Back to Squawk list
  • 17

Boeing Whistle-Blower Says Proposed 737 Max Fixes Aren’t Enough

A whistle-blower at Boeing Co. is urging aviation regulators to add additional protections to the grounded 737 Max. ( More...

Sort type: [Top] [Newest]

I find so-called whistleblowers just blowers. They take a job probably thinking they are going to solve the world's issues or just not a team player they have a tendency to never shut up. Had one at work that I replaced. He told the FAA all about the so-called mistakes the company was making, how they were shortcutting maintenance, how they ignored rules and regulations. On the surface, you would have thought OMG this company needs to be suspended. So here comes the FAA with its team of investigators looking over everything. Found a few minor flaws but nothing our so-called whistleblower tried to prove.

Now for the rest of the story. Seems he left Boeing after being popped for drunk driving and had to have one of the breath analyzers installed in his truck. He manages to land a job with us and still drinks coming in one day drunk on duty. Cussed out the VP in front of clients when he was ordered to take an alcohol test. He quickly writes out his resignation and walks out the door. Comes back later that day to collect his tools and gets into another screaming match with the VP. At this point, since he's still clearly drunk I'm asked to drive him home to ensure the publics' safety. Off I go and when we reach his home he wants me to come in for some drinks. I decline. Go back to work and my boss offers me the job. Part of the job is the companies DER for drugs and alcohol. I accept but didn't fully know the FAA Abatement rules and since the individual in question has quit I failed to notify the FAA of his alcohol problem. We move FWD in time and I quickly realize my mistake so I notify the FAA immediately and take the hit. I explain great details about why and how I failed to notify them in a timely manner. I get a slap on the wrist if I promise to never let it happen again.

Now we move FWD again when all of a sudden this so-called whistleblower is once again writing his congressional leaders demanding action be taken against the company for so-called violations. Once again here comes a team of inspectors and once again they find nothing since I cleaned up the mess left by this drunk. To this day I can read some of his reports telling you what day he was drunk and what days he was sober its that clear.

FWD a couple of more years and I get a notice from FAA Abatement that he was popped for being drunk while inspecting an airplane and an FSDO just happened to arrive on that day.

IMHO and knowing what I have seen I don't put too much stock in whistle-blowers. To those who publish articles I want to see a name behind your so-called source, I want to know their background and where they received their training and I want to fully understand a bigger picture rather than "I think this is wrong, so, therefore, I must be right" attitude.
So can you confirm that the testing was done on a MAX7 whereas both accidents were on the longer MAX8?

Yep, the tests were conducted in a MAX 7
djames225 2
This from an airline spotter and an article in an aviation magazine "The aircraft used for the tests is N7021S, a Boeing 737 MAX7, the smallest member of the MAX family."
And this "The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has completed test flights of the Boeing 737 Max, a key milestone in restoring airworthiness certification and returning the airliner to operational status. Transport Canada (TC) completed its flight testing in late August. The most recent flights took place in Vancouver, Canada, due to Covid-19 travel restrictions. Both the European and Canadian tests involve validation of data collected by the FAA from June 29 to July 1 using a Max 7.
mbrews 1
- Djames - a correction, the regis # of the MAX 7 being tested is N7201S . Easy to transpose digits. I checked I against a few tracking sites & jet photo sites. Cheers
Tom Bruce 1
yep...most of these types looking for revenge...
Robert Cowling -1
Whistle blowers are important enough there is a specific law to support them, and protect them. Some of the insane crap that whistle blowers have exposed is small potatoes, but some of it is damaging important stuff that would not come out by any other way.

The 20,000 toilet seat, the thousand of dollars for a hammer, the torture in Iraq, the waste of tax payer money, the statements of current members of the administration, ALL of it is important. Much of it could end up causing the person revealing it to suffer at the near infinite hands of a malicious and vindictive government.
djames225 2
Scuttlebutt has it that EASA, and T.C. are both now questioning why Boeing used the small MAX7 to do the testing with, and not the larger 8 or 9. Hopefully Chicago has good answers to that interesting question.
djames225 4
Wonders why the downvotes for just mentioning a question asked
Robert Cowling -2
Get used to it. I've seen totally amazing posts ripped to shreds. There are people that lurk here that seem to take a lot of pride in down voting most of what I post. I guess this is their habit. It's pathetic, but keeps them off the street I guess.

I'd imagine, like you allude to, the MAX8 has got to be the problem child for physics. You don't test the worst, you test the best. I was nervous flying in a late model 737 when the plane suddenly rolled to the right. A couple pax screamed, but the plane righted itself, and all was good. I can't imagine being in a plane headed to the ground from 40,000 feet. DAMN...
Silent Bob 4
IF that's true I call B.S. It wasn't exactly a state secret that Boeing was using the -7 for the testing, so if anyone had a problem with it they should've spoken up sooner.

And don't quote me but I believe it's only the -8 that requires MCAS, the longer body -9 and -10 don't have the same control force issue.
djames225 1
All the MAX have it. Have to also remember the FAA used it and the data gathered, but questions can arise after.
If the MAX7 doesn't have the aerodynamic issue with the thrust (and therefore no MCAS) I can't imagine they'd be testing with a model that doesn't replicate (at least partially) the condition they're trying to fix.
Tom Bruce 2
speculating but wouldn't the shorter fuselage be more prone to "pitch up" with the bigger engines more forward on the wing thus triggering the MCAS pitch down?
The article is behind a firewall but is it typical for authorities to consider aircraft that are dimensionally different to have the same flight characteristics for certification purposes?
The union representing the Federal Aviation Administration engineers overseeing Boeing Co.’s redesign of the grounded 737 Max says the government’s proposed fixes to the plane don’t go far enough.

The National Air Traffic Controllers Association, which represents FAA engineers who review and sign off on aircraft certification, said in comments filed on Monday that the Max should have to adhere to tougher standards on cockpit alerts.

Because the plane was adapted from earlier versions, portions of its design weren’t required to meet the latest safety requirements. The union said that the proposed fixes to the jetliner are extensive and the most current regulations should apply.

The comments are significant because they suggest that at least some of the FAA’s own technical staff don’t agree on the extensive proposed revisions to the plane. A whistle-blower at Boeing Co. separately urged regulators to add additional protections to the plane.

The FAA has proposed multiple changes to the aircraft following the crashes that killed 346 people before allowing it to carry passengers again. Among the changes: The system that was driving the jet’s nose down in both accidents would no longer activate repeatedly and various steps were taken to minimize the chances it would malfunction.

Related story: Boeing Whistle-Blower Faults ‘Reckless’ FAA Review of 737 Max

The agency is also proposing to require extensive additional revisions to the plane, such as an improved flight-computer system to improve the system’s redundancy.

Before the FAA can mandate the fixes, it must sift through the comments, which totaled more than 200 as of Monday afternoon. The deadline for comments is the end of the day. The filings range from frightened consumers who say they won’t fly on a Max to highly technical white papers by engineers.

The NATCA comments don’t say whether individual engineers had objected to the FAA’s preliminary approval of Boeing’s redesign. The agency’s rank-and-file engineering staff have at times charged that they were unfairly overruled by managers, according to various reports after the crashes, including one from House Democrats released Sept. 16.

There’s also no indication how expensive and time consuming it would be to follow the union’s recommendation. The proposed redesigns of the plane took more than a year to reach this stage.

The NATCA comments include five separate recommendations. They range from relatively minor changes in emergency procedures to a call for what appear to be more extensive revisions to the plane’s cockpit alerting system.

Despite proposed changes to the plane, it would still be subject to erroneous warnings from a single sensor, the union said. “This design does not comply” with FAA regulations and could lead to pilot confusion, it said.

The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board last week said the FAA’s proposals were consistent with its recommendations on the plane issued last year, while family and friends of crash victims urged wholesale changes before the plane returns.

The Air Line Pilots Association, which represents more than 60,000 flight crew members in North America, proposed several changes to the FAA plan, such as giving pilots the ability to disable the loud thumping warning that occurs when a plane is about to enter an aerodynamic stall.

Boeing said in a statement that it wouldn’t respond to the comments on the FAA’s proposed fixes. The FAA said in a statement that it would “consider all comments.”

Boeing closed down 2.97% to $156.35 in New York amid broad market declines. The shares tumbled a little more than 50% this year through Sept. 18, the biggest drop on the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

Curtis Ewbank, a whistle-blower who has previously raised concerns about the plane’s design with congressional investigators, said in comments filed with the FAA that a proposal to mandate fixes to the jetliner didn’t address multiple hazards identified in the two fatal Max accidents and earlier incidents.

“Clearly more actions are required to revise FAA processes so that it accurately assesses airplane design and regulates in the public interest,” Ewbank said in the comments, posted on the website.

Ewbank said the FAA and Boeing should do more to prohibit faulty readings from the sensor implicated in both crashes and improve the plane’s warning systems.

In addition, the agency should do a broader review of how pilots react to emergencies and do a more thorough redesign of the flight-control system, he said.

Read more: Boeing Given Long List of Proposed Fixes for 737 Max Return

The FAA and the European Aviation Safety Agency are also planning to require Boeing to adopt longer-term fixes after the aircraft’s return, some of which are similar to what Ewbank is seeking.

A consumer group that advocates for airline passengers, Travelers United, said it supported the plane’s return.

“After this thorough and unprecedented review of the plane’s safety, it is time to get the 737 Max planes in the air serving the flying public where they can enhance travel options for consumers and reduce carbon emissions and fuel burn,” wrote the group’s president, Charles Leocha.

A retired Boeing engineer who said he worked on the 737 decades ago called on the company to release more technical information about the design of the system implicated in the crashes. Robert Bogash, who said he has also been involved in accident investigations, said simpler changes to the plane, such as limiting its weight and balance, could accomplish the same thing as the automated system involved in the two crashes with less risk.

“Personally, none of us want another 737 accident -- we have devoted our careers to that remarkable airplane -- and my suggestions and comments are aimed at ensuring that the outcome of this prolonged grounding are as effective as possible,” Bogash said.
Tom Bruce 2
thanks for this... seems they should have just gone to a "clean sheet" single aisle plane rather than trying
to keep a 1960s design flying... purse out of a sow's ear??
Robert Cowling -3
Gluing those big engines on the hobbled mess based on a dirt runway machine was a HUGE mistake, but saved them no honor, money, dignity, reputation. What a colossal screw-up!

They were lured by the siren song of 'voluntary regulation', and took it hook, line, sinker, rod, reel, boat, and dock! They got greedy. Greed makes people stupid. They got stupid.
> Despite proposed changes to the plane, it would still be subject to erroneous warnings from a single sensor, the union said. “This design does not comply” with FAA regulations and could lead to pilot confusion, it said.

So AOA sensors are not considered flight critical? Considering that the recovery of a failed sensor involves cutting-out the electric trim with one pilot essentially dedicated to manually operating the stabilizer it's hard to imagine this being a "minor" fault.
Robert Cowling -6
But the only thing that matters is how much money they pay the president, and how much love they show him. Show enough 'loyalty', and they could get away with almost anything.
Tom Bruce 1
referring to who? pros of Boeing?


Don't have an account? Register now (free) for customized features, flight alerts, and more!
Did you know that FlightAware flight tracking is supported by advertising?
You can help us keep FlightAware free by allowing ads from We work hard to keep our advertising relevant and unobtrusive to create a great experience. It's quick and easy to whitelist ads on FlightAware or please consider our premium accounts.