Boeing signals flight control system problem may have contributed to 737 crash


A Boeing Co. warning to 737 Max operators around the globe provides the first clues about how bad data from an airflow sensor might have contributed to the deadly crash of an Indonesian airliner last week.

A crucial sensor that's the subject of a Boeing Co safety bulletin was replaced on a Lion Air jet the day before it plunged into the Java Sea, Indonesia's National Transportation Safety Committee said Wednesday.

Data extracted from the flight recorders revealed that the aircraft experienced problems with airspeed indicators during its last four flights.

Boeing, which manufactured the Lion Air plane, issues safety-related bulletins, and had previously circulated instructions about what flight crews should do if sensors fail.

"Any action the FAA would take regarding that incident would have to wait until we have findings, until we have information", Elwell said in Washington.

Investigators haven't disclosed any reports of other airspeed failures on 737 Max aircraft.

Bambang Sukandar, whose son was on the flight, said: "Lion Air said the problem was fixed, is it true the problem was cleared?" The company didn't response to requests for comment. Boeing has sent experts to Indonesia to assist with the investigation. The agency said the pilots were dealing with an erroneous airspeed indication. Aviation systems must account for possibility of misinterpretations of situations and foggy memories of procedures outlined in the manuals that come with these huge, complicated, and incredibly sensitive vehicles. If a plane isn't in the right position in the air, the aerodynamics will be completely thrown off. While there were no signs of an explosion in the air, the plane appeared to have hit the water with huge force, he said.

"When you see recurring problems, it says the normal easy fixes aren't solving it", he said. (AAP) The fateful flight crashed into the ocean 13 minutes after taking off from Jakarta Airport bound for the island of Bangka.

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The investigation is now focused on flight data from one of the black boxes, found last week.

On that flight, from Bali to Jakarta, the pilot's and co-pilot's sensors disagreed.

The sister of Hizkia Jorry Saroinsong, a passenger on the Lion Air flight, carries her brother's portrait during his funeral in Jakarta.

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.

Airspeed is measured using pitot tubes, sensors which record pressure on the wing or front surface of the aircraft.

An unnamed source familiar with the Boeing's technical bulletin described how the sensor error could cause pilots to lose control of the plane.

Earlier this week, the Indonesian authorities extended by three days search and rescue operations in search for the victims and the second black box of the jet. Strong underwater currents in the Java Sea off Jakarta and a muddy seabed have complicated a week-long hunt that's involved dozens of ships and hundreds of specialist personnel.

Lion Air is one of the youngest airlines in Indonesia but has rapidly grown, expanding its flights in Southeast Asia.