• Hi Guest! Forum rules have been updated. All users please read here.

Boeing 737 MAX family

galgot

CLEARANCE: Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jul 6, 2006
Messages
485
Reaction score
198
Website
galgot.com
Shirley it would be just as cheap or cheaper to completely junk the 737 max program and replace it with other aircraft in the company. Why the big issue when they have alternatives? Boeing are steadily shooting themselves in the foot, one toe at a time.
Sorry but, what alternatives do they have at hand ?
(And don't call me Shirley)
 

Foo Fighter

I came, I saw, I drank some tea (and had a bun).
Joined
Jul 19, 2016
Messages
845
Reaction score
61
Sorry, Baldric I humbly appologise, I thought Shirley was in the room. The 767 could quite easily have covered the stretch 737 parameters without the engine relocation or any other "adjustment's" for safety. I now find Boeing saying they will not build more 767. Darn shame really.

Apparently the 787 is also in with a shout to do the job.
 
Last edited:

galgot

CLEARANCE: Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jul 6, 2006
Messages
485
Reaction score
198
Website
galgot.com
It's an entirely different of kind of flying altogether...
The 737 compared to the 767 or 787 i mean.
 
Last edited:

kitnut617

CLEARANCE: Secret
Joined
Dec 15, 2006
Messages
285
Reaction score
21
Shirley it would be just as cheap or cheaper to completely junk the 737 max program and replace it with other aircraft in the company. Why the big issue when they have alternatives? Boeing are steadily shooting themselves in the foot, one toe at a time.
Sorry but, what alternatives do they have at hand ?
(And don't call me Shirley)
I think that should be 'surely' ---
 

DWG

CLEARANCE: Secret
Joined
Feb 11, 2007
Messages
295
Reaction score
38
Shirley it would be just as cheap or cheaper to completely junk the 737 max program and replace it with other aircraft in the company. Why the big issue when they have alternatives? Boeing are steadily shooting themselves in the foot, one toe at a time.
Every airliner is very specifically optimised to a particular passenger load, takeoff weight and range (all of which interact). Flying any aircraft on a sector it isn't designed for is basically throwing bundles of money onto a bonfire. Boeing sell (and build) far more 737s than any other aircraft, by roughly a factor of ten, and there is precisely one aircraft able to take its place in terms of configuration and production volume - the Airbus A320 family. Nor can Boeing revert to the 737 NG generation, because that would hand Airbus an unbeatable economic advantage of several percent in every sales campaign, where they would be competing the 2015 and later A320 Neo vs the early '90s 737 NG. Just look at the way Airbus hammered 737 sales when the A321 Neo beat the Max to market by a year.
 
Last edited:

kitnut617

CLEARANCE: Secret
Joined
Dec 15, 2006
Messages
285
Reaction score
21
I'd say that the 767/787 also couldn't go to the majority of regional airports that the 737 serves. When I was at YYC, I saw that the 767/787's carried huge amounts of cargo which they couldn't do at the regionals, so would be under utilized --
 

galgot

CLEARANCE: Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jul 6, 2006
Messages
485
Reaction score
198
Website
galgot.com
Yes, they don't have another design to compete with the A320 on this specific sector.
I hope for them they do their account well, cause with the numbers of airlines who bought the MAX that can't fly it, while the production line still running, plus the possible law suite to come, it could cost in the end very much more than what they are still trying to spend on software corrections… and changing names.
And even if these software corrections are finally approved by the FAA , and the Euros and Asians certifications bodies (and now they will look very carefully …), it could still be temporary before they finally have to change the plane design to address that pitch up behavior.
And that is, maybe changing the tailplane --> lot of testing --> new certification --> new type rating for all pilots --> a lot of money.
 
Last edited:

DWG

CLEARANCE: Secret
Joined
Feb 11, 2007
Messages
295
Reaction score
38
Who would you axe?

The problem arguably starts with the insistence that the Max has to be type-rating compatible with the NG, but that's a legitimate commercial decision, fixing that needs cross-industry/regulator attention, rather than blame within the Boeing management tree.

If it's the decision to go for a singly redundant system for MCAS, then you need to understand why that got through review, which means you're looking at not just fairly low level management, but that it actually spreads out across the whole MCAS engineering and QA teams, and anyone from FAA who was in the review meetings, because I can't believe no one raised concerns over single redundancy. Sacking them isn't actually going to fix anything, we need to understand why this happened and wasn't stopped.

Where you might look for consciously less than ethical behaviour is in the corporate response to the first crash, and later to the second crash, and the corporate media department pushing the idea it was the pilot's fault (not to mention some extremely dodgy dealing around Boeing's insurers' behaviour towards Lion Air victim's families), but that's not not actually going to fix the problems that led to the crash. And the people involved will probably say "but that's my job".
 

Desertfox

CLEARANCE: Confidential
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
105
Reaction score
16
I think the problem goes even further back to the decision to go with a 737 MAX over a clean-sheet 797. Whoever decided to go with a 50 year old design reaching its limits over a new plane is ultimately responsible for the whole debacle.
 

DWG

CLEARANCE: Secret
Joined
Feb 11, 2007
Messages
295
Reaction score
38
I think the problem goes even further back to the decision to go with a 737 MAX over a clean-sheet 797. Whoever decided to go with a 50 year old design reaching its limits over a new plane is ultimately responsible for the whole debacle.
Unfortunately, that would be the airlines.
 

Foo Fighter

I came, I saw, I drank some tea (and had a bun).
Joined
Jul 19, 2016
Messages
845
Reaction score
61
I think it more correct to suggest that Boeing AND the airlines share responsibility. It takes more than one side to tango. As in any business it will come down to acceptable risk and both parties agreed to accept the level of risk they saw around the project, if they did not predict the outcome it is no more than any other project extant or concluded.
 

TomcatViP

Hellcat
Senior Member
Joined
Feb 12, 2017
Messages
858
Reaction score
42
I completely disagree with the notion that the MAX endeavor presented an unacceptable level of risk. The plane has only a very benign level of fight automation, what mean that it's a plane flying safely hundreds of thousands of hours per year directly in the hand of thousands of different pilots with various level of aptitudes around the world. That does not sound like a failed or risky design in my book or trough the filter of risk analysis.
The MAX met a problem that failed regulation policies help to surge dangerously to this level (pilot training and absurd Pitot tube data feeding) and, because it's designed with confidence in the crew behavior and sensor design level, help to surface, sadly (but it's a pattern recently) with a tragic loss of hundreds of innocent lives.

Make no mistake,a fully FCS walled airplane like an A320 would or have me[e]t a similar problem in a more intricate way due to more complex relation b/w pilot input and FCS.

Instead of seeing this tragic event only trough the glasses of profit making and corporate bonus, the industry should side with Boeing and ask for better and rigorous application of flight regulation down to the level of detail that is expected. Never both those rather idiotic occurrences should have been left the odd to happen. It's a sign of a dysfunctional industry in general (airframer, subcontractor, airlines and regulator) that that had surfaced simultaneously.
 
Last edited:

DWG

CLEARANCE: Secret
Joined
Feb 11, 2007
Messages
295
Reaction score
38
I think it more correct to suggest that Boeing AND the airlines share responsibility. It takes more than one side to tango. As in any business it will come down to acceptable risk and both parties agreed to accept the level of risk they saw around the project, if they did not predict the outcome it is no more than any other project extant or concluded.
In the early to mid Teens Boeing and Airbus both tried to interest the airlines in replacements for their single aisle designs, the airlines were unenthusiastic. When offered warm-overs of the 737 And A320 with new-generation engines they leapt on the ideas. Essentially the airlines didn't want to move to a new design because of associated costs - new parts infrastructure, new maintenance infrastructure, pilot training costs - which would be much smaller with a warmed-over in-service design, which would also give them most of the expected efficiency improvements.

Boeing and Airbus couldn't proceed with the new designs if the market wasn't there, so it really is down to the airlines.
 

DWG

CLEARANCE: Secret
Joined
Feb 11, 2007
Messages
295
Reaction score
38
The plane has only a very benign level of fight automation
We've consistently seen accident stats fall as cockpit automation increases, so 'benign' isn't the word I would have chosen.
 

TomcatViP

Hellcat
Senior Member
Joined
Feb 12, 2017
Messages
858
Reaction score
42
true. it was an hazardous choice of word. But let's not mix automation and FCS. My coffee machine has some kind of automation (timer) but still doesn't take my mug out of my hands.
 

Foo Fighter

I came, I saw, I drank some tea (and had a bun).
Joined
Jul 19, 2016
Messages
845
Reaction score
61
Boeing did not HAVE to produce the max, they could have just informed everyone that the project had risks and required various airframe changes, one of those being the engines and control systems and waited for new model orders. That there is an inherent risk in any such program was known to both sides. Hindsight is 20:20 obviously but the two sides are hardly new to this.
 

DWG

CLEARANCE: Secret
Joined
Feb 11, 2007
Messages
295
Reaction score
38
Boeing did not HAVE to produce the max
Boeing could not afford to lose 5 to 10 years of 737 sales to Airbus, which is what they knew would happen if Airbus committed to Neo and they didn't commit to Max. They still ummed and ahhed over it for a year after Airbus, and in Airbus absolutely hammered them on sales, including the launch order with American, who had previously been exclusively a Boeing customer. Even with Max 9 available the A321 Neo was outselling it 5 to 1 while Boeing tried to get the Max 10 ready (originally due 2020).
 

Foo Fighter

I came, I saw, I drank some tea (and had a bun).
Joined
Jul 19, 2016
Messages
845
Reaction score
61
Boeing did not HAVE to produce the max
Boeing could not afford to lose 5 to 10 years of 737 sales to Airbus, which is what they knew would happen if Airbus committed to Neo and they didn't commit to Max. They still ummed and ahhed over it for a year after Airbus, and in Airbus absolutely hammered them on sales, including the launch order with American, who had previously been exclusively a Boeing customer. Even with Max 9 available the A321 Neo was outselling it 5 to 1 while Boeing tried to get the Max 10 ready (originally due 2020).
They knew there was a risk and chose the sales over the risk. They cannot ignore the fact now but neither can those who bought the muddy aircraft. When you buy a car there is a certain amount of buyer beware involved and the same is true of aircraft. Every project has certain paths/hurdles to overcome and the risk is factored in, if not then they get what they deserve. Project management is hardly new.
 

DWG

CLEARANCE: Secret
Joined
Feb 11, 2007
Messages
295
Reaction score
38
They knew there was a risk and chose the sales over the risk.
Every aircraft chooses the sales over the risk. All aircraft are built to a mandated level of risk (1*10^-9). Over and above that there's a value in demonstrated reliability that an established design has over an ab initio design. We can be reasonably certain that there are no undiscovered gotchas that the risk analysis missed. Because Max was a reasonably low level of change vs an extremely well known design it actually offered a lower chance of unexpected gotchas than an ab initio design.
 

Moose

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jul 4, 2010
Messages
1,023
Reaction score
37
Lobbing off heads at Boeing would have to start at the top to be effective, and you'd have to do a lot of chopping to clear out the about 20 years of executives pushing the company in the wrong direction. I don't think that's practical, the best we can hope for is that this crisis causes a gradual shift back in the right direction.
 

galgot

CLEARANCE: Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jul 6, 2006
Messages
485
Reaction score
198
Website
galgot.com
Thing is, it’s not the actual people responsible for decisions leading to this that will pay, but the guys in the factory if they have to shut the line.
And even if some top heads roll, no worries for these brilliant heads, they usually are hired elsewhere to continue their brilliant cost saving , externalizing , strategies...
 

Foo Fighter

I came, I saw, I drank some tea (and had a bun).
Joined
Jul 19, 2016
Messages
845
Reaction score
61
They knew there was a risk and chose the sales over the risk.
Every aircraft chooses the sales over the risk. All aircraft are built to a mandated level of risk (1*10^-9). Over and above that there's a value in demonstrated reliability that an established design has over an ab initio design. We can be reasonably certain that there are no undiscovered gotchas that the risk analysis missed. Because Max was a reasonably low level of change vs an extremely well known design it actually offered a lower chance of unexpected gotchas than an ab initio design.
My problem with that is the changes made were hardly simple, changing the whole flight behaviour of the aircraft by changing the balance and line of force for the engines. OK, not the right technical terms, I blame the word finding issues I have there. Point is, the issues were imho, impossible to completely miss and the failures in the design and the software have exaccerbeted the whole issue. Also imho, the carriers must share some responsibility rather than all of it.
 

Maiwand1880

I really should change my personal text
Joined
Mar 30, 2016
Messages
29
Reaction score
25
The savings (for Boeing and for airlines) resulting from launching their answer to A320Neo under a STC, as a a further development of the Model-737, and not as an new aircraft, were the number one factor in Boeing's decision to launch the 737MAX and not to invest more funds in a new model, for which they had all the necessary technologies (787). It meant huge savings in development and flight-testing costs. Now it is obvious that the increased MTOW of the aircraft, enlarged fan diameter and higher mass and thrust of the LEAP-engines were simply to much for the 737 aerodynamics, that were pushed beyond their limits. Boeing knew this all along and MCAS was an attempt at providing a plaster; clandestine changes to MCAS once flight-testing began and showed that the issue was even worse were a plaster on a plaster. It failed and its failure has let bare the basic incompatibility between the airframe and controls, as designed basically in 1965, and the much increased mass and installed thrust of MAX. All of this is Boeing's doing; nothing to do with an industry-wide issue. And correcting the situation is incumbent upon Boeing, preferably by terminating the MAX program and launching a new-generation, new-technology, entry-level airliner, that would provide a quantum-leap in economic and environmental performance, and a challenge to Airbus and to future newcomers. But they might chose as well to tweak MCAS to make it work (or not...), which will change nothing in the original flawed decision.
 
Last edited:

DWG

CLEARANCE: Secret
Joined
Feb 11, 2007
Messages
295
Reaction score
38
Now it is obvious that the increased MTOW of the aircraft, enlarged fan diameter and higher mass and thrust of the LEAP-engines were simply to much for the 737 aerodynamics, that were pushed beyond their limits.
Yet Max flew quite happily until the MCAS failed, so the argument the aerodynamics can't cope seems somewhat damned by the evidence.

All of this is Boeing's doing; nothing to do with an industry-wide issue.
Except grandfathering of changes under an STC, and the ability of pilots to operate across multiple generations of an airliner on a single type rating is by definition an industry-wide issue.

And correcting the situation is incumbent upon Boeing, preferably by terminating the MAX program and launching a new-generation, new-technology, entry-level airliner, that would provide a quantum-leap in economic and environmental performance, and a challenge to Airbus and to future newcomers.
You do understand how much business they would lose (and how many jobs would be lost), if they axed Max and spent five to six years developing a new aircraft? That would mean losing Boeing exclusive markets such as Ryanair, and that business is irreplacable. On top of which building a new single aisle would probably mean axing the NMA for demanding too much of the available design and development workforce, and for parallel development projects being too much financial risk for the company to bear. So that's Boeing screwed not just in the short term, but in the long term too.
 

Maiwand1880

I really should change my personal text
Joined
Mar 30, 2016
Messages
29
Reaction score
25
Now it is obvious that the increased MTOW of the aircraft, enlarged fan diameter and higher mass and thrust of the LEAP-engines were simply to much for the 737 aerodynamics, that were pushed beyond their limits.
Yet Max flew quite happily until the MCAS failed, so the argument the aerodynamics can't cope seems somewhat damned by the evidence.

All of this is Boeing's doing; nothing to do with an industry-wide issue.
Except grandfathering of changes under an STC, and the ability of pilots to operate across multiple generations of an airliner on a single type rating is by definition an industry-wide issue.

And correcting the situation is incumbent upon Boeing, preferably by terminating the MAX program and launching a new-generation, new-technology, entry-level airliner, that would provide a quantum-leap in economic and environmental performance, and a challenge to Airbus and to future newcomers.
You do understand how much business they would lose (and how many jobs would be lost), if they axed Max and spent five to six years developing a new aircraft? That would mean losing Boeing exclusive markets such as Ryanair, and that business is irreplacable. On top of which building a new single aisle would probably mean axing the NMA for demanding too much of the available design and development workforce, and for parallel development projects being too much financial risk for the company to bear. So that's Boeing screwed not just in the short term, but in the long term too.
MAX aircraft flew "normally" only because MCAS operated normally. MAX aircraft cannot fly normally without MCAS operating properly because MCAS is an attempted fix at the discrepancy between the airframe aerodynamic capabilities and the weight and thrust applied to it in the MAX-versions. The argument that MAX aircraft might operate normally in commercial operations and at operational weights with average crews, without MCAS operating normally, is damned by the decision to ground MAX aircraft.

I see no evidence that development under a STC might be an industry-wide issue. What is at stake is a flight safety issue raised by two deadly crashes of a given type of aircraft, that raises the issue that in this case development under a STC possibly went too far.

You do understand that Boeing has decisions and choices to make?
 
Last edited:

DWG

CLEARANCE: Secret
Joined
Feb 11, 2007
Messages
295
Reaction score
38
MAX aircraft flew "normally" only because MCAS operated normally. MAX aircraft cannot fly normally without MCAS operating properly because MCAS is an attempted fix at the discrepancy between the airframe aerodynamic capabilities and the weight and thrust applied to it in the MAX-versions.
This is equivalent to claiming that A320 can't fly because it depends on its fly-by-wire system. Add on stability systems like MCAS are nothing new, we did them for F-14 and A-6 and Nimrod, and probably a bunch more aircraft.

The argument that MAX aircraft might operate normally in commercial operations and at operational weights with average crews, without MCAS operating normally, is damned by the decision to ground MAX aircraft.
The only person I've seen claiming this is you. It's an interesting thought, but I've seen no analysis of what Max flying characteristics are like without MCAS. The decision to ground Max doesn't actually impact on this one way or the other because the aircraft was certified with MCAS. Taking MCAS out would mean recertifying because it's a significant change in the flight characteristics.

I see no evidence that development under a STC might be an industry-wide issue.
The industry disagrees with you:

You do understand that Boeing has decisions and choices to make?
Having worked on two Boeing development projects, ones which redefined the FAA certification process, possibly better than most.
 

TomcatViP

Hellcat
Senior Member
Joined
Feb 12, 2017
Messages
858
Reaction score
42
This is equivalent to claiming that A320 can't fly because it depends on its fly-by-wire system. Add on stability systems like MCAS are nothing new, we did them for F-14 and A-6 and Nimrod, and probably a bunch more aircraft.
Stability augmentation is old as the swept wing - Aka B-47... IMOHO it's quite unacceptable that pilots rated for large commercial aircraft claim to be unable to cope with it.

 

overscan

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Dec 27, 2005
Messages
11,444
Reaction score
767
I'm no expert but it seems so far the main issues with the MCAS were -

* Optional redundancy in air data sensors, so one hardware failure results in incorrect MCAS actuation.
* Not enough information in training on MCAS (partly as it was not registered as a new type)
* Procedure for failure involves turning off powered control assistance, which may not give pilots enough control authority to recover from the situation MCAS put them in.

The fixes seem pretty simple. Add extra air data sensors for redundancy, provide better training, and stick a button in the cockpit to disengage MCAS in isolation.
 

galgot

CLEARANCE: Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jul 6, 2006
Messages
485
Reaction score
198
Website
galgot.com
...provide better training...
Yes, which will be mandatory with any design change (hardware) -> change type rating, but this is not what their clients such as Ryanair or Southwest are willing to pay for, alas... So for now they still try cheaper software corrections. Which I doubt will satisfy the regulators.
 
Last edited:

DWG

CLEARANCE: Secret
Joined
Feb 11, 2007
Messages
295
Reaction score
38
Boeing reported its largest ever quarterly loss ($2.9Bn) and CEO Dennis Muilenburg raised the possibility of slowing or even stopping Max production.


At some point they'll have to stop production just due to the space required to keep every finished aircraft sitting there. If they've been producing at 42 aircraft a month since the grounding in mid March, I make that about 180-190 aircraft looking for a piece of ramp to sit on, plus however many were already sitting there waiting for delivery. If the aircraft remains grounded until January, as the WSJ predicted, then that would be another 210-50 aircraft on top of that. That's getting towards a full year's production sitting idle.

Even if everything goes smoothly, Boeing can't simply fly those aircraft out the day the grounding is lifted, they need customer checkout flights, and then any remedial actions taken before handover. I think the highest monthly Max deliveries Boeing has previously demonstrated was 61 a month after the engine delivery issues. Worse, depending on how Boeing's been handling the fix and what comes out of the latest problems reported, they may need modifications to fit the finalised redesigned MCAS systems. It's also going to hit the 737 completion centre in Zhoushan with a pile of Chinese Max orders that have been complete but for interiors all descending at once. Unless Boeing can deliver substantially more than 60 aircraft a month, my back of the envelope calculation is that it will take a year and a half to clear the backlog, and several months beyond that if they go ahead with the increase in production rate to 57 a month.

So the whole problem doesn't go away with the lifting of the grounding, clearing that backlog will take a considerable time, potentially well into 2021. And if they're forced to shut down production then it gets worse; the completed backlog stops growing, but the unbuilt aircraft start accruing increasing delays, and that lost time can't be claimed back. At this point I don't think any Max customer will be getting any aircraft to the originally agreed schedule, no matter how far down the line delivery is.

But if Boeing do stop production, then they're likely to start laying off employees, which will cause disruption and ill-feeling in the workforce, and the same will go for all their subcontractors, who are set up for just-in-time delivery of parts for 42 aircraft a month. Boeing can't keep taking parts, one of the features of just-in-time delivery is you don't need the warehouse space for keeping parts, so a stop-work for Boeing is a stop-work for everyone, And if the money isn't coming in, some of those companies might find themselves in a vulnerable financial position, and justifiably aggrieved with Boeing who have been hammering them to increase their capacity and delivery rates for several years.

It's a mess.
 

Foo Fighter

I came, I saw, I drank some tea (and had a bun).
Joined
Jul 19, 2016
Messages
845
Reaction score
61
The longer they wait to move to a new platform and leapfrog Airbus, the more it will hurt them. All this storage of airframes while continuing production and the new issues coming out all the time is hurting Boeing. This could well finish the company as a force in aviation and break the company up.
 

DWG

CLEARANCE: Secret
Joined
Feb 11, 2007
Messages
295
Reaction score
38
The earliest Boeing could produce a new short-haul design is around 2030, given they're due to start NMA next year for 2025 entry into service and simultaneous development programmes are unlikely. With Max they have an aircraft that can compete almost equally with A320 Neo, but they currently have no competitor at all in NMA's middle of the market segment given the retirement of 757 and 767. If they kill NMA, they lose MoM sales to A321LR/XLR/A330 Neo, and their only short-term competitor at the bottom of that market is Max 10, originally scheduled for 2020 service entry..
 
Top