'Software delivered to Boeing' now blamed for 737 MAX warning fiasco

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

Long before first 737 MAX crash, Boeing knew a key sensor warning light wasn't working, but told no one

Boeing admitted Sunday that it knew well over a year before the first crash of a 737 MAX in Indonesia last October that a warning light linked to a key sensor on the 737 MAX wasn't working on most of the airplanes, but it informed neither the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) nor the airlines operating the jet about the problem until after that crash. It was later revealed that both plane crashes were caused by an issue with the 737 Max's safety indicator, which should have warned the pilots that the plane's sensor data was inconsistent with the way the plane's nose was angled. An error in the so-called angle of attack data triggered events leading to the crash of a Lion Air flight in Indonesia and, it is suspected, also the Ethiopian Airlines disaster on March 10.

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.

Boeing said Sunday that the planes could be flown safely without the alert, but said it will be included in the 737 Max before the planes are flown again.

Likewise, while Boeing stood by its claim that an AOA warning light has "never been considered a safety feature", the company also promised to fit a functioning light as standard from now on, as well as a standalone AOA indicator. Growing scrutiny and mounting lawsuits by families of the crash victims could pose a challenge to Boeing's efforts to revive confidence in the 737 Max, assure aviation regulators worldwide of its safety and lift the ban on the now-grounded Max fleet. The Trump administration grounded all 737 Max jets worldwide, creating financial and logistical problems for three major USA airlines, while Boeing continues working to fix the problem. "However, Boeing's timely or earlier communication with the operators would have helped to reduce or eliminate possible confusion", the FAA said.

Boeing said it also told the FAA that company engineers had identified the issue in 2017, along with the findings from their internal review process.

In both flights, for example, investigators found that faulty "angle of attack" sensors activated software that forced the planes into nosedives.

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Neither the Lion Air aircraft nor the Ethiopian Airlines jet had the feature.

Disagree alerts would notify pilots whether a sensor is malfunctioning or not.

Boeing is developing new software for MCAS.

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. This is on top of a promised software update to MCAS to stop it from attempting to push the 737 MAX's nose towards the ground.

The panel determined the issue to be "low risk", and said Boeing would have to fix it as part of an overall package of enhancements to the Max in response to the Lion Air accident.

Nevertheless, it did not reportedly provide some carriers and pilots with consistent explanations even after the first tragedy and became "more forthcoming" with airlines only after the second 737 MAX crashed in Ethiopia.

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