FAA Issues Emergency Directive for Boeing 737s Affecting 246 Planes

Doomed Indonesia Jet Had Damaged Airspeed Indicator On Last 4 Flights

The directive comes a little more than a week after Lion Air pilots operating a 737 MAX 8 lost contact with Soekarno-Hatta's air traffic control (ATC) and crashed into the Java Sea, north of Indonesia's Java Island.

The new information about Lion Air Flight 610 raises multiple questions investigators will want to examine on the pilots' actions, how flight crews were trained and whether the maintenance performed on the system was adequate, said Roger Cox, a former NTSB investigator.

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.

Boeing has signalled there could be a problem with the flight control system of its 737 Max 8 jet after one of the new airliners crashed, killing 189 passengers.

The directive points operators "to existing flight crew procedures to address circumstances where there is erroneous input from an AOA sensor", the statement said.

The FAA said the order is effective immediately and covers 45 aircraft in the United States operated by carriers including Southwest Air Co, United Airlines and American Airlines Group Inc and addresses erroneous angle of attack inputs.

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The sensor on the doomed plane had been replaced the day before, after it failed on a previous trip, the Indonesia National Transportation Safety Committee said in a briefing. The incident happened just 10 days after another jet belonging to the low-priced airliner crashed with 189 people on board. Erroneous readings from the AOA sensor could push the plane into an aggressive, unwarranted dive.

"They should have been completely engaged in what was going on inside that cockpit, and any kind of warning that came up, they would have been wise to pay attention to it", Curtis said.

The plane was said to be leaving the terminal and taxiing around 6.30 pm on Wednesday, November 7, readying for takeoff to Jakarta, when it hit the lamp post, reported the Australian. Boeing is still investigating why the sensor malfunctioned but in the meantime, pilots are being warned to take extra safety precautions when flying those models. "We think this is an issue that is important because there are more than 200 Max planes around the world", Capt. Nurcahyo Utomo, the transportation safety committee's lead accident investigator, told the Times.

On that flight, from Bali to Jakarta, the two sensors disagreed.

A search for the cockpit voice recorder, the second so-called black box, remains underway.

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