The sensor believed to be at the heart of the Lion Air Boeing 737 Max disaster was reportedly repaired at a workshop in Florida before the crash (BA)

Two workers walk under the wing of a 737 Max aircraft at the Boeing factory in Renton, Washington, U.S., March 27, 2019.  REUTERS/Lindsey Wasson

  • Indonesian investigators have linked the Lion Airplane that crashed in October to a Florida repair shop, Bloomberg reported Wednesday. 
  • The facility, owned by XTRA Aerospace, did maintenance on the Boeing 737 Max before the fatal crash, documents prepared for the country’s parliament show. 
  • The report does not link the repair shop to the Ethiopian Airlines’ jet, the second such plane to crash. 

The first of two Boeing 737 Max planes to crash since October has been linked to a Florida maintenance shop, according to investigation documents obtained by Bloomberg.

Investigators in Indonesia, where Lion Air Flight JT610 originated shortly before it plunged into the Java Sea, are looking into an XTRA Aerospace facility in Miramar, Florida, which had previously worked on the plane’s angle-of-attack (AOA) sensor before the crash. That’s according to a briefing prepared for the country’s parliament, Bloomberg reported.

The angle of attack sensor has come under scrutiny in both the Lion Air investigation as well as that of Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET302 five months later. In tandem with the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System or MCAS, the sensors lie at the heart of the investigations into the two similar crashes. Originally designed to push the plane’s nose down if the AOA sensor detected a potential aerodynamic stall, the MCAS is suspected to have been erroneously activated in both crashes.

Bloomberg’s report does not say if the Florida shop worked on the Ethiopian Airlines jet which crashed in March. 

Boeing said this week it expects a software fix for the grounded plane, one of its best-selling of all time, to come in a matter of weeks. 

Also on Wednesday, unnamed sources familiar with the investigation told The Wall Street Journal that the pilots on the doomed flight initially responded to the plane pushing its nose down by turning off the automated anti-stall system that is widely thought to have been behind the crash. When that didn’t work, the Journal reports, the pilots turned the system back on and tried other steps to control the plane.

Pilots turned a manual wheel that controls the parts of the plane’s tail that the MCAS system controls, sources told the WSJ, but they then turned electronic power back on. They then used electric switches to try and raise the plane’s nose, but that also reactivated MCAS, continuing to push the plane’s nose downwards.

These details are based on the black box flight recorders from the flight, the sources said.

In the United States, Boeing is facing multiple investigations from government authorities, including the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, which said Tuesday that multiple whistleblowers from the Federal Aviation Administration had come forward alleging that safety inspectors for new planes lacked proper training.

More on the investigation into Boeing’s 737 Max:

  • FAA expects Boeing to come up with new software to fix the grounded 737 Max in a matter of weeks
  • Senate investigating whistleblowers’ claims that government safety inspectors who approved Boeing’s 737 Max plane lacked sufficient training
  • Pilots on the doomed Ethiopian Air 737 Max reportedly followed Boeing’s emergency procedures, but still couldn’t stop the plane from crashing
  • Investigators are close to confirming the lead theory about why the Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max crashed, report says
  • FAA boss says it let Boeing partly self-regulate the software thought to be behind both fatal 737 Max crashes

SEE ALSO: One airline has attempted to cancel its order for Boeing’s 737 Max 8. Here’s why it would be difficult for other airlines to do the same.

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