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Jet Airways and SpiceJet currently fly Boeing 737 MAX planes in India. Photo: Reuters
Jet Airways and SpiceJet currently fly Boeing 737 MAX planes in India. Photo: Reuters

Check Boeing 737 Max’s sensors, says DGCA

Problems with a crucial sensor might have played a role in a Lion Air plane's fatal crash into the sea on 28 October

Mumbai: India’s aviation regulator has asked local operators of Boeing 737 Max jets to urgently address potential sensor-related issues, soon after it emerged that problems with a crucial sensor might have played a role in a Lion Air plane’s fatal crash into the sea last month

Jet Airways and SpiceJet are the only Indian airlines that operate Boeing 737 Max.

“Based on initial investigation of Lion Air aircraft accident, FAA (US Federal Aviation Administration) has issued emergency airworthiness directive, dated 7 November, and Boeing has issued bulletin, dated 6 November. Both the documents address erroneous high ‘angle of attack’ sensor input and corrective action for the same," said an official at the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

The “angle of attack" sensor helps the pilot keep track of the angle of the aircraft nose and prevent the plane from nosediving. 

“This condition, if not addressed, could cause the flight crew to have difficulty controlling the airplane and lead to excessive nose-down attitude, significant altitude loss and possible impact with terrain," the official added.

Lion Air’s ill-fated two-month-old Boeing plane, on a flight from Bali to Jakarta on 28 October, went into a sudden dive minutes after take-off, killing all 189 passengers. 

The aviation regulator’s order said airlines must make changes to the plane’s flight manual for procedures to be followed by crew within three days after the receipt of FAA’s airworthiness directive. 

A Jet Airways spokeswoman said the airline’s Max aircraft continue to fly in compliance with the airworthiness directive issued by Boeing and regulatory authorities.

“The airline is in contact with them and committed to implement all directives or advisories that may be published by either the manufacturer or DGCA as the safety of guests and crew is of paramount importance."

A SpiceJet spokesperson declined to comment. Boeing did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

In 2015, Jet Airways had placed orders for 75 Boeing 737 Max aircraft. It ordered another 75 earlier this year.

In a regulatory filing in June, it had said that it would acquire 75 more, taking the total order size of its Boeing 737 Max fleet to 225.

The fuel-efficient Boeing 737 Max planes are expected to save around 15% in fuel costs for airlines operating the aircraft. It is also expected to cut engineering and maintenance costs by 10-15%.

In January 2017, SpiceJet placed an order for 205 Boeing aircraft valued at $22 billion at list price. 

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