Report: Scrutinized sensor in previous Boeing Max crash was manufactured in Minnesota

The Lion Air crash in October 2018 killed 189 people.
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The "angle of attack" sensor in the October 2018 Lion Air crash that killed 189 people was manufactured in Minnesota.

That's according to the Washington Post, which explains the sensor is designed to measure the amount of lift the plane's wings are generating and warn the pilots if it isn't enough, triggering an automated maneuver to adjust the craft's flight.

The Lion Air plane was equipped with an "angle of attack sensor" manufactured by Minnesota-based Rosemount Aerospace (owned by parent company United Technologies), the Washington Post reports.

That sensor repeatedly failed in the lead-up to that crash, prompting a computerized flight control system known as the MCAS to bring the nose of the plane down each time, according to the Seattle Times.

The sensor is being scrutinized even further now in the wake of this month's Ethiopian Airlines crash, which killed 157 people. While the cause of that crash isn't yet known, and the sensor manufacturer has not been revealed, it has proven to share an alarming number of similarities with the Lion Air crash, as the Seattle Times points out.

Both aircraft were the Boeing 737 MAX 8, which has since been grounded by the U.S., and both had similar flight trajectories, the Times says. An "unusual" horizontal tail position following the Ethiopian Airlines crash might indicate a sensor problem similar to the Lion Air crash, the Times adds.

The Washington Post story includes a handful of other recorded angle of attack sensor problems on flights, though none resulted in a crash.

Rosemount Aerospace is based in Burnsville, Minnesota. The company manufactures a number of parts for aircraft, including air data systems, cockpit controls, ejector seats, engine controls, fire protection systems, and more. The company declined to comment to the Washington Post.

The sensor isn't the only item being scrutinized following the crash. 

As Quartz notes, there have also been questions about subpar training for the new planes, the reliability of the MCAS automated system, the FAA passing off safety analysis to Boeing itself, and a software fix that was delayed by the federal government shutdown.

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