Boeing Believed a 737 Max Warning Light Was Standard. It Wasn’t.

“When Boeing began delivering its 737 Max to customers in 2017, the company believed that a key cockpit warning light was a standard feature in all of the new jets. But months after the planes were flying, company engineers realized that the warning light worked only on planes whose customers had bought a different, optional indicator,” reports the New York Times.

“In essence, that meant a safety feature that Boeing thought was standard was actually a premium add-on…. Because only 20 percent of customers had purchased the optional indicator, the warning light was not working on most of Boeing’s new jets.”

An anonymous reader quotes their report: After discovering the lapse in 2017, Boeing performed an internal review and determined that the lack of a working warning light “did not adversely impact airplane safety or operation,” it said in its statement. As a result, Boeing said it did not inform airlines or the Federal Aviation Administration about the mistake for a year. Only after the crash of Lion Air Flight 610 last October did Boeing discuss the matter with the F.A.A. The company then conducted another review and again found the missing alert did not pose a safety threat, and told the F.A.A. as much…

Boeing detailed its initial confusion about the warning light in a statement released on Sunday, adding new details to what was already known about the flawed design and introduction of the 737 Max, its best-selling jetliner. The initial lack of knowledge about the feature’s functionality, along with the delayed disclosure, add to the concern about Boeing’s management of the Max’s design… This light could have provided critical information to the pilots on two flights that crashed shortly after takeoff in recent months.
Boeing also apparently told pilots in one meeting that their alert would work on the ground before takeoff, so pilots would have time to abort the takeoff, according to the Times.

But now Boeing is telling pilots that the system won’t alert pilots until the aircraft is 400 feet above the ground.