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Editor’s note: The Boeing 737 Max has shocked the world with two major crashes in a year. It seems that the flight time of the aircraft has not been determined after so long. Recently, the New York Times noted that the US and European aviation regulators also conducted a survey at a cooperative supplier in Boeing. Will the flight control software and cockpit display developed by the company be the cause of the accident? Chris Hamby conducted an analysis report titled: Far From the Spotlight, a Boeing Partner Feels the Heat

737 Is the culprit in the Max accident a software design issue?

The senior management of the commercial aircraft company has been removed. The CEO of the company was severely questioned by members of Congress last week. The income has fallen sharply.

After two fatal crashes of the 737 Max jet (one year after the first crash and crash on the Indonesian coast), Boeing has been trying to overcome the biggest crisis in the company’s history.

And now, behind the scenes you can’t see, the censorship of the accident has extended from the troubled aircraft manufacturer to one of Max’s R&D partners, Collins Aerospace. The software that was blamed for the two accidents was developed by the company in eastern Iowa, and the cockpit display of the aircraft was also produced.

Congressional investigators and lawyers representing some of the 346 crash victims are questioning Collins’ understanding of Max’s problems and when they know.

Collins has provided his own record of the aircraft’s work to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee that is investigating the crash. The chairman of the committee, Rep. Peter DeFazio, said: “Our investigation is still in progress. We still need to do a lot of work to fully understand how certain decisions are made and why certain technical problems will occur in the two crashed 737 Max aircraft. Up.”

Collins also handed over the information to the second crash (Esser, March this year)A flight of the Russian airlines) a representative of the lawyer’s family. This part of the information has not been made public. Most of the lawyers of the families of the remaining accident victims also claimed to be planning to list Collins as the defendant.

Justin Green is a lawyer representative for many families. He said: “It is clear that Collins played an important role, which was not immediately apparent after the accident.”

Boeing has blamed the cockpit display software vendor (but not named Collins), saying there is a problem with an alarm on the cockpit display. According to Indonesian investigators, if the alarm is properly alarmed, it may help prevent the first crash.

The Boeing spokesperson said in a statement: “Boeing and Collins Aerospace are working together to update Max’s software so that the relevant units can safely resume service.”

Last week, officials from the US Federal Aviation Administration and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency appeared in Iowa. Both agencies said they were auditing Boeing and Collins’ hopes to use software regulators that would persuade regulators to allow Max’s go-around.

The high level of attention to Collins’ work highlights the possible review of the partnerships of the world’s largest aircraft manufacturers. The company also has a partnership with Boeing, which is the delivery of a long-delayed US Air Force aircraft critical system, which is being reviewed by the US Department of Defense as a flaw and is being reviewed by the US Government Responsibility Agency.

In 2012, when Boeing announced that Collins won the competition and provided the cockpit display for the 737 Max, which was still under development, the latter and the community were celebrating. For Collins executives, this is also a recognition of the company’s tremendous changes made a few years ago, and this change is done at the request of Boeing, the purpose is to spend a small amount of money to do big things.

However, as there are news reports about the crash of the Max plane almost every day, recently when the reporter went to the interview, few executives or employees were willing to discuss the aircraft.

No one will agree to mention their name, and some will throw the problem to Collins’ parent company United Technologies. A spokesperson for United Technologies declined to comment and threatened to take (unspecified) legal action if it continued to ask Collins employees about Max’s problems.

Rosemount Aerospace, another company of United Technologies, was also involved in Max’s investigation because the company’s sensors were said to provide erroneous data, causing the wrong computer commands to be triggered in two crashes.

Devotion to Boeing

The relationship between Collins and Boeing to CedarThe city of Rapids brought the gospel, Collins (called Rockwell Collins before the acquisition last year) is the largest employer in the region, and the professionalism of aviation engineering is very proud of the locals. According to the company, Boeing and its European competitor Airbus are the largest customers of Collins, accounting for about one-third of their total sales in recent years.

Mayor Brad Hart said that the small city of 130,000 people “has the convenience of a big city without the troubles of a big city”, and Collins provides thousands of high-paying jobs for the local area, supporting the local economy. Every aspect.

Hart said that “Collins’ economic impact on the city’s wages, spending power, taxes and real estate is undoubtedly the biggest.” He also said that the Max crisis will not give this reconstruction from the 2008 catastrophic flood. The restored city’s continued destruction means confidence.

Max’s key system contract strengthens Collins’ long-term relationship with Boeing, in part because Collins CEO made a huge change in so-called “a very traditional business in 2002.”

The then CEO, Clayton Jones, told Fortune magazine that the company has been a “technology leader and innovator for many years. But unfortunately, they forgot to polish their financial skills along the way.”

In 1998, Boeing executives called Jones to Seattle. Later, he recalled in a speech and made it clear that in order to get more business from Boeing, Collins had to cut prices significantly. In response, Collins introduced the so-called “lean electronics” and adopted Toyota’s popular austerity philosophy.

Collins reorganized the business unit and retrained the manager with a view to improving efficiency and speed. At the same time, it also urged its suppliers to do the same, and has established partnerships with companies such as HCL Technologies, which provides low-cost engineering services outsourced to India.

With this effort, Collins eventually replaced Honeywell, the flight control computer supplier for Max’s predecessor, the 737 NG, and provided a number of systems for the Boeing 787 that was put into operation in 2011.

In 2012, when Collins got the Max display contract, he thought his expenses had been tightened. At the time, a manager said in the company’s publication: “There must be many cost-saving measures – that is a lot of difficult decisions.”

Now, whether it is a congressional investigation or a private lawsuit, the display system is the focus of debate.

After October 2018, after the lion flight crash that killed 189 people on board, Boeing told FAA that he intended to makeAn alarm for incorporating standard features into the flight cockpit display will only work if the airline has purchased an optional upgrade. Lion Air did not buy.

Since 2006, this alert has been standard on Max’s predecessor. Its role is to notify the pilot when the two sensors are significantly different in measuring the angle of the aircraft relative to the wind.

Investigators in Indonesia have found that if the alarm on the Lion Air aircraft is working, the pilot may realize that the automatic system that dive the aircraft has been incorrectly activated.

At a congressional hearing last week, Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg admitted that his company made a mistake in the implementation of this warning. But although there is no mention of Collins’ name, Boeing also pointed out that this problem stems from the software vendor’s mistakes.

However, DeFazio said in a statement that documents reviewed by the Commission’s investigators showed that “almost every node has a Boeing executive’s participation and signature of key decisions.”


Collins did not respond to requests for comment.

This design doesn’t work

Collins is also involved in the development of flight control software. This is the core of the investigation of the Air China crash of Lion Air and the death of 157 people in March this year.

In both incidents, the so-called Mobility Enhancement System (MCAS) software automatically moved the components at the tail based on the error information of the faulty sensor, causing the nose to go down.

The pilot did not know that MCAS existed because the manual did not mention it, so they had difficulty diagnosing the problem and could not offset the repeated commands of the software.

Collins admitted in his legal instrument that he had written the code for the software, but said he was only implementing Boeing’s design. Collins denied that he had made any mistakes in his work on the flight control computer.

According to a report from the National Transportation Safety Board attached to the Indonesian investigator’s survey results, in December 2016, just three months before the FAA certified Max, Collins filed a safety analysis of the flight control software. .

A former Collins engineer pointed out in an interview that the design of MCAS should attract the attention of the company because it relies on only one sensor.

This engineer who is involved in flight control (but not Max) said: “This design does not work.” Given the sensitivity of the investigation, this person asked for anonymity.

According to a Collins employee who had participated in Max’s flight control computer, even the predecessor of Max, the 737 NG, lacked redundancy and brought challenges. The engineer said, for example, Boeing needs software to help in low energyAutomatic landing under visibility conditions – this usually requires three computers to compare the data to ensure reliability. The engineer said, but there are only two 737 NGs, which makes the aircraft “tolerantly reduced.”

Since Boeing decided to upgrade the 737 NG instead of developing a new aircraft, many of the designs of this old model were transferred to the Max aircraft.

Aviation safety investigators say that nearly 10 years before the Max crash, another fatal accident has highlighted the potential danger of this outdated design.

In 2009, a 737 NG aircraft crashed near the Amsterdam airport, killing 9 people and injuring more than 100 people. A Dutch safety committee investigation found that the faulty height sensor incorrectly activated an automatic system, causing the aircraft to slow down significantly and cause stalls.

The aircraft is an older model and does not use Collins’ flight control computer. However, when Dutch investigators tested Collins flight control computers used by newer aircraft, they found the same potential dangers – and software flaws that might improperly trigger the system.

The Dutch investigators also found that a few years ago, Collins had updated his software to compare the readings of the two height sensors of the aircraft, rather than just relying on one. However, although this update was introduced as early as 2006, the FAA did not require the airline to install this update until the crash in 2009.

Now, Boeing has proposed a similar fix for Max.

The company said that the update software for MCAS will receive inputs from two (rather than the original one) sensors used to measure the windward angle of the aircraft.

Cooperation with the US Air Force

Today, another collaboration between Boeing and Collins is also facing difficulties. Boeing has been severely criticized for the delayed delivery of the KC-46 (a 767-based tanker designed to replace many of the US Air Force’s aging tankers).

This year, the US Air Force found serious problems with cameras and computer systems designed to remotely (rather than manually from the rear of the aircraft) to direct fueling equipment. In some cases, the image on the system display can be distorted, which can cause the refueling equipment to damage the aircraft – especially for stealth aircraft, as this leads the radar to see them.

Collins offers refueling systems for tankers and other systems – in a 2017 press release, Collins executives claim that these systems are “the cutting-edge technology that can despise anything that was previously used for aerial refueling.”

The US Government Accountability Office found that in response to concerns from the US Air Force, Boeing had implemented Western European software for the system’s software, but US Air Force officials believed that Boeing did not completely fix the problem. Air Force officials told the Accountability Office,It can take three to four years for Boeing to solve this problem, and the solution not only has to modify the software, but it can also involve hardware changes—the latter is obviously more time consuming and costly.

Now, regulators are facing similar decisions on the 737 Max. The US Federal Aviation Administration said that the Federal Aviation Administration and its European counterparts who went to Cedar Rapids last week failed to complete the audit of the flight control software after Max upgrade.

A US Federal Aviation Administration official said regulators plan to go to Iowa again to review Boeing and other documents provided by Collins to determine when Max is allowed to return to the sky.

Translator: boxi.