Boeing Didn't Disclose 737 Safety Problem Before Lion Air Crash

Mae Love
November 14, 2018

Boeing allegedly failed to warn pilots about the potential dangers associated with a new flight-control feature that is suspected of playing a role in the Lion Air crash which plunged the jet into the Jakarta Sea shortly after takeoff, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The automated stall-prevention system found on Boeing 737 MAX 8 and MAX 9 models is meant to help pilots avoid raising the plane's nose too high.

When the system senses the plane is close to losing lift on the wings, it automatically commands a lowering of the nose to counteract the risk.

Few details have been released about the underlying causes of the Lion Air crash October 29 in the sea near Jakarta, but Indonesian investigators say that an erroneous sensor prompted the plane's computers to push the aircraft into a steep dive.

Even though this problem was - according to investigators - not covered in the operating manual, pilots did have access to a checklist created to turn off errant systems when the plane started nosing downwards at the wrong time, said Soejono, a Lion Air instructor who like many Indonesians goes by one name.

"It is something we did not have before in any of our training". As a result, Boeing chose not to include a description of it in the extensive manuals it prepared for the Max models, said the memo. The FAA on November 7 issued an emergency airworthiness directive ordering USA airlines to incorporate information about the feature in their pilot manuals.

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Weaks said he is satisfied that "we have been given, finally, the correct information".

The FAA and Boeing are also evaluating the need for other upgrades, "including operating procedures and training", the regulator said in the statement.

In response to the concerns raised by the pilots, a Boeing spokesperson said the company is "deeply saddened" by the recent plane crash in Indonesia and is working with officials to determine what went wrong.

Information recovered from the jet's flight data recorder last week led the US Federal Aviation Administration to issue an emergency airworthiness directive urging airlines to update their flight manuals. The Lion Air aircraft lost in the accident was virtually brand new, delivered by Boeing in August; this was the first accident involving an aircraft touted for its safety.

The comments shed further light on the areas under scrutiny as investigators prepare to publish their preliminary report on Nov 28 or 29, one month after the Lion Air Boeing 737 MAX dived into the Java Sea, killing all 189 on board. Meanwhile, the airline is conducting a probe into the accident, which left a staggering 189 people dead late last month, stressing that it is "taking every measure" to understand the root cause of it. They include questions about how maintenance was performed after problems arose on at least three prior flights of the Lion Air jet and the actions of the pilots on its last flight.

Shares of Boeing Co. ended Tuesday down $7.52, or 2.1 percent, at $349.51 after falling to $342.04 earlier in the day.

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