JAKARTA/DALLAS (Reuters) – Indonesian investigators said on Monday 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.
US pilots were also not aware of potential risks, two US pilot unions told Reuters.
The comments shed further light on the areas under scrutiny as investigators prepare to publish their preliminary report on Nov. 28 or 29, one month after the Lion Air Boeing 737 MAX dived into the Java Sea, killing all 189 on board.
Until now, public attention has focused mainly on potential maintenance problems including a faulty sensor for the ‘angle of attack’, a vital piece of data needed to help the aircraft fly at the right angle to the currents of air and prevent a stall.
Now the investigation’s focus appears to be expanding to the clarity of US-approved procedures to help pilots prevent the 737 MAX over-reacting to such a data loss, and methods for training them.
Dennis Tajer, a 737 captain and spokesman for Allied Pilots Association (APA), which represents American Airlines Group Inc pilots, said his union was informed after the crash about a new system Boeing had installed on 737 MAX jets that could command the plane’s nose down in certain situations to prevent a stall.
“It is information that we were not privy to in training or in any other manuals or materials,” he said.
Soerjanto Tjahjono, head of Indonesia’s transportation safety committee of crash investigators (KNKT), said on Monday that Indonesian regulators would tighten training requirements as a result of the findings of the investigation so far.
“We know, because this incident happened, we know we need additional training,” he said.
The comments focus attention on the contents of aircraft manuals and a conversion course allowing pilots of the previous generation of Boeing jet, the 737NG, to upgrade to the MAX.
The manual had not covered how to handle a situation like the one that occurred in the crash, Soerjanto told reporters.
Lion Air officials said on Monday that they had followed a training regime approved by both US and European regulators.
The approved training was restricted to three hours of computer-based training and a familiarisation flight, Lion Air Training Centre general manager Dibyo Soesilo said during a media tour of the centre on Monday.
The Oct. 29 crash was the first accident involving the 737 MAX, an updated version of Boeing’s workhorse narrow-body jet that entered service last year.