Boeing Hushed Info About Safety Alert Problems With 737 MAX for YEAR

08 May, 2019, 11:41 | Author: Trevor Moore
  • Berkshire Hathaway chairman Warren Buffett walks through the exhibit hall as shareholders gather to hear from the billionaire investor at Berkshire Hathaway Inc's annual shareholder meeting in Omaha

Following the Ethiopian Airlines crash and the October 2018 crash of a Lion Air-operated 737 MAX 8 into the Java Sea that killed in total 346 people, a number of countries, including the US, China, India, Egypt, Vietnam, and European Union blocked the Boeing 737 MAX 8 from their airspace while investigations regarding the crashes are carried out. The indicator, called an angle of attack disagree alert, is created to warn pilots if the plane's sensors are transmitting contradictory data about the direction of the plane's nose. As a result, the AOA disagree light, which warned pilots of issues with the sensors, functioned only for customers that purchased the optional indicator. The faulty sensors activate an anti-stall software that sent both planes into a nose-dive.

When the jet returns to service, all new aircraft will have a working AOA Disagree alert as a standard feature and a no-charge optional indicator showing the underlying data, Boeing said.

Immediately following the company's reiteration that it did not merit action in 2017, Boeing confirmed that it was brought up again in 2018 and a Safety Review Board (SRB) was convened to "consider again whether the absence of the [safety] alert from certain 737 Max flight displays presented a safety issue". Accordingly, the review concluded, the existing functionality was acceptable until the alert and the indicator could be delinked in the next planned display system software update.

Following the Lion Air disaster, the Seattle-based company told the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that it had identified the problem a year previously, but insisted that its own review was correct, and that the light did not have any impact on the safe operation of the airplane.

Relatives of the victims lay flowers during a visit by family members at the crash site of the Ethiopian Airlines operated Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, at Hama Quntushele village in the Oromia region, on March 13, 2019.

"Boeing's timely or earlier communication with the operators would have helped to reduce or eliminate possible confusion", the FAA said. Boeing said the faulty software was delivered by a vendor, which it didn't name. "Until after Lion Air, our manuals said that worked", Weaks said.

Erroneous data from a sensor responsible for measuring the AOA or the angle at which the wing slices through the air is suspected of triggering a flawed piece of software that pushed the plane downward in two recent crashes.

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However, the statement asserts that the software issue did not adversely affect the airplane's safety or operation.

Boeing is also developing a software upgrade and training changes to the MCAS system that must be approved by global regulators before the jets can fly again.

Disagree alerts would notify pilots whether a sensor is malfunctioning or not.

"That's negligence from Boeing in regards the AOA system", said Evi Samsul Komar, whose son and nephew were on the fatal flight.

Then, one week after the Lion Air crash on October 29, Boeing added a line in an FAA airworthiness directive that said the disagree light was optional.

Boeing has admitted it knew about a missing feature on its 737 Max plans a year before the first of two fatal crashes.

Boeing's board of directors is increasingly under scrutiny as more details come to light about what went wrong aboard two doomed 737 Max planes.

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