A Boeing contact suggested I read Bjorn’s Corner: Cutting corners in aerospace costs a fortune.

It seems more and more likely the 737 MAX grounding will go well beyond six months and it can approach nine months to a year depending on developments in the next months.

The costs to Boeing for the MAX debacle are now approaching the costs of a new aircraft development.

The end result of the management culture which produced this engineering shortcut is horrendous:

End Result

  • Two aircraft and 346 lives lost.
  • Boeing in eight months transformed from an admired civil aviation leader to a distrusted brand, subject to several criminal investigations.
  • The economic losses are not yet clear but they will approach the costs of a new aircraft development.
    Must the management which pushed for lower costs and higher profits now learn the hard way: there simply is no way past thorough and sound engineering in aerospace. Any shortcuts will cost the company many times more than what was saved in the first place. In the extreme, it can challenge the existence of the company.
    Bjorn Fehrm, the author of the article is a fighter pilot and an aviation consultant.

Comments to the article are interesting. Please consider a set of comments by Fehrm in reply to a question.

  • Research: MCAS was implemented with repetitive nose down trim commands if AoA stayed high. The research for the update found the necessary augmentation only needed one nose down cycle. Research for MCAS was not correctly done.
  • Implementation: MCAS was implemented with a single sensor trigger and without global limitation on nose down trim. The implementation of the update uses dual sensors and deactivation of MCAS if they don’t agree. It also has a global limitation of nose down to leave 1.5G nose up authority to the pilot via the elevator. The implementation of MCAS was not correctly done.
  • Testing: The testing of MCAS was done by Boeing on behalf of FAA. It did not judge the single sensor triggered repetitive MCAS as dangerous. It judged the Pilot would easily identify an incorrectly functioning MCAS despite not knowing of the function and how to distinguish it from the very similar and ever-present Speed Trim System function. The testing of MCAS was not correctly done.

Not Learning the Hard Way

Boeing saved nothing and lost its reputation and 346 lives by cutting corners.

But did Boeing really learn anything?

I suspect this will all be swept under the rug with a small set of fines and a promise to not do this again.

Ten years from now such promises will be long forgotten.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock