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Citing a serious flight test incident and lack of design maturity, FAA slows Boeing 777X certification

In yet another blow to Boeing, the Federal Aviation Administration last month formally denied the jet maker permission to move forward with a key step in certifying its forthcoming giant widebody airplane, the 777X. ( More...

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mbrews 18
IMHO there’s a different summary. For a variety of reasons, theFAA seems to be saying : SHOW US the newly designed type is ready for service. And : don’t bother pointing to your MBA,s schedule, if there are deficiencies, FAA won’t roll over
Peter Fuller 19
Yes, very good points. This looks like the FAA taking back and reasserting its power as the certification authority, in the wake of the 737MAX debacle. The FAA statement basically says “Dear Boeing: We, not you, decide when this process takes the next step. Sincerely yours, FAA”. This also serves to reassure regulators in Europe and China and other places, who after the MAX debacle are reluctant to take the FAA’s word on anything, that the FAA isn’t going to cut corners anymore.
jptq63 4
Good points...
patrick baker 25
i have been in the anti-boeing chorus against the know-nothings in management and the board of directors on these pages for a while . I write from sadness in the descent of a proud american manufacturer who cannot point anymore to their successes in the past in an attempt to improperly divert our gaze in sleigh of hand away from the culture of screw-ups across the product line. Boeing must design and think their way out of the mess with better thinking from management and the bored board of directors starting yesterday. Airbus is a worthy opponent, making markets, designing the 350 and the 321XLR , hitting the bullseye again and again.
mbrews 14
I agree with your points, but contend that Boeing is merely a Conglomerate of Legacy cash cow operations. The MBAs view engineering as a Commodity that can be juggled and outsourced. The result is no tangible buildup of critical experience. On the Airbus teams, seems that the European partners let the technical and engineering folks drive the success
What makes you say Airbus is any less MBA driven than Boeing?
mbrews 4
Simple. Look at the credentials of each enterprises managers, and you will see a much higher percentage of engineers with clout. The quality and sophistication of products from Airbus also reflects the engineering ingredients.
Simple? How many technical managers does each company employ? 5,000? 10,000? Is there a list somewhere?

Actually since you've already done the work, maybe you could just sum it up with some numbers for me? Just bottom line it, I trust you.

And what do you mean by quality and sophistication? Can you be more specific? Maybe two or three examples if you don't mind?
Um, fools who think that humans behave less humanly on the other side of the pond.
boughbw 3
Kind of. The A320 is a knock-off of the 737. The A321XLR is an attempt to knock-off the 757. The A330 is a knock-off of the 767. The A350 is a knock-off of the 787. The A380 is an attempt to out-do the 747, but is also now cancelled. Even the A220 was Bombardier's attempt to counter/copy Embraer planes that were eating their lunch.

This is not to say that Airbus doesn't make a good product. They do. But the task is somewhat easier when you're just copying what the other guy is doing. The only value added by Airbus is cockpit consistency, and that is a huge benefit.

Boeing has absolutely made bad decision after bad decision. Ending the 717 and 757 lines stand-out. Had both lines remained in production, that 737-700 wouldn't have been quite the embarrassment, Boeing wouldn't have needed to try to acquire Embraer (and failed), and the 757 production might have ended Airbus' ambitions with the A321 placing a distant second in the long-thin route market. That would have bought Boeing enough time to clean-sheet a 737 replacement, avoiding the MAX debacle and potentially heading-off Bombardier's C-Series.

But we are 20 years down the road and this is all hindsight. After 9/11, many of Boeing's moves made "economic sense" and the detractors were few and far in between. The future was in view and it was the 787.
George Pepe 2
I thought of the a320 was supposed to out do the 737, the a330 was to out do the 757 the a350 is to out do the 787 and 777 (900+1000) and the a380 is to out do the 747. And this one might be a little far fetched, but the a340 might be to out do the 707
Chris B 2
The hole is so deep that Boeing has to climb out if, that recovery is going to take time.
Airbus is fortunate and it’s able to continue to develop improvements to its products.
George Pepe 1
It designs whole new airplanes. The neos are in the same families, but they are totally different designs.
George Pepe 1
Airbus I mean, not Boeing.
jptq63 5
Summery is FAA says mid to late 2023 -- posting same / similar story via Reuters / Yahoo news for those without subscription or ad blocking concerns... Link: --
Roger Wolf 5
From Cynics Corner,
Most modern corporations have to answer to their stockholders who need to see profits. Management is required to address questions as to profit projections to the board of directors. The board is required to address the allocation of assets and funds by using management-prepared budget projections and sales forecasts. These forecasts include cash flow, expenses, material costs and so on which then circle back to the stock analysts who will announce to the public in general how much the stock is worth today and perhaps will be, into the future. This then leads back to management who in response to the analysts need to send assurances that the projections are accurate so that the company will not be embarrassed. Management sends a positive communication to all employees, across the company, stating what a great job they are doing but they have to do more to meet what, by this point, maybe unrealistic performance expectations that are cemented into the projections that management has publically presented. Engineering (for example) then gets the subliminal message that they better not be the ones to disappoint the stockholders, management, and the board of directors. Thus they may need to take the shortest route to stay on budget and if all goes well they win a gold star award which includes substantial bonuses. Given all of this, and a lot more unstated, what could possibly go wrong?
David Fenner 2
of course, without profits, there is no business, no employment, no product, and, i guess, no worries.
The FAA allegation that Boeing is "not following its own (development) process" is a huge red flag. Documented standard operating procedures ("SOPs") are the heart of a quality management system. Not following their own procedures is a fundamental breakdown in safety culture. It is truly frightening.

Finding software defects during a flight test is another red flag that the software development process at Boeing or its contractors is severely flawed. If Boeing had a strong safety culture, Boeing itself would have been shocked that their "defect containment", the heart of a safety-significant software development process, allowed a software defect to go undetected all the way through ground-based unit, integration, and system test and go on to cause a serious nonconformance (the “uncommanded pitch event”) during a flight test. Boeing itself should have immediately halted the certification process while it does corrective and preventive action on its software development process.
Why not include a copy of the actual letter? Rhetorical question.
This was all perfectly predictable when Boeing moved their corporate headquarters to Chicago away from where the aircraft are designed and built. Clearly to even think about doing that showed the rot had already gone deep. If I remember correctly at the time the CEO said that it made sense to lessen HIS travel schedule distances. Strangely enough Chicago was also where he he grew up, surely that was just a coincidence...

To start to fix the culture:
Step(1) Move headquarters back to where the engineering and plane building actually gets done.
Step(2) Remove all things like "executive dining rooms" etc.. Senior management needs to interact with troops on a daily basis to really understand what is going on.
Step(3) Replace the entire Board of Directors as they have clearly failed at their job to provide meaningful oversight of management.
Step(4) Flatten and thin the organization as clearly there is a major disconnect between what is really happening and what management thinks is happening. Too many layers.

As others have posted it is going to take many years to rebuild the culture.

s s 3
Interesting how the PR coming from Boeing the last couple years is all about how wonderful the company is for diversity hiring and green initiatives and lots of other feel good baloney that has nothing to do with making aircraft. Maybe Boeing needs to focus less on how people "feel" and start hiring the best and the brightest and put them to work building the safest aircraft once again.
In modern times, that is considered to be racism.
George Pepe 2
Yep, just as I predicted. A delay from the FAA. I knew this would come eventually. but do you know who does not have these problems? AIRBUS!
For some people the saying now is "if its Boeing I ain't going.'
George Pepe 1
I say that just cause I prefer airbus. But now it seems to be true
Leo Cotnoir 2
It appears that with the 777X, Boeing is going down the same path they took with the 737MAX: patch up an obsolescent airframe and hope it works. Consolidation of the US aircraft industry and addiction to the Pentagon teat have allowed Boeing to squander U.S. leadership in that field.
boughbw 1
What is "obsolescent" about the 777?
George Pepe 2
Nothing the 300ER is very pretty
Mike Petro 2
I wonder how much of these issues are a function of trying to use software to make a brick fly.
boughbw 1
Which Airbus flies without software? The B-52 seems like a pretty good case of anything being able to fly if you strap enough engines to it -- no software required.
He's referring an article written early on that claimed moving the engines a few inches instantly transformed the easy going Boeing 737 into a no-computer-no-fly Lockheed F-117 or whatever. To call it an article is probably overstating it a bit, but whatever it got traction somehow (probably the same way as the "using swiffer wet jets will kill your dog" emails do).

The authors credentials were as follows: I am a general software developer and fly 172's on the weekends occasionally, therefore I am a flight control software coding expert with all the aeronautical and propulsion engineering expertise plus whatever else it takes to understand the design, manufacture, flight testing, and certification steps involved with bringing a modern commercial airliner to market.
I wonder how many of your comments actually add value to the conversation.
Who couldn't see this comin,. I mean, really...

It seems no one is trusting Boeing anymore. When do the investors demand major changes at America's once premier aerospace company? Especially the 'new' FAA that isn't going to roll over for Boeing anymore.

And it's not just their planes! Their satellites are failing prematurely too! They can't seem to do anything right, except keep investors shielding their management teams jobs.

Boeing needs help NOW!
mbrews 23
You seem to be vocal in demanding change. Shuffling managers / auditors / QA inspectors will NOT improve this enterprise. It takes Generations to build up an engineering culture . The folks who maintained that critical culture retired 5 to 10 years ago. Toady bookkeepers can’t design reliable airplanes
Robert Cowling 16
Quick change is possible, and acknowledging the problem is a great way to start. The longer Boeing shields their management structure, the longer this break with the past will take, and the longer Boeing will continue to drag themselves through the ditch they have flung themselves into.
Still am and always will be a "If it ain't Boeing, I ain't going" guy, here.
Well, you must have a problem flying outside your little country. MANY airlines use Airbus planes, and I really have no problem with it. Hell, MANY of the Airbus planes are head and shoulders above other manufacturer's planes.

I was devastated that Boeing killed the 757, and then built a house (plane?) of cards on the 737. Heck, even that the 767 is losing favor in the bowels of Boeing signals a departure from reality in what was once America's premier engineering juggernaut. Boeing, and its merged companies did great things in aviation. The 747, for example, it shook the world, but the glory days are over. They can't even put out the 777x, and fake it long enough to get the FAA to believe them. It's damned sad...

But, you know what? Stay home!!! I'm thinking you are one that never wore a mask, and won't get vaccinated because you believe that you are a credit to American Culture, and humanity. *GAG* Do humanity a favor: STAY HOME!!!
I had to deal with the FAA during the 30 years I spent with American Airlines. I was given the job of assisting the FAA simulator examiners conduct their annual recertifications on the 707 and 727 simulators. They all Had trouble flying the test guide parameters. The main problem was the stall series. They all had a problem of flying the one knot per second reduction of air speed that was required to match what which was flown on the actual aircraft. Could this problem also occur on the actual airplane?


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