The Anonymous Widower

Boeing Loses Big Order For 737 Max Aircraft

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on the BBC.

The first paragraph says it all.

lyadeal, the low-cost Saudi Arabian airline, has cancelled an order for 30 Boeing 737 Max aircraft.

Nothing will persuade me to fly in one of these aircraft and this story just adds to Boeing’s woes.

July 8, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Boeing Suffers New 737 Max Issue That Could Delay Return

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on the BBC.

This is the first paragraph.

US regulators have uncovered a possible new flaw in Boeing’s troubled 737 Max aircraft that is likely to push back test flights.

The FAA have released this statement.

The Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) is following a thorough process, not a prescribed timeline, for returning the Boeing 737 Max to passenger service. The FAA will lift the prohibition order when we deem it is safe to do so. We continue to evaluate Boeing’s software modification to the MCAS and we are still developing necessary training requirements. We are also responding to recommendations received from the Technical Advisory Board. The TAB is an independent review panel we have asked to review our work regarding 737 Max return to service. On the most recent issue, the FAA’s process is designed to discover and highlight potential risks. The FAA recently found a potential risk that Boeing must investigate.

Bodies like the FAA don’t take chances.

The BBC article also says this.

Other sources said the problem was linked to the aircraft’s computing power and whether the processor possessed enough capacity to keep up.

Sorry Boeing! But I’ll never fly in a 737 Max!

 

June 27, 2019 Posted by | Computing, Transport | , | 3 Comments

My Latest Thoughts On The Boeing 737 MAX

I had this message read out on BBC’s Wake Up To Money this morning.

I have been involved in the programming of several first-of-their-kind computer systems dating back to 1969. They are always late ad usually need a couple of goes to get it right! Boeing didn’t do enough testing.

Although, I’ve been mainly involved in programming user systems and I’ve never controlled anything  by a computer program, I have worked with a lot of people who have. One team, I worked alongside, programmed the world’s first computer to fully control a large chemical plant.

But even, when I was writing something as big and complicated as Artemis, you had to take into account, that not everybody using the system, thought the way you did.

Those that fly aircraft differ in one area, that has nothing to do with sex, racial type or religion. Their experience of flying aircraft varies from a couple of thousand hours upwards.

It is no surprise to me, that some of the great aircraft stories of safe landings in difficult circumstances have been done by very experiences pilots, often with years of flying less reliable military aircraft.

They have used their experience to get themselves and their passengers out of trouble

It should be noted that the pilots of both the Indonesian and the Ethiopian planes, had several thousands hours of experience.

  • On the whole, human beings are generally risk averse and pilots are no different to the rest of us.
  • We also don’t like surprises.

How many times have you installed a new copy of a popular software system to find that it is radically different and it takes you several weeks to get used to it?

When I was writing Artemis, I made sure, that, I didn’t create any surprises for customers all over the world. The software was also tested to destruction.

Getting a calculation wrong in Artemis, would be unlikely to have had fatal consequences.

Conclusion

Have Boeing with their MCAS computer software fix to cure the inadequacies of an obsolete air frame, made two big mistakes?

  • They have created an airliner, that goes against pilot experience?
  • They didn’t do enough testing.

I will not fly in any 737 until the day I die!

June 17, 2019 Posted by | Computing, Transport | , , , | 2 Comments

Ryanair Is Starting To Hide Its Brand

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on the Economist.

It is certainly an article worth reading.

For instance, did you know that Buzz, Lauda and Malta Air are all controlled  by Ryanair and some might consider them subsidiaries?

So not only should you check your aircraft is not a Boeing 737 MAX 8 before you book, you should probably check that Air Neck End is what it says on the side.

June 14, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Climate Change ‘May Curb Growth In UK Flying’

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on the BBC.

This is an extract.

The advisory Committee on Climate Change (CCC) recently said the UK’s planned increase in aviation would need to be curbed to restrict CO2.

Now a senior civil servant has told a green group that means ministers may have to review aviation strategy.

The green group now feels that Parliament should reconsider Heathrow expansion.

It seems a compulsive argument.

My belief, is that if we restrict flying, that other countries like Chjina, India, Russia and the United States won’t so we’ll be the loser in terms of tourism and jobs making products for export, as we’ll be increasingly isolated.

But we must make the carbon footprint of flying as small as possible.

Things we should do include.

Make Airside At All Airports Carbon Free

Some airports are going this way by using electric vehicles on the air-side.

It is most certainly possible and even battery electric tugs, that can more the largest aircraft are becoming available.

I also believe that doing this will be in an advantage to an airport, as where travellers have a choice, they may be more likely to use a low-carbon airport.

Calculate And Publish Carbon Footprints For All Airports

Included would be the carbon-dioxide and other emissions, generated by the following.

  • Air-side vehicles
  • Travellers going to and from the airport
  • Workers going to and from the airport
  • Airport and aircraft supplies going to the airport
  • Waste coming from the airport.

I have not considered the aircraft deliberately.

Provide All Airports With A Rail Link

It is a scandal that some airports do not have a rail link to their nearest towns and cities, so travellers often have to drive.

The technology now exists to build a train, tram or tram-train link to most of those airports that lack a decent low-carbon link.

Complete High Speed Two

High Speed Two must be completed to Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, Nottingham, Sheffield and Leeds

Links to lines like the East and West Coast Main Lines must also be added, so that journey times are reduced and capacity is increased from London and Southern England to Northern England and Scotland.

Extend Crossrail To Ebbsfleet For Trains To And From Europe

Crossrail’s big design fault is that it doesn’t serve trains to and from Europe.

Extending Crossrail to Ebbsfleet will make it easier for those travelling between the Greater South-East of England and the Near Continent to use a direct train.

More Cross-Channel Train Services

I have taken Eurostar to Amsterdam three times and the four-hour journey is a much more pleasant and less stressful experience, than the flight of a  shorter duration.

Currently, Eurostar are looking at services between London and Bordeaux, Geneva, Colgne and Frankfurt.

These are probably the only current services that would be viable, but if they are successful, I can see others added to the list.

Should Extra Platforms Be Built At Ebbsfleet?

St. Pancras International station has six International platforms and a departure hall that gets very crowded at times.

I believe that as more services are added between St. Pancras and the Continent, that there will come a time in the next ten years, where serious expansion will be needed.

Would it be easier to add extra capacity at Ebbsfleet?

Travellers would use an extended Crossrail for connecting journeys.

Build A Rail Bridge To Northern Ireland And Link It To The West Coast Main Line

After High Speed Two opens to Crewe, this would enable a rail journey between London and Belfast in four hours, with Dublin in five.

Turn-Up-And-Go Services On All High Speed Lines

At the present time, most rail journeys have to be planned in advance.

But we now live in an I-Want-It-Now society!

Say a client phones up from Burnley with a problem with your product that needs a visit, they would often expect you to get there as soon as possible.

At the present time you would drive.

But once High Speed Two is running to Preston from Euston, it would surely be quicker to use the train.

If trains were four trains per hour (tph) to Preston and ticketing was as simple as London’s current contactless system, you might drop everything and go immediately.

If this type of service were to be made available on High Speed Two, I can’t see any reason, why it should not be available on the UK’s other high speed routes.

  • London to York, Newcastle and Edinburgh on the East Coast Main Line.
  • London to Leeds on the East Coast Main Line.
  • London to Bristol and Cardiff on the Great Western Main Line.
  • London to Exeter, Plymouth and Penzance on the Great Western Main Line.
  • London to Leicester, Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield on the Midland Main Line
  • London to Paris and Brussels via the Channel Tunnel.
  • Liverpool to Manchester, Leeds, York and Newcastle on Northern Powerhouse Rail.
  • Liverpool to Manchester, Sheffield, Doncaster and Hull on Northern Powerhouse Rail.

I am using the definition that a high speed line is one capable of running st a speed of at least 125 mph for much of the time.

I also think that some other lines will be upgraded to 100 mph-plus lines and given four tph and higher operation speeds.

  • London to Exeter via Newbury.
  • London to Exeter via Basingstoke
  • London to Portsmouth on the Portsmouth Direct Line.
  • London to Southampton and Bournemiuth
  • London to Chester and Holyhead on the West Coast Main Line and the North Wales Main Line.
  • London to Banbury, Warwick and Birmingham on the Chiltern Main Line.
  • London to Kings Lynn on the East Coast Main Line.
  • London to Colchester, Ipswich and Norwich on the Great Eastern Main Line
  • Ashford to Brighton, Portsmouth, Southampton and Bournemouth on the East and West Coastways.
  • Peterborough to Lincoln and Doncaster on the Great Northern Great Eastern Joint Line

The drive to faster services will be enabled by the following.

  • The availability of affordable 125 mph bi-mode trains from manufacturers like Bombardier, Hitachi, Stadler,and others.
  • Trains capable of fast stops at stations.
  • Relaying of tracks for higher speeds.
  • Removal of historic bottlenecks.
  • Digital signalling throughout the country.

As an example, Greater Anglia expect their new Class 745 trains to go between London and Norwich in ninety minutes. I feel these trains could be capable of higher speed and I would expect ten minutes to be shaved off this route by running faster North of Colchester.

Step-Free Access At All Stations

This must encourage more travellers.

Intelligent Car Parking For Electric Cars

At a station car park, you would leave your electric car plugged in to the parking space.

  • You will have told the car by means of an app or a voice recognition system, when you will be returning and how much charge you want in the car at that time.
  • Whilst you are away, your car’s battery will become part of the UK’s energy storage, just as it does at home during the night.
  • If the wind and sun are behaving, your car’s battery like millions of others will be used to store excess power.
  • In times of need, the grid will borrow your power, but still ensuring you have enough power for your next journey.

Get the system right and I believe that lending of your energy storage will reduce the cost of parking.

Integrated Rail, Road And Air Ticketing

Let’s say for an example you want to go from Chelmsford in England to Orleans in France. Currently, you have to look up rail and air journeys on separate web sites. But suppose a site said it would be xx pounds and yy hours by rail,road or air or a combination of any two and the journey would create cc kilos of carbon dioxide, it would surely be easiest to book what is best for you, your wallet and your ecological conscience.

Always Travel Like James Cameron

James Cameron, the illustrious BBC journalist, said that you should make two piles of the clothes you are taking on a trip, with half your trousers, shirts, jumpers etc in each pile. Then pack them in separate cases and leave one behind. He also said you should work out how much money you will need and double it.

These days, I travel very light and haven’t put anything in the hold of an aircraft for nearly ten years. My late wife; C was the same and on a week’s trip to say Italy we only needed one small case between us, that was below the Ryanair cabin baggage limit at the time.

I see people flying with cases, that are big enough for a small person to live in.

If I was in charge of the world, I would impose an excessive baggage tax.

Duty-Free Should Be Banned From Flights

I never buy anything from duty-free, except perhaps a very small present for my granddaughter, that fits in a jacket pocket.

If all passengers on a two hundred seat aircraft bought a litre bottle of gin on their return flight from Spain, that adds a fifth of a tonne to the payload.

  • How much extra carbon dioxide and other pollutants are produced by the pointless benefit of duty-free?
  • There are also other reasons that duty-free should be banned. For a start, if passengers have to be evacuated from an aircraft, they tend to create havoc by recovering their duty-free.
  • If there were no duty-free, the space saved could be used for more worthwhile purposes.

So let’s ban this silly practice!

It would be better to buy it on entry to a country!

An Interim Conclusion

We could do lots more things like this to reduce the carbon footprints of airports and travel to and from the airport. I will add more in the future.

My choice of actions are designed to do the following.

  • Persuade travellers to use rail instead of flying for shorter journeys.
  • Get to and from the airport in a low-carbon manner.
  • Reduce the cost of shorter distance travel and getting to and from the airport.
  • Nudge travellers to prepare themselves for flying, such that the planes use less fuel.

I obviously haven’t said anything about the actual flying.

Low-Carbon Flying

These are a few thoughts.

Electric Aircraft

To get any aircraft into the air needs a lot of power. People, who say that electric aircraft are possible, are probably living in a fantasy world, as the batteries will add more weight to the aircraft, that would mean more energy would be needed to get the plane into the air.

Airliners Must Be Well-Designed Lightweight Structures

All sailplanes are built out of lightweight plastic or carbon fibre, as flying without an engine is even more difficult.

This section called Design, is from the Wikipedia entry for the Airbus A320 aircraft.

The Airbus A320 family are narrow-body (single-aisle) aircraft with a retractable tricycle landing gear and are powered by two wing pylon-mounted turbofan engines. After the oil price rises of the 1970s, Airbus needed to minimise the trip fuel costs of the A320. To that end, it adopted composite primary structures, centre-of-gravity control using fuel, glass cockpit (EFIS) and a two-crew flight deck.

Airbus claimed the 737-300 burns 35% more fuel and has a 16% higher operating cost per seat than the V2500-powered A320.[87] A 150-seat A320 burns 11,608 kg (25,591 lb) of jet fuel over 2,151 nmi (3,984 km) (between Los Angeles and New York City), or 2.43 L/100 km (97 mpg‑US) per seat with a 0.8 kg/L fuel.[88] Its wing is long and thin, offering better aerodynamic efficiency because of the higher aspect ratio than the competing 737 and MD-80.

Note how much more fuel-efficient the early A320 was compared to the best 737 at the time.

Quite frankly, the fifty-year-old design of the Boeing 737 is not fit for the modern world and all of these aircraft should be retired.

Boeing’s troubles with the 737 MAX 8 are a symptom of trying to stretch an obsolete design to match the lightweight engineering of Airbus.

In fact Boeing’s management must be totally stupid, as they have the success of the lightweight Boeing 787 staring them in the face.

Lighter Aircraft Mean Less Power And Less Fuel

There is a virtuous circle with aircraft.

  • Make an aircraft lighter and more aerodynamics and it needs less power to get it into the air and keep flying.
  • A less powerful aircraft will need less fuel to fly a given distance.
  • If a plane needs less fuel, it can carry more passengers or freight.

Airbus with their A320 and Boeing with their 787 seem to be going round this circle, and they will get better with each improvement.

Boeing need to get a modern design of smaller aircraft in this virtuous circle, so they can compete.

Old Inefficient Aircraft Must Be Phased Out

Airlines are flying a lot of aircraft like 737s and 747s, that probably make a lot of money, but in terms of carbon dioxide and other pollutants emitted for each passenger-mile are way above average.

All these inefficient aircraft should be retired and replaced as soon as possible.

New Engine Technology

When I was at University in the 1960s, one of the big stories was Rolls-Royce and their development of the RB-211 engine with its carbon-fibre fan blades.. The carbon-fibre fan blades are now history, but the design of the RB-211 lives on in the successful Trent engine.

Note that the Trent can power all versions of the Boeing 787.

Rolls-Royce have succeeded because they have been able to continuously develop their unique three-spool design, which offers a shorter and more efficient engine.

The Wikipedia entry of the Rolls-Royce Trent engine shows the company has developed engines to fit each new aircraft in turn.

There is also a section on Future Development, where this is said.

On 26 February 2014, Rolls-Royce detailed its Trent future developments. The Advance is the first design could be ready from the end of the 2010s and aim to offer at least 20% better fuel burn than the first generation of Trents. Next is the UltraFan, which could be ready for service from 2025, a geared turbofan with a variable pitch fan system, promising at least 25% improvement in fuel burn.

I doubt the rival companies to Rolls-Royce are sitting queitly, twiddling their thumbs. Although being American, they may be following Boeing’s lead on air-frames and hoping that the old technology is good enough.

In my view, if they don’t come up with new more efficient engines, they’ll go the way of the dinosaurs.

Carbon-Emissions Per Passenger-Mile Will Drop

As new and better aircraft are developed, the amount of carbon-emissions and other pollutants will drop per passenger-mile.

But all older polluting airlines will have to be properly retired and not passed on to those third rate carriers; Air Neck End and Air Suicide.

 

Aviation Fuel Should Be Taxed

Aircraft use a lot of jet fuel and it is not taxed on a world-wide basis.

Do Eurostar and LNER pay tax on the electricity they use?

  • So does this give airlines a cost advantage, when offering services on a route like London to Edinburgh, where trains and planes compete.
  • Looking at flying easyJet to Edinburgh tomorrow morning, the flight is about half the rail fare.
  • What would the difference be if easyJet and LNER had the same fuel tax regime?

The airline industry maintains that tax on fuel would make flying too expensive for a lot of travellers.

But they would say that wouldn’t they!

Government Help

In the UK, these routes are some shorter routes, where train and plane can compete.

  • London and Edinburgh
  • London and Glasgow
  • London and Newcastle
  • London and Cornwall

Government can help to create a level playing field.

  • It can create a fair and equal tax regime.
  • It can fund rail improvements, so there are sufficient paths for extra trains.
  • It can fund better links to airports from city centres.
  • It can allow airport expansion if needed.
  • It could make it compulsory for airlines to offer carbon offsetting, when buying a ticket.
  • Could we see Governments banning flights of under four hundred miles?

I suspect that the aviation industry might not like some decisions.

The Eurostar Effect On Shorter Flights

Eurostar have been very successful in attracting passengers on their original routes away from airlines.

Wikipedia says this about their market share in 2007.

n 2007, it achieved record market shares of 71% for London–Paris and 65% for London–Brussels routes.

But I can see a time, when many passengers on flights of about 400 miles or less, will use high speed rail.

In Trains Ordered For 2021 Launch Of ‘High-Quality, Low Fare’ London – Edinburgh Service, I talked about FirstGroup’s new London-Edinburgh service.

  • London to Edinburgh is 400 miles.
  • The service will be run by new trains.
  • The new service will also serve Morpeth, Newcastle and Stevenage.
  • The time between city centres are probably comparable.
  • FirstGroup have said they are targetting low cost airlines.

It will be interesting to see how the low-cost airlines react and perform!

London-Edinburgh And Berlin-Munich Compared

I am comparing these two routes because they are both within a smidgen of four hundred miles.

  • The fastest trains on both routes take around four hours.
  • The UK route has a directnine-car  train every half-hour and this frequency will get higher.
  • The German route has a directsix-car  train every few hours.

In From Berlin To Munich In Four Hours By Train, I describe a trip on the German route.

In the next few years, many countries will follow the lead set by China, France, Italy, Japan and Spain and develop high speed lines between cities a few hundred miles apart.

Even the USA is getting in on the act, although Trump doesn’t give any support. I wonder, if he’s ever been on a train!

What Passengers Will Do!

I say will do, but some are already doing these things.

Take The Train On Shorter Journeys

I have noted that some of my friends, who used to always fly from London to Brussels, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Paris are increasingly taking the train.

As more and more city-pairs have a direct and convenient rail service, passengers will look seriously at it, as an alternative.

But it has to be convenient! I have gone three times to Amsterdam on Eurostar, but I’ve always come back by another route, as customs are not convenient, when returning from the Netherlands.

Fly Direct From Your Local Airport

Several respected web sites say that if you fly direct, rather than change, this is a more environmentally-friendly way to fly.

Passengers Will Choose Their Aircraft Carefully

\safety will be the main reason and I doubt, I would ever fly in a Boeing 737 MAX.

But if say I was flying between London and Boston, I would choose a Boeing 787 over a Boeing 747, as I suspect the older aircraft has a bigger carbon footprint.

Use An Airport With Good Public Transport Connections

Why spend a fortune to park your car at the airport, when you could get there in the same time using a train from a local station?

Carbon Offseting Your Journey

All ways of booking airline tickets must be mandated to offer carbon offsetting for any flights booked.

I would also make it illegal to give frequent flyer points to travellers, who didn’t add carbon offsetting!

I’ve met so many travellers, who consider their frequent flyer points are more important than anything else when they fly.

Conclusion

The aviation industry won’t like it, but with some clever worldwide legislation, flying can be made a lot more environmentally friendly.

 

 

 

 

May 12, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Boeing 737: Much More Than Just The Max

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on cnet.

It is a serious history, that explains how Boeing ended up in their current position.

I will still take a lot of persuading to fly in one!

The Sunday Times today has an article which is entitled Boeing Biggest Worry: Who’ll Want To Fly In A 737 Max?

Enough said!

I can see Internet designers putting together easy-to-use web sites to help passengers avoid aircraft they don’t like. There are some now, but they are rather clunky and you need to be fairly tech-savvy.

May 5, 2019 Posted by | Computing, Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Pilots: New Boeing Like Rodeo Ride

The title of this post is the same as that of an article in today’s copy of The Times.

The article gives quotes from experienced pilots.

These pilots give me little confidence in the aircraft.

I doubt, I’ll ever knowingly book a flight in any Boeing 737 MAX

March 16, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , | 1 Comment

737 MAX, Airbus And Aventra

I think that there are parallels between these plains and trains.

The 737 MAX is a conventional fifty-year-old design of aircraft, that has been updated with modern technology through the years.

When Airbus designed their fly-by-wire systems about thirty years ago, they were duplicated with two independent systems, programmed by separate teams. I think that the plane could fly on one system, if the other failed. Ittook time to develop, but no-one questions its reliability today.

The design and some of the things it gets up to, like moving fuel around to balance the aircraft help to increase the efficiency of the aircraft.

Efficiency and low pilot workloads help to sell aircraft.

Boeing is now trying desperately to catch up, but doing this in an ageing design appears to be difficult.

One thing I wonder is that is misloading of cargo a problem in the two 737 MAX crashes.

Supposing there was an imbalance of cargo on an Airbus! Would the plane’s computer realise this and move fuel to conpensate? Boeing must rely on a conventional approach using the flying controls.

Boeing are obviously worried as they have installed a special anti-stall conputer system called MCAS.

So what has this got to do with Bombardier’s Aventra train, that is suffering from software problems causing delays.

The Aventra is a radical design, that rewrites the rules, just like Airbus did. It relies heavily on a sophisticated computer system to control everything and bring a higher level of efficiency.

It will take time to get right, but just as Airbus did all those years ago, I believe they will.

The Aventra will change train design by as much as Airbus have changed airliner design.

March 13, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Have Boeing Gone As Far As They Can With The 737?

As a Control Engineer, who has spent a working life, solving mathematical problems, I am tending to think that in trying to stretch a fifty-year-old conventional design to match an all-composite one from Airbus, where fuel is noved around to balance the aircraft, Boeing have reached the end of the road and need a new aircraft.

They realised this with larger aircraft and produced the Dreamliner, which has been successful.

March 13, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment

Are The Boeing 737 MAX 8 Crashes Too Much Of A Coincidence?

When I was flying extensively as a private pilot, I used to follow air crash information closely. Many pilots do, as you might learn something that could be useful, even when you’re flying a humble Piper Arrow.

The two Boeing 737 MAX 8 crashes have a lot in common.

  • Both airlines had a good service record.
  • Both planes had only been with their airlines for a few months.
  • Both captains were experienced pilots.
  • The planes crashed soon after takeoff, after pilots requested to return to the airport.
  • Both planes appeared to dive straight into the ground or sea.

This is too much of a coincidence for me.

I won’t speculate as to what the problem is, but I do feel that both airliners succumbed to the same design fault.

The only similar problem, I can remember is the series of incidents caused by cargo doors on DC-10 airliners in the 1970s.

American Airlines Flight 96 had the first problem in 1972 and luckily no-one was killed.

Some modifications were made, but this didn’t stop the crash outside Paris of Turkish Airlines Flight 981 in 1974, which killed all 346 people on board.

Did McDonnell Douglas and the American Authorities act as professionally as they should have?

I made a decision to never fly in a DC-10 again. I actually did, but it was eleven years later, after all the problems had been fixed.

What Will Be Trump’s Reaction?

Consider.

  • Boeing has a factory to build parts and assemble aircraft in China.
  • A lot of 737 MAX 8 airlines have been ordered by Chinese airliners.
  • China is developing an airliner called a C-919, that fits the same niche as some variants of a Boeing 737.
  • China has grounded all 737 Max 8 airliners in the country.
  • China and the USA are having trade talks over tariffs and trade.
  • Boeing is one of the largest American defence contractors.

So what will Trump tweet?

Conclusion

I won’t be flying in a Boeing 737 MAX 8 for several years.

March 11, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | 8 Comments