Following a tragic plane crash in October that killed 189 Lion Air passengers in Indonesia, Boeing the aircraft manufacturer has issued a concerning new warning for pilots. According to the company, one of the key sensors on the plane malfunctioned, causing the plane to crash.
Now Boeing is warning pilots and airlines, including Air Canada and WestJet, that they could experience similar issues with their Boeing 737 Max planes, the same model as the Lion Air plane that crashed. If the problem isn't fixed, it can cause planes to simply fall out of the sky.
The problem with the planes is in the "angle of attack" sensor which calculates the position of the plane relative to the air current. It was found that on the flight that crashed in Asia this sensor was giving off incorrect data, meaning the pilots weren't flying in the right position.
The angle of attack is incredibly important. If a plane isn't in the right position in the air, the aerodynamics will be completely thrown off. That is enough to send the plane out of control and cause it to fall to the ground.
Boeing is now warning pilots that if they experience inaccurate or erroneous readings from the sensor to follow standard flight procedures, though it's not clear what those are.
This warning extends to both Air Canada and WestJet pilots, since both the airlines use 737-Max planes regularly. WestJet has ordered 50 of them while Air Canada has ordered 61, though not all of those are in use or have been delivered yet.
Around the world, over 200 of these exact planes are currently in use with thousands more ordered. Boeing is still investigating why the sensor malfunctioned but in the meantime, pilots are being warned to take extra safety precautions when flying those models.