Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Lion Air: A whole lot of questions for Boeing




Lion Air: A whole lot of questions for Boeing

Lion Air: A whole lot of questions for Boeing

QUESTIONS swirled on Wednesday about how Boeing had failed to tell airlines and pilots about changes to an anti-stall system suspected in last month’s fatal crash in Indonesia.

Investigators are examining whether the system, which is meant to prevent aircraft from stalling, was tied to the crash of Lion Air Flight 610.

The Boeing 737-MAX plunged into the Java Sea on October 29, killing all 189 people aboard.

The mid-range jet’s engines are heavier than those installed on prior versions, meaning the plane can stall under different conditions.

Boeing made modifications to the anti-stall system without informing air carriers and their crews, according to the Allied Pilots Association (Apa).

“We should have been informed,” said Apa spokesman Dennis Tajer. “It is just silly.”

“How this happened is definitely something which has to be resolved,” said Tajer, who pilots 737s himself. “Boeing will have to answer to that.”

Failing to share all necessary information violates the aviation world’s “safety culture,” he said.

Boeing did not respond to requests for comment. On Tuesday, the aircraft manufacturer said it was focusing on cooperating with investigators.

In a letter to pilots on November 10, the Apa said Boeing’s recent “Emergency Airworthiness Directive” had not addressed the key question of incorrect readings from Angle of Attack sensors, which monitor the angle of an aircraft’s nose.

The AOA “may be the causal system in the Lion Air incident,” Mike Michaelis, chairman of an Apa safety committee, said in the letter.

“Awareness is the key with all safety issues,” he said. “You are aware this anomaly may occur and there is a mitigation procedure.”

In this case, an AOA malfunction could cause the plane’s computers to detect a stall incorrectly and put the plane into a dive when it should climb instead.

The Apa says pilots should retake control to prevent a crash.

“We do not believe that Boeing would purposefully omit critical information from its operators or customers regarding key aircraft systems,” said aviation expert Addison Schonland.

Airspeed indicator malfunctions had been recorded during prior flights for the jet, he added.

According to Richard Aboulafia, vice president for analysis at Teal Group, it is possible Boeing underestimated matters, believing the change too minor to mention.

A pilot who asked to remain anonymous said manufacturers such as Boeing and Airbus recommend only a few days of training for updated aircraft models such as the 737-MAX.

This is because pilots’ working environment and philosophy remain unchanged, he said, adding that the 737-MAX had only two sensors and not three, like its rival Airbus A320.

An American pilot who also requested anonymity said the plane ideally should require more than one sensor to display a stall before reacting.

“If one fails, it seems odd that the automated stabilizer system would depend on only one versus requiring both to display a stall,” he said.

The 737-MAX in question had only begun service for Lion Air in August.

So far, only the plane’s flight data recorder has been​ recovered.

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘Kingdom one of safest to visit in Covid-19 era’

    The Ministry of Tourism on January 12 proclaimed Cambodia as one of the safest countries to visit in light of the Kingdom having been ranked number one in the world by the Senegalese Economic Prospective Bureau for its success in handling the Covid-19 pandemic. In rankings

  • Ministry mulls ASEAN+3 travel bubble

    The Ministry of Tourism plans to launch a travel bubble allowing transit between Cambodia and 12 other regional countries in a bid to resuscitate the tourism sector amid crushing impact of the ongoing spread of Covid-19, Ministry of Tourism spokesman Top Sopheak told The Post on

  • Kingdom accepts Chinese vaccine, PM first to get jab

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said China would offer Cambodia an immediate donation of one million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine produced by the Sinopharm company. In an audio message addressing the public on the night of January 15, he said Cambodia has accepted the offer and

  • Reeling in Cambodia’s real estate sector

    A new norm sets the scene but risks continue to play out in the background A cold wind sweeps through the streets of Boeung Trabek on an early January morning as buyers and traders engage in commerce under bright blue skies. From a distance, the

  • Quarantine site in north Phnom Penh inaugurated

    A four-building quarantine centre in Phnom Penh’s Prek Pnov district was formally inaugurated on January 6. The centre can house up to 500 people, according to Phnom Penh municipal governor Khuong Sreng. At the inauguration ceremony, Sreng said the municipal hall had cooperated with the Ministry

  • ‘Beware of WhatsApp fraudsters’

    The Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications warned members of the public who use WhatsApp to vigilantly guard against a new trick employed by hackers that involves the use of six-digit codes sent to potential victims via the popular messaging app. The ministry said hackers could