Boeing issued a special bulletin yesterday addressing a sensor problem flagged by Indonesian safety officials investigating the crash of a Lion Air 737 that killed 189 people last week. The FAA also notified regulatory counterparts around the world, which typically follow the USA agency's lead on safety matters.
A Lion Air plane carrying 145 passengers was forced to abort its take-off from Indonesia's Bengkulu city on Wednesday night (Nov 7), after its left wing crashed into a pole.
The Boeing 737 MAX has three such sensors, but erroneous readings could in some circumstances cause the Boeing 737 MAX to point the nose down sharply in order to keep air under the wings and avoid a stall, according to a person briefed on the matter. The AD now affects 246 total Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in service globally.
The latest directive follows advisories issued by United States watchdog Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Boeing regarding the B 737 MAX planes after the crash of a Lion Air aircraft in Indonesia last month.
The committee has said they were dealing with an "erroneous airspeed indication".
On that October 28 flight, the pilot's and co-pilot's sensors disagreed by about 20 degrees. The 2-month-old plane went into a sudden dive minutes after takeoff, which the pilots were able to recover from.
Distraught families begged the founder of Lion Air to tell them why the plane, which was found to have technical problems, had been passed fit to fly.
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A problem would occur if the AOA sensor input is erroneous. "Is this fatal? NTSC wants to explore this", he is reported as saying.
The angle of attack sensor replaced in Bali would be analysed at its place of manufacture in Chicago, the accident investigator said.
There are audio signals and physical warnings that can alert the pilot to malfunctioning equipment or other dangers, said Todd Curtis, director of the Airsafe.com Foundation.
KNKT is planning to simulate a flight to assess the impact of sensor damage at Boeing's engineering simulator facility in Seattle.
Indonesia's search and rescue agency said the search effort will continue until Sunday. "Especially if you have a crew that's confused and doesn't know what's going on".
On the basis of the Oct 28 flight, Indonesian investigators said they'd provided recommendations to Boeing for distribution to airlines around the world about how to deal with a similar situation.
The warning comes as Indonesia's transport ministry has scheduled a briefing to share the latest information on the Lion Air tragedy.
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