Boeing knew about a problem with its 737 Max aircraft well before the deadly October 2018 Lion Air crash in Indonesia, but decided not to do anything about it, a new statement released by the aircraft manufacturer shows. According to a CNN report, Boeing previously acknowledged that an alert system that was supposed to be a standard feature in the fleet was not operable on all airplanes.
But a statement released by Boeing describes a troubling timeline that shows how long some at the company were aware of the problem before they finally decided to act. Boeing says its senior leadership and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) were not aware of the problem until after the Lion Air crash. The angle of attack (AOA) disagree alert worked only on an aircraft if the airline had bought an additional, optional feature called the AOA indicator, which lets pilots know if one of the AOA sensors is not working.
Boeing Knew About Sensor Problems
The disagree alert could have notified pilots that the sensor was not working properly In both the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airline crashes, which killed 346 people, preliminary investigations suggest faulty data from a malfunctioning AOA sensor triggered the aircraft’s anti-stall software, which pitched down the nose of the planes as the pilots struggled to regain control of the aircraft.
Boeing has said the alert function was not really critical for the aircraft’s safe operation. But former Boeing engineers and aviation analysts have criticized Boeing’s original software design for relying on data from a single AOA sensor, claiming that those devices are vulnerable to defects. In addition, the company did not do a flight test to see what might happen to the MCAS system if the single AOA sensor failed. Boeing’s recent statement says that in 2017, after 737 Max deliveries began, Boeing’s engineers identified that the 737 Max display system did not correctly meet the AOA Disagree alert requirements.
Holding Manufacturers Accountable
This report is alarming because it shows Boeing was aware about the sensor problem that could result in the aircraft going down. Despite this knowledge, the company decided to keep quiet and put a price on a critical safety feature that should have been made available to airline companies at no cost.
Safety should never be a “premium” or “luxury” feature. The fact that Boeing knew about the problem well before these fatal crashes but failed to do anything about it, is despicable and a slap in the face to consumers. Our product defect lawyers are determined to take on these cases and help victims’ families pursue and obtain justice. We also hope these cases will help shine a light on corporate greed and the very real effect it has on all of us.