Published: Thu, November 08, 2018
Global Media | By Garry Long

Boeing Alerts Pilots After Indonesia Crash as FAA Plans Directive

Boeing Alerts Pilots After Indonesia Crash as FAA Plans Directive

A Lion Air passenger plane that crashed last week with 189 people on board experienced airspeed indicator problems on its last four flights, Indonesian investigators announced on Monday.

That sensor, known as the "angle of attack" sensor, keeps track of the angle of the aircraft nose to help prevent the plane from stalling and diving.

Investigators said Monday that one of the so-called black boxes showed that the airspeed indicator on the Boeing jet malfunctioned on its last four flights, including the October 29 crash that killed all 189 people on board. "NTSC wants to explore this", he said.

The two-month-old plane went into a sudden dive minutes after take-off, which the pilots were able to recover from. CNN said Indonesian officials are working with Boeing and safety experts to further investigate the airspeed indicator issue.

Lion Air has said a technical problem with the jet was fixed after problems were reported the night before the crash.

Boeing has delivered 219 Max planes - the latest and most advanced 737 jets - since the models made their commercial debut a year ago with a Lion Air subsidiary. In 2015, a wasp nest plugged the sensors on an Allegiant Air jet leaving St. Petersburg, Florida, forcing pilots to cut the flight short and land in Orlando.

An Indonesian National Transportation Safety Commission (KNKT) official carries debris from the crashed Lion Air flight JT610 at Tanjung Priok port in Jakarta, November 4, 2018.

It is understood that the download process started yesterday and it is hoped that clues may emerge quickly as to what systems were not functioning on the near-new plane. Boeing did not immediately respond to a Fortune request for comment.

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Aircraft and engine manufacturers routinely send bulletins to operators noting safety measures and maintenance actions they should take, majority relatively routine. All of this appears to have transpired in just 12 minutes, meaning the crew had very little time to assess the situation, figure out what was happening, and then taken the appropriate steps to correct it.

In the case of the Lion Air flight, the "black box" that was found - which is actually bright orange - contains instrument data.

USA aviation regulators said they are drafting an order requiring that airlines follow Boeing's instructions.

The bulletin says: "In the event of erroneous AOA data, the pitch trim system can trim the stabilizer nose down in increments lasting up to 10 seconds".

Boeing, the manufacturer of the 737 MAX 8, and United States aviation investigators at the NTSB have been working with Indonesian experts on the analysis of the flight data recorder in Indonesia.

The nation's rescue agency, scouring the sea for victims' remains, said Wednesday that it will extend the search by three more days.

Boeing is preparing to send a warning to all the operators that have taken delivery of its new 737 Max aircraft, according to an anonymous source cited by Bloomberg.

"There was some unusual noise coming from the engine and I could hear it because I was sitting in the window seat of row 22 near the wings", he said, adding that the plane's landing in Jakarta was not smooth either and bounced slightly as the tires touched the runway. In December 2014, an AirAsia flight from Surabaya to Singapore plunged into the sea, killing all 162 on board.

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