Author Topic: Boeing Design Team Clown Car  (Read 2200 times)

DonaldD

  • Members
    • View Profile
Boeing Design Team Clown Car
« on: January 10, 2020, 10:21:08 AM »
Email and message dump from Boeing concerning (and I use that word advisedly) the 737 max: CNN: Boeing releases 737 Max documents

"Would you put your family on a MAX simulator trained aircraft? I wouldn't."  "No," the other worker responded.

"designed by clowns, who in turn are supervised by monkeys."

"piss poor design."

The response to the released communications by Boeing is... ambiguous:  the company wrote that the communications "do not reflect the company we are and need to be, and they are completely unacceptable."

 "We regret the content of these communications, and apologize to the [Federal Aviation Administration], Congress, our airline customers, and to the flying public for them,"

What I'm trying to get my head around is whether the company is decrying the existence of these emails, the actual content, that their employees would be so crass, or that the company did not have a process to address the concerns brought up in the communications.

The wording would suggest the former, not the latter, which would be as or even more damning than the actual initial emails, to my mind.  One would hope that this is a misrepresentation by CNN... thoughts?


TheDrake

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Boeing Design Team Clown Car
« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2020, 11:24:08 AM »
What immediately came to mind for me, is whether these complaints are common across all models. People like to gripe and complain about decisions made by superiors. I wish there were more specific information in the communications, detailing exactly what they thought was bad design or why it would be dangerous.

NobleHunter

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Boeing Design Team Clown Car
« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2020, 11:55:48 AM »
The clowns and monkeys comment is embarrassing but probably not a indictment of the process. The bit about not putting your family on it seems more damning.

One useful bit of information would be the attitudes of the people who sent those messages. Some people are grumpy and pessimistic by nature and don't necessarily reflect what the engineers actually think. While it's an example of "things you shouldn't put into writing" the engineers in question may have come to different conclusions when needing to make professional decisions. Though I doubt it. I think Boeing let profit/market guided thinking subvert their professional engineering judgment.

Kasandra

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Boeing Design Team Clown Car
« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2020, 12:10:37 PM »
In the 1980's I worked for a company that performed dynamic simulation testing for Air Force helicopters.  There was universal agreement that none of us would volunteer to take a ride on one of them, but no crashes were ever reported for the models we tested.

Pete at Home

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Boeing Design Team Clown Car
« Reply #4 on: January 10, 2020, 12:16:47 PM »
My vote is that they are Decrying that their employees would be so crass,

In order to obfuscate the obvious problem that the company did not have a process to address the concerns brought up in the communications.

Excellent question, DonalD

NobleHunter

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Boeing Design Team Clown Car
« Reply #5 on: January 10, 2020, 12:52:34 PM »
I think they had a process, they just put their thumbs on the scale until it came out with the answer they wanted.

DonaldD

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Boeing Design Team Clown Car
« Reply #6 on: January 10, 2020, 01:24:23 PM »
I guess I'm really wondering who at Boeing thought it was a good idea to decry the internal communications as inappropriate, as opposed to falling on their swords and admitting "OK, we 'f'ed up".

Seriously, it just makes them look petty and completely tone deaf.

TheDrake

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Boeing Design Team Clown Car
« Reply #7 on: January 10, 2020, 01:28:26 PM »
I have a side question. If you really thought the plane you were working on was going to kill people, wouldn't you have an ethical obligation to violate NDA and inform the press - on the record or otherwise?

Kasandra

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Boeing Design Team Clown Car
« Reply #8 on: January 10, 2020, 01:34:40 PM »
I think it depends on where you are involved in the design and manufacturing process.  If you know some design or manufacturing element has a major fault that could cause crashes and/or cost lives, you should let your boss(es) know.  If they don't take appropriate action, then you might consider becoming a whistleblower.  If you don't have that option or you don't trust it, you should at a minimum quit.  The ultimate avenue is to reach out to federal overseers of the process.  That all sounds good, but remember the maxim that it's almost impossible for a man to understand something when his job depends on him not understanding it.  The clowns who complained to each about the clowns the observed may fit that type most closely.

NobleHunter

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Boeing Design Team Clown Car
« Reply #9 on: January 10, 2020, 01:38:34 PM »
You have an obligation to tell your boss and to refuse to certify any documention as a professional engineer. Presuming they got assurances from on high that concerns were being addressed, hitting the level of whistleblower is harder to measure a priori.

I suspect there was enough obfuscation that relatively few people had enough of the picture to realize that proposed mitigations were not implemented or were insufficient. Once you've been made responsible for billions in revenue, ethics becomes a lot less of a priority.

TheDrake

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Boeing Design Team Clown Car
« Reply #10 on: January 10, 2020, 01:40:54 PM »
Absent the names or titles of the authors, we don't even know if they had anything to do with the MAX program, nor whether they were in engineering.

DonaldD

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Boeing Design Team Clown Car
« Reply #11 on: January 10, 2020, 01:49:37 PM »
Aside from the fact that the email dump was related to the MAX investigation, there was this: "Would you put your family on a MAX simulator trained aircraft? I wouldn't."

TheDrake

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Boeing Design Team Clown Car
« Reply #12 on: January 10, 2020, 02:19:35 PM »
Aside from the fact that the email dump was related to the MAX investigation, there was this: "Would you put your family on a MAX simulator trained aircraft? I wouldn't."

Yeah that means someone is disparaging the MAX aircraft training program. It could be somebody familiar with the base aircraft but not in the MAX program. I'm sure the collection algorithm just looked for any mention of MAX, etc. But its hard to know, I'm not invested enough to research what the original document request asked for. What we apparently don't have in the email trove is somebody telling their boss that we need to rethink our training program, right?

I'm not sure why you're so desperate to vilify Boeing with relatively incomplete information.

TheDeamon

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Boeing Design Team Clown Car
« Reply #13 on: January 10, 2020, 02:21:35 PM »
I have a side question. If you really thought the plane you were working on was going to kill people, wouldn't you have an ethical obligation to violate NDA and inform the press - on the record or otherwise?

The press isn't the first stop, that would be the FAA and/or Congress. If they refuse to take action, then you go to the press.

NobleHunter

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Boeing Design Team Clown Car
« Reply #14 on: January 10, 2020, 02:36:04 PM »
Yeah that means someone is disparaging the MAX aircraft training program. It could be somebody familiar with the base aircraft but not in the MAX program. I'm sure the collection algorithm just looked for any mention of MAX, etc. But its hard to know, I'm not invested enough to research what the original document request asked for. What we apparently don't have in the email trove is somebody telling their boss that we need to rethink our training program, right?

I'm not sure why you're so desperate to vilify Boeing with relatively incomplete information.

I've been following this, so the emails are corroborating evidence rather than the basis for vilification. Their willful disregard of proper safety is documented elsewhere.

yossarian22c

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Boeing Design Team Clown Car
« Reply #15 on: January 10, 2020, 02:47:37 PM »
Quote from: NobleHunter link=topic=858.msg35379#msg35379

I've been following this, so the emails are corroborating evidence rather than the basis for vilification. Their willful disregard of proper safety is documented elsewhere.

Agree, the design of the element in question is against all aviation engineering practices. A single point of failure (1 elevation sensor in this case) could lead to the plane crashing. Not having any redundancy is going against decades of best practice for aeronautical engineering. Combine that with the minimalized training Boeing was pushing for and this is looking worse and worse.

Anything the emails says just makes it look worse. In the end of the day, their design decision convicts itself. The emails just show that some of their employees thought it was crap and complained about it.

NobleHunter

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Boeing Design Team Clown Car
« Reply #16 on: January 10, 2020, 02:57:33 PM »
The worst part is that the marketing/programs push for certain outcomes is probably familiar to anyone working in an engineering company. It's only in this case the engineers were talked around, bypassed, or overridden.

TheDrake

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Boeing Design Team Clown Car
« Reply #17 on: January 10, 2020, 03:51:23 PM »
Quote
Investigators of the 2009 crash of a Turkish Airlines jet identified a faulty altitude sensor that thought the plane was closer to the ground than it was and triggered the engines to idle. The plane’s second radio altimeter displayed the correct elevation, but it didn’t matter: the automatic throttle was tied to the first gauge.

A subtle difference. There were multiple sensors but only one was tied to the throttle. Doesn't alter the main point though. The FAA would have known this also, though, don't they share the blame?

Seriati

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Boeing Design Team Clown Car
« Reply #18 on: January 10, 2020, 04:06:58 PM »
Aside from the fact that the email dump was related to the MAX investigation, there was this: "Would you put your family on a MAX simulator trained aircraft? I wouldn't."

What does that even mean?  How is an "aircraft" simulator trained?  Is one of the complaints with the Max program that Boeing discouraged simulator training?  And if so, wouldn't it be better if there was simulator training?

DonaldD

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Boeing Design Team Clown Car
« Reply #19 on: January 10, 2020, 05:10:47 PM »
The argument was that the MAX was so similar to the base plane that iPad training would be sufficient.  That was one of the design goals - requiring pilots to be simulator trained is a huge cost and scheduling overhead.  Not requiring it was a huge selling feature.

Pete at Home

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Boeing Design Team Clown Car
« Reply #20 on: January 10, 2020, 05:15:35 PM »
Is there a simulation program for getting hit by Russian surface to air missiles?

DonaldD

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Boeing Design Team Clown Car
« Reply #21 on: January 10, 2020, 05:21:04 PM »
... every time I play video games with my nieces and nephews, it's like a simulation of me getting hit by surface to air missiles... even just Wii tennis...

Seriati

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Boeing Design Team Clown Car
« Reply #22 on: January 13, 2020, 11:24:07 AM »
Maybe my question was unclear.  I think I dropped a "not". 

The complaint as I understand it is that Boeing discouraged simulator training.  Why would the quote then be about a situation where there was simulator training?  Isn't that the situation that we'd want, one with simulator training?  I'm not understanding that quote in context, other that it appears to imply something dangerous.

The quote also makes it sound like the plane itself gets the training not the pilot.

DonaldD

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Boeing Design Team Clown Car
« Reply #23 on: January 13, 2020, 11:45:47 AM »
Boeing didn't discourage simulator training - they told their customers that it wasn't necessary (that was a big selling point for the plane - simulator training is a huge cost, from the creation of the simulators to the cost of running the simulators to the time and travel requirements of flight crews.)

As to the wording - of course planes are not trained.  Was the meaning not clear?


« Last Edit: January 13, 2020, 11:48:37 AM by DonaldD »

NobleHunter

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Boeing Design Team Clown Car
« Reply #24 on: January 13, 2020, 11:46:55 AM »
Maybe my question was unclear.  I think I dropped a "not". 

The complaint as I understand it is that Boeing discouraged simulator training.  Why would the quote then be about a situation where there was simulator training?  Isn't that the situation that we'd want, one with simulator training?  I'm not understanding that quote in context, other that it appears to imply something dangerous.

The quote also makes it sound like the plane itself gets the training not the pilot.

Which is why we got emails from management about being careful how we phrase things. What is innocuous in context can sound completely different when removed from that context.

TheDrake

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Boeing Design Team Clown Car
« Reply #25 on: January 13, 2020, 12:25:43 PM »
Boeing didn't discourage simulator training - they told their customers that it wasn't necessary (that was a big selling point for the plane - simulator training is a huge cost, from the creation of the simulators to the cost of running the simulators to the time and travel requirements of flight crews.)

As to the wording - of course planes are not trained.  Was the meaning not clear?

I think they'll be able to cover the travel. Another cost is the opportunity cost and scheduling headache. I'm not really sure what the simulator training would do for them, unless they modeled the loss of the sensor and taught them to recover the aircraft manually.

oldbrian

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Boeing Design Team Clown Car
« Reply #26 on: January 13, 2020, 12:41:24 PM »
Wasn't that the case?  I seem to remember when they first started falling from the sky, everyone blamed the pilots because it was always a foreign airline.  Then when they started talking to the american pilots, the response was always 'yeah that happens, you just switch it to manual.'
But that reaction was not part of the training, because it wasnt included in the simulator.

TheDrake

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Boeing Design Team Clown Car
« Reply #27 on: January 13, 2020, 01:03:13 PM »
Wasn't that the case?  I seem to remember when they first started falling from the sky, everyone blamed the pilots because it was always a foreign airline.  Then when they started talking to the american pilots, the response was always 'yeah that happens, you just switch it to manual.'
But that reaction was not part of the training, because it wasnt included in the simulator.

Is that a training specific to the aircraft? I would suspect that the general rule would be - if the plane is acting weird, switch it to manual. No matter what the make and model.

It most definitely was a factor in the crashes.

Seriati

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Boeing Design Team Clown Car
« Reply #28 on: January 13, 2020, 02:22:55 PM »
Boeing didn't discourage simulator training - they told their customers that it wasn't necessary (that was a big selling point for the plane - simulator training is a huge cost, from the creation of the simulators to the cost of running the simulators to the time and travel requirements of flight crews.)

I'm not seeing how telling your customers it's not necessary (and the articles I saw said they were prepared to tell safety regulators the same thing), is different from "discouraging simulator training."  Is there a parse I'm missing.

Quote
As to the wording - of course planes are not trained.  Was the meaning not clear?

The meaning is not at all clear.  And now you've missed the point of my question for a second time.

"Would you put your family on a MAX simulator trained aircraft? I wouldn't."

If the quote said, would you put your family on a Max aircraft without simulator training I would understand it.  As it is, what does it mean?  Why reference "simulator trained" as if it's a negative?

TheDrake

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Boeing Design Team Clown Car
« Reply #29 on: January 13, 2020, 02:35:28 PM »
I'm assuming they meant the iPad simulator, as opposed to a flight simulator. That's the only thing that makes sense, although the grammar is garbled enough to make it hard to read.

In general, it makes sense to move away from large simulators to just update pilots on "what's new", I think. No word on whether the 13 page "diff" manual or the iPad mentioned only having one sensor.

DonaldD

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Boeing Design Team Clown Car
« Reply #30 on: January 13, 2020, 04:30:38 PM »
Quote
I'm not seeing how telling your customers it's not necessary (and the articles I saw said they were prepared to tell safety regulators the same thing), is different from "discouraging simulator training."  Is there a parse I'm missing.
"It is not necessary to wear a raincoat."

"Do not wear a raincoat."

TheDrake

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Boeing Design Team Clown Car
« Reply #31 on: January 13, 2020, 06:04:59 PM »
"Do not wear a raincoat."

Wouldn't that be prohibiting simulation? Discouraging simulation would be "You probably shouldn't wear a raincoat." But that's a lot of hair splitting. Not to mention that there are reports that the simulator support for max wasn't available when it started to fly, which is more like "Raincoats don't exist".

DonaldD

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Boeing Design Team Clown Car
« Reply #32 on: January 13, 2020, 06:14:19 PM »
My saying "don't wear a raincoat" does not preclude you from doing so - not unless there is other context, like my having some kind of sovereignty over your actions.

Seriati

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Boeing Design Team Clown Car
« Reply #33 on: January 14, 2020, 09:45:32 AM »
I didn't say "preclude" I said "discourage."  I guess there wasn't a bigger point I was missing. 

TheDrake

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Boeing Design Team Clown Car
« Reply #34 on: January 14, 2020, 10:40:27 AM »
Can't resist sharing this.

boeing ceo catches fire

DonaldD

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Boeing Design Team Clown Car
« Reply #35 on: January 14, 2020, 12:11:28 PM »
I didn't say "preclude" I said "discourage."  I guess there wasn't a bigger point I was missing.
You didn't, but TheDrake did - erroneously, I feel.

TheDrake

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Boeing Design Team Clown Car
« Reply #36 on: January 14, 2020, 12:14:53 PM »
Whatever, Donald. The bottom line is if my supplier tells me I don't have to bother with a certain type of training, installation, or safety precaution, I'm not very likely to go out and do it on my own. I'm going to take their advice, whether it comes in the form of a prohibition, a discouragement, or a lack of necessity.

Executive management and shareholders are going to crucify me if I optionally spend millions of dollars on training my supplier neither recommended nor supported.

NobleHunter

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Boeing Design Team Clown Car
« Reply #37 on: January 14, 2020, 12:20:29 PM »
From a risk mitigation point of view, optional training might as well not exist. Training-based risk mitigation is dodgy enough without giving the customer permission to skip it.

(By dodgy, I mean the USN might need the Secretary of the Navy to sign off on it if the hazard is severe enough. If it could crash the plane or sink the ship, you should be designing it out or put physical barriers in.)

DonaldD

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Boeing Design Team Clown Car
« Reply #38 on: January 14, 2020, 12:30:51 PM »
I'm quite aware of how corporate bottom lines work - that doesn't change the definition of the words used.

As an aside, as a software vendor I would never discourage testing or training.  I would, however, suggest there is no business case for such in specific situations.  I would provide risk analyses, projected costs, etc.  But discourage?  No.

Seriati

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Boeing Design Team Clown Car
« Reply #39 on: January 15, 2020, 03:11:01 PM »
So from the Wall Street Journal today, "Many of the released emails concern not the plane itself but the debugging of its training simulators."

That changes the meaning of the quote substantially from what it was originally implied to represent.

TheDrake

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Boeing Design Team Clown Car
« Reply #40 on: February 19, 2020, 10:15:06 AM »
Quote
Boeing's crisis-hit 737 Max jetliner faces a new potential safety issue as debris has been found in the fuel tanks of several new planes which were in storage, awaiting delivery to airlines.

The head of Boeing's 737 programme has told employees that the discovery was "absolutely unacceptable".

Oh, Boeing. First design issues, now production?

ScottF

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Boeing Design Team Clown Car
« Reply #41 on: February 19, 2020, 11:41:33 AM »
Thought this was interesting (data through 2014)

Airbus: 35 crashes, 28.3 million flights, 0.81 million flights per crash
Boeing: 251 crashes, 461 million flights, 1.84 million flights per crash

Seriati

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Boeing Design Team Clown Car
« Reply #42 on: February 19, 2020, 02:10:41 PM »
Wonder if that includes Boeing's fighters, would expect them to have a higher crash rate than commercial jets.

ScottF

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Boeing Design Team Clown Car
« Reply #43 on: February 19, 2020, 02:31:47 PM »
Passenger flights only, data is here:

http://www.airsafe.com/events/models/rate_mod.htm