two safety features in their cockpits were missing in both the Boeing jets in Ethiopia and Indonesia crash because the aircraft maker charges extra amount for those features for installing them. According to a report published in The New York Times, had the features been installed, it would have helped pilots to detect erroneous readings, which, according ot many experts, is closely related to the failure in the planes that resulted in the crashes.
The report claimed that despite being brand new, an angle of attack indicator or an angle of attack disagree light was not installed in both the crafts of Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, which met with fatal crashes within a time span of just five months of each other. The degree of tilt of the nose of the plane is indicated by the angle of attack indicator and when the jet’s sensors give contradictory signals, the disagree light is activated to help the pilots know of the situation.
The report also said that following grounding of the Max planes globally after the two accidents involving those jest, all of the new 737 Max planes would be installed with the disagree light by Boeing for free. However airlines would still have to pay for the angle of attack indicator if they chose to install it, the newspaper said. A new software update is also being planned by the company.
While the Federal Aviation Administration did not mandate installation of none of the two safety features, experts believe that they are key to safety of the planes.
“They’re critical, and cost almost nothing for the airlines to install,” Bjorn Fehrm, an analyst at aviation consultancy Leeham, told the Times. “Boeing charges for them because it can. But they’re vital for safety.”
There were no comments available from Boeing over the report. Ethiopian Airlines said in a statement that its pilots had been following FAA and Boeing guidance.
“Ethiopian Airlines pilots completed the Boeing recommended and FAA approved differences training from the B-737 NG aircraft to the B-737 MAX aircraft before the phase in of the B-737-8 MAX fleet to the Ethiopian operation and before they start flying the B-737-8 MAX,” the airline said in a statement.
“We urge all concerned to refrain from making such uninformed, incorrect, irresponsible and misleading statements during the period of the accident investigation. International regulations require all stakeholders to wait patiently for the result of the investigation,” it said.
The cause of both the crashes is yet not clear. One of the reasons behind the crashes that investigators are looking into is whether the crash could have been triggered by a new software system added to combat stalls in Boeing’s 737 Max series. Another line of investigation is examining whether faulty data from sensors on the Lion Air plane was the reason of a system malfunction possibly resulting in the crashes.
The company was working on making the 737 Max safer, said Dennis A. Muilenburg, Boeing’s CEO.
“As part of our standard practice following any accident, we examine our aircraft design and operation, and when appropriate, institute product updates to further improve safety,” he said in a statement Sunday.
(Adapted from CNBC.com)