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Boeing now says it knew about issue with 737 Max planes for months before deadly crashes

The company thought the problem wasn't severe enough to endanger the aircraft

Dimas Ardian/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Boeing revealed Sunday that the company knew about the issues with its 737 Max airplanes for months before the two deadly crashes that killed nearly 350 people.

Here's what we know

In October, a Boeing Max 737 Indonesian airliner crashed into the Java Sea, killing all 189 people on board. In March, another 737 Max jet, this one belonging to Ethiopian Airlines crashed, killing 157 people. It was later revealed that both plane crashes were caused by an issue with the 737 Max's safety indicator, which should have warned the pilots that the plane's sensor data was inconsistent with the way the plane's nose was angled.

All Boeing 737 Maxes have now been grounded.

Boeing admitted in a news release Sunday that it had known about the problem since 2017, not long after it began delivering the planes. According to the release:

In 2017, within several months after beginning 737 MAX deliveries, engineers at Boeing identified that the 737 MAX display system software did not correctly meet the AOA Disagree alert requirements.

Ultimately, the company decided that the problem was not severe enough to merit action, and that it "did not adversely impact airplane safety or operation." Boeing decided that "the existing functionality was acceptable until the alert and the indicator could be delinked in the next planned display system software update."

Anthing else?

While it didn't know about the issue until after the Indonesian Lion Air crash, the FAA said that when it did find out, it had "determined the issue to be 'low risk'," and decided that it would be sufficient to fix the issue in the next software update.

The FAA put the bulk of blame on Boeing's shoulders, saying, "Boeing's timely or earlier communication with the operators would have helped to reduce or eliminate possible confusion."

The 737 Max has been grounded around the world for almost eight weeks. The company is working on a software fix it hopes will get the planes flying again this summer.

One last thing…
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