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Southwest and FAA officials never knew Boeing turned off a safety feature on its 737 Max jets, and dismissed ideas about grounding them

Southwest and FAA officials never knew Boeing turned off a safety feature on its 737 Max jets, and dismissed ideas about grounding them
Boeing



Southwest Airlines and FAA officials overseeing the carrier never knew that Boeing turned off a standard safety feature on its 737 Max jets when Southwest brought the model into its fleet, reported Andy Pastzor of The Wall Street Journal.




FAA officials contemplated grounding Southwest's Max fleet on two separate occasions, but both times, the discussions were quickly dropped, according to a new WSJ investigation.




Boeing has yet to specifically address why the feature was turned off, but in March, it unveiled a software fix and updated training procedures for the 737 Max.




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Southwest Airlines and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) officials who monitor the carrier were unaware that a standard safety feature, designed to warn pilots about malfunctioning sensors, on Boeing 737 Max jets was turned off when Southwest began flying the model in 2017, reported Andy Pastzor of the Wall Street Journal.
In earlier 737 models, the safety feature alerted pilots when a sensor called the "angle-of-attack vane" incorrectly conveyed the pitch of the plane's nose, according to Pastzor. In the Max, it functions as such while also signaling when the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) — a new automated system linked to both October's Lion Air crash and March's Ethiopian Airlines crash — could misfire; but these alerts were only enabled if carriers purchased additional safety features, Pastzor wrote.
Like other airlines flying the Max, Southwest didn't learn about the change until the aftermath of the Lion Air crash, Pastzor reported.
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