Published: Thu, November 08, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

Lion Air plane rips wing in another incident after fatal crash

Lion Air plane rips wing in another incident after fatal crash

The US Federal Aviation Administration issued an emergency airworthiness directive on how to handle erroneous data from a sensor that investigators believe malfunctioned on a new Boeing jet that plunged into the sea in Indonesia, killing all 189 people on board. One of the critical ways a plane determines if a stall is imminent is a measurement known as angle of attack, which senses the angle at which the wind is passing over the wings.

The airplane manufacturer said in a statement Wednesday that Indonesia's National Transportation Safety Committee has indicated the crashed Boeing 737 MAX 8 plane had "erroneous input from one of its AOA sensors".

WestJet also has 9 of the 737 MAX jets in its fleet, but the airline did not immediately respond to a query about the Boeing bulletin from CBC News.

A Boeing spokesman said an investigation into the deadly crash revealed the faulty sensor. A separate procedure involving a specific sequence of actions can be used to disengage the sensor from feeding information to the plane's computer system to address the issue for the duration of a flight. However, in rare instances, accidents have been caused by what investigators call a "startle factor".

Boeing's advisory said the plane experienced "erroneous input from one of its [angle of attack] sensors".

United Technologies Corp. supplies the angle-of-attack sensors and indicator for the 737 Max, according to Airframers.net.

It was found that on the flight that crashed in Asia this sensor was giving off incorrect data, meaning the pilots weren't flying in the right position.

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Lion Air said at its website on Tuesday that the remains of 27 of the 189 missing have been positively identified. If it proves true that the AoA sensor was indeed at fault, the investigation will reveal much about what the pilots knew and suspected when confronted with the situation, what their training was like, and what their responses to the incident not only were, but also should have been.

Some modern aircraft have systems created to correct the posture of the aircraft automatically to keep flying safely.

"A "ping" has been detected from the second black box but the signal was very weak, possibly because it was encased in mud", said Nurcahyo Utomo, an air accident official at the transportation safety committee (KNKT). The system alerts pilots if it senses a possible malfunction.

"We don't know what the crew knew and didn't know yet", Cox said.

Boeing has delivered 219 Max planes - the latest and most advanced 737 jets - since the models made their commercial debut past year with a Lion Air subsidiary.

"The pilots can use extra force to correct the nose down trim, but the failure condition repeats itself, so that the nose-down push begins again 10 seconds after correcting", reported The Seattle Times. There were more than 180 people on board.

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