Crash-crushed Boeing rolls out safety feature previously sold as option
New York: Boeing's 737 MAX aircraft will be outfitted with a warning light for malfunctions in the anti-stall system suspected in October's fatal crash in Indonesia, an industry source said, standardising a feature previously sold as an optional extra.
The development comes as the manufacturer struggles to cope with the fallout from both the Indonesia crash and another in Ethiopia this month, which have cast a spotlight on the safety certification process and shaken confidence in a plane that is crucial to its future plans.
Known as a "disagree light," this safety feature will become standard and is among the modifications the company will present to US authorities and clients in the coming days, the source told AFP on Thursday on condition of anonymity.
Neither the Lion Air aircraft which crashed in Indonesia, nor the Ethiopian Airlines jet, had the feature, the source said. More than 300 people perished in the two cases.
American Airlines, which operates 24 737 MAX 8, had bought the option, anticipating potential malfunctions, a source close to the matter told AFP.
So too had Southwest Airlines, the plane's biggest customer, which also bought an additional "Primary Flight Display" option, according to a spokesperson. Modifications are in the final stages but Boeing wants to be certain this meets the expectations of regulators and customers, the industry source said.
Neither Boeing nor the Federal Aviation Agency offered comment when contacted. But an industry expert, Scott Hamilton from Leeham Company, said the system should have already been included. "Instrument disagree warnings should be standard and they are important for pilots to know when instruments disagree with each other," he said.