Lion Air jet should have been grounded before fatal crash

Cpt Nurcahyo Utomo during the press conference in Jakarta Indonesia

The aircraft used for Lion Air flight JT610, which crashed into the Java Sea during a flight to Pangkalpinang, Bangka Belitung Islands, from Jakarta on October 29 was in bad condition during previous flights, the National Transportation Safety Committee (KNKT) has revealed. He also expressed concern that the plane had not been repaired after those flights.

The Boeing 737 MAX was headed for the town of Pangkal Pinang on October 29, 2018, when it crashed just 13 minutes after take-off from Jakarta.

"The flight from Denpasar to Jakarta experienced stick shaker activation during the takeoff rotation and remained active throughout the flight", the committee said.

Members of the National Transportation Safety Committee lift a box containing the flight data recorder from a crashed Lion Air jet.

"This is a situation where they're flying the plane manually, they don't expect this kind of motion, so that definitely threw them off", he said.

"The plane was airworthy", he added.

Black box data showed the plane had an airspeed indicator issue on multiple earlier flights, investigators said. Investigators found that the final yank on the control column of Flight 610 registered nearly 100 pounds of pressure, suggesting desperation in the cockpit in the cockpit as the plane plummeted.

"In our view. the plane was not airworthy", Utomo said.

The preliminary report relies on data recovered from the plane's onboard flight recorder.

The report offered new details on persistent problems with sensors on the Lion Air jet and the airline's efforts to fix them. His last words captured were "five thou", as he asked to be cleared to 5,000ft (1,500m).

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"The Digital Flight Data Recorder (DFDR) recorded a difference between left and right Angle of Attack (AoA) of about 20° and continued until the end of recording". The captain was using his controls to bring the airline's nose up, but an automated anti-stall system was pushing it down.

A mechanic worked on other sensors and equipment during a night shift before the early morning departure, but not on the so-called angle-of-attack vane, according to Indonesia's National Transportation Safety Committee.

A preliminary report did not conclude why the plane had crashed, and officials say it is too early to say if an issue with the plane's anti-stall system was a contributing factor in the crash.

As soon as the pilots used manual controls to push up the jet's nose, the automatic system sent commands to push it back down, according to reports about the Indonesian findings.

The document reveals pilots had repeatedly reported to the Jakarta Air Traffic Control (ATC) the aircraft was experiencing "flight control problem" asking for the aircraft's altitude as they struggled to steady the plane. After the flight took off, the instruments recorded a substantial discrepancy in the aircraft's angle - as much as 20 degrees.

Indonesian authorities are expected to issue the report tomorrow, although it is unclear whether they will offer a probable cause for the crash.

The disaster in Indonesia raised questions on whether Boeing's newest 737 Max series truly lives up to its previously flawless safety record.

While KNKT acknowledged that Lion Air, along with other parties like Boeing, have taken actions to boost safety since the crash, it urged the low-priced carrier to do more to improve its safety culture.

Boeing says the remedy for the sensor problems is to switch off the automatic flight control system, but the Lion Air pilots didn't take that step. Several maintenance procedures were also carried out in response to the problems, the report said.

The preliminary report does not fully unravel the mystery behind the crash.

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