Indonesian investigators said on Monday (Oct 12) more training was needed for Boeing 737 MAX pilots after discovering the situation believed to have faced the crew of a doomed Lion Air jet was not contained in the aircraft's flight manual.
The pilots say they were not trained in new features of an anti-stall system in the plane that differ from previous models of the 737.
Even though this problem was - according to investigators - not covered in the operating manual, pilots did have access to a checklist created to turn off errant systems when the plane started nosing downwards at the wrong time, said Soejono, a Lion Air instructor who like many Indonesians goes by one name. The Operational Manual Bulletin sent out by Boeing on November 6 provides procedures for dealing with that sort of situation, but no prior training provided by Boeing ever mentioned the automated system.
But if that nose-down command is triggered by faulty sensor readings - as suspected in the Lion Air crash - pilots can struggle to control the plane and it can go into a dive and perhaps crash. The Lion Air aircraft lost in the accident was virtually brand new, delivered by Boeing in August; this was the first accident involving an aircraft touted for its safety. It wasn't in our books.
"It's pretty asinine for them to put a system on an airplane and not tell the pilots who are operating the airplane, especially when it deals with flight controls", the WSJ cited one of the officials, Captain Mike Michaelis, chairman of the Safety Committee for the Allied Pilots Association, as saying. 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".
"I was not pleased".
A spokeswoman said: 'We are taking every measure to fully understand all aspects of this incident, working closely with the investigating team and all regulatory authorities involved.
Boeing sells the single-aisle Boeing 737 aircraft in two versions, the classic Boeing 737 NG and the new generation Boeing 737 MAX. As a result, Boeing chose not to include a description of it in the extensive manuals it prepared for the Max models, said the memo. American and United did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
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Boeing has delivered versions of the new plane to numerous largest airlines, including American and Southwest, according to the company's website.
The directive warned pilots that a computer on the Boeing 737 MAX could lead to the plane being forced to descend sharply for up to 10 seconds even in manual flight, leading to potential difficulties in controlling the plane.
Boeing said it is confident in the safety of the 737 Max family of jets.
The change, directed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), came because Boeing had never provided guidance to pilots on what to do when part of an updated safety system malfunctioned-the very scenario that the pilots of Indonesia's Lion Air Flight 610 faced on October 29. All 189 people on board were killed.
"What Boeing conveyed to airlines and pilots was that the B737NG and B737 MAX essentially had similar flight-control features", said a senior commander.
The Wall Street Journal reported that US and Indonesian investigators are increasingly focusing on the way that the plane's automated control systems interact.
Shares of Boeing Co. ended Tuesday down $7.52, or 2.1 percent, at $349.51 after falling to $342.04 earlier in the day.
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