Words of Advice:

"If Something Seems To Be Too Good To Be True, It's Best To Shoot It, Just In Case." -- Fiona Glenanne

Flying the Airplane is More Important than Radioing Your Plight to a Person on the Ground Who is Incapable of Understanding or Doing Anything About It." -- Unknown

"There seems to be almost no problem that Congress cannot, by diligent efforts and careful legislative drafting, make ten times worse." -- Me

"What the hell is an `Aluminum Falcon'?" -- Emperor Palpatine

"Eck!" -- George the Cat

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Knee-Jerk Reaction From the Biggest Jerk

The U.S. is issuing an emergency order Wednesday grounding all Boeing 737 Max 8 and Max 9 aircraft “effective immediately,” in the wake of the crash of an Ethiopian Airliner that killed 157 people, President Donald Trump said.

Many nations had already barred the Boeing 737 Max 8 from its airspace, but until Trump’s announcement, the Federal Aviation Administration had said that it didn’t have any data to show the jets are unsafe. Trump cited “new information” that had come to light in the ongoing investigation into incident. He did not elaborate.
I am skeptical as all fuck.

One of the persistent gripes about many non-Western airlines fall into three categories. First is an inability, whether cultural or otherwise, to adopt "Cockpit Resource Management" in place of "The Captain is God". The latter mindset was, in part, behind the Asiana Airlines crash at SFO. The second is "G-d wills it"-- that if things are falling to shit, it's the will of the Almighty and there is nothing to be done. The third is that a number of pilots in non-Western airlines are "ab initio" pilots-- they did not know how to fly before being hired. They start from day one as future airline pilots. All of their flying and flight training is to that goal. So they become more systems managers than pilots (the deprecatory term is "Children of the Magenta Line"). They are not stick-and-rudder pilots.

I'm not saying that a lack of piloting skills is behind the crashes, or lack of maintenance. There is a significant and detailed investigation ahead. The data transmitted in flight as well as the data/voice recorders all need to be examined. But given that both -Max crashes have happened to Third World airlines, I am skeptical that it's an airframe issue.

One of the truisms of aviation has been when all else fails, default to pilot error. Without information as to cause, grounding all of the airplanes is a knee-jerk reaction. (I have a flight later this Spring. I would have happily taken the trip on a 737 Max.)


montag said...

IIRC there was an earlier model of the 737 that would on occasion turn over and dive straight down to the ground. Boeing swore on a stack of investor reports that there was no problem until they found the problem and quietly fixed it. As Boeing re-invented the 737 with the MAX series, they could well have re-invented their problem.

CenterPuke88 said...

I suspect a combination of Boeing’s poor documentation of changes in autopilot function and a weakness in pilot training, quite possibly related to Comrade’s training thesis.

Some people are a bit hysterical about the FDR and CDR going to France to be read, rather than coming to the U.S., but I don’t have any concerns. The data isn’t going to be messed with, but this will prevent skeptical types from reading U.S. conspiracy into this.

The official line is new satellite data that seems similar to the Lion Air accident, this was relayed to FAA and Chao, who made a recommendation to Fergus, who then accepted it and claimed it. I can buy that, but I think Canada was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

CenterPuke88 said...

Montag, indeed, search B737 rudder issues for data on the servo malfunction that killed at 157 people and brought down two flights. The FDR sample rate was too low to isolate the issue, and a different type of event recorder on a B747 finally captured the necessary clues.

B said...

From a pilot at Southwest Airlines that I know, the issue is pretty much the training in transition from prior 737 models and the changes in the autopilot and especially the autotrim system. Apparently there is an issue with the sensors that control the autotrim. Southwest warns their pilots about this and trains how to recognize the issue and disable the Autotrim system.

Mostly training, as these pilots of the crashed airlines had not had the Boeing approved transition course. And, as pointed out above, were not "real" "pitch and power" pilots, but rather automation managers.

All the above is heresay from a 737 Max Pilot. I don't know enough to judge whether he is correct or not.

Eck! said...

There is a great difference between sick and rudder pilots (Sully)
and equipment tweakers. That being one can diagnose issues and
apply their knowledge to solve it... The others go into whhattt mode
and die.


Deadstick said...

CP88, yeah, the 737 recovered from the rudder hardover problem and succeeded in the market. Not so, however, for the Electra. It had a similarly mysterious crash-inducing problem that was eventually solved -- but the airplane died (except in the Navy).

Stewart Dean said...

As for this not happening to US pilots....not so...upset "excursions" from stable flight have been recorded in the anonymized NASA problem reporting database....but the pilots have been able to recover. And it appears it is not just MCAS. From Fallows: