Lion Air: Pilots had reported problems
6 days ago, 08:16
Problems were reported on a Lion Air jet that crashed into the sea off Jakarta even after technicians replaced a sensor on board the aircraft, investigators said.
Indonesian authorities confirmed Wednesday that the angle of attack (AOA) sensor was replaced after a flight from Manado, in North Sulawesi to Denpasar, Bali on October 28. The Boeing 737 MAX 8 then made another flight to Jakarta that same day, and the pilots reported further problems.
All 189 people on board Flight 610 died when the new Boeing 737 MAX 8 crashed into the sea on October 29, 13 minutes after taking off from Jakarta on a short flight to Pangkal Pinang on the Indonesian island of Bangka.
Investigators said the jet experienced problems on its last four flights — including, crucially, the flight that crashed, according to Soerjanto Tjahjono, the head of the National Transportation Safety Committee (KNKT).
Boeing released an operational bulletin on Wednesday, warning all airlines about how to address any erroneous readings related to the AOA sensor. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) later issued its own directive that advised pilots about how to respond to similar problems.
Search for voice recorder
Almost two weeks after the crash, authorities are still searching for the plane’s cockpit voice recorder (CVR), which is believed to be buried under deep mud. If found, it should reveal what happened in the cockpit in the final seconds of the flight.
Investigators are already examining the flight data recorder that was pulled off the sea bed, some 30 meters under water, on November 1.
KNKT is sending a dredger to help with the search for the cockpit voice recorder. It’s expected to reach the crash site in the next two days. After initially hearing a “ping” from the recorder on Saturday, diving teams can no longer detect a signal from the device.
“Our obstacle is thick mud that’s buried the CVR,” said Haryo Satmiko, deputy head of the KNKT. “With this special ship we will suck the mud there and then sweep the area.”
Investigators are continuing to interview the pilots, crew and technicians who were involved in the previous flights made by the aircraft in the days prior to the crash.
Unscrambling the jargon
In its statement on Wednesday, Boeing said that the Indonesian transport committee had indicated that Flight 610 had “experienced erroneous input from one of its AOA sensors.”
An AOA sensor is an instrument, similar to a small wind vane, that sits outside the plane just below the cockpit and sends information to its computers about the angle of the plane’s nose relative to the oncoming air. The sensor helps to determine whether the plane is about to stall and dive.
“It is very important because it tells them if the plane is flying at a too-high angle of attack, which can lead to an aerodynamic wing stall (loss of lift),” said aviation analyst and editor-in-chief of Airlineratings.com, Geoffrey Thomas.
CNN’s aviation correspondent Richard Quest said the aircraft receives information from the sensors and responds accordingly.
“The plane’s computers were getting erroneous information from external sensors. That ...
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