Boeing 737-MAX jet. Unsafe at any altitude.

As I listened to the multi-millionaire Michael O’Leary berating just about everybody, as he foretold of deep cuts to services, job losses amongst Ryanair crew; and also a slight cut in his own personal wealth: I smiled. It was a smile reflecting my own sense of ‘Schadenfreude’, mainly because I don’t like the man, his attitude towards Ryanair passengers; about whom it is alleged that he coined the phrase ‘Self-Loading Cargo’, and his airline’s attitude towards those who have complained. But Michael O’Leary’s problems are not all of his own making, mainly because he’s been caught up in the ongoing saga surrounding the grounding of all Boeing 737-MAX  jets after the two fatal crashes.

Anyone who watched the BBC Panorama’s shot across Boeing’s bows would, like me, have little time for the self-serving statements of that mealy-mouthed Chief Executive, who earns a mind-boggling $23.4 millions last year. The major problem with, and seemingly the ONLY cause for both jet crashes, stems from a need to alter the operation of the aircraft, and this alteration being controlled by the addition of computer software, controlled from ONE outside sensor. This software, needed because Boeing had installed much bigger engines onto virtually the same airframe pattern. This engine addition can make the plane tilt upwards, so to remove this flaw, Boeing installed ONE sensor on to the outside of the jet’s fuselage, and, as I previously stated, fed the sensor’s output on to a software system named M-Cas (The M stands for manoeuvre ability). So if the sensor detected that the jet was tilted too far upwards, then the horizontal tailplane elevator AUTOMATICALLY forced the jet downwards until the optimum angle was achieved, and then the tailplane returned to normal. So far, so stupid.

But then Boeing, who is allowed by the Federal Aviation Authority to virtually self-certify their aircraft for flight status, made several mistakes, all at the same time. They DEPENDED upon the satisfactory operation of ONE sensor to perform a major in-flight corrective manoeuvre, instead of two sensors with one as a back-up: they DID NOT INCLUDE ANY INFORMATION about the M-Cas system in the pilot’s manual, including how to switch the garbage off; and they did not include any details in the pilots’ training about M-Cas. The cross-over training programme from the old 737 to the 737-MAX was fifty minutes presented on an iPad, and M-Cas is never even mentioned! Boeing’s software engineers then made the catastrophic decision to allow the M-Cas control system to be re-energised every few seconds, so that if the jet’s control surfaces had been set back to achieve level flight, if the damn sensor was still reading ‘incorrectly’, the tailplane elevator would AUTOMATICALLY force the jet’s nose down once more.

On the financial side of things Boeing, they increased the dividend by 20%, all the senior people got big bonuses; but not once was the fatal flaw in the jet’s control surfaces even considered so important as to issue an immediate NOTAM, they did not ground the fleet because that might have damaged the profitability of their best-selling jet: THEY DID SWEET F**K ALL! The CEO, Chief Executive Officer Dennis Muilenburg’ would not even discuss the two crashes. In the second of the two crashed jets, 137 people died, and Boeing, despite knowing of the fatal flaw with ONE sensor; still did SWEET F**K ALL.

371 of the 737-MAX jet fleet are grounded, and the costs from airlines who cannot fly their passengers are steadily building up. Boeing states that the crashes resulted from a ‘series or chain of events’, and will not accept that responsibility for over three hundred dead passengers and crew lies with  their soiled, money-grubbing and greedy attitudes.

3 comments for “Boeing 737-MAX jet. Unsafe at any altitude.

  1. Ed P
    August 1, 2019 at 1:11 pm

    Boeing, Boeing, Gone!

  2. August 2, 2019 at 8:01 am

    About a decade ago, mainly in response to Airbus, I decided not to fly again. Now this with Boeing, then the cheapo airlines in general, just confirm that. The risk factor, once low, is now approaching unacceptable.

  3. August 6, 2019 at 9:30 am

    The crucial thing about MCAS which sparked the whole chain of failure is Boeing’s underhanded way of installing it. (Personal opinion).

    If MCAS had used two sensors (as is prudent for redundancy in these systems) then Boeing would have had to go through a more severe regulatory process. Instead they DELIBERATELY specced MCAS to use one sensor to avoid that more severe regulatory process and therefore delays to the 737-MAX programme.

    Also, during statutory reporting of the new system to the authorities, Boeing stated that MCAS only operated the stabiliser to trim the nose down through a small number of increments. In reality, MCAS had a bigger effect on the stabiliser, up to maximum stabiliser trim. The enquiry will hopefully determine in this was a deliberate act or just an unfortunate accident.

    Once the software was integrated they failed to inform flight crews of this new “system” that would be overruling their actions. Only one airline got any information about MCAS.

    Basically in the event of a failure of the MCAS system Boeing relied on pilots going through a procedure for a runaway stabiliser. But MCAS didn’t behave like the typical runaway stabiliser scenario they had trained for, so with no information and no training on the new system they had difficulty identifying the problem and therefore the solution. The solution being to switch off electrical adjustment of the stabiliser and adjust it manually before MCAS adjusted the stabiliser trim so much it was impossible to adjust manually.

    The final issue for at least one of the flights that crashed is that allowing MCAS to dial in large amounts of stabiliser trim, the air pressure on the stabiliser placed forces on the manual adjustment mechanism such that it’s virtually impossible to manually rotate the trim adjustment wheel and recover the situation.

    There are unsubstantiated rumours as well that Boeing sub-contracted some of the software development out to companies without flight software expertise (after letting a lot of their in-house developers go). Rumours say developers in India, but no confirmation at present. Hopefully the enquiry will enlighten us to the truth.

    As with all accidents, the 737-Max issue is a cascade of errors. But the big initiator is the panic at Boeing regarding the threat from Airbus. Boeing panicked and threw together a new aircraft in the cheapest and quickest way they could and they are paying the price. It’s a classic sign of disparate (and rumours suggest physically remote) development teams working apart with no interaction and no overall understanding of how a change in one system drastically affects another system.

    But the initiator for the cascade is the panic over profits in my opinion. As you say, Boeing’s inability to accept full responsibility for the crashes is reprehensible. In my opinion the chain of events that led to the crashes was in place before the first 737-Max rolled out of the Boeing factory.

Comments are closed.