Boeing Kept Pilots in the Dark About Hazards of 737 Model's Feature

Andrew Cummings
November 14, 2018

The Oct. 29 crash was the first accident involving the 737 MAX, an updated version of Boeing's workhorse narrowbody jet that entered service past year. "We will always be eager and aggressive in gaining any knowledge of new aircraft".

'We are confident in the safety of the 737 MAX'. It was added to the MAX models partly because the aircraft has heavier engines than the previous 737 NG models and the airplane's center of gravity is biased more forward. The system automatically pushes the nose of the plane down.

737 MAX 8 crashed offshore of Indonesia last week killing all 189 people on board, the company referred operators of the aircraft to the plane's operation manual for procedures to deal with possible erroneous input from a sensor created to prevent the aircraft from going into a stall.

Boeing released an operational bulletin on Wednesday, warning all airlines about how to address any erroneous readings related to the AOA sensor.

The complaints from pilot union leaders at Southwest Airlines Co. and American are significant because of the size of those carriers' 737 fleets and their Max purchases. But if pilots did not know exactly what system was in place, or that the data being fed into the system was wrong, their reactions could be fatally muddled, aviation experts said.

Boeing will need to deliver 72 of the single-aisle planes in November as well as in December to reach its planned build rate, Bloomberg Intelligence analyst George Ferguson told clients in a report.

In a parallel move, the newspaper quoted an unnamed high-profile Boeing representative as saying that the company had made a decision to leave out some details about the new models of aircraft so as to not feed pilots with excessive information.

In the Lion Air crash, which killed all 189 aboard, automated systems likely erroneously believed the aircraft was in a stall and needed to dive to increase airspeed, investigators have said.

A US government official said Boeing is expected to unveil a software update to reduce the risks of the 737 MAX stall protection system, but said the timing is unclear.

"What Boeing conveyed to airlines and pilots was that the B737NG and B737 MAX essentially had similar flight-control features", said a senior commander.

A spokeswoman said: 'We are taking every measure to fully understand all aspects of this incident, working closely with the investigating team and all regulatory authorities involved.

He told RT that the "angle-of-attack" sensor and the computerized system it feeds are "helpful but not essential to safe flight". Which is what is supposed to have happened with Lion Air B737MAX.

The Max has accounted for 37 percent of all 737 deliveries this year, trailing Boeing's goal of 40 to 45 percent.

Although divers have so far recovered the first black box, which points to a failure of the Manoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation System as a potential cause of the crash, the second black box, known as the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) is still missing. "This is important systems information that pilots should know about".

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