Boeing Completes 737 MAX Software Update — What’s Next?

Filed Under: Misc.

In mid-March the Boeing 737 MAX was grounded globally, so it has now been well over two months since the plane has been flying commercially. This has had significant impacts on airline operations, though seemed like a necessary move.

Airlines have been updating their schedules to reflect the Boeing 737 MAX being out of service at different paces — some airlines have removed the plane from the schedule only in the short-term, while others don’t have it in the schedule through the end of the year. So the question of when the plane will be flying once again is something we don’t yet have an answer to.

Well, it looks like we’re now one step closer to that happening. Per a statement from the company, Boeing has completed development of the updated software for the 737 MAX, along with associated simulator testing and company test flights. The 737 MAX with the updated MCAS software has been flown for more than 360 hours on 207 flights.

Now Boeing is providing additional information to address FAA requests that include details on how pilots interact with the plane controls and displays in different flight scenarios. Once those requests are addressed, Boeing will work with the FAA to schedule its certification test flight and submit final certification documentation.

On top of that, Boeing has developed new training and education materials currently being reviewed by the FAA, to support return-to-service and longer-term operations.

Dennis Muilenburg, Boeing’s CEO, had the following say:

“With safety as our clear priority, we have completed all of the engineering test flights for the software update and are preparing for the final certification flight. We’re committed to providing the FAA and global regulators all the information they need, and to getting it right. We’re making clear and steady progress and are confident that the 737 MAX with updated MCAS software will be one of the safest airplanes ever to fly. The accidents have only intensified our commitment to our values, including safety, quality and integrity, because we know lives depend on what we do.”

It sounds like they’re moving in the right direction here, though both Boeing and the FAA have lost so much public trust as this situation has unfolded, so who knows how long it’ll be until the plane is actually flying again (update: the FAA says it could be as early as late June when the plane is back in service).

That’s only the first part of this battle, though. Once the plane is once again certified and put back into service, there are a lot of people who won’t want to fly it. Largely I can’t blame those people, since the same organizations that let the plane enter service in the first place are the ones telling us once again that it’s safe to fly.

It will be interesting to see how airlines handle this. It’s not just a few people who have 737 MAX concerns, but at this point everyone knows about what has happened to the plane. How will airlines deal with those who find themselves booked on a 737 MAX, but aren’t comfortable flying on the plane?

Comments
  1. I hate to say it, but “safety, quality, and integrity” became their core values after two fatal crashes impacted their bottom line, not before. They have now, in the aftermath of those crashes, done things they should have done before the airplane ever flew, and that they should have made an urgent priority after the first crash. It was only after two crashes, when aviation authorities around the world, followed johnny-come-lately by the FAA, grounded the plane, that they went into high gear to resolve the issues. As one who flew Ethiopian both the day before and the day after the second crash, I know full well it could have been me in that doomed aircraft with defective systems that had already months before caused one calamity. Really it could have been any of us who have flown since this aircraft launched. Too little, too late, for their credibility, which will take a generation to restore, but I hope they have learned some lessons for the future.

  2. Could we see them do a rebrand? Similar to the a220/c-series where it’s still certified as c-series.

  3. I will not fly on the 737 Max. The public should boycott this plane.

    Read about the plane’s development on the cheap in the Seattle Times. Boeing could have built a new aircraft, but used an airframe that was 50 years old. Ralph Nader called it “stall prone”. Only a software patch made it airworthy most of the time. Pity the lives lost when it wasn’t airworthy.

    They knew the plane was a death trap after Lion Air, but kept flying and building.

    Boeing is the poster child of corporate greed. Executives fill thier pockets with stock options and used $30 billion for stock buybacks instead of developing a modern plane. Boeing should be prosecuted for murder, like BP and PG&E. Muilenburg should go to jail.

    Boycott this plane. I certainly will.

  4. You’re probably going to see a lot of flight deals on this aircraft to draw people back.

  5. Boeing have acted appaulingly and main object appears to protect their commercial intetests. Blaming pilots rather than MCAS seems to be the strategy.
    Passengers have very short memories and soon the 737 MAX will be stuffed into a cramped plane which still has stability issues. Boeing knows that.

    The only hope is that regulators outside the US will be far more rigorous in looking at more of the plane than MCAS.

    Pilots need proper training not ipads but Boeing knows that costs $$$$, so they are avoid it. Hopefully they will not get away with it.

  6. I could easily imagine Spirit Airlines buying these up from other carriers and making it the backbone of their fleet.

  7. After a few months of it back I will fly it only if there is no other choice….that is last minute aircraft swap etc. Not if with my daughter though. Nor will I put her on it if she is flying with her mom or alone.

  8. “Largely I can’t blame those people, since the same organizations that let the plane enter service in the first place are the ones telling us once again that it’s safe to fly.”

    I work in space and defense, and issues that need to be resolved happen all the time. My problem is we now have reports of a number of engineers and employees calling in tips and whistle-blowing to the government and Boeing that the plane had issues, and Boeing and the FAA didn’t do a thing! This was all about the reputation of the brand and bottom line of the company. Safety and integrity be damned. I will not fly the plane at this point. If U.S. airlines have any integrity they will make it abundantly clear to flyers if there flight is being operated by a MAX so that they can make informed decisions. People who will tolerate the risk, can take it.

  9. I have flown on over 1,000 flights and I guarantee you that I will never, ever fly on the 737 MAX, especially after the way that Boeing has handled this. From start to finish, it’s been all about rushing the airplane to compete with an Airbus model, then failing to tell the airlines and pilots about this “feature” that led to the crashes, not providing simulators in time, etc.

  10. I can’t help but laugh at the “I will NEVER fly the MAX!” crowd out there. A bunch of articles lately about “will passengers come back to the MAX?” Of course they will. The minute the lowest fare is on a route flown by the MAX, all the high-mindedness will go out the window. The vast majority of the traveling public would rather save $20 on their flight to Orlando than actually “boycott” something.

  11. The 737 MAX saga has been a good reminder of the moral rot that’s endemic to capitalism 🙂

  12. @Andrew couldn’t agree with you more.

    I’m guessing 90% of people don’t look what aircraft they’re flying when they book the ticket and most of those wouldn’t know the difference when they got on board either.

    Of the people who do look, ~95% of them will pick their routing by price/convenience etc… the same things they’ve always prioritized.

  13. While the FAA obviously can’t wait to get the MAX back in the sky, I do wonder if other aviation agencies around the world will want to wait for at least the final report on the Lion Air crash before recertification. There are so many questions about the design of the aircraft, I just wonder if fixing MCAS is enough. It could be interesting if it is flying again in the US by August but not elsewhere.

  14. People will be nervous at first, but it will blow over. In some markets, we won’t have a choice. Air Canada will have 36 of these in their fleet (or was supposed to at this time of year) and more to arrive. Some routes might be MAX or you don’t go.

  15. FAA was the last to ground it and they will be the first to recertify it. All of the rest of the world should hold back on certification. FAA is now a joke and until it’s completely restructured and actually puts safety before profits it should be treated as such.

  16. I won’t fly aboard the 737-MAXcasualties for awhile, say a year or two after reentering service. They really need to prove it’s airworthiness, they being Boeing AND the FAA. I’m sure that foreign regulatory bodies will weight in, as well. Eventually, they will get the kinks ironed out like they did with the DC-10, but I’ll wait until they most definitively do. My Hawaiian Airlines flights to the Islands are all on Airbus, so I’m safe for the time being. As for other airlines and other routes, as I said, better safe than sorry for a reasonable period of time.

    Oh, and I’d change the name if I was Boeing. The MAX name is forever tarnished in the eyes of the flying public. Best to rename and rebrand it, then move on to the NSA as quickly as possible.

  17. @Andrew, sure let the Orlando and Vegas travelers save $20. Airlines make their money on the seats in front and full fare tickets. Most business travelers are not making travel decisions on $20 price differentials.

    CNBC reported business travelers will avoid the 737 Max and this let to a downgrade of Boeing stock.

  18. This matter in fact relies on passengers willing to boycott these airplanes, nobody knows what technology used in aviation industry nor between aircraft manufacturers. If I care about my life, i would get aboard a trusted aircraft and on good airlines. Boycott Max airplanes, they don’t care about our lifes.

  19. If Mel Gibson an make movies again the Max will fly again. Consumers are extremely forgiving and ignorant.

  20. I would prefer to avoid 737MAX flights until aviation agencies outside the USA certify the plane and we have a final report on the Lion Air and Ethiopian crashes.

    Boycotting the 737MAX won’t be easy – some booking sites just say “737” but not the specific version. Even if people can identify a non-737MAX flight during booking, the aircraft type can be changed to a 737MAX anytime up to departure time.

  21. The problem is the software that caused the problem needs to be removed not updated because it proberley done by the same company . No trust . The company lied didn’t tell it’s own pilot’s or company’s that baught the air craft of the problem the arrogance of the top level staff towards the flying public the cosy situation between the FAA and BOEING it dishonest to all it started with the rushing of the aircraft putting the engines higer them to compensate it with Mcas computers should never replace pilot in this case that’s what happens. Will max 8s and 9s come with a health warning saying this plane could kill you .

  22. @lucky

    “Once the plane is once again certified and put back into service, there are a lot of people who won’t want to fly it. ”

    You base this statement on what…your comments section? Lol.

    Given all the scrutiny and attention the 737 Max 8 will likely be THE safest plane to fly once it returns.

  23. There were a number of accidents with the A320 after that plane was introduced, the causes of which had to do with software, as well as issues with regard to freezing AOA sensors. In the long term it did not affect acceptance of the plane. That said, Boeing’s reckless approach to getting the Max certified is going to cost them. Planes will be flying by the fall but some airlines will defer or cancel orders and some passengers won’t fly them for a while including myself. I would want to see 2 years of incident- and accident-free operations before I get on board. Boeing ruined their chance of a clean sheet design and instead went with the ancient basic design and rushed it into service without adequate oversight of safety to save money. Boeing safety culture has to change! Bring back Alan Mulally to take the wheel for a spell.

  24. Just like so many other situations like intersections that should traffic lights or extra precautions. That DO NOT happen until a cpl of fatal accidents. 1 example the intersection of the Humbolt Broncos fatal accident. 16 young lives lost at an intersection that had a previous fatal accident. Its not like everyone suddenly stops traveling thru that intersection.

  25. No different then so many other situations like intersections that should traffic lights or extra precautions. That DO NOT happen until a cpl of fatal accidents. 1 example the intersection of the Humbolt Broncos fatal accident. 16 young lives lost at an intersection that had a previous fatal accident. Its not like everyone suddenly stops traveling thru that intersection.

  26. I don’t want to fly on a plane which in design terms is fundamentally flawed so much so it requires a computer system to make it safe.

    The 737 is a plane designed in the 1960s and all it has ever been since then is tweaked. It needs to be pulled and if Boeing want to compete in that segment of the market they need to start again -55 years later.

  27. I would be concerned about flying in a civil aircraft that is aerodynamically unstable and requires a “primitive” -software controlled-primitive adjustment of for and aft trim to make up for this deficiency. OK in military aircraft, the Eurofighter for example, in which instability is a design feature to aid manoeuvrability whereas in the 737 max is seems to be a fix for poor aerodynamic design.
    In any machine which relies on such a system for safe operation all aircrew should be aware of its presence and how it may behave in an emergency; say a sudden decent due to depressurisation, engine or power failure even pilot error.
    Painful as it may be perhaps Boeing need to start again and make a new product fit for another 50 or so years of flight.
    As an afterthought you could put the engines where they should be and fit a longer undercarriage, I think the British did this with the Stirling or Halifax bomber in WW2.

    Regards

  28. I will never fly a B737 MAX again.
    The plane is inherently unstable and is kept in the air by MCAS and a dodgy piece software.
    Give me an Airbus A320neo any day.

  29. Though the certification will be done I guess iniatially the market will be very difficult to confront, who will be the specimen to fly with 737 MAX to build back the reputation of boeing

  30. Boeing has completely lost their credibility, why would I trust them with my life? Why did they create a program to dip the nose of the plane without referencing the altitude and other variables? Even if the sensors are correct and the engines are about to stall, will the plane still nose dive into the ground if the altitude is low? Will the pilots be able to shut down the MCAS and take control of the plane?

  31. As I understand it, MCAS was not intended to be anti-stall system but it’s inputs become additional. To blame pilots is a denial of the events in the flight decks of these aircraft. To claim that qualified system engineers were involved in the certification is nothing less than bizarre, as it would seem they must have got their qualifications from a computer games company. In truth, if an aircrew were, for any reason, to disable MCAS in flight they would find they were flying a very unfamiliar aircraft, which might add to the workload. Like all computer controlled engineering, it’s great when it’s working but a nightmare when it goes offline.

  32. I have a trip coming up in september to the US. I have a leg in copa on a 737 MAX9 and a leg in An American 737 Max 8. If the aircraft if put into service I’m not going.
    I will try to avoid the max as much as I can and I will most defenetely not fly it within the next 4 to 5 years.
    But I do agree that the general public will fly it.

  33. Boeing must be shitting themselves though….. If one more Max falls it’s history!

  34. For people saying they that everyone looks for the cheapest flight. Spirit is often the cheapest nearly every time I look now that the major airlines all use basic economy. That said we never fly it because it’s much worse than Ryan Air is in the UK. Way less reliable and horrible in comparison imo. None of family or friends fly spirit, literally none of them.

  35. I wouldn’t fly the plane if it was the cheapest or most convenient. Luckily for me, I recently switch over to delta, so I shouldn’t have an issue with that!

  36. The Lionair and Ethiopian crashes were due to pilot error. The pilots did not follow required procedures. That has been well established. The accidents were due to airline problems and not 737MAX problems. It is the responsibility of the airlines to have qualified and capable pilots in the cockpit. To blame Boeing for these crashes is like blaming a car manufacturer for accidents caused by incompetent drivers.

  37. Southwest is flying the MAX since April. I was on two of them from PHL to ATL and back during the third week of April. They changed the Safety Announcement to “Have a look at the information card in the seat back pocket to familiarize yourself with this plane”, instead of “You are flying a 737-MAX, etc. etc. etc. I don’t think most people even realized that it was the MAX.

  38. Would anyone buy a car that veers left into the incoming traffic upon acceleration and rely on software codes to bring it back straight?

    The 737 MAX 8 has severe design flaws ( engines protruding forward) that should never have been implemented by engineers in the first place. Strike one.

    Relying the safety of the plane on only one sensor prone to malfunction, and without redundancy is strike 2.

    Big strike 3: trying to fix the mess with software updates.

    I will not risk my life on this one.

  39. The 737 MAX will soon be back to the sky and although some people will avoid flying it, many more will be willing to save by buying cheaper tickets on the MAX. Airlines will definitely publish cheaper fares to lure its customer. But Boeing needs to be careful, one more crash in the next 12 months risks the MAX be permanently grounded. I hope the FAA learns some serious lessons from this saga, especially regarding the designated engineering representatives (DER) during the certification process. These DERs can continue to be hired by aircraft manufacturers on the FAA’s directive but they should not be able to fire them for any reason. That authority should be transferred back to the FAA. Also, these DERs should report directly to the FAA and not to the managers at the aircraft manufacturer.

  40. Ah, the benefits of a duopoly. The airlines who ordered this pig have no choice but to stand by it and hope it gets fixed. If they want a real airplane (A320) then they’d have to wait 8 years while Airbus catches up the backlog, and they don’t have that much time as their existing fleet ages. This would not fly (pun intended) if there was legitimate competition. Also, there is a correlation between crappy products and high CEO compensation. These are the companies that let the green eye shade guys, not engineers call the shots, and it shows in the final product. Across the board, Airbus execs make about half as much as their greedy Boeing counterpart, while producing a better, more modern product. Toyota CEO makes $3M a year selling more and higher quality cars, why GM CEO makes $20M while building trash even after a bailout.

  41. Dennis, Boeing’s CEO is flat lying about putting passengers safety first. Greed is what caused the problem in the first place. Everybody is only talking about the software problem, what about the engine? They are huge for the plane and they tryed to correct a machanical problem with software , let’s be honnest, please.

    I just don’t want to be a test dummy, thanks but no thankyou.

    737 will never be a safe plane, I will skip it out of my schedule

    Hector Matos

  42. I just love people who says “I will not fly ….” again.

    Yeah cause your pants are on fire.

    Greed is good. Boeing will never admit it but definitely knows that few hundred lives are still cheaper than a fresh new airframe.

  43. I’ve flown on 737MAX twice, once in the back and once in the front. Personally, I find the seats uncomfortable, the washrooms cramped (with those dorky new micro sinks) and have heard the flight attendants complain that their work space is very cramped. That was before the crashes. My impression has been that it’s a plane only a CFO could love.

    Post-crash, I have concerns about safety that only add to my reticence to fly this monstrosity. I do look at which plane is scheduled to fly when I book. I have a trip coming up in late August and just got an email indicating there’s a change due to the 737MAX grounding (though I actually booked to fly a 767). Obviously at least one airline isn’t convinced these will be back in the air by late August.

    It’s hard to believe that the company that brought us the 787 Dreamliner has also produced the 737MAX, which may as well be dubbed the Nightmareliner. I wasn’t keen on them before the crashes. Now, no thanks.

  44. For last few months many truths about the way Boeing and FAA works has been unravelled. Boeing certifying their own planes and their huge donations to the political parties of US. Their greed for money leading to crashes of two planes. Later trying to shift the blame on brave and innocent pilots. Their apparent arrogancy that their planes are safest but crashes. US govt. reluctant to act on their pride corporate. So lets not taken for granted and wait for atleast this year end before flying Boeing 737 Maxes.
    LET UNITED STATE FLY THEM THIS YEAR WITHOUT AN INCIDENT. THEN ONLY REGULATORS OF OTHER COUNTRIES SHOULD PROPERLY CERTIFY AND FLY THEM. HOW CAN OTHER COUNTRIES BLINDLY BELIEVE THE REGULATOR (FAA) AND GOVT. WHO ARE FED BY BOEING.

  45. Seems like a necessary move???? The aircraft were falling out of the sky…no seems about it.

  46. Whatever FAA decides is not very relevant with the exception of US airlines. The rest of the world will have their own certification processes that in the case of Boeing 737Max are going to be very stringent.
    These things will not fly again any time soon.
    As I don’t have to fly domestic in the US it will be easy to avoid them in the unlikely case they see the sky again.

  47. I hope the OTAs will introduce a Boeing 737 MAX filter to their search engines, so that the general public who otherwise wouldn’t have thought of what plane they would potentially be booking would be made aware of it – and have the ability to filter any such flights out.

  48. Here are my two-bits about the 737-MAX issues as espoused by the “general public” —

    #1. The hardware engineering aspects of the 737-MAX are generally sound as designed, although one can *always* improve them. In the real world, engineering must accommodate schedule and market situations as best as possible, while *not* trying to over engineer the product thus making it impossible to build, afford, or operate! Nevertheless some points can still be made about the design changes from NG to MAX.

    The changed location of the new larger and more powerful LEAP-1B engines was mandated by physical constraints and should have been adequately and *transparently* handled with proper configurations of the MCAS operating software. It is a mystery as to *why* Boeing decided to alternate between using one and then the other of *two* AOA sensors on subsequent flights, but the new updates will henceforth always use *both* AOA sensors and provide more clearly stated manual over-ride options and procedures should disagreements in their outputs be detected. Additionally a configuration anomaly caused certain aspects of the AOA functions to *not* become a default part of the MCAS operating features and was instead offered as an option. This has also been fixed with the new updates. Additional pilot training with more comprehensive training materials has also been mandated. Not to divert blame or anything of that nature, but it is somewhat curious that the MAX has been flying safely for so many cycles and miles by countries operating the most numbers of this aircraft model?

    Using the same basic air frame that has existed for decades to create new generations of aircraft is *not* a valid engineering criticism, since performing adequately for subsequent generations means “if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it”! Nevertheless, there *are* changes that are always made, anyway, with each new generation (eg, engines, wings, avionics, passenger hard products, etc), so it’s not as if Boeing merely just “slaps” on new engines and declares a brand new generation!

    #2. Concerns about engineering fixes through software updates are pretty much unfounded in today’s all-pervasive digital world! One should be grateful that such major issues *can* be resolved mostly through software updates, rather than having to scrap an entire product based on issues relating to actual hardware design flaws! The only major remaining issue at hand is that the software fixes are thoroughly and accurately tested and validated before being deployed! This is now being (re)done by Boeing, FAA, and other foreign certification agencies! After such tragic incidents, we can *bet* that the end result of this much stricter (re)certification process will yield an updated/upgraded product that is going to be *much* safer than before! Keep in mind that aircraft systems are among the most complex products built by Man and the proven safety records of air travel to date validates the ongoing successes of complex systems engineering by Boeing, Airbus, and other similar aircraft manufacturers!

    #3. Based on what I’ve read from professional journals about this whole MAX issue, it would appear that the problems with the MAX product line rested greatly with inadequate management oversight and testing of certain software aspects of MCAS-related operations and attendant configurations. I think that the generic hardware design aspects have proven to be pretty sound, thus far, and this is a *good* thing, as software *can* fix the issues at hand, thus negating necessities for major hardware design overhauls!

    #4. I agree that “rebranding” the MAX as something new will help to dispel currently bad public impressions about this (otherwise) impressive product!

  49. This lemon is not going to be back in the air anytime soon. Boeing has only itself to blame: from the sleazy way it tried to fast track/ back door certification to the ham-fisted PR spin it tried to offer in response to the crashes. Gross ineptitude on every level , and yet they haven’t shown the CEO the door…
    The DC10 never recovered from the crashes in the early days of operation, nor will the MAX.

  50. Here’s a novel idea: actually INCREASE seat pitch and bathroom size to make people WANT to fly that aircraft type despite any fear. Before the A350 came out, Airbus ran ads about the A350XWB and how it would have the widest seats. I stopped seeing those when it started flying…

  51. @upstater, @Paul Bradshaw,

    Most of what you are saying is demonstrably false. The 737Max is NOT an inherently unstable design “kept in the air” by MCAS. The idea that has spread somehow among many people that this plane wouldn’t fly at all or be airworthy without software is idiotic. Software can’t make a brick fly.

    In fact, the MAX is not any more stall-prone that previous generations of the 737, MCAS was designed (badly,obviously) to kick in in case the aircraft was already in a stall condition, at which point the larger engines change the handling characteristics a bit.

    Boeing has a lot to answer for, and they are paying the cost of their bad software design decision, but the plane is perfectly stable to fly in a physical sense. In addition there are a lot of unanswered questions about these crashes, in particular why the pilots of the Ethiopian flight were flying the plane at basically double the airspeed it should have been at in that stage of flight.

    Also LOL all the people saying they will ever fly a 737Max again, or that the plane is doomed, or that Airbus is so much safer. Clearly all these commenters have never read about the many accidents on the early A320-series planes caused by fatally bad human-computer software interactions.

    People will forget about this when the plane is back in service, and given the level of scrutiny and testing it is facing it may well be the safest plane in the world to fly when it returns to service.

  52. I will be suprised if Boeing is back on track a year from now. The root issue here is the more clap trap you put on the flight controls the more things are there to go wrong and the pilots have more to deal with when something fails. The 737 series already had an adjustable horozontile stabilizer. Automating it was stupid. Computerized process control are not fool proof and software glitches can show up late in the game. Solid state logic ocassionally misfires, and sensors inputting the system variables are frequently unreliable. Closed loop process control should be used on aircraft only if they are duplexed and easily disabled.
    With the stabilizer already sensitive to aerodynamic lock-up under certain conditions, putting a closed loop controller in charge is just asking for trouble. Not good judgement at all.

    What in the world were they trying to accomplish? Madision Avenue bull shit took 300+ lives

  53. I think that after they are back in service another one will crash within a year or two. After that no one will ever fly it, and the airplane will be scrapped.

  54. I agree with posters saying that they will wait a year or so before stepping on a 737 MAX: My trust in Boeing and the FAA is pretty eroded.

  55. @iulian berca Very low chance of that happening but if it does that wouldn’t just be the end of the MAX but the end of Boeing

  56. @Hector Matos The engines had nothing to do with the crash. The crash was caused directly by bad software, which is now fixed.

  57. I would prefer to fly in an aeroplane, which is inherently stable, rather than in an aeroplane, which is inherently unstable and relies on potentially defective software to keep it in the air.

  58. All these people saying they will never fly the plane are a little optimistic. Ever had an aircraft swap? No doubt many of you will ‘try’ to avoid the aircraft by booking an different type but will only get to the gate to find out that it’s been subbed. What are you all going to do in that situation? That’s how the airlines will get around this.

  59. @Kerry
    Boeing is NOT paying for their lack of leadership, poor design and murderous cover-up – the public, crew and their families are the ones paying for it. The Boeing people will continue to keep breathing and making bouses – not one will face jail time.

  60. Keep it grounded until they have a hardware rather than software solution. Previous planes which had major issues were always hardware related which could be really fixed and checked! In software any bug can remain hidden till an another ‘unfortunate’ combination of circumstances suddenly appears out of nowhere and then ‘you’re dead’

  61. @speedbird – the engines per se had nothing to do with it, but the fact that they were oversized for the type of aircraft they were slung on did have a major bearing and was the reason for the invention of MACS.

  62. Phil C Right on about the limitations of an electronic based solution. Digital electronics can do a lot of stuff but like all technologies, it has weak points too. The problem with process sensors is pretty well understood. The second dangerous area is power supply failures, the third is software quirks or sometimes just dumb mistakes in programming. Under use of feedback loops is also common (often done to reduce the number of sensors needed) Time constants of final control elements (in this case the jack screw) are often neglected because PID control is not in the software. Lastly due to unknows the programed logic is not followed. In these cases of deviation the cause of the deviaton is often self healing. A good example is your computer is all messed up and the only way out is to turn it off and repower it.
    All of these considerations makes a computer a poor choice for something so critical as controlling the stabalizer trim, unless there is simple, effective manual override. Old fashioned relay logic at least left a physical trail if something went haywire. (I am not suggesting a return to relay logic just that diagnosing it was easier!)

  63. I find the comments that people have posted very interesting. I for one will fly the Max-8 and I have many times. I find it a comfortable aircraft and rather enjoy it. But as a pilot for fifty five years flying over twenty different makes of aircraft I will fly on the Max only when USA trained pilots are in the cockpit. Think about it for a moment, Southwest Airlines has 34 and the largest fleet of Max-8 aircraft. American Airline has 28 of them. Together they have flown more miles than any other airline in the world. Have they had any crashes? Nope! The reasons the USA pilots are better trained with more hours in aircraft than third world pilots. The standards here in the USA to become a line pilot require at base minim of one thousand two hundred hours of Turbine Jet time before you can ever apply to fly for a major airline. In fact, the copilot in the Ethiopian Aircraft only had 250 hours of flying time and the Captain had not gone through the training course for the Max. Yes, Boeing made some mistakes however the two planes that crashed most likely would not have if they had seasoned American pilots at the controls. One of the two aircraft had the engines running at nearly full power when it was diving towards the mother earth. You simply do not dive any airliner at nearly full power towards the ground especially when you are under five thousand feet. I for one will not travel on airlines that are operated by third world countries. I will fly on the Max as soon as it is back in the air with a well trained crew in the cockpit.

  64. unfortunately the general public will end up flying it, because they are forced to or won’t know the difference. They will pick the flight if it saves them $10 r/t. The airlines have us by the balls. If we want to get somewhere and that leg/segment/route is flown by the Max, your choice is either Booking, NOT booking, find another airline that may or may not have the max and be more or less convenient. After a few months people will forget about it all…

  65. @Flyboy46
    when you calculate the p value for the US not having a crash with the number of planes and segments they have operated you get a value of 0.53 when below 0.05 is the standard line for something not being a normal distribution. This RA RA US pilots are better is bullshit, especially when you consider ethiopian is a good airline with a good safety record and Ethiopia has a better safety rating then several US airlines at 6/7

  66. It is crucial to aviation safety that Boeing not be permitted to “fix” the 737 MAX with software. The plane was made unstable due to new, larger and heavier engines which were stupidly located upward and further forward for ground clearance. This causes the 737 MAX to often pitch up at max thrust on take-off. Basic aerodynamic stability was compromised. MCAS is compounding the error: for an airplane that lacks essential stability, software only “papers over” the underlying problem, and Boeing management knows this.
    But they decided to allow a flawed fifty year old design decision to continue rather than implement a costly re-design. The “reasoning” in the 1960’s was that smaller airports would not have lifts to permit ground crew to access the baggage hold, so they purposely made the landing gear short, giving the engines only 17 inches ground clearance. Thus, 346 people have so far been killed by what amounts to negligent homicide in two incidents. New software will not cure this problem. Every in-the-loop manager at Boeing is criminally liable, from the CEO on down. Of course this will not happen, as Boeing has become too big to fail.

  67. The Max 8 situation has boiled down to a polarization between two different philosophical schools. Captain Sully summerizes one school of thought. 1) The plane must be arodynamically sound and safely flyable with manual control 2) The other school of thought acknowledges that automated controls and supplements are OK if they are well designed and reliable.

    I am a former Boeing employee and proud of the corporate history of good engineering. Sometimes this weakened the financial performance of the company. Max may have gone too far in correcting this unbalance. My prediction is that the FAA will certify the corrections Boeing is making on the Max 8 before too long. I do not expect the EU regulators to go along with the FAA as they have done in the past. The best engineering in the world rests with some of the North European countries. It is engrained in their culture just like digital algorithms are rapidly being engrained in our culture. The trade war with China may look like kids stuff compared with Europe’s reaction to the FAA approval of the Max 8 upgrades. What we have seen so far may be only the first chapter.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *