Did faulty sensor cause Indonesia air crash?


Boeing says it has issued an operations manual bulletin to address concerns about erroneous readings from a sensor that has been implicated in last week's fatal crash of a Lion Air 737 MAX 8.

Boeing's warning came in the form of 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 latest directive follows advisories issued by U.S. watchdog Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Boeing regarding the B 737 MAX planes after the crash of a Lion Air aircraft in Indonesia last month.

That sensor is meant to maintain air flow over a plane's wings but if it malfunctions it can cause the plane's computers to erroneously think it is in a aerodynamic stall - which can then cause aircraft to abruptly dive.

The warning prompted the US Federal Aviation Administration to issue its own emergency airworthiness directive, telling airlines with Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft to follow correct procedures if pilots receive erroneous information from an AOA sensor.

It was not immediately clear whether Boeing was planning to update the guidelines, though comments from Indonesian officials indicate they expect so.

"The point is that after the AOA (sensor) is replaced, the problem is not solved but the problem might even increase".

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Boeing's safety bulletin also instructs flight crews on the potential malfunction, and the ways in which pilots should respond should the error occur. "NTSC wants to explore this", he said.

The KNKT has interviewed crew and technicians on duty for two previous flights, while also retrieving the faulty sensor from Bali for inspection.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a source told Reuters that the Boeing bulletin related only to the 737 MAX, of which there are just over 200 in service.

They were all moved to a second plane on Wednesday night, which eventually brought them to their destination, Jakarta, with a four-hour delay. Flight JT610, which killed all 189 people on board, was the first major accident involving the 737 MAX. Boeing is still investigating why the sensor malfunctioned but in the meantime, pilots are being warned to take extra safety precautions when flying those models.

The jet reported a discrepancy in its angle of attack sensor during a flight from Bali to Jakarta the day before it crashed.

Lion Air is one of Indonesia's youngest airlines but has grown rapidly, flying to dozens of domestic and worldwide destinations. They are now combing the seas for the voice recorder.