May 6, 2019

Boeing knew of 737 MAX safety issues before fatal Lion Air crash

Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in storage in Victorville, California. Photo: Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images

Boeing said Sunday it knew of a safety alert flaw in the cockpit of its 737 MAX jetliners months before the first of 2 fatal crashes involving the now-grounded aircraft, but it didn't immediately notify regulators.

Details: The issue concerns a warning light in the cockpit, known as the AOA Disagree alert. This alert is meant to notify the flight crew that two angle-of-attack (AOA) sensors are providing data that disagree with each other, which suggests one is erroneous. The company said in a statement the aircraft’s "display system software did not correctly meet" the AOA alert requirements in 2017 — well before October's Lion Air crash in Indonesia, which killed 189 people.

The big picture: A Federal Aviation Administration official told Reuters that Boeing waited 13 months before reporting the issue in November. Southwest Airlines told CNBC that Boeing didn't inform it about the issues until after the Indonesia crash. It's unclear if Boeing reporting the warning light issues could've prevented the Lion Air crash or March's Ethiopian Airways disaster, which killed 157 people.

What they're saying: Boeing said neither the AOA indicator nor the AOA Disagree alert identified in the flaws are necessary for the safe operation of a plane. "They provide supplemental information only, and have never been considered safety features on commercial jet transport airplanes," it said.

Detailing the issue, Boeing said 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."

Why it matters: Boeing is the world's largest aerospace company, and its fortunes can ricochet throughout the economy, per Axios science editor Andrew Freedman. As federal investigators examine the two crashes and evaluate the safety of the plane, this latest issue raises questions about Boeing’s candor with regulators.

The 737 MAX's success is essential to Boeing's future, given that the airline has thousands on order.

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Deadly clashes erupt in Delhi ahead of Trump's visit

Rival protesters over the Citizenship Amendment Act in Delhi, India, on Monday. Photo: Yawar Nazir/ Getty Images

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal called for calm Tuesday as deadly clashes erupted in the city's northeast between supporters and opponents of India's controversial new citizenship law.

Why it matters: Per the BBC, a police officer and six civilians "died in the capital's deadliest day" since last year's passing of the Citizenship Amendment Act — which allows religious minorities but excludes Muslims from nearby countries to become citizens if they can show they were persecuted for their religion — hours before President Trump and members of the U.S. first family were due to visit the city as part of their visit to India.

Go deeper: India's citizenship bill continues Modi's Hindu nationalist offensive

South Carolina paper The State backs Buttigieg for Democratic primary

Democratic presidential candidate and former South Bend Pete Buttigieg speaks at an event in Charleston, South Carolina on Monday. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

South Carolina newspaper The State endorsed former Southbend Mayor Pete Buttigieg on Monday night for the state's Democratic primary.

Why it matters: It's a welcome boost for Buttigieg ahead of Tuesday's Democratic debate in South Carolina and the state's primary on Saturday.

White House requests $2.5 billion to fight coronavirus as U.S. cases rise

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

The Trump administration sent a letter to Congress Monday requesting a funding commitment of at least $2.5 billion to help combat the spread of the novel coronavirus, as the number of confirmed cases in the U.S. rose to 53.

The big picture: As South Korea and Italy stepped up emergency measures in efforts to thwart the spread of the virus, WHO expressed concern about infections with no clear link to China. COVID-19 has killed at least 2,699 people and infected more than 80,000 others, with all but 27 deaths occurring in mainland China.

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