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Boeing discovers issue with 737 Max flight computers, source says

Boeing's troubled 737 Max has run into a new glitch. During a recent technical review involving the Max, Boeing observed an issue with the plane's flight computers, according to a source familiar with the matter. The source said the issue is not related to the software revisions Boeing made to address the cause of two fatal crashes that killed 346 people, and would not occur during flight. The Max has been grounded since March following the second of those crashes. ( More...

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Robert Cowling 28
Altogether now: 'WE WANT THE 757 BACK! WE WANT THE 757 BACK! WE WANT THE 757 BACK!!!'
dav555 11
I've also advocated for an updated and improved 757. It's such a great aircraft and could be successful IMO. I like the idea of a brand new Middle of the Market aircraft, but perhaps Boeing does not need to reinvent the wheel here and could save a lot of money. Of course, they tried this with the 737 which so far hasn't worked out so well so it would be a risky prospect.
Matt West 4
I am an Airbus fan, but I LOVE the 757. I’ve travelled to Alaska and Hawaii on it, as well as many, many CONUS flights, and it’s been perfect.

I never understood why the -300 version was so unpopular compared to the-200. As far as I remember only two US airlines ordered it. Maybe because It was considered obsolete, but I think it was great.

The greatest experience I first had as a passenger was those Rolls engines throttling up for take off...I still remember being pushed back in my seat. I really do wish they’d bring it back.
Jim Goldfuss 9
I agree. They claim the 757 was too "heavy" to be competitive in todays environment, but if you use composites and build it like todays aircraft, seems you would have an exceptional plane. Say what you like about Boeing, but the 757 was one plane they got right from the start and no one (yes, not even Airbus) has been able to match it's performance (apples to apples)
Jeff Phipps 2
A lot of people don't know that the 757 tooling and complete line was destroyed by Boeing when the program was shuttered. I don't know exactly why they do this. Perhaps so it doesn't fall into the wrong hands when it gets moth-balled. In any case, it means the 757 is never going to get built again.
mbrews 1
- This oft-repeated story about destroyed tooling has taken on a life of its own. Its an OPINION, not a fact or conclusion. Boeing could reasonably investigate the costs & benefits to develop a "757 neo " to leverage an existing, certified design with fast time to market, and lower risk to certification. It simply means weighing the monetary versus regulatory factors. In case you didn't know, 757s were built at Boeing Renton site where space and production resources became focused on high demand 737s. Who knows - since the 747-8 production line is petering out, the Everett 747 line and space might become re-purposed for 757 neo.
Torsten Hoff 1
Keeping the tooling and jigs around ties up a lot of money in storage and maintenance costs -- yes, you need to maintain it even if you don't use it. If you are confident that you are never going to make another 757, then you're better off selling or scrapping the equipment.
The 757 is my absolute favorite liner. When I book travel, the first thing that I look for is who has a 757 going my way.
richard flint 4
You have alot of confidence in the FAA and Boeing considering their failure with this airplane first time around
dav555 19
This whole 737MAX debacle is a real shame. Yes, new planes always have problems that get corrected over time. Unfortunately, this one had an issue that killed people, so now it's under incredible scrutiny. The thing I never liked was that a "Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System" is even needed on this aircraft. I'm no engineer, but this tells me that there is something inherently unstable or just "not quite right" in the aerodynamics of this plane. The company was so desperate to compete with Airbus that they chose a quick and dirty way to get something on the market by forcing an existing model to accept the larger fuel efficient engines, plus stretched the fuselage even more to accommodate more passengers on the -10. Boeing screwed up here, plain and simple. Hopefully Boeing will learn a valuable lesson here and move on to bigger and better things.
Don Quixote 7
The software update for MCAS compares information from both AoA sensors—instead of one—before activating, adding a new layer of protection. Also, MCAS will now only activate once and will never provide more input than the pilot can counteract using the control column alone. Pilots will continue to have the ability to override MCAS at any time.
Jim Goldfuss 9
The plane is not unstable. Take out "MCAS" and all that would be required is pilots be certiofied to fly the plane because it didn't handle identical to other 737's. It wasn't unsafe - it was just different. Boeing screwed up with MCAS and how they handled it and didn't communicate it to their customers. The plane itself (without MCAS is stable.
Matt Kladder 9
I will not disagree that Boeing screwed up.

However, MCAS is not required for the aircraft to fly, or to be stable. MCAS is required to be able to keep the same type rating as earlier models. In order for a type rating to be kept, the aircraft must "feel the same" to a pilot flying it. (Additionally systems and flight deck set up must be similar as well)

The Airlines pushed for a type that wouldn't require a new type rating. Boeing was just delivering what their customers wanted. BUT, Boeing rushed it, and screwed it up, and the FAA failed to provide adequate oversight, this is definitely a huge failure on several different entities.

The airframe is safe, the handling characteristics are safe. Even the software would have been O.K. If Boeing would have told pilots about it! I'm confident this airplane will fly safely again for a long time.
Greg S 5
I'm not a pilot, so I have to ask. Do other commercial aircraft have the handling discontinuities that the MAX has? This is what MCAS was correcting. Also, will the MAX now have a different type rating so that pilots will have to get MAX rated before they can fly it?
Roy Hunte 6
The A321Neo has an Ad stating nose pitch up characteristics that MCAS on the Max was supposed to fix, EASA outlined procedures for handling the issue manually.
Roy Hunte 5
AD = Airworthiness Directive
Jim Ward -1
Nose pitch up issue
Hey put some sand bags in the nose compartment. See
Its fixed now. :)
julieort 3
Not with me on it.
From a non-engineer, non-pilot's perspective, this is puzzling. A "feature" that was required for airworthiness (because of the type certification issue) overwhelmed the crew and caused two crashes with massive fatalities. The software fix essentially disables the feature. How, then, is the modified 737 airworthy without it? If type rating is changed and simulator training is required, I'll believe it. But it seems as if Boeing and the regulators are tying themselves in knots to avoid that for operating cost reasons.
Jim Goldfuss 3
Feature was NOT required for airworthiness. Please read Matt Kladders comment above. It was strictly to make the MAX handle like all other 737's.
Stefan Sobol 4
"Feature was NOT required for airworthiness." -- Actually it was. Yes, it made the MAX handle like the NG. However, there is a regulatory requirement that the MAX does not meet regarding stability. Even if you remove MCAS and provide pilot training, the MAX will still not meet that requirement. Regulators would have to grant an exemption to the certification requirements for transport aircraft. This would set a precedent that might lead to unintended consequences.
ward legrow 1
From what I understand, the system was put in because of the position of the engines on the wings - it created an unbalanced flight characteristic and made the plane unstable. (They were moved forward and higher because of their size - too big to fit underneath). The story that I read was that the MCAS was supposed to effectively null out the balance issue.
godutch 10
If I were the family members of thosep killed...I would be pushing for criminal prosecution. This problem was known and Boeing criminally hid it from the public and the airlines...and hundreds died! No excuse.
jammen737 1
You probably didn’t even know it had MCAS until this happened
indy2001 8
If it hadn't happened after the MAX accidents, this would be a non-story. EVERY modern aircraft goes through software updates, usually to fix unexpected glitches. Airbus, for example, has had to update software on the A320 family (several times), A330, A400M (after a fatal crash caused in part by the software), A350, and A220. If you know anything about software, you know that it is virtually impossible to make a large program absolutely perfect. The software routines used in modern aircraft have tens or hundreds of thousands of lines, although every attempt is made to optimize them so they work very quickly. They are tested for as many things as the testers can think of but it's often the things that they didn't think of, or that they thought wouldn't be a factor, that cause the software to fail.

And then there is an added complication when the hardware doesn't perform as expected. That's what happened last June when Boeing's first software update overwhelmed the processing chip used in the aircraft. The chip is an older Intel model that is very robust and reliable, but considerably slower than current chips. This software/hardware interface problem may be the cause of the continuing delays, perhaps requiring some hardware updates as well as software fixes.
btweston 4
But it happened after the MAX accidents.

“If he hadn’t started skipping school after he got caught for shoplifting this wouldn’t be a big deal.”
John Manley 9
I am totally okay with this... they are making sure this plane is PRISTINE before it returns to the line. Good on Boeing and the FAA for ensuring the MAX does not return until it is 1000% good to go!
And you trust the industry subservient FAA? Only a fool blindly trusts their government. Especially THIS one...
Don Quixote 15
I trust the FAA, especially now. Steve Dickson himself has said he isn't going to let the plane be re-certified until he is 100% certain the plane is safe. He's going to fly it himself, as he's also done in the simulator. He's a former Delta pilot, what else do you want....some bureaucratic phony FAA director that doesn't know what he/she is doing...dictating around when the MAX should be re-certified?
Greg S 9
True enough Robert, but it's not blind trust, it's more of a wary trust. In addition, that same government agency certified every other aircraft that we step into here in the US, so our choice is either to trust them or take a bus, with the bus being by far the more dangerous choice.
Dave Steele -6
I trust “this” government far more than I did the “last” government.
john kilcher 2
Your bias is showing.
Richard Tarr 2
Agree the 757 was fab
What is interesting is if passengers are aware the their carrier is using the max (if it comes back )will they be prepared to fly on this aircraft?
I pinged a watts app to a group of my friends (60)
75 % said they would switch carrier rather than fly on the max .Equally there are some pilots I have spoken to who would not fly it full stop
Mike Lynn 2
Hello again from Row 30!

We all want the 757 back. I loved the plane as a passenger, loved watching it take off, the way it pitched up so confidentially from the run way. 757 with Rolls RB-211 engines like Trump's private jet before he became POTUS - a classic aircraft. If they were to upgrade the 757, just not to call it the 757 MAX!

In reading all the comments here, I'd say we all need to be bugging the FAA director Steve Dickson to get in the left seat and take the 737 MAX for a spin. As a former Delta pilot qualified in 737 as well as other aircraft types, who better to give the thumbs up on the fixes to this variant of the 737 than he. And please do it soon.
Art Jackson 6
The level of ignorance in many of these comments is stunning. If you want to read the results of the investigation of the FAA, Boeing and the ODA system into whether the certification process was followed properly, then go to Avweb or Google it for a direct link.

Short answer is the process was followed correctly. The communication between the FAA and Boeing was good. Industry standard assumptions for pilot reactions were followed. They emphasized that delegation is NOT self-certification.

One of the findings was that industry standard assumptions for pilot reactions may not be valid anymore.

This is not to say Boeing was perfect, but there is no evidence that Boeing willfully disregarded safety during the certification process.
tony evans 4
I would be quite happy to be the first passenger on the Max when it flies again.

But only if its on a US airline. We forget that the third world country airlines are undergoing rapid growth are desperate for pilots and cut corners them selves to get pilots flying.. What about the required number of hrs in an aircraft type.

As with most cars you pay extra for additional safety features...Seems these cut throat airlines did not want to pay for additional features Just the absolute basic. What with cutting costs on training etc

Looks to me that Boeing is trying to fix something that didn't really need fixing with hardware...

I don't think Boeing is entirely to blame but have the biggest pockets.. Teach pilots to fly the aircraft not the IPAD. In real life When you crash you cant reboot and try again.
boughbw 12
Just as much, why not ask it from the airlines' perspective: Why does Boeing charge more for a safety feature that should be standard?
indy2001 2
Because the airlines demand it. The low cost carriers especially don't want to pay for any "extras". That's why neither of the crashed planes had it. "Unbundling" is the trend in everything these days.
Mike Dryden 5
It was Boeing pushing the iPad training. They didn't want their customers to have to re-rate their pilots from an NG.
Don Quixote 3
Just another pointless headline to scare the public.
No thanks CNN, but I'll be flying on the MAX once recertified!
btweston 5
User name checks out.
Greg S 2
Don, do you want CNN to go out of business? They need to scare people to make money.
Don Quixote -3
"Boeing has been working on a software fix for the safety system that is believed to be the cause of the two fatal crashes." No, they completed the software fixes many months ago, last year. The only hold is the regulators, not still trying to fix the MCAS issue.
But the damned plane shouldn't have needed a 'fix' in software to fix an damned ENGINEERING SCREW UP, and corporate dogma to flog the 737 until it's really dead, unquestionably dead, and, apparently kills a couple thousand people.
Jim Goldfuss 9
Just curious why it is an "engineering" screw up. The plane flew fine, but it had handling qualities in specific configurations that made it handle DIFFERENT from other 737's. It didn't handle unsafe, it is stable, and pilots could easily be certified to fly a non-MCAS 737 MAX, but that was the point. MCAS was designed to make it "feel" the same as other 737's so it didn't require separate certification.
Don Quixote 0
Well no shit, Rob. But with the whole Boeing's been in for months now, almost a year, you don't think they haven't gotten sh*t turned around already? Look it up! They've completed over 900 tests now with the update. WHAT ELSE IS THERE TO DO?! And thanks for downvoting.
Don Quixote -2
John Smythe 1
Ok, this may be a bit simplistic, but can they not simply replace the “new software” with the older version that didn’t cause these issues?
Ron Lorenz 1
A computer Problem? Never heard of such a Thing!
john kilcher 1
Ignorance is bliss.
Roger Talbot 0
As neither a pilot nor in the aircraft industry, my take is this. I'm an IT and Business manager - so very often in situations like this, resources, time and effort from thousands of people, are thrown into identifying and correcting the problem. This really costs zillions, involving massive input to find and remedy small, albeit vital, output.

Far better to just completely bin the current system, and build from scratch. It would cost less in the long run, and would be totally clean from previous versions.
Torsten Hoff 4
Starting from scratch is going to cost even more and trades a known system with a known flaw for a completely unknown system.
The only problem was to give the system a name (MCAS) which made for a great headline that ignorant people could run with not even knowing what the system even does. I’m sure the media has made millions in advertising from all those headlines of 346 dead people because of MCAS. And China was able to wage economic warfare by being the first country to ground the fleet and disgruntled Boeing fat and lazy union ex-workers were also able to jump on the bandwagon. One big hate fest, period. All these hypocrites don’t really care about the 346 people let’s be intellectually honest here.
chalet 0
Can somebody answer to me whether or not it is possible to retrofit the infamous 3.500+ Max 7 already built and some on order to the simple Max configuration tweaking the wing, replacing the engine with the previous incarnation, etc. This should be cheaper than continue páying off fines the Max 7 owners for breaching the original contract.

[This comment has been downvoted. Show anyway.]

Dave Steele 7
It would seem rather counterproductive to drive a very large company with a very large workforce out of business - especially one that you rely on for defense hardware.
Greg S 7
Congress wants to humiliate Boeing and drive them out of business? You have any evidence of that? It seems very unlikely.
Robert Cowling 11
But they keep finding 'issues' with the damned plane! That and many of their other ones too!

Boeing forgot what they were in business to do. It's NOT to provide investor returns, it's to return their customers passengers safely to their destinations, and back home again. They lost sight of their whole root purpose: Passenger safety. The shareholders and investors can take care of themselves.
btweston 4
You’re blaming the communists now. Jesus.
Phil Caron -6
The 737 is a perfectly valid design. Any real pilot would have no issue flying it without MCAS, it's called use the trim if it pitches up stupid. Pilots trained to fly computers is the real issue and of course the Douglas mentality to please all customers no matter what the cost is, lives lost or not, DC-10 remember that? And yes, the regulators want Boeing out of the way and will keep finding issues, fictitious or not to make sure 737 MAX never flies again.
Don Quixote -4
Sadly Phil, international airlines don't hold the same standards as the U.S. I don't know what is taking so long, since the software patches have been completed for MONTHS now, this recent 'glitch' is nothing to worry about, easy fix. Hopefully the regulators will finally recertify it very soon, because the MAX will be a great aircraft for decades to come, and will be the safest for sure.
Maybe what's taking so long is the issue of what training and certification will be required. I wonder if the business case for the MAX fails if a new type certification is required for it. MCAS was at the heart of that issue, and now MCAS is for all practical purposes to be disabled. That will necessitate training, won't it?

[This poster has been suspended.]

Greg S 4
I assume you meant Airbus. Anyway, Antonov is a Ukraine company, at least when it's in business. Personally, I'll fly Boeing. It's not going bust, even if it goes bankrupt something Boeing-like will emerge from the bankruptcy. And finally, there no hint of bankruptcy. I think they can write off the whole MAX program, throw all the existing planes into the ocean, pay every family in the MAX crashes $1M, and still be a strong and viable aircraft manufacturer.


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