Boeing planned to delay a fix for a critical cockpit warning light on its now-grounded , leaders of a congressional committee said Friday, but then accelerated the timeline late last year after the first of two deadly crashes that killed 346 people.
In a letter to Boeing, the Federal Aviation Administration and a Boeing subcontractor, Reps. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) and Rick Larsen (D-Wash.) said they'd obtained information suggesting that even though the plane maker knew the safety alert wasn't working when itin 2017, it decided to wait until 2020 to implement a fix. The warning light tells flight crews when an angle-of-attack sensor is giving false readings. The faulty sensor was linked to both the Lion Air crash in Indonesia in October and the Ethiopian Airlines crash in March.
As part of an ongoing investigation of the crashes by the House transportation committee, which DeFazio chairs, the lawmakers are asking Boeing to disclose when the company knew the light was defective and when it informed airlines.
"An important part of the Committee's investigation is finding out what Boeing knew, when the company knew it and who it informed," Larsen, chair of the House subcommittee on aviation, said in a statement. "I have questions about the decision to not deem the AOA Disagree alert as safety critical and I am concerned it took Boeing so long to report this defective feature to the FAA and its customers."
Boeing admitted in April that the said that the absence of such an alert didn't adversely affect airplane safety or operation. In response to the DeFazio and Larsen letter, a Boeing spokesman on Friday reiterated that finding in a statement to CNET., but a few days later
"Based on the safety review, the update was scheduled for the MAX 10 rollout in 2020," the statement said. "We fell short in the implementation of the AoA Disagree alert and are taking steps to address these issues so they do not occur again."
When the Max returns to service, the safety alert will be included as a standard feature on all aircraft delivered. Prior to the Lion Air crash, though, it was sold as part of an optional package of equipment, a package that Lion Air didn't purchase for its planes.
The 737 Max has now been grounded for almost three months, dragging down Boeing'sand reputation as it heads into the later this month. Though the company says a software update to the Max's Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System , there's still no timeline for the airliner to carry passengers again.