Boeing reportedly failed to provide a key safety disclosure concerning its 737 Max 8 and 9 jets before one of those planes, the aircraft acting as Lion Air Flight 610, plummeted into the ocean last month.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Boeing didn’t provide airlines with information about an automated safety-control feature, meant to prevent the plane’s nose from raising too high and stalling. Pilots speaking with the outlet claim they weren’t properly trained on the safety feature, which automatically adjusts an aircraft’s nose downward in the event of disturbance.
While the Lion Air investigation is ongoing, here’s what we do know:
- It was previously reported that the aircraft’s airspeed indicator encountered a glitch, resulting in the pilots being fed inaccurate information and losing control of the plane.
- Investigators determined that the ill-fated plane had airspeed indicator issues on its four previous flights, including the day before the disaster when a sensor was replaced.
- 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.
Following the crash, Boeing issued a bulletin with information on how to disengage the safety feature to prevent a crash. But the pilots quoted in the Journal report say the advisory is too little, too late. Denis Tajer, pilot and spokesperson for the American Airlines pilot union, told the Associated Press: “It is something we did not have before in any of our training. It wasn’t in our books. American didn’t have it. Now I have to wonder what else is there?”
Boeing calls its 737 Max “the fastest-selling airplane in Boeing history,” with more than 200 planes currently in service throughout the world. Only two U.S. carriers use the jet: American Airlines employs 16 while Southwest has 26, per USA Today.
Indonesian investigators have called for all 737 MAX pilots to undergo additional training, while the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Boeing will determine if the aircraft should be subject to software and design improvements. The FAA is part of a joint investigation conducted with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and Indonesian authorities, according to an FAA press release. U.S. agencies are heavily involved in the situation as the ill-fated plane was manufactured by Boeing, a U.S. company.
Boeing Chairman and CEO Dennis Muilenburg defended the company on Tuesday, saying the manufacturer’s bulletins highlight existing safety procedures, including the one that could have caused the Lion Air crash. “We ensure that we provide all of the information that is needed to safely fly our airplanes,” he said in an interview with Fox Business Week.
Jon Weaks, president of the pilots union at Southwest Airlines, claimed otherwise in an interview with the WSJ: “We’re pissed that Boeing didn’t tell the companies, and the pilots didn’t get notice.”
Originally posted on Popular Mechanics