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Published on Thursday, May 16, 2019

Pilots told Boeing of safety concerns months before Ethiopia crash

Pilots warned Boeing about potential safety issues in its 737 MAX aircraft four months before a fatal crash in Ethiopia, according to a leaked recording obtained by American media.

In a meeting between American Airlines' pilots and the aircraft manufacturer last November, following a Lion Air crash in Indonesia, Boeing promised a software fix

However, this hadn't been rolled out when an Ethiopian Airlines' 737 MAX crashed, killing 157 people. All MAX planes are now grounded worldwide due to concerns that an anti-stall mechanism might have contributed to both fatal crashes.

Boeing is working on an update to the system, known as MCAS, but denies it was solely to blame for the disasters.

In a meeting with Boeing executives last November, which was secretly recorded, American Airlines' pilots can be heard voicing concerns about the safety of MCAS.

Boeing vice-president Mike Sinnett told the pilots: "No one has yet to conclude that the sole cause of this was this function on the airplane."

Later in the meeting, he added: "The worst thing that can ever happen is a tragedy like this, and the even worse thing would be another one."

The pilots also complained they had not been told about MCAS, which was new to the 737 MAX, until after the Lion Air crash off Indonesia, which killed 189.

"These guys didn't even know the damn system was on the airplane, nor did anybody else," said head of safety for the pilots' union Mike Michaelis.

Boeing has refused to comment on the meeting. Instead, it said: "We are focused on working with pilots, airlines and global regulators to certify the updates on the MAX and provide additional training and education to safely return the planes to flight."

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