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Resurgent Boeing 737 MAX could trigger jet surplus, analyst warns




HONG KONG (Reuters) - Airlines struggling to cope with the grounding of the 737 MAX could face a markedly different problem when Boeing Co’s (BA.N) best-selling jet is cleared to re-enter service: a switch to concerns about aircraft oversupply, carriers have been warned

The U.S. planemaker has continued to produce the jet since it was grounded in March after two fatal accidents, and is expected to speed deliveries by 40%, to 70 units a month, when its factory doors reopen, in a bid to clear the backlog.

Rob Morris, global head of consultancy at UK-based Ascend by Cirium, said the combination of any rapid rebound in deliveries, economic worries and an accumulation of market pressures dating back before the crashes could make it hard to absorb the jets.

“Next year is the challenge. When the dam breaks and the MAX starts to flow, there are going to be a lot of aircraft,” Morris told financiers at a Hong Kong briefing late on Monday.

“There could potentially be as many as 1,000 surplus aircraft next year.”

The forecast is based on both a rebound in MAX deliveries and a potential glut of second-hand airplanes flooding back onto the market after standing in for the MAX during the grounding.

The crisis has rekindled demand for older and less efficient jets, with airlines using more than 800 planes that are more than 15 years old, compared to conditions four years ago, Morris told the Airline Economics Growth Frontiers conference on Tuesday.


Until now, most concern has focused on whether regulators would permit an orderly return to service by avoiding gaps in approvals by different countries.

But Morris, who has warned a long up-cycle in aviation is nearly over, said there were also risks in opening floodgates too quickly, overwhelming fragile growth in travel demand.

Still, he and other delegates at back-to-back aviation finance gatherings in Hong Kong agreed it would take Boeing 18 months or longer to deliver all the stranded aircraft.

The operation will be one of the industry’s biggest ever logistical challenges and any glitches or delays could further brake supply.

“Getting all those aircraft, that are currently parked, off the ground could take two years,” John Plueger, chief executive of Air Lease Corp (AL.N), told Reuters, adding he did not see fundamental changes as a result of the MAX’s return.

“It is not as if all these MAX could be delivered over a one-, two- or three-month period ... so it is not an open floodgate and 350 planes all coming onto the market tomorrow,” he said on the sidelines of last week’s Airfinance Journal Asia Pacific conference.

Boeing aims to return the 737 MAX to service in the United States by the end of 2019, after making software changes in the wake of the crashes, which killed 346 people.

Europe’s top regulator said on Monday the airliner is likely to return to service in Europe in the first quarter of 2020.


Analysts say more than 300 MAX aircraft have been produced since March, when commercial flights were banned and deliveries frozen. This could rise to 400 by the time it resumes service.

Boeing is additionally expected to deliver close to 600 jets straight from the production line next year. It has indicated it plans to deliver up to 70 jets a month, equal to a previous record. Of this, analysts say around 20 are expected to be drawn from inventory parked at its factories and the rest newly built.



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46 minutes ago, J.O. said:

So if the FAA, TC and other CAA's around the world all agree to certify the 737 MAX, will CUPE, AAFAU etc. accept that, or do they have some other "higher" expectations?

We'll find out in due course.  Given the flawed process under which the FAA certified the 737 MAX in the first place and given the significant hesitation that both the FAA and TC displayed in grounding the thing there's bound to be some skepticism.  

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With the market for mid sized airplanes split between two manufacturers, the concept of too big to fail is no doubt in play. Think of what is at stake here... The US manufacturing giant is on its knees and commercially needs this airplane to fly again.

It doesn't matter that the entire certification process was given to Boeing and Rubber Stamped by the FAA. It doesn't matter whether this airplane meets or doesn't meet various safety criteria, what matters is that it flies again and as soon as possible.

One has to wonder what would have happened if there were 4 or 5 airplanes types competing in this market sector...  What would have happened if Douglas, Lockheed and company XYZ were producing airplanes? Would this B737 Max have been allowed to fail as other airplanes have when these sort of safety issues have come up?

The consolidation of the various Airplane manufacturers into Oligopolies controlling the entire market isn't serving the market... it is serving the two dominant players. It also isn't serving flight safety, in a way it's forcing this airplane onto the market...

What a sad state of affairs.

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So as expected, it appears everybody will have a say in this matter (including CUPE ?).

it was inevitable I guess, once politics got involved.

By no means have I read everything on the subject, but I always figured Boeing was going to the woodshed, and also the crews flying the accident aircraft.

Boeing has had their day, with more to come. Why has there not been much mention of basic flying skills, and the lowest common denominator effect as I like to call it ??? Perhaps I have missed the discussion ???

My understanding of the Ethiopian accident was that had the pilots simply reduced the power and hence the airspeed, that manual trim would have been possible, and an accident potentially averted ??  Is this too simplistic ??? I understand that the "unreliable airspeed" phenomenon is very distracting and can be difficult, and obviously experience of the FO was minimal at best, but where does pilot training come into this equation ??? 

I will ask this also, did the aircraft "need" to be grounded ???  Check pilot friend at WJ, says no.


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I know a management captain who flew both the Lion Air and Ethiopian scenarios in a simulator and described the experience as "humbling and frightening" and said the other captains who had been a little more strident about the grounding were very quite on their ride back to the hotel.

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Key Points
  • Regulators have asked Boeing to fill in gaps in the documentation on its proposed 737 MAX software fix, industry sources told Reuters.
  • U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and European Union Aviation Safety Agency officials flagged a number of issues during a documentation audit over the weekend at an FAA facility in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the people said.
  • The extent of the delays caused by the documentation requirements was not immediately clear.
  • One person briefed on the matter said Boeing’s paperwork was incomplete and substandard and meant regulators could not complete the audit, a crucial step before the plane can be certified to return to service.


Regulators have asked Boeing to fill in gaps in the documentation on its proposed 737 MAX software fix, industry sources told Reuters, raising new questions over the planemaker’s hopes to return the jet to U.S. service by year-end.

The world’s largest planemaker submitted documentation in a key part of an approval process, already delayed by months, for a 737 MAX software upgrade in the wake of two crashes in Ethiopia and Indonesia that killed 346 people.

U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and European Union Aviation Safety Agency officials flagged a number of issues during a documentation audit over the weekend at an FAA facility in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the people said.

“We think there is still some work to be done,” EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky told Reuters on Monday. A person with knowledge of his thinking said he was partly referring to the documentation audit.

The extent of the delays caused by the documentation requirements was not immediately clear. There was no indication of any need to revise the software package based on the audit, sources said.

One person briefed on the matter said Boeing’s paperwork was incomplete and substandard and meant regulators could not complete the audit, a crucial step before the plane can be certified to return to service.

The person said it could take “weeks” to satisfy regulators in a worst-case scenario, though Boeing believes it can address the omissions in a matter of days.

Boeing spokesman Gordon Johndrone declined to comment in detail on the audit but said the company was “continuing to work with the regulators to safely return the MAX to service.”

The FAA did not immediately comment but in September, FAA Administrator Steve Dickson told Reuters the agency had conversations with Boeing “about the importance of making sure that we are looking at complete documentation and not piecemeal documentation.”

He added the FAA told Boeing “it’s really better to be very methodical and very detailed rather than try to rush a partially completed product and then say, Well get back to you with the rest of it.

A third person, familiar with FAA documentation audits but who did not participate in the 737 MAX review over the weekend, said such audits frequently uncover inconsistencies or omissions in documentation but rarely lead to changes to the underlying software or system.

Boeing’s fastest-selling jetliner has been grounded worldwide since March, cutting off a key source of cash for Boeing while forcing airlines to cancel thousands of flights. Many carriers have taken the MAX off schedules into 2020.

American Airlines Chief Executive Doug Parker told a conference on Wednesday that American’s plan to put some of its 737 MAX jets back in the air in mid-January would require FAA approval in “the earlier part of December.”

The unrelated comments underscore how quickly Boeing must work to satisfy regulators’ concerns to protect its year-end timeline, which has been repeatedly delayed already as regulators scrutinize Boeing’s proposed fixes.

Documentation requirements are central to the certification process for increasingly complex aircraft software and can become a stubborn source of delays.

For example, in 2008, EASA nearly derailed Europe’s Airbus A400M military transporter over software documentation following a failed audit.


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Southwest Airlines will remove all Boeing 737 Max planes from its flight schedule through March 6, while American Airlines will extend its cancellation through March 4. Southwest had previously grounded the plane through Feb. 8, while American Airlines cut the 737 Max from its flight schedule through Jan. 16.3 hours ago
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737 Max expected to resume commercial service in January: Boeing

By David Shepardson Reuters
Posted November 11, 2019 10:40 am

Boeing Co said Monday it now expects its grounded 737 MAX to resume commercial service in January as it works to address questions from regulators over its documentation for revisions to the plane’s software.

Boeing said it is possible that resumption of MAX deliveries to airline customers could begin in December and added it is working towards final validation of the updated training requirements “which must occur before the MAX returns to commercial service, and which we now expect to begin in January.”

American Airlines and Southwest Airlines said Friday they were pushing back the resumption of flights because of the 737 MAX grounding until early March.

Boeing CEO faces tough questions from lawmakers on day 2 of hearing on 737 MAX

Last week, Reuters reported that U.S. and European regulators had not been able to complete a software documentation audit in Cedar Rapids, Iowa of the 737 MAX because of significant gaps and substandard documents. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) must complete that audit before a key certification test flight can be scheduled.

“We are taking the time to answer all of their questions,” Boeing said in a statement Monday, adding that it is aiming for “FAA certification of the MAX flight control software updates during this quarter.”

Boeing also said that it has completed one of five milestones needed before the plane can return to service: a multi-day eCab simulator evaluation with the FAA to ensure the software system performs as intended even if there is a system failure.

On Friday, the FAA told U.S. lawmakers a preliminary review by a blue-ribbon panel has found Boeing’s design changes to a key safety system to be “safe” and compliant with regulations.

The FAA did not immediately comment on Monday but has said it will need 30 days from the time of the certification flight before it could unground the plane.

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New York Times, October 31 2019

Before Deadly Crashes, Boeing Pushed for Law That Undercut Oversight

The government has been handing over more responsibility to manufacturers for years. The new law makes it even harder for regulators to review Boeing’s work.

Months after a second crash of the Boeing Max 737, the plane remains grounded and the company mired in crisis.Credit...Gary He/Reuters

By Natalie Kitroeff and David Gelles

·        Published Oct. 27, 2019 Updated Oct. 31, 2019

With a few short paragraphs tucked into 463 pages of legislation last year, Boeing scored one of its biggest lobbying wins: a law that undercuts the government’s role in approving the design of new airplanes.

For years, the government had been handing over more responsibility to manufacturers as a way to reduce bureaucracy. But those paragraphs cemented the industry’s power, allowing manufacturers to challenge regulators over safety disputes and making it difficult for the government to usurp companies’ authority.

Although the law applies broadly to the industry, Boeing, the nation’s dominant aerospace manufacturer, is the biggest beneficiary. An examination by The New York Times, based on interviews with more than 50 regulators, industry executives, congressional staff members and lobbyists, as well as drafts of the bill and federal documents, found that Boeing and its allies helped craft the legislation to their liking, shaping the language of the law and overcoming criticism from regulators.

In a stark warning as the bill was being written, the Federal Aviation Administration said that it would “not be in the best interest of safety.”

A labor group representing agency inspectors raised concerns that the rules would turn the F.A.A. into a “rubber stamp” that would only be able to intervene after a plane crashed “and people are killed,” according to internal union documents reviewed by The Times.

Weeks after the law was passed, a Boeing 737 Max jet crashed off the coast of Indonesia, killing everyone on board. A second Max crashed in Ethiopia less than five months later, and the plane was grounded.

On both doomed flights, a new automated system on the Max, designed to help avoid stalls, triggered erroneously, sending them into fatal nose-dives. Mired in crisis, Boeing is still trying to fix the plane and get it flying again.

In the aftermath, lawmakers have seized on flaws in a regulatory system that cedes control to industry — an issue that is likely to put Boeing on the defensive this week when the company’s chief executive, Dennis A. Muilenburg, testifies before Congress for the first time since the two crashes.

The F.A.A. never fully analyzed the automated system known as MCAS, while Boeing played down its risks. Late in the plane’s development, Boeing made the system more aggressive, changes that were not submitted in a safety assessment to the agency.

The Max was certified under the old rules. The new law, the F.A.A. Reauthorization Act of 2018, makes it even more difficult for the government to review manufacturers’ work.

President Trump signed the F.A.A. Reauthorization Act of 2018 into law last October. Most of the attention on the legislation had been on a failed Republican effort to privatize the air traffic control system.Credit...Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosia

In the past, agency officials could decide whether to delegate oversight to the company or to maintain control, depending on the importance of a system or concerns about safety. Now, the agency, at the outset of the development process, has to hand over responsibility for certifying almost every aspect of new planes.

If F.A.A. officials decide a system may compromise safety, the new rules dictate that they will need to conduct an investigation or an inspection to make their case before taking back control. If the officials raise concerns, ask for changes or otherwise miss certification deadlines, any disputes are automatically elevated by law to managers at the agency and the company.

The law also creates a committee of mostly aerospace executives to ensure that the regulator is meeting metrics set by the industry, and the law allows companies to make recommendations about the compensation of F.A.A. employees.

“The reauthorization act mandated regulatory capture,” said Doug Anderson, a former attorney in the agency’s office of chief counsel who reviewed the legislation. “It set the F.A.A. up for being totally deferential to the industry.”

A spokesman for Boeing, Gordon Johndroe, said that the certification process is “part of an effective F.A.A. oversight of safety that permits them to focus on the most important issues that are critical to the safety of flight.” He added that “this authority has been a proven way for decades for government regulators across many industries to prioritize resources and rely on technical experts to maintain quality, safety and integrity.”

When the legislation was hashed out, the lobbying effort barely registered in the country’s vast political machine. Boeing’s push, and the use of industry language in the crucial paragraphs, was standard amid the deregulatory drive by many businesses. Most of the attention on the bill was focused on a failed Republican effort to privatize the air traffic control system.

Since the two fatal accidents, the law has set off worries in Washington about whether the rules championed by Boeing make company deadlines a priority over passenger safety.

The manufacturer helped author a report that congressional aides used as a reference while writing the law, borrowing language and ideas that had long been used by Boeing. Its executives pressed Michael Huerta, then the head of the F.A.A., for support, telling him that the regulator’s inefficiency was threatening Boeing’s ability to compete against its chief rival, Airbus of France. They also helped persuade Senator Maria Cantwell, Democrat of Washington State, where Boeing has its manufacturing hub, to introduce language that requires the F.A.A. to relinquish control of many parts of the certification process.

“The method by which the F.A.A. certifies aircraft is in need of repair — I don’t think anyone could argue otherwise at this point,” Representative Rick Larsen, a Democrat from Washington, who voted in favor of the legislation, said in an interview. “No matter what we did last year, we need to be pulling some of that back into the public sphere, and take some of it out of the hands of industry.”

Language of the Law

Dennis Muilenburg, Boeing’s chief executive, is testifying before Congress this week.Credit...Johannes Eisele/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

In closed-door meetings with congressional staff members, in testimony on Capitol Hill, in memos to lawmakers, the talking points were all the same.

Starting in 2014, Boeing and its trade associations explained that streamlining certification would make American aerospace companies more competitive with overseas rivals, by allowing them to develop planes more efficiently.

They argued that F.A.A. employees were interpreting the rules in seemingly arbitrary ways and slowing down the development process, according to seven people involved in the discussions and documents reviewed by The Times.

In a 2015 memo sent to congressional staff members that was reviewed by The Times, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, which represents the business jet unit of Boeing, urged lawmakers to “fully implement” the so-called system of delegation. If disputes caused delays, the trade group called for “automatic escalation to appropriate F.A.A. and company management” so that issues didn’t languish.

The Aerospace Industries Association, which was headed during part of the lobbying campaign by Mr. Muilenburg of Boeing, echoed those priorities. Richard Efford, a lobbyist for the group, said in an interview that he emphasized the need to “fully utilize” delegation.

Boeing executives made the same pitch to Mr. Huerta at industry events and in meetings at the F.A.A., according to three people with knowledge of the matter. It became a routine discussion, they said.

And they made their case publicly as well, at times citing the company’s safety record.

In a 2015 hearing, Ray Conner, then the head of Boeing’s commercial airplane division, pushed like others for making “full use” of the system. He said it took too long to get approvals for interiors, like seats and bathrooms, that company engineers could assess. He argued that European regulators outsource far more.

The language of their lobbying push was rooted in a 2012 report from an industry-dominated committee run by Christine Thompson, a Boeing executive, and Ali Bahrami, an F.A.A. official at the time who later became a lobbyist.

Ali Bahrami, a Federal Aviation Administration official and former lobbyist, was co-chairman of a committee that in 2012 recommended streamlining certification.Credit...Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

In aerospace speak, it called for “full utilization of available delegation,” outsourcing as much oversight as possible. It outlined six recommendations that “will result in the reduction of certification delays” and “enhance the global competitiveness of the U.S. aviation industry.”

“There was a consensus that they had good recommendations, and that we ought to put them into writing,” said Matt Bormet, who formerly worked for Mr. Larsen. “I heard no complaints about the report.”

Boeing and its allies found a receptive audience in the head of the House transportation committee, Bill Shuster, a Pennsylvania Republican staunchly in favor of deregulation, and his aide working on the legislation, Holly Woodruff Lyons.

The F.A.A. Reauthorization Act of 2018 was broadly meant to provide agency funding for the coming years. Lawmakers also used it to introduce new rules for drones, airport noise and the certification process.

As Ms. Lyons helped write the law, she was in regular touch with Boeing, according to two people with knowledge of the discussions. The critical paragraphs in the final bill borrowed heavily from industry language, instituting the “full utilization of F.A.A. delegation.”

“The certification reforms in the F.A.A. bill were strongly desired and had bipartisan support,” Mr. Shuster said in an email, noting that delegation “has worked well and safely for over 50 years.”


Then-Representative Bill Shuster, the Pennsylvania Republican who headed the transportation committee, in 2015. He recently said, “The certification reforms in the F.A.A. bill were strongly desired and had bipartisan support.”Credit...Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

The evolution of the bill had the imprint of industry.

An early version that Ms. Lyons sent to lobbyists directed the F.A.A. to measure its own performance, according to a draft reviewed by The Times. In one circulated a month later, staff members had added a clause specifying that the agency would be judged in part by a committee dominated by aerospace executives, which would come up with metrics for the regulator.

As the Senate prepared its own version in early 2016, Boeing was in close contact with the office of Ms. Cantwell.

“Senator Cantwell is responsive to the needs of Washington State businesses,” said Nick Sutter, one of her former staff members. “Boeing people were in and out of the office all the time.”

In conversations with a top aide for the senator, Matt McCarthy, Boeing lobbyists pushed for language that would compel the F.A.A. to rely more on manufacturers, according to two people directly involved in the discussions. Mr. McCarthy took a job as a lobbyist for Boeing in September.

Regulators and companies agreed that the F.A.A.’s resources were best focused on new and high-risk systems, according to Peggy Gilligan, the agency’s head of safety back then, and several other officials.

As the Senate prepared its own version of the bill in early 2016, Boeing was in close contact with the office of Senator Maria Cantwell, Democrat of Washington State.Credit...Sarah Silbiger/The New York Times

Ms. Cantwell submitted an amendment that directed the F.A.A. to automatically give companies the right to approve anything deemed “low and medium risk” on an airplane. It was language that particularly helped Boeing, with its wide range of planes.

“Listening to your constituents is always the first step in legislating, but it’s certainly not the last,” said Ansley Lacitis, deputy chief of staff for Ms. Cantwell. “This concept of risk-based oversight was bipartisan, consensus-based and recommended by experts.”

The amendment passed without any debate. At the hearing, then-Senator Bill Nelson, a Democrat of Florida, cheered the changes. The law, he said, “will boost U.S. manufacturing and exports and — most importantly — create good jobs for Americans.”

Quieting Criticis

A 737 Max plane at the Boeing factory in Renton, Wash., earlier this year.Credit...Lindsey Wasson/Reuters

F.A.A. officials tried to push back, raising concerns to congressional staff members and aerospace executives. But they were constrained in their efforts.

As a federal agency, the F.A.A. is forbidden by law to use government resources to influence and lobby Congress. At most, officials could provide comments and feedback, so-called technical assistance in the legislative process.

“It is true that we were supportive of delegation as a general philosophy,” said Mr. Huerta, the former F.A.A. chief. “It is not true that means the agency supported every proposal to expand delegation and impose limits on the agency’s ability to take back delegations.”

Early on, Ms. Gilligan, the former F.A.A. official, said industry lobbyists suggested that the law should give companies input on performance evaluations of individual F.A.A. employees overseeing the certification of their planes. Two other agency officials confirmed her account.

“It appeared they were looking to influence the individuals’ pay outcome in some way, and for the F.A.A. employees to know that potential pay impact,” Ms. Gilligan said.

The final bill did not completely satisfy her concerns. The law created a panel with industry representatives to help assess “performance incentive policies” for F.A.A. employees, as long as they “do not conflict with the public interest.”

Peggy Gilligan, then an F.A.A. official, testifying to Congress in 2014. She recently said industry lobbyists suggested that the reauthorization law give companies input on performance evaluations of individual F.A.A. employees.Credit...Win Mcnamee/Getty Images

Mostly, top F.A.A. officials worried about the unintended consequences of giving more authority to manufacturers. Boeing employees have described pressures from their managers to meet deadlines while approving systems.

Under the old rules, the F.A.A. could decide to take back oversight authority on a system if they were concerned about safety. The new law would require the agency to conduct an investigation or inspection to prove that there was a problem before stepping in, a potentially lengthy process.

Industry groups told congressional staff members that manufacturers were sometimes subject to the whims of individual F.A.A. employees, who could block approvals and delay production schedules, according to three people with knowledge of the discussions.

“It causes delays and a lot of frustration within the companies,” said Mr. Efford, the lobbyist.

But regulators were concerned that the new law would keep them from effectively doing their job.

In early 2015, Brian Morris, a safety official at the agency, prepared feedback for lawmakers, arguing that the legislation would prevent the regulator from acting until a dangerous system had already been introduced onto an aircraft. “With this language, Congress is asking us to wait till we find a hazard before removing delegation,” he wrote, according to an F.A.A. document reviewed by The Times.

A current and a former F.A.A. official said that Mr. Morris was collecting feedback from multiple departments, so the comments reflected the opinions of other agency staff members. The document notes that the comments were “provided in response to a congressional request.”

The Professional Aviation Safety Specialists union, a small labor group that represents F.A.A. employees, had a similar warning. If the regulator could only intercede after documenting problems, it may not be able to stop manufacturers from installing risky systems.

“That will, as a practical matter, mean after the accident has happened and people are killed,” the union said in comments prepared for Congress in early 2016, which were reviewed by The Times.

Through a spokesman, Ms. Lyons, the congressional aide writing the law, said she did not receive comments from Mr. Morris or the union, but was aware of the F.A.A.’s worries.

“The concerns were discussed and considered in a bipartisan manner,” said the House transportation committee spokesman, Justin Harclerode. “Members did not agree with this interpretation of the language, and were not convinced the language would negatively impact the FAA’s ability to safely oversee the aviation industry.”

He added that the F.A.A., under the law, could set the parameters of the investigation or inspection.

Lawmaker’s Remorse

Demonstrators hold pictures of victims of the crash of the Boeing 737 Max in Ethiopia at a vigil last month outside the Department of Transportation in Washington.Credit...Jose Luis Magana/Associated Press

At a ceremony in the Oval Office last October, President Trump signed the F.A.A. Reauthorization Act into law, while Representative Shuster, who shepherded the legislation, looked over his shoulder.

The agency has already begun to make the required changes.

In August, it announced the formation of the advisory committee charged with setting goals for the regulator. The committee includes two union representatives and 17 industry officials, among them Beth Pasztor, one of Boeing’s top executives. The F.A.A. recently selected managers for an internal office that will help enforce provisions of the law.

As the rules take hold, some lawmakers who originally supported the legislation are backing away.

Mr. Nelson, the former senator who co-sponsored the law, said he did not fully understand the ramifications. “This was never brought to my attention,” he said in an interview. “Had I known about it, I would have tried to put the kibosh on it.”

Representative Peter DeFazio, the Oregon Democrat who is the chairman of the House transportation committee, celebrated the bill’s changes last year, saying it would maintain safety and “will help our manufacturers become much more competitive in the world market and introduce their products more quickly.”

Mr. DeFazio, who is currently leading a congressional investigation into the crashes, said in an interview that he was reconsidering the law and might introduce legislation to restore some of the agency’s oversight authority.

“If the F.A.A. basically deferred on a safety critical system and did not provide proper oversight, then either the individuals involved are going to be at risk, or the whole system itself isn’t working properly,” he said.

A version of this article appears in print on Oct. 28, 2019, Section A, Page 1 of the New York edition with the headline: Before Crashes, Boeing Pushed To Undercut F.A.A. Oversight. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe


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4 hours ago, FA@AC said:

Update from a Seattle Times reporter who follows Boeing.


Allowing for home town bias, I think we can see how Boeing has to re-gain the confidence of the travelling public.  They have to utilize experts, with unimpeachable credibility,  to make the case that this plane is safer now than just about anything in the skies, that it has been given a deeper dive than you can get from a proctologist. It won't be an easy sell, the airlines will have to get into the pitch as well. Boeing is running full page ads now, seen one here in today's Star. 


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1 hour ago, dagger said:

They have to utilize experts, with unimpeachable credibility,  to make the case that this plane is safer now than just about anything in the skies, that it has been given a deeper dive than you can get from a proctologist.

I don't know that experts will win over the public on this one, experts were on TV telling people the MAX was perfectly safe in the hands of a Western crew. Like the DC-10 it will just take time.

Or at least any future crashes to have egregious pilot error or the "pilot" screaming their profession of faith on the CVR.

Airbus was incredibly fortunate that the early A320 crashes were obviously pilot error, one Air France captain even went to prison.

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From the Article:



Once the FAA approves the fixes, said Lemme, he’ll fly on a MAX with “no misgivings.”

Why not let EASA do the testing and approving? The FAA has proven to be weak, biased and non authoritative on this certification. Allowing them to "approve" without proof and demonstration that their internal certification processes are in order minimizes their implication in the original certification of the B737.

Boeing has to get this airplane flying again... It's financial future depends on it. The US government will not let its aerospace giant collapse... The competing interests are the traveling public's safety versus  the Oligopoly's financial survival... Asking the FAA to "approve" is akin to asking a team coach for a referee level decision...

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MAX Training Requirements Still To Be Determined, FAA’s Dickson Says

Nov 20, 2019 Sean Broderick and Steve Trimble | Aviation Daily
Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

DUBAI—The FAA is leaving the door open for mandatory simulator sessions as a condition for pilots to return to flying The Boeing 737 MAX, the agency’s top official acknowledged.

“It’s impossible to say at this time” if the revised minimum requirements will include simulator sessions as part of transition training, FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said at the Dubai Air Show Nov. 20. “We’ll evaluate the [Boeing training] proposal and we’ll see how simulations come out.”

Boeing is in the final stages of completing revisions to the MAX flight control computer software and related training prompted by two accidents in five months. The global fleet has been grounded since the second accident, the Mar. 10 crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302.

Validation of Boeing’s changes by pilots in both engineering and full-flight simulators are among the key next steps in Boeing’s effort to demonstrate the MAX is safe to fly again. Dickson said trials involving high-workload scenarios, where pilots must prioritize and manage multiple failures, could happen “within the next few days.” Other steps include completing reviews of all documentation detailing the changes and flying a certification flight.

Revised training modules also must be validated. This will require public input on a revised draft of the 737 Flight Standardization Board (FSB) report that factors in line pilot input gathered during simulator sessions. The FSB is where the simulator requirements would appear, as part of mandated training for pilots transitioning from earlier generations of the 737 to the MAX. Earlier drafts of the revised FSB did not include mandatory simulator sessions, but subsequent work on the MAX flight control software has been done.

The new training will include modules covering the MAX’s maneuvering characteristics augmentation system (MCAS) flight control law. MCAS played a role in both MAX accident sequences, leading regulators to order changes to its logic. The changes are designed to ensure the system, which commands automatic nose-down stabilizer input, only operates when needed. In both accident sequences, faulty sensor data triggered the MCAS when it wasn’t needed, confusing both flight crews and eventually triggering uncontrollable dives.

MCAS was not included in the original MAX flight manuals or training.

Dickson emphasized that the FAA is not following any time line on the MAX return-to-service effort. “We’re going to make sure that we’re very methodical and very diligent,” he said.

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Canadian official says key software on Boeing 737 Max ‘has to go’

‎Yesterday, ‎November ‎22, ‎2019, ‏‎10:11:41 PM | Canadian Aviation News

News provided by The Globe and Mail – link to full story and updates


ELN62XDENJCGRMTISIECCT53XA.JPG Boeing 737 Max jets sit parked at Boeing Field in Seattle on Oct. 20, 2019.GARY HE/REUTERS

A manager at Canada’s aviation regulator believes that Boeing Co. should remove software that played a role in two deadly crashes of its 737 Max before the plane is cleared to fly again, according to e-mails between global aviation regulators this week that were reviewed by The New York Times.

The Max has been grounded since March, days after a crash in Ethiopia. Together, the two accidents killed 346 people and have sent Boeing into a crisis. The company is working furiously to get the Max back in service with a fix to the software system, known as MCAS.

“The only way I see moving forward at this point is that MCAS has to go,” the official, Jim Marko, manager in aircraft integration and safety assessment at Transport Canada Civil Aviation, wrote in the e-mail. He sent the e-mail on Tuesday to officials at the Federal Aviation Administration, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency and Brazil’s National Civil Aviation Agency.

At least one FAA manager shares his concerns, according to a separate email reviewed by the Times.

Linh Le, a system-safety manager at the FAA, shared Mr. Marko’s message with others at the agency. He noted that the Canadian official believed that “MCAS introduces catastrophic hazards that weren’t there before,” that “it and the fix add too much complexity,” that “there have been many revisions to the software” and that “each was a band-aid.”

Mr. Le said he had similar misgivings about Boeing’s proposed fix for the Max. “I have held similar perspective (questioning the need for MCAS, at least from the system safety standpoint),” he said in the e-mail to colleagues. It is unclear whether international regulators will take any action in response to Mr. Marko’s concerns.

In his e-mail, Mr. Marko said he was writing the other regulators because he wanted “to get some confidence back to us all that we as Authorities can sleep at night when that day comes when the MAX returns to service.”

He expressed concern that regulators might accept the update to MCAS even as issues with the fix kept cropping up. “This leaves me with a level of uneasiness that I cannot sit idly by and watch it pass by,” Mr. Marko wrote.

Mr. Marko’s e-mail included a PowerPoint presentation expanding on his argument and outlining how Boeing might remove MCAS from the Max. He noted that public confidence in the Max was “LOW.”

In a statement on Friday, Boeing said, “We continue to work with the FAA and global regulators to provide them the information they are requesting to certify the Max for safe return to service.”

Transport Canada said on Friday that Mr. Marko’s position had not been subject to systematic review by the agency.

“The e-mail reflects working-level discussions between highly trained aircraft certification experts of key aviation authorities who have been given wide latitude for assessing all issues and looking at all alternatives for the safe return to service of the aircraft,” Nicholas Robinson, director general of Transport Canada, said in a statement.

An FAA spokeswoman, Lynn Lunsford, said in a statement: “The FAA and its international partners have engaged in robust discussions at various stages in this process as part of the thorough scrutiny of Boeing’s work. This e-mail is an example of those exchanges.”

The National Civil Aviation Agency of Brazil said it had “received the e-mail and will consider the content along with the studies being conducted on the subject.”

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency did not immediately reply to requests for comment.

International regulators have given no indication that they will require Boeing to remove MCAS from the Max, and Boeing has not proposed that as a potential solution to problems with the plane. Removing MCAS, as Mr. Marko suggests, would further delay the plane’s return.

The 737 Max is Boeing’s bestselling plane. But less than 18 months after it began commercial service, a Max crashed off the coast of Indonesia when MCAS activated because of erroneous data, repeatedly pushing the nose of the plane down. Less than five months later, another Max crashed in Ethiopia under similar circumstances.

After the first crash, Boeing announced that it would update MCAS to make it less powerful and make it reliant on multiple sensors instead of just one. But that fix was not completed before the second crash.

Over the past eight months, Boeing has encountered numerous delays as it has worked with the FAA and other global regulators to complete the update to MCAS. The company has been signalling that the FAA could approve the new software as soon as December. But engineers at the agency’s Seattle office have been frustrated in recent months by pressure from the company and their own managers to speed the process along.

Last week, Stephen Dickson, the FAA administrator, acknowledged that some agency employees were feeling pressure to get the Max flying again. He released a video directing employees to “take the time you need” to conduct a methodical review of the plane.

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Andy Pasztor and 
Alison Sider
Nov. 26, 2019 9:46 pm ET

In the latest hurdle confronting Boeing Co. ’s bid to get its grounded 737 MAX fleet back in the air, federal regulators now intend to inspect and sign off on every jet individually before delivery to airlines.

The move, spelled out Tuesday by the Federal Aviation Administration in a letter to the plane maker, signals that resuming MAX flights will be more complicated and perhaps time-consuming than previously projected.

The FAA stripped Boeing of longstanding authority to perform such routine, pre-delivery safety checks and signoffs of MAX planes on its own, amounting to another public pushback by the agency against company pressure to accelerate the reinstatement.


Do you trust Boeing to inspect and sign off on its jets? Why or why not? Join the conversation below.

It isn’t clear how much of a delay the change is likely to create. Some of the fallout is symbolic, while the eventual impact will partly depend on how effectively Boeing prepares jets removed from service and partly on the availability of FAA employees to process steps to get them back in the air.

The decision comes as industry officials world-wide increasingly question whether initial MAX deliveries are probable before year’s end.

In an email, a Boeing spokesman said: “We continue to work with the FAA on the safe return to service of the MAX fleet.” Early Wednesday, the spokesman said “we welcome and embrace this decision by the FAA. Safety is our number one priority.”

At the very least, the FAA’s message appears to continue a public-relations tussle between Boeing, which has been angling to start some MAX deliveries by late December, and FAA leaders, who have increasingly been stressing that they don’t have a specific timeline and won’t sacrifice safety to speed up the process.

Even if Boeing receives the FAA’s signoff on software fixes to flight-control computers and begins a trickle of MAX deliveries in December, it is expected to take additional weeks for the FAA and foreign regulators to complete associated changes in pilot training.

Boeing vs. Airbus: The Aviation Industry’s Swinging Power Balance
0:00 / 6:22
Boeing vs. Airbus: The Aviation Industry’s Swinging Power Balance
Boeing vs. Airbus: The Aviation Industry’s Swinging Power Balance 
As Airbus is set to overtake Boeing to become the world’s largest plane maker by deliveries, WSJ explains how two jetliners—the 737 MAX and the A320neo—ended up at the center of the biggest rivalry in the aviation world. Photo illustration: Jaden Urbi

But the language in the letter, signed by John Piccola, head of the FAA’s Boeing oversight office, and sent to Elizabeth Pasztor, a senior company compliance official, raises doubts about Boeing’s overall safety practices and safeguards. The letter extends the revised delivery procedures to newly manufactured MAX aircraft, an area that hasn’t received stepped-up public scrutiny in the past.

According to the letter, the FAA made the decision because the current backlog of some 600 MAX jets in storage around the globe poses challenges that “significantly exceed any that the Boeing system has previously experienced.” Boeing will need to vet the planes it has stored, as well as assisting airlines to prepare planes that have been sitting idle for eight months to resume commercial service. 

In addition, the letter said that, going forward, the FAA will have sole authority “to issue airworthiness certificates and export certificates” for all 737 MAX models. Without such paperwork, airlines typically won’t pay Boeing for delivering jets.

“At a minimum,” the letter indicates, the agency won’t return authority for such pre-delivery approvals to Boeing until the company’s “737 MAX compliance, design and production processes meet all regulatory standards” to ensure public safety.

Airlines have been anxious for Boeing to resume delivery of the MAX jets. The carriers have to follow a series of steps to prepare their aircraft to carry passengers, and some had been hoping to avoid bottlenecks and long waits as customers clamor to receive their MAX jets once the plane is cleared for service.

Southwest Airlines Co. , American Airlines Group Inc. and United Airlines Holdings Inc.have cleared the MAX from their schedules through early March. 

A spokesman for American said the airline is working closely with the FAA and Boeing and awaiting guidance from the agency. “The FAA controls this process,” he said.

A spokeswoman for Southwest said the FAA’s latest strategy doesn’t change the airline’s planning for return to service. A representative for United declined to comment.

Boeing’s earlier proposals to start delivering MAX jets by the end of the year prompted pushback from within the FAA. Ali Bahrami, the agency’s top safety official, wrote a note to Administrator Steve Dickson earlier this month, saying that reports of Boeing’s plans “have resulted in concerns” among safety professionals.

“I would like to send a strong message to the 737 Max team to reassure them that safety, not Boeing’s schedule, is our top priority,” Mr. Bahrami wrote.

In a memo and in a video message, Mr. Dickson reassured employees that the FAA “fully controls” the approval process and told them to make safety—not Boeing’s schedule—the priority.

“I know there’s a lot of pressure to return this aircraft to service quickly,” he said. “I want you to know that I want you to take the time you need and focus solely on safety. I’ve got your back.” 

The setback for Boeing comes as regulators from the U.S., Canada and other countries appear to be moving closer together on eventual training requirements for MAX pilots. Barring some unexpected changes, the FAA seems headed toward allowing U.S. carriers to put their jets back into service using only computer-based training for crews—without mandating any time in ground-based simulators.

But afterward, according to industry and government officials, the FAA may require extra simulator time for MAX pilots in the U.S. as part of their normal recurrent training. Similarly, some of these officials said, regulators in Canada and elsewhere are leaning toward the same sequence, including additional simulator time to practice unusual flight upsets. European regulators, seeking to impose their own requirements without creating major disruptions in pilot training, also could embrace such steps as part of a compromise to start the MAX flying passengers again, according to industry officials on both sides of the Atlantic.

Write to Andy Pasztor at andy.pasztor@wsj.com and Alison Sider at alison.sider@wsj.com



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  • 2 weeks later...

FAA hits Boeing with $3.9 million fine for slat track issue

  • 07 December, 2019
  • SOURCE: FlightGlobal.com
  • BY: Jon Hemmerdinger
  • Boston

The Federal Aviation Administration has proposed fining Boeing $3.9 million for installing slat components that failed quality inspections on 133 737 jets.

The issue, which came to light in June with an FAA airworthiness directive, involves "slat tracks", which are located on the leading edge of 737 wings and guide the movement of slats, says an FAA media release.

The issue affected 737NGs and 737 Max.

The FAA says Boeing failed to properly oversee suppliers and installed slat tracks that "were weakened by a condition known as hydrogen embrittlement that occurred during the cadmium-titanium plating", the FAA says.

"The FAA further alleges that Boeing knowingly submitted aircraft for final FAA airworthiness certification after determining that the parts could not be used due to a failed strength test," it says.

FAA documents say supplier Kencoa Aerospace, based in Georgia, provided the slat tracks, and that another company called Southwest United Industries performed the cadmium-titanium plating. Kencoa sent the tracks to Spirit AeroSystems, which eventually shipped the components to Boeing.

Southwest United, a division of Washington-based PCC Aerostructures, notified Kencoa in July 2018 that a batch of tracks had failed a quality test, and Kencoa passed that information to Spirit in early August of that year. Spirit then informed Boeing of the problem in September 2018, says the FAA.

Before being notified of the issue, Boeing certificated 48 aircraft that may have had affected slats. The company then certificated another 85 potentially affected aircraft after being informed, says the FAA.

Boeing has 30 days to respond to the FAA's proposed penalty.

The company says it has already inspected and performed required work on all affected 737NGs and that it will address affected 737 Max before those aircraft return to service.

"Safety and quality are Boeing’s top priorities, and Boeing has made a number of significant changes to our organisation and processes in recent months that will reinforce and enhance this commitment," Boeing says. Those changes include the creation of a new product safety division and new lines of reporting for engineers.

"We are committed to continuing to strengthen our processes to ensure that quality issues in our production system are promptly identified, elevated and resolved," Boeing says.

Spirit says it "worked closely with its Boeing customer, regulators and the supplier who procured this part to address the issue. While not a Spirit-made part, we take the safety and quality of everything we provide very seriously".

Neither Southwest United nor Kencoa could be reached immediately by FlightGlobal for comment.

Edited by Don Hudson
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Former Boeing manager says he warned company of problems prior to 737 crashes

Cynthia McFadden, Anna Schecter, Kevin Monahan and Rich Schapiro

GP: First Flight Of The Boeing Co. Max 737 Jet

Crewman tow in a Boeing Max 737 jet after landing at King County International Airport in Seattle, Washington, on Friday, Jan. 29, 2016.
Mike Kane | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Speaking out for the first time, a former Boeing manager says he warned the company about problems at its main factory in Washington state in the months before two of its 737 Max airplanes crashed in separate incidents that claimed the lives of nearly 350 people.

The manager, Ed Pierson, spoke to NBC News in an exclusive television interview two days before he’s set to appear before Congress to detail his efforts to sound the alarm over the conditions at the Boeing plant in Renton, where he says a push to increase production of the 737 Max planes created a “factory in chaos.”


From the summer of 2018 to the spring of 2019, Pierson implored Boeing executives and then the FAA and NTSB to look into the conditions at the plant in Washington, according to emails obtained by NBC News.

“Frankly right now all my internal warning bells are going off,” Pierson said in an email to Scott Campbell, the general manager of the 737 Max program, on June 9, 2018. “And for the first time in my life, I’m sorry to say that I’m hesitant about putting my family on a Boeing airplane.”

Pierson offered a recommendation huge in scope and consequences: shut down the production line for a limited amount of time. He believed the workers needed a more stable environment to finish building the planes already in progress.

The advice to shutdown production went unheeded. Four months later, a 737 Max built at the Renton plant plunged into the sea near Indonesia. All 189 people aboard the Lion Air flight were killed in the October 2018 crash.

“I cried a lot,” Pierson told NBC News. “I’m mad at myself because I felt like I could have done more.”


Pierson kept up his efforts to draw attention to the plant in the aftermath of the Lion Air crash. He wrote emails to Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg and spoke with the company’s general counsel. Dissatisfied by the responses, he wrote to the Boeing board of directors on February 19, 2019.

“I have no interest in scaring the public of wasting anyone’s time,” Pierson wrote. “I also don’t want to wake up one morning and hear about another tragedy and have personal regrets.”

Tragedy struck again 19 days later. On March 10, 2019, a 737 Max crashed in Ethiopia, killing all 157 people aboard the Ethiopian Airlines flight.

“This was a last resort,” Pierson told NBC News, referring to his decision to speak to the media. “I really had hoped that by providing information to the right people, and following the protocols and the chain of command every step of the way, I thought people would do their job.”

“I didn’t expect to get this far,” added Pierson, a Navy veteran who worked at Boeing for eight years. “But I don’t think I have any choice.”

No conclusive evidence has emerged linking the crashes to the problems Pierson said he observed at the Boeing plant in Washington. Boeing has acknowledged that the planes’ anti-stall software system contributed to both crashes.

But Pierson’s efforts to sound the alarm, which have not been previously disclosed in detail, add fresh questions to the inquiry into whether Boeing was reckless in its push to roll out the doomed 737 Max planes.

The planes have been grounded amid the ongoing investigations.

In a statement, Boeing defended its handling of Pierson’s attempts to draw attention to the plant, saying his concerns “received scrutiny at the highest levels of the company.”

“Although Mr. Pierson did not provide specific information or detail about any particular defect or quality issue, Boeing took his concerns about 737 production disruption seriously,” Boeing said.

But Boeing stressed that it has no reason to believe issues at the factory played any role in the crashes.

“Importantly, the suggestion by Mr. Pierson of a link between his concerns and the recent MAX accidents is completely unfounded,” it said. “Mr. Pierson raises issues about the production of the 737 MAX, yet none of the authorities investigating these accidents have found that production conditions in the 737 factory contributed in any way to these accidents.”

A former Navy squad commander, Pierson joined the team producing the 737 Max planes in April 2015. By then, Boeing was already under the gun.

The aircraft maker’s chief competitor, Airbus, had gotten a head start on its new class of planes designed to use less fuel and cost less to operate.

Pierson said he first noticed signs of trouble in the plant in late 2017. Boeing was pushing to increase the production of 737 airplanes at Renton from 47 to 52.

More planes mean more parts, and some of Boeing’s suppliers began struggling to meet the demand, Pierson said.

The delay in parts caused a slowdown in production that had to be made up. But the Renton plant didn’t have the manpower, Pierson said.

As a result, overtime hours piled up. Pierson said workers were putting in consecutive 50 to 60-hour work weeks without taking days off. “I know people that worked more than five weeks in a row,” Pierson said, adding that he heard reports of some employees going eight weeks without a day off.

The supply chain delays, coupled with the tremendous time pressures, led to increasing amounts of what’s known as out-of-sequence work, Pierson said. Airplanes are marvels of design and engineering. Every part serves a specific purpose and every plane is supposed to be assembled according to a specific plan.

But at the Boeing plant in Renton, Pierson said, some of the steps were being performed at places and times different than the initial plans. He grew increasingly concerned that a corner might be cut or a crucial step overlooked.

“For the airplane, you want to build it a certain way,” said Pierson. “I don’t know of any work that’s more detailed.”

He likened out of sequence work to building a house and deciding after the floors were put down to rip them up to finish electrical and plumbing work.

Pierson said the problems were compounded by other management decisions that he said prioritized speed over safety.

Company executives canceled the daily meetings among individual teams that Pierson considered crucial to information sharing between shifts, he said. Boeing leadership replaced these “tiered” meetings with a larger meeting in which managers were often put on the spot to answer why they weren’t hitting production goals.

By May of 2018, the situation was spiraling out of control, Pierson said. No matter how many hours people worked, they struggled to keep up with the push to complete more than 50 airplanes a month.

“It just became full speed out of control,” Pierson said. “The sheer volume was just overwhelming.”

Pierson wrote the email to Campbell a month later.

The pair also spoke in person. During the meeting on July 18, Pierson said he ticked off a series of problems at the plant and repeated his position that it should be shut down for a limited window of time.

Pierson said Campbell insisted that wasn’t possible. “I kind of got mad and said, ‘You know, I’ve seen military operations shut down for a lot less safety concerns,’” Pierson recalled.

Pierson said he was stunned by Campbell’s reply. “He said, ‘Well, the military’s not a profit-making enterprise,’” Pierson said.

Campbell, who has since retired, could not be reached for comment.

Alarmed by his experience, Pierson decided to retire in August 2018. “I felt like I was abandoning the Titanic,” he said.

Lion Air went down near Indonesia two months later. “As soon as I heard it was a Max, my stomach just dropped,” Pierson said. “I knew a Max is a plane that’s only been in service for a year or so. And I knew it had to be made some time in that timeframe.”

Pierson said he was lying in bed when he heard the news that a second Boeing 737 Max went down in Ethiopia in March 2019. “I actually screamed and my wife woke up,” he said. “I just couldn’t believe it.”

Just three weeks earlier, he had written to the Boeing board of directors imploring them to take action and saying he didn’t want to wake up one morning to the news of another crash.

The FAA ordered a temporary grounding of the 737 Max three days after the crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302.

Pierson, meanwhile, kept up his efforts to sound the alarm over the plant in Washington. After months of communications and what he described as “bureaucratic inaction and unexplainable delays,” an NTSB investigator finally contacted him.

Pierson described his concerns about how problems at the plant could have contributed to the crashes. He followed up with a letter outlining his concerns.

But the NTSB ultimately sent a letter stating it wasn’t going to look into the plant. “Your client’s concerns fall outside the scope of the NTSB’s role in the 737 Max accident investigations,” the letter said.

Using public databases, Pierson identified 13 other safety incidents involving 737 Max planes produced at the factory during his time there. Pierson’s lawyer, XX, laid these out in a letter to the FAA this past September.

“The flying public is completely unaware of these other incidents,” the letter said.

In a statement to NBC News, the FAA said it “takes all whistleblower complaints seriously.”

“Our team has interacted on several occasions with Mr. Pierson and his attorneys about his allegations,” it said.

It pointed to a letter sent to Pierson on Nov. 25. “Your request to refer the information to the Indonesian and Ethiopian Investigators-in-Charge is appropriately directed to the NTSB, which leads the U.S. government’s involvement in those accident investigations and manages the U.S. government’s contact with the Ethiopian and Indonesian investigative authorities,” the letter said.

Investigators looking into the causes of the twin crashes have zeroed in on automated system, known as MCAS, that pushes the plane’s nose down if the software senses it is going into a stall.

Crash investigators have said the system was triggered by bad data from the sensors.

In response, Boeing has worked to upgrade the system.

But Pierson says he’s troubled by the focus on the design failure of the MCAS system.

“MCAS is a system designed to correct flight anomalies when they occur,” Pierson plans to tell the House transportation and infrastructure committee, according to a draft statement obtained by NBC News. “It was not the first failure event that led to those crashes.”

In his interview, Pierson stressed that he’s not a disgruntled employee bent on bringing down Boeing. “I’m thrilled to have worked at Boeing,” Pierson said.

He’s speaking out in the hope that Boeing and the agencies investigating the crashes take a hard look at the conditions in the factory where he worked to potentially stave off another tragedy.

“I really figured that somebody would stop and we would resolve this,” Pierson said. “I rang every alarm bell that I could.”

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FAA predicted more fatal 737 Max crashes after Lion Air flight went down, document shows

  • The December 2018 document was released during a House hearing on the 737 Max certification.
  • FAA personnel predicted 15 more crashes over the course of the 737 Max assuming no software changes were made.


Stephen Dickson, administrator of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) nominee, speaks during a Senate Commerce, Science & Transportation confirmation hearing in Washington D.C., May 15, 2019.
Stefani Reynolds | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The Federal Aviation Administration predicted more than a dozen fatal crashes of the Boeing 737 Max after the first of two deadly crashes of the plane, an FAA document released during a House hearing on Wednesday showed.

The FAA and other air safety regulators around the world didn’t ground the planes until a second crash, which occurred in March in Ethiopia, killing the 157 people on the flight. The first crash, a Lion Air 737 Max that went down shortly after takeoff in October 2018, killed all 189 people on board. 


The document, dated Dec. 3, 2018, said 15 fatal crashes of the 737 Max were possible if there were no changes made to flight-control software that was implicated in both crashes, over the course of the plane’s lifetime, which would last decades.

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FAA chief says Boeing 737 Max recertification process to stretch into 2020

  • FAA chief Steve Dickson said the recertification process for the troubled Boeing 737 Max jets will “extend into 2020.”
  • Dickson’s forecast upends Boeing’s guidance that regulators would re-approve the plane before the end of the year.

U.S. aviation regulators won’t likely clear Boeing’s troubled 737 Max airplanes for flight until 2020, Federal Aviation Administration chief Steve Dickson told CNBC on Wednesday.

Dickson’s comments squash any hope that Boeing had of getting the planes re-certified before the end of the year.

“Like I said there are a number of processes, milestones, that have to be completed,” Dickson said in an interview on BC’s Squawk Box. “If you just do the math, it’s going to extend into 2020.”

Boeing declined to say whether it has changed its timeline as a result of Dickson’s comments. 

“We continue to work closely with the FAA and global regulators towards certification and the safe return to service of the Max,” the company said in a statement.

The return date of the fuel-efficient planes has repeatedly slipped. The uncertainty has been a challenge for airlines like Southwest and American, which have lost hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue with the planes out of service. U.S. airlines that fly the planes don’t expect them back in service until at least early March.

Even if the FAA approves the planes, airlines will have to take mothballed planes that have been grounded since March and train thousands of Boeing 737 pilots.


Dickson said there is no clear timeline for when the 737 Max will be re-certified and that there are 10 to 11 milestones left to complete before it can be approved.

“We’re going to follow every step of the process, however long that takes,” he said. “I’ve made it clear that I’m going to support my people and that means they are going to take whatever time it takes to get this process completed and to do it the right way.”

Dickson added that his team is currently in the process of reviewing the plane’s software and “the validation of how the software was developed.”

The agency also started about a week ago on the maintenance requirements needed to get the planes flying again. That alone takes about a month, he said. “So again just doing the arithmetic on these processes you see that it pushes into next year,” he said.

Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg has not made “any requests to cut corners” throughout the re-certification process, Dickson said. There have been “discussions from time to time about which processes run in parallel, where the interdependencies are,” Dickson said. He added that this dialogue is not counterproductive.

The FAA has been under fire for its approval of the now-grounded 737 Max and Dickson said at an industry conference in early November that the agency will work to better assess how human pilots interact with increasingly automated and complex aircraft. He also said that human factors should be considered “throughout the design process.”

But Dickson stopped short of outline changes to the certification process, calling it premature to talk about it or “FAA’s personnel at any level before this committee’s investigation and other ongoing reviews have concluded, and we have a chance to carefully analyze their results and recommendations.”

Dickson, a former Delta executive who was sworn into a five-year term as FAA administrator in August, is appearing before the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure on Wednesday. Lawmakers will question the FAA chief about whether the agency cut corners before it finally approved the planes to fly in 2017 and what it plans to change.

Lawmakers will also hear from a former Boeing manager, Ed Pierson, who raised safety concerns about the 737 Max production line, red flags he had also raised to regulators.

“Although Mr. Pierson did not provide specific information or detail about any particular defect or quality issue, Boeing took his concerns about 737 production disruption seriously,” Boeing said in a statement. “On both occasions, company executives and senior leaders on the 737 program were made aware of Mr. Pierson’s concerns, discussed them in detail, and took appropriate steps to assess them.”

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FAA won’t rule out fining Boeing over 737 Max safety disclosures

  • FAA Administrator Steve Dickson made his comments at a House hearing about the 737 Max certification.
  • The agency has criticized Boeing for not disclosing problems with a safety light to airlines.
  • The FAA is probing Boeing’s production line in Washington state after complaints from an ex-Boeing manager.

GP: Stephen Dickson, FAA 191211

Stephen Dickson, administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), speaks during a House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing on the Boeing Co. 737 Max aircraft in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019.
Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The Federal Aviation Administration could seek penalties against Boeing for failing to make disclosures about the 737 Max, the agency’s chief said at a House hearing Wednesday about the beleaguered plane.

The FAA criticized the manufacturer earlier this year for not disclosing problems with a safety light that would alert pilots when sensors onboard provided conflicting information.


The 737 Max has been grounded since mid-March after two fatal crashes killed 346 people. The FAA, which first certified the planes as safe for the flying public in 2017, is under fire for its approval and for not grounding the jets after the first crash. An internal FAA review dated after the first crash, a Lion Air flight in 2018, found more fatal crashes of the planes were possible but it allowed the planes to keep flying until a second 737 Max went down in March.

“My highest priority is to make sure something like this never happens again,” FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said at the hearing before the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

Dickson, who was sworn in for a five-year term at the helm of the agency in August, said he has not yet made a decision on whether to seek a fine against the manufacturer, but added that he has “expressed my disappointment” with Boeing’s leadership.

“I reserve the right to take further action and we very well may do that,” Dickson said.

Boeing did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


Lawmakers on Wednesday are also hearing from a former Boeing manager who raised safety concerns to both the manufacturer and federal safety officials about the breakneck production pace at the planemaker’s production line in Washington state.

FAA officials said at the hearing that they are probing those concerns and have interviewed several Boeing employees regarding those warnings.

“You have my commitment that we are looking into those problems,” Dickson said.

On Friday, the FAA said it was seeking to fine Boeing nearly $4 million, saying the company failed to stop the installation of faulty wing parts on some older 737 jetliners.

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China’s aviation regulator raises ‘important concerns’ about Boeing 737 Max changes


China has raised “important concerns” with Boeing Co regarding design changes proposed to end the grounding of the Boeing 737 Max airliner, Beijing’s aviation regulator said on Thursday, declining to say when it might fly in China again.

The 737 Max would need to be re-certified and pilots given comprehensive and effective training before it could fly in China, he reiterated.

He said the causes of two crashes that killed 346 people needed to be investigated with effective measures put in place to prevent another one.

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Production line issues and workforce matters are entirely different concerns than the MCAS design problem. The first is exclusively a matter for Boeing to come to terms with, the latter is a combined FAA/Boeing  matter. The various participants should strive to keep these two matters in their place and not conflate all this more than it has been already.

Edited by Don Hudson
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