Boeing, FAA Weigh Software Fix on 737 Max Plane After Crash

General Manager of Lion Air's Angkasa Training Center Captain Dibyo Soesilo gestures as he explains the general training curriculum to the media at the airline group's training center near Jakarta Indonesia

General Manager of Lion Air's Angkasa Training Center Captain Dibyo Soesilo gestures as he explains the general training curriculum to the media at the airline group's training center near Jakarta Indonesia

United States aviation safety experts and pilots associations say Boeing didn't tell them about a new flight-control system on 737 MAX aircraft, a sensor which Indonesian officials think could be involved in the deadly Lion Air crash. Capt Sam Thomas, president, Air Lines Pilots' Association, India said, "We have perused the FCOM and QRH of airlines that fly some of the 737 Max airplanes and have not found a conclusive action to be taken in case of the said error".

U.S. pilot unions later said they were not aware of the new anti-stall system.

Known as the Manoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation System, this feature was added to compensate for particular nuances in the handling of the aircraft.

The comments focus attention on the contents of aircraft manuals and a conversion course allowing pilots of the previous generation of Boeing jet, the 737NG, to upgrade to the MAX.

"This was clearly a sign that the safety culture [at Boeing] was missing on a cylinder or two", he said. This indicates to all operators of the 737 Max-the machines to make the process familiar.

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.

"It is not very unlikely" that Boeing knew about the problem, he said, warning that "more than 200 planes are concerned and this could happen tomorrow again".

'We are confident in the safety of the 737 MAX'. "Safety remains our top priority and is a core value for everyone at Boeing".

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Boeing shares fell 2.1 per cent on Tuesday on concerns related to the first crash of the newest version of the planemaker's best-selling jet, in which all 189 people on board were killed when it dived into the sea. The aircraft also reportedly had a history of unreliable airspeed indications.

On the Pilots of America online forum, an American Airlines pilot posted an informational bulletin from a pilot's association and added this: "We had NO idea that this MCAS even existed".

A series of updates issued last week by Boeing and the US Federal Aviation Administration warned airlines that erroneous sensor readings from an important flight control system could "cause the flight crew to have difficulty controlling the airplane", and lead to "possible impact with terrain". Boeing said there was no requirement to train specially on B737 MAX simulator.

USA aircraft manufacturer Boeing was silent on this, till the Lion Air crash investigations forced it to reveal the unique response that this aircraft had when its systems sensed that the nose was dangerously high.

Lion Air officials said on Monday that they had followed a training regime approved by both USA and European regulators. "It will be soon".

"Because the Max is a derivative aircraft, we doubt that this is a difficult-to-correct technical issue as the battery fire early in the 787's life, appeared to be", Cowen analyst Cai von Rumohr said in a note.

The new flight-control systems "automatically put the nose down to keep the plane from stalling", Mary Schiavo, an airline lawyer and former inspector general of the US Transportation Department, said in an email. If activated incorrectly, it could have sent the plane into its fatal dive, especially if the pilots were not properly trained on how to deal with such a situation.

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