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Pilots complained for months about suspected flaw...

Pilots repeatedly voiced safety concerns about the Boeing 737 Max 8 to federal authorities, with one captain calling the flight manual "inadequate and almost criminally insufficient" several months before... ( Mehr...

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siriusloon 19
It wasn't that long ago that Boeing was trying to claim that the C Series was an "existential threat" to the 737 MAX. Looks like the threat originated much closer to home.

In its heyday, Boeing could do no wrong -- because they did things right. With all the problems they had with the 787 in its early years, the monumentally-botched KC-X bids and appeals, the bribery scandal, the KC-46 fiasco (including delivering brand-new aircraft with trash and tools contaminating them), and now this, they clearly need to clean house throughout the executive and management levels and replace them with people who care about doing things the right way again. If not, Boeing is in serious trouble, no matter what their apologists will say in order to try to spin this.
Robert Cowling 1
Profit. Documentation is expensive. Training is expensive. You also can't dismiss the idea that they KNEW there were issues with the plane, and chose to ignore them to not call attention to a flawed design.

Like why in the hell did they keep the thing so close to the ground that would necessitate sticking the engines that far in front of the wings? I'm no physics genius, but putting that much power, more than the original design was setup for, is going to cause issues. Issues they thought, rather hamhandedly, could be fixed with software.

It's like someone just cut and pasted bigger engines on the same old plane, and gave the hot mess to the 'software people' to fix. It is so much about profit over lives. Boeing could do no wrong, until they do wrong, and then other people in the 'pig bin' of money and power try to ignore the problem.

It sounds like the plane was a 'quick fix' for money, and they took the cheap and easy route, and got caught. And people died.

Capitalism baby... Everything has a price, and nothing has any value... And they battle with their unions because they want a living wage, and farm out vital parts of the manufacture to 'cheaper alternatives'.

This is all about money, and now it's about human lives, wasted. Sacrificed on the altar of MONEY.
Robert Cowling -1
Antone in the computer business realizes the folly that Microsoft did by making subsequent versions of Windows compatible with DOS and Windows 3.1.

Apple at least had the right idea when they dumped their old OS and any compatibility and went on to bigger and better things.

Did they piss off people? Oh heck yes! Was it, in the short term a bad decision? Many thought so. In the end, was it better? Heck yes...

Kissing the old tech bye-bye is a good thing. Stapling bigger engines on an old design because it's cheaper and the returns are more guaranteed is just lazy...
bbabis 2
So...explain to me the B-52, Turbine DC-3, the DC-9, and just about every model of every aircraft ever produced. More power and modifications equal a better aircraft. Get off your high horse. This too shall pass.
Robert, you might want to read up on MacOS, because MacOS aka OSX aka Darwin is just another flavor of FreeBSD, which is just another flavor of UNIX. The initial FreeBSD release was in 1993. And they didn't make the change because they wanted to, they made it because they had to (the PowerPC architecture roadmap was a dead end).
David Beattie 4
What I don’t understand is why, if the system can be disarmed as is published by Boeing, are crews not following this procedure. According to FDR data, the Lion Air crew turned OFF the trim switches, reestablished control but then reinstated the trim and once again lost control. Love to hear from a Max pilot.

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If they don't want to talk, then they are just plain old stupid!!!
Can two pilots safely fly a Max 8 from say DFW to LAX manually---as one would fly a 182 if it had the capabilities?
bbabis 4
I would say most could but you would have a hard time finding volunteers.
MultiComm 6
Safely - Absolutely. As for lack of volunteers, I’d suggest this is more due to complexity of airspace (RVSM) and how easily the aircraft tattle-tails on the pilot (FOQA) for various deviations.

Aside from that, flying a 737 swept wing jet in the flight levels at Mach .80+ is really not something you can compare with a C182 at 8000 feet at 160 kts.
Maybe it should be.
bbabis 1
It really is. Some pilots are naturals, most can learn how, but no one should be up there if they can’t do it without automation.
JJ Johnson 28
The FAA has a long history of waiting until there are a lot of dead people before they act or ground aircraft. There is a reason they call it the "Tombstone" Agency. "Let the FAA do their job" translated means lets see how we can mitigate corporate damage and protect the cash flow of the airline and airline manufacture business before we do anything. Air safety and the flying public have always been secondary over political and corporate interests at the FAA.
mbrews 8
Yes, I concur. I would advocate a complete separation of FAA SAFETY RELATED regulation function / people from the bigger FAA collusus ( costly ATC Operations, radars , ARTCC, computer networks ).

Much the same concept as splitting NRC Nuclear Regulatory Commisson from old AEC, as was split decades ago.
scott8733 5
I concur sir. For too long, the FAA has been relegated to a toothless lion- subjected to the congressional puppet masters' whims.
Leonardo Lage 4
It is hard not to see that every part of the Federal Government seems to be mismanaged or I hate to use such a strong word, but corrupted in a sense that we the people, who pay for these services are not benfiting as intended.
jmilleratp 3
The NTSB should be in charge of issuing safety-related regulations. They have to fight every day for aviation safety in our country.
Steve Cutchen 6
CSB investigator here: It is very important that we both be non-regulatory because that impacts our ability to gain cooperation, etc. We do scientific investigations aimed at making recommendations to prevent recurrences. We do not list check against a set of regulatory line items. Our relationship with a site being investigated is VERY different than OSHA or EPA.
Cindy Savage 2
Unfortunately, the prevailing political attitude regarding federal agencies has been, for 40 years, that the "private sector" can do it better. Our FDA tried to approve drugs before extensive real world use in Europe and Asia a few years ago. The result was a rash of drugs approved and then pulled off the market 6 months later.
Cansojr 0
In the past if there was a serious crash the FAA depended on a "handshake" with the senior executives regarding a fix. That was it, a gentlemans agreement was supposed to look after the investigation "nod,nod,wink,wink gotcha covered" was the old way crashes were examined and it looks like they are back to their tricks again.
Dale Ballok 0
Not cool!😩
sgillies 9
Lets just wait for the facts to come out. Everyone loves to come out and point fingers at Boeing and FAA . (Which is your right- have at it) But keep in mind the fact that Boeing, in thousands of hours of testing, and almost two years of US carrier operations without incident is a testament to incredible safety and training that has gone into this aircraft. Pilots need to know how to compleley disable Automation and actually hand fly their aircraft. Sadly anomalies, false pressure and AOA indications like this have caused the loss of Airbus aircraft as well- (Air France 447 crash)- the pilot hand flew and stalled the plane from 30k down to the ocean floor after a pitot-static error. 737 Max will come down to software patches and enhanced training required for all crews. My very deep sympathies to all the familes who are devastated by these tragedies.
scott ebrite 11
Of all the MAX pilots around the world, how many complained? is it just a few or a statistically valid number? I personally know a MAX driver and she says it's an awesomely fine aircraft. She's flying one today.
rob strong 16
Five pilots reporting similar issues with the plane attempting to go nose down is five too many for me. I'm sure it's a fine aircraft, but I think I'll wait for the report, as GR says below.

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stratofan 5
You are right on the mark! Remember the Colgan Air Q400 that went down outside Buffalo a few years ago? Same deal, incorrect inputs,crew fatigue, as well as incorrect crew inputs to a stall. The 'holes in the layers of swiss cheese' lined up.
bbabis 4
Agreed Taylor. I have seen that many times also BUT, and that's a big BUT, as Highflyer states, it may be a quick jerk or "what the hell is it doing now" but it can cause this aircraft to come out of the sky. That is not acceptable.
Highflyer1950 3
I’d be interested in the trim state of the aircraft just prior to A/P engagement? I know it’s kind of old school but we always took our hands off the controls prior to engaging the A/P just to make sure we handed it off in trim. Also, far too many accidents have occurred when the a/p cannot control the aircraft anymore and just disconnects leaving the crew to figure out why ie; Roselawn accident. Nothing to do with MCAS which as I understand it requires manual control and a bank angle with a nose high attitude, or faulty inputs? We will see?
Highflyer1950 7
Taylor, that is the complete unabashed truth! Far too many flight crews have reached up to engage the autopilot (lnav/vnav) only to have the aircraft respond to exactly what was programmed into the FMS. Then then inevitable jerk on the controls as the pilot disengages the A/P, looks around for the problem and notices that the altitude alerter is set to a higher altitude than the FMS is programmed for. (ie; example only folks). and the aircraft is just following it's programming. Just as you stated.
G R Mortenson 10
As a member of the flying public, all of these accounts and related events appear to me to be just "piling on" this aircraft with little or no solid underlying evidence. Even this story, published in the hometown newspaper of American Airlines, complains of a "suspected flaw," but then in the flight crew member report on which they rely is also the statement, "Or, I may have made a flying mistake which is more likely." But the newspaper report fails to address this statement in its story. At all.

There is so much media hype these days that it is difficult or impossible to separate fact from political agenda, innuendo from fact, etc. Let the FAA do its job here, and just "give me the facts, ma'am." Then everybody can make fact-informed decisions about this aircraft and its systems and whether it actually has a "suspected flaw" or not.
nightflyer182 -3
Unfortunately, the public does not want the facts. They will jump higher than the Max can fly to (erroneous) conclusions because they are sheeple!!!

Question: Does one honestly think that Boeing would let an aircraft fly knowing it had such a major flaw? NEVER!!!

They, along with Airbus, are effectively the only two manufacturers of commercial aircraft in the world.

Why would anybody believe they have or ever would knowingly place people, let alone their entire company, in danger for a few lousy dollars??? Oh, sorry, sheeple...

Fact: 95%, uh probably 99%, of all accidents/incidents are pilot induced, especially on new aircraft/systems!!!
siriusloon 15
Cite a source.

Also explain why "the public" know nothing but you, also a member of the public, is so qualified that you can invent statistics (and then amend them in the same sentence) and bloviate like you know anything.
jbqwik 9
You're either biased or ignoring, or are ignorant of previous flawed decisions by Boeing management, the LiOn battery debacle for one. The attempt to break the unions could arguably be thrown at their feet, too, as well as other relatively recent situations.
The new MAX MCAS software routine is, perhaps, one more digital bandaid too many. I don't know how anyone can be fully versant and prepared for so many possible software interactions. Pity the poor commercial airline pilot.
S Harris 2
I'm sure they meant "versed"
lynx318 1

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mbrews 5
Yeah, and it was all just fine that Boeing developed the MCAS software patch in a BIG hurry, didn't highlight MCAS in manuals, then salespeople might claim the transition training would be a sleepy breeze. To their credit, Southwest went for the higher cost option to get a cockpit display of AoA reading .
siriusloon -3
So you want nothing reported until all the facts are known? Just because a news item is about something you don't like or disagree with does not mean it's "media hype" or "fake news" as Agent Orange loves to claim. There are many news items covering support for the 737 MAX. Are they "media hype" too? Or do they avoid that derision because you like what they say?

And if the articles bother you so much, why are you reading them? You must be reading them if you "know" they're just hype. Someone who didn't read them wouldn't know that, they could only claim it without any basis for doing so.

I'm also curious why you believe "everybody can make fact-informed decisions" no matter what facts are published, now or later. Surely you're not assuming or claiming that "everybody" is qualified to assess the information and make valid conclusions from it?
stratofan 9
So let us get serious here...Remember that statement? The 737MAX makes roughly 8,400 flights a week and only TWO incidents? This sounds eerily similar to the early days of the 727 when some hull losses and fatalities were the result of insufficient training, and not following the book. My other question is why is not CRM coming into play here? No one has raised that question. What Lester Holt "reported" on NBC Mar 12th was more on the order of "tabloid Journalism" and not dealing fair and square with facts. Of course, that is to be expected of the American mainstream media today.
jmilleratp 13
Two crashes killing everyone onboard would be "accidents" not "incidents."
bbabis 8
The 727 was a transition from straight wing props to swept wing jets. That is a huge difference from just moving to the next model of of an existing airframe and having trained crews crash. Yes, additional training and CRM will help any situation but that will not fix the problem the MAX has.
john doe 3
I thought the prop-to-jet transition happened with the 707, DH Comet, et al. No?
bbabis 1
Yes, it happened anytime a pilot flew their first jet. The 727 was just the most popular around the world.
Bingham Liu 2
The headline says "pilots complained for months", then yesterday both American A and Southwest said out of more than 20,000 flights, they had no issues reported. Are these complaints only from other countries?
Five complaints total, two of which about the same flight.
Good information. If the five complaints were about dangerous incidents about behavior of the jet that was unexpected by the pilots, five would be an awful lot.

It's not that common for a minor instrument failure to cause a jet to force is not down in a way the pilots don't expect. When this happens in a critical phase of flight, any delay by the pilots in deactivating the system/pulling the breaker can be catastrophic and the fact that the pilots were not trained about the MCAS system before the Lion Air crash made such delays far more likely.

A simple Service Bulletin to alert pilots to how the MCAS works might have prevented Lion Air. Obviously suck a warning existed at the time of the Ethiopian crash, so it's hard to absolve those pilots of a large share of fault.
There's no edit button to fix all my typos?

*force its nose down
*such a warning
JIm Toth 3
It's much safer to let the computers fly the aircraft.

Until it isn't.
Mark Ryalls 2
All of the newer airliners and even corporate aircraft are so computer controlled that pilots get very little actual flying time. They are told to use the autopilot from just after takeoff till just before landing. They have been reduced to system monitors.
I remember in my early days of flying, before all the flat panels, nav systems, etc., I had to be aware of all that was gong on along with handling radios, navigation, monitoring the engines, monitoring the autopilot if it was being used, ealing with the weather, dealing with passengers, as well as actually flying the plane. I was fully in tune with what was gong on.
Flying an airliner for practice and currency is very expensive. Simulators are also expensive but much cheaper. A simulator is realistic to a degree, but is not like flying an actual plane.

Also, should the FAA not bear some responsibility since they certified this plane. I know they will never be held responsible. It always comes down to the pilot and/or the aircraft.
Highflyer1950 4
Hey Mark, imagine flying at FL370 in a stretch DC-8 with an autopilot that’s been MEL’d and the meal service is just finishing and........all of a sudden the nose rises as 20 pax get up and walk to the back to use the Loo. Those relaxed bent arms of yours on the yoke start to straighten out as you roll in 2 units of nose down trim and the other two monkeys in the cockpit laugh and drink their coffee! Sorry, story telling again?
Mark Ryalls 1
Hi Highflyer. How about after having the autopilot worked on, upon engaging it, the plane started to roll. Kill switch had no effect and you had to "go with the roll" to get it to disengage. Story telling?
Highflyer1950 2
Those were the days!
Duane Osman 1
I bet the investigators didn't fly any 8s or 9s to the crash sites...
I bet you are correct!
Mark Wenkman 1
Sounds kind like our family's Twin Commanche with its auto pilot !!. Seems to me pilots not flying the plane. I believe back in the piston days they recommended no auto pilot below 10k' . Today jet aircraft that would be elevated to 20k or more !!. Gee maybe were not ready for pilot less planes !!. Feel bad for the victims !!.
Dianne Reimer 1
With the lastest info (that a jumpseat pilot was instrumental in safely landing a previous flight of the doomed LION flight), one can conclude that having time, experience and an available manual is essential to safe flight. HOWEVER, if reading a native language translation of an English manual, is anything like reading an English translation of how to assemble a tent, picnic table, or wheelbarrow; it's amazing any pilot can keep an aircraft in the air. Let's get down to REAL basics!!!
Iain Robertson 1
Relax. Everything is fine now. Breath deep into your paper bag(s). The airlines are only loosing millions of USD per day. Nothing to see here. Move on. 200-hour plus co-pilot? Keep moving. 28-year old "Senior" Captain? Keep moving. Crap digital data transition from analogue data to digital information from the "Angle of Attack" input to the flight director? Nothing to see here. Move on... Keep moving.
James Duggan 1
Not a fan of paywalls. Please post a story without a paywall next time.
siriusloon 4
I had no trouble accessing the article. Maybe you've used up your monthly quota of free articles from that site?
bbabis 3
I didn't run into that James. It was either changed or might check your computer for mischief.
emma alvarez 2
There is a paywall if you use an adblocker. I'm sure if you are willing to turn that off it will let you browse without the paywall. I didn't care enough to read it to go through the faff lol.
rob strong 0
No paywall. I don't play that...
Denny Fitch 0
All too often people Monday morning quarterback. Conjecture, speculation, and ignorance will run rampant if not checked.

Albeit, the preliminary similarities in reported behavior of the airplanes does catch one's attention. What also catches one attention is that it happened to two non-US carriers. Having trouble finding domestic reports of said behavior of the MCAS system. Maybe I'm not searching correctly, but it appears that this is NOT a common occurrence. Maintenance, or lack of regulated, approved maintenance may also play a role.

Assigning blame, to ANYONE, whether it be pilots, engineers, mechanics, or manufacturers is just plain reckless and irresponsible. Let the information develop before condemning.

Boeing would be terribly irresponsible to let a flawed aircraft out into the system. Especially from a liability standpoint.
sgillies 1
nofossil70 -1
NASA SITE is anonymous site. May not be a pilot POSTING
Chris Trott 3
It is a pilot reporting the issues highlighted. You have to provide all your information, including name and address to post. They just redact all that personal information from what is sent on to the FAA and posted for public view.
Chris Trott -1
I read through moste of the comments and I notice that there's not much of a mention of the biggest issue of this "news" article - not a single complaint involves MCAS.

Every one was a problem with the crew either failing to setup the FMC correctly or general unfamiliarity with the aircraft due to low time in the airframe. 2 of the highlighted reports regards a descent *AFTER* the autopilot was engaged, a situation in which MCAS is disabled.

Another is about a momentary level-off in climb due to failing to use the proper procedure to change the cruise altitude from what was initially put in the FMC. The plane reacted exactly as any airplane from any manufacturer that has an FMC and a VNAV mode in the autopilot would do - level off at the cruise level put in the FMC when the altitude in the autopilot is set higher. It's not a problem with the airplane, it's a problem with the crew not paying attention.
bbabis 4
You can find little whoopsie-doos in reports for every make and model out there that have FMS and/or autopilot systems that have to do with pilot mismanagement. You'll also see that they do not hit the ground with the stab nose down despite pilot actions. This is a real problem. Right now no one knows if it is on two, ten, a hundred, or all of them.
SkyAware123 0
someone explain to me why these automated systems can not be overridden easily. For instance, (extremely simplified) when I drive my car on cruise control, as soon as I tap the brakes it disables the cruise control. Why can't the same happen in a plane when a pilot throttles up or adjusts the stick, or what have you ? I am obviously not a pilot so bear w me.
Gary Bain 1
They can be overridden if you follow the procedure. Note in one comment above that the crew turned off the trim switches, regained control, the turned the trim switches back on. Huh? Why didn't they just turn them back on???? Also the previous crew had the issue on the same airplane (Lion Air) followed procedures and landed safely. I do believe there is a glitch with the system either AOA or airspeed (or both) which can be fixed quickly by Boeing. If the crews had followed the uncommanded trim MEMORY ITEMS neither airplane would have crashed.
bbabis 1
WE are talking more than just autopilots here. All aircraft systems are becoming more automated. It comes down to does a human or a computer know how to fly an airplane best. They both have pluses and minuses and right now the computer seems to be winning.
SkyAware123 1
I was talking more in general for ANY automated part. There should be quick and easy ways to override that. These systems are automated but just not fool proof. Being a software engineer I know software is NEVER bug free. There should be ways to bypass it in a quick way.
Gary Bain 1
There is. See my comment above.
bbabis 1
That becomes very difficult because more and more the pilots are not directly (mechanically) connected to the flight controls and engine power setting. They must work through computers and sensors. I could see one button though removing all extraneous inputs from computers and giving pilot inputs sole control of primary and secondary flight controls and engine power. At that point they need to know how to fly.
Cameron Stone 1
Lockheed had the L1011’s autopilot disengage with the touch of the control column. If you look up Eastern 401, you will find the problem with that. Flight crew was busy with another issue and didn’t notice the tap of the column as well as the autopilot disengage alarm. It’s about finding a balance between fixing an issue and creating one.
SkyAware123 1
There obviously should be some loud warnings that it got disabled.
bbabis 1
The investigation of that accident did cause Autopilot disconnect warnings to become mandatory.
SkyAware123 1
disconnect warnings that need to be acknowledged before they shut up.
bbabis 1
No, just obnoxious enough that you know what happened.
Highflyer1950 1
As a L1011 driver I can tell you a touch will not disconnect the A/P, but a 15lb bump force will. Also crew Resource management was just in it’s infancy then whereas today even in a two crew cockpit one flys, one troubleshoots. In our case one flew, two troubleshot the problem. In Easterns’ scenario, all three were fixated on the issue with nobody home at the yoke?
Jim Goldfuss 1
You are correct, but the issue with the control yolk was identified in the investigation. They increased the force required to disengage it AFTER the crash, and also made the chimes/audibles louder. But you are right, in the end - no one was minding the store.
Gary Bain 1
Which IMHO is a HUGE mistake!
Eric Rasmussen 0
I, like OP, am not a pilot...rather a computer programmer. However, I unlike OP, bring material to the table.

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So the dude who suggests we can "just look at the airplane in 3D" to see "what is going on" is now dispensing financial advice.

Well for the love of pete where do I sign up?
SkyAware123 -2
They hacked up the 737 to get more sales. They went the 'cheap' way. Now they will pay.

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Pete Pereira 1
Have you done any flying since those days in Vietnam?

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bbabis -2
Yes, the pilot population has stratified. Unfortunately, there are less and less who actually know how to fly. Some good ones come out of their training but not enough. Quite a few are downright dangerous to themselves and others. Automation has dumbed the majority down and when it malfunctions they are SOL. If aviation growth is to continue, autonomous flight is the way and it must get to where nothing can go wrong go wrong go wrong go...

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Highflyer1950 2
Statistics favour the automation because the automation has improved tremendously Engines are more reliable, although in the last couple of years the record has not been stellar. However, there is a corelation between automation being too sophisticated and the basic flying skills being eroded because of it. Kind of a catch 22. I will say it again: when the automation either gives up or malfunctions it’s leftbto the pilot to figure and without proper training it all falls apart. Picture a fully automated B737 Max, it takes off, there is a malfunction and it flies itself into the ground? Let’s wait for the NTSB report but my guess it will say an combination of things contributed to both crashes.
Jim Goldfuss 2
You need both. Automation and technology have made aviation safer all around - from a 172 or Warrior up to the 787 and A380, but pilots must play a major role as well. Pilots today have to be able to understand technology and why things do what they do, but also understand how to turn it all off and fly manually. Unfortunately, your first post did come off as putting down anyone post-Vietnam, and referring to the MAX as a deathtrap. Neither is accurate.
bbabis 1
Agreed, but I think you meant to respond to FlyBy with your post.

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I did some digging into contractors and found no problems whatsoever. What should I do next?
Pete Pereira 2
Introducing supplier quality into the discussion without indicating its relevance or warranty (since none is apparent) is at the very least, distracting and irritating. But claiming it to be causal to the accidents is just disrespectful to the 330+ souls that were unexpectedly and violently dissociated from their mission on Earth. I believe we owe them a verdict that is as accurate and valid as practical with fallible humans, not some arbitrary indictment of the nearest convenient entity by apathetic humans.

(And in the same breath as an accusation of cutting corners?! Can you spell hypocrisy?

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