737 Max & MCAS Videos

There are some videos by a pilot, including time in the cockpit simulator, explaining what goes on during stall, what makes the 737 MAX handle differently, and why that would be problematic.

This first one, 20 minutes, has a good explanation of the process of a stall, and explanation of the instruments in the cockpit that tell the pilot what is happening. I was fascinated by some of the “fancy bits’ on the pro aircraft that are much more “trick” than in the little planes where I’ve had hands on the controls.

He does have an accent (I’d place it as Northern Europe, possibly Norway) but not too bad and I could lock onto it pretty quickly.

At the 10 minute mark he starts to cover the particulars of the 737, including that the full engine thrust can overcome pitch control via the yoke. At 11L30 or so starts the cockpit / simulator time. At 15:50 he covers the differences in the MAX design.

This one covers the Lion Air crash and some of the information from it, along with more details on the MCAS. 14 minutes. At about 2 minutes, he covers the angle of attack sensor that might have been faulty.

Then, from a couple of days ago, how to recover from a “Runaway Stabilizer” and shut off MCAS in an emergency. 22 minutes. About 5 minutes in, is has a nice video of a large jack screw moving the stabilizer. About 9 minutes, he discusses how the auto-pilot can also be controlling the stabilizer along with a a couple of other systems. When you have 4 things (one the pilot) all thinking they can adjust the stabilizer, that seems a bit much to me. Then he covers that point that the elevator on the 737 is not enough for full stall recovery on it’s own, you must use the stabilizer trim too. At about 14 minutes he talks bout using manual control of trim, and how it is quite slow and hard to do. At 16 minutes they do the cockpit demonstration of the runaway stabilizer recovery.

Frankly, it looks to me like too small a tail & elevators and trying to make up for that with computer driven trim control, made worse by too much sensitivity to engine thrust. All that, plus 3 or 4 (or 5 including manual wheel) things / ways all having “control” influence over the stabilizer, just seems a bit much of a pilot load.

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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1 Response to 737 Max & MCAS Videos

  1. [Reply: please use your own name and not mine. Chiefio E.M.Smith]

    Dear JATR Chairman Chris Hart,¶

    I believe the FAA & Boeing are looking at the problem all wrong.¶

    If repositioning the Larger Max Engines properly under the wing by using existing Max 10 Landing Gear that are 9.5 inches taller, and thereby bring the Max aircraft to near 737NG levels of Flight Stability. This will make it quicker, and less expensive to PROPERLY train the 10’s of thousands of pilots on the only one current Max Flight Simulator. Other Max Simulators will take year’s to build, and millions of dollars to make. The world wide public will NOT tolerate a quick and dirty iPad training for the new updated Max. The Reengineering solution will be far superior and safer to any MCAS software solution. The 737NG’s do not have, and do not need MCAS. No MCAS, no problems, everybody is happy.¶

    If China, EASA, Canada, Indonesia were ALL to require this Reengineering of the 737 Max’s before Boeing and the FAA waist more time on an imperfect MCAS software solution, then perhaps you can convince Boeing and the FAA to “Do The Right Thing.”¶

    Fighter jets have inherent flight instability that makes them harder to shoot down, but difficult to fly. Fighter jets use redundent flight computers to help the pilots fly these squirrelly aircraft safely.¶

    The 737 Max is a Commercial Jet, and should be stable, and easy to fly as the 737NG aircraft that do NOT need MCAS. The Commercial Aircraft Industry does not have the Time to Test, and the Billions of dollars to invest in an Aircraft that is inherently unstable during flight. The fear and distain that is generated when people hear the mere mention of MCAS or Max, is enough for me to seek a better solution. See my Article below.¶

    Thank you,¶

    Dennis E Sullens¶

    29 year’s in Aviation Quality Assurance, 19 year’s with Boeing. Retired.¶
    1 (503) 309-9490¶
    Portland, Oregon¶
    United States of America¶


    I, Dennis E Sullens have 29 year’s in Aviation Quality Assurance, 19 year’s with Boeing.¶

    In my opinion, MCAS is a Patch or Band Aid solution to the problem created by moving the larger diameter Max jet Engines forward and up in front of the wing in order to maintain the FAA required 18 inches of ground clearance. This created inherent Aerodynamic (or static?) instability in the flight characteristics of the Max. Regardless of what you call the problem, the Max did NOT pass the Wind Tunnel and Flight Testing. Upon Full Thrust, the Max tended to pitch up and stall. The Max also stalled during other required manoeuvers. At this point “Aviation Best Practices” would require reengineering. Boeing went another direction.¶

    SOLUTION: The safe solution that was suggested by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) in July 2019 (FN01) was to make the landing gear taller, and then place the new larger Max Engines properly under the wing, thereby eliminating the need for MCAS. The 737NG do not need, and do not have MCAS. Keep in mind the design and engineering has already been accomplished on the 737 Max 10, that have 9.5 inch taller main and front landing gear. To see Boeing’s 2 minute video from September 2018, just Google or YouTube search Boeing 737 Max 10 Landing Gear.(FN02).¶

    With the Max Engines placed properly under the wing, and restoring flight stability to 737NG levels, this will eliminate the need for MCAS. Boeing could save 10’s of millions and 2 year’s (or more) to build Flight Simulators and Pilot Training cost and time to 10’s of thousands of pilots worldwide. No MCAS, no problems, everybody is happy.¶

    Several Airlines (eg Virgin Australia Airlines, July 2019) have switched their Max 8 orders to Max 10’s, possibly because of the above reasons.(FN03).¶

    The Max 7,8,9 versions did NOT pass the Wind Tunnel and Flight Tests. This is a problem that Boeing should have solved in accordance with “Aviation Best Practices,” and as EASA later suggested. Instead Boeing decided on a Patch or Band Aid solution with MCAS.¶

    This reminds me of the Baseball comedy where the Owner is trying to discourage her team players by reducing Comfort and Safety. The LA baseball team approached their charter aircraft usually quite new and comfortable, this time an old DC-3 and see the Maintenance Mechanic using DUCT TAPE to “repair” one of the propellers. Everybody in the audience laughed. Little did they know how close to the truth this Joke was!!! Ref: 1987 Major League with Charlie Sheen as the “Wild Thing” pitcher.¶

    THE FUTURE: Boeing will resist the EASA (FN 1&4) Solution because of the short term cost. Boeing will continue to try to “FIX” MCAS to everybody’s satisfaction, but will fail leaving a very bad taste in everyone’s mouth. The fear and distain that is generated when people hear the mere mention of MCAS or Max is enough reason for me to seek a better solution. Boeing will use it’s considerable government connections to encourage a very reluctant FAA to approve and re-issue an Airworthiness Certificate that no one in the FAA wants to do, and may NOT be agreed to, and followed by other similar Civil Aviation Authorities. The FAA has already said that in an emergency the torque required to use the Trim Wheel under full thrust complained about by female pilots was not going to be considered in the Recertification Process, thereby ignoring EASA who listed this as one of their concerns.(FN04).¶

    On the positive side, to encourage Boeing and the FAA to do “The Right Thing” they have the Safety reputation of 5,000 Max Jet’s costing billions of dollars at stake, as well as Boeing’s over 100 year history of quality and safety at stake. Not to mention the FAA’s 61 year world renowned reputation at stake. This EASA Solution is well worth considering because the Public’s “Trust” is worth 100’s of billions to the Boeing stockholders’ future. And this decision and solution, if underestimated, could cost 100’s more lives in the process. I think Boeing and the FAA has no other choice that would satisfy everyone. If only they were of like mind with EASA and folks like me.¶

    Instead of heeding EASA (FN 1&4) and JATR suggestions, Boeing, because of all the bad publicity, will Rebrand and Rename the Max. The Airlines and Boeing Executives will have highly publicised flights together with Wife and Children to boost public confidence in the new “Safer” aircraft. The Airlines will offer Free or Discounted fares. These and other scheme’s will only be partially successful.¶

    If Boeing does not heal the damage done to their reputation, they will go into a steep dive downward to eventual bankruptcy and destruction, as did the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines jet’s. Boeing will become the “Sony” of the Aircraft industry, just placing a Boeing label on what they “assembled,” with little or no “Value Added.” Boeing will be replaced by China, Russia, and Japan. This slow descent may take 10 year’s, but it will happen unless the Decision Maker’s at Boeing can use (during this emergency) the Trim Wheel to bring the nose of the aircraft up, pointing to clear blue skies. If not, I think this might be what the future holds. I personally will NOT fly on the Max by any name unless the EASA suggestions are adhered to.¶

    What do you think?¶

    FOOTNOTE 01¶




    “Past and present engineers within the aviation industry have flagged the aircraft as unsafe to fly because it is not a software problem, it is a structural problem that required the MCAS system in the first place.”¶

    “A redesign of the engine position on the aircraft would cost a ridiculous amount of money and would likely render the grounded aircraft useless. Flight testing and new production methods would have to be conducted, leaving the idea in the scrap bin.” [But there is still time for the Max 10, and may cost Billions more, and more death’s if MCAS’ short cut is pursued.]¶

    “Despite this the idea to add or redesign hardware hasn’t been completely disregarded as EASA director Patrick Ky said, retrofitting additional hardware relating to the angle of attack sensors was still an option.”¶

    FOOTNOTE 02. 737 Max 10 Landing Gear are 9.5 inches taller.¶

    FLAGNOTE 03: Virgin Airlines switches Max 8 to Max 10’s.¶



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