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News & Current Events Discuss Boeing Engineers Say Cost-Cutting Sacrificed Safety... at the General Forum; Former Boeing Engineers Say Relentless Cost-Cutting Sacrificed Safety The failures of the 737 Max appear to be the result of ...

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Old 05-14-2019, 06:53 PM
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Default Boeing Engineers Say Cost-Cutting Sacrificed Safety...

Former Boeing Engineers Say Relentless Cost-Cutting Sacrificed Safety
The failures of the 737 Max appear to be the result of an emphasis on speed, cost, and above all shareholder value.

but wait... How can it be that focusing intently on shareholder value would be bad and even get people killed?

The simulators in which pilots train to fly airliners are engineering marvels in themselves. ...To meet Federal Aviation Administration requirements, the pilots sitting inside must be shown a realistic representation of what they’d see outside a real cockpit, ... Each machine costs as much as $15 million, and airlines pay hundreds of dollars an hour for pilots to use one.

As Boeing Co. developed the 737 Max, the newest version of its most profitable and now most infamous plane, engineers repeatedly invited FAA officials to look over their designs in one of the company’s Seattle simulators—an even more realistic mock-up incorporating pieces of actual aircraft. One purpose was to find out how to ensure that pilots switching to the new plane from previous 737 models never had to get inside one for what’s known as Level D training. “We showed them all these scenarios, and then we’d ask, ‘Would this change equal Level D?’ ” recalls former Boeing engineer Rick Ludtke.

Boeing got what it wanted: Pilots moving from a 737-800 to the 737 Max would need at most Level B training, which they could complete in an hour or two on an iPad. That let airlines deploy the $120 million plane more quickly. For Boeing, it was an important selling point that gave customers one less reason to defect to its European rival Airbus SE.

Since the crashes of two Maxes within five months—a Lion Air flight last October and an Ethiopian Airlines flight this March—the pressure and maneuvering around simulator training has struck Ludtke as essential to understanding how an emphasis on costs twisted a process that’s supposed to produce the best, safest planes. “They could have done better and should have done better, but better wasn’t an option,” says Ludtke, who started at Boeing in 1996 and holds two U.S. patents for flight crew alerting systems. Federal investigators probing the Max recently interviewed Ludtke for hours about the connection between simulator requirements and the new software system linked to the crashes, known as the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS.

Managers didn’t merely insist to employees that no designs should lead to Level D training. They also made their desires known to the FAA team in charge of 737 training requirements, which was led by Stacey Klein, who’d previously been a pilot at now-defunct Skyway Airlines for six years. “She had no engineering background, her airplane experience was very limited,” Ludtke says. “It was just an impossible scenario.” FAA spokesman Greg Martin says the position Klein occupies, “while substantial,” is primarily that of “an organizer, facilitator, and executor of the FAA policy and guidelines,” and that in her role she calls on experts from multiple organizations.

The FAA considered the final configuration and operating parameters during Max certification, and concluded that it met all certification and regulatory requirements.”

Yet somehow a company renowned for its meticulous engineering installed software that drove the aircraft into the ground while the pilots searched desperately for answers.

The crisis, according to more than a dozen interviews with former employees and FAA inspectors and hundreds of pages of internal emails and records, is best understood as part of a larger drama that’s played out as Boeing has reshaped its workforce in an all-consuming focus on shareholder value. The push for efficiency has only accelerated under Dennis Muilenburg, who since becoming chief executive officer in 2015 has demanded price concessions from suppliers, heaped more cost demands on engineers, and cut the workforce about 7 percent while making many more planes...
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Old 05-15-2019, 12:15 AM
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Default Re: Boeing Engineers Say Cost-Cutting Sacrificed Safety...

Boeing Engineers Say Cost-Cutting Sacrificed Safety...

not to mention having government safety inspectors who work for Boeing.
We’re seeing this on multiple fronts. The aforementioned failure to ramp up testing, and the ongoing failure to get needed testing equipment to desperate governors, is compounded by Trump’s insistence on claiming that no such testing failure exists — or ever has.
Jeremy Konyndyk, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development
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