Thats not really been Boeings 737 approach either, they hid things that the plane is doing from the pilots, hard to have final authority if you have no idea what the aircraft is doing, MCAS being the obvious example. There is also another thread running about the TK1951 crash where the 737 decided, in error, that it was close to the ground so shut the throttles without asking so yeah, no.. Its a great Boeing / Anet talking point but its simply not true.
As per my last post, I think we can assume the starting point for the next project won't be the 737 tech base. I'm not sure why this isn't obvious. And with the 777/787 tech the pilot can still stall the airplane if they chose to do so, with the Airbus system the plane will prevent it. Boeing is considering going to the Airbus approach (i.e. full envelope protection) and presumably beyond, since this isn't 1987 any more nor 1967.
Increased automation is one of the reasons why they crashed. If anything, aircraft have become too automated. If I had it my way, the 757/767 (in terms of flight control systems) would be as advanced as they come. When you start adding all of these fancy functions and “flight control laws”, that is is where things get confusing and unnecessary (even for iPhone kids). The industry as a whole needs to go back to basics when it comes to automated flight control systems. Add FLIR, HUDs, new engines, wings, avionics, etc., but leave the flight controls and system logic alone.
Another one of the reasons is Boeing counted on the pilot recognizing MCAS activation in 3 seconds or less and two sets of crew did not. This is also part of this recent interview with the CEO, he doubles down on that being the cause from Boeing's point of view. So it seems the new approach will be to engineer the human element out as much as possible.
The 777 and 787 are full FBW aircraft. Having a control column doesn't prohibit FBW. Boeing asked quite a few pilots if they wanted a sidestick when they were developing the 777. It's simply a preference and either works just fine. I can fly an SR22 just as well as I can fly a C172. But adding a sidestick to this new aircraft would add considerable cost as far as parts inventory and maintenance go. The 787 and 777 will still be in service for many years. You may as well keep as much similarity as possible.
I think whatever is next will not have common pilot rating mainly to break with the past. I could also see a full force feedback side stick, just like modern automobiles have fly by wire steering wheels, it frees up space and reduces weight while breaking with the past.
So what sort of NMA did they design first that they now cannot use? It was a clean sheet as well. What went wrong? Production infrastructure? Sizing? Sizing NMA 2 will not become easier.
One thing we can think of is the last regime said NMA would be a manufacturing push but not a technology push. They in essence wanted to use NMA to prove out manufacturing tech that could be used for the higher volume NSA, and were going to try to reuse as much 787 tech as possible. Now Calhoun is saying that plan is done and investigating a new approach to flight control will be a central theme. It's more risky, but Boeing no longer has the resources to go with the earlier approach.
When you say "electric aircraft" to most people they assume you are talking about an airborne Tesla that is charged by wind and solar power. I don't know if there is much, if any benefit of using liquid fuel with onboard fuel cells and electric propulsion vs. just burning the fuel in a state of the art jet engine.
We had an interesting post earlier saying the jet turbine engine is now reaching limits in terms of how much energy in the fuel can be extracted. We also see them getting heavier and more fragile each generation to try to extract more work from the fuel. Eventually we do hit a point where there is no point in developing the jet turbine further and other options need to be explored. Not sure where we are in that journey, but it's interesting to think about it.
If its not merely window dressing to cover up killing of the NMA/MoM program, then it could be a really strong decision and best for Boeing in the long term.
Back to square one - define a modern interface between users and platform (that interface applies to more than just the skygods).
That interface can then become a common Boeing standard (similar to Airbus' cockpit has a strong commonality thread through it), and can be the backbone of all future designs.
There are loads of top level requirements that could be introduced that simply wouldn't have been viable 10 years ago
- wireless/cloud connectivity to ground ops (for maintenance, flight planning, diagnostics etc)
- augmented reality headsets for improved HUD functionality [note, not virtual reality headsets]
- ground-up protection from hostile actors on the aircraft wireless network
- improved autopilot functionality and integration with ATC systems (which would require action outside of Boeing)
If the board manage to sort their crap out and make some hard decisions - a lot of good could emerge from the ashes of the MAX debacle.
Might be time to consider anti-missile protection as standard?
Thinking more about this I think what Calhoun is referring too is that he will be pushing for a design that is more automated than we have ever seen before. Or will have the ability to be upgraded down the road when the Appropriate Software and or Hardware is available.
Let me explain.
We have to remember that whatever the new frame is it will most likely be in production for at least a minimum of 20 years (taking it close to 2050 with a realistic entry into service of the late 2020's), and be in service for at about 20 years past that. Basically taking us to 2070. However the basic frame could be produced for much longer and in service for a lot longer with the longevity of carbon frames. The "Pilot" even if there is one by then who will "fly" the last one from the factory probably hasn't been born yet.
You would want to build into the frame the ability to use systems that will become available in the next 20 years and longer.
Specifically, Real AI (not the Quasi AI we have now - but real Self Aware AI that can past the Turing Test https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turing_test
) could happen by the end of this decade and we could see it's use in Aviation before the end of the 2030's, as it should be a quantum leap in safety once proven.
Will complete Automated Flight happen with no pilots by 2030? Of course not - but the level of Automation could increase significantly by 2030 with the full flight controlled essentially by Computer basically 100% of time with the pilot just there to take over if something goes wrong (with a Big red button to push to cut off all automated control).
Now would you want this Minimally trained pilot on board to have manual control and complete the flight without computer assistance if something goes wrong? Of course not - but all you would have to do is essentially train them to fly straight and level while the problem is diagnosed. Or have a completely redundant Simple AP system that could take over (by hitting the big red button) that relied on completely different sensors and control paths. A simple AP like you would find in an Cessna to maintain straight and level.
With so many sensors and computers the plane would become incredibly complex - meaning that no Pilot would have the knowledge to diagnose it properly.
This is where Boeing services comes in (and more revenue for Boeing) - you build in redundant Satellite links (that can't be controlled by HAL) so if an issue arises the pilot cuts over to the back up systems and contacts the Boeing services center where Experts on the aircraft can remote diagnose and help get the aircraft back to a safe state or possibly take remote control and fly the aircraft to a suitable Airport if the Pilot is unable to.
This is basically what happened with Lufthansa 1829 (remote diagnosis) and allowed them to continue on safely.
All this means is that if you are designing a new frame now - you have to build in the capacity for a lot more sensors into the control systems/wiring (much like Tesla is doing now with future upgrades to full autonomous driving) and space for more Computing capacity (more future revenue for Boeing Services).
Of course whenever you make things more complex you exponentially increase the points of failure - so initially you still need pilots that can fly.
In the immortal words of Montgomery Scott "The more they overthink the plumbing, the easier it is to stop up the drain."
We already have foundations being laid by military drones. They do flights longer than SYD-LON in duration already. As I wrote it's too early for even single pilot, but you could construct the cockpit with electo-optical sensors from military drones as the primary sensors displaying on VR style headsets ala F35 with Mk1 eyeball as backup and be "single pilot ready" once the regulatory and labor regimes had adjusted to the idea.
If we're having these kinds of thoughts, clearly people paid to investigate the next steps in commercial aviation are aware of them too.
It's interesting to read this forum which has been so critical of the 737's lack of technical innovation are not willing to think beyond reuse of 787 tech.