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Lion Air crash: US issues emergency airworthiness directive

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WASHINGTON/ZHUHAI: The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued an emergency airworthiness directive on Wednesday to address how to handle erroneous data from a sensor on the new Boeing 737 MAX jet in the wake of last week's Lion Air crash.

Boeing said that it had alerted pilots to the issue.

The FAA said it was mandating that airlines follow the Boeing bulletin.

The US planemaker said investigators probing the Lion Air crash off the coast of Indonesia, in which all 189 on board were killed, had found that one of the "angle of attack" sensors on the Boeing 737 MAX jet had provided erroneous data.

The Boeing 737 MAX has three such blade-shaped sensors. Erroneous readings can cause the plane to point the nose down sharply to keep air under the wings and avoid a stall, according to a person briefed on the matter.

The FAA said the order was effective immediately and applies to nearly 250 aircraft worldwide, including 45 in the US.

The FAA directive ordered operators to revise the airplane flight manual to give flight crews horizontal stabiliser trim procedures to follow under certain conditions.


Meanwhile, an angle of attack sensor had been changed by mechanics on the ground in Bali the day before the crash, Indonesia's National Transportation Safety Committee (KNKT) has said.

The captain and first officer flying from Bali to Jakarta the night before the crash had indicators displaying differences in angle of 20 degrees, KNKT said, but that flight landed safely despite the issues in the air.

The Lion Air crash was the first involving the new version, which airlines introduced into service last year.

Indonesian authorities have downloaded information from the flight data recorder that showed a cockpit indicator on the Lion Air jet was damaged for its last four flights.

Authorities were still searching for the cockpit voice recorder. - REUTERS