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Why Won't the FAA Ground the Boeing 737 Max 8?

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  • #61
    Originally posted by Mountain Man View Post
    Lately I have been watching Air Disasters, and the new trend is pilots who do not fully understand the complex computer-controlled automated responses to many situations. In a number of cases, the crash occurred because the pilots were fighting the effort of the computer system to recover control and prevent the crash, or to follow instructions inadvertently given by the pilots themsleves.

    In one notable instance, the pilot landing the aircraft accidentally triggered the Go Around switch, with instructed the aircraft to abort landing and automatically circle around for another attempt. The pilots, not comprehending what had happened, fought desperately to force the plane to land, without cancelling the automated process, and ended up killing everyone.

    Pilots are rapidly becoming mere passengers in the cockpits, unable to respond fast enough to cope with critical situations. nor to even keep up with the computerized systems. Meanwhile, each accident adds another layer of computerized "safety measures" to an already overwhelmingly complex flight envelope.
    It's a bit different than you portray it. Pilots are becoming more managers of a complex computer network rather than really flying the plane. Even when they are actually flying it, they're really just inputting control commands into the flight control system. There is no longer direct control of the plane by the aircrew.

    The problem with this is that like any very complex computer system, when something goes wrong the problem isn't immediately apparent in most cases. Yes, the pilot(s) recognize something is wrong but they can't tell what's causing it leading to confusion and ineffective responses.

    At some point, more complexity isn't necessary and I for one think they've reached that point and gone beyond it. One of the reasons, and this is really the reason for the Max 8's failure, is that the safety nuts (and that's what they are) want zero tolerance levels of performance. That is, they want planes that never have an accident of any sort.

    For example, I saw a brief news story about a Max 8 being ferried somewhere in the US. The crew lost an engine. That was news worthy. Fifty years ago, losing an engine happened but it wasn't news worthy. Planes continued to fly on their remaining engines. The level of safety in aircraft is about as good as it can be. You can't make them 100% safe and trying will only make the planes so expensive that nobody can afford to buy them or fly on them.

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    • #62
      This detailed BBC report is worth a read. It looks like a combination of either a design error or corner cutting by Boeing coupled with some clunky override/emergency procedures. Firstly there were only two sensors fitted and any discrepancies between them caused MCAS to engage. It is good practice where automated safety systems are involved in a host of different technology environments to have an odd number of sensors (ie at least three) and for the system to accept a majority result to trigger an automatic cut in of the safety system otherwise just a warning would be given. The annotated photos of the control panel show that MCAS can be disabled for 5 seconds by one switch but automatically switches back on again. To completely disable it requires two other switches on a different part of the panel to be used and what looks like an old fashioned trim wheel used to set the stabilizer. It may be this that a pilot interviewee on the wireless said was difficult to use over a certain speed.

      For an aircraft fitted with high tech avionics the control panel looks surprisingly old fashioned and un-ergonomic. One wonders if this was an attempt to convince potential customers that conversion training could be minimised and if this was a mistake.

      What does appear to be particularly smelly is that the FAA allowed Boeing to self certify this particular safety feature and might cause people to ask "what is the point of the FAA if manufacturers can mark their own homework?"

      https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-47553174
      Last edited by MarkV; 07 Apr 19, 13:30.
      Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
      Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

      Comment


      • #63
        Originally posted by Andy H View Post

        Hi Rutger

        Pray please define a 'decent' report.

        Yep I agree that Boeing bank balance will take a hit from claims and also the slowed production of these aircraft.
        Also it seems the FAA may have some serious Q's to answer in terms of its relationship with the major airline manufacturers

        Regards

        Andy H
        I was referring to other posters who said that lack of training would be the cause of the two accidents. They apparently felt a need to indicate causes without awaiting a decent report.
        "For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return"

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        • #64
          Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post

          It's a bit different than you portray it. Pilots are becoming more managers of a complex computer network rather than really flying the plane. Even when they are actually flying it, they're really just inputting control commands into the flight control system. There is no longer direct control of the plane by the aircrew.

          The problem with this is that like any very complex computer system, when something goes wrong the problem isn't immediately apparent in most cases. Yes, the pilot(s) recognize something is wrong but they can't tell what's causing it leading to confusion and ineffective responses.

          At some point, more complexity isn't necessary and I for one think they've reached that point and gone beyond it. One of the reasons, and this is really the reason for the Max 8's failure, is that the safety nuts (and that's what they are) want zero tolerance levels of performance. That is, they want planes that never have an accident of any sort.

          For example, I saw a brief news story about a Max 8 being ferried somewhere in the US. The crew lost an engine. That was news worthy. Fifty years ago, losing an engine happened but it wasn't news worthy. Planes continued to fly on their remaining engines. The level of safety in aircraft is about as good as it can be. You can't make them 100% safe and trying will only make the planes so expensive that nobody can afford to buy them or fly on them.
          There's a few misconceptions here. Many pilots still hand fly their planes. There's nothing that says they can't. It's just that the autopilot provides a smoother ride over longer segments. Good airlines have procedures in place for almost all malfunctions. They are drilled into the pilots' minds. If something goes wrong, you don't have time to check the manual. The last paragraph is not exclusive to aviation. It's driven by the internet and the multitude of 24hr news channels. Thirty years ago, you didn't hear about a cop shooting someone or someone shooting a cop if it happened across the country. Now, everyone knows about it in an hour. The 737 Max losing an engine (not literally) was "newsworthy" because of the airframe's current troubles.

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          • #65
            Originally posted by johns624 View Post
            There's a few misconceptions here. Many pilots still hand fly their planes. There's nothing that says they can't. It's just that the autopilot provides a smoother ride over longer segments. Good airlines have procedures in place for almost all malfunctions. They are drilled into the pilots' minds. If something goes wrong, you don't have time to check the manual. The last paragraph is not exclusive to aviation. It's driven by the internet and the multitude of 24hr news channels. Thirty years ago, you didn't hear about a cop shooting someone or someone shooting a cop if it happened across the country. Now, everyone knows about it in an hour. The 737 Max losing an engine (not literally) was "newsworthy" because of the airframe's current troubles.
            If on the other hand aircraft contain features that do not allow pilots to fly "by hand" we are into different territory. This is already the case with some military aircraft. For example the Eurofighter is inherently unstable and is only kept in the air by its automatic systems, if these go down the pilot needs to eject PDQ. With its massive new engines in a different position the 737 Max is verging on this position if it hasn't already entered it and in such a situation it behoves the FAA to ensure that the automatic systems are safe rather than subcontracting it to the manufacturer
            Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
            Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

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            • #66
              The engines aren't "massive", it's just that the 737 was originally designed before high bypass turbofans were developed.
              I'm sure that EASA lets Airbus do a lot of self certification since govt usually doesn't employ really technical experts, since they couldn't afford to pay them.

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              • #67
                Originally posted by johns624 View Post
                The engines aren't "massive", it's just that the 737 was originally designed before high bypass turbofans were developed.
                I'm sure that EASA lets Airbus do a lot of self certification since govt usually doesn't employ really technical experts, since they couldn't afford to pay them.
                I'd add that government inspectors are no guarantee of greater competence either.

                Comment


                • #68
                  Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post

                  It's a bit different than you portray it. Pilots are becoming more managers of a complex computer network rather than really flying the plane. Even when they are actually flying it, they're really just inputting control commands into the flight control system. There is no longer direct control of the plane by the aircrew.

                  The problem with this is that like any very complex computer system, when something goes wrong the problem isn't immediately apparent in most cases. Yes, the pilot(s) recognize something is wrong but they can't tell what's causing it leading to confusion and ineffective responses.

                  At some point, more complexity isn't necessary and I for one think they've reached that point and gone beyond it. One of the reasons, and this is really the reason for the Max 8's failure, is that the safety nuts (and that's what they are) want zero tolerance levels of performance. That is, they want planes that never have an accident of any sort.

                  For example, I saw a brief news story about a Max 8 being ferried somewhere in the US. The crew lost an engine. That was news worthy. Fifty years ago, losing an engine happened but it wasn't news worthy. Planes continued to fly on their remaining engines. The level of safety in aircraft is about as good as it can be. You can't make them 100% safe and trying will only make the planes so expensive that nobody can afford to buy them or fly on them.
                  I watched an accident documentary in which the crew of a new Airbus was unable to react because they were literally overwhelmed and rendered helpless by the avalanche of information necessary to wade through to determine what had gone wrong. They ran out of time still trying to to learn what they had to do. The First Officer's only function was to work the computer information display.

                  I know I needn't remind you of the times when crew have fallen asleep and overflown their destination by hours. Remaining alert is now a major problem for a crew with nothing to do.

                  Meanwhile, humans are packed in like cattle and offered little or nothing in the way of comfort, compassion or even food and drink. I stopped flying a longtime ago, after deciding that my dignity and comfort entitled me to far better treatment for the rising price of a ticket.
                  Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? Who is watching the watchers?

                  Comment


                  • #69
                    Originally posted by Mountain Man View Post

                    I watched an accident documentary in which the crew of a new Airbus was unable to react because they were literally overwhelmed and rendered helpless by the avalanche of information necessary to wade through to determine what had gone wrong. They ran out of time still trying to to learn what they had to do. The First Officer's only function was to work the computer information display.

                    I know I needn't remind you of the times when crew have fallen asleep and overflown their destination by hours. Remaining alert is now a major problem for a crew with nothing to do.

                    Meanwhile, humans are packed in like cattle and offered little or nothing in the way of comfort, compassion or even food and drink. I stopped flying a longtime ago, after deciding that my dignity and comfort entitled me to far better treatment for the rising price of a ticket.
                    Watch this video of an Airbus 380 landing at SFO



                    They turn knobs and type on a keyboard.

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                    • #70
                      Another reason is that Boeing is a very powerful lobbyist player in Washington, lots of jobs and lots of foreign sales - therefore, the FAA is going to be reluctant to pull one of their aircraft out of service.

                      Money talks very loudly these days.
                      Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? Who is watching the watchers?

                      Comment


                      • #71
                        Originally posted by Mountain Man View Post

                        I watched an accident documentary in which the crew of a new Airbus was unable to react because they were literally overwhelmed and rendered helpless by the avalanche of information necessary to wade through to determine what had gone wrong. They ran out of time still trying to to learn what they had to do. The First Officer's only function was to work the computer information display.
                        It does appear that an insane level of over-complication has overwhelmed the crew, which was reduced to two on the theory that computers could do it all.

                        Looks like the first guy to call it right was Trump.

                        (cue the TDS parade)


                        Originally posted by Mountain Man View Post
                        Meanwhile, humans are packed in like cattle and offered little or nothing in the way of comfort, compassion or even food and drink. I stopped flying a longtime ago, after deciding that my dignity and comfort entitled me to far better treatment for the rising price of a ticket.
                        Same here.
                        I used to fly half a dozen times a year. Then along came the TSA gang, and the skyrocketing fares, and the every decreasing space and service that put the airlines into a race to the bottom .... Greyhound busses start to look good by comparison.
                        In the last 15 years, I have flown twice, and that will probably be it for me.
                        Unless they bring back Airships.

                        (and for those with an Archer-level IQ, look up Helium before posting)
                        "Why is the Rum gone?"

                        -Captain Jack

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                        • #72
                          The Totally Senseless Anality is the biggest negative to travel today. The second biggest is the Fanatics About Absolutes (FAA) who want 100% safety, 100% reliability, 100% everything on aircraft. Doesn't matter what it costs, these agencies aren't about reasonable, fair, or profitable. They're about getting perfect results that they'll never get.

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                          • #73
                            Originally posted by Rutger View Post

                            I was referring to other posters who said that lack of training would be the cause of the two accidents. They apparently felt a need to indicate causes without awaiting a decent report.
                            Hi Rutger

                            Thanks for the clarification.

                            Regards

                            Andy H
                            "You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life." Churchill

                            "I'm no reactionary.Christ on the Mountain! I'm as idealistic as Hell" Eisenhower

                            Comment


                            • #74
                              Originally posted by The Exorcist View Post


                              Unless they bring back Airships.

                              (and for those with an Archer-level IQ, look up Helium before posting)
                              In fact almost all airship disasters outside of warfare were due to structural failure and/or weather and any hydrogen fire occurred after the initial break up or crash. Modern airliners crammed full of jet fuel are equally likely to burn after a crash. Helium filled airships were still in danger of disaster through structural failure and/or weather (as the USN found out the hard way) , they just didn't burn afterwards.
                              Even with the usually cited Hindenburg there is some evidence that the fire may have started in the airships skin which had recently been re doped in a new formula material (which is essentially the same stuff that solid fuel rocket boosters use) which could be defined as a structural failure.
                              Barnes Wallis (of Dambusters bomb fame) cracked the structural problem with the R100 which used his geodetic system (later used in the Wellesley, Wellington and Warwick bombers) which was strong and very light and could still flex as necessary. The R100 was very stable and very safe and did a double crossing of the Atlantic. It's interior would have the owner of a budget airline choke on his coffee (see links). It was also built by private enterprise which did not go down well with the Air Ministry of the day which favoured the state built R101 which used a conventional structure and leaked gas which caused it to loose buoyancy. On its maiden flight unable to maintain altitude in poor weather it crashed into a French hillside and then burned. There were survivors but amongst the dead was a cabinet minister. The British government then banned airship development.

                              The big advantage of Helium in reality is that it can be safely heated and this could be used in an airship design to adjust buoyancy rather than having to valve gas or drop ballast. Hydrogen does not have this advantage. The world's first fatal air accident occurred in 1785 when Piatre de Rozier and Pierre Romain attempted to fly the Channel in Rozier's new invention - the hot hydrogen balloon - it did not catch on.

                              https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/news/624/me...072_lounge.jpg
                              http://libtreasures.utdallas.edu/xml...jpg?sequence=1
                              https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/news/624/me...9_tea-room.jpg
                              Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
                              Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

                              Comment


                              • #75
                                Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
                                The Totally Senseless Anality is the biggest negative to travel today. The second biggest is the Fanatics About Absolutes (FAA) who want 100% safety, 100% reliability, 100% everything on aircraft. Doesn't matter what it costs, these agencies aren't about reasonable, fair, or profitable. They're about getting perfect results that they'll never get.
                                Listened to a very good discussion on firearms development and issues and something struck me. In the discussion it was noted that firearms are one particular industry in which the customer demands absolute reliability over thousands of cycles by a machine. This makes entry into the industry nearly prohibitive today, whereas in the past a firearm was treated like any other mechanical device and failure rates were expected. Expected to be minimal, but not treated as a disaster.

                                Aviation is pretty much the same thing. No one expects their car, bus, etc to have the same absolute reliability of an aircraft. Now truly, this is why air travel is the safest form of travel and has remained so for quite some time. But it also creates a circumstance where the public expects and demands absolute reliability at all times, and treats anything that happens as a deliberate act of negligence. Aircraft are incredibly complex machines. Flaws occur. Accidents will happen, and they won't always be predictable and especially not deliberate.

                                Could you imagine if the brakes locked up on a city bus causing a fatal wreck, and every city bus in the nation by that manufacturer was immediately taken off the road until a thorough investigation took place and an absolutely reliable solution could be found to make the bus absolutely reliable at all times? You'd cripple public transportation over what would still essentially be the possibility of an extremely unlikely occurrence.
                                Tacitos, Satrap of Kyrene

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