Lion Air: Plane involved in tarmac accident after 189 killed in tragedy

Arturo Kim
November 9, 2018

On Monday Nov. 5, CNN published an update on the crash investigation from Capt. Nurcahyo Utomo of Indonesia's National Transportation Safety Committee (KNKT) noting that the FDR review also concluded that the aircraft's airspeed indicator had been malfunctioning on four consecutive flights prior to the crash.

The Lion Air jet that crashed reportedly had issues with its "angle of attack" sensors. Simply put, it means that if there is an erroneous AOA input-one that indicates the aircraft has a high AOA and so is close to a stall-the aircraft system would respond by automatically bringing the aircraft nose down so as to increase the airspeed and prevent a stall. There were more than 180 people on board.

Boeing preparing to send a bulletin to operators of its new 737 Max models warning that erroneous readings from a flight-monitoring system can cause the planes to aggressively dive, said a person familiar with the matter.

According to reports, the initial investigation into the flight pattern of JT610 has suggested that the sensor was producing incorrect data which the flight computer processed to trigger further errors. The plane went into a sudden dive but the pilots were able to recover control and chose to fly on to Jakarta at a lower-than-normal altitude. All of this appears to have transpired in just 12 minutes, meaning the crew had very little time to assess the situation, figure out what was happening, and then taken the appropriate steps to correct it.

"The point is that after the AOA (sensor) is replaced, the problem is not solved but the problem might even increase". The device was replaced in Bali after pilots reported a problem with airspeed reading, the Indonesian transportation safety regulator said Wednesday.

The newspaper said the findings suggest investigators could be looking at a software problem or a mistaken interpretation by flight crew as having played key roles in the Lion Air crash.

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This issue is said to arise only during manual flight.

"This operation has been running for 10 days and the results from combing the sea surface and the seabed are declining, therefore the resources of Basarnas should be sufficient", Syaugi told a news conference. "Especially if you have a crew that's confused and doesn't know what's going on".

The probe into what happened with the Lion Air plane "is ongoing and Boeing continues to cooperate fully and provide technical assistance at the request and under the direction of government authorities investigating the accident", the company said in the statement.

In its safety warning to airlines on Wednesday, Boeing directed them to existing flight crew procedures to address issues with erroneous input from an AOA sensor.

It was not immediately clear whether Boeing was planning to update the guidelines, though comments from Indonesian officials indicate they expect so.

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