Aircraft becoming far too complex to fly...

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HAL9000HAL9000 Frets: 4877
...claims man who doesn’t hold a pilot’s licence.

Sorry, but in many areas the technology (even if difficult for a layman to really understand it) has improved things beyond all recognition.

My first car was a 1961 Hillman Minx. Mechanically simple, easy to get your head round, but I needed to be under the bonnet most weekends. I currently own a Honda Civic - loads of technology which has been totally and utterly reliable. Far more complexity than any of my first few cars and far more dependable.

Back to aircraft then...

Back in 1960 the fatal accident rate was about 11 per million flights. This has been steadily dropping and in 2017 (the last year I could quickly find figures for) was approximately 0.1 per million flights. During that time aircraft have become hugely more complex and measurably safer.

The technology may well be complex, but as long as it’s making things safer and more reliable then I’m all for it.
It might look like I'm listening to you, but in my head I'm playing my guitar.
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  • FretwiredFretwired Frets: 20259
    edited March 13
    Not sure .. with the latest Boeing crash I can't see how the eye witnesses and claims the software malfunction add up. Witnesses on the ground claimed there was a fire and lots of black smoke - looks like one of the hi-tech engines exploded. We won't know for sure until the black box data has been analysed.
    Frexited
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  • 77ric77ric Frets: 142
    The new max8 Boeing’s have an anti stall system that as I understand it, pushes the aircrafts nose down if it detects a stall, something that pilots would be trained to do anyway, to increase airspeed to stop the engines from stalling. The problem that arises is if the aircraft is too low to induce a dive safely or if the engines fail, then such a reaction would be dangerous and pilots would react to differently, now presumably the automated systems can detect these scenarios and would react in a different way. The suggestion is that perhaps the system doesn’t quite work in the expected way under certain conditions. 

    Im sure I read that this isn’t the first max 8 crash that the anti stall system has been suggested as the culprit. Obviously it’s to early to tell with the recent crash yet. 
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  • dariusdarius Frets: 71

    The first Max8 crash looks like its down to automation in the airplane fighting pilot actions. The plane used all the data it had, decided it was stalling, pointed the nose down to protect the airplane. Pilots had more data (visual) and knew this was wrong. They tried to takeover by manual pull back, which was always the way in the old 737s. Trouble is Boeing changed this on the Max8, pull back does not override, you need to click some buttons (or something similar). Turns out almost every pilot flying the new Max8 was unaware of this feature change. Learned behaviours, poor communications, massive consequences.

    Another similar crash, same plane, within weeks. I will actively avoiding this airplane type until airworthiness changes are incorporated.

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  • crunchmancrunchman Frets: 5038
    edited March 13
    I'm sure I read that Boeing were already working on a software mod to be delivered in April.
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  • JezWyndJezWynd Frets: 3218
    More concerning to my mind is that the FAA have farmed out responsibility and oversight of safety management to employees of the companies making the planes. All due to budget cuts apparently. F***ing unbelievable. The FAA used to be the gold standard in air safety, now it's looking like the rubber stamping dept of whoever pays for it.

    The problem with the nose down on the Max series is well know by pilots and can be cured by disabling the autopilot system they say, but Boeing have been extremely lax in providing training and documentation on this new series of the 737.
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  • PC_DavePC_Dave Frets: 1830
    JezWynd said:
    More concerning to my mind is that the FAA have farmed out responsibility and oversight of safety management to employees of the companies making the planes. All due to budget cuts apparently. F***ing unbelievable. The FAA used to be the gold standard in air safety, now it's looking like the rubber stamping dept of whoever pays for it.

    The problem with the nose down on the Max series is well know by pilots and can be cured by disabling the autopilot system they say, but Boeing have been extremely lax in providing training and documentation on this new series of the 737.
    I'm intrigued by that statement. I worked for Boeing up until late last year, and the main focus around the Max had been training, documentation, and simulation work.
    This week's procrastination forum might be moved to sometime next week.
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  • EricTheWearyEricTheWeary Frets: 8225
    PC_Dave said:
    JezWynd said:
    More concerning to my mind is that the FAA have farmed out responsibility and oversight of safety management to employees of the companies making the planes. All due to budget cuts apparently. F***ing unbelievable. The FAA used to be the gold standard in air safety, now it's looking like the rubber stamping dept of whoever pays for it.

    The problem with the nose down on the Max series is well know by pilots and can be cured by disabling the autopilot system they say, but Boeing have been extremely lax in providing training and documentation on this new series of the 737.
    I'm intrigued by that statement. I worked for Boeing up until late last year, and the main focus around the Max had been training, documentation, and simulation work.
    Obviously I don't know anything in particular but the idea that Boeing failed to roll out adequate training has been made several times today on the radio, one of the people saying this was the head of a pilot's organisation in the USA. Apologies this is a bit vague and it's a bit over my head but the clear message going out, rightly or wrongly, is that pilots were not properly informed. Including no access to simulators which was specifically mentioned. Appears that either Boeing didn't provide the training or they have utterly shit PR people. 
    Who invaded Spain in the eight century?
    The Moops.
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  • roundthebendroundthebend Frets: 503
    77ric said:
    The new max8 Boeing’s have an anti stall system that as I understand it, pushes the aircrafts nose down if it detects a stall, something that pilots would be trained to do anyway, to increase airspeed to stop the engines from stalling.
    Stalling an aircraft is not about the engines, it is about keeping enough airflow over the wings to maintain lift. If the combination of airspeed and angle of attack result in a disrupted or significantly reduced airflow then the plane will stall and begin to fall from the sky. Pushing the nose down should address both of the causes.
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  • goldtopgoldtop Frets: 1229
    PC_Dave said:
    JezWynd said:
    More concerning to my mind is that the FAA have farmed out responsibility and oversight of safety management to employees of the companies making the planes. All due to budget cuts apparently. F***ing unbelievable. The FAA used to be the gold standard in air safety, now it's looking like the rubber stamping dept of whoever pays for it.

    The problem with the nose down on the Max series is well know by pilots and can be cured by disabling the autopilot system they say, but Boeing have been extremely lax in providing training and documentation on this new series of the 737.
    I'm intrigued by that statement. I worked for Boeing up until late last year, and the main focus around the Max had been training, documentation, and simulation work.

    I think the idea is that Boeing presented the changes as incremental and not requiring airlines to spend significant time/money getting their pilots retrained for the aircraft's auto-stability systems. And early signs are that the MCAS system is a sufficient departure from what pilots know that it's a bit risky just after take-off.

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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 39454
    edited March 13
    Fretwired said:
    Not sure .. with the latest Boeing crash I can't see how the eye witnesses and claims the software malfunction add up. Witnesses on the ground claimed there was a fire and lots of black smoke - looks like one of the hi-tech engines exploded. We won't know for sure until the black box data has been analysed.
    Eyewitnesses to air crashes are notoriously unreliable, and it was *highly* unlikely to have been an engine problem - the pilots reported control difficulties very early in the flight, but nothing about engine trouble.

    *If* the witnesses are correct, to me it sounds like it could have been a fire in the rear cargo hold which damaged the flight control systems. That could explain both a trail of smoke and debris falling from the plane, as well as loss of control.

    The aircraft did not stall - it hit the ground in a full nose-down dive under power - you don't need witnesses for that, the size of the hole in the ground and the size of the pieces of what's left of the plane prove that. The Lion Air crash which is suspected to have been due to the MCAS anti-stall system was a nose-down high-speed impact as well.

    At this point I don't think the grounding is an over-reaction. The cause of the second crash is unknown at this point but there are enough similarities that a generic fault can't be ruled out.

    But aircraft are not becoming too complex to fly - pilots are possibly not being trained adequately to fly them, which is a completely different issue. As already said, aviation safety has improved consistently the more automation there has been. The problem now is that pilots sometimes seem to be unfamiliar with how to cope in the extremely rare cases where something goes seriously wrong and the automation has unintended results - which is a worrying problem, since that's really the whole point in having pilots.

    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone." - Walt Kowalski

    "Just because I don't care, doesn't mean I don't understand." - Homer Simpson

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  • MayneheadMaynehead Frets: 1694
    Complexity is not necessarily a bad thing, but poor design almost always is.

    If the auto-pilot cannot be automatically overridden by manual control, then to me this is a case of extremely poor design.
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  • GassageGassage Frets: 22420
    Just regarding the 737 Max, why bother guessing? Wait until the report comes out. Speculation is useless and just fuels misinformation.

    Donald Trump has spoken movingly about 7-Eleven. It reminded him, he said, of the way Americans came together in 1941 after Pearl Necklace.

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  • PC_DavePC_Dave Frets: 1830
    Gassage said:
    Just regarding the 737 Max, why bother guessing? Wait until the report comes out. Speculation is useless and just fuels misinformation.
    ^^This
    This week's procrastination forum might be moved to sometime next week.
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  • SnapSnap Frets: 2831
    I think I've got a flight on a 737 Max 8 this summer. Two flights actually. Gut feel - safe.
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  • vasselmeyervasselmeyer Frets: 2631
    People really REALLY don't understand how safe modern commercial flying is. You have a 1 in 1.2m chance of being in an airline crash and a 1 in 11m chance of dying in it. You have a 1 in 5000 chance of dying in a car.

    I fly a lot for my job and I never even check what kind of plane I'm going to get in.
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  • HAL9000HAL9000 Frets: 4877
    JezWynd said:
    More concerning to my mind is that the FAA have farmed out responsibility and oversight of safety management to employees of the companies making the planes. All due to budget cuts apparently. F***ing unbelievable. The FAA used to be the gold standard in air safety, now it's looking like the rubber stamping dept...

    Didn't this come from His Donaldness wanting to remove obstacles and trying to make US aircraft more competitive in the international market?

    Perhaps the 737 Max8 could replace the current Airforce One...
    It might look like I'm listening to you, but in my head I'm playing my guitar.
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  • Here is his full quote.

    Airplanes are becoming far too complex to fly. Pilots are no longer needed, but rather computer scientists from MIT. I see it all the time in many products. Always seeking to go one unnecessary step further, when often old and simpler is far better. Split second decisions are....

    ....needed, and the complexity creates danger. All of this for great cost yet very little gain. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want Albert Einstein to be my pilot. I want great flying professionals that are allowed to easily and quickly take control of a plane!

    TACOMA NARROWS BRIDGE DISASTER
    Dominus Spiritus Invictus
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  • MayneheadMaynehead Frets: 1694
    Here is his full quote.

    Airplanes are becoming far too complex to fly. Pilots are no longer needed, but rather computer scientists from MIT. I see it all the time in many products. Always seeking to go one unnecessary step further, when often old and simpler is far better. Split second decisions are....

    ....needed, and the complexity creates danger. All of this for great cost yet very little gain. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want Albert Einstein to be my pilot. I want great flying professionals that are allowed to easily and quickly take control of a plane!

    Again, I would say to that it's not the complexity that's the problem, it's the design. Good design helps the pilot do their job, bad design will hinder them.

    Take the (original) iPhone for example. It was the most complex mobile phone ever released, yet it was one of the simplest to use.
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  • Maynehead said:
    Here is his full quote.

    Airplanes are becoming far too complex to fly. Pilots are no longer needed, but rather computer scientists from MIT. I see it all the time in many products. Always seeking to go one unnecessary step further, when often old and simpler is far better. Split second decisions are....

    ....needed, and the complexity creates danger. All of this for great cost yet very little gain. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want Albert Einstein to be my pilot. I want great flying professionals that are allowed to easily and quickly take control of a plane!

    Again, I would say to that it's not the complexity that's the problem, it's the design. Good design helps the pilot do their job, bad design will hinder them.

    Take the (original) iPhone for example. It was the most complex mobile phone ever released, yet it was one of the simplest to use.
    I don't see that being a contradiction of what Trump said. I'm sure if you sat down and pressed him on the issue he would agree with you. He says older and "simpler" is far better.
    TACOMA NARROWS BRIDGE DISASTER
    Dominus Spiritus Invictus
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 39454
    People really REALLY don't understand how safe modern commercial flying is. You have a 1 in 1.2m chance of being in an airline crash and a 1 in 11m chance of dying in it. You have a 1 in 5000 chance of dying in a car.

    I fly a lot for my job and I never even check what kind of plane I'm going to get in.
    Yes, but the statistics can be misleading - you spend far more of your life in a car than a plane, and take far more journeys in one. Planes are safer per passenger mile, but that's only because planes always travel large distances compared to other forms of transport - in fact cars are almost three times safer per passenger *journey*.

    Deaths per billion

    JourneysHourskm
    Bus4.311.10.4
    Rail20300.6
    Van20601.2
    Car401303.1
    Foot4022054.2
    Water90502.6
    Air11730.80.05
    Pedal cycle17055044.6
    Paragliding970 
    Skydiving7500 75000 
    Motorcycle16404840108.9
    Space Shuttle 17000000700006.6

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aviation_safety


    Personally, I wouldn't get on a 737Max right now if I had the choice. Yes, aircraft are still very safe, but this particular type has an apparently high accident rate that hasn't been properly accounted for yet. The two crashes may be completely unrelated and just a statistical anomaly... but they may not be.

    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone." - Walt Kowalski

    "Just because I don't care, doesn't mean I don't understand." - Homer Simpson

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  • MayneheadMaynehead Frets: 1694
    Maynehead said:
    Here is his full quote.

    Airplanes are becoming far too complex to fly. Pilots are no longer needed, but rather computer scientists from MIT. I see it all the time in many products. Always seeking to go one unnecessary step further, when often old and simpler is far better. Split second decisions are....

    ....needed, and the complexity creates danger. All of this for great cost yet very little gain. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want Albert Einstein to be my pilot. I want great flying professionals that are allowed to easily and quickly take control of a plane!

    Again, I would say to that it's not the complexity that's the problem, it's the design. Good design helps the pilot do their job, bad design will hinder them.

    Take the (original) iPhone for example. It was the most complex mobile phone ever released, yet it was one of the simplest to use.
    I don't see that being a contradiction of what Trump said. I'm sure if you sat down and pressed him on the issue he would agree with you. He says older and "simpler" is far better.
    Careful, you're making him sound a rational and reasonable guy!
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  • Maynehead said:
    Maynehead said:
    Here is his full quote.

    Airplanes are becoming far too complex to fly. Pilots are no longer needed, but rather computer scientists from MIT. I see it all the time in many products. Always seeking to go one unnecessary step further, when often old and simpler is far better. Split second decisions are....

    ....needed, and the complexity creates danger. All of this for great cost yet very little gain. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want Albert Einstein to be my pilot. I want great flying professionals that are allowed to easily and quickly take control of a plane!

    Again, I would say to that it's not the complexity that's the problem, it's the design. Good design helps the pilot do their job, bad design will hinder them.

    Take the (original) iPhone for example. It was the most complex mobile phone ever released, yet it was one of the simplest to use.
    I don't see that being a contradiction of what Trump said. I'm sure if you sat down and pressed him on the issue he would agree with you. He says older and "simpler" is far better.
    Careful, you're making him sound a rational and reasonable guy!

    TACOMA NARROWS BRIDGE DISASTER
    Dominus Spiritus Invictus
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  • goldtopgoldtop Frets: 1229
    US pilots have also reported sudden nose-down 'corrections' in the Max: https://edition.cnn.com/2019/03/13/us/pilot-complaints-boeing-737-max/index.html

    In other news, Canada has just grounded it.

    IMHO, this is way beyond speculation, This is now a case of other international Airline Authorities spelling it out. 

    Those who are saying they would not be worried about getting on a Max - maybe do the maths to see how risky 737-Max flights are against flights of competitor aircraft.

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  • JezWyndJezWynd Frets: 3218
    Canada just grounded Max 8 & 9's citing the flight data for both incidents being so similar.
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  • goldtopgoldtop Frets: 1229
    And now Trump's done the decent thing.

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  • dariusdarius Frets: 71
    People really REALLY don't understand how safe modern commercial flying is. You have a 1 in 1.2m chance of being in an airline crash and a 1 in 11m chance of dying in it. You have a 1 in 5000 chance of dying in a car.

    I fly a lot for my job and I never even check what kind of plane I'm going to get in.
    I really really do understand how safe it is to fly. It's part of my job. 
    And after the Ethiopian crash I won't be getting on a 737max8 until I see the fix for these crashes.  EASA did exactly the right thing, ground  first, prove it later.  FAA and Boeing reacted way too slowly. You can't argue everything is fine when 300 people have died. THREE. HUNDRED. 


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  • JezWyndJezWynd Frets: 3218
    goldtop said:
    And now Trump's done the decent thing.
    Resigned? Cool!
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  • GassageGassage Frets: 22420

    Donald Trump has spoken movingly about 7-Eleven. It reminded him, he said, of the way Americans came together in 1941 after Pearl Necklace.

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  • JezWynd said:
    goldtop said:
    And now Trump's done the decent thing.
    Resigned? Cool!
    An excellent contribution to the universe. Well done.
    TACOMA NARROWS BRIDGE DISASTER
    Dominus Spiritus Invictus
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 39454
    edited March 14
    There’s a lot of stuff on airliners.net as well.

    I actually think that if the cause of both crashes is indeed found to be faults in the way MCAS works, a hard look will have to be taken by the regulators at ‘grandfathering’ of old designs. Essentially Boeing has taken the 737 so far beyond its original form that it becomes unstable under certain circumstances and needs a software fix for that, but the software can then make things worse if it gets faulty data. That’s not an inherently safe system.

    This does seem to be the first time since the 1960s - actually since before the original 737 was introduced - that a new aircraft appears to be less safe than its predecessor. Ironically the problem is that the number of incidents is so small that it’s hard to be sure yet, but that alone shows how rigorous the industry has been in prioritising safety - and they need to continue to take the awkward path of possibly excessive caution which has got us there.

    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone." - Walt Kowalski

    "Just because I don't care, doesn't mean I don't understand." - Homer Simpson

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