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From SullySullenberger.com

Letter to the Editor
Capt. “Sully” Sullenberger
New York Times Magazine
Published in print on October 13, 2019

In “What Really Brought Down the Boeing 737 MAX?” William Langewiesche draws the conclusion that the pilots are primarily to blame for the fatal crashes of Lion Air 610 and Ethiopian 302. In resurrecting this age-old aviation canard, Langewiesche minimizes the fatal design flaws and certification failures that precipitated those tragedies, and still pose a threat to the flying public.

I have long stated, as he does note, that pilots must be capable of absolute mastery of the aircraft and the situation at all times, a concept pilots call airmanship. Inadequate pilot training and insufficient pilot experience are problems worldwide, but they do not excuse the fatally flawed design of the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) that was a death trap. As one of the few pilots who have lived to tell about being in the left seat of an airliner when things went horribly wrong, with seconds to react, I know a thing or two about overcoming an unimagined crisis.

I am also one of the few who have flown a Boeing 737 MAX Level D full motion simulator, replicating both accident flights multiple times. I know firsthand the challenges the pilots on the doomed accident flights faced, and how wrong it is to blame them for not being able to compensate for such a pernicious and deadly design.

These emergencies did not present as a classic runaway stabilizer problem, but initially as ambiguous unreliable airspeed and altitude situations, masking MCAS. The MCAS design should never have been approved, not by Boeing, and not by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The National Transportation Safety Board has found that Boeing made faulty assumptions both about the capability of the aircraft design to withstand damage or failure, and the level of human performance possible once the failures began to cascade. Where Boeing failed, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) should have stepped in to regulate but it failed to do so.

Lessons from accidents are bought in blood and we must seek all the answers to prevent the next one. We need to fix all the flaws in the current system — corporate governance, regulatory oversight, aircraft maintenance, and yes, pilot training and experience. Only then can we ensure the safety of everyone who flies.

Capt. “Sully” Sullenberger

 
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  1. Kronos says:

    Maybe Boeing might learn that sound effects might improve the mood a little?…

  2. Jack D says:

    Langewiesche and Sullenberger are BOTH right (BTW is it a coincidence that they are both Germanic? The Germans did not invent the airplane but they sure took to it quickly). OTOH, Boeing should never have put out a plane with these flaws, nor should they have gotten past the FAA. BUT OTOH, given that they did, the pilots should have been able to keep the plane in the air and they didn’t.

  3. Anonymous[112] • Disclaimer says:
    @Jack D

    Neither Langewiesche nor Sullenberger are German. They are American. I suppose by your definition Boeing (Böing) is a German company.

    • Replies: @El Dato
  4. Dave Pinsen says: • Website

    I quoted Matt Stoller on Boeing in this article, saying that the rot in Boeing started in the ’90s, with the McDonnell Douglas merger, when the company when from a focus on aeronautical engineering to financial engineering. A commenter claiming to be a retired Boeing engineer agreed with his assessment.

    • Replies: @Lagertha
  5. He shouldn’t use the nickname “Sully”when writing on serious topics.He should just use his proper name.
    Also,this “I know a thing or two…” is not helpful. We know what you did. Just explain your views and let them stand on their merit…Sully.

  6. Lurker says:

    Tl:dr – mansplaining.

    • Replies: @anon
    , @HammerJack
  7. anon[827] • Disclaimer says:
    @Lurker

    What?

    • Replies: @Lurker
  8. istevefan says:

    Back when the Max was grounded we were told it would be flying again by summer. Now it probably won’t happen until 2020, if then.

    At what point is the government going to have to step in to save Boeing? You know we are not going to let Boeing fail, or let it be purchased by a foreign company.

    If I were Boeing I’d hope for a Trump win and a GOP majority in at least one congressional chamber. If the democrats win it all, and Boeing needs a bailout, lookout. They are going to screwed and micromanaged by the SJWs.

  9. anon[827] • Disclaimer says:

    Recently I caught up with a friend of mine who is an airline pilot on international routes. He was not nearly so diplomatic as Sullenberger about the 737 MAX, and had harsh things to say about Southwest Airlines as well. The MAX is a serious blunder. Even if it allowed SW to schedule flights to Hawaii.

    Beyond this, US Gov. policy over the last 30 years has been content with a single commercial airframe company, Boeing. Therefore every single airliner is a “bet the company” project, with only one company available. This makes a clean-sheet passenger design just too risky, leading to the MAX, an attempt to keep a 40+ year old design flying. Maybe we’d all be better off with two companies building airliners instead of just one?

    Ironically, the airlines probably would be pretty happy if Boeing reopened the 757 assembly line. It’s not a substitute for the 737 straight across, but it’s a fine longer haul aircraft. Which is not going to happen. However there are 757’s being parked for business reasons – why not refit them with the new ultra bypass engines fitted to the 737 MAX? The larger airframe should accept them without serious mods, but I am not an aero engineer, so maybe I’m all wrong.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    , @The Alarmist
  10. @Jack D

    The Germans did not invent the airplane but they sure took to it quickly …

  11. Old Guy says:

    Charles Perrow described these sorts of situations some 35 years ago in his book “Normal Accidents.” In his view, as systems become more complex, tightly coupled, and of higher velocity, the challenges of understanding and troubleshooting serious problems in real-time exceed the relevant human abilities. Systems designed to mitigate such problems often make the problem worse, by increasing complexity and velocity. It’s been a while since I’ve read his stuff, but, IIRC, he viewed the problems as mainly managerial, not technical. The Boeing situation seems to support this idea.

  12. A guy successfully crash lands a plane once, and they act like he knows what he’s talking about?

    • LOL: Lurker
    • Replies: @haha
    , @acementhead
  13. @Jack D

    Langewiesche and Sullenberger are BOTH right (BTW is it a coincidence that they are both Germanic? )

    William Langewiesche (pilot error) =

    Miscall a wing wheelie.
    Will weigh a mescaline.

    Chesley Burnett Sullenberger (design flaw) =

    Turbulence begs shell reentry.

    • LOL: Ash Williams
  14. @Lurker

    He almost sounds like a modern politician really. Wonder if he’s higher office in mind. Life must be boring.

    • Replies: @Kronos
  15. Kronos says:
    @Father O'Hara

    He shouldn’t use the nickname “Sully”when writing on serious topics.He should just use his proper name.

    On the contrary, it really helps with name recognition. That letter is designed to help sway public opinion. The vast majority of people don’t remember his full name but remember the nickname “Sully.” He even has a movie (with Tom Hanks as a starring role) titled after the nickname. That’s a “brand” based on competence and quick thinking.

    If this was a highly technical and wonky document, then yeah, it’s silly. But it’s designed to be as digestible and recognizable as possible to the maximum amount of people.

    • Replies: @MikeatMikedotMike
  16. newrouter says:
    @Jack D

    >Langewiesche and Sullenberger are BOTH right (BTW is it a coincidence that they are both Germanic?<

    Marx and Trotsky- jews. A coincidence?

  17. Lurker says:
    @anon

    You’re unfamiliar with the term ‘Tl;dr’?

    Unfamiliar with the term ‘mansplaining’?

    Unfamiliar with irony?

    Or all three?

    • Troll: Counterinsurgency
    • Replies: @Ash Williams
  18. Kronos says:
    @HammerJack

    I doubt it. It’s just that politicians use PR language that is simple, direct, and short. In the 1860 Presidential election, candidates used typical words/grammar the average 12th grader would understand. Since 2000, it’s been around 4th grade and less.

  19. Lagertha says:
    @Dave Pinsen

    so depressing, all of it. Bad people were infiltrating since the 50’s.

    • Replies: @Lagertha
    , @Lagertha
  20. @Lurker

    Make us some sandwiches and get us some beers. We’re going to watch the game while you do the shopping.

    • Replies: @Lurker
  21. Anonymous[427] • Disclaimer says:
    @anon

    Ironically, the airlines probably would be pretty happy if Boeing reopened the 757 assembly line. It’s not a substitute for the 737 straight across, but it’s a fine longer haul aircraft. Which is not going to happen. However there are 757’s being parked for business reasons – why not refit them with the new ultra bypass engines fitted to the 737 MAX? The larger airframe should accept them without serious mods, but I am not an aero engineer, so maybe I’m all wrong.

    You are right, but those 757 airframes are probably mid to highish time now and they don’t want to sink a lot of capital in them.

    What SHOULD have happened after 9/11 was for those airplanes to be snapped up at bargain basement prices and made into tankers to replace the JFK/MM era KC-135s, which would have taken them off the market and made for a lot of new orders in the late 00s.

    Boeing has no desire and no intention of opening the 757/767 line again, even though that would be “the right thing to do” on many levels. Companies hate making a product again after a long delay because everything has to interchange with the old one and all that tooling has gone away. As has the institutional knowledge of how to make the old one. Shutting a line down always enables certain old problems and problem people to be cleaned out and going back usually means eating a yard of shit and bringing back people and vendors you don’t like.

    As for Southwest, it’s time for them to grow up and be a real airline operating multiple types of aircraft.

  22. Lagertha says:
    @Lagertha

    Boeing needs to die – there is no other option.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  23. Lagertha says:

    There has worse situations in The North – get your bearings and shift for course. It will be OK.

  24. Anonymous[258] • Disclaimer says:

    Regardless of the aviation finer points, the “Sully” letter nose-dives into the ground polemically, because his ego forbids him from white-knightily saying “I would’ve crashed too,” while modern multicult manners forbid him from saying, “Ceteris paribus I would’ve avoided getting everyone killed.” Yes, let’s everyone not be unduly harsh on the pilots/mechanics/airlines for The 2 Separate Situations That Befell Them

  25. Lagertha says:

    tack to the south once beyond Holland.

  26. The insidious nature of a MCAS failure is that MCAS was designed to override pilot error. Most training probably stressed allowing the MCAS to override the pilots inputs (it has no other function) so when the MCAS failed, I’m sure it would cause a lot of confusion. Low to the ground the pilots probably didn’t have enough time to figure out what was happening before it was too late.

  27. The Sully movie was horrible.
    They took an event that everyone alive at the time was intimately familiar with and invented a non-existent controversy out of wholecloth. The movie would have you believe that Sullenberger (I hate the nonsensical nickname too) was somehow responsible for the accident instead of the hero of the event who miraculously saved all those passengers.

    That said I dont GAF about his political opinions as when he thought it was necessary to trash the president in the pages of the WAPO just before election day 2018
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/we-saved-155-lives-on-the-hudson-now-lets-vote-for-leaders-wholl-protect-us-all/2018/10/29/554fd0e6-d87c-11e8-a10f-b51546b10756_story.html

    He wrote that he was a Republican but …

    For the first 85 percent of my adult life, I was a registered Republican. But I have always voted as an American. And this critical Election Day, I will do so by voting for leaders committed to rebuilding our common values and not pandering to our basest impulses.

    At the time of BHO’s election the Left was ecstatic with admiration of their Chosen One. He was a Lightworker capable of miracles .. causing the oceans to recede. Perhaps “Sully” converted in gratitude for the chocolate messiah’s saving his life.

  28. Was Sully retained as an expert witness by a plaintiffs’ lawyer? Because someone planning on suing Boeing as the deepest pocket wouldn’t have written a word differently.

  29. Anonymous[427] • Disclaimer says:
    @Lagertha

    Boeing needs to die – there is no other option.

    No, but it either needs to be split up or we need to make it unprofitable for someone else not to want to start a competitor.

    They told us in boot camp, “I can not make you do this but I can make damn sure you will wish you had.” That needs to be applied to American capital in regard to manufacturing. Not doing it needs to be made marginally profitable or downright unprofitable.

    • Replies: @Redneck farmer
  30. @Father O'Hara

    Also,this “I know a thing or two…” is not helpful. We know what you did. Just explain your views and let them stand on their merit…Sully.

    I’ll bet the landing in the Hudson was hardly close to the scariest incidents he was ever involved in. Sully, Academy grad and all, was highly successful in the Air Force from the start. An instructor from the first year, he went on to fly Phantoms in air groups all over the world, although post Vietnam. He bailed out of the A.F. pretty quickly and moved on to commercial, but the Phantoms were getting pretty ragged by then, bet he had lots of situations. Even in peacetime that business gets very dicey. I suppose he wasn’t impressed with the F-15, there’s no notes on his flying those.

    One wonders where these sorts to pilot planes will come from going forward, but does it even matter? It sounds to me like we’re headed toward completely automated commercial flight, except can those systems do what Sully did?

    • Replies: @Simply Simon
  31. @istevefan

    At what point is the government going to have to step in to save Boeing?

    Boeing does just fine with their immensely profitable weapons sales, they oughtn’t need bailouts. I wonder how much of their top-flight talent is building ever-better ways to kill people, leaving the commercial work to the flacks and overseas code-bangers? Another ill effect of the forever wars.

  32. Mr. Anon says:
    @Jim Christian

    Boeing does just fine with their immensely profitable weapons sales, they oughtn’t need bailouts. I wonder how much of their top-flight talent is building ever-better ways to kill people, leaving the commercial work to the flacks and overseas code-bangers? Another ill effect of the forever wars.

    Big defense contractors like Boeing and Lock-Mart are branching out into spying and surveillance:

    https://www.bia-boeing.com/

    https://www.lockheedmartin.com/en-us/capabilities/cyber/intelligence-driven-defense.html

    They’ll do anything for Uncle Sam’s dollar. They’re not in the airplane business anymore. They’re in the Suckling-at-the-Government-Teet business. They’re whores.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    , @Hibernian
  33. Anonymous[427] • Disclaimer says:
    @Mr. Anon

    They’ll do anything for Uncle Sam’s dollar. They’re not in the airplane business anymore. They’re in the Suckling-at-the-Government-Teet business. They’re whores.

    It’s called contractor spoilage. When a company gets defense contract money, it’s like heroin to them. They turn into junkies and lose all interest in actually earning money on the open market.

  34. B36 says:

    If you read Langewiesche’s seminal “Stick and Rudder” I think you will have trouble understanding MCAS.
    https://www.amazon.com/Stick-Rudder-Explanation-Art-Flying/dp/0070362408/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=stick+and+rudder&qid=1571554934&sr=8-1

  35. Anonymous[241] • Disclaimer says:

    Sometimes you need a little humor.

  36. I’m much more sympathetic to Langewiesche’s case. The pilots who crashed the 2 Max’s made some horrible choices.

    Notable datapoints: Black box voice & flight data for both MAX crashes are being kept under lockdown by Ethiopia and Indonesia. Releasing them would shift The Narrative from Boeing’s minor flawed MCAS system to the notable problems of 2nd and 3rd world airlines.

    Sullenberger is too sympathetic to the pilots for some reason.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  37. @mikeInThe716

    Was Boeing unaware that third world airlines often employ third world pilots when it sold them the 737 MAX?

  38. Franz says:
    @Jack D

    Otto Lilienthal was hopping years before the Wrights:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Otto_Lilienthal

    The Wright Brothers ackowledged Otto’s designs influenced their flyers. Otto only glided, but his early work on airframes were highly effective and much imitated.

    Another early German aviator, some controversy here:

    https://www.foxnews.com/science/wright-brothers-flew-2-years-after-gustav-whitehead-researcher-claims

    Were we wrong about the Wright Brothers?

    That’s the shocking claim by Australian aviation historian John Brown, who told FoxNews.com he has photographic proof that German immigrant Gustav Whitehead flew over Connecticut in 1901 — Orville and Wilbur were second.

    Like the penny press used to say, interesting if true.

    (It should be noted that the Brazilian aerialist Alberto Santos Dumont has a strong claim to being first. At one point (maybe still, I ain’t gonna check) Brazil declared him to be the one, true originator of powered flight. But as he’s not a German it is off-topic.)

  39. @istevefan

    At what point is the government going to have to step in to save Boeing?

    The US govt could always buy up the MAX fleet, pay Böing to retrofit them as tankers and EW or reconnaisance platforms (How about the RC-137 to replace the aging RC-135s?), and start ringing up the savings. The big downside, safety, can be overcome with grit and training (try taking off an old water-burning EC-135 on a hot day at Offutt, and you’ll find a MAX to be child’s play), and the lesser downside is less crew workstation space, but hey, that’s what modern aviation has become.

    • Replies: @Bill
  40. @Steve Sailer

    A lot of third-world pilots used to get their initial training in the US. Maybe Boeing assumed that was still the case.

  41. Anonymous[113] • Disclaimer says:
    @Steve Sailer

    Boeing knows full well that third world air crews are about as sharp as a bowling ball, but modern jets are easy to fly as long as everything is working. They just didn’t think that far ahead.

    A big lawsuit might be in the works and it might be what blows the whole stinking mess of pwoduct wiability to smithereens, since a really big judgment would be a national security issue in the case of Boeing. They might have to chuck the trial lawyers under the bus to keep the airlines flying. On the other hand it might be more of the same old bullshit as long as everyone trusts Boeing’s team’s skills at venue shopping avoidance and voir dire and the guy in the black dress to sand down any really big numbers.

    Then too Boeing might be able to buy off the foreign operators or their governments with some nice shiny toys.

    This could be fun.

    • Replies: @Bill
  42. Coburn says:
    @Steve Sailer

    Was Boeing unaware that third world airlines often employ third world pilots when it sold them the 737 MAX?

    This. A safe airplane is designed to be flown by below average pilots. Because, unless you live in Lake Woebegon, some airline pilots will be poor pilots.

    I retired from Boeing last year. I was an engineer in the 737 factory here in Renton. Although I have only limited insight into the design of the Max since I was primarily on the manufacturing side, it is apparent that this is a flawed design.

    In theory you can blame almost any accident on the pilot. You can always point to some contingency or some sequence of response that the pilot might have done to save the aircraft. But, airline pilots are not test pilots. They are just average people that had a special fondness for flying. They are no less prone to panic, fear, loss of focus, etc. A safe design accounts for the limitations of the pilot.

    • Replies: @Glaivester
    , @acementhead
  43. @Anonymous

    Yes. However, manufacturing is icky, so that is an uphill fight.

  44. @Jim Christian

    Some blame the problems Boeing’s new tanker craft has on the civilian side of the business saying we know what we’re doing, we’ll call you military aircraft guys if we feel like it.

  45. El Dato says:
    @Anonymous

    “Boeing” and “Goering” are pretty close names and both have to do with aviation.

    Coincidence? I think not!

  46. El Dato says:

    Boeing won’t fail, even if its decisions become managerial and low-quality.

    Guess what’s on the receiving end of more NASA dollars for SLS? Hint: It rhymes with ‘throwing’ as lawmakers baulk at lobbing an unknown amount of cash into the 2024 lunar bonfire

    NASA brought a smile to faces of Boeing shareholders this week with the announcement that it would be ordering 10 Space Launch System (SLS) core stages from the US aviation giant for Artemis rocket launches to the Moon. Although paying for the things could be tricky.

    It is expected that the next batch of rocket core stages will not suffer the same hideous cost overruns and horrendously drawn-out birthing process of the first build, which might finally fly in 2021 after years of delay.

    And that arbitrary [return to Moon by] 2024 date is causing some furrowed brows. At a hearing of the House Appropriations Committee’s Commerce, Justice and Science subcommittee into NASA’s proposal to bring the Moon landing forward from 2028, US lawmakers hauled the agency over the coals as the price tag for all the lunar japery remained unclear.

    Chair of the committee, José Serrano, had NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine squirming uncomfortably as he asked again for an estimate of how much the US taxpayer was going to have to cough up in order to accelerate the program.

    As in previous hearings Bridenstine could not give an answer….

    Wading through the Orange Man Bad miasma of the comment section, we find something of interest:

    Bridenstein did give a clear answer regarding funding: extra money cannot move the planned 2028 Moon landing to 2024. As that was not strictly an answer to the questions politicians were asking, they pretended that there is an amount of money that provides a 2024 landing but NASA will not tell them what it is. Although extra money will not help, reduced or delayed funding will cause delays.

    I think this purchase of 10 SLS cores demonstrates [Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.)]’s and Boeing’s complete confidence that Starship, Super Heavy and low earth orbit refuelling will be working before SLS sends anyone to the Moon.

  47. El Dato says:
    @Steve Sailer

    I don’t think that anyone would have though that you might need top pilots to fly the MAX. Wasn’t the whole point of the MCAS to allow pilots to NOT be retrained and just be able to pretend they were flying the previous generation machine?

    SOFTWARE: Is there anything it can’t do?

  48. Sully implicitly bashed Trump before the last mid-term election. He strikes me as Ye Olde Establishment GOP type. That is to say, not really an original thinker. Yes, he did his job as a pilot, but I’m not too interested in his opinions.

  49. @anon

    However there are 757’s being parked for business reasons – why not refit them with the new ultra bypass engines fitted to the 737 MAX? The larger airframe should accept them without serious mods, but I am not an aero engineer, so maybe I’m all wrong.

    Engineering-wise, it is plausible. But even without the new engines, the 757 is a superior performing aircraft, particularly on longer routes. The 737 is essentially a larger regional jet, which is fine for delivering lots of folks from the pampas to the large hubs, now being dressed to compete (poorly) on longer routes.

    The 757 is still a popular aircraft with pilots an airlines, but Boeing pulled the plug for some reason. One might be that it takes longer to turn (board and deplane) and is not as comfortable for passengers. Or maybe it was greed: You can sell a lot more aircraft that seat 150 to 225 people and serve multiple markets than you can sell in “Tweeners” that seat nearly 300.

    • Replies: @Achmed E. Newman
  50. Lurker says:
    @Ash Williams

    Oh dear, more irony impairment syndrome.

    • Replies: @Ash Williams
  51. @The Alarmist

    Alarmist, the newer 737s ARE being used for the trans-con flights, a fact that surprised me about 15 years ago when I got on one doing just that. All of the newer versions were made for this mission (+ going to Hawaii, which is a step above even that, due to ETOPS). The problem is that they haven’t been able to do this as well as the 757s.

    These 737s need a lot more runway when loaded up full in the summer heading across the country than the 757. The 757 is a great short-field airplane. The 737s loaded up on the trans-con routes can’t get up high very fast, so it takes longer to realize their advertised fuel savings.

    As far as passenger-count goes, except for the 757-300, of which the airlines didn’t buy and didn’t fly that many, the -200 version holds under 200 people, unless it’s some airline with nothing but super-economy packed-in seating. The newer 737s hold about the same number.

  52. @Father O'Hara

    Correct, invoking the celebrity aspect of his persona doesn’t lend credit to his professional opinions, and there is no need for him to refer to his emergency landing in the Hudson, except to humble brag, because 95% of the people reading his piece already know why they know who he is.

    His criticisms of the FAA ring hollow as well. Why don’t you tell us why the FAA approved the MCAS, and where was the NTSB in all of this at that point? Maybe the phone would stop ringing if you did so.

    • Replies: @snorlax
    , @Achmed E. Newman
  53. @Kronos

    Tom Hanks – the guy who fantasized about winning a Heisman Trophy in college always there to pretend to be someone who is a real hero.

    • Replies: @Kronos
  54. JMcG says:
    @Franz

    There’s a channel on YouTube called Greg’s Airplanes and Automobiles. He recently did a wonderful debunking of the various competing claims to bring the first to fly. He has lots of great aviation content.

    • Replies: @Franz
  55. @Steve Sailer

    Was Boeing unaware that third world airlines often employ third world pilots when it sold them the 737 MAX?

    Or that Third World software engineers would be writing the code for the MCAS system?

    WaPo:

    Boeing designed that software, known as the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS). But the lines of code underpinning this system and the physical box it runs on were programmed and built to Boeing’s specifications by a lesser-known company called Rockwell Collins

    Let’s see what H1Bdata and myvisajobs have to say about that…

    Lotta listings for “software engineer” and “software developer.”

    Of course, there are a lot of steps involved in this systems failure. MCAS was a software/ automation patch to compensate for a physical/ aerodynamic problem, but it probably could have worked out if it:

    – Had been designed in at an earlier stage

    – Had sensor redundancy and some reasonable provision for sensor failure

    – Didn’t incrementally increase nose-down trim (starting from the position at the end of the last activation) beyond the range that pilots could compensate for with the stick alone

    – Was more transparent to the pilots (rather that being designed as an almost entirely “background” system — apparently to avoid any requirement for pilot retraining)

    If you look at the list of the major changes involved in Boeing’s MCAS software update, they all seem like functions/ parameters that should have been part of the system from the start — yeah, it always seems like that with the benefit of hindsight, but this time more than usual.

    The additional layers of protection include:

    Flight control system will now compare inputs from both AOA sensors. If the sensors disagree by 5.5 degrees or more with the flaps retracted, MCAS will not activate. An indicator on the flight deck display will alert the pilots.

    If MCAS is activated in non-normal conditions, it will only provide one input for each elevated AOA event. There are no known or envisioned failure conditions where MCAS will provide multiple inputs.

    MCAS can never command more stabilizer input than can be counteracted by the flight crew pulling back on the column. The pilots will continue to always have the ability to override MCAS and manually control the airplane.

  56. anarchyst says:

    As “certification” of a new aircraft design is extremely expensive, Boeing wanted to avoid a complete “recertification” program for its “upgrades” to the 737 airframe.

    The new “ultra bypass” engines were much larger and had to be “relocated” on the wings to keep them from “scraping the ground”.

    This change in engines also changes the handling characteristics of the aircraft as well.

    Has anyone looked into the engine changes being part of the problem?

    • Replies: @James Forrrestal
  57. These emergencies did not present as a classic runaway stabilizer problem, but initially as ambiguous unreliable airspeed and altitude situations, masking MCAS. The MCAS design should never have been approved, not by Boeing, and not by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

    That’s exactly what commenters FB and Erebus wrote here on James Thompson’s three blog-posts in March:

    http://www.unz.com/jthompson/boeing-737-max-the-upgrade/

  58. cthulhu says:

    Something I’m hoping to see out of this disaster is the incidence of MCAS failures among US airlines; a colleague of mine tells me he hears from pilot acquaintances that MCAS was failing regularly, but I’d like to see the actual data.

    Once the data are available, I strongly suspect the conclusion will be that the MCAS failure rate in the US was significant, but that US pilots dealt with the failures en passant because the US pilots are, as a group, objectively better at handling failures than non-US pilots as a group, and a conscious or unconscious bias towards the better skills of US pilots was a significant player in the MCAS design. And why are US pilots substantially better than the rest of the world’s pilots? Simple: training and experience, and it starts before a pilot even has his/her ticket to sit in the right-hand seat of a jetliner. Far too many non-US pilots are trained in so-called ab initio programs, and they just don’t get the kind of training and experience needed to diagnose odd problems. Here’s a discussion of these programs: http://www.rapp.org/archives/2014/08/ab-initio/

    Now, I certainly don’t let Boeing off the hook for MCAS; I have the skills and experience in the development of systems like MCAS to judge what Boeing did, and if I had been responsible for the MCAS design, I would have never let it go out the door – Boeing bears at least half the blame for those two fatal crashes. But the pilots on those two flights should have never been in the cockpit, and the governments who set the standards for pilot training under which the Lion Air and Ethiopian Air crews were allowed to fly bear a great deal of the responsibility too – those crews were incompetent to deal with a failure that should have been within their ability to diagnose and handle.

    And keep in mind that Sullenberger is a pilot and will reflexively support other pilots, unless their failures are extremely egregious.

    • Agree: Achmed E. Newman, JMcG
  59. @Father O'Hara

    Perhaps Sully is moonlighting for Farmers Insurance.

  60. @istevefan

    DoD keeps BA afloat, or is it flying?

  61. Kronos says:
    @MikeatMikedotMike

    Perhaps, but the man in certainly famous. He’s recognized throughout the world. Though, I guess he regrets starring in “Forrest Gump.” That movie is the butt of too many jokes 20+ years on.

    If I were Hanks, I’d snap and beat anyone to death if they said “life is like a box of chocolates.” That’s just a role that’ll never go quietly into the night.

    • Replies: @El Dato
    , @Jim Don Bob
  62. Bill says:
    @The Alarmist

    Doing things out in meat world is too complicated and difficult. Let’s have the Fed buy the MAX and put them on its balance sheet.

  63. Forbes says:
    @Jack D

    Boeing should never have put out a plane with these flaws, nor should they have gotten past the FAA. BUT OTOH, given that they did, the pilots should have been able to keep the plane in the air and they didn’t.

    The conclusion cannot be logically deduced from the assumptions, ISTM.

  64. Bill says:
    @Anonymous

    a really big judgment would be a national security issue in the case of Boeing.

    Why? Court judgments are fully dischargeable in bankruptcy. A really big judgment would be a minor inconvenience for everyone except people who hold Boeing stock and Boeing bonds. Those people getting screwed is what is supposed to happen in a case like this.

    The tragedy to watch for here is the executives getting off with no prison time and keeping their jobs to boot.

  65. mmack says:

    Steve,

    Thank you for posting this story. Over at Instapundit.com whenever 737MAX stories are posted there are two posters who:
    1) Claim to be ATP (Airline Transport Pilot) license holders
    2) Post that this is just a “runaway elevator trim” issue any monkey with a pilots license can handle
    3) The 737MAX is totally safe and stable and this is just the result of Third World monkeys behind the controls

    I am no ATP license holder but I do have a Private Pilot license and am familiar with aircraft behavior in power on (take off departure) and power off (landing) stalls. My question to any ATP license holder or aerospace engineer is this:

    Aircraft should be designed to have predictable behaviors within the “flight envelope” (aka the range of normal maneuvers: climb, descend, turn, straight and level flight within the maximum altitude limits of the design). When a flight crew adds additional power above takeoff thrust on a 737MAX:

    1) What’s causing the nose pitch up that exceeds the critical angle of attack that requires the MCAS system?
    2) If additional power causes a power on stall, why can’t a pilot perform the standard maneuvers (lower aircraft nose while leveling the wings, allowing airspeed to build and then gradually pitching the nose back up for a climb) to recover from a power on stall? Is it that recovery from stalls on the 737MAX is so unpredictable that engineers decided it’s better to force the nose down rather than allow the pilot to attempt recovery?

    I don’t know if Airline pilots are even told how to stall and recover an aircraft as large as a 737 or even larger. I found a video on a 747 undergoing stall tests:

    I’d like to know if simulator time or flying time is spent on stall entry and recovery. I keep coming back to Boeing added this system since Goodness knows what she’ll do if she stalls power on.

    • Replies: @Diversity Heretic
  66. @anarchyst

    Has anyone looked into the engine changes being part of the problem?

    The engine changes were the entire reason for MCAS — they didn’t fit between the wings and the ground, so they had to be moved forward, changing the handling characteristics of the aircraft at high angles of attack. MCAS was a (poorly designed and implemented) software patch for this hardware issue.

    • Replies: @Achmed E. Newman
  67. snorlax says:
    @MikeatMikedotMike

    NTSB only investigates accidents and incidents; they aren’t involved in the certification process and have no regulatory authority.

  68. @MikeatMikedotMike

    I agree with most of this, Mike. Regarding your 2nd-to-last sentence, the NTSB had no reason to get involved in this system until there was a problem in flight. This is one US Gov’t agency I have respect for, as they have engineering types, at least some, and they seem to be interested in real causes, not paperwork/bureaucracy like the FAA.

    Hah! I just saw snorlax’s comment during 5-min EDIT window. I’ll keep this due to time invested.

  69. @Franz

    Franz, I read a book on Mr. Dumont a few years back. His powered flight, as I recall, was his hydrogen-lifted craft which he moved in controlled flight with a single-digit(?)-Hp gas engine in the back. Talk about your flying bombs!

    This was at the end of the 19th century, around 1898, and Mr. Dumont flew around Paris, and set down at restaurants and drinking establishments, then flew on. It had to be the coolest thing in the world! He did have at least one accident involving the hydrogen gas, I recall.

    • Replies: @Franz
  70. @Franz

    Wilbur and Orville discovered that Otto Lillienthal’s lift numbers were wrong for airfoils. Yes, Lillienthal, and others like Octave Chanute, inspired the Wrights, but the brothers took aeronautical engineering to another level. One could say they created the very field itself, with their scientific, experimental approach. They were true geniuses who created their own tools and methods to solve problems.

    Dilettantes like Alberto Santos Dumont were great in their own ways, but not comparable. Only the Wrights solved the problem that had stumped great men for centuries. Others immediately learned the answer from them. Dumont hopped in 1906 in front of French people, so he was “officially” recognized.” The Wright brothers had perfected the airplane in 1905 and were flying for up to half-an-hour, until they ran out of gas, under complete control in Dayton, Ohio. That airplane is on display there — the first, true, fully useable, flyable airplane — from 1905.

    As for Mr. Whitehead in Connecticut: I live close to where he lived and worked. He is a favorite story around here, but full of fluff. He was a disciple of Lillienthal, had worked for him even, and built his wings as copies of Otto’s. He did not do what the contemporary news report claimed. He was indeed an admirable, German immigrant, living in Bridgeport. He was a highly skilled machinist, but his accomplishments are exaggerated today by some. One look at his aircraft designs is all it takes to understand: They were not capable of doing anything near what was claimed, probably not even powered flight itself.

    • Replies: @Diversity Heretic
    , @Franz
  71. El Dato says:
    @Kronos

    Wasn’t Forrest Gump what made Hanks famous?

    • Replies: @Kronos
  72. @mmack

    Do they spin test jumbo jets to make sure that they can recover from a spin? (Not just in a simulator, but for real?) Years ago, even private pilots had to demonstrate spin recovery. My instructor deliberately put an aircraft in which I was being trained into a spin and it was pretty dramatic; whatever it was you were above when the aircraft started to spin, well you’re right at it in the spin!

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    , @mmack
  73. @Buzz Mohawk

    Last summer I read a book, Wright Brothers, Wrong Story, that claimed that Wilbur did almost all of the intellectual heavy lifting in developing the airplane. He died, however, in 1912.

    • Replies: @Buzz Mohawk
  74. @Jim Christian

    I know a man who graduated from Air Force flying school in 1950. After three years he had the option of leaving the Air Force and obtaining a job as an airline pilot. He carefully considered his options and decided to stay in the Air Force although he knew airlines would pay more. A considerable number of his flight school classmates had gone the airline route and that also was an influence. But the thought of flying straight and level for the rest of his career seemed not much better than being a Grey Hound bus driver. So he stayed with he Air Force and throughout his career checked out in the latest fighters. He also flew twin-engine and sometimes four engine aircraft because he said a capable pilot should be able to fly anything with wings. He also stated there was no such thing as an “over-powered” airplane. He’s long retired from the Air Force but has developed a fear of flying with commercial airlines. I wonder why.

  75. Sam McGowan says: • Website

    As a (retired) professional pilot with more than 25,000 hours in the air, I have long felt that Sullenberger is the most overrated pilot of all time. Yes, he managed to put an airplane down in the Hudson River but ANY competent pilot could have done the same thing. In fact, if it had not been for the alert ferry boat captains, his “heroic act” would have been a disaster because everybody on the airplane would have died of hypothermia before they could be rescued.

    By the way, all the 737 MAX pilots had to do was reach down and flip a switch to “off.”

  76. Anonymous[427] • Disclaimer says:
    @Diversity Heretic

    Most jets are prohibited from intentional spins, even fighters. In fact most transport aircraft are never intentionally put in a full stall except in flight test.

    GA has mostly done away with spin training because Cessna, Piper and Beech bitched in the 70’s and because many popular trainers are not permitted or safe to be intentionally spun. The Jim Bede designed Grumman American GA line were the first production light training aircraft where spins tended to be unrecoverable and there were fatalities. (Jim Bede was like old Walt of TWA maintenance and BNSF Argentine Yard “Walt’s Junction” fame: a nice guy, I met him, but every single thing he got involved in turned into a disaster one way or another.)

    • Replies: @JMcG
    , @Diversity Heretic
  77. @James Forrrestal

    People that don’t understand simple statics keep repeating the line that moving these engines forward changes the pitch moment. Unless they are angled differently they don’t. However, the big nacelles generate lift too, and when that particular plane is at too high an angle of attack, the longitudinal stability is affected*. One can notice when hand flying as a plane will just feel squirrelly in pitch. It won’t stay put.

    With the autopilot on, Boeing figured it would neither allow this large angle of attack to be attained nor would it put in wrong inputs if it did. With the autopilot off, this MCAS was designed to “fix” the problem of this high angle of attack, by trimming down hard, as a stick pusher reduces the angle of attack on an aircraft that is too close to stall.

    In all my comments, I have NEVER directly faulted the Lion Air and Ethiopian Air pilots. I just commented that American pilots, per Cthulhu above, do in general have lots more experience. I’ll say it again, were there an EICAS message that the system had been activated, the pilots could have made the right move (for this case, in which the system was “obviously”** activated erroneously.)

    ,

    * Normally, if the aircraft is perturbed from it’s attitude (say wind gust or pilot input) it will tend to go back toward the original angle. That is due to its center of lift being BEHIND the center of mass. Think about it – you pitch up, and let go – there is more lift generated from the higher angle of attack – the vertical component of the lift vector is BEHIND the center of mass, so this extra lift will tend to pitch the plane down. Vice versa for an initial pitch down.

    Now, when the center of mass gets very close to the center of lift, such as when the plane is loaded pretty far aft, the stability suffers.

    ** That’s the big debate, is how obvious the erroneous activation would be. I don’t know.

    • Replies: @mmack
  78. Kronos says:
    @El Dato

    He was pretty famous before “Forrest Gump.” (1994)

    https://m.imdb.com/name/nm0000158/

    Apparently, he received his first Oscar nomination in 1988 for the film “Big.”

    (This is connected to another thread, but one question was did the LA riots 1992 (and OJ Simpson) help change the SAT in 1994. What if “Forrest Gump” resulted in the first initial simplification of the test? That such a talented man was nearly cutoff by a IQ test.)

  79. haha says:
    @Redneck farmer

    With all due respects, Sully is an incredible pilot and hero who saved his passengers’ lives when all was lost – no engine working following a bird strike. He landed the plane on the Hudson – the world’s first such water landing. I am not knowledgeable about aviation but after seeing the film Sully and then reading up about pilot Sully I have nothing but respect for the man, his abilities and his heroism. Let us give respect where it is due.

    • Agree: Hibernian
  80. @istevefan

    At what point is the government going to have to step in to save Boeing? You know we are not going to let Boeing fail, or let it be purchased by a foreign company.

    Non issue.

    As i’ve said before, the deep issue behind the MAX debacle is Boeing’s choice in the 80s to build the 757, rather than a more modernized single aisle platform–that the A320 series had turned out to be. By 2010 they really, really needed a more modern plane to hang the new bigger more efficient turbofans on, but due to competitive pressure had to rush forward with yet another 737 rev–a kludge.

    But all that said … there isn’t anything fundamentally wrong with the MAX other than some really crappy and boneheaded “engineering” decisions around the MACS system. And those are easily rectified. It’s just like any engineering screwup/redo … orders of magnitude more expensive than doing it right from the beginning. The standalone the patch is practically as big a dog and pony to fix and test and certify as doing the whole plane from the get go. But Boeing will finish it and that will be that. Boeing will just be out billions of dollars in compensation to customers and crash victims and have put a huge smudge on their reputation.

  81. JMcG says:
    @Anonymous

    The manufacturers complained because spin recovery training was scaring away too many prospective pilots, not because their aircraft couldn’t be safely spun.

  82. mmack says:
    @Diversity Heretic

    As anon points out big jets aren’t spun because they’d either fall like an anvil or break up due to excessive stress on the airframe.

    I did find this video where an Alaska Airlines pilot is put through stall and stall recovery training (after all if you don’t stall, you don’t spin) in a 737 simulator.

    My biggest takeaways were:

    1) The examiner didn’t tell the pilot anything my flight instructor didn’t tell me about stalls, how to recognize them, and how to recover from them.
    2) Between the control column shaker, the kinesthetic feedback (physical airframe shaking, sloppy maneuvering), and the loud aural warning, I question how anybody could blunder a 737 into a stall.
    3) If you’re getting all that feedback, why would you need MCAS unless Boeing knew the 737MAX wouldn’t recover from a stall in a uniform, predictable manner.

  83. @Diversity Heretic

    My impression is also that Wilbur was the lead mind of that partnership. However, who knows if there would have been success without the two working together? That is unquantifiable.

    What is known is that Wilbur invented wing warping (ailerons in another form) and the corresponding roll of an airplane through a turn. This was the missing piece of the puzzle. In that sense, Wilbur Wright invented the airplane, unpowered and powered (1902 Glider and 1903 Flyer). Everyone after that was copying his solution, which he and his brother patented.

    • Replies: @Diversity Heretic
  84. mmack says:
    @Achmed E. Newman

    Achmed,

    Then why not let the aircraft stall? Stall training and recovery is something every competent pilot is trained on in tiny little Cessnas and Pipers up to the big iron. Hell I was taught to do it. In the Aviation Week video I posted the pilot is stalling the simulator and recovering pretty much how I was taught to recover in a Cessna 172. Why add an extra system that forces the aircraft nose down before you get to the edge of a stall? I just keep coming back to Boeing added it because they can’t get the 737MAX to either recover from a stall at all, or they can’t get the airplane to recover in a predictable manner the way pilots have been taught an airplane should.

    I’m not arguing, I’m genuinely curious why this system was added.

    • Replies: @Achmed E. Newman
    , @JMcG
  85. @Anonymous

    Well, talk about my shattered illusions! I thought that some test pilot actually took an airliner up and spun it to make certain that it could recover from a spin. Modern aircraft are designed to be spin-resistant and I was told that if you simply let go of the controls that an aircraft would fly itself out of a spin. And if a trainer isn’t safe when intentionally spun, what happens if a pilot gets into an inadvertent spin? The book Stick and Rudder shows how this can happen.

    Transports and trainers aren’s Pitts Specials, but I always thought that a spin was a fairly common maneuver out of which any aircraft ought to be recoverable. We’ve come a long way from the days of the Sopwith Camel!

  86. @Buzz Mohawk

    According to the book I cited, the contribution that Orville claimed to have made was to tie the bank of the wing warping mechanism to the movable rudder–overcoming tha adverse yaw that had plagued the Wright’s gliders. Also according to the book, Wilbur made a flight in the Flyer a few days before Orville’s flight on December 16,1903 that was almost as long as the “first flight” made by Orville, but there was no photographic record of it. Wilbur made the longest flight on December 16, lasting almost one minute. Later aerodynamic analysis of the Flyer concluded that the Wrights were probably the only humans capable of flying it, because of their extensive experience in gliders. Later Wright flyers were much more stable, of course.

    • Replies: @Buzz Mohawk
  87. @JMcG

    Even an intentional spin is scary, but the spin itself puts no aerodynamic stress on the aircraft (the aircraft remains fully stalled). After spin recovery , however, the aircraft is in a nose-down attitude and recovery needs to be gentle or the pilot risks overstressing the airframe.

    • Replies: @JMcG
  88. Anonymous[427] • Disclaimer says:
    @JMcG

    The manufacturers complained because spin recovery training was scaring away too many prospective pilots, not because their aircraft couldn’t be safely spun.

    A little of both.

    The Bede designed GA airplanes were “short coupled”, the distance between the wing and the horizontal stabilizer is relatively short and so throughout the approved CG range spin recovery in test was dependent on the spin chute- a dragster style tail parachute installed for spin testing on prototype aircraft-and apprently they were a little reticient to tell the FAA about this until after the type certificated was granted. it was a big hoo-ha at the time, relatively speaking. They simply placarded the aircraft against intentional spins.

    In the case of other popular trainers they lost aircraft in spin training because the aircraft were in reality outside the approved CG envelope for spins (usually most were “standard and utility category” approved with an aft CG envelope longer for “standard” operations, and you were supposed to be in the utility category envelope for intentional spinning) through no fault of the renter/pilots- they calculated CG according to the book, and the airframe had gotten heavier and wa at an aft CG beyond what the book said because there were repairs or additional equipment (lights, ELTs, whatever) installed at the aft end which meant small weights would have large moments and move the CG back substantially.

    But there was a large “customer mollycoddling by sales” movement Wichita pulled off because they were under the powerful delusion they were selling a “business tool” and not a motorcycle with wings. It’s no coincidence that GA is headquartered in Wichita, Wichita is in Kansas, and Kansas is a cuck state supreme run by stupid sons of truck stop lot lizards.

  89. @mmack

    Swept wing jets don’t have nice easygoing stall characteristics like a Skyhawk, MMack. I am no test pilot, but I know you would need a whole lot of altitude to recover, even if the plane didn’t roll hard off one wing. Now, recovery from an IMPENDING stall is the same deal as with a Cessna, as you asked about in an earlier comment.

    The thing about the simulator is I’m not sure how well it would represent a real stall – whether it can be programmed in or not.

    Anyway, all this discussion is not about anything specific to the 737MAX. The MCAS was made to avoid an unstable flight regime, that would not be such in other jet airliners, which could lead to a stall easily. Of course, no one wants it to get that far.

    BTW, for those that mentioned spins, we used to do ’em in the single-cessnas, but we’d always use the rental plane for that, as we heard it was bad for the gyros. ;-}

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  90. @Diversity Heretic

    He or they did connect the rudder to the roll control, but pilots do not need that. They operate the rudder as needed to compensate for adverse yaw. Orville therefore created the first kludge or MCAS to assist the pilot. LOL.

    The December 14 hop was downhill. Wilbur stalled and nosed it into the sand.

    His minute-long flight (59 seconds) on the 17th is arguably the first true one.

    All early Wright aircraft were unstable in pitch, due to their decision to put the elevator in front.

    • Replies: @Achmed E. Newman
  91. @JMcG

    The FAA is involved in what is included in basic flight training, per the Practical Test Standards. I’d read that there were more fatalities from spin training than there were from stall/spin accidents, and that’s why it was discontinued.

  92. Glaivester says: • Website
    @Coburn

    Isn’t that really what Murphy’s law is? If you make it possible for someone to screw up, someone will.

  93. @Redneck farmer

    Captain Sullenberger’s success has been greatly exaggerated. He made a number of errors. I commented on ZeroHedge yesterday and received a threat of physical violence, but no rejoinder to my assertions. I copy the comment below. The section in blockquote is the relevant part of the comment to which I was responding. Below that is my comment.

    ihatebarkingdogs

    The A320 ditching parameters for certification required a vertical speed of appx -3 feet per second. Captain Sully hit the water with a decent rate of -12 fps. Almost 4 times the speed accepted for certification for the ditching requirement. This decent rate resulted in major…

    There was nothing decent about the descent rate at all. Captain Sullenberger made a number of errors. Before I list them I will say that he did one thing very right. He started the APU immediately. This was not called for at that point in the two engine inop checklist but was the best thing to do in the circumstances. That said however, he made several bad errors.

    1) They hit the birds. Canada Geese are large and do not fly in huge flocks such as Godwits do. If the crew had been looking along the flight path rather than the nice view of the city they could have avoided them. Approved flight procedures call for sterile cockpit below 10,000′. Looking at the great view of the city, and talking about it is not approved(yeah I did many non-approved things, well a friend did, in the cockpit, but had an inadvertent event taken place then I, I mean he, would have been culpable).

    2) He did not at any time control the pitch plane correctly. Did not immediately reduce speed to green dot. In the event this did not matter but had things been slightly different it could have materially affected the outcome.

    3) He used a final flap setting one unit less than that approved in the AFM, flap 2 rather than the called for flap 3, from memory. If the film Sully was accurate, his reason for doing this was his experience. This is utterly spurious. He had no experience which would show that the lower flap setting was better in the circumstances.

    4) His final approach speed was WAY too low. Instead of flying at the normal TTS(target threshold speed) for the weight and flap setting he just held the little crap control stick hard back and pancaked down on alpha floor. NO energy left for flare as required in EVERY landing. The aircraft was already at maximum pitch that control system would allow. Everybody raved about what a good job he’d done, because he was a glider pilot. Well no, he did not fly in glider fashion. He did not ‘dive and drive’. There was no energy left for flare.

    Some people will say “you couldn’t do any better”.* They’d be wrong. I, and huge numbers of other pilots would have done better. We’d have flown at the correct approach speed. The aircraft would have been undamaged and have floated until lifted out of the water or been deliberately sunk

    * More than 30 years before this I dead-sticked a B737 sim in to Wellington from a double flame-out at 41 miles and 13000′(that’s on normal descent profile). I’m sure lots of other pilots have done similar. At the time there was no two engine inop descent and landing procedure; I had to make it up as I went along. I’m sure lots of other western pilots could have done it but many would have failed. Almost no third world pilots would have succeeded.

    —————————————————————————————————————-

    Above the line is my comment at ZH. The link below is to my comment, the response, and my response to that. I did not upvote my own comment.

    I have no interest, or opinion, on the politics of the MAX matter and the evilness that boeing has become. My interest, in this matter, is solely in aviation safety.

    • Replies: @acementhead
    , @JMcG
  94. Hibernian says:
    @Mr. Anon

    Except for the pre-merger Boeing, and the pre -McDonnell-Douglas Douglas Aircraft, all of them, Grumman, Northrop, North American, McDonnell, Lockheed, Martin, and General Dynamics, were very milittary oriented, some of them 100%. Boeing and Douglas also had substantial military business. This goes back at least to when Boeing began in 1916 by building seaplanes for the Navy.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  95. @Coburn

    This. A safe airplane is designed to be flown by below average pilots. Because, unless you live in Lake Woebegon, some airline pilots will be poor pilots.

    No there is no need for this to be the case. It is true that half will be below the median but with proper selection none will be “poor pilots”.

    Air Forces around the world carry out rigorous selection, and it works. I do not believe that the US Air Force has any poor pilots (apart from the few affirmative action hires, mostly women).

    • LOL: JMcG
    • Replies: @Anonymous
  96. Anonymous[427] • Disclaimer says:
    @Achmed E. Newman

    They never should have allowed uncageable vacuum gyros. That’s another issue. All the WWII types had cageable gyros, at least the fighters and trainers. Then again vacuum gyros should have went out in the sixties, the vacuum pumps were heavy and failed a lot, especially the carbon vane ones. The old iron vane ones used engine oil for lubrication and deposited the exhaust in the engine crankcase or oil tank, and one objection was cigarette smoke went through the gyros and into the crankcase, being bad for both. Pilots smoked like chimneys in the cockpit back then.

  97. Franz says:
    @Achmed E. Newman

    That’s the guy!

    One writer on early air history said his flights in his one-man mini-blimp over Paris during La Belle Epoch was the earliest version of Beatlemania he know of.

    The girls called him Petite Santos after he landed on a rooftop and had lunch with some lady. From then on he was all the rage. All the gals in 1890s Paris wanted Petite Santos to land on their roof… for lunch or whatever. Very little guy. Soft spoken but an aristocrat.

    A German great uncle of mine was engineering in Brazil in the 70s and that’s when I learned that if any schoolkid wrote any other name for “Inventor of Powered Flight” on their test, they flunked. At least in the United States of Brazil.

    Even the French objected to that. Henri Giffard tied a primitive motor to a hot air balloon in 1849, way before Santos. Didn’t get very far but it had power.

  98. Franz says:
    @Buzz Mohawk

    Only the Wrights solved the problem that had stumped great men for centuries.

    Oh yeah, there is no question they had a superior system the earliest. Some us feel about the Early Birds and hoppers that, as Arthur C. Clarke famously said of the NASA moon program, the fellows with the real equipment will get the job done… but those who launched the rickety rockets and designed primitive, home made equipment had all the fun.

    Another I almost forgot, though not German either, was John Joseph Montgomery, a fairly serious hopper who lived long enough to see the air age begin. Died after a crash in 1911.

    Montgomery was the subject of a 1946 feature film, Gallant Journey. It’s short but I loved it as a kid, and was totally envious of the guys who lived in the early years.

    The picture is online in three parts:

    1)

    2)

    3)

    Not as fun as when I was 9 years old, but still a fine old flick about a decent guy.

  99. Franz says:
    @JMcG

    He has lots of great aviation content.

    Thanks for the lead. I love that stuff.

    A movie out in December called The Aeronauts, so far as I can see, is going to be in for loads of debunking.

    Initially I was pleased to hear about a movie where the first experiments with weather forecasting using a free balloon was used. Then the details! The actual, historic balloonist was a guy, in this thing replaced by a gal, and they are giving the weatherman a minority sidekick besides.

    Here we go again. History, with additional feminist/minority enrichment. Might skip it.

  100. @Hibernian

    My dad’s career at Lockheed (1938-1980) was probably 60-40 military-civilian:

    Military:
    P-38
    F-104
    P-2V
    P-3

    Civilian:
    Constellation
    Electra
    L1011

    • Replies: @Buzz Mohawk
  101. JMcG says:
    @mmack

    It has nothing to do with stalls. Read more carefully what’s already been posted.

  102. JMcG says:
    @Diversity Heretic

    Yes, I’ve done dozens. I was so disoriented in my first that I counted each half turn as a full turn. Strange to have the nose pointed at the grass.

  103. JMcG says:
    @acementhead

    Good comment. It’s nice to hear another side of the story. Thanks for taking the time. Death threats? That’s just great.

    • Replies: @acementhead
  104. @Steve Sailer

    That’s quite a list. Your dad’s career was 60-40 cool-cooler.

    • Agree: byrresheim
  105. @Jim Christian

    Well stated. The MIC kills even when not directly.

  106. Captain Sullenberger definitely has a point. You don’t need to be a third worlder to be fooled by “well meaning” automation.

    Luckily no one died.

  107. @Lurker

    Oh dear, more irony impairment syndrome.

    It’s so ironic apparently there’s still someone who can’t see the irony in the ironic response to the irony.

    • LOL: Lurker
    • Replies: @Lurker
  108. anon[292] • Disclaimer says:

    Hey, let’s just shoot Boeing. Cause they can’t make planes that the worst pilots working at the worst airlines in the world don’t crash. Except they did in 2017.

    Passenger jet travel is safe beyond that of anything. So let’s start with a clean sheet of paper and clean hands and a pure heart.

    It’s greed, dontyaknow that killed those innocent Ethopeans and Malaysians and some distant relative of Ralph Nader. Let us count the ways. Airlines wanted ginormous engines that get better milage. The Federal Government decided to save money on regulators. Airlines wanted to be able to call it a 737 to save on training – which required a system to make it seem to fly like one. And Boeing wanted to make a buck also.

    Back in the good old days of competition Douglas had to compete on safety. Oh yea, they did and they had their catastrophes. It’s not that they didn’t build damn good planes. But good isn’t near good enough.

    Ethopia should have designed and built their own planes, In Waconda, I suppose.

    Airline manufacturing is so difficult that China and Japan and Russia and Korea can’t do it cheaper. Unlike a lot of manufactured stuff. But maybe they deserve a chance. And they would be cheaper.

    Normal countries don’t blow up major industries because of trial lawyers, grandstanding congressmen, the virtue signaling public, etc. But we are better than normal, I forgot.

    We need more laws and lawyers involved in aviation.

    And we need Sully informing us a plane crashed and it was sombody’s fault and he or we are better than this. It’s just not who we are by god. And it is a sign of the same sickness that elected Trump. It has to be.

    And Boeing is just too damn white. Throw them in jail.

    • Agree: JMcG
    • Replies: @acementhead
  109. Anonymous[427] • Disclaimer says:

    Airline manufacturing is so difficult that China and Japan and Russia and Korea can’t do it cheaper. Unlike a lot of manufactured stuff. But maybe they deserve a chance. And they would be cheaper.

    The Japanese could do it but have gotten American MBA disease and don’t want to manufacture. The Russians can manufacture (the Mig-21 rivals the Cessna 172 for the most manufactured airframe of all time, at nearly ten times the gross weight) but can not design a cost effective airliner, they are not as safe or as economical and no one trusts their supply chain for support. I suspect the Koreans may be the “sweet spot” to go after the Boeing/Airbus duopoly, but who knows? We will find out eventually.

    When interest rates skyrocket, an airplane that burns more fuel and needs more maintenance but costs a lot less-disruptive vs. sustaining development, as per Clayton Christiansen-may be a winner. And the Koreans may be the people capable of out-of-the-box thinking to make a less expensive airliner.

  110. Anonymous[112] • Disclaimer says:
    @acementhead

    I

    do not believe that the US Air Force has any poor pilots (apart from the few affirmative action hires, mostly women).

    I can’t speak for the Air Force, but I know for a fact that every naval aviator is as good as he — or she — can possibly be, and that is ensured not only by training but by the aviators he — or she — flies with.
    Every carrier landing, including the touch and go (crash and dash) is not only videotaped and the radio conversation between the LSO and aviator recorded but broadcast live, as well, and shown on monitors in ready rooms throughout the boat, so that you will have something like 100 other aviators watching you land. LSOs are harshly critical of any deviation from perfect in debrief and no rank is spared. Fellow aviators are also harsh with mistakes. Nobody gets a pass because if you don’t fly it right every time, you die. And so do others.

    https://drive.google.com/file/d/1U3NfO4zypv-OuQ5_9Fjm6IzIjpcvFMeK/view?usp=sharing

    • Replies: @acementhead
  111. @JMcG

    Thank you.

    No, no death threat, just an oblique and almost certainly legal(I think) threat. I reproduce the entire comment in response to my long comment that I reproduced above.

    “What a disgraceful post. As a 40 year airline pilot, what Sully managed considering the sudden shock he was dealing with and the limited options available was nothing short of miraculous. For you to sit there as an armchair critic and post this utter drivel is appalling. I have a feeling that every passenger on that airplane (and their families) would happily give you some “attitude adjustment” if they were able.”

  112. @Anonymous

    I can’t speak for the Air Force, …

    I neither and I hope nobody gets the idea that I’m trying to.

    It was pure, but I think totally logical, conjecture on my part. It is clear, from the statistics in the article linked below, that the US Air Force is trying very hard to achieve diversity but does not lower standards much in order to do so.

    https://www.stripes.com/lifestyle/despite-recruitment-efforts-few-black-pilots-land-in-air-force-navy-cockpits-1.11138

    I certainly like the system of mass monitoring of all carrier landings. Seems to be a great idea to me. Was the system in operation in 1994?

  113. @anon

    Nice(I’m not able to use the agree button as I don’t make enough comments)

  114. @Buzz Mohawk

    All early Wright aircraft were unstable in pitch, due to their decision to put the elevator in front.

    I gotta correct this one. A canard design (as in, elevator/stabilizer in front) design is NOT by nature unstable. It must be that the Wright’s early planes, between the big canard way out front, and the placement of the pilots and engine, had the center of lift forward of the center of mass.

    That’s what it comes down to, as I explained in a comment higher up here. So, I’m not saying the Wright’s planes were stable, just that it was not due to the basic idea of the elevator in front – which is, BTW, a more efficient design, as the stabilizer/elevator on “conventional” airplanes must produce down-lift to keep the plane from pitching down. This means, its lift subtracts from total lift of all the surfaces (the wings being the biggie, of course!)

    • Replies: @Buzz Mohawk
  115. @Achmed E. Newman

    That’s okay, I understand. Canards can be great; just ask Burt Rutan. However, my impression is that you have to almost be a Burt Rutan to get them right. The Wrights were not capable of getting that right — or maybe they were just barely, since they did fly that way.

    Theirs was a totally-moving biplane stabilator, extremely touchy, and as you say, with the COL in the wrong place. They were always flying between pitching up and pitching down. You can read about it in accounts and even see it in on some film. They eventually moved the surfaces to the rear like everybody else, and that problem went away.

    Perhaps I mis-stated things by saying the problem was them putting the elevator in front — because, as you correctly say, that is not in itself a bad thing, but that is how they caused themselves such a headache with pitch. It is the reason.

    Their initial reason for putting all that in the front was to protect them from what killed Lilienthal: a stall resulting in the pilot smacking into the ground, with no structure to absorb the energy. As we know, canards can be stall proof too, and maybe they reasoned that also or saw it as a way to prevent or stop a stall.

    If canards were the best for everything, we would see a lot more of them, but you will notice that they are very rare.

    As a teenager, I designed, built and flew my own R/C airplane, in addition to what I had built from kits. All I did was use a convential layout and make sure the craft balanced where the main spar was. It worked. I could not have, and would not have, attempted a canard design. I’ll leave that to you and Mr. Rutan. “What, me worry?”

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  116. Anonymous[113] • Disclaimer says:
    @Buzz Mohawk

    It has been said one owes Burt and Dick Rutan the mixed respect one does to someone who has memorized the White Pages of a medium sized city.

    • LOL: Buzz Mohawk
  117. MEH 0910 says:

  118. Lurker says:
    @Ash Williams

    Oops!

    The possibility crossed my mind. But since the other guy’s response left no doubt that my intent had been completely misinterpreted I decided yours must be equally wrong.

  119. Lagertha says:
    @Lagertha

    I was so hopeful about aeronautical engineers. So sad that they are pathetic.

  120. @Kronos

    Forrest Gump is perhaps the stupidest movie I have ever seen. I have never walked out of a movie, but I almost made an exception for it.

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