"Neither the angle-of-attack indicator nor the AOA Disagree alert are necessary for the safe operation of the airplane", Boeing said.
According to Boeing, a supposedly standard piece of equipment that tells pilot about disagreements between angle of attack (AOA) indicators - which measure the plane's angle vis-a-vis oncoming air to warn of impending stalls - did not activate unless an additional optional indicator was purchased by airlines. However, the indicator was an optional feature for airlines.
"S$3 enior company leadership was not involved in the review and first became aware of this issue in the aftermath of the Lion Air accident", Boeing said in its statement.
The company's review board decided the setup was acceptable until the two alerts could be unlinked with the next planned software update for the plane's display system.
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It was not clear if the defect caused an Ethiopian airplane to crash in March, killing 346 people. At the same time, the company discussed the status of the AOA Disagree alert with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
It was only after a second MAX accident in Ethiopia almost five months later, these officials said, that Boeing became more forthcoming with airlines about the problem. Boeing issued a statement on Sunday where they admitted they were aware that it's 737 Max aircrafts did not meet alert requirements months before the deadly Lion Air crash last October.
"However, Boeing's timely or earlier communication with [airlines] would have helped to reduce or eliminate possible confusion", the spokesman said in a emailed statement emailed to Associated Press.
Pilots in the ill fated Ethiopian plane also reported difficulty in controlling the aircraft just like those who were at the helm of Lion Air.
After they discovered a discrepancy between the requirements and the software, Boeing said it "followed its standard process for determining the appropriate resolution of such issues".
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The plane had taken off from the airport bound for Murmansk, but turned back after encountering unspecified problems in the air. According to the play-back of the flightradar data, made by Bloger51 in Murmansk, the plane was in the air for 27 minutes.
Boeing did not tell airlines or the FAA about this decision.
In its statement Sunday, Boeing maintained that the software issue "did not adversely impact airplane safety or operation".
Disagree alerts would notify pilots whether a sensor is malfunctioning or not.
"So you have to kind of wonder are these people really there and are they sitting around the table helping Boeing oversee its strategy?"
Boeing briefed the FAA's Seattle aircraft certification office in November 2018 and the information was forwarded to the FAA's Corrective Action Review Board for evaluation. Even if an airline didn't pay extra for the AOA indicator display gauge (pictured here on a schematic for earlier 737 versions than the MAX), if the sensors went out of sync, a warning should have been shown to the pilots.
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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.