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Engineering case history from Twitter. If this is correct then we have another in a long list of lax regulation disasters.

There was a coal mine disaster

A shuttle disaster, or two

An oil well disaster

A train disaster

All directly related to the drive to economic efficiency.

I cannot predict how this works out. At best Boeing loses a lot of sales, or worst all the 737 Maxes get recalled and crushed and Boeing goes bankrupt wiping out investors employees and creditors.

It may also have long term political and geopolitcal fallout.

OR, a few tweeks to the plane, a few tweeks to pilot training and it is all good.

No position in aviation at all and avoid flying any commercial airline at all times. Piper Cubs and Stearmans are desired.


https://twitter.com/trevorsumner/status/1106934362531155974?...

***BEGIN TWITTER THREAD***

Some people are calling the 737MAX tragedies a #software failure. Here's my response: It's not a software problem. It was an

* Economic problem that the 737 engines used too much fuel, so they decided to install more efficient engines with bigger fans and make the 737MAX.

This led to an

* Airframe problem. They wanted to use the 737 airframe for economic reasons, but needed more ground clearance with bigger engines.The 737 design can't be practically modified to have taller main landing gear. The solution was to mount them higher & more forward.

During the course of developing the MCAS, there was a

* Systems engineering problem. Boeing wanted the simplest possible fix that fit their existing systems architecture, so that it required minimal engineering rework, and minimal new training for pilots and maintenance crews.

The easiest way to do this was to add some features to the existing Elevator Feel Shift system. Like the #EFS system, the #MCAS relies on non-redundant sensors to decide how much trim to add. Unlike the EFS system, MCAS can make huge nose down trim changes.

On both ill-fated flights, there was a:
* Sensor problem. The AoA vane on the 737MAX appears to not be very reliable and gave wildly wrong readings. On #LionAir, this was compounded by a

* Maintenance practices problem. The previous crew had experienced the same problem and didn't record the problem in the maintenance logbook. This was compounded by a:

* Pilot training problem. On LionAir, pilots were never even told about the MCAS, and by the time of the Ethiopian flight, there was an emergency AD issued, but no one had done sim training on this failure. This was compounded by an:

* Economic problem. Boeing sells an option package that includes an extra AoA vane, and an AoA disagree light, which lets pilots know that this problem was happening. Both 737MAXes that crashed were delivered without this option. No 737MAX with this option has ever crashed.

* Pilot expertise problem. If the pilots had correctly and quickly identified the problem and run the stab trim runaway checklist, they would not have crashed.
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Something along those lines in the Everett (WA) Herald. There is not a good money quote in there, but the Cliff's notes are that the 737 was designed for a completely different era of aviation, and some of the legacy design features cause problems for modern 737s.


https://www.heraldnet.com/business/boeing-is-haunted-by-a-50...
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Not to mention the new trend using extensive precision computer programs to minimize the strength of bridges and the steel in skyscrapers.

The days of Chicago Bridge and Iron, built like a tank, and made to last, seem to be over.

Now you buy a new furnace and they tell you the new electronically controlled ones require annual maintenance contracts and have a service life of abt 10 yrs. The old ones used to last at least 30.

Save weight, save on materials, ship junk if you can get away with it.

Yes, its the bean counters saving pennies. The customer be damned.

I saw Bob Lutz of auto fame make the remark on Charlie Rose: The bean counters kill a slice at a time. They cut out the extras that make the product unique. Save money by using margarine rather than butter. Or day old vegetables rather than the freshest available. It all adds up to a downward spiral.

Remember the fate of Kraft-Heinz. The recent story of Sears.
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<<Now you buy a new furnace and they tell you the new electronically controlled ones require annual maintenance contracts and have a service life of abt 10 yrs. The old ones used to last at least 30.

Save weight, save on materials, ship junk if you can get away with it.

Yes, its the bean counters saving pennies. The customer be damned.
>>


Not in my experience.


With the 1970s oil embargo came a huge emphasis on furnace efficiency by CUSTOMERS. As a result of this, top end gas furnace efficiency ramped up fro about 70% to 92% with the rapid development of condensing gas furnaces.

In recent years, continued (and misplaced, in my opinion) CUSTOMER emphasis on even higher efficiency has resulted in gas furnaces with efficiency levels of 97% But the marginal increase from 92% to 97% has required much more complex and expensive parts, far greater difficulties in reliability and maintenance, and a shorter useful life before all those expensive parts start failing, causing reliability issues.


In my opinion as a now retired gas appliance repairman, the best choice for a gas furnace is still one of those 92% furnaces, the best balance between efficiency, reliability and economy.


But all that was mainly driven by CUSTOMER DEMAND, not some effort by manufacturers to chisel customers.

In short, efficiency can be oversold, and often is to many consumers these days.



Seattle Pioneer
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When you include the energy cost of making, shipping, and installing THREE of the 97% efficient furnaces, versus ONE of the 92% efficient furnaces, to last 30 years, is the higher efficiency even real?
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A lot of it is the Jack Welch management style. If your company has a GE-trained CEO, look out below.

intercst
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In my opinion as a now retired gas appliance repairman, the best choice for a gas furnace is still one of those 92% furnaces, the best balance between efficiency, reliability and economy.

Additionally, the more efficient your house is, the less benefit you get from a high efficiency furnace because the furnace won't run as often.

So if you are in a situation where a high efficiency furnace is cost effective, it is likely even more cost effective to use the extra money to simply add insulation and air sealing and go with a lower efficiency furnace.
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* Airframe problem. They wanted to use the 737 airframe for economic reasons, but needed more ground clearance with bigger engines.The 737 design can't be practically modified to have taller main landing gear. The solution was to mount them higher & more forward.


Let’s face it. Compounded by bad engineering decisions and suboptimal maintenance this is first and foremost a management problem as well as a regulatory funding problem.

Saving money and time to market by re-using a half-century old design incompatible with today’s engines was more important to senior management than building an adequate airframe.

As for the interface to the regulator, this article has some unsettling details:

The original Boeing document provided to the FAA included a description specifying a limit to how much the system could move the horizontal tail — a limit of 0.6 degrees, out of a physical maximum of just less than 5 degrees of nose-down movement. ...

After the Lion Air Flight 610 crash, Boeing for the first time provided to airlines details about MCAS. Boeing’s bulletin to the airlines stated that the limit of MCAS’s command was 2.5 degrees.

That number was new to FAA engineers who had seen 0.6 degrees in the safety assessment. ...


https://www.seattletimes.com/business/boeing-aerospace/faile...
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Like the #EFS system, the #MCAS relies on non-redundant sensors to decide how much trim to add. Unlike the EFS system, MCAS can make huge nose down trim changes...
* Economic problem. Boeing sells an option package that includes an extra AoA vane, and an AoA disagree light, which lets pilots know that this problem was happening. Both 737MAXes that crashed were delivered without this option. No 737MAX with this option has ever crashed.



Assuming the above information is accurate, I expect some litigants may assert that the proximate cause of both the Lion Air and the Ethiopia crashes can be traced back to Boeing's decisions not to add some redundant sensors and/or to include the extra AoA vane and AoA disagree light as standard features - not as options.

I'm not an engineer, but I suspect that a prudent engineer might have recommend incorporating redundancy and/or AoA fail-safe mechanisms such as those left off the planes involved in the crashes.

What's possible, what's feasible, and what's profitable all must be weighed together against what's safe for the flying public - and Boeing may have weighed incorrectly in regard to this particular model plane.

Bad judgment call, there, IMNSHO.
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What's possible, what's feasible, and what's profitable all must be weighed together against what's safe for the flying public - and Boeing may have weighed incorrectly in regard to this particular model plane.

Bad judgment call, there, IMNSHO.


The thread seems to indicate that Boeing made a lot of practical business decisions to maximize profit.

If I were considering new planes, I would ponder long and hard about how this happened. In the end I might decide that purchasing any aircraft built by any U.S. based company is a high risk proposition. In other words it is not a managment problem, rather the enviroment that managment is required to work within.

If enough make this choice the tasks that Boeing faces will become much more difficult. Depending on debt, maybe impossible.

Cheers
Qazulight
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In other words it is not a managment problem, rather the enviroment that managment is required to work within.

Management hires the workforce. They establish the compensation and awards for the workforce. They train the workforce. They organize the workforce. They decide who to promote, and who to fire among the workforce. So when management blames the workforce for problems, I have no sympathy.
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Management hires the workforce. They establish the compensation and awards for the workforce. They train the workforce. They organize the workforce. They decide who to promote, and who to fire among the workforce. So when management blames the workforce for problems, I have no sympathy

I was thinking of the situation that we as a society have decided to accept.

It is what it is.

Cheers
Qazulight
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Interesting summary in the OP. Testing for single point failures is standard, so I'm not sure how they got around that requirement. In general, sensors are pretty unreliable, and need constant calibration and checks. Maybe shipments to some countries have lower standards.

The fact that there was a AoA vane option package indicates that someone at Boeing knew that this was a problem. The old Boeing would have over-engineered it and just added the redundant systems. The new Boeing, with few competitors and lax regulators, cut corners. I've seen this with other high-end brands. They start selling junk and depend on the reputation earned over decades to squeeze out a few years of high profits. Take the money and run.

I would add that there was a marketing failure: saying there was no need for additional training. This has hurt Boeing's image with pilots.

Boeing will be fine financially. They only have one major commercial competitor, and are printing money. And they have been winning military contracts recently. Their customers are more concerned with the bottom line than passengers, and so will buy the fixed Max. Pilots might rebel and write a stern letter, but that's all.

Or maybe someone will start a disrupter company. But that will take 10 years or so.
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Qaz writes:

If I were considering new planes, I would ponder long and hard about how this happened. In the end I might decide that purchasing any aircraft built by any U.S. based company is a high risk proposition. In other words it is not a managment problem, rather the enviroment that managment is required to work within.


================================================

I disagree. It is a management problem. It is not caused by engineers or regulators. Management decides how much money to invest in safety versus profit.

jaagu
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The fact that there was a AoA vane option package indicates that someone at Boeing knew that this was a problem. The old Boeing would have over-engineered it and just added the redundant systems.

Only tangentially related, but another incident caused by cheap and dirty engineering: the DC-10 that lost an engine and crashed in Chicago decades ago. I read an article comparing the engineering of the DC-10 to the L-1011. The problem with the American Airlines DC-10 started with an incorrect maintenance procedure that damaged the engine mount. That was the direct cause of the engine falling off. As the engine was producing a lot of thrust when it separated, it rolled over the top of the wing, which exposed Douglas' cheap and dirty engineering.

The DC-10 had all three hydraulic systems running close together in the leading edge of the wing. When the engine rolled over the top of the wing, it damaged all three hydraulic systems. The L-1011 had the hydraulic systems installed in different areas of the wing so localized damage would not take out all the systems.

The leading edge slats of the DC-10 wings are held open by hydraulic pressure. When all of the hydraulic systems were damaged, the loss of pressure allowed the slat on that wing to close, causing that wing to stall. On the L-1011, the leading edge slats latch into the open position, and require positive hydraulic pressure to unlatch so they can retract.

Bottom line, if it had been an L-1011 that dropped an engine due to AA's poor maintenance procedure, it probably would not have lost all the hydraulic systems and, even if it did loose all hydraulics, the slat would not have closed and the wing would not have stalled. It might have made a difference.

Watched a piece on TV years ago about an old 737 that crashed in the Central American jungle. The plane was flying at night, over uninhabited jungle so very difficult to eyeball up and down, so the crew was dependent on their instruments.

Flight data recorder showed the plane making a series of sharp banking maneuvers, at an impossibly high rate, in other words, according to the data, the plane would go from a 45 degree right bank to a 60 degree left bank in a second.

That model 73 had 3 artificial horizon displays, and 3 gyros. One display in front of the pilot, one in front of the copilot and a third one off to the side. Normal use is for each display to be driven by it's own gyro. If a discrepancy is noted between the two main displays, they would be compared to the third to determine which display was wrong. Once the defective unit is identified, a selector switch was provided to switch both of the displays to the gyro that was working correctly.

Examining the wreckage, it was found the pilot had the gyro selector switch set, wrongly, so both main displays were running off one gyro, and there was a lose wire in the wire harness for that gyro. The wire would make contact for a moment and show the plane in a bank. The pilot would make adjustments to correct the bank, but the wire would break contact, so the pilot couldn't tell when the plane rolled past level into opposite bank. Then the wire would make contact for a moment, showing the bank in the opposite direction, which the pilot would again try to correct. Because the selector switch was set wrong, both of the main displays were showing the same information to the pilots, so they never thought to look at the third display, which was working perfectly. The pilots soon lost control of the plane and it augered in.

Personally, I find it stunning that Boeing would design any flight control system with no redundancy. I'm sure making a critical flight control system with no backup was cheaper, and that is what matters in our beancounter driven culture.

The U.S. Department of Transportation is investigating whether there were lapses in the Federal Aviation Administration’s approval of Boeing planes involved in two recent fatal crashes, The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday.

https://www.cnbc.com/2019/03/18/us-dot-probes-faas-approval-...

Steve
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Engineering case history from Twitter. If this is correct then we have another in a long list of lax regulation disasters.

Indeed, Boeing has an FAA approval problem:

FAA employees warned... that Boeing Co. had too much sway over safety approvals of new aircraft..."

DOT auditors confirmed the FAA hadn’t done enough to "hold Boeing accountable..." According to The Seattle Times, Boeing had understated the power of the flight-control software in a safety analysis submitted to the FAA. Specifically, the analysis failed to consider how the system could reset itself each time a pilot responded -- in essence, gradually ratcheting the horizontal stabilizer into a dive position... The newspaper also quoted unnamed FAA technical experts who said managers prodded them to speed up the certification process as development of the Max was nine months behind that of rival Airbus SE’s A320neo... https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-03-17/black-box...

So in a nutshell, the bigger, heavier more efficient engines were placed further forward and this moved the center of gravity of the plane forward and destabilized the plane.

So the real problem facing the 737 MAX is stability - and this is what needs to be fixed. Not software to cover up the real problem.


-=Ajax=-
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Not software to cover up the real problem.

But a software patch is cheap and quick, to mollify critics and get the model back to producing profits. All future crashes will be laid on "pilot error" for not successfully overcoming the automatic system's errors.

Steve
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<< All future crashes will be laid on "pilot error" for not successfully overcoming the automatic system's errors.
>>


Oh heaven FORFEND that pilots should have a responsibility to be able to FLY THEIR PLANES!


Seattle Pioneer
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Another triumph of the free market.
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The new Boeing, with few competitors . . .

Boeing has not had any significant competitors except Airbus for at least 20 or 30 years. I don't think that's changed much.
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I would prefer flying on a 737 MAX over a Chinese plane, but who knows in 10 years. Boston just took delivery of some Chinese made subway cars.

AP Source: Justice Dept. probing development of Boeing jets
A federal grand jury in Washington, D.C., sent a subpoena to someone involved in the plane’s development seeking emails, messages and other communications, the source told The Associated Press.
https://www.apnews.com/5bff5f835c03475b92ff52c102a4a5ba

The 737 MAX is Boeing’s fastest-selling plane ever.
737 MAX: total orders 5012, delivered so far 376, backlog 4636
Don’t expect a falloff in 737 MAX orders, however. There’s a years long wait for the planes. Customers who switch to the A320neo from Airbus will wait years there, too.
The larger risk may be that Boeing’s setback creates a bigger opportunity for a looming new rival, China, and its Comac C919. But it won’t begin deliveries until 2021, barring delays. And almost all orders so far have come from Chinese customers.
https://www.barrons.com/articles/fallout-from-the-boeing-737...
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But all that was mainly driven by CUSTOMER DEMAND, not some effort by manufacturers to chisel customers.

You know better than I do, Seattle Pioneer. But who are the people who are imposing low water flow faucets on us? Or the new high efficiency laundry equipment?

I thought this was the Feds trying to force us to save energy. Not customer demand. But federal regulations.

And I can see the furnace and AC manufacturers lobbying the federal agencies to require equipment needing more service. Making them more profitable for the industry.
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<<But all that was mainly driven by CUSTOMER DEMAND, not some effort by manufacturers to chisel customers.

You know better than I do, Seattle Pioneer. But who are the people who are imposing low water flow faucets on us? Or the new high efficiency laundry equipment?

I thought this was the Feds trying to force us to save energy. Not customer demand. But federal regulations.
>>


As I undesratnd it, Federal regulations currently re
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And I can see the furnace and AC manufacturers lobbying the federal agencies to require equipment needing more service. Making them more profitable for the industry.

I don't necessarily see such a nefarious plot, rather the mundane, unrelenting pressure on vendors to make everything ever cheaper.

My aunt and uncle bought a new build condo in 1999. By 2012, they had replaced the furnace and all the windows. By 2015, the sinks were rusting through.

When I was visiting, I would keep the door to the guest room closed overnight to keep the prowling cats out. Wondered why it was always so stuffy in that room. One time I visited in early November and, sitting in the living room, froze, in spite of the thermostat being set over 70. Finally figured out what the problem was: there were no return air ducts in the HVAC system. The furnace's air intake was the louvered door on the closet the furnace was in, next to the kitchen, so the air in the kitchen and dining room would circulate through the furnace fine, but the bedrooms and living room? Forget it.

Steve
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<<But all that was mainly driven by CUSTOMER DEMAND, not some effort by manufacturers to chisel customers.

You know better than I do, Seattle Pioneer. But who are the people who are imposing low water flow faucets on us? Or the new high efficiency laundry equipment?

I thought this was the Feds trying to force us to save energy. Not customer demand. But federal regulations.
>>


As I understand it, Federal regulations currently require gas furnaces be at least 80% efficient. 90% plus gas furnaces have never been required, to my knowledge.

But customer demand has been there for higher efficiency furnaces. I think that often makes sense for 90-92% efficient furnaces, but the 97% efficient furnaces are overkill with excessive complexity and cost, in my opinion.

Other Federal regulations requiring such things as low flow toilets and such are none of the Federal government business, in my view. Often this is regulation not authoried by the Congress, but out of control Federal agencies making up their own laws outside of what the constitution requires ----which is that the CONGRESS adopt the laws subject to complex procedures. That protects our liberties, which out of control agencies do not.

I'm thinking of the EPA among many others.

If the Supreme Court wanted to enforce the constitution, they would start by declaring all such agencies to be abuses of law and the constitution.



Seattle Pioneer
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<<<Let’s face it. Compounded by bad engineering decisions and suboptimal maintenance this is first and foremost a management problem as well as a regulatory funding problem. >>>

Then There is this?

Cheap Plicks couldn't even spend the small sum to combine the checklists into one!

We always carried one by trade and knew it well.

https://seekingalpha.com/news/3444302-latest-737-max-crisis?...


<<< Meanwhile, the cockpit voice recorder of the doomed Lion Air 737 MAX flight in October revealed pilots' frantic search for fix to overpower the MCAS system, although a different crew the evening before encountered the same problem but solved it after running through three checklists.>>>

Anymouse
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I'm very late to the thread, but I wanted to offer up this video from a working commercial pilot. He currently flies the 777, but has flown the 737 in his career.

He gives a very good explanation of the MCAS system - why Boeing added it and what it does - without drawing conclusions or pointing fingers. He has a couple of videos posted previously about both the Ethiopian crash and the Lion Air crash last year.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Ts_AjU89Qk

--Peter
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Heh, heh! That guy has really had a hard time holding a steady job!


Seattle Pioneer
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