Boeing to issue safety warning on 737 MAX after Lion Air plane crash

Boeing ‘is preparing to alert 737 Max operators of fault that causes the jet to DIVE’ following Lion Air plane crash off of Indonesia that killed 189 people

  • Boeing said to be preparing to issue safety warning about new 737 Max planes
  • It is thought a faulty cockpit reading could cause the jet to suddenly nose-dive
  • Lion Air plane suffered instrument problems with ‘unreliable’ airspeed reading
  • Inspectors found similar fault to Lion Air plane on another Boeing 737 Max jet

Boeing issued a safety warning today about its new 737 Max jets which could have a fault that causes them to nose-dive.  

The special bulletin sent to operators was about a sensor problem flagged by Indonesian safety officials investigating the crash of a Lion Air 737 that killed 189 people last week.

The planemaker said local aviation officials believed pilots may have been given wrong information by the plane’s automated systems before the fatal crash.

An AOA sensor provides data about the angle at which wind is passing over the wings and tells pilots how much lift a plane is getting. 

All 189 people on board the Lion Air jet were killed when the plane crashed into the Java Sea on October 29 just minutes after taking off from Jakarta.

According to a technical log the Lion Air plane, which had only been in service a few months, suffered instrument problems the day before because of an ‘unreliable’ airspeed reading.  

Investigators examine engine parts from the ill-fated Lion Air flight JT 610 at a port in Jakarta

Since the privately owned budget Indonesian carrier was founded in 1999 by the Kirana brothers, its aircraft have been involved in at least 15 safety incidents

Minutes after takeoff the plane suddenly nose-dived hitting speeds of 600mph before slamming into the sea. 

The warning issued today read: ‘The Indonesian National Transportation Safety Committee has indicated that Lion Air flight 610 experienced erroneous input from one of its AOA (Angle of Attack) sensors.

‘Boeing issued an Operations Manual Bulletin (OMB) directing operators to existing flight crew procedures to address circumstances where there is erroneous input from an AOA sensor.’  

Indonesian investigators said this week that the plane had an air-speed indicator problem on the doomed flight and on three previous journeys.

The pilots radioed a request to return to Jakarta to land, but never turned back toward the airport.

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On Monday angry relatives demanded answers from Lion Air founder, Rusdi Kirana, on why the jet was cleared to fly. 

As a result of an investigation into the crash the jet manufacturer is said to be preparing a bulletin to be sent to operators of the 737 jets warning about faulty cockpit readings that could cause a dive.   

The notice refers to the ‘angle of attack’, which is the angle of the wing relative to oncoming air stream, a measure that indicates if a plane is likely to stall.

This angle of attack, which is a calculation of the angle at which the wind is passing over the wings, is used to be determined if a stall is imminent. 

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

Workers helps lift a damaged tyre alongside Indonesian forensic police from the the Lion Air jet at Tanjung Priok port in Jakarta

Families and colleagues of victims of Lion Air flight cry on deck of the Indonesian Navy ship KRI Banjarmasin during a visit to the crash site yesterday

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

Aviation analyst Dudi Sudibyo said the cockpit display issue could include a speed-and-altitude glitch reported in the doomed jet the day before it crashed. 

Bloomberg News reported the planned bulletin from Boeing earlier on Tuesday and said the manufacturer would alert pilots to follow existing procedures to address the issue. 

Boeing declined to comment when contacted by Reuters.

Representatives of 737 MAX operators, Singapore Airlines Ltd offshoot SilkAir, Garuda Indonesia and Canada’s WestJet Ltd, said they had not yet received a bulletin from Boeing. 

Search teams have filled some 186 body bags with remains found after the devastating crash, but only 44 victims have been identified so far.

Divers have recovered one of the two ‘black boxes’ – the flight data recorder – but are still searching for the cockpit voice recorder, in the hope it will shed more light on the cause of the disaster.

Indonesia has had nearly 40 fatal aviation accidents in the past 15 years, according to the Aviation Safety Network. 

Since the privately owned budget Indonesian carrier, Lion Air, was founded in 1999 by the Kirana brothers, its aircraft have been involved in at least 15 safety incidents

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