Four Boeing employees reportedly called the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) safety hotline in the wake of the release of a preliminary report on March’s Ethiopian Airlines tragedy, which happened just four months after another 737 MAX plane, belonging to Lion Air, crashed in Indonesia.
As the CNN reported, citing a source familiar with the situation, the whistle-blowers were current and former employees of the US-based aviation giant. They are said to have complained about issues linked to the angle of attack sensor and the anti-stall system, MCAS, which were earlier mentioned to have played a role in the two crashes.
According to the US broadcaster, these reports may be opening up a new angle in the ongoing probe into the cause of the tragedy. Among other things, an issue involving damage to the sensor wiring by a foreign object was reported. The employees complained about the MCAS control cut-out switches, which disengage its software, CNN reports.
The new details emerged just a day before a gathering of international civil aviation authorities, who are to meet in Dallas, to discuss the situation around the 737 MAX planes on 29 April. On the same day, Boeing’s CEO is set to hold a presser after a shareholder meeting.
The US aircraft manufacturer said that it has taken on $1 billion in additional costs due to the international grounding of its global 737 MAX fleet following the second deadly crash.
Following the Ethiopian Airlines crash and the October 2018 crash of a Lion Air-operated 737 MAX 8 into the Java Sea that killed in total 346 people, a number of countries, including the US, China, India, Egypt, Vietnam, and EU states blocked the Boeing 737 MAX 8 from their airspace as investigations regarding the crashes are carried out.
So far, the plane's new flight control system, the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), has been implicated as a cause in both disasters. The MCAS, initially designed as a safety feature, is supposed to evaluate sensor data and push the plane's nose down to keep it from stalling in the event that the nose is too high.