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New Boeing 737 Crash Caused by Defective Sensor

Posted on in Aviation Litigation

By Timothy Tomasik

Investigators determined that Boeing’s 737 Max jet, operated by Lion Air jetliner, experienced erroneous AOA readings causing pilots to battle the jet plunging at approximately 600 miles an hour into the Java Sea. The Federal Aviation Administration plans to order airlines to follow Boeing’s Operations Manual Bulletin (OMB), an advisory on how pilots should handle false readings from an AOA (Angle of Attack) sensor. Tragically, this catastrophe took the lives of 189 passengers and crew on October 29, 2018.

The AOA sensor determines whether the airplane, or its wings, are properly angled against oncoming wind in order to maintain lift and prevent the airplane from falling out of the sky. If the sensor malfunctions, however, the airplane’s control system erroneously reacts to an aerodynamic stall – as if the airplane were falling out of the sky – causing the plane to take corrective measures, such as abruptly diving.

Boeing’s OMB advises pilots to follow existing procedures, such as switching the airplane from autopilot to manual, in order to combat defective AOA sensors. This allows pilots to override a plane nosing downward by pushing a switch on their control yoke and making necessary corrections. Boeing further advises operators to follow a separate procedure to disengage false AOA inputs into the plane’s computer system.

The Max 737’s “black box” revealed four previous airspeed indicator malfunctions during its last four flights. All four flights had similar reports of erratic speed and altitude, said National Transportation Safety Committee chairman Soerjanto Tjahjono.

This is the first airplane crash involving a Boeing 737 Max 8 model. Currently, Boeing reports 219 completed deliveries for the Max model, and 4,564 unfulfilled orders. The largest customers for this airplane are shown below: 

Boeing 737 plane crash injury

Source: Bloomberg

If you have been involved in an aircraft injury or someone you know has lost a life due to airline negligence, it is critical to work with trustworthy legal representation to thoroughly investigate the accident. TKK understands complex aviation regulations, and our experienced litigation team will prove liability. Our lawyers are experienced Chicago aviation attorneys and have won cases nationwide. Tim Tomasik has been the Chair of the ABA’s Annual Institute on Aviation Litigation for several years. For more information, call us at 312-605-8800 or contact us online for a free consultation.

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