(FILES) In this file photo taken on March 12, 2019 Boeing 737 MAX airplanes are pictured at the Boeing Renton Factory in Renton, Washington. Boeing's 737 MAX aircraft will be outfitted with a warning light for malfunctions in its MCAS anti-stall system, suspected in October's fatal crash in Indonesia, an industry source told AFP. This safety light, which had been optional, will become standard and is among the modifications the company will present to US authorities and clients in the coming days, the source said on condition of anonymity.
AFP/Jason Redmond
After crashes, Boeing rolls out safety feature previously sold as option
Luc Olinga (Philstar.com) - March 22, 2019 - 11:18am

NEW YORK, United States — Boeing's 737 MAX aircraft will be outfitted with a warning light for malfunctions in the anti-stall system suspected in October's fatal crash in Indonesia, an industry source told AFP Thursday, standardizing a feature previously sold as an optional extra.

The development comes as the manufacturer struggles to cope with the fallout from both the Indonesia crash and another in Ethiopia this month, which have cast a spotlight on the safety certification process and shaken confidence in a plane that is crucial to its future plans.

Known as a "disagree light," this safety feature will become standard and is among the modifications the company will present to US authorities and clients in the coming days, the source said on condition of anonymity.

Neither the Lion Air aircraft which crashed in Indonesia, nor the Ethiopian Airlines jet, had the feature, the source said. More than 300 people perished in the two cases.

American Airlines, which operates 24 737 MAX 8, had bought the option, anticipating potential malfunctions, a source close to the matter told AFP.

So too had Southwest Airlines, the plane's biggest customer, which also bought an additional "Primary Flight Display" option, according to a spokesperson.

Modifications are in the final stages but Boeing wants to be certain this meets the expectations of regulators and customers, the industry source said.

Neither Boeing nor the Federal Aviation Agency offered comment when contacted by AFP.

'Should be standard'

But an industry expert, Scott Hamilton from Leeham Company, said the system should have already been included.

"Instrument disagree warnings should be standard and they are important for pilots to know when instruments disagree with each other," he said.

"Boeing made this an option because it could, and make money by selling it. Simple as that."

The warning light will be activated if sensors transmit incorrect data to the plane's Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), which is intended to detect and correct stalls by reducing the aircraft's pitch.

Preliminary results in the investigation into October's Lion Air crash in Indonesia indicate an "angle of attack" sensor, which feeds data to the MCAS, had malfunctioned.

But despite malfunctioning, the sensor continued transmitting data to the plane's onboard electronics, including the MCAS.

That system takes control of the aircraft, pointing its nose downward, even if the pilot resists, so long as the system is not deactivated, something the Lion Air crew did not know.

Criminal investigation

US and Ethiopian authorities have said this month's crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET302 near Addis Ababa bore "similarities" to last year's Lion Air crash.

The Ethiopian Airlines crash led to the global grounding of 737 MAX aircraft.

A criminal investigation is currently underway in the United States, with authorities reportedly scrutinizing how the plane received safety certification from US aviation regulators.

Senator Ted Cruz, the Texas Republican, called Wednesday for a hearing of the Commerce Subcommittee on Aviation and Space, for March 27, with three transportation officials, notably the acting head of the Federal Aviation Administration.

Cruz intends to hold a second hearing to question Boeing officials as well as pilots and others in the industry.

The investigations will likely zero in on the FAA's program of outsourcing its certification process to airplane manufacturers themselves.

The trend has accelerated due to budget cuts and the increasing volume of air travel, industry sources told AFP. In the case of the 737 MAX, Boeing expressed a case of urgency because of its medium-haul competition with the Airbus A320Neo that launched shortly before, the sources said.

Although it has suspended deliveries of the 737 MAX, Boeing has decided to continue production.

BOEING 737 MAX 8 ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES PLANE CRASH
As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: April 4, 2019 - 5:19pm

Ethiopia's parliament has declared Monday a day of national mourning after a Nairobi-bound Ethiopian Airlines plane crashed, killing all 157 people onboard.

"The House of People's Representatives have declared March 11, 2019, a national day of mourning for citizens of all countries that have passed in this tragic accident," the office of Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said on Twitter on Sunday. — AFP

April 4, 2019 - 5:19pm

The Ethiopian transport minister says the crew of the Ethiopian Airlines plane that crashed last month killing 157 people, repeatedly followed procedures recommended by Boeing, but were unable to regain control of the jet.

"The crew performed all the procedures repeatedly provided by the manufacturer but was not able to control the aircraft," says Dagmawit Moges, unveiling results of the preliminary probe into the crash. — AFP

March 29, 2019 - 4:34pm

Investigators probing the fatal crash of a Boeing 737 Max in Ethiopia have reached a preliminary conclusion that a suspect anti-stall system activated shortly before it nose-dived to the ground, the WSJ reports citing people familiar with the matter.

The findings were based on flight recorder data and represented the strongest indication yet that the system, known as MCAS, malfunctioned in both the Ethiopian Airlines crash on March 10 and the Lion Air crash in Indonesia last year, the Wall Street Journal says.

The two crashes killed a total of 346 people. — AFP

March 14, 2019 - 9:34pm

French investigators have received the black boxes from the Boeing 737 MAX that crashed east of Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, killing all 157 people on board, France's BEA airline safety agency says.

Ethiopian authorities had requested French help to analyze the content of the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder to discover what caused the Ethiopian Airlines flight to plunge to the ground just minutes after takeoff on Sunday.

March 14, 2019 - 5:30pm

US authorities say that new evidence showed similarities between Sunday's deadly crash of an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 and a fatal accident in Indonesia in October. The weekend crash killed all 157 people aboard. 

The ban on the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft became worldwide after US President Donald Trump joined Canada and other countries in grounding the aircraft, and the black box flight recorders from the doomed plane were flown to France for analysis. — AFP

March 14, 2019 - 4:14pm

Ethiopian Airlines says that the black box flight recorders from the Boeing 737 MAX 8 that crashed with 157 people on board have been flown to Paris for analysis.

Urgency is mounting to determine the causes of Sunday's crash as Boeing finds its entire fleet of the model grounded after it emerged the plane experienced similar difficulties to an Indonesian Lion Air flight in October, which also crashed minutes after takeoff. — AFP

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