No. of Recommendations: 17
Well that's nice, ain't it. Boeing gets to certify its own aircraft. Since this change was made, Boeing introduced two new models - the Dreamliner and the MAX. Both had serious safety problems that were discovered only after the planes had entered operation. At least the 787's Dreamliner burning batteries didn't kill anyone, but that was just pure luck.

The roots of this crisis can be found in a major change the agency instituted in its regulatory responsibility in 2005. Rather than naming and supervising its own “designated airworthiness representatives,” the agency decided to allow Boeing and other manufacturers who qualified under the revised procedures to select their own employees to certify the safety of their aircraft. In justifying this change, the agency said at the time that it would save the aviation industry about $25 billion from 2006 to 2015. Therefore, the manufacturer is providing safety oversight of itself. This is a worrying move toward industry self-certification.

Before this policy was instituted, the agency selected these airworthiness representatives, who may have worked for the manufacturer but were chosen and supervised by the agency. These experts were responsible for guiding the agency’s decisions about whether to ground an aircraft for safety concerns.


https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/13/opinion/boeing-737-ground...

This is another example that shows that deregulation doesn't necessarily save costs. Aside from the 300+ lives lost, the long-term damage incurred by Boeing to its reputation, the costs for grounding and fixing its planes (if that is even possible) could easily outstrip whatever savings Boeing realized under this new "oversight" system. The tail risks are substantial. If the 737 Max 8 and 9 are irredeemably unsafe, or perceived to be so, then Boeing will have nothing to offer its customers in this critical segment for years. There's 5000 737 Max planes on order.
Let's be perfectly about what Boeing is doing with the Max 8 and Max 9 - due to its increased engine size, these aircraft are inherently unsafe and rendered safe (or supposed to be rendered safe) only through a (badly designed) software solution.
I would prefer not to fly with such an aircraft. If I was an airline that had any choice in the matter, would I choose such an aircraft?
If I was Boeing, would I want to keep selling them? If another 737 Max crashes two years from now, will I want to pay for grounding a much larger fleet of now 1000 or so planes?
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Let's be perfectly about what Boeing is doing with the Max 8 and Max 9 - due to its increased engine size, these aircraft are inherently unsafe and rendered safe (or supposed to be rendered safe) only through a (badly designed) software solution.

</snip>


From the original B737-100 introduced in 1967 to the B737 Max 10 currently scheduled for release in 2020, Boeing has almost doubled the size of the aircraft by stretching the fuselage and adding a lot of fins and chrome. (Maximum Take-off Weight increasing from 110,000 lbs in the 737-100 to 194,700 lbs in the Max 10.)

If you're doubling the size of an aircraft, that's going to get unwieldy. Eventually you need to do a clean sheet design and properly optimize everything to make it safe.

intercst
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What makes you imagine that government bureaucrats have the skills needed to put together the tests needed to determine airworthiness of an enormously complex aircraft?

I would suppose doing so takes thousands of highly skilled employees conducting tens or hundreds of thousands of tests and analysis. Well beyond the abilities and resources available to government agencies.

Perhaps they have a useful role in conducting and evaluating the results of such tests.


Seattle Pioneer
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SP asks,

What makes you imagine that government bureaucrats have the skills needed to put together the tests needed to determine airworthiness of an enormously complex aircraft?

</snip>


If they don't have the skills needed, the Gov't better hire personnel who do.

You can't let the student (i.e., Boeing) grade his own test paper. It's essential that there be objective oversight of aircraft certification.

The argument used to be made that Boeing has the financial incentive to maintain it's reputation and product safety. That may be true for the company as a whole and it's shareholders. But if we've learned anything in recent years, the Board of Directors and company executives seem to have remarkable protection from any personal financial hit when failing in their responsibilities. Golden parachutes seem to provide a soft landing for the monkeys standing on the highest rungs of the ladder.

intercst
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<<If they don't have the skills needed, the Gov't better hire personnel who do.

You can't let the student (i.e., Boeing) grade his own test paper. It's essential that there be objective oversight of aircraft certification.
>>


It seems that you can't leave a school in charge of admitting its own students these days, either.


Just where do you suppose the government is going to find the people with the skills and experience to conduct that kind of safety testing? You seem to acknowledge that government personnel don't have such skills themselves.

Every day on these boards I see withering liberal critiques of the honesty and ability of government to manage it's own affairs, let alone those of others.

Government might perhaps aspire to being able to set quality control standards and run checks on whether such standards are being followed. Even so, I'll bet there is enormous reliance on professional engineering societies for guidance in doing such things. I would suppose that such organizations, which have been developing such standards for a hundred years or more, do a better job of setting such standards than do government employees.

Perhaps government might reasonably spire to checking to see if such quality control standards are in place and being followed.

But substitute government employees for company personnel and responsibility for building a safe product? Doesn't sound like it would be safe or effective to me.


Seattle Pioneer
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What makes you imagine that government bureaucrats have the skills needed to put together the tests needed to determine airworthiness of an enormously complex aircraft.
...
Perhaps they have a useful role in conducting and evaluating the results of such tests.


That apparently was the situation prior to Bush-era deregulation.
The big change seems to be that the people (the "airworthiness representatives" who are poking around looking at what Boeing is doing used to work for the FAA. Now they work for Boeing. That sounds like a grotesque conflict of interest and a recipe for disaster.

Boeing's actions in the case of the 737 Max are truly egregious.
They introduced a major, dangerous new "safety" feature and basically didn't tell anyone about it. There was NO training requirement for pilots switching to the Max.
That's just crazy.

I imagine that if the person(s) certifying this hadn't been Boeing employees, then it might not have gone this way.
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<<I imagine that if the person(s) certifying this hadn't been Boeing employees, then it might not have gone this way.>>


Why would you suppose that?


<<That apparently was the situation prior to Bush-era deregulation.
The big change seems to be that the people (the "airworthiness representatives" who are poking around looking at what Boeing is doing used to work for the FAA. Now they work for Boeing. That sounds like a grotesque conflict of interest and a recipe for disaster.>>


Assuming your comment above is accurate, government officials decided to let Boeing manage the certification process. If it was such a bad idea, why was that practice adopted? If government is adopting poor safety certification practices, that doesn't seem much of a recommendation for government control of the process.

And as I suggested, I would suppose that government officials really can't have more than a slight real impact on the process. There are bound to be too few with too few specialized skills to actually control the process.

What we have is government giving the IMPRESSION of controlling the process, while not doing so in practice. It's really deceitful. Government ALWAYS wants more control, but rather commonly can't manage the power it wants with anything like effectiveness. Then when something goes wrong, government officials have a thousand excuses to shirk responsibility for what happens.

This series of posts is a perfect example of that process.

Government is always busily slamming the door after the cows have escaped.

Another classic example was the Flint Michigan lead-in-the-drinking-water episode a few years ago. Same deal -----government at the Federal and State level claims responsibility for safe drinking water, then fails to carry out that responsibility. And testing drinking water is vastly simpler than insuring safety in a new jet airliner.


Seattle Pioneer
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Very interesting. One wonders whether Boeing‘s 2011 short term shareholder-value-induced decision to once more leverage the old 737 design would have turned out different without self-certification in place:

On August 30, 2011, Boeing's board of directors approved the launch of the re-engined 737, expecting a fuel burn 16% lower than the Airbus A320ceo and 4% lower than the A320neo.[8] Studies for additional drag reduction were performed during 2011, including revised tail cone, natural laminar flow nacelle, and hybrid laminar flow vertical stabilizer.[21] Boeing abandoned the development of a new design.[22] Boeing expects the 737 MAX to meet or exceed the range of the Airbus A320neo.[23] Firm configuration for the 737 MAX was scheduled for 2013.[24]

In March 2010, the estimated cost to re-engine the 737 according to Mike Bair, Boeing Commercial Airplanes' vice president of business strategy & marketing, would be $2–3 billion including the CFM engine development. During Boeing's Q2 2011 earnings call, former CFO James Bell said the development cost for the airframe only would be 10–15% of the cost of a new program estimated at $10–12 billion at the time. ...
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_737_MAX
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SP asks,

Assuming your comment above is accurate, government officials decided to let Boeing manage the certification process. If it was such a bad idea, why was that practice adopted?

</snip>


As a Political Science graduate of Michigan State Univ., surely your professors taught you of the role of Big Money in politics. Boeing simply bought off enough Congressmen and Senators to get the level of deregulation they wanted.

intercst
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Assuming your comment above is accurate, government officials decided to let Boeing manage the certification process. If it was such a bad idea, why was that practice adopted?


Because that is what the Bush government wanted which appointed those officials, I would assume.

If government is adopting poor safety certification practices, that doesn't seem much of a recommendation for government control of the process.

That's the way the right wing argument goes. First, you claim that the government can't do anything right. Then, when you get elected, you prove it. And you underfund enforcement, of course. Also something the GOP is very good at. Deny the bureaucrats the money they need to do their job properly, then when they fail, take that as a reason to shut them down completely.

It's depressing that Obama didn't reverse more of the damage Bush had done to the system of regulation and oversight, but I guess you can't fight ALL the battles you would like to fight.


And as I suggested, I would suppose that government officials really can't have more than a slight real impact on the process. There are bound to be too few with too few specialized skills to actually control the process.

No, because obviously the government tends to hire people from the aircraft industry.
These might be very similar people from the ones the industry would hire for that position, but how those people behave in that position will depend greatly on who hired them and whose bread they eat.




Government is always busily slamming the door after the cows have escaped.

Another classic example was the Flint Michigan lead-in-the-drinking-water episode a few years ago.


SP, it is unreasonable to expect perfection in any human endeavor, and that includes government, of course. This is especially true because the GOP is hell-bent on sabotaging it at every turn.
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It just amazes me that anyone would write software that puts the plane nose down on the basis of a readout from one sensor.

But they would have already fixed this bug by including feedback from six more sensors if it weren't for the 5-week government shutdown, according to Rachel Maddow's research.
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But they would have already fixed this bug by including feedback from six more sensors if it weren't for the 5-week government shutdown, according to Rachel Maddow's research.


Proving once again that Chaos is not a plan?

Description of Chaos.

Anymouse <knows a wee bit about chaos, doesn't like it>

https://www.msn.com/en-ca/news/newspolitics/trump-disparages...

[]rump disparages Boeing 737s in private before grounding the plane after deadly crash

Toluse Olorunnipa, Josh Dawsey 26 mins ago

...

The chaotic scene capped a harried three-day period in which the United States lagged almost every other major country in deciding how to respond to an Ethi­o­pian Airlines crash early Sunday, highlighting the [] administration’s close ties to Boeing and its difficulty asserting itself as a global leader in the wake of a tragedy.

...

Federal regulators usually take the lead on making decisions related to safety, said Richard Aboulafia, an aerospace analyst with Teal Group.

“It’s not the president’s decision and it should never be the president’s decision,” he said, adding that he did not know whether []rump broke any protocols.

...

On Tuesday night, officials said, Trump was given satellite data that indicated the same 737 Max automation system believed to be responsible for a crash in Indonesia last year that killed more than 180 people may have played a role in Sunday’s accident.

By Wednesday morning, officials said, []rump had also seen information about the crash from the Canadian government, which then announced it was grounding the model, leaving the U.S. as the only major country where the aircraft was being allowed to operate.

“We were coordinating with Canada,” Trump said Wednesday. “We were giving them information, they were giving us information.”

Throughout the process, []rump played the role of aviation expert, despite having no formal training in aeronautics. ...
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<<SP asks,

Assuming your comment above is accurate, government officials decided to let Boeing manage the certification process. If it was such a bad idea, why was that practice adopted?

</snip>

As a Political Science graduate of Michigan State Univ., surely your professors taught you of the role of Big Money in politics. Boeing simply bought off enough Congressmen and Senators to get the level of deregulation they wanted.

intercst>>



If government is so easily bought off by interest groups, I'm amazed that you place such confidence in government as a vicious watchdog for the public interest. Seems you are describing a lapdog.

I notice that you didn't address my argument that very commonly government regulators are ineffective at preventing safety issues, despite their power and rules, such as in the Flint leaded water issue. You have government claiming the power to regulate safety, but over and over again they are ineffective at doing that. Seems more like a bait and switch kind of argument that tends to relieve business of responsibility rather than hold them accountable.

In the Flint case, you are mainly dealing with publicly owned water utilities, not hugely wealthy private companies, yet the same issues crop up. Have you considered whether it's not really a case of private owners bribing government regulators, and more of an issue of a lapse in the effectiveness of government regulators?


Seattle Pioneer
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<<If government is adopting poor safety certification practices, that doesn't seem much of a recommendation for government control of the process.

That's the way the right wing argument goes. First, you claim that the government can't do anything right. Then, when you get elected, you prove it. And you underfund enforcement, of course. Also something the GOP is very good at. Deny the bureaucrats the money they need to do their job properly, then when they fail, take that as a reason to shut them down completely.

It's depressing that Obama didn't reverse more of the damage Bush had done to the system of regulation and oversight, but I guess you can't fight ALL the battles you would like to fight.>>



Ahhh. It seems you are acknowledging the ineffectiveness of government regulation.

Obama wasn't interested in insuring the effectiveness of existing areas of government regulation. He was interested in the latest fads and fancies --- the NEW areas of power government might acquire, not effectively managing existing areas of power government already had, which are mostly ignored.

That's not to rag on Obama particularly, it's just the way government, politics and the media work. I suggest that's a formula for ineffective government regulation.

When a problem does arise, such as the Flint, MI water issue, THEN government regulators wax indignant and get busy pointing fingers at lax practices and such. But that's just shutting the barn door after the horse has escaped. Not much of an issue arguing for ever increasing areas of government power and regulation.


Seattle Pioneer
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SeattlePioneer

What makes you imagine that government bureaucrats have the skills needed to put together the tests needed to determine airworthiness of an enormously complex aircraft?


"Open the pod bay doors, HAL".

One of the most memorable lines from movies past.

Boeing is a GREAT company; how they managed to put out a SW package that could argue with a pilot and prevent him from FLYING THE DAMN PLANE is a serious defect.

That a live person in the cockpit can't readily / quickly overrule the computer because the software rebels is truly unforgivable.

How in the hell did this package defect escape detection during BETA testing?
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When a problem does arise, such as the Flint, MI water issue, THEN government regulators wax indignant and get busy pointing fingers at lax practices and such.

The Flint water crisis was created by right wing politicians controlling the MI govt. They CHOSE to *not* follow standard practices in the industry. They CHOSE to withhold samples they KNEW would fail testing. They CHOSE to submit ONLY samples they knew WOULD pass testing. Hence, criminal charges were filed. But the real criminals were allowed to escape with no real punishment.
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<<When a problem does arise, such as the Flint, MI water issue, THEN government regulators wax indignant and get busy pointing fingers at lax practices and such.

The Flint water crisis was created by right wing politicians controlling the MI govt. They CHOSE to *not* follow standard practices in the industry. They CHOSE to withhold samples they KNEW would fail testing. They CHOSE to submit ONLY samples they knew WOULD pass testing. Hence, criminal charges were filed. But the real criminals were allowed to escape with no real punishment.>>



Oh, there was plenty of government regulation, including the Federal EPA. None of it effective.

But thank you for pointing out the futility of government regulation.


Seattle Pioneer
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Boeing is a GREAT company; how they managed to put out a SW package that could argue with a pilot and prevent him from FLYING THE DAMN PLANE is a serious defect.

Airliners have had stick shakers and stick pushers to warn of and prevent stalls, for years. That Boeing put in a silently acting, continuously operating system to avoid stalls implies the aircraft is so stall prone that it would challenge the skill of a pilot to operate the aircraft without the automatic system. Appears the system they installed is overenthusiastic. If a software patch dampens it's enthusiasm, will 73s start stalling and falling out of the sky, instead of diving in?

Steve
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Airliners have had stick shakers and stick pushers to warn of and prevent stalls, for years.

Yeah, some pilots still managed to ignore them because their airline was too cheap to pay for the simulator time to learn how to use them. Instead the over worked and under experienced pilots were told to read up on it. The pilot had no idea why the stick was shaking and kept pulling back on the yoke while the co-pilot screamed all the way down till the crash. The airline tried to blame the airplane that was doing everything it could to try to keep this pair and 48 other people alive.

Anymouse

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colgan_Air_Flight_3407
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Oh, there was plenty of government regulation, including the Federal EPA. None of it effective.

But thank you for pointing out the futility of government regulation.


You just documented the effectiveness of govt regulation. The MI right wingers in govt could ONLY manage to get their failure started. Then they got caught within a year by govt regulators and other investigators *outside* the control of the right wingers. Then the right wingers lost the next election.
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I notice that you didn't address my argument that very commonly government regulators are ineffective at preventing safety issues, despite their power and rules, such as in the Flint leaded water issue. You have government claiming the power to regulate safety, but over and over again they are ineffective at doing that. Seems more like a bait and switch kind of argument that tends to relieve business of responsibility rather than hold them accountable.

In the Flint case, you are mainly dealing with publicly owned water utilities, not hugely wealthy private companies, yet the same issues crop up. Have you considered whether it's not really a case of private owners bribing government regulators, and more of an issue of a lapse in the effectiveness of government regulators?


That's actually a really, really good analogy. IIRC, any water supply with something like over 12 connections is federally regulated. So, well over 300 million people use federally regulated water system every single day and there is only one example where the system failed. That is an astonishing success rate.

The Michigan legislature, by the way, voted overwhelmingly for more government oversight of water systems. Apparently the people affected the most don't share your view of "no oversight necessary."
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<<That's actually a really, really good analogy. IIRC, any water supply with something like over 12 connections is federally regulated. So, well over 300 million people use federally regulated water system every single day and there is only one example where the system failed. That is an astonishing success rate.
>>



I would have liked to see you advance that argument at the time when it was the hottest issue in town.


Of course, you are ASSUMING that the water supply of 300 million other people was fine. You don't really know how many other water utilities were asleep at the switch as well.


It's hardly surprising that when government regulation fails, the go to solution is MORE government regulation.

Suppose that when that problem was discovered, EVERY management level person in the utility had been fired. Just guessing, but I'll bet a LOT of other water utilities would have sat up and paid attention to that.


Seattle Pioneer
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It's hardly surprising that when government regulation fails, the go to solution is MORE government regulation


Of course it's not surprising. It's logical.
What's illogical is to think that if government oversight fails to stop corporate malfeasance in individual cases, then that means that government oversight should be stopped altogether.
That's bonkers.
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<<What's illogical is to think that if government oversight fails to stop corporate malfeasance in individual cases, then that means that government oversight should be stopped altogether.
That's bonkers.>>


Oh, I don't think so.


Absent government taking responsibility for the safety of Boeing's airliners through regulation, Boeing is solely responsible for their safe operation.

If government takes responsibility for their safety, then government is responsible.

Since it's really absurd to suggest that government has the manpower, skilled personnel and sheer ability to manage the safety of airliner production across the world ----better that government stay out and that Boeing be held responsible as indeed is happening now.


All too often government regulation provides cover for a lack of safety: "Well, we are following all their rules ----if something is wrong it's the fault of the regulators." And indeed that gets many businesses off the liability hook, or at least muddles the issue.



Seattle Pioneer
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Absent government taking responsibility for the safety of Boeing's airliners through regulation, Boeing is solely responsible for their safe operation.


That's the way it currently is. Boeing was a) certifying itself and b) was obviously going to shoulder the financial consequences of its negligence.




If government takes responsibility for their safety, then government is responsible.


That's not how it works. Boeing is the one being blamed for this disaster - and it was always clear that this would happen.

SP, the reason government oversight over the safety of transport vehicles was established in the first place is because the operators and manufacturers of such vehicles behaved in a grotesquely irresponsible fashion for a long time.

It took decades before the US managed to get the steamboat problem under control through effective oversight.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steamboat_Inspection_Service
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<<If government takes responsibility for their safety, then government is responsible.

That's not how it works. Boeing is the one being blamed for this disaster - and it was always clear that this would happen.
>>



Firstly, no one really knows what happened or who is responsible. What we have at present is a media rush to judgement, lynching whatever target for their ire that appears to be handy.


However, if Boeing is responsible, I'm sure there will be doens of plaintiff's lawyers standing in line to pin blame on them and collect fat settlements.

But if GOVERNMENT had made itself responsible for flight safety, things would be a lot more muddled, because government and politicians certainly don't want to be held accountable, even if they have made themselves accountable through a regulatory scheme.

Exxon paid out billions of dollars in claims for the Exxon Valdez sinking, plus it lost a valuable cargo. BP paid out billions in claims for their oil well blowout in the Caribbean, plus they lost valuable production. Those episodes occurred despite elaborate webs of government regulation which prioved to be ineffective in preventing damaging episodes.

But the companies paid, and paid big time for the damages they caused. I suspect that's a more powerful incentive for good management than the usually frail reed of government regulation.


Seattle Pioneer
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What's illogical is to think that if government oversight fails to stop corporate malfeasance in individual cases, then that means that government oversight should be stopped altogether.
That's bonkers.



Consider the source?
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But the companies paid, and paid big time for the damages they caused. I suspect that's a more powerful incentive for good management than the usually frail reed of government regulation.


No, it's not.
Picture a company like Boeing to be an ant hill, where the ants spend a quarter of their time fighting against each other.

The problem with companies is that they are run by armies of managers, all of which have quarterly targets.
And those quarterly targets get ratcheted up little by little over time.
And a good way of reaching them is cutting corners. Just a little.
And then a little more.
Of course it's not really in anyone's interest to cut corners if that results in massive disasters, but you have to realize that the tools that are used to control and steers such a company are incredibly unwieldy.

The boards draws up a compensation plan with targets to incentivize executive management, which then turns around and does the same for the rest of the company.
And then they try to steer a vast army of underlings with the help of targets, KPIs and bonus payments. And everyone of them is half trying to do what is right for him and half what is right for the company, and they have cost and deadline pressures, and they don't really know with any kind of certainty if they're cutting one corner too many now. So they do it, and they hope. Because they have to make those numbers. Meet that deadline. Earn that bonus. Don't disappoint their superior.



You need an outside, government agency that is not caught up within this jungle of profit-driven incentives, whose pay and career advancement doesn't depend on the company's bottom line, to counteract this process of corner-cutting, which will otherwise always evolve into disaster eventually.
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"Oh, there was plenty of government regulation, including the Federal EPA. None of it effective.

"But thank you for pointing out the futility of government regulation.



Government fails whenever conservatives take charge and refuse to enforce health and safety regulations. That is why it is really, really stupid to elect anti-government politicians to run the government.
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You need an outside, government agency that is not caught up within this jungle of profit-driven incentives, whose pay and career advancement doesn't depend on the company's bottom line, to counteract this process of corner-cutting, which will otherwise always evolve into disaster eventually.

Mary Schivo - former Inspector General of the United States Department of Transportation (DOT). Was on CNN a couple days ago explaining that there was little choice in going to self regulation in the industry as the government couldn't find people with the knowledge needed to regulate them that wasn't already working for the industry.

Methinks if one good thing comes out of this mess it will be that the tremendous cost of this failure will perhaps act as a warning to CEOs who think shortcuts are great for their bonus ... blink ... sorry I was dreaming.

Anymouse <can we get them some jail time?>
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The problem with companies is that they are run by armies of managers, all of which have quarterly targets.
And those quarterly targets get ratcheted up little by little over time.
And a good way of reaching them is cutting corners. Just a little.
And then a little more.


Hence, we get the VW emissions cheat and Wells Fargo bank signing customers up for accounts they didn't need, didn't want, and never authorized.

Steve
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SP,

if you want an example of why government oversight is necessary, consider the table saw.
The US government was hesitant to impose restrictions on retail table saws and so the manufacturers went on merrily sell table saws with terrible safety equipment until just recently riving knives and effective blade guards were finally mandated by the industry's voluntary self-regulatory body (that's how I understand it went).
Table saws are the most dangerous tools there are, and it took the industry in the US *DECADES* to adopt the extremely cheap and simple safety technology that was standard in Germany since god knows when.

If the US government had acted earlier and forced these idiots to comply, HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF FINGERS would have been saved in the US.
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You need an outside, government agency that is not caught up within this jungle of profit-driven incentives,


And that agency needs to be full of experts. And where do those experts come from, if not from the industry? And aren't they going to be the same experts who were promoted within the industry by meeting goals that required them to cut corners?


You do want to hire someone who knows where the bodies are buried, but not the guy who helped to bury them. It's a dilemma.
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<<You need an outside, government agency that is not caught up within this jungle of profit-driven incentives, whose pay and career advancement doesn't depend on the company's bottom line, to counteract this process of corner-cutting, which will otherwise always evolve into disaster eventually.>>


Of course the same issues you outline that corrupt business ethics do the same thing for the same reasons when government is involved.


Seattle Pioneer
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<<"Oh, there was plenty of government regulation, including the Federal EPA. None of it effective.

"But thank you for pointing out the futility of government regulation.



Government fails whenever conservatives take charge and refuse to enforce health and safety regulations. That is why it is really, really stupid to elect anti-government politicians to run the government.>>



These are characteristics of large scale organizations. Corruption of purposes for short term considerations is a fact of life that all organizations have to guard against.


Just as an example, take the Challenger shuttle disaster, where competent people were warning that temperatures were too cold for a launch but other, higher up managers had schedules they wanted to keep in order to look good, and hence ignored safety considerations.

The White and Chaffee fire that killed three astronauts because a pure oxygen environment was maintained is another example from NASA. Despite the inherent known risk of a pure oxygen environment, that was chosen because it was the easiest choice to make, until the fire killed three. After that, an inherently safer atmosphere was adopted.


NASA is perhaps the premiere scientific/engineering government organization is the history of the United States ----but even there it was repeatedly corrupted by managers and leaders who ignored safety in favor of other organizational considerations.

I'm amused that my liberal friends imagine that the solution for safety problems is a function of how much government regulation and control is present. That is just the kind of political corruption that leads to bad decision making ----and disasters.


Seattle Pioneer
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<<Methinks if one good thing comes out of this mess it will be that the tremendous cost of this failure will perhaps act as a warning to CEOs who think shortcuts are great for their bonus ... blink ... sorry I was dreaming. >>


Oh, I think that WILL be a lesson learned. For a while. But business and government organizations are human organizations and sooner or later will be corrupted by internal politics and making easy rather than difficult decisions.


Seattle Pioneer
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Boeing is a GREAT company; how they managed to put out a SW package that could argue with a pilot and prevent him from FLYING THE DAMN PLANE is a serious defect.
...
Airliners have had stick shakers and stick pushers to warn of and prevent stalls, for years. That Boeing put in a silently acting, continuously operating system to avoid stalls implies the aircraft is so stall prone that it would challenge the skill of a pilot to operate the aircraft without the automatic system. Appears the system they installed is overenthusiastic. If a software patch dampens it's enthusiasm, will 73s start stalling and falling out of the sky, instead of diving in?


The reason the MCAS system was installed on the MAX was to make it handle like any other 737. My understanding is that the MAX is not inherently unstable (like a fighter aircraft that can require continuous computer intervention to keep stable) but rather in certain nose-high flight conditions the plane will pitch up faster than a regular 737. Think of it as the bottom of the MAX's engine "catching more wind" than a regular 737.

MCAS was put in place for the computer to compensate for this so that the MAX will feel like a normal 737 to the pilots. This is a selling point so that existing 737 airlines don't need their pilots to have special certification to fly the MAX if the airline adds the plane to their fleet. Which is also why the MCAS was made "invisible" to the pilots. When Lion Air crashed due to a faulty sensor, the pilots didn't even know there was a system actively pushing the nose down. The system disengages if the pilots counteracts it but then re-engages after a few seconds if it is still getting signaled that the aircraft is pitching up. This is why you see the up and down roller coaster effect in the Lion Air flight data, and a similar pattern in Ethiopia. Plane thinks its pitching up too fast, adjusts the nose down, pilots manually counter-act, plane re-engages nose down a few seconds later. Rinse and repeat.

The MCAS can be turned off completely, but pilots need to recognize the issue and know where the switches are. Apparently on normal 737s the autopilot turns off when a pilot manually overrides its actions. MCAS does not turn off unless you actually throw its "off" switch.

Spiffy
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Spiffy99 explains,

The MCAS can be turned off completely, but pilots need to recognize the issue and know where the switches are. Apparently on normal 737s the autopilot turns off when a pilot manually overrides its actions. MCAS does not turn off unless you actually throw its "off" switch.

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My understanding is that three switches must be thrown (in different places around the cockpit) to completely disable the MCAS, all while putting 80 KG of force on the control yoke to counteract the system as the aircraft bucks and pitches, often close to the ground.

I'm surprised more B737 Max's haven't been lost.

intercst
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Intercst comments:

My understanding is that three switches must be thrown (in different places around the cockpit) to completely disable the MCAS, all while putting 80 KG of force on the control yoke to counteract the system as the aircraft bucks and pitches, often close to the ground.

I believe the first two "switches" are regular trim adjustment controls just like on a normal 737 (one a thumb switch on the "steering wheel", and one a large trim wheel beside the pilot). On the MAX these don't shut off MCAS but rather just temporarily override it. After a few seconds, MCAS will engage again if it thinks the plane is pitching up too much (a bad sensor can confuse the system). If the pilot pulls back on the control yoke ("steering wheel") it requires 80KG of force which also temporarily overrides MCAS. On normal 737s I understand this action turns off the autopilot. So if the pilot is not familiar with MCAS he thinks his actions have solved the problem by turning off the crazy autopilot, when in reality MCAS will re-engage in a few seconds.

The third "switch" is an actual hard MCAS on/off switch somewhere on an instrument panel. This would completely take MCAS out of the picture and allow the pilot to "fly the airplane" with full control. But the pilot would need to know how MCAS works (and how it could fail) and where the hard off switch is. After Lion Air all pilots should have been fully aware (there were emergency bulletins that are required reading). Its why there were doubts about the cause of the Ethiopia crash. Once they saw the up and down roller-coaster flight profile on Ethiopia and apparently found the stabilizer in the fully actuated "nose down" position, Canada grounded the MAX and was shortly followed by the USA.

There are two issues as I understand them :
1) The MCAS only gets data from one sensor. If that sensor goes bad, then MCAS goes bad. I believe the software fix Boeing is working on will tap into other sensors to ensure data agreement.
2) Information on MCAS was buried deep in the flight manuals (apparently you needed to jump around - eg refer to MAX supplement #23 or something - to find it). In a normal 737 if you get "runaway" trim the procedure is to first disengage the autopilot, which you can do by pulling back on the yoke (steering wheel). That doesn't work when it's MCAS causing the runaway trim (but it does appear to work for a few seconds). You gotta throw the hard switch.

Spiffy
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<<Ho K. Nieh, director of the NRC’s Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation, offered a quick look at the demographics of the NRC staff. “In February of this year,” he said, “with roughly 2,900 staff on board, we have 24% of our staff eligible to retire now, 38% eligible in three years, and 42% eligible in four years.” The agency increasingly consists of a diminishing number of very experienced staff and an increasing number of new employees, with few in the middle to fill the ranks of future project managers and agency leaders.>>



I'm supposing that Federal aircraft safety regulators have similar numbers. As I've suggested, this implies that government lacks the number of qualified employees able to supervise the development of A safe aircraft, let along ALL the aircraft under development in the United States and abroad.


Would US government employees take responsibility for supervising the safety of aircraft developed in Canada, the EU or China? Or do you suppose the USA government, Canadian government, Chinese government and EU should all be independently supervising the safety of jet aircraft wherever they are built?


Seattle Pioneer
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