In summary, the software fix does the following:
1. Use inputs from both AOA sensors, if they disagree by 5.5 degrees, disable MCAS. Original MCAS system used only 1 AOA sensor and switched back and forth between the two after every flight.
2. Triple redundant filters, A) Average value reasonability filter B) Catastrophic failure low-to-high transition filter C) Left vs. Right AOA deviation filter
3. Limiting MCAS stab trim so that the elevator always can provide 1.2g of nose-up pitch authority for recovery. Furthermore, electric trim with the yoke switch will override MCAS.
Turns out that armchair analysis was sort of on point and goes along with the incompetency at Boeing affirmed in this reddit post - sometimes, I wonder how we, humans, collectively build extraordinary monuments while we individually rest on stilts.
Note the 737 MAX was rushed out not just to fight the A320neo but also to counter this kind of jet:
which is cheaper to run than the 737 MAX but also has much
better passenger comfort than the 737. I was in the similar
and even though it is a smaller plane, it feels more like riding in a widebody than in a 737.
Canada developed a fully modern small jet on it's own dime and taking risk, then Boeing nearly killed it by offering airlines a 70% discount on the 737 MAX. Airbus bought a controlling interest in it for free because that was the only way it could survive.
Common type rating is a big reason why airlines are sticking with the 1967 era 737 rather than upgrading to modern planes that will make flying much more pleasant, make less noise, use less fuel, less climate change impact, etc.
Actually, Boeing lobbied/sued to get punitive tariffs levied on the Bombardier CSeries. While they ultimately lost the case, while it was pending, Bombardier entered an agreement with Airbus to finish assembly of the planes for American customers as a US-based Airbus factory as a way to get around the tariffs. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CSeries_dumping_petition_by_Bo...
you don't think Boeing has a few attorneys on staff providing legal review for its business decisions?
What should really happen, in the free market creative destruction paradigm, is that the entire design should be scrapped - designated as non-airworthy by the FAA. Since the design goals seem to have revolved around hacking FAA regulations, as opposed to good faith engineering, how can any of the results be trusted?
A reasonable pick-up-the-pieces approach would see the MAX grounded for a minimum of three years for an overall design review with no getting out of a new type cert, with production halted in case hardware changes are needed.
But what's reasonable can never happen politically, because Airbus, headquartered in that entirely non-allied and utterly foreign country France, would benefit. Mon Dieu!
Which is the general setup for Too Big Too Fail - ignore regulations/prudence, skim profit short term profits, and then make sure it is everyone's problem when the sham inevitably blows up. The Boeing executives that forewent actually designing a modern plane are the ones responsible for not having kept up with Airbus, and should frankly end up in prison for mismanaging a TBTF (ie quasi-government) entity.
I'm not sure it's fair to put Embraer in the same category, it is a much less comfortable plane, both in size and handling in my opinion.
The circular cross-section, for one thing, makes it like the old American cars that were huge on the outside and small on the inside. The only way you'll really understand this is ride on an modern plane such as the E175 or A220 -- you'll get that you hate to fly not because you hate to fly but you hate to fly on a 737 and never get to fly on anything else.
The overall design of the aircraft is not compatible with high-bypass engines. Thus they bolted MCAS onto it. Even there the 737 Max does not support the geared turbofans that are available for modern airliners and the A320. These are so quiet that it isn't that you hate living near an airport, it is that you hate living at an airport where 737s land.
Modern airplanes use fly-by-wire which reduces weight (sometimes dramatically because the size of the control surfaces can be reduced) and enables flight envelope protection (like MCAS) in a way that is a lot more rational and thought-through than MCAS.
An all-electric plane like the 787 might also improve air quality on the flight. I don't think small airplane competitors have this yet.
Boeing has used it's market power to suppress alternatives to the 737 so you will pay more for tickets, suffer in transit, have noisier airports, and have more global warming. The MCAS system was just one part of this scheme.
The 737 Max is a case of the "undercompetition and underinvestment" connected with secular stagnation; it is like how your internet service sucks...
The 737 has the _fundamental_ problem of having wings very low to the ground during ground operations. Taller landing gear is not an option, in fact the 737-max has slightly-extending landing gear to resolve this issue. It is part of the reason the plane is called "max" - they maxed out things like ground clearance, fuselage length, wing chord, and other parameters.
Back to the low wings: there is no room for a large (quieter, more efficient) engine. In the earlier 737s, the engine was just as high as it could go, you could even see the cowling squished at the bottom. In the max, the larger engine is placed in front of the wing, which means that it sits much further forward than the airframe was designed for. Thus, MCAS was needed to have the plane "behave in flight like the old 737".
These are _fundamental_ issues that cannot be fixed on the current airframe. Just as the 2019 Ford Mustang chassis is better (stiffer, lighter, safer) than the 1964 Ford Mustang chassis, newer airframes resolve many of the issues that were not designed into their 1960's counterparts.
Think of the difference between slapping IoT / real-time monitoring capabilities onto an old factory process versus building from the ground up with those capabilities kept in mind.
Obsoletion happens when there is a better alternative available, and there are plenty of better options to the aging 737 airframe.
The design has been iterated and improved many times. The field of aviation is very conservative. What's old is generally what works. New designs are prohibitively expensive. The 787 won't be profitable for some time, even a decade after it was launched.
> it's avionics are old
They're brand new. Where do you think they get them for brand new planes ?
>versus building from the ground up with those capabilities kept in mind.
They have done that, just the other way around: the avionics are built from the ground up with the capabilities of the well-understood (at least before -Max) aircraft in mind.
> They're brand new. Where do you think they get them for brand new planes ?
I have some industry experience- there are still new planes that get large, ugly beige Honeywell units in them that're slow and clunky while there are much better avionics packages available. The Honeywell packages are generally pretty newly built, but are still really old. The Raspberry Pi Foundation still sells the original Raspberry Pi, even though they've gone through 3 different generations and like 6 iterations since. The original Raspberry Pi is old, no matter when it was manufactured. The Raspberry Pi 3B+ is new, and has more features and power. Sure, they have similar names and functionality, but there is a world of difference between the two.
Imagine that you've designed a product around the original Raspberry Pi. The projects needs include GPIO, internet connectivity, and video output. The expectations have been trimmed appropriately to fit within the hardware available. Custom PCB's have been made for the Pi to socket into, and there's a standardized system in place for testing the Pi.
Later on, you decide that you want to replace the old Pi with a new one. Compared to the current Pi, the old one has less GPIO, less processing power, a weaker GPU, lamer internet, and less IO- and, although you can just drop in the new Pi with an adapter cable, you're still missing out on all the pins, and your code isn't exploiting all the available resources.
This "not everything gets updated" cycle has serious compounding effects the longer you go. After a few decades of Raspberry Pi releases, your product is a little bit antique, and needs some serious updating to be able to compete in the now-mature product category that you were in. Not starting over and working from the ground up has serious knock-on effects in the future, (for instance, the 737's wings were way too low, which is not future-proof for bigger engines).
This isn't just about avionics, either. It's about every single part of the airplane.
All these high-tech upgrades have downsides. Fiber optic is very slow to be adopted in aviation because movement generally destroys it. those fancy HUD obscure the runway and lighting. AIRDRU's malfunction, sometimes spectacularly . Sometimes they kill people when working exactly as designed . I'm not surprised to see a fetish for the fastest, sleekest electronics on Hacker News, but I'm shocked to suddenly see such sharp criticism for the '37 on here (aside from the Max issue). It's one of the most reliable and safe aircraft ever, yet somehow it needs the latest glass cockpit technology.
Fly-by-wire offers huge avionics benefits, reduces weight, fuel consumption, etc.
Planes with fly-by-wire also have inertial measurement units that contribute to envelope protection so they would have another input to work from rather than just the AoA vanes.
Without the benefit of hind sight it's not obvious that it's a better decision. MCAS being turned off changes the flight characteristics of the plane. If you do that silently you might run into a situation where an aircraft stalls because a pilot is used to having MCAS correcting their input.
And basically everyone knows that there are some subfields of software engineering where safety is critical. From nuclear reactor/warhead control to healthcare devices, and somewhere right in the middle there should be aviation, and other transportation industry related software (train signaling, braking systems, self-driving whatevers, and so on).
And we have Boeing, acting worse than Uber (when they put someone into a Tesla to watch it self-drive without hooking that someone up on intravenous Modafinil).
Who the fuck thought that was a good idea???
Let's make it 10x more difficult to detect that there is a problem.
If you're looking from a regulatory compliance PoV towards optimising sales - that's actually desired behaviour - if it's overly complex to diagnose it's less likely that somebody understands and point fingers back at us. You know, basically what happened after the Lion Air crash - Boeing being all over "it's not us, it's them"
That's what I meant yes
I'm not a pilot, but if the controls are linked -- why would the plane need to know where the pilot is sitting (or even have a switch for it)?
(Any 747 pilots reading? Can you please fill in the gaps for me?)
I said 747 because I was thinking Boeing at the time, and that was the first of their aircraft I could think of!
I was also thinking something smaller like a Cessna might not have the same setup because they're used for very different things (the air travel equivalent of a bus vs. a car).
Independent comparable sensor input is invaluable and irreplaceable.
Later, the MCAS ended up adjusting the trim multiple times, by an amount the pilots couldn't override with the stick. Thus it should have been safety level DAL-A (loss of plane)  - but the safety analysis and MCAS design weren't updated to reflect that.
And the FAA, in what with hindsight seems like a ridiculously naive move, allowed Boeing to self-certify their own faulty safety analysis.
When one engine fails, while you've lost 50% horsepower, you've lost more like 90% of excess horsepower which is what you need to accelerate and to climb. And assymmetric thrust is dangerous at slow airspeed. You must react exactly correctly and quickly. Failure on takeoff roll means an immediate abort. Failure at takeoff with runway remaining means cutting power and landing on what remains. Failure once airborne and you must quickly identify the failed engine, apply full opposite rudder (toward the good engine), if you don't do this while in a full power low airspeed climb the airplane will absolutely roll over. Many accidents are the result of continuing when they should have aborted, and being anemic or slow with corrective rudder.
Turbine powered airplanes are way different, they have a lot more excess thrust available so powerplant failure is not dire. They have so much more power that they will still easily accelerate to a safe single engine takeoff speed and climb away for a circle to land, which is safer than aborting after certain speeds that smaller twins won't get to on takeoff. That's all part of the computation for "balanced field length".
As outlined above, you double the probability that a mechanical problem occurs. (For p small, 1-(1-p)^2 is around 2p).
Now, if the pilots are very much on top of things (well trained and current), then they can control things and safely land at the nearest suitable airport. However, if they make a mistake (and that's surprisingly easy ), it could easily be fatal.
A single-engine plane with an engine failure, in contrast, becomes a bad glider, with a decent chance of surviving the ensuing forced landing.
 For example, the TransAsia ATR 72 twin turbo prop clipping a bridge in Taiwan after the crew erroneously shut down the "good" engine.
To be fair the statistics are swayed slightly by a number of factors, training accidents and different risk profiles of the flights.
The only reason I know is because the captain informed us about it and added that since it was technically an emergency landing we would be greeted by the fire department.
He then turned the plane around and landed as if nothing had happened.
The bloke across the corridor, an old pilot, complained about how there never happened anything remotely exiting on any of his flights ;-)
: to be as accurate as possible I think what he said was they'd lost oil pressure on one engine and decided to shut it down voluntarily.
A problem no one can detect is a problem you don't need to fix ! /s
My take is that we used to have brilliant engineers in the time where computational ressources were scarce (60s, 70 , 80s...), and they thought out their design thoroughly starting with a fucking paper and pencil.
Aerospace indutries still rely on the designs from these times.
But now engineering seems to be : let's ask my computing power what is the good design, with little further questioning.
As people say “They don’t build stuff like they used too anymore”.
First we started going cheap on the materials. Now we are going cheap on the engineers too.
Why pay a senior “brilliant” engineer $$$$ when a fresh out of college “average” engineer can write the “same piece of code” for $$
In fairness part (but far from all) of the reason we don't build stuff like we used too, is because we have much better understanding of material limits so we don't need to over-design structual elements like we used to.
How that understanding of material limits feeds into design obsolescence is where I do get annoyed though.
With everything we know now we could (obviously) build things better (for whatever criteria you chose) than they did 50 or 100 years ago, if that was the goal but it rarely is.
My favourite piece of civil engineering in the world (because it's nearby and I've ridden over it many times) was built in 1980 though (it's the exact same age as me) and its still awe-inspiring to look at.
Partly, companies are even forced if the lowest bidder for pre-defined specification gets the contract.
I believe there are more than enough engineers and companies that would like to build better and more durable products but demand just isn't there.
I often make choices that are anywhere from 50% more cost to 200% if I'm relatively certain I'm actually getting a better product. Unfortunately that trust is usually limited and even then, you often don't have a good trust case.
There are also times where I look at industrial options for comparison, as that's often usually skewed towards more solid/maintainable production. Though again often means more expensive.
I tend to find the best value (my own experience) about 2/3 up the pricing scale for whatever products I'm looking at.
If I could find appliances in general with a 15+ year warranty (that didn't have weird loopholes), I'd be more inclined to buy. Unfortunately, they often don't cover interface boards, and even then they redesign in often incompatible ways each year and stop making the previous version entirely.
I do work with people from Boeing (and Airbus) but they are not yet using all the features of stuff I wrote 30 years ago.
Immediately after the war aerospace was red hot - there were countless countries and companies putting out new jet designs - both commercial and military. The competition and pace was intense and there was quite some cachet and public interest in aviation.
Since roughly, I guess, the 90s aerospace is rather settled and a very mature market. There's only a few major players left, and very very few new products; many of those are variations on the previous. Not nearly as much place or appeal for the brightest stars.
Firstly, from 1903-1968 aerospace was in a period of exponentially improving performance (range, speed, altitude) comparable to Moore's Law. But from the mid-60s onwards the rapid improvements stopped, as developments hit hard limits imposed by material science and thermodynamics: it's hard to get a material much stronger than carbon fibre or titanium alloy, it's ridiculously hard to go faster in air (drag increases faster than the square of speed: if you throw more energy at the problem via your engines it comes out in the form of friction-induced heating).
Secondly, there have been huge incremental improvements since 1968. Consider the 737 series. The 737-100 had a maximum range of 1540 nautical miles on 17.86 metric tonnes of fuel; today's 737MAX-10 can do 3850nm on 25.94 tonnes of fuel: it's 72% more fuel-efficient. It's also gone from 118 to 204 seats, so about the same upgrade is passenger capacity. The cargo capacity has almost doubled, too.
This being HN, the point of comparison should be an Intel-cpu laptop circa 2009 with an equivalent laptop today. The headline clock speed is probably similar (stuck around 2.4GHz), as is the number of hardware cores. The modern laptop probably has more RAM and more storage, but only by a factor of 2x or 4x. But it has double or triple the battery life, 4x or 8x the pixels on screen, a screamingly fast SSD instead of a rotating-platter drive, and a GPU that the OS can offload a chunk of work onto other than simply accelerated graphics. It looks disappointingly similar, but if you could give your 2009-self your 2019 laptop they wouldn't be in a hurry to give it back again.
There have also been huge improvements in overall safety, the 737MAX MCAS problem aside; compare accident rates today with accident rates in the 1980s, let alone the 1950s if you want an eye-opener. (Of 1010 Boeing 707s delivered, there have been 173 hull losses in accidents.)
As a brilliant star with a newly minted engineering degree I might go into aerospace pre-1968 to play with blank sheet developments, X planes and XB-70, Concorde, Harrier, SR-71, 707 etc etc. Much the same with at engine makers - Merlin to Olympus and Pegasus. An absurdly long list, often with remarkably small teams. I might not want to take my 2019 vintage degree into a world of incremental improvements at one of the few global giants. Even if those improvements are of enormous significance over the years. It doesn't feel earth shaking any more, Farnborough isn't showing astounding free PR every year, just steady incremental progress (mostly). No more flying bedsteads.
Same goes with the laptop analogy actually - the fun was probably in the earlier years than now with new model every year with an extra few percent on the numbers, or slimmer. Green fields are usually more fun, and when they succeed, more satisfying; even with the odd Osbourne effect or total failure.
Were I that newly minted genius, I'm not sure where I would park myself today. Space X for some, perhaps. Probably not Boeing or BAe. I'm sure there's plenty of good (enough) engineers at all of them still. Working as one of thousands. That's not so alluring.
> 1010 Boeing 707s delivered, there have been 173 hull losses in accidents
Never knew that. That is frankly amazing.
It's not that the engineers of yesteryear were brilliant while today's engineers are second-rate: it's that what they were doing back then was in some respects easier. (And we remember the good planes: as often as not they invented utter turkeys: look at the history of the Supermarine Scimitar for example — https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supermarine_Scimitar — TLDR: yes, it's military, but to lose 51% of your aircraft in 9 years of peacetime service takes some doing. And then compare with the F-35, two crashes out of 308 airframes in service over a 5 year period, even though it's a vastly more complicated and higher performance aircraft.)
For example, the door to the cockpit is locked now to keep terrorists out - which allows a suicidal co-pilot to fly the machine into a mountain undisturbed. (Having said that, a suicidal pilot can take down the machine one way or the other, so maybe locking the doors was a pareto improvement.)
there are very few brilliant engineer of yesterday whose job role today is to train the next generation of brilliant engineers so that their vast experience doesn't get lost in time; the brilliant engineers of today have to relearn their experience walking the same mistakes, so that even companies that pays those premiums for senior engineers will have to face the same generational problem as everyone else, because they don't want to waste highly expensive professional to something as mundane as training on the job.
I'm honestly not sure that's true. On top of anecdotes (in my grandfather's generation, the norm was to fluently speak 3-4 languages), go ask any STEM prof. with 20+ mileage about the general math, science and logic literacy of students nowadays.
I'm not aware of anyone in my grandfather's generation that can speak more than one language fluently. The fact that my grandparents grew up on farms on the edge of the Dust Bowl may have something to do with that, but I rather suspect you're attempting to compare a tiny subset of the population in the past against the majority of the public today.
About the same, he said.
The theory is sound -- at least two engineers on a project should know how a given functional unit works. It's a practice for lessening the impact of "bus factor", where you have one engineer everyone relies on because they're "the one person in the whole company who understands it".
The issue is when this kind of thinking reaches management, and you see someone being pushed into a role when their skill set is radically different to what's needed.
And then there's surprise and finger-pointing when things (inevitably) go wrong...
Only in silicon valley ad-tech do 'brilliant' engineers make 40 times more then the janitor.
Okay maybe, but we have been saying this literally forever.
As a matter of fact : computing tools make a lot of things easier and cheaper (which is good). But the setback is a tendency to "laziness" in the whole process...
I see this quite often at the undergrad level. Even for the simplest problem that can be solved with a pencil and a couple of calculations, many students launch their finite element software and blindly trust the results, even if it is telling them something obviously wrong, like orders of magnitude larger or smaller than expected, or with the opposite sign.
I acknowledge the problem, but I do not know where it comes from, or how to stop it.
There is a nice analogy to programming here. The same that one of the main tasks of the programmer is to handle errors, one of the main tasks of the engineer is to know the limitations of the tools he is using.
That's startling to me. I don't really feel like I "know" something well enough to bother with the overhead of developing computer code until I can at least get the essence of it down on paper.
Computers are for enumerating and increasing confidence in proofs. I find pen and paper to be far more creativity friendly.
And many of them (in my humble experience, at least) rely too much on computing tools and algorithms they do not completely master, expecting a "magical" answer out of them.
The problem is, they're probably not working at Boeing.
But in general, designers did get more experience because there were more aircraft programs and they were way faster. So if you designed, say, landing gear, you might have done quite many during your career. It was more "agile" in that sense.
Nowadays companies can not go so quickly to production. The whole business has turned into oligopolies both in the main integrators and the suppliers.
It’s just that LargeCorp eventually has the profit motive as the overriding goal and stops being innovative.
It’s schumpters creative destruction in reality
However, the original comment and the video it is a reply to explains a bit of the countering force; economy and competition. It's management that pressures the engineers to cut corners, basically.
I don't doubt the Boeing engineers are some of the best people in the industry. I'm very much skeptical of management (and whipping them are shareholders) that optimize for time and by extension profits.
The pay and career potential and job security is much better in computer science and engineering, so that's where all the brilliant engineers have been going for quite some time now.
As far as armchair analysis doesn’t cause any harm, I think it’s fine!
Great, and now you have the other problem the MCAS was supposed to mitigate (the tendency of the MAX to do backflips).
Better than the plane flying itself into the ground.
The plane is only certified to be 'identical to the 737' when MCAS is on, and operating correctly.
If MCAS has to be disabled in response to a common mechanical problem, then the plane must be re-certified.
If you were in a position MCAS would have to kick in, you were at positive AoA, reduced thrust would impart a negative AoA moment.
I don't think that is correct. I think you're still thinking of the angle of the plane with respect to the horizon, not the AoA.
If reducing thrust reduced AoA, then you could recover from a stall by reducing thrust. In reality, the opposite is the case. The only way to recover from a stall by manipulating engine thrust is to increase it (though this won't always be sufficient by itself).
Fiddling with engines in an MCAS activation situation would just offset the flight envelope into a more dangerous zone, that could be even more difficult to recover from.
Took me a bit, but I got there.
This can only mean that MCAS is disabled even more frequently. This is a terrible idea. This is like RAID0.
The failure mode will increase greatly in complexity. MCAS might cut in and out, the plane might behave erratically.
What the need to do is add a damn switch for 'disable MCAS' and tell people how and when to use the damn thing.
Remember, profits are more important than passengers' lives.
I think that ship has sailed already.
I'm not sure of the exact mechanics of this, but it's conceivable the maintenance crew performed a full engine or board computer boot cycle. Therefore, when the pilots started on their flight, it was the second warm-up since the previous flight, hence the same sensor was selected.
His participation in Crew Resource Management allowed the previous flight to correctly identify and remediate the issue before things became unrecoverable.
Furthermore, the problem seems to be that there is no explicit feedback about this from the pilots, because some of them did not even know about this. Consequently there was no widespread beta test in simulators, meaning there was not much data to base the fine tuning on.
* actually, since MCAS activates only when the plane is over the critical angle (according to the AoA sensor), and there are other warnings, probably those can be counted.
Does that mean it didn't override MCAS before? Really?
Now, they completely fucked that up. They did a so mindblowingly bad job, that anyone involved at the FAA who should have known about this should be in jail. Either for incompetence (negligence) or worse.
They designed a system that relied on one input, operated periodically, told no one, documented nowhere, made it too powerful, always on, and un-turn-off-able, and spent the rest of the day corrupting/pleasing the FAA, then made the AoA input mismatch light an upsell feature, and finally called it a day.
Anyway, as the final configuration for this satellite was still being tweaked, I needed to get updated mass properties (in order to simulate the physics properly) from the team working on the real satellite as the configuration changed (e.g., they added more batteries, solar panels, decreased RCS tank size, etc.). Ordinarily, these would be emailed to me in an excel spreadsheet every so often. I would make the updates, life would go on.
Now, internally, the simulator software worked with metric units, and the spreadsheet I received would also use metric units. Apparently, one day an engineering manager on the vehicle team found out that one of their engineers had been "helping" the simulator team by plugging the mass properties into an excel spreadsheet, translating the units from imperial to metric, and sending them to me (I did not know any of this, of course... I just knew the vehicle team would send me updated mass properties from time to time).
This was an outrageous affront to said manager, who ordered his folks to not expend any time helping "some other team." So, the next time I needed updated mass properties, what did I get? A faxed copy of something that looked like it had been generated on an old line printer. I called and asked "Where is the spreadsheet?" and got "Sorry, that's all I can do anymore."
Some of the numbers were questionably legible, but I tried to use it anyway. As I was making my updates, I noticed the numbers were way off. Units weren't labeled on the fuzzy faxed copy, so it took me a few minutes to realize that the vehicle engineering team apparently worked with imperial units internally.
Angry phone calls back and forth ensued, but I don't recall the (political) issue ever being fixed. I didn't stay much longer, so I don't know if it was ever resolved.
This is true for almost all engineering. I use metric but it is annoying in PCB design because mils is the standard there and those are just Tiny Freedom Units.
I'd be in favor of switching to metric for USA, but I see no indication of that happening. But a company has a choice esp one the size of Boeing!
One of the first things I was taught in engineering school was to always provide units! It doesn't matter if you're only using metric; that still doesn't tell you if it's a gram or a kilogram, after all.
They estimated they would need to replace 40% of their workforce within the next 10 years just to stay afloat. Recently at my old site they hired 1000 people. Within a year, 800 had quit. These are software engineers, mechanical engineers, etc. I watched people just play on their phones, keep their feet up, basically do nothing at all.
One guy showed up to work on the first day and was told by his manager : "I don't have an office, so you'll have to sit here for now". The manager then flew back to another state, and the guy did not see him ever again. For a year this guy played Candy Crush on an iPad and did nothing because no one else knew who he was or who he worked for. Eventually he got a new manager and his job was then unboxing computers...for a year...When I started working with him, he would go into a large empty lab and just lay down behind some boxes and nap for 2hrs a day.
He was hired to be some sort of cost accountant.
This was not uncommon, it was rampant. I still cannot believe workplaces like that exist.
A man exited the Navy, and got a new job with a private Navy-supporting contractor. He reports for work, and his manager tells him what he'll be working on. So he gets right to it, sets up a cot, and hammers away for a few days, until the problem is completely fixed. As one does when trained by the Navy.
He then tells his manager that he's finished. Manager just goes berserk, and tells him to not show his face at the worksite again; just fill out the time card remotely, until instructed otherwise. So he toddles off, to go SCUBA diving every day, for about six months, until the work hours allocated to the project were finally used up. After that, he played the game correctly.
This story aligns perfectly with my anecdotal experience, though it is not uniform across all contractor companies, or even across different work groups within the same company. Even the estimates for the work required to pad the estimates are padded.
Unless they do- I don't work there but it seems like they build their product, make sure it can lift X mass to orbit well, and if anyone needs shit lifted into orbit they just goto SpaceX. Far less bloat.
When one strongly encourages government doing business with contractors over hiring govt FTEs, it should lead to (1) all technical duties being offloaded to contractors, (2) loss of govt FTEs with technical expertise, (3) inability to hire replacement govt FTEs because of stigma and budget priorities, (4) govt FTEs taking on contract administration duties, effectively administering the production and maintenance of things they know nothing of and have no interest/investment in, who are working with (5) businesses (private corps) whose legal duty is to make profit, employing management, sales, and technical people (contractors' employees) whose primary priorities are their own careers.
(6) is a bonus. If you get to hire a technical govt FTE somehow, s/he will start identifying the inefficiencies and irregularities of the contractors' practices. That means his/her manager and colleagues will feel threatened or fear retribution (for contract mismanagement), pushing the new FTE out in one way (demotivation) or another (bureaucratic and/or political games).
No one is evil or lazy in this dynamic. It's more simply the unintended consequences of public policy choices, which have slowly became the basic tenets of the culture of societies implementing those choices and quickly creating very sturdy social structures and roles.
For an engineering oriented industry you have an alarming number of engineers with an aversion to learning anything new. As much as incoming / lower level software engineers complain about tools, management / senior engineers just go ahead and choose the shittiest IBM or Oracle product for the job because some vocal graybeard minority in a meeting will complain it's not Clearcase.
My conclusion is this: it's easy to say "well, because the government is picking winners and losers." And it's true. But let's assume government will always be here (anarcho-capitalists are generally imbeciles) and it will generally rely on big industry.
So it's not necessarily a market failure. The businesses have a steady stream of income they can rely on because, well, the government probably isn't going to change any time soon. Also, these businesses are experts at forming relationships with the state. It's probably what they do best.
So if government will always be there, and will always spend into the market, what's the solution here?
Limit business size. A progressive tax on the size of any company once it reaches some number like 1000 people (1% at 1000 up to 90% at 1M+). Putting downward pressure on company size does a lot of things: it eliminates a lot of bureaucracy, it creates more businesses (and competition), and it limits the power any one business has (political or economic).
If the government decided "wow Boeing's planes suck nowadays" they can shift their contract and not worry about ~150K people losing their jobs which is a political dumpster fire.
More competition, more choice, more ability to change. I'm sure there would be downsides, but I have trouble thinking of downsides that outweigh the upsides.
Of course, I'm not a dictator, and passing any kind of tax law like this after the fact is going to be a no-go.
That's why I'm looking forward to the Chinese entry into aviation. It takes a government to bridge a moat.
> Also, in all fairness to my hated former employer, air travel is still by far the safest form of travel. Even with the shitshow at Boeing, Boeing planes manage to be incredibly safe. I'm really not sure how, but they are.
> And it might be because I grew up around Boeing, but I'd still fly Boeing over Airbus, to be perfectly honest. Airbus makes good planes, but that reliance on computers over pilots just makes me nervous.
> Even the 787, despite all the horrible issues with the initial run, is probably going to be an exceptionally safe plane due to the carbon fiber construction.
So it sounds like much of his commentary is of the "how the sausage is made" nature that is common to the gestation of many (all?) complex products. You probably have nothing to worry about with air travel.
Well, the conclusion is already made in the statistics, and air travel is the safest, yes, but it's worrying that it's safe despite the enormous fallacies, despite the insane pressure of market forces.
A very eye-opening thing is to watch what the pilots should have done: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xixM_cwSLcQ&t=16m55s
Runaway stabilizer scenario has associated memory items (meaning the pilot must have the checklist committed to memory). There are big wheels that turn, with noise and a big visibility marking.
This was Boeing's initial defense too, that the pilots fucked up, because disabling any electronics works the same way. (There's a cutoff switch.) So if something is doing something, shut off the power, rotate the wheels manually.
And in this regard Boeing is right. Pilots decisionmaking was suboptimal. However, it is Boeing's fault that they opted for a no-training-required strategy.
A similar WTF is that pilots don't keep up with the aviation industry news. How - the fuck - can you pilot a plane that you know nothing about (except that your license is valid for it)!?
Ouch. Anybody know where to get a list of who’s operating the planes from that first year of deliveries?
Do airlines publish the serial numbers for upcoming flights? ie is it possible to check the delivery order of the plane you’re potentially flying on?
But generally, you won't get that info more than a day in advance. Airlines won't even know it more than a week in advance, they only know that it'll be one of a pool of planes of the same type.
And if you want delivery year of the aircraft with an airline operating multiple aircraft of that type, you're probably going to have to know serial/tail number which might not be possible to determine until very late on.
https://www.reddit.com/r/videos/comments/bdfqm4/the_real_rea... gives some background and estimates the first 'safe' plane to be SN 27.
*Edit: Upon my findings, full refund case above is not available with all airlines, but rebooking option being offered instead.
If you search for 'category 16' and go to 4.C.III, equipment change is considered as 'not acceptable' for the passenger.
I think there was a way to find the info without paying premium, but I forgot what of these names to put on to google to get more info on the specific plane.
I asked a friend who trains commercial pilots about it, and to my surprise he told me the processes to get things certified are political and hand-wavy.
But using the same airframe from the 60's and just strapping bigger engines to it until you have to move the nacelle and alter flight characteristics seems like a cowboy move also.
This was Boeing optimizing very hard at "how do we get better fuel economy while keeping the same type rating". In general, I'm totally in favor of them doing this sort of optimization, since pilot training is legitimately a big expense.
(In this case it clearly went wrong, both in that MCAS was an unsafe design and that the FAA should not have allowed it to keep the same type rating.)
You can spend ten weeks messing around with "quick fixes" when it'd take two weeks to redesign the unstable or broken part.
Too much of engineering is obsessed with "get the thing out there and we'll fix it in version two".
The problem is lack of care. They don’t even seem to care about the money, judging from their current stock prices.
Can you think of a more geek sexy project than working on a rocket, space craft or jet? Then the reality is that it has to be about the least satisfying engineering job around, it looks like you have to make a titanic effort just to do something
But it is harder to plead ignorance, incompetence or bad luck when you have purposely implemented a code that run only in test settings.
The big processes that make everything less cowboy inevitably lead to the build-up of people that only do politics and processes and are far removed from actually desigining code.
You can't subpoena a conversation unless it was recorded...
Most departments only get reached by management when there is a problem.
It's a relatively small company of about 50 employees and there is zero sense of team work.
I used to work for a large company in the aerospace sector (not an aircraft maker) where software was a big part of what they did. I was in the safety assurance part of the company, and on a couple of occasions I had to tell management that the software wasn't up to scratch. One of them was The Big Project On Which Everything Depends.
Management didn't even blink. They went straight back to the supplier and spent the next several weeks in tough negotiations about timescale and how the additional costs were going to be split. The project was delayed, and I got zero blowback. They didn't even argue with me. The nearest I got to argument was some careful review of my report, which was perfectly reasonable given the amount of money at stake.
I'm posting anonymously here and not naming names because I stand by my duty of confidentiality. But I am proud to have worked there.
was in response to this comment:
"I would be very surprised if in a few years from today a bunch of engineers don't testify that ample of warning was given to management about this. "
Reddit doesn't make it easy to find what they replied to.
The trick is to add ?context=3 to the end of the URL: https://www.reddit.com/r/videos/comments/bdfqm4/the_real_rea... (or for the better "old" interface: https://old.reddit.com/r/videos/comments/bdfqm4/the_real_rea...)
Try using "old.reddit.com" while it last. And stop using reddit once that gets taken down.
Reddit was once a great site. Now it's a corporatized, censored mess that sold its soul for short-term cashout in their 2020 IPO.
If I switch to "desktop site" on Chrome, any text I enter gets automatically erased after hitting a certain number of characters.
I sometimes can't believe the amount of incompetence that is allowed to thrive at successful companies.
This happens on every subreddit, every. single. time. I can't believe in 2018 we got a front-end that does this, just shoddy, shoddy engineering.
If you're not logged in, you can just add "old." at the start of the url.
Just click parent
I love this mentality that "managers" are the only people responsible, and that the people actually putting the thing together are not. It's the same with the bank scandals, or the VW scandal, or the Facebook scams; it's all the executive team! We were just peons following orders! We aren't responsible!
If you see a major safety issue or other concern, and report it to your superior, who does nothing, you're pretty weak if you shrug your shoulders and say, "I did my job!"
The pressure to keep putting food on the table is strong, especially when you have kids.
Many people see nonsense they have no power to personally fix, and in a big bureaucratic organization even making a ruckus will usually get you nothing but shown the door.
So for many, the choice is
1: say nothing, keep your paychecks, and the problem still exists, or
2: say something, possibly lose your job, and the problem still doesn't get fixed because you have no authority.
The only resort is whistleblowing, which may or may not work and is losing its protections all the time.
Well, the managers are the dudes who are getting paid for being responsible. The 'peons' are correct.
Boy, good thing that's what your job description says, it completely absolves you of any accountability in the real world!
"Not my job" is such a great attitude, and is precisely the reason why these huge scandals are able to persist. Whatever helps you sleep at night.
1. Filled out badge request form and gave it to my manager who gave it to the person who would be my manager at boeing
2. 4 months later have to refill out form because they lost it
3. 1.5 months later I receive badge, but it doesn't have the chip I require
4. Get told by manager to go back to badge office and get chip, but apparently the form was submitted by someone who actually isn't my manager but is listed as my manager and they selected "no chip" so they can't reissue until they get a new form
5. My manager submits new form requesting chip, go back to badge office and get told I can't get a chipped card because he isn't technically my manager so they need to change my assigned manager first
6. Actual manager attempts to contact the person boeing says is my manager multiple times, after about 3 weeks they hear back from them
7. Manager finally changed so he sends email to badge office saying that he is now my manager and I need the badge
8. Go back to badge office and they can't give me chipped badge because he submitted the form before he was my manager and the email isn't sufficient.
9. He submits new form, go to badge office and they finally give me chipped badge
And mind you, everyone is so lazy that it takes multiple days minimum for every communication with anyone. So essentially Boeing payed me for an extended amount of time where I couldn't really do anything because no one cared to get me what I needed to do my job. Also, that was only the first piece. I am still working on getting everything else I need, and it doesn't look like it's going to happen anytime soon.
Another thing I hate is everything costs a ton of money and is garbage. No free coffee, no free tea, no free snack, no free cups, no free stirring sticks, and the cafeteria food and options they do have are way over priced and worse than dog food. The majority of the staff are old, sad white men that don't seem to want to do anything.
Oh, and on top of everything the project is 100% in the cloud but the out of touch manager requires everyone to be onsite
By far the worst company I have ever had the displeasure of being contracted at. Can't wait to be done
edit: thought of another wonderful example, I once heard a member of the "security" team say that their job is to just say no to everything that comes their way
My team was very underutilized... We got legitimately excited when we came in and there was real work for us to do instead of sitting around and being 'available'.
If that’s an oligopoly at work, I want to try a monopoly and see if it’s even better.
I'm not saying this guy is a fraud, but if there's no supporting evidence, there's no evidence to believe him.
> I'm not saying this guy is a fraud, but if there's no supporting evidence, there's no evidence to believe him.
C'mon you've been around long enough to know that this is just a datapoint in a field of datapoints. You're not going to get a youtube video of people putting their feet up on their desks.
But you get enough data points and you can draw a trend line.
I told him he may want to consider being a whistleblower, but his response was "well the AirBus didn't pass their FAA test either until they rewrote the tests".
I still look at the overall safety numbers and realize that flying is still safer than driving, but it sounds like it could be safer still.
Can’t help but wonder if Airbus is any different, and if so, why?
> When I showed up at my first day of work, the first words out of my supervisor's mouth were, "I don't know why you are here, we have no need for programmers." (The Boeing interview process is done so that at no point, do you ever have contact or communication with the team you will be working with.)
My first job out of college in 1984 was with Grumman Aerospace in Bethpage Long Island. I was hired by a college recruiter and didn't speak to anyone on the team I would be on 'til my first day of work.
They had no work for us to do. I left after exactly one year. I wrote some utility programs to format compiler errors just for fun.
They had these "cost plus" contracts with the Navy and they could make a few extra dollars by making a small profit charging for some junior workers on a project. The F-14D project was canceled a few years after I left.
What can happen is collapse of the process and regulatory capture.
Boeing is able to cut corners because FAA is cutting corners. FAA whistleblowers have demonstrated that FAA has culture that resulted in "malfeasance, bordering on corruption" https://www.latimes.com/travel/la-trw-airlines4apr04-story.h...
There is no sign that things are getting better. 737 MAX gained FAA certification on March 8, 2017. Meanwhile FAA has been running without administrator for two years. Trump tried to nominate his personal pilot, but when it failed he didn't nominate anyone. Dan Elwell is the acting administrator.
Because in my experience the people that do the heavy lifting are just randomly distributed and are bright spots in a otherwise gray landscape.
Wow. If that's not a huge red flag that you shouldn't work there, I don't know what one is. The only appropriate response to that, I think, is to say "OK, then, it was nice to meet you. I quit."
“That’s odd, you build major products that sell for hundreds of millions of dollars, that tens of thousands of peoples’ lives literally depend on, and that are completely controlled by software, fly-by-wire, etc. And yet you have no need for programmers?”