Boeing issues warning on potential instrument malfunction after Lion Air crash

An official from Indonesia's transportation safety agency examines a turbine engine from the crashed Lion Air plane

The DGCA official said changes to the flight manual have to be done within three days after getting the airworthiness directive from the USA watchdog; the manual contains procedures to be followed by the flight crew.

"The Indonesian National Transportation Safety Committee has indicated that Lion Air flight 610 experienced erroneous input from one of its AOA (angle of attack) sensors", Boeing said in a statement on its website on Wednesday.

United said: "We are in receipt of a Flight Crew Operations Manual Bulletin, issued by Boeing, which applies to the 16 737 Max 8 aircraft now in our fleet".

Indonesian authorities have downloaded information from the flight data recorder that showed a cockpit indicator on the Lion Air jet was damaged for its last four flights.

Boeing, which is assisting in an investigation into what went wrong in the October 29 crash of one of its new 737 Max 8 jets, said it issued the bulletin as "part of its usual process". Erroneous readings can in some circumstances cause the 737 Max to point the nose down sharply to keep air under the wings and avoid a stall, according to a person briefed on the matter.

These included erroneous speed and altitude data that prompted a flight operated the day before the crash to go into a dive that frightened passengers and a made them sick.

Chairman Soerjanto Tjahjono said the airspeed indicator and sensor problems were related.

The plane maker said local aviation officials believed pilots might have been given wrong information by the plane's automated systems before the fatal crash.

Airline safety experts said pilots are trained to handle a plane safely even if those crucial sensors fail.

There are audio signals and physical warnings that can alert the pilot to malfunctioning equipment or other dangers, said Todd Curtis, director of the Airsafe.com Foundation.

The FAA says the AD is an interim action, and "if final action is later identified, we might consider further rulemaking then".

"The AD orders operators to revise the airplane flight manual (AFM) to give the flight crew horizontal stabilizer trim procedures to follow under certain conditions", the FAA said in an emailed statement.

"A "ping" has been detected from the second black box but the signal was very weak, possibly because it was encased in mud", said Nurcahyo Utomo, an air accident official at the transportation safety committee (KNKT).

Boeing has delivered 219 Max planes - the latest and most advanced 737 jets - since the models made their commercial debut previous year with a Lion Air subsidiary. Body parts are still being recovered and searchers continue to hunt for the cockpit voice recorder.

Indonesian officials said on Wednesday they would extend the search by three days.

The bulletin is based on preliminary findings from the Lion Air disaster, a person familiar with the matter earlier told Bloomberg. In December 2014, an AirAsia flight from Surabaya to Singapore plunged into the sea, killing all 162 on board.

Lion Air is one of Indonesia's youngest and largest airlines, flying to dozens of destinations at home and internationally.

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