FAA issues emergency directive on Boeing 737 Max after Lion Air crash

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

Boeing's bulletin was the first indication that an error with the aircraft's systems may have caused problems for the Lion Air flight, which took off from Jakarta.

SilkAir, a unit of Singapore Airlines Ltd., said it has yet to receive the bulletin from Boeing, but it will comply with the advice once it gets it.

Investigators probing the Lion Air crash off the coast of Indonesia, in which all 189 on board were killed, found that one of the "angle of attack" sensors on the Boeing 737 Max jet provided erroneous data.

The aviation regulator DGCA has told Jet Airways and SpiceJet to check all their Boeing 737 Max aircraft for an issue that could lead to "significant altitude loss", a week after a brand new plane of the same model plunged into the sea minutes after take-off in Indonesia. In those cases, the plane's nose is automatically pointed down to reduce chances of stalling.

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.

"The point is that after the AOA (sensor) is replaced, the problem is not solved but the problem might even increase".

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

Pilots are trained to disengage the angle-of-attack sensors from the plane's computers when they get false readings.

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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.

On Wednesday, Indonesian officials said the doomed flight would be re-created at Boeing facilities in Seattle to see what role the sensor may have played.

The official said that if the condition is not addressed, it could cause the flight crew to have difficulty in controlling the airplane.

"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.

The flight procedure recommendations to Boeing were based on how the flight crew responded to problems on the Bali-to-Jakarta flight, said investigator Nurcahyo Utomo.

"There are some things that we ask for explanation and some that we ask to be removed, and there has been an agreement between the NTSC and Boeing to release a new procedure to all Boeing 737 MAX users in the world", he said.

Wednesday night's incident involving Indonesian low- cost airline Lion Air comes as the authorities extend search efforts till Saturday for victims' bodies and a second black box from the downed Flight JT610.

The Lion Air crash is the worst airline disaster in Indonesia since 1997, when 234 people died on a Garuda flight near Medan.

Lion Air is one of Indonesia's youngest airlines but has grown rapidly, flying to dozens of domestic and worldwide destinations.

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