Boeing didn't tell airlines that safety alert wasn't on

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Boeing had told airlines and pilots that the so-called AOA disagree warning was standard across the Max fleet, as on a previous generation of 737 jets.

American multinational aircraft manufacturing company Boeing knew that their 737 Max aircraft was experiencing problems months before the deadly Indonesia Lion Air crash last October but failed to disclose the issue to federal regulators until after the incident.

The Angle of Attack Disagree alert which was the issue blamed for the crash was created to let pilots know when two different sensors reported conflicting data.

According to Boeing, a supposedly standard piece of equipment that tells pilot about disagreements between angle of attack (AOA) indicators did not in fact activate unless an additional optional indicator was purchased by airlines.

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".

Boeing also convened a Safety Review Board to consider whether the absence of the AOA Disagree alert from certain 737 MAX flight displays presented a safety issue, the statement said.

The company's recent statement on the AOA (which stands for an angle of attack) Disagree alert on 737 MAX planes has revealed that Boeing's engineers found out in 2017 that the plane's display system software did not meet requirements, just several months after the manufacturer started delivering the jets in question.

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Boeing maintained that the software problem "did not adversely impact airplane safety or operation". "They provide supplemental information only, and have never been considered safety features on commercial jet transport airplanes". Boeing says it discussed the indicator problem at that point with the Federal Aviation Administration - a year after the company knew about the problem.

Relatives of the victims lay flowers during a visit by family members at the crash site of the Ethiopian Airlines operated Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, at Hama Quntushele village in the Oromia region, on March 13, 2019. However, the indicator was an optional feature for airlines. "Boeing shared this conclusion and the supporting SRB analysis with the FAA", the company said in the statement.

The FAA said the issue was "low risk", but said Boeing could have helped to "eliminate possible confusion" by letting it know earlier.

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.

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. The company is working on a software fix it hopes will get the planes flying again this summer.

The 737 Max has been grounded around the world for nearly eight weeks. Boeing went on to reiterate that when it made the discovery of the faulty software in 2017, it did not warrant any recall after a thorough review.

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