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Boeing removed a feature that protects its 787 planes during lightning strikes as a cost-cutting measure, even after FAA experts objected

Boeing removed a feature that protects its 787 planes during lightning strikes as a cost-cutting measure even after technical experts from the Federal Aviation Administration experts objected, according to a new report from The Seattle Times. The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure will today grill FAA Administrator Steve Dickson about why the FAA's managers ultimately approved the change, which involved removing copper foil from part of the 787 Dreamliner's wings. ( More...

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Rico van Dijk 22
I’m beginning to think that the FAA simply lacks the skills and knowledge at the level that Boeing works at.
When Boeing is challenged with a critical safety question, and they give an explanation, all the FAA can reply is, “if you say so...”
The first clue being the Administrator of the FAA telling congress he doesn't have the required skills, knowledge, or man-power available in-house?
Robert Cowling 41
It's the rush at deregulation. The aim to make government look incompetent. By taking inspections out of the hands ot the regulator (FAA) and making them rely on the self-service of the regulated, the hope is that the people will think that 'government is useless'.

An infamous quote backing this is the idea of 'shrinking government to the point it can be drowned in a bathtub'. Yes, government HAS shrunk, but ironically with all of this shrinkage, the deficit has exploded, and the national deficit is surging over a trillion dollars. Where all that money is going should be a major concern for all tax payers. The government is stopping FDA inspections, the EPA is stopping enforcement actions, and inspections, the FAA has just realized (apparently) that listening to the sweet lies of the industry they were created to regulate is a recipe for disaster. Regulatory inspections save lives. Regulatory inspections save money. Regulatory inspectors SAVE HUMAN LIVES! They also cost corporate money after being caught, but BOO HOO. Capitalism, everything has a price, and nothing has any value.
Murray Beard 5
I work in the medical device industry and I can assure you that with respect to that industry the FDA is as active as ever.
raphaelsv 0
Good, as it should be. And as it should be in the aviation industry as well. Governments role is to make sure regular people arent getting screwed by corporations with money and power. Government is elected by the people, for the people.
Colchicine was introduced to the US by Benjamin Franklin & has been available ever since.

Enter the FDA Unapproved Drug Initiative of 2006

July 30, 2009:
The FDA granted URL Pharma a marketing exclusivity agreement in exchange for URL Pharma doing new studies and investing $100 million into the product, half of which goes to the FDA for the "application fee".

A few days later:
Renamed Colcrys, won FDA approval in the United States as a stand-alone drug for the treatment of acute flares of gout. The approval was based on a study in which two doses (1.2 mg and 0.6 mg) an hour apart were as effective as higher doses in combating the acute flare of gout.

Cherry pick a few studies, same drug, slightly lower dose, change the name, pay the "application fee" then jack the price up from 9 cents per pill to about $8 overnight. Annual costs for the drug to U.S. state Medicaid programs vary from $1 million to $50 million per year. Costs to Medicare have been similar.

Don't get me started on EPI pens. If this is not getting screwed, I don't know what is.
raphaelsv 1
Im not sure what part the FDA has in regulating prices. But, I think they do in regulating drugs, their manufacture and who sells them. The government has done its part there. Now the government still needs to make sure regular people arent getting screwed over by corporations jacking up prices, or succumbing to lobbyist to keep healthcare away from people to allow pharmaceuticals, insurance companies and other private institutions that peddle healthcare at absurd costs to you.

The governments job should be to protect its citizens, and sure it has in some ways, but in the US the fundamentals still lay in the hands of people and corps that look at profits over humans. Some people want that to change and some people are adamant that it doesnt, screaming socialism/communism at every turn, and we should all know what party those people belong to. Same people who advocate for deregulation of the FAA.
Philip McNiel 2
I'll tell you what part the alphabet regulation agencies have in regulating prices: They raise the barrier for entry into an industry high enough that companies can jack up prices without fearing competition from equally-competent competitors.
raphaelsv 0
In what industry has that happened? Is it worth considering its maybe not always ideal for companies to enter markets with minimal investments, cutting costs in safety, quality, labour, certification etc.?

And of course the US could join the rest of the civilized world where your mentioned problems arent a concern.
Boeing said in a statement to The Seattle Times that the 787 has "several other layers of protection from lightning strikes" and that each design change "was properly considered and addressed by Boeing, thoroughly reviewed with and approved by the FAA."

Did they ever publicly state what those several other layers of protection are?
Steven Palmer 9
And why was a design change considered necessary anyway?
Ahhh to reduce costs of course!!!
Silly me.
So are you thinking Boeing should transition to a non profit or to a full-on charity? Not that it matters really (since the idea is so stupid), but technically there is a difference.
Dan Chiasson 1
Put it in your pants bud. No need for bully verbiage.
Take that dress off and I'll think about it.
Dan Chiasson 2
Ya couldn't handle it sport.
Ok then, make me a sandwich and I'll think about it.
Nitrogen for one.
ian mcdonell 8
I would like to hear the full disclosed story before drawing any conclusions, and a hearing by any House Committee is not the place to get the full story
Lois Lettini 2
AMEN to that!! What and whom can we trust anymore?
john doe 3
The same people we can always trust, those whose best interest lies in transparency and getting the truth to the public: no one.
Ken Hardy 4
Is the need for the copper backed by empirical Engineering data or is it just a redundant layer, like a third backup Hydraulic system might be. Safety is critical but piling on is overkill and can add to other problems and issues not just cost.
Ricky Scott 12
The Douglas mindset strikes again.
James Simms 3
Pan Am Flight 214, December 1963
Rob Carlassara 13
Out of control capitalism. You want to know what I am talking about? Google " Chris Hedges" and listen to one of his lecture.

The American Empire is coming to an end. This Is a prime example.
Kyle Griffin 8
I could not agree more with this.

Too many stupid people argue in favor of a free, unregulated market because only because any other alternative is CoMmUNism.

Yet that greedy mindset will end up bankrupting a lot of companies that can't afford to pay off legal fees from disasters caused by their ignorance. Think PG&E bankruptcy most recently, maybe Boeing in the future? Cost-cutting only leads to crappy products and that is NOT what a plane should be.
Lois Lettini 2
And why are these people stupid? Because they refuse to investigate facts (which might require some reading), about everything and anything. They would rather worship Capitalism, as it is easier than seeking out the truth. How one cannot realize that business cares only for their monetary bottom line, is beyond me. But then, perhaps, money is the only thing that these people revere. Education and learning does not interest them.
Robert Cowling 13
Because lightning is so harmless, and never hits airplanes. Boeing is a monster of half thought out bad decisions.
wigmore hoover 11
In my view from the outside , the entire top management at Boeing needs an overhaul . In my opinion it is beyond sanity that this team yet again allowed the B737 to be stretched further,continueing a process that began during the 1960's . They have now created a basically unstable airplane due to the inappropriate new engine design and placement forward
of the known center of gravity . So , the end result is that the B737 Max can now only be safely flown with flight computer assistance , and is inherently unstable minus this input . Yes , or No ? And , now we are given the news that , in my view , critically important copper wire conducting mesh shielding has been eleminated from the carbon fiber wing tips due to cost cutting...? ! Note : carbon fiber airplanes need all the wire mesh shielding they can get in order to mitigate lightning strikes , for all of the obvious physical reasons . Yes ?
Silent Bob 1
I can't speak for anything 787 related, but to answer your question re: MCAS on the 737 - no, the airplane is not at all unstable and does not need computer control. This is not a FBW system like the Airbus. MCAS is literally just lines of code in the flight control software that involves the Speed Trim System. All MCAS does, or is supposed to do anyway, is increase the pitch force at high AOA to make it harder to further increase AOA toward a stall. The NG and earlier models did this naturally through aerodynamics. The Max with the new engine placement requires help in order to achieve this. It is purely a certification issue and has nothing to do with the control-ability or stability of the aircraft.
raphaelsv 1
Uh... you just contradicted yourself as far as I know. If the 737 max needs a computer system to make it stable in certain aerodynamic situations, can you say it is aerodynamically stable? You mentioned how older versions were aerodynamically stable without the help of computers, so how can the 737 Max be if it needs MCAS? i think the point made by the original commenter was that the 737 MAX is indeed not stable unless it has a computer to aid it in some situations.

Sure, level flight should be ok, but if there has to be a computer to aid it to not stall at takeoff, is that really not an unstable airplane? The F117 was inherently unstable unless aided by computers that made thousands of corrections to flight surfaces every second. Doesn't mean it wasn't flyable, it wasn't stable unless the computers worked. The 737 max can fly normally, but the engineers made a decision that it needed a system to push the nose down because it became unstable in certain situations in what i would consider normal flight (takeoff) because of design choices to fit engines too far forward. Doesn't sound "stable" to me, if older 737 were stable without MCAS.

Its not really a certification issue if "it needs help in order to achieve stable flight through a computer system because the engines make it aerodynamically unstable in some conditions"...

Im no expert, but thats my two cents
"If the 737 max needs a computer system to make it stable in certain aerodynamic situations, can you say it is aerodynamically stable?"

Yes, you absolutely can. You can because what if that "certain aerodynamic situation" was, say, while flying inverted? Or while flying straight up? Those are both aerodynamic situations, right? Yes, they are, but the idea of an airliner being stable in those situations is absurd because they are both way outside of the normal flight envelope in a place where all bets are off. Asking for stablilty both inside and outside the normal flight envelope is asking for an airplane with no flight envelope. The laws of physics might have something to say about the idea.

MCAS does not exist to make the airplane stable, it exists to make the max handle like the NG. We can resort to taking pot shots at MCAS all day long, but there's still a difference.

Also, there's a switch to turn MCAS off while in flight. It doesn't seem very likely the switch would exist if using it might make the airplane unstable.

"The 737 max can fly normally, but the engineers made a decision that it needed a system to push the nose down because it became unstable in certain situations in what i would consider normal flight (takeoff)"

No they didn't. Flaps are down during take off. MCAS is not active when flaps are down.

This myth will never die.
"the B737 Max can now only be safely flown with flight computer assistance"

You really think that moving the engines 7 inches on a 132 foot long passenger jet would effect the handling so radically that a human pilot could no longer fly it? You really think that moving the engines 0.004419% will transform an easy flying 737 into something only a computer fan fly? Like a B-2 or F-117?

Good grief.
Please sir. I realize that you most likely have 500,000 hours of flying time on everything from a crop duster to a 787, but the fellow's only been on here a year and obviously doesn't have your credentials. Be kind and cut him a little slack.
In the unlikely event that Wigmore's feelings were hurt by my questions, he should probably think about starting a blog rather than posting to public forums. I'm sure MH370 would drive tons of traffic his way (assuming the narrative continues to fit).

And by the way Greg, you really don't need to be type certified on the space shuttle to figure this shit out.
Falconus 1
If you had been following the problems with the 737 MAX even a little, you would know that this is the case, at least in high angle-of-attack high thrust situations.
If I were following this just a little, I might think your "in high angle-of-attack high thrust situations" statement makes sense. But I'm not and I don't.
patrick baker 6
boeing has been exposed once again and the picture is not pretty. I would respect them just a bit of they overbuilt for safety's sake, didn't charge for safety enhancements- these are not automobiles that need undercoating, for instance-and generally stop embarassing themselves at every new revelation.Begin now......
So is your "if it's safety related, it's free" mandate apply to all airplane manufacturers, or just Boeing?

Just commercial aviation, or general as well?

What if a safety enhancement is available, but available only through a 3rd party?

How do you plan to prevent manufacturers from just jacking up the base price?

How do you plan to prevent manufacturers from just killing off all safety related R&D programs?

Answers to these questions should be fairly straight forward, assuming you have spent more than 5 seconds thinking it through.
Falconus 4
1. Not free, but part of the cost of doing business.
2. Both commercial aviation and general aviation
3. Nobody said aviation is cheap. If you aren't willing to pay for basic safety features, there is no place for you in aviation.
4. Regulations.
1. As opposed to being not free, and not a part of the cost of doing business? What does that even mean?

2. Of course it's both.

3. So what does a 172 go for new these days, 300k? And what does that new Garmin emergency autoland system go for again? Oh, yeah, more than twice that amount. So let's see, that plus that, carry the one... got it. Retail for a Cessna 172 should be somewhere north of a million bucks. And that's just one safety feature. You're right about one thing, nobody is gong to say aviation is cheap.

4. Regulations? So can I assume you'll tap the FAA for enforcement? You know, the FAA who's failure to regulate is the exact reason we're having this conversation in the first place, that FAA. They can't get it done now, so adding innovation and creativeness to their list of responsibilities would really help. Think outside the box a minimum of five times per year, or else!

You're going to have to think it through a little further than that. Have you considered getting into politics? You're a natural.
Dan Chiasson 2
Easy big guy. Showing your bias.
Yous not aughta be asking no basic common sense questions round here (if yuh know whut's good fur yuh).

Thanks, Dan. Are you especially insightful, or is my bias against stupidity really that obvious?
Dan Chiasson 4
both ;-{)
Chris Graham 2
We called the FAA the Coffin Administration. They only made changes or enforced their own regulations after many people were killed. Just ask the NTSB.
Dan Chiasson 2
"Bad form" is an understatement. "Negligent", as per Merriam-Webster: "To be negligent is to be neglectful. Negligence is an important legal concept; it's usually defined as the failure to use the care that a normally careful person would in a given situation. Negligence is a common claim in lawsuits regarding medical malpractice, auto accidents, and workplace injuries."
Jim Ward 2
Can’t we just go back to basics and quit betting our lives on a silicon diode ?
Dave Canzano 2
The Arrogant Accountants strike again.
Dan Chiasson 2
Reduced cost = greater profit = happier share holders. In this context, passenger safety is no more than an overhead to be reduced wherever possible. Very fine line between acceptable safety and profit. Has Boeing crossed that line?
sharon bias 5
This sort of mind set is what bit Boeing in the rear with regards to the 737. It just took awhile for the problems to become apparent in the 737. Will have to see if 787's start dropping out of the sky.
Robert Graham 1
Must wait for lightning to know. Stressful.
Nan Lindstrom 3
Bad form. We have had enough flight accidents due to equipment failure, weather, etc. Why add to this? When we do have an issue (and it will come) due to not being protected from lightening strikes, not only will it cost lives, it will also cost to recall and have all 787's modified to put in place what should have been in place to begin with. Very bad decision. This should NOT be approved. Haven't they learned? Why gamble with human lives when they know how to prevent an accident dealing with lightening strikes? Very bad decision. I won't let my folks fly on a 787 unless this bad decision is reversed.
Nan Lindstrom 0
Totally agree--gross negligence- more direct.
On today's episode of "What The Actual Fuck, Boeing?"
Dan Chiasson 1
Maybe they want to drive the stock down further in order to profit from a greater rebound!
Can't go down too far. Can't recover from that big a stall
José Rivera 2
Ponen en peligro los viajeros por ahorrarse dos o tres pesos. Les va muy mal
raphaelsv 1
All i can say is, watch the 787 documentary by Al Jazeera. Safety problems and FAA ineptitude and Boeing going full "profits over quality" all around. Dont take it from me, take it from Boeing safety and quality engineers. One of them said he waits on the day a 787 drops out of the sky...
Joseph Brown 1
Does anyone else have the suspicion that someone at Boening is trying to destroy the company?
john kilcher 1
And the world is flat as well. Good grief!!
Mark Kanzler 1
Lesson learned: don't add extra safety features which you'll have trouble removing later if they're determined as unnecessary.
stratofan 0
I see the Boeing haters are piling on already! By the way where is MH370 with his usual retorts? First of all, why are airliners not falling out of the sky over the years after being struck by lightning? Because they are built to withstand it anyway,Duh-huh! I love how the masses jump on any media tripe without questioning their source. There is usually a reason why a change is made to an airplane, and it is not always cost related. That is why they use block numbers for a model when a change is made. Second, I was on an old Lockheed Electra many years ago flying into Anchorage, and we had a lightning strike, and we survived. Not bad, but the captain was a 30-plus year veteran of flying in the Aleutians.
Researching the Special Condition A350-900 Airplane; Lightning Protection of Fuel-Tank Structure To Prevent Fuel Tank Vapor Ignition - plus additional exemptions for Airbus due to composite wing construction - use nitrogen gas inverting. Airbus received an exemption from the FAA - Boeing appears to have used the Airbus exemption to reduce their complexity to that of Airbus. Why FAA approved Airbus but now is coming back and saying we shouldn't have allowed Boeing to do that is beyond comprehension. It makes good news for a reporter known to be anti-Boeing and unwilling to research the Federal Register.
Lois Lettini 0
I am NOT a Boeing hater. However, I also am not in favor of fixing possible air disasters AFTER they happen. This gives me a VERY uneasy feeling when I am flying. On the subject of the Lockheed Electra (which I have also flown in many times), would it be fair to say that you survived that lightning strike in large part due to the fact that the Electra was a propeller aircraft, not a jet?
Marilyn Tully 0
Heres another Max8 situation. Lets take a shortcut and have some people die before we fix it.
after this story I now would feel uncomfortable to be flying in a 787 in a lighting storm, I would hate to find out if this copper insulation is needed the only way we will know is if we have a episode !
m i -2
Oh, no more shit...
Dan Chiasson 2
Ahhhh, the positioning of a small comma. "Oh, no more shit" versus, "oh no, more shit". Which way are you leaning?
Lois Lettini 1
As an English major, I LOVE IT!!
Mudit Kumar -2
It’s about time FAA goes for Congressional hearing and clears it act. Luckily no 737 Max crashed in USA, but how could it get pass FAA?

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