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Latest international crash reveals problem with Boeing planes

Travelers planning commercial flights to or from New York or anywhere else in the country should check to see if the plane they will be flying on is a Boeing 737 Max 8. If so, they may wish to take a different flight.

As reported by the New York Post, the latest international aviation accident, which occurred on October 29, 2018, involved the crash of an Indonesian airliner owned and operated by Lion Air. The plane was a Boeing 737 Max 8 that crashed into the Java Sea after only an 11-minute flight. All 189 people onboard, including 181 passengers and a crew of eight, died in the crash.

Malfunctioning equipment

Initial investigations headed up by the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, Boeing and CFM International, an engine maker owned by General Electric and Safran, revealed that the plane's nose was forced down over 12 times during the short flight. Despite the pilots' valiant efforts to pull the nose back up, they finally lost control of the plane and crashed into the sea.

The plane's flight data recorder revealed that the culprit was the plane's maneuvering characteristics augmentation system, or MCAS. This system is supposed to prevent the plane's nose from rising too sharply, thereby causing a stall. In the case of the Lion Air flight, however, the MCAS forced the plane's nose down after receiving "bad information" from its fuselage sensors.

Known problem

Boeing was aware of its 737 Max 8's MCAS problems prior to the Lion Air crash. Pilots had previously complained that the newest version of the MCAS system operates differently than the old one did and that they had not been fully informed about how to operate the new system should a problem occur. The New York Post also reported that In early October, Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration issued a safety alert regarding this system and its "angle of attack" sensors.

In the U.S., Southwest Airlines, Uited Airlines and American Airlines all use Boeings 737 Max 8 planes. After the Lion Air crash, Southwest Airlines issued a statement saying that their 737 Max 8 operating procedures address scenarios similar to those encountered by the Indonesian plane.

For Lion Air, this was only its second fatal accident since its founding in 1999. In 2004, an MD-82 plane crash landed in Surakarta, Indonesia, killing 25 people.

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