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Boeing Board's Lack of Expertise Under Scrutiny in 737 MAX Safety Oversight

Boeing Board's Lack of Expertise Under Scrutiny in 737 MAX Safety Oversight

But the statement released on Sunday described a troubling timeline that shows how long some at the company were aware of the problem before finally deciding to act.

When the discrepancy was found, Boeing conducted a review and determined that the existing function was acceptable and made a decision to delink the alert and the indicator in the next planned update for the display system software.

Boeing revealed Sunday that the company knew about the issues with its 737 Max airplanes for months before the two deadly crashes that killed almost 350 people. While investigators have not determined if the lack of the alert function played a role in the Lion Air crash and the Ethiopian Airlines crash that followed, the disagree alert could have told pilots that a sensor was malfunctioning.

However, MacMillan said board members he interviewed admitted they did not even know about the software system until after the first crash, which he said looks worse for CEO Dennis Muilenburg and company management than it does for the board.

Boeing has admitted that it knew its fleet of Max 737 were faulty before the Lion Air crash.

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.

In 2017, after 737 MAX deliveries began, Boeing engineers "identified" that the 737 Max display system software did not correctly meet the AOA Disagree alert requirements, the statement reads.

Still, when the MAX returns to service, all MAX production aircraft will have an activated and operable AOA Disagree alert and an optional angle of attack indicator, Boeing said.

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"Neither the (optional) angle of attack indicator nor the AOA Disagree alert are necessary for the safe operation of the airplane", Boeing said in the statement.

"However, Boeing's timely or earlier communication with (airlines) would have helped to reduce or eliminate possible confusion", the spokesman said in an emailed statement.

"That's negligence from Boeing in regards the AOA system", said Evi Samsul Komar, whose son and nephew were on the fatal flight.

American Airlines pilots submitted written comments to the FAA about their concern that Boeing is not taking adequate steps in new draft training proposals for the 737 MAX.

"The software delivered to Boeing linked the AOA Disagree alert to the AOA indicator, which is an optional feature on the MAX and the NG". It's not clear if Boeing alerted its airline customers to the issue.

The 737 Max has been grounded around the world for nearly eight weeks. The company then convened another safety review, which concluded once again that the absence of the alert was not a safety issue.

It is also being reported Boeing did not do any trial of flight test to know what could happen to the MCAS system if the single AOA sensor fails. 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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