When the marketing department makes safety decisions

Click to enlargeMichael Tewelde/AFP

❝ The Boeing 737 and the Airbus 320 types are single aisle planes with some 150 seats. Both are bread and butter planes sold by the hundreds with a good profit. In 2010 Airbus decided to offer its A-320 with a New Engine Option (NEO) which uses less fuel. To counter the Airbus move Boeing had to follow up. The 737 would also get new engines for a more efficient flight and longer range. The new engines on the 737 MAX are bigger and needed to be placed a bit different than on the older version. That again changed the flight characteristics of the plane by giving it a nose up attitude.

❝ The new flight characteristic of the 737 MAX would have require a retraining of the pilots. But Boeing’s marketing people had told their customers all along that the 737 MAX would not require extensive new training. Instead of expensive simulator training for the new type experienced 737 pilots would only have to read some documentation about the changes between the old and the new versions.

That was a really sensible way to save on training costs, eh?

Thanks, Tom

12 thoughts on “When the marketing department makes safety decisions

  1. 4theRecord says:

    🁢 “Ethiopian Airlines Had a Max 8 Simulator, but Pilot on Doomed Flight Didn’t Receive Training On It” https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/20/world/africa/ethiopian-airlines-boeing.html
    🁢 Boeing jets in Ethiopia and Indonesia lacked two safety features in their cockpits because the company charged extra to install them. The features could have helped pilots detect erroneous readings, which some experts believe might be connected to the planes’ failures https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/21/business/boeing-safety-features-charge.html
    🁢 Years Before Crash, Ethiopian Pilots Had Raised Concerns Over Training https://www.ndtv.com/world-news/years-before-crash-ethiopian-pilots-had-raised-concerns-over-training-2011066
    🁢 Several pilots warned of problems with the autopilot features on Boeing 737 Max aircraft months before this weekend’s Ethiopian Airlines crash. https://www.star-telegram.com/news/business/aviation/article227481979.html The pilots noted their concerns on a database known as the Aviation Safety Reporting System, which offers pilots a place to describe their experiences without repercussions. The database contributors aren’t identified by name or airline. https://titan-server.arc.nasa.gov/ASRSPublicQueryWizard/QueryWizard_Filter.aspx One pilot reported in November [2018] on the that shortly after a normal takeoff, as he engaged the aircraft’s autopilot feature, the plane began quickly descending and the ground proximity warning system called out “Don’t sink! Don’t sink!”
    🁢 2008 Qantas Flight 72 inflight accident: two sudden uncommanded pitch-down maneuvers and resulting nose dives severely injured many of the passengers and crew. “The Australian Transport Safety Bureau investigation found a fault with one of the aircraft’s three air data inertial reference units and a previously unknown software design limitation of the Airbus A330’s fly-by-wire flight control primary computer (FCPC).” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qantas_Flight_72
    🁢 Mention of jackscrew in Boeing 737 MAX crash evokes memories of Alaska Flight 261, but key differences exist https://www.adn.com/nation-world/2019/03/16/mention-of-jackscrew-in-boeing-737-max-crash-evokes-memories-of-alaska-flight-261-but-key-differences-exist/ In the Ethiopian crash there’s no suggestion that the jackscrew on the Boeing plane failed. …when the jackscrew was found on the ground among the wreckage, its position indicated that the jet’s movable horizontal tail, also known as the stabilizer, was deflected in an unusual position. Reportedly the deflection of the tail, combined with the high speed the jet was traveling at according to satellite-based data, would have made it uncontrollable …there are several systems that in the course of normal flying could malfunction and deflect the tail. But because the preliminary investigation into the October crash of a Lion Air 737 MAX pointed to a new flight-control system on the MAX called MCAS (Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System), that system is now a prime suspect as potentially the cause of both tragedies.
    🁢 “Boeing 737 Max approval documents subpoenaed by fraud unit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=silputJuniI
    🁢 Indonesia’s Garuda is canceling its $4.9 billion order for the Boeing 737 Max https://www.cnn.com/2019/03/22/business/boeing-737-max-garuda-cancel/index.html

  2. Controlled flight into terrain says:

    The White House says President Trump will nominate Stephen Dickson, a former executive and pilot at Delta Air Lines, to lead the Federal Aviation Administration. https://www.npr.org/2019/03/19/704900992/trump-to-nominate-former-delta-airlines-executive-to-lead-faa The FAA has come under criticism for failing to quickly ground the Boeing 737 Max after the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines jet this month, the second fatal crash of the Boeing plane in recent months. The FAA grounded the planes only after other nations did so.
    Dickson was also Trump’s former personal – private – corporate pilot.

  3. Boing-Boing says:

    Boeing 737 Max: The FAA wanted a safe plane – but didn’t want to hurt America’s biggest exporter either https://phys.org/news/2019-03-boeing-max-faa-safe-plane.html
    Boeing has lost $40 billion-plus in market value since Ethiopia crash / Reportedly the FBI and the Justice Department’s criminal division are spearheading an investigation into the 737 Max’s certification and marketing / Separately, acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, a former Boeing executive, is the target of an ethics probe that questions his ties to the company / Norwegian Air last week became the first airline to say publicly that it will demand Boeing pay for lost flight time. It is expected other airlines will follow suit / On Friday the Indonesian airline, Garuda, became the first airline to cancel a batch of orders for the 737 Max. The carrier ordered 50 of the planes in 2014 for $4.9 billion / Meanwhile the U.S. Air Force stopped accepting new KC-46 air refueling tanker aircraft from Boeing after trash and industrial tools were found in some planes after they were delivered. https://www.cnn.com/2019/03/23/investing/boeing-737-max-market-cap/index.html
    Boeing reportedly provided $4,551,078 in political contributions and spent $15,120,000 on lobbying during the 2018 election cycle https://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/summary.php?id=D000000100
    “Boeing 737 Stall Escape maneuver, why MAX needs MCAS” (video) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TlinocVHpzk

  4. CFIT says:

    Inspectors say FAA pressures them to ignore critical plane problems: “The flying public needs to wake up” (CBS News May 23, 2019) https://www.cbsnews.com/news/federal-aviation-administration-inspectors-say-they-are-pressured-to-overlook-problems-flying-public-needs-to-know/ “…One of the inspectors said, “We’re on the verge of an issue happening …. we’re talking about a crash inside the United States borders.”
    They both pointed to incidents like the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines crashes – both related to U.S. manufacturer Boeing whose own relationship with the FAA is under scrutiny as indicators of what could happen. They hope that what they told CBS News will be a wake-up call.”
    (CNN Business 5/23/19) “The spokesman for American Airlines’ pilots union called Boeing’s insinuation that foreign pilots were to blame for the crashes involving 737 Max jets “inexcusable” and said AA pilots made several suggestions to Boeing on how to improve the safety of the 737 Max’s Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) in a meeting with Boeing in November 2018, a few weeks after the October crash of Lion Air flight JT 610 in Indonesia and months before the Ethiopian Air crash in March.
    See also “Newly surfaced recording details how pilots pressed Boeing after Lion Air crash, requested FAA records” (Dallas Morning News 5/13/19) https://www.dallasnews.com/business/airlines/2019/05/13/newly-surfaced-recording-details-pilots-pressed-boeing-after-lion-air-crash-requested-faa-records

  5. Shortcuts to failure says:

    More trouble for Boeing: US government probe expands : Department of Justice is investigating possible compromises in the production of the company’s Dreamliner jets. (Bloomberg 6/2819) https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-06-28/doj-expands-boeing-probe-include-787-dreamliner-reports-says See also “Boeing’s 737 Max Software Outsourced to $9-an-Hour Engineers” (6/28/19) https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-06-28/boeing-s-737-max-software-outsourced-to-9-an-hour-engineers

  6. Angle of attack says:

    The The Federal Aviation Administration didn’t know about big changes to the Boeing 737 Max’s flight system or understand the system’s risks before the first of its fatal accidents last October. (Business Insider) https://www.businessinsider.com/boeing-737-max-flight-system-faa-oversight-2019-7
    The Roots of Boeing’s 737 Max Crisis: A Regulator Relaxes Its Oversight (New York Times) https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/27/business/boeing-737-max-faa.html
    Ralph Nader Says Boeing 737 Max Is Flawed and Should Never Fly Again (Bloomberg) https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-06-04/nader-says-boeing-737-max-is-flawed-and-should-never-fly-again “It’s not a matter of software. It’s a matter of structural design defect: the plane’s engines are too much for the traditional fuselage.” Speaking at an aviation safety event in Washington, Nader lambasted Boeing Co. for designing the 737 Max as yet another revision to an airframe that was first built in the 1960’s, rather than designing a new plane from scratch.
    Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maneuvering_Characteristics_Augmentation_System

  7. Profits of doom says:

    “Previously unreported analysis from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has suggested that the first of two Boeing 737 MAX airliner crashes told safety officials that it “didn’t take that much” for a sensor to malfunction and that a similar crash to the Lion Air flight that crashed off the coast of Indonesia in October 2018 was possible. Just over 5 months later, Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crashed on 10 March 2019, leading to the worldwide grounding of all 737 MAX aircraft. The crashes killed 346 people combined.
    According to The Wall Street Journal, the first crash prompted the FAA to inform pilots about the risk of a sensor malfunction that could repeatedly push the nose of a plane down.” https://www.cnbc.com/2019/07/31/faa-regulators-knew-of-boeing-max-risk-after-first-crash—wsj.html
    (WSJ 7/31/19): Boeing’s 737 MAX is likely to remain grounded until late this year after a new flight-control issue was revealed this week. https://www.wsj.com/articles/boeing-737-max-likely-grounded-until-late-this-year-11561685894

  8. CFIT says:

    “Russian company is first to sue Boeing to cancel 737 Max order and claim damages” (CBS News) https://www.cbsnews.com/news/boeing-737-max-lawsuit-russia-avia-capital-services-acs-cancel-35-aircraft-order-claim-damages-2019-08-27/ “The FT reported that ACS had filed the suit in Chicago claiming that Boeing had “intentionally” failed to disclose information about the airworthiness of the jet to its customers.
    It accuses Boeing of negligence in selling the “defective” aircraft. ACS is seeking $115 million in compensatory damages, and several times that amount in punitive damages, the FT reported.
    Boeing reported a loss of $2.9 billion for the second quarter of this year, its biggest loss ever as the 737 Max crisis dragged on.
    That was in large part a result of a $4.9 billion charge taken by the company as it negotiates compensation deals with customers.”

  9. Update says:

    “Boeing is pressuring the FAA to clear the 737 Max to fly sooner, even as some airline staff beg not to be put back on it” https://www.insider.com/boeing-pressure-faa-737-max-staff-beg-not-to-fly-2019-11
    “F.A.A. Chief Urges Employees to Resist Pressure to End Max’s Grounding” https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/15/business/boeing-faa-737-max.html
    In a video message to staff, posted Friday on YouTube, agency head Stephen Dickson told staff to resist “pressure” being put on them to clear the plane soon. He did not name Boeing.
    His comments on the Max begin around 55 seconds into this clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N71s4_Q3Fe4&feature=youtu.be Reportedly Dickson’s caution echoes a Thursday letter he sent to the FAA’s head of safety, copies of which were given to regulators working on the 737 Max.
    (November 7, 2019): “House leaders demand FAA answer why it overruled its own engineers’ safety concerns about Boeing 737 Max : The lawmakers’ questions are related to concerns separate from the automated feature implicated in two fatal crashes.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/transportation/2019/11/07/house-leaders-demand-faa-answer-why-it-overruled-its-own-engineers-safety-concerns-about-boeing-max/
    (March 19, 2019): “Ties between Boeing and Trump run deep” https://www.reuters.com/article/us-ethiopia-airlines-trump/ties-between-boeing-and-trump-run-deep-idUSKBN1QT2MQ

  10. Bitchin' Betty says:

    The groundings of Boeing 737 Max jets after two fatal crashes have cut General Electric’s cash flow by $1.4 billion this year. A General Electric joint venture reportedly will build more Airbus engines to offset the Boeing 737 Max shutdown. GE stock ended flat at 11.03 in Friday’s stock market trading.
    Meanwhile, United Technologies jet-engine unit Pratt & Whitney, which also supplies the Airbus A320 neo, is due to slow output to about 42%. https://www.investors.com/news/ge-stock-slips-general-electric-joint-venture-raising-output-for-airbus/
    Also: “Boeing Starliner fails key NASA mission as autonomous flight system malfunctions” https://www.cnbc.com/2019/12/20/boeings-starliner-flies-into-wrong-orbit-jeopardizing-trip-to-the-international-space-station.html NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine explained that the spacecraft “believed it was in an orbital insertion burn,” saying Starliner “burned more fuel than anticipated to maintain precise control.” This prevented a rendezvous with the space station, Bridenstine added.

  11. Update says:

    “Boeing Employees Mocked F.A.A. and ‘Clowns’ Who Designed 737 Max : The company expressed regret at the embarrassing communications it sent to investigators on Thursday, which included a comment that “this airplane is designed by clowns, who are in turn supervised by monkeys.” https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/09/business/boeing-737-messages.html

    “An aerospace supplier to Boeing, Spirit AeroSystems, said it would lay off 2,800 employees — and possibly more at a later point — because of Boeing’s 737 Max production halt. Boeing initially said it would not lay employees off during the suspension, but the company has more than 600 suppliers which depend on the Max for revenue.” https://www.businessinsider.com/boeing-737-max-spirit-aerosystems-layoffs-2020-1

    • p/s says:

      Boeing’s chief executive, Dennis Muilenburg, ousted amid the worst crisis in the company’s history, will depart with stock and pension awards worth more than $60m, the company announced on Friday. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/jan/10/boeing-dennis-muilenburg-60m-stock-pension
      Muilenberg, 56, will forfeit stock worth $14.6m, according to Boeing, but is contractually entitled to receive $62.2m in stock and pension awards.
      “We thank Dennis for his nearly 35 years of service to the Boeing Company,” the company said in a statement. “Upon his departure, Dennis received the benefits to which he was contractually entitled and he did not receive any severance pay or a 2019 annual bonus.

      In congressional testimony last October Muilenberg told lawmakers: “If we knew everything back then that we know now, we would have made a different decision.” He said Boeing officials had asked themselves “over and over” again why they didn’t ground the plane sooner.
      But evidence has since emerged that Boeing and the FAA were aware of potential problems with the anti-stall software Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) installed on the Max that has been blamed for both crashes.
      Those issues were ignored even after the Lion Air disaster as the FAA gave Boeing breathing space to address a problem that the regulator predicted could lead to one fatal crash about every two or three years without intervention. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/dec/11/boeing-737-max-plane-faa-regulators-crash-risk
      In 2018 – before the second deadly crash – Muilenberg was awarded a $23.4m pay package, up 27% from the previous year.

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