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737 Max. Software update: Boeing and FAA

On Thursday, Boeing first officially claimed responsibility for two 737 Max Aircraft jets that received aircrafts based regulators. Claiming responsibility was part of an attempt to get planes flying again. Boeing tried to say that it now understands why the aircraft is destroying – imperfect software – and has a plan to replace it with new software that will eliminate this problem and convince the regulators to withdraw aircraft from the ground. But on the morning of the morning, the company announced that it had found a second, non-compliant software flaw, which also needed to be fixed and somewhat delayed the process of obtaining aircraft that would be cleared to fly again.

All of this, of course, raises the question of why such imperfect systems allowed to fly in the first place.

And this story begins nineteen years ago when Boeing faced a serious threat to its cause, prompting the airline to throw itself into a series of certifications ̵

1; with insufficient support from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). to help the American company threaten a foreign competitor rather than to put tough questions about the project.

The peculiarities of what was happening in the regulatory system are still (and despite the assurances of the executives, we do not even know what was still on the flights). But the big picture is approaching: the big employer faced a serious financial threat, and short-term policies and greed won the integrity of the regulatory system. This is a scandal.

The rivalry of 737 vs. 320 is explained

There are many different passenger aircraft on the market, but only two very similar narrow planes dominate the domestic (or intra-European) travels. One of them is a family of 320 European Airbus companies, with models A318, A319, A320 or A321 depending on the length of the aircraft. These four variants, by design, have identical decks for flights, so that pilots can learn to fly interchangeably.

The family 320 is competing with a group of aircraft called Boeing 737 – 737-600, 737-700, 737-800 and 737-900 – with higher numbers indicating large planes. Some of them are also extended range models to which the EP is attached, and as you may have guessed, they have longer ranges. It is important, even if there are many different flavors 737, all of them in a sense have one plane, like all 320 family planes. Southwest Airlines, for example, simplifies its overall operations by executing only 737 variations.

Both 737 and 320 come in many different tastes, so airlines have many options as to which aircraft should fly exactly what route. But since there are only two players on this market, and because their offers are so similar, the competition for this part of the airline market is both intense and surprisingly limited. If one company gets a clear technical advantage over the other, it will be a minor catastrophe for the lost company.

And this is what Boeing thought he was facing.

A320neo was unpleasant for Boeing

Jet fuel is a great price for airlines. Since wage costs are mainly due to collective agreements and regulations that require a minimum ratio of flight attendants to a passenger, fuel is the airline that has the greatest potential to do something. Thus, increasing fuel efficiency has become one of the main bases for competition between airlines.

If you return to 2010, then they began to look like Boeing was a real problem in this regard.

Airbus came with an updated version of the seven A320, which he called the A320neo, with the "neo", which means the "new engine variant." New engines were going to be more economical, with a larger diameter than the previous A320 engines, which, nevertheless, could have been installed in the same plane of the plane. It was a non-trivial engineering approach, both in the development of new engines, and in the way they were forced to work on an old plane, but, despite the fact that it cost a lot of money, it worked. And this raised the question of whether Boeing would react.

The initial word was that it was not. As Brett Snyder CBS Moneywatch wrote in December 2010, the main problem was that you could not hit a new generation of more efficient engines with a larger diameter at 737:

One of the issues for Boeing is that it takes more work to put new engines at 737 on the A320. The 737 is lower to the ground than the A320, and the new engines have a larger diameter. Thus, although both manufacturers would have had to do the job, the boeing boys would have more work to do to lift the plane. It will cost more, reducing the community with the current fleet. As we know from last week, the decline of the community means higher costs for airlines.

Under these circumstances, the best option for Boeing was simply to hit a few years and recognize that it would have to start selling 737s at a reduced price, while a whole new aircraft was developed. This, of course, will be laborious and expensive, and during the temporary, he is likely to lose a bunch of narrow bodies for the sale of Airbus.

The original version of 737 flew for the first time in 1967, and a decade decision on how much heights should be made between the wing and the runway left them behind the technology of the 21st century engines – and there was simply nothing to do about it.

If it was not.

Boeing still decided to put too much engines

In February 2011, James Boeing, chairman and chief executive officer, James McNanny, followed up a plan to develop an entirely new aircraft.

Assessing this situation further, "he said on the analyst," but our current bias is to move on to a newer aircraft, an entirely new plane, at the end of the decade, at the beginning of the next decade. Our judgment is that our customers are waiting for us. "

But in August 2011, Boeing announced that it had completed an order for 496 Boeing 737 aircraft with a re-engine of the airlines.

It's not entirely clear what happened, but when reading between the lines, it seems that while talking to its customers, Boeing came to the conclusion that the airlines did not wait for them. Some critical mass of carriers (American Airlines seems to have been particularly influential) was sufficiently confident in its ability to switch to Airbus equipment, which Boeing had decided to offer 737 buyers of Boeing solutions sooner rather than later.

The adoption of a new engine that did not get on the plane became the corporate version of the Fyre festival, "let's just do it and we'll be legends, a man," and it's not surprising that engineering and regulatory issues have been defeated.

New engines on an old aircraft

As explained earlier in March by the Leeham News and Analysis trade show, Boeing engineers have been working on a concept that has become the 737 Max even when the company's plan has not yet been built.

In March 2011, an interview with aviation technician, Mike Beyr, then head of the 737 product development, said that reengineering is possible.

"There were quite a lot of engineering work there," he said. "We understood the way to get a sufficiently large engine under the wing."

The problem is that the aircraft is a large, complex network of parts that are interconnected. To get the engine under the 737 wing, engineers had to mount the engine gondola higher and further forward on the plane. But the displacement of the engine gondola (and a change in its nose to the aircraft) changed the airplane's aerodynamics, such that the airplane did not properly handle at a high angle of attack. This, in turn, led to the creation of a maneuvering characteristic system (MCAS). In most situations, she fixed the problem of the angle of attack, but she created new problems in other situations when it was difficult for her to directly control the aircraft without redefining the MCAS.

On Wednesday, Boeing launched a software patch that, in his opinion, fixes the issue and hopes to persuade the FAA to agree.

But note that the main problem is not software; trying to use the software to circumvent a whole range of other problems.

Recall, in the end, the whole project project 737 Max was able to say that the new plane was the same as the old plane. From the standpoint of technology, the best solution was actually to build a new aircraft. But for business reasons, Boeing did not want a "new aircraft" that would require a long process of certification and (and expensive) training of new pilots for its customers. The demand was for a plane that was both new and not new.

But since the new engines did not fit under the old wings, the new aircraft came up with different aerodynamic properties than the old one. And because aerodynamics were different, flight control systems were also different. But the interpretation of the whole thing as a fundamentally different plane would undermine this whole moment. Thus, the FAA and Boeing have agreed to remind it.

New aircraft are quite different

As far as we can say, the 737 Max is a fully airplane in the sense that piloting without errors allows for safe operation.

But non-accident pilots noted the same basic behavior that they suspected of being in two accidents, according to Dallas Morning News reports of voluntary aviation incidents NASA database: [19659039] Disclosures found with information problems with the autopilot system, and all of them occurred during take-off after take-off. Many remembered that the plane suddenly fell down. Although records indicate that these flights took place in October and November, the airlines flying the pilots were removed from the database.

These pilots all successfully switched off the MCAS and kept their planes in the air. But one of the pilots reported to the database that it was "unfair that the manufacturer, the FAA, and the airlines would have pilots to fly the plane without adequate training, or even the provision of available resources and sufficient documentation to understand the very complex systems that differentiate

The training element is important because the key feature of the 737 Max sales was the idea that, since it was not a new plane, pilots really did not need to retrain new equipment, according to the New York Times, "For many new aircraft models, pilot and are preparing hours for gigantic, multi-million cars, on earth versions of cockpits that mimic the flight experience and teach them new features, "while the experienced 737 max pilots were allowed upgrading courses that you could do on the iPad.

This allowed Boeing is quick and cheap to buy airplanes in the hands of customers, but obviously by increasing the capabilities of pilots who do not know how to properly manage aircraft, with terrible consequences for everyone concerned.

FAA Believes Boeing

In a March 17 report to Seattle Times, the journalist of the newspaper, Dominique Gates, describes in detail how far the FAA has transferred important safety assessments to 737 itself for Boeing. The delegation, Gates explains, is partly a history of a multi-year process, during which the FAA, "referring to the lack of funding and resources, has, for many years, delegated Boeing's powers to assume most of the security certification

but there are signs of refusals that were specific for the timeline 737 Max. In particular, Gates reports that "after the certification was completed, managers pushed them to speed up the process," and that "when the time for FAA technical staff was too short to carry out the check, sometimes the managers themselves signed the documents or delegated their feedback back [19659046] More than that, the decision about what could and could not be delegated was taken by managers who are concerned about the time schedule, but not by the technical experts of the agency.

At this stage, it is not clear why the FAA was so determined that seams Uncover 737 (there will be more inquiries), but if you remember the political circumstances of this period in Barack Obama's presidency, you can quickly get the general sense of the question.

Boeing is not just a big company with a significant lobbyist presence in Washington, it's a big production a company with strong presence in world exports and a source of many good jobs in trade unions. In short, it is precisely these companies whose government has sought to promote – with Obama's White House, for example, they are proud to be exporting export-import the Bank as the key way to support the aerospace industry in America.

The story of excessive regulators that delay the launch of a US company's landmark product and cost good jobs compared to European competition would look very bad. The fact that the whole purpose of the aircraft is to be more fuel-efficient is only made by getting this land a bigger priority. But the incentives really were pretty leveled, and Boeing only caused problems for themselves by cutting corners.

Boeing is now in a bad situation

One emblem of the whole situation is that when the engineering group 737 Max assembled a treasure on the cluster's top, they invented a warning light of the cabin that would warn pilots if the plane had two attack angle sensors did not agree

But, as John Ostrow reported on air currents, the Boeing team decided to make a warning lamp an optional superstructure, like, for example, how car companies will charge you on the roof of the month.

The light was worth $ 80,000 in addition to the plane, and neither Lion Air nor Ethiopian decided to buy it, possibly believing that Boeing will not sell the aircraft (and the FAA will not allow it) that would not be safe for the summer. After the crash, Boeing has decided to review this decision and make the light standard on all planes.

Now, to be clear, Boeing has lost about $ 40 billion in the stock market after the accident, so it does not look like fraud in a warning light was a brilliant business solution or something else.

This is, in fact, one of the reasons that the FAA has become comfortable working in close cooperation with Boeing on safety rules: The nature of the aviation industry is that there is no real money to sell aircraft with a low level of safety. You can even imagine how to invent the utopian libertarian argument that there is no real need for a government role in the certification of new aircraft in general, because there is no reason to consider it profitable to do dangerous things.

The real world, of course, is quite different from this, and various individuals and institutions face particular pressure that can force them to take measures that have no common sense. Looking back, Boeing seems to want to just stick to the plan to "build a new plane" and burst several years of gross sales, not ending up with the current situation. Now the company is actually trying to fix things in parts – software update here, a new light warning, etc. – in the hope of persuading global regulators to re-launch their planes.

But even after this is done, Boeing will face the challenge of persuading the airline to actually buy its airplanes. David Leunggren's informative article for Reuters reminds us that a somewhat comparable situation arose in 1965 when three new Boeing 727 jets were crashed.

There were nothing bad about 727 planes, but many pilots did not understand how to manage new valves – possibly in parallel with the MCAS situation with 737 Max – which caused additional training and changes to the operation manual. Passengers missed the planes for months, but eventually returned because there were no more accidents and 727 continued to fly safely for decades. Boeing hopes to have a happy end to this saga, but so far it seems that it's far off. And the near future probably involves more complex issues.

A political scandal at a slow flash

737 Max was briefly the subject of political disputes in the United States, as foreign regulators justified the aircraft, but President Donald Trump – after a personal talk with Boeing General Director – declined. Many members of the Congress (on both sides) urged him to reconsider what he had done very quickly, pushing the whole subject up to Washington's frontal torch.

But Trump is generally benevolent to Boeing (he even has the former Boeing executive, Patrick Shanakhan, who fulfills the duties of the Secretary of Defense despite the fact that Shanakan is unfairly supporting his former employer). rigid regulatory repressions. The most important decisions in the mix seem to have been returned during the Obama administration, so it's hard for democrats to go after that. Тим часом Вашингтон втягувався в суперечки з приводу розслідування спеціального адвоката Роберта Мюллера, а також відкрилося нове поле бою у сфері охорони здоров'я.

Проте 27 березня співробітники ФАА зіткнулися з підкомітетом Комітету з торгівлі Сенату з питань авіації та космосу під час слухання, яке було проведено головою підкомітету Тедом Крус (R-TX). Регулятори зобов'язалися на слуханні змінити те, як вони сертифікують нові літаки, у світлі недоліків, виявлених у попередньому процесі сертифікації.

Проблеми, однак, зараз набагато більше, ніж один підкомітет. Мільярди доларів знаходяться на лінії Boeing, авіакомпанії, які літають 737, і робітників, які будують літаки. А оскільки центральним елементом цієї історії є довіра до процесу ФАУ – в очах американського народу та закордонних регуляторних органів – майже напевно не буде вирішено без участі фактичних осіб, які приймають рішення в США. the government.

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