US emergency directive after Boeing jet crash in Indonesia


Earlier this week, Indonesian officials hinted that airspeed indicators played a role in the deadly October 29 crash that killed all 189 people on board.

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.

"We also plan to conduct a flight reconstruction to see the impact of the AOA sensor damage in the engineering simulator at the Boeing facility in Seattle".

SilkAir, a unit of Singapore Airlines Ltd., said it has yet to receive the bulletin from Boeing, but it will comply with the advice once it gets it.

Aviation regulator DGCA has asked Jet Airways and SpiceJet to take corrective action to address possible issues with their Boeing 737 MAX planes that could lead to "significant altitude loss" of the aircraft, a senior official said Thursday.

Neither carrier said they had received any reports from pilots of issues with the sensor, which calculates the "angle of attack", a measurement of the angle of the plane's wing and airflow needed to maintain lift.

A description of the unsafe condition that results from erroneously high single AOA notes that when repeated nose-down trim commands of the horizontal stabilizer occur, it can result in nose-down trim.

The agency said the order was effective immediately and applies to almost 250 aircraft worldwide, including 45 in the United States operated by carriers including Southwest Airlines Co, United Airlines, and American Airlines Group Inc.

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

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Indonesia's National Transportation Safety Committee earlier this week announced the plane had a malfunctioning airspeed indicator on its last four flights, based on analysis of the flight data recorder.

The captain and first officer flying from Bali to Jakarta the night before the crash had indicators displaying differences in angle of 20 degrees, KNKT said, but that flight landed safely despite the issues in the air.

"Our existing 737 Max 8 operating procedures address the scenarios described in the bulletin".

The Boeing 737 Max has three such blade-shaped sensors. 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 US manufacturer has delivered 219 737 MAX jets to customers globally, according to Boeing's website, and it has 4,564 orders for jets that have yet to be delivered.

The Boeing 737 MAX entered service in 2017 to great fanfare.

The Lion Air crash was the first involving the type of plane, which airlines introduced into service a year ago.

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.

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. Boeing's bulletin said it was directing flight crews to existing guidelines. The angle of attack sensor replaced in Bali would be analysed at its place of manufacture in Chicago, the accident investigator said.