27 thoughts on “Boeing CEO”

    1. If you browse pprune.org, “Hal” is long part of pilot slang for any manner of cockpit automation that can appear to have a mind of its own leading that could result in a crash.

      The big miss of the Onion article about the 737 having a self-destruct button, a self destruct feature has been part of more than one Star Trek plot. The Enterprise crew has threatened a self-destruct more than once, and it involves a lot of drama of different members of the crew giving voice commands of their code words to the talking ship’s computer. Kirk actually carried it out once in The Search for Spock, where the Klingon left behind on the bridge of the Enterprise asked, “What does this reciting of numbers in reverse mean?”

  1. Well assuming the Boeing 911 is an un-start…
    As would be the Boeing T-2000 Terminus, so I’d go with…

    Boeing Fluff Puffy Cloud Rainbow 88

    8 is a good number for the Asian travel market.

  2. One of the Twitter commenters suggested:

    Passenger Killer Pro 2019 Ultra Rare Limited Collector’s Special Edition

    I like that one. 🙂

    I think the shareholders really need to ax the CEO, Dennis Muilenburg. He has come across as out-of-touch, tone-deaf, and inept. That’s probably not just a shallow impression, either.

    1. You can add delusional to that list. Mr. M has been going around the country for the last year or so repeatedly claiming that the first Americans to set foot on Mars are going to get there on SLS.

      1. Is CEO M the Klingon commander in the video (see above) from The Search for Spock.

        “There is no one on the bridge.”

        “They must be hiding.”

        “It appears to be run by the computer. It is speaking.”

        “Put it on that I may hear it.”


        “Get out of therrrrrrrrrre!”

    2. When I was in graduate school at a certain institution of higher learning with a small Electrical Engineering department in the greater Los Angeles area in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains, most of us “came from back East” and flew on DC-10s when we went home for Christmas or part of the summer. There was not much you could do about because all the airlines operated DC-10s on long-distance flights out of Los Angeles, so we had a kind of gallows humor about it.

      I remember after graduating returning to LA on business and visiting two of my grad-school colleagues who shared an apartment. They had a pair inflatable beach balls in the shape of DC-10s, one in American and the other in United colors — they may have been something you could order with a coupon from a cereal box, and these items were left on a coffee table as a gallows-humor apartment decoration.

      Compounding the fear-of-the-DC-10 was the Reagan firing and replacing of the air traffic controllers. Each of my friends took a DC-10 beachball, stood on a chair at opposite corners of the room with my sitting on the couch in the middle, issued “radio clearances” to the two planes and simultaneously pitched them to the center of the room towards a collision.

      The two beach balls met in the center of the room exactly nose-on, this collision precisely cancelled the momentum of the two DC-10 models, and they fell exactly straight down, which had everyone in the room in stitches laughing, again on the gallows humor aspect of having to fly “back East” under current conditions. This was just like a gag Sheldon and his roommate on Big Bang Theory would carry out.

  3. Meh, the crews of Lion Air and Ethiopian would have died the first time they had a trim runaway for any reason (there are 4 other systems that can change the trim besides MCAS). The fix is simple- just hit the two switches or hang on to the trim wheel as it rotates right next to you. That will stop the trim running. Just a little training to raise trim runaway awareness and go fly.
    What a pathetic example of how our society is going down the tubes. Soon we’ll be unable to introduce any new technological device and the Monday morning quarterbacking when it goes wrong is immense. Regarding the 737 MAX I’m amazed that the world seems to be full of aeronautical engineers, all of whom have an opinion on what Boeing did wrong. Nobody seems to realise that airplanes will kill you if you don’t know what you are doing.
    Given an AoA sensor or MCAS failure looks like very other trim runaway, for which crews are meant to be trained, I can understand the engineer’s thinking that it didn’t need lots of highly complex redundancy in the design of MCAS.

    If they want to re-brand the airplane, given that fuel economy is the reason for the new higher bypass engines, call it the 737 ECO. Boeing have been doing a lot of work in the ridiculous “green” aviation space with a couple of test aircraft over the last few years.

    1. “Meh, the crews of Lion Air and Ethiopian would have died the first time they had a trim runaway for any reason (there are 4 other systems that can change the trim besides MCAS). ” Except for two things that other sites have gone through extensively: (1) MCAS could cause a condition that may not initially look like a runaway trim, and by the time the pilot figures it out may require aggressive maneuvers to get out of it, (2 It wasn’t in the freaking manual until recently so how are pilots supposed to know a system can cause a runaway trim if the manual doesn’t tell them about it.

      1. MCAS causes the trim motor to run. That’s it. It turns the trim wheel right next to you. If your familiarity with the airplane and its normal flight operation is so poor there’s no hope. The trim can run for many reasons. If it does so when it normally wouldn’t, you have a problem. Raising the flaps and having an immediate control problem should cause you to put the flaps down again. Oh. Yeah, when you did the that the trim motor started running NOSE DOWN and stops when the flaps go down again

        They don’t need to know (and never would be told by any instrumentation) which of the other 4 systems or MCAS is causing the apparent trim trim runaway. Power is OK attitude is OK. The airplane must be flying OK.
        Pathetic. I avoid airlines for other reasons but knowing a bunch of airline pilots, some of whom aren’t all that tightly wrapped, worries me.

        1. There is a little bit more to it than that.

          The Ethiopian Airlines plane had the angle-of-attack sensor go bad — that paddle at the end of a short stalk you see near the nose of many jets. In addition to the strong nose-down command to the entire horizontal tail plane, the pilot on one side got a “stick shaker” warning, essentially a simulated stall buffet. In videos, this stick shaker is not subtle as it rattles the yoke in the manner of a hardware store paint mixer. So there was another fault condition besides the (intermittent) runaway trim of the MCAS monkeying with the trim.

          The scary nature of this was demonstrated by an training airline captain to a reporter from 60 Minutes, where a simulator ended up in a decidedly nose-down attitude hurtling towards the ground.

          In my fantasy universe, the reporter would have done her homework on what was known about the crash and after murmuring “I see” would have called out, “I have the airplane! Memory checklist: Faulty airspeed, runaway trim. Power 80%, pitch plus 5 degrees (it might be 10, but this is close enough), electric trim thumb switches to remove control pressure. Control pressure neutralized, two master electric trim switches to off!”

          Switching off the electric trim is what got the crew and their passengers killed because the airplane was going so fast and the tail plane was so far nose down that the manual trim wheel was jammed acting against the aerodynamic forces. “Mentour Pilot” had a video of he and his pal demonstrating this problem in a simulator, but he took it down in response to criticism that he should let the accident investigation take its course without such outside second guessing.

          Unusual attitude recovery 101 starting with training in a general aviation aircraft is to reduce power if you are headed down — this prevents controls locking up from exceeding VNE and also slows the rate of which you are heading towards the ground. The next thing to do is to pull back on the stick to level the aircraft. With the false stall indication, the safe action in a jet is to fly with a slight nose-up pitch and a specified reduced power setting — that action would have saved the Air France plane, and it is a memory item that a qualified pilot should know.

          After that, the action to take is to use the electric thumb switch trim input to remove the strong pressure against the yoke — the pilot may be hauling back with feet pressed against the instrument panel at this point. The MCAS “steps aside” as long as the thumb switch is depressed. And then and only then, throw the master electric trim disconnect switches.

          So a crew with the proper training would not have crashed, but that training includes more steps than simply chopping the electric trim.

          1. B. S. Paul. The first step in any nose low unusual attitude is power to idle. Lion Air and the Ethyopian aircraft hit the ground with take-off power. The Ethyopian crew had it partly back under control and then turned MCAS on again. And stick shaker is more of an alarm clock than anything else. It focuses your attention on the airplane, which is probably about to stall.

        2. Just to add a little more interesting info to the roil.
          A friend and I got into a discussion about the MAX issues and he mentioned the use of “roller coaster” pitch up and down in flight to remove pressure on the elevator to allow manual operation of the trim wheel. Assuming you have enough altitude to do so.

          …And then there is this from the WSJ about whether pilots, esp. women pilots have enough physical strength to operate the trim wheel under these load conditions. Next a mixed gender FAR for the 737 Max?


        3. The problem getting the MAX back in service is more political than anything else, but we are in a hyper-political age.

          There was a 737 crash near Pittsburgh where the plane suddenly rolled, dived and crashed before the pilots could recover. This was a long mystery for a very long time, and the blame was placed in encountering wake turbulence some distance from another plane. The cause was found to be a defective hydraulic boost valve for the rudder, a device operating much like the power steering in your car.

          The fix didn’t involve any angst about training pilots to react more quickly to a “runaway roll” — the supplier corrected the design of the valve and this was installed in the entire fleet of jets affected.

          The accident chain in the MAX is initiated by a faulty angle-of-attack reading. The fix should involve finding out why there are so many incidents — many not crashing because the crew reacted to counteract — and retrofitting the fleet with a better sensor.

          As a car analogy, Toyota had that accelerator sticking problem, and there was all manners of angst about “throttle by wire” and a hidden software bug. Yes, there was a “crew training” aspect as a driver should have been able to counteract the acceleration by stepping on the brake and putting the transmission in neutral, and I guess this was too much “workload” for many Toyota drivers. But I think they attributed the stuck throttle to floor mats and they issued new floor mats and warned owners about too-thick aftermarket mats.

          Would I buy a new Toyota? Sure, when I need a new car and if its specs compare favorably with other cars in its class.

    2. All well in good Mike, in a world in which Boeing is the only option. In the real world, Airbus is sitting back with a tub of popcorn and saying, “You go there Boeing! You tell those customers that their pilots are idiots! We’ll be here at the Paris Airshow watching you go.”

      1. There’s another problem with blaming it all on the pilots that doesn’t seem to get much discussion. Assume for a minute that it was pilot error due to incompetence or lack of training. There are at least three chains of responsibility that are still in effect.

        The government of whichever country issuing the pilots licence to an unqualified pilot.

        The manufacturers check pilots or training procedure that signed off on the type rating, or claimed a previous type rating covered it.

        The company responsible for the safety of the passengers of its’ fleet.

        This is if you accept that pilot incompetence/lack of training was the sole cause. Blaming it on pilot error still leaves some major players on the hook. And that’s even before getting to actual problems with the aircraft or its’ maintenance.

    3. Regarding the 737 MAX I’m amazed that the world seems to be full of aeronautical engineers, all of whom have an opinion on what Boeing did wrong.

      Actual aeronautical engineer here, and my day job is designing fly-by-wire systems, as well as analyzing the redundancy of said systems. I think I’m qualified to have an opinion on the 737 MAX debacle.

      There is some truth to what you are saying. Auto trim systems aren’t FBW, and shouldn’t really be a safety issue as long as the crew is prepared for a runaway trim failure, or its converse – running out of trim authority due to an unusual condition, such as icing. Some information I’m hoping to hear out of the 737 MAX investigation is how many US incidents of MCAS failure occurred; I’m suspicious that we’re partly seeing lax training and safety standards for third world airlines.

      Nobody seems to realise that airplanes will kill you if you don’t know what you are doing.

      This is, in the context of the 737 MAX discussion, a stupid and cowboy-esque comment. Part of my job as a FBW designer is to make sure that I leave as few hazards as possible for the pilots to deal with. There will always be some – e.g., AF447, where in my opinion the crew was totally responsible for that disaster – but it’s my job to do what can reasonably be done. That’s where Boeing screwed the pooch, to the tune of 300+ lives.

      The root problem is the MCAS manages to cross the line from “pilot assist” to “primary flight control”. It’s acting as a stall prevention system – not a stall warning system. Every aircraft that I’m aware of that has an active stall prevention system classifies it as primary flight control. That MCAS uses the trim system is irrelevant to this classification. But Boeing classified MCAS as a pilot assist system, which led to the three Achilles’ heels of MCAS: it doesn’t necessarily look like a runaway trim, reliance on a single alpha vane, and lack of MCAS control authority limits.

      That MCAS failure doesn’t necessarily look like a runaway trim indicates to me that Boeing didn’t do sufficient simulator testing in an actual handling qualities simulator. The alpha vane decision just baffles me – the airplane has two installed anyway; why no put in a comparator, and if they disagree, set a warning and disable MCAS?? This is basic redundancy management; you don’t even have to isolate the 1-on-1, just do a fail safe. The lack of control authority limits is more worrisome, as it indicates that Boeing didn’t put the necessary basic flight dynamics analyses into the MCAS design. Analyzing control authority limits – especially for control effectors that are multi-use, as Boeing did for MCAS – is an absolute necessity prior to fielding a system; a good example of what not to do is the August 1993 Gripen crash, which was caused by lack of control authority limits on multi-use control effectors.

      Fundamentally, Boeing’s MCAS design doesn’t pass what I call the Accident Investigation Board test: if you were involved in the design of the suspect system, and were called before the AIB to testify under oath, could you in clear conscience state that the design was adequate and appropriate? I simply cannot see how MCAS passes that test. If it were my design, I’d be ashamed and despondent.

      1. When I first, emphasis on first, heard about MCAS, I actually thought it was a solution for AF447. When AF447 happened, the question was why did the crew not lower the nose to get out of the stall. This was a bit before the cockpit recording was released.

        The answer I heard from several pilots was training for large commercial airliners on stall procedures. Apparently, most training at low altitude stall was to throttle to full power and keep nose up. Because the jet should have enough reserve to power through the stall and you don’t want to crash into the ground or building. High altitude stalls weren’t really practiced because you weren’t yanking and banking commercial airliners.

        The initial description of MCAS was that it forced the nose down to prevent a stall. So I thought, “I guess that solves the problem of a pilot forgetting their first flying lesson and not getting the nose down.” Unfortunately, MCAS was for something else; the engines being moved further ahead of the wing. This creates a greater moment arm between the center of lift and gravity, causing the wing to raise up even more with power added and cancelling the ability to power out of a stall.

        So it is a bit like AF447, but in this case, instead of a dumbstruck pilot continuing to hold the nose up; we have a computer system continuing to hold the nose down. In all three cases (2 Max and AF447), it simply took too long for two pilots to figure out that a third was doing something dumb.

        1. There was a meeting in London after AF447 where the standard airline stall recovery procedure was discussed. The participants were asked where the “full power and just ease up on the back pressure” came from. After some discussion it appears that it came from the DC-6, DC-7, Super Constellation days where going to full power would reduce the stall speed because of the increased airflow over the wing. The Airbus and Boeing test pilots all said that that wasn’t what they used. They reduced the angle of attack and then worried about the power as simply going to full power pitches the nose up in a jet with underslung engines.

          It pays to examine your assumptions.

      2. First, you engineers do great work making airplanes flyable. Thank you.
        I have two issues with your assessment of AF447 and the Boeing 737 max. First AF447; That particular version of A-330 had three AOA sensors, all of which fed the FDR, none of which were available to the pilots. Why? I don’t know. I can tell this because the accident investigators knew the aircraft was stalled for the entire descent from the mid-30s to the water. It’s a morbid, but intriguing read.
        Second, calling MCAS a primary flight control sounds fishy to me. It is embedded into the pitch control system, which is a secondary flight control. Is it possible the system was designed to fit within certification rules to keep it secondary? Trim systems don’t need to be controllable above Vfc/Mfc, which are above Vmo/Mmo. And an aircraft certified under 14CFR25 has enough power to easily exceed Vmo below 10,000 feet, with all engines operating. Both the Lion Air and Ethyopian accident aircraft impacted the ground at takeoff power.

  4. A pretty funny article. However, if it was about a commercial spaceplane, whose predicted expectation of casualties exceeded 1E-4 per flight, then it would be required to have a self-destruct system. Nothing funny about that.

  5. AF 447 had 3 pitot systems, all of which iced up. The particular design of pitot tube was known to be prone to this and there was a replacement program but this airplane hadn’t had it fitted yet.
    Should the A330 have been grounded while this replacement was accomplished? It would have saved the people of AF447. Oh, sorry, the crew was totally responsible for that one. Airbus’s appalling human factors engineering in the cockpit couldn’t possibly have contributed. The auto trim drove the leading edge of the stab full down and the elevator doesn’t have sufficient pitch authority to lower the nose until held for a while, before the auto trim trims the stab. OR the pilots use the big trim wheel and roll in nose down trim. Not trained to use it (policy) and didn’t know enough about the way the airplane worked. AoA isn’t displayed to the crew unless
    the option is selected by the airline. Really different from the 737 MAX isn’t it?
    In my 53 years of flying I have accumulated a long list of friends, acquaintances and customers who are either no longer with us, broke themselves in some way or broke airplanes by contact with the ground. I’m hard pressed to think of more than one or two where the problem wasn’t some lack of SA or momentary lapse of judgement and/or lack of knowledge. One that was just bad luck was a goose going through the windscreen of an F-111 at high speed, low level. First Australian F-111 crash. I went to a nice barbie where the guy was celebrating having just been assigned to the F-111.

    1. Mike, you can be right about one thing – “I’m hard pressed to think of more than one or two where the problem wasn’t some lack of SA or momentary lapse of judgement and/or lack of knowledge“ – and still be significantly wrong about MCAS and AF447. But I’m done trying to enlighten you about significant details you appear to know nothing about and/or are unwilling to learn. *plonk*

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