Boeing issues safety bulletin over ‘angle of attack’ sensors after Lion Air crash

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By Elisha Fieldstadt and Tom Costello

Boeing issued a safety bulletin to pilots Tuesday instructing crews on how to handle the potential of erroneous data from sensors on its 737 MAX aircraft following of last week’s deadly Lion Air crash in Indonesia.

Indonesian National Transportation Safety Committee investigators looking at the crash of Lion Air Flight JT610 have found that one of the brand new plane’s “angle of attack” sensors had malfunctioned and provided inaccurate data, according to Boeing.

Nov. 5, 201800:28

The sensor controls the angle of the nose of the plane relative to oncoming air. If the sensor fails to send correct information, it can confuse both the plane’s computer and its pilots, causing an aircraft to take a sudden dive.

The Lion Air plane hit the water 13 minutes after departing Jakarta at 6:20 a.m. last Monday. All 189 people on board were killed.

The “angle of attack” sensors on the plane had been replaced the day before the fatal flight, The Associated Press reported. Additionally, airspeed indicators malfunctioned on the three flights leading up to Monday’s crash, as well as during the last flight, Indonesian investigators have said.

Image: Boeing's first 737 MAX
A Boeing 737 MAX is parked at the company’s delivery center in Seattle.Elaine Thompson / AP file

The Federal Aviation Administration will require all U.S. airlines that use the 737 MAX aircraft to follow the corrective actions laid out in the bulletin, the administration said. Two hundred of the planes are in use worldwide

Boeing said the bulletin highlighted “existing flight crew procedures” on how to react to incorrect data being sent from sensors to the cockpit.


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