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Boeing withheld info on the 737 model involved in Indonesia crash – WSJ

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There’s mounting pressure on Seattle-based plane maker Boeing today over the Lion Air crash in Indonesian two weeks ago.

Pilots are claiming that the aircraft maker didn’t tell them about changes to the emergency system on its new 737 Max 8 jet, the model in the Lion Air 610 disaster that killed 189 people.

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, citing “safety experts involved in the investigation, as well as midlevel FAA officials and airline pilots,” the WSJ reports that the automated stall-prevention system on Boeing 737 MAX 8 and MAX 9 models – intended to help cockpit crews avoid mistakenly raising a plane’s nose dangerously high – “under unusual conditions can push it down unexpectedly and so strongly that flight crews can’t pull it back up.”

Investigators have been focused on whether the emergency system caused the accident. It’s designed to automatically correct a plane’s angle if it appears to be stalling. But, according to Boeing insiders, if it malfunctions, it could send a plane into a potentially fatal nose-dive.

Indonesian transportation officials have said the flight manuals for the new Boeing 737 model didn’t contain information about the update. And pilots claim the onboard check list, which contains information about overriding the emergency system, was incorrect.

In a statement responding to the WSJ report, Boeing doesn’t specifically address the safety claims, saying, “We are taking every measure to fully understand all aspects of this incident, working closely with the investigating team and all regulatory authorities involved.”

“We are confident in the safety of the 737 MAX.”

More than 4,700 orders have been placed for the Boeing Max 8 for airlines around the world. It has been especially popular with low-cost carriers looking for dependable workhorses for shorter flights.

First approved for commercial operation by the FAA on March 8, 2017, the Max 8 is just beginning to be delivered in large volumes. Lion Air was one of Boeing’s primary foreign customers for the 737 Max 8, which is also flown by Southwest Airlines, American Airlines, and Air Canada amongst many budget airlines.

The Lion Air 737 lost in the accident was virtually brand new, delivered by Boeing in August and had only flown eight times in commercial operation with the Indonesian budget airline.

 

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