Lion Air May Cancel 737 Orders, Pilots Seek More Training

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Image: The Air Current

Image: The Air Current

Lion Air, of Indonesia, which recently lost a nearly new Boeing 737 Max with its crew and passengers, may cancel further Boeing orders as tensions grow over who will take responsibility for what went wrong, Reuters reported on Monday. The airline has $22 billion in orders pending, but that represents only about 4 percent of Boeing’s backlog of about 4,500 airplanes. The 737 Max, which entered service last year, has been Boeing’s fastest-selling jet, according to Reuters. Meanwhile, pilots at Southwest and American Airlines have asked for more training on the automated system that has been implicated in the crash. Boeing has said the manual contains enough information for pilots to handle an incident like the one encountered by the Lion Air crew. However, Southwest said it will modify the angle-of-attack cockpit display for upcoming 737 Max deliveries.

The new indications will provide “continuous visual feedback to the flight crew allowing identification of erroneous AoA that could lead to an uncommanded stabilizer trim actuation,” according to an internal message provided to Southwest pilots and reported by The Air Current. “Currently, the MAX and NG have an AoA disagree light that provides an alert of erroneous AoA data,” a Southwest spokeswomen told The Air Current. “The AoA indicator will provide a valuable supplemental cross-check in the event there is an erroneous AoA signal present.” Southwest will also retrofit the current Max fleet with the new indicators.

Comments (4)

Besides the AOA DISAGREE , actual AOA indications as an add-on will be a valuable tool. Just like the three airspeed indicators are when an IAS DISAGREE is displayed. Pilots need to be able to collect relevant information when faced with such a crisis.
The investment in Upset Tecovery and Prevention training is also a valuable asset. The B737 is flyable with full stabilizer trim nose down or nose up (!!) but only if the pilots understand the dynamics involved and are able to apply the training in-flight...

Posted by: Mauro Hernandez | December 5, 2018 6:41 AM    Report this comment

Remember when we only had the indicator light for low oil in a car. It quickly became labeled the 'idiot' light, alerting us to a catastrophic problem. We're much better off having oil pressure gauges and likewise Southwest is far better off having the new indicator instead of just an 'idiot' light that says the AOA is erroneous.

Posted by: Thomas Wiley | December 5, 2018 10:51 AM    Report this comment

The "Air Current" description is nearly correct, but not completely correct. Southwest is not "modifying the AOA display". Boeing did not make the AOA display a standard feature of the 737. Airline customers have to pay extra for the feature. On the other hand, the AOA DISAGREE message actually was/is a basic feature in the NG display system. For some reason Boeing decided to make that warning message part of the AOA indication option in the Max display system. So if an airline did not select the AOA display (on the Max) then they didn't get the message function either. At the same time, Boeing added a system that uses angle of attack (alone, it seems) to control how the airplane behaves in flight. I don't think this nuance was well understood by Boeing's customer base.

Posted by: David Bunin | December 6, 2018 6:27 AM    Report this comment

Instead of building systems to monitor systems, perhaps a piece of yarn taped to the window would suffice!

Posted by: A Richie | December 7, 2018 9:12 AM    Report this comment

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