Author Topic: Boeing 737 MAX 8 crashes  (Read 1552 times)

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Online MarkOttawa

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Boeing 737 MAX 8 crashes
« on: March 17, 2019, 11:48:18 »
Start of detailed and lengthy Seattle Times story that is potentially devastating:

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

As Boeing hustled in 2015 to catch up to Airbus and certify its new 737 MAX, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) managers pushed the agency’s safety engineers to delegate safety assessments to Boeing itself, and to speedily approve the resulting analysis.

But the original safety analysis that Boeing delivered to the FAA for a new flight control system on the MAX — a report used to certify the plane as safe to fly — had several crucial flaws.

That flight control system, called MCAS (Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System), is now under scrutiny after two crashes of the jet in less than five months resulted in Wednesday’s FAA order to ground the plane.

Current and former engineers directly involved with the evaluations or familiar with the document shared details of Boeing’s “System Safety Analysis” of MCAS, which The Seattle Times confirmed...


https://www.seattletimes.com/business/boeing-aerospace/failed-certification-faa-missed-safety-issues-in-the-737-max-system-implicated-in-the-lion-air-crash/

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Offline OldTanker

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Re: Boeing 737 MAX 8 crashes
« Reply #1 on: March 17, 2019, 12:39:57 »
We had our holiday to Palm Springs, which was supposed to start tomorrow, cancelled by Air Canada due to this issue. One of the legs on our flight was on a 737 MAX. Bloody inconvenient but better than making an unscheduled hard landing. Air Canada was good about refunding our money but I was disappointed they couldn't have found another aircraft.

Online MarkOttawa

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Re: Boeing 737 MAX 8 crashes
« Reply #2 on: March 17, 2019, 14:40:22 »
Plus from AvWeek:

Quote
Flight Recorder Data Links Ethiopian, Lion Air MAX 8 Crashes
...
Investigators believe faulty data from an AOA vane triggered MCAS during JT610’s flight, even though the aircraft’s nose was not too high. The flight crew responded with opposite nose-up commands, but MCAS is programmed to continue trimming nose-down based on the data it receives. With the AOA vane feeding erroneous data, MCAS kept attempting to push the 737 MAX 8’s nose down, and the pilots responded with nose-up commands. This back-and-forth continued for several minutes, causing the aircraft to lose and gain altitude, before it dove into the Java Sea, killing all 189 onboard.

A profile of ET302’s 6-min. flight based on satellite data provided to investigators by space-based ADS-B provider Aireon suggested similar flight control problems before it, too, dove to the ground. The [Ethiopian] transport minister’s statement solidifies the theory that the accidents are related...

Boeing is testing modifications to the MAX flight control system that will change how MCAS operates. FAA plans to mandate the upgrade as soon as it is validated.

Investigators’ ability to link MCAS to both accident sequences would further implicate the controversial system, which most pilots did not know existed prior to the JT610 accident and subsequent probe. But it also may expedite lifting the global MAX operations bans.

Boeing has been working on the flight control modifications for months, based on the early JT610 findings. If regulators determine the fixes and related training go far enough to reduce MCAS’s risk and improve pilots' understanding, the ban could be lifted without awaiting further progress in the ET302 probe.
https://aviationweek.com/commercial-aviation/flight-recorder-data-links-ethiopian-lion-air-max-8-crashes

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Offline BeyondTheNow

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Re: Boeing 737 MAX 8 crashes
« Reply #3 on: March 17, 2019, 15:19:08 »
We had our holiday to Palm Springs, which was supposed to start tomorrow, cancelled by Air Canada due to this issue. One of the legs on our flight was on a 737 MAX. Bloody inconvenient but better than making an unscheduled hard landing. Air Canada was good about refunding our money but I was disappointed they couldn't have found another aircraft.

Thank goodness you received a refund. I’m sorry to hear about your cancelled vacay plans though.

I had a Westjet flight affected. I received notification that they were going to bump my return flight to the following day. Not so great, as new travel and accommodation plans needed to be made. I called them and was able to get on another flight that was arriving back home on the same day as originally planned, but still had to dish out additional expenses. There was no offer of reimbursement. I understand it wasn’t the company’s fault, but still a nuisance. And yes, better than something going wrong.
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Offline Good2Golf

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Re: Boeing 737 MAX 8 crashes
« Reply #4 on: March 17, 2019, 16:19:08 »
Start of detailed and lengthy Seattle Times story that is potentially devastating:
(article details)
Mark
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Some serious issues regarding the horizontal stabilizer's limit of travel under MCAS control, than in some cases exceeded the original FAA approved limit by more than four times.  The fact that some of the FAA's final certification approval team we unaware of Boeing's increased control authority is an issue.

Additionally, it appears that information pertaining to certain modes of the MCAS is somewhat limited within the Aircraft Flight Manual, giving little information to aircrew regarding the specific modes and limitations of the system.  An interesting article in the Atlantic related to aircrew self-reporting of MAX 8 control issues using NASA's anonymous ASRS (Aviation Safety Reporting System).

Here’s What Was on the Record About Problems With the 737 Max
by James Fallows
14 March 2019
Quote
As mentioned in two previous reports—a long one, and a short one—some things are known, and many are not, about the horrific crash this past weekend outside Addis Ababa, in which all 157 people aboard a new-model Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max were killed.

One thing that’s known: This is the second crash of this kind of plane within the past five months, following the Lion Air crash in Indonesia last year.

One thing that’s not known: whether the two crashes are related, which would suggest a disastrous system flaw with the 737 Max and its software.

Just this afternoon—minutes ago as I type, four days after the Ethiopian crash— aviation authorities in the United States and Canada joined their counterparts in Europe and Asia in grounding the 737 Max fleet. This is until more is known about whether the crashes are connected and whether there is something systematically wrong with the plane.
...
What will happen with the 737 Max? At this point, again, no one knows—or has said publicly. As a practical matter, grounding all Boeing 737s would have an enormous effect on world air travel, since they’re the most popular airliners on Earth, with a production run of well over 10,000. Although more than 5,000 orders have been placed for the 737 Max series, only a few hundred of them have gone into service, fewer than 100 with U.S. carriers. Most airlines can cancel those Max flights without fundamentally disrupting their service.
...
Boeing, like Airbus, has earned trust for decades’ worth of safe decisions. The FAA, like most of its counterparts, has earned similar trust for its safety-mindedness—despite endless grievances from pilots, airlines, and aircraft companies about aspects of FAA bureaucracy. If either Boeing or the FAA is making the wrong choices now, the airline-safety culture will certainly recover—but their reputation and credibility might not, for a very long time.

While the fundamentals remain unknown, here are some relevant primary documents. They come from an underpublicized but extremely valuable part of the aviation-safety culture. This is a program called ASRS, or Aviation Safety Reporting System, which has been run by NASA since the 1970s. That it is run by NASA—and not the regulator-bosses at the FAA—is a fundamental virtue of this system. Its motto is “Confidential. Voluntary. Nonpunitive.”

The ASRS system is based on the idea that anyone involved in aviation—pilots, controllers, ground staff, anyone—can file a report of situations that seemed worrisome, in confidence that the information will not be used against them. Pilots are conditioned to treat the FAA warily, and to make no admissions against interest that might be used again them. What if I confess that I violated an altitude clearance or busted a no-fly zone, and they take away my certificate? But they’ve learned to trust NASA in handling this information and using it to point out emerging safety problems. I’ve filed half a dozen ASRS reports over the years, when I’ve made a mistake or seen someone else doing so.
...
Below are all of the reports I could find that are related to possible runaway-trim problems with the new 737 Max. As a reminder, that is the presumed cause of the Indonesian Lion Air crash, and possibly a factor in the accident in Ethiopia. I won’t annotate or parse them, but I offer them as the documentary supplement to what you’ll read about in the papers.

The first four reports involve the aspect of the 737 Max software most in the news: its MCAS program that automatically lowers the nose of the plane, even if the pilot does not want the plane to descend. In these cases, it is worth noting, these U.S.-carrier pilots disabled or overrode automated systems and took control of the plane themselves. Obviously none of these flights crashed.

Here we go. Most readers will want to skip to “Narrative” and “Synopsis,” but I have left in all the other information just for the record:
[a number of ASRS reported incidents related directly to 737 MAX trim runaway situations]
...
That’s what is on the record, from U.S. pilots, about this plane. If I’ve missed any relevant 737 Max reports among the many thousands in the ASRS database, I assume someone will let me know about them. We’ll see where the evidence leads.

Here is another highly relevant offering for the day. It comes from J. Mac McClellan, a longtime writer and editor in the flying world, at the Air Facts site. He argues that Boeing may have been assuming that pilots would note any pitch anomaly, and override it if it occurred (as appears to have happened in the incidents involving U.S.-carrier pilots that were reported in ASRS). His whole article, about how airlines manage the complexities of automated and human flight guidance, is worth reading.

In the article, called “Can Boeing Trust Pilots?,” McClellan writes:
Quote
What’s critical to the current, mostly uninformed discussion is that the 737 MAX system is not triply redundant. In other words, it can be expected to fail more frequently than one in a billion flights, which is the certification standard for flight critical systems and structures.

What Boeing is doing is using the age-old concept of using the human pilots as a critical element of the system ... In all airplanes I know of, the recovery is—including the 737 MAX—to shut off the system using buttons on the control wheel then a switch, or sometimes circuit breaker to make a positive disconnect.

Though the pitch system in the MAX is somewhat new, the pilot actions after a failure are exactly the same as would be for a runaway trim in any 737 built since the 1960s. As pilots we really don’t need to know why the trim is running away, but we must know, and practice, how to disable it.

Boeing is now faced with the difficult task of explaining to the media why pilots must know how to intervene after a system failure. And also to explain that airplanes have been built and certified this way for many decades. Pilots have been the last line of defense when things go wrong
...
But airline accidents have become so rare I’m not sure what is still acceptable to the flying public. When Boeing says truthfully and accurately that pilots need only do what they have been trained to do for decades when a system fails, is that enough to satisfy the flying public and the media frenzy?


It will be interesting to see what the fix will be, but I would think that it would no only need some type of flight control system modification, but also more information available to aircrew both during training and during operations (Flight Manual) related to the operation of the MCAS portion of the MAX's FCS.

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Offline kev994

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Re: Boeing 737 MAX 8 crashes
« Reply #5 on: March 17, 2019, 16:52:46 »
C130J has 2 AoA vanes, if they disagree then the stick pusher is disabled and you get an associated warning. Sounds like something like this would work.

Offline Good2Golf

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Re: Boeing 737 MAX 8 crashes
« Reply #6 on: March 17, 2019, 17:03:13 »
C130J has 2 AoA vanes, if they disagree then the stick pusher is disabled and you get an associated warning. Sounds like something like this would work.

MAXs do have two vanes, but MCAS was taking a feed only from one, Kev.  The article surmises that a s/w fix will include polling both AOA vanes.  Also, the single-cycle pusher would go a long way to easing the pilots' ability to respond to and control the situation.

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Re: Boeing 737 MAX 8 crashes
« Reply #7 on: March 17, 2019, 21:52:35 »
Start of detailed and lengthy Seattle Times story that is potentially devastating:

Mark
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Thanks for this link. Devastating is an understatement. If the information is to be believed, and I think that it can be, then there should be a parallel FBI investigation of criminal negligence within both Boeing and the FAA.

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Re: Boeing 737 MAX 8 crashes
« Reply #8 on: Yesterday at 23:06:00 »
When the 737 MAX Returns, Will Anxious Fliers Accept It?

What will they do about their imagination of being on a doomed plane?

Flight re-testing of the 737 MAX has just been completed. Once the FAA has given the MAX it's blessing, how are anxious fliers going to feel about it?

In the movie "Rainman," Dustin Hoffman's character would fly only on Qantas. Qantas, he said, never crashed. The idea of being on an airline that had never crashed didn't bother him. But, when thinking about a specific crash, anxious fliers are impacted by two troubling thoughts.

    "When those people got on that plane, they didn't expect it to crash." The unspoken implication is, they should have expected it to crash. This implication justifies phobic thinking that people who expect to arrive safely are foolish.
    "It's horrible to imagine what it must have felt like to those people on that plane, knowing they were about to die." The anxious flier imagines a state of panic. So flying needs to be avoided to avoid panic.

These thoughts present the MAX with a public relations problem. Its status as a plane that has never crashed is gone. Not only that, but the MAX has been victimized by the media. Clickbait articles claimed flaws caused the MAX to plunge uncontrollably into the sea. Pilots and other aviation experts pointed out that the crashes were due to poor maintenance and inadequate piloting. But sensationalism dominated which continued to paint the MAX as so flawed that no pilot could control it.

Boeing attempted to enlighten the public by giving several regular airline pilots the MCAS problem in a flight simulator. Every pilot dealt with it easily. The media's response was that the pilots handled the problem because they knew it was coming. But, any pilot who has been properly trained to fly any Boeing - not just a 737 - would recognize the malfunction instantly and correct it in a matter of seconds whether they knew it was coming or not. This is because properly trained Boeing pilots have done the procedure repeatedly in the simulator.

Since anxious fliers can't turn off their imagination, the idea that the MAX was flawed, but now is fixed, will not work. The idea of a fix is too abstract to keep images of the plane plunging out of the mind. A smarter move would be to rename the MAX.

There is another approach, but it would take a massive PR campaign. It would inform the public about the two different worlds in aviation.

    In the developed world, aviation standards are high. Maintenance is done properly and pilots are well-trained. There has never been a crash of a 737 MAX in the U.S. Canada, Mexico, South America Japan, Australia, or the E.U. Not only were there no crashes, no airline in the developed world experienced a malfunction of the MAX's MCAS system.
    In the developing world, aviation standards are inconsistent. Some airlines - competing to outgrow other airlines and dominate the market - offer unrealistically low fares that make it impossible to meet the safety standards people in the developed world take for granted. Low pay - and at some airlines no pay at all for copilots - does not attract qualified pilots. Pilots with little experience join these airlines in hopes of building up enough flying time to be hired by a more legitimate airline. Low fares also mean these pilots may receive so little training that they are not able to fly an airliner safely.

A case in point is the July 6, 2013 crash of Asiana Airlines Flight 214 at San Francisco on a beautiful sunny day. The electronic guidance signals used for an automatic landing was shut down, and the pilots were so unskilled that they could not do what any amateur pilot can do: fly the plane by hand.

More recently there is the May 22nd crash in Karachi - not of a Boeing - but of an Airbus. The performance of the pilots boggles the mind. They attempted to land around 80 miles per hour too fast, three times too steep, and without putting the landing gear down. Warnings by air traffic control to break off the landing were ignored. So were warnings by the plane's safety systems that the gear was not down. The plane made contact with the runway on the engine pods. Marks show the engine pods scraped down the runway for half a mile. Instead of simply letting the plane slide to a halt, the pilots went back in the air to attempt another landing, presumably with the gear down. But damage to the engines caused the engines to fail, and the plane crashed short of the runway.

An investigation following the accident led to the discovery that approximately 150 Pakistan International Airlines pilots were flying with fake pilot's licenses. Here's the link to that news.

If the MAX is not renamed, such as to the 737-1000, for anxious fliers to return to the MAX, they will need to know that - like Qantas has never crashed anywhere in the world - the MAX has never crashed in the developed world.

    fliers will need to understand that well-meaning reporters were misled and published incorrect information;
    they will need to recognize unscrupulous reporters and editors published sensationalized misinformation as click-bait, and
    when operating in the U.S. and in other developed countries, there was nothing about the MAX that needed fixing.

Where aviation standards are high, pilots receive simulator training in which problems that might arise during a flight are dealt with hands-on. Examples are engine failure during takeoff, engine fire, hydraulic leaks, electrical failures of various kinds, and so forth. One problem practiced in the simulator is uncommanded operation of the stabilizer trim. In other words, the stabilizer is moving and should not be moving. The procedure for correcting this problem was established seventy years ago when the 707 came into service.

The MCAS malfunction at Lion Air took place on five flights in a row.

    On the first three flights, the pilots were skillful enough to correct the problem. After landing, they reported the problem to maintenance. In each case, maintenance cleared the plane for flight without fixing the problem.

    On the fourth flight, the pilots at the controls didn't know what to do, but a pilot from another airline in the cockpit "jumpseat" coached the pilots at the controls through the procedure to correct the problem. The fact that a third pilot could coach pilots at the controls through the problem lays bare the lie that the MAX could become quickly uncontrollable in spite of anything a pilot could do to control it. They also reported the problem to maintenance. Maintenance again claimed the problem had been taken care of and cleared the plane for flight.

    On the fifth flight, the problem again developed. The pilots did not know what to do. Though they were supposed to have memorized the procedure, they didn't even know the procedure existed. There was no jumpseat rider to help them out. They crashed.

I have the narrow-minded view that pilots are supposed to be able to fly, and even if the airline they fly for doesn't provide adequate training, they still are responsible for reading the manual and for memorizing the steps of the emergency procedures.

If they lack basic flying skills, or do not know their procedures, and crash a plane, it is not the manufacturer's fault. It is not the manufacturer's fault when something goes wrong with a plane due to shoddy maintenance.
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Planes can be equipped so they can fly as drones do. So, why are pilots on a plane anyway? It is because mechanical problems arise, and when they do, the pilots are there to deal with the problem. If planes were perfect, planes wouldn't need pilots. But they aren't perfect. We don't know how to produce a plane that cannot develop a problem. It is the pilot's job to know how to deal with problems and deal with them when they occur. If the pilots don't deal with a problem they are required to know how to handle, they should be held responsible.

If there were a 737, a 747, a 757, a 767, a 777, and a 787 sitting there on the tarmac and I could choose which to fly as a pilot, I would choose the 757 because it is so responsive to control inputs. When I flew it, most of the time the landings were so smooth the passengers didn't know we were on the ground.

If I were to choose one for passenger comfort, I would choose the 787 because the pressurization system makes it feel like you are not at high altitude during cruise.

If I were to choose one for safety, it wouldn't matter. And if the 737 was a 737 NEO or a 737 MAX, I wouldn't care. And if there were two 737 MAX airliners there, one with the original MCAS and one with the newly redesigned MCAS, I wouldn't care which I flew on.

Captain Tom Bunn, LCSW, is an airline pilot and author who has dedicated 30 years to the development of effective methods for treating flight phobia.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/conquer-fear-flying/202007/when-the-737-max-returns-will-anxious-fliers-accept-it
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Offline tomahawk6

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Re: Boeing 737 MAX 8 crashes
« Reply #9 on: Today at 06:53:21 »
If I was drunk enough to fly I would insist sitting at the rear of the plane.