Lion Air to be audited; B737 MAX 10 order talks deferred

Leroy Wright
November 9, 2018

The accident happened just 10 days after a Lion Air Boeing 737-Max 8 plane plunged into the Java Sea minutes after take off from Jakarta to Pangkal Pinang city.

Even if an angle of attack sensor on a jet is faulty, there's generally a backup system in place for the critical component, and pilots are trained to handle a plane safely if those sensors fail, airline safety experts said.

The US Federal Aviation Administration issued an "emergency airworthiness directive" warning that problems with the angle-of-attack sensor, which prevents the plane from stalling and diving, could cause pilots to have problems in controlling the aircraft.

"This condition, if not addressed, could cause the flight crew to have difficulty controlling the airplane, and lead to excessive nose-down attitude, significant altitude loss, and possible impact with terrain", the FAA wrote in its alert.

Boeing Co. says it has issued a safety bulletin that reiterates guidelines on how pilots should respond to erroneous data from an "angle of attack" sensor following last week's crash of a Boeing plane in Indonesia that killed 189 people.

Currently, Jet Airways and SpiceJet fly Boeing 737 MAX planes in India.

A Lion Air plane has torn its wing after colliding with a lamp post at a Sumatra airport just over a week after Flight 610 crashed, killing all 189 passengers on board.

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On October 30, Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu said the DGCA had been asked to look at engines and other issues related to airlines following the plane crash in Indonesia.

It did not give more details and did not speculate on how the indicator problem may have played a role in the crash, as it continues to mine the flight recorder - seen as key to answering why a almost brand new plane fell out of the sky.

Based on the preliminary data recovered from the wreckage of PK-LQP (msn 43000), the DJPU said that the aircraft's airspeed indicator malfunctioned during four flights prior to the doomed flight JT610 from Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta to Pangkalpinang.

Boeing is now warning pilots that if they experience inaccurate or erroneous readings from the sensor to follow standard flight procedures, though it's not clear what those are. Erroneous readings from the AOA sensor could push the plane into an aggressive, unwarranted dive.

The Boeing 737 MAX 8 then made another flight to Jakarta that same day, and the pilots reported further problems.

"This is all coming from the Indonesian crash", said the person briefed on the Boeing bulletin.

Boeing has sent 219 737 MAX jets to customers globally, with 4,564 orders for jets yet to be delivered.

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