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Crash of the Boeing 737 Max: Aircraft lacked security upgrades

The passenger jets that recently crashed in Ethiopia and Indonesia had something in common: they lacked security features that helped prevent fatal accidents for which Boeing levies additional charges, the New York Times reported Thursday.

Both Upgrades They were connected to the aircraft's angle of attack sensors, devices that sense whether the nose of a jet is pointing up or down with respect to the incoming air. During an upgrade, the so-called Angle of Attack, the measured values ​​of the sensors were displayed. The other upgrade is a light that is activated when the sensors interfere with each other. According to CBS, the disparate light alone costs $ 80,000. The list price of the jet amounts to approximately 1

20 million US dollar.

These features are considered optional and are not required by most airline regulatory agencies – but according to the Times report, they could have recognized the aircraft's pilots that something was wrong earlier, and some aviation security experts say they never came first Line may be voluntary. "They are critical and cost the airlines almost nothing," said Björn Fehrm, an analyst with aviation consultancy Leeham, told The Times. "Boeing calculates for them because it works. But they are crucial for safety. "

(Of the three US airlines that have Boeing 737 Max 8 and 9 jets in their fleet, only two – Americans and Southwest – paid for these upgrades, the Times confirmed.A United Airlines The spokesman told the Times that the jets do not include these upgrades as the pilots fly their planes with other data.)

Boeing also charges fees for hold-up extinguishers in the hold, another feature The state aviation authority considers the decision optional; although incidents in the past have shown that a single extinguishing system is insufficient to extinguish an air fire. For example, the Times said the airlines paid for additional oxygen masks for the crew members.

Due to the increasing popularity of low-cost airlines, air travel has never been cheaper or more accessible to the average person. Air travel, however, has become a race for airlines seeking to cut costs by passing on costs to consumers by charging for functions that are formerly standard, such as seat selection, checked baggage and even carry-on luggage. The news that both Ethiopian Airlines and Lion Air lacked certain security features raises a more troubling question: do airlines set a price for security? Consumers can choose which airline they fly with, but they have no say or, in many cases, whether that airline has purchased certain security upgrades.

Mark Goodrich, an aviation lawyer and former technical test pilot, told The Times that charging charges for non-mandatory safety features has become a "big profit center" for Boeing. However, this phenomenon is not limited to the aviation industry.

In 2015, consulting firm JD Power released a study showing that most car owners are willing to pay for optional security upgrades, such as blind spot detection, night vision and collision avoidance systems. According to the study, buyers who were 38 years or younger said they would not spend more than $ 3,703 on new technology, and older buyers were willing to spend even less. As the Associated Press noted back then, some security features can cost a lot more and many are not available for cheaper or older models.

In 2015, when the study was conducted by JD Power, Toyota offered only automatic brakes on its Prius vehicles and, according to AP, only as part of a $ 4,320 package. This function has become the standard for new vehicles in recent years, which has led to a reduction in costs, but is especially available for new vehicles. In other words, you need to be able to buy a new car to get such improvements, a luxury many people can not afford. (US News has compiled a list of the cheapest auto-braking cars last year, of which the cheapest is $ 16,900.)

Offering security features at extra cost essentially creates a system of belongings. It turns security into a luxury, not a necessity. Consumer watchdogs say that this is a problem.

"Consumers should not have to pay extra for security features, because paying extra costs means they will not be available to everyone and cost more than they should," Jack Gillis, executive director of the Consumer Federation of America, said the LA Times. "If you just integrate the latest security features into a product, two things happen. They are available to everyone, and everyone benefits, and they become cheaper due to economies of scale. "

Whether people can afford individual security upgrades is just one part of this problem. As the forest fires of California last year have shown, the ability to prepare and, if necessary, escape natural hazards is also subdivided along the class lines. Last fall, Kim Kardashian and Kanye West were criticized for allegedly hiring a team of private firefighters to protect their $ 60 million house from the lightning that was burning in Southern California. (The firefighters were actually deployed by the Kardashian West insurance company, not by the famous couple themselves, according to NBC News, these private fire brigade teams are primarily available to those whose real estate is worth over $ 1 million.)

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