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Boeing CEO accepts blame for two plane crashes

The chairman of Boeing acknowledged Thursday for the first time that a new maneuvering system was responsible for two plane crashes that killed almost 350 people, and he apologized to the families and friends of the victims. ( More...

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Roy Hunte 16
Personally I think the FAA should take some responsibility for the incidents as well. They issued an airworthiness certificate hastily...... I don't entirely blame Boeing.
Cansojr 12
I agree with you 100% Roy. The ancillary safety agencies should have caught this before the FAA, NTSB, ALPA and operators of these jets were getting strange reports from pilots and carriers but everyone chose to rely on Boeing's good word and disregarded the complaints coming in. What Boeing did to these passengers and pilots is nothing short of manslaughter. Boeing finally manned-up for these preventable accidents.
what strange reports are you talking about?
Cansojr 4
Before the crashes the MCAS was not operating as advertised. Apparently many pilots raised red flags about this hinky system. That's what a meant about strange reports.
jmilleratp 4
Boeing and the FAA have become codependent on this.
Steve Cutchen 3
Certainly by divesting their approval and oversight authority to the manufacturer, they are responsible for the faults that result.
makeloveorwar 8
In fact, Boeing made no such claim of responsibility.

By now most people interested in this matter have probably seen or read Dennis Muilenburg's statement, but if not, they can watch and also read it on Flight Aware or here:

Watching it for the first time I thought, "Incredible...Dennis Muilenburg, the Chairman, President, and CEO of Boeing, is falling on his own sword!!" My heart was heavy, and I felt sorry for Muilenburg and for Boeing. I was watching what seemed to be their long overdue, sincere, and heartfelt "act of contrition" wrapped around their acceptance of responsibility for the tragedies, and closing with their pledge to do better. Muilenburg was very convincing, and I completely bought into his performance.

But then it dawned on me that I really had been watching a performance, and that's all it was...Boeing's carefully crafted "command performance" at the behest of Boeing's lawyers, optimally timed and intended to take some of the pressure off Boeing, and especially to lighten public sentiment against them in the wake of the release of the compelling Ethiopian Airlines crash report.

Carefully re-reading the transcript of Muilenburg's words appearing below the video window -- in particular the statement, "it’s apparent that in both flights the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, known as MCAS, activated in response to erroneous angle of attack information," -- it struck me that the CEO in fact was NOT admitting that Boeing or its MCAS were to blame; instead he was only stating that Boeing's MCAS had responded appropriately to erroneous AOA data. Figuratively, he had drawn a box around his sacred MCAS while implying the MCAS functioned as expected and that the problem existed not with MCAS but elsewhere, somewhere outside that box he had drawn around it. Without saying so, he implied that the underlying design and function of MCAS and all the reasons for its existence were valid and sound.

(Aside: I'd be interested to learn what happens if/when the MAX fully stalls at high the few simulators that exist for flight training, are full stalls allowed to happen with MCAS disabled, or is MCAS always active? In the real world, would a full stall with a disabled MCAS be an unrecoverable event? Is that why it exists? Have these questions been addressed anywhere? If so, where? If not, why not?)

Muilenburg goes on to say, "erroneous activation of the MCAS function can add to what is already a high workload environment. It is our responsibility to eliminate this risk. We own it and we know how to do it." Distilling those three statements, he says only this: that going forward (and I paraphrase) Boeing "owns the responsibility to eliminate the risk of erroneous activation" of their guiltless MCAS.

During upcoming investigations and lawsuits we can expect to see extremely careful distinctions made by legislators, lawyers, and witnesses -- distinctions between "erroneous activation" (think: AOA vane faults) and the MCAS itself (the unprecedented component that Boeing felt it necessary to invent and then quietly add to the B-737NG airframe.) Boeing does NOT want their MCAS to be viewed or determined to be a causative factor, because that would lead investigators to ask why the flight characteristics of the MAX were so different from the B-737NG that Boeing was compelled to invent and add MCAS to the aircraft design. Then investigators would ask, "What are all the other differences between the MAX and its predecessors?" Then the $64 question: "With all these differences from its predecessors, doesn't the MAX require a separate type-rating?" and Boeing absolutely wants to avoid getting dragged down that rabbit hole.

So that slippery bugger Muilenburg was NOT "manning up" as he and the lawyers intended for the world to believe, nor was he accepting the blame for the crashes and for the deaths of 346 people. On the contrary, in his prepared, carefully-worded statement, he and Boeing remained as defiant as they were last November following the Lion Air crash, when he protested that MAX airplanes were airworthy and attempted to deflect the blame onto the "inexperienced crew."

To summarizing the contents of Muilenburg's statement, he:
-1) offered sympathies to the families,
-2) indicted the AOA for having provided faulty data to the MCAS (implying "garbage in, garbage out"),
-3) reminded us that "it" (the faulty data) was but one link in a "chain of events" that caused the accidents (implying
that there are several and perhaps many other contributing factors),
-4) spoke about software changes to MCAS to prevent further such occurrences,
-5) added mostly corporate cheer leading and boilerplate statements, and
-6) concluded with another brief offer of sympathy.

That's it...he offered Boeing's sympathy to victims' families, and indicted "faulty data" from the AOA...and no more. He made no acceptance of culpability nor did he acknowledge any design deficiency whatsoever. With such theater, Boeing continues to deftly deflect blame for the crashes while implying it could be laid elsewhere.

I confess that at first I was taken in by his skillful performance. Clearly, I was not alone. And that's what Muilenberg and Boeing were trying to achieve.
Steve Cutchen 9
"it’s apparent that in both flights the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, known as MCAS, activated in response to erroneous angle of attack information,"

My interpretation of this is that Boeing IS admitting culpability because a single AOA sensor failure was enough to cause a loss of the aircraft. That level of consequence should never be leveraged on the availability of a safety instrumented function that relies on a single sensor. Sure, they are saying that the sensor that failed was not a Boeing part. But the system design that relied on that SINGLE sensor to prevent a loss of the aircraft certainly was a Boeing design.

Maybe they are trying to finesse their language. But if so, I assert they failed.
Clap, clap! Your succinct analysis hit the nail on the head, Steve C.

I give Boeing's "apology" a grade of F+.
Randy Marco 2
Your synopsis is flawed, he admitted the MCAS is to blame it's as much a mea culpa as your ever going to get until Boeing loses more sales.

Nonetheless, Boeing will lose any/all lawsuits because the system was FLAWED, had no backup, no indicators unless you paid extra and created an unrecoverable situation due to Boeing's design, unforgivably poor manuals and stating to customers there was no training needed to transition to the Max other than a 1 hour tablet breifing.

Boeing has already cut production on the Max and has lost its reputation!

Boeing has lobbied for self-regulation and has received it with the FAA rubber stamping Boeing's OWN findings... THAT is NOT regulation, that is unbridled capitalism brought to you by the Repugnant's.
stating to customers there was no training needed to transition to the Max other than a 1 hour tablet breifing....

Do you have a link or something for this? I've been looking but cannot find anything other than someone affiliated with american airlines saying training included that hour, not consisted of that hour.
Dan Grelinger 0
Put a stop to hatred.
He can't claim responsibility, it's not his company.

Anyone who thought or thinks otherwise is out in left field playing soccer.
David Reed 4
Amazing change from Boeing's initial state of denial which put thousand more passengers at risk even after the second crash and after evidence on the ground and from satellite making MCAS the obvious culprit. Too little, too late in my opinion and they should be fined heavily and pay up big for losses. Of course they will drag in the part manufacturer when they really most to blame. They will even try to claim some small pilot errors as a defense, shameful.
Cansojr 0
Excellent point.
jhakunti 2
The airworthiness of max8 should be suspended pending a full investigation and if found negligent or incompetent particular individuals held accountable. If not for people's lives, then for the insurance companies.
jhakunti 2
Investigation into how exactly this plane was certified.
Ron Fletcher 7
To those who blamed pilot training I hope you are now apologizing.
George Cottay 2
Ron, I've never blamed pilot training but do wonder if simulator hours including MCAS failures would have given the pilots the ability to recover from the sensor and software failures. To me it seems they we shoved into a new plane that was not really like the old ones.
jmilleratp 0
I think that there was a degree of racism involved since they were non-white, non-American pilots. As if pilots in our country are always perfect.
mikeenderle 3
Where is your evidence of such racism? That's a pretty inflammatory claim you're making strictly on a feeling.
chop12345 3
The co-pilot Mohammed had a TOTAL flying hours of 200. Listen to the CVR and he is praying. Don't give me that racism BS. Pilots in the US may not be perfect but they are experienced, (1K to 1.5K minimum hours). I would have flown with the guy in the left seat with 8000 hours so drop the racism claim.
too bad that superior feeling is only temporary...
Highflyer1950 -4
No need to apologize for stating that MCAS was active at the time of the crash and the crews failed to deactivate it.
Randy Marco 8
Apparently you can't/don't read the news. The Pilots did EXACTLY as stated in the manual. Additionally they could NOT manually adjust the stab as their speed exceeded the limit that allows manual adjusting.

WTF, don't you understand that the system is FLAWED & caused the crashes. Obviously there is a point of no return where it becomes unrecoverable.
Highflyer1950 -2
I guess you are the one who doesn't understand. You don’t manually trim the stabilizer just the elevator. If the crew had recognized the problem early enough and reduced thrust they may have overcome the issue? Tragic yes, preventable, maybe. You are correct about air loading at high speeds but then that would have required experience that was not available. BTW, there is nothing in the manual except a procedure for runaway trim and that is a memory item. You need to dial back the rhetoric!
Cansojr 1
Please pay attention to Highflyer1950 is right on target plus he has the hours and experience to put our lights out. This pilot has mega experience that I can only dream of. I have more than 10,000 hours and still he Will forget more about aviation that I can only dream of achieving. He's the real deal.

Please pay close attention to his Squawks they are generally relevant to all aerospace and aviation issues. I suspect that he has more experience than 75% of all ATP's. Don't vote him down because his ideas are different yet he is very accurate about the topic of professional flight safety.
It is now becoming clear that the crew did do what the manual said but it didn't work. They followed their training and instructions but it appears that they were not enough to overcome the problem. So yes those who blasted the crew and their training etc SHOULD now apologize.

If the instructed procedure does not work and there is literally only a few minutes to find any solution one can not blame the crew but can blame those that built the aircraft, documented it and certified it.
Steve Cutchen 3
Even saying "only a few minutes" is generous. To actually hit the stab deactivation switches and try to use the manual stab wheels and STILL not regain control... That's what the Lion jump seater did on the leg prior to the Lion fatal flight. And it worked because they had time and were within the ability to make that action work.
I should apologize because the airline owners released a report saying it's not their fault? They said the same thing last time even after the official report said otherwise.
Leigh Martin 1
Mr Muilenburg about time you got back to your roots in Seattle. You are not close enough to the problems.
Accepting blame is totally inadequate when so many lives were lost. What guarantee is there that the remedies being put into place will not fail again ?
Greg77FA 1
Instead of all the blame going around, now is the time for FAA/Boeing to work together stronger than ever to before prevent such a future event. Put aside bureaucracy, get into a room, find the problem and offer a safe solution. No one wants a complete, separate certification body, the costs and delays associated with it. They just need be smarter in their process and controls around certification.
Kevin Barbee 2
I think their integrity (Boeing and FAA) is now questionable. That's why Ethiopia didn't want the NTSB to handle the investigation. They wanted a non-American entity.
Po Lau 1
I still do not understand, when an airplane has enough airspeed, an automated system would still dip the nose down trying to increase speed, whether AOA snesor malfunction or not should not even be in the equation, am I missing something? For all its worth, its about eliminating errors, human, or machine, its not about Boeing, Airbus, or your job or you ego, that's about the long term sustainability of the industry. Argue as much as we want, but the adopted quality process has to be carried on, improved upon, human and machine, find the root cause, that's how we can be better, not just you bragging about being a better pilot, or a company bragging about making better planes.
Paul Watkns 0
Any system that didn’t allow the master disconnect on the pilots yoke to disconnect the autopilot completely and allow the secondary trim to be operated right away was overthought.
Any Jet aircraft that doesn’t have an AOA in plain view to verify the aircrafts critical Angle of Attack was not built with a safety first mindset. I heard an AOA was an option on that aircraft , if that is true someone has the wrong job at Boeing.

Primary pitch trim should be simple and basic.
When you build a Jet the Compass, Airspeed indicator and AOA should be installed first.

After that you have the green light to proceed in building the plane.
Steve Cutchen 1
I believe what was optional was a warning of AOA instruments deviation.
Jamar Jackson 0
Now fix it right this can not happen again
Working in aerospace myself as a Boeing supplier I just can’t understand how this could have happened. All the testing involved in cirtificstion. The 737 has been around since the late 1960’s many versions produced. It’s a great airplane.
john kilcher -2
Slightly off topic, but it needs to be said, the governing party currently wants to privatize all branches of government over site regardless of how critical it is to us people. The FAA is merely one but important facet of this privatization.
Dan Grelinger 0
Not just off-topic, but a clear attempt to politicize a non-political post.



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