Published: Wed, November 07, 2018
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

Lion Air jet's airspeed indicator malfunctioned on four flights

Lion Air jet's airspeed indicator malfunctioned on four flights

The Lion Air plane that crashed in the Java Sea last week had faulty airspeed readings during its last four flights and Indonesian investigators called on planemaker Boeing Co. and US authorities to ensure there aren't fleet-wide issues.

Investigators on Monday said the brand new Boeing 737 MAX 8 plane had a malfunctioning airspeed indicator on its last four flights including its fatal October 29 flight, based on an analysis of its flight data recorder.

Authorities looked at the size of the debris field, and the fact that the engine blades were gone, to determine the new Boeing 737 MAX 8 was in "good shape" when it crashed October 29, killing all 189 people on board.

"We are formulating, with [the National Transportation Safety Board in the US] and Boeing, detailed inspections regarding the airspeed indicator", he said. Boeing did not comment on the report, or a similar report from The Air Current. The committee said they were dealing with an erroneous airspeed indication.

"Data from the black box showed that two flights before Denpasar-Jakarta also experienced the same problem", he said.

On that flight the aircraft had erratic speed and altitude changes for about 10 seconds before the 737 stabilised.

Alan Diehl, a pilot and safety consultant, said the report that the same problem happened four times and was never fixed suggests that the problem may have been intermittent, making it harder to pin down.

An area that investigators will want to explore is how Lion Air addressed a recurring problem on the plane.

The ministry had previously removed several Lion Air executives and technicians, saying they were needed to help authorities in the investigation. "This is what we do not know yet and we will find it out", he said.

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The plane was only a few months old and had logged a total of 19 flights and 800 flying hours.

Now, based on the flight data recorder, investigators were able to identify two earlier flights that experienced the same problem - in every case tied to the airspeed indicator.

Divers are still searching for the cockpit voice recorder, which is also often called a black box.

Founder and owner of Lion Air Rusdi Kirana bows in front of relatives of the victims in the crashed Lion Air jet during a press conference in Jakarta, Indonesia on November 5, 2018. "We lost our child, but there was no empathy that Lion Air showed to us", he said.

As the 270-square-mile search for debris widened over the weekend, Indonesian authorities broadened a review of Lion Air's operations, including the airline's standard operating procedures and flight-crew qualifications.

In addition, aviation regulators such as the US Federal Aviation Administration and the European Aviation Safety Agency often follow such actions by mandating that carriers follow the bulletins.

On Monday, Indonesian authorities said the aircraft was flying at high speed when it crashed into the sea on October 29, causing an vast impact.

"The Lion Air aircraft hit the water at high speed and it didn't break apart mid-air", said Tjahjono.

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