The Boeing Co. did not report to Southwest Airlines Co. and other airlines as it began to fly its 737 MAX jets, a security feature of earlier models that warns pilots of faulty sensors, according to the government and the Industry was disabled.
Federal Aviation Administration security inspectors and regulators responsible for overseeing Southwest, the largest 737 MAX customer, were also unaware of the change.
The alerts inform pilots about whether a sensor called an "angle attack wing" transmits faulty data about the tilt of an aircraft nose. Accident investigators have linked such bad data to the deadly crash of Ethiopian Airlines in March and the crash of Lion Air last year. In both aircraft, the alarm system was not available.
Boeing made these alarms optional in the 737 MAX, which features a new MCAS automated stall prevention system. They would only be operational if a carrier purchased a package with additional security features.
Southwest's management and cockpit crews were unaware that the warning system was out of service for more than a year after the planes entered service in 201
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Incorrect "on the availability of alarms, said the union president of Southwest pilots, Jon Weaks. Since Boeing had not communicated the change to the carrier, the manuals reflected incorrect information.
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