Boeing 737 Max 8 planes that crashed in Ethiopia and Indonesia lacked two optional pilot safety features that the company charges EXTRA for
- The Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines planes did not have two safety features in their cockpits when they crashed five months apart, officials say
- Optional safety features – an angle of attack indicator and a disagree light – are not mandated by the Federal Aviation Administration
- Features are only installed by Boeing if the airlines pay for the optional add-ons
- An angle of attack indicator displays how much the nose is tilted up or down
- The disagree light activates if the attack readings do not match and give contradictory signals
- Boeing plans to make the disagree light free of charge as part of a forthcoming software update to the 737 MAX fleet in the wake of the two fatal crashes
Just like saying goes: “All Wars Are Bankers Wars“…
Boeing are a member of the Military Industrial Complex that is pushing perpetual war all over the world exist for one reason only – PROFIT.
Profit-Hungry Boeing – Crashed 737 Max Jets Did Not Have 2 Safety Features Because They’re Optional
As pilots of the Indonesian budget carrier Lion Air Flight 610 and the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 struggled to gain control of their planes, little did they realize that their newly acquired planes lacked two essential safety features in their cockpits. Boeing apparently sold their best selling model – 737 Max 8 – without those two safety features, because they were optional items.
By optional it means Boeing offers them for an additional cost. And knowing that Lion Air is a budget carrier while Ethiopia was the third-poorest country in the world, it makes perfect sense why both airlines didn’t purchase the so-called “optional safety features”. To make matters worse, regulators do not require airlines to buy optional extras, and many low-cost carriers opt not to.
The two safety features which could have saved both Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines were an “angle of attack indicator” and an “angle of attack disagree light”, both of which were not included in the aircraft by Boeing as standard safety features. As a result, Lion Air crashed on Oct 29, 2018, killing 189 persons while Ethiopian Airlines lost 157 people on board after crashed on Mar 10, 2019.
An Angle of attack indicator sensing vane mounted on airplane exterior
Boeing will now make the disagree light free of charge as part of a forthcoming software update to the 737 MAX fleet in the wake of the two fatal crashes, officials briefed on the matter said on Thursday.
For Boeing, and other aircraft manufacturers for that matter, the practice of charging extra money to upgrade a standard aeroplane is definitely a lucrative business strategy. Like purchasing a car, customization brings tons of profits. Optional items typically include non-essential features such as premium seating, fancy lighting or extra bathrooms.
Other features can be quite relevant to the operation of an aeroplane, even “life-saving”, involving communication, navigation or safety systems – as in the case of the doomed Boeing 737 Max-8 jets. Sure, it is up to individual airlines to decide whether to pay for upgrades to a standard aeroplane, largely because different airlines have different budget.
However, as the 737 Max aircraft designer and manufacturer, Boeing is the ultimate party who can tell if an optional item is really a feature that can be ignored entirely. Now, in the wake of the two deadly crashes involving the same jet model, Boeing will make one of those safety features standard as part of a fix to get the planes in the air again.
One of the optional features – “angle of attack indicator” – displays the readings of the two sensors, and the other – “angle of attack disagree light” – is an alert that activates if those sensors do not agree. MCAS (Manoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation System) takes readings from the two angles of attack sensors to determine how much the plane’s nose is pointing up or down.
Boeing 737 MAX Automatic Stall-Prevention System (MCAS) not in flight crew operations manual (FCOM)
WHAT IS AN ANGLE OF ATTACK INDICATOR AND DISAGREE LIGHT?
As investigators look into the cause of the crashes, attention has turned to a new software in the jets that takes readings from devices called angle of attack sensors.
The software can essentially push a plane’s nose down in some circumstances, for example when the sensors suggest the plane may be stalling.
Angle of attack indicator:
- The angle of attack indicator displays the two sensors, which shows how much the aircraft’s nose it tilted up or down.
- It is the angle between a plane’s wing and the oncoming air, according to the FAA.
- If the angle of attack becomes too great, the wing can stall and lose lift.
- If a pilot fails to recognize and correct the situation, a stall could lead to loss of control of the aircraft and an abrupt loss of altitude.
- The indicator can alert pilots of low airspeed conditions before a aerodynamic stall occurs, especially during takeoff and landing. Such stalls can send the plane downwards in an uncontrolled way.
Angle of attack disagree light:
- The disagree light activates if the two sensors in the plane’s software do not agree.
Investigators are still looking into whether faulty data from sensors on the Lion Air plane may have caused the MCAS, new software system, to malfunction. The MCAS software was supposed to detect that in the event the nose is pointing up at a dangerous angle, it can automatically push the nose down in an effort to stop the plane from stalling.
After the grounding of all the 737 Max-8 worldwide, Boeing has told airlines that it expects to have new software ready by the end of the month, and the American aircraft manufacturer reportedly agreed that the optional “disagree light” will become a standard feature on all new 737 Max planes. This means the “angle of attack indicator” will remain an optional item that airlines can buy.
Interestingly, neither feature was mandated by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Bjorn Fehrm, an analyst at the aviation consultancy Leeham, told New York Times – “They’re critical, and cost almost nothing for the airlines to install. Boeing charges for them because it can. But they’re vital for safety.”
Although it has yet to be released, voice recordings from Indonesian Lion Air suggest that the pilots were looking through the flight manual as the Boeing 737 Max-8 jet incorrectly alerted them it was stalling and automatically pushed the nose down. Of course, the pilots could not fight the buggy software, which continued to push the nose down until it crashed.
Boeing has been so profit-hungry that it even charges extra for a backup fire extinguisher in the cargo hold, despite past incidents showing that a single extinguishing system may not be enough to put out flames that may spread rapidly through the plane. Regulators in Japan require airlines to install backup fire extinguishing systems, but as expected, the FAA has no such basic requirement.
Unlike McDonald’s menu, Boeing does not disclose the full menu of safety features available as options for the 737 Max model. Based on records, a Brazilian carrier paid US$6,700 extra for oxygen masks for its crew, and US$11,900 for an advanced weather radar system control panel.
According to the New York Times, the two optional safety features which could have saved the Boeing 737 Max jets from crashing would probably add US$800,000 to US$2 million to the price of the aircraft – about 5% of the total cost of the jet purchased by Lion Air and the Ethiopian Airlines.
And unlike the cost-conscious Indonesian budget carrier Lion Air and the Ethiopian Airlines, US-based airlines such as American Airlines bought both the angle of attack indicator and the disagree light for all its 124 (24 in operation before grounded and 100 ordered) Boeing 737 Max planes. United Airlines, however, did not buy the two safety features because its pilots use other data to fly the plane.
As an investigation is being carried out into how Boeing could have allowed this to happen in the first place, some FAA employees have leaked that they faced intra-agency pressure to provide a friendly regulatory environment for Boeing and to expedite approval of the 737 Max 8 model. Therefore, the FAA had actually allowed Boeing to self-certify its own safety systems.