Boeing and computer modelling

Ivan brings us:

As the Boeing 737 Max controversy rolls on, the American planemaker has now been embroiled in a fresh row – after it was revealed it wants to shorten and replace some physical certification tests with software-powered processes.

Specifically, Boeing is “reducing the scope and duration of certain costly physical tests used to certify the planemaker’s new aircraft,” Reuters reported over the weekend.

There are some very good observations in the comments:

The airplane crashes? People are scared to go on it? Airlines don’t want to buy it as a result?


1. recall the aircraft…in the sense of calling it by a new name = a brand new aircraft after each crash!

2. Airlines rebadge the new plane

3. Passengers relaxed.

4. Share price up, investors happy.

5. Profit!!!


Is this the same Boeing that had some fairly major redesign work on the 787 on more than one occasion when the CAD version of the aircraft turned out to be a bit optimistic compared to the physical tests?

Airbus have been caught out too but I can think of more examples for Boeing including things like the 747-800.


The arrogance of thinking you know EVERYTHING about a system so don’t need physical tests to test if your simulation is real is quite astounding. I’m the product of a line of engineers so I know how they think but this astonishes even me.

But then I’m a Biologist, we do experiments that make engineers and physicists blanch with the degrees of freedom. Which is why we never approach the levels of Sigma physics can get to.

I remember describing to a physicist how we control experiments and he said the idea made him feel queazy.

Plenty more comments there. Ivan adds:

As an engineer I find what they are doing stupid – computer modelling can be useful when those using it know its limitations but if relied on exclusively can end up in a totally expensive mess just like climate change where everything, including all the money spent, is based on model predictions.

2 comments for “Boeing and computer modelling

  1. microdave
    June 19, 2019 at 11:23

    “I’m the product of a line of engineers so I know how they think”

    How many times have we said “That should have fixed it – plug it in, and see if it works now”…

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