Profits 1st, Safety 2nd?

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Message 1994747 - Posted: 22 May 2019, 14:49:20 UTC - in response to Message 1994736.  

If it didn't then it was move onto another checklist and try again. All very well at 30,000ft, but on the climb-out from Addis - just not enough height and thus time....
Good post. I snipped most of it leaving the quote above for a reason.
Can we get serious now?

He does... Very much so:

Captain "Sully" Sullenberger blasts Boeing and FAA in op-ed


The quoted "frustration" is an extremely professional understatement...

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Message 1994748 - Posted: 22 May 2019, 14:52:55 UTC

And the responses here, or rather the complete lack of any useful response, to my mind are deadly damning:


FAA head on whether Boeing 737 Max 8 safety features should have been mandatory



So, really? Safety is an optional cost-extra? And an extra profit for Boeing Sales/Marketing??

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Message 1994753 - Posted: 22 May 2019, 15:14:09 UTC - in response to Message 1994748.  

So, really? Safety is an optional cost-extra? And an extra profit for Boeing Sales/Marketing??
The failure of the FAA to require Airworthiness Directive 87-21-08 inspection of all the lap joints proposed by Boeing Alert Service Bulletin SB 737-53A1039; and the lack of a complete terminating action (neither generated by Boeing nor required by the FAA) after the discovery of early production difficulties in the B-737 cold bond lap joint which resulted in low bond durability, corrosion, and premature fatigue cracking.
That was part of the NTSB's conclusion to an incident that occurred 11,399 days ago. Not much changed in 31 years it seems.
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Message 1994756 - Posted: 22 May 2019, 15:59:23 UTC - in response to Message 1994715.  

They panicked and lost sight of their first job, to fly the plane.

[...]

I'd expect the MCAS runaway recovery procedure to: 1) turn MCAS off and keep it off! 2) reduce speed to maneuvering speed (or less) 3) manually trim the aircraft. 4) continue normal flight without electric trim. 5) inform Company and ATC of issue.

Sounds like good speculation...

So how did Boeing fly such a deadly thing?...

From https://embeddedartistry.com/blog/2019/4/1/what-can-software-organizations-learn-from-the-boeing-737-max-saga
Other pilots have struggled against the MCAS system and safely guided their passengers to their destination.

Not so deadly is it?

Until we have a real safety investigation that does not have a predetermined result to lay all blame on Boeing, we will continue to kill people.

That article makes the real point that documentation is more important than the code. Until the IT industry wakes up to that ... .
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Message 1994764 - Posted: 22 May 2019, 17:18:06 UTC

Sorry Garry, but Boeing have really dropped the balls on this one they should come clean and you should shut up defending the indefensible.

I've been talking to one of the team of senior pilots(*) involved in the potential re-certification of the b737Max for flying European airspace, he says, "Without MCAS it is a perfectly safe aircraft, but one with significantly different flying characteristics when compared to the earlier generations of the b737", and "That [without MCAS] those differences would have prevented the b737Max from being certified as type compatible with those earlier generations".
The truth is Boeing didn't tell airlines the all the facts about all failure modes of MCAS, because it "wasn't considered a safety system" - which if one looks at its design intent is true. HOWEVER, "nobody" considered the single-point failure that could lead to the MCAS system commanding, and authorising, the full "nose down" movement of the horizontal stabiliser, and yet it was obvious that this was a real potential failure mode given the very poor diagnostics available to the flight crew coupled with the very poor "conversion training" made available to the airlines (and possibly to other regulatory authorities). What was a "safety benign" system had become a "critical-safety affecting" system - meaning that while its main function was not one of safety, in certain failure modes it could critically affect the safety of an aircraft.

As has already been stated, MCAS failures presented as a number of potential other failures, and the in-flight checklists didn't help the diagnosis in the "hot" situation of MCAS very rapidly pushing the nose down. And for the Lion Air crash MCAS failures weren't even considered, just a bunch of "more common" failures. After Lion Air there was a minor change in the sequence of some of the checklists, but still not one that covered the whole range of symptoms - this was (is?) because some of the covered modes were considered more probable, and thus took higher priority in the list of lists.

Don't loose sight of the fact that MCAS was marketed as a "pilot aid", and not a safety system - the b737 is perfectly safe without MCAS, it just handles differently to it predecessors. In my opinion, the b737Max would be flying today if it hadn't had it installed and that the type approval system had considered it as a "different type" to other b737 models. As an aside b757, b767, b777, b787 have a similar flight characteristic to a b737Max without MCAS, but don't "need" such a system as they are different types. Also some (all?) the A32x family all have an "MCAS-like" system, but have a "proper" fault detection and announcement s set of functions, with redundancy and sanity checking in place, and have had it for a good few years.


(*) My contact only joined the team a few weeks before the Lion Air crash, having gone through a long training program as test pilot to become accredited as such for the various European civil aviation agencies (remember, not all European countries are members of the EU, and indeed most members of the EU have their own agencies) - his "day job" was as a b737 pilot for a major mainland Europe airline, but "out based" in the UK. Since that time he has all but stopped his day job, but has been fyling simulations of, first the Lion Air crash, but more recently the Ethiopian Airway crash, he reckons the Lion Air crew had maybe thirty seconds to save the aircraft when the second episode kicked in, but there was virtually no hope for the Ethiopian Airways crew due to Addis being so "hot and high", with such adverse terrain.
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Message 1994770 - Posted: 22 May 2019, 18:06:38 UTC - in response to Message 1994756.  
Last modified: 22 May 2019, 18:08:02 UTC

That article makes the real point that documentation is more important than the code. Until the IT industry wakes up to that ... .
The IT industry is aware of that.
Both the code and the documentation are equally important and both are prone to error.
But there can be errors in the documentation even if the code is correct and vice versa.
Finding those discrepancies can only be done by doing many tests that in this case is quite clear wasn't done enough.
Pilots know how to fly airplanes.
Aeronautical engineers know how airplanes fly.
Seldom do the twain meet.
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Message 1994799 - Posted: 22 May 2019, 22:19:51 UTC

@Rob, I'm not saying Boeing isn't the major party at fault. (They built another Ford Pinto.) Also I'm not the one saying that other pilots had issues with MCAS and were able to land safely to say Boeing is without fault, I just point that out to say that more needs to be looked at. I'm saying that by dismissing anything else you miss an important opportunity to find the rest of the weak links in the chain and missing them will bring down more airplanes because of it.

@moomin, The IT industry hasn't heard it yet. Lip service is all that is being paid to it. When some IT persons are held accountable in a civil or criminal court then and only then will some real attention be directed at the problem. Until then they will try and hide behind a no warranty clause, but that won't work with bodies piling up. Or put it this way, are classes on writing documentation a requirement for a BS in Computer Science?
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Message 1994806 - Posted: 22 May 2019, 23:06:42 UTC - in response to Message 1994799.  
Last modified: 22 May 2019, 23:17:26 UTC

Or put it this way, are classes on writing documentation a requirement for a BS in Computer Science?
Actually in most IT projects the code is the most reliable documentation.
The documentation is written after the code been tested but often you miss to test all possible outcome of the code.
And sometimes coders even write error output to a log like "This cannot happen" to what the coder think is an impossible outcome of the code. Sometimes it does anyway...
Been there, done that...

btw. You don't have to be a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science to test code.
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Message 1994807 - Posted: 22 May 2019, 23:43:49 UTC - in response to Message 1994806.  

Or put it this way, are classes on writing documentation a requirement for a BS in Computer Science?
Actually in most IT projects the code is the most reliable documentation.
The documentation is written after the code been tested but often you miss to test all possible outcome of the code.
And sometimes coders even write error output to a log like "This cannot happen" to what the coder think is an impossible outcome of the code. Sometimes it does anyway...
Been there, done that...

btw. You don't have to be a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science to test code.

At my son's company they write the documentation, in English not geek speak, at the same time as the code. Because on large projects it can be months before it is fully tested or even longer if discovered by a user, and probably by that time the programmer has forgotten all about it or is no longer there.
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Message 1994808 - Posted: 23 May 2019, 0:15:17 UTC - in response to Message 1994807.  

Or put it this way, are classes on writing documentation a requirement for a BS in Computer Science?
Actually in most IT projects the code is the most reliable documentation.
The documentation is written after the code been tested but often you miss to test all possible outcome of the code.
And sometimes coders even write error output to a log like "This cannot happen" to what the coder think is an impossible outcome of the code. Sometimes it does anyway...
Been there, done that...

btw. You don't have to be a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science to test code.

At my son's company they write the documentation, in English not geek speak, at the same time as the code. Because on large projects it can be months before it is fully tested or even longer if discovered by a user, and probably by that time the programmer has forgotten all about it or is no longer there.

Smart operation. Most places look as if the original was in geek speak in Chinese, translated to Roman, translated to Japanese, finally translated to English. Just like most instruction manuals. Upper management says get it out the door now. Documentation has not even been dreamed of. And the people who wrote the code and just before release date too busy fixing major issues to write documentation or sit down with a technical writer.

As to the code being the best documentation, moomin, do you expect the pilot who uses the code to be able to read it?!

There is a story about a famous couch at M$ when word first came out. It was reserved for tech calls for mail merge. The help desk knew that any call about mail merge was going to be that long! The documentation was written by programmers for programmers, not secretaries. [it is a very simple macro language so it made sense to them but not the people who had to use it]
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Message 1994813 - Posted: 23 May 2019, 0:35:26 UTC - in response to Message 1994807.  

I don't believe your son write documentation that fully explain what the code does and how it works in detail.
Been in the business more than 30 years and never seen such documentation.
Usually the documentation is the same that was given to the coder before he even started to code.
But there is of course as an example the BOINC project with documented code (in English) for calculating "CreditNew".
How many understand that? Certainly only the author.
https://boinc.berkeley.edu/trac/wiki/CreditNew
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Message 1994821 - Posted: 23 May 2019, 2:05:08 UTC - in response to Message 1994813.  

I don't believe your son write documentation that fully explain what the code does and how it works in detail.
Been in the business more than 30 years and never seen such documentation.
Usually the documentation is the same that was given to the coder before he even started to code.
But there is of course as an example the BOINC project with documented code (in English) for calculating "CreditNew".
How many understand that? Certainly only the author.
https://boinc.berkeley.edu/trac/wiki/CreditNew

Crystal clear. However it is written for a person who can read C++, not a secretary. That is the issue. Documentation of code for coders isn't the issue. Documentation of the entire program for the end user is the problem. So documentation like credit new isn't going to help a CPA when he wants to run a depreciation schedule.
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Message 1994835 - Posted: 23 May 2019, 5:51:25 UTC

So documentation like credit new isn't going to help a CPA when he wants to run a depreciation schedule.
I guess that that would depend on how much depreciation you want as CreditScrew will supply endless amounts. :-D

Cheers.
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Message 1994860 - Posted: 23 May 2019, 14:18:01 UTC - in response to Message 1994807.  

At my son's company they write the documentation, in English not geek speak, at the same time as the code. Because on large projects it can be months before it is fully tested or even longer if discovered by a user, and probably by that time the programmer has forgotten all about it or is no longer there.
For the only software I've ever written for commercial release (by a charity), we worked like that. I was solely responsible for the code, but we had a professional author to write the manual - and he pointed out the idiocies in my user interface coding as we went along. The final product was much benefited by the close, but non-technical, scrutiny.

The other vivid memory I have is of the public launch of the finished product. I was on keyboards, stage right of one of the grander meeting rooms in Wakefield Town Hall. My computer monitor was hooked up to one of those triple-lens Barco projectors, and everything the computer output was displayed on a cinema screen for all to see. That concentrates a programmer's mind...

In the Boeing Max case, I see that "Boeing has not formally submitted the software fix to the FAA" and "The FAA is expected to conduct a certification flight in the coming weeks". I think every spare seat on that flight should be filled by a member of the MCAS programming team - with the project leader in the cockpit jump seat.
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Message 1994868 - Posted: 23 May 2019, 15:35:54 UTC - in response to Message 1994860.  

At my son's company they write the documentation, in English not geek speak, at the same time as the code. Because on large projects it can be months before it is fully tested or even longer if discovered by a user, and probably by that time the programmer has forgotten all about it or is no longer there.
For the only software I've ever written for commercial release (by a charity), we worked like that. I was solely responsible for the code, but we had a professional author to write the manual - and he pointed out the idiocies in my user interface coding as we went along. The final product was much benefited by the close, but non-technical, scrutiny.

The other vivid memory I have is of the public launch of the finished product. I was on keyboards, stage right of one of the grander meeting rooms in Wakefield Town Hall. My computer monitor was hooked up to one of those triple-lens Barco projectors, and everything the computer output was displayed on a cinema screen for all to see. That concentrates a programmer's mind...

In the Boeing Max case, I see that "Boeing has not formally submitted the software fix to the FAA" and "The FAA is expected to conduct a certification flight in the coming weeks". I think every spare seat on that flight should be filled by a member of the MCAS programming team - with the project leader in the cockpit jump seat.

Actually, I'd rather see the team that designed and built the Angle of Attack sensors on that flight. There is that old adage GIGO.
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Message 1994881 - Posted: 23 May 2019, 18:10:25 UTC - in response to Message 1994868.  
Last modified: 23 May 2019, 18:18:29 UTC

[...]

In the Boeing Max case, I see that "Boeing has not formally submitted the software fix to the FAA" and "The FAA is expected to conduct a certification flight in the coming weeks". I think every spare seat on that flight should be filled by a member of the MCAS programming team - with the project leader in the cockpit jump seat.

The MCAS software may well be correctly exactly as specified.

The responsibility is with the system designers, and secondly the Management hustling all that through without adequate review or testing, and thirdly the FAA for not adequately overseeing that, all to fatal consequences...

So yes, have all those responsible and especially the management in on that first test flight. However, the 3rd seat in the cockpit is better occupied by a test pilot to oversee the other (busy) pilots doing the flying.

The Lion Air flight that survived the faulty MCAS prior to the deadly next flight survived due to the very rapid intervention of an off-duty 3rd pilot that was riding the 3rd seat. His oversight and knowledge of MCAS was able to diagnose the circumstances and instruct accordingly. The two pilots would be too badly hard worked saving the aircraft moment by moment to have the luxury for a pause for thought for what was happening. Note again that the MCAS goes against all their training and experience.



Actually, I'd rather see the team that designed and built the Angle of Attack sensors on that flight. There is that old adage GIGO.

It is interesting how the failure of the Angle-of-Attack sensor has largely escaped the spotlight of all the news.

Are not ALL Boeing 737 afflicted with the same AoA sensors?... Have there been any directives about those sensors??


Another significant line from the BBC article "Boeing 737 Max: FAA says no fixed timetable for grounding to be lifted":
The FAA has said that the issue of whether to make pilot training on 737 Max simulators a requirement before the plane can return to service is "still under review". ... Mr Gabriel told the BBC: "The big thing is that the simulators had not anticipated the Mcas. Pilots didn't know about it and if the authorities decide that all pilots have to be trained in a simulator that [could] cause a very big delay."...



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Message 1994888 - Posted: 23 May 2019, 19:08:40 UTC - in response to Message 1994881.  

Actually, I'd rather see the team that designed and built the Angle of Attack sensors on that flight. There is that old adage GIGO.

It is interesting how the failure of the Angle-of-Attack sensor has largely escaped the spotlight of all the news.

Are not ALL Boeing 737 afflicted with the same AoA sensors?... Have there been any directives about those sensors??

I doubt they are the same, because of the longer body of the plane they would have to be designed specifically for that.

As to why they have escaped the press, it is much easier to write speculative damnation about software than to get into technical details of an airflow sensor and Bernoulli's principle.

Unfortunately because of that the root cause of these disasters may never see the light of day.
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Message 1994895 - Posted: 23 May 2019, 19:56:55 UTC - in response to Message 1994888.  
Last modified: 23 May 2019, 21:08:55 UTC

Actually, I'd rather see the team that designed and built the Angle of Attack sensors on that flight. There is that old adage GIGO.

It is interesting how the failure of the Angle-of-Attack sensor has largely escaped the spotlight of all the news.

Are not ALL Boeing 737 afflicted with the same AoA sensors?... Have there been any directives about those sensors??

I doubt they are the same, because of the longer body of the plane they would have to be designed specifically for that. ...

Nope. I very much doubt that. Can you back up your claim of different AoA sensors across the 737s?...


I would expect the AoA sensors to be exactly the same across at least the Boeing 737 MAX and the Boeing 737 NG. Likely also way back through to the original 737.

Such parts tend to stay unchanged for decades due to high reliability and the onerous costs of reproving and recertification for any changes...


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Message 1994896 - Posted: 23 May 2019, 20:04:09 UTC - in response to Message 1994888.  

Unfortunately because of that the root cause of these disasters may never see the light of day.
The Root Cause was "Profits 1st".
The 737 series is the highest-selling commercial jetliner in history.
The 737 was revised again in the 2010s for greater efficiency, with the 737 MAX series featuring CFM LEAP-1B engines and improved winglets.
The 737 design is now 55 years old & has done extremely well with all the upgrades & technological improvements. However like everything else, the time comes when a new design is required.

Rather than take that path, Boeing took the path of least cost.
The 737 has been continuously manufactured since 1967; the 10,000th was rolled out on March 13, 2018, a MAX 8 destined for Southwest Airlines, and over 4,600 orders are pending.
Fiduciary Duty is all good & well, but where the transport industry is concerned FD should never be allowed to override Safety.
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Message 1994909 - Posted: 23 May 2019, 21:03:50 UTC - in response to Message 1994895.  

I would expect the AoA sensors to be exactly the same across at least the Boeing 737 MAX and the Boeing 737 NG. Likely also way back through to the original 737.
Airplanes aren't cars and the sensor is in the slipstream. Any change in the shape of the airplane will change the slipstream and that will require a new certification. The part in the wind has to balance and that could vary by a gram because of different air pressure at the location of the sensor on the outside of the fuselage. Now if you were talking about the galley cart hold down, that is likely unchanged and AirBus likely uses it too.

As I'm not a Boeing customer, I can't check their online parts catalog.
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