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Boeing B737-8 and -9 grounding

I don’t think he got the cheese holes in mind, because he’s indeed critical to Boeing but not so much, a bit picky to airbus the same way Boeing first excuse was to rush the MAX versus the 310neo. I think he’s just as 95% of american, pro american.
Blaming pilot is just a too easy job, like maintenance, because they are far and he will not risk anything to be excessive to these guys. He surely neither heard about the Murphy’s law. The MCAS has been very poorly designed by Boeing and approved by FAA (and not written by an indian contractor) with a very high possibility to provoke downpitch to CFIT, it had to happen one day or another. Bad maintenance manner, too young pilots or plane log issue are other holes that will probably happen again because this is still the way these airlines works…
It’s a pity because text is well written and seemingly full of investigation.

Last Edited by greg_mp at 20 Sep 15:58
LFMD, France

I agree.

I think the poor crew training (etc) is merely the last hole in the cheese to line up.

Why have “western” crews not crashed them? Presumably because they don’t try to stall them. And if they do, they probably know about the disconnect switches, use them, problem solved, there is maybe an internal report, and nothing in the press.

Unfortunately, bad crews will always get the blame because they are a very bad hole in the cheese. It is a hole which is ready and waiting for other things to line up with it. These guys would have crashed an Airbus too – but by doing something different.

The crew is the first in line to prevent the holes being created. And it is the last means to prevent a crash when all the other holes have lined up. If this wasn’t the case, we would now have pilotless airliners. But only dreamers seriously think this will ever happen; technology is not even remotely anywhere near being vaguely capable of being reliable enough.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Thank you for bringing this article up. It is very enlightening and it does seem to be biased trying to help Boeing.

If you will allow me I will stride away from political correctness on this one.

The criticism and scrutiny that Boeing and the Max are being subjected to are brutal enough that no design or entity would survive a similar one unscathed. And it is evidently heavily biased against the design. I thus welcome the journalist’s apparent bias, since the major flaw I find in today’s airline industry, which clearly has been one of, if not the, major factor in these accidents is being hidden by such global bias against the Max’s design.

Other types (including A320’s) have had big design flaws. If anything, the Max’s flaw seems to me more survivable because it is easier to control…

There are a few of pilot actions in the two Max accidents that speak a lot about what happened :

Maintaining T/O thrust when levelling off at low altitude
Attempting to engage autopilot an a severely out-of-trim aircraft
Engaging the one autopilot whose data source is evidently out of whack (while the other one seems fine)
Not transferring PF duties to the pilot whose yoke is not stick-shaking
Engaging the electric trim in a trim runaway or, as a minimum, an uncontrolled trim situation to try and have the autopilot save you from a severely out of trim condition
Levelling off at low altitude with a speed approaching Vmo (giving higher regards to the ATC instruction than the need to tackle the aircraft’s overspeed condition)

We can all see a common thread here.

Then think back of four earlier accident examples UA 232 @ Sioux City, US1549 in the Hudson River, QA32 or even N8079U at Sacramento. These are just a few, but there are many more.

One common thread on them is that, rather than a relatively benign trim runaway condition, these crews found themselves at the controls of severely crippled aircraft:

In UA232 a DC-10 lost one engine and all hydraulic systems on an aircraft with hydraulic flight controls.
US1549…well we all have the dual A320 flameout fresh in our minds
QA32 A380 had hundreds of apparently unrelated system failures that the crew could not ECAM-action- or checklist-themselves out of after a burst engine turbine disk severed wing fuel, hydraulic and electric lines.
N8079U was a DC-8 with a partially jammed elevator control after take-off

Another common thread is that,despite the heavy odds, through clear airmanship, the crews managed to partially control the aircraft by a basic understanding of the physics involved in flying, in most casing saving all or a large portion of lives onboard:

In UA232 use of differential throttle allowed the crew to crash-land the aircraft saving a large proportion of the people onboard, including themselves
IN US1549…well, I dont have to explain about the miracle in the Hudson
In QA32 the crew eventually decided to concentrate on basic airmanship and land the aircraft when the ECAM actions list and checklist only lead to an increasing number of further actions and abnormal situations that they had to find procedures out of. No casualties and a saved aircraft
N8079U the crew found themselves with a heavy unstoppable pitch up situation after take off and avoided an immediate stall by banking heavily which almost saved their day but eventually crashed and lost their lives.

You can clearly see where I am coming from…

The social and industrial environment that used to provide opportunities for future airline pilots to gain such airmanship (I will call it GA) has been mostly killed by cynical and politically correct overregulation.

The basic airmanship that is best trained through multiples of flight situations, preferably on light aircratf at the start of a long career, are now left down to 200hrs integrated ATPL courses and airline initial and recurrent training in a mostly airline environment with a few tabulated situations in a simulator…

I cant believe I am the only one seeing a much bigger problem than a MAX MCAS system that can and will be improved…

We saw HElios, we saw AF 447, we saw others, we saw the Max…how many more do we need to see before we address the real problem…?

At least, I believe EuroGA and other GA organisations are driving in the required direction: we must keep on pushing so that GA regains its importance in the industry and in society through serious thinking on airmanship (rather than what society often sees as grown-up’s toys and some silly ego-games you see in other GA forums) , and hence help make it easier for all pilots to gain more real-world experience before getting to play real-life airline video-games

LESB, Spain

Wise words Antonio. Norwegian pilots (used to fly the MAX) always said, and still say, that such accidents would never happen to them in the MAX. What to believe? Typical pilot speak, or the truth? I like to think the truth, but then again “never” is a strong word. In the right situation, and with the right crew, an additional minor complication may be what tips it over. We also have lots of different Norwegian pilots with vastly different experience. Some are military trained fighter pilots, others are seasoned GA pilots, started with PPL and gradually advanced, and some are straight out of ATPL.

IMO, as long as pilots are needed in these airplanes, we are better off with pilots that are capable of handling oddly configured aircraft that automation cannot, than pilots who are good at “ATPL stuff” (whatever that is, assuming it is not stick and rudder/ react in the heat of the moment skills). I mean, it is all too obvious that what is needed is pilots who are good at the things the machines are not good at. If everything is OK, the pilots aren’t needed at all.

Still, I don’t know. All the time an airliner is the safest form of moving your body from A to B, it’s kind of stupid to argue it should be even better. This isn’t about safety anymore, it’s about money and competition. An airliner with a top safety record compared with others, has a huge competitive advantage, simply because an accident causes headlines and negative focus over a long period of time.

This is the story of the MAX. Good pilots in good airline companies may very well have prevented those MAX accidents. But, the poor design, poor engineering and decisions by Boeing, is the direct cause of the losses (billions of dollars) of the airline companies that used them, and cannot use them anymore. Not to speak of the losses at Boeing caused by this. There are more than enough “poor” pilots and companies around to reveal the MAX, and more than enough people to pay for that revelation with their lives.

Puts the issue into perspective

LGMG Megara, Greece

and latest one after 7:35

Last Edited by petakas at 21 Sep 10:17
LGMG Megara, Greece

I fail to see how it puts the issue in perspective.
Notwithstanding some of the inaccuracies by @blancolirio about part25 rules and cert processes, it is again a narrow focussed analysis. I had previously viewed the first video, not the second, and i agree it provides a good, if a bit flawed, explanation (for example it is not true that the stab trim is able to easily overpower the elevators: however, there are limits to that which are clearly exceeded when you insist on flying level at full throttle and 350KIAS).

It brings a couple of thoughts to mind:

1) Trees vs Forest. I could have the best trees in the world but since I am a terrible landscape gardener, I am sure I will fail in trying to make a good landscape design with those trees. Yes, the landscape is formed by hills and individual plants, and yes you need to do some good analysis on those, but you will not get a good forested landscape unless you get some perspective by widening the focus: I need to hire or train a good landscape gardener.

2) Hypocritical witchhunting: why have we not done the same type of analysis and public scoff on the CFM56-3C engine which had a terrible design flaw in its fan that also killed dozens of people (incidentally on earlier versions of the 737)? Subsequently it went on to become one of the best, if not the best aircraft engine in history, and without the need for so much witchhunting. The same could be said of the RR Trent 900, the A320’s flight control system and quite a few more cases in aviation history…

We saw this type of airmanship accident before MCAS too, I fail to see how this perspective will stop a recurrence.

If it’s not an MCAS, it will be some type of perfectly survivable engine failure or unreliable airspeed indication or a pneumatic system fault…

Last Edited by Antonio at 21 Sep 11:53
LESB, Spain

For the sake of a good debate :

The trend is that everywhere in our society automation is taking over human tasks. From driving to stock trading to medical analyses and even surgical interventions and many areas more. So why should we have ‘heroes’ up front of our airliners that are extremely able and have a lot of systems knowledge? I’d rather make sure that the design of the airliners is so sophisticated that things are just taken care of by themselves. If we can do Apollo 11 in the 60´s, well, we should be ashamed that we can’t pull this off nowadays or in the near future. And we are only in the beginning of the development of AI!

I know there is a psychological barrier for a passenger to fly without a flight crew, at least for now. But why not have a set-up where there is just one pilot, not necessarily a very experienced one, and a ‘command centre’ where there are very experienced and knowledgeable pilots that can advise or even control the aircraft when things go pear-shaped?

Last Edited by aart at 21 Sep 18:47
Private field, Mallorca, Spain

I understand from a recently retired AA mechanic that Boeing is trying to hire a group of such people (he termed it a posse ) on 6 or 12 month contracts, to do some kind of campaign on the affected 737s. I generally couldn’t care less about the airlines or their planes as long as they get me there at minimum price, but I found that interesting.

Last Edited by Silvaire at 21 Sep 19:11

I don’t think we need heros to fly today’s airliners safely. There are several shades of grey between the piloting skills depicted by the journalist and those of Chuck Yeager. We don’t need to be the latter to figure you need to throttle back from t/o power when levelling off at 5000ft… that is for sure.

Leaving aside for a second the question on whether our society is ready for your proposed level of automation, we can be sure that:

a) We will eventually get there or somewehere close, I just don’t know how long it will take.
b) we are not there yet and neither the aerospace system, including cert rules, nor aircraft themselves are ready for that. My guess is in today’s litigious world, it will be at least a generation before we are there in a widespread way. In the meantime…we are supposed to fly safely.

Yes, airplanes in 2020 should be very different from what are…they are so close to those of fifty years ago! We need to figure whether we want to be safe and legally secure and entitled to massive litigation, or make reasonably fast progress. The last 50 years of aviation history have shown we have not figured, as a society, how to do both. The way the Max’s issues are being handled are only driving us deeper into such zero-progress spiral where everyone is scared of making decisions…

In 1492 it took only 27 years to progress from travelling to America once (Columbus) , to routine trips to the America and then around the world (Magellan and Elcano) . In 1969, it has taken 50 years to progress from travelling to the Moon to…oh well…

It is ironic that outside aviation, everything happens so much more quickly in today’s internet world than a few decades ago…

One example: yesterday in Mallorca we were celebrating the inauguration of the seaplane base at Pollensa for civilian use (it is already approved for military use since many decades ago). It took the concerted effort of military, safety agencies, local governemnt, regional governement…all very complex and it has taken two years of bureaucracy.
So there they were: the press, the government, the mayor, the aviators, the local society, the military, the press, great weather all ready and a great presentation. However none of the two planned aircraft showed up due to some final last minute red tape on a NOTAM about some SAR exercise in the area, coordinated by none other than the colonel in charge of the base who was attending the presentation but who apparently could not figure how to circumvene his own NOTAM, despite the fact that no SAR flights were occurring at the time of the presentation (or one hour before or after, for that matter)…

We are all worried so much about everything around the aircraft and the flight that in the end, the aircraft and the flight themselves are the least important items…

Try travelling from say UK to any Greek airport with AVGAS and customs and you will quickly realize approval, PPR’s, Slots, closing times, handling and other ancilliaries are more important than weather or aircraft perfomance for the flight….

LESB, Spain
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