Officals with both Southwest Airlines and American Airlines say they have not seen sensor malfunctions in their 737 Max 8 aircraft like the one mentioned by the plane's manufacturer in an operations bulletin released Tuesday.
After learning the Indonesian National Transportation Safety Committee reported that Lion Air Flight 610, which crashed into the Java Sea on Oct. 29, killing 189 people, experienced erroneous input from one of its avionics sensors, Boeing released an Operations Manual Bulletin.
The sensor in question, the angle of attack (AOA) sensor, keeps track of the angle of the aircraft nose relative to oncoming air to prevent the plane from stalling and diving.
Boeing's safety bulletin released Tuesday directs flight crews to existing guidelines on how they should respond to erroneous "angle of attack" data.
On the fatal Lion Air flight from Bali to Jakarta, the pilot's and copilot's AOA sensors disagreed. The 2-month-old plane went into a sudden dive minutes after takeoff, which the pilots were able to recover from. They decided to fly on to Jakarta at a lower than normal altitude. Thirteen minutes after takeoff, the plane hit the Java Sea at very high speed.
Both Southwest and American, who fly the 737 Max 8, said their pilots have not reported any AOA errors detailed in Boeing's briefing. The airlines then released the following statements.
From Southwest Airlines, who currently has 26 Max 8 aircraft in their fleet:
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"Southwest has thoroughly reviewed the guidance issued by Boeing earlier today, and our existing 737 MAX 8 operating procedures address the scenarios described in the bulletin. To underscore our commitment to safety, Southwest is issuing communication to highlight the existing procedures to Southwest Pilots that operate our 737 MAX 8 fleet. Safety is the top priority at Southwest, and we will continue to work closely with Boeing and the FAA to maintain the integrity of our fleet and validate our operating practices. Southwest’s MAX 8 fleet of 26 aircraft remains fully operational, and we do not expect any disruption to our schedule.
From American Airlines, who currently have 16 Max 8 aircraft in their fleet:
“We are in receipt of a Flight Crew Operations Manual Bulletin, issued by Boeing, which applies to the 16 737 MAX 8 aircraft currently in our fleet. This bulletin reiterates existing, well-established procedures for 737 MAX 8 pilots.”
Fort Worth-based American Airlines has ordered 100 Max 8 aircraft while Dallas-based Southwest has ordered about 300 variants of the Max aircrafts.
Boeing, meanwhile, said they are continuing to cooperate into the investigation into the Lion Air crash.