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

Indonesia to probe Lion Air after deadly plane crash

The flight data recorder from a crashed Lion Air jet shows it had an airspeed indicator problem on its last four flights, investigators say, after distraught relatives of victims confronted the airline's co-founder at a meeting organized by officials. Pilots are supposed to memorize a procedure to disengage the angle-of-attack inputs to the plane's computer system.

The sensor had malfunctioned on four previous flights of the Lion Air aircraft and was replaced the day before the October 29 crash, according to Indonesian aviation officials.

However, this new reminder from Boeing raises questions about the pilots' actions, how the flight crews are trained and if the maintenance that was performed was adequate.

Lion Air spokesman Danang Mandala Prihantoro attributed the accident to wrong directions given to the pilot by ground control staff.

Boeing said the "angle of attack" sensor, which identifies if a plane is about to stall, was faulty on the doomed flight.

The jet reported a discrepancy in its angle of attack sensor during a flight from Bali to Jakarta the day before it crashed.

When contacted by FOX Business, Boeing declined to comment on the report.

"Lion Air said the problem was fixed, is it true the problem was cleared?" asked Bambang Sukandar, whose son was on the flight. The agency said the pilots were dealing with an erroneous airspeed indication.

The plane's altitude was mostly about 5,000 feet (1,524 meters), but rose and fell repeatedly within a range of a few hundred feet, according to flight-tracking data from FlightRadar24. Something happened three to four minutes into the flight. "The nose is turning itself down and they are having to fight it. They were fighting something".

While the investigation is ongoing, it's believed that the plane reported a problem with its AOA sensor, which measures the risk of a stall.

The angle-of-attack sensor is meant to measure the angle between air flow and a reference line on the frame or wings so that they maintain lift.

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The acting director-general of Air Transportation Pramintohadi Sukarno said another aircraft of budget carrier Lion Air with a tail number JT 633 and its pilot were grounded after a wing of the plane hit an electric pole in Fatmawati Airport in Bengkulu.

The warning prompted the US Federal Aviation Administration to issue its own emergency airworthiness directive, telling airlines with Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft to follow correct procedures if pilots receive erroneous information from an AOA sensor.

Boeing said it is cooperating fully and providing technical assistance as the investigation continues.

Lion Air aircraft was confirmed to have disintegrated as a result of heavy impact with the surface of the sea in Tanjung Karawang on Oct 29.

The FAA grounded Boeing's entire 787 fleet in 2013 after lithium-ion batteries overheated and caught fire.

"We are formulating, with NTSB (US National Transportation safety board) and Boeing, detailed inspections regarding the airspeed indicator", he said. KNKT said it would attempt to reconstruct the jet's last flight using Boeing simulators in Seattle. The company has sought to increase its production from 47 jets per month to 52 per month.

The Lion Air crash is the worst airline disaster in Indonesia since 1997, when 234 people died on a Garuda flight near Medan.

"We are not ideal human beings", he said, sobbing. If the AOA is too low, the aircraft won't climb out fast enough.

Still, Teal Group aerospace analyst Richard Aboulafia said the commercial passengers should not be nervous about getting on a 737 Max 8.

"We don't know what the crew knew and didn't know yet", Cox said. "The big picture is the system keeps getting safer and safer, and it's still the safest form of transportation ever designed by humans", he said.

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