OPINION and HELP
On this page I intend to put some opinionsand requests
1.Boeing 737 Max. I sent
the following letter to Aviation Week 4th April which was
published 22nd April with some slight editing.
A long time ago I was chief test of Avros in the UK, one time technical member of the UK Civil Aviation Authority also a member of the UK Air Registration Board. Commenting on the very sad MCAS story, I believe as test pilots we would never have agreed to a such a powerful device as the MCAS relying on a single Angle of Attack indicator. The problem we always had then, and I suspect that nothing has changed, is that we were always under terrific pressure from the firm if we found anything wrong which would delay certification and delivery. Our views would often be challenged and accused of gilding the lily. In the case of MCAS it will be interesting see what the investigation will show but it is difficult to believe that the Boeing Flight Test Department did not query the single AOA decision.
I'm surprised that there hasn't been some whistle blowing from inside Boeing.
Boeing published a statement 5th May trying to justify the safety of the MCAS modification. What I find so amazing was that even after the first accident they thought the modifcation was safe. https://boeing.mediaroom.com/news-releases-statements?item=130431 which includes this remarkable extract:-
IIn December 2018, Boeing convened a Safety Review Board (SRB)* to consider again whether the absence of the AOA Disagree alert from certain 737 MAX flight displays presented a safety issue. That SRB confirmed Boeing’s prior conclusion that it did not. Boeing shared this conclusion and the supporting SRB analysis with the FAA
Consequently I've also just sent the following letter to Aerospace which I hope will be published:-
The tragic Boeing 737 Max accident situation has many dimensions. As an ex test pilot and later as a regulator on the Board of the Civil Aviation Authority I am at a complete loss to understand how Boeing thought it was acceptable to connect anything as powerful as the MCAS elevator system to be controlled by a single Angle of Attack (AOA), not a particularly reliable device by modern standards. As a firm’s test pilot we would never have concurred with the design despite any objections our employer might have had and equally I am absolutely sure the UK’s regulator at the time, the Air Registration Board, would have refused to certificate the system. What happened within Boeing we may never know but I find it hard to believe that Boeing’s Flight Test Centre didn’t object. As a result of these two accidents the FAA procedures for delegating certification requirements to firms will surely change as will the automatic acceptance by other national regulation agencies of FAA certification.
With regard to Boeing’s statement after the first accident, trying to justify what they did emphasises their complete misjudgement of risk and safety requirements and in my view could only have been due to commercial pressure. It is such a terrible shame not only for the relatives of the bereaved but for the high safety standard of world aviation.
Boeing admitted in the statement 5th May that they had intended that a AOA disagreement display warning should have been on every 737 MAX aircraft but as it was not connected to inhibit the MCAS operation the accidents would still have happened.
Perhaps I should add that Boeing's hope that pilots would recognise the MCAS fault immediatly was cleary unjustified and adding the tiny AOA display warning could hardly make any difference.
*SRB It would be interesting to know who was on the Safety Regulatioon Board and how much commercial pressure there was.
I've just sent another letter to Av Week
Looking at all the articles on 737 MAX MCAS it is hard to understand why Boeing chose to make the desired function of MCAS rely on a single Angle of Attack indicator (AoA) when Boeing could have made it rely on both AoAs and inhibited its function if there was a disagreement. Furthermore with the introduction of the Angle of Attack disagreement warning Boeing could have at the same time inhibited the function of the MCAS instead of expecting the pilot to recognise the AoA warning failure and inhibit it. The latest proposal for recertification seems to include simulator training which is strange since it is vital for MCAS to be inhibited immediately and not rely on crew action. It is interesting that at no time has Boeing tried to explain the justification for using just one AoA when two were available; instead the firm just state it was a reasonable risk. Could market pressures have been a factor?
2. Help please. I'm hoping it is possible to write a book about the Bristol Blenheim bomber with first hand accounts of some of it operations. If anyone has knowledge of where I can find some accounts please let me know on firstname.lastname@example.org
Accounts, regardless of the nationality of the country of the operator, would be very welcome.