Investigators: Equipment, Safety Failures Responsible for Indonesian Plane Crash
JAKARTA, INDONESIA – An article online at oxfordmail.co.uk reports investigators are piecing together what occurred during the October 29 crash of an Indonesian plane, and they believe both equipment malfunctions and safety failures on the part of the airline contributed to the crash.*
Lion Air Flight JT610 was bound for Pangkal Pinang, Indonesia, and departed from Jakarta at 6:20 a.m. local time on October 29. Not long after takeoff, the flight crew on the Boeing 737 MAX 8 airplane asked for permission to return to the airport. Permission was granted, but before the plane could return, it crashed into the Java Sea, killing all 189 people on board. Flight-tracking data shows the plane experienced abnormal drops in altitude and speed a few minutes after takeoff.
Investigators have been working to discern what happened since the crash. The Bali-Nusa Tenggara Airport Authority said the plane had been experiencing issues during a flight the day before. On October 28, the same 737 MAX 8 was bound for Jakarta from Bali, and not long after takeoff, the pilot requested to return to the airport. A short time later, the pilot said the issues on the plane had resolved, and the plane did not need to return.
Passengers interviewed after the plane landed in Jakarta said the aircraft had experienced several sharp drops in altitude after takeoff. These accounts have been confirmed by flight-tracking data and by the pilot.
Investigators are now reporting that the plane’s “angle of attack” sensor, which assists in stalling and diving prevention, was malfunctioning. If this sensor detects the nose of the plane is high enough to potentially cause an aerodynamic stall, the 737 MAX 8 automated system will push the nose of the plane down. The pilot on the Bali flight was able to manually disengage the automated system and remedy the issue, but for some reason, the next pilot was not able to do the same.
Documentation indicates the sensor was replaced after the Bali flight. It appears the sensor was still malfunctioning during the plane’s last flight, and the pilot was not warned about the plane’s previous issues or how to resolve them.
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