disagree light that

    Trevor Sumner, CEO of Perch Experience has tweeted must reading material on the crashes. Lion Air appears to have had unreported/unresolved maintenance issues and, as one analyst reported on TV, the plane should never have left the ground. Boeing has an option, an extra AoA vane and disagree light that would have alerted pilots to the issue. Neither airplane that crashed had this option. Again, a TV commentator noted that the Ethiopia pilots would never have been allowed to fly together on a US carrier.

    Interesting that similarities are being used to raise issues, what is interesting to me is that solutions (hardware options, maintence issues, pilot trading issues) existed and are conveniently being ignored by Europe.

  • Reasons why code review shouldn't be done by your own squad.

  • I see a slew of law suits.

  • This shows how we would be better off without the FAA certifying. The company should certify and then be liable, both civilly and criminally as appropriate. In the crashes reported there would be billions of civil claims and hundreds of criminal charges against the company and people involved. The law

    This shows how we would be better off without the FAA certifying. The company should certify and then be liable, both civilly and criminally as appropriate. In the crashes reported there would be billions of civil claims and hundreds of criminal charges against the company and people involved. The law would have no time limits.

  • Will lessons be learnt ?

  • Wow.

  • This is outright worse than VW's emissions scandal, considering it directly affects people's lives.

  • Interesting to see how something like this could happen

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