Anti-stall feature in new Boeing planes may have contributed to Indonesian aviation disaster
19 November 2018
Last week, three US pilots unions, aviation experts and a number of airlines, including Indonesia’s Lion Air, stated that a feature of Boeing’s new 737 Max 8 aircraft may have contributed to a plane crash in the Java Sea on October 29 which killed 189 people. They have claimed that an automated system not present in previous Boeing models or mentioned in any of the company’s safety manuals may have triggered a catastrophic nosedive.
The Lion Air plane lost contact with air traffic control around 13 minutes after departing from Java for a routine commercial trip to Pangkal Pinang, the capital of the Bangka Belitung Islands province. Eyewitnesses reported that the plane plunged at an almost vertical angle into the Java Sea. There were no survivors.
While the report from an initial investigation by Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Committee (NTSC) has yet to be released, statements by the country’s aviation officials have made clear that the plane had experienced mechanical issues during its previous four flights, with key pieces of equipment reportedly feeding false data to the cockpit.
Allegations aired last week, however, have indicated that the safety issue may be far broader than the ill-fated Lion Air Flight, potentially affecting the entire fleet of 737 Max 8 aircraft. There are currently 246 of the new model in operation around the world, while airlines in Australia, the US, Europe and internationally have orders for another 4,542 of the aircraft.
It has emerged that the 737 Max 8 model contains an automated mechanism, known as the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, aimed at preventing it from stalling. If…