Lion Air jet’s airspeed indicator malfunctioned on 4 flights
JAKARTA, Indonesia — The “black box” data recorder from a crashed Lion Air jet shows its airspeed indicator malfunctioned on its last four flights, investigators said Monday, just hours after distraught relatives of victims confronted the airline’s co-founder at a meeting organized by officials.
National Transportation Safety Committee chairman Soerjanto Tjahjono said the problem was similar on each of the four flights, including the fatal flight on Oct. 29 in which the plane plunged into the Java Sea minutes after taking off from Jakarta, killing all 189 people on board.
Erratic speed and altitude on the plane’s previous flight, from Denpasar on Bali to Jakarta, were widely reported and “when we opened the black box, yes indeed the technical problem was the airspeed or the speed of the plane,” Tjahjono told a news conference. “Data from the black box showed that two flights before Denpasar-Jakarta also experienced the same problem,” he said. “In the black box there were four flights that experienced problems with the airspeed indicator.”
Indonesian investigators, the plane’s manufacturer, Boeing, and the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board are formulating a more specific inspection for Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes related to the airspeed problem, Tjahjono said.
“If there are urgent findings to be delivered, we will convey them to the operators and to the manufacturer,” he said.
Lion Air has said a technical problem with the jet was fixed after problems with the Bali to Jakarta flight.
Investigator Nurcahyo Utomo said investigators need to review maintenance records, including what problems were reported, what repairs were done including whether components were replaced, and how the repairs were tested before the 2-monthold plane was declared airworthy.
“Currently we are looking for the cause of problem,” he said “Whether the trouble came from its indicator, its measuring device or sensor, or a problem with its computer. This is what we do not know yet and we will find it out,” he said.
At the meeting with family members, Tjahjono had said that information downloaded from the jet’s flight data recorder was consistent with reports that the plane’s speed and altitude were erratic after takeoff on its final flight.
Searchers are still trying to locate the cockpit voice recorder.
Rusdi Kirana, Lion Air’s co-founder, was not invited to speak by Transport Minister Budi Karya Sumadi, who moderated the meeting between relatives and the officials who are overseeing the search effort and accident investigation.