The recent announcements about the MAX are really concerning.
I have been convinced in the last couple of months that the MAX is unlikely to be certified again. That’s sad news indeed.
If it makes you feel better, just last week the head of EASA said he expected MAX to return to service around the end of February, and I think he has a lot better vantage point to judge this than any media member or a.net poster, unless FAA's Steve Dickson has an a.net account.
Frankly NO it doesn’t.
I have many colleagues who have worked on the T1000 issues.
Several have done lunch and learn sessions where they share their work and the plans for introduction of the new parts.
The level of detail and the investigation that goes into identifying true root cause and then the detailed plans to get that fix into service is at times mind blowing.
When I see press releases from my company, internally I can see the detail behind it.
Watching month by month slippages with no apparent plan behind it scares me for Boeing.
What I expect to see is.
We understand the true root cause.
Planned fix will take X time, yes it may go to the right slightly but at least there’s a plan.
This whole scenario smacks of we don’t actually know what’s wrong , so we are blindly trying to fix a problem we have not defined correctly.
I think that this is the most likely reason of the consistent delays.
There may be issues replicating the actual failure scenario. i.e., the sequence of events recorded on the accident flights.
We know that MCAS was improperly designed, but that's just the monster wrecking havoc, perhaps the problem is that they can't find what opened the cage that was keeping it under control, something within the ADIRS perhaps. Some chipsets or shorting PCB's causing unexpected failure modes that haven't been identified yet, meaning they may be checking ADIRS on several aircraft to see if they can find a defect that causes it, ie it could take months to find the actual issue.
Another thing could be certification compliance.
At this point I don't think that it's about pilot training. Minor differences can be compensated by differences training, in terms of budget, that's hours in a simulator, not something that would cause the suspension of the production.
It could just be thhat the airflow pattern created by the higher position of the engine/intake, as I described at the beginnning of the crisis, may be making the aircraft behave so differently that it can't comply with certain certificztion standards without additional mods or solutions.
Regarding criminal prosecution.
While Ethiopia and Indonesia can prosecute, Boeing can also be prosecuted in the U.S. for many reasons.
While the crashes occurred in Ethiopia and Indonesia, if criminal conduct took place in the U.S. and considering some of the passengers were Americans, they can be sued in civil court and any criminal conduct discovered during those proceedings can open up to criminal proceedings.
After the Ethiopian crash, it's is clear that Boeing's top management realised that they were in big trouble and wanted to minimise it by trying to avoid a grounding.
Airliners.net was outraged with the exception of some die-hard Boeing fans, and so were many civila aviation authorities that started groundings out of their own initiative.
Quite frankly, one has to say what needs to be said.
Indonesia and Ethiopia may be third world countries, and people were quick to blame training and pilot standards based on that criterium, but Boeing and FAA are showing that U.S. administrations and corporations are a hillbilly-run thirld world country, with all the corruption, money-before-safety, disrespect for human life, etc... that it entails. After all the talk about capitalism and technology, when you see what goes on behind the scenes, it is a jungle where idiots concerned with personal gain are doing things without concern for the consequences of their actions, or perhaps they don't know what they're doing.
I also caught a glimpse of that at PAS, where I approached different OEM's about a potential leap in technology. Boeing was the only OEM not even interested to listen. With that kind of attitude, they won't get far, talent within Boeing will also probably see no self-development potential and move to Lockheed Martin or Europe.
This being said, the B737 will not die here.
Worst case scenario, Boeing has the option to go back to offering B737NG's. Yes, airlines want the MAX or the NEO, but if no other options are available, they'll order the NG. Most likely scenario, the MAX will get the required mods, even if it may take a couple of years to get things sorted.
FSA, NSA, MOM, NMA: forget about it.
Boeing is going to spend the next 5 years fighting for survival, getting the B737 back on track and will probably see itself submitted to extensive certification requirements on the B777X. It won't have the budget to spend on a whole new high-risk program.
Engine technology also does not justify a whole new program.
As said previously, I think that restarting NG production is a must at this point.
One more option that Boeing has is the Ejet. While the expensive acquisition of the Ejet program was a mistake in my view, the E2 production is running and the E295 is big enough to be useful as a stopgap, it's in production and with production capacity to spare. Offering it as a stopgap could enable the E2 program to break through and Boeing to win some time while they get NG production going, and the MAX sorted.