Monday, 12 November, 2018

U.S. emergency directive after Boeing jet crash in Indonesia

Parts of an engine of the ill-fated Lion Air flight JT 610 are recovered from the sea during search operations in the Java Sea Parts of an engine of the ill-fated Lion Air flight JT 610 are recovered from the sea during search operations in the Java Sea
Leonard Rios | 08 November, 2018, 08:51

The US planemaker said investigators probing the Lion Air crash off the coast of Indonesia, in which all 189 on board were killed, had found that one of the "angle of attack" sensors on the Boeing 737 MAX jet had provided erroneous data.

This isn't to say that the Lion Air crew was necessarily in the latter group-despite safety problems in the past with this airline, this specific crew may have absolutely been first-rate aviators, yet still suffered the same fate-but the fact is that we're in an era of increasing automation in aviation that's still 100 percent overseen by human pilots.

Boeing said the "angle of attack" sensor, which identifies if a plane is about to stall, was faulty on the doomed flight.

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.

Flight JT610 radioed a request to return to Jakarta to land, but never turned back toward the airport, according to Indonesia's National Transportation Safety Committee.

Indonesian investigators have recovered the plane's flight data recorder, which showed that the plane's airspeed indicator malfunctioned on its last four flights.

If this happens (un-commanded nose-down stabilizer trim) pilots can respond by pushing a switch on their control column (yoke), however, 737's computers will resume trying to dive as soon as the switch is released the new Boeing bulletin said.

Southwest had 23 737 Max 8 in its fleet as of September 30, with nine more to be delivered by the end of the year.

"If the nose is trimmed down on an aircraft, it becomes hard for the crew to hold it", a source briefed on Boeing's OMB told the paper. At takeoff, the plane's altitude fluctuated dramatically, and the plane increased in speed before nose-diving into the Java Sea 13 minutes later. If pilots aren't careful, they can cause severe nose-down trim settings that make it impossible to level a plane.

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After an engine on a Southwest Airlines plane fractured earlier this year over Pennsylvania, killing a passenger, CFM International issued multiple bulletins to operators of its CFM56-7B power plants.

The Boeing 737 MAX has three such sensors, but erroneous readings could in some circumstances cause the Boeing 737 MAX to point the nose down sharply in order to keep air under the wings and avoid a stall, according to a person briefed on the matter.

Soerjanto Tjahjono, chairman of Indonesia's National Transportation Safety Committee, said the problem was similar on each of the four flights, including the doomed one on October 29.

"The aircraft and pilot are grounded for investigation goal", said Pramintohadi in a written statement on Wednesday, November 7.

Tjahjono said that the KNKT has asked the United States' National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and Boeing to take the necessary measures to deal with issues with the speed indicator. The committee, charged with finding the cause of the crash, is set to hold a briefing at 4 p.m.in Jakarta.

The search operation is also looking to retrieve a second black box, which contains the voice cockpit recordings from the cockpit.

"We don't know yet where the problem lies, what fix has been done, what their reference books are, what components have been removed", said Nurcahyo Utomo, the KNKT subcommittee head for air accidents.

The Lion Air crash is the worst airline disaster in Indonesia since 1997, when 234 people died on a Garuda flight near Medan.

"Lion Air has failed", said a man who identified himself as the father of passenger Shandy Johan Ramadhan, a prosecutor in a district of the island where the flight was headed.

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