America and Canada Ground All Boeing 737 MAX Planes

Aix.

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The existence of the MCAS system caught pilots and their labor unions off guard, intensifying the scrutiny on the aircraft in the wake of the October 29 crash in Indonesia that killed everyone aboard. The system isn't mentioned in the flight crew operations manual (FCOM) that governs the master description of the aircraft for pilots and is the basis for Southwest's airline documentation and training.

"Since it operates in situations where the aircraft is under relatively high g load and near stall, a pilot should never see the operation of MCAS. As such, Boeing did not include an MCAS description in its FCOM." The explainer continues: "In this case, MCAS will trim nose as designed to assist the pilot during recover, likely going unnoticed by the pilot."
"Our plane design was shitty and the nose tends to pitch up, but don't worry we added this MCAS as a workaround. It relies on a sensor that could malfunction, and if it does malfunction the plane may try to dive into the earth, but don't worry we've got a workaround for that too: just open the breaker and kill the computer. If you're really concerned - and, I mean, why would you be? - we offer an optional warning light that will alert you to this catastrophic scenario."

Like, what?
 

Grimlaking

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Boeing is going to be seriously FUCKED by this fiasco. How they are financially viable today is only because of their military contracts.

Poor guys put a cruise Missile target sensor on the nose of their airplanes and forgot to disable the lock on and guide to target function. <-- Joke
 

Azrak

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If you want a pilot's perspective on the 737 MAX MCAS problem, I would recommend watching Juan Browne's "blancolirio" channel on Youtube. Juan is a Boeing 777 pilot and has over 40 years of flying experience.
Here is just one of his videos discussing the 737 MAX and MCAS. He has more videos but I'm not going to paste them all here. Just search for them in his channel. He addresses many questions that you might have but have never seen addressed in the news.
 
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Flogger23m

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"Our plane design was shitty and the nose tends to pitch up, but don't worry we added this MCAS as a workaround. It relies on a sensor that could malfunction, and if it does malfunction the plane may try to dive into the earth, but don't worry we've got a workaround for that too: just open the breaker and kill the computer. If you're really concerned - and, I mean, why would you be? - we offer an optional warning light that will alert you to this catastrophic scenario."

Like, what?
That is a bit of an exaggeration. Many airlines (like Southwest) wanted the MAX to fly as close as possible to the NG with as little training as possible. The MCAS is designed to do this. It isn't necessary for flight, but then pilots would have more down time learning new flight characteristics. If I recall, even when the NG came out, Southwest specified an older cockpit layout option to be more similar to the Classics. Boeing tends to build planes the customers want; obviously it didn't work out well in this case. The handling of the situation certainly wasn't ideal and some big mistakes were made largely on Boeings part though.

Airbus tends to build what they want in an attempt to one up Boeing (A380). Remember originally the A350 was supposed to be yet another A300 variant? Thankfully, demand was so poor that they did a clean sheet design and made the excellent A350.

Boeing is going to be seriously FUCKED by this fiasco. How they are financially viable today is only because of their military contracts.
Hardly. But yes the MAX is going to cost them big time. Airbus is largely a jobs program though and they had to get illegal subsidies to get the A350 and A380 finished. Plus they peddle a lot of decent but mediocre military products to keep afloat which are nothing more than glorified subsidies. A lot of European competitions are rigged in that they exclude non-EU countries from competing because they fully intend on awarding contracts to EU based companies. While not aviation the French army rifle contract is a good example of this.
 

ymer

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So where is all the people that blamed the pilots and 3rd world airlines?
 

pendragon1

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So where is all the people that blamed the pilots and 3rd world airlines?
have any non 3rd world airline had this issue? all the 1st world pilots i saw/heard talking about this knew how to handle/deal with it. the light being optional is stupid but so is not buying one.
 

c3k

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I did not "blame the pilots". Read my earlier post. I did, however, say that their lack of training and experience (especially with a copilot with less than 200 hours...total...in the seat) were factors which led to the crashes. They were not the sole cause: they were part of the chain. The other part? Boeing's new design and lack of notification to operators about how the handling could change.

But what do I know? I've only been rated on 14 different multi-engine turbine aircraft.
 

Flogger23m

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have any non 3rd world airline had this issue? all the 1st world pilots i saw/heard talking about this knew how to handle/deal with it. the light being optional is stupid but so is not buying one.
It "was intended" to be standard apparently. Again, there were some failures on Boeing's part. But this isn't exactly unheard of. Extra safety features are paid options on Airbus aircraft as well.

I can't say I am an expert but I still think the 737 should've been the clean sheet design Boeing moved forward with. An upgraded 757 would've largely nipped the A321Neo/LR in the bud for operators that are reluctantly replacing 757s with them. They ended production in 2004. I think they could've done a 2nd generation 757 alongside the 787. Once that was wrapped up a clean sheet design could've been started. Probably wouldn't have come out much later than the MAX either. Yes they would loose some sales to the A320Neos, but with an upgraded 757 less airlines would've been willing fully jump on the Neo bandwagon and easily eaten into the A321 sales.

The 797 seems like a great concept and one that will be popular with passengers but I think a 757 could easily have filled in that niche until the mid 2020s. Probably wouldn't have sold much and I think a clean sheet 737 replacement could actually have replaced an upgraded 757 in time as well. Because that is what the MAX did anyways. And a 737/A321 simply doesn't compare to a 757, no matter how much you can stretch them. :p
 
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R_Type

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That is a bit of an exaggeration. Many airlines (like Southwest) wanted the MAX to fly as close as possible to the NG with as little training as possible. The MCAS is designed to do this. It isn't necessary for flight, but then pilots would have more down time learning new flight characteristics. If I recall, even when the NG came out, Southwest specified an older cockpit layout option to be more similar to the Classics. Boeing tends to build planes the customers want; obviously it didn't work out well in this case. The handling of the situation certainly wasn't ideal and some big mistakes were made largely on Boeings part though.

Airbus tends to build what they want in an attempt to one up Boeing (A380). Remember originally the A350 was supposed to be yet another A300 variant? Thankfully, demand was so poor that they did a clean sheet design and made the excellent A350.



Hardly. But yes the MAX is going to cost them big time. Airbus is largely a jobs program though and they had to get illegal subsidies to get the A350 and A380 finished. Plus they peddle a lot of decent but mediocre military products to keep afloat which are nothing more than glorified subsidies. A lot of European competitions are rigged in that they exclude non-EU countries from competing because they fully intend on awarding contracts to EU based companies. While not aviation the French army rifle contract is a good example of this.
That entire last paragraph could describe boeing and still be entirely accurate. There is in no way any difference in the degree to which either company was nurtured on and still milks their sponsoring governments.
 

Uvaman2

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Greed wins people die.
Greed and the fact that corporations have made employees understand live and breathe the fact that they are disposable,... despised even... This created a yes men culture where employees calculate carefully how much they can push back ( if at all).. i know i lived it... Most likely happened here too.
 

dgz

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Am I reading that right? The solution is to install the once optional blinky light that says "Maybe sensor fault, MCAS will now try to crash the plane. Good luck in the next 18 seconds pilot"
It says there Boeing is too greed to fail
 

Aix.

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Hi All

Here's a article that I believe details how this happened. Apologies if already posted

https://spectrum.ieee.org/aerospace/aviation/how-the-boeing-737-max-disaster-looks-to-a-software-developer
Great article.

I believe the relative ease—not to mention the lack of tangible cost—of software updates has created a cultural laziness within the software engineering community. Moreover, because more and more of the hardware that we create is monitored and controlled by software, that cultural laziness is now creeping into hardware engineering—like building airliners. Less thought is now given to getting a design correct and simple up front because it’s so easy to fix what you didn’t get right later.
I think the gaming community especially can understand the opinion expressed here. We are (slowly) coming to know and hate this particular trend with game developers; how would you feel sitting on a plane made by people with this same mindset?
 

tunatime

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Great article.



I think the gaming community especially can understand the opinion expressed here. We are (slowly) coming to know and hate this particular trend with game developers; how would you feel sitting on a plane made by people with this same mindset?
Plane screen of death sounds like a bad way to go. I still think all these planes should have a big red button that turns off all automatic flight controls. Makes it fast and quick to turn it all off and not have to turn off more then one switch in a we about to die situation. Or have 3 full flight computers and sensors and if any one computer system disagrees it drops input form that system.
 

naib

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If you want a pilot's perspective on the 737 MAX MCAS problem, I would recommend watching Juan Browne's "blancolirio" channel on Youtube. Juan is a Boeing 777 pilot and has over 40 years of flying experience.
Here is just one of his videos discussing the 737 MAX and MCAS. He has more videos but I'm not going to paste them all here. Just search for them in his channel. He addresses many questions that you might have but have never seen addressed in the news.
Interesting assessment based upon the info available for that video. However... https://www.seattletimes.com/business/boeing-aerospace/boeings-emergency-procedure-for-737-max-may-have-failed-on-ethiopian-flight/

Also additional info
https://www.seattletimes.com/business/boeing-aerospace/boeing-altered-key-switches-in-737-max-cockpit-limiting-ability-to-shut-off-mcas/
 
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Azrak

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Yes, I am pretty sure the extreme difficulty that the pilots would have experienced trying to move the trim wheels manually was mentioned in one of Juan's videos. Especially since the throttle was maxed out and the airspeed was way over normal, making the forces on the elevators much higher than normal. I believe he said the trim switches might have been re-enabled because the pilots were unable to move the trim wheel manually after switching to cutout mode. When re-enabled, the electronic trim functionality would allow them to use the yoke to move the stabilizers instead of manually via the wheel. But then, MCAS is enabled, too. And it still thinks the plane is at the wrong AOA due to the bad sensor, so every 10 seconds it adds another ~2.5 degrees of elevator angle. In the wrong direction. Catch 22 situation. :(
 

naib

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exactly... why did Boeing conflate the two separate functions... SURE 99% of the time a pilot might switch both, but changing both switches todo the same dual action removed an option.
The reason I posted this was in the video Juan criticised the pilots for re-enabling the auto-pilot... but if its a dual-function switch and they couldn't manually move the trim...

between a SINGLE sensor on a DAL-A function and removing as standard the discrepancy indicator PLUS not providing suitable training to compliment a 737 -> 737-MAX ... coupled with the intertwining of Boeing and FAA, I am not sure how either of these two companies are going to come out smelling of roses for quite some time
 

Flogger23m

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They should just disable MCAS even after the software fix is deployed. Once pilots/airlines retrain MCAS can be disabled. MCAS with the fix can be used until pilots retrain. I know it was a selling point, but I assume going from the -100/200 to the Classic and the Classic to the NG required retraining. The -100/200 used low bypass engines and I assume moving to the Classic was a massive change in flight performance. Yeah it is a pain, but no reason NG pilots can't learn how to fly the MAX.

Your other option is the A320, which requires you to retrain anyways... plus you'll probably get them next decade at this point consider how far both are back ordered.
 

kju1

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Plane screen of death sounds like a bad way to go. I still think all these planes should have a big red button that turns off all automatic flight controls. Makes it fast and quick to turn it all off and not have to turn off more then one switch in a we about to die situation. Or have 3 full flight computers and sensors and if any one computer system disagrees it drops input form that system.
Plane BSOD is only bad if the pilot can't override the computer and fly the plane without them. You know...like we are trained to do.
 

Aix.

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Plane BSOD is only bad if the pilot can't override the computer and fly the plane without them. You know...like we are trained to do.
All these articles indicate that that the design of the airplane resulted in a tendency to pitch up and stall, thus the need for this MCAS system to regulate it. They also indicate that MCAS was not covered in the flight crew operations manual.

If pilots could simply learn to fly the MAX correctly then what was the purpose of Boeing implementing the MCAS - to make sales more appealing due to the "no training required" aspect? Something doesn't add up there, because to me it sounds like shitty airplane design + workarounds + layers of corporate obfuscation by Boeing.
 
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Azrak

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If pilots could simply learn to fly the MAX correctly then what was the purpose of Boeing implementing the MCAS - to make sales more appealing due to the "no training required" aspect?
Yes, but not just sales for Boeing.
MCAS was developed solely to make it so that the 737 MAX fell under the same FAA certification as the regular 737 with no re-training or re-certification needed.
All existing certified 737 pilots could immediately fly the 737 MAX due to MCAS. Without MCAS, this would not have been allowed under FAA rules.
This was important to the airlines, pilots and Boeing in terms of saving time, money and segmentation of pilots that could fly the new aircraft vs those that could not. Airlines and pilots love it when a new aircraft can be flown under the same certification as an already-existing one.
Re-certification of pilots for a new aircraft is a huge ongoing expense that everyone wanted to avoid.
 

kju1

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All these articles indicate that that the design of the airplane resulted in a tendency to pitch up and stall, thus the need for this MCAS system to regulate it. They also indicate that MCAS was not covered in the flight crew operations manual.

If pilots could simply learn to fly the MAX correctly then what was the purpose of Boeing implementing the MCAS - to make sales more appealing due to the "no training required" aspect? Something doesn't add up there, because to me it sounds like shitty airplane design + workarounds + layers of corporate obfuscation by Boeing.
I think you may have misunderstood...I was knocking on Boeing for making it impossible or nearly so for the pilots to override the system. Lack of training and poor implementation are to blame for that. As a direct result of their desire to avoid recertification. The DER should have never signed off on this.
 
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c3k

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Boeing’s implementation of MCAS was driven by the regulatory requirements to keep all the handling characteristics of the 737 MAX to be the same as the 737 NG series.

This was needed to keep the same type rating. E.g., for a pilot to be able to fly an NG on leg 1 and swap to a MAX on leg 2, the aircraft need to be on the same type rating.

This is driven by the customer, the airlines. The case to by the MAX would be undercut if pilots needed a different type rating.

For example, a 777 pilot cannot hop in a 320. This is done to keep pilots focused on the procedures for a specific aircraft so confusion and mistakes are minimized. With only a few, specific, exceptions, pilots are only current and qualified on one aircraft at a time. This is true in the military, as well as commercial operations. It is a tried and true system.

The question remains whether the 737 type rating, covering 2nd generation (300 and 500 series), New Generation (NG, the 700, 800, and 900), and now the MAX has been stretched too far. And, if so, what should be done to prevent future issues of stretching an aircraft design to leverage an existing type rating.

FWIW.
 

Aix.

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I think you may have misunderstood...I was knocking on Boeing for making it impossible or nearly so for the pilots to override the system. Lack of training and poor implementation are to blame for that. As a direct result of their desire to avoid recertification. The DER should have never signed off on this.
I guess my question is: without the MCAS would this plane have ever been certified? I.E. if the plan was simply "well the plane may pitch and stall but just train the pilots"?
 

kju1

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I guess my question is: without the MCAS would this plane have ever been certified? I.E. if the plan was simply "well the plane may pitch and stall but just train the pilots"?
Yes it could but nobody would ever buy it for an airliner. Typically you only see these characteristics in fighters or aerobatic aircraft.
 

nightfly

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Basically, the same old story of corporate policy. In this case, cut costs until planes start falling from the sky, blame the pilots, THEN fix the problem. If there hadn't been two disasters so close together, they probably would have gotten away with it. Reminds me of the DC 10 problem with the doors that fell off.
 

c3k

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I guess my question is: without the MCAS would this plane have ever been certified? I.E. if the plan was simply "well the plane may pitch and stall but just train the pilots"?
No.

It would have need a separate type rating, meaning pilots would have needed to be trained specifically for THAT aircraft, and thereby would not be able to operate the OTHER 737 models. That would completely destroy the economic argument for purchasing the MAX.

Training could take several weeks, depending on how deeply the various regulatory agencies determined the training would need to be. Say 2 weeks. That means each pilot would be in training for 2 weeks (at least). Not making revenue, and needing simulators, instructors, and evaluators to undertake that training. That's a lot of expense and lost revenue. Then, add in that any pilot certifiied on the MAX could not fly any other 737, and you'd need MORE pilots. Increasing the workforce for a minor gain in productivity means the embedded costs of operating that new aircraft goes up.

The 737 MAX could not have been successfully launched as a commercial product without having the same type rating as the 737 NG.
 

Flogger23m

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I guess my question is: without the MCAS would this plane have ever been certified? I.E. if the plan was simply "well the plane may pitch and stall but just train the pilots"?
Yes it would have but pilots would need to be retrained. Numerous airlines approached Boeing asking for an upgraded 737 without the need to retrain. There would still be an advantage to upgrade from the NG to the MAX, but the difference would've been stifled.
 
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Uvaman2

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Airlines will ask for the moon, thats a given, and its doesn't give Boeing a pass on anything... If anything makes them look worse, and even more obviously greed driven.
 

Nimisys

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If the MCAS system worked by adjusting the trim to keep the nose down, wouldn't that also increase drag? Given the ability for the airframe to stall without it, I assume the input trim is no small amount
 

Marees

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I guess my question is: without the MCAS would this plane have ever been certified? I.E. if the plan was simply "well the plane may pitch and stall but just train the pilots"?
.

Others have already answered about the type rating and training

So I will just answer the technical reason why MCAS is required

As per Peter Lemme, the Speed Trim System, which includes MCAS aids in damping PHUGOID


 

Marees

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.

Others have already answered about the type rating and training

So I will just answer the technical reason why MCAS is required

As per Peter Lemme, the Speed Trim System, which includes MCAS aids in damping PHUGOID



This is what Peter Lemme has to say on the proposed MCAS fix by Boeing


"There is a very low probability that any 737, including MAX, will encounter the circumstances that MCAS is designed to compensate for - only a few pilots will every get there.

Even if MCAS were failed, most MAX pilots would have a good chance to counter the pitch up successfully."



 

Marees

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.

Others have already answered about the type rating and training

So I will just answer the technical reason why MCAS is required

As per Peter Lemme, the Speed Trim System, which includes MCAS aids in damping PHUGOID


Further comments from Rey De Los Reyes


MCAS was designed to address the divergence between NG and MAX's stick force vs airspeed curves required by 25.173 (c) at slow airspeeds (high alpha)

MCAS' function is to make the MAX feel like an NG at high alpha, when the slope of the force vs pitchrate curve becomes shallow - NOT fix negative longitudinal stability.

If the MAX was truly longitudinally unstable, stab trim would not be fast enough to prevent control reversal.



 
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Mystique

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It seems beyond ridiculous to automate something that can't actually be automated all the time, and have the rationale be "most of the time". That's how we ended up here. I remember having an argument about the tesla self-driving feature called autopilot on this forum. I remember being the minority opinion, thinking that something that claims to do something automatically shouldn't be called automatic if it can't be left alone.

Well, here we are. This plane is a turd, next. And before we go full circle, I love Tesla's too, but it isn't autopiloting anything except firey graves right now.

The lack of industry regulation and ultimately, the lack of any brainpower 'to' regulate the industry will continue making us beta users unless you vote with $$$$$$
 
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