737 Max Updates and Cancellations


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FAA boss tells Boeing CEO to back off on 737 MAX schedule predictions
Dec. 12, 2019 at 12:17 pm Updated Dec. 12, 2019 at 12:30 pm
By Dominic Gates
Seattle Times aerospace reporter

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) chief Steve Dickson met with Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg at FAA headquarters in Washington, D.C., Thursday to tell him to pull back on public statements about an imminent return to service for the 737 MAX.

Boeing has repeatedly said it expects FAA clearance for the MAX to fly commercially again by year end. Dickson on Wednesday said publicly that the schedule for approving a return to service had slipped into 2020.

Dickson called for the meeting, also attended by new Boeing Commercial Airplanes boss Stan Deal, in part because Boeing’s public statements seemed designed to press for the FAA to provide clearance soon. An email the FAA sent Thursday to the House and Senate aviation oversight committees makes clear Dickson wants that to stop.

“The Administrator is concerned that Boeing continues to pursue a return-to-service schedule that is not realistic due to delays that have accumulated for a variety of reasons,” the email states. “More concerning, the Administrator wants to directly address the perception that some of Boeing’s public statements have been designed to force FAA into taking quicker action.”

“The Administrator wants to make clear that both FAA and Boeing must take the time to get this process right. Safety is our top priority and the Administrator believes public statements must reflect this priority,” the email states. “The purpose of the meeting is to ensure Boeing is clear on FAA’s expectations.”

“Safety is our top priority and the Administrator believes public statements must reflect this priority,” the FAA email adds.

Though the wording of the email amounts to a public rap on the knuckles for Muilenburg, Boeing issued a bland statement afterwards saying that Muilenburg and Deal had “a productive meeting” with Dickson and his deputy Dan Elwell.

“We committed to addressing all of the FAA’s questions as they assess MAX certification and training requirements,” Boeing said in a statement. “We will work with the FAA to support their requirements and their timeline as we work to safely return the Max to service in 2020.”

That’s the first tacit acknowledgment from the company that indeed the FAA will not be clearing the MAX to fly again this year.


Dominic Gates: 206-464-2963 or dgates@seattletimes.com; on Twitter: @dominicgates.
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Who cares how Southwest  feels.  They got what they demanded,  they get what they deserve. 

14,000 Words Of "Blame The Pilots" That Whitewash Boeing Of 737 MAX Failure The New York Times Magazine just published a 14,000 words piece about the Boeing 737 MAX accidents. It is headlined:

On a humourous note, maybe Boeing just wants to be more.....'environmentally friendly'???  

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American Airlines takes Boeing 737 Max off schedule until April

PUBLISHED THU, DEC 12 20194:02 PM ESTUPDATED AN HOUR AGO
 
 
 
 
KEY POINTS
  • American Airlines pulled the 737 Max from its schedules until April 7, making it more than a full year since the grounding before it expects to fly the planes again.
  • American now has the plane out of its schedule later than any other airline.
  • The delay is a sign of constant uncertainty about when regulators will allow the jets to fly againe date
 

American Airlines on Thursday pulled the Boeing 737 Max from its schedules until April 7, making it more than a full year since the grounding before it expects to fly the planes again.

Regulators grounded the plane after two fatal crashes in a span of five months killed 346 people. American now has the plane out of its schedule later than any other airline, a sign of constant uncertainty about when regulators will allow the jets to fly again.

Airlines that have the Max planes in their fleet, which also include Southwest and United, have lost hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue because of the grounding. The problem has gotten worse because airlines expected to receive even more deliveries over the past few months.

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Original story posted previously by Marshall - this is from the Guardian:

FAA let Boeing 737 Max continue to fly even as review found serious crash risk

Analysis from US regulators found plane could have averaged a fatal crash about every two to three years without design changes

Dominic Rushe in New York

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/dec/11/boeing-737-max-plane-faa-regulators-crash-risk

US regulators allowed Boeing’s 737 Max to keep flying even after their own analysis found the plane could have averaged one fatal crash about every two or three years without intervention. According to a report dated a month after a Lion Air 737 Max crashed in October 2018, killing 189 people, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) concluded the plane

A second 737 Max operated by Ethiopian Airlines crashed in March 2019 with the loss of 157 lives. Aviation authorities around the world grounded the Max shortly after the second crash.

The FAA analysis, dated 3 December 2018, was released on Wednesday during a House committee hearing into US’s top aviation oversight of the aircraft’s certification. The review predicted 15 fatal crashes were possible if no changes were made to flight-control software, which has been implicated in both crashes, over the course of the plane’s lifetime.

An FAA spokesperson told the Wall Street Journal, which first reported the news: “It was clear from the beginning that an unsafe condition existed.”

The spokesperson said that the analysis “provided additional context in helping determine the mitigation action”.

According to the Wall Street Journal, FAA officials had major concerns about the Max’s MCAS stall prevention software, which investigators have blamed for the Lion Air crash. But they decided to certify the plane anyway in anticipation of Boeing fixing the software and, in the meantime, telling aircrew worldwide how to respond to MCAS issues.

That fateful decision came just months before the crew of the Ethiopian Airlines flight struggled to regain control of their plane as the MCAS system repeatedly pushed the nose of the plane down until its final, fatal dive.

The 737 Max is the fastest-selling airplane in Boeing history, accumulating nearly 4,700 orders from more than 100 customers worldwide. Boeing had hoped to get the plane back in the air this year after a major overhaul, but the FAA has said the recertification process will stretch into 2020.

The committee heard from Edward Pierson, a former senior manager at Boeing’s 737 Factory in Renton, Washington. In his testimony, Pierson said he “had grown gravely concerned that Boeing was prioritizing production speed over quality and safety”.

Pierson said he repeatedly warned company executives about production issues at the factory – a factory he said was “in chaos” as Boeing struggled to keep up with orders.

I had grown gravely concerned that Boeing was prioritizing production speed over quality and safety

Edward Pierson

Pierson reported his concerns to senior management, including Boeing chief executive Dennis Muilenberg, and regulators – but says he was ignored. “I remain gravely concerned that the dysfunctional production conditions may have contributed to the tragic 737 Max crashes and that the flying public will remain at risk unless this unstable production environment is rigorously investigated and closely monitored by regulators on an ongoing basis,” he said.

Peter DeFazio, the chairman of the House committee, told the hearing: “The FAA rolled the dice on the safety of the traveling public and let the Max continue to fly until Boeing could overhaul its MCAS software.”

The FAA administrator, Steve Dickson, who started a five-year term at the helm of the agency in August, said at the House hearing: “My highest priority is to make sure something like this never happens again.”

Aircraft groundings, he said, “illustrate what we have done historically we cannot be satisfied with. We’ve got to continue to put process improvements in place.”

Asked if the FAA had made a mistake in not taking more action after its own analysis had highlighted the issues with the Max, Dickson said: “Obviously the result is not satisfactory.”

 

======================================

Hearing on Boeing 737 MAX Safety • House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee

 

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United pulls 737 Max from its schedule until early June

PUBLISHED FRI, DEC 20 201912:00 PM ESTUPDATED 14 MIN AGO
KEY POINTS
  • United extended cancellations from the grounding until June 4.
  • The planes have been grounded since March 2019, after two crashes killed 346 people.
  • Boeing is halting production of the planes next month because of the prolonged flight ban. 

 

 

RT: United Airlines planes 190318

United Airlines planes, including a Boeing 737 MAX 9 model, are pictured at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, Texas, March 18, 2019.
Loren Elliott | Reuters

United Airlines is pulling the Boeing 737 MAX from its schedule through June 4, a date that is two months later than when other U.S. airlines plan to resume flights of the troubled planes.

 

By pushing the return of the MAX into June, United raises the question of whether U.S. carriers will have the Max in their fleets by the start of the summer travel season, the busiest period of the year for airlines.

Just last month, United said it would target bringing the Max back in early March. So why is it moving back that date another three months? Mainly because the carrier wants to give passengers more certainty when they are booking tickets for trips this spring and summer. In announcing the move, United said, “we’ll continue to take extraordinary steps to protect our customers’ travel plans.”

In the last week, American Airlines and Southwest Airlines both pushed their respective target dates for resuming 737 MAX flights into early April. If the current schedules hold, the total number of MAX cancellations since it was grounded last March will be just over 146,000 flights.

Last week, the FAA Administrator Steve Dickson told CNBC his agency will not recertify the 737 MAX in 2019, dashing the hopes of Boeing executives who targeted FAA approval this year.

“There are about 10 or 11 milestones left to complete,” Dickson told CNBC. “We’re in the portion of the process right now where we’re looking at the software – the validation of how the software was developed. That will take some time.”

 

One day after that interview, Dickson met with Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg in Washington, D.C., and told him the agency has no timeline for recertifying the MAX. That news prompted Boeing to announce it will temporarily halt 737 MAX production in January.

The ripple effects of the MAX production pause are being felt around the world where suppliers and airlines are reassessing their plans.

Boeing supplier Spirit AeroSystems has announced it will suspend production of its 737 Max starting Jan. 1. In a news release announcing the decision, the company said, “Because revenue from 737 aircraft components represents more than 50 percent of Spirit’s annual revenue, this suspension will have an adverse impact on Spirit’s business, financial condition, results of operations, and cash flows.”

Story Link: https://www.cnbc.com/2019/12/20/united-pulls-737-max-from-its-schedule-until-early-june.html

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Boeing to suppliers: No 737 Max parts for a month as crisis prompts production halt

PUBLISHED MON, DEC 23 20195:23 PM ESTUPDATED 2 HOURS AGO
KEY POINTS
  • Boeing told suppliers to halt shipments of 737 Max parts for a month starting in January.
  • The company previously said it would temporarily shut down production of the 737 Max starting next month.
  • The move shows how the worldwide grounding of 737 Max continues to ripple through the supply chain.
  • The announcement came just hours after news that Boeing ousted its former CEO Dennis Muilenburg.
 

GP: Boeing Profit Tops Estimate As Margins Improve

Boeing Co. 737 fuselage sections sit on the assembly floor at Spirit AeroSystems in Wichita, Kansas.
Daniel Acker | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Boeing said Monday that it told suppliers to halt shipments of 737 Max parts for a month starting in January, providing new visibility into how the worldwide grounding of the bestselling plane continues to ripple through the supply chain.

The announcement came just hours after news that Boeing ousted its former CEO Dennis Muilenburg as the company struggles to regain the trust of regulators, airline customers and the flying public in the wake of two fatal crashes in a span of five months that killed 346 people.

 

Boeing last week said the protracted crisis has forced it to temporarily shut down production of the 737 Max, starting next month. Regulators have repeatedly said they have no firm timeline to allow the planes to fly again.

“We realize this poses challenges for some suppliers and we appreciate their partnership and support during this time,” a Boeing spokesperson said in a statement. “We are working with them to manage risk, address hardships, and ensure their ability to support seamless production resumption.”

Spirit Aerosystems, the Wichita, Kansas-based company that makes fuselages for the Boeing 737 Max, on Friday announced it would suspend production of parts for the Max starting Jan. 1. Revenue from the 737 program accounts for more than half of Spirit’s annual sales, and the manufacturer warned investors that the halt would hurt the company’s results.

General Electric, which makes engines for the 737 Max in a joint venture with France’s Safran, had said it was working with customers and suppliers “while protecting the company’s ability to accelerate production as needed in the future.”

The company also makes some engines for Airbus, Boeing’s main rival, where demand for fuel-efficient planes had also been on the rise.

106310028-gettyimages-1069065486.jpg?v=1577110332&w=750&h=422
 
 
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Boeing ousts Muilenburg amid 737 MAX crisis; observers wonder if new CEO Calhoun will bring the right sort of change

Dec. 23, 2019 at 6:37 am Updated Dec. 23, 2019 at 4:58 pm

https://www.seattletimes.com/business/boeing-aerospace/boeing-ousts-ceo-dennis-muilenberg/?utm_source=marketingcloud&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=BNA_122319144412+BREAKING%3a+Boeing+ousts+CEO+Dennis+Muilenburg_12_23_2019&utm_term=Active subscriber#comments

This didn't begin with this CEO and it is not likely to end with his replacement. Work habits and attitudes take years to change. The turn towards profit & shareholder value over excellence in engineering and testing began in 1997. It will literally take a generation to alter Boeing's cultural values, processes and priorities. Many saw this along the way, but were ignored, as were those who wrote to their superiors, and finally to the FAA.

 

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https://finance.yahoo.com/news/boeing-discloses-set-737-max-011254203.html

(Bloomberg) -- A new batch of messages between Boeing Co. employees on the development of the 737 Max paints a “very disturbing picture” of concerns about the plane, according to an aide to a House committee.

The documents were turned over to the Federal Aviation Administration on Monday, the agency said in a statement. The disclosure came the same day that Boeing ousted its chief executive officer.

At least some of them were written by the same Boeing pilot whose 2016 messages were released in October and were the subject of sharp questioning by lawmakers, according to a person familiar with their contents who wasn’t authorized to discuss them.

The communications haven’t been released publicly. The staff of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee are still reviewing the messages and didn’t provide specific details about what they contain.

“But similar to other records previously disclosed by Boeing, the records appear to point to a very disturbing picture of both concerns expressed by Boeing employees about the company’s commitment to safety and efforts by some employees to ensure Boeing’s production plans were not diverted by regulators or others,” a committee aide said in a statement.

“The committee will continue to review these and other records provided by Boeing as part of the committee’s ongoing investigation,” the aide said.

Boeing didn’t immediately respond to an emailed request for comment. Boeing fell 1.3% to $333 at the close in New York, as markets shut down early because of Christmas Eve.

This was the second time that the Chicago-based company has delayed turning over to the FAA sensitive messages related to the development of the 737 Max jetliner, which was grounded in March after a design flaw was linked to two fatal crashes, in Indonesia and Ethiopia. The earlier episode prompted a rebuke by the agency and helped lead to growing tensions between the regulator and the planemaker.

The FAA didn’t comment in its statement on the content of the emails, saying only that they were under review. The company’s decision to turn the emails over to the FAA was reported earlier by the Seattle Times.

The way Boeing handled the second set of records rankled the agency, according to a person familiar with the issue who wasn’t authorized to speak about it. Boeing told the FAA the messages existed in recent days, but didn’t initially provide them or disclose their contents, said the person.

Boeing Chief Executive Officer Dennis Muilenburg stepped down on Monday, at least partly as a result of deteriorating relations with the FAA, according to a statement from the company’s board.

In October, Boeing disclosed to the FAA instant messages and emails by a high-ranking company pilot who in 2016 expressed misgivings about the software implicated in two fatal crashes on the Max.

Boeing had known about those messages since early in the year and turned them over to the Justice Department in February. It didn’t give them to the FAA immediately because of the criminal investigation into how the plane was approved, Bloomberg News reported at the time.

The delay angered the FAA, which is charged with overseeing Boeing. One of the agency’s key tenets is that entities it oversees must disclose safety issues or possible breaches of regulations. In some circumstances, failing to tell the agency about such an issue may be considered a legal violation.

“The FAA finds the substance of the document concerning,” the agency said in a statement on Oct. 18. “The FAA is also disappointed that Boeing did not bring this document to our attention immediately upon its discovery.”

The November 2016 instant messages disclosed in October, which were reviewed by Bloomberg News, were between between Mark Forkner, then Boeing’s chief technical pilot for the 737, and another 737 technical pilot, Patrik Gustavsson.

Forkner expressed concern that the flight-control feature later implicated in the crashes was “running rampant” and said he might have unknowingly misled the FAA about it. In separate emails he sent to an unnamed FAA official, he said he was “jedi-mind tricking” regulators outside the U.S. into accepting Boeing’s suggested training for the Max.

A lawyer for Forkner, David Gerger, said issues raised in the messages were the result of balky simulator software and not a result of problems with the plane itself. Forkner believed the plane was safe and didn’t mislead the FAA, Gerger said.

Gerger didn’t respond to requests to comment on the latest messages and whether they involved his client.

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Seriously? A 3X5 card explaining why I shouldn't be concerned?

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/24/business/boeing-737-max-survey.html?smid=nytcore-ios-share&fbclid=IwAR1ZoOZT1d2td_cqB-4LCp8HJoVVtT8j1XJOrUoifqkcYWbulBSA_H6NL9I

Since Boeing’s 737 Max jet was grounded in March, after two crashes that killed 346 people, a question has loomed for the company: Would passengers be too scared to fly on the plane once it returns to the air?

It turns out that even as Boeing continues to work on technical fixes to the plane that are needed for regulatory approval, it has repeatedly surveyed thousands of passengers around the world to try to find out the answer. The latest results, from this month, found that 40 percent of regular fliers said they would be unwilling to fly on the Max.

So, in a series of conference calls with airlines and in 40 pages of accompanying presentation materials that were reviewed by The New York Times, Boeing laid out strategies for airlines to help win back the public’s trust and convince travelers the company’s most popular plane was safe.

For instance, if a traveler doesn’t want to fly after buying a ticket, getting to the airport gate or even after boarding the plane, Boeing says that the airline could offer to rebook a flight, have flight attendants or pilots talk to the concerned passenger or hand out 3-by-5 inch information cards detailing why the Max is safe.

Part of the presentation to airlines outlines scenarios involving passengers worried about flying on the Max and how airline employees can respond. 
Part of the presentation to airlines outlines scenarios involving passengers worried about flying on the Max and how airline employees can respond. 

“Every interaction with an anxious passenger, whether face-to-face or online, is an opportunity to demonstrate our care and concern,” the presentation said. “This is as simple as recognition of a passenger’s state of mind. Research shows that emotions drive decision-making, so a human connection will be more effective than rational appeals.”

In the most extreme cases, Boeing suggests using “techniques related to an inflight medical emergency to de-escalate.”

The calls and documents underscore the enormous challenges Boeing faces in the coming months as it tries to restore its reputation. The Max remains grounded, and there is no timetable for when regulators will deem it safe to return to the air. In just the last week and a half, Boeing fired its chief executive and said it would temporarily shut down the factory that makes the Max.

Boeing has queried thousands of travelers around the globe four times since May, and found that the skepticism surrounding the Max had improved only marginally. Among United States travelers, just 52 percent said they would be willing to fly on the plane, according to the survey.

Results from Boeing’s consumer research on awareness of the 737 Max crisis that appears in internal documents.
Results from Boeing’s consumer research on awareness of the 737 Max crisis that appears in internal documents.

The conference calls, which lasted about 30 minutes each and were held over three days last week, are part of Boeing’s attempts to win back the trust of airlines, which have lost billions of dollars and had to cancel thousands of flights because of the Max grounding. The effort was led by Bernard Choi, a member of the company’s communications team.

Some United States airline executives bristled at the presentation and materials, according to four people familiar with the matter, believing that Boeing has lost credibility and that the company’s involvement would only hurt their efforts to win back the trust of passengers. But dozens of airlines around the world have ordered the Max, and many of them, especially the smaller ones, could find the materials helpful.

“We routinely engage with our airline customers’ communications teams to seek their feedback and brief them on our latest plans,” Gordon Johndroe, a Boeing spokesman, said in a statement on Monday. “Each airline is different in their needs, so we provide a wide range of documents and assistance that they can choose to use or tailor as they see fit.”

Boeing has faltered badly in its public response to the crashes. The ousted chief executive, Dennis A. Muilenburg, who was fired Monday, repeatedly made overly-optimistic projections about when the Max might return to service, upsetting regulators and airlines. He drew the ire of lawmakers at Congressional hearings, where the families of crash victims winced at his name. The hiring of the top crisis communications firms Sard Verbinnen and Edelman did little to improve the company’s reputation.

On Monday, Boeing said that Niel Golightly, the chief communications officer at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and a former Navy fighter pilot, would become its head of communications next year.

During its presentation to airlines, the company also distributed a set of infographics, reference cards, videos and frequently asked questions.

One of the videos was an animated explanation of the new software on the Max, called MCAS, which was intended to make the plane handle more predictably but played a role in both accidents. In the video, watermarked “Draft — Advanced Copy, Pending Certification,” a narrator explains that in the accidents, MCAS activated repeatedly after a sensor on the plane’s fuselage malfunctioned, causing the airplane to crash. The video goes on to explain the changes Boeing is making to MCAS.oakImage-1577204444531-articleLarge.jpg?

 
A video includes Boeing pilots offering reassurances.A video includes Boeing pilots offering reassurances.

“Lives depend on the work that we do,” Boeing’s chief commercial pilot, Jim Webb, says in another video. “We know that when you step on board, you place your trust in us.”

At times, the material is startlingly self-critical. In a draft memo Boeing prepared for airlines to share with employees such as flight attendants, the company suggests that airlines say: “Boeing understands that it fell short and let us down, as well as the flying public, and it has committed to continuous improvement and learning.”

In another memo, Boeing says airlines could tell their pilots this: “We have told our Boeing partners that they did not communicate enough about MCAS — and they have heard us. Going forward, they are committed to doing a better job communicating with us.”

Boeing did not fully inform pilots about how MCAS functioned until after the first accident, off the coast of Indonesia in October 2018.

The materials also show that Boeing would try to push back on the narrative that the Max was developed under intense deadline pressure as the company faced heated competition from its European rival, Airbus.

In a draft of a frequently-asked-questions document intended to help airlines communicate with their employees, Boeing included the question, “Is it true that the 737 Max was rushed into service?”

Boeing suggests the airlines answer this way: “No. Over a six-year period, Boeing worked through a disciplined methodical development process that culminated with a robust test program that validated the airplane’s safety and performance.”

In a section of the presentation focused on social media and marketing, the company said it planned to “amplify any positive stories reported,” and that it intended to buy ads to promote the plane’s return to service. It said a company website dedicated to updates on the Max was being designed with “improved usability” and “stickiness” to “encourage more time on site and repeat visits,” phrases commonly used in the communications business.

The presentation said Boeing’s “digital and media team” would be “monitoring social conversations around the clock.”

The company also indicated that it was preparing responses in the event that a Max encountered difficulty even after it restarts service, which could happen given that more than 500 are already built and about 5,000 have been ordered. The scenarios Boeing was preparing for included engine failures and smoke in the cabin and “significant” events on flights by Lion Air or Ethiopian Airlines, which operated the two planes that crashed.

In the presentation, Boeing promoted its ability to get industry analysts and some pilots to make encouraging public statements about the company. It identified dozens of aerospace trade shows in 2020 at which it planned to make its case. And it pledged to work with airlines during early flights to bolster consumer confidence, including offering to have Boeing executives onboard.

“We know we have work to do to restore confidence in Boeing and the Max,” Mr. Johndroe said Monday. “We are working closely with airlines, their pilots and flight attendants to make sure they have the information they need to provide to the traveling public to reassure them that once the certification process is complete, the Max will be one of the safest airplanes flying today.”

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More ‘troubling’ internal Boeing 737 MAX documents released to FAA

 
By   and 
Seattle Times staff reporters

Boeing has sent the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) additional documents that were discovered by its internal investigation into development of the 737 MAX and include “troubling communications” that the company’s lawyers say it needs to disclose, according to a person familiar with the details.

The documents include further messages from Mark Forkner, the Boeing pilot whose 2016 instant-message exchange with a colleague caused outrage when it was released in October.

Boeing will also send the documents to the congressional committees that are investigating the MAX crashes and to the Department of Justice (DOJ) for its criminal investigation.

A senior Boeing executive, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the new Forkner documents contain the same kind of “trash talking” about the FAA as in the October messages.

He said he doesn’t think they will be explosive but that they will generate headlines and continue to be a problem for Boeing. He added that there might be additional documents he is unaware of.

Forkner poses a continuing problem for the company, because he hired his own high-powered criminal defense attorney instead of lawyers retained by Boeing, and the company doesn’t know what he’s doing, the executive said.While Forkner invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination to avoid turning over records to DOJ, Boeing doesn’t know if he might cut a deal with prosecutors in exchange for his cooperation, he said.

The timing of the company’s release of the documents to government agencies, so close to the holidays and on the same day as the sacking of CEO Dennis Muilenburg, may be intended to get the bad news out there all at once with less press coverage.

Forkner was 737 chief technical pilot during the development of the MAX. The job of the pilot team he led was to test the MAX flight control systems in a simulator and to determine the information and training that airline pilots would need to fly the airplane.

It was Forkner who sent an email to an FAA official in March 2016 asking that information about the MAX’s new flight-control software — known as the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) — be omitted from the pilot manuals and not mentioned in pilot training.

In the 2016 instant message exchange between Forkner and another Boeing pilot, Forkner stated that he had “basically lied to the regulators (unknowingly).”

In that loose conversation, during which Forkner was drinking vodka, he said MCAS  had “run rampant” during simulator testing in 2016. Boeing said later he was referring to the simulator software being defective, rather than MCAS itself.

And in a separate 2016 email to an FAA official, Forkner joked that he was “doing a bunch of traveling … jedi-mind tricking (foreign) regulators into accepting the training that I got accepted by FAA.”

These revelations were the subject of intense questioning of Muilenburg when he appeared before Congress in late October.

Forkner’s attorney, David Gerger of Houston, declined to comment.

Dominic Gates: 206-464-2963 or dgates@seattletimes.co
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16 hours ago, Don Hudson said:

Boeing ousts Muilenburg amid 737 MAX crisis; observers wonder if new CEO Calhoun will bring the right sort of change

The only reason I can see them getting rid of him now as opposed to six months ago or six months from now is because he has become toxic in Boeing's interactions with the FAA.

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Boeing 737 Max crisis adviser Michael Luttig to retire

PUBLISHED THU, DEC 26 20195:12 PM EST
Reuters
 
 
 
 
KEY POINTS
  • Boeing said on Thursday Michael Luttig, who was appointed senior adviser to the planemaker’s board amid the 737 MAX crisis in May, will retire at the end of the year.
  • The company had named Luttig, who has served as general counsel since joining the company in 2006, to the position of counselor and senior adviser to former Chief Executive Officer Dennis Muilenburg and to Boeing’s board.
  • Luttig, often listed among the highest paid general counsels of publicly traded companies, helped anchor Boeing’s legal defense over the crashes of Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302.
 

GP: Grounding Of Boeing 737 MAX Planes Extended As New Flaw In Software Is Found 1

Boeing 737 MAX airplanes are stored on employee parking lots near Boeing Field, on June 27, 2019 in Seattle, Washington. After a pair of crashes, the 737 MAX has been grounded by the FAA and other aviation agencies since March, 13, 2019.
Stephen Brashear | Getty Images

Boeing said on Thursday Michael Luttig, who was appointed senior adviser to the planemaker’s board amid the 737 Max crisis in May, will retire at the end of the year.

The company had named Luttig, who has served as general counsel since joining the company in 2006, to the position of counselor and senior adviser to former Chief Executive Officer Dennis Muilenburg and to Boeing’s board.

 

Luttig, often listed among the highest paid general counsels of publicly traded companies, helped anchor Boeing’s legal defense over the crashes of Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302.

The 737 Max has been grounded since March after two crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia killed 346 people within a span of five months.

Luttig’s announcement to retire follows Muilenburg’s dismissal as chief executive officer this week, after repeatedly failing to contain the fallout from the crashes that halted output of its best-selling jetliner.

Chairman David Calhoun, a former General Electric executive who has been on Boeing’s board since 2009, replaced Muilenburg as the chief executive officer effective Jan. 13.

 

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By early 2019 it was in heavy use all over the world with a fleet of 387 and growing, including in Canada, where Air Canada, WestJet and Sunwing Airlines flew 41 of them, with more on the way.

But the 737 Max had been airborne less than two years and already two had failed – catastrophically. Statistically, it was now one of the deadliest commercial airliners ever produced, with more casualties in its first 48 months than any other plane in history.

In Ottawa, top officials at Transport Canada exchanged notes that Sunday afternoon through e-mail.

“Please follow the tragic news on the Boeing 737 Max crash in Ethiopia,” Transport Minister Marc Garneau wrote to his closest advisers in documents obtained by The Globe and Mail through the Access to Information Act. “I will need an update tomorrow morning.”

The Minister knew he would face questions about a link between this latest disaster and the one five months earlier in Indonesia. “That provoked much discussion as to whether we should ground the Canadian Max fleet,” he reminded his colleagues.

Within hours, governments around the world would soon begin grounding the 737 Max amid deepening questions about the plane. But in Ottawa, Mr. Garneau and other top officials inside Transport Canada deferred.

Canada’s instinct was to wait for signals from the United States before taking any action.

“My sense is that we are monitoring what Boeing and the NTSB will have to say before we make any decisions in Canada,” Mr. Garneau advised.

Historically speaking, it wasn’t that unusual. When it came to aviation oversight, that was how Canada did things. From crafting regulations to approving new aircraft, Ottawa worked hand-in-glove with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and by extension – whether Transport Canada acknowledged it or not – with Boeing itself.

It was a system built on “mutual confidence” and “trust,” according to regulatory documents outlining the bilateral arrangement, and it was designed for expediency and pragmatism, creating an aviation sector that operated almost seamlessly between the two neighbouring countries. And it was a system that, for decades, appeared to work.

Until suddenly it didn’t.

The 737 Max disasters have exposed a series of flaws in Canada’s oversight of the sector – blind spots built into the system that went unnoticed until now. From the moment the new plane was conceived at Boeing, Canada had already outsourced much of its regulatory oversight on the matter to the FAA which, in turn, abdicated disturbing amounts of that power to Boeing.

Thousands of pages of documents have emerged in recent months, from official investigations into the crashes to company e-mails and government briefings, that detail what went wrong with the 737 Max. Going over the trail of evidence now, it is possible to see where these blind spots exist for Canada, and why they matter.

Crucial information Canadian regulators needed in order to make a proper determination on the 737 Max – both before it was allowed to fly and after the disasters occurred – was never made available to Transport Canada under this abdication of authority. And in cases in which critical evidence was pro-actively shared with Canadian officials after the first crash, Transport Canada chose to sit on it, deciding instead to follow the lead of the FAA, and keep the plane flying.

By the time Mr. Garneau finally banned the 737 Max, almost four days after the second crash and conspicuously later than much of the world, Canada was one of the last countries still standing with the U.S.

In the aftermath of the 737 Max disasters, Boeing and the FAA have come under scrutiny. But the blind spots exposed by the tragedies are a reckoning for Transport Canada as well. In its endorsement of the deadly plane, the department relied too heavily on those organizations. And several of Transport Canada’s most important decisions – including whether to approve the plane and Mr. Garneau’s conspicuous refusal to ground it out of caution – were premised on bad information, questionable analysis or faulty advice.

“It’s like people talk about with a computer,” said Jim Hall, former chairman of the NTSB in Washington.

“Junk in, junk out.”

Blind spots: How the Boeing 737 Max disasters exposed flaws in Canada’s reliance on U.S. aviation policy

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Boeing’s 737 MAX crisis leaves it badly behind in ‘arms race’ for next decade’s jets

Dec. 29, 2019 at 6:01 am

By

Dominic Gates

Seattle Times aerospace reporter

Since the second fatal 737 MAX crash, in Ethiopia in March, and the subsequent worldwide grounding of the jet, Boeing — the company that built the Pacific Northwest’s manufacturing economy and made the region a global powerhouse of aerospace technology — has suffered a precipitous fall.

Ongoing investigations of the crashes have spotlighted the badly flawed design of the MAX’s flight control system and a largely self-certifying oversight regime that failed to catch the flaws. Congressional investigators are combing internal Boeing documents for evidence of malpractice, and a Department of Justice probe means even a criminal indictment is not ruled out. The jetmaker’s stellar global reputation is badly tarnished.

Through it all, said Richard Aboulafia, vice president of analysis at aviation consulting firm Teal Group, Boeing has displayed “an absence of leadership, an absence of strategy and an inability to communicate.”

The disastrous year will be followed by a precarious 2020: As Boeing’s new leaders struggle to recover control, they face crucial decisions about developing new airplanes while they cope with depleted financial resources, a distracted engineering corps and a loss of Boeing’s previous strategic advantage against rival Airbus. They’ll also face pressure to reverse a two-decadeslong decline in the company’s historic culture of engineering prowess, which many blame for the MAX disaster.

Although newly ousted CEO Dennis Muilenburg was an engineer, he stuck closely to the financial engineering playbook of his predecessor, Jim McNerney. Whistleblowers and leaked documents have raised damaging accusations that management drove too relentlessly to cut costs and deliver on schedule.

A former senior leader at Boeing, who asked for anonymity to speak freely, blamed the MAX crisis on a “push away from engineering excellence, driven by cost-cutting.”

 “All of us who care about Boeing, we want to learn from this and ensure it never happens again,” the former executive said. “We have to get back the engineering discipline and make it the Number 1 priority.”

737 MAX CRISIS

COMPLETE COVERAGE »

·        Boeing documents sent to House committee called ‘very disturbing’

·        Boeing 737 MAX production halt ripples out as supplier Spirit stops fuselage work, United delays MAX flights until June

·        Renton businesses fear Boeing 737 MAX assembly-line halt will ‘impact the community in a huge way’

Boeing’s proposed fix for the MAX — making sure the flight control system that went haywire in the crashes has multiple redundancies — in concept is solid. In practice, it’s taking much longer than anticipated to ensure the software is bug-free and hides no pathways to another single-fault failure.

It looks like the grounding of the MAX will stretch into a full year. Yet no serious industry analyst doubts that the MAX eventually will fly again and that when it does, it will be a safe airplane.

Aboulafia believes Boeing must not only steady itself by fixing the MAX and restarting production but then must follow up as soon as practical to secure its future by launching an all-new airplane.

Adam Pilarski, senior vice president at consulting firm Avitas, points to the recurring cycles in the aviation industry. Though both Airbus and Boeing have suffered major setbacks over the years, the two aerospace giants still divide the business in a powerful duopoly and neither can feed the demand for new jets alone.

He’s optimistic that despite the debacle of 2019, Boeing will reverse its fortunes.

“In the long run, aviation is not dead. Boeing is not dead,” Pilarski said. “Eventually, Boeing can recover its strategic position.”

Fall from grace

In fall 2018, Boeing was riding high, raking in cash from ever-accelerating 737 production and widely seen as having the upper hand strategically over Airbus.

Because the 737 MAX has been grounded so long, each plane will require maintenance work on the engines and other systems, followed by a couple of check... (Mike Siegel / The Seattle Times) More

Boeing’s MAX had been launched late but was catching up on the Airbus A320neo, and in 2019 Boeing anticipated flying its new 777X and launching an all-new “New Midmarket Airplane” (NMA) — a prospective 797.

Even after the October 2018 crash of Lion Air JT610, the stock kept climbing until March when CEO Muilenburg could boast that the share price had tripled during his tenure. But with the second crash and the worldwide grounding, Boeing’s dominant position swiftly crumbled. The stock is now down a quarter from its high.

Delivery and sales numbers show a stark divergence of fortune with rival Airbus.

Through November this year, Airbus had 718 net orders and delivered 725 aircraft, while Boeing booked just 56 net orders and delivered 345.

In the crucial single-aisle category, Airbus delivered 578 of its A320 family of planes and Boeing just 121 single-aisle 737s. About 400 more MAXs were built that cannot be delivered until regulators clear the jet.

With Boeing sales stalled, Airbus raked in orders for its largest single-aisle jet, the A321neo, and launched new versions with extra fuel tanks to offer significant extra range.

As a result, airlines are buying the A321neo for medium-range international flights, such as transatlantic routes. That’s the heart of the mid-size, midrange market Boeing planned to target with its NMA, a plane carrying 220 to 270 passengers up to 5,700 miles.

The economics of the A321neo are forcing a shift away from larger, twin-aisle jets, which are much more expensive to buy and to operate. The jet’s order backlog has swelled to more than 3,200 airplanes as “the middle market has gotten way bigger than anyone expected,” said Aboulafia.

But at Boeing, any new airplane remains just an idea.

And the new 777X, delayed by engine-development problems, won’t fly until sometime next year.

Stan Sorscher, retired Boeing engineer and longtime policy analyst with Boeing’s white-collar union, the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA), describes a shift at Boeing over the past two decades from an engineering culture that strove for quality, high performance and problem-solving during development of a new airplane, to one focused narrowly on cost cutting.

This deliberate strategy from the very top of the company led to massive, ill-thought-out outsourcing and the discarding of engineering talent as work was moved out of the Puget Sound region.

Talk to us

We continue to seek information on the design, training and certification of the Boeing 737 MAX. If you have insights, please get in touch with aerospace reporter Dominic Gates at 206-464-2963 or dgates@seattletimes.com. To communicate on a confidential and encrypted channel, follow the options available at https://st.news/newstips.

Sorscher said that has led to major failures on Boeing’s latest two major airplane development programs — first the heavily outsourced 787 Dreamliner and then the minimally upgraded 737 MAX. Both planes had to be grounded over safety issues.

Sorscher said Boeing had built up a superb engineering culture through building new planes every 10 years or so and passing on the knowledge through generations of engineers, but “we’ve now had two decades of workers who have not had the experience of going through a good, high-performance development program.”

Boeing at bay

As 2019 ends, Boeing is paralyzed by the MAX crisis.

After months of optimistic declarations that the MAX fix was close to approval, the FAA pricked that bubble in December, when FAA boss Steve Dickson told Muilenburg to get real. In response, Boeing finally announced a complete halt to the 737 MAX assembly line until further notice. The board fired Muilenburg shortly after and appointed company Chairman Dave Calhoun to take over as CEO.

“Right now, there is a fire and they have to put it out,” said Pilarski, of Avitas.

Now Boeing must wait for FAA clearance while it braces for compensation negotiations with suppliers and airline customers. Its leverage is limited: Boeing needs its suppliers to maintain capacity to restart and ramp up production again. It needs airlines to keep their MAX orders.

Yet Boeing faces hostility from all quarters.

It had already alienated many of its suppliers long before the crashes, as it relentlessly pressed them to lower their prices.

Major supplier Spirit AeroSystems in Wichita, Kan., had kept things running well by maintaining a production rate of 52 fuselages per month even when Boeing cut its rate to 42 jets per month. The Renton shutdown forced Spirit to halt production completely.

Boeing’s airline customers, strung along for months, have lost patience. U.S. pilot unions have displayed open anger at Boeing.

United Airlines, tired of reassessing its schedule every month, pulled the MAX from its schedule until June and said it expects to have to cancel more than 13,800 flights for the months of December through to June.

“Boeing has no friends anywhere,” said the former senior company leader.

On top of this, when the FAA finally gives the MAX the OK to fly — late February or early March is the new target — it will be a daunting logistical challenge to restart the global supply chain and perform the maintenance needed to get the backlog of parked airplanes back in the air and delivered.

Even assuming the FAA’s approval doesn’t slip further, some of the parked jets may remain undelivered through next year. It could be 2022 before Boeing’s Renton plant is back to normal.

The future

Aboulafia, of the Teal Group, worries that the MAX crisis will leave Boeing incapable of taking steps essential to its future, in particular responding to the new market demand for mid-size, midrange, single-aisle planes for international routes — jets like the Airbus A321neo.

He says “an arms race” by airlines to re-equip their fleets with these new airplanes is already underway.  This month, United Airlines said it will buy 50 new A321XLRs, the extra-long-range version, to replace its aging Boeing 757 fleet.

“This is exactly the moment that Boeing needs to invest in its future,” said Aboulafia. “There will be a wave to catch. People want a new jetliner. You prepare for the wave and you catch it.”

He believes Boeing should drop the twin-aisle NMA concept and instead go for a replacement to the MAX that skews toward the larger end of the single-aisle segment, the A321neo’s size.

Without the crashes, he thinks Boeing could have “turned on a dime” to pivot toward that idea. Now, with cash squeezed and debt mounting, he fears the Boeing board won’t make the necessary investment and will lose that market completely to Airbus.

Yet the best Boeing strategy is not obvious.

Pilarksi agrees that Boeing needs to catch that next wave. But he still sees the NMA concept as Boeing’s best answer to the A321neo. The NMA plan includes new, innovative production technology that he thinks Boeing should apply to a MAX replacement only some years later.

Whatever strategy is chosen, he said that as it emerges from the MAX crisis, Boeing needs to “tell the market that it is not out of business.”

“They need a moonshot,” said Pilarski. “They better start working on it. I’m sure they are.”

Sorscher, the former Boeing and SPEEA analyst, said Boeing won’t succeed at that next new airplane unless its leaders can reassert its legacy engineering standards.

“The cost-cutting business model is OK for mature products that don’t involve innovation and risk,” he said. But whatever next new airplane Boeing develops, he believes it must restore its “problem-solving, high-performance engineering culture.”

Sometime in the new year, Boeing hopes for its first good-news event in many months: the long-delayed first flight of the new 777X, with its massive composite wings.

In late January, Boeing’s new leadership will reveal the latest tally of the cost of the MAX grounding, updating the $9.2 billion estimate through October.

The rest of the year is likely to be a long slog, getting the MAX program restarted and slowly ramping back up again. No one can yet foresee the long-term impact.

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

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From the WSJ, 2020.01.02

Boeing’s Commitment To Automation Grows

BY ANDY PASZTOR AND ANDREW TANGEL

Boeing Co. is increasingly committed to transferring more control of aircraft from pilots to computers after two crashes exposed flaws in an automated system on its 737 MAX that overpowered aviators in the disasters.

Executives at Boeing and other makers of planes and cockpit-automation systems for some time have believed more-sophisticated systems are necessary to serve as backstops for pilots, help them assimilate information and, in some cases, provide immediate responses to imminent hazards.

Now, such changes seek to address the fact that pilots might not react to problems— including those tied to automation— as quickly or proficiently as designers assumed, according to former and current Boeing officials and industry exec- utives. The view took hold after a flight-control system known as MCAS put two MAX jets into fatal nosedives within the past 14 months that together killed 346 people.

“We are going to have to ultimately almost—almost— make these planes fly on their own,” then-Boeing Chairman Dave Calhoun said in a CNBC interview in November. Mr. Calhoun is to become the plane maker’s chief executive Jan. 13.

While the MAX’s problems stemmed from a misguided design of automation, many engineers and airline executives remain confident that properly devised computerized features have proven extremely reliable and will prevent accidents. They cite the safety benefits of everything from automated engine adjustments to computer-controlled landing maneuvers that are more precise and predictable than any pilot commands.

Over the years, Boeing rival Airbus SE has tended to devise systems in which pilots are trained to let automated systems handle emergencies, and company executives have said that approach will continue.

Executives at Boeing and Airbus have said they are also designing flight-control systems tailored for younger pilots, who generally have less flying time in their logbooks and a more innate familiarity with technology than aviators of years past.

Airbus recently unveiled touch screens designed by France’s Thales SA for its A350 wide-body aircraft. Airbus is pursuing additional automation for single-pilot aircraft and enhanced computer-controlled responses to midair collision warnings, according to officials at the company and in the industry.

Boeing also plans to tailor its design and training to better serve the more globally diverse group of pilots now flying its planes, said former and current company officials familiar with the plans.

Engineers predict an expansion of automated safeguards including, possibly, artificial intelligence to assist pilots. “Such features are certainly going to have a greater role in air carrier cockpits,” said Alan Diehl, a former military and civilian accident investigator who was one of the first automation specialists for the Federal Aviation Administration.

Some of the new systems Boeing and other companies are working on are designed to maintain stable flight while pilots troubleshoot in moments— like those during both MAX crashes—when crews face cascades of emergency alerts and warnings that can be confusing or contradictory.

“Automation can help by verifying that pilots are doing the right things, and then helping them all the way through” an incident, said Kevin Hiatt, a former airline captain and industry safety executive.

While manufacturers said automation fosters safety, some aviation experts harbor concerns. Studies have shown that undue

reliance on automation can degrade manual flying skills, or make pilots less decisive in emergencies. The MAX tragedies also show how automated features can backfire if they malfunction, said Mica Endsley, an industry consultant and former chief scientist for the Air Force.

“Engineers get very enamored with their automation,” Ms. Endsley said. “When we assume it’s perfect, then we don’t design” necessary defenses for pilots. Under most circumstances, she added, it is essential for pilots to recognize when specific automation kicks in and to have some training dealing with it.

Boeing and Airbus have been automating some aspects of flight for decades, innovations that have helped make aviation the safest mode of transportation. From early versions of autopilots to the introduction of automated landing systems and cockpit layouts dominated by video screens, computers have steadily gained control of commercial flight.

Beginning in the 1980s, Airbus devised what is called flyby- wire automation to prevent accidents. No matter what commands pilots give, under normal circumstances, computers on board won’t let them turn a plane too sharply or raise the nose to too steep an angle. Boeing,

by contrast, traditionally designed automated systems that could be overruled by crew commands.

That distinction started blurring long before automation- gone-haywire overpowered two MAX crews. Boeing has crafted extensive fly-by-wire applications, some beyond the control of pilots.

Now Boeing is rethinking how to tailor more-sophisticated automation without forsaking its pilot-centric design approach, said the current and former company officials.

“We’re also going to take a look at the pilot-machine interface on our airplanes in designing that for the next generation, as technology is rapidly evolving,” then-CEO Dennis Muilenburg told a congressional hearing in October.

Boeing’s automation projects include an electrically powered cargo plane that would fly without any aviators on board. Before the second MAX crashed in March, it said it had completed the initial test flight of a totally autonomous prototype vehicle that can take off and land vertically.

 

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“We are going to have to ultimately almost—almost— make these planes fly on their own,” then-Boeing Chairman Dave Calhoun said in a CNBC interview in November. Mr. Calhoun is to become the plane maker’s chief executive Jan. 13.

This is a very big chew for a company that must yet prove that its design capabilities are equal to such a goal. Mr. Calhoun's statement regarding "...make planes fly on their own," sounds almost naïve in terms of what modern airliners including Boeing's own B787, are capable of. They have been able to "fly on their own" since Airbus designed and built the A320 in the mid-eighties.

The Boeing Chief Executive should reveal that he possesses at least a little knowledge of his product and use terms that really do describe what he's talking about, which is "autonomous flight". What Mr. Calhoun is proposing is an entirely different, very ambitious kettle of automated fish than what he appears to believe is the solution to increasing levels of inexperience, bread-and-butter training and keeping "complexity" out of airplane manuals because pilots can't/won't comprehend it.

Autonomous flight may or may not come, but there is no reason to believe such a system will be safer or less safe than the present commercial aviation system in place in both the western and eastern worlds.

I think the corrupted design and oversight process that led to the MCAS debacle among other failures at Boeing can actually be fixed quite readily. What will take longer and harder is the recharging of employees including reasons-to-believe-again, a change in expectations on the part of shareholders and their carrot-and-stick approach to investing, and for Boeing, the formation of new habits and ways of working that demand more robust focus on engineering and testing, testing, testing, just like they said they used to do in the years leading up to 1997.

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Perhaps Boeing needs to write minimum experience levels  into their manuals. 

 Say 2500 hrs pilot in command of a twin engine turbine for access to the right seat ? 

 Or perhaps 10,000 hrs minimum combined experience of the crew .  No inexperienced captains flying with 200 hr F.O.s .?

 I know there are Federal rules,  but do they extend around the world?

 If Boeing does not at least mandate simulator training for Max crews, they might just as well leave it parked.

 The untrained crew concept has proven to be a failure. 

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American Airlines plans to share Boeing 737 Max compensation with employees

KEY POINTS
  • American Airlines is negotiating compensation from Boeing over the 737 Max grounding.
  • Regulators banned airlines from flying the planes in March after two fatal crashes.
  • Southwest reached an agreement with Boeing last month and also said it would share that amount with employees.
 

GP: Boeing Co. 737 MAX Planes As Oversight Drew Rebuke Of FAA Unions In 2017

American Airlines’ Boeing 737 Max planes sit parked outside of a maintenance hangar at Tulsa International Airport (TUL) in Tulsa, Oklahoma, May 14, 2019.
Patrick T. Fallon | Bloomberg | Getty Images

American Airlines is planning to share with employees a portion of the compensation it expects to receive from Boeing for the nearly 10-month grounding of the 737 Max, a disruption that carriers have said cost them more than $1 billion in revenue.

American’s talks with Boeing are still ongoing, a spokesman said. Several other 737 Max customers, including Icelandair, Turkish Airlines and Southwest Airlines, have recently reached agreements with the manufacturer, but the final amounts, whether in cash compensation or discounts on aircraft, isn’t yet clear because the grounding is ongoing.

 

The grounding of the 737 Max after two crashes — one in Indonesia in October 2018 and another in Ethiopia the following March — has roiled Boeing, prompting the manufacturer to suspend production of the bestselling plane and costing former CEO Dennis Muilenburg his job. It has also forced airlines to cancel thousands of flights and curb growth plans. That has meant less overtime for employees, they argue.

 

The Federal Aviation Administration has repeatedly said it doesn’t have a set timeline for clearing the planes to fly again and that it would individually review each 737 Max before they can fly.

That uncertainty has forced airlines to repeatedly remove the jetliners from their schedule, a trend that becomes even more disruptive because airlines expected to have even more 737 Max planes delivered since the grounding. American had 24 of the 737 Max planes in its fleet at the time of the grounding and had expected that size to double this year.

“As we’ve said before, we expect American will be compensated for the lost earnings that the Max grounding has caused,” American Airlines spokesman Ross Feinstein said. “We anticipate that part of any compensation American receives will be eligible for profit sharing for our team.”

A Boeing spokesman said the company doesn’t comment on “our private discussions with customers.” The company took a $4.9 billion aftertax charge in the second quarter to compensate airlines for the grounding.

 

American in October forecast the Max grounding would cost it $540 million in pretax income in 2019. The full financial toll on airlines isn’t yet known because it’s not clear when the planes will fly again. American and Southwest removed the planes from their schedules until April, while United pulled them until early June.

“We feel highly confident that the losses that American Airlines have incurred won’t be incurred by American shareholders, but will be borne by the Boeing shareholders,” American CEO Doug Parker said on an earnings call in October.

Southwest didn’t disclose the terms of its compensation but said last month that it would share $125 million with its employees. Southwest’s pilot union sued Boeing in October, alleging the grounding cost its pilots more than $100 million in income.

American Airlines pilots’ union, the Allied Pilots Association, said it has not ruled out following suit.

“All actions remain on the table,” said union spokesman Capt. Dennis Tajer. “Further action depends on the success of this path in repairing the financial harm to our pilots.”

American is expected to report full-year and fourth-quarter earnings in the second half of the month.  

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2 hours ago, Don Hudson said:

From the WSJ, 2020.01.02

Boeing’s Commitment To Automation Grows

BY ANDY PASZTOR AND ANDREW TANGEL

Boeing Co. is increasingly committed to transferring more control of aircraft from pilots to computers after two crashes exposed flaws in an automated system on its 737 MAX that overpowered aviators in the disasters.

Executives at Boeing and other makers of planes and cockpit-automation systems for some time have believed more-sophisticated systems are necessary to serve as backstops for pilots, help them assimilate information and, in some cases, provide immediate responses to imminent hazards.

Now, such changes seek to address the fact that pilots might not react to problems— including those tied to automation— as quickly or proficiently as designers assumed, according to former and current Boeing officials and industry exec- utives. The view took hold after a flight-control system known as MCAS put two MAX jets into fatal nosedives within the past 14 months that together killed 346 people.

“We are going to have to ultimately almost—almost— make these planes fly on their own,” then-Boeing Chairman Dave Calhoun said in a CNBC interview in November. Mr. Calhoun is to become the plane maker’s chief executive Jan. 13.

While the MAX’s problems stemmed from a misguided design of automation, many engineers and airline executives remain confident that properly devised computerized features have proven extremely reliable and will prevent accidents. They cite the safety benefits of everything from automated engine adjustments to computer-controlled landing maneuvers that are more precise and predictable than any pilot commands.

Over the years, Boeing rival Airbus SE has tended to devise systems in which pilots are trained to let automated systems handle emergencies, and company executives have said that approach will continue.

Executives at Boeing and Airbus have said they are also designing flight-control systems tailored for younger pilots, who generally have less flying time in their logbooks and a more innate familiarity with technology than aviators of years past.

Airbus recently unveiled touch screens designed by France’s Thales SA for its A350 wide-body aircraft. Airbus is pursuing additional automation for single-pilot aircraft and enhanced computer-controlled responses to midair collision warnings, according to officials at the company and in the industry.

Boeing also plans to tailor its design and training to better serve the more globally diverse group of pilots now flying its planes, said former and current company officials familiar with the plans.

Engineers predict an expansion of automated safeguards including, possibly, artificial intelligence to assist pilots. “Such features are certainly going to have a greater role in air carrier cockpits,” said Alan Diehl, a former military and civilian accident investigator who was one of the first automation specialists for the Federal Aviation Administration.

Some of the new systems Boeing and other companies are working on are designed to maintain stable flight while pilots troubleshoot in moments— like those during both MAX crashes—when crews face cascades of emergency alerts and warnings that can be confusing or contradictory.

“Automation can help by verifying that pilots are doing the right things, and then helping them all the way through” an incident, said Kevin Hiatt, a former airline captain and industry safety executive.

While manufacturers said automation fosters safety, some aviation experts harbor concerns. Studies have shown that undue

reliance on automation can degrade manual flying skills, or make pilots less decisive in emergencies. The MAX tragedies also show how automated features can backfire if they malfunction, said Mica Endsley, an industry consultant and former chief scientist for the Air Force.

“Engineers get very enamored with their automation,” Ms. Endsley said. “When we assume it’s perfect, then we don’t design” necessary defenses for pilots. Under most circumstances, she added, it is essential for pilots to recognize when specific automation kicks in and to have some training dealing with it.

Boeing and Airbus have been automating some aspects of flight for decades, innovations that have helped make aviation the safest mode of transportation. From early versions of autopilots to the introduction of automated landing systems and cockpit layouts dominated by video screens, computers have steadily gained control of commercial flight.

Beginning in the 1980s, Airbus devised what is called flyby- wire automation to prevent accidents. No matter what commands pilots give, under normal circumstances, computers on board won’t let them turn a plane too sharply or raise the nose to too steep an angle. Boeing,

by contrast, traditionally designed automated systems that could be overruled by crew commands.

That distinction started blurring long before automation- gone-haywire overpowered two MAX crews. Boeing has crafted extensive fly-by-wire applications, some beyond the control of pilots.

Now Boeing is rethinking how to tailor more-sophisticated automation without forsaking its pilot-centric design approach, said the current and former company officials.

“We’re also going to take a look at the pilot-machine interface on our airplanes in designing that for the next generation, as technology is rapidly evolving,” then-CEO Dennis Muilenburg told a congressional hearing in October.

Boeing’s automation projects include an electrically powered cargo plane that would fly without any aviators on board. Before the second MAX crashed in March, it said it had completed the initial test flight of a totally autonomous prototype vehicle that can take off and land vertically.

 

In the past, I have always like the Boeing Model of "break the airplane to save the passengers" mentality.  Self preservation is a powerful tool that cannot be perfectly implemented in computer logic.

Yes it has failed us in the past but I am still a firm believer that I and the pilot and the computer is here to assist me, NOT the other way around.

In order to achieve a fully automated, or even mostly automated, aircraft.  One should definitely NOT start with the 737.  A clean slate design would be needed and is long overdue.

Many moons ago when the A320 made its debut and had its issues (teething problems) I though "no way would I let a computer be in charge" Now 30 odd years later I think the Airbus methodology was very well implemented.  Far better that the multitude of re-hashes of the 737.

It's time Boeing got back to being an engineering company and stop being a finance company

  

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Air Canada, WestJet push back return of Boeing 737 Max until early spring

News provided by The Star – link to full story and updates

By Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press, Fri., Jan. 3, 2020

Air-Canada-MAX8.jpg Image provided by Air Canada

TORONTO – Canada’s two biggest airlines are keeping the grounded Boeing 737 Max off their flight schedules for at least the next two months in a move that could impact passengers already slated for spring getaways and cut down on flight options for travellers looking to book.

Air Canada said it recently opted to push back the return of the Boeing jet through March 31. WestJet said it has pulled its 13 Max planes from the schedule until March 4.

The federal government banned the 737 Max from the skies last March following two fatal crashes in five months that saw the plane grounded worldwide.

The airlines’ decision marks the latest in a series of delays that have reduced revenue and capacity and bumped up costs for the carriers, which have had to spend more on leases for aircraft that are less fuel-efficient.

The 36 Max aircraft was slated to make up one-quarter of Air Canada’s narrow-body fleet by the end of this 2019, with 14 more initially scheduled to arrive this year. WestJet was on track to receive two last year and two in 2020.

Delivery has now been put off pending a green light from regulatory authorities, including the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration.

“Both carriers would have expected by now to have started to harvest and reap the rewards of a transition to that fleet type,” said Robert Kokonis, president of Toronto-based consulting firm AirTrav Inc.

“If it is the case that every individual aircraft has got to be inspected as well, then that’s a long process, because the FAA is lacking in those resources.”

The grounding has not just scrambled schedules and piled on costs, but hampered growth plans.

“WestJet and Air Canada, like a lot of other carriers around the world, have been eyeing the Max…to open up a whole new series of routes that hitherto were not economical for a larger wide-body or were not within the range of a regular narrow-body,” Kokonis said.

Southwest Airlines and American Airlines have scrubbed the once heavily coveted plane from their schedules until early-to-mid April, while United Airlines has put off its return until early June.

“I would be very surprised if either of those March dates are possible,” Kokonis added, referring to Air Canada and WestJet.

Air Canada’s 12 undelivered Max aircraft now sit on Boeing lots, delaying the company’s hiring of pilots — it currently has about 400 Max pilots, relegated to training for the time being.

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1 hour ago, Marshall said:

Both carriers would have expected by now to have started to harvest and reap the rewards of a transition to that fleet type

 

I suggest that both carriers have reaped the rewards of NOT introducing that fleet type.

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Fido
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Posted 39 minutes ago
  1 hour ago, Marshall said:
Both carriers would have expected by now to have started to harvest and reap the rewards of a transition to that fleet type

 

I suggest that both carriers have reaped the rewards of NOT introducing that fleet type.

I hate the misleading quotes, in actual fact that was said by

“Both carriers would have expected by now to have started to harvest and reap the rewards of a transition to that fleet type,” said Robert Kokonis, president of Toronto-based consulting firm AirTrav Inc.

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