Boeing issues advice over sensors after Lion Air plane crash

An official from Indonesia's transportation safety agency examines a turbine engine from the crashed Lion Air plane

"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", the warning said.

United said: "We are in receipt of a Flight Crew Operations Manual Bulletin, issued by Boeing, which applies to the 16 737 Max 8 aircraft now in our fleet".

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 pilot's success became our reference to give a recommendation to Boeing so they could issue an advice for other airlines to follow the same procedures if the same situation occurs", Soerjanto said.

The two Indonesian airlines that fly the Boeing 737 Max 8 planes, national carrier Garuda and Lion Air, both declined to comment on the bulletin.

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The bulletin cautions operators of the 737 Max that erroneous readings from one of the plane's sensors can cause the aircraft to enter into a sudden dive, Bloomberg reported. That sensor is meant to maintain air flow over a plane's wings but if it malfunctions can lead to an aerodynamic stall - which can cause aircraft to abruptly dive. The plane went into a sudden dive but the pilots were able to recover control and chose to fly on to Jakarta at a lower-than-normal altitude. Its flight crew had requested permission to return to the airport several minutes after taking off.

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

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. The committee said the pilots were dealing with an erroneous airspeed indication. FDR data resulted in investigators determining that if an erroneously high single AOA sensor input is received from the aircraft's flight control system, there is a potential for the 737 to repeatedly perform nose-down trim commands of its horizontal stabilizer.

"On November 6, 2018, 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", the company's statement said.

The DGCA official said if the condition is not addressed, it could cause the flight crew to have difficulty in controlling the airplane.

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Lion Air said it attended to the problem in accordance with Boeing procedures.

In fact, the 737 remains the best-selling airliner of all time, while the new MAX variant quickly became quickest selling plane in Boeing history.

The Lion Air crash is the worst airline disaster in Indonesia since 1997, when 234 people died on a Garuda flight near Medan. Everyone on board was killed when it plunged into the sea moments after takeoff.

Lion Air is one of Indonesia's youngest airlines but has grown rapidly, flying to dozens of domestic and worldwide destinations.

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