Boeing Plane Crashed in Indonesia After Key Sensor Replaced

Boeing Plane Crashed in Indonesia After Key Sensor Replaced

Investigators probing the Lion Air crash off the coast of Indonesia, in which all 189 on board were killed, found that one of the "angle of attack" sensors on the Boeing 737 Max jet provided erroneous data.

Minutes after takeoff on October 29, a Boeing 737 Max belonging to the budget Indonesian carrier Lion Air dove into the Java Sea at more than 600 miles an hour, shattering into pieces and killing all 189 passengers and crew.

A separate procedure involving a specific sequence of actions can be used to disengage the sensor from feeding information to the plane's computer system to address the issue for the duration of a flight.

Boeing said on Wednesday it had issued a safety bulletin reminding pilots how to handle erroneous data from a sensor in the wake of the Lion Air crash.

Capt Mohan Ranganathan, air safety expert, said, "If all AOA sensors are erroneous, it puts a big question mark on the air-worthiness of the aircraft".

The FAA emergency directive warns that the "erroneous inputs can potentially make the horizontal stabilizers repeatedly pitch the nose of the airplane downward, making the aircraft hard to control".

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.

The directive orders operators to revise the airplane flight manual to give the flight crew horizontal stabilizer trim procedures to follow under some conditions.


Some modern aircraft have systems created to correct the posture of the aircraft automatically to keep flying safely. The "black box" data recorder from the jet shows its airspeed indicator malfunctioned on its last four flights, investigators said Monday.

"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.

In response to the alert, Southwest told CBS in a statement: "Our existing 737 Max 8 operating procedures address the scenarios described in the bulletin". United Technologies Corp. supplies the angle-of-attack sensors and indicator for the 737 Max, according to Airframers.net. The error erroneously tells pilots that there's a stall in airflow, triggering an automated system that points the plane downward in an effort to regain speed. Boeing also released a bulletin about the issue on Tuesday.

Through September, Boeing has taken orders for 4,783 737 MAX aircraft with 219 delivered to customers.

The Boeing 737 MAX is a more fuel-efficient version of the manufacturer's popular single-aisle jet.

Based on initial investigation of the Lion Air plane crash, the FAA issued an emergency "airworthiness directive" on Wednesday.

Pramintohadi Sukarno, the Ministry of Transportation's acting director general for air transportation, said Flight No. JT633 had been canceled and the pilots grounded after the accident. The angle of attack sensor replaced in Bali would be analysed at its place of manufacture in Chicago, the accident investigator said.

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