Systems engineering failure with the Boeing 737 Max
Dr Dirk Pons
Dept of Mechanical Engineering, University of Canterbury
Time & Place
Wed, 19 Jun 2019 12:00:00 NZST in E12 (Lecture Theatre), Engineering CORE
Recent fatal accidents of the Boeing 737 Max aircraft arose from flaws in the systems engineering at the intersection of the aerodynamics, control-systems, and human-machine interface. The presentation integrates three main themes: the design intent behind the aerodynamics; the intended and actual behaviour of the automatic control system; the human factors on the flight deck. Also included are implications from a product liability perspective, and some background to the regulatory framework for civil aviation. Systems engineering is a way of thinking about the design and management of complex technology systems, and uses a multidisciplinary approach. The 737 Max case is a case in point, where the individual engineering sub projects met their narrowly defined technical scopes, but the joined-up big-picture thinking failed, with catastrophic consequences for human life.
The topic may be of particular relevance to those interested in flight, controls, human factors, or engineering management. The presentation is intended for a general technically literate audience and requires no specific prior knowledge of these subjects.