The Boeing Company (NYSE:BA) texts reveal flawed simulator, not smoking gun: ex-colleagues
Four days after leaked internal pilot messages set off a media firestorm for Boeing Co, former colleagues have defended a former pilot who voiced concerns about unreported 737 MAX software problems two years before fatal crashes.
Chief Technical Pilot Mark Forkner described in the leaked messages how MCAS cockpit software, which has since been linked to crashes in Indonesia in 2018 and in Ethiopia in March this year, was “running rampant” during a flight simulator session.
The messages fueled speculation that either Boeing or Forkner or both knew about problems with the plane’s flight control software well before the two crashes which killed a total of 346 people, sending its shares sharply lower.
But two former Boeing employees who either worked with Forkner at the time he wrote the messages or had direct knowledge of the simulator he used argued the erratic behavior he described likely referred to the software on the flight simulator he was using rather than evidence of risks in the aircraft’s actual MCAS flight control system.
For example, Forkner had no way of recreating the crash scenarios – when MCAS triggered off data from a single faulty “angle of attack” sensor – because there was “no technical way” to shut off one of the two sensors in the simulator, said one of the people, a former test pilot with direct knowledge of the simulator Forkner used.
“It wasn’t even something they would be looking for,” headed.
The Seattle Times earlier reported that the problems were connected to the simulator rather than the plane itself.
Asked for comment about his former colleagues’ appraisal of the exchanges, Forkner’s lawyer David Gerger said: “He would never put himself or his friends or a passenger in a plane if he thought it was unsafe.”
A Boeing spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Boeing had tried repeatedly to get Forkner to agree to talk to the company before it turned the messages over to FAA, a person briefed on the matter said.
On Sunday, Boeing said it had not been able to speak to Forkner but that he had said through a lawyer that his comments reflected a reaction to a simulator program, not the MAX itself.
The instant message chain focuses on his work as a liaison between engineers – including those still fine-tuning MCAS in 2016 – and the technicians who calibrate the 737 MAX simulator software to identify and fix glitches and make it feel as much as possible like the aircraft itself.
It remains unclear whether Forkner’s systems knowledge at the time included MCAS’ vulnerability to a single point of failure and other flaws pinpointed in the crashes, and whether he raised any concerns to engineers still developing the flight control law.
At Boeing until 2018, Forkner was the lead technical pilot on a team of roughly six people working mainly from desks and inside simulators on a training and services team eventually folded into Boeing’s new Global Services division.
His group was not part of the Boeing Test and Evaluation group, whose pilots put the 737 MAX through hundreds of hours of test flights before the jetliner entered service, though Forkner would occasionally join flight and certification tests as an observer, one of the people said.
“WASN’T A LIE”
Forkner and his colleagues worked on the flight manuals airlines now used since the 737 MAX entered service in 2017, and fielded operations and systems questions from dozens of global airlines operating thousands of 737 aircraft globally, the former employees said.
The former employees also said Forkner’s language gave away that he was unaware of recent changes engineers made to the MCAS cockpit software, which was still being fine-tuned before FAA certification.
At another point in the conversations, Forkner says he “basically lied to the regulators (unknowingly)”, to which a colleague responds, “it wasn’t a lie, no one told us that was the case.”
The former employees said Forkner added “unknowingly” because the information he relayed to the FAA was based on what engineers had told him and that he appeared to be unaware of changes to MCAS’ function at low speeds until he witnessed it in the simulator, rendering what he told the FAA incorrect.
Before Boeing, he was an Instructor Pilot in the U.S. Air Force and First Officer at Alaska Airlines, according to LinkedIn. He currently works as a 737 First Officer for Southwest Airlines and did not respond to a request for comment.
The world’s largest planemaker is eight months into a global crisis over the safety ban of its 737 MAX in the wake of the crashes.
The messages between Forkner and a colleague discussing simulator software flaws, and another batch of Forkner’s emails related to pilot training, have emerged as crucial issues in investigations into Boeing’s development of the MAX.
The reaction to the messages was harsh and immediate, with Democrat Peter DeFazio, the chair of a U.S. House committee investigating Boeing, saying the “outrageous” messages suggest “Boeing withheld damning information” from the Federal Aviation Administration.
Boeing is making progress on getting the 737 MAX aircraft in the air again, but the FAA will need at least several more weeks for review, FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said earlier on Tuesday.
Boeing shares rose almost 2% on Tuesday after it put out a lengthy statement defending its actions during the crisis.
Overall, the bias in prices is: Downwards.
Note: this chart shows extraordinary price action to the downside.
The projected upper bound is: 357.10.
The projected lower bound is: 317.06.
The projected closing price is: 337.08.
A white body occurred (because prices closed higher than they opened).
During the past 10 bars, there have been 3 white candles and 7 black candles for a net of 4 black candles. During the past 50 bars, there have been 25 white candles and 24 black candles for a net of 1 white candles.
A rising window occurred (where the top of the previous shadow is below the bottom of the current shadow). This usually implies a continuation of a bullish trend. There have been 5 rising windows in the last 50 candles–this makes the current rising window even more bullish.
A spinning top occurred (a spinning top is a candle with a small real body). Spinning tops identify a session in which there is little price action (as defined by the difference between the open and the close). During a rally or near new highs, a spinning top can be a sign that prices are losing momentum and the bulls may be in trouble.
Momentum is a general term used to describe the speed at which prices move over a given time period. Generally, changes in momentum tend to lead to changes in prices. This expert shows the current values of four popular momentum indicators.
One method of interpreting the Stochastic Oscillator is looking for overbought areas (above 80) and oversold areas (below 20). The Stochastic Oscillator is 13.5535. This is an oversold reading. However, a signal is not generated until the Oscillator crosses above 20 The last signal was a buy 12 period(s) ago.
Relative Strength Index (RSI)
The RSI shows overbought (above 70) and oversold (below 30) areas. The current value of the RSI is 30.56. This is not a topping or bottoming area. However, the RSI just crossed above 30 from a bottoming formation. This is a bullish sign. A buy or sell signal is generated when the RSI moves out of an overbought/oversold area. The last signal was a buy 0 period(s) ago.
Commodity Channel Index (CCI)
The CCI shows overbought (above 100) and oversold (below -100) areas. The current value of the CCI is -170.This is an oversold reading. However, a signal isn’t generated until the indicator crosses above -100. The last signal was a buy 12 period(s) ago.
The Moving Average Convergence/Divergence indicator (MACD) gives signals when it crosses its 9 period signal line. The last signal was a sell 20 period(s) ago.
Rex Takasugi – TD Profile
BOEING CO closed up 5.940 at 337.000. Volume was 38% above average (neutral) and Bollinger Bands were 41% wider than normal.
Open High Low Close Volume___
336.000 341.200 334.500 337.000 1,155,244
Short Term: Oversold
Intermediate Term: Bearish
Long Term: Bearish
Moving Averages: 10-period 50-period 200-period
Close: 361.86 363.94 369.50
Volatility: 47 36 35
Volume: 921,627 792,706 989,188
Short-term traders should pay closer attention to buy/sell arrows while intermediate/long-term traders should place greater emphasis on the Bullish or Bearish trend reflected in the lower ribbon.
BOEING CO gapped up today (bullish) on normal volume. Possibility of a Runaway Gap which usually signifies a continuation of the trend. Four types of price gaps exist – Common, Breakaway, Runaway, and Exhaustion. Gaps acts as support/resistance.
BOEING CO is currently 8.8% below its 200-period moving average and is in an downward trend. Volatility is extremely high when compared to the average volatility over the last 10 periods. There is a good possibility that volatility will decrease and prices will stabilize in the near term. Our volume indicators reflect volume flowing into and out of BA.N at a relatively equal pace (neutral). Our trend forecasting oscillators are currently bearish on BA.N and have had this outlook for the last 10 periods.
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