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

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  • MarkV
    replied
    Originally posted by Persephone View Post
    Boeing’'s 737 Max jetliners will remain out of commission for at least several more months. Airlines are waiting for the FAA to sign off on a Boeing-designed software fix for the flight control system that played a role in the two deadly crashes. That fix was originally expected to be delivered no later than May, but has been complicated by the discovery of other technical problems.

    TBH, even if they claim to have fixed the issues, I still wouldn't want to fly in one...
    There is an established theory that we are reaching the limits of our (humankind's) ability to produce complex and error free software and systems as beyond a certain level of complexity fixing one error produces more errors elsewhere in the system. It is hoped that as AI with a self learning capability develops this can be used to develop and test more complex systems but I wouldn't hold your breath.

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  • Persephone
    replied
    Boeing’'s 737 Max jetliners will remain out of commission for at least several more months. Airlines are waiting for the FAA to sign off on a Boeing-designed software fix for the flight control system that played a role in the two deadly crashes. That fix was originally expected to be delivered no later than May, but has been complicated by the discovery of other technical problems.

    TBH, even if they claim to have fixed the issues, I still wouldn't want to fly in one...

    Leave a comment:


  • G David Bock
    replied
    15 Behind-the-Scenes Secrets of Airline Pilots

    They may not have told you everything when you went into the cockpit to have wings pinned to your shirt. So, here’s a few interesting facts about working in the sky.

    ...
    https://getpocket.com/explore/item/1...=pocket-newtab

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  • E.D. Morel
    replied
    Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post

    Except for the upper class ones with degrees. They often think they're the smartest guys in the room and their $h!+ don't stink. It's a real eye opener for them when they discover American technicians, blue collar workers, and others "beneath" them won't put up with their arrogance and demands for a nanosecond.

    I've seen that repeatedly.
    I found the same thing although it's down to the Cast they are from and not their educational level.
    If they are Brahmins or Kshatriyas they can be unbearable, particularly to their own countrymen from lower casts like Shudras or Dalits.
    I work with a guy who is from the Dalits cast which is the lowest Cast. He had a guy from a higher cast put on his team and the new guy just wouldn't work for him. He lasted less than a month.
    It's a disgusting system and a shameful blight on India.

    My experience of Indian Engineers is that they are well trained but seem to be incapable of seeing the bigger picture when making a decision.

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  • G David Bock
    replied
    Originally posted by MarkV View Post

    The anti stall system was installed because the re engineering of the 737 with different engines repositioned produced an aircraft that was intrinsically prone to stalling and without it the pilot would have to be constantly making corrections which would become very tiring. It's the same issue as affects some fighters which are inherently unstable and are only kept in the air by the in-flight computer systems
    Similar perhaps rather than same, but point taken. There a reason for having 2-3 pilots on a flight, and with power assist controls, more a matter of mental fatigue than physical I'd think.
    IIRC, this recent crash issue might be related to a defective/damaged exterior sensor, so better pre-flight inspection may be called for. Still, seems some amount of "back ti the drawing board" needed here.

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  • MarkV
    replied
    Originally posted by G David Bock View Post

    If that % is correct, would suggest a couple to several among the passengers and flight attendants of a typical airliner load. Probably upped a bit if they've had some flying experience or a VFR rating, or more. Oh to be so lucky if there's a more experienced person aboard with hours and ratings as a pilot.

    In both these 737 Max-8 crashes, the problem was an automatic "anti-stall" system which one would think not necessary if the flight-deck crew have been properly trained and experienced. Aircraft stall envelope is something usually basic to pilot training and qualification and having an automated anti-stall system suggests market conditions and buyers of these aircraft may not have properly trained and experienced aircrew to operate such.

    .
    The anti stall system was installed because the re engineering of the 737 with different engines repositioned produced an aircraft that was intrinsically prone to stalling and without it the pilot would have to be constantly making corrections which would become very tiring. It's the same issue as affects some fighters which are inherently unstable and are only kept in the air by the in-flight computer systems
    Last edited by MarkV; 01 Jul 19, 05:44.

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  • G David Bock
    replied
    Originally posted by marktwain View Post

    IIRC, I read somewhere that it is 4% that can land a jet airliner form the ranks of us plebes..
    One difficulty is that the quest for ever more fuel efficiency requires sophisticated flight algorithms and the simplicity in the override systems gets ignored. complex airfoils to achieve the summa of fuel efficiency often leave little room for error. by contrast, if you have ever watched a DC-3 fuel up, you realise that a lot of gas goes to lift 24 people...

    What is required is software that falls back to a failsafe mode on pilot command. The 737 max that crashed was fighting the pilot input.
    Not good.
    If that % is correct, would suggest a couple to several among the passengers and flight attendants of a typical airliner load. Probably upped a bit if they've had some flying experience or a VFR rating, or more. Oh to be so lucky if there's a more experienced person aboard with hours and ratings as a pilot.

    In both these 737 Max-8 crashes, the problem was an automatic "anti-stall" system which one would think not necessary if the flight-deck crew have been properly trained and experienced. Aircraft stall envelope is something usually basic to pilot training and qualification and having an automated anti-stall system suggests market conditions and buyers of these aircraft may not have properly trained and experienced aircrew to operate such.

    Seems like a good point here to inject my recent flying experiences. For a start, it had been nearly three decades since last up in a small plane and having some brief "hands-on" (which was only after getting airborne) so my tale begins two Summers ago, 2017, when about this time in the Season I went for an "introductory" flight via one of the local aviation services/schools, where you get some brief ground school and about an hour's flying time with an instructor. Cost was about $190, $130 for the plane, $60 for the instructor. In all three episodes I'll share, the aircraft is a Cessna 172, tricycle landing gear and seats four.

    We start with the usual pre-flight checking and Dale(instructor) did most of that with me shadowing. He also did the engine start-up and radio checks, from the right seat, I was in the left one, but let me taxi out to the end of the runway. He then went through the rev up and let me line up on the end and do the take-off. Dale handled the throttle during most of the flying time, and the radio contact with traffic control. I got to do the flying most of the time and we started at about 2000 feet level off and later climbed to about 4000 when going by and through some mountains East of Bellingham. There were a couple times he took back the controls when I was using the camera to get some pictures, such as when we were circling over my homestead, and also after letting me get us down to about 200 feet above the runway approach, he took over and did final turn and landing, letting me do most of the taxi back to our parking spot. It was a blast!

    Next time was August last Summer during an AirFest event where another local school/service was offering half-hour flights in a big loop around the airport for $50. Again a 172 and they sought to fill the other three seats. A brief chat with the pilot/instructor(Dave) and he let me have the right seat. Dave did the takeoff and landing, but let me do most of the flying while we were up.As before, mostly straight and level with a few turns.

    The most recent was a couple of weeks ago,with the other aviation service/school, similar intro deal. Instructor/pilot was Odd (pronounce Ode) from Norway, been flying for United for about 30 years now and is captain on 777s. We started with standard per-flight check, look over, which includes dipstick check of fuel tanks on the 172, one each wing. Once inside, strapped and headphones on, he walked me through start-up and warm-up, while he did the radio checks, there are two frequency settings in use. This aircraft had recently installed screen displays in addition to usual analog dial instruments, which was handy to see all that information in a single screen. Also, over on his(right) side of the instrument panel was a digital screen map display, looking much like a small section of standard aerial nav maps, which also shows nearby aircraft positions (via transponders) which helps doing the visual look around.

    Once rpms were stable at 1000 and oil pressure showed green range, we taxied out to the runway. I had some adjustment to do in getting my feet low enough down on the rudder pedals to not be engaging the brakes and making for a jerky progress, and getting feel for throttle adjustment, enough to move, but not too much to be racing along. Pull over to the runup pad and do that final checks, clear with tower and wait for the Beechcraft in front of us to go, and then out, line-up and push the trottle in for take off, which I managed reasonably well. Wind coming out of the North and going in that direction down runway, was only a couple of minutes and we were leveling off at about 1500' and coming up on my home site before I knew it. Odd took controls during part of the banking turn around while I was getting some aerial photos (so that's what's in my neighbor's backyard) and then we took a NW heading toward Blaine and Canadian border.

    Along that path and about midway to Drayton Harbor I noticed something off the left wingtip and it revealed to be an eagle, about fifty feet off the tip, just soaring along up there. At around 70-80 knots only had a couple seconds view and not enough time to get camera before it was behind us. Just south of Blaine we banked left and headed southish along the coastline, the San Juan Islands of our starboard side. Flew over the ARCO refinery and jogged over a tanker that was tied up at the pier, than a slight Sw heading towards Lummi Island. By now we've been about forty-five minutes in the air and are coming up on the approach for landing. As I'm dropping us down for line-up, there's a couple craft in traffic, coming and going we need to watch and clear, but soon we are about a mile out, lining up and dropping.

    BLI sits about 160 feet above sealevel so there is that adjustment to do watching altitude, Odd guides me through the flap settings and line-up, our descent rate looking good, he's going to let me land her (first time I've ever done that). As the runway comes up, rather quick that last couple hundred feet, and eyeball says the wheels out to be touching soon, he advises I lift the nose up some to settle on the mainwheels first, which we do,then the nose drops down and we are rolling. Throttle out to slow the engine down, feet higher up on the pedals to put on the brakes and line up to an off ramp and taxi over to our parking area. As we get to our spot he coaches me through a tight ground turn to swing our tail inline with where we want to push back for tie-up.

    A couple of pointers here. During flight he's been guiding me on how to use the trim tab wheel to adjust that to offset torque and nose attitude to make the stick lighter when using the elevators. He's also been handling the shift between radio and intercom and talking with air traffic control. On landing approach, once within a couple hundred feet or less, only use rudders to adjust where you are pointing in line-up to center line. Using the stick/wheel will tilt the wings and do a bank, which you don't want.

    This has been way long already and maybe a bit boring, but just trying to give some perspective on a novice handling and landing an aircraft, especially a small and light one. One notable here is that in the 172 you're only a few feet above the ground when the wheels touch, in something like a 777, or a 747 your perspective is from a couple of stories up.

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  • Mountain Man
    replied
    Originally posted by marktwain View Post

    IIRC, I read somewhere that it is 4% that can land a jet airliner form the ranks of us plebes..
    One difficulty is that the quest for ever more fuel efficiency requires sophisticated flight algorithms and the simplicity in the override systems gets ignored. complex airfoils to achieve the summa of fuel efficiency often leave little room for error. by contrast, if you have ever watched a DC-3 fuel up, you realise that a lot of gas goes to lift 24 people...

    What is required is software that falls back to a failsafe mode on pilot command. The 737 max that crashed was fighting the pilot input.
    Not good.
    I'll bet the pilot was fighting the aircraft, since there have been several cases like this in which the pilots did not understand how the plane was programmed to respond and kept trying to override control commands.

    Leave a comment:


  • MarkV
    replied
    Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post

    Except for the upper class ones with degrees. They often think they're the smartest guys in the room and their $h!+ don't stink. It's a real eye opener for them when they discover American technicians, blue collar workers, and others "beneath" them won't put up with their arrogance and demands for a nanosecond.

    I've seen that repeatedly.
    You obviously haven't had that much experience in India where the class structure is different to the US (or UK). The people writing the code do have degrees. When I first led a team in the Gulf I discovered that our Indian tea wallah had a degree in computer science and when he wasn't running menial errands for us was using one of the spare PCs to write code - and bloody good code at that. When I wanted to use him properly in the team I wasn't allowed to do so. He was only with us to earn the dosh to set up a software company back home later. Indian society was then highly stratified and maybe still is.

    Leave a comment:


  • Persephone
    replied
    Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post

    Except for the upper class ones with degrees. They often think they're the smartest guys in the room and their $h!+ don't stink. It's a real eye opener for them when they discover American technicians, blue collar workers, and others "beneath" them won't put up with their arrogance and demands for a nanosecond.

    I've seen that repeatedly.
    Yeah, these arrogant ones give the rest of them a bad reputation. I've worked with both and the grunts are more tolerable than the ones with degrees.

    Leave a comment:


  • marktwain
    replied
    Originally posted by G David Bock View Post
    Seems the best place for this;

    Could a Passenger Land an Airplane?
    ...
    One of the most regular questions I’m hit with is the one about a passenger landing the plane. If, for whatever reason, the entire cockpit crew suddenly became incapacitated, could a person with no formal training somehow get a commercial jetliner safely to the ground?

    Many people seem to think so — a presumption that has always struck me as peculiar. As somebody with no medical training, I don’t propose that I could saunter into an operating room and perform a kidney transplant. Neither could I repair a satellite or design a skyscraper. Heck, I can barely cook a proper meal. Some things are, simply and expectedly, beyond my levels of expertise. When it comes to airplanes, though, a surprising number of non-pilots believe they could pull it off.

    The reason for this is rooted in people’s widespread misunderstanding of cockpit automation. Consensus holds that jetliners today are super-automated machines where a pilot’s only critical role is to play backup in case of an emergency. Indeed, the notion of the automatic airplane that “flies itself” is perhaps the most aggravating and stubborn myth in all of aviation. That’s the result, in part, of a sometimes gullible media that takes at face value the claims of researchers and academics who — interesting as their work may be — often have little sense of the operational realities of commercial flight. Cue the aeronautics professor or university scientist who will blithely assert that we are well on our way to a future in which pilots will be engineered out of the picture entirely. Consequently, travelers have a vastly exaggerated sense of what cockpit technology actually does, and how pilots interact with that technology. “Of course I could land the plane,” the thinking goes. “It’s only a matter of pressing a few buttons, is it not?”A Boeing 757 cockpit (Photo by Alberto Riva/TPG)
    ...
    In fact, flying remains a very hands-on operation subject to tremendous amounts of pilot input. Our hands might not be steering the airplane directly — as would have been the case in the 1930s — but almost everything the airplane does is commanded, one way or the other, by the crew. The automation only does what we tell it to do. It needs to be instructed when, where, and how to perform its tasks. On the 767 that I fly, there are multiple ways to set up and command an “automatic” climb, descent or change of course. People might be surprised at how busy a cockpit can become on even the most routine flight and with all of the automation running. Granted, there are stretches of low workload during which, to the non-pilot observer, it would seem that very little requires the crew’s attention. But there also are periods of very high workload, to the point where both pilots can become task-saturated.

    The best analogy, I think, is one that compares flying to medicine. In other words, cockpit automation assists pilots similar to the way that advanced medical equipment assists surgeons. While it has improved their capabilities, pilots and surgeons both remain absolutely essential. A plane “flies itself” no more than an operating room performs that kidney transplant “by itself.”
    ...
    With all of that duly noted, let’s get back to the original question: What are the chances of a nonpilot safely landing a jetliner?

    Everything I just wrote notwithstanding, there’s a ladder to this. Do you mean somebody who knows nothing at all about flying? How about a private pilot who has flown four-seaters? What about a desktop simulator buff who has studied a jetliner’s systems and controls? Depending on the circumstances, some would fare better than others. It depends, too, on the meaning of “land.” Do you mean from just a few hundred feet over the ground, in ideal weather, with the plane stabilized and pointed toward the runway, and with someone talking you through it? Or, do you mean the whole full-blown arrival, from cruising altitude to touchdown?

    In the case of the former, you’ve got a fighting chance. This was demonstrated in 2007 on the Discovery Channel show Mythbusters. In the episode, hosts Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman took the controls in a NASA simulator stripped down to represent a “generic commercial airliner.” A seasoned pilot, stationed in an imaginary control tower, carefully instructed them via radio. On the first try they crashed. The second time, they made it.

    But all they really did was land a make-believe airplane from a starting point close to the runway. The scenario most people envision is the one where, droning along at cruise altitude, the crew suddenly falls ill and only a brave passenger can save the day. They’ll strap themselves in, and, with the smooth coaching of a voice over the radio, try to bring the plane to the ground.

    For somebody without any training, the chance of success in this scenario is exactly zero. This person would have to be talked from 35,000 feet all the way to the point where an automatic approach could commence, complete with any number of turns, descents, decelerations, and configuration changes (appropriately setting the flaps, slats, and landing gear). Sorry to drop in another medical analogy, but I reckon it would be about as easy as dictating brain surgery over the telephone to somebody who has never held a scalpel. It’d be tough even for a private pilot or the most obsessive desktop sim hobbyist. Our would-be hero would have a hard enough time finding the microphone switch and correctly configuring the radio panel, let alone handling the maneuvering, programming, navigating, and configuring it would take to land safely.
    ...
    https://www.msn.com/en-us/travel/art...L&ocid=msnbcrd
    IIRC, I read somewhere that it is 4% that can land a jet airliner form the ranks of us plebes..
    One difficulty is that the quest for ever more fuel efficiency requires sophisticated flight algorithms and the simplicity in the override systems gets ignored. complex airfoils to achieve the summa of fuel efficiency often leave little room for error. by contrast, if you have ever watched a DC-3 fuel up, you realise that a lot of gas goes to lift 24 people...

    What is required is software that falls back to a failsafe mode on pilot command. The 737 max that crashed was fighting the pilot input.
    Not good.

    Leave a comment:


  • T. A. Gardner
    replied
    Originally posted by Persephone View Post


    You make some valid points but it doesn't mean Boeing is off the hook.

    I've worked with people from India and you're right, they do follow instructions as given.
    Except for the upper class ones with degrees. They often think they're the smartest guys in the room and their $h!+ don't stink. It's a real eye opener for them when they discover American technicians, blue collar workers, and others "beneath" them won't put up with their arrogance and demands for a nanosecond.

    I've seen that repeatedly.

    Leave a comment:


  • Persephone
    replied
    Originally posted by MarkV View Post

    I have been involved in reviewing projects that outsourced coding to India. Indian programmers were by and large very good but one has to manage the out sourcing properly which many do not. All too often these guys are underpaid by European and US standards but well paid by local ones. They dare not risk their jobs and follow instructions implicitly. They get specifications sent to them often with no explanation of what the software they are writing is supposed to do and often they write code that follows the spec exactly even if it seems a little odd. They are not encouraged to use their initiative and question things. To get the best out of them I found that it was best to have someone out there with them who understands what the software is doing and can answer questions and explain things. This also avoids the other problem - these guys are often quite bright but bored out of their skulls and so if there is a choice writing some inefficient but simple code that works or some incredibly super elegant and efficient code that might not guess what the result can be. It's not that the coders are incompetent its that the quality control isn't done properly and the people commissioning the work aren't prepared to spend a little more to put that in.

    I have found that some Americans don't like having to spend too much time in places like India and possibly Boeing had a problem putting QA people out there.

    You make some valid points but it doesn't mean Boeing is off the hook.

    I've worked with people from India and you're right, they do follow instructions as given.

    Leave a comment:


  • MarkV
    replied
    Originally posted by Persephone View Post




    If true that Boeing awarded work to incompetent India vendors to secure orders from the Indian military...is very troubling.

    I have been involved in reviewing projects that outsourced coding to India. Indian programmers were by and large very good but one has to manage the out sourcing properly which many do not. All too often these guys are underpaid by European and US standards but well paid by local ones. They dare not risk their jobs and follow instructions implicitly. They get specifications sent to them often with no explanation of what the software they are writing is supposed to do and often they write code that follows the spec exactly even if it seems a little odd. They are not encouraged to use their initiative and question things. To get the best out of them I found that it was best to have someone out there with them who understands what the software is doing and can answer questions and explain things. This also avoids the other problem - these guys are often quite bright but bored out of their skulls and so if there is a choice writing some inefficient but simple code that works or some incredibly super elegant and efficient code that might not guess what the result can be. It's not that the coders are incompetent its that the quality control isn't done properly and the people commissioning the work aren't prepared to spend a little more to put that in.

    I have found that some Americans don't like having to spend too much time in places like India and possibly Boeing had a problem putting QA people out there.

    Leave a comment:


  • Persephone
    replied


    Boeing's 737 Max Software Outsourced to $9-an-Hour Engineers

    Increasingly, the iconic American planemaker and its subcontractors have relied on temporary workers making as little as $9 an hour to develop and test software, often from countries lacking a deep background in aerospace -- notably India.

    The coders from HCL were typically designing to specifications set by Boeing. Still, “it was controversial because it was far less efficient than Boeing engineers just writing the code,” Rabin said. Frequently, he recalled, “it took many rounds going back and forth because the code was not done correctly.”

    Boeing’s cultivation of Indian companies appeared to pay other dividends. In recent years, it has won several orders for Indian military and commercial aircraft, such as a $22 billion one in January 2017 to supply SpiceJet Ltd. That order included 100 737-Max 8 jets and represented Boeing’s largest order ever from an Indian airline, a coup in a country dominated by Airbus.

    Based on resumes posted on social media, HCL engineers helped develop and test the Max’s flight-display software, while employees from another Indian company, Cyient Ltd., handled software for flight-test equipment.

    https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/techn...ers/ar-AADzCXz

    If true that Boeing awarded work to incompetent India vendors to secure orders from the Indian military...is very troubling.


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