Boeing 737 MAX engineers spotted a glitch in 2017

Boeing admits it knew of flaw in 737 MAX planes before fatal crash

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. However, the indicator was an optional feature for airlines.

737 Max planes have been grounded globally for more than a month after two crashes within six months killed a total of 346 people.

Boeing engineers discovered the discrepancy "within several months" of the initial Max deliveries in May 2017, the company said.

When the discrepancy was found, Boeing conducted a review and determined that the existing function was acceptable and chose to delink the alert and the indicator in the next planned update for the display system software.

"That review, which involved multiple company subject matter experts, determined that the absence of the AOA disagree alert did not adversely impact airplane safety or operation", the statement continued.

That update was never done before the MAX fleet was grounded in March following the second crash.

The statement also said Boeing's senior leadership and regulator Federal Aviation Administration was not aware of the issue until the Lion Air crash happened.

"The software activated the AOA Disagree alert only if an airline opted for the AOA indicator", it said.

"However, Boeing's timely or earlier communication with (airlines) would have helped to reduce or eliminate possible confusion", the spokesman said in an emailed statement.

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. When it does, the company said, the sensor warning light will be standard.

Neither the Lion Air aircraft nor the Ethiopian Airlines jet had the feature. Though it might have provided the pilots an extra early clue as to what was going wrong, it likely wouldn't have made a big difference in either crash scenario.

The AOA alert will tell pilots if a sensor is under stress while "disagree alert" will tell whether sensors are acting contradictory to each other. MCAS was not in the pilot manual.

Boeing is developing new software for MCAS. The warning light would have turned on prior to both tragic crashes, but it is unlikely it would have given pilots enough time to fully correct the issues and avoid crashing, according to the newspaper.

The sensors malfunctioned during an October flight in Indonesia and another in March in Ethiopia, causing software on the plane to push the nose down.

"The Boeing design requirements for the 737 MAX included the AOA Disagree alert as a standard, standalone feature, in keeping with Boeing's fundamental design philosophy of retaining commonality with the 737NG".

"In identifying the AOA Disagree alert as one among a number of indications that could result from erroneous AOA, both the OMB and the AD described the AOA Disagree alert feature as available only if the AOA indicator option is installed."
"Literally, lives count on that". "There's no fiction in flight, just the facts", Tajer added.

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