Boeing 737 Max 8 woes stifle Asian airlines' growth plans

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

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.

It was only after a second MAX accident in Ethiopia almost five months later, these officials said, that Boeing became more forthcoming with airlines about the problem.

Faulty angle of attack indicator information may have played a role in both of the deadly crashes, causing the 737 MAX anti-stall system to unnecessarily activate and push the nose down toward the ground even as pilots fought to maintain altitude.

Its review concluded "the existing functionality was acceptable", Boeing said, adding that it decided that the warning light could be made functional later by de-linking it from the optional display indicator during "the next planned display system software update".

"Accordingly", continued Boeing, "the software activated the AOA Disagree alert only if an airline opted for the AOA indicator".

A Federal Aviation Administration spokesperson confirmed that Boeing alerted them of the non-functioning warning light in November, shortly after the Indonesia Lion Air crash, which occurred the previous month.

Neither the FAA or Boeing interfered with the fleet's operations until the Ethiopian Airlines crash in March 2019.

Flydubai, the UAE's sole operator of the 737 Max, and one the company's largest customers, said it had no comment on Boeing's disclosure.

Korea Urges North to Stop Raising Tensions
The South's presidential Blue House said it was monitoring the situation and "closely sharing information with the United States". Last May, North Korea eliminated the Punggye-ri nuclear test site, where six underground explosions had been conducted.

The FAA put the bulk of blame on Boeing's shoulders, saying, "Boeing's timely or earlier communication with the operators would have helped to reduce or eliminate possible confusion". "Until after Lion Air, our manuals said that worked", Weaks said. 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". But the disagree alert could have notified pilots that a sensor was malfunctioning.

Boeing also did not flight test what would happen to the MCAS system if the single AOA sensor failed, CNN previously reported.

Senior FAA and airline officials increasingly are raising questions about how transparent the Chicago aerospace giant has been regarding problems with the cockpit warnings, according to people familiar with their thinking.

Dennis Tajer, a spokesman for the union representing American Airlines pilots, told the New York Times that Boeing's statement suggests that it did not fully understand all the features of its own airplane.

"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".

Boeing is now issuing a display system software update to correct this fault, it said.

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

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