..



.

Business News

what's behind Boeing's production shutdown of MAX aircraft

  • Written by Michael Lueck, Professor of Tourism, Auckland University of Technology

Boeing has announced it will halt production of the beleaguered B737-MAX series[1] from January. Boeing’s announcement this week follows the grounding of the aircraft after two fatal crashes.

After the first crash, of Lion Air in Indonesia in October 2018, people blamed poor maintenance and insufficient pilot training. When a second airliner, of Ethiopian Air, crashed in March 2019, similarities quickly transpired. There was no apparent external influence such as poor weather. Neither was there any interference with the flight decks, as in a hijacking.

In both cases the pilots could not keep the aircraft from nose-diving[2]. Airlines and regulators around the world started grounding the MAX indefinitely. Australia’s Civil Aviation Authority prohibited any B737MAX aircraft in its airspace[3], followed by New Zealand’s Civil Aviation Authority.

Surprisingly, the last authority to clamp down[4] was the US Federal Aviation Administration, the governmental body in charge of certifying aircraft.

At first, Boeing was optimistic the aircraft would re-enter service by the end of this year, but recertification has been delayed several times. Globally, 387 delivered and about 400 undelivered MAX aircraft are grounded. The production shutdown is expected to take several months[5], with ramifications for suppliers and thousands of jobs at risk.

Read more: Boeing 737 Max: The FAA wanted a safe plane – but didn't want to hurt America’s biggest exporter either[6]

Aircraft computer system likely at fault

The suspected cause of the problems on board the two doomed airliners was a system new to the latest iteration of the previously best-selling commercial aircraft[7] – the B737. The MAX series, the fourth generation of the aircraft, entered service in 1968 in its first version (B737-100). The 737MAX is the latest version and started flying in 2018.

Boeing’s main competitor, Airbus, developed the A320 family in the same category of the B737, but included new, more fuel-efficient engines[8]. Boeing was under pressure to counter this[9] when it developed the MAX series.

It shifted its larger new engines to provide more ground clearance, but this changed the balance of the aircraft and it tended to pitch up. Boeing created a computer system called Manoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS[10]), which would detect any unwanted upward pitch and automatically force the nose down.

Shortly after take-off, the Lion Air 737MAX pilots struggled to stay in the air. The aircraft kept pulling down despite the nose not pitching up. Similarly, the pilots of the Ethiopian flight were not able to control the continuous forcing down of the nose.

Crash investigations are yet to be completed, but information released so far[11] points to Boeing’s computer system and a faulty gauge that measures the angle at which the aircraft is flying.

Since the grounding, Boeing has worked tirelessly on a software fix, but regulators found other issues. This includes problems with software affecting flaps and other flight-control hardware, and issues with rudder cables[12] potentially affected by a so-called uncontained engine failure. In the latter, parts of the engine blades detach and may fly at high speed into the fuselage, severing these cables.

Read more: Boeing 737 Max: air safety, market pressures and cockpit technology[13]

Cutting corners at cost of safety

It is becoming increasingly clear Boeing has cut corners[14], presumably under pressure from the performance of its Airbus competitor. Boeing has been accused of delivering the aircraft before it was ready to fly safely[15].

It has transpired that Boeing may have been aware of computer system problems even before the Lion Air crash[16], but delivered the aircraft without modification or information to airlines. Even after the crash, Boeing did not halt deliveries[17]. Instead it worked to fix the software and told pilots there was a potential problem.

The Federal Aviation Administration did not intervene either, despite its own analysis showing that, without intervention, the plane was likely to crash about one or two times a year[18]. Equally astonishing is that the pilot manual for the MAX did not mention the new system[19]. Instead, training for pilots[20] moving from the previous 737NG to the new 737MAX consisted of a 56-minute iPad video, but no training in flight simulators.

A Joint Authorities Technical Review found[21]:

The lack of a unified top-down development and evaluation of the system function and its safety analyses, combined with the extensive and fragmented documentation, made it difficult to assess whether compliance was fully demonstrated.

Boeing taking on part of aircraft certification

In a hearing by the US House Transportation Committee, a whistleblower revealed he urged Boeing managers to halt production[22] because of mistakes, errors and corner cutting, as well as an overworked workforce.

Of further concern is that the Federal Aviation Administration has shifted some of its work to the manufacturer[23]. Boeing now does parts of the certification process. This is not in the interest of safety. Overseas regulators, such the European Union Aviation Safety Agency, have criticised this approach[24].

The MAX disaster has already cost Boeing billions of dollars[25]. Prior to the grounding, it produced 52 aircraft per month. It has since reduced production to 40, all of which are now parked.

The production halt will have ripple effects on US suppliers[26], with tens of thousands of jobs at risk. The fallout is likely to affect the wider US economy[27] and many suppliers in Europe and in China[28].

I have flown on many Boeing aircraft and never felt unsafe. But with recent problems with the Dreamliner, the MAX and most recently the 777X, I question if Boeing has shifted from a safety first philosophy to prioritising profits and dividends for its shareholders.

References

  1. ^ Boeing has announced it will halt production of the beleaguered B737-MAX series (boeing.mediaroom.com)
  2. ^ aircraft from nose-diving (avherald.com)
  3. ^ prohibited any B737MAX aircraft in its airspace (www.casa.gov.au)
  4. ^ last authority to clamp down (www.wired.com)
  5. ^ shutdown is expected to take several months (leehamnews.com)
  6. ^ Boeing 737 Max: The FAA wanted a safe plane – but didn't want to hurt America’s biggest exporter either (theconversation.com)
  7. ^ previously best-selling commercial aircraft (www.businessinsider.com.au)
  8. ^ included new, more fuel-efficient engines (leehamnews.com)
  9. ^ pressure to counter this (www.seattletimes.com)
  10. ^ MCAS (theaircurrent.com)
  11. ^ information released so far (avherald.com)
  12. ^ issues with rudder cables (www.flightglobal.com)
  13. ^ Boeing 737 Max: air safety, market pressures and cockpit technology (theconversation.com)
  14. ^ Boeing has cut corners (edition.cnn.com)
  15. ^ accused of delivering the aircraft before it was ready to fly safely (www.ft.com)
  16. ^ aware of computer system problems even before the Lion Air crash (www.ft.com)
  17. ^ did not halt deliveries (www.bbc.com)
  18. ^ likely to crash about one or two times a year (www.theguardian.com)
  19. ^ not mention the new system (www.cbc.ca)
  20. ^ training for pilots (albertaviation.com)
  21. ^ found (www.reuters.com)
  22. ^ urged Boeing managers to halt production (edition.cnn.com)
  23. ^ shifted some of its work to the manufacturer (www.reuters.com)
  24. ^ criticised this approach (www.reuters.com)
  25. ^ cost Boeing billions of dollars (www.usnews.com)
  26. ^ ripple effects on US suppliers (media.arkansasonline.com)
  27. ^ affect the wider US economy (www.ft.com)
  28. ^ suppliers in Europe and in China (www.bing.com)

Authors: Michael Lueck, Professor of Tourism, Auckland University of Technology

Read more http://theconversation.com/grounded-whats-behind-boeings-production-shutdown-of-max-aircraft-129077

Digital Agency

Business Daily Media Business Development

Exciting Things About Sydney

Sydney is one of Australia’s largest cities that boasts a population of over 4 million people. It is a city that is famous for its picturesque views, multicultural people, superb weather, ...

News Company - avatar News Company

Accor announces new partnership with Grab to help members Live Limitless

Accor has announced a new strategic partnership between its new lifestyle loyalty programme, ALL - Accor Live Limitless and South East Asia’s leading super app, Grab. The deal brings toget...

Accor Pacific - avatar Accor Pacific

Upgrading to Deep Pocket Sheets

So, you have this amazingly comfortable bed that has a built-in topper and you are struggling to find the right bedding. You need to look for a sheet called deep pocket sheets or mega fi...

News Company - avatar News Company

Food you need to try in Beijing

Beijing is a beautiful and interesting destination for any kind of traveler. However, foodies will find a new heaven and will be able to try out tasty, flavorful and sometimes very special...

News Company - avatar News Company

4 Best Budget-Friendly Attractions in Las Vegas

Perhaps no other city in the world deserves the moniker “Sin City” more than Las Vegas. This city has been illustrated in countless works of art as the place where dreams are made, lives a...

News Company - avatar News Company

Bahrain Property Show 2018: How does it reflect the real estate market development in Bahrain

It is no secret that the Arabian Peninsula and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries are currently going through a lot of pivotal changes. Such changes do not include economic or po...

News Company - avatar News Company

Business Daily Media Business Reports

Di Jones real estate recognises high achievers

Di Jones celebrated its outstanding performers on Saturday (24 February 2018) evening at the Di Jones Real Estate Annual Awards.                               The bla...

Helen Hull - avatar Helen Hull

Eclipse Travel Expands Operations to New Zealand

Eclipse Travel, specialists in key adventure destinations such as Antarctica, the Arctic, Africa and Latin America, have announced today their expansion of operations to ...

Yvonne Kong - avatar Yvonne Kong

How medical professionals can benefit from an overall wealth management solution

As a health care professional, you have made it your life's work to focus on the care and health of the general public. While this kind of work can be extremely rewarding...

News Feature Team - avatar News Feature Team

Why Pinterest Should Be Part of Your Marketing Strategy

Pinterest is a growing social media platform that can deliver significant traffic to your website and new followers to your brand. With it’s steady growth and outrageous ...

Greg Nunan - avatar Greg Nunan

The top reasons why gyms fail

Steve Grant is a Business Coach and Founder of GymHub.com.au   Every month thousands of new trainers walk out of their 6-month course with the qualifications needed ...

Steve Grant - avatar Steve Grant

WHITE LABEL NOBA’s Winter 2016 season: Earth + Country

Taking cues from the warm winter colours of tobacco and caramel, and combining them with the strength of navy and the embracing lightness of whites and creams; and then...

Kath Rose - avatar Kath Rose

Former Etihad boss brings substantial event insight to PMY Group Board

Paul Sergeant PMY Group, the architects of the digital insurgency occurring at major venues across Australia and New Zealand, are delighted to welcome 35 year even...

Annie Konieczny - avatar Annie Konieczny

More training for coffee making than property sales: REINSW

Sydney 9 May 2016. An overhaul of education and training standards for the real estate profession must take place to help prevent illegal activities, according to the Rea...

Helen Hull - avatar Helen Hull