See https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19393741 and https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19393715 for more.
“I have been told by my company . . . that the FAA and Boeing (were) aware of the problems with the spurious rudder inputs but considered them to be more of a nuisance problem than a flight safety issue. I was informed, that so far as everyone was concerned, the rudder hardovers were a problem but that the `industry' felt the losses would be in the acceptable range. I was being mollified into thinking the incident did not happen, and for the `greater good' it would be best not to pursue the matter. In other words I am expendable as are the passengers I am responsible for, because for liability reasons the FAA, Boeing et al cannot retroactively redesign the rudder mechanisms to improve their reliability."
And this was after the fault had not just caused in-flight emergencies, but had already killed people...
The question is whether, through regulatory capture or negligence, monetary costs are being valued too highly.
If you'd like to experience a moment of somber horror, Wikipedia has a computer reconstruction of the final moments of the plane based on the recordings recovered from the black box: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:USAir_Flight_427_Chase.og...
Not just that, but the fact that they had audio all the way down, and the pilots utter disbelief that they plane was responding to his inputs in the way that it was.
The idea that they were not actually supposed to pull up in the scenario but leave the stick level and just turn hard right is unbelievable. The amount of training to be able to react like that instinctively would be tremendous.
The plane hit 3 or 4 G and apparently the copilot could be heard straining on the tape. They were analyzing the pilot’s gasping to deduce how he way applying rudder because the black box didn’t record rudder inputs at the time.
All of this is inconceivable. The sheer speed of the event and how quickly that 30 second video is over is probably the most shocking.
This one showing the pilot inputs is even more terrifying:
The top comment on this thread (re: "acceptable loss"), is infuriating.
Do you ever drive a car? Do you think the risk is "acceptable"?
And don't get hung up on semantics, "acceptable" doesn't mean it's not terrible, it means that it's not feasible to prevent every risk with that danger:cost ratio. Especially because anything that causes a drastic reduction in flight will increase car trips and probably cause more deaths.
This is of course different from someone lying about the level of risk. But some risks really are "acceptable".
Also, the "acceptable" part is the statistical average. It's still a tragedy that any particular person dies. I do have sympathy for you and your wife, but we have millions of deaths per year that deserve equal respect, and we only have so much we can do to prevent each one. We should try very hard, but we can't try infinitely hard.
I briefly changed the submission to point to that URL, but Jolter has a good point too: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19394058.
Also, Hacker News doesn't have submitter filled "descriptions" for linked pages, so there literally is no way to add attribution meta-data when posting a link.
The gallery will not be shared publicly unless you click the "Share to community" button - it will just be available through the URL, exactly like now. With the benefit that you can edit it afterwards.
"Picked up without credit" on a platform that provides no attribution whatsoever isn't really a hill to die on.
Source on KC-46 info and general issues with the agjng KC-135 fleet: https://www.defensenews.com/opinion/commentary/2019/01/16/pe...
It's extremely NSFW. Suffice to say, a man and a horse are involved, and the man did not survive. Google/Duck it at your own risk.
E.g. the reason the 747 was decommissioned from passenger flight in the US when it was is because they flew it right up to the day that the FAA mandated that they couldn't fly it anymore.
The reason was that they didn't have then-mandatory fuel tank inerting. For something like a decade there were a bunch of planes in the air carrying people that were known to be more likely to explode than some other planes.
Regulatory safety is always a messy combination of new requirement and timed phase-out of old systems.
Same with cars, you can buy a used car today and even use it as a taxi to ferry passengers without it having safety features that would make it illegal to sell as a newly manufactured vehicle.
I'm sorry, what? Do you have a source?
UA and Delta flew such variants of the 747 to within a month of the FAA deadline. The final flight was on November 7, 2017. You can still fly the 747 into or within the US (as e.g. BA does), you just need to have a newer or retrofitted 747. The rule also doesn't apply to cargo planes.
Sorry about the " flight[s] in the US" ambiguity. I was referring to the domestic fleet at the time. Also it wasn't literally "right up to the day" of the rule going into effect, but in the grand scheme of things that's accurate enough. The phase-out was planned to coincide with that rule going into effect, among other reasons.
The point being that airlines can and will fly airframes that in one way or another would be illegal to manufacture today for safety reasons, or which will be grounded by the regulator tomorrow unless an expensive retrofitting is carried out.
I think that's fine, but apparently the fact that airlines are allowed to fly planes with fixable flaws that have "already killed people" just to save some money is surprising to some. It's all a cost/benefit trade-off, and is considered normal by regulators.
There's some more details in this HN comment chain at the time in 2017 that I contributed to.
Edit: Some weird HN glitch or mod action seems to have happened. My comment upthread is now a top-level comment, but initially I'd replied to the "already killed people" top-level comment by jfk13, and that's definitely how it was rendered for a while.
Of course, this is also true for cars. The vast majority of cars on the road would be illegal to manufacture today.
Illegal to manufacture due to lacking significant safety features, or due to other changes over time such as evolving emissions standards?
> "the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced that it would require all automobiles sold in the United States built beginning in May 2018 to include backup cameras"
That's less than a year ago. It's a fair bet that most vehicles on the road don't have such systems, but they're now illegal to manufacture.
Got to love Wikipedia and their strict adherence to NPOV. That kind of camera does look to be a US (and Canada?)-only requirement at the moment.
Are there (m)any internationally-recognised compulsory safety feature standards that mean a vehicle manufactured, say, five years ago would no longer to be legal to manufacture today?
You seem to just be moving the goal post. No, you are not going to find some safety feature of cars that was introduced in lockstep across the entire globe overnight whose impact is as dramatic as say seat belts or airbags were.
Car safety is all about marginal improvements at this point, and there are many regulatory agencies. In practice the US and EU set the tone for safety across the globe, but they don't act in lockstep.
Most of these mandates are also going to be relatively mundane, e.g. mandating that the A-pillar in newly sold cars this year must be 5% stronger than the previous mandate, or given statistics about pedestrian impact mandating some small adjustment to the design of the front bumper or hood.
Paragraph 2-8 indicates the dates compliance became mandatory (Dec 26, 2017 with a potential one year extension). There are 747-400s flying in the United States, however they've all had interting systems retrofitted, are foreign registered, or both.
"The investigation concluded that among the causes of the crash were poor maintenance, as well as the control system of the stabilizer not meeting basic aviation standards”
>the control system of the stabilizer not meeting basic aviation standards
> Operation of the entire fleet of Yak-42 aircraft until the elucidation of the causes of the disaster and the elimination of the identified deficiencies was suspended until 1984.
That number has been higher in the past, and is moving into 10^-10 per issue with 10^-7 overall risk right now, with large airplanes in scheduled flight very near that level.
I think that may have been me (1/250000), but that was based on a couple of generous assumptions - two crashes across 4 flights/day on 350 planes for an average of 365 days. Unfortunately I think a more reasonable flights/day number is 3 or lower - a lot of Max 8s are on longer routes - and the flight day average is almost certainly lower than 365 (which assumes linear deliveries for the past two years, with no days for maintenance).
I was really scared by your number. I wouldn't ever jump into a random private plane, and seems that people refusing to jump into a B733 Max (looks like I wrote it wrong earlier) are doing a reasonable thing.
Still that 4e-6 per trip number is worse than the city driving statistics I've found. And that 8e-6 per trip (4 per airport operation) is around the motorcycle values.
How many times have you investigated a weird, intermittent software or system problem and gone down the wrong path (or paths) because what turned out to be the actual cause seemed so unlikely, even if there were clues that in retrospect you should have given more weight.
> Boeing had no choice but to carry out the changes, but the company never stopped trying to deflect blame. While the investigation was ongoing, it adopted a philosophy of trying to avoid paying out damages to families of crews because this could be legally interpreted as an admission of responsibility. It had tampered with the PCU from the Colorado Springs crash and repeatedly tried to misdirect the investigation with “alternative” theories.
Should not there be some criminal charges?
Having worked in software for decades, I've noted a particular sort of bias in myself and other developers. We tend to feel that our creations are like our children, and we are far too ready to blame the user. I've caught myself doing this. I've been caught out by QA doing this. I've caught fellow developers doing this, where I am in the position of the user. On that last count, I'm still surprised at the unrealistic levels of incompetence and/or malice ascribed to me in support of those face saving theories.
Emotions are a tricky thing. Do not formulate theories in the heat of them. If you care about being truthful, be especially mindful of your incentives in those moments.
Unfortunately, we programmers are particularly good at doing this. We are extremely good at being "nice" to software. ("Mechanical sympathy")
Arguably, not enough people at Google use the competitors stuff. The employees are sitting there thinking they're making a great minidisc player while the rest of the world has moved on to streaming audio...
As you note emotions, and frankly legal liability, play huge roles in this realm. Worrying about legal liability might be harder to tame but in my experience it is easier to disabuse yourself of the notion that you can do no wrong.
This is true. However, even in the cases where I have spent considerable time analyzing the situation and have included specific information, I get the distinct impression that devs simply don't listen to what users say. I get the distinct impression that most of them simply disdain me and don't even listen to what I have to say.
Besides, just to stand on one foot requires 100 lbs of force exerted on your foot. If you can walk, you can do that. Pressing with 175 lbs is not a problem.
The point is, the brakes can override the engine torque. Unless, of course, you're standing on the gas instead of the brake.
You can also just turn the key off on a runaway engine.
No orchestration is needed. Managers only need to look with disdain to anyone that brings the issue.
If your company does not put a lot of resources to make it transparent it is going to be opaque by default. Transparency is hard to achieve when humans are so good reading a superior expression of disapproval. Most people does not need to be told to not bring that problem again, all that we need is a subtle clue.
So, to get a cover up you only need to do nothing.
“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!”
Networks and social media extend the reach of these kinds of disdain, and take these mechanisms beyond the walls of the office and organization. In the present day climate, where accusations causing outrage tend more easily to become viral, one need not be someone's manager or even have a close relationship to exercise such power of disdain. The incentive structures in social media can act as a very efficient transmission substrate for these mechanisms.
One doesn't have to look far, to see how social media amplified groupthink has short circuited professional judgement -- even in highly visible and public circumstances. In particular, forums, email lists, and social media groups of journalists can be seen to be having such effects.
With just a modicum of digging, this can be seen quite clearly in 2019, in the mainstream media, which is declining but still trusted by the public.
This effect is very real and very powerful. This is why we as a society should be wary of the political exclusiveness of entire professions, entire industries, and of academia. If you're surrounded only by people of like minds, you're far less likely to have your idea checked by people highly motivated to find your faults. It's only diversity of opinions which guards against groupthink.
Social networks on the other hand have far less direct impact which results in less socially accepted statements becoming common.
In 2019, there are lots of examples of people being quite sensitive to approval over social media. This differs by individual circumstance. However, in 2019 there are entire fields where people must ascribe to some form of group consensus, or basically become un-personed from it. Media work seems to be particularly sensitive to this.
not just in major events like a lay off or promotion, but also day to day tasking
There are examples of journalists consulting and influencing each other in the context of news cycle events.
Social networks on the other hand have far less direct impact
This was once true but now is simply out of date and very wrong. In 2019, there are social networks which have very direct impact, and very large impacts on people's livelihood. There are entire fields where such social networks and online communication can get someone un-personed. These are basically the 2019 version of the "old boy network."
Social media can be a near full time job. One many successful people simply don’t have time for.
So sure many NYT reporters might post their wedding photos online, but deeper interactions are often limited to people focusing on such things.
You're conflating two entirely different things here. Much of the dysfunction/groupthink occurs through things like legacy media journalists using social media.
The point is that networks and social media enables offline channels for groupthink, which then affects other media.
So sure many NYT reporters might post their wedding photos online
This of course, isn't an issue. (But mistakenly considered as such, it might as well be a strawman.) What is an issue are blue checkmark journalists engaging in toxic groupthink on Twitter. This also happens on email lists and industry insider forums.
(This isn't actually a new phenomenon. There are Vietnam era journalists who complained about how some correspondents never left bars in Saigon. The difference is that the groupthink can follow people around in their smartphone and come at them every waking hour.)
My point is group think requires significant interaction over social media. This requires more than visiting a bar one a month / posting wedding photos. It requires significant amounts of time and crossing that threashold is not very common.
So, sure a small fraction are significantly influenced but the majority is not. Making the overall influence far less significant than it might appear.
On top of that mainstream news organizations like FOX, CNN, NPR differentiate based on appealing to different groups. Which creates different spheres of social media for each segment. This has been intensified with online sources the Drudge Report going mainstream and gathering vast followings. Which means social media is pulling different reporters in different directions.
Then the behavior of many journalists over social media should greatly concern you.
This requires more than visiting a bar one a month / posting wedding photos. It requires significant amounts of time and crossing that threshold is not very common.
This is common among journalists. Particularly those working in niche media.
Making the overall influence far less significant than it might appear.
Those who know the facts behind certain niche stories are amazed at the degree of reality warping done by the mainstream media. Just look at what happened around the Covington kids.
What you’re describing “group consensus” is a systemic bias. A historical example of say US WWII propaganda qualifies as essentially all US news is shifted in the same direction.
Waves of news with story X being updated to story Y over time is a different thing. That’s a question of which organizations get involved over time. You can find examples that support any narrative based on timing. But, bias would mean the story did not evolve.
The behavior of mainstream journalists calling for the doxxing of and violence against these kids just strikes me as amazing. The groupthink involved with accepting the initial narrative is quite apparent.
What you’re describing “group consensus” is a systemic bias.
When systematic bias reaches the point where journalists completely abandon fact-checking and basic adult judgement, it's more than just "group consensus." Offering sexual favors to do things against kids? I'm sorry, but if I made something like that up, it would be purple prose. Journalists were swept up in that kind of groupthink!
A historical example of say US WWII propaganda qualifies as essentially all US news is shifted in the same direction.
Read Manufacturing Consent -- it's the same in 2019 as it was in the 1980's, we in the west just do it faster and harder with the bias, emotional words only for one side, and selective coverage. The thesis was that the west is just as bad as Pravda. In 2019, I find that Pravda was more subtle about it.
bias would mean the story did not evolve.
Bias can also mean that the retractions were either absent or all but meant to be invisible. In 2019, the typical media modus operandi is to technically be about the truth and retract, but engineer this to have basically zero effect. The number of mainstream sites who will edit a story, but give no indication of that, is just amazing to me.
You need to factor in how stories are simply copied around the ecco chamber of mainstream news. But also how stories evolve not just what gets retracted.
You are focusing on an individual story, but also a specific point in time. A different narrative showed up and was passed around mainstream media changing your view of what happened. That’s more than a simple retraction.
What I find fascinating is it was even considered a story in the first place. But, it really resonated with you, so I guess they know what they are doing.
I don't see that that should be applied as a rule of thumb to investigations involving civil liability and possible criminal liability.
We have a situation where there are literally piles of dead bodies, massive civil and possible criminal liability, and key evidence goes missing when in the possession of the party that was in the end found to be at fault, who more than anyone else would have realized that the evidence that disappeared was a smoking gun. It's reasonable to assume that malice might have been a factor in such a scenario and it's a reasonable hypothesis to investigate.
As a rule, it has high performance, but as a policy, it's trivial to exploit. Children figure out how to play dumb before they figure out how to articulate complete sentences. If you let conmen do it, they'll bleed us all dry.
Negligence perpetuated by greed is far more likely and equally as criminal.
There is the implication in the article that Boeing purposefully went and stole springs that could be used to diagnose an issue that they were fully aware of. That I would describe as 'active' and I have trouble believing.
Didn't put credence, time and effort into reports because they were inconvenient I would describe as 'passive'.
Passive is still bad - likely results in the same number of people dying, but a different interpretation of the situation.
That's why we have a term "criminal negligence", because sometimes it's impossible to tell malice from incompetence.
So the law basically decided, "Well, fuck this, if you do something as stupid as (putting a faulty brake on a train, for example), then you deserve to go to jail, and we don't care if you were actually thrilled to kill passengers or were simply too stupid to understand what you were doing."
Clever people deliberately structure their malice to be plausibly explained away as incompetence.
But a) Boeing is typically a hyper competent corporate person, having executed massive, multi-decade engineering projects that have been largely successful, and b) regardless of (a), the disappearance of a very specific piece of technical evidence while in the possession of the potentially liable party, while the rest of the evidence is successfully delivered, is not adequately explained by incompetence.
I was thinking a more likely explanation is that once the original issue that ultimately was found to be the cause was dismissed, and after more and more fatalities built up, the consequence of admitting the problem may have been perceived as game over for Boeing. As in the financial and legal consequences would be unrecoverable. So basically like the web of lies problem - once they passed a certain point they couldn't go back.
These are companies driven by greed. If they're in any way culpable, they should suffer consequences. There's nothing else to it.
We are humans after all and money talks.
The razor is for non-economical causes.
I think that is malice personally.
But I discovered there is a second, legal context for the word which means "intent to commit an unlawful act or cause harm without legal justification or excuse" so I guess in the law, "malice" is just another word for "deliberate."
I still think the first definition is what most people are familiar with, and that unless you think the engineers deliberately designed the rudder control system to behave in this way, knowing it would cause crashes and fatalities, the company having a bias after the fact to not blame themselves does not rise to that standard.
With the size of the defense contract they have with the USG?
That depends on whether you can convince the court.
For crime to happen there has to be criminal activity.
This looks like "activity" to me.
It's not just PR. It's default behavior for Homo sapiens.
Now I’m not sure if he meant that literally and there’s a number in the Boeing employee handbook, but he had a point. He said they could make planes cost twice as much and save a few lives that will be lost one day, but no one would be able to afford flying.
This case definitely seems like that mentality gone wrong, but it’s interesting to realize yes, cost was spared in making your plane/car/boat/train as safe as possible
Its morbid but it has to be this way or transportation would be unaffordable.
That is what I think people find offensive.
This may well be applicable to the earliest B737 rudder incidents, for example.
Acting to rectify the (previously unsuspected) fault should not increase the company's liability for a problem it was unable to anticipate.
But once a problem has been discovered/reported, if the company does not act to rectify it in a timely way, its liability for any further problems that occur should rise rapidly. And once several serious in-flight emergencies related to the B737 rudder had occurred, it seems (judging by the story as presented here) like Boeing was probably guilty of this and should be severely penalized.
Isn't it always the case? Driving cars and flying planes is a risky activity (the former much riskier, but still). There are ways to reduce the risks, but millions of people choose to buy cars without most recent safety features. A lot of people choose to drive tired, intoxicated, distracted, under bad weather conditions, while using mobile devices, etc. - knowing it is risky. There could be more safety features in cars - stronger materials, more accident-preventing electronics, enforced speed limits, etc. - but nobody would buy a car that costs $200K and can go only 30 mph, even it'd be super-safe for the driver. So yes, we know we trade some safety for reduced cost (either directly monetary or convenience). There's no surprise there, and there's no surprise manufacturers participate in the balance too. Of course, the consumer can make voluntary decision about accepting risk only if they are informed about the risks - if the risks are purposely concealed from consumers, then it's a problem.
Kind of rude if you to jump at the throat like that.
I'd like to see a James Burke "Connections" style series on near-misses. What could have been. Another case I like to think about is Sears missing the boat on the Internet. They were catalog based 80 years before Amazon and well could have decimated the industry if a few key decisions were different.
This one is interesting:
In March 2010, a 29-year-old shift nurse left her job in Atlanta, Georgia and headed to her boyfriend’s house. She was driving her 2005 Chevy Cobalt on a two-lane road as she approached a half-mile downhill straightaway. As the road leveled after the straightaway, she approached an area where some rainwater had accumulated. Shortly after encountering this section of roadway, she apparently lost control of her Cobalt as it hydroplaned across the center line. The rear passenger side of her car was struck by an oncoming Ford Focus, causing the Cobalt to spin off the road and fall 15 feet before landing in a large creek around 7:30 p.m. The impact of the crash broke the nurse’s neck, an injury that led to her death shortly after she arrived at the hospital.
While this tragedy might sound like a typical crash scenario, it was particularly puzzling to the victim’s parents. Why? According to Atlanta magazine, she always wore her seat belt and never had a speeding ticket. So how did she suddenly lose control of her car on that fateful evening? Sadly, this unsettling question remained unanswered until several years later—after many more drivers suffered similar fates.
The ignition switch did not meet the mechanical specifications for torque and required less force to turn the key than its designers originally ordered. If the driver’s knee hit the key fob, the car would often turn off, causing stalling at highway speeds and disabling the airbags.
Edit: apparently NASA is checking referrer and you can’t follow this link directly. It’s the third case study down the page from the first link.
I don't understand why this paragraph was written this way. Driving highway speeds and hitting a puddle of water seems like a reasonable cause to lose control of a car and result in the crash. I don't understand why this would be puzzling. On the other hand, the lack of airbag deployment would be puzzling.
Getting worn out and sloppy and failing in one of several ways (e.g. turning the car off unexpectedly) is not an atypical failure mode of old ignition switches. The only reason it was a big deal was because wealth-ish people (i.e. not someone driving a 1993 Corolla) driving fairly new (at the time) vehicles died.
Their cover up was somewhat scummy but I don't think it wasn't the kind of thing they should not have had to cover up.
Edit: should not have
The faulty ignitions have been linked (by GM itself) to 124 deaths.
> old ignition switches
Five years is not an old ignition switch.
> should have had to cover up
On June 5, 2014, Valukas' report on the recall was made public. In it, he asserted that the company's failure to fix the defective switches sooner was not due to a cover-up on the company's part, but rather due to "their failure to understand, quite simply, how the car was built."
As well, the case study doesn't mention cover up once, but instead points out a variety of secondary issues: inadequate communication, a lack of understanding of the problem, a lack of urgency, a lack of oversight, and company culture.
That was a typo on my part. Regardless the media portrayed it as a coverup.
Is this true?
"If Boeing knew about a problem with the MCAS, they'd have told the FAA and corrected it" is not a hypothesis in-line with their past behavior, should anyone be holding that hypothesis in their minds.
This allows them to save on maintenance costs since there's so much commonality among their fleet, but puts them in more peril when something affects the entire class of craft.
'we should label these switches like this and put them here', and southwest said,
'no, that will change the type and we will have to retrain pilots, we'd rather have things be the same type with an asterisks and just let our pilots know than retrain'
And because southwest is the largest consumer of the 8max, Boeing did it. From what I understand, that was a precondition of sale for the contract.
And the result it seems is that the plane can act in a way that is confusing to people who are expecting one behavior and seeing another, this comes right down to labeling switches as one thing, when they are kinda another.
My assumption, and this will probably be borne out in the investigation, is that, because southwest was part of the decision process here, they are at very little risk because of a little additional lite pilot training where they point out these switches are labeled wrong and this behavior will seem funny but this is what it's going to do. But not all airlines are going to train like that, it's the same type right?
either way, a customer requesting a design change doesn't make the customer part of the 'decision process' - customers request changes to the vendor, who then decides whether or not the change makes sense, and if necessary tries to influence customer expectations or at worst lose the business if necessary if it does not.
If Boeing had a reasonable expectation that the avionics changes for the new jets would impact flight characteristics to the point that the pilots needed to be retrained, then they should have dealt accordingly, even if this meant sticking to the original design you claim and insisting southwest 'suck it up' as far as pilot retraining, and the decision not to do this, if true, was solely theirs to make.
also, this wouldn't explain the 'buggy avionics software relying on a single sensor' which could also be part of the equation as I understand it.
> Southwest operates a fleet of more than 750 Boeing 737s, and the 34 737 MAX 8 aircraft account for less than five (5) percent of our daily flights.
I don't think this is true, and I think that their cost/benefit analysis clearly agrees with me. Military and other large contractors go out of business when they run out of friends. For them to run out of friends, they would either have to have people fear for their jobs if they choose Boeing, or a competitor who offers more for friendship.
There will never be enough pressure from the public to not pick Boeing that people would be risking their jobs by choosing them. In addition, the US government is willing to sweeten any friendships they need sweetened. Boeing is a company of the size that taxpayers actively shill for them overseas, and that business for them is included in treaties and foreign aid.
I can't even imagine a situation bad enough that Boeing would even need to change its name.
It's normalization of risk writ large over corporate lifecycle timescales. "Should we report this? Well, the last time we got 200 people killed, nobody went to jail, so..."
Note that I'm not making a value judgment about regulation in the general case, just pointing out that you've misidentified the problem in this particular case.
The solution isn't to stop those companies from failing, it's to prevent companies from being "too big to fail"
At a very minimum they will have Boeing spares and maintenance ltd. Probably one in each country they operate in.
... though I wouldn't say that this one-off rises to the claim of "demonstrable track record." They have some explaining to do about the working conditions of their warehouses.
I think the point here was to show how Boeing has responded to issues in the past.
A problem is found with a design after a fatality (or near fatality), manufacturer deflects, blames the operator, etc until someone proves that they are 100% at fault. Eventual recall.
For this PCU issue, it looks like Boeing was able to derail the issue for years, even throughout several crashes. This time, Boeing was basically able to subvert the FAA for two days - the pressure of disagreeing with other country's regulatory bodies simply became too great.
What if this MAX thing isn't pitot tube or MCAS software…
Human interest stories are the most common posts to use the format but educational stuff like this is definitely seen too.
I thing it works great, and I much prefer it over videos because I can take my time, and videos tend to gloss over the details. My only issue with Imgur is that on mobile the images are very low-res, so zooming in to see details doesn't work.
Edit: Ooops, someone already mentioned this below. Oh well.
have apparently been leading to decisions like this:
> Aero Mechanic, the District 751 monthly newspaper, accused Boeing of “essentially masking defects,” by pressuring inspectors to not record defects when found but instead to simply have them fixed, then afterward produce data to the FAA showing a big decrease in defects as a justification for cutting out inspections.
The result is that many aircraft operate for a very long time with very outdated systems. Replacing designs is prohibitively expensive to prove to the FAA that there will be no corresponding degradation of the system's performance or new safety risk. Unfortunately such a process does not calculate the cost of not replacing the system. No cost is attributed with keeping something that is old and lacking in capability.
The result is that aircraft systems are woefully behind what technology can offer. And this is not just the hardware or the software, it includes the procedures and the overall set of capabilities. The result is that aircraft are being operated to the standards of the 50s, when in fact a much higher standard of crew and aircraft performance is possible. When I say performance I am also talking about safety performance, the ability to operate without harm causing failure.
In both cases, there was a certain inevitability given the processes at work, the conditions, the changes and the difference between engineering reality and what is presented in the FAA Type Certification process as the basis for the modification of the Type Certificate. As an engineer working on aircraft, one thing is for certain, engineering data is laundered to the bare minimum in the interests of certification. This is in contrast to the engineering NASA does. The cert process does not achieve transparency, as it is a legal not an engineering process.
One can blame manufacturers, but there really is no way for them to be transparent and ever ship anything (ref. Lear Fan). I am not, however, advocating retracting any responsibility from Boeing. They must bear the responsibility for their product. I am only saying that we have created an environment as a country that makes it unlikely we will see the behavior we desire from manufacturers. As a person who likes to land the same number of times I take off, my interest is in helping the government improve as well as the manufacturers.
So Boeing decided to conclude that the existing system was sufficient. And they proved it to the FAA. There is no precedent or standard applied to the parts of the airplane that are not changed, once they are deemed not to need changing. This is similar to the housing code. Replace a socket in a house with knob-and-spool wiring, and you do not need to fix a thing. Rewire a bedroom in a house with knob and spool wiring, and the code will not let you put new knob and spool wiring in, one must then bring the house's electrical system up to code.
The reason there still is a 737 is the tremendous economic benefit afforded to manufacturers who use safety analysis to show that the previous iteration of the aircraft's systems are sufficient given proposed changes on the aircraft. That's why it has ridiculous engine nacelles, ridiculous landing gear, in many 737's ridiculous avionics. A new airframe is required, but the cost of a new airframe's certification is much greater than the hacky re-certification of an old type certificate obtained when standards and processes were very different and much out of date.
I think it is a very good example of how old systems continue to operate while the public believes they are up to modern standards. We see it in civil engineering now too. A bridge collapses in Pennsylvania and the public is told that over 1/3 of US bridges are outside of their designed life span and more expensive to fix than replace with municipalities that cannot afford to do either. The Concord was old and had what we call Tech Debt. It could not be made modern. Risk is just negative opportunity cost. When it crashed that debt was realized and the company had to write it down. One thing for sure is correct in your statement. It is about money driving the decisions, not engineering.
The exact motives for retiring the plane are hard to know. Safety almost surely played a part if nothing else by reducing demand. I was just correcting that you seemed to be saying the plane has been retired after the accident when it did in fact return to service.
Its easy to blame Boeing for faults like this but its a miracle that these things fly so reliably with so many moving parts and human involvement.
Without lawyers, those CEOs could go on killing people and never have any accountability.
I'm not sure you thought that one through. Are you really surprised? Who else should it be? I'm sure no one would say the politicians.
Think all the investigation shows on Discovery, but with zero filler.
Discovery, the History Channel, used to be full of random filler like old military equipment videos that were just videos from demos and trade shows and someone who sounded like they were reading out of a Jane's book or something ;)
Same went for some disaster / failures videos done by (I forget who) some risk / aftermath assessment company.
I miss those days.
The CSB has the most amazing youtube channel where they outline accidents including 3d renderings. I find it so fascinating how these accidents happen.
There should be a law that grants companies safe harbor for reporting and fixing defects in their product without the risk of accepting liability. Sort of like self-whistle blowing.
I wrote this. I noticed it jumped 12,000 views and I got no username mention on Reddit, so I asked around and found it came from here. Made an account just to post the source. I'm pretty pissed that someone linked it completely without credit.
As for what it is, it's part of a series I write for reddit where I read as many sources as I can about a plane crash, write it up in a way that's understandable to laymen, and then post it for others to read. Taken away from me and my reputation on Reddit it has zero credibility because it's just a random album on Imgur.
“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!” - Upton Sinclair
People tend to understand this as saying that people will fight you and feign ignorance. I think it should be taken more literally: a person’s financial position affects their reasoning, and it is literally difficult for them to understand something that will harm them. Not impossible by any means, but when there’s a financial incentive not to understand, it’s far more likely that people just won’t get it.
I suppose the distinction I'm making is one between bona fide self-delusion and knowing cynicism.
Everyone here is probably intimately familiar with that attitude, since it permeates software engineering (and probably every other technical field).
Risk is inherent in fast modes of transportation, and I think it's very easy for us to ignore the underlying complexity of these feats. Great example: regular air travelers I'm sure are use to the preflight safety announcement run by the cabin crew, but when was the last time you (of the royal variety) actually stopped what you were doing, focused on the briefing, and made a mental note of the plane's safety features?
Every. Single. Time. I fly.
I'm a pilot, and I know the chance of an accident is small and the chance of a situation where my actions will make a difference to the outcome are even smaller. However, since I'm locked in a seat with nothing important to do, paying attention and noting where the life vest is, how you put it on, and where the exits are in relation to my location has an opportunity cost of zero.
EDIT: I do pay a lot of attention during the takeoff and landing phases. That's when most of the issues happen, so headphones and sleep can wait.
"The new 737, named as the 737 MAX, would require -as usually- bigger engines, to offer an increased fuel efficiency, competitive to the one of the A320neo. And again, there was no room for them. So, the solution was to extend the front landing gear by eight inches and at the same time to move the LEAP-1B engines even more forward and higher up (image 3). This last design modification was later found to create an upward pitching moment during flight, which could bring the aircraft closer to stall under specific operating conditions. To tackle this problem, Boeing introduced the so-called Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS). The MACS simply trims the stabilizer nose down, to counterbalance the moment created by the new engine positions."
Chances are better that (assuming they don't already know the answer) that a bunch of them are working long hours trying to find the cause and solution to this problem. I imagine every flight simulator at Boeing's disposal is being used to analyze this from every angle.