US issues directive after Boeing alerts pilots following Indonesia crash

Clay Curtis
November 8, 2018

The Lion Air 737 Max 8 jetliner plunged into the Java Sea minutes after takeoff from Jakarta airport, nosing downward so suddenly that it may have hit speeds of 600 miles an hour before slamming into the water.

The AD followed Boeing's issuing of an operations manual bulletin (OMB), asking 737 MAX operators to remind pilots of how to handle "erroneous" information from the aircraft's angle of attack 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.

On Tuesday, Boeing issued a bulletin to all airlines and pilots who operate the 737 MAX.

"Over the last 40 years, Boeing and Chinese partners have built deep relations in all industrial chains, including the research of new technologies, parts manufacturing as well as flight maintenance and modification", the statement said. A separate procedure involving a specific sequence of actions can be used to disengage the sensor from feeding information to the plane's computer system to address the issue for the duration of a flight. A preliminary report is expected at the end of the month.

Boeing's advisory said the plane experienced "erroneous input from one of its [angle of attack] sensors".

Boeing will caution its customers of "erroneous readings" from a flight-monitoring system can cause the planes to abruptly dive, Bloomberg quoted an anonymous source as saying. This angle between the wing and the oncoming airflow is called the "Angle of Attack" (AOA).

On that October 28 flight, from Bali to Jakarta, the pilot's and copilot's sensors disagreed by about 20 degrees.

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According to Pramintohadi, the Boeing 737-900 ER aircraft was scheduled to depart for Soekarno-Hatta International Airport near Jakarta at 6:20 p.m.

A Lion Air plane smashed into a lamp post just before taking off, causing a tear in its left wing.

Officials have now said that the incident will be thoroughly investigated.

Boeing's safety bulletin also instructs flight crews on the potential malfunction, and the ways in which pilots should respond should the error occur.

A DJPU statement said the audit will include a review of Lion Air's operating procedures, flight crew qualifications, and institutional cooperation. Aviation systems must account for possibility of misinterpretations of situations and foggy memories of procedures outlined in the manuals that come with these huge, complicated, and incredibly sensitive vehicles.

A winglet on the first Boeing 737 MAX airliner is pictured at the company's manufacturing plant in Renton, Washington, on December 8, 2015.

Pilots raise and lower the nose of Boeing jetliners by pushing and pulling on a yoke in the cockpit, which controls panels at the tail known as elevators. All 62 people on board died.

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