Canadian Regulator Says MCAS Must Go Before Boeing 737 MAX Can Fly Again

It is not the official position of any safety agency at this point, but regulators are discussing a whole different approach from Boeing’s software fixes as they consider what it will take to re-certify the 737 MAX.

“The only way I see moving forward at this point, is that MCAS has to go,” the official, Jim Marko, the manager in aircraft integration and safety assessment at Transport Canada Civil Aviation, wrote in the email. He sent the email on Tuesday to officials at the Federal Aviation Administration, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency and Brazil’s National Civil Aviation Agency.

…Linh Le, a system safety engineer at the F.A.A., shared Mr. Marko’s message with others at the agency. He noted that the Canadian official believed that “MCAS introduces catastrophic hazards that weren’t there before,” that “it and the fix add too much complexity,” that “there have been many revisions to the software” and that “each was a band-aid.”

Of course MCAS was there as a band aid in its own right to deal with a consequence of relocating engines which caused upward pitch (the nose of the aircraft would nudge up) which created risk of stall. It helps pilots trim the stabilizer nose down when the plane’s angle of attack is high, flaps are up, and the plane is turning steeply.

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Comments

  1. I think your headline is a bit clickbaity as it’s the opinion of one guy in an email.
    It’s all well and good getting rid of MCAS but they’d need something else in its place presumably… so what are we suggesting? A rebranding exercise of a similar function?!

  2. Like I have been saying all along, it’s a design problem that Boeing doesn’t want to fix. Instead, they want the software to compensate the flaws. This would save them a lot of money. So, we are back to square one, money first!

    This is the result of Boeing taking short cuts and the CEO should take responsibility by resigning, to say the least!

  3. MCAS was such a bad idea Boeing had to hide it from its customers and the pilots who fly the planes. Stuff like that is what is liable to happen when regulation is delegated to the manufacturer.

    P.S. Referenced articles that require creating an account, etc, etc. to view are a pain.

  4. I have been saying from the very beginning that software can never compensate for hardware flaws.
    Outside the US the thing won’t be allowed to fly again.

  5. A simple solution would be to extend the length of the landing gear, which would then allow the engines to be moved back to a normal position.

    Yes, it would require a new certification as well as scrapping the existing MAX’s and pilot training for the MAX’s. But it would allow Boeing to once again produce a safe airplane without having to put out a clean sheet airframe (i.e. keep the company alive).

    But they won’t do this because they are now a McDonald-Douglas raise the stock price at all costs company instead of a Boeing engineering company.

  6. I am a major airline pilot and I for one will not step on the max or will my family till its been in the air for at least a year .

  7. Canada should also ban all airliners with vertical stabilizers (tail) except Canadian built ones. They can say it is a band aid fix to instability.

  8. All because Southwest said, “Make it fly just like the planes we have now, with no additional training.” The 737NG came about after United bought Airbus, the MAX after American did the same.

  9. I’m not sure how you can eliminate MCAS without a major redesign which at this point isn’t realistic.
    The long term answer is that Boeing should be designing a 737/757 replacement, but that will take years and billions.

    At a certain point, the flying public will have to make a choice. Fly a hopefully fixed 737 max, or fly a 35 year old 737-200.

  10. Boeing has a 200>250 seater with extended undercarriage.
    It’s called 757 and everyone loves it. Maybe fit more fuel efficient engines – LEAP?

  11. I still find it amazing that Boeing produced a plane for passenger transport that is inherently unstable without a software fix. By the time this is all over they will have wished they spent the same amount of money on a clean sheet design.

  12. What if they replace the single pitch sensor with 10 sensors that would require 6 to all malfunction the same to cause a false alarm, and then they add hard wire button to disable MCAs that is 3 inches wide and glows?

  13. Let’s step back for a minute.

    The 737 is clearly still a viable airframe but one that needed some tweaks to keep it current and to make it more efficient. This seems consistent with many other technologies; possibly comparable to the internal combustion engine. Tweaks and changes were needed but it’s still the same old thing.

    MCAS was a solution to a problem of some of the newer tweaks. It doesn’t seem to have been a bad idea, just poorly executed and hidden from view. It would seem that if Boeing had been completely transparent about it from the start I doubt anyone would have had an issue with it. It would have been more thoroughly tested and problems would have been seen and fixed. For some reason Boeing either sought to hide it or just didn’t document it, now they’re in a mess.

    Again, it’s highly possible I’m missing the point here, but I really think we’re missing the real story.

  14. Boing needs to fix the hardware and get rid of the software that no longer would be necessary.

    I would never ever fly on the 737 max unless Boing rebalances the plane. If that means to extend the landing gear and reposition the engines just go ahead and do it!

    Great shame that Boing had decided to design such an unbalanced plane.

    Have been a passenger on older Boing planes for decades and never before felt unsafe however the way Boing behaved in the conversion to the Max makes me unease to fly on any new Boing Plane.

  15. You folks that think the hardware somehow flies without software are just incredibly naive. There is no such thing as a modern aircraft that flies without software.

  16. @Ron: “I have been saying from the very beginning that software can never compensate for hardware flaws.”

    Lots of military jets would like a word with you. Software compensation for unstable aerodynamics is pretty common — including pretty extreme examples like the F-117 and B-2. MCAS just wasn’t what it was supposed to be – software that allowed Max pilots to fly the plane with the same 737 type rating. It’s not inherently unfixable, but it should require a new type rating and pilot understanding. It also seems like it needs to be defeat-able and/or perfected such that pilots don’t need to.

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