Boeing Failed to Disclose Issues With New Flight Control Feature

Saturday, 17 Nov, 2018

Intan Indah Syari and Rio Nanda Pratama, both 26, were due to be married last Sunday at Pangkal Pinang, where Lion Air flight JT 610 was heading when it crashed on October 29.

Citing "safety experts involved in the investigation, as well as midlevel FAA officials and airline pilots", the WSJ reported Monday that the automated stall-prevention system on Boeing 737 MAX 8 and MAX 9 models - meant to help cockpit crews avoid mistakenly raising a plane's nose dangerously high - "under unusual conditions can push it down unexpectedly and so strongly that flight crews can't pull it back up".

The investigation's focus appears to be expanding to the clarity of US-approved procedures to help pilots prevent the 737 MAX over-reacting to such a data loss, and methods for training them.

Now, investigators speculate the nose-down command could have been activated by an improper signal, adjusting the plane's trajectory into an irreversible dive into the ocean. The system, which wasn't on earlier versions of the popular 737, is a focal point of investigators probing the October 29 crash of Lion Air Flight 610.

The fiancee of an Indonesian man killed when his flight crashed into the sea has taken their wedding pictures alone in a bid to "fulfil his last wish". Other factors, such as maintenance on the plane and the pilots' performance, may also become factors in the accident.

He had reportedly joked that if he did not turn up for the wedding on time, she should go ahead and take wedding photos. "[Syari] said: 'We were supposed to do this together, there's supposed to be Rio here'". In the event that a pilot raises the nose too high, the system is created to force the nose downwards in order to prevent a stall. "The bottom line here is the 737 MAX is safe and safety is a core value for us".

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The Journal also reported on Tuesday that when Boeing chose to install the flight-control feature, the company determined that it was fail-proof because it was impossible for the combination of sensor failure, pilot actions, and automated nose-down commands to cause any serious safety hazards.

Pilots could stop this automated response by pressing two buttons if the system behaved unexpectedly, but questions have been raised about how well prepared they were for such an automatic reaction and how much time they had to respond.

"The companies and the pilots should have been informed", Jon Weaks, president of the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association, Bloomberg. The Boeing 737 MAX 8 then made another flight to Jakarta that same day, and the pilots reported further problems.

Indonesia's National Transport Safety Committee is continuing to search for the plane's crash-proof cockpit voice recorder under the sea, it said Monday.

Passengers on that flight told CNN that the plane experienced a significant drop in altitude shortly after takeoff.

Dr Pratama, who had attended a seminar in Jakarta, was on his way back to their hometown in Pangkal Pinang for the wedding.