Are 346 people dead because of “Business Decisions” @ Boeing?

When Airbus launched the A320neo, Boeing was under loads of competitive pressure to come up with something equal – in regards to fuel economy, capacity and range. From what it looks like, Boeing executives under the leadership of Dennis Muilenburg, Boeing’s chief executive (who took home just over $30 million last year, a $6 million increase from the year before – Washington Post), cut quite a few corners to get there:

Mistake 1: designing a new aircraft would have been too costly, oversize engines were bolted onto the 737, causing severe aerodynamic challenges for the airframe designed 40 years ago. Additionally changes to improve fuel efficiency were applied. 

Mistake 2: a software was developed to keep the aircraft “flyable”

Until here, everything is fair game and ok in terms of business decisions. The criminal energy started to show after that:

Mistake 3: For cost saving reasons, pilot training for the 737 Max was declared unnecessary by Boeing – with the explanation that “it is still the same aircraft”. Some instructions were given through a one hour iPad lesson. Proper flight simulators for the 737 Max still do not exist today. The manuals with instructions on how to operate the airplane are insufficient “to a criminal degree” as some US pilots complained. 

Mistake 4: The true crime: Safety equipment, that could have helped to manage the results of the faulty MCAS, was declared an extra option with a hefty price tag. It was offered to airlines at USD 90.000. However, the airlines where not given any credible explanation why they should order it – since they considered the aircraft safe and airworthy.

Mistake 5: where the evil starts: 737 Max crash number one (Philippines Lion Airline), was hushed up (“3rd world country”, “2nd rate pilots”) and victim’s families received the minimum possible compensation. There were no consequences taken, consequences that could have saved the lives of 157 Ethiopian Airlines crash victims.

Mistake 6: After crash number two, Boeing tried similar hush-hush tactics as after the first crash and issued a cold and superficial (first) letter of the CEO

Mistake 7: (by FAA) Allowing Boeing to self-certify their airplanes and stalling the grounding of the 737 Max, the US was the last country to ground the aircraft. 

Mistake 8: In frantic efforts to fix the situation, Boeing hastily put together a software patch (for an airplane…) that failed to receive approval by the (now wide awake.. ) FAA. European agency made a statement with “no show”

How the Boeing story might be told…

– First, there was a crash (Indonesia), the media briefly gets excited, That’s it. Nobody mentions the red flags about the MCAS that pilots had already been concerned about, nobody mentions the struggles of the poor pilots, unprepared to deal with the system – and Boeing is very quiet. Hardly anyone mentions the victims.

– Then, there is a 2nd crash… People are wondering about the similarities, the FAA approval and the aircraft Boeing 737 Max in general. Broad media and public attention rises, a criminal investigation is started – and Boeing’s crisis management goes public with a “letter of the CEO”… Hardly anyone mentions the victims, except the usual news-worthy grieving family members at the crash site. EVERYONE talks about Boeing’s share-price. Money 1, Moral 0

Consequences for Boeing

The media storm and with it the public interest will calm down after a few weeks, eventually the 737max will be declared “safe” again and those responsible for the mayhem return to “business as usual”… A minimal long-term impact for Boeing is to be expected. Will airlines cancel their orders for the 737max or Boeing aircraft in general? Most likely not: For the airlines it is a no win situation: they can’t just go over to Airbus and order the desperately needed planes for their fleet. Airbus’ A320neo family is sold out all the way until 2024. WSJ And passing the waiting list will not be easy: Airbus will (naturally…) charge premium prices to those desperate enough to try.

And what about the passengers who are now hesitant to “fly Boeing”? They will easily be  convinced to travel in 737 Max planes again – by aggressively low priced flights. At prices, that airlines will be able to offer supported by Boeing of course. Money 1, Moral 0. Or… by prices “back on normal level ” after increasing them first:

Other articles:

The Boeing 737 Max crashes are caused by design flaws, not software errors or human error!

Pilots trained for Boeing’s 737 Max airplane with “an iPad lesson for an hour”…?

With an over 40 year old airframe, Boeing tried to compete with Airbus by bolting huge engines onto it and trying to keep it flyable with software

MCAS wasn’t even mentioned !

‘Playing with lives’: Widow of pilot on doomed Lion Air flight says direct appeals made to ground Boeing model:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/playing-with-lives-widow-of-pilot-on-doomed-lion-air-flight-says-direct-appeals-made-to-ground-boeing-model/2019/03/29/56aa778a-5017-11e9-bdb7-44f948cc0605_story.html

BOEING GROUNDINGS EXTEND TO 787 DREAMLINER LINE

The problem stems back to engine blades made by UK-based Rolls Royce and used in Boeing’s 787-10 Dreamliner aircraft, the Trent 1000 TEN. Meanwhile, the timing couldn’t be worse for Boeing. The Chicago-based jetliner maker continues to deal with the fallout from the grounding of its 737 MAX plane amid two separate crashes that call into question the safety of the aircraft.

https://www.ccn.com/boeing-nightmare-faulty-rolls-royce-blades-spark-more-groundings

When the public’s attention moves on, the FAA will still be left with a mandate to delegate some certification decisions to the manufacturers, former FAA chief of staff Michael Goldfarb told CNN.

https://edition.cnn.com/2019/04/07/politics/boeing-aviation-737-max-aftereffects/index.html

The next big topics/questions – as the scandal develops:

  • When will Boeing switch into admitting mistakes, take responsibility and apologize? You think never? I disagree, it will only be a question of time – the public attention has passed the tipping point and there is no place for hush hush tactics anymore.
  • How will the FAA manage to stay away from the crisis? They have already made a few good steps in the right direction – but will they manage to let this crisis enter history as the “Boeing crisis – and not the “Boeing/FAA” crisis? How deeply have they (FAA) been involved in the cover-up? https://lnkd.in/dSTFG4q
  • What would have been the expert steps for Boeing in terms of Crisis Management and what can be done now to control the damage?
  • What has ridden the PR / Crisis management team to make this twitter post?? “Dennis Muilenburg, @BoeingCEO, experienced first-hand our MCAS software update performing safely in action during a 737 MAX 7 demo flight today.”
  • Which moves are the airlines going to take to get reimbursed from Boeing and how are they re-winning the passenger`s trust?
  • How will the criminal investigation play out? Now that there are hundreds of people dead, families destroyed and everyone worried about air-travel? Have the cost savings and “cutting corners” been driven by greed or incompetence? Why did it take a 2nd crash for the world to wake up?
  • Is the over 40 years old design of the airframe up for today’s tasks? (I think yes, but the aircraft needs to be thoroughly reviewed and pilots properly trained.) https://lnkd.in/daVBATZ
  • How have the pilots been trained so far and are there simulators available for this aircraft? https://lnkd.in/dSmRKRU

FAA role

The FAA used to and is outsourcing airplane certification to Boeing and was reportedly dragging their feet when it came to grounding the 737 Max-fleet. The FAA coziness with Boeing long-standing practice that has allowed both plane- and part-makers to certify their own work as meeting airworthiness standards is coming under scrutiny. Unfortunately, no major changes to this pattern can be expected – due to the (underfunded) budget situation of the FAA: “It’s been hard for the agency (FAA) to keep pace with pay” in private industry, Goldfarb said.

More background infos on the FAA/Boeing (love…) affair

Good, thorough backgrounder on the Boeing crisis (history/prologue, criminal decisions and their causes, FAA and political influences):

“Committing to putting a new engine that didn’t fit on the plane was the corporate version of the Fyre Festival’s “let’s just do it and be legends, man” moment, and it not surprisingly wound up leading to a slew of engineering and regulatory problems.”

Tanked “hasty” approval attempt for “software patch”

In frantic efforts to fix the situation, Boeing hastily put together a software patch (for an airplane…) that failed to receive approval by the FAA. European agency made a statement with “no show”:

Looks like Boeing’s launch of the “Software Patch” for the 737 Max did not go too well…

EU agency is said to have skipped 737 Max meeting in snub to Boeing. The break between FAA and overseas authorities on the initial decision to ground the plane, combined with worldwide public furor and a U.S. criminal probe of the Max certification, “all make it hard for us to see how foreign regulators can avoid coming back with their own questions and doing some of their own due diligence,” Seifman said in his report

– One pilot group walked away from the event feeling that Boeing needs to do more work on a new 30-minute iPad course, followed by a test, that is intended to help pilots of the older generation of 737 planes prepare for the Max. The newest version of Boeing’s workhorse single-aisle jet debuted less than two years ago.

Last Wednesday Boeing held a launch event to introduce their software patch for the 737 Max. Some pilots walked out, the EU regulation agency “no-showed”. Today, CNN announced that the new software was not approved and will need more work, without disclosing why…

“Time is needed for additional work by Boeing as the result of an ongoing review of the 737 MAX Flight Control System to ensure that Boeing has identified and appropriately addressed all pertinent issues.”

“… Boeing confirmed to The Washington Post that it had found a second software problem that the Federal Aviation Administration has ordered fixed – separate from the anti-stall system under investigation in the two crashes, and that had led to the aircraft’s worldwide grounding.

That additional problem pertains to software affecting flaps and other flight stabilization hardware and is therefore classified as critical to flight safety, said two officials who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the ongoing probe. “ 

Boeing Crisis management

– certain (3rd party) voices spun stories about “2nd rate pilots” and “3rd world airlines” – to keep the focus away from Boeing: despicable tactics, dishonouring the dead

– Boeing issued a statement after the first crash blaming the pilots for not following a preflight checklist and for misdiagnosing the problems with the airplane right before it crashed.

– Muilenberg also said, “that false activation of the MCAS function, as happened in the Ethiopian crash, can add to what is already a high workload environment.” CNBC

– Both crashed airplanes “lacked optional safety features that could have saved the lives of 346 people. (angle of attack indicator and an angle of attack disagree light)—indicators that Boeing offers only at an additional cost. 

– Boeing’s first “Letter of the CEO” to airlines and passengers. Businessinsider “Our entire team is devoted to the quality and safety of the aircraft we design, produce and support. I’ve dedicated my entire career to Boeing…”

– Boeing’s second “Letter of the CEO”: It seemed like it took forever – but Boeing’s PR and Crisis Management team have finally come up with a public statement that looks like the real thing – and worthy of a top league player. Empathy for the victims is expressed and loyalty towards their customer Ethiopian Airlines. “We’ve stood shoulder to shoulder in partnership with the Ethiopian team to grieve and extend our deepest sympathies to the families, friends and communities of the passengers and crew,” Muilenburg wrote in a statement released Monday.” CNBC

US president Trump’s “free advice” for crisis management:

However, the real end to the crisis will only come with transparency, honest empathy with the victims and taking responsibility. There will be no “quick fix” with a software patch.

This Bloomberg article gives a perspective on what might actually become the beginning of the solution. Once investigators and public start focusing on “Sensors Linked to Boeing 737 Crashes Vulnerable to Failure” there could be end of the crisis in sight.

  • Sensors Linked to Boeing 737 Crashes Vulnerable to Failure
  • Angle-of-attack devices hit by birds, airport equipment
  • Review of public databases reveal at least 140 incidents

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-04-11/sensors-linked-to-737-crashes-vulnerable-to-failure-data-show?

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