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737 Max Updates and Cancellations

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New software problem found on 737 Max...

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-02-06/boeing-identifies-new-software-problem-on-grounded-737-max-jet

Boeing Fixing New Software Bug on Max; Key Test Flight Nears

Boeing Co. has discovered a new software problem on the grounded 737 Max, but the company said the flaw won’t set back the goal of returning the plane to service in mid-2020.

 
 

The planemaker identified the issue during flight testing and notified the Federal Aviation Administration last month, according to an email Thursday from Boeing. The problem was that an indicator light, designed to warn of a malfunction by a system that helps raise and lower the plane’s nose, was turning on when it wasn’t supposed to, the company said.

“We are incorporating a change to the 737 Max software prior to the fleet returning to service to ensure that this indicator light only illuminates as intended,” the company said.

 
 

The new software problem complicates Boeing’s efforts to return the Max to service by mid-2020, even if it doesn’t derail the recently extended timetable. FAA chief Steve Dickson, told reporters in London that a certification flight for the grounded jet could occur in the next few weeks -- a key regulatory step in allowing the aircraft to start flying passengers again.

 
 

Dickson said the FAA is evaluating the latest software issue.

The stabilizer trim warning light “had been staying on for longer than a desired period,“ he said without providing more detail.

Regulatory Alignment

Boeing shares seesawed during Dickson’s remarks. They rose after Dickson’s comments on the timing of the certification flight, then pared gains following the disclosure by Bloomberg News of the new software problem. The stock then recovered, climbing 3.6% to $341.41 at 1:55 p.m. in New York -- the most on the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

Aviation regulators are closely aligned on design requirements for the Max, but may differ country-by-country on when the jet returns, Dickson said.

The divergence is likely even though authorities agree more than they disagree on the measures needed for Boeing’s best-selling plane to resume flying after two fatal crashes, Dickson said

The FAA has retained a strong working relationship with the European Union Aviation Safety Agency and other regulators during the Max crisis, Dickson said. The debacle has spurred questions about whether the FAA’s oversight was too lax when it approved the plane’s software design, which has been linked to both crashes.

The U.S agency will consult with other regulators on how to handle future approvals for enhancements to existing aircraft under the so-called changed-product rule, Dickson said. Updating an existing model, such as the 737, currently can be done without extensive scrutiny of aspects that don’t change. But following the crashes, critics have said regulators should conduct more thorough reviews.

Any shift could affect certification of 777X, a re-engined, re-winged update of Boeing’s twin-aisle plane. The 777X, which has folding wing tips, took its first flight last month and is expected to debut commercially next year.

No Timeline

Asked about a likely date for a return to service for the Max, Dickson said it isn’t helpful to talk about timelines. Boeing needs to concentrate on making complete, quality submissions on its fixes for the plane, he said.

The former Delta Air Lines Inc. pilot reiterated that he plans to fly the Max himself before it returns to the skies.

The FAA may need to expand its budget to improve its capabilities to assess aircraft designs in the wake of missing safety issues on the Max, Dickson said. But he said the agency doesn’t need much to enhance its existing resources.

The new software issue on the Max resulted from Boeing’s redesign of the two flight computers that control the 737 Max to make them more resilient to failure, according to people familiar with the matter.

The problem involves an alert designed to warn when the so-called trim system, which helps raise and lower the plane’s nose, isn’t working properly, said the people, who asked not be named because they weren’t authorized to comment on it.

One of the people confirmed Boeing’s assessment that the new flaw isn’t likely to change the plane’s projected return to service because the company had built padding into its schedule.

Boeing last month announced it doesn’t expect the plane to fly again until the middle of the year. After months of missed deadlines and growing tension with the FAA, the Chicago-based company said it was estimating a timeline that included extra room in case new issues arose.

eparately, the manufacturer was already at work on a software system called the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System. The MCAS system was involved in the two fatal crashes, which killed 346 people and led to the grounding on March 13.

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Good OpEd from AW&ST regarding Boeing's decision on a new midmarket design:

https://aviationweek.com/aerospace/aircraft-propulsion/opinion-airbus-can-coast-its-product-line-boeing-cannot?utm_rid=CPEN1000001138147&utm_campaign=23073&utm_medium=email&elq2=e06a948bd4894fe5adf52daca2ca7d74

Opinion: Airbus Can Coast On Its Product Line; Boeing Cannot
Richard Aboulafia February 05, 2020

One of incoming Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun’s first actions has been to order a rethink of the company’s new midmarket airplane (NMA). This is the right move. It has never been clear how the NMA, a twin-aisle design, could match the economics of the single-aisle A321neo.

Yet Calhoun should keep in mind three realities that weigh on Boeing’s new product strategy. First, the middle market is booming, and Airbus is winning it with the A321neo. Second, Airbus can expand and update its single-aisle and midmarket product line. The third is that Boeing cannot do that. There is a lot at stake for Boeing and not much time.

First, airlines clearly want midsize jets. Last year, there were just 673 net orders for all Airbus and Boeing jets; 476 of these were for the A321neo. This is more than just upgauging; much is due to increasing airline route fragmentation, a trend that will keep growing for years to come.

This midmarket growth also reflects a shift away from twin-aisles (Boeing’s strongest position) and toward single-aisles (where Airbus is strongest). Airbus has sold 3,255 A321neos since the type was launched in 2011, or three times as many as the 1,049 Boeing 757s sold over 25 years. By contrast, Boeing has sold around 650 737 MAX 9/10s (the company does not break out variant orders). The A321neo is winning by a 5:1 ratio.

While the 737 MAX 8 has done well against the A320neo, as the A321neo continues to grow in popularity, it will bolster Airbus’ smaller single-aisles, as airlines seek commonality across their fleets.

Second, Calhoun should remember that there is quite a lot that Airbus can do with its single-aisle product line. In addition to increasing commonality between the A220 and A320 families, it could stretch the former C Series, creating a 145-150-seat A220-500, likely offering lower seat-mile costs.

While an A220-500 would take away demand for the A320neo, Airbus could compensate by making the A320neo and A321neo more capable models. The A220’s wings use resin transfer infusion (RTI) composites.  Adapting this technology for the A320/321neo, perhaps with an engine update, would produce 150-240-seat jets with greater range and superb economics.

Most intriguingly, if the A321neo can be stretched, Airbus would have an even greater midmarket category killer. With new RTI wings and new, more powerful engines, an A322neo would be a true global route-fragmentation machine, building on the Boeing 787’s remarkable work in creating new thinner routes.

Third, by contrast with this incredible menu of Airbus possibilities, Boeing can do nothing more to the 737. The MAX 9/10 and MAX 200 are clearly outclassed by the A321neo, and there is probably nothing that Boeing can do to make them more competitive.

Most of all, the 737 family has clearly reached the end of its evolutionary line. After the MAX program, there will not be a fifth 737 incarnation. Boeing needs a new clean-sheet, single-aisle model eventually.

Analysts, including me, point to the McDonnell Douglas experience as an example of what can happen when a jetmaker neglects new product investment. But there is a difference. When McDonnell absorbed Douglas in 1967, it inherited a single-aisle jet—the DC-9—that proved reasonably well-suited to updates. And its MD-80 series was a success, staying in production through 1999. This also allowed McDonnell to address the core of the single-aisle market, albeit in a declining way, without having to launch any new products.

But if Boeing is to copy McDonnell and neglect investment in its jetliner business, it will not have 30 years to coast. The 737 MAX will have 10-12 years before it needs replacement.

And unlike during the McDonnell sunset years, the market is shifting upward. If Boeing does not build a clean-sheet midmarket airplane, it will lose at least 15%, and perhaps 20%, of the market. What was a 50/50 duopoly will become a 65/35 duopoly, or perhaps even a 70/30 one. In an industry that is heavily dependent on volume to achieve the lower costs that airline customers demand, such a market-share decline would be tough to recover from.

Whether Calhoun remains as CEO or not, Boeing needs to digest the clear conclusion from these three realities: Product development inaction is a recipe for Airbus market dominance, possibly for decades to come.
 
Richard Aboulafia
Contributing columnist Richard Aboulafia is vice president of analysis at Teal Group. He is based in Washington.

 

Edited by Don Hudson
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Westjet has kept up to 8 of their 737 Max aircraft parked here in Abbotsford since December but recently that number has been decreasing. There have been two more departures just today. The one that's just leaving is headed to Marana, Arizona. Is this for longer term storage in a drier environment?

Edited by J.O.

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Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Marana.  Please remain seated until the aircraft comes to a complete stop in this gaggle of parked aluminium tubes.KMZJ - Airport - Ramp

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22 hours ago, J.O. said:

 Is this for longer term storage in a drier environment?

Oh dryer for sure because at this point B.C is saturated 🤣

  • Haha 1

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3 hours ago, Kasey said:

Oh dryer for sure because at this point B.C is saturated 🤣

Ain’t that the truth! I considered using a kayak to get to work this week.

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there are 19 in that photo if you look close.

 

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On 2/7/2020 at 1:29 PM, boestar said:

Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Marana.  Please remain seated until the aircraft comes to a complete stop in this gaggle of parked aluminium tubes.KMZJ - Airport - Ramp

This is the picture that CR will be sending to Boeing as well as the claim for financial damages.

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On 2/8/2020 at 7:32 PM, boestar said:

there are 19 in that photo if you look close.

 

I see 17 in the big group and 1 more behind the white tail 747.

Where is number 19?

Woops just found it behind the 747 also

Edited by Fido

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United pulls Boeing 737 Max from summer schedule until September

PUBLISHED FRI, FEB 14 20202:30 PM ESTUPDATED 28 MIN AGO
 
 
 
 
KEY POINTS
  • United Airlines on Friday pulled the Boeing 737 Max from its schedule until Sep. 4 and expects to cancel more than 7,700 flights from June through September
  • The airline said last month that it did not expect to fly the grounded plane this summer.
  • Southwest Airlines has removed the 737 Max from its schedules until mid-August.
United removes 737 Max from schedule until m June through September. Summer is considered the peak summer season for travel.

The decision does not come as a surprise considering the airline said last month that it did not expect to fly the grounded plane this summer. The move comes after Southwest Airlines said Thursday that it removed the 737 Max from its schedules until mid-August.

 

Boeing told airlines and suppliers last month that it didn’t expect regulators to sign off on the 737 Max until the middle of 2020, a date much later than the manufacturer’s previous predictions. The 737 Max has been grounded since March after two fatal crashes — in Indonesia in October 2018 and in Ethiopia less than five months later — killed all 346 people on the two flights. A flight-control system aboard the planes was implicated in contributing to both accidents.

“With the Max return to service date still unknown, pushing our timeline back to early September is what is best for our customers and our operation,” Leslie Scott, director for United’s global response communications, said in a statement to CNBC.

Even if the 737 Max did return before Sep. 4, United does not plan to swap it for any of its summer flights, according to Scott. The airline continues to take measures to ease disruptions from the 737 Max grounding, including automatically rebooking affected customers.

United’s shares were down 1.4% in afternoon trading while Boeing shares were down more than 1%.

- CNBC’s Leslie Josephs contributed 

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Boeing submits initial plan for resolving 737 Max wiring concerns

PUBLISHED FRI, FEB 14 20204:37 PM ESTUPDATED FRI, FEB 14 20206:14 PM EST
 
 
 
 
KEY POINTS
  • After weeks of assessing concerns about the placement of wiring bundles in 737 Max airplanes, Boeing has submitted its initial recommendation to the FAA for how to resolve the issue.
  • Boeing and the FAA declined to comment on the exact recommendation made for resolving the issue.
  • Boeing said any modifications that may be needed for Max wiring bundles will not change the company’s estimate for the plane returning to service by the middle of the year.
 

GP: Boeing 737 MAX 8 190311

A Boeing 737 MAX 9 is pictured outside the factory in Renton, Washington.
Stephen Brashear | Getty Images

After weeks of assessing concerns about the placement of wiring bundles in 737 Max airplanes, Boeing has submitted its initial recommendation to the FAA for how to resolve the issue. Sources say Boeing believes it does not need to modify the wiring bundles nor move their location within the plane.

Technical staff with the FAA and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency have raised questions about the potential for the wiring bundles to short-circuit. In a worst-case scenario that could lead to a crash if pilots did not handle the situation correctly.

 

Boeing declined to comment on the exact recommendation made for resolving the issue.

“Safety continues to be the FAA’s top priority,” the FAA said in a statement. “We will rigorously evaluate Boeing’s proposal to address a recently discovered wiring issue with the 737 MAX. The manufacturer must demonstrate compliance with all certification standards. As we have said in the past, the aircraft will be cleared for return to passenger service only after the FAA is satisfied that all safety-related issues are addressed.”

FAA Administrator Steve Dickson and his staff will review Boeing’s proposal and discuss it with engineers before issuing a decision on what should happen next. Earlier this month in London, Dickson told reporters he expected to make a decision on the wiring issue within the next few weeks.

Boeing said any modifications that may be needed for Max wiring bundles will not change the company’s estimate for the plane returning to service by the middle of the year.

The 737 Max has been grounded since March after two fatal crashes — in Indonesia in October 2018 and in Ethiopia less than five months later — killed all 346 people on the two flights.

 

While regulators and Boeing work on resolving the remaining issues with the Max that still need to be fixed, United Airlines has pushed back the date when it expects to put the planes back into service.

United said it has pulled the Max from its schedule until Sept. 4. On Thursday, Southwest Airlines, which operates more Max planes than any other airline, announced it will not be flying the plane until Aug. 10.

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737 Max: Debris found in planes' fuel tanks

A Boeing 737 MAX 8 airplane is pictured outside the company's factory.Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES

Boeing's crisis-hit 737 Max jetliner faces a new potential safety issue as debris has been found in the fuel tanks of several of the planes.

The head of Boeing's 737 programme has told employees that the discovery was "absolutely unacceptable".

A Boeing spokesman said the company did not see the issue further delaying the jet's return to service.

It comes as the 737 Max remains grounded after two fatal crashes.

The US plane maker said it discovered so-called "Foreign Object Debris" left inside the wing fuel tanks of several undelivered 737 Maxs.

A company spokesman told the BBC: "While conducting maintenance we discovered Foreign Object Debris (FOD) in undelivered 737 Max airplanes currently in storage. That finding led to a robust internal investigation and immediate corrective actions in our production system."

Foreign Object Debris is an industrial term for rags, tools, metal shavings and other materials left behind by workers during the assembly process.

The revelation is the latest in a string of problems affecting what was once Boeing's best-selling plane.

The aircraft has been grounded by regulators around the world since March 2019.

It was banned from flying after two separate crashes killed 346 people.

line

737 Max timeline

  • 29 October 2018: A 737 Max 8 operated by Lion Air crashes after leaving Indonesia, killing all 189 people on board
  • 31 January 2019: Boeing reports an order of 5,011 Max planes from 79 customers
  • 10 March 2019: A 737 Max 8 operated by Ethiopian Airlines crashes, killing all 157 people on board
  • 14 March 2019: Boeing grounds entire 737 Max aircraft fleet
line

The US regulator, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), told the BBC that it was monitoring the plane maker's response to the new issue: "The FAA is aware that Boeing is conducting a voluntary inspection of undelivered aircraft for Foreign Object Debris (FOD) as part of the company's ongoing efforts to ensure manufacturing quality.

"The agency increased its surveillance based on initial inspection reports and will take further action based on the findings," it added.

Boeing said it didn't expect the issue to cause any fresh delays to the 737 Max's return to service, which the company said could happen by the middle of this year.

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https://www.seattletimes.com/business/boeing-fixing-new-software-bug-on-737-maxkey-test-flight-nears/

Delays in 737 MAX certification flight may push off Boeing’s goal to win approval by midsummer

Feb. 21, 2020 at 5:13 pm Updated Feb. 21, 2020 at 8:26 pm

By

Dominic Gates

Seattle Times aerospace reporter

The critical flights on the updated Boeing 737 MAX that must be flown by Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) pilots before the plane can be certified again are now unlikely to happen before late April, according to two people familiar with the details.

The delay of more than a month from recent plans means that Boeing’s publicly announced goal of winning FAA approval to fly the plane again by “midsummer,” previously considered a very conservative schedule, now looks tight and could slip further.

One person with close knowledge of the required steps said that after the certification flight, assuming all goes well, it could take up to a further 60 days for regulators to complete the remaining steps in the process, which would push out the ungrounding of the aircraft to late June at the earliest.

A person who is familiar with Boeing’s internal efforts, however, expressed hope that the jetmaker can still meet its target schedule: “I think we’re still within the midyear ungrounding estimate. So middle/late summer,” said the second person.

He added that the midsummer target had “a lot of margin built in to deal with emergent issues” like those that have recently arisen.

Still, it was just over two weeks ago that FAA Administrator Steve Dickson told reporters in London that a MAX certification flight could occur “in the next few weeks.” Since then, that schedule has clearly slipped considerably.

Software and wiring fixes pending

Before a certification flight can happen, Boeing must have at least one MAX aircraft ready with all the final fixes and software updates installed. Among the issues to be resolved first are a faulty cockpit indicator light and a decision on whether Boeing must rewire some of the flight control wiring bundles to comply with safety regulations.

During flight tests of the upgraded MAX flight control system this year, an indicator light erroneously came on in the cockpit indicating that the horizontal tail of the jet — the stabilizer that controls the aircraft’s nose-up or nose-down pitch — was “out of trim,” meaning out of position to maintain the pitch the pilot has commanded.

Boeing initially dismissed this as merely a nuisance light that would require a simple software patch and wouldn’t cause a delay.

However, engineers have now established that the problem is trickier to fix than first thought. It stems from a small disagreement between the angles of the two parts of the stabilizer on either side of the tail. Unlike in the original MAX system design, the upgraded MAX now uses both of the plane’s two flight computers to compare data from the two sides of the airplane. The computers note the discrepancy between the angles and the software logic triggers the light.

Collins Aerospace, a unit of United Technologies headquartered in West Palm Beach, Florida, makes the flight control software to Boeing’s specifications. Boeing has tasked Collins with fixing the software, but it’s turning out to be more work than is suggested by the term “patch.”

“We feel good about the software fix to correct it,” said the person familiar with Boeing’s internal efforts. “It will just take some time.”

The other unresolved issue is that the flight control wiring in the MAX does not meet the latest safety regulation that was introduced to prevent electrical shorts. Boeing missed this during original certification. It has proposed to the FAA that it be allowed to leave the wiring as is, based on the safe history of the earlier 737 NG model, which has the same wiring.

But the person familiar with the required steps to certification said “Boeing has a daunting task in making a case that they don’t have to rewire the airplanes.”

The second person, the one familiar with Boeing’s internal efforts, said that a certification flight “is likely in April or May” and that rather than any specific issue, the delay is due to “the overall work on the system safety analysis” (SSA).

The SSA requires detailed analysis of all the possible system failures and estimating a probability for each.  The painstaking work of combing through the potential faults and their probabilities is taking a lot of time, he said.

“I don’t ascribe it to stab trim-out light or wire bundles specifically,” the second person said. “This is the most scrutinized plane system, probably ever. Issues that in the past or on any other plane … would be done in service are being asked to be resolved now,” before being allowed to fly again.

Final hurdles

After successful FAA certification flights are completed, the MAX must then pass a series of further milestones before it can fly again, a process estimated to take 45 to 60 days.

After the certification flights, the Joint Operations Evaluation Board (JOEB), which comprises the FAA’s Flight Standardization Board (FSB) and officials from foreign regulators in Canada, Europe, and Brazil, will meet to evaluate minimum pilot training needs.

The FSB will issue a report that will be made available for public review during a comment period expected to be about 15 days.

Additionally, the FAA will review Boeing’s final design documentation, which also will be reviewed by the multi-agency Technical Advisory Board (TAB).

After all these FAA technical reviews are complete, Administrator Dickson has said he won’t give the final clearance for the MAX to fly until he has flown it himself and is “satisfied that I would put my own family on it without a second thought.”

For now, Boeing’s target for that remains midsummer. Airlines will need another month at least after that to train their pilots and get their first MAX jets out of storage and readied to fly.

American and Southwest this month removed the MAX from their flight schedules until mid-August. United Airlines has pushed out the MAX until early September.

Dominic Gates: 206-464-2963 or dgates@seattletimes.com; on Twitter: @dominicgates.

 

 

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