MAX Meeting

FlyersRights.org attended a Capitol Hill hearing this week where Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger told lawmakers that during a flight simulation, he too struggled to recover the 737MAX and that the automated flight control system was “fatally flawed.” 
 
Our takeaways:

Even more safety dangers were revealed by pilot testimony during Wednesday’s House Aviation Subcommittee. They include:

– The MAX requires a higher take-off speed of 23 mph higher than previous versions, making it difficult to clear obstacles at the end of shorter runways at some airports like Chicago Midway, especially in wet or icy conditions. In hot weather, such as in Ethiopia (and other geographical locations) where the Ethiopian Airliner crashed in March killing all.

– The FAA has reduced mandatory pilot simulator retraining from every six months to every 12 months. Furthermore, there are about 100 emergency conditions that pilots need to practice according to manuals and the training time is woefully insufficient.

– There are only four full simulators for the MAX
(two in Canada, one in the U.S. and one in Ethiopia) so it is impossible for tens of thousands of MAX pilots to get full simulator training.

– The pilot flight manual checklists need revision to ensure pilots can actually perform the tasks listed. Capt. Sully noted that pilots faced G-forces of +2 to -2, making some emergency tasks impossible to perform, especially when pilots have to look up emergency-condition procedures with very little time.

– Bad plane designs like the MAX increase the number of possible dangerous emergency conditions pilots must deal with.

– The FAA lacks experts qualified to evaluate computer systems with advanced artificial intelligence, which is now being used to control airliners in flight.

– Pilots, especially foreign pilots, fly 90% of the time using automation and only 10% manually.

– Safety starts at the top and Boeing board lacks any pilots, and has only one engineer –the CEO came out the military aircraft division not the commercial airplane division.

– It is unclear to AA pilots whether the Boeing proposed MAX fix that turns the plane over to manual pilot control when MCAS senses anomalies is viable as they have been unable to test this proposed Boeing solution in actual flight or simulator tests. A recent test was canceled by Boeing. Why?

– Boeing is looking to fire about 900 human safety inspectors at its manufacturing plants, as it wants to replace them with robots and computer software.

Safety Warning – Boeing admits the fire extinguisher on its Dreamliners can FAIL

Last week, The Guardian quoted anonymous pilots who have expressed fears over the safety of a number of Boeing 787 Dreamliners, which have fire suppression systems that could potentially malfunction.
Earlier this year, the FAA issued an airworthiness directive (AD) based on evidence from the warpage of internal engine fire handle components on the 787-8, 787-9 and 787-10. If the handle components fail, it could prevent the fire extinguisher agent from being released. If there’s an engine fire, the FAA found it could be uncontrollable, resulting in potential wing failure.
Boeing did issue an alert to airlines about the 787, admitting that a switch used to extinguish an engine fire has failed in a “small number” of instances.
Boeing, in turn, issued an alert to airlines that are flying its 787 Dreamliner, warning that the switch used to extinguish an engine fire has failed in a “small number” of instances. The switch also severs the fuel supply and the hydraulic fluid to prevent flames spreading.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), has decided not to ground the fleet, despite admitting a “risk to the flying public,” said a pilot who spoke anonymously to the Observer.

“Boeing insists that the risk of an engine fire is very low, and that’s true, but it’s Boeing’s attitude to the risk that has upset us, especially in light of recent B737 Max issues.”

The FAA was criticized around the world for refusing to ground the Boeing 737 MAX in March after two fatal crashes. It changed its stance after regulators in other countries banned the aircraft from flying while the accidents were investigated.

POINT OF VIEW:

 

As we know, the Boeing of today is not the same Boeing of even 10 years ago.
In 2013, FlyersRights.org was one of a few outlets reporting critically on the Dreamliner engine fires.
But we didn’t know back then that the incident signaled a fundamental shift at Boeing – the company had become more interested in profits and shareholder benefits than safety.
Recent reports from Boeing’s Charleston manufacturing facility do not instill confidence. Some of the workers have said they would never get on a Dreamliner assembled there.
Boeing used to be a national treasure, but it has changed. It appears obsessed with the competition, at the expense of safety.
The fact that Boeing is still working on new software for the 737MAX seems to indicate that the fix is not a simple and easy one, as it keeps claiming.
While it hopefully means that Boeing wants to get it right, it raises more questions – what is it that makes it so complex? Is it a physical instability that many imply, or is Boeing suddenly just so diligent?

Airworthiness Federal Standards –

It has emerged on the 737MAX that larger LEAP- 1B engines were unsuited to the airframe and there is no way now to alter the airframe to balance the aircraft.

 
The characteristics of the elevator control forces (including friction) must be as follows:
(a) A pull must be required to obtain and maintain speeds below the specified trim speed, and a push must be required to obtain and maintain speeds above the specified trim speed. This must be shown at any speed that can be obtained except speeds higher than the landing gear or wing flap operating limit speeds or V FC/M FC, whichever is appropriate, or lower than the minimum speed for steady unstalled flight.

(b) The airspeed must return to within 10 percent of the original trim speed for the climb, approach, and landing conditions specified in §25.175 (a), (c), and (d), and must return to within 7.5 percent of the original trim speed for the cruising condition specified in §25.175(b), when the control force is slowly released from any speed within the range specified in paragraph (a) of this section.

(c) The average gradient of the stable slope of the stick force versus speed curve may not be less than 1 pound for each 6 knots.

(d) Within the free return speed range specified in paragraph (b) of this section, it is permissible for the airplane, without control forces, to stabilize on speeds above or below the desired trim speeds if exceptional attention on the part of the pilot is not required to return to and maintain the desired trim speed and altitude.
[Amdt. 25-7, 30 FR 13117, Oct. 15, 1965]

It also emerged that the choice to fit engines to this airframe have origins in a commercial decision to please Southwest Airlines and cancel the Boeing 757.

The Facts So Far:

  • Boeing failed to provide training or training material to pilots or even advise them of the existence of MCAS. Boeing specifically assured the European Aviation Safety Agency in 2016 that it would do so.
  • There was a complex two-step process required of pilots in ET302 and JT610 crashes and their Quick Reference Handbook did not explain this.
  • Boeing pilots had less than 40 SECONDS to override automated system.
  • Boeing failed to advise airlines that selected an AOA disagree warning system for $80,000 as an optional extra, was in fact disabled and inactive.
  • The 737MAX is an aerodynamically unbalanced aircraft vulnerable to any sort of disruption, ranging from electrical failure, out of phase generator, faulty AOA sensor, faulty PCU failure alert and digital encoding error in the Digital Flight Data Acquisition Unit.

 

Dear FlyersRights-

I have corresponded with your group in the last year about evacuation testing conducted the airlines and the FAA.
While I am still concerned about being punished by United Airlines for speaking out, I feel this is very important and want to know how I might be able to help.
The “MOC” evacuations that have been industry standard to certify new or reconfigured airplanes is a total joke!
The claim by the airlines and the FAA that an airplane can be evacuated in 90 seconds is insane!
The tests are totally rigged…. NO ONE has a SINGLE piece of luggage! NO ONE is under 20 and NO ONE over 60!  NO ONE with ANY disability.
They are ALL airline employees who KNOW they will be evacuating… who KNOW 80% of the scenario they will be evacuating in.
There is NO damage to the aircraft… NO fire or water…. Smoke? Simulated and NOT blinding….
What happened in Russia is EXACTLY what WILL happen in any crash in the US or anywhere for that matter.
In today’s world computer simulated crashes would be a much better test than the insanity of what the FAA and the airlines are getting away with today.
Because of politics the unions are afraid to speak up because the airlines and the FAA will just stop working with them. The unions feel it is better to work with the devil to get some changes rather than none at all.
I know you all know all this…just look at what the airlines especially Delta are doing to try to stop the minimum 10 hour legal rest for flight attendants….it is ALL the “All Mighty Dollar!”
Maybe 60 minutes or Dateline or….would be willing to do some airline stories?
Thank you for all you do!
-KL
 
 
Dear FlyersRights –
If you have a non-refundable airline ticket and something important happens and the date or the time of the flight needs to change, the charge an be excessive to make the change, even to the point it can be cheaper to buy a new ticket.
I know the congress is looking into all sorts of airline gouging. Is this one the areas they are looking at to make change fees more reasonable?
-PD
Unfortunately Congress is not, and the DOT has a long-standing policy of refusing to regulate fees even when they have legal authority to do so. See DOT-OST-2015-0031 at Regulations.gov web site.
So far no Congressperson has been willing to even introduce any reform or limitation of change fees as FlyersRights.org has urged for years. All such fees are waived for Congress members and their staff.  Airlines are also exempt from state anti price gouging laws and there is no federal anti price gouging law.
Flyersrights.org has a court appeal pending in the US DC Circuit Court ( Flyers Rights Education Fund v DOT Secretary Chao) and is looking for examples of excessive change fees.  Also financial support is very much needed for litigation expenses. 
Regards
Paul Hudson
President, FlyersRights.org
Dear FlyersRights,
Why isn’t Flyers Rights working with Consumer Reports (magazine) to help get information out to a wider audience?
-GO
We have tried but the leadership has so far declined 
To meet with us presumably on competitive grounds.
Perhaps you could write to their CEO and Bd. Of Directors,
Suggesting a meeting to discuss ways we could cooperate and
Share info.  
Paul Hudson
President, Flyers Rights.org

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