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posted by janrinok on Thursday March 28, @03:10AM   Printer-friendly

Arthur T Knackerbracket has processed the following story:

While it doesn't have the same relevance to public consciousness as safety problems with commercial airliners, a successful test flight of Boeing's Starliner spacecraft in May would be welcome news for the beleaguered aerospace company.

This will be the first time the Starliner capsule flies into low-Earth orbit with humans aboard. NASA astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams are in the final stages of training for the so-called Crew Flight Test (CFT), a milestone running seven years behind the schedule Boeing said it could achieve when it won a $4.2 billion commercial crew contract from NASA a decade ago.

If schedules hold, Wilmore and Williams will take off inside Boeing's Starliner spacecraft aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket after midnight May 1, local time, from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. They will fly Starliner to the International Space Station for a stay of at least eight days, then return the capsule to a parachute-assisted, airbag-cushioned landing in the western United States, likely at White Sands, New Mexico.

The first human spaceflight with Starliner will launch under a lame-duck Boeing CEO. Dave Calhoun, who took the helm at Boeing in 2020, announced Monday he will step down at the end of the year. Boeing's chairman, Larry Kellner, will not seek reelection at the company's next shareholder meeting. Effective immediately, Boeing is also replacing the head of its commercial airplanes unit.

The last few years have not been good for Boeing. A spate of safety shortcomings in the company's commercial airline business has shattered the company's reputation. Two crashes of Boeing's 737 Max 8 airplanes in 2018 and 2019 killed 346 people, and investigators blamed Boeing's design and software for the accidents.

[...] In a report released by the Federal Aviation Administration last month, a panel of experts found that Boeing's safety culture was "inadequate and confusing." The panel also noted a "lack of pilot input in aircraft design and operation."

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  • (Score: 3, Funny) by pkrasimirov on Thursday March 28, @07:27AM (4 children)

    by pkrasimirov (3358) Subscriber Badge on Thursday March 28, @07:27AM (#1350645)

    Rule #1: hold the door! Rule #2: don't touch anything.

    • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 28, @09:00AM (3 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 28, @09:00AM (#1350648)

      Rule #2: don't touch anything.

      Except if a sensor with zero redundancy fails, you're supposed to have read the manual properly in order to do X which might have been covered in the nonexistent extra training that Boeing said was not needed.

      And if you failed to do X successfully, it's your fault that you and everyone else died.

      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by anubi on Thursday March 28, @09:30AM (2 children)

        by anubi (2828) on Thursday March 28, @09:30AM (#1350651) Journal

        I have been following "Mayday : Air Disasters" on QuestTV

        It really puzzles me how such poor design ( no redundancy ) makes it to the flight line. A common one is only engine #1 has power takeoffs for generating electricity and hydraulics...on a four engine jet? By golly I would think that for something so critical as instrumentation and flight control, all four engines would be so equipped. That single AOA sensor that doomed the Lion Air flight? Damm!

        That reeks of that Morton Thiokol engineer pleading not to launch Challenger l, knowing the seals would be brittle, having the knowledge, but not the rank, to be taken seriously. This whole charade reminds me of a Stanley Milgram experiment documenting obedience to insanity. []

        "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." [KJV: I Thessalonians 5:21]
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 28, @03:42PM (1 child)

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 28, @03:42PM (#1350704)

          was ostracized by some of his colleagues. One said he'd drop his kids on Boisjoly's doorstep if they all lost their jobs, according to his wife Roberta.

          Seems like the culture in that section of NASA was pretty bad. Wonder how bad it is now.

          If I were his colleague I'd keep a low profile. It's not like his fault the shuttle blew up. And I'd try to not have it become my fault.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 28, @08:58PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 28, @08:58PM (#1350756)

            What made the culture at NASA go that way?

            Was a "timely" launch more valuable than a successful one?

            Am I pissed at NASA for this? Hell yes!

            I believe that fiasco was the defining moment in the decline of our space program.

            But they learned something.

            They later launched Hubble, which required an extra visit to make the optics work right.

            Then later our Mars rovers. Extremely complex. And worked.

            And now, JWST. Do I remember the cost overruns? Uh...well we had some. Didn't lose anything though. Money's still here. We have more skills and knowledge than we had.

            I get the idea that it took the destruction of the Challenger to drive a point home to teach us the importance of detail. Timeliness is critical in some exception handling where unplanned phenomena have been inadvertantly triggered.

            JWST was carefully planned, and new situations addressed as they became revealed by advancing knowledge. Just like anything else I have ever worked on. The order of things had to again teach the business school graduate the folly of "haste makes waste". They understood this time. And did it right instead of "damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!". We now have an instrument in space that is performing amazingly well. A real credit to all involved in the program.

            Instead of yet another Keystone Kops slapstick demonstration of mindless lunacy.

            Boeing's having their slapstick moments as their business graduates have to learn by experience what the engineers were taught in the classroom.

            Nature does not honor edict. Man will.

            It takes us all to do anything. Some do things.

            Some pave the way to do things.

            Perhaps we will learn from our folly, but my estimation is that we will have to be replaced by others who simply learn by observing how we destroy ourselves. It happened to the company I used to work at. Success killed us by attracting corruption It will destroy the USA. It happens all over. Trees get so big they fill with deadwood and topple, releasing their building blocks to new seedlings. As long as the sun shines, this cycle will continue.

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by anubi on Thursday March 28, @09:12AM (4 children)

    by anubi (2828) on Thursday March 28, @09:12AM (#1350649) Journal

    Boeing sold out to Wall Street. []

    It's not just Boeing...damm near the whole nation ( USA ) is doing it. Enforced by laws and regulations.

    We have lost our appreciation for things well done.

    "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." [KJV: I Thessalonians 5:21]
    • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 28, @03:54PM (3 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 28, @03:54PM (#1350708)

      lulz my take from that is more like private enterprise failed and the US needed the Government (Military) involved:

      Hap Arnold empowered General Bennett Meyers to take control of the production process and do everything possible to bring out the plane

      The ‘Battle of Kansas’ involved direct military control over civilian workforce, and it furnished an example of how centralized authority and accountability could quickly yield results. Within weeks, the first B-29s were flying. By the war’s end, Boeing delivered more than 3,600 Superfortresses.

      The Manhattan Project was more of a government military thing too right? ( [] )

      From 1942 to 1946, the project was under the direction of Major General Leslie Groves of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Nuclear physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer was the director of the Los Alamos Laboratory that designed the bombs.

      So maybe the popular thinking that it's usually better for private corporations to do stuff instead of the Government is wrong. But is the US Military today as capable? Or has it decayed and fallen to corruption too?

      • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 28, @04:15PM (2 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 28, @04:15PM (#1350710)

        That said the Military isn't as concerned about safety and loss of lives: []

        ‘More Superfortresses were lost to mechanical failure than any other cause; in its first 6 months, regularly 10% of bombers that took off would be lost – per mission – to mechanical defects alone.

        So maybe not such a good idea after all...

        • (Score: 3, Insightful) by pkrasimirov on Thursday March 28, @05:11PM (1 child)

          by pkrasimirov (3358) Subscriber Badge on Thursday March 28, @05:11PM (#1350726)

          "A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week." -- Patton

          In times of war where weeks matter, it was a good enough decision.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 29, @02:02AM

            by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 29, @02:02AM (#1350796)
            So maybe the 737 MAX was actually built, returning to the the spirit and roots of it's supposed "golden age" (as per the OP's article).

            It's OK if the planes crash and people die, as long as we get the planes out in time.

            So do we really want new Boeing planes to be even half as dangerous as the B29?
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 29, @09:58PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 29, @09:58PM (#1350918)

    While we are busy haggling over hiring and firing semantics, Japan is gonna build planes. []

    Remember back in the 50's when American auto manufacturers ruled the roost?

  • (Score: 2) by mcgrew on Saturday March 30, @04:57PM

    by mcgrew (701) <> on Saturday March 30, @04:57PM (#1351023) Homepage Journal

    I met Jeanine Epps at the 2016 Worldcon, who is now on the ISS as I write this. She hadn't flown in space yet and we were still dependent on the Russians to get our astronauts on the ISS. She mentioned that she didn't trust Russian rockets and hoped Musk finished and got his rockets working.

    The next I heard, she was working on the SLS. That's a Boeing ship.