We have been presented with stories that there was the overwhelming pressure right from the top of BCA
to do everything as cheaply as possible and to have it finished yesterday
- with MCAS the worst, but certainly not the only example coming to light.
I hope that I am not being too optimistic, but I see every reason to assess the current situation as one where safety is everything at BCA in 2021, rather than a "nice to have" which really had been sidelined - at least in the minds of the most senior staff.All that pressure has gone - or should have.
Anyone still operating like that is actually letting their workmates and BCA down, as well as the travelling public and the airlines buying the planes.
And risks jail-time.
Since you are going with exaggerations, I'll flip them around -- do you really think Boeing is now telling its engineers they no longer need to be concerned about budget or schedule? In essence this is what you are claiming above. Personally, I'm going to go forward knowing budget and schedule are always going to be significant factors in real world engineering.
IMO Boeing successfully managed to make a bunch of drunken texts about training standards become the focus of the MCAS investigation, rather than management pressuring engineers both inside Boeing and at FAA to meet budget and/or schedule demands. We clearly have never gotten to the bottom of the failures on the engineering side that led to MCAS in the first place. It looks like the "three second guy" will take his secrets with him to his grave. Our useless Congress could have gotten to the bottom of things, but instead we had made-for-TV moments with wailing victim's families and cynical questions from rich Senators about the CEO's pay package.
So what is cynical about my statement?
A change to the grounding structure of the instrumentation panel by production, that seemingly has not gone through a review process . Is there a review process for small changes at Boeing would be the question.
A quality control that does seemingly do not check grounding. What does quality control do at Boeing, is it insufficient or are they overruled. If this would be the only case out of Boeing in regards to quality, that would be a different thing.
The failure is found when a 737MAX will not start, because the insufficient grounding keeps part of the instrumentation or control system from working.
That could have happened in the air. Failures that manifest themselves not all the time are about the worst.
I would hardly accept your limited area description, as when investigated, the fault seems to be widespread through the instrumentation panels.
In regards to complexity of engineering. Because things interact in complex ways, you exactly keep things you can control simple for example grounding.
You follow certain rules in regards to grounding. You define dedicated grounding paths. You make sure that all grounding points are blank metal. You connect grounding points by strips and wires and do not rely to much on structures.
And the main point, engineers do not assume that small changes are benign, they check.
A cynic would say the change has not gone through a review process, rather than the change was insufficiently reviewed. A cynic would say that quality control does not check grounding, rather than quality control did an insufficient check for grounding. That's what is cynical about your statements, you choose to create the impression that nothing was done rather than it was done inadequately.
As you say, engineering is complex, things interact in complex ways, little things like paint applied incorrectly can invalidate a lot of work. As you say, there could have been a way for this to cause issues in the air, so it's good that it's being addressed now while the planes are on the ground. It seems FAA is determined that Boeing learn a lesson on this one, good for them!
As someone with a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering, I can say we didn't spend much if any time on grounding. Just like physics undergrads assume no friction, EE undergrads largely assume zero ohms to ground, that's the difference between academia and industry.