Following the release of “Downfall”, The Netflix documentary on the cultural shift of Boeing from an “Engineering excellence driven” company to a “revenue driven” company, We had an interesting Zoom conference meeting with one of the most revered Israeli engineers.
He is an expert on risk management in civil engineering, and one of the founders of the Israeli high-tech industry. He was working on a lecture to convey the message of the documentary, the De-Fazio committee outcome etc.
What he wanted to know was – OK what was in it for Boeing. How was Boeing supposed to gain money by withholding information from the FAA?
A nice anecdote he reminded us of, is that in the book “Built to last” Boeing was an example for a company with a vision and excellence that was one of the “Built to last” companies, while the example used in the book for the opposite was Douglas.
When a new airplane is up for certification, It undergoes a review by the FAA. (The process at EASA is very similar and until the MAX was highly reliant on the FAA and vice versa) This review board is known as “Aircraft Evaluation Group”. This board has two main tasks:
1 make sure the new airplane meets all the airworthiness requirements set forth in the various CFR 14 FAR (23 small airplanes 25 big airplanes 27 Helos etc).
2 Determining the differences between existing airplanes and the new airplane or variant. And writing what is known as “Flight Standardization Board Report” FSBR.
If the types are similar enough there will be an FSBR. It is the master document for building a difference course in the case of similar airplanes. For example, what is the minimum requirements for a pilot qualified on a 737-800 to fly on a 737-900 or a pilot qualified on A320 to fly on a A350 a 777 to get a 787 rating, and 737-Ng to get a MAX rating.
The FSBR comes down to a MATRIX. The rows indicate different topics like hydraulics, Limitations, HUD, and Engine failure at V1. The columns are what is the required instruction, required the training, required if any and the required checking.
There are five options (levels)
A – self-instruction
B – Aided instruction (class or Interactive CBT etc)
C – System device (mockup or flat panel etc.)
D – Low level simulator.
E – Full flight simulator.
An example for FSBR is available here.
So, if it takes about 11 pilots for every 737, a company that has 100 airplanes will have 1100 pilots. That is 5500 days of simulators to get started. At 10000 USD per day gross, that’s a lot of money.
At least on company (according to the indictment) had a clause of 1m USD discount per airplane in case the training exceeded level B – a simulator requirement.
Boeing paid 244 to the US government to avoid criminal charges against its executives and board members.
The only one to be indicted was Mark Forkner the chief technical pilots for the MAX program.
On Wednesday Mr. Forkner was found not guilty on all six accounts.
The other topic we discussed was the lack of regulatory oversight and the connections is any to the 5G fiasco. But we’ll leave that for another time.
To be continued.