Read First if flying on a Boeing 737 Max–or maybe not!

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This topic contains 75 replies, has 7 voices, and was last updated by Ed P 1 month, 3 weeks ago.

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  • #28046

    Ed P
    Participant
    @edps

    According to this Gizmodo report the Boeing 737 Max can abruptly dive ‘by mistake’! This may well have caused the Lion Air crash off Indonesia in which everyone died.

    I bet if were an Airbus the CAA would immediately ground all such planes until it the fault was proven to be rectified.

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  • #28081

    Bob Williams
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    @bullstuff2
    Forumite Points: 3,100

    Never had those problems, with the first airliner I flew in from Squires gate airport Blackpool (at 8 years old) in 1953!

    I remembered that flight over the North Sea for the rest of my life. Accompanied and paid for by my wonderful father, who gave me much over the years gave me many gifts, including love, respect for others and other cultures. This gift instilled a love for the Air and Aircraft which eventually made me an aircraft tech in the AAC and a part time Para sailing down through the air!

    Note the small airscrew (not propeller, please!) on the Port upper wing facing the viewer: that drives a generator, giving electrical power to all systems.

    “If you think this Universe is bad, you should see some of the others.”
    ― Philip K. Dick, legendary SF writer.

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    #28082

    Wheels-Of-Fire
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    @grahamdearsley
    Forumite Points: 1,478

    737’s have been falling out of the sky for years. The biggest problem was reported total control lock up causing crashes. Boeing investigated after each crash but found nothing wrong every time so they just changed things that may have been the cause and hoped for the best. It wasn’t until they fitted a bigger rudder servo that the problem seemed to stop.

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    #28106

    Bob Williams
    Participant
    @bullstuff2
    Forumite Points: 3,100

    Proof that an aircraft first flown in 1968, and upgraded continuously since, cannot compete for reliability during service  with one I flew boarded in 1953! First flown in 1934, over 10 years of production, a total of 1,766 built in various factories. That was because the original Hatfield factory was needed for Mosquito production, as was the wood and fabric. Many were either built for, or transferred to, the RAF and Royal Navy in 1940 and up to ’42, as the Dominie. After 1945 most of these were bought by Civil operators as short-haul airliners. Many are still flying or in museums all over the world. There were accidents of course, but most were at a time of poor safety records and inept training, within countries that were just beginning to buy and operate their own aircraft and facilities.

    As aviation safety became more and more regulated in the late 40’s and 50’s, these accidents became less and less in numbers, the reasons for their happening became better investigated and improvements made.  can this be said in the case of the 737, which has been built and checked with so much modern methods and equipment since first flight? I don’t think so.

    “If you think this Universe is bad, you should see some of the others.”
    ― Philip K. Dick, legendary SF writer.

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    #28108

    Wheels-Of-Fire
    Participant
    @grahamdearsley
    Forumite Points: 1,478

    Ah yes Bob but those things were largely fly by cable. Up Up and away in my beautiful kite !

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    #28110

    Bob Williams
    Participant
    @bullstuff2
    Forumite Points: 3,100

    A fatal accident to an Auster during my early AAC days, was caused by a small screwdriver fouling an elevator cable. There were Shadow Boards which had lockable glass panels and ‘shadowed’ every tool used on aircraft maintenance and repair: at the end of the working day, all were checked, locked and signed for by a Crew Chief. None were missing, so the AIB concluded that it was brought in and used privately by a Technician. It fitted another Auster cable clamp perfectly. Eventually a Tech owned up in tears, was taken away, court martialled and dismissed. The Crew Chief was given a 90 day Reprimand, which would have been recorded upon his annual confidential Report: sometimes a stumbling block to promotion. HMF service can be a bugga.

    “If you think this Universe is bad, you should see some of the others.”
    ― Philip K. Dick, legendary SF writer.

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    #28113

    Ed P
    Participant
    @edps
    Forumite Points: 3,352

    Perhaps of interest to the ex-aircraft techies the NYT has a fairly detailed speculation of what went wrong. However I’d have to add that I (and everyone else on board) had my prayer beads out whenever I sat in a local Indonesian, African or Indian airliner.

    I can still recollect idly sitting in the departure lounge of Harare airport watching a ground crew service our pending flight when someone succeeded in dropping a replacement engine onto the tarmac!

    Normally Air Zimbabwe was one of the better maintained lines, being serviced in Ethiopia – but there are always exceptions.

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    #28124

    Bob Williams
    Participant
    @bullstuff2
    Forumite Points: 3,100

    I changed horses after leaving the AAC, and took up Motor Engineering, became a workshop foreman and saw aircraft only at Shows, museums, on holiday travel or “up where they belong”. I was asked by my old mate and garage owner what the main difference between the two areas of work.

    “Servicing, repairing and maintaining aircraft,”  I replied in my best lecturing manner “means that any work you carry out safely, or sign for as carried out safely, should not result in the aircraft falling out of the sky, with fatal results. No aircraft can pull over to the side. The offender(s) are very severely punished.” On the other hand, many road going vehicles can almost always pull over to the side of a road if a problem occurs due to poor maintenance, incorrect parts, or careless workmanship.”

    Boss/mate drew in a breath: “Wish I hadn’t asked, I ought to know you by now.” Successful result from that speech: he wandered back up to his farm and left us alone for the rest of the day.

    But it is true: breakdowns in road vehicles rarely end in death or injury. When an aircraft drops out of the sky due to incompetent servicing, bad design, non-functioning parts, etc., it almost always ends badly for those onboard.

    “If you think this Universe is bad, you should see some of the others.”
    ― Philip K. Dick, legendary SF writer.

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    #28270

    Ed P
    Participant
    @edps
    Forumite Points: 3,352

    According to press reports the Lion Air crash was caused directly by Boeing’s automated anti-stall actions that they failed to detail to pilots!

    The potential fault in the system is that it can push the plane’s nose down “unexpectedly and so strongly” that pilots can’t pull it back up even when flying manually, the report said.

    Unfortunately the crash occurred in Indonesia so unless the relatives of the passengers manage to mount a US class action they will not get the US style penalties on top of penalties that would otherwise total over a billion dollars.

    The totally unforgivable communications failure by Boeing has caused an outcry in the ranks of US pilots. I hope Boeing gets badly hurt with multi-million dollar penalty awards in order to teach them not to be so cavalier with passenger lives.

     

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    #28275

    Richard
    Participant
    @sawboman
    Forumite Points: 2,087

    Bob, I quite like the brake maker’s advert, (was it Ferodo?) along the lines of;

    ‘Without oil your car will stop, without brakes it won’t’ The cartoon showed the remains of a fence or hedge and the car disappearing into a field.

    In the case of the 737 Max, the suggestion from Ed’s reports of the press speculation is that the issue could be less down to poor maintenance and more one of unsafe by design. The pitot tubes are coming in for a bit of comment stick since they judge the airspeed and could falsely signal to the stall kicker that trouble is brewing. I always though that a redundant system of polling was used in safety critical areas, (several device must all say jump before the machine says go for it). If one critical device, e.g. a pitot tube can shut the whole thing down, then that would be a critical design issue. They have been known to give problems in the past on a range of craft, so designing in failure points sounds less than brilliant engineering if this is the case. Speculation is always dangerous, but the aircraft was new so sloppy maintenance should not have become an issue yet.

    Sadly the airline and location does not have a wonderful record, so the air safety report might be a bit of a lace curtain mess, i.e. more holes than fabric with negative implications for us all, passengers and ground based suckers.

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    #31505

    Richard
    Participant
    @sawboman
    Forumite Points: 2,087

    Another quite new 737 run by an airline with a good name in Africa has fallen foul of gravity and the ground. I guess that many will start to wonder what is really up with the plane. I see that several airlines have decided to ground their fleets. The black (orange) box has been found so some answers may follow in the nearish future.

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    #31509

    Ed P
    Participant
    @edps
    Forumite Points: 3,352

    Ethiopia Airlines were my airline of choice in East Africa as they had a safety record up with the stars. I’d stick my chin out and say that there is something most definitely wrong with the 737 MAX. I for one will not be flying RyanAir as a result!

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    #31515

    Richard
    Participant
    @sawboman
    Forumite Points: 2,087

    I was in ‘sit on the fence mode’ when I wrote. Now all the comments I have seen question the plane; not the pilots or the ground operations. The fiendishly complex nature of investigations means that they take time, which is unfortunate in these circumstances. Planes should either sit on the ground, be controlled into the sky and be returned under control to the ground. The 737 max 8 appears to possibly break new ground and not in a good way. Somehow sloppy forgetting to update the flight manuals does not appear to be the only issue.

    Agree your ‘avoid’ idea.

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    #31549

    Bob Williams
    Participant
    @bullstuff2
    Forumite Points: 3,100

    I am relieved to note, after some research, that Jet2 does not operate the 737Max, YET: it has orders in place for later 2019/20. We are flying with Jet2 in August to Budapest from Manchester, followed by a Danube river cruise. Apparently the latest 737 operated by Jet2, is the 737-800.

    “If you think this Universe is bad, you should see some of the others.”
    ― Philip K. Dick, legendary SF writer.

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    #31573

    Richard
    Participant
    @sawboman
    Forumite Points: 2,087

    Happily they do not appear to have been a mainstay of any UK active operator as they are now being banned from UK airspace until given a proper clearance. I cannot say I am sad about the ban, though the risk may not have been a major one but we are not too far from an airport flight path.

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    #31580

    Bob Williams
    Participant
    @bullstuff2
    Forumite Points: 3,100

    There are two more versions of the 737 Max on order with airlines with deliveries in late 2019 and 2020: the Max 9 and 10. Boeing are doing the American thing: insisting that there is nothing wrong with the 8, whilst working to develop a solution to the problem that they insist does not exist.

    Boeing has confirmed that for the past few months it has been developing a “flight control software enhancement” for the aircraft, but says it is confident they are safe to fly. ”

    BBC report: http://tinyurl.com/yynprvdp

    Shades of Ed’s Flying Turkey! Do they want to make pilots the equivalent of the ‘redundant’ Guards on certain UK railways?

    Panic will set in if Boeing loses any more money:

    More than $27bn (£21bn) has been wiped off the company’s market value since the close of trading on Friday. ”

    Current civil aircraft manufacturing is already on tight financial margins. The only winner could be Airbus International.

    “If you think this Universe is bad, you should see some of the others.”
    ― Philip K. Dick, legendary SF writer.

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    #31582

    Richard
    Participant
    @sawboman
    Forumite Points: 2,087

    Yes Bob, I did see that suggestion they were ‘seeking to mitigate the problem that does not exist‘. I cannot help but be surprised that the issue, whatever it is has only been encountered after the plan has been in service and a number have been delivered. Modern craft should be more extensively tested than perhaps back in the days of the DH Comet. That the software is coming in for critical assessment may be a red herring, there are a number of differences between the model in question and those that went before. I wonder what else will emerge for versions 9 and 10? Not an excess of over confidence that all is well, I trust.

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    #31587

    Bob Williams
    Participant
    @bullstuff2
    Forumite Points: 3,100

    I would have felt safer flying, aged 8, in the DH Dragon Rapide from Blackpool Airport with my dad in 1953, than in one of the gadget and gimmick-laden Max 8’s!

    No fancy computers, no temperamental electronics, just a pilot who knew what he was doing and was prepared for anything. Well, as he told my dad, flying a DC3 Dakota, dodging flak, dropping supplies over Arnhem and over France dropping Paras in support of the D-Day Normandy landings, gives one a certain perspective.

    A flight that gave me a lifelong fascination with aircraft.

    “If you think this Universe is bad, you should see some of the others.”
    ― Philip K. Dick, legendary SF writer.

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    #31591

    Richard
    Participant
    @sawboman
    Forumite Points: 2,087

    Those Rapides were still in service through the 1960s and possibly into the 70s as well. They used to fly out of Exeter and they did what the should, sit on the ground, climb under pilot control into the air and still under control back to the ground once more.

    There is a lot of dispute about some of the modern fly-by-wire style craft deskilling the pilot’s job. The argument goes, if the software gets into a tangle the pilots do not always have the response awareness to take over at microsecond level timings if when the software dumps on them. I have seen past comments from Boeing pilots criticising Airbus implementations of fly-by-wire and computerised systems, though I lack any skill set to evaluate their accuracy.

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    #31654

    Richard
    Participant
    @sawboman
    Forumite Points: 2,087

    It appears that new information has been found and as a result the model has been grounded world wide. I have seen more comments from pilots that survived earlier ‘events’, suggesting the autopilot and anti-stall functions caused them concern. Some had managed a rapid back out from autopilot soon after take off when the plane pitched nose down, while close to the ground. Others suggested the manuals were not worth the paper that they wasted, ouch.

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    #31659

    JayCeeDee
    Participant
    @jayceedee
    Forumite Points: 1,226

    I was driving up to Waltham Cross and back today, round the M25 and I did a double take when a Creedence Clearwater Revival song came on. I’ll copy the first verses of Travelin’ Band and you’ll see why I thought of this topic!!

     

    Seven-Thirty-Seven comin’ out of the sky.
    Oh, won’t you take me down to Memphis
    On a midnight ride?
    I wanna move.
    Playin’ in a travelin’ band, yeah!
    Well, I’m flyin’ ‘cross the land,
    Tryin’ to get a hand,
    Playin’ in a travelin’ band.

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