Indonesian investigators said on Monday (Oct 12) more training was needed for Boeing 737 MAX pilots after discovering the situation believed to have faced the crew of a doomed Lion Air jet was not contained in the aircraft's flight manual.
Pilots say they were not trained in new features of an anti-stall system in the aircraft that differ from previous models of the popular 737.
A stall is a unsafe situation where the lift from an aircraft's wings no longer is enough to counter the weight of the plane, causing it to lose control and fall.
Even though this problem was - according to investigators - not covered in the operating manual, pilots did have access to a checklist created to turn off errant systems when the plane started nosing downwards at the wrong time, said Soejono, a Lion Air instructor who like many Indonesians goes by one name.
The bulletin included new details on how to stop a runaway series of events from leading to a crash, pilots say. It wasn't in our books. The company said Monday it is confident in the safety of the 737 Max family of jets, a message echoed Tuesday by Chief Executive Officer Dennis Muilenburg.
"I was not pleased".
As word of the warnings spread, some pilots said this was the first they heard about the MCAS system and the potential control issue.
"Because the Max is a derivative aircraft, we doubt that this is a difficult-to-correct technical issue as the battery fire early in the 787's life, appeared to be", Cowen analyst Cai von Rumohr said in a note. "The bottom line here is the 737 MAX is safe and safety is a core value for us... we ensure that airplanes are safe".
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The complaints from pilot union leaders at Southwest Airlines Co. and American are significant because of the size of those carriers' 737 fleets and their Max purchases. Capt Mohan Ranganathan, an air safety expert said, "Currently, nowhere in the Boeing flight crew operations manual or the flight crew training manual or the non-normal check-list are these failures listed".
"It's an existing procedure, so the bulletin that we put out again last week and over the weekend pointed to that existing flight procedure", Muilenburg told Fox's Maria Bartiromo.
The Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System in limited instances will lower the nose of the 737 Max if the airplane is close to an aerodynamic stall even if pilots are manually operating controls.
Because the Max 8 is a reworking of the 737, pilots do not need to undergo extensive specialised training in order to fly the latest model.
29 minutes after taking off from Jakarta, killing all 189 people aboard.
Pilots could stop this automated response by pressing two buttons if the system behaved unexpectedly, but questions have been raised about how well prepared they were for such an automatic reaction and how much time they had to respond. Lion Air was one of Boeing's primary foreign customers for the MAX, which is also flown by Southwest Airlines, American Airlines, and Air Canada.
The Wall Street Journal reported that US and Indonesian investigators are increasingly focusing on the way that the plane's automated control systems interact.