Boeing knew about 737 Max sensor problem before plan crash in indonesia

Boeing knew about 737 Max sensor problem before plan crash in indonesia

Boeing knew about 737 Max sensor problem before plan crash in indonesia

Boeing didn't share information about a problem with a cockpit safety alert for about a year before the issue drew attention with the October crash of a 737 MAX jet in Indonesia, and then gave some airlines and pilots partial and inconsistent explanations, according to industry and government officials.

Asian airlines are cutting routes, revamping their schedules and leasing extra aircraft to fill the gaps left by groundings of Boeing 737 Max 8s after deadly crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia killed 346 people.

The warning light, standard on the MAX and included in the pilot manuals, is created to light up if there's a disagreement between the two sensors on either side of the plane's nose that measure the jet's angle of attack - the angle between the oncoming air flow and the airplane's wing.

"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", Boeing said, adding that senior leaders within the company were not informed of the review and only found out about the problem "in the aftermath of the Lion Air accident". The system alerts pilots to faulty airflow readings.

"Neither the angle of attack indicator nor the AOA Disagree alert are necessary for the safe operation of the airplane", Boeing said.

"When the MAX returns to service, all MAX production aircraft will have an activated and operable AOA Disagree alert and an optional angle of attack indicator", the company said.

However, MacMillan said board members he interviewed admitted they did not even know about the software system until after the first crash, which he said looks worse for CEO Dennis Muilenburg and company management than it does for the board. In both cases, investigators have blamed incorrect "angle of attack" (AOA) sensor data for pitching the planes downwards to their doom.

"However, Boeing's timely or earlier communication with [airlines] would have helped to reduce or eliminate possible confusion", the spokesman said in a emailed statement emailed to Associated Press.

Neither the Lion Air aircraft nor the Ethiopian Airlines jet had the feature. But the disagree alert could have notified pilots that a sensor was malfunctioning. The company only revealed this to US Federal Aviation Authority regulators after Lion Air flight JT610 crashed in October 2018, claiming in this week's statement that "the issue did not adversely impact airplane safety or operation".

Boeing briefed the FAA's Seattle aircraft certification office in November, and the information was forwarded to the agency's Corrective Action Review Board for evaluation, an FAA representative said Sunday.

So far, carriers have managed to avoid major disruptions, but analysts expect that idling the Max 8s, a fuel-efficient update of Boeing's popular 737, will crimp growth plans in the near future. "Boeing shared this conclusion and the supporting SRB analysis with the FAA", the company said in the statement.

It is also being reported Boeing did not do any trial of flight test to know what could happen to the MCAS system if the single AOA sensor fails.

The 737 Max has been grounded around the world for nearly eight weeks.

Related news