Aviation

Boeing CEO hits back at criticism over Lion Air crash

Ali Coulton

Boeing’s CEO has pushed back against claims it intentionally withheld information about a new anti-stall feature in its 737 Max Jetliner.

The model of aircraft in question has sparked controversy lately after 189 people were killed in the tragic Lion Air crash earlier late last month, with the investigation finding issues with a crucial sensor in the plane.

“You may have seen media reports that we intentionally withheld information about airplane functionality from our customers. That’s simply untrue,” Boeing Chief Executive Officer Dennis Muilenburg wrote in a message to employees, according to Bloomberg.

“The relevant function is described in the Flight Crew Operations Manual and we routinely engage with our customers about how to operate our airplanes safely.”

The reports Muilenburg refers to come from US pilot unions and a report by the Wall Street Journal that imply the aircraft manufacturer withheld a description of the obscure flight-control system which helps the aircraft adjust the angle of its nose relative to the current of air to prevent stalling and diving.

Boeing also cancelled a conference call with carriers that had been scheduled for Tuesday US time but said the call is expected to be rescheduled.maxresdefault

According to Bloomberg, the company has held several such calls to answer carriers questions since the Lion Air tragedy.

The anti-stall feature or, ‘angle of attack’ sensor, has been the focal point for investigators trying to pinpoint the cause of the Lion Air flight that crash-landed into the sea last month.

Flight data retrieved from the aircraft showed airspeed indicator malfunctions on the jet’s last four flights, which Transport safety committee chairman Soerjanto Tjahjono said would have been intertwined with the sensor issue.

“The point is that after the AOA [sensor] is replaced the problem is not solved, but the problem might even increase. Is this fatal? NTSC wants to explore this,” he said, according to the ABC.

Tjahjono said the airline’s first two attempts to fix problems with the sensor failed, so they replaced it on the aircraft’s second-last flight.

During the second-last flight, the plane went into a sudden dive minutes after take-off which the pilots were able to recover from.

Boeing has since provided Lion Air with draft procedure recommendations based on how the flight crew responded to the problems on the second last flight.

The planemaker reportedly hadn’t widely disclosed that the sensor could, in some circumstances, lower the jet’s nose without input from pilots.

Featured image source: Forbes

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