Lion Air Flight 610 Pilots Battled to keep plane in air before Crash.
One of Indonesia’s aviation chiefs has revealed that the pilot of the Lion Air plane that crashed last month, killing 189 people, fought to keep the plane in the air to the end, even after it was nose-diving to the ground.
They faced a cacophony of warnings that started seconds after takeoff and continued for the remaining 11 minutes before the crash.
Addressing the Indonesian parliament in Jakarta, Nurcahyo Utomo, the aviation head of the national transportation safety committee, said data retrieved from the flight recorder showed that the pilot “continued to fight until the end of the flight”, according to a report in the Australian newspaper.
Nurcahyo also confirmed the aircraft had experienced “the same obstacles” on the previous day’s flight from Denpasar to Jakarta but on that occasion, the pilot had managed to keep control of the plane.
The alerts included a so-called stick shaker — a loud device that makes a thumping noise and vibrates the control column to warn pilots they’re in danger of losing lift on the wings — and instruments that registered different readings for the captain and copilot, according to data presented to a panel of lawmakers in Jakarta Thursday.
The data also showed that in the final seconds, as they struggled to pull the Boeing Co. 737 Max 8 out of a dive that was being commanded by the plane’s flight computers, the pilots were pulling back on the control column with a force of as much as 100 pounds of pressure.
However, the data indicated that the plane was controllable — the pilots had kept it under control for about 10 minutes before the final plunge — and records from the previous flight of the same jet showed another set of pilots had an identical set of failures and landed safely.
“There are so many questions it’s sort of hard to put in one short statement,” said Roger Cox, a retired investigator with the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board and a former airline pilot.
“I would be very interested in knowing why one crew was able to cope with this stick shaker and trim anomaly, and why the next crew could not,” Cox said. “And I’d want to know why Lion Air could not or would not repair the problem.”
Lion Air Flight 610 crashed on Oct. 29, killing all 189 people aboard. The jet was knifing through the air at about 500 miles (805 kilometers) per hour, or more, in its final seconds as it neared the water, according to the plane’s crash-proof flight recorder.
In a statement, Boeing deferred comment to the Indonesian National Transportation Safety Committee. The manufacturer has sent two updates to operators of the Max jet since the crash, which include reminders that there are existing emergency procedures for such situations. “We are confident in the safety of the 737 Max. Safety remains our top priority and is a core value for everyone at Boeing,” the company said.
Preliminary findings may be released on Nov. 28, Soerjanto Tjahjono, the Transportation Safety Committee’s chairman, told lawmakers in Jakarta on Thursday.
In the past week, Boeing has stepped up its response by pushing back on suggestions that the company could have better alerted its customers to the jet’s new anti-stall feature. The three largest U.S. pilot unions and Lion Air’s operations director, Zwingly Silalahi, have expressed concern over what they said was a lack of information.