Aviation

Lawmakers say Boeing delayed fix of “defective” 737 MAX warning light for three years

Christian Fleetwood

Christian Fleetwood

US lawmakers have revealed that Boeing learned a cockpit warning light on the 737 MAX was “defective” in 2017, but decided to defer fixing it until 2020.

The defective warning light was responsible for alerting pilots when two sensors that measure the angle between the airflow and the wing disagree. This “angle of attack” (AoA) data is suspected of playing a role in two deadly crashes involving the jet in Indonesia in October and in Ethiopia in March.

Congressmen Peter DeFazio and Rick Larsen revealed on Friday in a press release that Boeing decided in November 2017 to defer a software update to correct the AoA Disagree alert defect to 2020 – three years after discovering the flaw.

The revelation comes as American Airlines announced it will extend its cancellation on 737 MAX flights a month further, with the airline revealing it will push back departures to 3 September.

American Airlines revealed that approximately 115 flights per day will be cancelled through 3 September, but it remains confident in the impending software updates and training elements being developed by Boeing for its 737 MAX aircraft.

“By extending the cancellations, our customers and team members can more reliably plan their upcoming travel on American,” the airline said.

“We have been in continuous contact with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Department of Transportation (DOT), National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and other regulatory authorities, and we are pleased with the progress to date.”

Meanwhile, Qatar Airways plans to seek compensation from Boeing over the grounding of its 737 MAX aircraft owned by Italian airline Air Italy – an airline that Qatar owns major shares in.

Qatar Airways CEO Akbar al-Baker told Reuters the grounding had “affected [Qatar Airways’] investment into Air Italy”.

“Air Italy has three MAX operated in its fleet and they were grounded so it affected us – we had to take extra routing from outside,” al-Baker said.

Qatar Airways currently holds shares in 49 per cent of Air Italy, reportedly the second largest airline in Italy, as of 2017.

“Boeing has to compensate us for grounding,” al-Baker told Reuters, but did not elaborate on the potential cost, adding that Qatar Airways was looking to close a deal on compensation “before” the end of the year.

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