Lion Air Flight Recorder Reveals Pilots’ Desperate Efforts To Save Doomed Plane

Geneva Stokes
November 29, 2018

The new Boeing 737 MAX 8 plunged into the Java Sea on October 29, killing all 189 people on board.

Although the initial report doesn't assign definitive cause to the accident, the NTSC was blunt about the airline's maintenance: "In our opinion, the plane was no longer airworthy and it should not have continued", Nurcahyo Utomo, the NTSC's aviation lead, told reporters at a press briefing on Wednesday in Indonesia.

The pilots also faced a difference between left and right angle of attack readings of about 20 degrees that also continued throughout the flight.

But officials cited multiple factors centered on faulty sensors and an automatic safety system that repeatedly forced the plane's nose down despite the pilots' efforts to correct the problem.

After the crash, Lion Air instructed pilots to provide a "full comprehensive description" of technical defects to the engineering team, KNKT said.

The flight data reveals that the aircraft's systems had detected an imminent stall due to the faulty indicator, causing the "stick-shaker" (which vibrates the aircraft's steering-wheel and warns the captain) to activate and remain so throughout most of the flight.

"We don't receive any information from Boeing or from (the) regulator about that additional training for our pilots", Zwingli Silalahi, Lion Air's operational director told CNN on November 14.

In a statement following the release of the report, Boeing played up the possibility of pilot error, saying the aircraft the company manufactured was sound.

At Indonesia's request, Boeing issued an advisory about MCAS to airlines earlier this month. After the previous flight was affected by a malfunction similar to what seems to have doomed JT610, the pilot ran a "non-normal checklist" on the runaway stabilizer.

The lack of the aircraft's cockpit voice recorder, which is still missing, is a dire obstacle to resolving that mystery, the investigators said. One safety system pushes the nose of the plane down if it senses the nose is pointed too high and the plane is in danger.

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The migrants have said they would wait there until they could request asylum, despite growing USA measures to tighten the border. After running to relative safety a few hundred feet away, hundreds of the caravan members held a sit-in.

Boeing said in a statement after the crash that the new model is as safe as any airplane in the sky.

Based on the slew of problems with the aircraft beforehand, they suggested the jet should not have been in service.

It noted the airline's maintenance work and procedures had failed to fix repeated problems with the aircraft.

Lion Air must take steps "to improve the safety culture and to enable the pilot to make [a] proper decision to continue the flight", said the safety agency.

Mary Schiavo, a former inspector general of the U.S. Department of Transportation, said the preliminary report offered a road map of final recommendations that are likely to emerge from the investigation.

Shortly after the catastrophe, the airline issued a notice to pilots urging them to be more proactive in reporting problems.

Data showed the 737's pilots managed to pull the jet's nose back a total of 26 times from takeoff until its plummet into the sea in what Lemme has called a "deadly game of tag".

That end came after a battle between its flight crew and a computerized control system that repeatedly tilted the plane downward because of a malfunctioning sensor, according to the report.

Indonesia's aviation safety record has improved since its airlines, including national carrier Garuda, were subject to years-long bans from USA and European airspace for safety violations, although the country has still recorded 40 fatal accidents over the past 15 years.

Coming from an aviation family, she said that Suneja's sister wanted to follow in his footsteps, but that the fatal accident had shaken her faith in the technology.

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