FAA issues airworthiness directive after Indonesia plane crash

FAA issues airworthiness directive after Indonesia plane crash

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.

Attempts to fix the issues were unsuccessful, NTSC chairman Soerjanto Tjahjono has said, with the pilots of the 737's second-to-last flight experiencing conflicting information despite an AOA sensor being replaced. The only way to prevent this, is for the pilot to intervene and manually deactivate the system.

An Air Canada Boeing 737 MAX 8 (C-FSJH) single-aisle narrow-body jet airliner airborne on short final approach for landing at Vancouver International Airport, Richmond, B.C. on Wednesday, August 29, 2018. The Boeing bulletin only reminds operators of the plane to follow the procedure and doesn't require any physical fixes that could take the aircraft out of service.

Lion Air is one of Indonesia's youngest and largest airlines, flying to dozens of destinations at home and internationally.

The Boeing bulletin says it is possible that the system will continue to put the aircraft nose down, right up to the limit, unless it is deactivated.

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Indonesian authorities would provide Boeing with information from the pilot who flew with the problematic sensor so it could be shared with other airlines, said Nurcahyo Utomo, an investigator with the National Transportation Safety Committee. When one of these faulty readings occurs, the plane may incorrectly sense it's in an aerodynamic stall. A misreading in the sensor can cause a plane to dive suddenly. "An investigation will be carried out by Aircraft Inspection and Airworthiness Inspector, Airport Inspector and Aviation Navigation Inspector to see the cause of the incident and the appropriate follow-up steps", the site quoted Acting Director General of Air Transportation M Pramintohadi Sukarno as saying. But the urgency of a fatal accident can trigger a flurry of such notices. Aviation regulators such as the U.S. FAA and the European Aviation Safety Agency often follow such actions by mandating that carriers follow the bulletins.

The directive notes that the 737 MAX uses a flight control computer to command the aircraft's pitch trim system. If pilots aren't careful, they can cause severe nose-down trim settings that make it impossible to level a plane. Audible and visual stall warnings and stick-shaker mechanisms would have likely also been activated, creating more chaos.

Air Canada announced last December that its 737 Max aircraft had just started operating and was carrying passengers between Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto and Montreal. Once that happens, it may try to right itself by pushing the nose down, reports the Straight Times.

All 181 passengers and eight crew members on board the aircraft died after it crashed into the Java Sea shortly after takeoff from Jakarta.

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