Neoliberal Deregulation

News Neoliberalism Recommended Links Financilization of economy as the mechanism of redistributing the wealth up Boeing 737 MAX fiasco Classification of Corporate Psychopaths Neoclassical Pseudo Theories and Crooked and Bought Economists  
Corporatist Corruption: Systemic Fraud under Clinton-Bush-Obama Regime Amorality and criminality of neoliberal elite Audacious Oligarchy and "Democracy for Winners" Financial Sector Induced Systemic Instability of Economy In Goldman Sachs we trust: classic example of regulatory capture by financial system hackers The Deep State Resurgence of neo-fascism as reaction on crisis of neoliberalism
The Great Transformation Neoliberalism as secular religion, "idolatry of money" The Iron Law of Oligarchy Ayn Rand and her Objectivism Cult Over-consumption of Luxury Goods as Market Failure Globalization of Financial Flows Globalization of Corporatism
Greenspan as the Chairman of Financial Politburo Friedman --founder of Chicago school of deification of market Pope Francis on danger of neoliberalism Techno-fundamentalism Neoliberalism Bookshelf Greenspan humor Etc

If a single root cause has predominated in explanations of the current global financial crisis, it is ‘deregulation’.

Lack of state oversight of financial markets and multinationals is widely cited. In 2008 it permitted the over-leveraging of financial institutions, based on weakly securitized debt, that has brought 2008 financial crisis and subsequnt "secular stagnation" period which last till this day.

This diagnosis of the cause of the crisis also steers towards a particular solution: if deregulation allowed markets to get out of control, then we must look to re-regulation as the way out. The subprime crisis was the result of at least two decades of laissez-faire policies, resulting in excessive financial growth and instability

Rampant greed is as harmful in aviation industry as in financial industry. 

For many authors, this focus on ‘deregulation’ in explaining the current crisis is closely the shifting boundaries between state and market under meolineralism, when that state became the promoter of markets instead of regulator. From this perspective, we may now be witnessing the start of a movement to re-regulated the private industry and especial finafial industry and multinationals. 

Another problems is the offshoring, outsourcing and deregulation are increasing commodification which generates such suffering and displacement of the population.

The era’s hegemonic self-representation of finafial capital and multinationsla -- the key tenets of neoliberal ideology is probably close to its end. The retreat of public institutions from social and economic life should be stopped, unless US elite awnat a social explostion that can pipe it out like in zarist Russia.

Trump neoliberal practices is actually a betreal of electorate, his Tweets notwithstatding and I dount that  he will be  re-elected.

Of course it has become commonplace to assert that under neoliberalism finanfial oligfarchy controls the state and that's why financial deregulations was allowed to proceed int he first place.  Neoliberalism and financial deregulation are just two sides of the  same medal. 

Deregulation commitment removes legal barriers to dangerious and recless bhaviour of banks and multinationals. The rampant abuse strated immeduatly after the Clinton Administration’s repeal of the Glass–Steagall Act.

Boeing fiasco is just another manifestation of the danger of neoliberal deregulation. There is nothing new in it by itself, but  due to human lives involved probably there will be  some superficial measures to reign on the rampant abuse of legal system and safety regulations by multinationals


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Old News ;-)

[May 06, 2020] USAF gives Boeing $882m to help cash flow and fix KC-46 boom camera

May 06, 2020 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

et Al April 10, 2020 at 9:57 am

FlightGlobal.com: USAF gives Boeing $882m to help cash flow and fix KC-46 boom camera
https://www.flightglobal.com/fixed-wing/usaf-gives-boeing-882m-to-help-cash-flow-and-fix-kc-46-boom-camera/137713.article

As fallout from the coronavirus pandemic further pinches Boeing's cash flow – financials already hurt by the grounding of the 737 Max – the US Air Force (USAF) has decided to release $882 million in payments withheld from the company in order to help fix a troublesome problem with the
####

Over only a measly $1 billion?

I should try this. Give me money or I'll go bankrupt and you'll get nothing that works properly! What a great 'business model'.

Did Boing hold its breath until it went red?

[Mar 17, 2020] Boeing, Which Repurchased Over $100BN In Stock, Is Downgraded To BBB, Seeks Short-Term Bailout

Notable quotes:
"... "cash flows for the next two years are going to be much weaker than we had expected, due to the 737 MAX grounding, resulting in worse credit ratios than we had forecast." ..."
Mar 17, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Just hours after S&P took the machete to Exxon's long standing AA+ credit rating , moments ago the rating agency went after the company which until just a few weeks ago seems invincible, and whose stock price has crashed from $350 to $130 in a little over a month after it announced it was fully drawing down its revolver: Boeing.

S&P cut Boeing's credit rating by two notches late on Monday, to BBB from A- , as its "cash flows for the next two years are going to be much weaker than we had expected, due to the 737 MAX grounding, resulting in worse credit ratios than we had forecast." In addition, S&P notes, "the significant reduction in global air travel due to the coronavirus will likely result in an increase in aircraft order deferrals, further pressuring cash flows."

And worst of all, Boeing will likely be downgraded again, as S&P kept it on Credit Watch negative, meaning it may be just a matter of time before Boeing is downgraded to junk, making it the world's most iconic fallen angel.

[Feb 24, 2020] Neoliberalism has conned us into fighting climate change as individuals by Martin Lukacs

Highly recommended!
This is a dirty trick to avoid regulation of buiness, nothing more nothing less.
Notable quotes:
"... Stop obsessing with how personally green you live – and start collectively taking on corporate power ..."
"... The freedom of these corporations to pollute – and the fixation on a feeble lifestyle response – is no accident. It is the result of an ideological war, waged over the last 40 years, against the possibility of collective action. Devastatingly successful, it is not too late to reverse it. ..."
"... Its trademark policies of privatization, deregulation, tax cuts and free trade deals: these have liberated corporations to accumulate enormous profits and treat the atmosphere like a sewage dump, and hamstrung our ability, through the instrument of the state, to plan for our collective welfare. ..."
"... Neoliberalism has not merely ensured this agenda is politically unrealistic: it has also tried to make it culturally unthinkable. Its celebration of competitive self-interest and hyper-individualism, its stigmatization of compassion and solidarity, has frayed our collective bonds . It has spread, like an insidious anti-social toxin, what Margaret Thatcher preached: "there is no such thing as society." ..."
Jul 17, 2017 | www.theguardian.com

Stop obsessing with how personally green you live – and start collectively taking on corporate power

Would you advise someone to flap towels in a burning house? To bring a flyswatter to a gunfight? Yet the counsel we hear on climate change could scarcely be more out of sync with the nature of the crisis.

The email in my inbox last week offered thirty suggestions to green my office space: use reusable pens, redecorate with light colours, stop using the elevator.

Back at home, done huffing stairs, I could get on with other options: change my lightbulbs, buy local veggies, purchase eco-appliances, put a solar panel on my roof.

And a study released on Thursday claimed it had figured out the single best way to fight climate change: I could swear off ever having a child.

These pervasive exhortations to individual action -- in corporate ads, school textbooks, and the campaigns of mainstream environmental groups, especially in the west -- seem as natural as the air we breathe. But we could hardly be worse-served.

While we busy ourselves greening our personal lives, fossil fuel corporations are rendering these efforts irrelevant. The breakdown of carbon emissions since 1988? A hundred companies alone are responsible for an astonishing 71% . You tinker with those pens or that panel; they go on torching the planet.

The freedom of these corporations to pollute – and the fixation on a feeble lifestyle response – is no accident. It is the result of an ideological war, waged over the last 40 years, against the possibility of collective action. Devastatingly successful, it is not too late to reverse it.

The political project of neoliberalism , brought to ascendence by Thatcher and Reagan, has pursued two principal objectives. The first has been to dismantle any barriers to the exercise of unaccountable private power. The second had been to erect them to the exercise of any democratic public will.

Its trademark policies of privatization, deregulation, tax cuts and free trade deals: these have liberated corporations to accumulate enormous profits and treat the atmosphere like a sewage dump, and hamstrung our ability, through the instrument of the state, to plan for our collective welfare.

Anything resembling a collective check on corporate power has become a target of the elite: lobbying and corporate donations, hollowing out democracies, have obstructed green policies and kept fossil fuel subsidies flowing; and the rights of associations like unions, the most effective means for workers to wield power together, have been undercut whenever possible.

At the very moment when climate change demands an unprecedented collective public response, neoliberal ideology stands in the way. Which is why, if we want to bring down emissions fast, we will need to overcome all of its free-market mantras: take railways and utilities and energy grids back into public control; regulate corporations to phase out fossil fuels; and raise taxes to pay for massive investment in climate-ready infrastructure and renewable energy -- so that solar panels can go on everyone's rooftop, not just on those who can afford it.

Neoliberalism has not merely ensured this agenda is politically unrealistic: it has also tried to make it culturally unthinkable. Its celebration of competitive self-interest and hyper-individualism, its stigmatization of compassion and solidarity, has frayed our collective bonds . It has spread, like an insidious anti-social toxin, what Margaret Thatcher preached: "there is no such thing as society."

Studies show that people who have grown up under this era have indeed become more individualistic and consumerist . Steeped in a culture telling us to think of ourselves as consumers instead of citizens, as self-reliant instead of interdependent, is it any wonder we deal with a systemic issue by turning in droves to ineffectual, individual efforts? We are all Thatcher's children.

Even before the advent of neoliberalism, the capitalist economy had thrived on people believing that being afflicted by the structural problems of an exploitative system – poverty, joblessness, poor health, lack of fulfillment – was in fact a personal deficiency.

Neoliberalism has taken this internalized self-blame and turbocharged it. It tells you that you should not merely feel guilt and shame if you can't secure a good job, are deep in debt, and are too stressed or overworked for time with friends. You are now also responsible for bearing the burden of potential ecological collapse.

Of course we need people to consume less and innovate low-carbon alternatives – build sustainable farms, invent battery storages, spread zero-waste methods. But individual choices will most count when the economic system can provide viable, environmental options for everyone -- not just an affluent or intrepid few.

If affordable mass transit isn't available, people will commute with cars. If local organic food is too expensive, they won't opt out of fossil fuel-intensive super-market chains. If cheap mass produced goods flow endlessly, they will buy and buy and buy. This is the con-job of neoliberalism: to persuade us to address climate change through our pocket-books, rather than through power and politics.

Eco-consumerism may expiate your guilt. But it's only mass movements that have the power to alter the trajectory of the climate crisis. This requires of us first a resolute mental break from the spell cast by neoliberalism: to stop thinking like individuals.

The good news is that the impulse of humans to come together is inextinguishable – and the collective imagination is already making a political come-back. The climate justice movement is blocking pipelines, forcing the divestment of trillions of dollars, and winning support for 100% clean energy economies in cities and states across the world. New ties are being drawn to Black Lives Matter, immigrant and Indigenous rights, and fights for better wages. On the heels of such movements, political parties seem finally ready to defy neoliberal dogma.

None more so than Jeremy Corbyn, whose Labour Manifesto spelled out a redistributive project to address climate change: by publicly retooling the economy, and insisting that corporate oligarchs no longer run amok. The notion that the rich should pay their fair share to fund this transformation was considered laughable by the political and media class. Millions disagreed. Society, long said to be departed, is now back with a vengeance.

So grow some carrots and jump on a bike: it will make you happier and healthier. But it is time to stop obsessing with how personally green we live – and start collectively taking on corporate power.

[Feb 16, 2020] Ship the Airplane The Cultural, Organizational and Technical Reasons Why Boeing Cannot Recover

Feb 16, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Ship the Airplane: The Cultural, Organizational and Technical Reasons Why Boeing Cannot Recover Posted on February 14, 2020 by Jerri-Lynn Scofield Jerri-Lynn here. Grab a cup of coffee and make time to read this devastating analysis of what went wrong at Boeing..

By Gregory Tavis, a writer, a software executive, a pilot, and an aircraft owner who has logged more than 2,000 hours of flying time, ranging from gliders to a Boeing 757 (as a full-motion simulator).

[NB: This is a companion to How the Boeing 737 Max Disaster looks to a Software Developer which appeared in IEEE Spectrum in the spring of 2019]

In 2019, two brand-new Boeing 737 MAX aircraft crashed within half a year of one another, killing all aboard both aircraft. Because of the very few numbers of flights of the new model, those two crashes gave the 737 MAX a fatal crash rate of 3.08 fatal crashes per million flights.

To put that number in perspective, the rest of the 737 family has a rate of 0.23 and the 737's main competitor, the A320 family, has a rate of 0.08. The A320neo, the latest version of the A320 and the airplane against which the 737 MAX was designed to compete, has a rate of 0.0 (z (zero). (airsafe.com)

Both crashes were traced to a software system unique to the airplane, called the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS. The 737 MAX used new and larger engines placed further forward of the wing (for ground clearance). And those engines created an aerodynamic instability that MCAS was intended to correct.

Soon after the crashes Boeing revealed that MCAS relied on something called an "angle of attack" (AOA) sensor to tell the software if that instability needed to be corrected. Angle of attack sensors are relatively unreliable devices on the outside of the airplane.

Because of this unreliability, it is common to mount several AOA sensors on the aircraft. For example: the A320neo has three. While the 737 MAX has two AOA sensors, the MCAS software used only one of them at a time. Subsequently, the MCAS software was triggered by bad data from the single AOA sensor.

This then rendered the aircraft uncontrollable with the loss of 346 lives.

The Fix Is In

Boeing proposed a number of fixes to the problem. The most important: having MCAS use both of the 737 MAX's sensors, instead of just one. If the two sensors disagreed, MCAS would not trigger.

Using two sensors, instead of just one, is such an obvious improvement that it is difficult to understand why they did not just do so in the first place. Nevertheless, Boeing pledged to change the software, to use both, just over half a year ago.

It still has yet to demonstrate a viable fix.

Boeing's inability to demonstrate a fix for its troubled MCAS system is a demonstration of just how deep the problem is. It illustrates how desperate Boeing is to keep alive a software solution to the aircraft's instability issues.

Most chillingly, it illustrates just how inadequate such a solution is to the issue.

Most sadly, it is a symbol of the collapse of institutions in the United States. We were once considered the world's gold standard in everything from education to manufacturing to effective and productive public-sector regulation. That is all going down the drain, flushed by a belief in things that just are not true.

Trying to Make Sense of It

Since I first learned of the nature of MCAS and its deficiencies, I've struggled to come up with a theory of why? How could something as manifestly deadly, and incompetent, as MCAS ever see the light of day within a company like Boeing?

MCAS is dumb as a bag of hammers, as incomplete as Beethoven's 10 th symphony, and as deadly as an abattoir. Its risk to the company was total. How, then, did it ever see the light of day?

I believe the answer lies in the nature of leadership of the Boeing organization. And the effect on the company's culture that leadership has.

Charles Pezeshki, has a theory of empathy in the organization. When I use the term "empathy" in this article, it is Pezeshki's term and not the more general vernacular understanding. Specifically, my understanding of empathy in this context is a sense of trust between all individuals in an organization that arises from transparency. That transparency, in turn, enables an understanding of both shared success as well as shared risk.

What that means to an organization like Boeing is:

Empathy rules relationships Safety is the foundation of empathy Empathy catalyzes synergy Empathy handles complexity well Empathy governs tool (and process) selection Different empathy levels are tied to different values

And what it means within an organization is that if there is an erosion of empathy, costs go up .

Empathy is important not only within an organization but also between organizations. When empathy is destroyed between organizations, such as has happened between Boeing and its subcontractors and suppliers, there is a quantifiable cost that can be attributed. While this cost is similar in concept to the notion of corporate goodwill, it is not the same.

Another calculus provides us with a way to understand that cost. Let's say a subcontractor, such as Spirit Aerosystems, supplies Boeing with finished 737 fuselages at an agreed-upon price of $10 million dollars per fuselage. But that is the price that Boeing pays only if there is total empathy, total trust, between the two companies.

If the empathy relationship has eroded, however, Boeing's actual price goes up. If Spirit does not trust that Boeing will not break contracts between them in the future, Spirit will start making contingency plans – such as making fuselages for Boeing's competitor, Airbus.

Like a suspicious spouse, they will begin to shift resources away from Boeing. They'll start to "look around" for another, more faithful, partner. They flirt with Airbus and begin to retool their factories internally in the hopes of attracting that new partner. Their machinery will start to make each 737 fuselage a little less well for Boeing as the tools become less precise for Boeing and more precise for Airbus.

Their workers, likewise, will shift their future attention from the company that they perceive as yesterday's news and towards the company with which they hope to form a better relationship. And that will affect the quality of the work that Spirit does for Boeing (down) and Airbus (up).

That also costs money . And that cost is reflected in what Boeing will need to do to re-work defective fuselages from Spirit and in its future negotiations with Spirit.

Redundancy

In aviation, redundancy is everything. One reason is to guard against failure, such as the second engine on a twin-engine airplane. If one fails, the other is there to bring the plane down to an uneventful landing.

Less obvious than outright failure is the utility of redundancy in conflict resolution. A favorite expression of mine is: "A person with one watch always knows what time it is. A person with two watches is never sure." Meaning if there's only one source of truth, the truth is known. If there are two sources of truth and they disagree about that truth there is only uncertainty and chaos.

The straightforward solution to that is triple or more redundancy. With three watches it is easy to vote the wrong watch out. With five, even more so. This engineering principle derives from larger social truths and is embedded in institutions from jury pools to straw polls.

Physiologically, human beings cannot tell which way is up and which way is down unless they can see the horizon. The human inner ear, our first source of such information, cannot differentiate gravity from acceleration. The ear fails in its duty whenever the human to which it is attached is inside a moving vehicle, such as an airplane.

Then only reliable indication of where up and down reside is the horizon. Pilots flying planes can easily keep the plane level so long as they can see the ground outside. Once they cannot, such as when the plane is in a cloud, they must resort to using technology to "keep the greasy side down" (the greasy side being the underside of any airplane).

That technology is known as an "artificial horizon." In the early days, pilots synthesized the information from multiple instruments into a mental artificial horizon. Later a device was developed that presented the artificial horizon in a single instrument, greatly reducing a pilot's mental workload.

But that device, as is everything in an airplane, was prone to failure. Pilots were taught to continue to use other instruments to cross-check the validity of the artificial horizon. Or, if the pocketbook allowed, to install multiple artificial horizons in the aircraft.

What is important is that the artificial horizon information was so critical to safety that there was never a single point of reference nor even two. There were always multiples so that there was always sufficient information for the pilot to discern the truth from multiple sources -- some of which could be lying.

Information Takers and Information Givers

The machinery in an aircraft can be roughly divided into two classes: Information takers and information givers. The first class is that machinery that manages the aircraft's energy, such as the engines or the control surfaces.

They are the aircraft's machine working class.

The second class of machinery are the information givers. The information givers are responsible for reporting everything from the benign (are the bathrooms in use?) to the critical (what is our altitude? where is the horizon?).

They are the aircraft's machine eyes and ears.

Redundancy Done Right (for Its Time)

All of the ideas and technology embodied in the Boeing 737 were laid down in the 1960s. This ran from what kind of engines, to pressurization, to the approach to the needs of redundancy.

And the redundancy approach was simple: two of everything.

Laying that redundancy out in the cockpit became straight-forward. One set of information-givers, such as airspeed, altitude, horizon on the pilot's side.

And another set of identical information-givers on the co-pilot's side. That way any failure on one side could be resolved by the pilots, together, agreeing that the other side was the side to watch.

Origin of Consciousness in the Bicameral Mind

Visualize, if you will, the cockpit of a Boeing 737 as a human brain. There is a left (pilot) side, full of instrumentation (information givers, sensors such as airspeed and angle of attack), a couple pilots and an autopilot.

And there is a right (co-pilot) side, with the exact same things. In the picture above items encircled by same-colored ovals are duplicates of one another. For instance, airspeed and vertical speed are denoted by purple ovals. The purple ovals on the left (pilot's) side get their information from sensors mounted on the outside of the plane, on the left side. The ones on the right, well the right side.

And, like a human brain, there is a corpus callosum connecting those two sides. That connection, however, is limited to the verbal and other communication that the human pilots make between themselves.

In the human brain, the right brain can process the information coming from the left-eyeball. The left brain can process the information coming from the right-eyeball.

In the 737, however, the machinery on the co-pilot's side is not privy to the information coming from the pilot's side (and vice-versa). The machines on one side are alienated from the machines on the other side.

In the 737 it is up to the humans to intermediate. The human pilots are the 737's corpus callosum.

The 737 Autopilot Origin Story

The 737 needed an autopilot, of course, and its development was straight forward.

Autopilots in those days were crude and simple electromechanical devices, full of hydraulic lines, electric relays and rudimentary analog integration engines. They did little more than keep the wings level, hold altitude and track a particular course.

Obtaining the necessary redundancy in the autopilot system was as simple as having two of them. One on the pilot's side, one on the co-pilot's side. The autopilot on the pilot's side would get its information from the same information-givers giving the pilot herself information.

The autopilot on the co-pilot's side would get its information from the same information-givers giving the co-pilot his information.

And only one auto-pilot would function at a time. When flying on auto-pilot, it was either the pilot's or the co-pilots auto-pilot that was enabled. Never both.

And in those simple, straightforward, days of Camelot, it worked remarkably well.

In the picture above you can see the column labelled "A/P Engage." This selects which of the two autopilots is in use, A or B. The A autopilot gets its information from the pilot's side. The B from the co-pilot. If you select the B autopilot when the A is engaged, the A autopilot will disengage (and vice-versa).

What this means is that the pilot's autopilot does not see the co-pilot's airspeed. And the co-pilot's autopilot does not see the pilot's airspeed. Or any of the other information-givers, such as angle of attack.

Once again, the human pilots must act as the 737s corpus callosum.

The Fossil Record

JFK was president when the 737s DNA, its mechanical, electronic and physical architecture, were cast in amber. And that casting locked into the airplane's fossil record two immutable objects. One, the airplane sat close, really close, to the ground (to make loading passengers and luggage easier at unimproved airports). And, two, the divided and alienated nature of its bicameral automation bureaucracy.

These were things that no amount of evolutionary development could change.

Rise of the Machines

Of all the -wares (hardware, software, humanware) in a modern airplane the least reliable and thus the most liability-attracting is the humanware. Boeing, ironically, estimates that eighty-percent of all commercial airline accidents are due to so-called "pilot error." I am sure that if Boeing's communication department could go back in time, they'd like to revise that to 100%.

With that in mind, it's not hard to understand why virtually every economic force at work in the aviation industry has on its agenda at least one bullet-point addressed to getting rid of the human element. Airplane manufacturers, airlines, everyone would like as much as possible to get rid of the pilots up front. Not because pilots themselves cost much (their salaries are a miniscule portion of operating an airline) but because they attract so much liability.

The best way to get rid of the liability of pilot error is to simply get rid of the pilots.

Emergence of the Machine Bureaucracy

In aviation's early days, there was no machine bureaucracy. Pilots were responsible for processing the information from the givers and turning that into commands for the takers. Stall warning (information giver) activated? Push the airplane's nose down and increase power (commands to the information takers).

Soon, however, the utility of allowing machines to perform some of the pilot's tasks became obvious. This was originally sold as a way to ease the pilot's tactical workload, to free the pilots' hands and minds so that they could better concentrate on strategic issues – such as the weather ahead.

It did not take long to realize that the equation was backward. The machines worked well when they were subservient to the pilots. But they would work even better when they were superior to the pilots.

And now there was a third class of machinery in the plane. The machine bureaucrat.

The Airbus consortium, long a leader in advancing the technological sophistication of aviation (they succeeded with Concorde where Boeing had utterly failed with their SST, for example), realized this. And in the late 1970s embarked on a program to create the first "fly by wire" aircraft, the A320.

In a "fly by wire" aircraft, software stands between man and machine. Specifically, the flight controls that pilots hold in their hands are no longer connected directly to the airplane's information takers, such as the control surfaces and engines. Instead the flight controls become yet another set of information-givers.

Automation Done right

When Airbus floated the idea of a "fly-by-wire" aircraft, the A320, it knew it had to do it right. It was a pioneer in a technology that would need to prove itself to a skeptical industry, not to mention public. It had to build trust that it could make something that was safe.

And that the way to do it right was with a maximum amount of empathy. Toward that end Airbus was extremely transparent about exactly how the A320's automation would work. They told the public (this was in the mid 1980s) that the automation system would employ an army of redundant sensors, like the kind implicated in the MCAS crash.

They told the public that the system would employ an army of redundant computers, each able to take over the tasks of any computer gone rogue, or down. And they told the public that the system would use an army of disparate human groups. The system's design was laid down on paper and disparate groups from disparate companies had to implement identical solutions to the same designs.

Everybody worked in an atmosphere of total transparency.

That way if any of the implementing companies suffered from an inadequacy of empathy, if any of them tried to cut a corner or didn't understand what their jobs were, it would be countered by the results from the companies that did.

And what they produced were a set of machine bureaucrats. Taking information from the machine eyes and ears – airspeed, angle of attack, altitude. And as well as the pilots, both human and automatic .

And they evaluate that information – its quality, its reliability and its probity on an equal level. Which means with an equal amount of skepticism.

The human pilots were demoted out of the bureaucracy and into the role of information-givers. Alongside things like the airspeed sensors, the angle of attack sensors, and all the other sensors the pilots were only there to serve as additional eyes and ears for the machines.

Next step, bathroom monitor.

The airlines saw the writing on the wall and were delighted. Boeing, caught with its pants around its ankles, embarked on a huge anti-automation campaign – even as it struggled to adapt other aspects of the A320 technology, such as its huge CFM56 engines, to Boeing's already-old 737 airframe.

Boeing's strategy worked well for quite some time. By retrofitting the A320s engines to the 737, they were able to match the A320s fuel economics. And with a vigorous anti-automation campaign, aided by pilots' unions and a public fearful of machine control, kept the 737 sales rolling.

It All Comes Down to Money

Wall Street loves technology that involves little or no capital investment. Think Uber. And why it hates old-line manufacturing with its expensive factories and machinery.

And people. Which is what Boeing's managers – its board of directors – understood when they embarked on an ambitious program to re-make the company. Re-make the company away from its old-line industrial roots, which Wall Street abhorred, and more like something along the lines of an Apple Computer.

The Liquidation of Capital

There were a lot of components to that transformation. Including firing all the old-line engineers in unionized Washington State. And replacing them with a cadre of unskilled workers, such as those putting together the 787 "Dreamliner" in antebellum South Carolina.

Putting together, not making, because another relentless part of the transformation was liquidation of Boeing's capital plant. Like another once-giant aviation company, Curtiss Wright, Boeing's managers had drunk the Wall Street koolaid and believed, with no empirical evidence, that the best way of making money by making things was not to make things at all.

Think of it as aviation's version of Mel Brook's black comedy The Producers ( The Producers was about making money, by losing money).

A key Wall Street shibboleth along those lines being something known as "Return on Net Assets," or RONA. RONA says "Making something with something is expensive. So make something, but make it with nothing."

Think of it as "Springtime for Hitler" ("Springtime for Hitler" was the title of a show within The Producer s assumed to be so awful that it was guaranteed to lose money, and thus make money).

Springtime for Hitler, in the Wall Street world, means that US manufacturing companies stop making anything themselves. Instead everything they make, they get other people to make for them. Using exploited labor, producing inferior product greased on the wheels of distrust, fear and an utter lack of shared mission or shared sacrifice.

That means, for example, that the 787s being assembled in South Carolina are being put together by people whose last job was working the fry pit at the local burger joint using parts made by equally, and intentionally, marginalized people from half a world away.

What could go wrong? Well, Boeing itself only makes about ten percent of each 737. The rest, ninety percent, is made by its subcontractors and suppliers. That is a situation in which Boeing is extremely exposed to any breakdown in empathy between itself and its suppliers, yet that risk is not factored into its stock price by Wall Street.

That's what could go wrong.

Software Is Killing Us

As a forty-year veteran of the software development industry and a person responsible for directing teams that generated millions of lines of computer code, I will tell you something wonderful about the industry.

Anything you can do by building hardware – by casting metal, sawing wood, tightening fasteners or running hoses – you can do faster, cheaper, and with less organizational heartache with software. And you can do it with far fewer prying eyes, scrutiny or oversight.

And the icing on the cake: if you screw it up, you can pass along ("externalize," as the economists say) the costs of your mistakes to your customers. Or in this case, the flying public.

The Rockwell-Collins EDFCS-730

As mentioned earlier in this article, the original 737 autopilots were a collection of electromechanical controls made out of metal, hydraulic fluid, relays, etc. And there were two of them, each connected to either the pilot's or co-pilot's information-givers.

Over time more and more of the electromechanical functions of the autopilots were replaced/and-or supplanted by digital components. In the most current autopilot, called the EDFCS-730, that supplanting is total. The EDFCS-730 is "fully digital" – meaning no more metal, hydraulic fluid, etc. Just a computer, through and through.

And, just like the original autopilots, there are only two EDFCS-730s (the A320neo has the equivalent of five and they are far more comprehensive). And each one can only see the information givers on their respective sides (all of the computers in the A320neo can see all of the givers). Remember, that architecture was cast in amber.

The EDFCS-730 is "Patient Zero" of the MCAS story. It offered Boeing an enormous set of opportunities. First, it was far cheaper on a lifecycle basis than the old units it replaced. Second, it was trivial to re-configure the autopilot when new functionality was needed – such as a new model of 737.

Third, its operating laws were embedded in software – not hardware. That meant that changes could be made quickly, cheaply and with little or no oversight or scrutiny. One of the aspects of software development in aviation is that there are far fewer standards, practices, or requirements for making software in aviation than there are for making hardware.

A function that would draw an army of auditors, regulators and overseers in hardware gets by with virtually no oversight if done in software.

There is a USB port in the 737 cockpit for updating the EDFCS-730 software. Want to update it with new software? You need nothing more than a USB keystick.

It's not hard to see why software has become an unbelievably attractive "manufacturing" option.

Longitudinal Stability

Late in the 737 MAX's development, after actual test flying began, it became apparent that there was a problem with the airframe's longitudinal stability. We do not know how bad is that problem nor do we know its exact nature. But we know it exists because if it didn't, Boeing would not have felt the need to implement MCAS.

MCAS is implemented ("lives in") the EDFCS-730. It pushes the 737 MAX's nose down when the system believes that the airplane's angle of attack is too high. For more on that process, see https://spectrum.ieee.org/aerospace/aviation/how-the-boeing-737-max-disaster-looks-to-a-software-developer

I believe that Boeing anticipated the longitudinal stability issue arising from the MAX's larger engines and their placement. In the late 1970s Boeing had encountered something similar when fitting the CFM56 engines to the 737 "Classic" series. There it countered the issue with a set of aerodynamic tweaks to the airframe, including large strakes affixed to the engine cowls which are readily visible to any passenger sitting in a window seat over or just in front of the wing.

When the issue of longitudinal stability arising from engine size and placement arose again with the larger-still CFM LEAP engines on the 737 MAX, Boeing had a tool at its disposal that it had not had with previous generations of 737.

And that tool was the EDFCS-730 autopilot.

Boeing had a choice: correct the stability problems in the traditional manner (meaning expensive changes to the airframe) or quickly shove some more software, by shoving a USB keystick, into the EDFCS-730 to make the problem go away.

One little problem

In the olden days all of the sensors outside the plane that gathered "air data" were connected directly to their respective cockpit instruments. The pitot tubes had plumbing connecting them to the air speed instruments, the static ports connected directly to the vertical speed and altimeter instruments, etc.

This turned into a bit of a plumbing nightmare as well as made it difficult to share that data with a larger number of instruments and devices. The solution was a box called an Air Data Inertial Reference Unit ("ADIRU" in the diagram, below), a kind of Grand Central Station of air data. The "IRU" part of it refers to the plane's inertial reference platform, which provides the plane's location and attitude (pointed up, down, sideways, etc.)

ADIRUs were not common on commercial airliners (I can think of none, actually) when the 737 was first certified and, indeed, the first 737s did not have any. But as newer models emerged and the technology became commonplace, the 737 gained ADIRUs as well. However, it gained them in a way that did not fundamentally change the bicameral nature of its information givers.

The A320 never had the same bicameral architecture. The A320 was born with ADIRUs and it has not two but three (see the "two watches" problem, above). In the A320 all three ADIRUs are available to all five Flight Control Computers (FCCs), all the time – making it relatively easy for any of the FCCs to read from any of the three ADIRUs and determine if one of the ADIRUs is not telling the truth.

One more small note, before we go on. The industry uses the term "Flight Control Computer," (FCC). On all aircraft that I can think of, the FCCs are the computers used to intermediate between the pilot's controls and the airplane's control surfaces. They are where the software that stands between man and machine "lives."

Airbus, for example, makes an express differentiation between the FCCs and the autopilot computers. They are two separate functions.

Boeing chooses to call the autopilot computers (EDFCS-730s) "Flight Control Computers." In the 737, which is not a fly by wire aircraft, there is no differentiation between FCC and autopilot. They are one and the same.

I suspect this has more to do with marketing than anything but readers should take away from it one important thing: in a real automation architecture flight control functions and autopilot functions are distinct. In the 737 MAX Boeing has attempted to gain the marketing advantage of having a "Flight Control Computer" architecture without having to do the real work required of implementing a robust FCC architecture. Instead, they are cramming more and more automation functions into boxes never designed for such: the autopilot boxes.

The result is Frankenplane.

Above is a diagram of the automation architecture of the 737 NG and 737 MAX. The two components labelled "FCC A" (Flight Control Computer) and "FCC B" are the EDFCS-730s.

Two things stand out in the diagram:

There appears to be a link (a "corpus callosum") between FCC A and FCC B (vertical arrows between them) The left Angle of Attack (AOA) sensor (contained in "L ADIRU") is connected to FCC A & the right Angle of Attack (AOA) sensor (contained in "R ADIRU") is connected to FCC B

At this point my readers may be justifiably angry with me. After all, I've been going on and on about the bicameral nature of the 737 architecture and the lack of an electronic corpus callosum between the two "flight control computers" (autopilots). Yet it is clearly there in the diagram, above. I feel your pain.

In my defense, I ask that you remember one thing: we know that the initial MCAS implementation did not use both of the 737s angle of attack sensors. Despite the link between the FCCs that should have allowed it to do so. It should have been relatively easy for the FCC in charge of a given flight, running MCAS, to ask the FCC not in charge to pass along the AOA information over the link in the diagram.

Why did they not do this? Forensically, I can think of two possible reasons:

It was just "too hard."The software in the EDFCS-730 is too brittle and crufty (these are software technical terms, believe me), there is something about the nature of the link (it's a 150 baud serial link, for example (note for the pedants, I am not saying it is)), you have to "wake up" the standby FCC, etc. Boeing deliberately did not want to use both AOA sensors because, as I said at the beginning, "a man with one AOA sensor knows what the angle of attack is, a man with two AOA sensors is never sure."e. if Boeing used two sensors then it would have had to deal with the problem of what to do if they disagreed. And that would have meant training which would have violated ship the airplane.

I tend to tilt towards #1. I think it's just really, really hard to do so and I think that the "boot up" problems (see end of this article) point to exactly that. If so, that is yet another damning reason why the FAA and no one should ever certify as safe MCAS as a solution to the aircraft's longitudinal stability problem.

That said, it's never "either/or." The answer could be "both #1 and #2"

Automation Done Wrong

I have spoken to individuals at all of the companies involved and have yet to find anyone at Rockwell Collins (now Collins Aerospace) who can direct me to the individuals tasked with implementing the MCAS software. Collins is, predictably, extremely reluctant to take ownership of either the EDFCS-730 or its software and has predictably kept its mouth very shut for over a year.

I have been assured repeatedly that the internal controls within Collins would never have allowed software of such low quality to go out the door and that none of their other autopilot products share much, if any commonality, with the EDFCS-730 (which exist for and only for the 737 NG and 737 MAX aircraft).

That, together with off the record communications, leads me to believe that Boeing itself is responsible for the EDFCS-730 software. Most important, for the MCAS component. The responsibility for creating MCAS appears to have been farmed out to a low-level developer with little or no knowledge of larger issues regarding aviation software development, redundancy, information takers, information givers, or machine bureaucracy.

And I believe this is deliberate. Because a more experienced developer, of the kind shown the door by the thousands in the early 2000s, would have immediately raised concerns about the appropriateness of using the EDFCS-730, a glorified autopilot, for the MCAS function – a flight control function.

They would have immediately understood that the lack of a robust electronic corpus callosum between the left and right autopilots made impossible the use of both angle of attack sensors in MCAS' automatic deliberations.

They would have pointed out that the software needed to realize that an angle of attack that goes from the low teens to over seventy degrees, in an instant, is structurally and aerodynamically impossible.

And not to point the nose at the ground when it does. Because the data, not the airplane, is wrong.

And if they had, the families and friends of nearly four hundred dead would be spared their bottomless grief.

Instead, Wall Street's empathy discount sealed their fate.

Quick, Dirty and Deadly

The result is, as they say, history. Wall Street had stripped Boeing of a leadership cadre of any intrinsic business acumen. And its leadership had no skills beyond extraordinary skills of intimidation through a mechanism of implied and explicit threats.

Empathy has no purchase in such an environment. The collapse of trust relationships between individuals within the company and, more important, between the company and its suppliers fertilized the catastrophe that now engulfs the enterprise.

From high in the company came a dictat: ship the airplane . Without empathy, there was no ability to hear cautions about the method chosen by which to ship (low-quality software).

The Pathology of Boeing's Demise

Much has already been written about the effect of McDonnell Douglas' takeover of Boeing. John Newhouse's Boeing vs. Airbus is the definitive text in the matter with L.J. Hart-Smith's "Out-sourced profits- The cornerstone of successful subcontracting" being the devastating academic adjunct.

Recently Marshall Auerback and Maureen Tkacik have covered the subject comprehensively, leaving no doubt about our society's predilection for rewarding elite incompetence handsomely.

Alec MacGillis' "The Case Against Boeing" ( https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/11/18/the-case-against-boeing ) lays out the human cost of Wall Street's murderous rampage in a manner that should leave claw marks on the chair of anyone reading it.

Charles Pezeshki's "More Boeing Blues" ( https://empathy.guru/2016/05/22/more-boeing-blues-or-whats-the-long-game-of-moving-the-bosses-away-from-the-people/ ) is arresting in its prescience.

Boeing's PR machine has repeatedly lied about the origin and nature of MCAS. It has tried to imply that 737 MCAS is just a derivation of the MCAS system in the KC-46. It is not.

It has tried to blame the delays in re-certification on everything from "cosmic rays" (a problem the rest of the industry solved when Eisenhower was president) to increased diligence (up is the only direction from zero). Most of the press has bought this nonsense, hook line and sinker.

More nauseatingly, it promotes what I will call the "brown pilot theory." Namely, that it is pilot skill, not Wall Street malevolence, that is responsible for the dead. In service of that theory it has enlisted aviation luminary (and a personal hero-no-more of mine) William Langewiesche.

For the best response to that, please see Elan Head's "The limits of William Langewiesche's 'airmanship'" ( https://medium.com/@elanhead/the-limits-of-william-langewiesches-airmanship-52546f20ec9a )

Those individuals "get it." Missing here are accurate pontifications from much of the aviation press, the aviation consultancies or financial advisory firms. All of whom have presented to the public a collective face of "this is interesting, and newsworthy, but soon the status quo will be restored."

A Well, Poisoned

Boeing's oft-issued eager and anticipatory restatements of 737 MAX recertification together with its utter failure to actually recertify the aircraft invite questions as to what is actually going on. It is now over a year since the first crash and coming up on the anniversary of the second.

Yet time stands still.

What was obvious, months ago, was that the software comprising MCAS was developed in a state of corporate panic and hurry. More important, it was developed with no oversight and no direction other than to produce it, get it out the door, and make the longitudinal problem go away as quickly, cheaply, and silently as a software solution would allow.

What became clear to me, subsequently, was that all of the software in the EDFCS-730 was similarly developed. And when the disinfectant of sunlight shined on the entire EDFCS-730 software, going back decades, that – as my late wife's father would say – the entertainment value would be "zero."

The FAA was caught with its hand in the cookie jar. The FAA's loathsome Ali Bahrami, nominally in charge of aviation safety, looked the other way as Boeing fielded change after deadly change to the 737 with nary a twitter from the agency whose one job was to protect the public. In the hope that a door revolving picks all for its bounty.

Collapse

Recent headlines speak in vague terms about Boeing's inability to get the two autopilots communicating on "boot up." Forensically, what that means is that Boeing has made an attempt to create a functional electronic corpus collosum between the two, so that the one in charge can access the sensors of the one not in charge (see "One little problem ," above).

And it has failed in that attempt.

Which, if you understand where Boeing the company is now, is not at all surprising. Not surprising, either, is Boeing's recent revelation that re-certification of the 737 MAX is pushed back to "mid-year" 2020. Applying a healthy function to Boeing's public relations prognostications that is accurately translated as "never."

For it was never realistic to believe that a blindered, incompetent, empathy-desert like Boeing, which had killed nearly four hundred already, was able to learn from, much less fix, its mistakes.

This was driven infuriatingly home with today's quotes from new-CEO David Calhoun. As the Seattle Times reported, Calhoun's position is:

"I don't think culture contributed to that miss," he said. Calhoun said he has spoken directly to the engineers who designed MCAS and that "they thought they were doing exactly the right thing, based on the experience they've had.""

This is as impossible as it is Orwellian. It shows that Boeing's leadership is unwilling (and probably unaware) of what the root issues are. MCAS not just bad engineering.

It was the inevitable result of the cutting of the sinews of empathy, sinews necessary for any corporation to stand on its own two feet. Boeing is not capable of standing any more and Calhoun's statements are the proof.


james myers , February 14, 2020 at 6:32 am

Solid tested architectures destroyed because software & ideology got regulation seriously wrong. Same story across every silo of our world.

tegnost , February 14, 2020 at 9:50 am

if only we had a word that combined "software" and "theology. Then maybe we could describe Techworld more accurately.

TheHoarseWhisperer , February 14, 2020 at 7:36 pm

the word is "Apple".

Ray L , February 14, 2020 at 8:04 pm

"Agile"?

tegnost , February 14, 2020 at 10:01 pm

That's a marketing slogan, I'm talking about the belief system

d , February 15, 2020 at 11:45 am

Not sure this was a technology problem, it was totally in the control of management, they chose who was to do the work (they picked the consultant who did the work, they set the rules for quality, they set the priorities, just ship it. Guessing they were blind to the downside, just how they could reduce costs). Now one could say that its a political problem (aka ideology) as the company went political leaders wanting help to control cost for the company, saying that they would have more jobs (which was never going to happen) if the FAA was told to 'outsource' that safety thing. Now this might be because of that Douglass purchase(they had a history of not really considering it at all). Or it could be that wall street thing, as they are so short sighted (that quarterly announcement, but short termism has lead to enormous costs. Does make one wonder if any other company has noted that ah not till it costs them billions and billions. And maybe not even then

New Wafer Army , February 14, 2020 at 6:35 am

"And replacing them with a cadre of unskilled workers, such as those putting together the 787 "Dreamliner" in antebellum South Carolina."

They were making airplanes in the 19th Century? You might want to correct that. Brilliant article all the same.

New Wafer Army , February 14, 2020 at 7:48 am

PS, perhaps the author meant that they were still using slave labor.

KLG , February 14, 2020 at 8:47 am

Yes, that was the point. As a native and current denizen of the South, the sentence stood out to me. And it is largely true in substance. Alas.

As for the loss of empathy, my working life goes back to 1971, and this has been true everywhere I have worked. Outsource or ignore critical functions at every level of the organization, and this will decrease quality and increase costs. Hmm, there seems to be a leak behind that wall not my problem, I work for someone else. Um, this particular audit function seems to miss several important measures oh, hell, just let the Third Assistant Vice-President in charge worry about it, when s/he is not on the phone looking to move up to Second Assistant Vice-President somewhere else. You do know, right, that these three extra layers of learning objectives and student outcome "measurements" only take time away from our real responsibilities and besides that, I have on occasion just let it go to see what happens, and no one seems to notice there is one less time- and energy-consuming, soul-deadening "report" in the "File."

But, look at the balance sheet (whatever it purports to measure)!

Colonel Smithers , February 14, 2020 at 9:05 am

Thank you, KLG.

Yesterday evening's France 2 news, https://www.france.tv/france-2/journal-20h00/1218489-journal-20h00.html , featured the Airbus factory in Alabama. Although it was suggested that the need to market to American carriers, avoid Trump's tariffs and take advantage of Boeing's difficulties were the main reasons for opening there, one did wonder if the cheap and non unionised labour was as important.

John Zelnicker , February 14, 2020 at 12:04 pm

@Colonel Smithers
February 14, 2020 at 9:05 am
-- -- -

Thanks, Colonel.

As a resident of Mobile, Alabama, where the Airbus factory is located, I can tell you that the original reason for their choice was to set up an assembly line for the Air Force tanker contract that Boeing now has called the KC-46 . The major considerations were one of the longest runways in the US at the former Brookley Air Force Base (now an industrial park) that was closed by Lyndon Johnson in 1964, as well as the Port of Mobile. Lack of unions was most likely also a factor, but not a main one.

When the contract was originally awarded in 2008, Airbus (EADS), with partner Northrup Grumman, was the winner. They had proposed a new airplane designed from the bottom up. Boeing proposed re-purposing the 767.

Boeing protested the award and won the contract after the Air Force rebid it in 2011. I have no doubt they used whatever political influence they had to do so.

Subsequently, Airbus decided to continue construction of the plant here to build passenger airplanes.

Also, subsequently, Boeing has had numerous problems with the KC-46, making the obvious point that politically determined contract awards are often not the best choice.

Colonel Smithers , February 14, 2020 at 2:47 pm

Thank you, John.

Harrold , February 14, 2020 at 2:51 pm

EADS North America chairman Ralph Crosby declined to protest the award saying that Boeing's bid was "very, very, very aggressive" and carried a high risk of losing money for the company

Late Introvert , February 14, 2020 at 10:02 pm

Thanks John.

Comments like these force me to read every comment section on NC, darn you smart and thoughtful humans! I'm a slow reader so that doesn't help.

ALEXIS SOULE , February 16, 2020 at 1:08 am

It's amazing, isn't it? I don't think I've seen any site with comments which are consistently so thoughtful and interesting.
for 180 degrees opp, see the twitter comments on the WHO daily updates on the coronavirus – Covid-19 https://www.pscp.tv/WHO/1lPKqVQyqEbGb

d , February 15, 2020 at 11:54 am

I thought airbus proposed their transport/tanker, which isn't new, but had been used by a some air forces already,not that Boeing was putting forth a new plane, it was based on 767.and tariffs didnt exist on the planes, till after 2017. Course they built that plant to sell to carriers since some don't want to deal with a new supplier.

John Zelnicker , February 15, 2020 at 4:46 pm

@d
February 15, 2020 at 11:54 am
-- -- -

Thank you for the correction, d.

I was not precise. Airbus had indeed sold the tanker to others. However, it was designed and built from the beginning as a tanker and not as a re-purposed passenger airplane.

MHalblaub , February 16, 2020 at 6:09 am

Quite wrong.
The former USAF KC-45 was based on Airbus passenger aircraft A330-200. The point in favor of this aircraft was it didn't need any mayor modifications except the refueling equipment. The complete fuel load is carried in the regular tanks. The lower cargo hold of the smaller 767 tanker is fuel of fuel tanks.

Up until now all air forces bought Airbus tanker with standard passenger seating for moving troops and cargo is carried on the lower deck.

The Boeing KC-46 is a new 767 version: 767-200 fuselage, 767-300 gear, 767-400 flaps and is called 767-2C. It has a new computerized cockpit (787-style) but just like the 737 no real fly-by-wire. The A330 has fly-by-wire just like A320.

Airbus was already testing the new tanker design for Australian air force while Boeing only had a paper design.

Boeing did win the contest for cheapest tanker. USAF will use the aircraft in 90 % as freighter. The Airbus is able to carry 90 % more pallets.

Even though Boeing offered the cheapest price no risk was associated. No USAF is paying more for flying outdated tankers far longer. Boeing does maintenance work for the old tankers

KLG , February 14, 2020 at 9:19 am

One other thing. The book was The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind , by Julian Jaynes. IIRC (it was ~1976) Jaynes' primary argument dovetails with the argument advanced here. But, if you come so close to appropriating someone else's terminology, a reference is warranted.

Paul O , February 14, 2020 at 9:58 am

I love(d) this book which I read in my most formative times (it is not new :-) . The general – though not universal (and often contested) – opinion these days is that it has been largely debunked. Nevertheless I would credit it with changing the way my thinking worked – and for the better.

I still have a copy. I believe there is a legitimate non-scanned PDF available. Would still definitely recommend.

https://philosophynow.org/issues/97/How_Old_is_the_Self

Gregory Travis , February 14, 2020 at 8:58 am

That's exactly what I meant, perhaps not quite as directly to slavery itself but rather to the culture of disempowerment that Boeing sought to exploit.

Thanks

New Wafer Army , February 14, 2020 at 11:58 am

sorry for doubting you! Irony can be hard to read but I appreciate it. Once again, amazing, disturbing article. Thank you!

Boatwright , February 14, 2020 at 9:45 am

Well South Carolina is right next door to North Carolina, so maybe he was thinking of the Wright Bros. fixing up the flyer in their canvas walled workshop at Kitty Hawk.

BTW: Considering the lingering fondness for Confederate monuments and flags, I think "antebellum" is an all too accurate description of the local workforce. Jobs in a high-skill industry at minimum wages can rightly be called slavery.

pat b , February 14, 2020 at 2:39 pm

No South Carolina is still living in the 19th century.
Have you seen a public toilet on I-95?

Samuel Conner , February 14, 2020 at 7:05 am

Given that (from what I have read recently) Boeing's liabilities exceed its assets and it will require further cash infusions through bond or share issuance (quite odd, that; a public company that sells shares) to carry on in the near term, perhaps it will become a takeover target. Perhaps MB could ride to the rescue.

I write this in jest, but things are becoming so strange that I suppose anything is possible.

JTMcPhee , February 14, 2020 at 10:32 am

What ever happened to Westinghouse? http://old.post-gazette.com/westinghouse/

D. Fuller , February 14, 2020 at 2:46 pm

Interesting that you mention Westinghouse. Reminds me of the nuclear industry. The reason why we have the nuclear reactors we have today? Because they were fast in generating electricity, though more dangerous. There is an actual design for a far safer nuclear reactor but it takes longer to reach optimum thermal efficiencies. The nuclear industry wanted fast reactors that quickly reached thermal efficiencies.

The nuclear industry's desires are so entrenched in regulatory bodies that thorium reactor research has to be done overseas.

Another parallel to the Boeing saga of mismanagement, greed, and corporate degeneracy? Goodyear RV tires that led to deaths thanks to tires that Goodyear knew were defective. Yet, Goodyear executives hid that from the NHTSA with secret settlements.

The ultimate justice system for corporations is that cash is used to pay out for justice, instead of people actually being convicted and sent to prison for their actions at their company or corporation. This is the end-game for corporation for remaking our justice system. They have been quite successful.

Boeing is simply a typical example of what is now accepted practice in America.

The US Government even manages to use official secrets laws to stifle lawsuits. Such as the Area 51 workers who were exposed to toxic substances. Or The US military attempting to avoid responsibility for soldiers exposed to toxic substances such as depleted uranium and whatever toxic materials were burned in burn pits in places like Iraq. The most famous case of exposure being Agent Orange from Vietnam. When one looks? Corporations are usually involved in such practices under contract to The US Government.

Boeing is a fine representation of American cultural practice.

Duke of Prunes , February 14, 2020 at 10:31 pm

I think you mean Firestone tires if this references the Ford Exploder debacle.

d , February 15, 2020 at 11:59 am

That was more a Ford thing, they did spec out the tires, they just speced then to cut costs, nothing else.sounds familiar huh? A company putting customers lives at risks. Who knew that was a bad thing course one might think they would have learned from the pinto, guess not

Hank Linderman , February 14, 2020 at 7:10 am

So, where does this lead and what is the timeline? Bankruptcy? Should the company be broken up into smaller pieces? Or is this another "too big to fail" scenario? Is a reform/repair of the company even possible? How would that even happen?

It seems that the solutions needed at Boeing will be the same solutions needed in the rest of the American social/economic system.

I am reminded of *quality* as a philosophical value in "Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintainance" by Robert Pirsig – a potential counterbalance to profit as a value. Ultimately, Boeing's problems are philosophical/cultural/societal problems. And so are America's.

The critical quote for me was: " empathy in this context is a sense of trust between all individuals in an organization that arises from transparency "

And I keep coming back to *quality*

Best H

PlutoniumKun , February 14, 2020 at 9:57 am

Now there is a long forgotten book – I've often thought Persigs book should be a 'must read' for all engineers and managers. I feel like throwing that book at anyone in my office who talks about productivity output measures without ever mentioning quality (they never mention quality).

The Rev Kev , February 14, 2020 at 10:05 am

Did W. Edwards Deming live in vein then?

Phacops , February 14, 2020 at 1:56 pm

Well, the modern ideology of management sees quality as a cost and so it gets little support until things go wrong ou output suffers.

I still have a Western Electric Statistical Quality Control Handbook, written at the Chicago Hawthorne Works and which Deming contributed to. It is meant to be the shop-floor bible of quality.

I think, consistent with the denigration of hard-nosed verifiable, quality, some who could not pass an intro statistics course started the managerial techniques that became six-sigma, and once again statistical control and industrial statistical design of experiments is languishing. But then, as indicated by this article, for even six-sigma to work properly requires a level of empathy that MBAs have destroyed.

rowlf , February 14, 2020 at 6:41 pm

As an older experienced employee in an engineering department I am skeptical of the Six-Sigma process. I look forward to seeing someone do a green belt analysis on whether green belt analysis works. So far the times I have been sucked into the green belt goat rodeos nobody has bothered to research anything and the conclusions are obvious to anyone who has been on the floor, such as water is wet and flows downhill.

Mel , February 14, 2020 at 1:58 pm

Are there publications of Demings' "popular" works on business management? I looked him up during his boom, and what I found was a serious textbook on sampling techniques, and then a lot of slide decks and lecture notes published by his disciples. All worthy things, but no guidebook to the use of statistical techniques.
ISTR a ground bass of "You'll never understand this, you fools. Hire a statistician already!" Maybe that's why there were no publications.
But that was then. Have the times changed?

Phacops , February 14, 2020 at 3:13 pm

As I mentioned, a great intro to statistical process control is the Western Electric Statistical Quality Control Handbook. I think it is now put out by AT&T. Other sources can be found at the American Society for Quality. They used to have quite a nice intro book that takes you from understanding variability and distributions into various run charting and into sampling. There are several books on process optimization using statistical design of experiments, but that is better once one has an understanding of applied stats and modeling. However, it, and practical matters like stack-up of tolerances are covered by Western Electric.

I hesitate to recommend some of the canned software unil one has a grasp of the operations. I have seen some that allow illigitemate operations.

But, all that said, a fantastic free reference from the NIST is their handbook of engineering statistics. https://www.itl.nist.gov/div898/handbook/

Mel , February 14, 2020 at 9:31 pm

Thank you. I've put the handbook in my daily surfing bookmarks. I'll try a daily study shot, see where it gets me.

drumlin woodchuckles , February 14, 2020 at 8:43 pm

As long as his lessons live on in countries where they were accepted to begin with, such as Japan perhaps, then no; W. Edwards Deming did not live in vein. Or in vain, either.

The Rev Kev , February 14, 2020 at 8:53 pm

D'oh!

New Wafer Army , February 14, 2020 at 12:01 pm

One of the few books I have reread. I shall put it on the list again.

Tim , February 14, 2020 at 12:34 pm

A GE Production manager was once quoted as saying "Doing the job right is no reason not to meet cost and schedule."

titus , February 14, 2020 at 8:37 pm

there's only what you do and how you do it. One must be aware of both. Associates, strategy, and all the rest follow from process & quality (inclusive 'and')

tegnost , February 14, 2020 at 9:59 am

5000 orders with deposits made and fewer than 400 delivered on the corvair of airplanes (apologies and sorrow to ralph nader) because let's face it, if it was an easy fix it would be done by now, which means complicated solution which means more problems added to the issue of who's going to board one spells serious problems to this observer.

False Solace , February 14, 2020 at 1:53 pm

If empathy and trust are necessary for building critical complex components, capitalism is by nature unsuited to these tasks.

Empathy and trust cannot exist in an environment where employees can be fired at the whim of management. 49 states in the US have "at will" employment. An employer can fire for no reason or for any reason. It's against the law to fire someone solely because they are a member of a protected class, but any other excuse (none is needed) is valid. There are laws on the books about whistleblowing. They're essentially never enforced. And they require situations with actual law-breaking. Building a culture of callous disregard for human life doesn't qualify.

Being an engineer who insists on quality is a fireable offense.

In the US, the safety net is virtually nonexistent, which means employees have an even stronger motivation to obey. But even if the safety net were stronger, the moment the employee is gone, management has free reign to discard safety and common sense in pursuit of delicious bonuses. And so management fires anyone who objects and the product trundles along until it kills hundreds of people. The market is concentrated -- capitalism again -- and so there are no alternatives, no quality actors, no makers with empathy exist anywhere.

This happens in industry after industry -- airplanes, pharma, medicine, construction. No matter how many lives are at stake. When management has the ability to fire employees at will, no trust is possible. Empathy only exists until the first round of layoffs. Then the illusion of trust shatters.

Boeing couldn't fire their union employees, but the old engineers weren't protected by a contract. So that's what management did. That's how they succeeded in destroying a great American instutition, arbitraging Boeing's former reputation to enrich themselves personally.

Per Kalecki, management will always seek to preserve the ability to fire and will always try to undermine legislative attempts to remove the whip hand. This isn't something that can be solved by passing a law, it's a fundamental systemic problem. Capitalism is unsuited to systems that maintain human life. The more complicated our society becomes, the more visible the rot becomes.

Carey , February 14, 2020 at 2:17 pm

Thanks very much for this comment.

rowlf , February 14, 2020 at 6:45 pm

Boeing is jacked up enough that their engineers are unionized.

Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace

http://www.speea.org/

Titus , February 14, 2020 at 8:46 pm

"capitalism is by nature unsuited to these tasks." – No, but it all depends on definitions and the extent (scope) they apply to. I was the coo of a just enough, just in time steel plant. I dont know about trust, to some extent that's what standards are for, and statistical quality control. But, I will say "goodwill" is absolutely necessary. Part of that is doing what you signed up to do. Places were everyone hates everyone else, are terrible and usually the result is 'awful'.

eg , February 14, 2020 at 2:33 pm

Did you read the sequel?

Lila: An Inquiry into Morals

Titus , February 14, 2020 at 8:47 pm

Great book. To me his best. I use it as a text book.

Richard H Caldwell , February 14, 2020 at 8:14 am

A tour de force , a precis of the festering rot in American capitalism and business culture. Boeing is one data point in a very large set, not a unique case. Thank you for this posting.

Fíréan , February 14, 2020 at 8:58 am

An excellent and informative read, thank you for posting.

And thank You to the author for writing this up !

templar555510 , February 14, 2020 at 9:19 am

Be afraid people, be very afraid. My son-in-law , a neuro-surgeon was recruited to fill a vacancy created by another surgeon leaving for a more lucrative position . Well it didn't work out so well for him so he approached the hospital that employed him previously ( where my son-in-law occupies his seat ) with the enticement to the hospital administrators that he would be coming back with his patient database , Well guess what ? They rehired him. Why ? For the money he could bring in. No other reason. The author is more than right to talk about empathy in the specific sense in which he uses the word . My son-in-law would say that in his hospital there is none . Just ' teams ' . I was so encouraged to see the author use this word ' teams ' in a derogatory sense because it is driving me to distraction that almost every interaction with a corporation is with a ' team ' i.e. nobody, no personality, no personal responsibility . It untethers us all from one another. And that's quite deliberate on the part of the corporation . I have a mantra about this ' They want your money, but they don't want you ' .

JTMcPhee , February 14, 2020 at 10:36 am

That's how big law firms work. Recruit amoral jerks with a "big book of business." "You eat what you kill." Not a great model for, e.g., surgeons

Oh , February 14, 2020 at 5:34 pm

Thanks JTM. I always enjoy your astute comments.

Titus , February 14, 2020 at 8:51 pm

Agreed. Well put. Be hard for me to have the amoral or in my thinking immoral jerks in the family.

Carolinian , February 14, 2020 at 9:30 am

Isn't this the same "expert" who acquired 2000 hours flying Cessnas? This software guy spends many many paragraphs explaining that the Max software was badly designed. No kidding, and also not news and already thoroughly discussed. While he is undoubtedly correct that machines are superior to people when performing routine tasks–the philosophy pursued by Airbus–it's also true that the many variables involved in flight mean a human backup is essential and that has traditionally been the philosophy pursued by Boeing and indeed the airline industry in general.

In any case the Max is grounded, its reputation damaged if not destroyed and its hard to see that an article like this one brings much to the table other than to gratify the author's need to showoff.

Boatwright , February 14, 2020 at 9:58 am

This is a cheap shot. Our author is a pilot of Cessnas (which have many of the same basic and well-proven instruments, such as artificial horizons, as the largest airliners). All pilots now flying in the cockpits pf our airliners got their basic training flying small airplanes like Cessnas. Basic aerodynamic principals like angle of attack are common to all aircraft.

But more importantly, since Boeing's problems are rooted in their failed software based MCAS system, he is a software engineer!

Carolinian , February 14, 2020 at 10:43 am

Basic aerodynamic principals like angle of attack are common to all aircraft.

Yes so basic that even I know about them. Surely the issue now is not the MCAS which will be fixed or simply removed but rather the airplane itself. And I'd suggest that on that we'd be far better served by commentary from pilots or aeronautical engineers.

Titus , February 14, 2020 at 9:03 pm

Sorry and take no offense, but being a pilot and an engineer, but also a systems theorist, I say as one, neither are particularly trained to look at the entirety of any problem. That would be the program manager or architect. And most important some one who writes well. That was an excellent post. NC is wonderful well at explaining why businesses fail, core competencies here. Boeing is toast as a company. It should be broken up and sold off for scrape. No future in commercial aviation as it now constituted. The unhinged climate and all. The goal isn't carbon neutral it is none at all. At 7.6% reduction per year, starting now. How we doing?

Anon , February 14, 2020 at 12:59 pm

Cessna airplanes are not all small, or single engine, or even flyable with a general aviation pilots license. See: The 303 series Crusader, the 400 series and above, especially the Citation series (corporate jet).

(Aside: Was the "brown pilot" acknowledgement in the post a poke in the ribs at the NC avatar "737 Pilot" ?)

pat b , February 14, 2020 at 2:43 pm

It's not a cheap shot if it is true.
Many third world countries do not have healthy cockpit cultures and many
third world airlines do not invest in training their pilots.

Oh , February 14, 2020 at 5:33 pm

My experience has been to the contrary. Pilots in the third world are very well trained, diligent and looked upon with respect.

Carolinian , February 14, 2020 at 3:05 pm

Cessna 172 according to this

https://aircraft-data.com/owner/travis-gregory-r

(via DuckDuckGo happy to be corrected)

It's their most basic model. I have friends who have flown one–ubiquitous in any small airport.

Phacops , February 14, 2020 at 2:11 pm

Agreed that it is a cheap shot. Perhaps I know little and read more slowly, but it seemed to integrate the workings of the airplane with different ideas about automation structure, what software does within that structure and a corporate disregard of effective quality engineering. Perhaps I'm naive, but when I see a well structured argument that also mirrors and expands upon other objective assessments of Boeing's failings, I take notice. The attack, a backhand use of an argument from authority, seems like hot air.

Carolinian , February 14, 2020 at 3:13 pm

Nobody is defending Boeing here. But I don't think it's unreasonable to expect that those who are offering up expertise on airplanes are actually experts on airplanes and especially, in this case, on large jet liners.

witters , February 14, 2020 at 7:33 pm

Thanks Carolinian! Was wondering how long before you showed your colours on this. And you – of all people – must know this is false: "Nobody is defending Boeing here."

Titus , February 14, 2020 at 9:09 pm

By that definition, then how does anyone write about anything without being first an 'expert'. Journalists don't work that way, the follow a process of their own that yields the truth with being an expert at anything, other then knowing how to make sense of a story, tell the facts and speak the truth.

Brooklin Bridge , February 14, 2020 at 11:02 am

Different strokes for different folks perhaps, but this critique seems unusually sour grapes for you. As to covering a subject already well covered, that seems to be all economists and historians and, come to think of it, just about everyone, seem to do anyway, at least for a large part of the time. And we often get pleasure and occasionally better understanding out of it.

Reaville , February 14, 2020 at 11:45 am

Agree that this comment is a cheap shot. I worked as a test pilot at Edwards and have a good grasp on this discussion from a hardware and pilot perspective. Software killed people and crashed jets while I was in flight test. Software production is a high skill/high risk area that is very difficult to control. The insight here is that the hardware architecture may not support safe software.

If true, Boeing is doomed.

Completely agree with the "empathy " discussion. Cannot develop new planes without both risks and accountability. However, empathy is the way you navigate through the fear factor that goes with risk.

Carolinian , February 14, 2020 at 12:23 pm

Software also killed people in Airbus jets–something the author doesn't mention.

And that "hardware architecture" is really the crux of the issue rather than software which can be easily fixed if properly tested (something Boeing clearly did not do). If the Max is really such a poor hardware design it's difficult to see how it was able to fly for a year with only two crashes which, by all accounts, were caused by the software. Indeed using the author's own metric the failure ratio–absent the MCAS–for the Max as hardware would also be zero.

My comment was not a cheap shot but merely a complaint that we don't need such a long article to tell us something we already know.

Greg , February 14, 2020 at 7:17 pm

Software can't necessarily be "easily fixed". It might seem on the face of it easier than fixing hardware, but it often proves not to be the case at all. See also: banking core platforms.
I can't imagine the amalgamated FCC/Autopilot systems on a 737 are any less complicated on an input/output/scenario basis than a small banks transactional needs, and those have been defeating extremely well funded and oversized teams for decades.

I suspect you're making the same mistake you're arguing against – experts talking outside their book assume simplicity through lack of understanding. My experience has been that everything that seems straightforward is stupidly complicated, once you learn a little more about it.

Carolinian , February 14, 2020 at 8:25 pm

Simple in the sense that we know and always have known why those planes crashed–the AOA sensor malfunctioned and the MCAS only used one. Yes you can comb over the airplane and try to find all the other things that are supposedly wrong (best done IMO by an airplane engineer, not blog commentators), but empirically that's what we do know at this point.

Late Introvert , February 14, 2020 at 10:41 pm

"always have known" or learned after the fact

petard meet hoist

The author's link to the Nader family's role in this is also interesting.

Gregory Travis , February 14, 2020 at 8:53 pm

Greg,

This is exactly the point. Software is difficult to fix because it's so easy to make. With a flick of a few keystrokes it is trivial to import millions of lines of code from frameworks, libraries, etc. -- most of which the person importing does not understand. That induces Normal Failure in software systems at a rate that would be impossible in hardware systems.

Boeing fixing the EDFCS-730 software most likely will make the software more, not less, prone to failures, more of which will be deadly. There is no free lunch.

steelyman , February 14, 2020 at 8:22 pm

"My comment was not a cheap shot but merely a complaint that we don't need such a long article to tell us something we already know."

Please don't presume to speak for me (and other readers of NC).

VietnamVet , February 14, 2020 at 11:15 pm

Washington Post published earlier a business article; "NASA finds 'fundamental' software problems in Boeing's Starliner spacecraft".

NASA/Boeing found a second software bug after launch failed to get the spacecraft the correct orbit. They had to update the software to get it back to earth. More problems were found later. NASA admits to inadequate oversight.

You cannot separate the hardware from the software. But two or more different "teams" must work together to make it work. They didn't. The reason is deregulation. There is no government oversight to force corrections. Also, not seeing any problems allowed corporate managers to pocket more bonus money.

The only way this will be fixed is to use the correct term; "corruption". And, jail corporate managers who are responsible for killing 346 people. It is manslaughter.

Hoppy , February 15, 2020 at 3:40 am

The cheap shots were your personal attacks on the author (questioning expertise, questioning motive)

If the article was too long for you fine. I thought the empathy angle was an interesting.

Carey , February 15, 2020 at 11:16 am

+1

That commenter could simply choose not to read the Boeing pieces..

Titus , February 14, 2020 at 9:11 pm

+10

New Wafer Army , February 14, 2020 at 12:04 pm

I really got a lot out of this article. It was written very lucidly, engaging and illuminating. A rare combination. It tied many disparate threads together and gave an original, insightful viewpoint.

Oh , February 14, 2020 at 5:39 pm

+1
Thanks, Jerri-Lynn!

Dirk77 , February 14, 2020 at 4:09 pm

Me too New Wafer. I appreciated the discussion of the bicameral design of the aircraft's control systems. If it is truly baked into the 737 design as the author argues, then one shouldn't fight it. Given that, one can see that the way to fix the MCAS properly must include adding multiple sensors on each side.

L , February 14, 2020 at 9:31 am

What this makes me think of most is coronovirus. In the PRC local officials only move up by hiding problems from their superiors or simply "not having them" they have, in the author's terms, no empathy with those under them or even with their peers. As a consequence the most natural reaction to a new virus is to arrest the doctors. Boeing, it seems, is not far off.

Duck1 , February 14, 2020 at 1:32 pm

Suggest variant of Godwin's Law has arisen re CCP/coronavirus.

California Bob , February 14, 2020 at 9:35 am

re: "Boeing, ironically, estimates that eighty-percent of all commercial airline accidents are due to so-called "pilot error." I am sure that if Boeing's communication department could go back in time, they'd like to revise that to 100%."

Every pilot worth his/her E6B–I'm a dormant Commercial Pilot–accepts this responsibility implicitly, just like the captain of a ship (who, at one time, was expected to 'go down with the ship' whether s/he was at fault or not). Even if the wings fall off in straight-and-level flight, a conscientious pilot will tell you that he/she should have spotted the problem in pre-flight. It just goes with the responsibility of being a pilot.

re: "The Airbus consortium, long a leader in advancing the technological sophistication of aviation (they succeeded with Concorde where Boeing had utterly failed with their SST, for example), realized this. And in the late 1970s embarked on a program to create the first "fly by wire" aircraft, the A320."

Technically not true:

"The first pure electronic fly-by-wire aircraft with no mechanical or hydraulic backup was the Apollo Lunar Landing Research Vehicle, first flown in 1964."

Source (among others):

https://www.flyingmag.com/aircraft/jets/fly-by-wire-fact-versus-science-fiction/

(although I suspect the author meant the 'first commercial airliner') The F-16–aka 'The Electric Jet'–which, I believe is the first FBW figher aircraft was flying around the time of the A320 (if not before).

And Boeing didn't 'fail' with the SST, between environmentalists and skeptical legislators the project was canned for lack of funding:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_2707

I'm not defending Boeing here, but in the long run even the Concorde proved economically unfeasible.

Brooklin Bridge , February 14, 2020 at 10:48 am

As I understood it, the Concorde failed because in a pique of jealousy, the States wouldn't allow the Concord to land anywhere but in NYC and possibly one other airport, I forget, but the restrictions made the aircraft economically impossible. France (and England) continued to support it for years largely because of national pride, quite justified technically, but outlandishly expensive and impossible to refine over time towards profitability and/or environmental acceptability under the restricted circumstances.

The Historian , February 14, 2020 at 11:06 am

The Concorde stopped flying because of low passenger numbers (the crash in 2000 in Paris had something to do with that), and because it wasn't efficient flying in the subsonic range which was what is required over US cities.

Brooklin Bridge , February 14, 2020 at 11:48 am

There is a difference between why the Concord failed and why it stopped; the latter being the accumulated outcome of the former. The Concord's failure started the minute we outlawed it from flying over US land and that was decades before 2000 and the crash. As to efficiency, that's a hard issue to solve when you're restricted to one or two airports in the first place. It's easy to forget that at that time the US was basically the only country in the world with a large enough market of air ports to provide the impetus for development and refinement of the Concord in particular and the supersonic range for passenger aircraft in general. Tricky Dick was president and wouldn't tolerate the French and British leap frogging us in technology simply because we were already beginning to measure things purely in financial terms.

It may be arguable that the Concord never would have succeeded regardless, but that is moot in that it and what ever offspring it might have spawned never got a chance.

Carolinian , February 14, 2020 at 11:27 am

Being supersonic the airplane created sonic booms which restricted it to flight over oceans. It apparently was also quite noisy without the booms which led to protests by people who lived near airports. In other words there were practical objections to SSTs in general and they are also fuel hogs which became more of a factor after the 70s oil crisis.

There was also a high profile crash of a Concorde while taking off in Paris and this was another blow to the plane's success. At any rate I'm not sure "pique" had much to do with it.

Brooklin Bridge , February 14, 2020 at 12:27 pm

I got the distinct feeling at the time of airspace restrictions on the Concord of a sentiment, particularly held by Nixon, that if we couldn't do it with the Boeing 2707, France sure as hell wasn't going to get a viable shot at it with the Concord.

I'll grant that Congress was the impetus behind the restrictions, ironically because of noise and ozone pollution (imagine pollution rather than profit being a factor in our current day congress), and that was probably what doomed the Concord, but for many of us not familiar at the time with the issues, it did seem like pique.

As to the crash, huh? Several decades of Concord flight over the Atlantic occurred before the crash. They stopped manufacturing parts for the Concord long before the crash and were cannibalizing them from a standby, meaning they had no intention of continuing the program.

drumlin woodchuckles , February 14, 2020 at 8:54 pm

I was very young when America's own "SST" was being suggested and maybe even worked on till a successful environmental movement was able to stop work on this potential sonic boomblaster flying around all over America.

So when Concorde was invented, it wasn't jealousy which motivated the American public to prevent the Concorde from flying its sonic boomblasting self all over America. It was rage and hate that we would have such a destructive technology foisted on us after we had thought we killed it in its SST guise.

Typing Chimp , February 15, 2020 at 12:29 pm

IIRC, the Americans were part of the SST race and the American manufacturers had a consortium working on the design. They decided to attempt a "swing wing" design (where the wings are in a "typical" airplane position during takeoff and then rotate closer to the body line once in flight in order to increase speed).

After a couple of billion dollars (I think–which was real money at the time) and numerous pre-orders, both domestic and international, the designers realized that the plane as conceived could either have wings or accommodate passengers, but that it could not do both. This led the American manufacturers to abandon SST, leaving the Concorde (And its unstable Russian knockoff) the only option for high speed civil transport.

And yes, the American manufacturers then lobbied hard using (justified, IMO) environmental pretexts to prevent supersonic flight over continental US. Jealousy is probably not the correct emotion driving such lobbying–rather it was the American airline manufacturers' very strong concern of being effectively locked
out of their own domestic market–after all, who would want to spend 10+ hours flying from NY to LA when a supersonic plane could let you do this in under half the time?

In any case, this left trans-oceanic travel the only option for supersonic passenger travel. This is because fuel constraints rendered supersonic trans-Pacific travel impossible, and so the only viable routes were between Paris/London and New York/Brazil.

This is all based on my memory, so I may have gotten some of the details incorrect, but I believe the larger story arc is pretty accurate.

Just for what it's worth.

The Historian , February 14, 2020 at 11:01 am

Are you kidding me?

"Every pilot worth his/her E6B–I'm a dormant Commercial Pilot–accepts this responsibility implicitly, just like the captain of a ship (who, at one time, was expected to 'go down with the ship' whether s/he was at fault or not). Even if the wings fall off in straight-and-level flight, a conscientious pilot will tell you that he/she should have spotted the problem in pre-flight. It just goes with the responsibility of being a pilot."

Exactly WHAT in the pre-flight checks would have identified this problem with the MCAS?

It is soooo easy to pass on corporate responsibility to the pilot, isn't it? And it is extremely arrogant of a pilot to criticize other pilots for not having ESP. What? Where you special?

If it is true that Boeing claims that pilot error was responsible for 80% of plane failures, then why didn't Boeing institute a human reliability factors program to bring that number down? Those programs have been around for a long time. I'm aware of Rickover's studies into human reliability engineering wrt nuclear reactors on subs and I know that although two nuclear subs have failed, there has never been an instance of an American sub failing because of nuclear reactor problems. If human reliability engineering worked so well in the Navy, why didn't Boeing implement it for something equally as important as commercial flight? Because it is cheaper just to blame the pilot?

Humans make mistakes so you design a program that makes 1) a human mistake non-fatal, and 2) you design a system that make it easy for a person to make the right choices. As a former investigator, I know that a well built system never fails because of one mistake or fault – well built systems take that in stride – it takes two or more mistakes/faults to bring it down. Blaming the pilot for aircraft failures is just a way for corporations to avoid blame for something that was definitely within their responsibility.

kevin , February 14, 2020 at 2:00 pm

There are significantly less nuclear sub jaunting about the commercial airplanes. I'm not sure the fact that there have been no failed nuclear subs (is this something the military would even acknowledge to the public?) implies that human reliability engineering works well enough to put a dent in the 80% failure rate

Phacops , February 14, 2020 at 2:26 pm

The USS Thresher, a nuclear sub, imploded during a deep diving test when it lost power and couldn't blow its ballast tanks – plus on deep dives much of boyancy is dynamic and loss of power can be fatal. I believe in that same year the USS scorpion was lost. Because it was found 180 degrees from its planned course there is speculation that a torpdo started running hot and the captain was attempting a 180 degree maneuver to disarm it.

ex-PFC Chuck , February 14, 2020 at 8:29 pm

The Thresher went down in 1963 and the Scorpion in 1968. No cause has been definitively proven in either case. Both events are described at the Wikipedia (I know, groan) links above. Of the two, the Scorpion loss is far the more mysterious. It was not known to be in trouble until it failed to show up at its home port.
Ed Offley, the author of Scorpion Down which is described in the link entry, poignantly describes families and lovers of the crew members vainly waiting in the rain and becoming ever more agitated as the scheduled time receded into the past. Offley hypothesizes the USSR, which was conducting exercises in the eastern Atlantic as the Scorpion was crossing the pond from Rota, torpedoed the sub in retaliation for the the USA recovering a sunk Soviet sub in the Pacific, in the loss of which the US may also have been involved.

The Historian , February 14, 2020 at 5:01 pm

" (is this something the military would even acknowledge to the public?) "

Oh, yea. Most of the military was just waiting for one of Rickover's "boys" to make a mistake. Read about Rickover and the nuclear navy!

The point, in case you missed it, is that there are proven ways to reduce human error. Apparently Boeing would just rather have a convenient scapegoat than fix its problems.

California Bob , February 14, 2020 at 9:39 pm

re: "Are you kidding me?"

You entirely missed the gist of my comment (nuance is totally lost on some, it seems). Of course, a pilot wouldn't see the small fatigue crack on the wing spar that's hidden by the wing root sheet metal, so s/he wouldn't be held technically responsible for the resulting accident. But any pilot worth his certificate understands that s/he is responsible for the successful conclusion of every flight, and feels responsible if the flight doesn't end safely and successfully (even if the NTSB, FAA and the courts exonerate him/her).

I've known several student pilots who successfully completed all the requirements for their private pilot license, but quit flying before taking their check ride. They will usually cite financial issues–a PP checkride is only a matter of a few hundred dollars–or 'family issues' when the real reason is they just weren't comfortable taking absolute responsibility, if not accountability, for flying others around (of course, the responsibility is the same for the driver of a car but, for some reason, many drivers don't feel that responsibility).

I'm going to guess you are not a licensed pilot?

It's no different from someone driving a car, but the fact the air is out of our element

PlutoniumKun , February 14, 2020 at 10:02 am

I'm wondering how Boeings travails will impact on airline decision making in the light of coronavirus. We could well see a major cut back in flights worldwide this year, with all sorts of implications for major airlines – Cathay Pacific is already in deep trouble. If there are significant numbers of failures, I could see this cascading through cancellations of Boeing aircraft. I suspect that if these speculations about Boeing are true, then its final failure could be very rapid – a wave of cancellations could devastate its balance sheets in a matter of weeks.

Brooklin Bridge , February 14, 2020 at 10:23 am

Cutbacks from coronavirus; quite possible, and unfortunately, providing a plausible excuse for Boeing's demise -or significant restructuring- that obscures in the process the underlying problems so vividly described in this article.

Of course, couronavirus, if it becomes a pandemic, is itself very much part of that process but then who's keeping tabs.

rick shapiro , February 14, 2020 at 10:09 am

For some reason, it appears to be difficult for many people to realize that information needs to have the same standard of redundancy as does control. When I was designing stores management systems (SMSs), it was difficult to make people realize that it was dangerous, rather than beneficial, for one side of redundant control to have additional interlocks from the other side's information; because it would vitiate the effectiveness of built-in-test.

Software is especially vulnerable to the outsourcing problems that you mention. For example, the F/A-18C/D SMS was delivered with software modules that containing detailed control of each of its functions; overall control software inside the SMS was to be designed by the customer (McDonnel-Douglas, now part of Boeing). I therefore insisted that, in addition to normal communication between the systems and software engineers of us and the customer, the System Safety Hazard Analysis (SSHA) contain an extra section (not specified in the military data item description). That section listed things that the higher level software must do, in order for the SMS potential hazards to be controlled. One of those requirements was that the higher level software periodically verify that the two independent indications of pickle (weapon release) button be monitored for agreement.

Naturally, as we had no control or cognizance over what the customer's engineers did after our delivery was made, they ignored the SSHA. Eventually, after deterioration if pc boards one of the pickle monitors was giving false positives. When the redundant one did the same, some (fortunately unarmed) bombs were dropped during an exercise in Thailand. When McDonnel-Douglas came back to us, I pointed to the SSHA; and they went away and ate their liability.

Phacops , February 14, 2020 at 2:31 pm

Exactly – a FMEA (failure mode effects analysis) by any name is integral to any risk assessment. It leaves me puzzled at Boeing's hand waving to minimize the criticality of what they designed.

Brooklin Bridge , February 14, 2020 at 10:13 am

A remarkable article. It manages to use the nitty gritty of the MCAS issue and it's history to delineate Boeing's soul sucking shift from a great engineering firm to corporate cannibal to illustrate (in amazing detail) not only the specific problems Boeing faces with the 737 MAX, and not only the reasons from the corporate level on down that resolving those problems will be impossible, but to also illustrate by analogy how this death worship by the forces of greed has gripped America's establishment at the macro level and how, using Boeing as example, our shift from a functioning mfg society to one of purely extractive finance driven outsourcing and how this has resulted in a seemingly unstoppable self destruction in the economic and manufacturing sphere, all in the name of profit at any and all costs. The specialized use of "empathy" as network trust made for a particularly compelling explanation of the process and how it applied (but is not exclusive) to Boeing.

JTMcPhee , February 14, 2020 at 1:55 pm

Yep, remember the original swing axle rear end on the Chevy Corsair, https://ateupwithmotor.com/model-histories/chevrolet-corvair-history/3/ , and the documented "cost-benefit" choice by Ford in design of the original Pinto's gas tank, http://www.huppi.com/kangaroo/Pinto.htm . Lots of examples from Pharm and Ag and Big Chem. Or aluminum replacing copper in house wiring, with PVC insulation. Profit preference goes way back.

Cue the distracting wails about the evils of tort lawyers and "ridiculous" jury awards, when that's one of the few correctives, albeit a poor and inefficient and spotty one, trying to reverse the flight from the precautionary principle.

Carolinian , February 14, 2020 at 3:01 pm

I'm not at all sure those comparisons are appropriate. The car makers knew the cars were defective but made a cost/benefit analysis (cost of lawsuits, benefits to them) and did nothing. I seriously doubt that Boeing ever thought their haphazard creation of MCAS would crash airplanes. They seem to have assumed that the MCAS would rarely if ever be activated. Even soulless bean counters are surely smart enough to know that air crashes are bad for the airplane business.

Gregory Travis , February 14, 2020 at 3:38 pm

You are so tantalizingly close to getting the whole point of the article. So close.

Carolinian , February 14, 2020 at 5:32 pm

We've been discussing this here for, like, forever seemingly. I may have been one of the first to say that Boeing management was obviously the root of the problem.

But that's actually my point. It has all been said and the problems are known. The MOA site has been beating this same drum and averred that "Boeing is America's worst company." Seriously? Worse than Exxon or Monsanto or Goldman Sachs? If Boeing is to die for lack of "empathy" then the end of capitalism may be at hand. Here's betting that won't happen.

Dirk77 , February 14, 2020 at 9:03 pm

Yes, it is no surprise to anyone who reads NC that, to paraphrase Putin, Wall Street destroys anything it touches. Yet there are millions of people who love to fly or follow the space program and so would view the demise of Boeing with great sadness. When I worked there, Boeing was regarded as a national asset. And if this were ten years ago, I'd think the feds would bail them out eventually and tell them to shape up. But now I don't know. But if all the Boeing board cares about is the bottom line next month, then publishing articles that get people reluctant to fly on their planes until they clean up their act is a plus.

rd , February 14, 2020 at 10:27 am

The corporate issue is even more fundamental than the author outlines in this excellent article. The reason that Boeing stretched the envelope on the 737 MAX development was because they did not want the delay of certifying a brand-new airplane. Once a new plane is designed and the prototype constructed and flown for the first time, it still takes nearly three years before you can start delivering as you have to go through the new plane certification process: https://lynceans.org/all-posts/how-long-does-it-take-to-certify-a-commercial-airliner/

The point of the 737 MAX was to portray the plane as another variant of a long-time safe plane with changes so minor that additional training requirements would be minimal. This would keep the certification process and the airline adoption process time to a minimum allowing the planes to be shipped and put into service years earlier than developing a new plane.

The Boeing culture appears to have been such that nobody of note inside ever stood up and said "This is a bad idea." So airplane deliveries were scheduled. The marketing group doubled down on profits by making the use of the second sensor optional that could be purchased, which the poorer airlines did not buy, which is a reason that the two crashes occurred in non-major airlines.

The culture is similar to the corporate culture that led to GM's ignition switch fatalities. In GM's case, it appears that Mary Barra has made a corporate culture change a priority since she took over. https://www.caranddriver.com/news/a15353429/gm-ignition-switch-review-complete-124-fatalities-274-injuries/

WobblyTelomeres , February 14, 2020 at 10:37 am

I suggest the author familiarize himself with triple modular redundancy in all its flavors.

"A person with one watch always knows what time it is. A person with two watches is never sure."

That's why mission critical systems use (at least) three. Like Airbus. And the space shuttle.

Tim , February 14, 2020 at 12:41 pm

I'm starting to get the feeling a lot of finger wagers in the comments of this article didn't really read the whole article, and certainly not carefully before posting their assessment.

cfraenkel , February 14, 2020 at 12:42 pm

Well sure, but if you're going with "triple redundancy is required" as your starting point, then just shut the doors at Boeing yesterday and there'd be no point to writing the article in the first place. The author used double redundancy in the article because BOEING uses it in their airplanes.

WobblyTelomeres , February 14, 2020 at 1:03 pm

One point of the article is that Boeing didn't use double redundancy, but that they could have. My point is that double redundancy wouldn't have helped with notoriously faulty AoA sensors. They were doomed the moment they decided to take over control of the plane based upon the input of one sensor.

And the frustrating part is that Boeing Aerospace is *full* of people that understand TMR and how to build fault tolerant systems for harsh environments (I placed students there). Silos.

Gregory Travis , February 14, 2020 at 4:11 pm

Wobbly,

Central points of my article are:

1. Although the 737 has two AOA sensors, the legacy architecture of its sensor network made integrating the two sensors' results difficult enough that Boeing chose to simply blow off the attempt. They did this either because it was too hard, because they did not want to have to deal with a situation in which the sensors disagreed, or both.

Note that of those two possibilities, one is criminally lazy and the other is criminally criminal.

And:

2. Even if Boeing had used both sensors, two sensors is not enough.

I go into some detail in the article about the differences between the 737 architecture and the A320 architecture. I go into even more detail about the differences here:

http://www.gregorytravis.com/resources/IUAA2.pdf

Cheers,

Greg

Dirk77 , February 14, 2020 at 5:01 pm

Thanks Gregory. Commenter rd above states that Boeing made the "second" sensor optional. Is that one each side with a second on each side optional? Normally I'd feel crazy for asking but this fiasco

Gregory Travis , February 14, 2020 at 5:14 pm

That's not correct (that the second sensor was optional). Lots of confusion there that stems from the same bicameral architecture. The congenital separation between the left and the right sides of the airplane (sensors) forced certain legacy constraints on sensor disagreement detection.

Boeing's solution was to move disagreement detection into the user (pilot) interface, not lower where it should be. An example should help understanding here:

Pre-MAX the AOA sensors were really only used for one thing and that was activating the stick shakers. Stick shakers are things that make the pilot's control column vibrate when the plane gets close to a stall.

The left AOA sensor activated the left-hand column stick shaker. The right AOA sensor activated the right-hand column stick shaker. Pilots were fairly used to situations in which one column was shaking and the other was not -- AOA sensor failure.

SOME airlines wanted a graphical indication on the pilot's displays of what the angle of attack was -- meaning they wanted a gauge in front of the pilots that showed what the AOA sensors were reading. Military pilots care a lot about AOA, the rest of us do not and the airlines that wanted the AOA display typically had a lot of ex-military pilots in their rosters.

So Boeing made it an option to have the AOA display in front of the pilot. And they made it a second option to have the AOA display flash a warning if the numbers coming from both AOA sensors did not agree with each other.

But what is important is that the device that was comparing the two sensors was the display itself and not the flight control computers. Because the signals from both sensors were not available to the flight control computers. But they were available to the displays in the cockpit.

Hopefully that makes sense.

Dirk77 , February 14, 2020 at 5:27 pm

Yes, thanks. So I guess a true redundant system at the flight computer level would have two or more sensors each side, which makes four or more total.

Gregory Travis , February 14, 2020 at 5:41 pm

You really need a minimum of three. You also need a crossbar architecture that allows equal access to all sensors by all the computers that need access to them.

Finally, you need complexity, not complication. Complication is just quantitative maximization whereas complexity speaks to qualitative integration. Complication is a numbers game, complexity is a diversity game.

I'll give an example. Airbus' alpha floor (stall) protection is complicated but it is insufficiently complex. The A320 has three angle of attack sensors, so that one bad sensor can be detected (because it will not agree with the other two sensors)

In the XL airways crash, two of the A320's sensors froze in flight due to water in them freezing at altitude. They froze in the same position.

The pilots were conducting stall testing of the aircraft, to make sure it could not be stalled. As they pulled the nose up, the angle of attack readings from the two frozen sensors did not change and they agreed with one another. The un-frozen sensor began to read dangerously high angle of attack readings.

However, the computers rejected that sensor because it did not agree with the two frozen sensors. So the computer chose as the "correct" data data from two identically broken sensors and it rejected the correct sensor.

The aircraft stalled and killed the test pilots.

There are other sources of (indirect) angle of attack information, such as from the ADIRUs -- airspeed, pitch angle, etc. A more complex system would have considered those inputs as well and possibly made a determination that something funny was going on and that sensor data appeared to be unreliable.

At which point the computer should have said to the pilots "I'm confused, you have the airplane" which would have prompted them, at a minimum, to discontinue the stall tests which were now dangerous.

So double redundancy is better than no redundancy. Triple is better than double. Quadruple is better etc. But it's not enough to just engage in a numbers game. You want a quality game: you want diversity of opinion.

You want the systems to have as much empathy as you can design into them.

WobblyTelomeres , February 14, 2020 at 5:54 pm

"They froze in the same position."

Eeek. Empathy == Human in the loop, right?

Dirk77 , February 14, 2020 at 6:44 pm

Interesting about the XL crash and your explanation. So if Boeing somehow gets the two flight computers to access both sensors that will be the minimum fix. After two crashes the whole company is on the line, but they are going cheap and risky. Some future civilization is going to use ours as a case study of what not to do, that's for sure.

JTMcPhee , February 14, 2020 at 9:21 pm

And if it is a "civilization," growing up the same way ours has, nomadic herders and hunter-gatherers to grain-storing city dwellers with priesthoods and kings and weapons and money and wars, working off the code that's built into us, I'd give odds that the future "civilization" would run aground on the same contradictions that we have encountered.

"We" have had plenty of opportunities to "profit" from case studies of past misfortunes, and what have "we" learned? Or changed our collective behaviors to avoid?

JTMcPhee , February 14, 2020 at 9:37 pm

Civilization 101: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BwFwEV3foQg

WobblyTelomeres , February 14, 2020 at 5:48 pm

Hi. My distaste for things Boeing precedes their merger with MD, but that discussion is probably best held offline as I get worked up. I did punch through to some of your other papers and encountered this line:

"Raise the nose, HAL." "I'm sorry, Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that."

Funny guy! Dark, but funny.

FWIW, spent a lot of time right seat in a 172 growing up. My Mom has been a 99 for 50+ years. Most forgiving aircraft I've ever flown (had to take the controls from time to time when she had to, um, uh, you know).

Gregory Travis , February 14, 2020 at 5:55 pm

That's an interesting distinction about the 172. I agree that it is quite forgiving. I disagree (with another poster) that it is easy to fly.

A single (piston) engine aircraft that spends all of its life where the weather is (i.e. below 10,000′) with no deicing equipment, little systems redundancy, and limited power is a completely different animal from a large commercial airliner sailing along above everything at 35,000′ with heated wings, radar and multiple systems (including the pilots)

And by completely different animal, I mean it takes a whole lot more airpersonship to operate it safely than it takes a 737, even a 737 MAX. It takes more strategy (planning), it takes more tactics (diversions).

Everything is harder and requires a much higher level of pilot competence if for no other reason than there aren't two pilots. There's just one.

But, forgiving, it is. I've never had my 172 rip the control column out of my hands and head for the dirt out of control the way a 737 will.

Tom Bradford , February 14, 2020 at 2:47 pm

"A person with one watch always knows what time it is."

No. A person with one watch THINKS he knows what time it is.

WobblyTelomeres , February 14, 2020 at 3:57 pm

Are you referring to the Starliner clock fiasco ? If so, very very good!

TG , February 14, 2020 at 10:50 am

Reminds me of what was sometime called "AI hubris." When people first started trying to make robots, they figured they could just bolt motors onto struts and all the nasty bits about getting the right elasticity etc. could be brute-force simulated in software. Wrong. Sophisticated controls are indeed needed for robot arms, sure, but if the arms and legs don't have the basic springiness and other raw mechanical properties built into the physical design, it becomes almost impossible to control the system stably and efficiently.

I'm also reminded of my old MIT computer science professor, Joe Wiezenbaum. He used to talk about "the uses and abuses of computing." People would say to him "but without computers we couldn't have such a complicated tax code!" and he would reply "exactly." It's just too easy to add in complexity without thinking.

Matthew G. Saroff , February 14, 2020 at 11:50 am

Your title is wrong. It's not , "Ship the Airplane," which acknowledges what they were actually making and what ight be uniequ about it, it's "Ship the Product," a n example of the MBA mismanagement culture.

Jon Claerbout , February 14, 2020 at 12:40 pm

I recently saw a Youtube where the claim was made that both Boeing and Airbus have a 9 year airplane order backlog.

rd , February 14, 2020 at 1:45 pm

Any company that hires Nikki Haley to it's board is not interested changing it's employee relations for the better. They are just interested in extracting money from the taxpayers.

Synoia , February 14, 2020 at 1:59 pm

Before Stonecipher Boeing had a culture the worked.

As this site has stated, the poisonous culture from Douglas was imported into Boeing.

And the employees of Boeing are now remote for the Corporate office, consequently the executives have broken the company, and compounded the issues by having no daily communication to repair the damage.

It is a like Britain having colonies in the Americas, where the only method of communication was a three week sailing voyage, and ruling from afar with no knowledge of local conditions.

Dirk77 , February 14, 2020 at 5:15 pm

I was at Boeing when Condit was CEO, who preceded Stonecipher. Condit couldn't say enough about shareholder value. So I think if the MD culture did have an affect, it merely accelerated what was happening at Boeing already.

Gregory Travis , February 14, 2020 at 5:43 pm

That's exactly right and what a lot of pundits get wrong. Boeing would still be in the position it is in if it had not merged with McDonnell Douglas. The merger may have turbocharged things but it did not alter the fundamental trajectory. What had happened at Douglas had already happened to countless companies before them -- in aviation I can think of no better example than Curtiss Wright, but there are many others.

Oregoncharles , February 14, 2020 at 2:34 pm

"Most sadly, it is a symbol of the collapse of institutions in the United States. "

This is called decadence. Institutions, like people, get old and ultimately stop working properly. It's a direct expression of entropy: disorder accumulates and ultimately takes over. It applies at all levels, from individuals to nation-states.

This is not a very satisfying explanation, since it lacks a mechanism (other than a fundamental law of physics). A quick scan of prior comments yields some of those; a big part of the problem is the culture of business in general, which is highly inappropriate to aircraft manufacture. Why has that decayed? Well, because things do.

Like Betelgeuse, the US, and most of its component institutions, is nearing the end of its lifespan. The end can be a gentle decline, but usually isn't. It's better not to be too close when empires or stars come to an end.

mauisurfer , February 14, 2020 at 5:26 pm

Thanks for this article, I learned a lot.
i like this explanation of how boeing went astray
but i think a large part of boeing's change was in the attempt to appeal
to politics by having stuff made in virtually every state, so that no congressman could vote against boeing welfare
of course lockheed martin did the same, so we see bernie voted for f35

JTMcPhee , February 14, 2020 at 9:40 pm

Pragmatic politics. He was in no position to kill the "program," so acted to cover his constituents -- what politicians are I guess supposed to do, what his campaign is all about with a much larger constituency and very different drivers.

Jack Gavin , February 14, 2020 at 5:44 pm

This is a journalism/grammar/writing rant. As much as liked the article why does Jeri-Lynne get to decide what is "devastating". To me the use of adjectives and adverbs that attempt to make up the readers' minds are being used more and more and are becoming increasingly hyperbolic. Why can't I decide what's "devastating" or, better yet, "whopping"? I often wonder if this overuse of adjectives is a result of Trump or a cause of Trump.

Late Introvert , February 14, 2020 at 11:32 pm

Maybe because she has worked hard to build up a large clientele who trusts her? Try it some time.

re: empathy, etropy

Late Introvert , February 14, 2020 at 11:33 pm

edit: trust

tegnost , February 15, 2020 at 10:21 am

yeah, come back next xmas (united is looking at sept as their latest in a continually expanding time line, and are they going to put that into their xmas fleet, who's going to get on one?) when the NFW is still grounded. 5000 orders with deposits 389 delivered, 387 still in one piece. But no, everything is fine, nothing to see here

EoH , February 14, 2020 at 6:00 pm

"I don't think culture contributed to that miss," he said. Calhoun said he has spoken directly to the engineers who designed MCAS and that "they thought they were doing exactly the right thing, based on the experience they've had.""

Translating corporate speak is always iffy, but here goes:

Culture, like the rotting of fish, starts at the top. By definition, culture could not have, "contributed to that miss."

Miss means 400 dead. What's a hit?

The CEO spoke directly to the engineers . With no empathy, the engineers either said what the CEO wanted to hear or were prepared to walk for telling the truth. About those student loan and health care debts .

Doing the right thing . see above

Based on the experience they had. The circularity is classic corp-speak. Missing is whether the experience is sufficient and relevant to the task, as opposed to what the new Boeing was prepared to pay for.

Dave in Austin , February 14, 2020 at 10:03 pm

Non-pilot, non-engineer here with two comments.

The Air France Brazil-to-Paris Airbus A340 crash a few years ago profoundly effected safety theory. The plane could have flown itself after the high-altitude stall but the computer was adding the inputs from the left and right seats. Nobody noticed that the right seat- fairly inexperienced- had grabbed the wrong control and pulled it back all the way instead of, if I remember correctly, holding onto a hand rest. The adding and dividing by two gave 3-4 minutes of bad data and the application of logic by the crew failed to solve the problem. My 2017 Toyota Corolla has the same hidden problem- the logic takes multiple inputs from the car and the driver and decides what "ought" to be done. But the driver (me) can still either override or learn the quirks of the logic and adopt to them (after a couple of close calls).

Second the 737 is a 50 year-old design. The Airbus 320 series has a wider tube which gives each passenger an extra inch of seat width. As the engine intakes have grown to allow what I assume are engines with a higher bypass ratio and better economy the wings on the 737, which appear to me to be closer to the ground than the wings of the 320, are less able to handle the larger engine casings of the newest GE engines. On the Airbus 320 the engines still fit under the wings. Not so on the 737. Moving the engineers far forward of the wing was the Boeing solution but that added instability, which put much greater demands on the automated control systems. More of a decade ago Boeing had to decide "clean sheet of paper new design or an upgrade" for the 737. There were many other Boeing projects in the design pipeline and a limited pool of money and engineers and there was the ever-present pressure to have lower expenses. The old Boeing was run by engineers who lived near the plant in Seattle; the new Boeing moved the headquarters staff to Chicago. and was essentially a financial company- remember Westinghouse and GE? Companies like Timken and Cummings still live in the midwestern towns where they were founded. Recently Cummings decided that some of the senior people preferred to live in exciting Chicago, not boring central Indiana. Only time will tell if that was a good move. But my stock purchases have moved to Timken; great granddad invented the tapered roller bearing and his descendants still get engineering degrees.

Kaleberg , February 14, 2020 at 11:22 pm

Boeing is going to have a hard time convincing people that they've fixed the problem with the Boeing 737-MAX, especially since they seem to be going about it so poorly. If you go to the pain relief section of your local drugstore, you will notice a number of products on the shelf branded "Tylenol". In the early 1980s, someone, as yet unknown, opened a number of Tylenol capsules and replaced the pain reliever inside with potassium cyanide. Seven people died in the Chicago area. To its credit, Johnson & Johnson, the makers of Tylenol, responded quickly and effectively. They pulled the product from the shelves and publicized the problem. They stopped selling Tylenol in capsule form. They redid their packaging to make any tampering obvious. It was touch and go. The name Tylenol was now associated with a rather gruesome way to die, but the company made a point of addressing the immediate problem with the recall, and the larger problem with changes to design of the product and the distribution chain.

This is still a business school case study, though sometimes disguised a bit. Very few students taking business courses these days were alive back then. My niece took such a course a few years back, and her initial reaction was to stonewall, to argue that it was not the company's fault, to clean up the existing supply, to insist that individuals should learn how to recognize the problem, to treat it as a PR problem, not a systemic problem. She asked us for our opinion and we had to laugh. Massengill still makes a vaginal douche, but they haven't made any pharmaceuticals since the 1930s when they made a bad batch of sulfa drugs and killed over a hundred people. Tylenol is still on sale today, and just about every OTC drug now applies J&J's best practices, those adopted in response to the poisonings.

Boeing has been handling the 737-MAX as a problem with that particular model of the 737 and as a PR problem. They resisted grounding the planes. They have tried shifting the blame. They are trying to do the bare minimum to get the aircraft re-certified, and they have let everyone know that. They have not addressed any of the actual issues. Where is their commitment to multiple redundancy? Where is the completely redesigned safety system? Where is their commitment to safety? Are they rethinking the entire idea of charging extra for basic safety features, as opposed to simply dropping the extra charges on this model?

Boeing has missed a number of opportunities. For example, there have been questions about wiring issues in the aircraft. I'm not going to judge them on technical grounds, but Boeing had a choice. They could have looked at the wiring, figured out a better scheme and started rolling it out, damn the cost. It's safety first. Instead, they've been arguing that these aren't particularly important issues. Maybe they're even right, but what everyone hears is "safety second or maybe third". It's like the redesign of the Apollo capsule after the fire. If there is any time for Boeing to be looking at safety issues, potential and proven, and showing that they are ready and willing to make changes to mitigate them, it is now.

KFritz , February 14, 2020 at 11:56 pm

The Sicilian Mafia, and its "semi-clone" the US Cosa Nostra, practice the kind of organizational empathy described early in this article (I haven't read about the practices of the Neapolitan, Calabrian, or Pugliese organizations in Italy). Mafiosi are not allowed to tell each other outright lies in matters of business. Tommaso Buscetta, the most important of the turncoat Sicilians (called pentiti ) took great pains to make sure that Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino (the 2 most important anti-Mafia prosecutors who were murdered a few months apart) understood this principle. Although Mafiosi are by definition parasitic predators, they've always understood that to maintain a code of silence before the law, they needed to be transparent with each other on a daily, operational basis. It speaks worlds about the environment at Boeing that a ruthless criminal conspiracy is a more transparent organization.

Caveat 1: since criminals, by definition, deal in treachery, conspiracy, and murder, Mafiosi often had very elliptical conversations, hiding their intentions without engaging in literal falsehood. For example, "I swear that I'll never be the one to break this peace." (But watch out for my son and heir, when I hand him the reins of power!) Employees at productive, well-managed enterprises have never labored under this burden, not being concerned with the parasitic accumulation of wealth and power. Communication could/can be straightforward.

Caveat 2: It's permissible for Mafiosi to lie when setting up a member to be murdered

Hoppy , February 15, 2020 at 4:09 am

I guess we could also apply the empathy argument to the air travel industry as a whole.

Its a little difficult to trust an industry and their supply chains when it treats customers as cattle instead of people. Boeing culture is just as much a symptom as it is the problem.

KFritz , February 15, 2020 at 5:21 pm

No matter how badly the air travel industry treats is customer-travellers, there's one part of their business that requires some degree of tansparency and transactional empathy: "You'll arrive at your destination alive and nearly as healthy as when you began your trip." Without that, there's not much of a business. So, Boeing is too toxic for even the air industry's ostensibly low empathy score

Hoppy , February 16, 2020 at 3:08 pm

I don't disagree, Just feeling like maybe the rot starts at the head.

d , February 15, 2020 at 12:08 pm

It is all about cost control, they hope that lack there of won't cost matter till long time later. Course it also why customer service is dead

Ignacio , February 15, 2020 at 1:23 pm

Very good read! Started yesterday evening and just finished. Comments enrich it as usual.

Sound of the Suburbs , February 15, 2020 at 1:36 pm

A reputation can take a life time to build, but it can be lost in seconds.

"Now he tells us" Boeing executives

skippy , February 15, 2020 at 4:53 pm

Great post on a belief system, some confuse for management, how that shapes reality for everyone else – worker, consumer, bystander, and how that permeates into society at large.

File under when Capital disinvests from reality, complexity refusing to become a line item.

HH , February 15, 2020 at 6:35 pm

There is a much deeper question at issue here: the quiet war between openness and secrecy in the software community. Secrecy and deception had been considered a fundamental component of business practice for all of history until the advent of complex software. A basic tenet of the open-source software community is that having many eyes on a software project results in a more reliable product than a closed development environment. Closed, proprietary software still dominates in companies like Apple, Facebook, and Amazon, but even such giants as Microsoft and IBM are coming to terms with the value of open source. If the bad 737-MAX design decisions had been made known to the aviation community at an early stage of development, the crashes and the destruction of Boeing's reputation would have been averted.

I believe that it is just a matter of time before proprietary software development results in enough MCAS-like disasters to be abandoned as an industry norm. Once a software project becomes essential to human safety and welfare, critical design decisions should not be concealed by fallible managers responding to perverse incentives. Human frailty cannot be overcome by reasoning and exhortations alone. Errors in the designs and work product of fallible individuals can be exposed and minimized through the observation of disinterested parties. That is why open source software is a surer path to a better future than a new set of corporate slogans, reorganizations, and regulations.

Typing Chimp , February 15, 2020 at 6:52 pm

A few issues with Open source software:

1. Legal rights are a headache. The whole copy-left issues and lack of case law make it difficult for companies to be able to use such code because nobody really understands the ramifications of doing so. At least some of the big companies have decided that they can win lawsuits (or outlast the people suing them), but this is not a universal strategy.

2. You are assuming that sufficient numbers of sufficiently competent people will examine the code once it is openly available. That is not necessarily the case–this is why attacks such as heartbleed (sp?) were so effective–and that was in SSL! Most pieces of code are not used (and therefore, by proxy, examined) nearly as often.

3. Open source software is still normally vastly inferior to the proprietary software (which is why people continue to use Windows and MacOS instead of Linux distros, which are "free")

Dirk77 , February 16, 2020 at 2:14 pm

I doubt open source would be much help here because you are ultimately testing with actual hardware. There is no way to get around that. You can have common standards, best practices and best algorithms. But eventually you need to do full qualification testing with real hardware. Even testing by simulation requires emulation of hardware elements that are specific to the vehicle you are testing. And no open source community is going to invest in buying and reproducing a whole airplane or even portions of it.

What you really need is better regulation with competent people doing the oversight. The problem with the fed agencies is the restrictions on their hiring put on them by congress.

Hoppy , February 16, 2020 at 3:22 pm

Both comments are 100% correct.

But also fail to express the futility of any other idea.

HH , February 15, 2020 at 8:18 pm

Granted, there are many problems that need to be solved before open source becomes a panacea, but I believe in the arrow of history, and it is clearly pointed away from concealment and deception as standard business methods. With each passing day, the balance between human and automated decison-making shifts toward computer systems. There is no conceivable argument for incorporating falsehood and deception into the operation of software, and the Boeing fiasco underlines the importance of eliminating concealed mischief in critical high-tech projects. I believe that we are approaching an era of institutional transparency enabled, and demanded by, an advanced digital civilization. Until that era begins, we will continue to suffer disasters like 737-MAX.

Typing Chimp , February 15, 2020 at 8:31 pm

Well, as somebody who tried very hard to make an open source product profitable, I hope you are correct, but so far, the issues have strongly dissuaded me from doing so.

I would like to just pick on one of your points, though, because I think it is a key bottleneck: code is not really "transparent" the way that text is, because most people are code-illiterate (meaning they can't even write their own code, let alone try to make heads or tails of somebody else's). Yes, in principle, people can pick over anybody else's code, but in reality, they don't. Until this changes, it is very difficult to reach your ideal "era of institutional transparency."

I wish it were otherwise–we could live in a very different world

tegnost , February 15, 2020 at 8:39 pm

Algorithms designed by people incentivised to conceal and deceive by self interested party's will do so . The tech industry may want to act as if they bear no responsibility when in fact they get implicated in most of it. Originally I asked whats the term for the theology of software because some people believe in software to the point of religious dogma. For instance level 5 self driving is forever and always just ten short years away That and the tech industry is more than happy to "disrupt" pretty much anything for a buck which makes it a kind of weird religion

Hoppy , February 16, 2020 at 3:38 pm

"theology of software", theology of words.

ChrisPacific , February 16, 2020 at 12:57 am

Thanks for this article, which I finally got around to reading.

The part I can't get past is that Airbus has three state machines and five controllers, and apparently still felt that it was a matter of life and death for them to convince regulators of their safety. Boeing has two, of which it appears only one was working at any given time, and seems to have felt that this was no big deal and couldn't understand why anybody would be worried – to the point of not even considering it as a possible explanation when hundreds of people died.

The point on empathy in business is one I've encountered before a lot of times. One variation of it is what a friend of mine calls the "asshole premium."

[Feb 02, 2020] Boeing 737NG a Flying Deathtrap

Feb 02, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

AntiSpin , Feb 2 2020 19:37 utc | 26

Boeing 737NG – a Flying Deathtrap
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IaWdEtANi-0

I have not seen this posted here so far (though I may have just missed it) but just in case:

This video is a whistleblower group's exposé of collusion between Boeing, a major parts supplier to Boeing, the US Justice Department and the FAA, to cover up the fact that major structural parts for the 737NG were supplied to Boeing way out of spec, and that the crudest imaginable methods were used to make them "fit" at the assembly point.

Among the various occupations that I tried out during a long lifetime, I spent a few years as an airframe modification mechanic. I understand every word of this video, and the implications of those words. I find the video horrifying and terrifying, and I find myself outraged by it.

Major structural parts (that hold the fuselage together) that did not fit, that had misaligned fastener holes, etc, etc, and that were hammered into place or otherwise "made to fit," have already failed in aircraft that were full of passengers. In the three incidents so far in which those parts failed and the fuselage came apart, the aircraft was on the ground. It will only be a matter of time until one of those airframes comes apart in the air.

DO NOT EVER FLY in a Boeing 737NG!

Watch the video!

p.s. The Boeing 737MAX is just a 737NG modified to make it even more dangerous to fly

[Jan 10, 2020] "This Plane Was Designed By Clowns, Who Are Supervised By Monkeys"

Jan 10, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Shocking Boeing Emails Reveal Contempt For Management, FAA

"Would you put your family on a Max simulator trained aircraft? I wouldn't," one employee said to a colleague in another exchange from 2018, before the first crash. "No," the colleague responded.

[Jan 01, 2020] Boeing 737MAX Automated Crashes

Jan 01, 2020 | media.ccc.de

Everybody knows about the Boeing 737 MAX crashes and the type's continued grounding. I will try to give some technical background information on the causes of the crash, technical, sociological and organisational, covering pilot proficiency, botched maintenance, system design and risk assessment, as well as a deeply flawed certification processes.

On the surface of it, the accidents to two aircraft of the same type (Boeing 737 MAX), which eventually led to the suspension of airworthiness of the type, was caused by faulty data from one of the angle-of-attack sensors. This in turn led to automatic nose-down trim movements, which could not be countered effectively by the flight crew. Eventually, in both cases, the aircraft became uncontrollable and entered a steep accelerated dive into terrain, killing all people on board on impact.

In the course of the investigation, a new type of flight assistance system known as the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) came to light. It was intended to bring the flight characteristics of the latest (and fourth) generation of Boeing's best-selling 737 airliner, the "MAX", in line with certification criteria. The issue that the system was designed to address was relatively mild. A little software routine was added to an existing computer to add nose-down trim in situations of higher angles of attack, to counteract the nose-up aerodynamic moment of the new, much larger, and forward-mounted engine nacelles.

Apparently the risk assessment for this system was not commensurate with its possible effects on aircraft behaviour and subsequently a very odd (to a safety engineer's eyes) system design was chosen, using a single non-redundant sensor input to initiate movement of the horizontal stabiliser, the largest and most powerful flight control surface. At extreme deflections, the effects of this flight control surface cannot be overcome by the primary flight controls (elevators) or the manual actuation of the trim system. In consequence, the aircraft enters an accelerated nose-down dive, which further increases the control forces required to overcome its effects.

Finally I will take a look at certification processes where a large part of the work and evaluation is not performed by an independent authority (FAA, EASA, ...) but by the manufacturer, and in many cases is then simply signed off by the certification authority. In a deviation from common practice in the past, EASA has announced that it may not follow the FAA (re-) certification, but will require additional analyses and evidence. China, which was the first country to ground the "MAX", will also not simply adopt the FAA paperwork.

[Dec 29, 2019] Have Boeing Board of Directors invited China to apply their best management and justice techniques and jurisdiction to Boeing Corp (from Board of Direcotors down)

Dec 29, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

BM , Dec 28 2019 18:22 utc | 13

This is true justice:
China Sentences Ex-Chairman of Hengfeng Bank to Death
Posted by: vk | Dec 28 2019 16:16 utc | 7

Have Boeing Board of Directors invited China to apply their best management and justice techniques and jurisdiction to Boeing Corp (from Board of Direcotors down) to help them get through their current difficulties? It would be the most effective way to make Boeing profitable and effective.

No? Not yet? Well, maybe they put personal matters before shareholders' interests?

[Dec 25, 2019] Muilenburg Forced Out of Boeing, But 737 Max No Closer to Flying. What Happens If It Stays Grounded

Dec 25, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Muilenburg Forced Out of Boeing, But 737 Max No Closer to Flying. What Happens If It Stays Grounded? Posted on December 24, 2019 by Yves Smith Dennis Muilenburg, the Boeing CEO who from the outset of the Max 737 crisis relied on blame-shifting and spin as his first line of response, is gone. But as we'll discuss, getting rid of Muilenburg doesn't address the mess the giant manufacturer is in. The FAA's body language is that Boeing isn't close to getting a green light on the 737 Max.

If Boeing and the FAA are still at loggerheads in six months, with still no date for the 737 Max going into service, it isn't just that pressure on Boeing's suppliers and customers will become acute, perhaps catastrophic for some. Boeing's practice of booking future, yet to be earned, profits as current income means persistent negative cash flow could lead to an unraveling. The last time we saw similar accounting was how supposedly risk free future income from CDOs was discounted and included in the current earnings of banks. Remember how that movie ended? 1

Now hopefully we are just being unduly worried, since the downside of the 737 Max remaining grounded with no date as to when it will go into service is more considerable than the press seems to appreciate.

But a big red flag is the lack of any specifics about where the FAA and Boeing are, and I don't mean just dates. For instance, if the FAA and Boeing were not all that far apart on a remedy and the FAA just needed Boeing to satisfy the agency on a few more issues, you'd expect both sides to be making cautiously positive noises. The absence of anything like that is a bad sign.

Muilenburg Ouster: Too Little, Too Late

Muilenburg left under duress. It appears that the shock of Boeing needing to suspend 737 Max production to conserve cash flow roused the board out of its complacency.

Even though Boeing issued a tart statement showing an intent to chart a better course, and Mr. Market obligingly gave the stock a 3% pop, there's every reason to regard the shift as too little, too late. 2 We were hardly alone in saying early on that Boeing was totally botching how it was handling the grounding. From a March post :

Boeing is breaking the rules of crisis management and making what may well prove to be a bad "bet the company" wager .

It is important to recognize that the global grounding of the 737 Max is the result of trying to compensate for questionable, profit-driven engineering choices by adding a safety feature (the MCAS software system) and then going cheap on that, in terms of selling planes not kitted out fully and acting as if it was perfectly fine to install software that could take control of the plane and barely tell pilots about it. Two paragraphs more than 700 pages into a manual does not qualify as anything approaching adequate disclosure.

Boeing is taking steps that look designed to appear adequate, when given the damage done to the 737 Max and its brand generally, this isn't adequate. No one has any reason to give Boeing the benefit of the doubt. The scale of this failure is so large that it's called the adequacy of FAA certifications into question. Until this fiasco, aviation regulators deferred to the judgment of regulator in the country where the manufacturer was headquartered. But with China embarrassing the FAA by (correctly) being the first to ground the 737 Max, foreign regulators will make their own checks of Boeing's 737 Max fixes .and that practice may continue with other US-origin planes unless Boeing and the FAA both look to have learned a big lesson. So far, Boeing's behavior says not.

Some other posts explained the need for a Muilenburg defenestration, starting in March:

Boeing Crapification: 737 MAX Play-by-Play, Regulatory Capture, and When Will CEO Muilenburg Become the Sacrificial Victim?

Ralph Nader Calls Out Boeing for 737 MAX Lack of Airworthiness, Stock Buybacks, and Demands Muilenburg Resign

737 Max May Stay Grounded into 2020; Why Does Boeing CEO Muilenburg Still Have a Job?

The fact that Muilenburg remained long past his sell by date is a sign of how deeply disconnected the Boeing board is. It seemed reminiscent of the way Wells Fargo chairman and CEO John Stumpf held on, trying to maintain the pretense that institutionalized unrealistic sales goals that virtually required employees to cheat customers were the doing of 'a few bad apples". The Wells directors may have rationalized their head-in-the-sand posture by the fact that Stumpf had long been a key driver of Norwest Bank and later Wells' acquisition and growth strategies, which then became his downfall. After Stumpf left, the bank was caught out in even more abuses, such as unwarranted car repossessions and force placing home insurance.

Even the complacent Boeing board should have been jolted out of its stupor in November. Then, FAA director Steve Dickson pushed back on Boeing pressure to recertify the 737 Max by year end via his weekly video to the troops, which was guaranteed to be picked up by the press. The bit about the 737 Max starts at 0:59:

https://www.youtube.com/embed/N71s4_Q3Fe4

This message should have alarmed the Boeing board, since Dickson made clear he was not committing to any timetable. But apparently Boeing continued to pressure the FAA privately, leading Dickson to make an even more pointed statement earlier this month. Even so, the Boeing top brass seemed incapable of recognizing that it wasn't anywhere near having the plane back in business until Muilenburg initiated the production halt, sending shock waves through Boeing's supply chain.

Boeing Still Not Taking the Crisis Seriously Enough

There isn't much reason to be optimistic about the installation of the Boeing chairman David Calhoun as CEO effective January 13. On paper, he looks credible: former executive from GE's jet engine operation; a seasoned "corporate fixer," according to the Wall Street Journal , with a turnaround at Nielsen to his credit; and a Blackstone executive.

But being an executive at a top parts maker isn't the same as leading a regulated business and one in deep trouble. And the depiction of Calhoun as a fixer suggests that his strong suit is behind-the-scenes cleanups and talking customers and money people out of trees.

Consider the Journal's take on Calhoun's job priorities , which presumably reflect how he and the board see them:

Mr. Calhoun and Boeing finance chief Greg Smith, who will serve as interim CEO, face the same challenges as Mr. Muilenburg: winning back the confidence of government officials, suppliers, airlines and the traveling public. Mr. Calhoun spent much of Monday phoning some of those constituents, including lawmakers, a Boeing spokesman said.

This is completely and utterly backwards. Yes, as a matter of ritual, a new CEO calls key constituents ASAP and he needs to call more people and do more listening if he's inheriting a big mess.

But Boeing has a massive immediate and longer-term problem and they are reality problems, not perception, aka "confidence" problems.

The 737 Max needs to be fixed . The fact that the FAA hasn't accepted the software patches that Boeing has attempted and that the FAA is having to tell Boeing to drop its pressure is a strong tell that whatever Boeing-submitted remedies the agency is looking at now may not do either, or at best, they will require simulator training, something Boeing has fiercely resisted.

If our reading of the tea leaves is correct, and Boeing is still not close to satisfying the FAA and foreign regulators, who have no reason to cut the US manufacturer any slack, all of this confidence building is besides the point.

In fact, as a gander through the Wall Street Journal's comment section shows, even more readers are saying they won't get on the plane until it has been in the air for quite a while. Now those sentiments may not translate into action. If you are coming home and you find to your surprise that your plane is a 737 Max, will you really refuse to board and go on a later flight? The flip side is serious refusniks can make a point of booking as often as possible on 737 Max-free Delta. And the longer the plane's grounding continues, the more the bad press will feed passenger fears.

Boeing needs a fundamental turnaround . Quite a few journalists have described how Boeing's once vaunted engineering prowess went out the window as a result of the reverse takeover by McDonnell Douglas. The decision to go cheap and expedient with a 737 product extension in the form of the Max, as opposed to biting the bullet and building a new fuel-efficient narrow-body that would presumably be the first in a new long-lived model family, typifies the short-termism that has brought Boeing to this sorry juncture. Its bean-counters-masquerading-as-leaders have bizarrely shed what even MBAs ought to recognize as its core competence, namely its engineering prowess. The production problems with the 787 Dreamliner and the embarrassment of an aborted "Starliner" space capsule demo are further evidence of institutional rot.

Troublingly, Calhoun has been a Boeing director since 2009, so he participated in the board approval of the 737 Max in August 2011. In other words, he's never had a problem with the long-term gutting of Boeing's engineering chops; there's no reason to think he has adequate perspective on how bad things have gotten.

The Seattle Times confirms that experts see Calhoun as incapable of rebuilding Boeing :

A former Boeing senior leader, who asked for anonymity to speak freely, admitted doubts about whether Calhoun is the one to revive the company's historic culture of engineering prowess that's been eclipsed for years by a focus on financial performance.

"If it's just more cost cutting, that's not what we need," he said. "We have to restore the culture of engineering excellence that has served us so well for over a century."

In an interview, Richard Aboulafia, vice president of analysis at aviation consulting firm Teal Group, offered similar concern that Calhoun may have "the wrong skill-set to change Boeing."

"He's been on Boeing's board for 10 years, coming from the private equity industry and from GE in the Jack Welch era," Aboulafia said. "This is the kind of résumé that Boeing has not been lacking and it's not as if he's bringing a fresh perspective."

He said Boeing needs a leader now with not only a firm grip of the jetliner market but also with "a strong understanding and appreciation for engineering."

"That's what's been lacking at Boeing, and that's what this company really needs," he said.

Analyst Rob Stallard at Vertical Research Partners argued that Calhoun won't be at the helm all that long, that his job will be to get the 737 Max flying and choose a successor. But as we suggested, our sense remains that Boeing is not all that close to having the 737 Max approved as safe. It's not clear what happens if the crisis were to drag on, say, for another six months, and still have no timetable for resolution. And given how much of an overhaul Boeing needs, a more engineering-minded CEO, even in the unlikely event Calhoun would recommend one to the board, would only be a first step on the airplane maker's road to recovery. The company needs an executive-level housecleaning, but Calhoun and this board are unlikely to back a radical course change.

We thought our take on Boeing's managerial rot was grim, but a fresh edition of the highly regarded industry newsletter Leeham News if anything says we haven't been caustic enough. From yesterday's release :

Boeing needs to take bold steps -- and I mean, really bold steps -- to recover from the worst crisis in its 103 year history.

I outlined in an Oct. 7 column why the top executives and half the Board of Directors need to go. This was limited to the MAX crisis.

Things only got worse since then

As noted in the Oct. 7 column, the Boeing board is entrenched.

It also fails to include a pilot of high stature -- someone like a Chesley Sullenburger or the late Al Haynes. Given what's happened, a former investigator from the National Transportation Safety Board or a former member of the EASA regulatory agency might be a good addition.

The GE cost-cutting culture in the executive ranks and the Board that's been prevalent for 20 years needs to go.

Crucial is a Board that has fresh perspective and is not married to "shareholder value" as the No. 1, 2 and 3 priorities.

Shareholder value is important, of course. But not at the expense of safety and investing in new airplanes rather than derivatives of a 50-year old design (the 737) or a band aid (the 777X).

While I agree wholeheartedly that Boeing needs to get rid of most of its C-Suite and a lot of its board, I don't see how this happens any time soon. Board directors have staggered terms. It is hard to see what deus ex machina could force half of the board out in short order. And only a new board would be sufficiently ruthless about the current executives.

The entire Leeham newsletter is very much worth reading. It also argues that Boeing needs to launch a new plane .

As with Wells Fargo, the most likely source for root and branch reform at Boeing will be outside pressure, but absent a bona fide crisis, again it is hard to see big enough changes soon. Even so, Boeing's suppliers and its 737 Max customers are already at their wits' end. Many of them are powerful companies in their own right, either nationally or in Congressional districts. If Boeing does not get its act together on the 737 Max in relatively short order, the knock-on effects will only get worse.

Matt Stoller highlighted a critical point we confess we'd missed about Boeing's misleading accounting , which he lifted from a 2016 Wall Street Journal article (emphasis his):

Boeing is one of the few companies that uses a technique called program accounting. Rather than booking the huge costs of building the advanced 787 or other aircraft as it pays the bills, Boeing -- with the blessing of its auditors and regulators and in line with accounting rules -- defers those costs, spreading them out over the number of planes it expects to sell years into the future . That allows the company to include anticipated future profits in its current earnings. The idea is to give investors a read on the health of the company's long-term investments.

As we indicated above, the last time we saw anything remotely like this booking not-yet-earned future profits on a current basis was with CDOs, and that very abuse was a major driver of the financial crisis. The idea that Boeing could unravel seems far fetched. But the idea that AIG could fail would have been dismissed as fantastical in 2006.

Again, it's easy to dismiss these concerns as a tail risk. But those tails are fatter than you think.

___

1 We have way more detail on how this scheme worked in ECONNED and past posts, but here is the short version: The links between the demand for CDOs and the "negative basis trade" that was arguably a widespread form of bonus fraud. When a AAA instrument, in this case the AAA tranche of CDOs, was insured by an AAA guarantor (think AIG or the monolines), internal reports typically treated it as if all the expected income in future years was discounted to the present. As we know now, in the overwhelming majority of cases, bonuses were paid on income that was never earned. This mechanism was THE reason many banks would up holding so much AAA CDO inventory – it was more lucrative for the traders to retain and "hedge" it than sell it.

2 We see via Leeham News that this appears to be a widely-shared take; for instance, Lion Air used the same expression in a letter commemorating the Muilenburg exit.


Samuel Conner , December 24, 2019 at 7:37 am

Re: Boeing's fierce resistance to simulator training:

This has been portrayed, no doubt correctly, as a cost-containment agenda to make the Max-8 more appealing to customers.

The thought occurs that avoiding simulator training might also have a "conceal the behavior" agenda, in that if the simulator were to actually train pilots on the new "features", they would have the privilege of memorable experiences of trying to override MCAS and correct the stabilizer trim (with the 'too-small' manual trim wheel) while plummeting toward earth.

Simulator training for MCAS would IMO have been "anti-marketing" for this aircraft.

Which suggests a marketing chicken-and-egg catastrophe, in that MCAS was supposed to avoid the need for retraining, but having implemented MCAS, retraining remains undesirable as it might disincentivize customers whose pilots, having experienced simulated MCAS emergencies, might be, quite reasonably, chary of flying this craft.

It looks very ugly for Boeing, IMO.

Darius , December 24, 2019 at 10:28 am

Boeing was selling the MAX as requiring almost no retraining to save airlines expense and lost pilot time. Southwest in particular insisted on it.

Canada has called for removing MCAS, the trigger of this whole problem, from the MAX. Am I correct that modifications required to get the MAX back in the air at some point void common-type recertification and lead to the need for a ground up certification like a clean sheet design? It seems in that case Boeing would be truly screwed.

Yves Smith Post author , December 24, 2019 at 3:58 pm

The comment from the Canadian source was the view of someone at the regulator, and not a formal position. So it isn't clear how widely his opinion is shared.

No MCAS = permanent grounding of the plane. The hardware would have to be redesigned, which would take the better part of a decade.

Samuel Conner , December 24, 2019 at 4:32 pm

Have no idea about the issue of re- versus de novo certification.

I have the impression that without MCAS, the 737 Max-8 cannot safely ascend steeply on takeoff; the AoA is too high and the tendency is to pitch up, risking a stall. I think that means a significantly shallower and slower ascent to cruising altitude.

The cynic in me wonders if the retirement fund should be short the parent company, rather than long.

Synoia , December 24, 2019 at 7:40 am

I posited previously that the MCAS solution, with dual AoA sensors was the best design Boeing could find for the bad flight characteristics, a hardware problem, for the 727 Max.

And that now Boeing is trying to invent a better than best solution.

Software cannot compensate for bad hardware. Or one cannot fix a hardware problem with software.

One did wonder about the wisdom, the risk, of continuing to build a flawed plane for inventory when it could not fly safely.

It appears to be throwing good money after bad with a plan based on "then a miracle occurs."

Hayek's Heelbiter , December 24, 2019 at 8:55 am

Nowhere have I read how much money Boeing saved by using single AOA sensors rather than dual sensors. Not sure that the polling would have corrected the MCAS software, but supposing it did:

If x = cost savings / plane, y = # of planes, and -$7bn equals return on the investment, then wouldn't ROI = -$7bn / (x*y) * 100%.

Which whatever figures x and y represent, this decision would seem to me to result in one of the most astonishing ROIs in history. Operation Barbarossa probably doesn't even come close.

An aside, interesting how many people are treating the 737 Max crashes as Black Swans when in fact they are the inevitable result of allowing MBAs to make engineering (and many other) decisions.

Samuel Conner , December 24, 2019 at 10:32 am

From a number of sources (my first notice of this was at the Moon of Alabama 'blog), the 737 flight control computer, which is based on a 286-class CPU, is at the thresh-hold of overburdened with the current software.

It's conceivable to me that the single-AoA data input was related to limitations on how much additional number crunching the FCC could deal with.

It seems likely that improvements to the software or the cockpit user interfaces, if possible, would add to the computing burden, and if the FCCs are already near their limit, the fix may be very difficult to realize.

Those tens of billions of dollars spent on share buy-backs are looking very poorly spent.

Jos Oskam , December 24, 2019 at 1:49 pm

@Samuel

My thoughts exactly.

I've spent (wasted?) years of my early IT career developing real-time software in 286-based environments. These things are not really processing powerhouses, but there is more. When you design hardware around them, the options for channeling interrupts, I/O, accessing memory etcetera are limited. In short, the whole hardware package puts severe constraints on what you can do.

If the developers effectively did run into FCC capacity problems forcing them to oversimplify MCAS implementation, the only ways out that I can see are either leaving out MCAS completely (the "Canadian option") or replacing the 286-based FCC with something significantly more powerful, with the latter option probably required in the future anyway.

If the FCC indeed needs to be redone and replaced on all 737max planes, don't expect them to fly anytime soon. I would wager a rough guess of a few years at least not to speak of what's needed to re-certify the thing, or the plane.

John Zelnicker , December 24, 2019 at 3:32 pm

@Jos Oskam
December 24, 2019 at 1:49 pm
-- -- -

From what I have seen elsewhere, mainly Moon of Alabama, replacing the FCC would be such a major change as to require re-certifying the entire aircraft. There are also issues of the existing software being written within the limitations of 286-based CPU's as another commentator has mentioned. Boeing really has boxed themselves in.

Apparently, it would also be hugely expensive.

Shiloh1 , December 24, 2019 at 2:49 pm

Fired? No way. He and the rest of the directors officers C-suiters current and former and their family members should be in the jump seats on every flight.

Same goes for GM's coverup delay on Cobalt ignition switches and Ford Focus locking transmission in drive.

XXYY , December 24, 2019 at 12:13 pm

one cannot fix a hardware problem with software.

As a software engineer with many decades experience I can say that (a) this is generally true, but (b) it doesn't stop people from trying it on every project!

"We'll fix it in software" is a punch line at almost every tech company.

John Wright , December 24, 2019 at 1:42 pm

From my experience in embedded software controlling hardware, fixing hardware "problems" depends on what the hardware issues (problems) are.

For example stable and predictable non-linear behavior in a sensor may appear to be a problem, but may it be easily compensated for by software that compensates for the sensor's behavior.

If the hardware "problem" does not have stable and predictable behavior, then one can't fix it in software. For example, one can't compensate for a completely failed or unstable sensor.

One can view data corrupting noise in information channels as a "hardware problem" that has been extremely well compensated for by software for many years in computer networks and hardware.

The success of the computer hard drive depends on recorded cyclic redundancy codes that are used to verify that data read back is indeed "good", otherwise a re-reading of the drive is launched.

Effectively this software compensation for noise in communications channels traces back to Claude Shannon's 1948 work on information theory.

Thomas P , December 24, 2019 at 3:59 pm

The masters of fixing hardware problems with software have to be in NASA, the people who care for space probes that develop glitches over the years. It's amazing how they can work around one device after another breaking down, using computers with the processor power of a microwave oven.

Not that those fixes would pass FAA, but when you don't have a choice you can do a lot with software.

none , December 24, 2019 at 9:48 pm

I'm still unclear about why the MAX hardware is "bad", other than it doesn't respond to pilot input the same way the earlier 737 hardware did. They therefore added MCAS as a type of compatibility layer. That seems like a reasonable idea to me except that 1) the pilots should know that it is there, and 2) there has to be a way to turn it off if things get weird! And of course 3) Both 1 and 2 require additional pilot training which was a no-go the way the MAX program was sold.

Now that everyone knows about MCAS though, the above all seem fixable. The MAX has other problems as well that might further delay re-certification. I see mention of the FAA pushing back at Boeing, so I guess we will see whether the FAA is really out of Boeing's pocket this time.

rowlf , December 24, 2019 at 10:13 pm

MCAS was not well documented and past flight envelope protection systems had less authority and could be physically overidden as the flight crew went through the process to turn off the system. In the past main trim and autopilot stabilizer trim had cutout switches.

John k , December 24, 2019 at 1:21 pm

Airbus uses three sensors, each feeding a different make computer. The three results are compared, consensus among at least two determine the truth. So to equal this, Boeing needs two more sensors, not one more. But as noted, their ancient computer chip might be maxed out. IMO they need to emulate airbus, but maybe that costs too much takes too long? How costly to retrofit the existing fleet?
At least it would avoid activating the Frankenstein Mcas unnecessarily.

rowlf , December 24, 2019 at 8:08 pm

Almost. For an A320 series aircraft there are three Angle Of Attack (AOA) sensors and three Air Data Inertial Reference Units (ADIRU). The sensors and the ADIRUs come from the same vendor and no intermix is allowed between vendors or often even mod level. Each ADIRU gets AOA information from channels in two AOA sensors and information is compared internally between the two channels in the ADIRU and then also cross checked with the other two ADIRUs calculations. With three units each flight crew display has two sources to choose from as well as a standby fourth system with limited functions. Also, all systems using ADIRU data, such as the two Flight Augmentation Computers (FAC), will fault mismatched inputs. All of these systems have been refined over the thirty years of service of this type of aircraft.

One of the features of the 1980/90s Airbus A320 avionics architecture is that trend monitoring of air data systems (Pitot, Static, AOA) and inertial systems is on the horizon. This will speed up the refinement process of the systems. In the past flight test aircraft and operator's aircraft equipped with special add on data logging equipment was needed to refine the systems.

I wouldn't be surprised if Boeing either went back to a SMYD type computer with two AOA channels to remove the MCAS function from the FCC or added a boat-load of aerodynamic add-ons to correct the pitch fault.

(See the Beechcraft 1900 airliner or a McDonnell Douglas MD-90 as an example of aerodynamic patches.)

Yves Smith Post author , December 24, 2019 at 8:52 pm

I understand that Airbus even had independent teams program the software for each AOA sensor so as to make it impossible for a software bug to be replicated across sensors.

rowlf , December 24, 2019 at 9:34 pm

I don't believe that is true. An airframe manufacturer (Airbus) will often offer several vendor supplied units that meet specifications. So there may be two or three AOA sensor suppliers to choose from and two or three ADIRU suppliers. The AOA vane only supplies position information, the ADIRU then takes the input and determines how to use the position information while also comparing the calculations the other two ADIRUs come up with. Some tolerance between inputs is allowable and wild information such as when airspeed is too low it make the AOA track correctly (Take off and landing roll) is a function located inside the ADIRU. A few years ago an A320 operator reported problems from the three AOA sensors freezing due to water in the bearing area which led to the ADIRUs not being able to discriminate between bad inputs so a Service Bulletin was issued to replace that model/mod level units. (It's a very dynamic environment and depending on what regulating authority an operator is under controls how the operator updates their aircraft. FAA and EASA are usually very strict.)

The independent team approach is usually used in flight control and flight guidance, where you would want one team to determine flight command and the other team to determine monitoring due to the same input. The two systems have different architecture and if a disagree occurs the computer drops out and the next in the chain of control takes over. Early on control would be Intel architecture and monitoring would be Motorola, which led to a lot of "I'm a PC/I'm a MAC" jokes when troubleshooting in service faults.

Carey , December 24, 2019 at 9:29 pm

>added a boat-load of aerodynamic add-ons to correct the pitch fault.

Thanks *very much* for this full comment. From this lookie-loo's seat the above really seems to be the least-bad option, but it'll be interesting to see what shakes out from the OEM, the FAA, and other regulators.

Quite a climb-down involved with that proposed solution, though.

Carey , December 24, 2019 at 11:08 pm

Adding: aerodynamic fixes for the MAX's issues would almost certainly
reduce fuel efficiency, and airlines would not be happy with that.
That could be partly why that approach (which the MAX's first
chief test pilot recommended, IIRC) was not approved by
management.

Vichy Chicago , December 24, 2019 at 5:17 pm

This reminds me of the apocryphal quote attributed to a Spanish admiral before the Armada sailed "we have the confident hope of a miracle (to beat the English)."

Lambert Strether , December 24, 2019 at 7:46 am

That's an astonishingly good video from Steve Dickson. How on earth did he get the job?

Dean , December 24, 2019 at 8:14 am

What I'm wondering about is the current administration is (correctly) letting the FAA put safety first in this instance at the expense of business and growth.

Or am I missing something?

curious euro , December 24, 2019 at 12:05 pm

They cannot do otherwise since the EU and China, especially China, keeps them honest.
If it were a purely inside-US problem, the plane would already be in the air again is my guess. However, they cannot sign off on Boeing when China has legitimate reasons not to.

As for the article's outlook of a possible AIG-type disaster, I sort of agree this is likely. Tho it will more be a GM like disaster and rescue plan since Boeing is in manufacturing. There is no way in gehenna (family blog) Boeing will fail. Boeing is certainly much more too big to fail than any other manufacturing business in the US. The US government must and certainly will step in when, probably not if, Boeing's C-suite is incapable. This kind of rescue is also the only realistic way imho, how this totally incapable board can be fired for incompetence and a back to engineering roots leadership installed. If the US government has the will to do this of course. In the name of national security even, which this is, for once, actually sort of, is. Boeing has a military business side as well, which needs the civilian one and vice versa.

So I see a "it has to get a lot worse before it can better" scenario for Boeing, since there have obvious problems at the whole Boeing board-level, not just with Muilenburg. The govenment on the other side will only be allowed to step in if actual bankruptcy looms, which is still quite a bit away.

Briny , December 24, 2019 at 6:56 pm

Well, on the Pentagon side, Boeing isn't winning any adulation as a result of the continuing KC-46A fiasco.

The Historian , December 24, 2019 at 8:37 am

Having worked for the gov and seen many directors come and go, I ask that too! He doesn't fit in any of the categories that the pols usually pick for those positions, i.e., politically well connected, good looking, yes men with MBA's and with little knowledge of the agency they are supposed to direct.

And how is he keeping that job – the pressures on him must be enormous. He must have a backbone of steel.

Typing Monkey , December 24, 2019 at 12:24 pm

Re: "How is he keeping that job"

Isn't it obvious? The FAA is well and truly screwed if they don't improve their credibility with their foreign counterparts as quickly as possible. That credibility will not come from being acquiescent–it will come from visibly demonstrating that they are willing to cause severe pain to the industry they regulate when it is necessary to act in such a manner.

I would be absolutely astonished if it turns out that the FAA was not significantly responsible for Muilenburg's very justified firing. And whatever Calhoun's shortfalls, I suspect that he has learned the lesson and will not be stupid enough to pressure the FAA going forward (at least not publically).

Yves Smith Post author , December 24, 2019 at 4:01 pm

He was appointed in August. Someone in the Trump Administration must have been uncharacteristically alert enough to realize that getting the FAA seen to be credible again with other regulators was a necessary if not sufficient condition for saving Boeing's hide. The US losing its ability to have its certifications accepted by other regulations is deadly to US aviation.

We said in our November post we thought Dickson was the real deal. Glad you agree.

Carey , December 24, 2019 at 9:39 pm

You could easily be right, but I didn't see it similarly.

"Straight talk from Steve" sounds like more PR-concocted spin to me, from the title on down. Telling staff to take their time (privately) is good, for sure, but publicly pointing it up feels like "Reassure Investors™ 101", to me.

One POV.

rowlf , December 24, 2019 at 10:30 pm

Dickson came from Delta Airlines where he had experienced the transition to good management, leadership and the development of a strong safety culture. He also has experience with flying Airbus and Boeing aircraft.

Carey , December 24, 2019 at 11:11 pm

Thank you. Mine was purely a seat-of-the-pants impression.

DHG , December 24, 2019 at 7:50 am

Either Boeing scraps the Max and creates a new design for this size of airplane or they will fail and be out of existence.

California Bob , December 24, 2019 at 12:37 pm

Boeing will never 'fail.' If worse comes to worse, the Pentagon will order 10,000 F-15Xes the Air Force doesn't want, to keep the factories going,

Yves Smith Post author , December 24, 2019 at 4:03 pm

That isn't a fix. Military sales are only 30% of Boeing's total revenues.

Plus I can guarantee the supply chains are completely different and the objective would be as much to save the supply chain as Boeing proper.

Hmsdaley , December 24, 2019 at 7:54 am

I think they're pretty well hosed. My understanding is they tried to fix a physics (or physical) problem with software. The engine is simply too big for the plane. Until they replace the engine or resize the plane, the Max is a no-fly for me. It's hard enough to accept fly by wire when the plane is engineered correctly. To make it so the plane doesn't want to stay aloft by design and then patch with a single, non-redundant sensor/system is lunacy.

I could see Boeing splitting into three parts: defense, commercial air, and parts/service. Much like when the financial services guys were caught, they will attempt to "bad bank" the commercial air division.

This will be a case study one day. Hopefully the MBA/managerial class will learn the right lesson from this. Absolute tragedy.

Seems like an opportunity for an Airbus only Southwest knock-off

inode_buddha , December 24, 2019 at 9:01 am

If they were capable of learning this wouldn't have happened in the first place. The reason they are not capable is pride and arrogance. It isn't the first time in history that a company was endangered or destroyed by short-sightedness and hubris. Examples abound:

GM
LTV
GE
HP
Bethlehem Steel
Sears Roebuck

The list goes on and on and on .

In each case, the downfall happens after the "financialization" of the makeup of the board of directors. Simply put, when they make [money] instead of [product], they whole thing eventually tanks. The best years at Bethlehem was when it was run by steel men. The best years at GM was when it was ran by car people. The best years at HP was when it was run by engineers.

Failure is an easily observable and repeatable, historic pattern of activity.

Dirk77 , December 24, 2019 at 10:31 am

I am wondering if this fiasco along with the others exposes some psychological fault of humans. It's like taking a moderately intelligent person -> modern business school education -> functional idiot that couldn't find his way out of a paper bag -> company is destroyed.

Boeing seems to be merely collateral damage of the particular path the American Empire has chosen to take to die. Is there anything that can arrest this trajectory? Anyone, anyone? Making stock buybacks illegal would certainly help – if done ten years ago. But now? And I found out recently that in 2017 Boeing had its own employee pension plan invest in its own stock. No one could possibly think that was anything than a stock buyback. A board that does that might as well be in private equity. But then they are. Jesus.

Typing Monkey , December 24, 2019 at 12:32 pm

> If they were capable of learning this wouldn't have happened in the first place. The reason they are not capable is pride and arrogance.

I am not sympathetic to Boeing's plight (and in fact very much hope that criminal charges will be laid in this instance, which in fact may be required for credibility reasons), but if you want to understand the situation rather than polemize, you need to understand the double-bind that "they" are in. Arrogance (especially to pre-conceived political views) was likely a factor, but the point is that if they did not choose to prioritize short-term earnings, they would have likely lost their jobs in favour of someone who pursued more or less the same strategies that was eventually followed.

The system-wide incentives/penalties cannot be emphasised enough–this is not limited to Boeing.

inode_buddha , December 24, 2019 at 1:02 pm

"The system-wide incentives/penalties cannot be emphasised enough–this is not limited to Boeing."

Indeed, as I said, there is a long list of failure..

However, I do not buy the argument of "The competition made me do it". Dong something provably wrong and risking everything because of what competition * might * do is flawed logic at best.

The game is dirty because the payers are dirty, and that is an individual choice that they make. These are the same class of people who have been lecturing us all for decades about "personal responsibility" while concurrently doing everything possible to evade said responsibility. See: regulatory capture, FAA.

"Waah waahh mommy the market made me do it!!" is BS, and those who disclaim responsibility should not have any, nor should they have the rewards when things go right.

Yves Smith Post author , December 24, 2019 at 8:58 pm

That is not true. Costco has for two decades stared down analyst pressure to pay their store employees less. Costco understands that having well paid employees (by retail standards) is important and in the end helps insure better margins by:

1. Making affluent people feel better about shopping at Costco, since they get cheap prices without abusing the help. The guilt reduction factor is apparently non-trivial in where they choose to shop

2. Reducing shrinkage. Way less employee theft at Costco

3. More motivated and cheerful employees, which pays off per #1 (making Costco less unpleasant as a big box crowded store) and probably other ways.

Boeing is vastly more powerful than Costco. It is in a much better position to sell a "we need to focus on engineering to compete with Airbus" story than Costco to make an analogous pitch in retail.

Dirk77 , December 25, 2019 at 12:27 am

Whether from fair assessment or brave face, I appreciate your optimism.

Merry Christmas!

California Bob , December 24, 2019 at 12:40 pm

Former proud HP employee here. I left the company before the fiasco that was Carly Fiorina–why do the 'business' TV shows still trot her out?–but my BFF was there and saw how the reverse takeover by Compaq she engineered nearly destroyed the company. The collegial HP employees were no match for the hardened Compaq infighters.

Typing Monkey , December 24, 2019 at 12:43 pm

> Failure is an easily observable and repeatable, historic pattern of activity.

Oops–this comment was actually what originally had me wanting to reply.

Failure in *any* system is actually the norm, which is why it is so "easily observabel and repeatable" and so historic. Competitive advantages are difficult to come by and tend to be very fleeting, and complex systems (e.g. current sociological, business, economic, political, etc. environment and the interactions between them) are inherently hazardous and failure prone **by their very nature**.

There is no way to remove thie failure-prone aspect of the system indefinitely–it is endemic to the nature of the system itself. Any organization (or human, for that matter) almost always has to ride the line between profits (revenues and costs) and other factors such as safety. Inevitably, they eventually make the wrong decisions, but it is statistically inevitable that they eventually do so.

The trick is to structure things such that failure on a single decision or two does not threaten survival of the individual or entity. That requires truly understanding the key aspects of the system and the impacts of any decision, which is probably impossible

Carey , December 24, 2019 at 12:31 pm

Airbus A220-500. It'll be coming.

The Historian , December 24, 2019 at 8:29 am

Happy Holidays to every one! And especially to Jules for rescuing so many of my comments from spam. This new laptop has the world's worst mousepad – I never know if I am left-clicking or right clicking or double clicking – so it's no surprise that Skynet thinks I'm spamming.

The Historian , December 24, 2019 at 11:18 am

Argh, this comment was meant for the Holiday Schedule article. Sorry about that!!!

The Rev Kev , December 24, 2019 at 8:45 am

'Boeing's practice of booking future, yet to be earned, profits as current income means persistent negative cash flow could lead to an unraveling.'

Is it to late to re-adopt that old maxim again that it is not a profit until it goes into the bank? After reading this excellent article, I am betting for sure that there will be not return to the skies for this bird in 2020 and it is Boeing's fault. Will Trump be persuaded to bail out Boeing down the track? Hard to say.

Came across an article a long time ago which talked about Boeing having so much of the plane built under contract. I think that Japan got a lot of these contradicts. But Boeing was even willing to have the wings built by foreign countries which was a good as giving their technology away which would be a long-term disaster for Boeing but excellent for short -term executive bonuses.

Bonus points too for PK in pointing out that for Ryanair, that this plane is as good as a petard.

nn , December 24, 2019 at 2:35 pm

The problem is that aviation is long term affair. So if Boeing starts new plane now and even if everything goes more or less accordig to plan, it will be more than decade before they will be selling the pieces for more than it costs them to manufacture. And if the plane is success, it will become reliable cash cow somewhere in its second decade.

You can count profit only after the money is in your bank, but that means it's like first ten years you are digging multibilion hole, next ten years you are trying to get out of it and after that you start to show profit.

I don't think it's possible to make any sense of such programs without guessing into far future.

Summer , December 24, 2019 at 9:34 am

What if the process of building a new plane would reveal yet another deep problem within the company? What if that is a bigger part of their reluctance, even bigger than the brain dead greed?

Briny , December 24, 2019 at 7:06 pm

Interesting point. Do they even have the capabilities in designing, testing, and certifying an entirely new plane anymore? Looking at the other botches in engineering, not just the MAX. one wonders.

TG , December 24, 2019 at 10:11 am

Many excellent points.

A small but still important issue may be that, even though Boeing seems to have 'captured' the regulators, consider the pressure on any regulator that recertifies the 737 max. There has been so much publicity, that if ANYTHING happens to a 737 max in the year after it restarts flying, the government employee that signed off on it will be toast there is likely a very powerful administrative conservatism at this point that may be very hard to overcome. These are planes, remember, and flying at 560 mph at 35,000 feet is a very difficult regime and things can go wrong even on 'perfect' planes Who wants to bet their career and reputation that NOTHING will happen to any 737 MAX?

As regards the comment by "Summer," yes, another thing to consider. What if Boeing is no longer capable of competently designing a modern cutting-edge airliner? What if it has outsourced and downsized its core engineering capacity so much that it just can't do it any more? That's the sort of ability you can't rebuild by just hiring another 100,000 foreign nationals on H1B visas – talented though they may be as individuals, they don't have the collective experience needed. Look at how hard it has been for other countries to make competitive jetliners, not even Japan has succeeded yet.

Arthur Dent , December 24, 2019 at 12:46 pm

Boeing has captured the FAA but not necessarily Canadian and European regulators. The Canadians are still pissed about the forced sale of Bombardier to Airbus while the Europeans have Airbus. Then there are the Asian regulators .

I think Boeing has pushed the 737 one plane model too far. They should have bit the bullet several years ago and designed a new plane. By now they would probably be getting it certified by the FAA with glowing comments from the airlines.

With regards to revamping an existing plane vs. designing a new plane from scratch, from my experience as a design engineer retrofitting something is almost always header to get right than something purpose built from the start, as long as the specifications and wish list are rational (the F-35 had too many competing wishes to be an efficient program and would have been better as 2-3 separate planes) . Retrofits sound good at the beginning (especially to accountants), but you are always end up trying to shoehorn something into somewhere where it doesn't fit, which is what happened to the 737 MAX.

Yves Smith Post author , December 24, 2019 at 4:09 pm

You missed that the FAA under new director Steve Dickson is standing up to Boeing. He and they realize the worst thing for the FAA (and US aviation) would be for other regulators to reject its certification if and when it approves the 737 Max. The Chinese may do so out of cussedness. but they need the Europeans and the Canadians to agree pretty pronto for credibility's sake and to reassure passengers.

California Bob , December 24, 2019 at 12:47 pm

All of our regulators–FAA, FTC, SEC, etc.–have to feel under siege after more than 50 years of the GOP convincing everybody that 'government is the problem' and regulations, ALL OF THEM, are bad*. The loyal civil servants who hang in there and do their level best in spite of declining funding and morale have my gratitude and respect.

* Unless, of course, a 'conservative' is harmed, then it's "Why didn't the government DO SOMETHING?!"

Yves Smith Post author , December 24, 2019 at 9:01 pm

With the SEC, it wasn't the GOP.

Clinton appointee Arthur Levitt had only modest regulatory goals, that of protecting retail investors. He was nevertheless under almost constant attack from the Senator from Hedgistan, Joe Lieberman, who threatened to and if memory serves correct, actually did cut the SEC's budget to hamstring the agency.

steven , December 24, 2019 at 10:19 am

Anyone have any information on what Southwest intends to do about its Maxes? Is it likely to follow Ryanair's lead?

Carolinian , December 24, 2019 at 12:52 pm

Southwest is an all 737 airline. Apparently the decision to pretend retraining was not necessary was in order to please important customer Southwest.

As for the board–they added Nikki Haley, nuff said.

Carolinian , December 24, 2019 at 12:58 pm

Just to add that the fact that some regional airlines are heavily into the 737 is likely one reason Boeing didn't make an all new airplane. With a largely similar plane parts can be shared, mechanic retraining less necessary etc.

Carey , December 24, 2019 at 3:31 pm

From April: 'Southwest Airlines Considers The Airbus A220 Amid Boeing 737 MAX Fiasco ': https://simpleflying.com/southwest-a220-order/

Carter Williams , December 24, 2019 at 10:47 am

Boeing and Airbus have systematically improved flight safety significantly over the last 40 years. The industry is facing a serious challenge with degrading pilot skills, globalization and the demand for more automation to further improve safety. These are the most complex vehicles made by mortals. The best engineers use to go into aerospace, now they go into other industries. So, increased demands as we take safety from 5 sigma to 6 sigma, and increased competition for the best engineers.

People are simply wrong to attribute this to MBAs, McDonnell Douglas, accounting and the like. It is frankly laughable to call McDonnell an MBA culture. The challenge is to engineer better in a tougher competitive market. Boeing has the capacity to continue doing great things. People in the cheap seats maybe need to change their view on how they value these markets.

A fair question to ask is why did Boeing use its free cash flow to buy back stock, rather than invest in 737 replacement? The answer to that question is important to the Boeing story and US innovation generally. Answer that question, and we can fashion a better strategy for US technology competitiveness.

eg , December 24, 2019 at 1:40 pm

Isn't that decision to use free cash flow for stock buybacks rather than investing in product or processes itself evidence of financialization and "an MBA culture?"

Anon , December 24, 2019 at 2:03 pm

If there are degrading pilot skills, why did Boeing skimp on pilot training, obscure the MCAS system in the pilot manual, and focus more on "shareholder value" than passenger safety? Talented engineers (like most talent) are attracted to pay and working conditions and a challenge: Boeing offered none of that. It seems an MBA culture pushed the talented engineers aside.

Boeing chose not to challenge its engineers to build a truly modern aircraft to drive profits into the future. It chose to jury-rig an old air-frame to maximize current profits; at the expense of 346 living souls.

Ken , December 24, 2019 at 7:53 pm

In large part the degrading of pilot skills is in the developing countries. There is a vast difference between a trained-by-rote pilot and an airman. The earlier flight of the Lion air MAX had a pilot that brought it in with a defective angle of attack sensor. Subsequently the airline installed a junky rebuilt angle of attack sensor, then a much less capable pilot took off and crashed the same plane.

The developed countries have their own concerns with adequate pilot training and a generation of experienced pilots nearing retirement age as the industry grows.

Carey , December 24, 2019 at 9:48 pm

>The earlier flight of the Lion air MAX had a pilot that brought it in with a defective angle of attack sensor.

Let's be accurate, here: they had a *third, non-flying pilot in the jumpseat*
on that earlier Lion Air flight. Correct me if I'm wrong.

Maybe we should go back, always, to three-man crews; so as to safely trouble-shoot the planemaker's MCAS-like mistakes?

Yves Smith Post author , December 24, 2019 at 4:18 pm

"It is laughable to call McDonnell an MBA culture." Make shit up much?

What planet are you from? Numerous press accounts based on insider views say the reverse. Start with Moe Tkacik's widely lauded report at the New Republic:

https://newrepublic.com/article/154944/boeing-737-max-investigation-indonesia-lion-air-ethiopian-airlines-managerial-revolution

This New Yorker account similarly provided specific incidents from after the reverse takeover of how Boeing prioritized its financials over engineering, and how its executives abandoned practices like process improvement that were both pro-safety and pro-long term profits:

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/11/18/the-case-against-boeing

Ignacio , December 24, 2019 at 10:56 am

Very good article, IMO. The board is still invested in the beast that might turn the giant company to its knees. I foresee the application of MMT ideas to the rescue of both shale oil drillers and Boeing. B-bonds and Oily-bonds combined make Boiled Bonds.

Edward , December 24, 2019 at 11:11 am

One aspect of this fiasco is that it is a systemic problem rather then an isolated one; the bad practices that led to this situation are supposed to be due to importing the business practices of the military side of the company to the civilian side. This means that the same practices that led to the 737 MAX are operating elsewhere– in the military side, and likely causing problems there as well. Of course, the existence of bad practices in the MIC isn't exactly news, which may be why little is said about it, because everyone already knows this.

The same can be said about the FAA role in this mess.

JTMcPhee , December 24, 2019 at 12:41 pm

Yah, let's see if "we" can parse what went wrong with the 737MAX as supposedly being the next dependable (safe and profit-generating -- discounting externalities) Boeing aircraft wafting millions of people off on vacations or junkets or to those terribly important business meetings. Got to be a fix in there somewhere, right? Some combination of change of leadership and re-institution of some set of corporate values, maybe undoing some of the outsourcing (though there you have another set of claimants for bailouts,) whatever.

I see only one bit of notice given to a really much bigger failure here: It takes a huge amount of petroleum extraction and combustion, with those "knock-on effects" like what is happening in Australia. Looks to me that people are so wedded to their own immediate gratification that a big swath of the planet will eventually be stripped of most species, including our own, as ambient conditions become "untenable."

Of course the French and Chinese and even the evil Russians are going to keep building their jet fleets to use or sell on to lesser places, all aiming at "growth" and profit. Fun to project and speculate what might or will be happening to the seeming juggernaut known as Boeing. Also perversely fun to project and speculate on the fate of the biosphere, which suffers because of MCAS-class and MBA thinking. But the PR tells us that Boeing is indispensable to life as we know it, having settled parasitically into its niches in commerce and war.

"Fix" Boeing? That's like nursing back to health the sociopathic guy who has sworn to rob and kill you.

Helios , December 24, 2019 at 3:10 pm

Is there any analysis, or perhaps it was included in Congress questioning that never made it on air, that shows whether the performance of the MAX in the conditions that MCAS was designed to counteract (i.e. increased likelihood of stalls while turning during a steep climb vs. other 737-rated designs) was objectively not allowed (meaning the flight envelope can't pass even under a new type certification) or just relatively not allowed in order to keep the 737 type cert?

This to me is the key to understanding how the FAA is proceeding. If it's just an issue relative to keeping the 737 certification, then seems like there are more paths forward here to get the plane back in the air, albeit still painful for Boeing. Just take out MCAS and call the plane a Boeing 740 or something under a certification different than the 737. That seems to be what that Canadian engineer is implying can be done when he asked about whether it makes sense to just remove MCAS.

But if the FAA would never approve the performance of any plane, even under a new type cert, that operates like the MAX would without MCAS, then this is a more severe problem. It really seems like the hardware and cockpit design issues raised as Boeing iterates their "software solution" overwhelm the baseline design, and there is no way to certify this airframe.

RMO , December 24, 2019 at 4:25 pm

https://www.satcom.guru/2019/08/connecting-dots-from-command-to-action.html

This blog, by an engineer who has worked for Boeing in the past is the best source I have found on the matter. As yet I have not found any source definitively stating the extent of the handling characteristics of the MAX without the MCAS active. Without the MCAS the documents I have been able to find say only that the sick force/g does not progressively increase in two flight regimes (the higher speed range wind up turn and at lower speed with the flaps retracted) but I haven't seen any statement about whether it meets the certification requirements for handling characteristics of a transport category aircraft if the MCAS is not installed. We do know that without the MCAS it couldn't be sold as requiring very little in the way of type specific training for pilots of earlier versions of the 737 and this was the main driving force behind the design. I have also read that implementing input from multiple AOA sources and giving a disagree warning when they don't say the same thing would have required enough type specific training that this would have resulted in the aircraft failing to meet the guarantees Boeing had made to customers about transition training needs and associated costs.

Yves Smith Post author , December 24, 2019 at 4:28 pm

We have posted repeatedly that the 737 Max is dynamically unstable to a degree that is unprecedented in a passenger airplane. MCAS was intended to compensate for that. No MCAS or fix that accomplishes the same end, no recertification.

And a recertification of the 737 Max a new model would take even longer even if that were possible.

We are saying this looks like a serious problem. If Boeing were able to fix MCAS sufficiently to satisfy the FAA and other regulators, it probably would have happened by now. At least the FAA and Boeing would be making more positive noises about making progress.

Carey , December 24, 2019 at 4:13 pm

Great middle paragraph, there.

If one more of these things goes down for anything remotely related to its
flight characteristics, software-augmented or no ..

Carey , December 24, 2019 at 5:43 pm

Some good historical framing of the 737 series in this piece by Patrick Smith:

https://thepointsguy.com/news/737-never-replace-757/

VietnamVet , December 24, 2019 at 6:57 pm

Boeing could well be the next AIG. If the 737 Max is not certified to carry passengers in four or five months, the negative cash flow will hit the fan. The only way it can fly safely in the near term without a new flight control system is to require extensive training and washing out pilots who can't stay out of high angle of attack stall conditions and resolution of the confusing cockpit warnings. It will cost lots of money.

Everything is coming together. Neoliberalism and neutering government do not work. Worse the media propaganda avoids mentioning that the world has changed and has gone multi-polar. Russia has cut itself off of the internet. Donald Trump has wandered off into impeachment anger and know nothingness. Professionals are required to design, build, maintain and fly the 737 Max safely. Boeing profited from short changing them. If this is finally the start of the "haute" middle-class revolt against the profit driven exploitative aristocracy, not just Boeing will be restructured.

Carey , December 24, 2019 at 7:09 pm

'Boeing reveals new 'very disturbing' documents on 737 Max jetliner to FAA, Congress':

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2019/12/24/boeing-reveals-new-very-disturbing-documents-737-max-jetliner-faa-house/2743402001/

Carey , December 24, 2019 at 7:33 pm

"..A senior Boeing executive, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the new Forkner documents contain the same kind of "trash talking" about the FAA as in the October messages.

He said he doesn't think they will be explosive but that they will generate headlines and continue to be a problem for Boeing. He added that there might be additional documents he is unaware of.

Forkner poses a continuing problem for the company, because he hired his own high-powered criminal defense attorney instead of lawyers retained by Boeing, and the company doesn't know what he's doing, the executive said.

While Forkner invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination to avoid turning over records to DOJ, Boeing doesn't know if he might cut a deal with prosecutors in exchange for his cooperation, he said.."

Interesting phrasing in this Seattle Times piece on this Christmas Eve docu-dump.

https://www.seattletimes.com/business/boeing-aerospace/more-troubling-internal-boeing-documents-on-737-max-set-for-release/

Jessica , December 24, 2019 at 10:53 pm

Placing financials over engineering at Boeing has put one of the crown jewels of US capitalism at risk. This affects the entire economy. A functional ruling class would not have let this happen or at least would be moving fast to correct it if it had happened.

howseth , December 25, 2019 at 1:43 am

"Still, Muilenburg, 55, is in line to receive $26.5m in cash and stock as part of his exit package.
His payout could reach as high as $58.5m, depending on how it is structured, according to an SEC filing, including a pension of $807,000 annually and Boeing stock worth another $13.3m" – Reported in The Guardian

Cult of The CEO – a strange cult to me. As a regular schnook reading about this mess, I can't fathom these friggin contracts given to corporate executives. This guy signed off on what was a fatal disaster. The bucks evidently don't stop here

Why is there no sward to impale himself on? Instead, this crazily opulent goodbye gift, pre-arranged, in a no-skin-in-the-game world $58.5 million. Something to do with Capitalism?

[Dec 24, 2019] Muilenburg's departure is WAY overdue, but Calhoun is not the answer. He will be a continuation of the GE/McDonnell Douglas cancer that has metastasized through Boeing since 1997.

Dec 24, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Carey , December 23, 2019 at 4:24 pm

This comment on Muilenburg's departure from Boeing found at Leeham News, seems about right to me:

"Old Tart
December 23, 2019

Muilenburg's departure is WAY overdue, but Calhoun is not the answer. He will be a continuation of the GE/McDonnell Douglas cancer that has metastasized through Boeing since 1997. He was part of the decision making process that approved a $20 billion stock buyback almost exactly a year ago (after the first MAX crash), following his approval of more than $40 billion in buybacks the 5 years prior to that. Boeing could have launched at least two new airplane programs with that cash. And as long as all Boeing managers are cycled through the Harry Stonecipher charm school in St. Louis, that culture will continue to trickle down throughout the company."

Carey , December 23, 2019 at 5:45 pm

Adding: As I see it the 737 MAX situation is a bellwether event, and the corporatists really
don't, so far, get it.. "labor force" issues will be coming to the fore, and soon, IMO.

[Dec 24, 2019] Boeing's problems go far deeper than the CEO. The Boeing Starliner capsule test did not go well either. Time will tell.

Dec 24, 2019 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

Patient Observer December 23, 2019 at 10:54 am

Boeing's problems go far deeper than the CEO. The Boeing Starliner capsule test did not go well either. Time will tell.

Like Like

Mark Chapman December 23, 2019 at 12:47 pm
I agree; it's not Muilenberg's fault, or not entirely. But firing the CEO is about as far from American corporate tradition as you can get – it is much more customary to identify 'a few bad apples' from the lower echelons, fire them and announce the company has undergone a purge and is now 'all better'. And they had to have had it in for the engineers who shot off their mouths. 'They' being the investors and the board of Boeing. Letting Muilenberg take the fall might have something to do with his very early admission of company responsibility. Mind you, he was also the CEO when Boeing fought so hard against grounding the type, and only did it when pretty much everyone else had already done so for aircraft under their own control.

[Dec 24, 2019] Boeing, Boeing, gone : Boeing Fires C.E.O. Dennis Muilenburg

Dec 24, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

allan , December 23, 2019 at 11:20 am

Boeing, Boeing, gone:

Boeing Fires C.E.O. Dennis Muilenburg [NYT]

Also: https://www.seattletimes.com/business/boeing-aerospace/boeing-ousts-ceo-dennis-muilenberg/

I'll be more impressed if they try to claw back compensation from the last few CEOs.

Dirk77 , December 23, 2019 at 3:02 pm

The CEO takes the fall for the board. Replacing him with David Calhoun is the exact opposite of what they need. Like PG&E stocking their board with wall st types as a way to get out of bankruptcy. Doubling down on their mistakes as Yves or Lambert would say. Hopefully, Calhoun and the whole board will be gone to Hell within a year.

toshiro_mifune , December 23, 2019 at 11:21 am

Boeing CEO gone;

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-12-23/boeing-s-muilenburg-is-out-as-ceo-david-calhoun-takes-his-place?srnd=premium

[Nov 30, 2019] That's kind of a non story as the whole point of a stress test is to test to destruction or near destruction in order to find areas that need structural improvement.

Nov 30, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Carolinian , November 28, 2019 at 8:15 am

Re Boeing–that's kind of a non story as the whole point of a stress test is to test to destruction or near destruction in order to find areas that need structural improvement. In other words testing is a good thing. Perhaps they should have done more of it before releasing the Max.

Re-Democracy Now and Syria-Juan Cole probably told Amy not to talk about the new revelations. Cole and Goodman have been Syria regime change boosters.

Happy Thanksgiving ..

PlutoniumKun , November 28, 2019 at 9:18 am

The point is not that the fuselage failed – its that it failed short (marginally so, but it still failed) before it reached its stress level. You would expect almost all engineering structures to survive significantly beyond the target stress level, especially in such controlled circumstances, which do not allow for structural decay over time or slight manufacturing flaws.

Carolinian , November 28, 2019 at 11:11 am

The story did say that Boeing will now add reinforcements to strengthen as a result of the test. But it also said that the FAA will now hand the process over to Boeing so perhaps that is the "hook."

I've been one of the first around here to criticize Boeing, but I do think the villain-ization of the Seattle company is a bit over the top. Obviously if planes continue falling out of the sky they are over. It's not like they can be quite as sneaky as, say, auto companies in order to save a few dollars or even a lot of dollars.

drumlin woodchuckles , November 28, 2019 at 11:02 pm

Didn't the semi-"new" Leadership of Boeing move the Corporate Headquarters from Seattle to Chicago some years ago? And didn't that same leadership open a no-unions-allowed factory area in South Carolina in the long term hope of attriting the Legacy Seattle facility to a size small enough to exterminate? Thereby exterminating the Legacy Union presence?

In what sense is Boeing a "Seattle" company anymore?

Gaianne , November 28, 2019 at 11:48 pm

"The story did say that Boeing will now add reinforcements to strengthen as a result of the test. But it also said that the FAA will now hand the process over to Boeing . . ."

Here is the problem: It is easy to add reinforcements, but how will you know that they will work? In practice–as opposed to theory–they often don't. Occasionally they even make things worse (oops!) The only way to know is to test–which is precisely what Boeing says it will not do, and will not have to do.

A failure at 99% load is a failure. Changing your criteria and standards after the fact is not engineering, it is MBA-style creative accounting.

If killing people for money is not evil, then certainly Boeing is not evil. This should be clear to everyone,

The converse is less clear, but worrisome.

–Gaianne

[Nov 28, 2019] The cultural shift at Boeing from an engineer-centric agency to an executive-dominated moneymaker, just before the production of the Dreamliner.

Nov 28, 2019 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

Mark Chapman November 27, 2019 at 12:44 pm

A fairly recent update on the Boeing situation. This is a lengthy and very comprehensive article which delves into the cultural shift at Boeing from an engineer-centric agency to an executive-dominated moneymaker, just before the production of the Dreamliner.

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/11/18/the-case-against-boeing?utm_source=pocket-newtab

"In December, 1996, Boeing announced that it was buying a struggling rival, McDonnell Douglas, for thirteen billion dollars. Sorscher is one of many Boeing employees who have identified the merger as the moment when Boeing went from being led by engineers to being led by business executives driven by stock performance.

Sorscher recalled a labor-management breakfast, shortly before the merger, at which a top Boeing executive said that the company would reduce spending on a program that employed engineers to find improvements in the process of making planes. Sorscher, a member of the union's bargaining unit at the time, pointed out how much money process improvement was saving the company."

" The executive tipped his head back, as if thinking how best to explain basic economics to a clueless scientist. Finally, as Sorscher recalled, the executive said, "The decisions I make have more influence over outcomes than all the decisions you make." Sorscher told me, "It was: 'I can't help but make a billion dollars every time I pick up the phone. You people do things that save four hundred thousand dollars, that take one shift out of flow time -- who gives a crap?' "

Three years later, the engineers' union went on strike over bonus pay and cuts in health coverage. James Dagnon, another Boeing executive, said that engineers had to accept that they were no longer the center of the universe. "We laughed," Sorscher recalled. "This is an engineering company -- these are complex, heavily engineered products. Of course we're the center of the universe. But he wasn't kidding. We didn't get it. Who is the center of the universe? It's the executives."

A fascinating read. The Dreamliner, the first project built under the new culture, was rolled out three years late and tens of billions over budget. The following year, persistent battery fires grounded the model for three months.

And that's not even making a dent in the arrogance of the company aristocracy – the previous CEO made $80 million in salary and bonuses in his final three years in the post – and the determination to stick with the corporate-economic model despite clear warnings that it was on a sled bound for hell. If you read the whole thing, you'll have a much better understanding why we have not yet seen the triumphant return of the Max 8 to the air.

[Nov 26, 2019] It Is True That Corruption Caused The 737 MAX Accidents. But It Was Not Foreign.

Nov 26, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

psychohistorian , Nov 25 2019 19:30 utc | 2

Another well focused take down of the NYT about their propaganda and obfuscation in support of profit over public safety.....thanks b

I suggest you send the NYT a link to your posting and ask them to respond.

The MSM is a tool being used by TPTB to keep the public ignorant and brainwashed...and it keeps working unfortunately.

Suppressing alternatives POV by web sites like MoA is on TPTB agenda and rising fast. MoA is a .org web site and read below what just happened to non-profit .org domain management

Internet world despairs as non-profit .org sold for $$$$ to private equity firm, price caps axed

It soon will cost Bernhard more to stay online

karlof1 , Nov 25 2019 20:13 utc | 3

One of the major reasons it was termed The Gilded Age was the ownership of Congress, particularly the semi-appointed Senate, by Big Business beginning in the early 1870s, which was brought to a semblance of public control only for the brief Depression Decade 1930-1940, and was then lost again and is now worse than ever. More than ever I'm convinced this entire fiasco is a massive indicator of the USA's decline in almost every aspect.
HD , Nov 25 2019 20:42 utc | 4
@psychohistorian

Thanks for that link. I am guessing this is the same Ethos Capital?


bjd , Nov 25 2019 21:29 utc | 5
No news there -- it's Hymietown newspaper, racist and supremacist to the core.
VietnamVet , Nov 25 2019 21:36 utc | 6
Corruption is rampant. Government is bought. The new Western Empire is a club of multinational corporations that operate via international trade institutions, free to accumulate money without restraint. Millions of dollars were passed on to the Biden and Heinz finance group after Ukraine's takeover. Syria's oil is being stolen now. Corporate media ignores it.

Boeing and Airbus are the two businesses that manufacture all of the global commercial airliners. When there was government regulation and CEOs jailed, competitors would squeal on companies who weren't following the rules. No more.

As the Canadian regulator indicated, MCAS was only required to make the 737 Max fly like the 737 NG. It is not needed. It can be deleted. Pilots can be trained to recover with the new flight characteristics. But that costs money. Boeing will pull every string to avoid it. Profiting from death is the Empire's new normal. If the 737 Max cannot be flown safely, a few more crashes and last major industrial manufacturer in America will fail.

RJPJR , Nov 25 2019 21:51 utc | 7
b: Thanks for continuing to publish previous Moon of Alabama posts on Boeing 737 MAX issues at the end of each new post on the subject. It has become a precious archive worth keeping together.
vk , Nov 25 2019 22:02 utc | 8
More on the American "inneficiency for profit" public machine:

Shrinking the Tax Gap: Approaches and Revenue Potential

Resume of the article linked above by Michael Roberts:

Every year, the US Inland Revenue Service (IRS) fails to collect over $500bn in taxes. These taxes are mainly owed by high-income earners who avoid or evade taxes they should pay. The IRS just fails to collect what is owed, mainly because it does not check personal submissions, has few inspectors for fraud and insufficient technology to check.

"The sources of the individual income tax gap are primarily high-income individuals because more of their income accrues in opaque categories like dividend income, capital gains, and proprietorship income. In some of those categories, taxes are paid on only 55 percent of income earned."

"he magnitude of the gap is a function of the resources at the IRS's disposal to detect and punish individuals, corporations, estates, and tax avoiders across other filing categories. These resources have decreased over time: The IRS budget has decreased (in real terms) by nearly 15 percent since 2011. Its enforcement budget has dropped by 25 percent during this period."

It is now estimated that between 2020–29, the IRS will fail to collect nearly $7.5 trillion in taxes. A new study suggests that increasing audit rates (especially for high-income earners), more information reporting, and IT investment can shrink the gap by around 15% or $1trn. Not as much as it should be but something.

But rich tax evaders need not worry - the required investment will not be made.

AlfaAlfalfa , Nov 25 2019 22:03 utc | 9
@ #2 psychohistorian and friends

The MSM is a tool being used by TPTB to keep the public ignorant and brainwashed...and it keeps working unfortunately.

How very cedulous of you to say, but that ain't the who story, is it?

MSM pushes most sensible people to Alt media, which tells them somewhat more sophisticated lies, but they are lies nonetheless, with a generous sprinkling of things we can agree upon, because all important media is controlled by Intelligence. It has never been otherwise, since the invention of a hammer and chisel.

You ain't gonna walk this one back, trolls. Not with your sycophantics. Censor all you like. We understand the dialectic. Your headlines now arrive with same force as those of your MSM partners. We know you are lying with every exhalation of your breath. The purpose of media is thought control. Period. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying.

bjd , Nov 25 2019 22:11 utc | 10
@AlfaAlfalfa (9)

I fear you're spouting nonsense here, but let's try nonetheless:

"MSM pushes most sensible people to Alt media, which tells them somewhat more sophisticated lies, but they are lies nonetheless, with a generous sprinkling of things we can agree upon, because all important media is controlled by Intelligence."

There's some circular reasoning going on in the background here, I sense, but let's stay away from that. What bothers me a bit -- capital-i-Intelligence, what is your usage of that word here?
Clear up this nonsense.

uncle tungsten , Nov 25 2019 22:14 utc | 11
Thanks b

I am not surprised at the revolving door corruption. This is the country that can only get 2 out of 20 elevators functional on a new aircraft carrier. They need much more than a new Navy Commander. I am astounded that the recent sacking was over arrogance rather than incompetence.

If Boeing gets away with this (and I expect they will), it will represent the total rf'ing of USA product reliability.

psychohistorian , Nov 25 2019 22:27 utc | 12
@ Posted by: bjd | Nov 25 2019 22:11 utc | 10 with the response to AlfaAlfalfa (9)

Thanks for that. Other questions are

Who are the "we" that know us sycophantics....(had to look it up) are lying?

If us "pond scum" (others excepted, me only) can't use the technology, how are we suppose to communicate with each other in this world.....in person only?

And kinda part of the one above, MoA is a one man show who works for contributions and so how is his web site "media"?

[Nov 21, 2019] I remind my fellow barflies of the electric elevators that are setting back USS Ford. The case is somewhat reminiscent, in that an unstable layout is countered with a brute engineering approach which relies on control technology, i.e. computing power.

Nov 21, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

persiflo , Nov 15 2019 7:50 utc | 152

@flankerbandit, who in 6 stated that MCAS is not so much a stall handling system but rather meant to provide stick control to the pilot via offering a certain feedback. I have experienced the onset of a stall, as vibration, myself, once in a small plane, so I agree that it is a somewhat generic situation in which an intuitive sensing of the airplane can be experienced. However, if this rings true, I'd like to ask if this sort of acute awareness is really dependend on a specific reaction in the stick. I could imagine that a diverse handling experience of a certain type, like the MAX, can be learned in a simulator, so much so that pilots can get acquainted with the unusual behaviour; possibly aided by instruments. - The answer on this question allows to infer if Boeing malignantly forced a sales feature (no pilot re-training required because MCAS), or if exquisite hubris led the design process when the larger engines threw the whole airframe off balance.

I remind my fellow barflies of the electric elevators that are setting back USS Ford. The case is somewhat reminiscent, in that an unstable layout is countered with a brute engineering approach which relies on control technology, i.e. computing power.

[Nov 15, 2019] I have to wonder how exactly is MCAS going to be cleared to fly again...since the original, much less authoritative version was found inadequate in providing the stick force required...and the rejigged production version proved to be a surefire killer if it kicked in at low altitudes such as takeoff...

Nov 15, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Don Bacon , Nov 13 2019 16:35 utc | 1

New Yorker, Nov 18[sic], 2019
The Case Against Boeing . . here

flankerbandit , Nov 13 2019 18:12 utc | 6

An excellent read on the MAX saga that Baconator pointed to...

Often I expect these stories in the media to get important technical details wrong...but here we see that this writer did his homework...

I have said this many times before, but the MCAS system is NOT an anti-stall system...it is there solely for the purpose of providing the right kind of stick feel to the pilot...

"On most airplanes, as you approach stall you can feel it," a veteran pilot for a U.S. commercial carrier told me.

Instead of the steadily increasing force on the control column that pilots were used to feeling -- and that F.A.A. guidelines required -- the new engines caused a loosening sensation.

This is exactly it...and this is why I have to wonder how exactly is MCAS going to be cleared to fly again...since the original, much less authoritative version was found inadequate in providing the stick force required...and the rejigged production version proved to be a surefire killer if it kicked in at low altitudes such as takeoff...

We recall that Captain Sullenberger called the MAX a 'death trap'...

So clearly the system's authority has to be dialed back...in which case the airplane handling qualities do not meet established requirements...

The story here tells of the struggle that the family of Ralph Nader's grand-niece, who perished in the Ethiopian flight, is waging to 'axe the max'...

Hopefully they will succeed, but I doubt it..the MAX can never be a good airplane...full stop...

[Nov 13, 2019] It is no wonder, after reading this, why Southwest is publicly reconsidering its standardization on the 737.

Nov 13, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

c1ue , Nov 10 2019 17:13 utc | 5

Here's an interesting article on the entire 737 line - to wit: the 737 is a 1960s era commuter plane that has been pushed and extended into ever larger/longer roles - ones it is simply not designed for.
I've said it before, I'll say it again: the 737s convey the single worst experience I have ever had on airplanes in my 1.5 million miles in the air - with the single exception of a 3+ decade old Chinese 727 I was unlucky enough to be on (and lucky enough to land safely in), in 1984.

c1ue , Nov 10 2019 17:19 utc | 6

The latest detailed summary on 737 MAX certification shortcuts.
It is no wonder, after reading this, why Southwest is publicly reconsidering its standardization on the 737.

[Nov 09, 2019] Boeing 737 cracks: Ryanair grounds three planes due to cracking between wing and fuselage

Nov 09, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

johnf , Nov 6 2019 7:14 utc | 50

In case no one else has posted these, two stories in the British MSM this morning about Boeing:


Boeing 737 cracks: Ryanair grounds three planes due to cracking between wing and fuselage

Exclusive: budget Irish carrier is the latest airline worldwide to be affected by 'pickle fork' cracking, but has not disclosed the problem

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/nov/06/boeing-737-cracks-ryanair-grounds-three-planes-due-to-cracking-between-wing-and-fuselage

And this one on hurried and botched construction of 787's in Georgia plant:

Boeing whistleblower raises doubts over 787 oxygen system

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-50293927

[Nov 04, 2019] The Boeing crashes and the criminalization of American capitalism

Oct 31, 2019 | www.wsws.org

"There are certain men in the world who rather see everybody hung before they'll take blame."Arthur Miller's "All My Sons"

When American playwright Arthur Miller wrote those words in 1947, he was penning a work based on the conspiracy between the Wright Aeronautical Corporation and military and civilian inspectors to approve defective airplane engines for use in World War II. The collusion occurred between 1941 and 1943 and was brought before then-Senator Harry Truman's investigative committee after workers exposed the scheme. A number of executives went to prison.

In Miller's play, the chief culprit, Joe Keller, offloads the blame onto a subordinate and later finds out that 21 pilots died as a result of his actions, including one of his sons. Keller commits suicide out of shame and regret.

Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg showed no such human emotions when he sat before the Senate Commerce Committee on Tuesday and the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on Wednesday. Knowing he had nothing to fear from the Democratic and Republican politicians deferentially lobbing questions at him, he stonewalled and evaded, defending his decision to ignore and conceal multiple warnings from engineers and pilots and rush the deadly Boeing 737 Max 8 into service in 2017.

He even defended the "delegation" of oversight by federal regulators to Boeing itself and called for a further "updating," i.e., gutting, of regulations.

Within two years of the launch of the new plane, two 737 Max 8 planes had crashed as a result of the malfunction of an automatic anti-stall mechanism called the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), whose very existence had been concealed from pilots. A total of 346 men, women and children were killed.

At this week's hearings, Muilenburg acknowledged that he knew of the red flags, yet not a single congressman or senator suggested that he, or his coconspirators in the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), should be criminally prosecuted. Nor did the corporate media.

The first disaster occurred just over a year ago when Lion Air Flight 610 plunged into the sea outside of Jakarta, Indonesia, killing 189 people. The second came five months later, when Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 nosedived into the ground near Addis Ababa, extinguishing the lives of another 157 human beings.

At Wednesday's hearing, Muilenburg did not even acknowledge the presence of family members of the deceased who stood behind him holding up photos of their lost spouses, children, parents and siblings. He turned around to face them only after a member of the group demanded that he "look at people when you say you're sorry."

The Max 8 crashes were not simply accidents, they were crimes. They were the outcome of the criminalization of the American corporate ruling class.

Investigations by both Indonesian and Ethiopian flight safety officials have concluded that both Boeing and the FAA were culpable in the crashes.

By now, facts have emerged, some of which were raised at the hearings, which demonstrate incontrovertibly that Boeing knowingly put into service an aircraft that was not safe. These include:

Emails from pilots and engineers warning of the dangers, including one from Mark Forkner, Boeing's chief technical pilot, noting that MCAS was out of control, "egregious" and "running rampant" during a test run on a flight simulator. An email to Muilenburg from a senior manager recommending that the entire Max 8 program be shut down because standard safety protocols were being ignored in the race to launch the plane before Boeing's European-based rival Airbus captured a slice of its market share. He wrote, "All my internal warning bells are going off and for the first time in my life I am hesitant about putting my family on a Boeing airplane." A 2016 warning to Congress from the Professional Aviation Safety Specialists union, which represents workers at the FAA, that deregulation had reached a point where regulators would be able to intervene in problems with an airplane only "after an accident has happened and people are killed." The removal of any mention of MCAS from flight training manuals and the reduction of pilot training on the new aircraft to a one-hour video on an iPad. Boeing's expansion of the power and scope of MCAS shortly before the Max 8's launch without any notification to the FAA, other regulatory agencies, pilots or airlines. Boeing's decision to attach a new and bigger engine to a five-decade old airframe, rather than redesign the airplane, in order to cut costs, reduce labor, rush production and speed up certification. The resulting tendency of the Max 8 to stall, which MCAS was intended to correct, rendered the new plane "fatally flawed," according to former pilot and aviation safety expert Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger. The failure of Boeing and the FAA to ground the 737 Max 8 after the October 2018 Lion Air crash, even though Boeing had been aware of problems with MCAS before the disaster. Even after the crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 five months later, Boeing and the FAA refused to ground the plane until every other authority in the world had done so.

All of these crimes of commission or omission flow from Boeing's subordination of all considerations, including safety, to profit. This is not unique to the aerospace manufacturer, but the basis of the entire capitalist system. The lives lost along the way are just the cost of doing business.

While the grounding of the Max 8 and lawsuits by pilots and relatives of victims are expected to cost Boeing $8 billion, the company increased in value by nearly $200 billion from the time that the deathtrap was announced in 2011 to when the planes were grounded.

The anarchy and irrationality of the capitalist market have been given unbridled rein by the deregulation of the airline industry -- and every other sector of the capitalist economy -- which began under Democrat Jimmy Carter in 1978 and has continued under both Democrats and Republicans for the past four decades. It is of a piece with the financialization and deindustrialization of the economy and the destruction of jobs, wages and social services.

For his part, Muilenburg laid off 16,000 workers in 2016 and 2017, his first two full years as CEO. As a reward, he draws a salary of $30 million a year. This year, nearly a third of his compensation has come from selling off a sizeable chunk of his Boeing stock a month before the Ethiopian Airlines crash.

Like many mega corporations, Boeing occupies a strategic position in the global operations of American imperialism and is tightly integrated into the state military/intelligence apparatus. It is the largest US exporter and second largest defense contractor. It is on the front lines of the mounting trade conflict with Europe, in which Boeing faces off against Europe's Airbus. Since Trump's election, it has more than tripled its stock price, spearheading the massive run-up on the Dow that has bolstered the fortunes of the American ruling elite.

Boeing is only one example of the lawlessness of the operations of big business. The recent past has seen the BP oil spill, the lead poisoning of Flint, the opioid epidemic, the wildfires and power outages linked to PG&E and the Wall Street crash of 2008. Not a single CEO has gone to jail as a result of these disasters driven by corporate greed and criminality. As Obama's attorney general Eric Holder told Congress in 2013, America's corporate barons and their business empires are "too big to jail."

These are not aberrations or the products, at root, of subjective avarice -- although blind greed exists in abundance. The criminalization of the American ruling class is the product of the degeneration and crisis of the entire social and economic system of capitalism.

The Boeing disasters underscore the need to put an end to capitalism and replace it with socialism, which is based on the satisfaction of social need, not private profit. This means mobilizing the working class to expropriate the private owners of the banks and major corporations and transform corporate giants such as Boeing into publicly owned and democratically controlled utilities. It means ending the dictatorship of the corporations over the workers and placing the control of economic life in the hands of the producers.

The entire political system and both bribed parties of big business, including their left talkers like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, will oppose this to the bitter end. To establish safe, efficient, comfortable and affordable air travel requires the independent and revolutionary mobilization of the working class in the US and internationally in the fight for socialism.

Bryan Dyne

[Nov 02, 2019] Looks like Boeing exceeded the legal threshold for criminally negligent manslaughter now

Oct 18, 2019 | news.slashdot.org

A Boeing pilot working on the 737 Max said in messages from 2016 that A Boeing pilot working on the 737 Max said in messages from 2016 that a new automated system was making the plane difficult to control in flight simulators , more than two years before it was grounded following two deadly crashes . From a report: The pilot, Mark Forkner, complained that the system, known as MCAS, was causing him trouble. "It's running rampant in the sim," he said in a message to a colleague, referring to the simulator. "Granted, I suck at flying, but even this was egregious," he went on to say, according to a transcript of the exchange reviewed by The New York Times . The 737 Max was grounded earlier this year after crashing twice in five months, killing 346 people. In both cases, MCAS malfunctioned based on erroneous data, sending the planes into unrecoverable nose dives. Mr. Forkner, the chief technical pilot for the plane, went on to say that he had lied to the Federal Aviation Administration. "I basically lied to the regulators (unknowingly)," Mr. Forkner says in the messages. The messages are from November 2016. Eight months earlier, Mr. Forkner had asked the F.A.A. if it would be O.K. to remove mention of MCAS from the pilot's manual. The F.A.A., which at the time believed the system would only activate in rare cases and wasn't particularly dangerous, approved Mr. Forkner's request. Re:Not just omit, but remove? ( Score: 3 )

by cusco ( 717999 ) < brian.bixbyNO@SPAMgmail.com > on Friday October 18, 2019 @10:40PM ( #59324220 ) This article, from the IEEE journal, goes into how this catastrophe came about.
https://spectrum.ieee.org/aero... [ieee.org]

TLDR; Penny pinching Boeing management, more interested in short-term stock price than customers, who didn't listen to actual engineers, lied to the FAA, which because of budget cuts are unable to independently verify anything manufacturers say.

Re:Not just omit, but remove? ( Score: 2 )

by cusco ( 717999 ) < brian.bixbyNO@SPAMgmail.com > on Saturday October 19, 2019 @01:43PM ( #59325222 ) If you graph the Pentagon budget and the Deficit in the years since Ronnie Raygun you'll notice that they parallel each other very closely most years. The reason was explicitly laid out by Grover Norquist, leader of the conservative brain trust, who openly declared that they intended to run the deficit up so high that the only funds available would be for the military and debt repayment. He said, on his web page, that they intended to shrink the US government down to the size where, "I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the tub." It seems to be working.

There is no reason why the US needs to spend more than the next 8 countries combined, 6 of whom are supposedly "allies". That's not "Defense" spending.

The chief technical pilot sucks at flying?! ( Score: 3 )

by Ed Tice ( 3732157 ) on Friday October 18, 2019 @05:11PM ( #59323582 ) Is this just the /. editors being sloppy? Or was that really his job title? If so, I think that Boeing might have a much bigger problem. Like their chief technical pilots sucks at flying! Flag as Inappropriate

Re:The chief technical pilot sucks at flying?! ( Score: 5 , Insightful)

by dgatwood ( 11270 ) on Friday October 18, 2019 @05:21PM ( #59323612 ) Homepage Journal I would argue that this is actually a good thing. You probably don't want a crackerjack pilot doing that job, because that person is likely to do the right things to fix any failures, and it will look like things are going fine even in situations where a more average pilot would exhibit CFIT. You're better off if you have a tester whose skills are only one step above those of a garden slug, because if anything goes wrong, that tester will be befuddled, and the testing session will be a failure. :-) Flag as Inappropriate

Re:

But isn't that the opposite of what Boeing was doing? I thought the complaint was Boeing had crack test pilots checking out these planes, and pilots were bitching the average pilot couldn't fly half as well as the typical 737 test pilot.

Re:

If I read the summary correctly, their "chief technical pilot" commented that he sucked at flying, which if true, implies that it wasn't crack test pilots. Whether the person actually does suck at flying or was just being ironic, I couldn't say. :-)

Re:The chief technical pilot sucks at flying?! ( Score: 5 , Insightful)

by mlyle ( 148697 ) on Friday October 18, 2019 @08:28PM ( #59324012 ) Their chief technical pilot is probably both a pretty damn good pilot *and* surrounded by people who are even more awesome test pilots. Compared to his peers he may "suck at flying" and he may be half-ironically mentioning that ;).

Looks like they exceed thrshold for criminally negligent manslauter now ( Score: 4 , Insightful)

by gweihir ( 88907 ) on Saturday October 19, 2019 @12:29AM ( #59324322 ) If they knew this and did nothing to fix it, then they seem to exceed criminally negligent manslaughter now. It may be time to look into who needs to go to prison here for a long, long time. You keep using that word and for once I think it means exactly what you think it means.

Doesn't make sense... ( Score: 2 )

by aaarrrgggh ( 9205 ) on Friday October 18, 2019 @07:07PM ( #59323882 ) MCAS wasn't part of the simulator, so how could this be true? Flag as Inappropriate

Re:Doesn't make sense... ( Score: 2 )

by Ed Tice ( 3732157 ) on Friday October 18, 2019 @07:54PM ( #59323968 ) Wasn't part of what simulator? It's likely that the ones at Boeing were different than the ones that customers have access to! Flag as Inappropriate 1 hidden comment

Re:Doesn't make sense... ( Score: 3 )

by alaskana98 ( 1509139 ) on Friday October 18, 2019 @09:51PM ( #59324162 ) You raise some really interesting points. I would imagine that (at least within the last 20 years or so) the development of a new Aircraft platform (for lack of a better term) is very much akin to developing a new software platform. I say this because really, aside from the actual physical parts that keep an aircraft afloat a modern plane is just a software package with wings. And as such, it should be relatively trivial to port the software side of things on a functioning plane to a sandboxed simulator runni.ng the exact same software but being fed false sensory input data as opposed to data derived from a real-world usage scenario. (In other words, the software driving the plane could give two f's where the data is coming from, as long as the data fits the parameters it is looking for.) That being said, I would imagine Boeing's own simulators for the 737 Max should have been running the exact same software as the actual planes themselves and as such should be able to design failure scenarios within the simulator that should produce outcomes very similar to eventually (and tragically) happened in real life. But enough of the arm-chairing, I would love to hear from the folks who actually write the code for these sims (fat chance, I know.. they are probably heavily bound by NDAs).

[Oct 31, 2019] Congress is accountable in Boeing MAX crisis, too

Notable quotes:
"... "Investors pressured Boeing to quickly build its fuel-efficient 737 Max planes to top European rival Airbus, a key lawmaker said before the manufacturer's CEO appears before Congress on two fatal crashes of the beleaguered planes. 'This all starts on Wall Street,' Rep. Peter DeFazio, an Oregon Democrat and chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure." ..."
"... A Federal Aviation Administration analysis showed a good chance the same malfunction would crop up again, according to agency officials and people briefed on the results. Even under the most optimistic scenario, the agency's statistical models projected a high likelihood of a similar emergency within roughly a year. ..."
"... Year after year after year, Congress does not properly fund the FAA in order for it to do its work. It doesn't give the FAA the money or the human resources or expertise to do its work. ..."
Oct 31, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

" Lawmaker blames investors for Boeing's race to sell troubled 737 Max : 'This all starts on Wall Street'" [ CNBC ]. "Investors pressured Boeing to quickly build its fuel-efficient 737 Max planes to top European rival Airbus, a key lawmaker said before the manufacturer's CEO appears before Congress on two fatal crashes of the beleaguered planes. 'This all starts on Wall Street,' Rep. Peter DeFazio, an Oregon Democrat and chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure."

"' Why Is This Airplane Still Flying?' The FAA Missteps That Kept Boeing's MAX Aloft" [ Wall Street Journal ]. "Just after a Boeing Co. 737 MAX jet crashed in Indonesia a year ago, FAA officials asked themselves: Should they warn the world the entire fleet could have a design flaw? A Federal Aviation Administration analysis showed a good chance the same malfunction would crop up again, according to agency officials and people briefed on the results. Even under the most optimistic scenario, the agency's statistical models projected a high likelihood of a similar emergency within roughly a year. " • Very good reporting from the WSJ, well worth a read.

" FAA admin. on Boeing 737 Max: We're still deciding 'when, whether' plane will fly again" [Steve Dickson, USA Today ]. "The FAA is fully committed to address all of the recommendations raised by investigators, including those that pertain to when, whether or how the 737 Max will return to service. As we have said repeatedly, the aircraft will fly only after we determine it is safe." • Dickson is the administrator of the FAA.

" Congress is accountable in Boeing MAX crisis, too " [ Leeham News & Analysis ]. " Year after year after year, Congress does not properly fund the FAA in order for it to do its work. It doesn't give the FAA the money or the human resources or expertise to do its work. " • Correct!

"I'm not Boeing anywhere near that: Coder whizz heads off jumbo-sized maintenance snafu" [ The Register ].

Really a tech doc war story about the 747: "After about 30 pages I reached a page where my Windows app showed more data than the RS6000 app. I had two extra diagrams and an extra paragraph of text.

Clicking through the thousands of pages I found more places where my app showed extra diagrams and text."

Hoo boy. The culprit: "'After a few days of debugging,' Pete told us, 'it turned out [to be] an optimisation bug in the IBM C compiler used on the RS6000.

It was overwriting registers that were being used to store local C variables when the call stack got too deep.' Thus not all the text and diagrams were being displayed." •

Premature optimization is the root of all evil.

[Oct 30, 2019] 'Why Is This Airplane Still Flying' The FAA Missteps That Kept Boeing's MAX Aloft

Oct 30, 2019 | www.msn.com

The Wall Street Journal. 'Why Is This Airplane Still Flying?' The FAA Missteps That Kept Boeing's MAX Aloft Andy Pasztor, Andrew Tangel 1 day ago Impeachment resolution sent to floor for Thursday vote Watch: Kendrick hits go-ahead HR in Game 7

Just after a Boeing Co. 737 MAX jet crashed in Indonesia a year ago, FAA officials asked themselves: Should they warn the world the entire fleet could have a design flaw?

a group of people posing for the camera © David Ryder/Getty Images

A Federal Aviation Administration analysis showed a good chance the same malfunction would crop up again, according to agency officials and people briefed on the results. Even under the most optimistic scenario, the agency's statistical models projected a high likelihood of a similar emergency within roughly a year.

Yet in the end, the FAA didn't formally consider grounding the MAX or taking other drastic steps, based on the sketchy early information from the October 2018 accident. It simply reminded pilots how to respond to such emergencies.

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That decision set the stage for a second fatal MAX crash, of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, less than five months later.

In a critical misstep, FAA officials relied extensively on Boeing's initial flight-simulator test results, some of the people said. Boeing largely used its cadre of highly experienced test pilots, an industry practice the FAA and accident investigators later acknowledged wasn't appropriate to gauge how the other pilots would react in a real emergency.

On Monday, an FAA spokesman said the reminder to pilots "followed a rigorous and well-defined process," adding that the agency's overall response met regulatory requirements, was approved by multiple agency officials and reflected widely accepted industrywide standards.

Earl Lawrence, head of the FAA's aircraft-certification office, which approves and monitors new airplane models, was fresh in his post and lacked details about the MAX's original approval to delve deeply into the situation, said people briefed on the deliberations. He and his team followed Boeing's lead on diagnosing and resolving the crisis, including Boeing's predictions that a fix could be developed in time to avert another tragedy.

From front-line FAA engineers and midlevel managers to high-ranking officials at agency headquarters, the consensus was that it wasn't necessary to take drastic action such as grounding the fleet. FAA officials vouched for the safety of the MAX, even though it included the MCAS feature that eventually was implicated in both crashes.

How the FAA decided against a more-aggressive response to the crash hasn't been reported before in detail.

That stance has prompted a barrage of criticism on Capitol Hill and elsewhere. The FAA's decisions are expected to feature in Senate and House committee hearings this week. Lawmakers are expected to ask Boeing Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg about the company's interactions with the FAA, including whether it urged the regulator to avoid taking more-forceful action between the crashes.

As the MAX edges toward service again, probably early next year, European safety authorities have formally shelved the idea of ungrounding the MAX simultaneously with the FAA. They want to perform their own simulator tests and analyze additional safeguards. Other foreign regulators, too, are poised to conduct separate evaluations -- something once unthinkable among overseas regulators, who typically followed the FAA in vetting the safety of U.S.-certified planes.

Boeing agreed with the FAA that it was appropriate to reiterate existing pilot procedures before rolling out software changes, a company spokesman said. "The safety of everyone flying on our airplanes was paramount as the analysis was done and the mitigating actions were taken," he said, adding: "Boeing began work on a potential software update shortly after the Lion Air accident, when MCAS was identified as a potential factor. Boeing agreed to the FAA's timeline for implementing the software update."

The FAA spokesman said "There was no regulatory requirement in this instance to use average pilots," adding that current testing procedures require them. He said Mr. Lawrence "is well-versed in certification standards" even though he wasn't involved early on with the MAX, and "all meetings and conversations in the immediate aftermath of the Lion Air accident were based on the best information available at the time."

From the moment that Lion Air Flight 610 nosedived into the Java Sea with 189 people onboard, FAA officials were playing catch-up. The first shock, said people familiar with the details, came when FAA engineers in the Seattle region discovered Boeing hadn't submitted revised safety assessments detailing the latest changes to MCAS, the automated flight-control system at the heart of the problem.

Agency engineers struggled to understand MCAS's intricacies. As government and Boeing experts met to discuss responses, Boeing engineers seemed to realize they had underestimated MCAS's ability to push the plane's nose down forcefully and repeatedly, and overestimated how pilots would respond, said a person familiar with the FAA's response.

Days after the Lion Air crash, Rep. Peter DeFazio (D., Ore.), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, met Ali Bahrami, the FAA's top safety official, for a closed-door briefing. The FAA contingent sought to persuade the lawmaker, an FAA critic, that the crash exposed operational rather than design problems, Mr. DeFazio said in an interview. "We were assured this was one-off" as an event, he said.

The FAA prepared its standard postcrash risk analysis, called Transport Airplane Risk Assessment Methodology, which calculated the potential extent of the problem.

It received a flood of information about pilot and maintenance missteps, and other data from the scene that suggested there were systemic repair and inspection shortcomings at Lion Air. As neither FAA engineers nor most of their bosses fully grasped the intricacies of MCAS, they felt comfortable delving into issues many of them understood better, including how pilots reacted to emergencies with the system, said some of the people briefed on the deliberations. FAA managers worked with U.S. airlines to scour MAX flight records over the more than two years. They didn't find any event revealing an MCAS malfunction similar to the one in the Lion Air dive.

Early on, regulators emphasized the results of Boeing's flight-simulator sessions. Boeing, which conducted tests in an advanced flight simulator near Seattle, told regulators its analysis showed pilots generally starting to respond within several seconds, an acceptable result, despite a cacophony of blaring cockpit alerts and warning lights, said some of the people briefed on the results.

The crews in those simulated emergencies primarily were Boeing pilots far more experienced than typical airline pilots, said the people. In the crush of fast-moving developments, the FAA seemingly didn't focus on the makeup of the simulator crews, said the people briefed on the results.

With initial information at hand, the FAA focused on an emergency directive. In the dry technical language used for routine maintenance inspections, the FAA reminded pilots to adhere to longstanding procedures when encountering similar emergencies. The directive didn't fully spell out the harrowing details of an MCAS malfunction, specifically how the system pushed down the plane's nose over pilot attempts to override it.

The issue of whether to mention MCAS was debated at lower levels of the FAA, making its way to the agency's acting head, Daniel Elwell, who endorsed the decision not to identify the system, said a person with knowledge of the deliberations. Boeing later spelled out MCAS details in a Nov. 10 bulletin to airlines.

The FAA spokesman said MCAS wasn't mentioned due to concerns that it could have interfered with Indonesian investigators by implying a probable cause of the accident.

FAA officials embraced Boeing's reassuring message portraying the aircraft's design as essentially sound and indicating that a relatively swift fix would alleviate concerns. Boeing and agency leaders continued to reiterate the notion the Lion Air crash was primarily due to pilot errors and maintenance lapses, said current and former industry officials, federal regulators and outside safety experts. After accident investigators issued a preliminary report, Boeing issued a statement pointing to potential pilot and maintenance lapses in the document.

Mr. Lawrence, the agency's new certification chief, relied on recommendations from lower-level staffers who tended to support many of Boeing's positions, agency officials and safety experts said. He spent minimal time reviewing the directive, one of them said, before the FAA released it about a week after the Lion Air crash.

Around the same time, more than 20 officials in the FAA's Seattle-area certification office gathered to hash out responses. They discussed accident assessments, the pilots' apparent failure to disable MCAS and signs of maintenance lapses. The participants agreed the directive was a good step while officials learned more about the MCAS.

Before the gathering's conclusion, FAA experts realized the emergency reminder to pilots "isn't going to be enough" and they needed to prod Boeing to devise a long-term software solution, the person close to the deliberations said. Boeing, which had independently come to the same conclusion, got to work.

At FAA headquarters, Mr. Lawrence and his lieutenants felt comfortable they had alleviated the short-term danger. Agency personnel understood the emergency directive wouldn't eliminate the risk of another accident, according to an FAA official involved in the deliberations, but they believed that it would reduce the danger enough that the planes could safely keep flying while Boeing came up with a permanent fix.

One European pilot-union leader recalls getting into a shouting match with a Boeing official about the extensive use of test pilots in simulators after the Lion Air crash. During a break in a meeting to update the region's aviators and MAX operators about the status of the software fix, the union official maintained that test pilots in simulators couldn't be viewed as reliable stand-ins for airline pilots flying planes. The Boeing technical expert, he said, maintained just as strongly that the industry had followed that course for decades, leading to recent record low accident rates.

Boeing encouraged FAA personnel to call the planned software fix an "enhancement." Senior agency officials publicly and privately echoed the same line, and dissected crew errors rather than Boeing's design shortcomings.

At the FAA's working levels, though, there was some frustration at Boeing's stance. At one meeting between FAA officials and Boeing personnel not long after the Lion Air crash, the person familiar with the agency's response said, officials were surprised at Boeing's emphasis on language.

"Don't call it a fix," this person recalls a Boeing official saying. "These are enhancements."

"Call it whatever you want," an FAA official snapped, saying the most pressing issue was shoring up MCAS, not quibbling over how to describe it.

By mid-February, the FAA's decision to forego a more forceful response appeared to be paying off. Agency officials were weeks from approving a new version of the MAX software, said the FAA official close to the deliberations.

Then Ethiopian Flight 302 plowed into a field near Addis Ababa, killing all 157 on board. The FAA began conducting a fresh risk analysis, seeking to quantify the likelihood of a third such emergency.

Amid signs the MCAS system was central to the second crash, governments around the world ordered fleets grounded. The FAA maintained publicly that the specifics were too unclear to merit such decisive action. Two days after the crash, FAA engineers and managers in the Seattle area concluded immediate grounding was the only option, said people familiar with the details.

"Why is this airplane still flying?" one FAA engineer asked at a meeting, said a person familiar with the gathering. The recommendation was waiting for Mr. Lawrence when he walked into the office March 13, three days after the crash.

Canadian regulators handed over refined satellite-tracking charts that revealed similarities between the two MAX crashes. On March 13, the FAA pulled the trigger on a grounding order.

The FAA's decision came after every major aviation country already had deemed the MAX unsafe. "We have said all along that we are a data-driven organization," the FAA's Mr. Elwell told reporters. "The data coalesced today and we made the call."

Write to Andy Pasztor at andy.pasztor@wsj.com and Andrew Tangel at Andrew.Tangel@wsj.com

[Oct 20, 2019] The letter was by Capt. Chesley (Sully) Sullenberger who captured everyone's imagination landing safely in the Hudson River cuts previous Langewiesche argumantation to pieces.

Oct 20, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

browning , Oct 20 2019 15:02 utc | 12

I don't know if this was mentioned in the 737Max threads: The NYTimes Magazine of Oct. 13 carried a letter, in response to the Langewiesche article, which appeared earlier in the Times Magazine and was discussed at MOA. The letter was by Capt. Chesley (Sully) Sullenberger who captured everyone's imagination landing safely in the Hudson River. He cuts Langewiesche to pieces.

Langewiesche minimizes the design flaws and certification failures that precipitated those tragedies, and still pose a threat to the flying public.

Inadequate pilot training and experience do not excuse the fatally flawed design of the [MCAS] that was a death trap. The MCAS design should never have been approved -- not by Boeing, and not by the FAA.

We need to fix all the flaws in the current system -- corporate governance, regulatory oversight, aircraft maintenance and, yes, pilot training and experience. Only then can we ensure the safety of everyone who flies.

[Oct 15, 2019] Boeing's New Problems Reach Beyond The 737 MAX

Notable quotes:
"... A newly found structural defect on older 737 NG planes, the predecessor of the 737 MAX, will ground a significant number of those planes. ..."
"... There are new damning revelations about the 737 MAX development process that have led to two deadly accidents. The Southwest pilot associated is suing Boeing for making false statements. A whistleblower asserts that Boeing left out safety features because of their costs. A Joint Authorities Technical Review will make it more difficult for Boeing to 'upgrade' older airplane types. ..."
"... The FAA has issued an Air Worthiness Directive (AD) for high time Boeing 737 NGs, requiring immediate inspections for cracks in their wing attachments called pickle forks. ..."
"... The results of the first week of inspections are 5% of the inspected aircraft have cracks with the lowest flight cycle aircraft with cracks at 23,600 flights. ..."
"... "Boeing made a calculated decision to rush a re-engined aircraft to market to secure its single-aisle market share and prioritize its bottom line," the introduction to the suit states. "In doing so, Boeing abandoned sound design and engineering practices, withheld safety critical information from regulators and deliberately mislead its customers, pilots and the public. ..."
"... 7. Boeing's false representations, made directly to SWAPA, caused SWAPA to agree, despite its initial reluctance, to include the 737 MAX as a term in its collective bargaining agreement ("CBA") with Southwest. The aircraft's grounding is now causing SWAPA pilots to lose millions of dollars each month because the 737 MAX was removed from Southwest's flight schedule, and from SWAPA pilots' paychecks as well. ..."
"... The ethics charge, filed by 33-year-old engineer Curtis Ewbank, whose job involved studying past crashes and using that information to make new planes safer, describes how around 2014 his group presented to managers and senior executives a proposal to add various safety upgrades to the MAX. ..."
"... The proposed but rejected changes would have prevented false cockpit alarms. The point is crucial because the Angle-of-Attack sensor failures that caused both 737 MAX accidents led to a number of confusing alarms which made it difficult for the pilots to diagnose the problem. It has since been revealed that Boeing had received exceptions from current regulatory rules that demand a better alarming system: ..."
"... The precipitous fall of manufacturing in the USA is simply apalling. If it isn't lead in the water then it must be Chicago School economic criminals. I was astounded at manufacturing in Finland and they appear to have sustained their impetus for constant improvement. ..."
"... I wonder just how much % of US GDP is comprised of parasitic financial engineering. Going by healthcare costs versus other countries: At least half. ..."
"... The big problem here is that the Ethiopian crash happened after the existence of MCAS was revealed, and the FAA issued an Airworthiness Directive about how to deal with it, which was to make sure to use those trim-cutout switches...as stated in the checklist for ordinary runaway trim. ..."
"... Well that turned out to be insane...because the Ethiopian crew did just that, and crashed anyway. It was simply impossible to recover that airplane at that low a height when the MCAS nosed it over. It was a death sentence. ..."
Oct 15, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Two weeks ago the National Transport Safety Board (NTSB) released a 13 pages long recommendation (pdf) resulting from its investigation into the 737 MAX incidents. Since we dicussed that damning report more bad news for Boeing has come out.

As AirInsight analyst Ernest Arvai summarizes :

The MAX is grounded, the 787 is being investigated for quality issues and has major engine problems, the 777-X is even further delayed with engine problems, and the KC-46 is failing to meet needs and currently restricted from carrying passengers and cargo. Now, the prior generation 737NG is developing serious premature failure of structural components that should last the lifetime of the aircraft, and could result in an additional financial drain. We've been looking for good news about Boeing, but simply can't find any.

An order for 22 of Boeing's 787 Dreamliner was canceled . Without new orders the two production lines for the 787 will need only 40 more months to finish the outstanding orders. That is a relative short backlog for a large passenger jet production line. Boeing needs a new mid-range product but has little time to work on it.

Boeing's overall orderbook is shrinking :

Boeing's net order tally, including cancellations, was a negative 84 for the first nine months of 2019, also hit by the bankruptcy of India's Jet Airways, which resulted in Boeing removing 210 aircraft from its order backlog.

During the conversion of a 737 NG passenger jet into a freighter plane Boeing found serious defects on a structural component that was supposed to have a longer lifetime than the plane. Boeing notified the FAA:

The FAA has issued an Air Worthiness Directive (AD) for high time Boeing 737 NGs, requiring immediate inspections for cracks in their wing attachments called pickle forks.

The cracks were discovered on high time aircraft which were torn down for conversion to freighters. The affected 737 types are NG only; the MAX and Classic have a different wing attachment design.
...
The issued AD affects Boeing 737 NG aircraft with over 22,600 flight cycles (flights). These shall be inspected within one year. For aircraft with more than 30,000 flight cycles, the inspection shall be completed within one week from the effective date of the AD.

The central wingbox is the structure where the wings are attached to the planes body.


bigger

Two frames (STA 540) at the front and the rear of the wingbox carry the load into the upper body structure.


bigger

At the lower end of these frames are the forged 'pickle forks' that are riveted to the wingbox.


bigger

This is how the whole construct looks in real life.


bigger

The planes with these defects (pdf) have been grounded as such cracks tend to grow and a failure of the structure would likely end catastrophically.


bigger

The planes are supposed to make up to 90,000 flights throughout their life without such structural damages. The first inspection round showed that the problem is systematic and serious:

The results of the first week of inspections are 5% of the inspected aircraft have cracks with the lowest flight cycle aircraft with cracks at 23,600 flights.

Each plane will take three weeks to repair. But the supply of replacement parts for the cracked component is limited and it may take longer to produce new ones.

It is not clear yet what causes the cracks in the forged aluminum part. Many older NG were retrofitted with winglets on the tips of their wings. These may have led to unforeseen loads or vibrations. It is possible that some of the younger 737 NG airplanes have a similar problem.

This is bad news for those airlines that exclusively fly Boeing 737 planes. Not only are their new 737 MAX planes grounded but a significant share of their older 737 NG fleets will also come off the flight line and will require lengthy repairs.


Southwest Airlines Pilots Association has sued Boeing over its 737 MAX design:

"Boeing made a calculated decision to rush a re-engined aircraft to market to secure its single-aisle market share and prioritize its bottom line," the introduction to the suit states. "In doing so, Boeing abandoned sound design and engineering practices, withheld safety critical information from regulators and deliberately mislead its customers, pilots and the public.

"Boeing's misrepresentations caused SWAPA to believe that the 737 MAX aircraft was safe," the suit goes on, then adds starkly: "Those representations proved to be false."

The suit includes (pdf) some remarkable facts:

120. The risk profile and required risk assessment of the second iteration of MCAS was completely different from the first, and yet Boeing neither assessed that increased risk nor even attempted to mitigate it. Instead, Boeing used its ODA authority to hide this information.

This is a point we made several times in our writings about the MAX. Boeing has claimed that an MCAS failure was a 'runaway stabilizer' incident for which no extra training was needed. The Southwest pilots disagree:

229. An MCAS failure is not like a runaway stabilizer. A runaway stabilizer has continuous un-commanded movement of the tail, whereas MCAS is not continuous and pilots (theoretically) can counter the nose-down movement, after which MCAS would move the aircraft tail down again.

SWAPA is suing Boeing because the assertions it made about the 737 MAX were directly relevant for the union's negotiations with Southwest:

7. Boeing's false representations, made directly to SWAPA, caused SWAPA to agree, despite its initial reluctance, to include the 737 MAX as a term in its collective bargaining agreement ("CBA") with Southwest. The aircraft's grounding is now causing SWAPA pilots to lose millions of dollars each month because the 737 MAX was removed from Southwest's flight schedule, and from SWAPA pilots' paychecks as well.

It will cost Boeing some $100 million to settle the suit. That will only be a small part of the total damage the 737 MAX problems caused the company. But the additional public relation damage will be significant.

A Boeing engineer has come forward to say that Boeing rejected safety upgrades because of their costs:

The ethics charge, filed by 33-year-old engineer Curtis Ewbank, whose job involved studying past crashes and using that information to make new planes safer, describes how around 2014 his group presented to managers and senior executives a proposal to add various safety upgrades to the MAX.

The complaint, a copy of which was reviewed by The Seattle Times, suggests that one of the proposed systems could have potentially prevented the crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia that killed 346 people. Three of Ewbank's former colleagues interviewed for this story concurred.

The proposed but rejected changes would have prevented false cockpit alarms. The point is crucial because the Angle-of-Attack sensor failures that caused both 737 MAX accidents led to a number of confusing alarms which made it difficult for the pilots to diagnose the problem. It has since been revealed that Boeing had received exceptions from current regulatory rules that demand a better alarming system:

In 2014, Boeing convinced the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to relax the safety standards for the new 737 MAX related to cockpit alerts that would warn pilots if something went wrong during flight, according to documents reviewed by the Seattle Times.

Seeking an exception, Boeing relied on a special FAA rule to successfully argue that full compliance with the latest federal requirements would be "impractical" for the MAX and would cost too much.
...
The Seattle Times reviewed the relevant parts of the document that Boeing submitted to the FAA to win its exception. They show the federal regulator struck out four separate clauses that would be requirements for any new jet being produced today. This meant Boeing avoided having to design a complete upgrade of the 737's aging flight-crew-alerting system.
...
On the Ethiopian Airlines flight that crashed in March, the pilots faced a barrage of alerts throughout the six-minute flight. Besides the stick-shaker, they heard repeated loud "DON'T SINK" warnings that the jet was too close to the ground; a "clacker" making a very loud clicking sound to signal the jet was going too fast; and multiple warning lights telling the crew the speed, altitude and other readings on their instruments were unreliable.

The use of old certification standards when updating a plane is a major point of criticism raised by a new report :

The Federal Aviation Administration, which approved the design of the jet in 2017, dropped the ball on many fronts, the Joint Authorities Technical Review found. A 69-page summary of the findings also said the panel found evidence that Boeing exerted "undue pressures" on some of its own employees who had FAA authority to approve design changes.

The JATR report is damning for both, Boeing and the FAA. It describes all the known failures and makes 12 recommendations that will change the way how old plane types can be 'upgraded' into a new version. FAA exceptions like the ones above will no longer be possible:

Changed Product Rules (..) and associated guidance (..) should be revised to require a top-down approach whereby every change is evaluated from an integrated whole aircraft system perspective. These revisions should include criteria for determining when core attributes of an existing transport category aircraft design make it incapable of supporting the safety advancements introduced by the latest regulations and should drive a design change or a need for a new type certificate. The aircraft system includes the aircraft itself with all its subsystems, the flight crew, and the maintenance crew.

If implemented the recommendation will make another 737 MAX impossible. A future upgrade of an old plane type will have to conform with the current regulation to a much larger extent and can no longer rely on the old rules to which it was originally designed. If this gets applied to the currently grounded 737 MAX, which may be possible, the plane will never fly again. Current Boeing plans to upgrade its 777 with new wings and engines might also be in trouble. Thoughts about upgrading the 767 will have to be put aside.

Other JATR recommendations criticize the FAA's delegation system that allowed Boeing engineers to self-certify some design changes. Other points are the general lack of human factor analysis and problems with evaluating pilot training necessities.

A few observations in the JATR report will have some engineers shake their heads. This lack of functionality in Boeing's engineering simulator is, for example, inexcusable:

Observation O3.13-A: During evaluation in the Boeing engineering simulator (E-Cab), the JATR team observed that the device does not incorporate control loading on the manual stabilizer trim wheel. As a result, control forces on the manual stabilizer trim wheel are not representative of the aircraft.

The manual trim is required to bring the plane back into normal flight after the electric trim or MCAS failed. That is currently not always possible because the aerodynamic forces in certain situations are too great to be overcome with the manual wheel. The European regulator noted that as a major problem that Boeing has to rectify. That Boeing was not even able to simulate this is mind boggling.

It is also damning for Boeing and the FAA that the report's authors had to include this eternal engineering truth:

[I]n the hierarchy of safety solutions, mitigation by design should be prioritized over warnings and training/procedures.

This comment from a pilot forum is also very relevant:

Finding F3.5-C The JATR team considers that the STS/MCAS and EFS functions could be considered as stall identification systems or stall protection systems, depending on the natural (unaugmented) stall characteristics of the aircraft. From its data review, the JATR team was unable to completely rule out the possibility that these augmentation systems function as a stall protection system.

(my emphasis)
In my words, it seems unclear to this day, whether the MAX is sufficiently aerodynamically stable in pitch or not. Whether the MAX requires a full blown stall envelope protection including all the mandatory redundancy, or not, may decide the fate of her certification.

The Seattle Times has more on the JATR report.


As a consequence of all the above some industry analysts have called for the firing of the CEO and of long term board members of Boeing.

Yesterday the Boeing board took the first step and demoted its chairman and CEO:

With pressure mounting on the Boeing board and increased public concern about a need to revamp the company's safety culture, the board on Friday took away Dennis Muilenburg's role as company chairman, separating that position from his chief executive role.

Muilenburg will remain CEO and president, and will stay on the board of directors, while lead director David Calhoun was elected to replace him as chairman.

It is generally assumed that Muilenburg will be fired as CEO as soon as the MAX disaster is over.

This will still take several months.

While the new MCAS software is allegedly ready to be cerified there are still many open points that international certification authorities have asked Boeing to rectify. The European regulator wants more testing to be done to the changes to the Flight Control Computers:

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency recently told senior U.S. regulators it wasn't satisfied that FAA and Boeing officials had adequately demonstrated the safety of reconfigured MAX flight-control computers, according to people briefed on the discussions. The aim is to add redundancy by having both computers work simultaneously to eliminate hazards stemming from possible chip malfunctions identified months ago; over decades, and on previous versions of the 737, only one computer at a time has fed data to automated systems, alternating between flights. The concerns were passed on by EASA chief Patrick Ky to Ali Bahrami, the FAA's top safety official, one of the people said.
...
Boeing and the FAA are finishing testing the dual-computer system, and the final results haven't been presented to EASA or other regulators. EASA has signaled, though, that it wants additional risk scenarios examined beyond those in the current testing plan, this person said.
...
Boeing engineers are frustrated EASA hasn't specified what additional measures might allay its objections, according to people close to the discussions.

The last paragraph is astonishing. It is not the task of a regulator to tell Boeing engineers how to solve their problems. The regulators set the rules and check if a manufacturer's engineering solutions comply with those.

That Boeing still does not get that and is looking for easy ways out of its problems shows that the company has yet to learn its lesson.

---
Previous Moon of Alabama posts on Boeing 737 MAX issues:

Posted by b on October 12, 2019 at 18:31 UTC | Permalink


Walter , Oct 12 2019 18:56 utc | 1

About cracks and the nonlinear nature of some failure modes some may wish to read. Eberhart's Why Things Break - it is useful.

I am very sorry to see Boeing doing this stuff, especially over, it seems, years. Another icon in flames, alas...

psychohistorian , Oct 12 2019 18:58 utc | 2
Thanks for the ongoing coverage of the human life lost because profit b

I read on Reuters this past week that Boeing is in negotiation to purchase Embraer from Brazil who makes smaller airplanes. I con only conjecture that Boeing's ongoing financialization intentions would be to drive that company into the ground like they are doing with Boeing.

How come none of the leadership of Boeing is in jail facing murder charges?

b , Oct 12 2019 19:08 utc | 3
I read on Reuters this past week that Boeing is in negotiation to purchase Embraer from Brazil who makes smaller airplanes.

Boeing needs to do that because it tried to screw Bombardier and was outmaneuvered by Airbus. A failure that should have cost Muilenburg's head.

How Boeing Tried to Kill a Great Airplane -- and Got Outplayed


As soon as Boeing's top management understood what they were looking at they didn't like it.

Another company had produced a paragon of an airplane and they had nothing to match it. And so Boeing decided they had to do as much harm to that airplane's chances as they could -- most of all, to stop any American airline from buying it.

The company was Bombardier, based in Canada. The airplane was the Bombardier C Series, a single-aisle jet that, in several versions, could seat between 100 and 150 passengers.
...
Boeing's formidable Washington lobbying machine swung into action. Dennis Muilenburg, the Boeing CEO, had already cozied-up to Trump by agreeing to cut the costs of the future Air Force One jets. In September 2017, the Commerce Department announced a killing blow to Bombardier, imposing a 300 percent duty on every C Series sold in the US.
...
But on Oct. 16, 2017, to the amazement of the whole aerospace industry, Airbus announced it was taking a 51 percent stake -- not in Bombardier itself but in the C Series program. Without any down payment.

In one stroke Airbus had changed the future of the airline industry. And out-gamed Boeing.
...
To ram home just how much Airbus was now able to out-game Boeing, they said they would build a final assembly line for the C Series in Alabama for those sold to American airlines, thereby removing the vulnerability to tariffs. (Many components of the jet were, in any case, made in America, in addition to the engines.)


psychohistorian , Oct 12 2019 19:19 utc | 4
@ Posted by: b | Oct 12 2019 19:08 utc | 3

Thanks for the follow up b. Since I send you a check yearly you know that Bombardier is my last name but along with that I am 7 generations removed from the linage that started the Bombardier company.

I like to think I have inherited some of the creativity of the founder and met his son and daughter in the mid 1980's. As an occasional sailor and cross country skier I detest the noise of the Seadoo and Skidoo but they have a fairly good reputation still from what I hear and read. Due to their international popularity they have conditioned me and others in my family to change the pronunciation of our last name to the French manner.....grin

Jen , Oct 12 2019 19:36 utc | 5
As the Clive Irving / The Daily Beast article that B linked to @ 3 illustrates, a culture that prizes short-term profits and cost-cutting, and which denigrates innovation, risk-taking and pride in providing a consistent standard of engineering excellence and safety, is dominant at Boeing. Sacking Dennis Muilenberg and a few other Board Directors will do very little to change that culture. The entire organisational structure needs examining and change. Even the shareholder ownership and how that is structured should be investigated and reformed.

Moving Boeing's headquarters back to Seattle to be close to where most engineers and technical support work, and where most of the manufacture of the planes is located, away from the influence of neoliberal ideology emanating from hired brainwashed University of Chicago graduates, would be a start.

marxist , Oct 12 2019 19:39 utc | 6
Posted by: psychohistorian | Oct 12 2019 18:58 utc | 2

How come none of the leadership of Boeing is in jail facing murder charges?

It is state capitalism.

bjd , Oct 12 2019 20:00 utc | 7
Starbucks, Microsoft, Boeing. There's a theme here.
bjd , Oct 12 2019 20:19 utc | 8
It's regulatory capture, one of the terrific by-products of naked capitalism. In essence: you count dollars, not bodies.
Lochearn , Oct 12 2019 20:21 utc | 9
b. you mention Southwest, which has been Boeing's most loyal customer for almost five decades. It was the first airline to use one make and model of aircraft exclusively – the Boeing 737. Boeing used Southwest to carry out tests on new aircraft and the Southwest fleet was always serviced by Boeing. In some respects its history mirrors that of Boeing, in other ways it doesn't.

From its origins in the early 1970s Southwest seemed to defy business logic. It was the only airline that constantly produced expected returns for Wall Street and at one point its market capitalization was higher than those of its far larger competitors, such as Delta. But it has a strong union and was always one of the companies in the US people most wanted to work for. It's founder and CEO, Herb Kelleher, is a most remarkable fellow. He brought in a completely new ethic of employees first just when in the late 1970s neoliberalism began to do the exact opposite and Jack Welch began to slash jobs at GE, bringing in a top down, management consultant-run, macho culture. At Southwest decision-making was devolved down to the customer-facing employee and assigning blame was strictly forbidden. A sense of fun at work was explicitly encouraged including dressing up and acting plain daft. For a few days a year roles would be switched around, so pilots worked as cabin crew, cabin crew as gate staff, etc. Even Herb himself pitched in when a plane was late. So news began to spread about how this airline went out of its way for both its staff and passengers. And, of course, staff would reciprocate by going out of their way for the airline. And tickets were really cheap due to fast turnarounds.

Other companies came to study Southwest. Even the dreaded Irish company Ryanair went to Texas. But none of them could replicate what Herb called "the emotional intelligence." And lets not forget the remarkable COO Coleen Brennan. When a cabin crew member was failing to perform to his usual standards she discovered he had just had a very costly divorce and owed $18,000 in lawyer's fees. Coleen wrote him a check for that sum from her own bank account.

Then Herb retired in 2005 and Southwest appears to have followed all the rest, including Boeing. Just one small example but highly indicative. A few years after Herb left they forced a young woman off a plane because her skirt was too short. In Herb's day this would have been inconceivable. Far more likely would have been someone announcing in a joking tone: "We have to warn you all. There's a passenger with a very short skirt so whatever you do don't look!"

c1ue , Oct 12 2019 20:35 utc | 10
@Lochearn #10
I do wonder how the 737 MAX's troubles impact Southwest Airlines.
SWA pretty much is fully 737. This article from 2016 talks about SWA and Lion Air being the 2 largest customers for the 737 MAX, and that SWA was postponing some of its previous committed order even back then.
Note that Lion Air was one of the 737 MAX crashes...
VietnamVet , Oct 12 2019 20:58 utc | 11
The slow-motion collapse of Boeing is due to the extraction of wealth from businesses and the middle class to financiers in the West. Boeing was the last American major manufacturing industry. No more. What is astonishing is the avoidance of looking at the reasons why except here at MofA. The collapse is visible from PG&E shutting off electricity to 2 million people in California to Boris Johnson's Halloween. As far as I can tell, the desert approaches to Aramco's oil facilities are still defenseless. If the Saudis don't make peace with the Houthis, a global economic crash will result from the resumptions of missile attacks and the cutoff of oil from Saudi Arabia. But there has been no movement towards peace, re-instituting the rule of law, and jailing corporate criminals for manslaughter. Instead a Coup is underway to remove an elected President
chu teh , Oct 12 2019 21:09 utc | 12
"That Boeing was not even able to simulate this is mind boggling."

This is "mind-boggling" only to a mind that is missing vital data. To wit: It was known that any use of the simulator to mimic physical demands required by a pilot to handle the trim-wheel to correct a situation would, of necessity, demonstrate pilot failure to handle situation. Such a demonstration would preclude issue FAA "air worthiness" certification.

Therefore, the simulator must not be upgraded to use the known factors of physical demands. If the physical demands were demonstrated, there would be actual records of pilot failures that could not be suppressed from regulatory exposure and resulting Boeing liability and exposure of the fraud. [Likewise, simulation tests were not conducted including full interaction of MCAS program with single or multiple false AOA signals.]

As it was, there was no record of actual failures prior to the crashes, that could not be handled by Public Relations confusion, intimidation, bribery, etc. [with emphasis on the "etc".]

The takeover of America by corporations has been accomplished, and their legal enforcer is the American government whose decision makers are real persons under control by said corporations [including trusts and foundations and other ersatz, fake, legal constructions].

That is what Mussolini meant by defining Fascism as merger of gov and corporations [which is only a handy English translation of his actual language]. And that is why he chose the symbol of the fasces. The fasces symbolized the power to judge, punish and kill that was vested in the Roman magistrate displaying the symbol.

Corporations [etc.] rule. Government is their legal enforcer.

[Why corporations, etc.? Because corporations are immortal; persons die.]

Amir , Oct 12 2019 21:12 utc | 13
Aren't the Iranians lucky that US embargoed the sale of these US aircrafts to Iran. Who new Trump was a Divine Intervention. By trumpeting sanctions against Iran, US saved the lives of Iranian passengers and undermined the Boeing's bottom line. Strange how the Rota Fortunae turns.
fx , Oct 12 2019 21:17 utc | 14
So Boeing finally ends Chair of the Board-CEO duality by demoting Muilenburg to CEO only. This comes 17 years after the Sarbanes-Oxley act that, although it failed to mandate an independent Chair (even though that's considered obvious best practice in much of the world, including the UK), at least led many well-governed firms to give up on duality a decade or more ago.

But then Boeing hands the Board Chair role to... Dave Calhoun, who (a) is on the board to represent Blackstone, the squeeze-for-cash private equity fund that has played quite a role in putting Boeing into its investment tailspin, and (b) has been on the board since before the MAX debacle started (whereas Muilenburg can at least claim he was selling inflated weapon systems while the MAX was being designed).

If you own Boeing shares, the writing is on the wall: Sell before Blackstone itself, or some of the other PE vultures, either debt-load Boeing while stripping the cash or outright start to short the stock and take the whole company down on the back of employees, clients and ordinary shareholders.

The silver lining is that a Boeing collapse may be all the better, as far as aviation safety and progress are concerned.

Lochearn , Oct 12 2019 21:27 utc | 15
@ 12

Your point about the coup against Trump brings us back to last night's quite heated discussion which some of us I think want to avoid – it's a bit like the late Roman emperors. It's what happens when as in the legend of Ouroborus the serpent that begins to eat its own tail ie. eat up all its companies through private equity. Is Trump this or that hardly matters except maybe to postpone the Iran thing.

fx , Oct 12 2019 21:32 utc | 16
And in another mind-boggling feat of glossing over incompetence and conflicts of interest:

'SWAPA's lawsuit mentions that in July 2016, Boeing's 737 chief technical pilot, Mark Forkner, invited Southwest pilots to participate in training for the differences between the 737 MAX and the previous 737 model already in the airline's fleet.
"Boeing's differences training did not include instructions on MCAS and at no point during Boeing's presentation did Boeing disclose the existence of MCAS or its associated risks," the complaint states.
During the certification of the MAX, it was Forkner who suggested to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in an email that MCAS not be included in the pilot manual.
Forkner left Boeing in 2018 and is now a first officer with Southwest Airlines.
Last month, The Seattle Times reported that Forkner has refused to provide documents sought by federal prosecutors investigating the crashes, citing his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.'
https://www.seattletimes.com/business/boeing-aerospace/in-scathing-lawsuit-southwest-pilots-union-says-boeing-737-max-was-unsafe/

That should make an interesting atmosphere in that Southwest cockpit...

Peter AU 1 , Oct 12 2019 21:41 utc | 17
From b's article - "EASA has signaled, though, that it wants additional risk scenarios examined beyond those in the current testing plan, this person said.
...
Boeing engineers are frustrated EASA hasn't specified what additional measures might allay its objections, according to people close to the discussions."

I cannot access the full WSJ article without subscribing, but going on the section quoted, unless EASA has stated the risk scenarios that need examining, the section quoted reads like the Europeans are squeezing Boeing out.

Roy G , Oct 12 2019 21:42 utc | 18
Once denial no longer works, the predictable, and false, refrain will be 'we' can't compete. My wish is that there is a pushback that drives home the real reason for the decline - the Financial Industrial Complex and Private Equity pirates, who have busted out once great companies like Boeing, with bad money driving out good people.
Taffyboy , Oct 12 2019 21:49 utc | 19
..."Seeking an exception, Boeing relied on a special FAA rule to successfully argue that full compliance with the latest federal requirements would be "impractical" for the MAX and would cost too much."...

Financialized criminals in action. All criminals seek exception to the rule, and bend, twist, contort reality to suit themselves. How any one in authority, and knowledge that are still working for this zombie company, sleep at night! Well I guess when your monetary bed is feathered by crooked individuals you tend not to notice your involvement. Why is no one in jail? Ya, that's right, capitalism in action. Nothing is criminal except smoking a joint!

chu teh , Oct 12 2019 21:50 utc | 20
chu teh | Oct 12 2019 21:09 utc | 13

As for "corporations [including trusts and foundations and other ersatz, fake, legal constructions]"...

Note the relevance of National Security.There are some 3-letter .gov agencies that operate globally and utterly covertly.

Now understand that MCAS is a software program that spreads beyond America; in fact, it is precisely as global as the sale of 737MAX. And the 737MAX was deliberately marketed as a global best-seller
MCAS is uniquely accessible and controlled by American entities.

Who or what could resist using such for their own quiet purposes? Including a one-off tweak, now and then, on another player on the grand chessboard? It would be so easy; and evidence-free like a disappearing ice-bullet.

Any corporate managers standing in the way could be easily brought under control by just smooth, patriotic-talk with only a hint of consequence for not being reasonable... or if that was too vague, more cooperative.

Anyone can understand the merger of corporations and .gov is a 2-way communication or deal or enterprise or path to riches or, in the most resistive case, an existential event?

Canthama , Oct 12 2019 21:53 utc | 21
Boeing is just another Corporate America criminal company, not first and not the last one, it places profits above all other possible values, as human lives, ethics, moral and safety. This is a corruption that is deep inside Corporate America, I know from inside one large Corporation, I opted out for not agreeing with their MO.
In a normal and fair world, which we do not have, Boeing's leadership should be in jail now for intentional murder against hundreds of civilians in two 737MAX accidents, it only happened due to Boeing short cuts and bribery to FAA, this is intentional murder.
On top of that 737MAX was just one of many failed projects with short cuts, and the world is now only realizing the big issue it has on its hands, with possibly thousands of planes risking millions of people's lives every day.
Still, I do not think nothing will happen to Boeing, may a huge financial loss for few years, but nothing will change, it runs deep in Corporate America and it is linked to US MIC famous corruption.
Americans are taking too long to take their lives back on track, maybe too much fluorine in the water is removing the will to fight back these freaks in power.
Lochearn , Oct 12 2019 21:54 utc | 22
Yes @ 21 Private Equity

This is key. I spent a long time studying private equity. Maybe in the open forum tomorrow I can look over my research and make a contribution.

Kiza , Oct 12 2019 22:09 utc | 23
Thanks VietnamVet and fx.
Masher1 , Oct 12 2019 22:33 utc | 24
I would comment... But... Why Bother.

Later b.

Lochearn , Oct 12 2019 22:42 utc | 25
@ 27

So why bother when you are lucky enough to be in this excellent website?

jared , Oct 12 2019 22:44 utc | 26
As pointed out - joe | Oct 12 2019 20:07 utc | 8

Not only Boing but also the FAA has been found to be lacking (negligent and incompitent).

I would say this is an prime example of us oligarchy- a result of neoliberal policy where private industry is expected to assume role of government (regulation and oversight) but then cuts corners to save money and then is indifferent to the impact on the public because after all who is there to appeal to.

Anyway fortunately US is out of commercial aircraft business for near future. Well except arms will be twisted.

vk , Oct 12 2019 23:17 utc | 27
All the evidence points that Marx's theory is correct: capitalism is a historically specific system with an expiring date. This "expiring date" is determined, mainly, by the system's tendency of the profit rate to fall. I've already called it here the moment the first post about this Boeing debacle begun.

That means the "financialisation" -- as is being preached by the keynesians and their admirers (e.g. MMTers) -- is false: capitalism can never be predominantly financial. The proletarian class has never been bigger as a proportion to the world's population . The difference is that, nowadays, it is the middle classes of the First World countries who dominate the production of opinion on the internet, so, from their point of view, the world is indeed "dematerialised" or "financialised". That's empirically false.

The capitalists seek to go financial when the profits from their industry has been depressed to the point they either can't keep up with competition or straight up loss or stagnation. They then begin to gamble on future gains in order to prop up, at least on their books, their profit rates. That's exactly the case with Boeing.

They go financial -- and not expand or modernize their manufacturing -- because profit is the exploitation over investment differential: if you invest more, you exploit more, but you spend more. Marx's law demonstrates the proportion of the rise in investment over rise of exploitation is secularly crescent, hence, sooner or later, capital resorts to absolute exploitation (i.e. freeze/lower wages, firing workers, longer daily workdays) to try to slow down its own decline. Finance doesn't need huge investments because the profit is fictitious, so it also intensifies.

Therefore, Boeing is not doing all this because it is greedy, but because they are desperate.

And it looks like they are not alone: Apple -- whose financial department is already so huge it would be the third largest hedge fund if independent -- has launched a worst version of its smartphone for an exorbitant price (luxury markets also slow down the downfall of profit rate) and is launching its own monetary system (Apple card); Facebook is launching its own cryptocurrency.

All the while, California stays in the dark because of a natural disaster that didn't happen yet .

Robert , Oct 12 2019 23:54 utc | 28
@Lochearn
Your celebration of the positive aspects of Southwest is well said. However, it also needs to be said: Herb Kelleher has blood on his hands. Lots of blood... here is the story...
In the 1980's, Southwest was just getting started with flights between Dallas, San Antonio, and Houston. At that time, the Texas government conducted a study to determine if high-speed rail between the three cities was a good idea. Before the final positive recommendation was released, Kelleher the killer stepped in and bought off the participants, as high-speed rail would deliver service at half of Southwest's price. This would destroy Southwest and leave Kelleher in millions of dollars of debt. After Kelleher bribed the government, the final report effectively killed the high-speed rail option. As a result, people who don't fly between these cities are forced to drive. Guess what the carnage has been on the Interstates connecting these cities...
Kelleher is personally responsible for at least half of it: thousands of human deaths, tens of thousands of human injuries, tens of thousands of animals, enormous amounts of pollution, huge property damage, enormous road maintenance costs, catastrophic inability to escape Houston floods, many hundreds-of-millions of dollars in vehicle damage - shit, I can't go on. Suffice to say, may Kelleher enjoy his frying in Hell. Good riddance, cunt.
Oh, and about that great Southwest customer service... at some point, Kelleher-the-dollar-whore must have taken a flight on Piedmont Airlines in the Carolinas before launching Southwest. He was no genius. He just saw how good an airline could be when he travelled Piedmont. After Piedmont was bought by USAirways (a catastrophe for frequent fliers), I suspect all the best Piedmont people went to Southwest - and gave Southwest such a good reputation. In those days, it was quite obvious who was former Piedmont and who was USAirways.
Kelleher is one of the most overrated executives in history. He was a drag on the economy of the entire United States, given what was possible had Texas gone with rail (and given the damages along the Interstates). Again, I hope he enjoys his sojourn in Hell.
Duncan Idaho , Oct 13 2019 0:09 utc | 29
Even with huge resistance by the US, Airbus must be smiling currently.
Boeing was taken over by the greedy capitalists, and they, as usual, put it in the trash for a few extra bucks.
snake , Oct 13 2019 0:44 utc | 30
Microsoft, Boeing, Starbucks. There's a theme here. by: bjd @ 7 <= you can get MBS. out of this. ?

The collapse is visible from PG&E shutting off electricity to 2 million people in California to Boris Johnson's Halloween. As far as I can tell, the desert approaches to Aramco's oil facilities are still defenseless. If the Saudis don't make peace with the Houthis, a global economic crash will result from the resumptions of missile attacks and the cutoff of oil from Saudi Arabia. But there has been no movement towards peace, re-instituting the rule of law, and jailing corporate criminals for manslaughter. Instead a Coup is underway to remove an elected President by: VietnamVet @ 12

I worked in the fibers industry during the 60s and I watched as money was taken from every place possible,
technical people were replaced by technicians. (just as is being done today with Nurse Practitioners and technical school
debt ridden 3 months of schooling grads now man the front lines of Medicine). Its a culture of don't bother me with safety or making the product work or delivery quality service, and its a policy endemic to the top brass (the elites as is probably the case at Boeing ).. No one can be Top Brass in a production environment in the USA culture today unless they fit into what I call the scum culture (the elite).. The can of worms that brought this about is wall street and its big daddy corrupt don't care about nobody but me firms. for years I have said they were intentionally collapsing the manufacturing and technical know how [Americas were so proud of] during the 50 -70s. It took 800 technical people to start that 1 mile long 316 Stainless steel yarn making plant up.. and to get it running smoothly, when I left 8 years later there were 12 professionals, 400 non-professional technicians running the joint. The process was sold to the Koreans and the fat cat stockholders live off the royalty.. But the Koreans got our technology for nothing.
I venture to say, no group of professionals trained in America could today start that process up.. it involves just about every technical expertise known to mankind. I guess Americans could hire the Koreans to come show us how to make it work?

So Boeing finally ends Chair of the Board-CEO duality by demoting Muilenburg to CEO only. This comes 17 years after the Sarbanes-Oxley act that, although it failed to mandate an independent Chair (even though that's considered obvious best practice in much of the world, including the UK), at least led many well-governed firms to give up on duality a decade or more ago. be fx @ 15.. <- no member of the culture can be blamed or punished..

Financialized criminals in action. by Taffyboy @ 22. I think i would opt for the label organized crime.

Jared at 29 points out that joe @ 8 said Not only Boeing but also the FAA has been found to be lacking (negligent and incompetent). jared @29 responds a prime example of US oligarchy <==They scream at every manufacturers meeting to deregulate .. eliminate product liability law suits . lie under oath at lawsuits layer and defendant alike hide from justice behind defense its for defense you cannot ask me those questions. nor can you or any court make me answer them.

Marx's theory is correct vk @30 <= maybe but what's happened to Americans since the USA became a hot bead of supporters of corporate criminals is not capitalism. its economic zionism.. take no prisoners, allow no one to compete, destroy everything that cannot be owned or controlled.. no one but no one is entitled to anything .. except the few. The difference between capitalism and economic zionism is free for all competition.. supervised by government and kept free of any thing approaching a monopoly.. vs the government creates the monopoly powers and gives them to the few so the few can deny all would be competition copyright, patent, and privatisation, financialization use war, sanctions and whatever to eliminate all competition.

Piotr Berman , Oct 13 2019 1:06 utc | 31
Therefore, Boeing is not doing all this because it is greedy, but because they are desperate.

Posted by: vk | Oct 12 2019 23:17 utc | 30

I disagree. Boeing spent 40 billions on share buybacks rather than spending part of the stash on developing new flying platforms. 737 was modified for more than 50 years, and it seems that in the last decade it exceeded the limitations of the original frame and some components. I understand that the computer/processor system was incapable of handling MACS as MACS should be designed, e.g. with proper sensor redundancies and proper user interface -- that requires many input streams, integrating warning into actionable summaries etc. Then there was a major logical contradiction of the approach: when pilots could not handle the plane, automatic MACS could take over, but in MACS itself was compromised, say, by faulty sensors, then the baton would be passed back to the pilot -- so was MACS needed or not? If needed, passing the control to the pilot would just confuse the blame, if not needed, why it was introduced? This setup makes some sense on a fighter plane, if the situation is too confusing, alerted crew can eject, but on a civilian plane...

Another story was that once MACS set the tail flaps wrongly while the plane was on cruising speed or close to it, reseting would require more force than the wheels rotated by hand could deliver. This is why the plane (and cars) need hydraulic systems, but something was wrong with the control of that system.

All of that can be traced to the method of making new planes by cobbling additions to an old one. For example, a new plane could be designed to be stable, and/or to have sufficiently powerful computers, hydraulics etc.

From the estimates I have read, developing plane by cobbling additions was something like 2-3 billion and perhaps 2-3 times more if a new platform was developed, so Boeing cut development costs by about 6 billion. As a result, the stock buy back would be 15% lower and the stock prices would fly a little less high than they did. To me, it looks like poor greed.

jared , Oct 13 2019 1:14 utc | 32
@ B -

[I]n the hierarchy of safety solutions, mitigation by design should be prioritized over warnings and training/procedures.

Actually the design rule is more like:
1) Identity all hazards and degree of risk associated with those
2) Revise the design to eliminate hazards presenting high risk of injury etc.
3) ... [what you said]

So ideally they would design a plane that is fairly easy to fly maybe even self correcting (by aerodynamic performance not by banks of computers).
If there are good reasons why the plane cannot be made easy to fly even self correcting then the next step would be train the pilots - simply something like this think has a tendency to want to nose up when you are heavy on the throttle, if you experience this you should monitor for approach stall conditions and consider less throttle or counter with elevator (sorry know nothing about flying other than avoid ground contact).

But they didn't want to train instead they fabricated a mousetrap that was in itself a hazrd.

bevin , Oct 13 2019 1:31 utc | 33
b's continuing story of Boeing is a morality tale. Beautifully written and very simple.
It is a story that shows how utopian is the belief that capitalism can be regulated.
It cannot be.
You can try: legislatures may huff and puff, reformers may reform but inevitably capitalism shakes off regulation like a retriever jumping out of a lake.
The entire system is rotten. The only regulatory mechanisms that capitalists will accept are those imposed by the marketplace-the only legislature that they respect. But as Boeing so graphically demonstrates the marketplace leads to monopoly, which brooks no regulation, except those which it imposes.
If the marketplace were working, according to the fairy tales economists tell, there would not be a Boeing left in the sky. The company would be out of business and half of Congress, the Federal Regulators, the owners of the media and every economist of the Chicago school would be in jail awaiting execution.
It is one of the bitter ironies of the story that among those killed in the Ethiopian crash was one of Ralph Nader's close relatives.
Another story worth following is the GM strike and the whole story of current UAW negotiations the immediate context of which includes the massive transfer of money from the car companies to Union officials. The entire system is corrupt.
There are only two alternatives: living with the barbarism or replacing it with socialism. All the rest is gossip.
Josh , Oct 13 2019 1:33 utc | 34
Does anybody think that these manifestations are typical of inherent systemic flaws in the corporate governmental structures coupled with behavioral abnormalities of individuals and groups of individuals involved in their operation and administration? Does anybody think that similar examples could be found in and throughout other industries that are governed and operated in the same way? Service industries? Medical? Pharmaceutical? Food production? Transportation? Automotive? Governmental? Military? Is this a tip of the iceberg sort of thing?
psychohistorian , Oct 13 2019 2:01 utc | 35
@ Josh who wrote
"
Does anybody think that similar examples could be found in and throughout other industries that are governed and operated in the same way? Service industries? Medical? Pharmaceutical? Food production? Transportation? Automotive? Governmental? Military? Is this a tip of the iceberg sort of thing?
"
Yes, the financialization meme permeates all services and industries, IMO

Examples from my own life are my healing of a Traumatic Brain Injury by neurofeedback/neuromodulation techniques that operate under a totally different paradigm than the current talk/drug based mental health system

Also I am now using for pain management a photobiomodulation unit (made in America) called a Medlight 630 PRO which represents disintermediation of the existing Big Pharma drug system and so is not supported by insurance in spite of being used successfully by NASA and the military speciality fighting units.....instead we have the opioid crisis.

Advances are not allowed because they would make some folks lose their lock on the money machine temporarily if not permanently.

flankerbandit , Oct 13 2019 2:02 utc | 36
Great reporting..!

I will just add here that it's incredible that Boeing tried to pass of the MCAS as the same thing as 'runaway trim'...

Now just by way of explanation for those who may be unfamiliar with basic airmanship, the 'trim' of the horizontal stabilizer [its physical angle] on any airplane is what is used to cancel out any pressure on the control stick, either forward or back...

Flying at different speeds the airplane requires differing amounts of downforce from the tailplane...the purpose of which downforce is to balance the lift created by the wing, which tends to want to pitch the airplane nose down...therefore a downforce on the tail is require to teeter the nose back up and keep the airplane in balance...

In an airplane capable of flying at speeds from about 100 mph to 500 mph, this is not an easy problem and requires a quite elaborate mechanical or electronic control system, or some kind of hybrid...the point being to adjust the tailplane [aka horizontal stabilizer] for a neutral feel in the control stick at any speed in the flight envelope...that's called the trimmed condition.

In any case, problems with the trim can happen which will cause the tailplane to 'run away' from its desired neutral position...this could be due to an electrical fault in the system, since the tailplane trim [the angle at which it is set] is driven by an electric motor...

Or, importantly, it can be caused by aerodynamic forces, in which case it's an aerodynamic runaway...[the trim system has dual friction brakes, but those can fail]

Now here is why pilots are so gobsmacked by Boeing's chicanery...before MCAS there were two contact-type switches in the bottom of the control stick...when pulling back on the stick, that switch would open and cut electrical power to the trim...

So if it was an electrical runaway simply holding the stick stationary [as per the checklist] would bring that contact switch into play as the trim noses the airplane down...

With MCAS that switch at the base of the stick was disabled...

Now the pilot thinks it's an aerodynamic runaway...at which point you don't want to pull back on the stick because it will only aggravate the situation...the force caused by the elevator 'flap' moving up [stick back] causes the nose of the tailplane to go up even more [it acts as a trim tab]... forcing the airplane into a steeper dive...

Now here is the key...if you have an aerodynamic runaway, you want to use the TRIM SWITCHES on the stick to trim opposite to the runaway...

If you cut the power, you may not be able to stop the aerodynamic runaway with your bare hands on those trim wheels...and if the plane gets all the way nose down, you're never going to budge those wheels...

The Ethiopian flight data recorder shows the pilots had exactly this situation...in desperation they turned the electrical cutout switches back on to trim with the stick switches... BUT, that only turned the MCAS back on again and nosed the plane down even more...

So it is incredible that Boeing was allowed by the FAA to at first even hide the existence of MCAS...and then later, after the first crash, to say just handle it like any runaway trim...

That's at the heart of the southwest pilots lawsuit...this is complete bullshit...

Another aspect of this is why isn't Trump firing the Transportation Secretary...and why hasn't the secretary fired his FAA chief...?

My prediction...nothing will be fixed properly...because it can't... THERE IS NO FIX

The MAX is a flying coffin due to the instability caused by those big new engines, which needs some kind of bandaid fix...and as crazy as it may sound, I expect Boeing will push through and get that deathtrap into the air again...

Folks, take your chances with this airplane at your own risk...

PS...and now we have the structural problems which is due to metal fatigue...this happened because the 737 is now twice its original weight and it is again practically impossible to just continue patching things up...and this applies to the NG as well...

Igor Bundy , Oct 13 2019 7:08 utc | 37
Anyone venture to guess how many hundreds of millions the CEO would get when hes fired? He should be in jail but in the US, people such as this gets a huge severance package just like the military getting medals for bombing weddings.
BM , Oct 13 2019 7:41 utc | 38
@B
You have updated the article it seems, it would be good to put a small annotation to that effect.

Posted by: Igor Bundy | Oct 13 2019 7:08 utc | 40
Muilenburg is - just in my humble opinion - legally acting in gross neglect, and it should be possible to fire him on that basis with no severance pay. However I agree with you that it probably won't happen that way. In the event that Boeing gives him a large severance payout, it would be interesting if some small-time shareholder could initiate a class-action lawsuit against the Board (or against Boeing, or whatever) for damages resulting from the misuse of finances against the interests of shareholders.

BM , Oct 13 2019 8:35 utc | 39
From the very first article in March I clearly stated my position that: (a) the 737MAX would never fly again, and (b) Boeing was finished, it would go bankrupt, it could not be saved.

Why was I so sure of this, when many others were saying otherwise? Because it was clear from the outset - from the article and from the comments including several from personal experience - that there very serious and fatal flaws including gross criminality in the entire top-level management of the corporation, combined with linked fatal problems and gross corruption and criminality in the FAA.

When you have that sort of situation, criminal negligence, criminal coverup, and criminal prioritisation of profits over the most basic safety never occurs in single incidents! When one such incident comes out, you can always be sure that there were plenty more where that came from. Especially so, when the top management acts with such gross dishonesty and opacity as was the case with Boeing from the outset of this incident.

Furthermore, it is a huge corporation with huge numbers of employees and former employees. When a company systematically treats its workforce badly, that is a lot of potential people with grudges who have damaging inside information - therefore it is certain there will be whistleblowers - both from hurt people bearing grudges against this or that, and from purely morally-acting people who want to do what they feel is their duty. Stuff comes out. A small trickle slowly grows. Some is not very important, but some is clear evidence of legal culpability in serious issues.

Thus, with every single development we have seen Boeing edge ever closer - slowly, step by step, but compellingly and inevitably - ever closer and closer to the endgame I declared above: (a) the 737MAX would never fly again, and (b) Boeing was finished, it would go bankrupt, it could not be saved.

Even though Boeing at this point is still relatively far from it's final desting, it cannot avoid that destiny. The problems are not limited to the passenger aircraft side but also the MIC side.

The cockups and criminality in sum total are so colossal, that salvation of Boeing through massive government intervention would be both political and economic suicide for the United States - apart from the colossal costs involved and the colossal legal liabilities, when coupled with the public image of such gross abuse of public safety, the impenetrable and unsurmountable technical problems of the 737MAX ghost, and the emerging range of problems of other aircraft in the 7x7 series, would make it impossible to retain the 7x7 series (and especially the 737 series) in the product line. Developing completely new aircraft would take too long, and in the intervening period the market position would be lost irretrievably to stronger competitors. (It is also questionable whether there are enough sufficiently competent engineers in the USA today).

If the US government were to force the bailout of Boeing and force the dangerous and improperly certified aircraft back in the air - even domestically (internationally would be impossible anyway), the gross criminality of that action in plain sight and the extreme disregard for public safety also in plain sight would so disrepute the US government that the complete collapse of the USA would be vastly accelerated.

After all, the flow of evidence of criminal culpability and the ever widening of the scandal will certainly not stop, and international regulators will certainly not allow these death traps to fly. Even US arms-twisting and blackmail of foreign especially EU regulators will not work, because too many liabilities are networked across different industries - insurance, pilots unions, passenger interest groups, airlines, manufacturers unions, victim litigation, etc - it will be impossible to reconcile, it will explode.

The USA/FAA/Boeing cannot escape from this vortex. It is like a black hole.

Rhisiart Gwilym , Oct 13 2019 8:54 utc | 40
bevin 33:

"There are only two alternatives: living with the barbarism or replacing it with socialism. All the rest is gossip."

This at least is one perfectly-cut gem of pure truth, in this whole discussion. Yet there are still millions of propaganda-bamboozled semi-literates in the Anglozionist empire who hear 'socialism' as a snarl-noise, devoid of any other meaning. Cheers bevin!

Jen , Oct 13 2019 9:52 utc | 41
Josh @ 34:

Odd as your suggestion might sound to many barflies, it is actually spot on.

Across most industries, in many corporations you can find similar mindsets in the most senior managerial hierarchies. Let's face it, everyone uses the same accounting principles and methods, the same financial models, and these are all permeated by an outlook that considers short-term profit, measured in time periods of three months, to be more important than the medium-term or the long-term periods (themselves often measured in periods of eighteen months and three years respectively).

Indeed, there was a time in the 1980s and 1990s when everyone who was anyone in the corporate world had to get a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree. The knowledge and outlook you acquired in doing such a degree (the best universities to get such a degree were supposed to be Stanford University in California, Harvard or Massachusetts Institute of Technology) was supposed to be "transferable" across a range of industries, meaning that you could work in a company in one industry at the top or near-top level (where you are making major decisions determining the company's direction and shaping its culture) and then work in another company in another industry at the top level or near-top level, doing much the same.

So it's very likely what you suggest is at once a combination of systemic flaws in management hierarchies and the measuring tools used to determine whether a firm is doing well or not, in money terms, and a general cultural trend in which people were encouraged not to work from the bottom of the firm up to the top but rather to flit from one firm and one industry to another, spreading either their successes or, more likely, their blunders.

Yeah, Right , Oct 13 2019 10:25 utc | 42
.."The cracks were discovered on high time aircraft which were torn down for conversion to freighters. The affected 737 types are NG only; the MAX and Classic have a different wing attachment design."...

Just out of morbid curiosity, does that mean that Boeing went with a new wing design for the NG only to revert back to the "old" design for the MAX?

Or does it mean that all three have different wing attachment designs: a "classic" wingbox, a "pickle fork" design for the NG, and Something Newer Again for the MAX?

The implications for Boeing if it is the former might be rather profound, if not downright sinister.

snake , Oct 13 2019 10:45 utc | 43
Does anybody think that these manifestations are typical of inherent systemic flaws in the corporate governmental structures coupled with behavioral abnormalities of individuals and groups of individuals involved in their operation and administration? Does anybody think that similar examples could be found in and throughout other industries that are governed and operated in the same way? Service industries? Medical? Pharmaceutical? Food production? Transportation? Automotive? Governmental? Military? Is this a tip of the iceberg sort of thing? by: Josh @ 34
< ==I am nobody but my answer is yes, see snake at 30 .. also..
There is a giant difference in the corporate culture of the 50s and 60s vs today.. and its not just in America its in every intelligence interconnected, MSM news coordinated, armed human container ( nation state ) in the modern world. Its endemic and systemic.. which means it has both been planned and is somewhere centrally coordinated.. I suspect the intelligence services.. interconnect with the book publishers and the university:government:corporate interconnect system.. Some clues have already come out of the sex scandal investigations. The importance of those sex investigations is that they seem to be leading to the connection points which allow to link the scoundrels with the money that produces, uses and engineers into our societies amoral philosophies and controlled behavioral-isms.
This lowest level of morality coupled to the highest level of corruption environment<= produces often non functional product engineering and delivers unacceptable levels of service seems to have been (is) designed into our societies by someone and that someone needs to be identified if ever we humans are going to find peace among the nations of the world. There is so much that can be done to improve the human lot, if ever humanity could yank itself free of the nation state system. The minds of the educated working together interactively on the same problems all at once is something to strive for, but today the few educated minds are rthe private property of the corporate world. Denying people education and killing them in wars seem to be one way they deny competition. Today's technology created by educated minds are or have been encapsulated into the criminal, corrupt corporate we own it all culture..and the corporations are using it to deny competition.
Its the driving support for that culture which needs to be identified and dealt with.
uncle tungsten , Oct 13 2019 11:18 utc | 44
I studied books like "in search of excellence" and "design for the real world". Lucky to attend a three day workshop with Victor Papaneck and researched aspects of manufacturing and IT innovation. The precipitous fall of manufacturing in the USA is simply apalling. If it isn't lead in the water then it must be Chicago School economic criminals. I was astounded at manufacturing in Finland and they appear to have sustained their impetus for constant improvement.

As for Boeing and it's directors and shareholders, they should be surcharged for human and corporate neglect. Indeed all elected officials should be subject to surcharge in to pay for their failures that lead to personal or financial injury whether in a socialist or capitalist system. They must have real skin in the game.

Biswapriya Purkayast , Oct 13 2019 11:28 utc | 45
Oh, poor Boeing! How will this military industrial complex component and imperialist capitalist tool ever survive?!? Surely the Amerikastani government will never stoop do low as to order the whistleblowers and naysayers silenced, and will not armtwist vassal governments to compel their airlines to begin flying and buying its planes, no matter how unsafe, right?

Right?

flankerbandit , Oct 13 2019 11:37 utc | 46
@ BM
...the 737MAX would never fly again...

You make some very good points, but I don't see it happening.

I had thought initially that this would have to be the end of the MAX...two crashes in quick succession caused by a gross airplane design defect would, in another era, spell exactly that...the end [as with the de Havilland Comet in the '50s].

The first sign that the MAX would be taken out of service would have been the firing of the FAA chief...this has not happened, despite the incredible corruption of this vital regulatory agency.

This tells me that Boeing will be allowed to get this thing back in the air. It's a political life and death situation that goes way beyond Boeing...this company is the flag-bearer of the mighty US Empire...it will not be permitted to go down...

To be fair, there is no need for Boeing to disappear [and that's not realistic anyway].

For instance the triple seven is a GREAT AIRPLANE...the queen of the skies, with an amazing safety record. Out of more than 1,600 flying for nearly 25 years there have only been seven hull losses...and two of those were ground incidents while the plane was not flying...

Two were the mysterious MH370 crash, and the infamous MH17 shootdown by almost certainly Ukrainian Nazis...[but blamed on Donbass 'rebels' and Russia by a corrupt western power establishment].

The only case where passengers died in an in-flight mishap of the conventional kind was during an Asiana landing in San Fran in 2013 where the crew undershot the runway [pilot error no question].

Only three passengers died because they weren't wearing their seat belts as they were instructed to do before any landing, and were thrown clear of the aircraft...everyone else was evacuated...

Those were the first fatalities in the triple seven, after 18 years in service...you can't ask for much more than that.

But let's look for a moment at MH17...this complete fake 'investigation' should give us all a clue about the ruling elite's disregard for ordinary folks and the flying public...they're not interested in the truth or in any kind of moral principles...

The goal has been a political campaign against Russia, using a civil aviation tragedy as a weapon...this is the level of cynicism we have in the west today.

I will also not that the triple seven was designed more than a quarter century ago, starting in fact while the Soviet Union was still around...which served to keep a check on the worst instincts of the capitalist class...and before the west descended into its moral morass.

Now we have the JATR [Joint Authorities Technical Review] which is an ad-hoc body without any legal authority anywhere...it is comprised of aviation experts and their report is calling for 'better' regulatory oversight...

The preliminary NTSB report is milquetoast...and the NTSB has a long record of blaming pilots and shielding manufacturers...this state of affairs didn't just happen overnight...it's been a long time in the making.

So this squawking from this JATR amounts to verbiage and nothing more...like I said, nothing is going to change because there is too much at stake for the entire imperialist system...

In the bigger context, the passenger jet business has been deeply politicized for decades...airline travel is a key global industry and the US [and Europe too] are now doing everything possible to put a stick in the spokes of a resurgent Russian civil aircraft industry because they don't want the competition.

Which competition incidentally is exactly what the flying public needs in order to keep the aviation oligarchs honest.

Comp , Oct 13 2019 12:05 utc | 47
It is not clear yet what causes the cracks in the forged aluminum part. Many older NG were retrofitted with winglets on the tips of their wings

my take: Cyclical loads need to surpass a certain threshold before they cause crack propagation. Typically dynamic loads caused by slightly altered aerodynamics (such as winglets) are not so significant, and the energy is dissipated along the wingspan. I think its more a strutural issue emanating from take off or landing loads, which are large impact forces on the structure. The crack is in the transition from the rigid forged pickle to the more elastic strap. Such transitions from stiff to elastic members cause local stress peaks, and become problematic when the material is unable to redistribute local excess stresses through plastification.

JW , Oct 13 2019 12:14 utc | 48
I wonder just how much % of US GDP is comprised of parasitic financial engineering. Going by healthcare costs versus other countries: At least half.
Red Corvair , Oct 13 2019 12:27 utc | 49
You know what really is a pain in the ass for Boeing? It's the civilian airliner branch. Boeing should get rid of it. Simply not profitable enough. Consider Boeing's war department, which is doing SO good! In fact, US companies should restrict themselves to war activities, there's far more profit to be made and they're doing it SO good. Plus there is much less (no?) red-tape in those "national security" activities. The real matter is: as far as war is NOT concerned, US civilian companies should close shop. Or at the very least work with one or the other of the 17 US intelligence agencies. US civilians should emigrate to countries where civilian product know-how is still valued. The US would then be free to be a full-fledged military state.
My modest contribution...
What!? You tell me US war products are much overrated as well?!
Then I don't know what they got to do... A regime change in the US maybe?...
William Gruff , Oct 13 2019 12:28 utc | 50
"Therefore, Boeing is not doing all this because it is greedy, but because they are desperate."

The rest of the post by vk @27 explains it concisely, but this is the key point.

Is it key because it absolves the capitalist elites of the moral defect of greed? No, this point is crucial because it demonstrates that the problem with late stage capitalism is not one of moral decline but rather is endemic; systemic. The problem is a structural component of capitalism.

Is Dennis Muilenburg stupid or evil? Of course not. Well, maybe he is sorta evil, but that is not the problem with Boeing. It's not like Muilenburg would be a serial murderer lurking in dark places waiting for victims to pass by if he were just a Walmart door greeter by trade rather than Boeing's CEO. He's just trying to do his job, which is to quarter-by-quarter improve Boeing's profitability. Sadly for all whose livelihoods depend upon capitalism that is getting harder, if not downright impossible, to do at this stage of the game. Costs/corners must be cut and income streams refined and streamlined. The Market (hallowed be Its name) will not be satisfied with piddling 1% to 2% returns, but the aircraft marketplace is saturated, and is poised to get even more saturated as UAC and COMAC start trying to muscle in with their MC-21 and C919. Sure, Boeing should be designing new planes, but that takes many years of investment before showing any returns and The Market (hallowed be Its name) demand satisfaction now . There can be no delaying of gratification for The Market (hallowed be Its name).

It is The Market (hallowed be Its name) that has a need for greed. Business leaders just try to satisfy it. This is important because focusing upon the greediness of any individuals cannot solve the problems exemplified by Boeing. Trying to tame the greediness built right into the most sacred component of the capitalist economy, on the other hand, leaves you with something that is not capitalism. You cannot make The Market (hallowed be Its name) function without greed, and your best attempts to reorganize The Market (hallowed be Its name) to operate around humanistic imperatives will result in something that looks a lot like socialism.

Goldhoarder , Oct 13 2019 13:06 utc | 51
@30 Snake no group of professionals trained in America could today start that process up. many of us are still around. I recently came back to the US in 2014. Spent years working in China. The technology transfer was amazing. Chinese are good people to work with too. I asked an older(than me... i'm old now) engineer if he thought this was a good idea. He told me to read Antony Sutton. So I did. It is amazing. It seems like they wanted to destroy the US on purpose. In China the government pays large manufacturing industry costs for utilities infrastructure and hook up. Free... all on the government. No taxes for 7 years. Half taxes for 7 years. They want it. The people want it. In the US it is "lean manufacturing". The old plants are maintained on a shoe string budget. Capital spending is sparse. The top positions are dominated by finance people where in China it is mostly engineers. The difference is obvious. I think the plan was to have China build everything with the US finance scum skimming a large share of the profits. The Chinese had other plans/ambitions and now the conflict. I think the US is much weaker than during the cold war. I think the US loses the battle this time around. The USA will be the one to collapse. It is much deserved. Hopefully the sociopaths and psycopaths who run the country don't throw a tantrum and blow us all up.
Nathan Mulcahy , Oct 13 2019 14:24 utc | 52
I wonder what role Boeing's past chairman Jim McNerney has played in destroying a once great company like Boeing. He comes from GE, another once great US company that has been ruined by a type of management that has deemphasized a company's fundamental technical strength in favor of marketing, and short term money making. The scary question is, to how many other great, technically oriented US companies has GE "exported" its brand of management? It is especially scary because the effect will become visible provably a decade or so after the damage starts.
lysias , Oct 13 2019 14:27 utc | 53
For some 30 years after WW2, capitalism was successfully regulated, and people in the West led decent lives. Capitalists allowed this because of the Communist threat.

Today, there is once again a threat, a Chinese threat, a threat of contagion from a system whose success is increasingly apparent. Don't capitalists now have the same reasons their ancestors had to allow a regulation of capitalism?

vk , Oct 13 2019 14:28 utc | 54
@ Posted by: Goldhoarder | Oct 13 2019 13:06 utc | 51

That is not a theory, that's exactly what happened and designed.

Mao correctly diagnosed that, in late stage of capitalism, it was the role of socialism to do the basic historic role of early stage capitalism in the Third World. Marx stated that a system doesn't fall before all of its possibilities are depleted. It is only when capitalism is completely developed that socialism can be built. This is public knowledge, Mao didn't hide his theory from anybody (on the contrary, he publicized it in China the most he could). That was also the general consensus of the CCP and still is today.

After the fall of Bretton Woods (1971), Nixon created the petrodollar and, after the Sino-Soviet schism (1969), he drew a hedge in the socialist world by dealing a preferred nation deal with China in 1972. That helped China break the capitalist siege at the height of the Cold War and use capitalist resources to industrialize itself. At the time, the Americans thought China's high growth rates were only due to its immense population; the USA was also prospering, so they didn't bother to continue to outsource its manufacturing to the Chinese. The end of the 70s was also the beginning of an era were it was widely believed in the First World that the future of the working classes would be one of "smart jobs", i.e. highly paid, low intensity, low stress, with excellent workplace conditions; they would walk in green, polution-free cities, while the Third World would to the dirty, but necessary, jobs like manufacturing and agriculture.

That's the difference beteween China and India. China had a socialist revolution, and had a long-term plan of development of the nation while India didn't. India fell for the siren song of liberalism and let the capitalists loose to exploit their people, land and infrastructure at will. End result is that, today, India's GDP is only USD 2.8 trillion; while China's is USD 14 trillion; India today must be compared to Brazil (GDP: USD 1.8 trillion) instead of China. In 1975, Brazil and China had roughly the same GDP (with Brazil, obviously, having a much higher GDP per capita); they followed polar opposite strategies of development: nowadays, the Chinese GDP is almost 10x bigger and its average wage per hour is double. That means the Brazilians cannot even play the sweatshop card anymore.

diDre , Oct 13 2019 14:30 utc | 55
flakerbandit @36 Flying at different speeds the airplane requires differing amounts of downforce from the tailplane...the purpose of which downforce is to balance the lift created by the wing, which tends to want to pitch the airplane nose down...therefore a downforce on the tail is require to teeter the nose back up and keep the airplane in balance...

I may be wrong but this sounds backwards to me. The nose is always pitched slightly upwards in order to generate sufficient lift to counteract gravitation. The higher the speed, the less pitch required. In fact a min. pitch is even integrated into the design. This constant pitch constitutes the form drag. It also leads to the nose wanting to perpetually move upwards, eventually leading to stall. This must be aerodynamically countered using the joystick by moving the wing flaps down, or causing the tail force upwards, also by moving the tail flaps down. The trim obviates this perpetual counteraction with the joystick by resetting the tail flaps in a constant position to offset the downward force, freeing the joystick. It needs to be readjusted for changed speeds

fx , Oct 13 2019 14:40 utc | 56
"how many other great, technically oriented US companies has GE "exported" its brand of management? It is especially scary because the effect will become visible provably a decade or so after the damage starts.

@ Nathan Mulcahy | Oct 13 2019 14:24 utc | 52

Before Boeing, McNerney raped and pillaged 3M. Thankfully, 3M is a broader-based company and the sane people of Minneapolis (not the coasts crowd) righted the ship.

The good news is that with GE trading below 1/6 of its high - which came in 2000! - and "Neutron Jack" Welsh's former deputies as dis-reputed as he has become, GE won't be such an incubator of slash-and-burners that spread like wees through industrial America.

The bad news is that they have been replaced by private equity scroundels like Dave Calhoun, who use the board to do their raping and pillaging.

jared , Oct 13 2019 16:15 utc | 57
@ Goldhoarder | Oct 13 2019 13:06 utc | 51

Excellent point and summary. But it's not that U.S. government are trying to destroy country it is rather that they were effectively influenced to look the other way.

Some people are becoming very wealth at the expense of the nation - zombie nation.

I am in manufacturing plants around the country on regular basis - US is non competitive in infrastructure and talent. And I will refrain from discussing experiences on military projects - working for vendor (not classified stuff).

Only US has going for it is lots of room for improvement.

flankerbandit , Oct 13 2019 17:10 utc | 58
@ diDre...

Oh brother...sorry to sound dismissive but you are possibly confusing readers here...everything you said is total nonsense.

I say that as an aeronautical engineer and professional pilot who has spent most of my career in flight testing of military and commercial aircraft...

The wing has a NEGATIVE pitching moment which increases with lift...that means that as more lift is produced the more the airplane wants to nose down.

This translates as increasing force on the stick [aka 'yoke'] as the pilot pulls back to nose the airplane up.

He is fighting against the increasing pitching moment...if he lets go of the stick the airplane will nose back down and settle into its trimmed condition.

Pulling the nose up like this is how you slow the aircraft down...the extra lift produces more lift-induced drag...and also more parasitic drag, by exposing a greater section area of the wing and fuselage to the airstream...think of holding your hand outside the window of your car on the highway...if you hold it flat [palm down] there is much less air resistance than if you hold your palm perpendicular to your direction of travel.

If you want the aircraft to fly slow, you then set the pitch attitude to such a more nose-up configuration...and then you use trim to trim out the control pressure...ie the pressure it takes to hold the stick back and keep the nose up like that...

That's what trim is for, like I said earlier, so you can take your hands off the stick at any flying speed you have set...and that's also why a different trim angle is needed at different speeds.

In straight and level unaccelerated flight, the forces and moments acting on the flight vehicle must be in equilibruim...that means that lift must equal weight and thrust must equal drag.

The moments must also be in equilibrium. That means the nose-down moment that is created by the wing lift must be balanced by a downforce on the tail, which like I said teeters the nose up about the center of gravity...

Think of a fulcrum point like a teeter totter...the CG is the fulcrum point...and one side of the totter is very short but has a big person sitting on it...while the other is very long and has a small person sitting on it...they are both in equilibrium and the totter is exactly horizontal.

The tail is much smaller but is a long distance from the CG...which gives it a long lever arm...the wing lift [technically called the neutral point, which is the spot where all lift forces act, just as CG is the spot where the total weight acts] is generally about half way back along the wing chord...and is a very short way ahead of the CG...

So just like the tetter totter, we have a very big wing lift and nose down pitching moment...balanced by a quite small tail force on a long lever arm.

For longitudinal stability the neutral point is placed ahead of the CG by a small amount...this is called the stability margin. [In fighter aircraft that have fly by wire, the NP is actually behind the CG, making for an unstable but very responsive aircraft...the computer provides the stability by constant corrections, unnoticed by the pilot]

It's disappointing to see that when I try to elucidate a technical point that some people who obviously know absolutely nothing about the subject will want to speak up without even taking the time to try to learn some basics.

Willy2 , Oct 13 2019 17:31 utc | 59
- Now I understand why the Trump administration wants to impose import tariffs on airbus planes. Trump (/Boeing) wants to protect Boeing(/itself).
flankerbandit , Oct 13 2019 17:45 utc | 60
Have to correct myself there on the relationship between the neutral point and the CG...the CG must be AHEAD of the neutral point, for positive static stability...not the other way around...
JW , Oct 13 2019 18:07 utc | 61
What homegrown talent can there be in US manufacturing, when the average American couldn't be bothered to grasp basic STEM skills, while the intellectuals who do would rather join finance, healthcare and law etc where there's a lot more money to be made for them in these sectors with massive rent seeking activity?
AshenLight , Oct 13 2019 18:10 utc | 62
@ Posted by: flankerbandit | Oct 13 2019 17:10 utc | 58

> It's disappointing to see that when I try to elucidate a technical point
> that some people who obviously know absolutely nothing about the subject
> will want to speak up without even taking the time to try to learn some
> basics.

As a scientist, get used to it... it never ends. Even in the anti-intellectual USA where people have little interest in science, everyone thinks they're the expert.

flankerbandit , Oct 13 2019 18:20 utc | 63
@ AshenLight...How true...

I spent a good deal of time working overseas and saw much less of this kind of silliness among laypeople.

Jeff , Oct 13 2019 18:50 utc | 64
You are wrong about one thing. There is probably good reason for the engineer's frustration. It sounds like the Europeans are pulling a stock government stunt - vague demanding more testing. The Boeing engineers aren't asking the EASA to solve their problems. They think they have solved their problems. The role of the government in this case to say yes, they are solved or no, they are not [AND HERE's why].

At issue here will be the definition of when you've demonstrated compliance with the regulation. Sometimes it's easy - MIL-H-5440 has a requirement that all hydraulic lines less than a 1/2" from fixed structure shall be secured with stand offs (this is in there to prevent another aircraft accident like the one that killed Knute Rockne). Verifying that requirement is easy. Look at the drawings/inspect the aircraft. If, on the other hand, the requirement is that the pilot shall always be able to trim the aircraft to neutral flight throughout all portions of the aircraft's normal flight envelope without excessive force, how do you test for that requirement? I know how it's done - by picking some number of points in the envelope where the loading is expected to be the worst. You can't test every point. And it's always possible for an overseer to say, well, I think you need to look at more points. (Which ones?)

Tom , Oct 13 2019 19:12 utc | 65
"It is not clear yet what causes the cracks in the forged aluminum part. Many older NG were retrofitted with winglets on the tips of their wings. These may have led to unforeseen loads or vibrations. It is possible that some of the younger 737 NG airplanes have a similar problem."

Have older 737 series been retrofitted with winglets? I have seen pictures of the 500 series with winglets.

flankerbandit , Oct 13 2019 19:21 utc | 66
@ jeff 64

Oh my...another wannabe 'expert'...

Do you have ANY experience or credentials in the field of aircraft flight testing and certification..?

Do you know what CFR14 Part 25 means..?

Those are the US regulations for transport category aircraft...they are comprehensive, running to hundreds of pages of rules.

Boeing was able to convince the FAA to waive a lot of these rules... as seen in this document.

These have to do with crew alerts that are REQUIRED and on the books, but Boeing got a free pass.

It's clear to me you have no idea what you are talking about...the European regulators have asked specific questions about how this MCAS is supposed to be fixed.

Boeing has not given any answers.

As someone who has many hours as a flight test engineer and test pilot working on aircraft certification I know how the process works...your comments about trimming and testing for trimming are ridiculous.

As I have already explained here, this has nothing to do with conventional trim... it has to do with the fact that MCAS uses the trim system to patch over an AERODYNAMIC INSTABILITY at high angles of attack.

I have already explained this before. One requirement for handling qualities that test pilots test for is a linear increase of stick force needed to nose the plane up.

With the MAX, that does not happen at high alpha because the engine nacelles mounted far forward start making lift at high alpha, thus lessening the control stick force required by the pilot.

This is a VERY BIG PROBLEM...

Thus MCAS was slapped on to nose the plane down in order to provide the missing stick force...it's like trimming nose down, which will increase the force the pilot needs to apply to hold stick back.

In flight test, it was found that the original MCAS authority was NOT ENOUGH to fix this handling quality issue...thus the authority was increased four-fold and also made to repeat every few seconds.

This tells me as a professional that the rating the MAX got from the test pilots was quite low on the Cooper-Harper scale for handling qualities.

Now the fix is supposed to be to decrease the MCAS authority to something presumably resembling the original 'lite' version...

Which brings us right back to the problem of the airplane not meeting the handling qualities criteria...

IT CAN'T BE FIXED LIKE THAT

The Europeans know it and every professional test pilot and engineer knows it.

That's why Boeing is playing these games.

Your input is ridiculous on every level.

Vonu , Oct 13 2019 21:06 utc | 67
After Boeing commits suicide through incompetence and negligence, we can get to work on Lockheed. With a bit of patience, the entire American military industrial congressional complex may fail, enhancing the world's security.
Peter AU 1 , Oct 13 2019 23:38 utc | 68
flankerbandit

Thanks for putting in your comments here. My own experience compared to working up and testing a large commercial aircraft is very small time. I have watched media and commentators always quick to blame the pilots when there is a crash. I ended up designing, building, test flying, and then clocking up a lot of hours in my own ultralight whirlybird, so if anything went wrong, there was only myself to blame. Commercial pilot I feel is a different game not only to what I did but also the test pilots that are involved in the building and testing of aircraft.

For pilots that did not know mcas existed or the full extent of how it functioned, the boeing max was a death trap. But other aircraft crashes in the past, aways the media kicks off with pilot error or pilot suicide ect when in nearly all cases it turns out there was some type of aircraft malfunction.
I always flew with the wind in my face and visual reference. For a pilot flying on instruments, whos job and experience is to fly from point A to point B in straight and level flight, always well within the aircrafts limitations, quickly making the correct decision when something goes wrong and the instruments are not functioning correctly would be a difficult thing.

Kiza , Oct 13 2019 23:58 utc | 69
@flankerbandit 66
"In flight test, it was found that the original MCAS authority was NOT ENOUGH to fix this handling quality issue...thus the authority was increased four-fold and also made to repeat every few seconds.
Now the fix is supposed to be to decrease the MCAS authority to something presumably resembling the original 'lite' version."

I was one of the people who suggested originally that what is happening now is what must happen, but only as an absolute minimum. This is because if I have to take chances, I would rather take chances that my pilot wants to preserve his own life then trust someone who is not on the plane and who decided to take control away from the pilot through jumbled code and faulty sensors (and then hidden this from the pilot).

This rot in Boeing comes from an interplay between the greedy management, now incompetent engineers and deeply corrupt regulators and the US Government superstructure (no-one getting even fired for causing hundreds of deaths).

The real, proper, reliable solution, of course, is to redesign the plane completely to ensure full dynamic stability with specific motors. This means that 737MAX should never fly again in any normal society. Whichever government (through its regulator) allows this plane to fly again is clearly and deliberately breaching the social contract with its citizens.

flankerbandit , Oct 14 2019 0:58 utc | 70
@ Peter AU1

Thanks for your input Peter...it sounds like you designed and built a gyroplane or perhaps a light helo...well done!

I have a few friends that have built their own aircraft projects over the years, mostly from kits.

I've been fiddling with a design of my own that I would like to eventually build, and now that I am semi-retired [LOL] I may just actually get around to it.

The cost of a store-bought small airplane is out of reach for most regular folks...and what you get for your money is a terrible value proposition...that's why so many people are building their own...I think in the US more homebuilts are registered [by far] than newly built light aircraft.

I agree with you about the 'blame the pilot' game...I have become quite cynical about the NTSB over the years because I see them protecting the manufacturers. This is a shame because it used to be a great organization that didn't pull punches. Hopefully they will get back on track.

From the NTSB report...

Although the NTSB's work in this area is ongoing, based on preliminary information, we are concerned that the accident pilot responses to the unintended MCAS operation were not consistent with the underlying assumptions about pilot recognition and response that Boeing used, based on FAA guidance, for flight control system functional hazard assessments, including for MCAS, as part of the 737 MAX design.

That's a good start, but it's not the major problem, in my view.

The big problem here is that the Ethiopian crash happened after the existence of MCAS was revealed, and the FAA issued an Airworthiness Directive about how to deal with it, which was to make sure to use those trim-cutout switches...as stated in the checklist for ordinary runaway trim.

Well that turned out to be insane...because the Ethiopian crew did just that, and crashed anyway. It was simply impossible to recover that airplane at that low a height when the MCAS nosed it over. It was a death sentence.

I and others had stated that in these situations that the checklist is not adequate at all. A proper emergency procedure needs to be put in place that is going to actually give pilots a chance at low altitudes.

This would also entail a switch to shut off MCAS, while leaving the electric trim on. This is the only way you are going to have a chance save an airplane that has a malfunctioning MCAS down low.

If you have enough height there is what used to be called a yo-yo maneuver, or what Boeing calls a 'roller-coaster'...where you first need to unload the tailplane by pointing the plane even more nose down, so that you can free up the trim wheels and manually trim back.

Only problem is that this takes several thousand feet of altitude. This was proved in the sim after the flight data from Ethiopian was retrieved...

Some more info on this site...

I really don't see how they are going to solve this problem if it occurs at low height where you just don't have room to do these kinds of maneuvers...and there is no procedure to quickly identify a malfunctioning MCAS and shut it off.

There actually exists a so-called 'trim override' switch on the back of the center console...this allows you to override the cutout switches in the base of the control stick that I mentioned previously.

The use of this allows the pilot to use both the elevator by pulling the stick back and the electric trim at the same time.

But I see nothing happening in terms of a new emergency procedure. Even that would entail enough changes to cost both Boeing and the airlines money.

And that's what it's all about, money. The airlines are just as bad in this regard. After all Boeing sold them the MAX on the basis of not having to spend any money on retraining existing 737 pilots.

The whole thing makes me sick.

flankerbandit , Oct 14 2019 1:07 utc | 71
Incidentally, here's a very good article from Dominic Gates in the Seattle Times with some very good illustrations that show what is going on.

Why Boeing's emergency directions may have failed to save 737 MAX

Like I said those existing procedures are worth diddly and were a death sentence to the Ethiopian flight.

At Kiza...everybody agrees that the MAX should never fly again, but I just don't see it. Like anybody in our ruling elite gives a flying hoot about 'social contracts'...

Peter AU 1 , Oct 14 2019 1:50 utc | 72
flankerbandit

Gyro. I preferred the rotary wing for what I was doing which was mustering cattle sheep and goats.Rotary wing is much better in turbulence, plus it can come down in vertical decent whereas a fixed wing stalls. I originally bought a homebuilt machine which I began modifying after about 200 hours.
At 3000 hrs I built a new airframe to my design and incorporated my previous mods. did 2000 hours with that setup until health issues prevented me from flying. Most of those hours were just above tree tops or down amongst the trees and scrub.
I had lightened trim pressure until it was virtually non existant so it couldn't be trimmed to fly hands free in straight and level flight, but when working feral stock, I could through it around for several hours without my arm feeling like it was about to fall off.

When I look at commercial aircraft through, there job is to transport passengers or cargo safely from point A to point B. These aircraft should be stable in all parts of the flight envelope. Mcas as software patch for an aerodynamic or engineering design problem ... the angle of attack allowed in the flight envelope for the aircraft should have been decreased, and if limiting AoA made the aircraft unsafe to fly then design needed to be changed.

Boeing, FAA, NTSB .. complacency and rot throughout the system.

Peter AU 1 , Oct 14 2019 1:59 utc | 73
flankerbandit

I guess the reason I think about some of this is that back when I was flying, a few people suggested I build aircraft to sell. I would have liked building them, but I did not want the responsibility that accompanies this.

flankerbandit , Oct 14 2019 2:10 utc | 74
Peter...thanks for that great story.

Five thousand hours in a gyro...and herding livestock no less...now that is not only impressive but sounds like a lot of fun.

I love low and slow flying...but it comes with its own dangers and is a demanding skill set in its own right.

You're right about the gyro and its ability to handle turbulence...also very safe because that rotary wing cannot actually stall, and you can autorotate straight down like you said.

I know a few gyro pilots, but haven't been up in one...would love to give it a go...

As I said I am very skeptical of Boeing's supposed 'fix'...if another MAX goes down then I think that would be the end of it...but that's a heck of a price to pay.

Peter AU 1 , Oct 14 2019 4:18 utc | 76
I remember from a number of years ago reading about the early airlines that kicked off after the WWI and more so after WWII. Many of the airforce or fighter pilots, although they could react very well to an emergency situation, it was found were not considered suitable - or of the right mindset for flying passenger aircraft. Perhaps because they were willing to take risks.. a long time since I read about it but I think that was the issue.

With this in mind, a commercial aircraft needs to be designed around the capabilities and weak points of the character types best suited to that style of aviation. I guess this is what has always bugged me when putting an aircraft crash down to pilot error or saying in hindsight this or that pilot could have made the right decision in the given situation and saved the aircraft.

Kiza , Oct 14 2019 6:25 utc | 77
@flankerbandit
I did not mean to say that the "elite" do give a hoot to social contract. Printing money like crazy is a much worse example. I only mean that there is a breaking point somewhere in this progression due to accumulation. It may not be the forcing of the 737Max death trap on the naive population, but eventually there will be a straw that breaks the camel's back.
b , Oct 14 2019 7:50 utc | 78
I took on Langewiesche's long NYT Magazine piece in 14,000 Words Of "Blame The Pilots" That Whitewash Boeing Of 737 MAX Failure

"Sully" Sullenburger now joined me with a Letter to the Editor of New York Times Magazine

In "What Really Brought Down the Boeing 737 MAX?" William Langewiesche draws the conclusion that the pilots are primarily to blame for the fatal crashes of Lion Air 610 and Ethiopian 302. In resurrecting this age-old aviation canard, Langewiesche minimizes the fatal design flaws and certification failures that precipitated those tragedies, and still pose a threat to the flying public.

...

I am also one of the few who have flown a Boeing 737 MAX Level D full motion simulator, replicating both accident flights multiple times. I know firsthand the challenges the pilots on the doomed accident flights faced, and how wrong it is to blame them for not being able to compensate for such a pernicious and deadly design.

These emergencies did not present as a classic runaway stabilizer problem, but initially as ambiguous unreliable airspeed and altitude situations, masking MCAS.

The MCAS design should never have been approved, not by Boeing, and not by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The National Transportation Safety Board has found that Boeing made faulty assumptions both about the capability of the aircraft design to withstand damage or failure, and the level of human performance possible once the failures began to cascade. Where Boeing failed, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) should have stepped in to regulate but it failed to do so. Lessons from accidents are bought in blood and we must seek all the answers to prevent the next one. We need to fix all the flaws in the current system -- corporate governance, regulatory oversight, aircraft maintenance, and yes, pilot training and experience. Only then can we ensure the safety of everyone who flies.

Russ , Oct 14 2019 8:01 utc | 79
"age-old aviation canard"

Good letter from Sullenburger. I suppose the NYT wouldn't have printed it if he'd included the fact that another thing that needs to be fixed is "journalism" which is nothing but laundered corporate lies, like that of the NYT.

Bill7 , Oct 14 2019 8:11 utc | 80
'Sully' Sullenberger's lette to NYT Magazine in response to the William Langewiesche 737 MAX piece:

"In "What Really Brought Down the Boeing 737 MAX?" William Langewiesche draws the conclusion that the pilots are primarily to blame for the fatal crashes of Lion Air 610 and Ethiopian 302. In resurrecting this age-old aviation canard, Langewiesche minimizes the fatal design flaws and certification failures that precipitated those tragedies, and still pose a threat to the flying public.."

http://www.sullysullenberger.com/my-letter-to-the-editor-of-new-york-times-magazine/

Peter AU 1 , Oct 14 2019 9:57 utc | 81
Off memory, it was "Sully" Sullenburger safely put an aircraft down in a river. I doubt the average commercial pilot could have pulled that off (not to denigrate the average pilot). It is good pilots like this are putting in their voices.
Peter AU 1 , Oct 14 2019 10:38 utc | 82
b, thanks for keeping onto this. Boeing has brought things to a point that cannot be ignored. I could never stand the boredom of flying an aircraft from point A to point B, but the tendency of media and pundits (I'm guessing pushed by the manufacturers) to blame the pilots in any commercial aviation crash has annoyed me for a long time.
psychohistorian , Oct 14 2019 15:58 utc | 85
Thanks for the Sullenberger/NYT update b in comment #78

Your efforts in support of civilization are appreciated.

Bill7 , Oct 14 2019 20:00 utc | 86
flankerbandit @ 83 "Great to see Sullenberger call out the idiot Langewiesche".

Indeed! I can't seem to post a link right now, but for another example of corporatist toadie Langewiesche's "work", for anyone who hasn't seen it, search for 'The Lessons of ValuJet 592', at the Atlantic magazine.

Hoarsewhisperer , Oct 15 2019 8:37 utc | 91
...
Boeing engineers are frustrated EASA hasn't specified what additional measures might allay its objections, according to people close to the discussions.

The last paragraph is astonishing. It is not the task of a regulator to tell Boeing engineers how to solve their problems. The regulators set the rules and check if a manufacturer's engineering solutions comply with those.

That Boeing still does not get that and is looking for easy ways out of its problems shows that the company has yet to learn its lesson.

To which one could add...
The fact that Boeing's Board removed Muilenburg as Chairman but retained his services as CEO is virtual endorsement of his management style.
i.e. Having bullied Boeing into trouble, they're confident that he'll be able to blame someone else and bully his way out again. It'd be interesting to read the minutes of the meeting during which he bullied the Board into keeping him on as CEO...

[Oct 08, 2019] Southwest Pilots Blast Boeing in Suit for Deception and Losses from -Unsafe, Unairworthy- 737 Max -

Notable quotes:
"... The lawsuit also aggressively contests Boeing's spin that competent pilots could have prevented the Lion Air and Ethiopian Air crashes: ..."
"... When asked why Boeing did not alert pilots to the existence of the MCAS, Boeing responded that the company decided against disclosing more details due to concerns about "inundate[ing] average pilots with too much information -- and significantly more technical data -- than [they] needed or could realistically digest." ..."
"... The filing has a detailed explanation of why the addition of heavier, bigger LEAP1-B engines to the 737 airframe made the plane less stable, changed how it handled, and increased the risk of catastrophic stall. It also describes at length how Boeing ignored warning signs during the design and development process, and misrepresented the 737 Max as essentially the same as older 737s to the FAA, potential buyers, and pilots. It also has juicy bits presented in earlier media accounts but bear repeating, like: ..."
"... Then, on November 7, 2018, the FAA issued an "Emergency Airworthiness Directive (AD) 2018-23-51," warning that an unsafe condition likely could exist or develop on 737 MAX aircraft. ..."
"... Moreover, unlike runaway stabilizer, MCAS disables the control column response that 737 pilots have grown accustomed to and relied upon in earlier generations of 737 aircraft. ..."
"... And making the point that to turn off MCAS all you had to do was flip two switches behind everything else on the center condole. Not exactly true, normally those switches were there to shut off power to electrically assisted trim. Ah, it one thing to shut off MCAS it's a whole other thing to shut off power to the planes trim, especially in high speed ✓ and the plane noise up ✓, and not much altitude ✓. ..."
"... Classic addiction behavior. Boeing has a major behavioral problem, the repetitive need for and irrational insistence on profit above safety all else , that is glaringly obvious to everyone except Boeing. ..."
"... In fact, Boeing 737 Chief Technical Pilot, Mark Forkner asked the FAA to delete any mention of MCAS from the pilot manual so as to further hide its existence from the public and pilots " ..."
"... This "MCAS" was always hidden from pilots? The military implemented checks on MCAS to maintain a level of pilot control. The commercial airlines did not. Commercial airlines were in thrall of every little feature that they felt would eliminate the need for pilots at all. Fell right into the automation crapification of everything. ..."
Oct 08, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

At first blush, the suit filed in Dallas by the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association (SwAPA) against Boeing may seem like a family feud. SWAPA is seeking an estimated $115 million for lost pilots' pay as a result of the grounding of the 34 Boeing 737 Max planes that Southwest owns and the additional 20 that Southwest had planned to add to its fleet by year end 2019. Recall that Southwest was the largest buyer of the 737 Max, followed by American Airlines. However, the damning accusations made by the pilots' union, meaning, erm, pilots, is likely to cause Boeing not just more public relations headaches, but will also give grist to suits by crash victims.

However, one reason that the Max is a sore point with the union was that it was a key leverage point in 2016 contract negotiations:

And Boeing's assurances that the 737 Max was for all practical purposes just a newer 737 factored into the pilots' bargaining stance. Accordingly, one of the causes of action is tortious interference, that Boeing interfered in the contract negotiations to the benefit of Southwest. The filing describes at length how Boeing and Southwest were highly motivated not to have the contract dispute drag on and set back the launch of the 737 Max at Southwest, its showcase buyer. The big point that the suit makes is the plane was unsafe and the pilots never would have agreed to fly it had they known what they know now.

We've embedded the compliant at the end of the post. It's colorful and does a fine job of recapping the sorry history of the development of the airplane. It has damning passages like:

Boeing concealed the fact that the 737 MAX aircraft was not airworthy because, inter alia, it incorporated a single-point failure condition -- a software/flight control logic called the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System ("MCAS") -- that,if fed erroneous data from a single angle-of-attack sensor, would command the aircraft nose-down and into an unrecoverable dive without pilot input or knowledge.

The lawsuit also aggressively contests Boeing's spin that competent pilots could have prevented the Lion Air and Ethiopian Air crashes:

Had SWAPA known the truth about the 737 MAX aircraft in 2016, it never would have approved the inclusion of the 737 MAX aircraft as a term in its CBA [collective bargaining agreement], and agreed to operate the aircraft for Southwest. Worse still, had SWAPA known the truth about the 737 MAX aircraft, it would have demanded that Boeing rectify the aircraft's fatal flaws before agreeing to include the aircraft in its CBA, and to provide its pilots, and all pilots, with the necessary information and training needed to respond to the circumstances that the Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 pilots encountered nearly three years later.

And (boldface original):

Boeing Set SWAPA Pilots Up to Fail

As SWAPA President Jon Weaks, publicly stated, SWAPA pilots "were kept in the dark" by Boeing.

Boeing did not tell SWAPA pilots that MCAS existed and there was no description or mention of MCAS in the Boeing Flight Crew Operations Manual.

There was therefore no way for commercial airline pilots, including SWAPA pilots, to know that MCAS would work in the background to override pilot inputs.

There was no way for them to know that MCAS drew on only one of two angle of attack sensors on the aircraft.

And there was no way for them to know of the terrifying consequences that would follow from a malfunction.

When asked why Boeing did not alert pilots to the existence of the MCAS, Boeing responded that the company decided against disclosing more details due to concerns about "inundate[ing] average pilots with too much information -- and significantly more technical data -- than [they] needed or could realistically digest."

SWAPA's pilots, like their counterparts all over the world, were set up for failure

The filing has a detailed explanation of why the addition of heavier, bigger LEAP1-B engines to the 737 airframe made the plane less stable, changed how it handled, and increased the risk of catastrophic stall. It also describes at length how Boeing ignored warning signs during the design and development process, and misrepresented the 737 Max as essentially the same as older 737s to the FAA, potential buyers, and pilots. It also has juicy bits presented in earlier media accounts but bear repeating, like:

By March 2016, Boeing settled on a revision of the MCAS flight control logic.

However, Boeing chose to omit key safeguards that had previously been included in earlier iterations of MCAS used on the Boeing KC-46A Pegasus, a military tanker derivative of the Boeing 767 aircraft.

The engineers who created MCAS for the military tanker designed the system to rely on inputs from multiple sensors and with limited power to move the tanker's nose. These deliberate checks sought to ensure that the system could not act erroneously or cause a pilot to lose control. Those familiar with the tanker's design explained that these checks were incorporated because "[y]ou don't want the solution to be worse than the initial problem."

The 737 MAX version of MCAS abandoned the safeguards previously relied upon. As discussed below, the 737 MAX MCAS had greater control authority than its predecessor, activated repeatedly upon activation, and relied on input from just one of the plane's two sensors that measure the angle of the plane's nose.

In other words, Boeing can't credibly say that it didn't know better.

Here is one of the sections describing Boeing's cover-ups:

Yet Boeing's website, press releases, annual reports, public statements and statements to operators and customers, submissions to the FAA and other civil aviation authorities, and 737 MAX flight manuals made no mention of the increased stall hazard or MCAS itself.

In fact, Boeing 737 Chief Technical Pilot, Mark Forkner asked the FAA to delete any mention of MCAS from the pilot manual so as to further hide its existence from the public and pilots.

We urge you to read the complaint in full, since it contains juicy insider details, like the significance of Southwest being Boeing's 737 Max "launch partner" and what that entailed in practice, plus recounting dates and names of Boeing personnel who met with SWAPA pilots and made misrepresentations about the aircraft.

If you are time-pressed, the best MSM account is from the Seattle Times, In scathing lawsuit, Southwest pilots' union says Boeing 737 MAX was unsafe

Even though Southwest Airlines is negotiating a settlement with Boeing over losses resulting from the grounding of the 737 Max and the airline has promised to compensate the pilots, the pilots' union at a minimum apparently feels the need to put the heat on Boeing directly. After all, the union could withdraw the complaint if Southwest were to offer satisfactory compensation for the pilots' lost income. And pilots have incentives not to raise safety concerns about the planes they fly. Don't want to spook the horses, after all.

But Southwest pilots are not only the ones most harmed by Boeing's debacle but they are arguably less exposed to the downside of bad press about the 737 Max. It's business fliers who are most sensitive to the risks of the 737 Max, due to seeing the story regularly covered in the business press plus due to often being road warriors. Even though corporate customers account for only 12% of airline customers, they represent an estimated 75% of profits.

Southwest customers don't pay up for front of the bus seats. And many of them presumably value the combination of cheap travel, point to point routes between cities underserved by the majors, and close-in airports, which cut travel times. In other words, that combination of features will make it hard for business travelers who use Southwest regularly to give the airline up, even if the 737 Max gives them the willies. By contrast, premium seat passengers on American or United might find it not all that costly, in terms of convenience and ticket cost (if they are budget sensitive), to fly 737-Max-free Delta until those passengers regain confidence in the grounded plane.

Note that American Airlines' pilot union, when asked about the Southwest claim, said that it also believes its pilots deserve to be compensated for lost flying time, but they plan to obtain it through American Airlines.

If Boeing were smart, it would settle this suit quickly, but so far, Boeing has relied on bluster and denial. So your guess is as good as mine as to how long the legal arm-wrestling goes on.

Update 5:30 AM EDT : One important point that I neglected to include is that the filing also recounts, in gory detail, how Boeing went into "Blame the pilots" mode after the Lion Air crash, insisting the cause was pilot error and would therefore not happen again. Boeing made that claim on a call to all operators, including SWAPA, and then three days later in a meeting with SWAPA.

However, Boeing's actions were inconsistent with this claim. From the filing:

Then, on November 7, 2018, the FAA issued an "Emergency Airworthiness Directive (AD) 2018-23-51," warning that an unsafe condition likely could exist or develop on 737 MAX aircraft.

Relying on Boeing's description of the problem, the AD directed that in the event of un-commanded nose-down stabilizer trim such as what happened during the Lion Air crash, the flight crew should comply with the Runaway Stabilizer procedure in the Operating Procedures of the 737 MAX manual.

But the AD did not provide a complete description of MCAS or the problem in 737 MAX aircraft that led to the Lion Air crash, and would lead to another crash and the 737 MAX's grounding just months later.

An MCAS failure is not like a runaway stabilizer. A runaway stabilizer has continuous un-commanded movement of the tail, whereas MCAS is not continuous and pilots (theoretically) can counter the nose-down movement, after which MCAS would move the aircraft tail down again.

Moreover, unlike runaway stabilizer, MCAS disables the control column response that 737 pilots have grown accustomed to and relied upon in earlier generations of 737 aircraft.

Even after the Lion Air crash, Boeing's description of MCAS was still insufficient to put correct its lack of disclosure as demonstrated by a second MCAS-caused crash.

We hoisted this detail because insiders were spouting in our comments section, presumably based on Boeing's patter, that the Lion Air pilots were clearly incompetent, had they only executed the well-known "runaway stabilizer," all would have been fine. Needless to say, this assertion has been shown to be incorrect.


Titus , October 8, 2019 at 4:38 am

Excellent, by any standard. Which does remind of of the NYT zine story (William Langewiesche Published Sept. 18, 2019) making the claim that basically the pilots who crashed their planes weren't real "Airman".

And making the point that to turn off MCAS all you had to do was flip two switches behind everything else on the center condole. Not exactly true, normally those switches were there to shut off power to electrically assisted trim. Ah, it one thing to shut off MCAS it's a whole other thing to shut off power to the planes trim, especially in high speed ✓ and the plane noise up ✓, and not much altitude ✓.

And especially if you as a pilot didn't know MCAS was there in the first place. This sort of engineering by Boeing is criminal. And the lying. To everyone. Oh, least we all forget the processing power of the in flight computer is that of a intel 286. There are times I just want to be beamed back to the home planet. Where we care for each other.

Carolinian , October 8, 2019 at 8:32 am

One should also point out that Langewiesche said that Boeing made disastrous mistakes with the MCAS and that the very future of the Max is cloudy. His article was useful both for greater detail about what happened and for offering some pushback to the idea that the pilots had nothing to do with the accidents.

As for the above, it was obvious from the first Seattle Times stories that these two events and the grounding were going to be a lawsuit magnet. But some of us think Boeing deserves at least a little bit of a defense because their side has been totally silent–either for legal reasons or CYA reasons on the part of their board and bad management.

Brooklin Bridge , October 8, 2019 at 8:08 am

Classic addiction behavior. Boeing has a major behavioral problem, the repetitive need for and irrational insistence on profit above safety all else , that is glaringly obvious to everyone except Boeing.

Summer , October 8, 2019 at 9:01 am

"The engineers who created MCAS for the military tanker designed the system to rely on inputs from multiple sensors and with limited power to move the tanker's nose. These deliberate checks sought to ensure that the system could not act erroneously or cause a pilot to lose control "

"Yet Boeing's website, press releases, annual reports, public statements and statements to operators and customers, submissions to the FAA and other civil aviation authorities, and 737 MAX flight manuals made no mention of the increased stall hazard or MCAS itself.

In fact, Boeing 737 Chief Technical Pilot, Mark Forkner asked the FAA to delete any mention of MCAS from the pilot manual so as to further hide its existence from the public and pilots "

This "MCAS" was always hidden from pilots? The military implemented checks on MCAS to maintain a level of pilot control. The commercial airlines did not. Commercial airlines were in thrall of every little feature that they felt would eliminate the need for pilots at all. Fell right into the automation crapification of everything.

[Sep 23, 2019] Boeing values 20-year Chinese market at $2.9 trillion

Notable quotes:
"... Erm, I think China was the first country to ground Boeing 737 MAX jets over the Angle of Attack sensor issue that caused the Indonesian and Ethiopian Boeing 737 MAX planes to crash after take-off, killing a combined total of 346 people. ..."
"... the company has a lot of work to do: either swallow its pride, redesign the jets to balance properly and work properly and retrain the pilots appropriately; or be prepared for any consequences if one of its airliners fails a third time because of the same problem. ..."
Sep 23, 2019 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

et Al September 17, 2019 at 10:19 am

Flight Global: Boeing values 20-year Chinese market at $2.9 trillion
https://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/boeing-values-20-year-chinese-market-at-29-trilli-460898/

Boeing forecasts that China will need 8,090 new commercial aircraft over the next 20 years in addition to $1.6 billion in services related to passenger air transport.

Its 2019 China Commercial Market Outlook for the next two decades sees the entire aircraft and services market through 2038 reaching $2.9 trillion, a 7% increase over its forecast last year.

####

What a tough one for Boeing. On the one hand it sells airliners to China, on the other it makes and sells weapons to fire at China! Like Russia, be in no doubt that China will work hard to minimize any dependence on the West (sic the USA) for any critical equipment like aero engines. The West seems to have learned nothing that threats and sanctions against strong countries will ultimately cost them much more in the long run, good will and more importantly trust , burnt to a cinder.

Jen September 17, 2019 at 3:50 pm
Erm, I think China was the first country to ground Boeing 737 MAX jets over the Angle of Attack sensor issue that caused the Indonesian and Ethiopian Boeing 737 MAX planes to crash after take-off, killing a combined total of 346 people.

f Boeing is keen to sell airliners to China, and especially its 737 MAX jets (because they're expected to be the workhorses of Boeing's range of passenger aircraft), the company has a lot of work to do: either swallow its pride, redesign the jets to balance properly and work properly and retrain the pilots appropriately; or be prepared for any consequences if one of its airliners fails a third time because of the same problem.

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Mark Chapman September 17, 2019 at 7:03 pm
The Chinese would need their heads examined if they bought Boeing after the graphic example they are even now observing, that the United States will leverage any advantage in order to demand concessions. Other countries – like Iran – who have bought American aircraft have seen the USA cut them off from spare parts and withdraw all the American technicians they insist do the maintenance routines. Justin Trudeau might fly around in a 737 just to demonstrate how confident he feels in American know-how and technology, but there's no reason for anyone else to act like such a retard.

Boeing does make a good aircraft. But Airbus is just as good, and more importantly, it's not American. It's bad enough that it's French, considering how the French under Hollande bent over for Washington, and canceled the warship contract they had signed with Russia when the first ship was already built and ready for delivery. Hopefully they learned a lesson, considering how bitter the French builders were at Hollande's spinelessness. But there's no reason China can't build its own airliners in cooperation with Russia. The USA will make a big noise about not certifying it, but the threat by China to junk its remaining Boeings would strike fear into Boeing's heart, and it has many lobbyists at court.

I hope everyone can see that this is only fairness in action. Americans proclaim themselves the champions of fairness – well, then, surely they will understand how, after the US government bullying everyone and American steelworkers smirking over the advantages Trump's tariffs on its neighbours bestowed upon them, other countries suddenly were not eager to buy American products. Trump's technique is to gain market share by prohibiting competition. Nobody should be surprised when American products in foreign markets are shunned.

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et Al September 18, 2019 at 3:22 am
It's interesting that Boeing has a 737 fitting and completion center in Zhoushan, China whereas Airbus builds entire A320s at Tianjin (50 p/y starting 2009) as it also does in Mobile, Alabama. And let us not forget that a VIP 767 ordered for Chairman Jiang Zemin was found to be bugged back in 2003

https://www.seattletimes.com/business/boeing-aerospace/boeing-set-to-deliver-first-737-jet-from-completion-center-in-china/

news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/1769642.stm

[Sep 22, 2019] Neoliberalism Political Success, Economic Failure Portside by Robert Kuttner

Highly recommended!
The key to the success of neoliberal was a bunch on bought intellectual prostitutes like Milton Friedman and the drive to occupy economic departments of the the universities using money from the financial elite. which along with think tank continued mercenary army of neoliberalism who fought and win the battle with weakened New Del capitalism supporters. After that neoliberalism was from those departments like the centers of infection via indoctrination of each new generation of students. Which is a classic mixture of Bolsheviks methods and Trotskyite theory adapted tot he need of financial oligarchy.
Essentially we see the tragedy of Lysenkoism replayed in the USA. When false theory supported by financial oligarchy and then state forcefully suppressed all other economic thought and became the only politically correct theory in the USA and Western Europe.
Notable quotes:
"... The neoliberal counterrevolution, in theory and policy, has reversed or undermined nearly every aspect of managed capitalism -- from progressive taxation, welfare transfers, and antitrust, to the empowerment of workers and the regulation of banks and other major industries. ..."
"... Neoliberalism's premise is that free markets can regulate themselves; that government is inherently incompetent, captive to special interests, and an intrusion on the efficiency of the market; that in distributive terms, market outcomes are basically deserved; and that redistribution creates perverse incentives by punishing the economy's winners and rewarding its losers. So government should get out of the market's way. ..."
"... Now, after nearly half a century, the verdict is in. Virtually every one of these policies has failed, even on their own terms. ..."
"... Economic power has resulted in feedback loops of political power, in which elites make rules that bolster further concentration. ..."
"... The culprit isn't just "markets" -- some impersonal force that somehow got loose again. This is a story of power using theory. The mixed economy was undone by economic elites, who revised rules for their own benefit. They invested heavily in friendly theorists to bless this shift as sound and necessary economics, and friendly politicians to put those theories into practice. ..."
"... The grand neoliberal experiment of the past 40 years has demonstrated that markets in fact do not regulate themselves. Managed markets turn out to be more equitable and more efficient. ..."
"... The British political economist Colin Crouch captured this anomaly in a book nicely titled The Strange Non-Death of Neoliberalism . Why did neoliberalism not die? As Crouch observed, neoliberalism failed both as theory and as policy, but succeeded superbly as power politics for economic elites. ..."
"... The neoliberal ascendance has had another calamitous cost -- to democratic legitimacy. As government ceased to buffer market forces, daily life has become more of a struggle for ordinary people. ..."
"... After the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, ours was widely billed as an era when triumphant liberal capitalism would march hand in hand with liberal democracy. But in a few brief decades, the ostensibly secure regime of liberal democracy has collapsed in nation after nation, with echoes of the 1930s. ..."
"... As the great political historian Karl Polanyi warned, when markets overwhelm society, ordinary people often turn to tyrants. In regimes that border on neofascist, klepto-capitalists get along just fine with dictators, undermining the neoliberal premise of capitalism and democracy as complements. ..."
"... Classically, the premise of a "free market" is that government simply gets out of the way. This is nonsensical, since all markets are creatures of rules, most fundamentally rules defining property, but also rules defining credit, debt, and bankruptcy; rules defining patents, trademarks, and copyrights; rules defining terms of labor; and so on. Even deregulation requires rules. In Polanyi's words, "laissez-faire was planned." ..."
"... Around the same time, the term neoconservative was used as a self-description by former liberals who embraced conservatism, on cultural, racial, economic, and foreign-policy grounds. Neoconservatives were neoliberals in economics. ..."
"... Lavishly funded centers and tenured chairs were underwritten by the Olin, Scaife, Bradley, and other far-right foundations to promote such variants of free-market theory as law and economics, public choice, rational choice, cost-benefit analysis, maximize-shareholder-value, and kindred schools of thought. These theories colonized several academic disciplines. All were variations on the claim that markets worked and that government should get out of the way. ..."
"... Market failure was dismissed as a rare special case; government failure was said to be ubiquitous. Theorists worked hand in glove with lobbyists and with public officials. But in every major case where neoliberal theory generated policy, the result was political success and economic failure. ..."
"... For example, supply-side economics became the justification for tax cuts, on the premise that taxes punished enterprise. ..."
"... Robert Bork's "antitrust paradox," holding that antitrust enforcement actually weakened competition, was used as the doctrine to sideline the Sherman and Clayton Acts. Supposedly, if government just got out of the way, market forces would remain more competitive because monopoly pricing would invite innovation and new entrants to the market. In practice, industry after industry became more heavily concentrated. ..."
"... Human capital theory, another variant of neoliberal application of markets to partly social questions, justified deregulating labor markets and crushing labor unions. Unions supposedly used their power to get workers paid more than their market worth. Likewise minimum wage laws. But the era of depressed wages has actually seen a decline in rates of productivity growth ..."
"... Financial deregulation is neoliberalism's most palpable deregulatory failure, but far from the only one ..."
"... Air travel has been a poster child for advocates of deregulation, but the actual record is mixed at best. Airline deregulation produced serial bankruptcies of every major U.S. airline, often at the cost of worker pay and pension funds. ..."
"... Ticket prices have declined on average over the past two decades, but the traveling public suffers from a crazy quilt of fares, declining service, shrinking seats and legroom, and exorbitant penalties for the perfectly normal sin of having to change plans. ..."
"... A similar example is the privatization of transportation services such as highways and even parking meters. In several Midwestern states, toll roads have been sold to private vendors. The governor who makes the deal gains a temporary fiscal windfall, while drivers end up paying higher tolls often for decades. Investment bankers who broker the deal also take their cut. Some of the money does go into highway improvements, but that could have been done more efficiently in the traditional way via direct public ownership and competitive bidding. ..."
"... The Affordable Care Act is a form of voucher. But the regulated private insurance markets in the ACA have not fully lived up to their promise, in part because of the extensive market power retained by private insurers and in part because the right has relentlessly sought to sabotage the program -- another political feedback loop. The sponsors assumed that competition would lower costs and increase consumer choice. But in too many counties, there are three or fewer competing plans, and in some cases just one. ..."
"... In practice, this degenerates into an infinite regress of regulator versus commercial profit-maximizer, reminiscent of Mad magazine's "Spy versus Spy," with the industry doing end runs to Congress to further rig the rules. Straight-ahead public insurance such as Medicare is generally far more efficient. ..."
"... Several forms of deregulation -- of airlines, trucking, and electric power -- began not under Reagan but under Carter. Financial deregulation took off under Bill Clinton. Democratic presidents, as much as Republicans, promoted trade deals that undermined social standards. Cost-benefit analysis by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) was more of a choke point under Barack Obama than under George W. Bush. ..."
"... Dozens of nations, from Latin America to East Asia, went through this cycle of boom, bust, and then IMF pile-on. Greece is still suffering the impact. ..."
"... In fact, Japan, South Korea, smaller Asian nations, and above all China had thrived by rejecting every major tenet of neoliberalism. Their capital markets were tightly regulated and insulated from foreign speculative capital. They developed world-class industries as state-led cartels that favored domestic production and supply. East Asia got into trouble only when it followed IMF dictates to throw open capital markets, and in the aftermath they recovered by closing those markets and assembling war chests of hard currency so that they'd never again have to go begging to the IMF ..."
"... The basic argument of neoliberalism can fit on a bumper sticker. Markets work; governments don't . If you want to embellish that story, there are two corollaries: Markets embody human freedom. And with markets, people basically get what they deserve; to alter market outcomes is to spoil the poor and punish the productive. That conclusion logically flows from the premise that markets are efficient. Milton Friedman became rich, famous, and influential by teasing out the several implications of these simple premises. ..."
"... The failed neoliberal experiment also makes the case not just for better-regulated capitalism but for direct public alternatives as well. Banking, done properly, especially the provision of mortgage finance, is close to a public utility. Much of it could be public. ..."
Aug 25, 2019 | portside.org
The invisible hand is more like a thumb on the scale for the world's elites. That's why market fundamentalism has been unmasked as bogus economics but keeps winning politically. This article appears in the Summer 2019 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here .

Since the late 1970s, we've had a grand experiment to test the claim that free markets really do work best. This resurrection occurred despite the practical failure of laissez-faire in the 1930s, the resulting humiliation of free-market theory, and the contrasting success of managed capitalism during the three-decade postwar boom.

Yet when growth faltered in the 1970s, libertarian economic theory got another turn at bat. This revival proved extremely convenient for the conservatives who came to power in the 1980s. The neoliberal counterrevolution, in theory and policy, has reversed or undermined nearly every aspect of managed capitalism -- from progressive taxation, welfare transfers, and antitrust, to the empowerment of workers and the regulation of banks and other major industries.

Neoliberalism's premise is that free markets can regulate themselves; that government is inherently incompetent, captive to special interests, and an intrusion on the efficiency of the market; that in distributive terms, market outcomes are basically deserved; and that redistribution creates perverse incentives by punishing the economy's winners and rewarding its losers. So government should get out of the market's way.

By the 1990s, even moderate liberals had been converted to the belief that social objectives can be achieved by harnessing the power of markets. Intermittent periods of governance by Democratic presidents slowed but did not reverse the slide to neoliberal policy and doctrine. The corporate wing of the Democratic Party approved.

Now, after nearly half a century, the verdict is in. Virtually every one of these policies has failed, even on their own terms. Enterprise has been richly rewarded, taxes have been cut, and regulation reduced or privatized. The economy is vastly more unequal, yet economic growth is slower and more chaotic than during the era of managed capitalism. Deregulation has produced not salutary competition, but market concentration. Economic power has resulted in feedback loops of political power, in which elites make rules that bolster further concentration.

The culprit isn't just "markets" -- some impersonal force that somehow got loose again. This is a story of power using theory. The mixed economy was undone by economic elites, who revised rules for their own benefit. They invested heavily in friendly theorists to bless this shift as sound and necessary economics, and friendly politicians to put those theories into practice.

Recent years have seen two spectacular cases of market mispricing with devastating consequences: the near-depression of 2008 and irreversible climate change. The economic collapse of 2008 was the result of the deregulation of finance. It cost the real U.S. economy upwards of $15 trillion (and vastly more globally), depending on how you count, far more than any conceivable efficiency gain that might be credited to financial innovation. Free-market theory presumes that innovation is necessarily benign. But much of the financial engineering of the deregulatory era was self-serving, opaque, and corrupt -- the opposite of an efficient and transparent market.

The existential threat of global climate change reflects the incompetence of markets to accurately price carbon and the escalating costs of pollution. The British economist Nicholas Stern has aptly termed the worsening climate catastrophe history's greatest case of market failure. Here again, this is not just the result of failed theory. The entrenched political power of extractive industries and their political allies influences the rules and the market price of carbon. This is less an invisible hand than a thumb on the scale. The premise of efficient markets provides useful cover.

The grand neoliberal experiment of the past 40 years has demonstrated that markets in fact do not regulate themselves. Managed markets turn out to be more equitable and more efficient. Yet the theory and practical influence of neoliberalism marches splendidly on, because it is so useful to society's most powerful people -- as a scholarly veneer to what would otherwise be a raw power grab. The British political economist Colin Crouch captured this anomaly in a book nicely titled The Strange Non-Death of Neoliberalism . Why did neoliberalism not die? As Crouch observed, neoliberalism failed both as theory and as policy, but succeeded superbly as power politics for economic elites.

The neoliberal ascendance has had another calamitous cost -- to democratic legitimacy. As government ceased to buffer market forces, daily life has become more of a struggle for ordinary people. The elements of a decent middle-class life are elusive -- reliable jobs and careers, adequate pensions, secure medical care, affordable housing, and college that doesn't require a lifetime of debt. Meanwhile, life has become ever sweeter for economic elites, whose income and wealth have pulled away and whose loyalty to place, neighbor, and nation has become more contingent and less reliable.

Large numbers of people, in turn, have given up on the promise of affirmative government, and on democracy itself. After the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, ours was widely billed as an era when triumphant liberal capitalism would march hand in hand with liberal democracy. But in a few brief decades, the ostensibly secure regime of liberal democracy has collapsed in nation after nation, with echoes of the 1930s.

As the great political historian Karl Polanyi warned, when markets overwhelm society, ordinary people often turn to tyrants. In regimes that border on neofascist, klepto-capitalists get along just fine with dictators, undermining the neoliberal premise of capitalism and democracy as complements. Several authoritarian thugs, playing on tribal nationalism as the antidote to capitalist cosmopolitanism, are surprisingly popular.

It's also important to appreciate that neoliberalism is not laissez-faire. Classically, the premise of a "free market" is that government simply gets out of the way. This is nonsensical, since all markets are creatures of rules, most fundamentally rules defining property, but also rules defining credit, debt, and bankruptcy; rules defining patents, trademarks, and copyrights; rules defining terms of labor; and so on. Even deregulation requires rules. In Polanyi's words, "laissez-faire was planned."

The political question is who gets to make the rules, and for whose benefit. The neoliberalism of Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman invoked free markets, but in practice the neoliberal regime has promoted rules created by and for private owners of capital, to keep democratic government from asserting rules of fair competition or countervailing social interests. The regime has rules protecting pharmaceutical giants from the right of consumers to import prescription drugs or to benefit from generics. The rules of competition and intellectual property generally have been tilted to protect incumbents. Rules of bankruptcy have been tilted in favor of creditors. Deceptive mortgages require elaborate rules, written by the financial sector and then enforced by government. Patent rules have allowed agribusiness and giant chemical companies like Monsanto to take over much of agriculture -- the opposite of open markets. Industry has invented rules requiring employees and consumers to submit to binding arbitration and to relinquish a range of statutory and common-law rights.

Neoliberalism as Theory, Policy, and Power

It's worth taking a moment to unpack the term "neoliberalism." The coinage can be confusing to American ears because the "liberal" part refers not to the word's ordinary American usage, meaning moderately left-of-center, but to classical economic liberalism otherwise known as free-market economics. The "neo" part refers to the reassertion of the claim that the laissez-faire model of the economy was basically correct after all.

Few proponents of these views embraced the term neoliberal . Mostly, they called themselves free-market conservatives. "Neoliberal" was a coinage used mainly by their critics, sometimes as a neutral descriptive term, sometimes as an epithet. The use became widespread in the era of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan.

To add to the confusion, a different and partly overlapping usage was advanced in the 1970s by the group around the Washington Monthly magazine. They used "neoliberal" to mean a new, less statist form of American liberalism. Around the same time, the term neoconservative was used as a self-description by former liberals who embraced conservatism, on cultural, racial, economic, and foreign-policy grounds. Neoconservatives were neoliberals in economics.

Beginning in the 1970s, resurrected free-market theory was interwoven with both conservative politics and significant investments in the production of theorists and policy intellectuals. This occurred not just in well-known conservative think tanks such as the American Enterprise Institute, Heritage, Cato, and the Manhattan Institute, but through more insidious investments in academia. Lavishly funded centers and tenured chairs were underwritten by the Olin, Scaife, Bradley, and other far-right foundations to promote such variants of free-market theory as law and economics, public choice, rational choice, cost-benefit analysis, maximize-shareholder-value, and kindred schools of thought. These theories colonized several academic disciplines. All were variations on the claim that markets worked and that government should get out of the way.

Each of these bodies of sub-theory relied upon its own variant of neoliberal ideology. An intensified version of the theory of comparative advantage was used not just to cut tariffs but to use globalization as all-purpose deregulation. The theory of maximizing shareholder value was deployed to undermine the entire range of financial regulation and workers' rights. Cost-benefit analysis, emphasizing costs and discounting benefits, was used to discredit a good deal of health, safety, and environmental regulation. Public choice theory, associated with the economist James Buchanan and an entire ensuing school of economics and political science, was used to impeach democracy itself, on the premise that policies were hopelessly afflicted by "rent-seekers" and "free-riders."

Click here to read how Robert Kuttner has been unmasking the fallacies of neoliberalism for decades

Market failure was dismissed as a rare special case; government failure was said to be ubiquitous. Theorists worked hand in glove with lobbyists and with public officials. But in every major case where neoliberal theory generated policy, the result was political success and economic failure.

For example, supply-side economics became the justification for tax cuts, on the premise that taxes punished enterprise. Supposedly, if taxes were cut, especially taxes on capital and on income from capital, the resulting spur to economic activity would be so potent that deficits would be far less than predicted by "static" economic projections, and perhaps even pay for themselves. There have been six rounds of this experiment, from the tax cuts sponsored by Jimmy Carter in 1978 to the immense 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act signed by Donald Trump. In every case some economic stimulus did result, mainly from the Keynesian jolt to demand, but in every case deficits increased significantly. Conservatives simply stopped caring about deficits. The tax cuts were often inefficient as well as inequitable, since the loopholes steered investment to tax-favored uses rather than the most economically logical ones. Dozens of America's most profitable corporations paid no taxes.

Robert Bork's "antitrust paradox," holding that antitrust enforcement actually weakened competition, was used as the doctrine to sideline the Sherman and Clayton Acts. Supposedly, if government just got out of the way, market forces would remain more competitive because monopoly pricing would invite innovation and new entrants to the market. In practice, industry after industry became more heavily concentrated. Incumbents got in the habit of buying out innovators or using their market power to crush them. This pattern is especially insidious in the tech economy of platform monopolies, where giants that provide platforms, such as Google and Amazon, use their market power and superior access to customer data to out-compete rivals who use their platforms. Markets, once again, require rules beyond the benign competence of the market actors themselves. Only democratic government can set equitable rules. And when democracy falters, undemocratic governments in cahoots with corrupt private plutocrats will make the rules.

Human capital theory, another variant of neoliberal application of markets to partly social questions, justified deregulating labor markets and crushing labor unions. Unions supposedly used their power to get workers paid more than their market worth. Likewise minimum wage laws. But the era of depressed wages has actually seen a decline in rates of productivity growth. Conversely, does any serious person think that the inflated pay of the financial moguls who crashed the economy accurately reflects their contribution to economic activity? In the case of hedge funds and private equity, the high incomes of fund sponsors are the result of transfers of wealth and income from employees, other stakeholders, and operating companies to the fund managers, not the fruits of more efficient management.

There is a broad literature discrediting this body of pseudo-scholarly work in great detail. Much of neoliberalism represents the ever-reliable victory of assumption over evidence. Yet neoliberal theory lived on because it was so convenient for elites, and because of the inertial power of the intellectual capital that had been created. The well-funded neoliberal habitat has provided comfortable careers for two generations of scholars and pseudo-scholars who migrate between academia, think tanks, K Street, op-ed pages, government, Wall Street, and back again. So even if the theory has been demolished both by scholarly rebuttal and by events, it thrives in powerful institutions and among their political allies.

The Practical Failure of Neoliberal Policies

Financial deregulation is neoliberalism's most palpable deregulatory failure, but far from the only one. Electricity deregulation on balance has increased monopoly power and raised costs to consumers, but has failed to offer meaningful "shopping around" opportunities to bring down prices. We have gone from regulated monopolies with predictable earnings, costs, wages, and consumer protections to deregulated monopolies or oligopolies with substantial pricing power. Since the Bell breakup, the telephone system tells a similar story of re-concentration, dwindling competition, price-gouging, and union-bashing.

Air travel has been a poster child for advocates of deregulation, but the actual record is mixed at best. Airline deregulation produced serial bankruptcies of every major U.S. airline, often at the cost of worker pay and pension funds.

Ticket prices have declined on average over the past two decades, but the traveling public suffers from a crazy quilt of fares, declining service, shrinking seats and legroom, and exorbitant penalties for the perfectly normal sin of having to change plans. Studies have shown that fares actually declined at a faster rate in the 20 years before deregulation in 1978 than in the 20 years afterward, because the prime source of greater efficiency in airline travel is the introduction of more fuel-efficient planes.

The roller-coaster experience of airline profits and losses has reduced the capacity of airlines to purchase more fuel-efficient aircraft, and the average age of the fleet keeps increasing. The use of "fortress hubs" to defend market pricing power has reduced the percentage of nonstop flights, the most efficient way to fly from one point to another.

Robert Bork's spurious arguments that antitrust enforcement hurt competition became the basis for dismantling antitrust. Massive concentration resulted. Charles Tasnadi/AP Photo

In addition to deregulation, three prime areas of practical neoliberal policies are the use of vouchers as "market-like" means to social goals, the privatization of public services, and the use of tax subsides rather than direct outlays. In every case, government revenues are involved, so this is far from a free market to begin with. But the premise is that market disciplines can achieve public purposes more efficiently than direct public provision.

The evidence provides small comfort for these claims. One core problem is that the programs invariably give too much to the for-profit middlemen at the expense of the intended beneficiaries. A related problem is that the process of using vouchers and contracts invites corruption. It is a different form of "rent-seeking" -- pursuit of monopoly profits -- than that attributed to government by public choice theorists, but corruption nonetheless. Often, direct public provision is far more transparent and accountable than a web of contractors.

A further problem is that in practice there is often far less competition than imagined, because of oligopoly power, vendor lock-in, and vendor political influence. These experiments in marketization to serve social goals do not operate in some Platonic policy laboratory, where the only objective is true market efficiency yoked to the public good. They operate in the grubby world of practical politics, where the vendors are closely allied with conservative politicians whose purposes may be to discredit social transfers entirely, or to reward corporate allies, or to benefit from kickbacks either directly or as campaign contributions.

Privatized prisons are a case in point. A few large, scandal-ridden companies have gotten most of the contracts, often through political influence. Far from bringing better quality and management efficiency, they have profited by diverting operating funds and worsening conditions that were already deplorable, and finding new ways to charge inmates higher fees for necessary services such as phone calls. To the extent that money was actually saved, most of the savings came from reducing the pay and professionalism of guards, increasing overcrowding, and decreasing already inadequate budgets for food and medical care.

A similar example is the privatization of transportation services such as highways and even parking meters. In several Midwestern states, toll roads have been sold to private vendors. The governor who makes the deal gains a temporary fiscal windfall, while drivers end up paying higher tolls often for decades. Investment bankers who broker the deal also take their cut. Some of the money does go into highway improvements, but that could have been done more efficiently in the traditional way via direct public ownership and competitive bidding.

Housing vouchers substantially reward landlords who use the vouchers to fill empty houses with poor people until the neighborhood gentrifies, at which point the owner is free to quit the program and charge market rentals. Thus public funds are used to underwrite a privately owned, quasi-social housing sector -- whose social character is only temporary. No permanent social housing is produced despite the extensive public outlay. The companion use of tax incentives to attract passive investment in affordable housing promotes economically inefficient tax shelters, and shunts public funds into the pockets of the investors -- money that might otherwise have gone directly to the housing.

The Affordable Care Act is a form of voucher. But the regulated private insurance markets in the ACA have not fully lived up to their promise, in part because of the extensive market power retained by private insurers and in part because the right has relentlessly sought to sabotage the program -- another political feedback loop. The sponsors assumed that competition would lower costs and increase consumer choice. But in too many counties, there are three or fewer competing plans, and in some cases just one.

As more insurance plans and hospital systems become for-profit, massive investment goes into such wasteful activities as manipulation of billing, "risk selection," and other gaming of the rules. Our mixed-market system of health care requires massive regulation to work with tolerable efficiency. In practice, this degenerates into an infinite regress of regulator versus commercial profit-maximizer, reminiscent of Mad magazine's "Spy versus Spy," with the industry doing end runs to Congress to further rig the rules. Straight-ahead public insurance such as Medicare is generally far more efficient.

An extensive literature has demonstrated that for-profit voucher schools do no better and often do worse than comparable public schools, and are vulnerable to multiple forms of gaming and corruption. Proprietors of voucher schools are superb at finding ways of excluding costly special-needs students, so that those costs are imposed on what remains of public schools; they excel at gaming test results. While some voucher and charter schools, especially nonprofit ones, sometimes improve on average school performance, so do many public schools. The record is also muddied by the fact that many ostensibly nonprofit schools contract out management to for-profit companies.

Tax preferences have long been used ostensibly to serve social goals. The Earned Income Tax Credit is considered one of the more successful cases of using market-like measures -- in this case a refundable tax credit -- to achieve the social goal of increasing worker take-home pay. It has also been touted as the rare case of bipartisan collaboration. Liberals get more money for workers. Conservatives get to reward the deserving poor, since the EITC is conditioned on employment. Conservatives get a further ideological win, since the EITC is effectively a wage subsidy from the government, but is experienced as a tax refund rather than a benefit of government.

Recent research, however, shows that the EITC is primarily a subsidy of low-wage employers, who are able to pay their workers a lot less than a market-clearing wage. In industries such as nursing homes or warehouses, where many workers qualified for the EITC work side by side with ones not eligible, the non-EITC workers get substandard wages. The existence of the EITC depresses the level of the wages that have to come out of the employer's pocket.

Neoliberalism's Influence on Liberals

As free-market theory resurged, many moderate liberals embraced these policies. In the inflationary 1970s, regulation became a scapegoat that supposedly deterred salutary price competition. Some, such as economist Alfred Kahn, President Carter's adviser on deregulation, supported deregulation on what he saw as the merits. Other moderates supported neoliberal policies opportunistically, to curry favor with powerful industries and donors. Market-like policies were also embraced by liberals as a tactical way to find common ground with conservatives.

Several forms of deregulation -- of airlines, trucking, and electric power -- began not under Reagan but under Carter. Financial deregulation took off under Bill Clinton. Democratic presidents, as much as Republicans, promoted trade deals that undermined social standards. Cost-benefit analysis by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) was more of a choke point under Barack Obama than under George W. Bush.

"Command and control" became an all-purpose pejorative for disparaging perfectly sensible and efficient regulation. "Market-like" became a fashionable concept, not just on the free-market right but on the moderate left. Cass Sunstein, who served as Obama's anti-regulation czar,uses the example of "nudges" as a more market-like and hence superior alternative to direct regulation, though with rare exceptions their impact is trivial. Moreover, nudges only work in tandem with regulation.

There are indeed some interventionist policies that use market incentives to serve social goals. But contrary to free-market theory, the market-like incentives first require substantial regulation and are not a substitute for it. A good example is the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, which used tradable emission rights to cut the output of sulfur dioxide, the cause of acid rain. This was supported by both the George H.W. Bush administration and by leading Democrats. But before the trading regime could work, Congress first had to establish permissible ceilings on sulfur dioxide output -- pure command and control.

There are many other instances, such as nutrition labeling, truth-in-lending, and disclosure of EPA gas mileage results, where the market-like premise of a better-informed consumer complements command regulation but is no substitute for it. Nearly all of the increase in fuel efficiency, for example, is the result of command regulations that require auto fleets to hit a gas mileage target. The fact that EPA gas mileage figures are prominently disclosed on new car stickers may have modest influence, but motor fuels are so underpriced that car companies have success selling gas-guzzlers despite the consumer labeling.

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Bill Clinton and his Treasury Secretary, Robert Rubin, were big promoters of financial deregulation.

Politically, whatever rationale there was for liberals to make common ground with libertarians is now largely gone. The authors of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act made no attempt to meet Democrats partway; they excluded the opposition from the legislative process entirely. This was opportunistic tax cutting for elites, pure and simple. The right today also abandoned the quest for a middle ground on environmental policy, on anti-poverty policy, on health policy -- on virtually everything. Neoliberal ideology did its historic job of weakening intellectual and popular support for the proposition that affirmative government can better the lives of citizens and that the Democratic Party is a reliable steward of that social compact. Since Reagan, the right's embrace of the free market has evolved from partly principled idealism into pure opportunism and obstruction.

Neoliberalism and Hyper-Globalism

The post-1990 rules of globalization, supported by conservatives and moderate liberals alike, are the quintessence of neoliberalism. At Bretton Woods in 1944, the use of fixed exchange rates and controls on speculative private capital, plus the creation of the IMFand World Bank, were intended to allow member countries to practice national forms of managed capitalism, insulated from the destructive and deflationary influences of short-term speculative private capital flows. As doctrine and power shifted in the 1970s, the IMF, the World Bank, and later the WTO, which replaced the old GATT, mutated into their ideological opposite. Rather than instruments of support for mixed national economies, they became enforcers of neoliberal policies.

The standard package of the "Washington Consensus" of approved policies for developing nations included demands that they open their capital markets to speculative private finance, as well as cutting taxes on capital, weakening social transfers, and gutting labor regulation and public ownership. But private capital investment in poor countries proved to be fickle. The result was often excessive inflows during the boom part of the cycle and punitive withdrawals during the bust -- the opposite of the patient, long-term development capital that these countries needed and that was provided by the World Bank of an earlier era. During the bust phase, the IMF typically imposes even more stringent neoliberal demands as the price of financial bailouts, including perverse budgetary austerity, supposedly to restore the confidence of the very speculative capital markets responsible for the boom-bust cycle.

Dozens of nations, from Latin America to East Asia, went through this cycle of boom, bust, and then IMF pile-on. Greece is still suffering the impact. After 1990, hyper-globalism also included trade treaties whose terms favored multinational corporations. Traditionally, trade agreements had been mainly about reciprocal reductions of tariffs. Nations were free to have whatever brand of regulation, public investment, or social policies they chose. With the advent of the WTO, many policies other than tariffs were branded as trade distorting, even as takings without compensation. Trade deals were used to give foreign capital free access and to dismantle national regulation and public ownership. Special courts were created in which foreign corporations and investors could do end runs around national authorities to challenge regulation for impeding commerce.

At first, the sponsors of the new trade regime tried to claim the successful economies of East Asia as evidence of the success of the neoliberal recipe. Supposedly, these nations had succeeded by pursuing "export-led growth," exposing their domestic economies to salutary competition. But these claims were soon exposed as the opposite of what had actually occurred. In fact, Japan, South Korea, smaller Asian nations, and above all China had thrived by rejecting every major tenet of neoliberalism. Their capital markets were tightly regulated and insulated from foreign speculative capital. They developed world-class industries as state-led cartels that favored domestic production and supply. East Asia got into trouble only when it followed IMF dictates to throw open capital markets, and in the aftermath they recovered by closing those markets and assembling war chests of hard currency so that they'd never again have to go begging to the IMF. Enthusiasts of hyper-globalization also claimed that it benefited poor countries by increasing export opportunities, but as the success of East Asia shows, there is more than one way to boost exports -- and many poorer countries suffered under the terms of the global neoliberal regime.

Nor was the damage confined to the developing world. As the work of Harvard economist Dani Rodrik has demonstrated, democracy requires a polity. For better or for worse, the polity and democratic citizenship are national. By enhancing the global market at the expense of the democratic state, the current brand of hyper-globalization deliberately weakens the capacity of states to regulate markets, and weakens democracy itself.

When Do Markets Work?

The failure of neoliberalism as economic and social policy does not mean that markets never work. A command economy is even more utopian and perverse than a neoliberal one. The practical quest is for an efficient and equitable middle ground.

The neoliberal story of how the economy operates assumes a largely frictionless marketplace, where prices are set by supply and demand, and the price mechanism allocates resources to their optimal use in the economy as a whole. For this discipline to work as advertised, however, there can be no market power, competition must be plentiful, sellers and buyers must have roughly equal information, and there can be no significant externalities. Much of the 20th century was practical proof that these conditions did not describe a good part of the actual economy. And if markets priced things wrong, the market system did not aggregate to an efficient equilibrium, and depressions could become self-deepening. As Keynes demonstrated, only a massive jolt of government spending could restart the engines, even if market pricing was partly violated in the process.

Nonetheless, in many sectors of the economy, the process of buying and selling is close enough to the textbook conditions of perfect competition that the price system works tolerably well. Supermarkets, for instance, deliver roughly accurate prices because of the consumer's freedom and knowledge to shop around. Likewise much of retailing. However, when we get into major realms of the economy with positive or negative externalities, such as education and health, markets are not sufficient. And in other major realms, such as pharmaceuticals, where corporations use their political power to rig the terms of patents, the market doesn't produce a cure.

The basic argument of neoliberalism can fit on a bumper sticker. Markets work; governments don't . If you want to embellish that story, there are two corollaries: Markets embody human freedom. And with markets, people basically get what they deserve; to alter market outcomes is to spoil the poor and punish the productive. That conclusion logically flows from the premise that markets are efficient. Milton Friedman became rich, famous, and influential by teasing out the several implications of these simple premises.

It is much harder to articulate the case for a mixed economy than the case for free markets, precisely because the mixed economy is mixed. The rebuttal takes several paragraphs. The more complex story holds that markets are substantially efficient in some realms but far from efficient in others, because of positive and negative externalities, the tendency of financial markets to create cycles of boom and bust, the intersection of self-interest and corruption, the asymmetry of information between company and consumer, the asymmetry of power between corporation and employee, the power of the powerful to rig the rules, and the fact that there are realms of human life (the right to vote, human liberty, security of one's person) that should not be marketized.

And if markets are not perfectly efficient, then distributive questions are partly political choices. Some societies pay pre-K teachers the minimum wage as glorified babysitters. Others educate and compensate them as professionals. There is no "correct" market-derived wage, because pre-kindergarten is a social good and the issue of how to train and compensate teachers is a social choice, not a market choice. The same is true of the other human services, including medicine. Nor is there a theoretically correct set of rules for patents, trademarks, and copyrights. These are politically derived, either balancing the interests of innovation with those of diffusion -- or being politically captured by incumbent industries.

Governments can in principle improve on market outcomes via regulation, but that fact is complicated by the risk of regulatory capture. So another issue that arises is market failure versus polity failure, which brings us back to the urgency of strong democracy and effective government.

After Neoliberalism

The political reversal of neoliberalism can only come through practical politics and policies that demonstrate how government often can serve citizens more equitably and efficiently than markets. Revision of theory will take care of itself. There is no shortage of dissenting theorists and empirical policy researchers whose scholarly work has been vindicated by events. What they need is not more theory but more influence, both in the academy and in the corridors of power. They are available to advise a new progressive administration, if that administration can get elected and if it refrains from hiring neoliberal advisers.

There are also some relatively new areas that invite policy innovation. These include regulation of privacy rights versus entrepreneurial liberties in the digital realm; how to think of the internet as a common carrier; how to update competition and antitrust policy as platform monopolies exert new forms of market power; how to modernize labor-market policy in the era of the gig economy; and the role of deeper income supplements as machines replace human workers.

The failed neoliberal experiment also makes the case not just for better-regulated capitalism but for direct public alternatives as well. Banking, done properly, especially the provision of mortgage finance, is close to a public utility. Much of it could be public. A great deal of research is done more honestly and more cost-effectively in public, peer-reviewed institutions such as the NIH than by a substantially corrupt private pharmaceutical industry.

Social housing often is more cost-effective than so-called public-private partnerships. Public power is more efficient to generate, less prone to monopolistic price-gouging, and friendlier to the needed green transition than private power. The public option in health care is far more efficient than the current crazy quilt in which each layer of complexity adds opacity and cost. Public provision does require public oversight, but that is more straightforward and transparent than the byzantine dance of regulation and counter-regulation.

The two other benefits of direct public provision are that the public gets direct evidence of government delivering something of value, and that the countervailing power of democracy to harness markets is enhanced. A mixed economy depends above all on a strong democracy -- one even stronger than the democracy that succumbed to the corrupting influence of economic elites and their neoliberal intellectual allies beginning half a century ago. The antidote to the resurrected neoliberal fable is the resurrection of democracy -- strong enough to tame the market in a way that tames it for keeps.


Robert Kuttner is co-founder and co-editor of The American Prospect, and professor at Brandeis University's Heller School. His latest book is The Stakes: 2020 and the Survival of American Democracy . In addition to writing for the Prospect, he writes for HuffPost, The Boston Globe, and The New York Review of Books.

Read the original article at Prospect.org.

Used with the permission. © The American Prospect, Prospect.org, 2019. All rights reserved.

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[Sep 18, 2019] FAA Hoist on Its Own Boeing 737 Max Petard Multiagency Panel to Issue Report Criticizing Agency Approval Process, Call for Cer

Notable quotes:
"... The aim of the panel, called the Joint Authorities Technical Review, was to expedite getting the 737 Max into the air by creating a vehicle for achieve consensus among foreign regulators who had grounded the 737 Max before the FAA had. But these very regulators had also made clear they needed to be satisfied before they'd let it fly in their airspace. ..."
"... The FAA hopes to give the 737 Max the green light in November, while the other regulators all have said they have issues that are unlikely to be resolved by then. The agency is now in the awkward position of having a body it set up to be authoritative turn on the agency's own procedures. ..."
"... the FAA had moved further and further down the path of relying on aircraft manufactures for critical elements of certification. Not all of this was the result of capture; with the evolution of technology, even the sharpest and best intended engineer in government employ would become stale on the state of the art in a few years. ..."
"... Although all stories paint a broadly similar picture, .the most damning is a detailed piece at the Seattle Times, Engineers say Boeing pushed to limit safety testing in race to certify planes, including 737 MAX ..The article gives an incriminating account of how Boeing got the FAA to delegate more and more certification authority to the airline, and then pressured and abused employees who refused to back down on safety issues . ..."
"... In 2004, the FAA changed its system for front-line supervision of airline certification from having the FAA select airline certification employees who reported directly to the FAA to having airline employees responsible for FAA certification report to airline management and have their reports filtered through them (the FAA attempted to maintain that the certification employees could provide their recommendations directly to the agency, but the Seattle Times obtained policy manuals that stated otherwise). ..."
"... On Monday, the Post and Courier reported about the South Carolina plant that produced 787s found with tools rattling inside that Boeing SC lets mechanics inspect their own work, leading to repeated mistakes, workers say. These mechanic certifications would never have been kosher if the FAA were vigilant. Similarly, Reuters described how Boeing weakened another safety check, that of pilot input. ..."
"... As part of roughly a dozen findings, these government and industry officials said, the task force is poised to call out the Federal Aviation Administration for what it describes as a lack of clarity and transparency in the way the FAA delegated authority to the plane maker to assess the safety of certain flight-control features. The upshot, according to some of these people, is that essential design changes didn't receive adequate FAA attention. ..."
"... But the report could influence changes to traditional engineering principles determining the safety of new aircraft models. Certification of software controlling increasingly interconnected and automated onboard systems "is a whole new ballgame requiring new approaches," according to a senior industry safety expert who has discussed the report with regulators on both sides of the Atlantic. ..."
"... For instance, the Journal reports that Canadian authorities expect to require additional simulator training for 737 Max pilots. Recall that Boeing's biggest 737 Max customer, Southwest Airlines, was so resistant to the cost of additional simulator training that it put a penalty clause into its contract if wound up being necessary. ..."
"... Patrick Ky, head of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency, told the European Parliament earlier this month, "It's very likely that international authorities will want a second opinion" on any FAA decision to lift the grounding. ..."
"... Most prominently, EASA has proposed to eventually add to the MAX a third fully functional angle-of-attack sensor -- which effectively measures how far the plane's nose is pointed up or down -- underscoring the controversy expected to swirl around the plane for the foreseeable future. ..."
"... It's hard to see how Boeing hasn't gotten itself in the position of being at a major competitive disadvantage by virtue of having compromised the FAA so severely as to have undercut safety. ..."
"... has Boeing developed a plan to correct the trim wheel issue on the 787max? i haven't seen a single statement from them on how they plan to fix this problem. is it possible they think they can get the faa to re-certify without addressing it? ..."
"... Don't forget that the smaller trim wheels are in the NG as well. any change to fix the wheels ripples across more planes than just the Max ..."
"... The self-inflicted wound caused by systematic greed and arrogance – corruption, in other words. Boeing is reaping the wages of taking 100% of their profits to support the stock price through stock buybacks and deliberately under-investing in their business. Their brains have been taken over by a parasitic financial system that profits by wrecking healthy businesses. ..."
"... Shareholder Value is indeed the worst idea in the world. That Boeing's biggest stockholder, Vanguard, is unable to cleanup Boeing's operations makes perfect sense. I mean vanguards expertise is making money, not building anything. Those skills are completely different. ..."
"... One maxim we see illustrated here and elsewhere is this: Trust takes years to earn, but can be lost overnight. ..."
Sep 18, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

The FAA evidently lacked perspective on how much trouble it was in after the two international headline-grabbing crashes of the Boeing 737 Max. It established a "multiagency panel" meaning one that included representatives from foreign aviation regulators, last April. A new Wall Street Journal article reports that the findings of this panel, to be released in a few weeks, are expected to lambaste the FAA 737 Max approval process and urge a major redo of how automated aircraft systems get certified .

The aim of the panel, called the Joint Authorities Technical Review, was to expedite getting the 737 Max into the air by creating a vehicle for achieve consensus among foreign regulators who had grounded the 737 Max before the FAA had. But these very regulators had also made clear they needed to be satisfied before they'd let it fly in their airspace.

The JATR gave them a venue for reaching a consensus, but it wasn't the consensus the FAA sought. The foreign regulators, despite being given a forum in which to hash things out with the FAA, are not following the FAA's timetable. The FAA hopes to give the 737 Max the green light in November, while the other regulators all have said they have issues that are unlikely to be resolved by then. The agency is now in the awkward position of having a body it set up to be authoritative turn on the agency's own procedures.

The Seattle Times, which has broken many important on the Boeing debacle, reported on how the FAA had moved further and further down the path of relying on aircraft manufactures for critical elements of certification. Not all of this was the result of capture; with the evolution of technology, even the sharpest and best intended engineer in government employ would become stale on the state of the art in a few years.

However, one of the critical decisions the FAA took was to change the reporting lines of the manufacturer employees who were assigned to FAA certification. From a May post :

Although all stories paint a broadly similar picture, .the most damning is a detailed piece at the Seattle Times, Engineers say Boeing pushed to limit safety testing in race to certify planes, including 737 MAX ..The article gives an incriminating account of how Boeing got the FAA to delegate more and more certification authority to the airline, and then pressured and abused employees who refused to back down on safety issues .

As the Seattle Times described, the problems extended beyond the 737 Max MCAS software shortcomings; indeed, none of the incidents in the story relate to it.

In 2004, the FAA changed its system for front-line supervision of airline certification from having the FAA select airline certification employees who reported directly to the FAA to having airline employees responsible for FAA certification report to airline management and have their reports filtered through them (the FAA attempted to maintain that the certification employees could provide their recommendations directly to the agency, but the Seattle Times obtained policy manuals that stated otherwise).

Mind you, the Seattle Times was not alone in depicting the FAA as captured by Boeing. On Monday, the Post and Courier reported about the South Carolina plant that produced 787s found with tools rattling inside that Boeing SC lets mechanics inspect their own work, leading to repeated mistakes, workers say. These mechanic certifications would never have been kosher if the FAA were vigilant. Similarly, Reuters described how Boeing weakened another safety check, that of pilot input.

One of the objectives for creating this panel was to restore confidence in Boeing and the FAA, but that was always going to be a tall order, particularly after more bad news about various 737 Max systems and Boeing being less than forthcoming with its customers and regulators emerged. From the Wall Street Journal :

As part of roughly a dozen findings, these government and industry officials said, the task force is poised to call out the Federal Aviation Administration for what it describes as a lack of clarity and transparency in the way the FAA delegated authority to the plane maker to assess the safety of certain flight-control features. The upshot, according to some of these people, is that essential design changes didn't receive adequate FAA attention.

The report, these officials said, also is expected to fault the agency for what it describes as inadequate data sharing with foreign authorities during its original certification of the MAX two years ago, along with relying on mistaken industrywide assumptions about how average pilots would react to certain flight-control emergencies .

The FAA has stressed that the advisory group doesn't have veto power over modifications to MCAS.

But the report could influence changes to traditional engineering principles determining the safety of new aircraft models. Certification of software controlling increasingly interconnected and automated onboard systems "is a whole new ballgame requiring new approaches," according to a senior industry safety expert who has discussed the report with regulators on both sides of the Atlantic.

If the FAA thinks it can keep this genie the bottle, it is naive. The foreign regulators represented on the task force, including from China and the EU, have ready access to the international business press. And there will also be an embarrassing fact on the ground, that the FAA, which was last to ground the 737 Max, will be the first to let it fly again, and potentially by not requiring safety protections that other regulators will insist on. For instance, the Journal reports that Canadian authorities expect to require additional simulator training for 737 Max pilots. Recall that Boeing's biggest 737 Max customer, Southwest Airlines, was so resistant to the cost of additional simulator training that it put a penalty clause into its contract if wound up being necessary.

It's a given that the FAA will be unable to regain its former stature and that all of its certifications of major aircraft will now be second guessed subject to further review by major foreign regulators. That in turn will impose costs on Boeing, of changing its certification process from needing to placate only the FAA to having to appease potentially multiple parties. For instance, the EU regulator is poised to raise the bar on the 737 Max:

Patrick Ky, head of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency, told the European Parliament earlier this month, "It's very likely that international authorities will want a second opinion" on any FAA decision to lift the grounding.

Even after EASA gives the green light, agency officials are expected to push for significant additional safety enhancements to the fleet. Most prominently, EASA has proposed to eventually add to the MAX a third fully functional angle-of-attack sensor -- which effectively measures how far the plane's nose is pointed up or down -- underscoring the controversy expected to swirl around the plane for the foreseeable future.

A monopoly is a precious thing to have. Too bad Boeing failed to appreciate that in its zeal for profits. If the manufacturer winds up facing different demands in different regulatory markets, it will have created more complexity for itself. Can it afford not to manufacture to the highest common denominator, say by making an FAA-only approved bird for Southwest and trying to talk American into buying FAA-only approved versions for domestic use only? It's hard to see how Boeing hasn't gotten itself in the position of being at a major competitive disadvantage by virtue of having compromised the FAA so severely as to have undercut safety.


kimyo , September 17, 2019 at 4:42 am

Boeing Foresees Return Of The 737 MAX In November – But Not Everywhere

Even if Boeing finds solutions that international regulators can finally accept, their implementation will take additional months. The AoA sensor and trim wheel issues will likely require hardware changes to the 600 or so existing MAX airplanes. The demand for simulator training will further delay the ungrounding of the plane. There are only some two dozen 737 MAX simulators in this world and thousands of pilots who will need to pass through them.

has Boeing developed a plan to correct the trim wheel issue on the 787max? i haven't seen a single statement from them on how they plan to fix this problem. is it possible they think they can get the faa to re-certify without addressing it?

marku52 , September 17, 2019 at 1:35 pm

Don't forget that the smaller trim wheels are in the NG as well. any change to fix the wheels ripples across more planes than just the Max

divadab , September 17, 2019 at 8:36 am

The self-inflicted wound caused by systematic greed and arrogance – corruption, in other words. Boeing is reaping the wages of taking 100% of their profits to support the stock price through stock buybacks and deliberately under-investing in their business. Their brains have been taken over by a parasitic financial system that profits by wrecking healthy businesses.

It's not only Boeing – the rot is general and it is terrible to see the destruction of American productive capacity by a parasitic finance sector.

Dirk77 , September 17, 2019 at 9:12 am

+1

Shareholder Value is indeed the worst idea in the world. That Boeing's biggest stockholder, Vanguard, is unable to cleanup Boeing's operations makes perfect sense. I mean vanguards expertise is making money, not building anything. Those skills are completely different.

Noel Nospamington , September 17, 2019 at 10:41 am

Shareholder value does what it intended to do, which is to maximise stock value in the short term, even if it significantly cuts value in the long term.

By that measure allowing Boeing to take over the FAA and self-certify the 737-MAX was a big success, because of short term maximization of stock value that resulted. It is now someone else's problem regarding any long term harm.

Dirk77 , September 17, 2019 at 8:59 am

Having worked at Boeing and the FAA, this report is very welcome. One thing: federal hiring practices in a way lock out good people from working there. Very often the fed managing some project has only a tenuous grasp is what is going on.

But has the job bc they were hired in young and cheap, which is what agencies do with reduced budgets. That and job postings very often stating that they are open only to current feds says it all.

So deferring to the airline to "self-certify" would be a welcome relief to feds in many cases. At this point, I doubt the number of their "sharpest and best intended" engineers is very high.

If you want better oversight, then increase the number and quality of feds by making it easier to hire, and decrease the number of contractors.

Arthur Dent , September 17, 2019 at 10:54 am

I deal with federal and state regulators (not airplane) all the time. Very well meaning people, but in many cases are utterly unqualified to do the technical work. So it works well when they stick to the policy issues and stay out of the technical details.

However, we have Professional Engineers and other licensed professionals signing off on the engineering documents per state law. You can look at the design documents and the construction certification and there is a name and stamp of the responsible individual.

The licensing laws clearly state that the purpose of licensing is to hold public health and safety paramount. This is completely missing in the American industrial sector due to the industrial exemptions in the professional engineering licensing laws. Ultimately, there is nobody technically responsible for a plane or a car who has to certify that they are making the public safe and healthy.

Instead, the FAA and others do that. Federal agencies and the insurance institute test cars and give safety ratings. Lawyers sue companies for defects which also helps enforce safety.

Harry , September 17, 2019 at 1:44 pm

But how can individuals take responsibility? Their pockets arn't deep enough,.

XXYY , September 17, 2019 at 2:57 pm

One maxim we see illustrated here and elsewhere is this: Trust takes years to earn, but can be lost overnight.

Boeing management and the FAA, having lost the trust of most people in the world through their actions lately, seem to nevertheless think it will be a simple matter to return to the former status quo. It seems as likely, or perhaps more likely, that they will never be able to return to the former status quo. They have been revealed as poseurs and imposters, cheerfully risking (and sometimes losing) their customers' lives so they can buy back more stock.

This image will be (rightfully) hard for them to shake.

notabanker , September 17, 2019 at 9:24 pm

So people are going to quit their jobs rather than fly on Boeing planes? Joe and Marge Six-Pack are going to choose flights not based on what they can afford but based on what make of plane they are flying on? As if the airlines will even tell them in advance?

There are close to zero consequences to Boeing and FAA management. Click on the link to the Purdue Sacklers debacle. The biggest inconvenience will be paying the lawyers.

Tomonthebeach , September 17, 2019 at 11:29 am

FAA & Boeing: It's deja vu all over again.

From 1992 to 1999 I worked for the FAA running one of their labs in OKC. My role, among other things, was to provide data to the Administrator on employee attitudes, business practice changes, and policy impact on morale and safety. Back then, likely as now, it was a common complaint heard from FAA execs about the conflict of interest of having to be both an aviation safety regulatory agency and having to promote aviation. Congress seemed fine with that – apparently still is. There is FAA pork in nearly every Congressional district (think airports for example). Boeing is the latest example of how mission conflict is not serving the aviation industry or public safety. With its headquarters within walking distance of Capitol Hill, aviation lobbyists do not even get much exercise shuttling.

The 1996 Valuejet crash into the Florida swamps shows how far back the mission conflict problem has persisted. Valuejet was a startup airline that was touted as more profitable than all the others. It achieved that notoriety by flying through every FAA maintenance loophole they could find to cut maintenance costs. When FAA started clamping down, Senate Majority Leader Daschle scolded FAA for not being on the cutting edge of industry innovation. The message was clear – leave Valuejet alone. That was a hard message to ignore given that Daschle's wife Linda was serving as Deputy FAA Administrator (the #2 position) – a clear conflict of interest with the role of her spouse – a fact not lost on Administrator Hinson (the #1 position). Rather than use the disaster as an opportunity to revisit FAA mission conflict, Clinton tossed Administrator Hinson into the volcano of public outcry and put Daschle in charge. Nothing happened then, and it looks like Boeing might follow Valuejet into the aviation graveyard.

Kevin , September 17, 2019 at 12:34 pm

Boeing subsidies:

Mike , September 17, 2019 at 3:22 pm

Nothin' like regulatory capture. Along with financialized manufacturing, the cheap & profitable will outdo the costly careful every time. Few businesses are run today with the moral outlook of some early industrialists (not enough of them, but still present) who, through zany Protestant guilt, cared for their reputations enough to not make murderous product, knowing how the results would play both here and in Heaven. Today we have PR and government propaganda to smear the doubters, free the toxic, and let loose toxins.

From food to clothing, drugs to hospitals, self-propelled skateboards to aircraft, pesticides to pollution, even services as day care & education, it is time to call the minions of manufactured madness to account. Dare we say "Free government from Murder Inc."?

VietnamVet , September 17, 2019 at 3:57 pm

This is an excellent summary of the untenable situation that Boeing and the Federal Government have gotten themselves into. In their rush to get richer the Elite ignored the fact that monopolies and regulatory capture are always dangerously corrupt. This is not an isolated case. FDA allows importation of uninspected stock pharmaceutical chemicals from China. Insulin is unaffordable for the lower classes. Diseases are spreading through homeless encampments. EPA approved new uses of environmentally toxic nicotinoid insecticide, sulfoxaflor. DOD sold hundreds of billions of dollars of armaments to Saudi Arabia that were useless to protect the oil supply.

The Powers-that-be thought that they would be a hegemon forever. But, Joe Biden's green light for the Ukraine Army's attack against breakaway Donbass region on Russia's border restarted the Cold War allying Russia with China and Iran. This is a multi-polar world again. Brexit and Donald Trump's Presidency are the Empire's death throes.

RBHoughton , September 17, 2019 at 8:40 pm

NC readers know what the problem is as two comments above indicate clearly. Isn't the FAA ashamed to keep conniving with the money and permitting dangerous planes to fly?

Boeing just got a WTO ruling against Airbus. It seems that one rogue produces others. Time to clean the stable and remove the money addiction from safety regulation

The Rev Kev , September 17, 2019 at 11:26 pm

I think that I can see an interesting situation developing next year. So people will be boarding a plane, say with Southwest Airlines, when they will hear the following announcement over the speakers-

"Ladies and gentlemen, this is your Captain speaking. On behalf of myself and the entire crew, welcome aboard Southwest Airlines flight WN 861, non-stop service from Houston to New York. Our flight time will be of 4 hours and 30 minutes. We will be flying at an altitude of 35,000 feet at a ground speed of approximately 590 miles per hour.

We are pleased to announce that you have now boarded the first Boeing 737 MAX that has been cleared to once again fly by the FAA as being completely safe. For those passengers flying on to any other country, we regret to announce that you will have to change planes at New York as no other country in the world has cleared this plane as being safe to fly in their airspace and insurance companies there are unwilling to issue insurance cover for them in any case.

So please sit back and enjoy your trip with us. Cabin Crew, please bolt the cabin doors and prepare for gate departure."

Arizona Slim , September 18, 2019 at 6:32 am

And then there's this -- Southwest is rethinking its 737 strategy:

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

[Sep 18, 2019] MoA - 14,000 Words Of Blame The Pilots That Whitewash Boeing Of 737 MAX Failure

Notable quotes:
"... Boeing screwed up by designing and installing a faulty systems that was unsafe. It did not even tell the pilots that MCAS existed. It still insists that the system's failure should not be trained in simulator type training. Boeing's failure and the FAA's negligence, not the pilots, caused two major accidents. ..."
"... Moon of Alabama ..."
"... Does the author of the NYT Magazine 'hit' piece have a conscience? He reminds me of every politician that voted to go to war in Iraq. Casualties? Oh! You mean collateral damage? Millions! That's acceptable. No problem. ..."
"... engineering used to be a discipline with ethics and responsibilities... But now anybody who could write two lines of code can call themselves a software engineer.... ..."
"... My opinion: EASA will fold and the 737 MAX will be ungrounded in Europe by January 2020. ..."
"... The NYT is the newspaper for the Democratic side of the Wall Street elite ..."
"... For any foreign certification authority, it is quite risky to recertify the 737MAX. It is politically doable only if it can claim that the European authority did it also. Therefore, if Europe does not fold but counter-attacks, on one hand Airbus may lose the American market, but on the other hand it may gain kind of a monopoly for most of the remaining global market. ..."
"... The US's ability to financially sustain this business on a global scale is faltering and will likely collapse along with US$ fiat. Others in Europe and China might pick up some of the slack but the era of $700 all inclusive vacations is slowly coming to an end. All things 'middle' are now deemed unsustainable. ..."
"... Ironically Boeing has put itself in this position. By aggressively accusing pilot error they have made pilot behaviour a headline factor in these crashes. But if pilot behaviour was due to a faulty Flight Control Computer then Boeing is doubly at fault here ..."
"... The 737 Max pilots didn't have a chance. Four experienced pilots with knowledge of MACS system in the simulators had four seconds to do the right thing. ..."
"... The question is: Given more time, with no misleading warnings, knowledge, and simulator training to acquire muscle memory, can regular airline pilots recover control in case of sensor failure and/or with the changed flight characteristics of the Max. ..."
Sep 18, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Joetv , Sep 18 2019 17:14 utc | 4

Langewiesche describes an earlier Lion Air flight that also experienced an MCAS failure but was by chance saved:
Immediately after liftoff, the captain's airspeed indication failed, airspeed-disagreement and altitude-disagreement warnings appeared on his flight display and his stick shaker began to rattle the controls in warning of an imminent stall.

The Bali captain was enough of an airman to realize that he was dealing with an information failure only -- not an actual stall. No direct mention has been made of this, but he must have immediately identified the replacement angle-of-attack vane on his side as the likely culprit.

Wrong. How would the pilot know that? The pilot noticed intermitted automatic down trim. That failure mode was not in the flight manuals and pilot had no way to attribute it to an AoA sensor. The claim is also contradicted by the pilot's maintenance log entry:

After pulling up to the gate in Jakarta, the Bali captain informed a company mechanic about "the aircraft problem" and in the maintenance log noted only three anomalies -- the captain's airspeed and altitude indication errors and the illumination of a warning light related to a system known as Feel Differential Pressure. That was it. Apparently the captain noted nothing about the failure of the newly installed angle-of-attack sensor , or the activation of the stick shaker, or the runaway trim, or the current position of the trim cutout switches. If true, it was hard to conclude anything other than that this was severe and grotesque negligence.

The captain noted nothing about the AoA sensor because he did not know that it failed.

The captian did mention a trim problem but he had not experienced a runaway trim. A classic runaway trim is continuously. An MCAS intervention like the captain experienced discontinues after 9 seconds. But the pilots on that flight did not even know that MCAS existed. The captain reported all the basic symptoms he experienced during that flight. A runaway was not one of them.

Langewiesche fails to mention, probably intentionally, the captain's additional entry in the maintenance log. The captain wrote :

"Airspeed unreliable and ALT disagree shown after takeoff, STS also running to the wrong direction ...".

STS, the Speed Trim System, moves the stabilizer trim. It does that all the time but discontinuously during every normal flight. The pilot correctly described the symptoms of the incident as he perceived them. Those were not the symptoms of a continuously runaway stabilizer. But the pilot knew, and documented, that he experienced an intermitted trim problem. It was the mechanics responsibility to analyze the underlying error and to correct the system which is exactly what he did.

The author's "blame the pilots" attitude is well expressed in this paragraph:

Critics have since loudly blamed it for the difficulty in countering the MCAS when the system receives false indications of a stall. But the truth is that the MCAS is easy to counter -- just flip the famous switches to kill it. Furthermore, when you have a maintenance log that shows the replacement of an angle-of-attack sensor two days before and then you have an associated stick shaker rattling away while the other stick shaker remains quiet, you do not need an idiot light to tell you what is going on. At any rate, the recognition of an angle-of-attack disagreement -- however pilots do or do not come to it -- has no bearing on this accident, so we will move on.

An AoA sensor failure and a following MCAS incident will cause all of the following: an unexpected autopilot shutdown, an airspeed warning, an attitude disagree warning, a stall warning and, after MCAS intervenes, also an over-speed warning. The control column rattles, a loud clacker goes off, several lights blink or go red, several flight instruments suddenly show crazy values. All this in a critical flight phase immediately after the start when the workload is already high.

It is this multitude of warnings, which each can have multiple causes, that startle a pilot and make it impossible to diagnose and correct within the 10 seconds that MCAS runs. To claim that "MCAS is easy to counter" is a gross misjudgment of a pilot's workload in such a critical situation.

After blaming the pilots Langewiesche bashes the foreign air safety regulators which are now investigating the MAX accidents:

According to sources familiar with both investigations, Boeing and the N.T.S.B. have been largely excluded and denied access to such basic evidence as the complete flight-data recordings and the audio from the cockpit.
...
It is a forlorn hope, but you might wish that investigators like those in Indonesia and Ethiopia would someday have the self-confidence to pursue full and transparent investigations and release all the raw data associated with the accidents.

I am not aware of an accident in the U.S. where the FAA investigators released "complete flight-data recordings and the audio from the cockpit" to foreign entities that were suspected to have caused the incident. Nor will the FAA "release all the raw data" associated with an accident. Certainly not before an investigation is finished.

Boeing screwed up by designing and installing a faulty systems that was unsafe. It did not even tell the pilots that MCAS existed. It still insists that the system's failure should not be trained in simulator type training. Boeing's failure and the FAA's negligence, not the pilots, caused two major accidents.

Nearly a year after the first incident Boeing has still not presented a solution that the FAA would accept. Meanwhile more safety critical issues on the 737 MAX were found for which Boeing has still not provided any acceptable solution.

But to Langewiesche this anyway all irrelevant. He closes his piece out with more "blame the pilots" whitewash of "poor Boeing":

The 737 Max remains grounded under impossibly close scrutiny, and any suggestion that this might be an overreaction, or that ulterior motives might be at play, or that the Indonesian and Ethiopian investigations might be inadequate, is dismissed summarily. To top it off, while the technical fixes to the MCAS have been accomplished, other barely related imperfections have been discovered and added to the airplane's woes. All signs are that the reintroduction of the 737 Max will be exceedingly difficult because of political and bureaucratic obstacles that are formidable and widespread. Who in a position of authority will say to the public that the airplane is safe?

I would if I were in such a position. What we had in the two downed airplanes was a textbook failure of airmanship . In broad daylight, these pilots couldn't decipher a variant of a simple runaway trim, and they ended up flying too fast at low altitude, neglecting to throttle back and leading their passengers over an aerodynamic edge into oblivion. They were the deciding factor here -- not the MCAS, not the Max.

One wonders how much Boeing paid the author to assemble his screed.

--- ---
Previous Moon of Alabama posts on Boeing 737 MAX issues:

Does the author of the NYT Magazine 'hit' piece have a conscience? He reminds me of every politician that voted to go to war in Iraq. Casualties? Oh! You mean collateral damage? Millions! That's acceptable. No problem.


foolisholdman , Sep 18 2019 17:14 utc | 5

14,000 Words Of "Blame The Pilots" That Whitewash Boeing Of 737 MAX Failure
The New York Times

No doubt, this WAS intended as a whitewash of Boeing, but having read the 14,000 words, I don't think it qualifies as more than a somewhat greywash. It is true he blames the pilots for mishandling a situation that could, perhaps, have been better handled, but Boeing still comes out of it pretty badly and so does the NTSB. The other thing I took away from the article is that Airbus planes are, in principle, & by design, more failsafe/idiot-proof.

William Herschel , Sep 18 2019 17:18 utc | 6
Key words: New York Times Magazine. I think when your body is for sale you are called a whore. Trump's almost hysterical bashing of the NYT is enough to make anyone like the paper, but at its core it is a mouthpiece for the military industrial complex. Cf. Judith Miller.
BM , Sep 18 2019 17:23 utc | 7
The New York Times Magazine just published a 14,000 words piece

An ill-disguised attempt to prepare the ground for premature approval for the 737max. It won't succeed - impossible. Opposition will come from too many directions. The blowback from this article will make Boeing regret it very soon, I am quite sure.

foolisholdman , Sep 18 2019 17:23 utc | 8
Come to think about it: (apart from the MCAS) what sort of crap design is it, if an absolutely vital control, which the elevator is, can become impossibly stiff under just those conditions where you absolutely have to be able to move it quickly?
A.L. , Sep 18 2019 17:27 utc | 9
This NYT article is great.

It will only highlight the hubris of "my sh1t doesn't stink" mentality of the American elite and increase the resolve of other civil aviation authorities with a backbone (or in ascendancy) to put Boeing through the wringer.

For the longest time FAA was the gold standard and years of "Air Crash Investigation" TV shows solidified its place but has been taken for granted. Unitl now if it's good enough for the FAA it's good enough for all.

That reputation has now been irreparably damaged over this sh1tshow. I can't help but think this NYT article is only meant for domestic sheeple or stock brokers' consumption as anyone who is going to have anything technical to do with this investigation is going to see right through this load literal diarroeh.

I wouldn't be surprised if some insider wants to offload some stock and planted this story ahead of some 737MAX return-to-service timetable announcement to get an uplift. Someone needs to track the SEC forms 3 4 and 5. But there are also many ways to skirt insider reporting requirements. As usual, rules are only meant for the rest of us.

jayc , Sep 18 2019 17:38 utc | 10
An appalling indifference to life/lives has been a signature feature of the American experience.
psychohistorian , Sep 18 2019 17:40 utc | 11
Thanks for the ongoing reporting of this debacle b....you are saving peoples lives

@ A.L who wrote
"
I wouldn't be surprised if some insider wants to offload some stock and planted this story ahead of some 737MAX return-to-service timetable announcement to get an uplift. Someone needs to track the SEC forms 3 4 and 5. But there are also many ways to skirt insider reporting requirements. As usual, rules are only meant for the rest of us.
"
I agree but would pluralize your "insider" to "insiders". This SOP gut and run financialization strategy is just like we are seeing with Purdue Pharma that just filed bankruptcy because their opioids have killed so many....the owners will never see jail time and their profits are protected by the God of Mammon legal system.

Hopefully the WWIII we are engaged in about public/private finance will put an end to this perfidy by the God of Mammon/private finance cult of the Western form of social organization.

b , Sep 18 2019 17:46 utc | 14
Peter Lemme, the satcom guru , was once an engineer at Boeing. He testified over technical MAX issue before Congress and wrote lot of technical details about it. He retweeted the NYT Mag piece with this comment :
Peter Lemme @Satcom_Guru

Blame the pilots.
Blame the training.
Blame the airline standards.
Imply rampant corruption at all levels.
Claim Airbus flight envelope protection is superior to Boeing.
Fumble the technical details.
Stack the quotes with lots of hearsay to drive the theme.
Ignore everything else

Masher1 , Sep 18 2019 17:49 utc | 15
The CRIMINALITY of the FAA will have to be SERIOUSLY dealt with if air travel is going to survive.
Peter C , Sep 18 2019 18:28 utc | 18
@ jayc #10

Indeed, I was put in mind of the Ford Pinto affair where internal documents highlighted the risk of filling the passenger space with burning petrol in the event of a rear end crash involving that car and recommended repositioning the fuel tank. It was decided on the basis of cost which was an additional $11 per car and the remote likelihood of there being any survivors to sue not to do anything. Unfortunately for them a thirteen year old Richard Grimshaw did survive such an event. The jury was outraged enough to add $125,000,000 in punitive damages to the settlement, not unexpectedly later reduced to $3.5,000,000.

https://users.wfu.edu/palmitar/Law&Valuation/Papers/1999/Leggett-pinto.html

Jose , Sep 18 2019 19:30 utc | 26
A former Boeing official who was subpoeaned to testify about his role in the development of the 737 Max has refused to provide documents sought by federal prosecutors, according to the Seattle Times, citing his Fifth Amendment right against forcible self-incrimination.

Mark Forkner who was Boeing's chief technical pilot on the 737 Max project during the development of the plane, was responding to a grand jury subpoena. The US Justice Department is investigating two fatal crashes of the Boeing jet, and is looking into the design and certification of the plane, according to a person familiar with the matter cited by the Seattle Times.

The Fifth Amendment provides a legal right that can be invoked by a person in order to avoid testifying under oath. Because the amendment is used to avoid being put in a situation where one would have to testify about something that would be self-incriminating, it can sometimes be seen by outsiders as an implicit admission of guilt, although that is not always the case.

It is less common to invoke the Fifth to resist a subpoena for documents or evidence. According to legal experts, its use by Forkner could simply suggest a legal manuever between Boeing's attorneys and prosecutors.

https://www.businessinsider.nl/subpoenaed-boeing-documents-fifth-amendment-2019-9

David G , Sep 18 2019 19:41 utc | 30
Langewiesche wrote an article for Vanity Fair magazine back in 2014 about the loss of Air France 447 that also was themed on whether today's lousy pilots just aren't good enough for today's magnificent airliners.

https://www.vanityfair.com/news/business/2014/10/air-france-flight-447-crash

I thought, and still think, it was an excellent (and disturbing) article, but possibly Langewiesche is so enamored of that theme, it is blinding him to Boeing's numerous screwups in designing the Max.

A.L. , Sep 18 2019 19:56 utc | 31
@30 David G

perhaps, just like proponents of AI and self driving cars. They just love the technology, financially and emotionally invested in it so much they can't see the forest from the trees.

I like technology, I studied engineering. But the myopic drive to profitability and naivety to unintended consequences are pushing these tech out into the world before they are ready.

engineering used to be a discipline with ethics and responsibilities... But now anybody who could write two lines of code can call themselves a software engineer....

vk , Sep 18 2019 20:31 utc | 37
If the 737 MAX isn't ungrounded until December 2019, expect Airbus to be sanctioned by the USG:

My opinion: EASA will fold and the 737 MAX will be ungrounded in Europe by January 2020. China, however, is a completely different beast: it is socialist and have created, in 2015, its first domestically produced passenger jet .

Jay , Sep 18 2019 21:25 utc | 43
Consider the "reporter's" CV: Vanity Fair is largely navel gazing by the upper middle class and the very well off. And the Atlantic hasn't published anything challenging in more than 30 years--and it's worsened over the last 20.

Of course this guy was the goto airplane "reporter" for the NYT Mag.

And yes, it's laughable that the NY Times Mag published this. As if an error reading in one sensor sending an automobile off a cliff, or under a truck in the case of Tesla, would be acceptable in any instance.

Delta Gee Whiz , Sep 18 2019 21:43 utc | 44
What does it really matter?" Boeing is just a symptom of the Terminal Illness of the US of A. There are dozens and dozens maybe hundreds and hundreds more. The last 30 years of my life and I am going to be 67 soon I have personally witnessed the destruction of science and technology in the US. What was a great accomplishment for the Nation as a whole and despite the fact that most people had no involvement in or knowledge of what was accomplished and what a great system had been created, has been destroyed by the same sick Fucks that have destroyed the American Middle Class and American Economy and American Culture. Just the land of the greedy pig and the ass licking dumb ass inbred CEO and CEO wannabees... Its not easy to destroy an entire culture but they have done it and are proud of it too...
lysias , Sep 18 2019 21:48 utc | 45
The NYT is the newspaper for the Democratic side of the Wall Street elite .
Parisian Guy , Sep 18 2019 22:13 utc | 47
@ vk | Sep 18 2019 20:31 utc | 37

Yes, the tariff against Airbus is likely a tool for pressuring the European certification authority. Nevertheless my prediction is opposite to yours:

For any foreign certification authority, it is quite risky to recertify the 737MAX. It is politically doable only if it can claim that the European authority did it also. Therefore, if Europe does not fold but counter-attacks, on one hand Airbus may lose the American market, but on the other hand it may gain kind of a monopoly for most of the remaining global market.

Don Bacon , Sep 18 2019 22:32 utc | 49
There's a pattern to this blame game. In this 2014 Vanity Fair article The Human Factor Langewiesche devotes hundreds of words, more than I ever wanted to know (scroll down), about pilots and how they have evolved, as automation (artificial intelligence) has taken over the cockpits. The 2009 crash of Air France Flight 447 killed 228 people and the pilots "were hideously incompetent" Langewiesche wrote in this article, which also includes some sociological factors.
james , Sep 18 2019 22:33 utc | 50
@41 jay... that is true, but this is one of the main fronts that the private banks used to secure there own position - thru gse's... everyone knew it was happening and the authorities never cracked down on any of it... thus the resultant stock price... they didn't come shooting back like citicorp and etc. etc.. there is a reason for that.. the public was on the hook for these gse's.. the taxpayer gets all the downside and none of the upside.. they will circle the wagons over boeing as well... guaranteed...
Fixer , Sep 18 2019 22:35 utc | 51
Focussing on Boeing is fine but misses the point.

Air travel and the essentially indistinguishable Military Industrial Complex are the most heavily subsidized 'industries' in existence. They would not and could not function without government largesse.

The US's ability to financially sustain this business on a global scale is faltering and will likely collapse along with US$ fiat. Others in Europe and China might pick up some of the slack but the era of $700 all inclusive vacations is slowly coming to an end. All things 'middle' are now deemed unsustainable.

Others have their eyes on the money pie, including for pensions and basic social services. Google for example, which wants to keep extending it's massively expensive infrastructure for spying plus build a centrally controlled system of self driving sardine tins, for which Boeing is an important competitor, moneywise and especially in terms of the technical talent required to both build and sustain it.

The mass transport of people via large aircraft is coming to an end. So too is mass movement in privately owned cars. Globalists have private jets for themselves and could care less about how peons get around, except insofar as everyone can be perfectly controlled. Toll roads and possibly even digitally controlled sidewalks/ gates will soon price convenient mobility, and also freedom of movement, completely out of reach for a rapidly dissapearing middle class.

All is by design. The Globularchs are making a prison planet and feudal technocracy for all those who lack sufficient social status. The takedown of Boeing is part of a process by which the rest of us are irrevocably enslaved. First they build a problem in the public mind via media then later they offer their solutions. A thousand year feudal Reich is what they have planned for us and unless we learn to distinguish between the easily fixable problems faced by Boeing or GM and the phoney plotlines fostered by Globalists we will have no one to blame when those below the Ubermenchen class can't travel more than 5 kilometers from their domiciles for the entirety of their lives.

vk , Sep 18 2019 22:52 utc | 52
@ Posted by: Parisian Guy | Sep 18 2019 22:13 utc | 47

You assume 1) the European people is enlightened and 2) Europe is not a capitalist economy.

Of course that, if a trade war involving Airbus and Boeing begin, the whole European MSM will quickly mold the European public opinion so that the European people begin to defend Airbus as if it was defending its own existence.

However, there's the capitalist flank the USA can exploit over Europe. That is, it can unground the 737 MAX in the American market and slap tariffs and fines on Airbus in order to (try to) cripple its market share. Europe is not China, and, as the USA, depends on infinite and indefinite economic growth to survive: even four years is enough to bend European morale in this case, because there would be upper middle class jobs lost in the Peninsula.

Europe is also not the USA: it built a capitalist model that essentially depends on its image and glamour to survive. Its legitimacy essentially rests on the higher life quality of its peoples vis-a-vis the rest of the world (e.g. the propagandization of Scandinavia). If those middle/upper middle class jobs begin to be axed, there will be structural trouble for the European social contract.

Carey , Sep 18 2019 23:04 utc | 53
The author of the NYT piece has written this kind of
muddying-the-waters stuff before:

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1998/03/the-lessons-of-valujet-592/306534/

Jen , Sep 18 2019 23:18 utc | 55
I guess it would be fair to say that William Langewiesche's life experience and background as a pilot and then a writer specialising in aviation stories about the interface of aviation technology and human limitations (physical and psychological) blinds him to the fact that it's not so much human frailty in the two related cases of the Lion Air and the Ethiopian Airlines crashes, as it is the current culture of Boeing itself which prioritises profit over engineering, intentional redundancy built into technology (two Angle of Attack sensors linked to the MCAS would be better than just one, Boeing 737 MAX jets have two AoA sensors but Airbus jets have three AoA sensors, the third in the tail of the jet) and maintaining consistency in quality and standards.

Langewiesche can waffle all he likes about the minutiae of what the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines flight crews should have done or not done but all that wordiness counts for nothing if he had been given information so incomplete and biased in favour in Boeing, that it is nothing more than a pack of lies and he ends up writing propaganda.

Pauli , Sep 18 2019 23:20 utc | 56
The official air crash investigation reports might be coming out soon.

In the immediate aftermath of the crashes it looked like the pilots in both crashes had not responded ideally. Some of their actions, even in teh Eithiopian's flight did not make sense.

It was assumed this was due to pilot error,lack of training, foriegn pilots etc.

I have seen later reports that the reason for the pilots seeming mistakes is going to be put entirely down to malfunctioning sensors and incorrect information and warnings from the flight control computer.

It seems likely the pilots in both crashes will be completely exonerated of any blame . Their actions will be attributed to the malfunctioning sensors and warnings they were receiving.

In both crashes the pilots were overloaded with warnings, and nome of them were erroneous.

In other words, blame in both crashes is going to end up 1000% on Boeing itself. Even in the Lion Air flight.

Due to the MCAS

And their crappy 30 year old Flight Control Computer that could not produce correct information in an emergency due to a highly predictable, even inevitable fault it had no ability to error correct for.

This latter point is what I believe Boeing is trying to hide with its muddying the waters exercise here.

This is absolutely crucial to the 737's future. The MCAS fix is relatively straight forward. Have the ability to turn it off and hand complete control back to the pilots. And prove the 737 is safe to fly with MCAS switched off (which I believe is the case).

As far as most people are concerned if MCAS is safe then the plane is safe. (and the manual trim wheels are usuablez

But I belive the EASA, and the accident investigators have concluded the 737's Flight Control Computer can't be trusted. This is a giant can of worms. Much bigger than even MCAS itself. Re-writing Flight Control Computers will take years.

And remember there are two previous 737 crashes, prior to the MAX, that had somewhat similar profiles to their crashes, that were controversially attributed to pilot error. What if they were also due to faulty information from the 737 Flight Control Computers.

Ironically Boeing has put itself in this position. By aggressively accusing pilot error they have made pilot behaviour a headline factor in these crashes. But if pilot behaviour was due to a faulty Flight Control Computer then Boeing is doubly at fault here

div> @ 33 FAA regulations prohibit flying with a device that has had a battery recall from the manufactuer, which appliesto a limited set of 15" MacBook Pros. In a CYA move some airlines limit all MacBooks.

Posted by: Pyrrho , Sep 18 2019 23:30 utc | 57

@ 33 FAA regulations prohibit flying with a device that has had a battery recall from the manufactuer, which appliesto a limited set of 15" MacBook Pros. In a CYA move some airlines limit all MacBooks.

Posted by: Pyrrho | Sep 18 2019 23:30 utc | 57

Pyrrho , Sep 18 2019 23:30 utc | 57 David G , Sep 18 2019 23:43 utc | 58
@49 Don Bacon:

But was Langewiesche wrong about AF447?

All that happened on that plane mechanically was a brief loss of valid airspeed indication, which corrected itself after a few seconds. That was it: nothing else wrong with that aircraft, cruising safely at its full altitude.

From that insignificant glitch, the pilots (primarily the copilot, with the captain failing to right the situation) managed to fly their airliner into the ocean, through pure panic, incompetence, and confusion.

Langewiesche may have let his confirmation bias lead him to back a loser in the Max, and it's possible he isn't up to mastering the myriad technical details here (the AF447 story is technically straightforward), but the AF447 story makes a disturbingly strong case that a well designed modern airliner can be a lot more trustworthy than the crew flying it.

VietnamVet , Sep 19 2019 0:27 utc | 59
David G @ 58

Like life, the AF447 crash was more complicated. One of the three pilots imputed the wrong data into the flight radar system. So the plane flew into an Atlantic equatorial thunderstorm which it normally would have avoided. The chief pilot was resting in the back. The rookie co-pilot was flying. The speed indicator iced over in the storm, the auto-pilot disengaged dumping control to the rookie. Airbus flight control sidesticks are not interconnected. The 2nd officer did not know that the rookie had panicked in the storm and was pulling back on his stick. The senior pilot had time to make it back to the cockpit but only at the last seconds did he and the second officer realize that the plane at stalled and would not recover.

The 737 Max pilots didn't have a chance. Four experienced pilots with knowledge of MACS system in the simulators had four seconds to do the right thing. One failed. In both crashes the pilots were fighting to save their lives.

The question is: Given more time, with no misleading warnings, knowledge, and simulator training to acquire muscle memory, can regular airline pilots recover control in case of sensor failure and/or with the changed flight characteristics of the Max.

Monopolies ignore designing human computer interfaces that work and that actually increase safety. That costs big bucks.

WinniPuuh , Sep 19 2019 1:21 utc | 60
Very easy solution, tell FAA to unground all the 737MAX and let them fly in the US. You could lease the other 737MAX from all around the world, for probably very interesting conditions. So Boeing also can deliver new planes and anything will be fine again.
I wish GOOD LUCK , the US-Passengers may will need it.

PS: Cancel the code-sharing to avoid problems with other airlines. Let them fly! and enjoy your Popcorn.

Jay , Sep 19 2019 1:43 utc | 61
james:

Right, banks like Deutche Bank and Citi sure used the fact that Fannie and Freddie were buying this crap, the securities, to say "see the sort of US government backed entities are okay with it".

However the other insurance big banks used was credit default swaps, AKA fake insurance. Buy that fake "policy" on a "bond" made up of ill defined garbage, and you then can turn around and sell more of that ill defined garbage.

(Of course, in the real world liability insurance doesn't work that way, buy real insurance, then burn down your neighbor's house, never get liability insurance again.)

And it's largely AIG (backed by Goldman Sachs) that sold those fake "bond" insurance bets.

Unlike ibanks, which can hide crap, definitely still are, it's a bit hard to hide the fact that a major product line is spectacularly crashing to the ground and killing people.

Microsoft tried to pretend that its major product line, Windows, didn't have disastrous crashes for at least 10 years. These lies have a great deal to do with the revival of Apple and the emergence of Google and Android.

There was even a major flaw in the Sept 2019 Patch Tuesday release for Windows 7--the OS became unusable. However I don't think Microsoft is going anywhere.

[Sep 12, 2019] Boeing Foresees Return Of The 737 MAX In November - But Not Everywhere

Boeing's travails show what's wrong with modern capitalism. Deregulation means a company once run by engineers is now in the thrall of financiers and its stock remains high even as its planes fall from the sky
Notable quotes:
"... The Muilenburg statement followed a September 3 presentation (pdf) by the chief of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) Patrick Ky for the European parliament. It documents how EASA early on told the FAA and Boeing what it would do before allowing the plane back into the air. ..."
"... The most important statement in the above is that EASA will not rely on the FAA's judgment of the 737 MAX flight safety but make its own one. This is the consequence of the FAA's delegation of certification authority to Boeing and its very late grounding of the plane. ..."
"... EASA tasked 20 of its experts, test pilots and engineers with the review of the 737 MAX. They evaluated 70 test points and in June and July performed simulator test flights. Significant technical issues were found and communicated to Boeing in early July . Solving these issues is a condition for the plane's re-certification ..."
"... Friction between Boeing Co. and international air-safety authorities threatens a new delay in bringing the grounded 737 MAX fleet back into service, according to government and pilot union officials briefed on the matter. ..."
"... EASA will have its own pilots doing the certification flights on the revamped 737 MAX. They will test it with the modified MCAS as well as without it. They will also test the other points EASA listed. ..."
Sep 12, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

The Boeing 737 MAX was expected to be flying again in October. Yesterday Boeing's CEO Dennis Muilenburg pushed that date to November :

Boeing chairman and chief executive Dennis Muilenburg on Wednesday reiterated his projection that, despite concerns publicly expressed by Europe's air safety regulator, the 737 MAX should begin to return to service around November.

This is unlikely to be the last change of the date. Muilenburg had additional bad news:

However, he conceded that lack of alignment among international regulatory bodies could mean that the grounded jet may first resume flying in the United States, with other major countries following later.

"We're making good, solid progress on a return to service," Muilenburg said, speaking at a Morgan Stanley investor conference in Laguna Beach, Calif. He later added that " a phased ungrounding of the airplane among regulators around the world is a possibility."

The "phased ungrounding" means that the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration would certify the plane as being safe while other regulators would still not do so. U.S. passengers would be asked to fly on a plane that the rest of the world would still consider too unsafe to fly. 737 MAX flights from the U.S. to other countries would still be grounded as would the by far largest part of the total fleet in Europe and China.

It is doubtful that insurance providers, U.S. airlines, their passengers and their pilots would welcome such a "phased" move. It is an extremely risky behavior. Any accident during that time, no matter for what reason, would bring the affected airline, Boeing and the FAA into even deeper trouble.

It is likely that Boeing and the FAA would like to blame the foreign regulators for making late or unreasonable demands. But the history of the two deadly 737 MAX accidents and the development since prove that only Boeing and the FAA are to blame for this.

The Muilenburg statement followed a September 3 presentation (pdf) by the chief of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) Patrick Ky for the European parliament. It documents how EASA early on told the FAA and Boeing what it would do before allowing the plane back into the air.


bigger

On April 1 EASA set 4 conditions:

  1. Design changes proposed by Boeing are EASA approved ( no delegation to FAA )
  2. Additional and broader independent design review has been satisfactorily completed by EASA
  3. Accidents of JT610 and ET302 are deemed sufficiently understood
  4. B737 MAX flight crews have been adequately trained

The most important statement in the above is that EASA will not rely on the FAA's judgment of the 737 MAX flight safety but make its own one. This is the consequence of the FAA's delegation of certification authority to Boeing and its very late grounding of the plane.

Ky openly blamed the FAA for giving too much authority to Boeing:

"Yes, there was a problem in this notion of delegation by the FAA of the MCAS safety assessment to Boeing," Ky told the EU Parliament committee.

"This would not happen in our system," he insisted. "Everything which is safety-critical, everything which is innovative has to be seen by us and not delegated."

EASA tasked 20 of its experts, test pilots and engineers with the review of the 737 MAX. They evaluated 70 test points and in June and July performed simulator test flights. Significant technical issues were found and communicated to Boeing in early July . Solving these issues is a condition for the plane's re-certification :


bigger

These are:

Boeing was expected to provide solutions for each of these issues.

But in a August 2019 meeting of international regulators Boeing failed to present them:

Friction between Boeing Co. and international air-safety authorities threatens a new delay in bringing the grounded 737 MAX fleet back into service, according to government and pilot union officials briefed on the matter.

The latest complication in the long-running saga, these officials said, stems from a Boeing briefing in August that was cut short by regulators from the U.S., Europe, Brazil and elsewhere, who complained that the plane maker had failed to provide technical details and answer specific questions about modifications in the operation of MAX flight-control computers.

As a consequence of Boeing's unwillingness EASA went public with its demands by putting them into the above presentation. Even under political pressure there is no way EASA can now go back on them.

EASA will have its own pilots doing the certification flights on the revamped 737 MAX. They will test it with the modified MCAS as well as without it. They will also test the other points EASA listed.

The flight safety regulators do not provide technical solutions for the problems they find. They only tell Boeing to provide and implement designs that satisfies a regulator's demands. If any of the points above is not satisfactory solved EASA will not allow the 737 MAX to fly in Europe. Other regulators like the Chinese CAAC will likely follow EASA on the issue but may also add additional points. Some 80% of Boeing's single aisle planes are sold into foreign markets. These will not be allowed to fly until the EASA's and others' demands are satisfied.

Boeing has so far provided a solution for the Flight Control Computer problems. It has yet to improve the confusing alarms, crew procedures and the associated training. Boeing does not want mandatory simulator training for new 737 MAX pilots and the FAA seems to agree with it on that point. But Canada already said that it will demand such training and EASA and others are likely to do the same. Boeing has given no appropriate response for the Angle of Attack integrity issues. EASA wants a third AoA sensor or an equivalent technical solution. The manual trim wheel problem , which also applies to the older 737 NG type, is also still an open issue.

Muilenberg does not seem to understand (pdf) that Boeing has to do more about these issues than 'answer questions':

Rajeev Lalwani Analyst, Morgan Stanley & Co. LLCQ
... we've all seen the added sensor chatter. So we'd love for you to clarify what is and isn't accurate.

Dennis A. Muilenburg Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer, The Boeing Co

[...] we're going to respect individual questions from different regulators and EASA has brought up some questions and that we're working our way through. I wouldn't see those as divisive. I just think those are questions that we need to answer as part of the process. And questions around things like angle of attack, system design. Recognize that our architecture on Boeing airplanes is different than Airbus airplanes. And that's always been a topic of discussion; that doesn't necessarily mean hardware changes. In some cases, those questions can be answered with simulation work or software updates or process updates. So there's no specificity on answers. They're just question areas that we work our way through as part of the normal certification process. So I would describe it that way. I think we've got to pay attention to it, lot of work to do to answer questions. But everyone's motivated to work together here and it creates timeline uncertainty.

The lack of AoA sensor redundancy and the blocked manual trim wheel need technical solutions. "Answering questions" will not provide those. I for one can not see that EASA or CAAC will let Boeing get away with this.

Muilenburg's admission that the plane is not ready for international certification is devastating news for the company even as he tried to sell its as progress. The FAA might lift the grounding of the plane under political pressure but other regulators will not follow through. The public uproar that will be caused by that will make it nearly impossible to sell tickets for 737 MAX flights.

Even if Boeing finds solutions that international regulators can finally accept, their implementation will take additional months. The AoA sensor and trim wheel issues will likely require hardware changes to the 600 or so existing MAX airplanes. The demand for simulator training will further delay the ungrounding of the plane. There are only some two dozen 737 MAX simulators in this world and thousands of pilots who will need to pass through them.

These technical and organizational problems have all been known for several months. EASA and others pointed them out early and often. But Boeing is still dragging its feet instead of solving them. The delays caused by this unreasonable behavior risk the company's sales, reputation and maybe even its existence.

---
Previous Moon of Alabama posts on Boeing 737 MAX issues:

Posted by b on September 12, 2019 at 14:51 UTC | Permalink


BM , Sep 12 2019 15:40 utc | 1

Muilenburg lives in cloud cockoo land! This is definitive proof that he urgently needs to be sacked. To say he is incompetent would be a gross understatement - he is off the scale. If investors are satisfied with answers like this, they fully deserve to lose their investment.

The foreign regulators walked out because Boeing wasn't willing to provide answers to questions - and yet Muilenburg thinks Boeing is ready to fly?

Basically what he is saying is that Boeing can solve all the 737MAX problems by bullshitting. Nothing else required. Is anybody going to agree with that? Anybody? Anybody? Well, anybody's cat then?

If Boeing makes no serious effort to satify the EASA requirements, there is absolutely zero chance it will fly even in the US, and even with absolute maximum pressure from the US government to restart flying - because other parties like pilots union etc will block it.

BM , Sep 12 2019 15:45 utc | 2
This situation is an absolutely brilliant comment on the problems of the financialisation of Boeing. Nobody could have asked for a clearer statement than this.

Boeing has gone into self-destruct mode.

Greg , Sep 12 2019 16:00 utc | 3
Boeing is a classic example of what happens when you let the bean counters (a.k.a. "financiers") who know nothing about the engineering and manufacturing processes within a company take over that company. Workers get laid off, engineering and manufacturing is outsourced, regulations are disregarded, but hey, PROFITS GO UP, stock price goes up, share buybacks, multi-million dollar bonuses for the bean counters running the company!! It's all good, right? Well, er no... Safety goes out the window and planes fly themselves into the ground.
Jackrabbit , Sep 12 2019 16:13 utc | 4
b

Your reporting on the 737MAX has just been awesome.

Masher1 , Sep 12 2019 16:15 utc | 5
They say that if you were to go back in time with an elephant gun, and shoot a dinosaur right thru the heart, It would take some time for the head to get the messages it was dead....

Same with Boeing.... It's dead.... It just has not fallen down dead yet...


Boeing HAD a very small window to avoid self inflicted death... That window closed.

Smart money is on a big fall for them.

div> Americans will be proud to give their lives in order to protect corporate bonuses at Boeing.

Posted by: BraveNewWorld , Sep 12 2019 16:22 utc | 6

Americans will be proud to give their lives in order to protect corporate bonuses at Boeing.

Posted by: BraveNewWorld | Sep 12 2019 16:22 utc | 6

psychohistorian , Sep 12 2019 16:25 utc | 7
Thanks again b for your ongoing coverage of the financialization death of Boeing

@ Masher1 # 5 who wrote
"
Smart money is on a big fall for them.
"

The current role for Muilenburg is to stall long enough so that the Smart Money folks can offload their ownership before the crash comes. The gut and run strategy is SOP for the financialization folk, ask Mitt Romney.

dh , Sep 12 2019 16:43 utc | 8
If the FAA certifies the planes American Airlines and United will be the first to put them back in service.

An update from American....

http://news.aa.com/news/news-details/2019/The-Latest-Information-About-737-MAX-Operations/default.aspx

karlof1 , Sep 12 2019 16:47 utc | 9
Boeing's failures go beyond the 737MAX and include a recently cancelled $6+Billion contract to supply vital components to the USAF's hypersonic missile program, which set it back a few more years. This report's about the KC-46 continuing problems:

"Boeing's troubled KC-46 Pegasus refueler and transport plane may have yet another design flaw. The Pentagon barred it from flying passengers and cargo after locks on one aircraft opened on their own."

The plane wasn't grounded but is prohibited from being used as a transport. The article also reviews more of its problems. Boeing's 777 also has issues and here we see early signs of Boeing management's ineptness--perhaps the fine should have had 3 additional zeros added to it to get the proper response? There are many more problems with Boeing products when one searches for them. It ought to be clear that the entire management team at Boeing needs replacing.

Sunny Runny Burger , Sep 12 2019 16:53 utc | 10
Also interesting that Boeing has more trouble (again) with the Boeing KC46 .
"Boeing's troubled KC-46 Pegasus refueler and transport plane may have yet another design flaw. The Pentagon barred it from flying passengers and cargo after locks on one aircraft opened on their own.

Numerous cargo locks on the floor of one KC-46 unlocked several times during a recent test flight."

Sunny Runny Burger , Sep 12 2019 16:53 utc | 11
Karl beat me to it :D
b , Sep 12 2019 16:56 utc | 12
@dh - If the FAA certifies the planes American Airlines and United will be the first to put them back in service.

I doubt it. United will wait for EASA. There is a simple reason for that. United is codesharing with Lufthansa and other international Star Alliance airlines.

If one books a flight from Germany to some smaller city in the U.S. the first leg is usually on LH and the second a codeshare flight with UA.
Can LH sell tickets for such flights when the second leg is on an uncertified (for Europe) MAX?
How will its insurances and reinsurance cover that?

All such co-operations and agreements are only possible when regulators agree.

Mao Cheng Ji , Sep 12 2019 16:59 utc | 13
They need more Indian programmers for $10/day each.

Hire a couple hundred more of those, and it will be over in no time.

Johnson , Sep 12 2019 17:03 utc | 14
"Lack of alignment of regulatory agencies" translates to ..... we at Boeing whine that our ability to bribe the FAA doesn't apply worldwide, and we repeat our calls for One-Stop-Shopping for buying regulatory approvals. This would lead to higher efficiencies in our ability to bribe officials.
dh , Sep 12 2019 17:05 utc | 15
@12 Thanks b. I didn't know about the LH connection. I assume all the updated 737 Max planes will only be used on domestic flights by American, United and Southwest (which owns more Maxs than anyone).

https://www.theverge.com/2019/7/12/20692008/united-cancels-boeing-737-max-flights-november

sejomoje , Sep 12 2019 17:07 utc | 16
We need a new term for this sort of thing - 4th World? If these things get back in the sky there will be protests. This is exactly the sort of thing that will have Americans cancelling their trips to DisneyWorld and writing to their congressmen. Maybe it's what we need. Unfortunately it probably won't happen. Next month there'll be another press release pushing it to December and so on, until the mess is ironed out I mean bailed out.
Johnson , Sep 12 2019 17:08 utc | 17
Boeing is Too-Big-To-Fail. Should such a prospect occur, we'd see their pet Congresspeople and Senators demanding that the taxpayers bail out the company. National Security would be given as the reason. Now that the industry has consolidated to the point where there are only a couple of airplane manufacturers for military contracts, the taxpayers will be told that it is impossible to allow one of them to fail. If you are an American taxpayer, expect to be grabbed by the ankles, held upside down and shook until even the last penny has been removed from your pockets.
Johnson , Sep 12 2019 17:13 utc | 18
In Europe, the "political pressure" would be applied in favor of Airbus.
Sergei , Sep 12 2019 17:16 utc | 19
Boeing Co.'s troubled 737 Max jets are unlikely to return to service until early 2020 as regulatory authorities in the U.S. and Europe remain divided and the planemaker has yet to submit its finalized software fix planned for this month, according to Barclays.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-09-10/boeing-s-737-max-may-not-fly-until-early-2020-barclays-says

Europe's aviation safety watchdog will not accept a US verdict on whether Boeing's troubled 737 Max is safe. Instead, the European Aviation Safety Agency (Easa) will run its own tests on the plane before approving a return to commercial flights.

https://www.bbc.com/news/business-49591363

The European Aviation Safety Agency plans to send its own pilots to the U.S. to conduct flight tests of Boeing Co.'s grounded 737 Max jet before it is returned to service, it said Tuesday.

https://skift.com/2019/09/11/european-regulators-want-to-make-their-own-call-about-boeing-737-max-safety/

Boeing's travails show what's wrong with modern capitalism. Deregulation means a company once run by engineers is now in the thrall of financiers and its stock remains high even as its planes fall from the sky

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/sep/11/boeing-capitalism-deregulation

Sergei , Sep 12 2019 17:22 utc | 20
The 737 Max's return risks accidentally breaking the aviation industry. The industry is beginning to game out the potential unintended long-term consequences the events of 2019 will have on the business of commercial aviation.

https://theaircurrent.com/industry-strategy/the-737-maxs-return-risks-accidentally-breaking-the-aviation-industry/

vk , Sep 12 2019 17:23 utc | 21
The only reason the 737 MAX is not dead yet is because Boeing is an American company. Any other country (specially Russia and China), they would've already been banned and slapped with insurmountable fines.

The 737 MAX's problems comes from its design and are unsolvable. The only way to unground it is through a cultural revolution in the West, where deaths by airplane become morally acceptable again. But that in itself would require billions of dollars spent in propaganda for decades, so the Law of the Tendency of the Profit Rate to Fall stands.

Sergei , Sep 12 2019 17:25 utc | 22
Boeing has struggled since two crashes of its 737 Max aircraft led to the plane being grounded indefinitely. Still, analysts at Morgan Stanley think the company can recover and rally to $500 per share over the next 12 months. Morgan Stanley expects Boeing to post solid earnings growth, especially after the 737 Max is returned to service, which could be as soon as October.

https://www.businessinsider.nl/why-boeing-stock-price-could-rally-to-500-morgan-stanley-2019-9/

Walter , Sep 12 2019 17:39 utc | 23
Not to imply that the Boeing "errors" and the very early jet airliner "Comet" are even remotely similar... However the outcome may be similar?

Let me sketch the deal>

Comet was a very good airplane. However the holes for the rivets holding it together (particularly 'round the windows) were punched, not drilled. The result was crack fatigue failure of a generally catastrophic character. Bang. they crashed. there's a wiki

" windows had been engineered to be glued and riveted, but had been punch riveted only. Unlike drill riveting, the imperfect nature of the hole created by punch riveting could cause fatigue cracks to start developing around the rivet. "

The Comet got fixed. The RAF flew them until recently, Excellent airplane. But...

But nobody would buy a ride ...

chu teh , Sep 12 2019 18:04 utc | 24
Sweep this under the rug:from Deattle Times]

"Mark Forkner, Boeing's chief technical pilot on the MAX project......

"Forkner suggested to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that MCAS not be included in the pilot manual...The FAA, after internal deliberations, agreed to keep MCAS out of the manual...

"Boeing won the FAA's approval to give pilots just an hour of training through an iPad about the differences between the MAX and the previous 737 generation. MCAS was not mentioned."

Here, read it for yourself:

https://www.seattletimes.com/business/boeing-aerospace/former-boeing-official-subpoenaed-in-737-max-probe-wont-turn-over-documents-citing-fifth-amendment-protection/

vk , Sep 12 2019 18:07 utc | 25
Related news:

USAF bans Boeing tanker from carrying passengers after it malfunctions during test flight

james , Sep 12 2019 18:10 utc | 26
i agree with the idea of boeing being too big to fall...boeing = ltcm... we know what the ponzi scheme did with that one..
c1ue , Sep 12 2019 18:23 utc | 27
The notion that Boeing is going to "fail" in any form of short term timeframe is ridiculous.
Even if the 737 never flies again, Boeing still has its other defense and existing commercial planes to sell parts, services and updates for.
Equally, there is very much a duopoly in commercial aircraft. There is literally no one else that has the capacity to replace Boeing's 737 - and I'm sure Boeing is counting on that. Even Airbus doesn't have the capacity to replace Boeing 737s.
chu teh , Sep 12 2019 18:23 utc | 28
How Boeing Public Relations handles the situation--

1. Do not mention it.
2. If you have to talk about it, gum* it to death.

* gum it to death, e.g., see quote from Muilenberg near end of b's post, above.

old Bill , Sep 12 2019 18:40 utc | 29
Systemantics by John Gall describes Boeing today, it is an organization satisfying its own needs.
Walter , Sep 12 2019 19:09 utc | 30
@ 27 "The notion that Boeing is going to "fail" in any form of short term timeframe is ridiculous."


Very recently Keiser Report evaluated the company has having a net value of less than zero, and that they were one new loan from failing to make payroll.

Maybe he has another opinion... That the MIC will keep a moribund corpse animated, for a time... Maybe!

Jerry , Sep 12 2019 19:54 utc | 31
I would rather walk than fly 737 Max. The plane is a death trap.

China and Russia both have new airliners that can fill the niche of the 737 Max and probably much much safer too. Western airlines may not buy them but BRICs countries will.

CD Waller , Sep 12 2019 20:07 utc | 32
Presumably not all Congressmen fly Lear Jets. They will be paying attention to Boeing's response and their constituent's emails.
I don't understand the air force response to the cargo plane issues. Only put pilots at risk?
Do military planes also have to pass FAA certification? (Such as it is?) If so, how did the KC pass inspection?
If not, who insures their planes are air worthy?
Siotu , Sep 12 2019 20:21 utc | 33
Hi Walter

Re the De Havilland Comet.
You are right, it was a brilliant airplane. Unfortunately at the time metal fatigue was a problem which was not understood in the context of pressurised aircraft.

What is interesting is how the British responded to the Comet's fatigue related explosive depressurisation troubles. Everything (and I mean everything) was grounded. Everything included many other aircraft types as well. The government ordered all development projects for new aircraft types at the time halted and then that they be reviewed. Even after that those projects could not proceed until the problems of the Comet were understood and could be solved [to demonstrate how severe the government's reaction was, consider that within the Bristol group of companies was a car building division and its forward model programmes were stopped and could not be restarted until the government rescinded its blanket bans- Bristol cars were affected since they were a part of an aviation organisation and the government's orders did not make distinction between cars and planes unfortunately].

The trouble was that even though the fatigue problem was subsequently understood and design amendments were arrived at to make Comet safe, that took time. In that time the British aero industry lost the lead it had built up across all commercial passenger aircraft sectors, not only for pressurised-cabin jet-propelled passenger aircraft but for everything else as well. Every project and new type launch was delayed, even including non-pressurised aircraft! Time passed quickly.

Boeing 707 arrived and took the market which could have already been partially populated by Comet aircraft. The mighty turbo-prop Bristols and others that were delayed similarly found themselves being launched into crowded markets where competitors already had a firm toe-hold. It was too late to get the sales they were intended to achieve. This set back was never able to be recovered. The take home is that the British government fatally wounded the British commercial aviation industry.

The Comet went on to a long life in civil and military aviation with the last passenger variant retired from regular timetabled commercial service in 1980 and the very last of the Comets flying retired in 1997 (there may have been a few historic and commemorative demo flights since but if there were they were not commercial service). The public certainly did buy tickets to fly Comet. It was a great aircraft and passengers had confidence in it. The trouble was that not that many got sold, since by the time they did re-enter the market the airlines were already running (and buying) 707s. It was too late!

So here we are watching Boeing burning. This time it is a problem which should never have occurred in the first place as the technical knowledge to avoid it existed (Comet was exactly the opposite situation). Boeing ought to review the 757 and 767 and do a modern version of one (or both) of those.

snake , Sep 12 2019 20:36 utc | 34
..[A]n absolutely brilliant comment on the problems of the financialisation of Boeing. Nobody could have asked for a clearer statement than this. Boeing has gone into self-destruct mode. by: BM @ 2 <= did you mean self-denial mode..

Boeing is a classic example ... by: Greg @ 3 <=of what happens when the local national government imposes on those it governs sufficient market exclusivity, and near exclusive access to the purse of the local national government, so that one and one company, can produce anything. Without competition, there is no incentive for its products to be safe..no incentive for its products to be efficient, because the government in partnership with its private monopoly company will bail out the private market partner using tax payer money.

The notion that Boeing is going to "fail" in any form of short term timeframe is ridiculous.
Even if the 737 never flies again, Boeing...there is literally no one else that has the capacity to replace Boeing's 737 - and I'm sure Boeing is counting on that. Even Airbus doesn't have the capacity to replace Boeing 737s. by: c1ue @ 27

EZ allows no competition, takes no prisoners, takes or destroys all that might some day be competition..
B's journalism it a world class performance.


JohninMK , Sep 12 2019 20:51 utc | 35
Siotu | Sep 12 2019 20:21 utc | 33

The 767 has morphed into the KC-46 so they have done a lot of that work already, but it is a bit big. More puzzling is why the didn't take the 757 design forward.

uncle tungsten , Sep 12 2019 20:53 utc | 36
Ah siotu, so quick to blame the British Government for acting in the interest of public safety, but no condemnation of boeing for ignoring public safety. I get the picture but I prefer to read Goebbels.
Siotu , Sep 12 2019 21:08 utc | 37
JohninMK

That is a good question.

757, why not?

Jerry , Sep 12 2019 21:12 utc | 38
757 - beautiful plane. Still being used by quite a few airlines. Trump's personal plane is a 757. He at least has good taste in planes.

737 Max? Bag of shit.

William H Warrick , Sep 12 2019 22:16 utc | 39
I hope they go bankrupt.
Ghost Ship , Sep 12 2019 22:41 utc | 40
>>>> dh | Sep 12 2019 16:43 utc | 8
Did you read the updates/dates?
An Update on the Boeing 737 MAX
Updated Sept. 1, 2019 at 9 a.m. CT.
Cancellations extended through Dec. 3
Updated July 14, 2019 at 9 a.m. CT.
Cancellations extended through Nov. 2.
Updated June 9, 2019 at 9 a.m. CT.
Cancellations extended through Sept. 3.
Updated April 14, 2019 at 9 a.m. CT.
As we prepare for summer, our focus is around planning for the busiest travel period of the year. Families everywhere are counting on American Airlines for their summer vacations, family reunions, trips to visit friends and adventures overseas. Our commitment to each other and to our customers is to operate the safest and most reliable operation in our history.
Updated April 7, 2019 at 9 a.m. CT.
American continues to await information from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Department of Transportation (DOT), National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), other regulatory authorities and Boeing that would permit the 24 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in our fleet to resume flying.
Updated March 14, 2019 at 4 p.m. CT.
On March 13, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grounded all U.S.-registered Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, including the 8 and 9 variants, as a precautionary measure. This includes the 24 MAX 8 aircraft in the American Airlines fleet. We are complying with the FAA directive.

Somehow I don't think American are going to be the first to fly their 737Max.
Jen , Sep 12 2019 22:41 utc | 41
Dennis Muilenburg's Wikipedia entry shows that his total compensation package in 2018 was US$23,392,187. The source is Bloomberg.

With that level of comfort for himself and his family, Muilenburg sure can afford to live in Tierra de los Cuckoos de la Nube.

One really has to wonder who Boeing Corporation's shareholders and investors are, that they tolerate such huge salary and compensation packages for senior people like Muilenburg while engineers, designers, technicians and factory-floor workers maybe don't get the pay or the working conditions they deserve. But I would not be surprised if most of Boeing's shareholders turn out to be the very senior corporate execs who borrow money from Wall St banks to buy shares in the company and expect workers to sacrifice parts of their own compensation packages to pay back the interest on those loans.

Walter , Sep 12 2019 22:43 utc | 42
@ Siotu | Sep 12 2019 20:21 utc | 33 (Comet)

Thanks...

You may know the movie, vaguely derivative of Comet>

"No Highway" Jimmy Stewart and Marlene Dietrich and other stars - on YT

I am ashamed I was too brief. And it is worth considering that the long term effect was to really hurt the UK airplane industry. Perhaps 40 years ago I was working with GE on a "go fix your screw-up" job on a cogen extraction turbine at a sawmill in Oregon. My engineer and I spent several happy hours drinking and chatting - after I found the sabotage (woodruff keys deliberately left out dust control rotary valves)---anyway "H.C." told me several things from his old days with GE, and jobbing around with several employers - right after the Korean war and through to our time together.

One was about repowering the Constellation airliners with GT's - and what went wrong with that > "alloys not suitable" ie metallurgic incompatibility. However it may be that the motivation was fear that there might be a Comet-type failure scenario...so it wasn't worth the risk. I don't know if there really was an issue with the Connie getting repowered - but they thought there was or might be. I understand that super DC 3's are, some, GT, but they're nonpresurized, and tough.

Another was an isotope separation method that I have never again heard of - but he said it worked, simply not economic (though what's "economic" about making "poot"?) I looked into it as theory. It's slow, but probably could be improved. Other than that it is not good to say.

Yet another about the hypersonic (?) re-entry shape that they dropped on near zero at Kwaj. (in the 1960's). I think it was pretty heavy...see Boeing X 20 @ wiki - what he spoke of was a 1/4 size (?) test vehicle shape, ie preliminary work, shooting from Vandenberg. I wonder if Boeing kept the data they had when X20 was cancelled.

Do read the X20 wiki...nazi boffins to us boffins to intercontinental rocketbomber...what a career to brag about in Hell!

Ghost Ship , Sep 12 2019 22:45 utc | 43
I suspect that Trump has the political chops to avoid pushing this with the FAA and foreign safety agencies. I'm not so sure about the #resistance. I can well see the Democrats complaining that Trump hasn't applied pressure.
Jen , Sep 12 2019 22:53 utc | 44
Ghost Ship @ 40:

We'll need a new description for the shade of deep blue that will have appeared on the faces of the PR spin doctors of AA and United Airlines by the time the FAA gives the Boeing 737MAX aircraft the all-clear to fly again.

I suggest that with your monicker being Ghost Ship, you go first to say what that colour should be called.

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[Sep 09, 2019] Chief Test Pilot on 737MAX was involved in the cover-up

Notable quotes:
"... During the certification process, Forkner suggested to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that MCAS not be included in the pilot manual, according to previous Seattle Times reporting. ..."
Sep 09, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

chu teh , Sep 8 2019 16:56 utc | 26

re 737MAX--FAA collusion in b's link,above


Chief Test Pilot on 737MAX involved in cover-up:
[snippet from Sept 8 Seattle Times ]

"...During the certification process, Forkner suggested to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that MCAS not be included in the pilot manual, according to previous Seattle Times reporting.

The FAA, after internal deliberations, agreed to keep MCAS out of the manual, reasoning that MCAS was software that operates in the background as part of the flight-control system, according to an official familiar with the discussions.

In addition, Boeing won the FAA's approval to give pilots just an hour of training through an iPad about the differences between the MAX and the previous 737 generation. MCAS was not mentioned. ..."

[Sep 04, 2019] 737 MAX - Boeing Insults International Safety Regulators As New Problems Cause Longer Grounding

The 80286 Intel processors: The Intel 80286[3] (also marketed as the iAPX 286[4] and often called Intel 286) is a 16-bit microprocessor that was introduced on February 1, 1982. The 80286 was employed for the IBM PC/AT, introduced in 1984, and then widely used in most PC/AT compatible computers until the early 1990s.
Notable quotes:
"... The fate of Boeing's civil aircraft business hangs on the re-certification of the 737 MAX. The regulators convened an international meeting to get their questions answered and Boeing arrogantly showed up without having done its homework. The regulators saw that as an insult. Boeing was sent back to do what it was supposed to do in the first place: provide details and analysis that prove the safety of its planes. ..."
"... In recent weeks, Boeing and the FAA identified another potential flight-control computer risk requiring additional software changes and testing, according to two of the government and pilot officials. ..."
"... Any additional software changes will make the issue even more complicated. The 80286 Intel processors the FCC software is running on is limited in its capacity. All the extras procedures Boeing now will add to them may well exceed the system's capabilities. ..."
"... The old architecture was possible because the plane could still be flown without any computer. It was expected that the pilots would detect a computer error and would be able to intervene. The FAA did not require a high design assurance level (DAL) for the system. The MCAS accidents showed that a software or hardware problem can now indeed crash a 737 MAX plane. That changes the level of scrutiny the system will have to undergo. ..."
"... Flight safety regulators know of these complexities. That is why they need to take a deep look into such systems. That Boeing's management was not prepared to answer their questions shows that the company has not learned from its failure. Its culture is still one of finance orientated arrogance. ..."
"... I also want to add that Boeing's focus on profit over safety is not restricted to the 737 Max but undoubtedly permeates the manufacture of spare parts for the rest of the their plane line and all else they make.....I have no intention of ever flying in another Boeing airplane, given the attitude shown by Boeing leadership. ..."
"... So again, Boeing mgmt. mirrors its Neoliberal government officials when it comes to arrogance and impudence. ..."
"... Arrogance? When the money keeps flowing in anyway, it comes naturally. ..."
"... In the neoliberal world order governments, regulators and the public are secondary to corporate profits. ..."
"... I am surprised that none of the coverage has mentioned the fact that, if China's CAAC does not sign off on the mods, it will cripple, if not doom the MAX. ..."
"... I am equally surprised that we continue to sabotage China's export leader, as the WSJ reports today: "China's Huawei Technologies Co. accused the U.S. of "using every tool at its disposal" to disrupt its business, including launching cyberattacks on its networks and instructing law enforcement to "menace" its employees. ..."
"... Boeing is backstopped by the Murkan MIC, which is to say the US taxpayer. ..."
"... Military Industrial Complex welfare programs, including wars in Syria and Yemen, are slowly winding down. We are about to get a massive bill from the financiers who already own everything in this sector, because what they have left now is completely unsustainable, with or without a Third World War. ..."
"... In my mind, the fact that Boeing transferred its head office from Seattle (where the main manufacturing and presumable the main design and engineering functions are based) to Chicago (centre of the neoliberal economic universe with the University of Chicago being its central shrine of worship, not to mention supply of future managers and administrators) in 1997 says much about the change in corporate culture and values from a culture that emphasised technical and design excellence, deliberate redundancies in essential functions (in case of emergencies or failures of core functions), consistently high standards and care for the people who adhered to these principles, to a predatory culture in which profits prevail over people and performance. ..."
"... For many amerikans, a good "offensive" is far preferable than a good defense even if that only involves an apology. Remember what ALL US presidents say.. We will never apologize.. ..."
"... Actually can you show me a single place in the US where ethics are considered a bastion of governorship? ..."
"... You got to be daft or bribed to use intel cpu's in embedded systems. Going from a motorolla cpu, the intel chips were dinosaurs in every way. ..."
"... Initially I thought it was just the new over-sized engines they retro-fitted. A situation that would surely have been easier to get around by just going back to the original engines -- any inefficiencies being less $costly than the time the planes have been grounded. But this post makes the whole rabbit warren 10 miles deeper. ..."
"... That is because the price is propped up by $9 billion share buyback per year . Share buyback is an effective scheme to airlift all the cash out of a company towards the major shareholders. I mean, who wants to develop reliable airplanes if you can funnel the cash into your pockets? ..."
"... If Boeing had invested some of this money that it blew on share buybacks to design a new modern plane from ground up to replace the ancient 737 airframe, these tragedies could have been prevented, and Boeing wouldn't have this nightmare on its hands. But the corporate cost-cutters and financial engineers, rather than real engineers, had the final word. ..."
"... Markets don't care about any of this. They don't care about real engineers either. They love corporate cost-cutters and financial engineers. They want share buybacks, and if something bad happens, they'll overlook the $5 billion to pay for the fallout because it's just a "one-time item." ..."
"... Overall, Boeing buy-backs exceeded 40 billion dollars, one could guess that half or quarter of that would suffice to build a plane that logically combines the latest technologies. E.g. the entire frame design to fit together with engines, processors proper for the information processing load, hydraulics for steering that satisfy force requirements in almost all circumstances etc. New technologies also fail because they are not completely understood, but when the overall design is logical with margins of safety, the faults can be eliminated. ..."
"... Once the buyback ends the dive begins and just before it hits ground zero, they buy the company for pennies on the dollar, possibly with government bailout as a bonus. Then the company flies towards the next climb and subsequent dive. MCAS economics. ..."
"... The problem is not new, and it is well understood. What computer modelling is is cheap, and easy to fudge, and that is why it is popular with people who care about money a lot. Much of what is called "AI" is very similar in its limitations, a complicated way to fudge up the results you want, or something close enough for casual examination. ..."
Sep 04, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

United Airline and American Airlines further prolonged the grounding of their Boeing 737 MAX airplanes. They now schedule the plane's return to the flight line in December. But it is likely that the grounding will continue well into the next year.

After Boeing's shabby design and lack of safety analysis of its Maneuver Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) led to the death of 347 people, the grounding of the type and billions of losses, one would expect the company to show some decency and humility. Unfortunately Boeing behavior demonstrates none.

There is still little detailed information on how Boeing will fix MCAS. Nothing was said by Boeing about the manual trim system of the 737 MAX that does not work when it is needed . The unprotected rudder cables of the plane do not meet safety guidelines but were still certified. The planes flight control computers can be overwhelmed by bad data and a fix will be difficult to implement. Boeing continues to say nothing about these issues.

International flight safety regulators no longer trust the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) which failed to uncover those problems when it originally certified the new type. The FAA was also the last regulator to ground the plane after two 737 MAX had crashed. The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) asked Boeing to explain and correct five major issues it identified. Other regulators asked additional questions.

Boeing needs to regain the trust of the airlines, pilots and passengers to be able to again sell those planes. Only full and detailed information can achieve that. But the company does not provide any.

As Boeing sells some 80% of its airplanes abroad it needs the good will of the international regulators to get the 737 MAX back into the air. This makes the arrogance it displayed in a meeting with those regulators inexplicable:

Friction between Boeing Co. and international air-safety authorities threatens a new delay in bringing the grounded 737 MAX fleet back into service, according to government and pilot union officials briefed on the matter.

The latest complication in the long-running saga, these officials said, stems from a Boeing briefing in August that was cut short by regulators from the U.S., Europe, Brazil and elsewhere, who complained that the plane maker had failed to provide technical details and answer specific questions about modifications in the operation of MAX flight-control computers.

The fate of Boeing's civil aircraft business hangs on the re-certification of the 737 MAX. The regulators convened an international meeting to get their questions answered and Boeing arrogantly showed up without having done its homework. The regulators saw that as an insult. Boeing was sent back to do what it was supposed to do in the first place: provide details and analysis that prove the safety of its planes.

What did the Boeing managers think those regulatory agencies are? Hapless lapdogs like the FAA managers`who signed off on Boeing 'features' even after their engineers told them that these were not safe?

Buried in the Wall Street Journal piece quoted above is another little shocker:

In recent weeks, Boeing and the FAA identified another potential flight-control computer risk requiring additional software changes and testing, according to two of the government and pilot officials.

The new issue must be going beyond the flight control computer (FCC) issues the FAA identified in June .

Boeing's original plan to fix the uncontrolled activation of MCAS was to have both FCCs active at the same time and to switch MCAS off when the two computers disagree. That was already a huge change in the general architecture which so far consisted of one active and one passive FCC system that could be switched over when a failure occurred.

Any additional software changes will make the issue even more complicated. The 80286 Intel processors the FCC software is running on is limited in its capacity. All the extras procedures Boeing now will add to them may well exceed the system's capabilities.

Changing software in a delicate environment like a flight control computer is extremely difficult. There will always be surprising side effects or regressions where already corrected errors unexpectedly reappear.

The old architecture was possible because the plane could still be flown without any computer. It was expected that the pilots would detect a computer error and would be able to intervene. The FAA did not require a high design assurance level (DAL) for the system. The MCAS accidents showed that a software or hardware problem can now indeed crash a 737 MAX plane. That changes the level of scrutiny the system will have to undergo.

All procedures and functions of the software will have to be tested in all thinkable combinations to ensure that they will not block or otherwise influence each other. This will take months and there is a high chance that new issues will appear during these tests. They will require more software changes and more testing.

Flight safety regulators know of these complexities. That is why they need to take a deep look into such systems. That Boeing's management was not prepared to answer their questions shows that the company has not learned from its failure. Its culture is still one of finance orientated arrogance.

Building safe airplanes requires engineers who know that they may make mistakes and who have the humility to allow others to check and correct their work. It requires open communication about such issues. Boeing's say-nothing strategy will prolong the grounding of its planes. It will increases the damage to Boeing's financial situation and reputation.

--- Previous Moon of Alabama posts on Boeing 737 MAX issues:

Posted by b on September 3, 2019 at 18:05 UTC | Permalink


Choderlos de Laclos , Sep 3 2019 18:15 utc | 1

"The 80286 Intel processors the FCC software is running on is limited in its capacity." You must be joking, right? If this is the case, the problem is unfixable: you can't find two competent software engineers who can program these dinosaur 16-bit processors.
b , Sep 3 2019 18:22 utc | 2
You must be joking, right? If this is the case, the problem is unfixable: you can't find two competent software engineers who can program these dinosaur 16-bit processors.

One of the two is writing this.

Half-joking aside. The 737 MAX FCC runs on 80286 processors. There are ten thousands of programmers available who can program them though not all are qualified to write real-time systems. That resource is not a problem. The processors inherent limits are one.

Meshpal , Sep 3 2019 18:24 utc | 3
Thanks b for the fine 737 max update. Others news sources seem to have dropped coverage. It is a very big deal that this grounding has lasted this long. Things are going to get real bad for Boeing if this bird does not get back in the air soon. In any case their credibility is tarnished if not down right trashed.
BraveNewWorld , Sep 3 2019 18:35 utc | 4
@1 Choderlos de Laclos

What ever software language these are programmed in (my guess is C) the compilers still exist for it and do the translation from the human readable code to the machine code for you. Of course the code could be assembler but writing assembly code for a 286 is far easier than writing it for say an i9 becuase the CPU is so much simpler and has a far smaller set of instructions to work with.

Choderlos de Laclos , Sep 3 2019 18:52 utc | 5
@b: It was a hyperbole. I might be another one, but left them behind as fast as I could. The last time I had to deal with it was an embedded system in 1998-ish. But I am also retiring, and so are thousands of others. The problems with support of a legacy system are a legend.
psychohistorian , Sep 3 2019 18:56 utc | 6
Thanks for the demise of Boeing update b

I commented when you first started writing about this that it would take Boeing down and still believe that to be true. To the extent that Boeing is stonewalling the international safety regulators says to me that upper management and big stock holders are being given time to minimize their exposure before the axe falls.

I also want to add that Boeing's focus on profit over safety is not restricted to the 737 Max but undoubtedly permeates the manufacture of spare parts for the rest of the their plane line and all else they make.....I have no intention of ever flying in another Boeing airplane, given the attitude shown by Boeing leadership.

This is how private financialization works in the Western world. Their bottom line is profit, not service to the flying public. It is in line with the recent public statement by the CEO's from the Business Roundtable that said that they were going to focus more on customer satisfaction over profit but their actions continue to say profit is their primary motive.

The God of Mammon private finance religion can not end soon enough for humanity's sake. It is not like we all have to become China but their core public finance example is well worth following.

karlof1 , Sep 3 2019 19:13 utc | 7
So again, Boeing mgmt. mirrors its Neoliberal government officials when it comes to arrogance and impudence. IMO, Boeing shareholders's hair ought to be on fire given their BoD's behavior and getting ready to litigate.

As b notes, Boeing's international credibility's hanging by a very thin thread. A year from now, Boeing could very well see its share price deeply dive into the Penny Stock category--its current P/E is 41.5:1 which is massively overpriced. Boeing Bombs might come to mean something vastly different from its initial meaning.

bjd , Sep 3 2019 19:22 utc | 8
Arrogance? When the money keeps flowing in anyway, it comes naturally.
What did I just read , Sep 3 2019 19:49 utc | 10
Such seemingly archaic processors are the norm in aerospace. If the planes flight characteristics had been properly engineered from the start the processor wouldn't be an issue. You can't just spray perfume on a garbage pile and call it a rose.
VietnamVet , Sep 3 2019 20:31 utc | 12
In the neoliberal world order governments, regulators and the public are secondary to corporate profits. This is the same belief system that is suspending the British Parliament to guarantee the chaos of a no deal Brexit. The irony is that globalist, Joe Biden's restart the Cold War and nationalist Donald Trump's Trade Wars both assure that foreign regulators will closely scrutinize the safety of the 737 Max. Even if ignored by corporate media and cleared by the FAA to fly in the USA, Boeing and Wall Street's Dow Jones average are cooked gooses with only 20% of the market. Taking the risk of flying the 737 Max on their family vacation or to their next business trip might even get the credentialed class to realize that their subservient service to corrupt Plutocrats is deadly in the long term.
jared , Sep 3 2019 20:55 utc | 14
It doesn't get any TBTF'er than Boing. Bail-out is only phone-call away. With down-turn looming, the line is forming.
Piotr Berman , Sep 3 2019 21:11 utc | 15
"The latest complication in the long-running saga, these officials said, stems from a Boeing BA, -2.66% briefing in August that was cut short by regulators from the U.S., Europe, Brazil and elsewhere, who complained that the plane maker had failed to provide technical details and answer specific questions about modifications in the operation of MAX flight-control computers."

It seems to me that Boeing had no intention to insult anybody, but it has an impossible task. After decades of applying duct tape and baling wire with much success, they finally designed an unfixable plane, and they can either abandon this line of business (narrow bodied airliners) or start working on a new design grounded in 21st century technologies.

Ken Murray , Sep 3 2019 21:12 utc | 16
Boeing's military sales are so much more significant and important to them, they are just ignoring/down-playing their commercial problem with the 737 MAX. Follow the real money.
Arata , Sep 3 2019 21:57 utc | 17
That is unblievable FLight Control comptuer is based on 80286! A control system needs Real Time operation, at least some pre-emptive task operation, in terms of milisecond or microsecond. What ever way you program 80286 you can not achieve RT operation on 80286. I do not think that is the case. My be 80286 is doing some pripherial work, other than control.
Bemildred , Sep 3 2019 22:11 utc | 18
It is quite likely (IMHO) that they are no longer able to provide the requested information, but of course they cannot say that.

I once wrote a keyboard driver for an 80286, part of an editor, in assembler, on my first PC type computer, I still have it around here somewhere I think, the keyboard driver, but I would be rusty like the Titanic when it comes to writing code. I wrote some things in DEC assembler too, on VAXen.

Peter AU 1 , Sep 3 2019 22:14 utc | 19
Arata 16

The spoiler system is fly by wire.

Bemildred , Sep 3 2019 22:17 utc | 20
arata @16: 80286 does interrupts just fine, but you have to grok asynchronous operation, and most coders don't really, I see that every day in Linux and my browser. I wish I could get that box back, it had DOS, you could program on the bare wires, but God it was slow.
Tod , Sep 3 2019 22:28 utc | 21
Boeing will just need to press the TURBO button on the 286 processor. Problem solved.
karlof1 , Sep 3 2019 22:43 utc | 23
Ken Murray @15--

Boeing recently lost a $6+Billion weapons contract thanks to its similar Q&A in that realm of its business. Its annual earnings are due out in October. Plan to short-sell soon!

Godfree Roberts , Sep 3 2019 22:56 utc | 24
I am surprised that none of the coverage has mentioned the fact that, if China's CAAC does not sign off on the mods, it will cripple, if not doom the MAX.

I am equally surprised that we continue to sabotage China's export leader, as the WSJ reports today: "China's Huawei Technologies Co. accused the U.S. of "using every tool at its disposal" to disrupt its business, including launching cyberattacks on its networks and instructing law enforcement to "menace" its employees.

The telecommunications giant also said law enforcement in the U.S. have searched, detained and arrested Huawei employees and its business partners, and have sent FBI agents to the homes of its workers to pressure them to collect information on behalf of the U.S."

https://www.wsj.com/articles/huawei-accuses-the-u-s-of-cyberattacks-threatening-its-employees-11567500484?mod=hp_lead_pos2

Arioch , Sep 3 2019 23:18 utc | 25
I wonder how much blind trust in Boeing is intertwined into the fabric of civic aviation all around the world.

I mean something like this: Boeing publishes some research into failure statistics, solid materials aging or something. One that is really hard and expensive to proceed with. Everything take the results for granted without trying to independently reproduce and verify, because The Boeing!

Some later "derived" researches being made, upon the foundation of some prior works *including* that old Boeing research. Then FAA and similar company institutions around the world make some official regulations and guidelines deriving from the research which was in part derived form original Boeing work. Then insurance companies calculate their tarifs and rate plans, basing their estimation upon those "government standards", and when governments determine taxation levels they use that data too. Then airline companies and airliner leasing companies make their business plans, take huge loans in the banks (and banks do make their own plans expecting those loans to finally be paid back), and so on and so forth, building the cards-deck house, layer after layer.

And among the very many of the cornerstones - there would be dust covered and god-forgotten research made by Boeing 10 or maybe 20 years ago when no one even in drunk delirium could ever imagine questioning Boeing's verdicts upon engineering and scientific matters.

Now, the longevity of that trust is slowly unraveled. Like, the so universally trusted 737NG generation turned out to be inherently unsafe, and while only pilots knew it before, and even of them - only most curious and pedantic pilots, today it becomes public knowledge that 737NG are tainted.

Now, when did this corruption started? Wheat should be some deadline cast into the past, that since the day every other technical data coming from Boeing should be considered unreliable unless passing full-fledged independent verification? Should that day be somewhere in 2000-s? 1990-s? Maybe even 1970-s?

And ALL THE BODY of civic aviation industry knowledge that was accumulated since that date can NO MORE BE TRUSTED and should be almost scrapped and re-researched new! ALL THE tacit INPUT that can be traced back to Boeing and ALL THE DERIVED KNOWLEDGE now has to be verified in its entirety.

Miss Lacy , Sep 3 2019 23:19 utc | 26
Boeing is backstopped by the Murkan MIC, which is to say the US taxpayer. Until the lawsuits become too enormous. I wonder how much that will cost. And speaking of rigged markets - why do ya suppose that Trumpilator et al have been so keen to make huge sales to the Saudis, etc. etc. ? Ya don't suppose they had an inkling of trouble in the wind do ya? Speaking of insiders, how many million billions do ya suppose is being made in the Wall Street "trade war" roller coaster by peeps, munchkins not muppets, who have access to the Tweeter-in-Chief?
C I eh? , Sep 3 2019 23:25 utc | 27
@6 psychohistorian
I commented when you first started writing about this that it would take Boeing down and still believe that to be true. To the extent that Boeing is stonewalling the international safety regulators says to me that upper management and big stock holders are being given time to minimize their exposure before the axe falls.

Have you considered the costs of restructuring versus breaking apart Boeing and selling it into little pieces; to the owners specifically?

The MIC is restructuring itself - by first creating the political conditions to make the transformation highly profitable. It can only be made highly profitable by forcing the public to pay the associated costs of Rape and Pillage Incorporated.

Military Industrial Complex welfare programs, including wars in Syria and Yemen, are slowly winding down. We are about to get a massive bill from the financiers who already own everything in this sector, because what they have left now is completely unsustainable, with or without a Third World War.

It is fine that you won't fly Boeing but that is not the point. You may not ever fly again since air transit is subsidized at every level and the US dollar will no longer be available to fund the world's air travel infrastructure.

You will instead be paying for the replacement of Boeing and seeing what google is planning it may not be for the renewal of the airline business but rather for dedicated ground transportation, self driving cars and perhaps 'aerospace' defense forces, thank you Russia for setting the trend.

Lochearn , Sep 3 2019 23:45 utc | 30
As readers may remember I made a case study of Boeing for a fairly recent PHD. The examiners insisted that this case study be taken out because it was "speculative." I had forecast serious problems with the 787 and the 737 MAX back in 2012. I still believe the 787 is seriously flawed and will go the way of the MAX. I came to admire this once brilliant company whose work culminated in the superb 777.

America really did make some excellent products in the 20th century - with the exception of cars. Big money piled into GM from the early 1920s, especially the ultra greedy, quasi fascist Du Pont brothers, with the result that GM failed to innovate. It produced beautiful cars but technically they were almost identical to previous models.

The only real innovation over 40 years was automatic transmission. Does this sound reminiscent of the 737 MAX? What glued together GM for more than thirty years was the brilliance of CEO Alfred Sloan who managed to keep the Du Ponts (and J P Morgan) more or less happy while delegating total responsibility for production to divisional managers responsible for the different GM brands. When Sloan went the company started falling apart and the memoirs of bad boy John DeLorean testify to the complete disfunctionality of senior management.

At Ford the situation was perhaps even worse in the 1960s and 1970s. Management was at war with the workers, faulty transmissions were knowingly installed. All this is documented in an excellent book by ex-Ford supervisor Robert Dewar in his book "A Savage Factory."

dus7 , Sep 3 2019 23:53 utc | 32
Well, the first thing that came to mind upon reading about Boeing's apparent arrogance overseas - silly, I know - was that Boeing may be counting on some weird Trump sanctions for anyone not cooperating with the big important USian corporation! The U.S. has influence on European and many other countries, but it can only be stretched so far, and I would guess messing with Euro/internation airline regulators, especially in view of the very real fatal accidents with the 737MAX, would be too far.
david , Sep 4 2019 0:09 utc | 34
Please read the following article to get further info about how the 5 big Funds that hold 67% of Boeing stocks are working hard with the big banks to keep the stock high. Meanwhile Boeing is also trying its best to blackmail US taxpayers through Pentagon, for example, by pretending to walk away from a competitive bidding contract because it wants the Air Force to provide better cost formula.

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/despite-devastating-737-crashes-boeing-stocks-fly-high/

So basically, Boeing is being kept afloat by US taxpayers because it is "too big to fail" and an important component of Dow. Please tell. Who is the biggest suckers here?

chu teh , Sep 4 2019 0:13 utc | 36
re Piotr Berman | Sep 3 2019 21:11 utc [I have a tiny bit of standing in this matter based on experience with an amazingly similar situation that has not heretofore been mentioned. More at end. Thus I offer my opinion.] Indeed, an impossible task to design a workable answer and still maintain the fiction that 737MAX is a hi-profit-margin upgrade requiring minimal training of already-trained 737-series pilots , either male or female. Turning-off autopilot to bypass runaway stabilizer necessitates : [1]

the earlier 737-series "rollercoaster" procedure to overcome too-high aerodynamic forces must be taught and demonstrated as a memory item to all pilots.

The procedure was designed for early Model 737-series, not the 737MAX which has uniquely different center-of-gravity and pitch-up problem requiring MCAS to auto-correct, especially on take-off. [2] but the "rollercoaster" procedure does not work at all altitudes.

It causes aircraft to lose some altitude and, therefore, requires at least [about] 7,000-feet above-ground clearance to avoid ground contact. [This altitude loss consumed by the procedure is based on alleged reports of simulator demonstrations. There seems to be no known agreement on the actual amount of loss]. [3] The physical requirements to perform the "rollercoaster" procedure were established at a time when female pilots were rare.

Any 737MAX pilots, male or female, will have to pass new physical requirements demonstrating actual conditions on newly-designed flight simulators that mimic the higher load requirements of the 737MAX . Such new standards will also have to compensate for left vs right-handed pilots because the manual-trim wheel is located between the .pilot/copilot seats.

================

Now where/when has a similar situation occurred? I.e., wherein a Federal regulator agency [FAA] allowed a vendor [Boeing] to claim that a modified product did not need full inspection/review to get agency certification of performance [airworthiness]. As you may know, 2 working, nuclear, power plants were forced to shut down and be decommissioned when, in 2011, 2 newly-installed, critical components in each plant were discovered to be defective, beyond repair and not replaceable. These power plants were each producing over 1,000 megawatts of power for over 20 years. In short, the failed components were modifications of the original, successful design that claimed to need only a low-level of Federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission oversight and approval. The mods were, in fact, new and untried and yet only tested by computer modeling and theoretical estimations based on experience with smaller/different designs.

<<< The NRC had not given full inspection/oversight to the new units because of manufacturer/operator claims that the changes were not significant. The NRC did not verify the veracity of those claims. >>>

All 4 components [2 required in each plant] were essentially heat-exchangers weighing 640 tons each, having 10,000 tubes carrying radioactive water surrounded by [transferring their heat to] a separate flow of "clean" water. The tubes were progressively damaged and began leaking. The new design failed. It can not be fixed. Thus, both plants of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station are now a complete loss and await dismantling [as the courts will decide who pays for the fiasco].

Jen , Sep 4 2019 0:20 utc | 37
In my mind, the fact that Boeing transferred its head office from Seattle (where the main manufacturing and presumable the main design and engineering functions are based) to Chicago (centre of the neoliberal economic universe with the University of Chicago being its central shrine of worship, not to mention supply of future managers and administrators) in 1997 says much about the change in corporate culture and values from a culture that emphasised technical and design excellence, deliberate redundancies in essential functions (in case of emergencies or failures of core functions), consistently high standards and care for the people who adhered to these principles, to a predatory culture in which profits prevail over people and performance.

Phew! I barely took a breath there! :-)

Lochearn , Sep 4 2019 0:22 utc | 38
@ 32 david

Good article. Boeing is, or used to be, America's biggest manufacturing export. So you are right it cannot be allowed to fail. Boeing is also a manufacturer of military aircraft. The fact that it is now in such a pitiful state is symptomatic of America's decline and decadence and its takeover by financial predators.

jo6pac , Sep 4 2019 0:39 utc | 40
Posted by: Jen | Sep 4 2019 0:20 utc | 35

Nailed, moved to city of dead but not for gotten uncle Milton Frieman friend of aynn rand.

vk , Sep 4 2019 0:53 utc | 41
I don't think Boeing was arrogant. I think the 737 is simply unfixable and that they know that -- hence they went to the meeting with empty hands.
C I eh? , Sep 4 2019 1:14 utc | 42
They did the same with Nortel, whose share value exceeded 300 billion not long before it was scrapped. Insiders took everything while pension funds were wiped out of existence.

It is so very helpful to understand everything you read is corporate/intel propaganda, and you are always being setup to pay for the next great scam. The murder of 300+ people by boeing was yet another tragedy our sadistic elites could not let go to waste.

Walter , Sep 4 2019 3:10 utc | 43

...And to the idea that Boeing is being kept afloat by financial agencies.

Willow , Sep 4 2019 3:16 utc | 44
Aljazerra has a series of excellent investigative documentaries they did on Boeing. Here is one from 2014. https://www.aljazeera.com/investigations/boeing787/
Igor Bundy , Sep 4 2019 3:17 utc | 45
For many amerikans, a good "offensive" is far preferable than a good defense even if that only involves an apology. Remember what ALL US presidents say.. We will never apologize.. For the extermination of natives, for shooting down civilian airliners, for blowing up mosques full of worshipers, for bombing hospitals.. for reducing many countries to the stone age and using biological and chemical and nuclear weapons against the planet.. For supporting terrorists who plague the planet now. For basically being able to be unaccountable to anyone including themselves as a peculiar race of feces. So it is not the least surprising that amerikan corporations also follow the same bad manners as those they put into and pre-elect to rule them.
Igor Bundy , Sep 4 2019 3:26 utc | 46
People talk about Seattle as if its a bastion of integrity.. Its the same place Microsoft screwed up countless companies to become the largest OS maker? The same place where Amazon fashions how to screw its own employees to work longer and cheaper? There are enough examples that Seattle is not Toronto.. and will never be a bastion of ethics..

Actually can you show me a single place in the US where ethics are considered a bastion of governorship? Other than the libraries of content written about ethics, rarely do amerikans ever follow it. Yet expect others to do so.. This is getting so perverse that other cultures are now beginning to emulate it. Because its everywhere..

Remember Dallas? I watched people who saw in fascination how business can function like that. Well they cant in the long run but throw enough money and resources and it works wonders in the short term because it destroys the competition. But yea around 1998 when they got rid of the laws on making money by magic, most every thing has gone to hell.. because now there are no constraints but making money.. anywhich way.. Thats all that matters..

Igor Bundy , Sep 4 2019 3:54 utc | 47
You got to be daft or bribed to use intel cpu's in embedded systems. Going from a motorolla cpu, the intel chips were dinosaurs in every way. Requiring the cpu to be almost twice as fast to get the same thing done.. Also its interrupt control was not upto par. A simple example was how the commodore amiga could read from the disk and not stutter or slow down anything else you were doing. I never seen this fixed.. In fact going from 8Mhz to 4GHz seems to have fixed it by brute force. Yes the 8Mhz motorolla cpu worked wonders when you had music, video, IO all going at the same time. Its not just the CPU but the support chips which don't lock up the bus. Why would anyone use Intel? When there are so many specific embedded controllers designed for such specific things.
imo , Sep 4 2019 4:00 utc | 48
Initially I thought it was just the new over-sized engines they retro-fitted. A situation that would surely have been easier to get around by just going back to the original engines -- any inefficiencies being less $costly than the time the planes have been grounded. But this post makes the whole rabbit warren 10 miles deeper.

I do not travel much these days and find the cattle-class seating on these planes a major disincentive. Becoming aware of all these added technical issues I will now positively select for alternatives to 737 and bear the cost.

Joost , Sep 4 2019 4:25 utc | 50
I'm surprised Boeing stock still haven't taken nose dive

Posted by: Bob burger | Sep 3 2019 19:27 utc | 9

That is because the price is propped up by $9 billion share buyback per year . Share buyback is an effective scheme to airlift all the cash out of a company towards the major shareholders. I mean, who wants to develop reliable airplanes if you can funnel the cash into your pockets?

Once the buyback ends the dive begins and just before it hits ground zero, they buy the company for pennies on the dollar, possibly with government bailout as a bonus. Then the company flies towards the next climb and subsequent dive. MCAS economics.

Henkie , Sep 4 2019 7:04 utc | 53
Hi , I am new here in writing but not in reading.. About the 80286 , where is the coprocessor the 80287? How can the 80286 make IEEE math calculations? So how can it fly a controlled flight when it can not calculate its accuracy...... How is it possible that this system is certified? It should have at least a 80386 DX not SX!!!!
snake , Sep 4 2019 7:35 utc | 54
moved to Chicago in 1997 says much about the change in corporate culture and values from a culture that emphasised technical and design excellence, deliberate redundancies in essential functions (in case of emergencies or failures of core functions), consistently high standards and care for the people who adhered to these principles, to a predatory culture in which profits prevail over people and performance.

Jen @ 35 < ==

yes, the morally of the companies and their exclusive hold on a complicit or controlled government always defaults the government to support, enforce and encourage the principles of economic Zionism.

But it is more than just the corporate culture => the corporate fat cats 1. use the rule-making powers of the government to make law for them. Such laws create high valued assets from the pockets of the masses. The most well know of those corporate uses of government is involved with the intangible property laws (copyright, patent, and government franchise). The government generated copyright, franchise and Patent laws are monopolies. So when government subsidizes a successful outcome R&D project its findings are packaged up into a set of monopolies [copyrights, privatized government franchises which means instead of 50 companies or more competing for the next increment in technology, one gains the full advantage of that government research only one can use or abuse it. and the patented and copyrighted technology is used to extract untold billions, in small increments from the pockets of the public. 2. use of the judicial power of governments and their courts in both domestic and international settings, to police the use and to impose fake values in intangible property monopolies. Government-rule made privately owned monopoly rights (intangible property rights) generated from the pockets of the masses, do two things: they exclude, deny and prevent would be competition and their make value in a hidden revenue tax that passes to the privately held monopolist with each sale of a copyrighted, government franchised, or patented service or product. . Please note the one two nature of the "use of government law making powers to generate intangible private monopoly property rights"

Canthama , Sep 4 2019 10:37 utc | 56
There is no doubt Boeing has committed crimes on the 737MAX, its arrogance & greedy should be severely punished by the international commitment as an example to other global Corporations. It represents what is the worst of Corporate America that places profits in front of lives.
Christian J Chuba , Sep 4 2019 11:55 utc | 59
How the U.S. is keeping Russia out of the international market?

Iran and other sanctioned countries are a potential captive market and they have growth opportunities in what we sometimes call the non-aligned, emerging markets countries (Turkey, Africa, SE Asia, India, ...).

One thing I have learned is that the U.S. always games the system, we never play fair. So what did we do. Do their manufacturers use 1% U.S. made parts and they need that for international certification?

BM , Sep 4 2019 12:48 utc | 60
Ultimately all of the issues in the news these days are the same one and the same issue - as the US gets closer and closer to the brink of catastrophic collapse they get ever more desperate. As they get more and more desperate they descend into what comes most naturally to the US - throughout its entire history - frenzied violence, total absence of morality, war, murder, genocide, and everything else that the US is so well known for (by those who are not blinded by exceptionalist propaganda).

The Hong Kong violence is a perfect example - it is impossible that a self-respecting nation state could allow itself to be seen to degenerate into such idiotic degeneracy, and so grossly flaunt the most basic human decency. Ergo , the US is not a self-respecting nation state. It is a failed state.

I am certain the arrogance of Boeing reflects two things: (a) an assurance from the US government that the government will back them to the hilt, come what may, to make sure that the 737Max flies again; and (b) a threat that if Boeing fails to get the 737Max in the air despite that support, the entire top level management and board of directors will be jailed. Boeing know very well they cannot deliver. But just as the US government is desperate to avoid the inevitable collapse of the US, the Boeing top management are desperate to avoid jail. It is a charade.

It is time for international regulators to withdraw certification totally - after the problems are all fixed (I don't believe they ever will be), the plane needs complete new certification of every detail from the bottom up, at Boeing's expense, and with total openness from Boeing. The current Boeing management are not going to cooperate with that, therefore the international regulators need to demand a complete replacement of the management and board of directors as a condition for working with them.

Piotr Berman , Sep 4 2019 13:23 utc | 61
From ZeroHedge link:

If Boeing had invested some of this money that it blew on share buybacks to design a new modern plane from ground up to replace the ancient 737 airframe, these tragedies could have been prevented, and Boeing wouldn't have this nightmare on its hands. But the corporate cost-cutters and financial engineers, rather than real engineers, had the final word.

Markets don't care about any of this. They don't care about real engineers either. They love corporate cost-cutters and financial engineers. They want share buybacks, and if something bad happens, they'll overlook the $5 billion to pay for the fallout because it's just a "one-time item."

And now Boeing still has this plane, instead of a modern plane, and the history of this plane is now tainted, as is its brand, and by extension, that of Boeing. But markets blow that off too. Nothing matters.

Companies are getting away each with their own thing. There are companies that are losing a ton of money and are burning tons of cash, with no indications that they will ever make money. And market valuations are just ludicrous.

======

Thus Boeing issue is part of a much larger picture. Something systemic had to make "markets" less rational. And who is this "market"? In large part, fund managers wracking their brains how to create "decent return" while the cost of borrowing and returns on lending are super low. What remains are forms of real estate and stocks.

Overall, Boeing buy-backs exceeded 40 billion dollars, one could guess that half or quarter of that would suffice to build a plane that logically combines the latest technologies. E.g. the entire frame design to fit together with engines, processors proper for the information processing load, hydraulics for steering that satisfy force requirements in almost all circumstances etc. New technologies also fail because they are not completely understood, but when the overall design is logical with margins of safety, the faults can be eliminated.

Instead, 737 was slowly modified toward failure, eliminating safety margins one by one.

morongobill , Sep 4 2019 14:08 utc | 63

Regarding the 80286 and the 737, don't forget that the air traffic control system and the ICBM system uses old technology as well.

Seems our big systems have feet of old silicon.

Allan Bowman , Sep 4 2019 15:15 utc | 66
Boeing has apparently either never heard of, or ignores a procedure that is mandatory in satellite design and design reviews. This is FMEA or Failure Modes and Effects Analysis. This requires design engineers to document the impact of every potential failure and combination of failures thereby highlighting everthing from catastrophic effects to just annoyances. Clearly BOEING has done none of these and their troubles are a direct result. It can be assumed that their arrogant and incompetent management has not yet understood just how serious their behavior is to the future of the company.
fx , Sep 4 2019 16:08 utc | 69
Once the buyback ends the dive begins and just before it hits ground zero, they buy the company for pennies on the dollar, possibly with government bailout as a bonus. Then the company flies towards the next climb and subsequent dive. MCAS economics.

Posted by: Joost | Sep 4 2019 4:25 utc | 50

Well put!

Bemildred , Sep 4 2019 16:11 utc | 70
Computer modelling is what they are talking about in the cliche "Garbage in, garbage out".

The problem is not new, and it is well understood. What computer modelling is is cheap, and easy to fudge, and that is why it is popular with people who care about money a lot. Much of what is called "AI" is very similar in its limitations, a complicated way to fudge up the results you want, or something close enough for casual examination.

In particular cases where you have a well-defined and well-mathematized theory, then you can get some useful results with models. Like in Physics, Chemistry.

And they can be useful for "realistic" training situations, like aircraft simulators. The old story about wargame failures against Iran is another such situation. A lot of video games are big simulations in essence. But that is not reality, it's fake reality.

Trond , Sep 4 2019 17:01 utc | 79
@ SteveK9 71 "By the way, the problem was caused by Mitsubishi, who designed the heat exchangers."

Ahh. The furriners...

I once made the "mistake" of pointing out (in a comment under an article in Salon) that the reactors that exploded at Fukushima was made by GE and that GE people was still in charge of the reactors of American quality when they exploded. (The amerikans got out on one of the first planes out of the country).

I have never seen so many angry replies to one of my comments. I even got e-mails for several weeks from angry Americans.

c1ue , Sep 4 2019 19:44 utc | 80
@Henkie #53 You need floating point for scientific calculations, but I really doubt the 737 is doing any scientific research. Also, a regular CPU can do mathematical calculations. It just isn't as fast nor has the same capacity as a dedicated FPU. Another common use for FPUs is in live action shooter games - the neo-physics portions utilize scientific-like calculations to create lifelike actions. I sold computer systems in the 1990s while in school - Doom was a significant driver for newer systems (as well as hedge fund types). Again, don't see why an airplane needs this.

[Aug 29, 2019] Opiod epidemic is a a neoliberal Epidemics

Notable quotes:
"... My judgement includes findings of fact and conclusions of law that the state met its burden that the defendants Janssen and Johnson & Johnson's misleading marketing and promotion of opioids created a nuisance as defined by 50 O.S. Sec. 1 , including a finding that those actions compromised the health and safety of thousands of Oklahomans. ..."
"... Specifically, defendants caused an opioid crisis that is evidenced by increased rates of addiction, overdose deaths and neonatal abstinence syndrome in Oklahoma ..."
"... "As I just stated, the opioid crisis has ravaged the state of Oklahoma. It must be abated immediately. For this reason, I am entering an abatement plan that consists of costs totaling $572,102,028 to immediately remediate the nuisance," Balkman said. "This is the amount of costs that I am constrained to order Janssen and Johnson & Johnson to pay based on the particulars of a nuisance claim and the evidence that was presented at trial. ..."
"... Gorsky also assured Johnson & Johnson's business partners the stimulants it plans to produce will be every bit as addictive as opioids and accompanied by an equally widespread misinformation campaign. ..."
Aug 29, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Everything went according to neoliberal dogma: Greed is good

As nondoc.com reported:

"I've opted not to read the entire 42-page judgment," Balkman told a packed courtroom in Norman shortly before announcing the numbers in his verdict. "The opioid crisis is an eminent and menace to Oklahomans.

My judgement includes findings of fact and conclusions of law that the state met its burden that the defendants Janssen and Johnson & Johnson's misleading marketing and promotion of opioids created a nuisance as defined by 50 O.S. Sec. 1 , including a finding that those actions compromised the health and safety of thousands of Oklahomans.

Specifically, defendants caused an opioid crisis that is evidenced by increased rates of addiction, overdose deaths and neonatal abstinence syndrome in Oklahoma."

Balkman said the opioid crisis is a "temporary public nuisance that can be abated."

"As I just stated, the opioid crisis has ravaged the state of Oklahoma. It must be abated immediately. For this reason, I am entering an abatement plan that consists of costs totaling $572,102,028 to immediately remediate the nuisance," Balkman said. "This is the amount of costs that I am constrained to order Janssen and Johnson & Johnson to pay based on the particulars of a nuisance claim and the evidence that was presented at trial.

"Whether additional programs and fundings are needed over an extended period of time, those are determinations to be made by our legislators and policy makers. In this moment and based on this record, this is what the court can and will do to abate the nuisance."

Balkman noted that he still has jurisdiction over the case , and that he almost certainly will be asked to make additional rulings.

"So it impossible for me to make any further statements about the trial or my ruling other than what I have said today," Balkman said.

Note that a judge, not a jury set the amount of damages to be awarded. A jury would almost certainly have awarded a higher payout by J & J (although that hypothetical amount may then have been reduced after appeal).

The amount J & J must now pay the state of Oklahoma is significantly greater than the $270 million Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of OxyContin owned by the Sackler family, and the $85 million Teva Pharmaceuticals, separately agreed previously to settle each's respective Oklahoma claims. \

Additionally, Purdue and Teva also avoided incurring the costs of contesting a trial.


John Zelnicker , August 28, 2019 at 12:25 pm

Jerri-Lynn – Thank you for keeping us updated on the progress of these lawsuits. The pharmaceutical drug dealers need to be held accountable for the damage they have caused. The claim that OxyContin was not addictive, or less so than other opioids, was laughable to anyone who had some experience with them.

There have been three prosecutions locally of doctors who were giving out opioids like candy, even letting nurses write the scrips so the "patients" could be moved through the process more quickly.

I was a patient of one of those doctors (back problems, including surgery) for a while a couple of years before he was prosecuted, lost his license, and had to do some time in prison (IIRC). He seemed to follow most of the rules (and wrote all scrips himself), but was easily persuaded to increase a patient's dosage. Fortunately, I stopped taking opioids before things got hot.

Adam1 , August 28, 2019 at 12:39 pm

Unless it comes with several decades of jail time and confiscation of all private property obtained with ill begot gains (that's what we'd hand a major heroin dealer) then it's not a reasonable settlement.

J&J the company didn't do anything. It's just a legal, non-person thing. The criminals are the people running it and they need to be the ones held liable.

Don't get me wrong. J&J as a company needs to help fix this mess, but we can't let the real criminals slither into the night and drift off on their yachts drinking champagne bought with money taken from ruined families and communities.

PKMKII , August 28, 2019 at 12:43 pm

For context, J&J's net income for 2018 was $15.29 billion. So this particular verdict represents 3.74% of J&J's annual net income.

Annieb , August 28, 2019 at 1:37 pm

To get the full extent of Purdue's criminality, read "American Overdose." The author is Chris McGreal While reading it, I thought that this opioid epidemic began and developed in a similar fashion to the subprime mortgage fiasco with the same type of warnings, collusions and criminal fraud. Huge profits for the corporate criminals. And , tragically, the resulting human consequences, financial ruin in the one case and death in the other.

notabanktoadie , August 28, 2019 at 4:16 pm

In a healthy society, i.e. one with economic justice*, the demand for drugs would be small since there would be little need to escape reality per:

Give strong drink to him who is perishing,
And wine to him whose life is bitter.
Let him drink and forget his poverty
And remember his trouble no more.

Open your mouth for the mute,
For the rights of all the unfortunate.
Open your mouth, judge righteously,
And defend the rights of the afflicted and needy.
Proverbs 31:6-9 [bold added]

*Which certainly would not include government privileges for private credit creation, i.e. for the banks and the rich, the most so-called credit worthy of what is then, in essence, the PUBLIC'S credit but for private profit.

DonCoyote , August 28, 2019 at 4:35 pm

Johnson & Johnson Pledges To Push Uppers For Couple Decades To Even Things Out (The Onion)

Gorsky also assured Johnson & Johnson's business partners the stimulants it plans to produce will be every bit as addictive as opioids and accompanied by an equally widespread misinformation campaign.

I think they forgot to mention that that's where $544 million of the $572 million settlement will go–back to J&J to produce, market, and distribute the uppers.

[Aug 29, 2019] 737 Max Boeing s Crashes Expose Systemic Failings by DER SPIEGEL Staff

Notable quotes:
"... DER SPIEGEL learned a great deal about the bizarre process of regulatory approval in the U.S. We also learned of a complaint by a whistleblower at Boeing, who approached the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) in June with serious accusations against the airplane manufacturer. ..."
"... But if it is revealed that 346 people died because both a corporation and the regulators tasked with overseeing it were grossly negligent, or even deliberately lax, then it would have far-reaching consequences for the aviation industry, the credibility of supervisory bodies and for normal people's everyday lives. ..."
"... "Even before the Lion Air and ET 302 flight data recorder information was available, it was clear to us that the two events shared remarkable similarity," Moller recalls. The two lawyers had no doubt: "There was something seriously flawed and wrong with the 737 Max." ..."
"... The flight paths of both planes were inexplicably wild, characterized by sharp and sudden gains and losses of altitude, as if the pilots were struggling to maintain control of their aircraft. By the end, the planes had gained so much speed and were descending so steeply that the pilots would have had to possess superhuman strength to counter the pressure on the horizontal stabilizer trim. Moller and Green from the law firm Kreindler & Kreindler, specialists in catastrophes, had a case. And what a case it was. ..."
"... "We believe that the facts that emerge through litigation will demonstrate that commercial pressure, the Boeing/Airbus competition and the drive to make money and save money resulted in the 737 Max, as initially designed and sold, being an unreasonably dangerous airplane," says Moller. ..."
"... The competition between Boeing and Airbus does, in fact, appear to be a key element in these two crashes. The profitability of both companies depends on but a few products, and when it comes to the most important aircraft of all, the short- and medium-haul planes, Boeing has fallen behind Airbus, Moller says, and suddenly, once-loyal Boeing customers were buying jets from Airbus, preferring the new A320 to the outdated 737. Boeing had to act quickly. But instead of designing an altogether new aircraft, Moller says, engineers continued to make changes to the old 737 design and, in the end, came up with an aircraft that was dangerously designed. ..."
"... In the coming proceedings and investigations, particular attention will be paid to the time between the crash in Indonesia and the one in Ethiopia. This will be the most dangerous window for Boeing. If the prosecution can prove or find witnesses to say that people at Boeing or aviation regulators had cautioned against the further operation of the 737 Max after the Lion Air crash, it could make the company look extremely culpable. If anyone at Boeing had even the slightest inkling of the new system's inherent risks, things could get tricky. ..."
"... The Kreindler attorneys have already filed their first complaints with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago. They chose Chicago because that's where Boeing's board of directors and corporate management is located, far from the company's production facilities in Seattle. "It was Boeing's board that approved the Boeing 737 Max project," Green says. The lawyers in New York already know who the judge will be. His name is Alonso, a youthful-looking man who was appointed under Barack Obama. "This is his first major aviation case," Green says. ..."
Aug 29, 2019 | www.spiegel.de

Pushing It to the Max Boeing's Crashes Expose Systemic Failings

The crash of two Boeing 737 Max jets in the course of just months has created an existential crisis for the company. Were the 346 who died in Indonesia and Ethiopia the victims of shortcuts and cutthroat competition in the aviation industry?

... ... ...

From here, there's a direct connection to Indonesia, where only five months earlier, on Oct. 29, Lion Air Flight 610 likewise entered a steep dive, slamming into the Java Sea minutes after takeoff. Together, these two crashes plunged the aviation world into turmoil. And all eyes were suddenly trained on an airplane that had only just gone on the market: the Boeing 737 Max.

Within hours of the second crash, China ordered all planes of that model to be grounded. The United States needed three days to follow suit. Since then, 550 of the new planes around the world, with a sticker price of around $135 million, have been paralyzed. If it were up to Boeing, the aircraft would have been back in service long ago, patched up with a software update. But following the failure of the update in question in tests conducted in late June, the crisis has been ongoing. The 737 Max remains grounded and all eyes are still fixed on Boeing.

In recent weeks, DER SPIEGEL dispatched a reporting team to Seattle, New York, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Addis Ababa, Jakarta and Paris to shed light on the events leading up to and including the crashes. They conducted interviews with Boeing executives and airline managers, visited Boeing factories and spoke to experts who explained the technical side of what went wrong. They even stepped into a flight simulator to get a better understanding. In Ethiopia and Indonesia, they tracked down eyewitnesses of the crashes and spoke to the victims' surviving family members around the world along with lawyers and experts.

DER SPIEGEL learned a great deal about the bizarre process of regulatory approval in the U.S. We also learned of a complaint by a whistleblower at Boeing, who approached the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) in June with serious accusations against the airplane manufacturer.

A best-case scenario is hard to imagine given the dire straits in which Boeing currently finds itself. The only way our standard approach to the risks of flying can possibly remain unchanged is if, at the end of the investigations in Ethiopia and Indonesia, it is determined that both were truly accidents in the conventional sense and their similarities.

But if it is revealed that 346 people died because both a corporation and the regulators tasked with overseeing it were grossly negligent, or even deliberately lax, then it would have far-reaching consequences for the aviation industry, the credibility of supervisory bodies and for normal people's everyday lives.

A Feared Lawyer

It was nighttime in New York when the Boeing 737 fell out of the sky in Ethiopia. Marc Moller heard about it on Sunday morning right after he woke up. An Ethiopian Airlines plane, he learned, had crashed on the way to Nairobi with 157 people on board. His first thought was: Lion Air.

Soon, the first TV stations began calling him. CNN and NBC always need experts when the words "Breaking News" scroll across the screen. Producers at the news channels have Moller's number saved for whenever a plane goes down and the 80-year-old lawyer is a legend among his colleagues. When it comes to representing the bereaved, no one can fool him. Airlines, airplane manufacturers, even car rental companies have come to fear him. Should the situation call for it, Moller has no problem disparaging the other side as "mass murderers." When he represented relatives of the victims of the Germanwings crash in 2015, he accused the instructors of the co-pilot, who ultimately killed himself and 149 others in a brutal murder-suicide, of not having noticed how volatile the pilot was.

A day after the crash in Ethiopia, Moller met with a senior partner from the law firm Kreindler & Kreindler on Third Avenue in Manhattan. The man's name is Justin Green, who had flown fighter jets for the Marines before becoming an attorney. By the time Moller showed up, Green had already begun analyzing the radar data from Flight 302. Now they compared it with the data from Lion Air 610. "Even before the Lion Air and ET 302 flight data recorder information was available, it was clear to us that the two events shared remarkable similarity," Moller recalls. The two lawyers had no doubt: "There was something seriously flawed and wrong with the 737 Max."

The flight paths of both planes were inexplicably wild, characterized by sharp and sudden gains and losses of altitude, as if the pilots were struggling to maintain control of their aircraft. By the end, the planes had gained so much speed and were descending so steeply that the pilots would have had to possess superhuman strength to counter the pressure on the horizontal stabilizer trim. Moller and Green from the law firm Kreindler & Kreindler, specialists in catastrophes, had a case. And what a case it was.

... ... ...

Colorful, Jagged Lines

Half a world away, New York attorneys Moller and Green spread out documents showing the plane's flight path, angle of attack and speed at various points in time. The data has been entered into a coordinate system and are represented as colorful, jagged lines that only experts can interpret. For this, Moller relies on his colleague Green, though he has his own opinion of what went wrong: "We believe that the facts that emerge through litigation will demonstrate that commercial pressure, the Boeing/Airbus competition and the drive to make money and save money resulted in the 737 Max, as initially designed and sold, being an unreasonably dangerous airplane," says Moller.

The competition between Boeing and Airbus does, in fact, appear to be a key element in these two crashes. The profitability of both companies depends on but a few products, and when it comes to the most important aircraft of all, the short- and medium-haul planes, Boeing has fallen behind Airbus, Moller says, and suddenly, once-loyal Boeing customers were buying jets from Airbus, preferring the new A320 to the outdated 737. Boeing had to act quickly. But instead of designing an altogether new aircraft, Moller says, engineers continued to make changes to the old 737 design and, in the end, came up with an aircraft that was dangerously designed.

When he talks, Moller sounds like he already has the jury in front of him. He asks rhetorical questions, which he immediately answers himself, and develops an image for his audience of a plane, wobbling and shaking from faulty software run amok, with an overwhelmed crew, at far too low an altitude, much too close to the ground -- all because the aircraft was designed and built in such great haste.

"We believe that the facts that will emerge through the litigation will demonstrate that commercial pressure, the Boeing/Airbus competition and the drive to make money and save money resulted in the 737 MAX as initially designed and sold was an unreasonably dangerous airplane," says Moller.

Of course, the engineers never meant to kill anyone, Moller hastens to add. But he says they were driven by confirmation bias as they worked toward their goal. And that goal was to deliver an aircraft as quickly as possible -- one that looked new, was more fuel efficient, that airlines would want to have and that pilots could fly immediately without requiring further training.

DER SPIEGEL

In the coming proceedings and investigations, particular attention will be paid to the time between the crash in Indonesia and the one in Ethiopia. This will be the most dangerous window for Boeing. If the prosecution can prove or find witnesses to say that people at Boeing or aviation regulators had cautioned against the further operation of the 737 Max after the Lion Air crash, it could make the company look extremely culpable. If anyone at Boeing had even the slightest inkling of the new system's inherent risks, things could get tricky.

Moller is confident the case can be won. In court, he plans to talk about trust, which he can already do very convincingly. "You board an airplane, sit down in seat 10C or 14F and you have no idea who the pilot is," Moller says. "You have no idea who was the last one to have messed around with the maintenance of the plane. You sit down, buckle up and you even worry about sitting upright and putting your feet in the right position. You are locked into this tube. Some are nervous, some are not. But all have to have absolute trust that everything is in order, the equipment and the people operating it. Absolutely safe. And if there is the slightest doubt about the safety of the plane by the airline: Don't fly. The plane must be grounded."

The Kreindler attorneys have already filed their first complaints with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago. They chose Chicago because that's where Boeing's board of directors and corporate management is located, far from the company's production facilities in Seattle. "It was Boeing's board that approved the Boeing 737 Max project," Green says. The lawyers in New York already know who the judge will be. His name is Alonso, a youthful-looking man who was appointed under Barack Obama. "This is his first major aviation case," Green says.

[Aug 27, 2019] Boeing Faces First Customer Lawsuit Over 737 MAX

Aug 27, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Expectations that the Boeing 737 MAX 8 will return to the skies any time in the near future have largely faded, and now, after dedicating billions of dollars to compensating customers, Boeing is finally facing their wrath in the courtroom. The FT reports that a Russian aircraft-leasing company has filed a lawsuit against the aerospace company seeking not only the return of the deposit it paid for the 35 MAX 8s that it ordered, but also punitive damages in the hundreds of millions.

Avia Capital Services, a subsidiary of Russian state conglomerate Rostec, accused Boeing of "negligent actions and decisions" that led to two deadly accidents and roughly 350 deaths. Regulators around the world grounded the 737 MAX 8 in response to the accidents, and investigations have pointed toward issues with the plane's software as the culprit.

In its lawsuit, Avia also claimed that the design of the MAX 8 was "defective", and - embracing a more conspiratorial tone - that Boeing knew about these defects bu withheld this "critical information" from US regulators and Boeing's customers. The lawsuit was filed in Cook County circuit court in Chicago, where Boeing is based.

Avia ordered 35 MAX 8s, and paid a cash deposit of $35 million to secure its order. In its lawsuit, the company is seeking the return of this deposit, along with another $75 million of lost profits plus additional punitive damages.

The company's lawyer, Steven Marks of the Miami aviation law firm Podhurst Orseck, said Boeing had offered the company compensation for the MAX 8's problems, but that this compensation was "inadequate." Marks is also representing the families of some of the victims.

Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg has said it's possible that the MAX 8 could be re-approved for passenger service by October. But it's entirely possible that the CEO could be jawboning to convince customers to hold off from moving ahead with lawsuits. Of course, the families of the victims who died in the two plane crashes attributed to flaws in the 737 MAX 8's anti-stall system are moving ahead with their lawsuits, even after Boeing set aside $100 million for payoffs. In the meantime, orders for new 737 MAX 8s have dried up, and if the plane isn't given the OK to return to the skies before the end of the year, it's possible that Boeing could halt production of its most popular aircraft, according to CBS News.

American firms like Southwest (the 737 MAX 8s' largest customer) have been far more understanding and willing to work with Boeing. But how much longer until their patience runs out, and they start filing lawsuits?

Though this hasn't been reflected in Boeing shares, it's still entirely possible that a flood of legal judgments could bankrupt Boeing.


jaksjohnson , 24 minutes ago link

There goes ZH again with their propaganda puff pieces. Using the term conspiratorial like most of ZH readers don't already know it was a term invented by the CIA to attack people who questioned government narratives. How pathetic. How much lower can you go? I'm guessing as long as NBC pays the bills, much lower

pudknocker , 43 minutes ago link

They also eat their own yungin's. Check out the Boeing - Ducommun corruption swept under the carpet involving the previous 737 series: https://www.brandeis.edu/investigate/political-social-justice/boeing-parts-scandal.html .

Guess who won the contracts for 737 MAX spoilers/doors/inlets yada yada? Starts with D.

Mariner33 , 39 minutes ago link

Social engineering, set asides, afearmotive ackshun, rainbow workers, etc, etc, all come at a price, less quality, inferior production, higher costs, and less safety. It's about votes from the less or not qualified, lazy, and low aptitude. America is sinking under the dead weight.

moseybear , 40 minutes ago link

... and to that, the "Wall Street" types respond? So what? The bottom line is all that matters. When it become apparent that the value of the company is going to wane, the insiders will bailout -- well ahead of the exodus insuring their profits and/or minimizing their risks. We've been in the "investor economy" officially since 2009 and TARP. It was announced in public that some things in the planned economy are simply "too big to fail". That statement implies that all the others are simply "too small to matter". I am sure the "Wall Street" types are finding creative ways to turn this problem into just another profit center. When it comes to investing? There is no morality. The penalties for crimes by corporations are fundamentally different than for real persons.

Mariner33 , 20 minutes ago link

They win either way. Massively shorting Boeing earns them money just as much as if the stock goes up.

Solarstone , 37 minutes ago link

Mariner... thanks for your comment. What is your opinion, as an engineer, on the structural integrity of the MAX?

Mariner33 , 21 minutes ago link

There is what is KNOWN by observation and data, observation. And then there is the knowledge of METHOD, meaning a culture of neglect, sloth, deception, amorality, greed, and just not giving a ****. THAT means that the possibility or even probability of more defects and omissions are not yet known. I believe there are more structural and mechanical defects that have not seen the light of day. There are several extended interviews with fired Boinging employees who objected to violating procedures or whistle blowers who describe horrendous mistakes and improper workmanship that is actually criminal.

I believe that a certain number-provided by Boeing-should be forensically torn down to the last riot and Quality checked.

pudknocker , 11 minutes ago link

Initial reports from witnesses on the ground to the Ethiopian Flight ET302 crash indicated clothes and luggage were spewing out before impact: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6794233/Safety-fears-Boeing-737-Max-8-China-country-ground-jet-Ethiopian-crash.html .

That is not the result of a software or procedural error, structural failure is not to be ruled out.

simpson seers , 1 hour ago link

Russian company begins judicial process to terminate contract with Boeing

https://www.fort-russ.com/2019/08/russian-company-begins-judicial-process-to-terminate-contract-with-boeing/

BorraChoom , 1 hour ago link

Replacing American Engineers with Cheap H-1 workers.

I could really care less if Boeing dies after what they did to all their great engineers just because they were white, they are trying to shift the blame for the failure of the SJW MAX over to Whitey but the effort is largely failing because it is too obviously patently false.

Adios Gillette, Boeing, (hopefully Nike) and whoever else takes a crap on their roots including Dicks Sporting Goods, which has now posted enormous losses - I'd rather see them gone and if others stood their ground well enough, we'll see LOTS MORE get tossed in the ash bin of history.

I'll be disappointed if anyone who tries to damage our civilization further than it has already been damaged survives in business after trying.

warsev , 1 hour ago link

It's interesting how the world seems to be getting along mostly OK without 737Max. Relatively few disruptions, at least from the point of view of this specimen of flying public. I'm sure the airlines have had to jump through a few hoops, but the longer the work-arounds keep working, the less need for 737MAX.

Nebuchadnezzar II , 1 hour ago link

Kra-Z-Eyes, say anything for the apartheid state of israel, Nimrata Haley is on Boeing's Board of Directors with an annual salary of $315,000.00 per year 'cause she has an undergraduate degree in accounting.

Nikki Haley slams 'manipulative' Macron for inviting Zarif to G7 ... https://www.jpost.com › American-Politics › Nikki-Haley-slams-manipulati... 1 day ago - The Jerusalem Post - Israel News ... Nikki Haley slams 'manipulative' Macron for inviting Zarif to G7 ... United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley listens to a speaker during a U.N. Security Council meeting ...

Nikki Haley, who fought union effort at Boeing S.C. plant, nominated to ... https://www.seattletimes.com › business › nikki-haley-nominated-for-board-s... Feb 26, 2019 - Haley, former governor of South Carolina, fought attempts by unions to represent ... Nikki Haley, who fought union effort at Boeing S.C. plant, nominated to jet ... The New York Times, The Washington Post or Bloomberg News.

noshitsherlock , 1 hour ago link

I'm from South Carolina, Nikki Haley should be hung. However, she's a slick enough politician to get re-elected.

Glad she left SC, now can **** up on an international level.

Under her leadership the roads in SC went down the tubes because she kept vetoing gas tax increases.

All the time, when we're on a particularly rough stretch, I tell my wife "Haley roads."

[Aug 19, 2019] Despite Devastating Crashes, Boeing Stocks Fly High

Aug 19, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

In a turbulent world, some things remain stable, even to an irrational degree. One example is the price of Boeing stock, which, at $329 a share as of midday August 16, has barely moved -- down just 1.6 percent -- from a year ago.

As all the world knows, in the intervening 12 months, two Boeing 737 Max jets have crashed, killing a total of 346 people. We also know that the crashes were entirely thanks to corporate management rushing through a Rube Goldberg adaptation of a half century-old design, suborning the FAA to approve untested and incompetently programmed software control features along with other irresponsible shortcuts (such as cutting the company's own test pilots out of MAX development planning and avoiding mention of the new control features in the airline pilots' manuals).

Nevertheless, neither the slaughter of passengers nor the subsequent deluge of shocking revelations have had any long-term impact on the stock price. There have indeed been short-term fluctuations in the interim, notably a sharp climb in the months following the first MAX disaster in Indonesia last October, when management's disgraceful PR spin ascribing blame to incompetent foreign pilots achieved some traction in the press.

The second crash, in March this year, and consequent worldwide grounding of the plane, led to a sharp downward move, which nonetheless leveled off at around current prices even as bad news of corporate culpability continued to seep out of the ongoing investigations. On the other hand, for anyone who cares to look, the bad news is clearly reflected in the balance sheet. The hallowed planemaker recently announced the largest quarterly loss in its history -- $2.9 billion -- thanks to a $5 billion charge relating to lost revenue on MAX sales. Overall, Boeing now owns a total equity of negative $5 billion, meaning that its liabilities exceed assets by that amount. That $5 billion charge was most certainly a drop in the bucket compared to the lawsuit settlements yet to come. Even so, Wall Street appears unworried. Analysts still rate the stock a "strong buy" by a wide margin , with a consensus estimate that it will climb some 90 points from its currently stable position in the high $320s over the next 12 months. The $2.3 billion Boeing spent buying its own stock in the first three months of this year no doubt encouraged such bullish sentiment, part of the $43 billion splurged on price-propping buybacks since 2013.

In addition, other powerful forces are hard at work to save the corporate behemoth from going into a terminal stall. Boeing, for example, is a component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the 30-stock index generally if misleadingly cited as a bellwether of the market as a whole, and even the entire U.S. economy. Because the Dow is weighted by price, an upward or downward move in Boeing has a significant effect on the index, which makes it a particular object of interest for the trading desks at major Wall Street players. Hence the stock is traded very actively in the "dark pools," otherwise known as "alternative trading systems," with opaque names such as JP Morgan's JPMX, operated by the big banks and major institutions as unregulated stock exchanges, courtesy of a toothless SEC.

These are ideal instruments for manipulating the market, since they don't have to show their bids and offers to the general market place as is required on regulated exchanges. As analogy, think of carpet dealers in a bazaar negotiating prices privately among themselves behind the backs of ordinary customers.

The tender regard being exhibited by big players on Wall Street is not, of course, solely for the sake of propping up the Dow. There is a lot of money directly at stake , not least in the 67 percent of the Boeing stock owned by just five giant funds, including Vanguard ($5.3 trillion in total assets) and Blackstone ($6.8 trillion). It's a sign that Boeing must keep borrowing money to stay afloat. Fortunately, thanks to low interest rates and the river of cash generated by the Federal Reserve since 2008, supplies are ready to hand. Thus on July 31, for example, Boeing borrowed a total of $5.5 billion via notes of varying maturities and interest rates taken up by major banks, including JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo, and Goldman Sachs -- and that was on top of $3.5 billion borrowed in late April.

Making the World Safe for Oligopoly The Doctor Monopoly is Killing American Patients

Given that it may be quite a while before money starts to flow again from airlines shopping for 737s, there is undoubtedly a lot of Wall Street interest in the alternative source for emergency Boeing cash flow: a giant taxpayer bailout in the form of a Pentagon contract of suitable proportions. Fortunately, there is a vehicle for delivering the cash: the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent, the Minuteman-replacement ICBM authorized by President Obama as part of his $1 trillion nuclear modernization program . It carries a price tag, gratifying to investors, of up to $100 billion -- a sum that will quite certainly be exceeded down the road.

Until very recently, the competition for this lucrative (and totally unneeded) contract was between Boeing and Northrop Grumman. Given that Northrop is already enjoying a pot of modernization gold in the shape of the B-21 bomber contract, Boeing seemed a sure bet to land the deal, especially as the Air Force's detailed requirements appeared tailored to favor Boeing rather than Northrop.

But in late July, Boeing abruptly announced that it was walking away from the bidding. This was not due to a sudden reluctance to service the nuclear arms race, but rather a high-stakes effort to prod the Air Force into rewriting the cost of the competition rules, officially termed "request for proposal," so as to obviate the cost advantage enjoyed by Northrop thanks to its artful purchase last year of Orbital ATK, the only viable supplier of the solid fuel rocket engines required by the new missile. We cannot doubt that the Air Force will see the light before too long, the stakes for the system being what they are. "Too big to fail" is a term customarily applied to the colossi of Wall Street, who thus escaped the consequences of their greed and incompetence following their shredding of the global economy in the 2008 crash. As the Boeing saga outlined above illustrates, the TBTFers stick together, secure in the knowledge that the taxpayers will always be there to pick up the tab.

Andrew Cockburn is the Washington editor of Harper's Magazine and the author of five nonfiction books, including Kill Chain: The Rise of the High-Tech Assassins (2016) . He has written for The New York Times, The New Yorker, Playboy, Vanity Fair, and National Geographic, among other publications.

This article was supported by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

Kenneth_Almquist Bob Wilkens 2 hours ago

Where Boeing is at fault (as well as the FAA for letting Boeing get away with it) is for claiming that airlines didn't need to train pilots to fly the 737-MAX (as long as the pilots knew how to fly other 737 variants).

In reality, the 737-MAX, unlike other 737 variants, was programmed to plunge nose-first into the ground if a single angle of attack sensor failed. That's a really nasty feature--in fact Boeing has conceded that the airplane shouldn't have been designed that way in the first place--and needs to be covered in training.

You point to inadequate training in undeveloped countries, which may be true as a general matter, but in this case, the training was inadequate everywhere. No pilot should have been piloting a 737-MAX until they demonstrated that they could handle the sensor failure scenario in a flight simulator. Airlines in the United States didn't provide this training because Boeing assured them they didn't have to.

I have no quarrel with the Boeing in general, but in this case the company really blew it. When Boeing came up with the concept of the 737-MAX (basically a plane that could act as a drop-in replacement for other 737 variants while carrying more passengers), it may have been reasonable to believe that this was doable. Later on in the development process, it should have been obvious that this goal wasn't completely achievable, but their may have been some "group think" effect that prevented people at Boeing from recognizing this.

polistra24 20 hours ago
This is what Ike was talking about. He wasn't just bashing the closeness of military and industry and academic research, he was specifically discussing the security and laziness of cost-plus contracts.
tweets21 13 hours ago
Like the Banks, Boeing has to remain viable. Boeing will find a fall guy, and move on from there.Lehman Bros took the hit for the Banks creation of the great recession.
david 10 hours ago
"It's a sign that Boeing must keep borrowing money to stay afloat."
- Right, a company that is building on house of cards...

"But in late July, Boeing abruptly announced that it was walking away from the bidding. This was not due to a sudden reluctance to service the nuclear arms race, but rather a high-stakes effort to prod the Air Force into rewriting the cost of the competition rules," -
- ....and is still able to blackmail Air Force and taxpayers for more money.

Please tell. Who is the biggest suckers here?

[Aug 17, 2019] With the Boeing 737 MAX Grounded, Top Boeing Bosses Must Testify Before Congress Now by Ralph Nader

Notable quotes:
"... Meanwhile, just about everybody in the airline industry, the Department of Transportation, the National Transportation Safety Board, the Justice Department (with its criminal probe), the transport unions, the consumer groups such as Flyers Rights, and the flying public are anxious to see top Boeing officials in the witness chair under oath answering important questions. ..."
"... It is not as if Boeing lobbyists are absent. The giant company has been everywhere in Washington, D.C. getting its way for years in Congress, with NASA, the Department of Defense, and of course, the hapless, understaffed FAA. Boeing gives campaign donations to about some 330 members of Congress. ..."
"... The Boeing case involves a more imminent danger. The company and its "captured" FAA want to unground the MAX as fast as possible and to get more new MAXs, under order, to the airlines. ..."
"... This haste is all the more reason why Congress has to pick up the pace, regardless of "MAX Mitch" McConnell, the Kentucky dictator of the Senate who is a ward of the Boeing complex and its campaign cash. If the 737 MAX is ever allowed to fly again, with its shaky software fixes, glitches, and stitches, the pressure will build on members of Congress to go soft on the company. They will be told not to alarm millions of passengers and unsettle the airline industry with persistent doubts about the plane's prone-to-stall and other serious safety hazards from overautomation and sloppy construction, already documented in The New York Times, the Seattle Times, and other solid media reporting. ..."
"... Moreover, retired airline Captain Chesley Sullenberger, in his brilliant testimony before DeFazio on June 19th, called for full simulator training for pilots before they fly the MAX on scheduled routes (read Captain Sullenberger's full statement here ). ..."
"... How long before the Securities and Exchange Commission or the Department of Transportation or the Congress and the betrayed airlines themselves call for the resignation of both officers and the Board and, end the career conflict of interest these failed incumbents have with the future well-being of the Boeing Corporation itself? ..."
Aug 16, 2019 | www.counterpunch.org

Two Boeing 737 MAX crashes, one in Indonesia last October and one in Ethiopia this past March, took a combined 346 lives. Steady scrutiny by the media reported internal company leaks and gave voice to sidelined ex-Boeing engineers and aerospace safety specialists. These experts have revealed that Boeing's executives are responsible because they chose to use an unstable structural design and faulty software. These decisions left the flying public, the pilots, the airlines, and the FAA in the dark, to varying degrees.

Yet Congressional Committees, which announced investigations months ago, still have not called on Dennis Muilenburg, the CEO of Boeing, or any member of Boeing's Board of Directors to testify.

Given the worldwide emergency grounding of all 400 or so MAX aircraft and the peril to crews and airline passengers, why are the Senate and House Committees holding back? House Committee Chairman, Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) wants to carefully prepare for such action after the staff goes through the much delayed transmission of documents from Boeing. Meanwhile, Senate Committee Chair Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) deferred to Boeing's request to put off their testimony before Congress until the Indonesian government puts out its report on the Lion Air disaster, presumably sometime in October.

Meanwhile, just about everybody in the airline industry, the Department of Transportation, the National Transportation Safety Board, the Justice Department (with its criminal probe), the transport unions, the consumer groups such as Flyers Rights, and the flying public are anxious to see top Boeing officials in the witness chair under oath answering important questions.

It is not as if Boeing lobbyists are absent. The giant company has been everywhere in Washington, D.C. getting its way for years in Congress, with NASA, the Department of Defense, and of course, the hapless, understaffed FAA. Boeing gives campaign donations to about some 330 members of Congress.

Corporate CEOs hate to testify before Congress under oath when they are in hot water. CEOs from the tobacco, drug, auto, banking, insurance, and Silicon Valley industries have all dragged their feet to avoid testifying. Eventually they all had to show up in public on Capitol Hill.

The Boeing case involves a more imminent danger. The company and its "captured" FAA want to unground the MAX as fast as possible and to get more new MAXs, under order, to the airlines.

This haste is all the more reason why Congress has to pick up the pace, regardless of "MAX Mitch" McConnell, the Kentucky dictator of the Senate who is a ward of the Boeing complex and its campaign cash. If the 737 MAX is ever allowed to fly again, with its shaky software fixes, glitches, and stitches, the pressure will build on members of Congress to go soft on the company. They will be told not to alarm millions of passengers and unsettle the airline industry with persistent doubts about the plane's prone-to-stall and other serious safety hazards from overautomation and sloppy construction, already documented in The New York Times, the Seattle Times, and other solid media reporting.

With investigations underway at civil aviation agencies all over the world, and a grand jury operating in the U.S. looking into criminal negligence, this is no time for Congress to take its time in laying open the fullest truths and facts in public. Bear in mind, apart from the civil tort law suits, all other investigations are not being conducted in public.

There is a growing consensus by impartial specialists that after many iterations of the Boeing 737 series, beginning with the 737-100 in 1967, the much larger, more elaborate Boeing 737 MAX must be seen as a new aircraft requiring full certification. Certainly that is the view of some members of Chairman DeFazio's committee and Chairman David Price's House Subcommittee on Appropriations which holds the keys to funding a much larger FAA budget to do its job as a regulator, not as a deregulator that abdicates to Boeing.

Moreover, retired airline Captain Chesley Sullenberger, in his brilliant testimony before DeFazio on June 19th, called for full simulator training for pilots before they fly the MAX on scheduled routes (read Captain Sullenberger's full statement here ).

In a precise letter to the Secretary of Transportation, Elaine Chao and the acting and incoming heads of the FAA (Daniel Elwell and Stephen Dickson respectively), dozens of families and friends of the victims from many countries asked for full recertification and mandatory simulator training before any decision is made about the 737 MAX. Currently 737 MAX pilots are only given an hour of iPad training -- a clearly insufficient measure and an affront to safety ( see more here ). The letter, which was sent on August 7, 2019, also called for the resignation of Ali Bahrami, the abdicator in charge of safety at the FAA.

Many decisions are coming up for the FAA and Boeing. The FAA would be very foolish to unground the 737 MAX just for U.S. airspace without the counterparts in North America, Europe, Asia, South America, and Africa concurring.

As for Boeing, the company cannot afford another one or two crashes attributed to continued indifference to longstanding aerodynamic standards of stability. The issue for Boeing's celebrity, minimally experienced Board of Directors is how long it will tolerate Boeing's management that, over the judgement of its best engineers, has brought the company to its present predicament.

How long before the Securities and Exchange Commission or the Department of Transportation or the Congress and the betrayed airlines themselves call for the resignation of both officers and the Board and, end the career conflict of interest these failed incumbents have with the future well-being of the Boeing Corporation itself?

[Aug 15, 2019] How long before the Securities and Exchange Commission or the Department of Transportation or the Congress and the betrayed airlines themselves call for the resignation of both officers and the Board and, end the career conflict of interest these failed incumbents have with the future well-being of the Boeing Corporation itself

Aug 15, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Manufacturing: "With the Boeing 737 MAX Grounded, Top Boeing Bosses Must Testify Before Congress Now" [ Ralph Nader ]. "As for Boeing, the company cannot afford another one or two crashes attributed to continued indifference to longstanding aerodynamic standards of stability.

The issue for Boeing's celebrity, minimally experienced Board of Directors is how long it will tolerate Boeing's management that, over the judgement of its best engineers, has brought the company to its present predicament. How long before the Securities and Exchange Commission or the Department of Transportation or the Congress and the betrayed airlines themselves call for the resignation of both officers and the Board and, end the career conflict of interest these failed incumbents have with the future well-being of the Boeing Corporation itself?"

Everything is like CalPERS. Ergo, Boeing is like CalPERS.


Carey , August 15, 2019 at 2:25 pm

'FAA Poised to Say Pilots Don't Need Fresh 737 Max Simulator Training':

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-08-15/faa-poised-to-reject-new-simulator-training-before-737-max-flies

Can't be upsetting Boeing's apple cart, no can we?

WJ , August 15, 2019 at 4:25 pm

When almost every other airline safety administration in the world decides otherwise, what will we say?

Carey , August 15, 2019 at 5:14 pm

Interesting question. I wonder how much int'l credibility and pull the FAA has these days. Thinking of China, for one.

The Rev Kev , August 15, 2019 at 6:45 pm

When they said that "The company and its "captured" FAA want to unground the MAX as fast as possible" I was thinking for a brief moment that they said that they want to "underground" the MAX as fast as possible which gave another spin on that story.

[Aug 13, 2019] Boeing left 787 source code on an open server

Aug 13, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

c1ue , Aug 12 2019 17:09 utc | 109

More Boeing in the news:
Boeing left 787 source code on an open server - and IOActive says there are vulnerabilities .
Customers not very happy with 787 product coming out of South Carolina.

[Aug 03, 2019] Putting back 737MAX back in service is impossible without hugely expensive re-design/engineering/certification and re-training of all pilots and maintenance in brand new MCAS simulators

Aug 03, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

chu teh , Aug 3 2019 3:50 utc | 54

737Max.---Boeing's Secret Nightmare.

Earlier in the 737 program, long before MCAS software addition, there were instructions for using "roller coaster " procedure to recover from stuck-stabilizer failure when excessive forces had to be overcome to use the manual correction wheel [next to each pilot's inboard knee] . At some early point, that procedure was no longer taught as there were only very rare causes of stuck/failed stabilizer that were easily handled [no MCAS software program that repeatedly forces the stabilizer to pitch-down, which counters each crew correction toward level flight].

With MCAS added to 737MAX, that "rollercoaster" procedure was neither taught nor even available in the existing simulators used for training. WHY?
Q--Well, what if it was taught? And in the manual? Then either the procedure must be added to all the existing simulators, worldwide, or new simulators designed and sold before any pilots could qualify.

Now you ask "So what?"

Kaboom! Then the real debacle would be discovered and quickly exposed to all training pilots and obxervers.

Namely, in simulator training, some male pilots would fail by not have the strength to manually turn the correcting wheel. Even more female pilots would almost certainly fail.
Recall that the wheel is next to the inboard knee of each pilot. Thus, except for ambidextrous pilots, the week arm would often be next to the wheel! [To wit: Right-handed left-seat pilot has strong arm next to wheel; but right-handed right-seat co-pilot would have weak arm next to wheel.

The 737 series was introduced in operation in late 1960s, when female commercial pilots were a rarity.

Now it is 2018, with MCAS added, how were the huge numbers of female pilots, worldwide, going to be accomodated? De-selected? A marketing nightmare!

Furthermore, without hugely expensive re-design/engineering/certification and re-training of all pilots and maintenance in brand new simulators? Well, that gives the lie to 737MAX being a routine upgrade needing just quickie updates for any 737-series pilots. And thus no sales advantages vis-a-vis Airbus ! Or Bombardier or Embraer. In fact, there would clearly be sales disadvantages including unworkable profit margins.

Besides, existing management will get rich and retire long before the problems ever appear! We can just gum it to death and let the lawyers howl and feast on billable hours. Our personal success is certain. [The hired,chief execs viewpoint, as opposed to the long-dead founder's intent.]

[Jul 31, 2019] NYT Boeing Was Certifying Its Own Safety For the 737 Max by EditorDavid

Notable quotes:
"... Boeing's 737 Max was built with "effectively neutered" oversight, writes the New York Times, citing interviews with over a dozen current and former employees at America's Federal Aviation Agency. ..."
"... regulator had been passing off routine tasks to manufacturers for years, with the goal of freeing up specialists to focus on the most important safety concerns. But on the Max, the regulator handed nearly complete control to Boeing , leaving some key agency officials in the dark about important systems like MCAS, according to the current and former employees...The company performed its own assessments of the system, which were not stress-tested by the regulator. ..."
"... Turnover at the agency left two relatively inexperienced engineers overseeing Boeing's early work on the system. The F.A.A. eventually handed over responsibility for approval of MCAS to the manufacturer. After that, Boeing didn't have to share the details of the system with the two agency engineers... ..."
"... Late in the development of the Max, Boeing decided to expand the use of MCAS, to ensure the plane flew smoothly. The new, riskier version relied on a single sensor and could push down the nose of the plane by a much larger amount. Boeing did not submit a formal review of MCAS after the overhaul. It wasn't required by F.A.A. rules... The agency ultimately certified the jet as safe, required little training for pilots and allowed the plane to keep flying until a second deadly Max crash, less than five months after the first.... By 2018, the F.A.A. was letting the company certify 96 percent of its own work, according to an agency official. ..."
Jul 27, 2019 | yro.slashdot.org

Boeing's 737 Max was built with "effectively neutered" oversight, writes the New York Times, citing interviews with over a dozen current and former employees at America's Federal Aviation Agency.

Their damning conclusion? The agency "had never independently assessed the risks of the dangerous software known as MCAS when they approved the plane in 2017." regulator had been passing off routine tasks to manufacturers for years, with the goal of freeing up specialists to focus on the most important safety concerns. But on the Max, the regulator handed nearly complete control to Boeing , leaving some key agency officials in the dark about important systems like MCAS, according to the current and former employees...The company performed its own assessments of the system, which were not stress-tested by the regulator.

Turnover at the agency left two relatively inexperienced engineers overseeing Boeing's early work on the system. The F.A.A. eventually handed over responsibility for approval of MCAS to the manufacturer. After that, Boeing didn't have to share the details of the system with the two agency engineers...

Late in the development of the Max, Boeing decided to expand the use of MCAS, to ensure the plane flew smoothly. The new, riskier version relied on a single sensor and could push down the nose of the plane by a much larger amount. Boeing did not submit a formal review of MCAS after the overhaul. It wasn't required by F.A.A. rules... The agency ultimately certified the jet as safe, required little training for pilots and allowed the plane to keep flying until a second deadly Max crash, less than five months after the first.... By 2018, the F.A.A. was letting the company certify 96 percent of its own work, according to an agency official.

The article ends by describing the days after the first 737 Max crash, when Boeing executives visited the regulatory agency's headquarters in Seattle.

"The officials sat incredulous as Boeing executives explained details about the system that they didn't know."

[Jul 30, 2019] Most damningly, Boeing never submitted the autopilot software MCAS for formal F.A.A. review, after the company began using it to fly the 737 Max, so the F.A.A. was unaware about its flaws.

Jul 30, 2019 | finance.yahoo.com

Overall, it seems that the F.A.A. was far too differential to Boeing, reportedly treating them like "a client" and acquiescing to decisions the company made based on their budget and deadlines, instead of overseeing them more strictly.

Most damningly, Boeing never submitted the autopilot software MCAS for formal F.A.A. review, after the company began using it to fly the 737 Max, so the F.A.A. was unaware about its flaws.

Boeing has stopped producing the popular 737 Max model, which is hurting not only Boeing's bottom line but airlines as well, many of whom have been pushing for compensation for lost earnings.

Michael O'Leary, CEO of the budget airline Ryanair, is worried that if Boeing doesn't get the model working again, he might have to cut jobs, as he is not getting the amount of planes he was expecting and it's hurting his bottom line. "It may well move to 20, it could move to 10, and it could well move to zero if Boeing don't get their s--- together pretty quickly with the regulator," O'Leary reportedly said on an earnings call.

Turn out that Boeing is not the only company with worrisome autopilot software, as airlines using certain models of Airbus's A350 software have been told that they have to power down the software every 149 hours or risk "...partial or total loss of some avionics systems or functions.

[Jul 29, 2019] 737 MAX Ruder Control Does Not Meet Safety Guidelines - It Was Still Certified

Jul 29, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

737 MAX Ruder Control Does Not Meet Safety Guidelines - It Was Still Certified Kadath , Jul 28 2019 15:00 utc | 2

The return of the Boeing 737 MAX into regular service is likely to be delayed even further than we anticipated . A new New York Times piece about the deference of the Federal Aviation Administration to Boeing reveals a new technical issue that will likely require an additional refit of the aircraft.

We already knew that there was little oversight over Boeing with regards to the failed Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS):

The company performed its own assessments of the system, which were not stress-tested by the regulator. Turnover at the agency left two relatively inexperienced engineers overseeing Boeing's early work on the system.

The F.A.A. eventually handed over responsibility for approval of MCAS to the manufacturer. After that, Boeing didn't have to share the details of the system with the two agency engineers. They weren't aware of its intricacies, according to two people with knowledge of the matter.

Late in the development of the Max, Boeing decided to expand the use of MCAS, to ensure the plane flew smoothly. The new, riskier version relied on a single sensor and could push down the nose of the plane by a much larger amount.

Boeing did not submit a formal review of MCAS after the overhaul. It wasn't required by F.A.A. rules.

The results are well know. The single sensor failed and MCAS activated during a critical flight phase. 346 people on two flights were killed.

But MCAS is not the only system that the FAA allowed to be certified even when it could cause significant problems. The European regulator EASA identified five additional major issues that need to be fixed before the 737 MAX can again fly.

The NYT found another severe one :

Early on, engineers at the F.A.A. discovered a problem with one of the most important new features of the Max: its engines. The Max, the latest version of the 50-year-old 737, featured more fuel-efficient engines, with a larger fan and a high-pressure turbine. But the bigger, more complex engines could do more damage if they broke apart midair.

The F.A.A. engineers were particularly concerned about pieces hitting the cables that control the rudder, according to five people with knowledge of the matter and internal agency documents. A cable severed during takeoff would make it difficult for pilots to regain control, potentially bringing down the jet.

The 737 MAX has newly developed LEAP-1B engines which have a larger fan at the front than the previous ones.


source - bigger

The fans are 69.4 inch (1.76m) in diameter compared to 61 inch (1.55m) on the 737 NG engines. The fan turns with 5,000 rotations per minute and the turbine with 20,000 rotations per minute (pdf). If a fan or turbine blade or disk breaks it becomes a high speed projectile that can not be contained by the engine housing.

The engines on the MAX are further forward than on previous 737 models. The debris of an uncontained engine failure would hit the plane's body in places that were previously safe. Uncontained engine failures are relatively rare but they can and do happen on all modern jet types.

Cont. reading: 737 MAX Ruder Control Does Not Meet Safety Guidelines - It Was Still Certified

Posted by b at 14:47 UTC | Comments (50) No surprises here, the corruption that runs throughout the MIC breeds a lack concern for quality control, after all why bother putting all that effort into creating a superior product when you can just bribe the regulators to approve it as it and then bribe the government to promote and buy your crappy product as is. I doubt Boeing will go under because of this though (even thought they deserve to go down in flames), the US government would remove all budget caps, super change the printing presses, threaten their allies, absolutely anything and everything to save Boeing if it came down to it.


BM , Jul 28 2019 15:07 utc | 3

It gets juicier and juicier! Boeing will never fly again!
snake , Jul 28 2019 15:21 utc | 4
Amazing what private parties can do in revealing faults when the data is public and everyone is given access to it.
Thanks B for a great job .

What I like about the Boeing problem is that it reveals the deep corrupt nature of current corporate armies and brings into full view the result of privatization and economic Zionism . Other privatizations include the Internet, the energy providers like the power companies (the are franchised monopolies), now 5G < more dangerous than Nicotine and so on.. The private party providers have little concern for the welfare of the masses of people, unless they are maybe liable for something, that they sell to. Moreover these private parties are corrupt enough to corrupt the government oversight agencies and the members of the elected government (they call it lobbying) in order to accomplish their profits to the satisfaction of wall street. The aircraft industries responds to Wall Street, not to masses they sell to. . Yeah I know the FAA regulates but its regulations do not apply to the big guys. Big bucks can be had in contracting $100,000 per nail government contacts and flying airplanes for hire.

All airlines, and all power companies, and all communications companies from research to end user should be owned and operated by the government IMO. .

Jonathan , Jul 28 2019 15:27 utc | 5
#2

Taxpayers paid ~$1.5T for the F-35, and yet the IP rights and maintenance lies solely in the hands of Lockheed Martin instead of the government. And that's not even discussing about the design shortcomings or testing fraud...

Yup, totally no corruption happening right there. The MIC is so utterly corrupt that is has hollowed out the US military so much that even the neocons feel skittish at taking on Venezuela face-on, let alone Iran.

BM , Jul 28 2019 15:33 utc | 6
Posted by: snake | Jul 28 2019 15:21 utc | 4

Amazing what private parties can do in revealing faults when the data is public and everyone is given access to it.

Excellent point, Snake!!

What I like about the Boeing problem is that it reveals the deep corrupt nature of current corporate armies and brings into full view the result of privatization and economic Zionism ... The private party providers have little concern for the welfare of the masses of people, unless they are maybe liable for something, that they sell to.

Private Party Providers ... very apt term for the political parties! (All of the Hegemon Inc (TM) private group, not just the US)

jared , Jul 28 2019 15:38 utc | 7
Had this been a free market capitalist system likely Boing would have already been put out of business or would have been opperated different because of competition and risk.
Stever , Jul 28 2019 15:44 utc | 8

If they are going to release this death trap to the public, in a just world it should be a requirement that all Boeing top executives and board members be required to fly on them exclusively.
y , Jul 28 2019 15:46 utc | 9
Is the target label shifting to the faa?
"By 2018, the F.A.A. was letting the company certify 96 percent of its own work, according to an agency official."
Many issues here. Certificators delegate to the company who delegates to money god.
Better Faa boys to look back to recently closed works.
y , Jul 28 2019 15:53 utc | 10
How is going to impact on 2020 elections the Boeing737 affair?
wow
Jose Garcia , Jul 28 2019 15:59 utc | 11
Here's my answer. Get that MCAS system out of its grounded aircraft. Or find a way to deactivate it permanently. Or risk fading into history.
Hoarsewhisperer , Jul 28 2019 16:00 utc | 12
...
There are several ways to solve the problem. Redundant steel cables could mitigate the risk. The cables could be protected by titanium tubes as they are on some military planes. Redundant electric wires that control a servo to move the hydraulic valves could be added.

The main problem is the de facto acceptance of the risk of a "liberated" turbine blade penetrating the passenger compartment. It would be better to eliminate the risk altogether by installing shields adjacent to, or within, the engine cowling to deflect loose blades. The shields wouldn't need to be more than 1/4 of the circumference of the engine and wouldn't need to be the full length of the engine - just near the turbine banks. On the other hand if/when a blade gets loose it's probably best to let it get away from the engine to prevent it from rattling around and causing more damage.

If it's more sensible to let a loose blade escape the engine ASAP then consideration should be given to beefing up the control cables to enable them to survive the impact from a flying turbine blade. And seats opposite a turbine bank could be discounted...

Edward , Jul 28 2019 16:20 utc | 13
It's sad to see all that boeing is talking about is getting the plane back in the air soonest possible.Why is boeing so reluctant on letting go of the 737.
jared , Jul 28 2019 16:31 utc | 14
The US government and Boing are going to collaborate to put things bac on track as soon as posible.
Thirdeye , Jul 28 2019 17:00 utc | 15
@Hoarsewhisperer #12

The failures cited in the links were on the intake fans, not the compressors. When one blade is off, the engine is functionally done as much as it would be with more blades damaged by a contained failure. If the larger radius blades of the LEAP-1B increase the risk of failure, that is an issue with the engine that goes far beyond its use on the 737 MAX.

Ghost Ship , Jul 28 2019 17:10 utc | 16
I thought jet engines were supposed to be armoured to prevent blades flying out of the engine when they fail. But armour = more weight = less profit and greed will always win out.
james , Jul 28 2019 17:22 utc | 17
these planes sound scary... i don't know why anyone would fly in one here forward...

@ 5 jonathan... capitalism at its finest.. get the taxpayer to pay for all the future private profit... why not just call it socialism instead?? because all the profit only goes to a few...

BM , Jul 28 2019 17:23 utc | 18
It's sad to see all that boeing is talking about is getting the plane back in the air soonest possible.
Posted by: Edward | Jul 28 2019 16:20 utc | 13

In a normal world with such a gross litany of Boeing failures and the multilevel scandal of FAA negligence/improper handover of regulation to the regulated/cover up of known defects/ignorance of failures known to Boeing, the Chief Executive of Boeing with his tail between his legs would not even dare speak of getting the plane back in the air quickly, the massive loss of profits notwithstanding, because of the implied lack of interest in safety.

Why is the haste to get the plane airborne not itself a scandal of massive proportions? Why are there no urgent congressional hearings about why Boeing is so neglectful of basic safety?

In my view the certification of the 737MAX - and also the 737NG - needs urgently to be irrevocably REVOKED IN ITS ENTIRETY, with an absolute prohibition on all flights until/unless the certification is started afresh absolutely from scratch und under scrupulous scrutiny. Anything less is an unaccountable neglect of safety, and puts in doubt the seriousness and validity of ALL FAA certifications.

When is there going to be a lawsuit questioning whether any FAA certification whatsoever has any legal validity, given the extreme negligence, unaccountability, fraud and incompetence?

From an insurance perspective, it would surely be possible to argue that the FAA as currently constituted is not competent to certify aircraft safety - in general - and that therefore no FAA certification carried out by the FAA on any aircraft in recent years (or for as long as the certification system and competence was broadly similar to the way it is now) is valid, and that therfore all purported insurance coverage for the aircraft is null and void.

As soon as one insurance company publicly states that its coverage of the 737MAX is null and void, the scandal is in a new ballpark.

dan of steele , Jul 28 2019 17:25 utc | 19
I believe one factual error was made, the fan speed of the new engines is not 20,000 rpm but rather around 5,000. the core does spin that fast but the fan, which is powered by the low pressure turbine is much slower. the fan also comes up to max speed more slowly than the core which has an almost instantaneous reaction to throttle position.

all aircraft with jet engines have an area marked by vertical red lines that show the plane of the compressor blades. The chance of a fan blade coming off and severing a cable would be miniscule. I have heard stories of jet engines self destructing but in 24 years of working on fighter aircraft I never saw it nor read about it happening on any of the aircraft in the US Air Force inventory. Engines are regularly inspected and bad things very rarely happen.

BraveNewWorld , Jul 28 2019 17:26 utc | 20
The government will just borrow enough money to save Boeing and make the share holders whole. The air lines that are losing money because of Boeing will be made whole as well. That is the job of the US govt these days. No executive bonus left behind.
james , Jul 28 2019 17:29 utc | 21
@20 bnw... yeah - socialism or something like that, in spite of all the ranting by americans of how they hate socialism..
BM , Jul 28 2019 17:36 utc | 22
I am pretty sure we haven't seen the end of the scandals - on the contrary, I think things are just beginning to come out. Boing (let's just stick to Boing, it seems more apt than Boeing) is a huge company with a huge number of employees, many of whom have causes for dissatisfaction. We have already seen what sort of a