Boeing says safety alert in 737 Max didn’t work in all planes

Boeing says safety alert in 737 Max didn’t work in all planes

Monday, Southwest Airlines said the feature - a warning light to indicate a faulty Angle of Attack sensor - apparently hadn't been working, and Boeing didn't say anything about it until a Max 8 plane crashed off Indonesia in October.

Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg defended the safety systems of its 737 Max jets in his first comments to shareholders and reporters since two deadly crashes involving the best-selling plane.

It was at that point inspectors learned Boeing had decided to make the malfunction alert an optional extra costing more money - and had deactivated the signal on all 737 Max delivered to Southwest without informing the carrier.

Federal Aviation Administration safety inspectors and supervisors were also unaware of the change, according to government and industry officials that spoke to The Wall Street Journal.

Former Boeing engineers and aviation analysts interviewed by CNN have criticized Boeing's original software design for relying on data from a single AOA sensor, claiming that those devices are vulnerable to defects.

This brings forward the delivery of Max 10s - which can carry more passengers and have lower costs per seat - originally scheduled to the start deliveries in January 2022. However, the disagree alert was not operable on all airplanes because the feature was not activated as intended.


In both 737 Max crashes, the jet's Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System misfired and repeatedly pressed the nose of the planes down until flight crews lost control.

Although Boeing has updated the 737 Max's software to include input from two AOA sensors, Boeing's CEO Dennis Muilenburg said Monday those updates are not an admission of an initial design flaw.

"We've confirmed that it was designed for our standards, certified for our standards and we're confident in that process", he said.

Daniel Johnson, a Boeing shareholder on and off since 1984, said it had been "a great investment, better than anything else".

The angle of attack (AOA) disagree light came as standard in previous versions of the airline's Boeing 737s and lit up, much like an engine oil warning light in a vehicle, if two sensors in the plane were not supplying the same reading.

It reiterated its stance that air speed, attitude and altitude displays, together with the stick shaker, were the primary flight information indicators in the flight deck.


Boeing last week announced earnings fell 21 per cent in the first quarter because of the crisis.

Mr Muilenburg said that the MCAS system met its "design and certification criteria" and pointed to a number of other scenarios that may have contributed to the fatal accidents including actions taken or not taken by pilots.

"We know this is a link in both accidents that we can break".

At the start of the meeting, Muilenburg called on attendees to observe a moment's silence to honour the victims of the crashes, and said the accidents continued "to weigh heavily on us". "My clear intent is to continue to lead on the front of safety and quality and integrity".

Muilenburg escaped a bid by shareholders to separate his hats as both chairman and chief executive with only 34 per cent voting in favour of the move, well short of a majority.


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