The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said that the angle-of-attack (AOA) vanes, which measure whether a plane’s nose is pointed too high relative to oncoming air to prevent dangerous aerodynamic stalls, are vulnerable to damage.
Wednesday 21, August 2019
US aviation regulators are urging workers at airports to take extra care around the sensors on the sides of aircraft that failed in two crashes of Boeing 737 Max jets since October, reported Bloomberg.
The FAA stated that it is imperative that all operators are aware of the criticality of AOA sensors and the potential for damage during normal operations, maintenance procedures, servicing procedures and any other procedures around an aircraft where damage to an AOA sensor could occur.
The sensors on two 737 Max jets failed, prompting a safety feature to repeatedly push down the nose on each plane. Pilots eventually were overcome and lost control of the planes in spite of procedures to disable the malfunctioning system. A total of 346 people died in the crashes and the plane has been grounded worldwide since March 13.
The US aviation regulator agency said that the FAA notice was sent as a safety reminder and isn’t connected to any specific findings from the multiple investigations into the accidents.
Bloomberg’s review of public databases found out that at least 140 instances since the early 1990s of angle-of-attack sensors being damaged on the ground or by birds. Even though the failures occurred on different models, they sometimes prompted serious cockpit emergencies like what occurred in the 737 Max accidents.