Boeing Issues Bulletin for 737 Max After Indonesia Jet Crash

Cheryl Sanders
November 8, 2018

The directive comes a little more than a week after Lion Air pilots operating a 737 MAX 8 lost contact with Soekarno-Hatta's air traffic control (ATC) and crashed into the Java Sea, north of Indonesia's Java Island.

"Angle of attack" refers to the angle between relative wind and a reference line on the plane - the sensors' goal is to ensure that air flows over an aircraft's wings, Bloomberg reported.

Boeing is involved in the ongoing investigation with the Indonesian National Transportation Safety Committee and other government authorities into the Lion Air crash and "continues to cooperate fully and provide technical assistance".

Indonesian investigators said their flight procedure recommendations to Boeing were based on how the flight crew responded to problems on the Bali to Jakarta flight.

Aviation regulator, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), had asked Jet Airways and SpiceJet to take corrective action to address possible issues with their Boeing 737 MAX planes, which could lead to "significant altitude loss" of the aircraft, a senior official said on Thursday. If the angle is too high as a plane climbs, that would cause a stall. Chairman Soerjanto Tjahjono said the airspeed indicator and sensor problems are related. Erroneous readings from the AOA sensor could push the plane into an aggressive, unwarranted dive. The "angle of attack" is the angle of the airplane or its wings compared with oncoming air or wind. Such bulletins are routinely issued by aircraft and engine manufacturers, particularly in the wake of major events, and this one does little except to remind crews that the procedures for addressing this situation already exist.

Safety investigators said the plane may have hit speeds of 600 miles per hour before hitting the water.

The jet was first delivered to Lion Air in mid-August, which one of the region's budget airlines.

"But it is quite straightforward and we train for this all the time", the captain said.

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.

Some modern aircraft have systems created to correct the posture of the wings automatically to keep flying safely.

According to Bloomberg there are over 200 737 Max jets already in use in commercial aviation.

It seems patently obvious to say that such situations shouldn't happen in this day and age-and clearly the investigation is still in its earliest stage-but it is troubling to see something so deadly transpire in the most modern aircraft in the Boeing fleet.

Divers have recovered one of the two "black boxes" - the flight data recorder - but are still looking for the cockpit voice recorder, in the hope it will shed more light on the cause of the accident. "What will have to be found is, is Boeing pushing itself too hard?"

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