A month after the brand-new Lion Air Boeing 737 MAX 8 crashed into the sea killing all 189 people on board, Indonesian investigators delivered their first report on Wednesday, November 28, 2018. The report comes as the search continues for the jet’s cockpit voice recorder, still lost in the Java Sea.
According to data recovered from the flight recorder by Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Committee (KNKT), the pilots of the jet failed to deactivate a faulty safety system used to point the nose of the plane downward to avert stalling.
Lion Air plane crash caused by a technical glitch
In short, the disaster was prompted by a technical glitch: Inaccurate readings indicated the plane’s nose was too high. The aircraft interpreted the erroneous message as a cause to activate its “automatic aircraft nose down” feature, ultimately prompting its disastrous plunge into the ocean. The pilots reportedly made over two dozen attempts to regain control of the plummeting aircraft, but failed, losing radio contact and crashing just 13 minutes after taking off from the capital city of Jakarta.
What happened in the Lion Air plane crash?
The crash was the first involving the latest model of Boeing’s 737 MAX, which took its first flight in 2016 and entered service a year ago. Interestingly, the pilots of a flight the previous evening encountered similar problems to the ones that caused the crash but were able to shut off the malfunctioning system properly. The Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) – an automated modification new to the model that crashed – activated and directed the jet’s nose down to prevent a stall according to Nurcahyo Utomo, head of KNKT. Mr. Utomo was quoted as saying, “In our view, the plane was not airworthy.”
MCAS was not described in the Lion Air flight manual before the crash, nor in those used by American airlines. That said, the cockpit procedure for dealing with a runaway stabilizer remains unchanged from earlier 737 models. Boeing issued a bulletin to airlines reiterating procedures and advising them to add information on MCAS to flight manuals, which was followed by a U.S. Federal Aviation Administration directive making that mandatory.
Lion Air maintenance practices and pilot training face close scrutiny
Lion Air faces scrutiny for its maintenance practices and pilot training after investigators said the doomed jet had problems with airspeed indicators on its final four flights. The plane also had its “angle of attack” sensor used to measure airspeed over an aircraft’s wings replaced the day before the crash.
Most air accidents are caused by a combination of factors and investigations typically take around a year to complete. The jet’s flight data recorder contains 69 hours of information from its last 19 flights. The search for the cockpit voice recorder is proving difficult after its “ping” signal could no longer be detected.
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed as a result of a plane crash, call the Law Office of Richard Schechter today for a free consultation with our Board-Certified trial attorney. Mr. Schechter will be happy to answer any questions and address any concerns you may have. Call 1-800-734-5612 today.