Jet black box shows struggle of Lion Air pilots

Indonesia says Lion Air jet that crashed was not airworthy

Indonesia says Lion Air jet that crashed was not airworthy

Data from the jetliner that crashed into the Java Sea last month shows the pilots fought to save the plane nearly from the moment it took off, as the Boeing 737's nose was repeatedly forced down, apparently by an automatic system receiving incorrect sensor readings.

All 189 people on board were killed when the new Boeing 737 MAX 8 crashed into the sea on October 29.

The state-of-the-art 737 MAX 8 airplanes do not have this feature, yet the company failed to prominently warn pilots of the change even as airlines worldwide began taking delivery of the new jets past year, pilots say. The plane then began careening up and down uncontrollably before crashing into the water at about 400 miles per hour, Sputnik previously reported.

That's one of the findings in a preliminary report released today by Indonesia's National Transportation Safety Committee.

Sensors that measure speed were flushed and checked, and an electrical plug was cleaned before the fatal flight.

On the plane's 11-minute final flight, the Boeing safety software attempted to push the nose down more than 30 times, but the pilots - a different crew than had flown the jet the day before - never used those switches.

It also said the plane's "stick shaker" - which vibrates the aircraft's steering wheel-like control yoke to warn of a system malfunction - was "activated and continued for most of the fight".

In a statement following release of the report, USA -based Boeing declared that the MAX, its newest plane, is safe.

The pilot and co-pilot on the two flights reacted differently to the multiple errors messages and malfunctions. They also ran safety checklists.

It is unclear why the pilots did not employ procedures to disable the automated system.

Several experts said, however, that Boeing likely will have to consider changes in the new anti-stall system, perhaps developing an algorithm to disregard sensor readings that appear off-base.

The plane's automatic safety system repeatedly pushed the plane's nose down, according to a draft of a preliminary report by Indonesian authorities.

There are steps pilots can take to manually override the system, but it's not clear if the Lion Air pilots aboard flight JT610 knew them. The government report suggests the airplane should have been removed from service because of earlier reports about problems.

The NTSC investigation shows that throughout the flight faulty sensors were feeding the system incorrect readings and the pilots were continually battling to prevent it from forcing the nose of the plane down right up until the crash.

The report has recommended that Lion Air improve its safety culture, to enable pilots to make proper decisions - including deciding to discontinue a flight if the plane becomes un-airworthy.

He also noticed that the aircraft was automatically trimming nose down and after this happened three times the co-pilot, who was flying the aircraft, commented that the control column as too heavy to hold back.

Pilots experienced several problems with the aircraft in the days leading up to the October 29 crash, investigators said - including a faulty airspeed sensor, altitude indicators and angle-of-attack sensors that should have grounded the plane.

Boeing Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg said earlier this month that Boeing provides "all of the information that's needed to safely fly our airplanes" but the jet's manual and training methods have come under scrutiny after the crash. "Every accident is a combination of events, so there is disappointment all around here", he said. Crash investigators will attempt to reconstruct the crash at a Boeing facility in Chicago.

Boeing has a great deal at stake in defending its plane.

Its co-founder Rusdi Kirana - who described his own airline as the "worst in the world" in a 2015 interview - is a close confidante of President Joko Widodo, who appointed him to the key post of Indonesia's ambassador to neighbouring Malaysia. Pilots at American Airlines and Southwest Airlines complained this month that they had not been given all information about the new automated anti-stall safety system on the MAX. However, its share price rose on today's news.

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