Ahead of the release of its first report, transport safety committee KNKT gave more details on the problems the pilots faced in controlling the Boeing Co 737 MAX flight before it crashed on October 29, killing all 189 people on board. The government report suggests the airplane should have been removed from service because of earlier reports about problems.
But each time, the problem was indicated as rectified and the plane cleared to fly, Mr Nurcahyo said at a press conference on the committee's preliminary report on the doomed flight.
"We need to compare the statements of the engineers with the required procedures", he said. Pilots even asked air traffic controllers to tell them how fast and high they were flying. Records on the replacement of a key component, an angle-of-attack, or AOA sensor, shortly before the aircraft's final flight were incomplete, the report said.
Indonesian authorities are expected to issue the report tomorrow, although it is unclear whether they will offer a probable cause for the crash.
Citing information due to be released as part of preliminary findings prepared by Indonesian investigators, The New York Times and The Seattle Times reported that the pilots fought for 10 minutes to keep the Boeing jet's nose from being pushed downward, due to incorrect sensor readings. The tragedy was the first involving Boeing's latest model of the 737 series, 737 MAX, which entered service a year ago. Its new automated system pushes the nose down if a sensor detects that the nose is pointed so high that the plane could go into an aerodynamic stall.
The report said that the plane was "automatically trimming" on the previous flight - that is, the computer was adjusting the aircraft's angle - so the pilots switched to manual trim and, as their safety checklists didn't recommend an emergency landing, they continued to Jakarta.
The plane's angle-of-attack sensor - that measures the angle between the wings and the flow of air - encountered problems and was replaced the day before the crash.
Image A policeman stands guard near the wreckage in Jakarta
The preliminary report, which contains the facts and evidence gathered by KNKT, was released 30 days after the accident.
Boeing has said that "the 737 Max is as safe as any airplane that has ever flown in the skies" and that "the appropriate procedure to address unintended horizontal stabiliser movement" is contained in the relevant flight manuals.
Edward Sirait, chief executive of Lion Air, said he had not yet read the KNKT report but will comply with all of the investigators' recommendations.
After the aircraft's flaps retracted following takeoff, the automatic trim problem noted on the previous night's flight returned, until the flight data recorder stopped recording when the plane crashed.
Lemme said he was also troubled that there weren't easy checks to see if sensor information was correct, that the crew of the fatal flight apparently wasn't warned that similar problems had occurred on previous flights, and that the Lion Air jet wasn't fully repaired after those flights.
"We still don't know yet, if it contributed or not", he said in response to a question at a briefing. That will take time still - KNKT said it plans to finish a complete study within 12 months of the accident.
Boeing was accused by some pilots in the United States of not properly documenting the nature of changes made to the MCAS system in the 737 MAX, an aircraft that only entered service in 2017. Because the MAX aircraft have heavier engines, the center of gravity is biased more forward than on previous models and MCAS is meant to improve pitch feel and provide stall protection. The airliner was just a few months old.
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