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Boeing CEO: Handling of 737 MAX warning light was a "mistake"

Boeing Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg
Boeing Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg. Photo: Jim Young-Pool/Getty Images

Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg acknowledged on Sunday that the company made a "mistake" in its handling of a cockpit warning problem before a pair of 737 MAX jets killed 346 people in Ethiopia and Indonesia, the AP reports.

Driving the news: Muilenburg told reporters in Paris that Boeing failed to adequately inform regulators and airlines about a problem with the jet’s alert system that was meant to warn pilots if false readings were being fed into an autopilot function suspected of causing both crashes. He said the handling of that warning "was not consistent" and "unacceptable," as promised “transparency” as Boeing tries to get the model back in the air.

Context: The aircraft has been grounded worldwide amid a series of ongoing investigations into the cause of the crashes. Both crashes have been tied to an aircraft control system known as MCAS, which was designed to prevent the aircraft from stalling, or losing lift, in certain flight configurations. The repeated intervention of MCAS when a stall was not imminent is thought to have contributed to both crashes and resulted in the grounding of all 737 MAX jets.

  • The crashes, which were unprecedented for a modern airliner introduction into worldwide service, prompted the FAA, Justice Department, SEC and congressional committees to launch investigations into the aircraft's design, certification and operation.

What's next: Boeing is working on the software fixes, but it's still uncertain when the agency and countries who banned the aircraft will allow it to return to the skies.