At the 737 Max Factory, Pilots Simulate New Boeing Software

Pilots from five airlines gathered in Renton, Wash., on Saturday to review proposed changes to the software of the 737 Max, two of which have crashed.

Comments: 91

  1. After countless, breathlessly hysterical articles, what I've been saying for 5 months comes out: "...pilots from five airlines strapped into flight simulators to see how they would have handled the situation that is believed to have brought down Lion Air Flight 610 in Indonesia, according to two people briefed on the meeting. In each case, the pilots using the simulators were able to land the plane safely." There was and is nothing wrong with these aircraft. It is simply poor training, lack of experience, and pilot error. I'll say it again: do not fly on third world airlines.

  2. @Mike And these simulations had pilots who knew when and that the same type of problem would occur during the test. Not the same as being “in the moment” for the crew of the two planes.

  3. @Mike Ethiopian Airlines is a very good airline. The problem is a 50+ year old plane concept with huge fan engines which do not fit under the wing anymore. The software was only created to cover up a major engineering concept flaw and this was not communicated to pilots (first and developing world).

  4. @TJC The Same was true of the Ethiopian crash, so, yes, it was the same. What people are failing to understand is that no matter the cause, the resolution of ANY trim problem in the 737 has been the same since 1967. Exactly the same. It is a memory item checklist, one of the things pilots of the 737 have to know by heart, yet the day before the Lion Air crash, on the same airplane, it took a deadheading UK pilot to point out he solution to the Lion Air crew when they had the same issue. Not only that, but once the problem was resolved, the crew elected to continue the 2+ hour flight with the stick shaker engaged the entire time. I can't even describe to you the stupidity of flying a plane full of people for 2 hours with the stick shakers going instead of turning around and landing as soon as possible. It's an absolutely appalling breach of safety protocol. Do. Not. Fly. Third. World. Airlines. If you value your life.

  5. The changes are not insignificant. The new software takes inout from two sensors. The new software is limited in how strongly it can force the nose down. The hew software should be mandatory on all 737 Max planes allowed to fly. in the future. The FAA should investigate whether or not the 737 max should have been approved as safe to fly with the old software. I don't think it should have. It should also investigate how much "pressure" was placed on the Boeing staff seconded to the FAA to speed up approval for a plane that was intrinsically unsafe to fly when an erroneous signal was revved from "one angle of attack" sensor. Then, it should consider how to insulate the approval process from such "pressure".

  6. @formerpolitician: You incorrectly assume the FAA approved the Boeing 737 MAX series planes. The FAA permitted Boeing to self-certify, per revised rules that GOPs allowed (and trump had not even appointed a head for the FAA - it was being run by an Acting Head). Boeing self-certified the changes. FAA wasn't even involved. Both are culpable -- since it's the FAA's duty to ensure safety for the flying public. Boeing failed to properly design or test the changes (including MCAS), and they also failed to communicate to airlines/pilots that the changes were significant (they intentionally hid this, wanting to market this as essentially the same 737 plane with "minimal pilot retraining" required).

  7. What’s not being addressed is the planes engine balance issues at the heart of the problem. The MCAS software was installed to address balance issues with the new engines. Now the proposal is to disable or modify a system that was created because the plane apparently has design flaws. Otherwise, there would never have been a need to create the MACAS in the first place. Now the pilot will have to decide to shut off the system? This does not appear to adequately address the planes issues. I’m not a pilot or engineer, but a passenger who will not get on a 737 Max even in the new improved jerry rigged version.

  8. @JCGMD "I’m not a pilot or engineer, but..." you've got the whole thing figured out! There is NOT a design flaw with these aircraft. There isn't a single commercial jet in the air today that would fly without software. If MCAS makes you nervous, I would really not recommend getting on an Airbus. I can point out about a dozen Airbus accidents onvolving software issues (Airasia 8501, another Indonesian crash; Qantas flight 72, Gulf air flight 072, TAM 3054, I could go on and on).

  9. @Mike. Wrong. For example, kindly check the results of the NTSC investigation and others on the Airasia 8501 crash. That plane crashed after the pilot decided to literally pull the plug (circuit breaker) on the entire computer-assisted flight system to get rid of an amber warning light for a non-fatal sensor error that came on intermittently, followed by lack of pilot - copilot communication on how to fly manually after the forced reset, which was never to be done in-flight in the first place.

  10. @Mike I'm reminded of the fatal (crew only, no passengers) A320 crash at the inaugural fly-by at the Farnsworth UK airshow some years ago. The software/autopilot thought the plane was landing (low speed, low altitude, flaps & gear down) and would not allow the pilot to add speed for a fly-around. It crashed in full view (obscured by trees) of the airline customer audience.

  11. Mike, not everyone has the option to avoid flying on third world airlines. That a couple of "options" could have made those planes safer does not get Boeing off the hook, where it belongs. Airbags are not "options."

  12. @Richard I wouldn't call United a third world airline because it chose not to install the optional(!) AOA sensors, but its service definitely ranks it up there...

  13. @Richard—it’s not clear that having the AoA disagreement light would improve anything. Another warning light could just add to information overload in a crisis. Knowing what was causing the electronic trim runaway issue in these crashes wouldn’t have likely mattered. Identifying the cause of runaway trim would be very far down a priority list a pilot trying to fly the plane. Any adequately trained pilot should be able to, and can, easily identify an issue with electronic trim and disable it, without difficulty.

  14. "...pilots from five airlines strapped into flight simulators to see how they would have handled the situation that is believed to have brought down Lion Air Flight 610 ... In each case, the pilots using the simulators were able to land the plane safely." It's not really a fair test, since the pilots knew beforehand about what was going to happen. It's like doing a simulation of a car accident, knowing that a car is going to run a red light at an intersection. Also, did the flight simulations include the optional safety systems that Boeing offers on the Max 8?

  15. @Jay It's a perfectly fair test. In order to fly a 737, you have to have what is called a type rating (a pilot certification based on the type of aircraft - 737, 747, A321, etc.). The type rating involves a checkride, or examination in a simulator. One universal item on the checkride is a runaway trim procedure, and runaway trim is what happened to these flights. In order to pass the checkride, the pilot has to be able to correctly diagnose and resolve the trim problem. There are 4 steps: Grasp yoke Disable autopilot Hit stab trim cutout switches Trim airplane manually Those 4 steps have been the same - in every version of the 737 - since 1968. Let me put it this way: if your car is going too fast, what do you do? Hit the brakes. In a 737, if you have an electric trim problem - ANY electric trim problem - you disable it. Period. You don't need training on or understanding of MCAS to solve the problem. If the electric trim is misbehaving, you disable it. Takes ten seconds. Lastly, do you know how many MCAS activations there have been in the US since the MAX was introduced in 2017? Zero. None. So you tell me where the problem is. Either the pilots put the plane in a situation they shouldn't have. Or they were unable to follow a very simple procedure known to every 737 pilot on earth.

  16. @Mike Not so fast... The Lion Air plane was driven into the water at such high speed parts pf the plane were turn into powder, whereas the Ethiopian plane crashed so hard into the ground that a big backhoe had to be used to dig much of the airplane out of the deep impact crater. Roughly 350 people dead in brand new airplanes. It seems that the pilots lost control of their aircraft when the computer system took over. In the Lion Air flight, the crew didn't even know that there was an MCAS system installed and separate from the autopilot. You may argue that it was pilot error but I think Boeing installing a feature without informing the pilots of it that could push the plane into the Earth going 400+ mph because of one sensor (a single point failure) that made it think the plane was in a stall is also to blame.

  17. @Rob"In the Lion Air flight, the crew didn't even know that there was an MCAS system installed and separate from the autopilot." Nor did they have to. An electronic trim runaway is an electronic trim runaway, you deal with it the same way regardless of cause. If your car is going too fast, you put your foot on the breaks - you don't have to understand the breaking system. What people need to understand is that MCAS was designed to engage in flight regimes far outside of normal operations. Do you know how many MCAS activations there have been in the United States since this airplane came into service in 2017? Zero. None. And there's absolutely no evidence whatsoever that MCAS was at play in either of these accidents YET. It could be sensor malfunctions that have nothing to do with MCAS; it could be due to shoddy maintenance, poor training, replacing sensors with non-OEM sensors - the list goes on and on and on. Which is why we should wait for the accident reports. The coverage of this has been atrocious.

  18. Take the most highly skilled and trained pilot. Tell him or her, you will have “this” issue appear in your simulator flight. Really , do you think they will fail? Do a,b,c done. Surprise a pilot with insufficient training, ( a one hr iPad updated training course, which doesn’t even mention the MACRS system.?). Yeah, not the same is it? The 737 max has a basic balance issue, the moved the engines about 30 inches forward, it wants to climb. Let’s deal with that issue, as well as forcing proper training in the foreign airlines. There is a reason they have close to 100% of fatalities in the last 10 years.

  19. @HJR—No and no. There isn’t a “balance issue” with the MAX. And a pilot’s knowledge of MCAS shouldn’t matter with these crashes and in these simulations. Runaway or inapprotiate activation of electronic trim appears to the be the issue in these crashes. This is something any pilot should be able to notice happening. Then, disabling automatic trim is the solution, and something that any competent pilot knows by memory. That’s it—no need to know about MCAS or any other system than what’s been on 737s and other Boeing airplanes for many years.

  20. @HJR—Boeing undoubtedly bears significant portions of blame with these crashes for lack of transparency. But there is no “basic balance issue” with the MAX. The plane has aerodynamic quirks just like any plane. Regarding MCAS: Adequately trained pilots should be and are able to easily identify a trim issue and disable auto-trim, as we see was the case in this test and article. It’s tragic that the pilots of the crashed planes seemingly didn’t consider this as a solution, or didn’t know how to do so.

  21. @HJR Roger Yes it is a design issue, see link. It is also a software failure. Plane was left as designed with low clearance for a rear stairway. Moved the engine forward to allow it to be lifted up and the 47 inch fan of the new engine versus 28 of old. Moving the center of thrust forward on the wing. Yes this makes the plane susceptible to easier nose up attitude. Yes, MCAS was designed to react more quickly to this. Yes the aviation industry is seriously questioning the shortcut design used by Boeing. Yes a properly trained experienced pilot with the two alarms ( light and alarms indicating a differential in readings should be able to react. Should being operative word. The link below is one of dozens stating the obvious , there are design questions here not just software. https://moneymaven.io/mishtalk/economics/boeing-737-max-major-design-flaws-not-a-software-failure-rVjJZBVzZkuZLkDJn3Jy8A/

  22. Nothing described in this article makes me want to board a 737 Max. redesign the engines, and placement of the engines, so that you don't need software to push the nose of the plane down and then have pilots having to fight against the software. Recall this plane and change its design.

  23. @an observer MCAS isn’t *needed* to push the nose down. It’s purpose is to present MAX pilots, trained on old-school 737s, with flight characteristics close enough to those of 737s, so that significant new training wouldn’t be neeeded. Again, there has been no evidence showing MCAS is needed, or that there is any significant fundamental aerodynamic flaw with the MAX design, anymore so than other modern aircraft.

  24. @Roger No evidence that MCAS is needed? Boeing apparently felt that it would enhance -- no, "amplify" -- a pilot's capabilities.

  25. @Roger " there has been no evidence showing MCAS is needed, or that there is any significant fundamental aerodynamic flaw with the MAX design" -- there absolutely was.

  26. Of Boring HQ had not moved to Chicago, far from manufacturing and testing, it might know such things up close. And if parts were not made in France by machinists who can have wine for lunch, those critical little tiny differences in machining perhaps might make a difference, maybe even in the sensors? For many decade top executives popped up everywhere, even where they were not appreciated. But, like the XO or SGM of an army unit, who somehow is not noticed until too late, those little things were what made the difference in the great safety record Boeing had for most of a century and now has lost. Finance people should be finance, but stay out of design. Family owned responsibility and duty are replaced by shareholder profits. Boeing, move back to Seattle and keep your manufacturing in the USA, Canada, and Mexico where a quick flight and executives are there. And the best are willing to move and raise their families so that they can walk the line and eat lunch with the workers.

  27. If Boeing . . . I hate autocorrect!

  28. The other piece of this story, that is not addressed in this article, is the cozy relationship between US airlines and Boeing. Why is Alaska Airlines scrapping the Airbus planes it got when they merged with Virgin America? Is it because the Boeing planes are better (safer, fuel efficient, reliable) or because Boeing and Alaska are both based in Seattle? I'd rather fly on an Airbus!

  29. @Nanette It’s because operating a one aircraft fleet is more efficient. Why do you think Southwest does it and they’re not based in Seattle. JetBlue operates a one aircraft fleet as do many other airlines and they’re Airbuses. So much for the cozy relationship Boeing has with US carriers. And that cozy relationship also carries on overseas. Fly Airbus if you like, your choice, but your broad strokes of collusion are way off base.

  30. @Jacksonian Democrat JetBlue has a 2 aircraft fleet: A320/321 and Emb 190.

  31. It seems to me that the airlines in the not to distant future will no longer need to pay pilots if the machines get any smarter. We all know that is what is desired.

  32. March 25, 2019 As well add to the simulation the diversity of Pilots that would prefer the simulations exercises in both mainstream English and then in native languages. Slight detail but knowing the training knowledge is fully adaptable to all nuances for idiomatic possibles that must prevent confusions in time to execute the decisions for all intensities correctly.

  33. @Joseph John Amato—It’s very unlikely there’s any language issues at play here. Problem: Big wheel next to your leg turning, nose pointing toward the ground? Runaway auto trim. Fix: disable auto trim. No need to know about MCAS, or AofA sensors.

  34. It seems to be popular to blame engine placement as the prime accident cause. However, CG (center of gravity) is highly variable on any airplane, and will depend on the fore-aft placement of passengers, fuel, and baggage/freight. Most people have probably never seen it, but we often travel on small regional aircraft and have seen the pilots making the weight and balance calculations and having crew moving passengers around. I'm not saying that didn't happen in either of the accidents--just that it's a little more complicated.

  35. @Scott Cole I'd love to hear from any passengers on Boeing aircraft that have been told to move about the plane to alter its CG. With a full plane, that would be quite dangerous if attempted.

  36. @Tim Clark With a full airplane, you would not be able to relocate the passengers to accommodate the CG. The more normal way to make those weight & balance adjustments is with loading the baggage compartments or with the fuel load.

  37. One observation that I had while reading this article is that Boeing probably hasn't really found a 'defect' with the current software. Rather, it seems to say that they're changing the 'user interface' with the pilot (how the pilot reacts to the automated system). This suggests that Boeing is standing by it's presumption that a pilot should know to automatically turn off the system if there is a problem. This observation does not suggest that Boeing shouldn't change the user interface. Rather, it means they believe that the source of the problem is the complex interaction between a human operator and a computer.

  38. @W Actually, there were 2 problems with the software. The first problem was that a single AoA signal could activate the MCAS system even if there was a significant difference between the 2 AoA readings. The second problem was that MCAS could command too high a rate of nose down trim and do it repeatedly.

  39. @Bob in Pennsyltucky I think Boeing's view of the MCAS control system is that if either of the problems you mention were to happen, then the pilot is expected to shut it off. The pilot doesn't need MCAS to fly the plane safely. This seems to be a user interface issue, which presents a different set of problems. It involves how the pilots interact with the flight control system. For example, many aircraft mishaps happen when the position or shape of a knob or switch confuse the pilot in an emergency. The inability of pilots to automatically respond to the MCAS failure seems to be this kind of issue. Good examples can be found in NTSB-SR-80-1, a report outlining mishaps involving landing gear controls: "Classic research studies have shown: (1) How certain knob shapes can be distinguished solely on the basis of touch, and (2) how by using symbolic shape associations which are similar to the function of the control (i.e. wheel-shaped knob for landing gear) the probability of misuse can be minimized." (p. 16) This is why automobiles now have standardized control positions (brake, blinker, shift, etc.). It is also why the auto industry is closely watching the Tesla Model 3, which relocates the instrument cluster to a display pad at the lower right-side of the driver. Cite: National Transportation Safety Board. Special Investigation Report: Design-induced Landing Gear Retraction Accidents in Beechcraft Baron, Bonanza, and Other Light Aircraft. NTSB-SR-80-1 24 JUN 1980

  40. Mr. Gelles, Why use the qualifier "so called"? The Alpha vanes ARE angle of attack sensors. Angle of attack has no relationship to pitch attitude, or where "the fuselage is pointed". Given enough energy, an aircraft can climb or descend vertically with zero angle of attack.

  41. Wow. It’s a little late, dudes! How does the CEO of Boeing still have a job? Shame on this country.

  42. As I understand it, Boeing modified an existing plane in such a way that built increased risk into it (greater stall risk with the larger, more forward-positioned engines). They could have redesigned the wings, for example, but chose to mitigate the new risk using software receiving signals from some new sensors. Sounds like a band-aid to me right from the start. The plane should have had good flying design, period.

  43. @Penn Towers reference from a previous NYT article : "The bigger engines altered the aerodynamics of the plane, making it more likely to pitch up in some circumstances. To offset that possibility, Boeing added the new software in the Max, known as MCAS, which would automatically push the nose down if it sensed the plane pointing up at a dangerous angle."

  44. @Penn Towers: Boeing's problem began when they defined their marketing goal for the new 737 MAX series to be "similar" to the original 737 airframe. This goal was foolish, because substituting two larger engines (to get better fuel efficiency) modified the 737's flight characteristics (especially during take-off). And Boeing did not want to "tell" others (not the FAA, not airlines, not pilots, not the public) that this airplane flew differently than the original 737. This is evident in their marketing promos, where they gladly hyped "no retraining is required for pilots". Boeing told pilots to fly this as they had the previous 737 design. They could not. For one, the MAX series planes upon takeoff automatically pitch nose-up (due to higher thrust). To offset/correct for this, Boeing added MCAS -- which "pushes down" the nose if the angle-of-attack is too steep. And if pilots fly this plane as they had the former 737 models, they will do exactly that (cause it to pitch-up, engaging MCAS). There was a problem in Boeing's goal -- marketing wanted the plane to fly just like the previous models but with larger engines. That was an impossibility. MCAS did not fix things, it added a new "failure mode" (way of failing) for this aircraft. MCAS was not fully tested; the FAA were silent, letting Boeing release this new model plane as if it was "identical" to the former 737. It was not. Pilots worldwide were learning, during risky flights, that it flew differently.

  45. the A320neo offers two different engines with different weights on the new a320neo. they changed the wing, too. they are fly-by-wire controls. no issues, so far. even though the new engines are larger, every plane - new or old - still has to be balanced and that is done on every flight with counterweights to adjust for cargo and passenger loads. haven't you heard the pilots say - we're almost ready to go - we have to do weight and balance? it probably isn't the plane. the crashes are tragic - but inexperienced pilots who maybe should have had more training probably contributed to the incidents. the article suggests that a number of pilots were able to recover successfully in the simulator. congress empowers the FAA and the FAA gets help from the manufacturer, but the data still has to be collected, submitted, and analyzed. it was years from announcement to when the plane entered service. there's an awful lot of finger pointing while there are still a lot of facts that haven't been either discovered or announced. if the procedures to certify a plane need to be changed, don't scrimp. do it. if somebody is at fault, punish the person. there will be lawsuits, investigations, fines and more for months or years.

  46. Boeing and the airlines should be aware that people are going to be reluctant to fly in these planes in the US until other countries have removed any limitations on their use. I have lost confidence in the FAA process. I will look to Canada and the EU for assurances that all necessary changes have been made.

  47. @Judith Turpin The American pilots union demanded additional details about the operation of MCAS not covered in the manuals AFTER it was operational. Relative to international pilots, American pilots are a more closely-knit group and not only benefited from this additional attention but surely gave each other heads-up about this problematic system -- especially how to turn it off.

  48. As a retired pilot I am surprised that Boeing has done such a poor job of explaining why MCAS was needed and why they thought they did not need to tell airlines, pilots and mechanics more about the system differences between the 737 NG & the 737 Max. The 737 Max will be a safe aircraft to fly after the proposed changes are made and certified. There is no doubt that Boeing made some serious mistakes with their initial approach. I was astounded that a single erroneous Angle of Attack reading could activate such a significant system as MCAS - it was wrong but now it will be fixed. The additional warnings will be added to the aircraft and the needed dissemination of information and the increased training will be accomplished. I would like to know what warnings occurred in the cockpit during the fatal flights. Were the pilots overwhelmed with too many warnings that were too loud or were there insufficient warnings. After the changes are made, I would not hesitate to be a passenger on the 737 Max.

  49. @Bob in Pennsyltucky This is the crux of it. Is MCAS necessary to keep these planes safe (provided it operates properly) or is just a precautionary feature? Why was it included without full training about how/when it works? Why was there no indication to pilots that MCAS had taken control of certain aspects of flight? Why was there know simple and easy way to disable it? Why did the system continue to stay engaged in the presence of obvious counter inputs from the pilots?

  50. @Bob in Pennsyltucky :"I would like to know what warnings occurred in the cockpit during the fatal flights." Well, I understand the Captains stick shaker and stall warnings (Master Warning light?) went off as soon as flaps/slats were retracted, maybe before. I have heard stick shakers in the Sim and they can be pretty loud.

  51. Because you are a pilot we supposed to take your word for it? You, Sir, are NOT an engineer. The only person I would trust on this are engineers who are not beholden to Boeing or an airline.

  52. So Boeing can say: the system is OK. Not so fast all. I am sure these five pilots were hand picked to pass the "test." It smells like Exhibit A for the defense. Indeed, the real test would be to choose five pilots from Lion Air and Ethiopian Air and simulate the scenarios encountered with no advance warning. The inconvenient truths that these two horrific crashes exposed are manifold: the suspect redesign of the 737 MAX; the suspect software; the suspect marketing of a new jet flying like an old jet; the suspect assertion of no need for new training; the suspect assertion of no need for new certification; and the complete abdication of the FAA. Indeed, the FAA did not lead. The whole world closed its airspace to 737 MAX 8 and finally our airspace caught up to the rest of the world. And Boeing's letter in the WSJ was more corporate lip service. I ,for one, will not be flying 737 MAX 8 based on this parable of the five successful pilots.

  53. @grumpyoldman I didn't read anything that suggested that the FAA will recertify the 737 Max 8/9 based on just this test. I don't know how you are "sure" that the five pilots were hand-picked. Perhaps the best way to show your lack of confidence in the 737 Max 8/9 is to never fly American Airlines, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines — the three American carriers that fly the Max. Cleary mistakes were made on the part of Boeing, the FAA, other regulatory agencies and perhaps even the airlines with gravely tragic consequences. Once these accident investigations are done and the design changes made, these may be the most heavily analyzed aircraft design in recent history. Perhaps they then will become the safest.....

  54. @grumpyoldman--Hand picked by whom?

  55. Since "the fox guards the henhouse", I am reluctant to fly in this plane and I worry about the veracity of what is said. Further, although this article speaks to "fixes" for future planes on order, I wonder what Boeing/FAA is doing about planes currently in airlines' fleets and if "fixes" will be made to those. I also find it interesting that the pilots testing (in simulation) planes with the current software were able to make corrections without a problem. What about all those pilot complaints?

  56. @Judith And those pilots knew ahead of time that the MCAS problem was going to be presented to them.

  57. @Judith: Simulations do not always replicate the real-world. Boeing's idea of using simulators to demonstrate safety is ludicrous, since simulators do not (and cannot) contain unknown "bugs" present in real-world aircraft. Simulations do not replicate the real world. They replicate only an "ideal version" of the real world. They do not model (and can never model) bugs -- since every bug (by definition) is unknown. What a foolish approach by Boeing. Boeing is simply doing this dog-and-pony show, to appease pilots. However, Boeing's method of designing systems has not improved, and since that's what caused their deadly failing systems -- we are thus not any safer now. These "modifications" are bandages over their poorly designed MCAS. How can we be certain that there are no other lurking safety problems (in this or any other Boeing aircraft)? The public will now be Boeing's guinny pigs, being required to pay for a seat, while they test the new 737 modifications. They are "testing" their faulty systems on us passengers. Just another result of the GOP's and trump's policy of reduced/lax regulations. We cannot trust the FAA, nor Boeing.

  58. @IN - Simulators are designed to simulate all possible conditions. If not, there would be no point in having them. My pilot friends tell me they are just like flying the real thing, and can be every bit as stressful.

  59. Sounds to me like Boeing are finally doing the right thing, but one has to ask oneself: why did it take a worldwide grounding of the 737 Max before this happened? And this is from the #1 global supplier of commercial aircraft. Heads should roll!

  60. @Christopher Jenkins Heads should roll? What about, instead, those planes should never fly again!! I found out that for my next scheduled overseas trip, it was going to be aboard a 737 Max, now grounded. What shall I do if when the time for my trip arrives and the planes are back in the skies? Shall I ask the pilot, before taking off, if he has taken the "simulator test"?

  61. @Christopher Jenkins: Boeing is not "finally doing the right thing" -- because the failure from Boeing was that their method of designing safety/critical systems was (and still is) flawed. The changes they made to MCAS are not optimal, and could lead to other problems. There is no indication that they wll train every worldwide 737 MAX series pilot in the details of MCAS. Their solution will "turn off MCAS" under certain situations -- will the pilots know that MCAS has turned itself off? Will the pilots then be able to control the original problem that MCAS was intended to solve (the larger engines - thrust profile - of this airframe)? We demand improved REGULATION of our public safety/health. The FAA was also culpable - they let Boeing release the (MCAS) changes with no one else checking their work. That aspect has not changed, and other problems may still be lurking in this (or other new) aircraft. Boeing must pay. Heads should roll. Regulations/regulators must be more stringent !!

  62. @Christopher Jenkins - Problem is, it's always the wrong heads that roll.

  63. Surely ALL pilots of this plane are now focused laserlike on the balky MCAS system and, most importantly, how to disable it. The simulation proves very little. Boeing's decision to install the previously-optional safety components standard equipment and reprogram the MCAS is an admission of guilt in the crashes. They will pay the surviving relatives and write it off as a cost of doing business, likely amounting to less than the cost of a couple of planes. Their main concern going forward may be their exposure to the American victims through the expansive American tort laws' punitive damages.

  64. So the software and the systems can be improved to make it easier, but the evidence remains that the pilots involved in the crashes did not know their jobs well enough -- don't trust a computer!

  65. Timing is a factor with any software. There is a 'window', no matter how small, when a software 'correction' takes place. A 'correction' might take several steps, each of which, being dependent on order, cannot be done instantly. No system is completely without that 'window''.

  66. @bnc Analog systems, remember those? have no such windows

  67. "The F.A.A. does not currently require pilots to to train on simulators that replicate all the features of the Max, and may not change that stance. But it is possible that even if the F.A.A. does not require simulator training, other international regulators may do so." The FAA used to recognized as the most thorough aviation regulator in the world and thus the gold standard. Bush era industry friendly deregulation to help Boeing cut costs and thus increase executive pay and "shareholder value" changed all that! Yay, another lobbyist win!

  68. The probable cause(s) of either incident has yet to be found. Isn't it a bit premature to model 'fixes?'

  69. @David Perhaps you should read a little more about this. There is information from satellite-observed altitude profiles of both doomed flights indicating that the MCAS system malfunctions were, at the very least, a contributing factor.

  70. @Tim Clark. Satellite-observed altitude profiles is why the Canadian Minister for Transportation came out and grounded the aircraft.

  71. Very self serving from Boeing. What if the MCAS intervention occurred 20 seconds after the plane lifts off the ground? The plane would hit the ground faster than any pilot, even aware of the plane's flaws, could do anything. The so called "fix" does not resolve the problem. Now, when the sensors disagree, the MCAS will check out. This leaves the inherently unstable 737 Max exposed to the potential for stalling, which the MCAS was supposed to address. That's what happens when you compensate for lousy aircraft design with knock off bandaids. That they programmed the system to work with only one sensor when two were available speaks tons to the incompetence of the engineering group.

  72. Shameless profiteers, charging extra for essential safety equipment and inadequate training--everyone should cancel their orders with Boeing.

  73. I get that they wanted to avoid training pilots on the new jet. but wouldn't they need to train the ground crew so they knew what to do in the event of an MCAS failure?

  74. My family and I will not be flying in any of those Boeing shortcut 737"HAX "machines any time in the future...

  75. Why is Boeing doing the safety training with pilots now? Shouldn't that have come first before they killed over 350 people?

  76. It's a lot easier to handle a problem if you know it's coming, and if you have been thinking about it for weeks.

  77. @Jonathan Katz As the pilot of the second plane had done and even had training on how to address the issue. The first plane should have been grounded due to the issue and another pilot recovered that plane just previously. So it is somewhat a pilot not being able to fly the plane and deal with the issue.

  78. The pilots were able to land the flight simulator safely — coincidentally, the software of which was programmed by Boeing. Obviously, the exercise was designed to point the finger back at supposedly poorly trained pilots from Third World countries. It’s also obvious that Boeing has no shame. I’m thinking those pilots who performed the exercise have little shame either.

  79. No. I will argue that these pilots are better trained or have better fundamentals of flying. the fix to this problem has always been available. knowing the fix is up to the crews if it were to present itself. wether the airplane should have MCAS is a whole other argument.

  80. What about the AOA sensors themselves? Why are they failing and why aren't they being investigated? Why didn't maintenance replace them if they were causing problems on previous flights? At least these changes will notify pilots that they have a problem with the sensors. The sad part is they could have been notified before, the data was there.

  81. Two things, they need a simple way to disable the system, and every pilot needs simulator training on this and several other possible situations. I also dislike the idea of how many "hours" you have in a plane being relevant, it should be takeoffs and landings, since the planes today fly themselves a lot.

  82. @vulcanalex There has been and is such a simple way. Same procedure as that needed to stop a "runaway horizontal stabilizer" that all 737 pilots are trained on.

  83. There is a simple way to disconnect it. I will bet money it is simply either a trim interrupt button or elevator interrupt button. YouTube has some videos showing the system and how simple it is to diagnose and safely recover from.

  84. The biggest tragedy in all of this is that Boeing ignored the lessons learned from past accidents that could have prevented 346 people to lose their lives.

  85. At this stage of the game the best thing Boeing can do is scrap the 737 brand. Whether they redesign a new plane to serve the 737 market or call the current plane (once made safe to fly) something else, the 737 brand is irrevocably tainted for both passengers and airlines.

  86. @jvc Well, it would just be dishonest to just change the name of the aircraft and there is no reason the Max will not be made safer. We have a long history of aircraft that have been grounded, fixed and returned to service honestly.

  87. Is the point of the change to allow the pilot to land the plane safely? Aren't all planes supposed to be allowed to land safely? You shouldn't score points for that. The system should be modified for it to fly properly to begin with.

  88. The point is that using established procedures leads to safely landing the airplane if anything were to happen

  89. Simulations and software fixes are a start, but we still need to know why these two flights did this and nearly all of the others did not. I'd almost feel better if this fault had occurred far more often. MCAS' shutting off automatically after ten seconds means 4400 feet (downward) at 300 mph, nearly 6000 feet at 400 mph. We also need to know better the relationships among the president, DoD, Boeing, and the FAA regarding this matter. It's relevant, and I suspect we need a lot of changes. This isn't making America great again; quite the contrary.

  90. So many seem to be so eager to lay the blame on Boeing yet the truth of the matter is, established procedures can prevent these type of accidents from happening. Also, Boeing said it best that all default instrumentation of the airplane is what it is needed to safely fly and diagnose any problems. An AOA gauge wouldn't have prevented that crash and neither would have a disagree light, if pilots already couldn't diagnose the problem by simply looking outside or flying their airplane.