Thursday, 15 November, 2018

Boeing warns airlines about equipment failure after Indonesia crash

An Indonesian rescue team lift a pair tires from the ill-fated Lion Air flight JT 610 off Karawang in the Java Se An Indonesian rescue team lift a pair tires from the ill-fated Lion Air flight JT 610 off Karawang in the Java Se
Gerardo Duncan | 08 November, 2018, 07:05

The doomed Lion Air flight that crashed into the sea, killing 189 passengers last month, was found to have a malfunctioning air speed indicator for its last four flights - and, crucially, at the time of the crash, according to the head of Indonesia's National Transportation Safety Committee. The committee said they were dealing with an erroneous airspeed indication. If they can't figure out what's going on with their aircraft instantly and without uncertainty, and if the aircraft itself can't do so, then we still have a very long way to go.

The pilots union at Southwest Airlines Co., the biggest customer of the 737 Max, hasn't received any reports from its members of problems with faulty sensor readings, said Jon Weaks, president of the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association.

Speed-measuring systems consist of tubes and sensors that measure air pressure generated by the plane's movement and compare it with surrounding air pressure.

The bulletin is based on preliminary findings from the Lion Air disaster. It's still possible the FAA may order the Chicago-based planemaker to redesign the equipment or software as investigators piece together details of the October 29 accident, which killed 189 people.

"When you see recurring problems, it says the normal easy fixes aren't solving it", he said.

On that flight, from Bali to Jakarta, the pilot's and co-pilot's sensors disagreed. But if unreliable airspeed readings were a factor, key questions will be: what was the cause - poor design or poor maintenance procedures, for example - and why previous problems were apparently not rectified.

More than 100 airlines have placed 4700 orders for the aircraft. "These are the things we are trying to find out: what was the damage and how it was fixed".

"The FAA continues to work closely with Boeing, and as a part of the investigative team on the Indonesia Lion Air accident, will take further appropriate actions depending on the results of the investigation", the agency said in the statement.

The pilots' actions will also be studied.

Safety investigators said the plane may have hit speeds of 600 miles per hour before hitting the water.

The plane maker said local aviation officials believed pilots might have been given wrong information by the plane's automated systems before the fatal crash.

In a statement November 5, the Indonesian transportation-safety committee called on the U.S. National Transportation and Safety Board and Boeing "to take necessary steps to prevent similar incidents, especially on the Boeing 737 Max, which number 200 aircraft all over the world".

The 737 Max, the fastest-selling plane in Boeing history, is the latest version of the company's 737 family of jets. Blocked pitot tubes triggered a chain of events in which the pilots became confused and disorientated and lost control.

I was never contacted by Lion Air.

The search operation is also looking to retrieve a second black box, which contains the voice cockpit recordings from the cockpit. They have not yet found the other one, which captures conversations in the cockpit and ambient sounds such as a change in engine noise.

While search teams scouring the waters managed to bring up the flight data recorder, a separate recorder that captures cockpit conversations and background noise is still buried in the seabed where the plane plunged.

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