Boeing charged airlines extra for two safety features that could have alerted pilots and aviation mechanics toissues with the doomed 737 MAX 8s


Washington (March 27, 2019) – Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and 16 other Senators today sent a letter to the Boeing Company inquiring about the manufacturer’s on-going practice of charging airlines extra for safety-critical systems important to the operation of an aircraft. According to media reports, the 737 MAX 8 aircraft involved in the Lion Air crash in October 2018 and the Ethiopian Airlines crash earlier this month lacked two critical safety features that could have helped the pilots and aviation mechanics recognize false readings from the sensors connected to the aircraft’s new flight control system. The FAA and other aviation regulators did not require these features to come standard on the 737 MAX 8 and 9, and Boeing treated these systems as optional features that airlines could purchase for an additional fee.


“We have serious concerns that extra costs for these and other critical safety features—such as backup fire extinguishers in the cargo hold and oxygen masks for flight crews—may discourage airlines from purchasing them,” write the Senators in the letter to Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg. “Safety must be a standard part of our fleets, engrained in every bolt, sensor, and line of code on an aircraft. Boeing should include all safety-critical systems instrumental to the safe operation of an aircraft as part of the standard cost to the airlines of purchasing their aircraft. Safety features on jets that fly hundreds of passengers should never be sold as a la carte add-ons.”


A copy of the letter can be found HERE.


Other Senators signing the letter include Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), and Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.)