Published: Thu, November 08, 2018
Worldwide | By Myra Stephens

Boeing to Issue Alert Its Planes Can Abruptly Dive During Flight

Boeing to Issue Alert Its Planes Can Abruptly Dive During Flight

The airplane manufacturer said in a statement Wednesday that Indonesia's National Transportation Safety Committee has indicated the crashed Boeing 737 MAX 8 plane had "erroneous input from one of its AOA sensors".

Indonesian accident investigators said on Monday that an airspeed indicator on the crashed jet was damaged for its last four flights, but USA authorities responded cautiously to suggestions of fleet-wide checks.

The pilots union at Southwest Airlines Co., the biggest customer of the 737 Max, hasn't received any reports from its members of problems with faulty sensor readings, said Jon Weaks, president of the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association. About 15 minutes into the flight, which took off from Jakarta, the plane plunged into the sea. The head of Indonesia's National Transportation Safety Committee, Soerjanto Tjahjono, told reporters in Jakarta on Monday that he was discussing the options for wider inspections with Boeing and his USA counterparts.

The newspaper said the findings suggest investigators could be looking at a software problem or a mistaken interpretation by flight crew as having played key roles in the Lion Air crash.

Inspectors found faults on two other Boeing 737 MAX jets, including one which mirrored a problem reported on board the Lion Air plane.

However, Bloomberg wrote that the pilots in the Lion Air crash reported an "erroneous airspeed indication" after taking off from Jakarta airport and before they slammed into the water at around 966km per hour, according to Indonesia's National Transportation Safety Committee.

Flight crews should follow a separate protocol to halt the plane's potentially unsafe action, according to the bulletin. Boeing did not immediately respond to a Fortune request for comment.

Divers are still hunting for the plane's cockpit voice recorder.

Boeing's newly issued bulletin focuses on the 737 MAX's angle-of-attack sensors, or AOA sensors, which are supposed to provide data about the angle at which wind is passing over the airplane's wings.

The FAA also plans to issue its own mandate to further bolster Boeing's warning, the Wall Street Journal reports.

"If the nose is trimmed down on an aircraft, it becomes hard for the crew to hold it", a source briefed on Boeing's OMB told the paper.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a source told Reuters that the Boeing bulletin related only to the 737 MAX, of which there are just over 200 in service.

"There are some things that we ask for explanation and some that we ask to be removed, and there has been an agreement between the NTSC and Boeing to release a new procedure to all Boeing 737 MAX users in the world", he said.

Certainly, Indonesian search and rescue officials had trouble locating the wreck, despite encountering a large amount of wreckage in the four days leading up to the discovery of the fuselage.

"If you were driving down the interstate and the speedometer failed, would you expect to crash the vehicle?" said John Cox, a former airline pilot and now a safety consultant.

Last Monday's crash is the worst airline disaster to happen in Indonesia since 1997 when 234 people died on a Garuda flight. In December 2014, an AirAsia flight from Surabaya to Singapore plunged into the sea, killing all 162 on board.

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