Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg has admitted that the company made a “mistake” in handling a problematic cockpit warning system in its 737 Max jets before two crashes killed a total of 346 people in Ethiopia and Indonesia. According to an ABC news report, Muilenburg was speaking to reporters at the Paris Air Show when he said Boeing’s communication with regulators, customers and the public was not consistent and that is “unacceptable.”
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has faulted Boeing for not telling regulators for more than a year that a safety indicator in the cockpit of the 737 Max jet was not working as intended. This botched communication has eroded Boeing’s credibility as the company struggles to rebound from the Ethiopian Airlines and Lion Air crashes in Ethiopia and Indonesia.
Muilenburg said the company “clearly made a mistake in the implementation of the alert.” Pilots have also expressed anger that Boeing did not inform them about the new software that has been implicated in the fatal crashes. Boeing 737 Max jets have been grounded worldwide for three months and will be allowed to operate again only after regulators approve Boeing’s fix to the software.
The feature in question, which is called an angle of attack or AoA alert, cautions pilots when sensors measuring the up-or-down pitch of the plane’s nose relative to oncoming air, might be wrong. Boeing has admitted that its engineers knew within months of the plane’s 2017 debut that the sensor warning light only worked when paired with an optional feature, which was sold as an “extra” at a premium price.
Budget airlines did not purchase this safety option, which should have been included at no cost, considering that it was not really “an option,” but a feature that was critical to the plane’s safe operation. In both fatal crashes, the sensors malfunctioned alerting the anti-stall software to push the noses of the planes down. The pilots were unable to regain control of the aircraft.
The Need for Accountability
It is important to remember that Boeing could have helped prevent these crashes had it made known to regulators and the public that it knew before the fatal incidents that the cockpit warning system was not working as intended. In addition, the airplane manufacturer sold safety features, which the aircraft should have come equipped with, as “premium options.”
Safety should never be considered a luxury, whether it’s on a car or airplane. This is yet another example of corporations putting profits before people. Our product defect attorneys are determined to fight for victims who lost loved ones as a result of these defective aircraft and to hold Boeing accountable.