Lion Air crash: Airline should improve safety culture, a report says

Parts of an engine of the Lion Air Flight JT610 recovered from the sea during search operations in the Java Sea on Nov 3. Flight recorder data showed that the plane's nose was forced down by an automated anti-stall system meant to protect the plane

Reports: Readings show Lion Air pilots struggled with Boeing 737 system before crash

Similarly, an "angle of attack" sensor used to measure airspeed over the aircraft's wings was replaced a day before.

Before the final dive, the flight crew asked the controller to "block altitude 3,000 feet above and below" to avoid traffic.

The Lion Air plane that crashed into the sea last month - killing all 189 on board - was not airworthy on its previous flight, investigators have found.

Boeing is now facing three lawsuits from relatives of victims, which maintain that a defective anti-stall system caused the crash.

Information retrieved from the flight data recorder showed the "stick shaker" was vibrating the captain's controls warning of a stall throughout most of the flight.

"I am really surprised if Boeing has not shared all the flight performance parameters with pilots, unions, and training organisations", University of Leeds aviation expert Stephen Wright told AFP, adding that "a deliberate omission would have serious legal ramifications".

The pilots of that flight reported problems to Lion Air's maintenance team, which checked the jet and cleared it for take-off the next morning.

The report does not reach any conclusions.

The voice recorder has not been found. "We are confident in the safety of the 737 MAX".

The MAX 8, the latest version of Boeing's popular 737 aircraft, includes an automated system that pushes the nose down if a sensor detects it is pointed so high the plane is at risk of an aerodynamic stall.

Investigators believe a faulty sensor on the outside of the aircraft caused the MCAS system to malfunction.

Questions: After the crash, Boeing put out a memo advising airlines on how to deal with incorrect sensor information leading to unprompted nose-down maneuvers. They were able to complete the flight and land the plane safely.

Parts of an engine of the Lion Air Flight JT610 recovered from the sea during search operations in the Java Sea on Nov 3. Flight recorder data showed that the plane's nose was forced down by an automated anti-stall system meant to protect the plane
Mr Nurcahyo Utomo

"But we don't know yet whether it's a Boeing or airline issue", said aviation analyst Gerry Soejatman.

But pilots have complained that Boeing did not warn them that, in case of a nose being forced down improperly, the MCAS requires a different response from pilots than the system used on older plane models.

The report discussed Lion Air's maintenance practices and an anti-stall system in the aircraft; investigators said it was "too early" to identify a firm cause for the crash.

The plane experienced technical problems in four earlier flights. The "angle of attack" sensor contributes to the airspeed readings.

On 28 October, the day before the fatal crash, the same plane experienced technical difficulties as it flew from Bali to Jakarta.

"It's all consistent with the hypothesis of this problem with the M.C.A.S. system", said R. John Hansman Jr., a professor of aeronautics and astronautics and director of the worldwide centre for air transportation at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. On Nov. 6, family members strewed flowers into the Java Sea, where the twin-engine jet had nose-dived into, in commemoration.

How safe is Lion Air?

The parents of one passenger is suing Boeing, alleging the 737 MAX 8 had an unsafe design. 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.

Boeing noted that the investigators' report said pilots' actions led to the crash.

Overall, Indonesia's aviation safety record has improved a lot since the days when even its national carrier Garuda was blacklisted from European and U.S. airports over safety concerns.

"We are deeply saddened by the loss of Lion Air Flight 610".

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