(Boeing news snippets, photos, videos submitted monthly by member Peter Ansdell)


News Item A-1: 747 50th Anniversary!

Everett Museum of Flight, courtesy of Leah Boeing: Click here to see the video

News Item A-2: Not your dad’s paper airplane

The Most Detailed Airplane in the World Click here to see the video

News Item A-3: “New (GE9X) Engine Problem Could Delay 1st Flight of 777X” by Guy Norris, (ATW) Plus, June 6, 2019.
A problem detected during a factory test of (GE) Aviation’s (GE9X) turbofan engine could further delay the 1st flight of the Boeing 777X. Revealing the engine issue June 5 at the (UBS) Global Industrials & Transportation Conference in New York, Boeing (CFO) Greg Smith said the “long pole in the tent right now is the (GE) engine. There’s some challenges they are working through there on testing.”

News Item A-4: See videos of 777X folding wing tips

First video Click here to see the video

Second video Click here to see the video

News Item A-5: “Wing Defects Won’t Delay 737 MAX Return, Boeing Said” by Scott Reeves, China Daily, June 04, 2019.
A possibly defective part in the wings of Boeing 737 MAX jets can be quickly fixed and is unlikely to delay the return of the airliner to commercial service, officials said on June 3rd. Boeing (TBC) told the USA Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that leading-edge slat tracks on certain 737 MAX and 737NG jets may have been improperly manufactured by a subcontractor and therefore may not meet regulatory requirements for strength and durability.

“Although a complete failure of a leading-edge slat track would not result in a loss of the airplane, a risk remains that a failed part could lead to airplane damage in flight,” the (FAA) said on June 2nd. “The (FAA) will mandate Boeing’s service actions to identify and remove the discrepant parts from service within 10 days.” There have been no reported failures of the wing slat tracks, but the part will be replaced as a precaution, (TBC) and the (FAA) said. The tracks move a portion of the leading edge of the wings into position to increase lift at low speed during take-off and landing. This lowers the plane’s stalling speed. The flap-like device moved into position by the tracks isn’t used when climbing or cruising at high speed because it would increase drag and slow the plane.

“The required work could be done in place to presently idled 737 MAX airplanes,” Robert Mann, President of R W Mann & Co, an airplane consultancy, told China Daily. “It will be part of the testing required to return the planes to service. The 737NG airplanes could have the work done overnight.” The key issue, Mann said, is (TBC)’s quality assurance for parts manufactured by subcontractors. “These parts shouldn’t have been installed if they didn’t meet specifications,” Mann said. “It’s the sort of quality assurance that should be on-going. On top of everything else that’s happened to the 737 MAX airplanes, this is not a good picture.” The problem affects 148 slat tracks manufactured by a single supplier, Boeing told the (FAA). Boeing said it believed 20 new 737 MAX and 21 older 737NG planes (the predecessor to the 737 MAX), may have defective slat tracks. However, the (FAA) advised airlines to inspect an additional 179 737 MAXs and 133 737NGs to be sure the parts meet safety requirements. The 2nd group includes 33 737 MAX and 32 737NG planes flown by USA airlines. Neither the (FAA) nor Boeing said where the other planes were located. “We are committed to supporting our customers in every way possible as they identify and replace these potentially non-conforming tracks,” Kevin McAllister, (CEO) of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said. Boeing immediately notified the (FAA) of the potential problem with the wing tracks, a step it apparently did not take when problems arose with the 737 MAX’s anti-stall device.

Boeing 737 MAX jets were grounded worldwide following crashes on March 10 in Ethiopia and October 29, 2018, in Indonesia that killed a total of 346 passengers and crew. Preliminary investigations suggest the airplane’s Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), an automated anti-stall device, apparently forced the noses of Lion Air (MLI) and Ethiopian Airlines (ETH) flights down and into a fatal plunge, when it erroneously determined the airplanes were about to stall. To avoid a stall, (MCAS) points the nose of the plane down to gain air speed.

Last month, the (FAA) said computer-based training would be sufficient and flight simulators would not be required as part of re-certifying the airplane. However, the (FAA) may require additional training for pilots (FC) flying 737 MAX jets. If so, additional training would increase cost and could delay return of the airliner to commercial service. If the (FAA) approves Boeing’s software update for (MCAS), analysts said 737 MAX jets could return to service by late summer.

“Boeing is now providing additional information to address (FAA) requests that include details on how pilots interact with the airplane controls and displays in different scenarios,” Boeing said.

* American Airlines (AAL) has removed its 24 737 MAXs from its flight schedules through September 3, becoming the 1st USA operator to formally plan to be without its newest Boeing narrow bodies through August. Since April, (AAL) has canceled about 115 flights per day as a result of the 737 MAX grounding. (AAL) said it “remains confident” that the 737 MAX will be cleared to return to revenue service soon.”

* “USA House Panel Holds 2nd Boeing 737 MAX Hearing June 19” by Ben Goldstein June 11, 2019.

The USA House Transportation & Infrastructure (T&I) Committee held its 2nd hearing on the status of the Boeing 737 MAX on June 19, which featured testimony from groups representing airlines, pilots (FC) and flight attendants (CA).
The witnesses included Airlines for America (A4A) Senior VP Legislative & Regulatory Policy, Sharon Pinkerton; Allied Pilots Association President, Dan Carey; Association of Flight Attendants (CWA) President Sara Nelson; former (FAA) Administrator Randy Babbitt and Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, the A320 pilot (FC) who crashed a US Airways A320 on the Hudson River in New York in 2009. The (T&I) hearing came roughly one month after the committee’s May 15 737 MAX hearing, which featured testimony from Acting (FAA) Administrator Dan Elwell and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Chairman Robert Sumwalt. The Senate Commerce, Science & Transportation Committee held a hearing on the 737 MAX in late March that also featured Elwell and Sumwalt alongside Department of Transportation (DOT) Inspector General Calvin Scovel III, although the committee’s Chairman Roger Wicker (Republican-Mississippi) has so far declined to schedule a follow-up. (T&I) Chairman Peter DeFazio (Democrat-Oregon) expressed frustration with the (FAA)’s pace of cooperating with the committee’s document requests, and on June 4 sent a letter to Elwell and (DOT) Secretary Elaine Chao, in which he wrote: “To say we are disappointed and a bit bewildered at the ongoing delays to appropriately respond to our records requests, would be an understatement.”

An (FAA) spokesperson said that the (FAA) has already sent two productions to the Committee, and is “producing documents on a rolling basis.” “Many of the documents requested by the Committee are subject to the Trade Secrets Act or export controls, which provide criminal penalties for unauthorized disclosure. These presented legal issues we had to work through with the Committee before producing those documents,” said the spokesperson, adding: “Now that we have, we expect a significantly increased pace in production of documents.”

Representatives from Boeing have yet to be called to testify before either of the panels currently investigating the company. DeFazio, for his part, has said he will schedule a hearing with Boeing officials after the committee finishes reviewing the numerous documents it has requested, and is still in the process of receiving, from the company.

The committee has issued Boeing two records requests; the 1st on April 1 and a 2nd on June 4. In the most recent request, which also went out to the (FAA) and United Technologies Corporation, DeFazio and Aviation Subcommittee Chairman Rick Larsen (Democrat-Washington) asked for a timeline and supporting documents related to when the entities became aware that the angle of attack (AOA) disagree alert on some Boeing 737 MAX plane was defective, and when airlines were notified about the defect. “The fact that Boeing knew about a defect for more than 1 year before disclosing it to the (FAA) is of great concern to me, which is why Larsen and I are asking for further documentation to get a more fulsome picture of who knew what and when,” DeFazio said. Boeing has been working on upgrades to the airplane’s maneuvering characteristics augmentation system (MCAS) and related training, in an effort to address failure identified as contributors to the two 737 MAX crashes that killed a combined 346 people. The (FAA) has been reviewing Boeing’s progress, and last month requested changes, more data or simple clarifications on more than 100 items. Boeing is working on them, but a timeline for getting a final package into the (FAA)’s hands for review and sign-off remains unclear.

* American (AAL): Flight Crew Planning Prompted 737 MAX Schedule Extension” by Sean Broderick, June 12, 2019

American Airlines (AAL)’s recent removal of the 737 MAX from its schedules until early September was made to ease (AAL)’s pilot (FC) and cabin attendant (CA) bidding process, rather than because of signs of continued delay in getting the grounded fleet cleared to fly, (AAL) (CEO) Doug Parker said. “We’ve now moved the date to which we’re selling seats back to September 3,” Parker said at the airline’s annual shareholder meeting on June 12. “No one should take that as some indication that we think the 737 MAX won’t be ready by August 19,” the date that it previously had for the 737 MAX’s 1st post-grounding revenue flights. Rather, the added time “is what we and our internal planning need to start putting bids for our crew members, pilots (FC) and cabin attendants (CA) out through the full month of August, which ends on September 3. That’s why we moved the date back.”

Global regulators grounded the 737 MAX fleet in mid-March following 2 accidents in 5 months. Boeing is close to finalizing changes to the airplane’s flight control software and training aimed at reducing the risk of malfunctions identified as contributors in both accidents. The (FAA) has said it does not have a timeline for approving the changes and lifting its flight ban. The situation has created uncertainty for operators. In the USA, Southwest Airlines (SWA) has removed its 34 737 MAXs from its schedule through August 5, while United Airlines (UAL) still has them flying from early July onward. The (FAA) is expected to hold a meeting for USA-based operators and pilot groups once the agency is poised to approve Boeing’s final package of changes and training. That meeting, which has not been scheduled, will serve as the de facto precursor to the (FAA) removing its 737 MAX ban. “What we understand is that there is an absolute fix for the airplane and that [it] is an excellent fix,” Parker said. “In terms of software, we hope it will be certified in time for us to deliver service to our customers that are buying tickets today for travel as of September 3.” Should the 737 MAX be cleared to fly long before (AAL) has them on the schedule, (AAL) could use the extra time to help restore passenger confidence through demonstration flights and other tactics, Parker suggested. “What really matters is at the end of the day, if an (AAL) pilot (FC) is comfortable taking up a 737 MAX, I know and our customers should know that the airplane is 100% safe,” he said. “That’s not bravado. Indeed, it’s the exact opposite. They’re exceptionally well-trained. They’re safety professionals.” The Allied Pilots Association that represents (AAL)’s pilots has said (AAL)’s management will approve additional training modules for 737 MAX pilots if the pilots believe the revised baseline standards do not go far enough. Boeing and the (FAA) are still finalizing the new training, which was previewed in a publicly available draft released in April. The new training will focus on the maneuvering characteristics augmentation system flight-control law that Boeing has modified, as well as related emergency procedures.

News Item A-6: “Paris Airshow 2019 Blog: “It’s a Brand I Trust”: Walsh’s very Public Endorsement of Boeing” by Karen Walker, (ATA) Editor’s Blog, June 18, 2019.

Paris Air Show day 2 and, shock, some real news! In the best-kept industry secret of the year, British Airways (BAB) parent, the International Airlines Group (IAG) announced a deal for 200 Boeing 737 MAX airplanes. The deliberate significance of this Letter of Intent (LOI), for a mix of 737 MAX 8s and larger 737 MAX 10s, cannot be understated. Boeing has not secured (or at least, not publicly acknowledged) a single firm order for a 737 MAX since the airplane was grounded in March, following the new narrow body’s 2 crashes (both fatal for all those on board). Since then, Boeing executives have cut the 737 production rate and declared their total priority on getting the 737 MAX re-certified, back into service and trust restored with their customers and the flying public. On that last point, Boeing just got a huge boost from (IAG) (CEO) Willie Walsh, a well-known and respected industry leader, businessman, and a 737 pilot (FC).

Lest anyone at the Boeing show chalet didn’t get the message, why was Walsh making this deal now, so he spelled it out. “We’re partnering with the Boeing brand. I’ve worked with Boeing for years and it’s a brand I trust,” he said. “We have every confidence in Boeing and expect that the airplane will make a successful return to service in the coming months, having received approval from the regulators.” While the (IAG) has Boeing wide bodies in its fleet, its narrow body fleet is almost entirely comprised of Airbus A320 family aircraft, making the deal even more pointed. Walsh (known for his extreme focus on cost discipline) was prepared to absorb the potentially higher operating costs of a narrow body mixed fleet to demonstrate his faith in the 737 MAX, which will be flown by British Airways (BAB), Level (LVL) and Spanish (LCC) Vueling (VUZ). Of course, offsetting any higher operational costs might be that Walsh has likely secured the “deal of the century” in terms of upfront price.

Whether one airline deal (however big) can turn the page on the 737 MAX story is not clear. Three of the biggest airlines in the USA (American Airlines (AAL), Southwest Airlines (SWA), and United Airlines (UAL), have multiple 737 MAXs in storage until the grounding is lifted. The majority of their passengers now know the 737 MAX name for all the wrong reasons, but they won’t be familiar with the (IAG), Walsh, certainly not with Vueling (VUZ) and (it has to be said) some not even with (BAB). Walsh’s backing of Boeing will resonate in the airline and leasing company C-suites, however. Like Walsh, the airlines and lessors have no desire to see the narrow body supply market becoming a monopoly, especially since the Airbus takeover of the Bombardier CSeries (now A220) and the pending Boeing/Embraer joint venture (JV). Airbus, even with the A220 and now the new longest-range A321XLR in its portfolio, cannot physically meet the worldwide demand for highly efficient, low emissions narrow bodies that the A320neo and 737 MAX were designed to satisfy. The A320neo has some 6,500 orders, while the 737 MAX has more than 5,000. Neither manufacturer’s backlog would allow one to pick up the other. And for most airlines, there’s little-to-no interest in letting the 737 MAX situation create a gap in which Chinese manufacturer (COMAC) (CCC) can extend its narrow body market share beyond its predominantly Chinese customer base.

Boeing had other good show news today with a decent-sized order from Korean Air (KAL) for 787 wide bodies (a deal that, unlike the 737 MAX (LOI), was anticipated. But air shows, even more so than the millions of dollars of deals and thousands of partnerships that are secured across chalets and exhibit halls, are also about the show. Usually, the theater is outside and up in the sky, where military jets loop and roar and airliners try to steal a bit of the limelight. Today, the drama was all inside and Walsh was show master.

News Item A-7: Sir Martin Donnelly has been appointed President Europe & Managing Director UK & Ireland, based in London, for Boeing.

News Item A-8: The Boeing Company’s 2019 Global Environment Report highlights how the company is building cleaner, more fuel-efficient airplanes and finding innovative ways to recycle and conserve resources:

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This has been submitted by Peter A Ansdell, retired Boeing Management employee of many years. Peter has offered this for your reading enjoyment by his efforts as the Founder and Managing Director of his website: http://www.7jetset7.com which he tries to keep readers up-to-date on world jet aviation progress, including current jet airline operators, cargo jet operators, worldwide jet airplane manufacturers, industry control bodies, e.g. (IATA) , (FAA), (CAAC) , space exploration advances, prominent parts manufacturers, with a focus on aviation safety, and new developments. Its all our future. Please help to nurture and assist with its advancement.
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