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737 Max Second Deadly Crash / China Grounds Plane / Others Follow Suit / FAA Finally Grounds Jet



  • @BenWP- Yes, I agree re the WSJ "Middle Seat" column. In fact generally the WSJ reporting is well done. The reporting staff has been responsible for breaking quite a few in-depth stories of financial evil-doing in the past couple of years. It's just a shame that their crew of editorial goons never bother to read their own front page.
  • @hank- I know that you know what the horizontal stabilizers are, but the pic was for those who don't follow such things all that closely. You're right though- the stabilizer pic is a little destabilizing.:)
  • Related aircraft story, personal:

    Flew to and from work 6 days a week for one year in a.......Caribou built by DeHavilland.
    Shown here in flight.
    Not the runway at my work site, but similar.
    The runway at work site was 150' x 1750' plus 200' overrun on each end. The overrun was a rocky drop off of about 20 feet.
    The precise landings were always full throttles off, flaps full down, reverse thrust at the turbo prop engines and braking as needed. Twenty percent of the landings involved runway crosswinds of some consequence........these landings were always interesting (as in landing at an angle to the runway).
    Needless to say, the 6am departure time and landing about 20 minutes later always found me fully awake for work.
    My early morning flights usually found "Shorty" as the pilot. I had the opportunity to have a beer or two with Shorty.
    Shorty was a cool headed character, who was ex-USAF pilot, ex-CIA contract pilot and probably other work I never discovered through conversation. His last work (CIA), prior to piloting civilian workers to a work site (myself included) was doing cargo air drops in Biafra. He noted that most of the cargo drops were skidded onto a runway; as there usually was too much live ammo and motar fire along the runway.
    ( Biafra, officially the Republic of Biafra, was a secessionist state in West Africa which existed from 30 May 1967 to January 1970; it was made up of the states in the Eastern Region of Nigeria. Biafra's attempt to leave Nigeria resulted in the Nigerian Civil War.)

    @hank Thanks for the memory cells jog.
    Have a good one,
  • edited March 2019
    Old_Joe said:

    @hank- I know that you know what the horizontal stabilizers are, but the pic was for those who don't follow such things all that closely. You're right though- the stabilizer pic is a little destabilizing.:)

    The natural tendency of a conventional aircraft is to pitch down (not good). So the horizontal stabilizer compensates and keeps the nose up for flying. Your point @ Old_Joe (it seems to me) is to note that that the auto pilot appears to have been telling the horizontal stabilizer to pitch nose down. (I probably missed something further back in the thread.)

    I admire those of you who know how to include images in your posts. I’ve studied it online and attempted to do so without success.

    PS @Catch22 - Swell post. I’ll click your link. Thanks.

  • edited March 2019
    I'm a software engineer with a background in the nuclear power industry. Seems that one major flaw of the 737 MAX software system, based on what I've read elsewhere, is that they are relying on data from a single physical sensor. If it gives bad data, the algorithm makes bad choices.
  • @billr: Exactly. From what I've read in the last couple of days, the forthcoming software fix is supposed to incorporate a number of inputs from other sensors and processes.

    That's all well and good, but there also definitely needs to be an easy to see and quick- to use override that doesn't require fumbling through menus to locate. Trust me on this... if you're a pilot and the nose of your plane is pointing steeply down you don't have time to look for some obscure software command set. Especially, as in the last two incidents, if you are at a low altitude. A big plane can go downhill very fast.
  • edited March 2019
    @old_joe @crash: hi sirs... Good info.. Where best safest place to sit as passengers most safe so we have little risks of death if plane land crash... Lol

    I wonder if they can put Alexis w pilots to help w voice controlled... Lol... - b737 upward 1000 ft in 5 Mins lol'... Easy fix no crash
  • @johnN
    Your use of "LOL" is likely a bad habit left over from instant messaging and now texting; but is crude and out of place for this topic, wholly inappropriate. LOL has very limited usage possibilities, as with and for a funny animal trick, etc. If you feel the possible loss of life is a "LOL" circumstance, you need to reset your life priorities.
  • @Catch22: Thank you.
  • @Catch, +++, totally agree on inappropriate... and quite strange.
  • Following are excerpts from an Associated Press article currently appearing in the San Francisco Chronicle:

    PARIS (AP) —
    "The French air accident investigation authority, known by its French acronym BEA, is now handling the analysis of the flight recorders from the Ethiopian Airlines jet that crashed after takeoff earlier this week, killing 157 people.

    The French agency, based in the Paris suburb of Le Bourget, has extensive experience in investigating crashes and other incidents involving commercial flights. The BEA notably helps with investigations in countries without the resources or equipment to analyze the flight recorders, often called the black boxes.

    The BEA isn't saying how long it will take to analyze the recorders — which are actually orange, despite their nickname. One collects data such as the plane's altitude and airspeed, while the other records the sounds in the cockpit. Analysis typically takes days or weeks, depending on whether the recorders were damaged in the crash.

    Among major crash investigations the BEA has led were the 2015 plunge of a Germanwings jet — whose black boxes revealed that the co-pilot had deliberately slammed the plane into an Alpine mountainside after locking the captain out of the cockpit.

    The BEA also studied the flight recorders retrieved from the depths of the Atlantic Ocean two years after the 2009 crash of Rio-Paris Air France Flight 447. The investigation determined its speed sensors had iced over, causing confusion in the cockpit."

    To be honest, I'm glad that a "neutral" authority is handling this, as it will remove any suspicion of "errors or omissions" in the findings.
  • Today's "On Point" included a segment with Jim Hall, former head of NTSB. He claims that the foxes are guarding the hen house in that the FAA has allowed Boeing to self-regulate and control all the data flow in the certification process for new aircraft. The manufacturer knows more than the agency regulating it and therefore can avoid real scrutiny. Quite damning and frightening.
  • edited March 2019
    @BenWP- Jim Hall personally, and the NTSB particularly, are highly competent, honest in their statements, and totally dedicated to finding accurate answers to aviation issues.

    I would trust them with my life; the FAA, no thanks.

    @Ted notwithstanding, the current head of the DOT, which is responsible for the FAA, is nothing more nor less than a Republican political hack who has no credibility whatsoever. It's completely absurd that the president had to personally take the lead in grounding the 737 Max fleet. That is why I'm happy that France is responsible for giving us an honest answer as to what those recorders actually are able to tell us.

  • @MFO Members: I didn't know that Wilber Wright's or Orville Wright's real name is Old_Joe !
  • @Ted: And your point would be?
  • @Old_Joe The point on the top of your head !
  • Whatever. Suggest that you go back to your busywork with pointless links and leave insightful posting to others.
  • @Old_Joe: Those pointless links have had 423 views today. How many have you had.
  • edited March 2019
    Well, I see that this post alone, which you have ridiculed, has over 500 views. That's for one interesting post, Ted. You again seem to confuse quantity with quality.

    I've no more to say to you here, Ted. If you want to continue trying to destroy the quality of this thread, have at it. No one really cares about your silly emoticons in any case.
    :( :( :(
  • Very good article in today's WP.

    "The Max uses engines that are both bigger and more fuel-efficient, and the new engines have been moved slightly forward on the wings compared with previous models. To compensate for the repositioning, Boeing added MCAS to replicate the handling characteristics of earlier models"

    Translated: We built a harder to fly plane compared to the earlier one the guys were used to. Than to compensate we added an automated system that's fully able to override the pilots in dangerous situations.
  • edited March 2019
    The New York Times is reporting that "investigators at the crash site of the doomed Ethiopian Airlines flight have found new evidence that points to another connection to the earlier disaster involving the same Boeing jet."

    Edited excerpts from the NY Times article:

    The new evidence potentially indicates that the two planes both had problems with a newly installed automated system on the 737 Max jet, intended to prevent a stall, known as MCAS.

    The evidence, a piece of equipment known as a jackscrew, controls the angle of the horizontal stabilizers, and suggests that the plane’s stabilizers were tilted at an angle that would have forced down the nose of the jet, a similarity with the Lion Air crash in October. The stabilizers can be triggered by the MCAS automated system.

    The stabilizers could have been in titled upward for other reasons. Authorities in France are analyzing the black boxes of the Ethiopian Airlines plane for more information.

    Note: See various prior posts in this thread for more commentary on the MCAS autopilot system.

    Additional comment: In 2002 an Alaska Airlines aircraft crashed into the Pacific Ocean off of the California coast, killing all aboard. The cause was determined to be a mechanically frozen stabilizer jackscrew which had not been properly lubricated.
  • Here is the latest from The Washington Post on the 737 situation. Following are lightly edited excerpts from the Washington Post article:

    ADDIS ABABA, Ethi­o­pia — A new piece of evidence found by investigators on the ground here suggests the Ethi­o­pian Airlines flight that crashed Sunday may have had a problem with a new flight-control system also suspected in the crash of a Lion Air flight in October.

    Investigators found a device known as a jackscrew in the wreckage. The jackscrew, used to set the trim that raises and lowers the plane’s nose, indicates the jet was configured to dive, according to John Cox, a former pilot and an airline-safety consultant. Cox, formerly the top safety official for the Air Line Pilots Association, said he was privately briefed on the evidence Thursday by people familiar with the investigation.

    “All we can say definitely is that the trim was in a position similar to the position found on the Lion Air airplane and it would cause the nose to go down,” he said. “This will be consistent with a nose-down flight path, which they think is likely with the Ethiopian airplane.

    “It points to one central link,” Cox said. “We need the data from the flight data recorders. We need it as quickly as possible. . . . The faster that we get that information, it will let everyone know what needs to be done. We don’t know in fact if these accidents are related. There are some similarities.”

    Meanwhile, French aviation experts began work Friday on the plane’s heavily damaged data and voice recorders. The focus now is on the two “black boxes” that arrived in France on Thursday. The data extracted from the recorders will be used to reconstruct the six-minute flight before the plane crashed. That data includes the voice communication of the pilots and the readings of the various sensors.

    Officials from the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), which sent three investigators, the FAA, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency and Boeing also are assisting in the probe.

    Former NTSB chairman Christopher Hart, who also is a pilot, said the jackscrew, combined with data gathered from the plane’s black box, could give investigators a sense of the plane’s flying position before the crash.

    “By knowing the stabilizer and elevator position they know what kind of forces the plane was experiencing in the moment,” he said.

  • edited March 2019
    (1) The WSJ is reporting that a U.S. Department of Transportation Department investigation into the plane’s certification process had already begun well before the second fatal accident .

    WSJ - “The U.S. Department of Transportation is investigating the Federal Aviation Administration’s approval of Boeing Co.’s BA 1.52% 737 MAX jetliners, according to people familiar with the probe, an unusual inquiry into potential lapses in federal safety approvals for new aircraft. The inquiry focuses on a safety system that has been implicated in the Oct. 29 Lion Air crash that killed 189 people, according to a government official briefed on its status. Aviation authorities are looking into whether the anti-stall system may have played a role in last week’s Ethiopian Airlines crash, which killed all 157 people on board.“

    (2) - The flight’s data and voice recorders have been retrieved and partially analyzed. People with knowledge of the contents say they reveal similarities with the earlier Lions Air crash.

    Frequent Business Traveler - “Data retrieved from the flight data recorders of the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max that crashed a week ago show similarities to data from the Lion Air flight that crashed in Indonesia last October. ‘Clear similarities were noted between Ethiopian Air Flight 302 and Indonesian Lion Air Flight 610,’ said Ethiopian Transport Minister Dagmawit Moges, who said that this would be ‘the subject of further study during the investigation.’

    (3) - An investigation by The Seattle Times suggests egregious oversights during the aircraft’s certification process. They appear related to a rush to get the plane into production and to avoid having the plane classified as a “new aircraft” - requiring expensive retraining of crews.

    Faults Boeing’s certification analysis on several accounts:

    - “Understated the power of the new flight control system, which was designed to swivel the horizontal tail to push the nose of the plane down to avert a stall. When the planes later entered service, MCAS was capable of moving the tail more than four times farther than was stated in the initial safety analysis document.

    - Failed to account for how the system could reset itself each time a pilot responded, thereby missing the potential impact of the system repeatedly pushing the airplane’s nose downward.

    - Assessed a failure of the system as one level below “catastrophic.” But even that “hazardous” danger level should have precluded activation of the system based on input from a single sensor — and yet that’s how it was designed.”
  • edited March 2019
    @hank- Thanks much for this additional info... VERY interesting. And just to confirm to @Ted that I'm not oblivious to the faults of Democratic administrations (as he seems to think) let me point out that the FAA certification for the "737 Max" aircraft took place under the Obama administration. As I said earlier, I would trust the NTSB (National Transport Safety Board) with my life; the FAA, forget it! (I don't care WHO is the president... the FAA has been dysfunctional for so long that it's an embarrassment.)

    Additional, from Wickipedia:

    "Following two fatal crashes of MAX 8 aircraft in October 2018 and March 2019, regulatory authorities around the world grounded the aircraft series for an indefinite time period, as of March 13, 2019.[3]

    The safety-review process of the Boeing 737 Max series done by the FAA has been under an ongoing investigation in the United States as of March 17, 2019, by the Department of Transportation's (DOT) Inspector General as well as federal prosecutors at the Justice Department."

    This one is going to be very interesting.

  • Using options I collared half of my large BA position today to lock in some of my massive CGs on Boeing. May end up doing it on the full position depending where things go over time. I forsee lawsuits, politics, and (idiot) analyst downgrades ... plus BA has sadly become a 'herd' stock in recent years.
  • Stock price be damned. If what it is looking like, forehand knowledge of problems is true, the leadership team at Boeing should be held to criminal charges, even some degree of manslaughter(?) Am I exaggerating here? I hope they are held accountable for their decisions.
  • @MikeM- Yessir. Back in November, following the first Lion-Air crash, I said:

    "Let's make some major changes in automation, allow the aircraft to override pilot control during critical maneuvers, and let's not tell anyone about all of this. Pilots don't need to know about this stuff- we know a lot more about this airplane than they ever will, and besides, these changes are designed to compensate for poor piloting anyway and our computers are better than a lot of pilots."

    Total hubris. Total negligence. Terminal stupidity.

    And I've seen absolutely no reason to change my view on this.
  • edited March 2019
    MikeM said:

    ”Stock price be damned. If what it is looking like, forehand knowledge of problems is true, the leadership team at Boeing should be held to criminal charges, even some degree of manslaughter(?) Am I exaggerating here? I hope they are held accountable for their decisions.”

    I wouldn’t want to be anywhere near Boeing at the moment - be it their stock or this airplane.
    Don’t think this is going to end well (although I don’t buy individual stocks anyway). Accidents do happen. But this one seems to have been avoidable. Rare for a brand new state-of-the-art plane to simply fall out of the sky in the manner the Lions Air did. These things are so well designed they can continue climb-out from the runway fully loaded and on only one engine. Short of sabatoge (pretty much rulled out here) these things are hard to bring down from any altitude.

    Cost cutting is what it’s about I fear. The airlines didn’t want to purchase a new aircraft because it would require costly crew training. (Training is always specific to a particular aircraft). So instead, Boeing slipped in a cute software “patch” designed to obscure the fact that the flight profile of the MAX was substantially different than the older plane. All pilots at American got to prepare with at first was a 56-minute ipad course explaining how the new plane differed from the previous version.

    After the Lion Air crash American’s pilots pleaded with American to purchase new simulators to train on so they’d be competent to fly the new plane. Sounds from the above linked source that those simulators are on the way - but not yet arrived.

    @Old_Joe - Thought you might appreciate a couple of the finer points. One commentator on air today noted that the foreward placement of the engines caused the plane to have a tendency to pitch upwards (into a potential stall) in some situations - and fear of that happening was what led Boeing to add the MCAS system. I would have thought the opposite (downward pitch) - but I’m sure he knew the facts. The other thing I observe that distinguishes this plane from its predecessor are the over-sized split-wingtips. Similar devices have been around a while. But these are larger. Apparently that was a compromise to maintain adequate lift and still allow the plane to meet the gate classification for smaller jets. Me wonders if those also changed the plane’s flight characteristics in an unexpected way, as did the placement of the engines?

    Added note - Today’s WP has a good article on the “angle of attack” sensors which have plagued the Airbus fleet as well. Ges into the issue of automation + faulty sensors and the potential for disaster.
  • @hank- thanks much for that info. I was trying to explain exactly that to my wife the other evening, and when I got to the part about the forward placement of the engines I stopped cold, thinking exactly the same thing about a probable increase to the downward pitch. There must be additional factors at play here, other than a forward shift to the CG.

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