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Doomed Lion Air jet was 'not airworthy' on penultimate flight

Doomed Lion Air jet was 'not airworthy' on penultimate flight”

"The pilots fought continuously until the end of the flight", said Captain Nurcahyo Utomo, chief of the air accident subcommittee of the Indonesian National Transportation Safety Committee, which is leading the investigation.

The pilot of the 28 October flight chose to press on to Jakarta after shutting down the plane's anti-stall system, Utomo said.

Briefing reporters on the aircraft's black box data, the investigators said they were still struggling to understand why the plane crashed but they cited multiple factors centered on faulty sensors and an automatic safety system that repeatedly forced the plane's nose down despite the pilots' efforts to correct the problem.

The National Transportation Safety Commission's Nurcahyo Utomo said investigators were trying to figure out from interviews with engineers why they certified they deemed the Boeing 737 airworthy.

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

The pilots were quickly locked in a deadly game of tug of war with a brand new Boeing 737 Max 8.

Shortly after the catastrophe, the airline issued a notice to pilots urging them to be more proactive in reporting problems.

Therefore the "angle-of-attack" sensor, which contributes to those readings, had been changed the day before the crash.

It is unclear why the pilots did not employ procedures to disable the automated system. Those adjustments would push the nose of the aircraft down to increase the lift generated by the wings with a combination of improved air flow over the wings and increased airspeed.

Wednesday's preliminary report recommends that Lion Air review its safety culture while the investigation continues, and while officials search for cockpit voice recorder (CVR), which is believed to be buried under mud on the ocean floor.

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Investigators are focusing on whether faulty information from sensors led the plane's system to force the nose down.

Analysis of the flight data recorder showed the anti-stall system pushed the plane's nose down, and pilots wrestled with the flight stick more than a dozen times in the 11-minute flight. They were able to complete the flight and land the plane safely.

"There were four flights that experienced problems with the airspeed indicator", Tjahjono said.

"Boeing has said that the proper steps for pulling out of an incorrect activation of the system were already in flight manuals, so there was no need to detail this specific system in the new 737 jet".

Boeing's statement did not make any reference to a revised anti-stall system introduced on the 737 MAX which US pilots say and Indonesian investigators say was missing from the operating manual.

The tragedy was the first involving Boeing's latest model of the 737 series, 737 MAX, which entered service a year ago.

The search for the cockpit voice recorder is proving hard after investigators said last week its "ping" signal was no longer being detected.

The Indonesian investigation is continuing with help from USA regulators and Boeing.

Although it's not implicated as a crash cause, pilot unions in the US have complained that Boeing provided no detailed documentation on MCAS and the system wasn't covered in differences training for crews transitioning from earlier 737 models. 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.

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