- Antara Foto/Muhammad Adimaja via REUTERS/YouTube/TVOneNews/Business Insider
- Data from the black box of Lion Air Flight 610 has confirmed problems with the plane’s airspeed indicator.
- It suggests that an instrument failure had something to do with why the flight crashed into the sea on October 29 with 189 passengers onboard.
- Experts suspected that faulty airspeed readings could have been a factor, even before the black box was recovered.
- There could be more factors at play, and Indonesian authorities have said that a definitive explanation for the crash could take six months.
Data from the black box of the Lion Air plane that crashed into the sea with 189 people onboard has offered a clue about what went wrong by confirming an issue with the plane’s airspeed indicator.
Soerjanto Tjahjono, the head of Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Committee, said on Monday that the flight data recorder from the crashed plane shows that the problem occurred in its last four flights, including the fatal flight on October 29.
Without an accurate airspeed reading, planes are at serious risk of crashing. Jets flying too slowly can stall, and ones accelerating too much can tear themselves apart from the force.
A faulty airspeed instrument was a factor in the loss of Air France Flight 447, which crashed into the Atlantic Ocean on its way from Brazil to Paris in 2009.
Tjahjono and investigator Nurcahyo Utomo told a news conference that the new information is consistent with earlier reports that the plane’s speed and altitude were erratic, the Associated Press reported.
According USA today, Tjahjono said: “Data from the black box showed that two flights before Denpasar-Jakarta also experienced the same problem. In the black box there were four flights that experienced problems with the airspeed indicator.”
Aviation experts had previously told The New York Times that they believed the crash may have been caused by a flaw in a small metal tube called a pitot tube that is used for measuring airspeed.
The flight’s erratic altitudes indicated a flaw in the airspeed measurement system, they said. The measurement is crucial when it comes to controlling the plane and keeping it airborne.
Passengers who were on the plane’s last flight before it crashed said the plane was climbing and dropping so wildly that people onboard were panicking, and some vomited.
Lion Air President Edward Sirait has said the company was aware of reports of problems on the Boeing 737 Max 8. He said the issue was resolved before the fatal flight “in accordance with the procedures released by the plane manufacturer.”
Divers recovered the black box on Thursday morning, the fourth day of the investigation into why the jet downed and who the victims were.
The main body of the jet has been found, and divers have retrieved two turbines and a wheel from the sea.
- Willy Kurniawan/Reuters
Divers are still searching for the cockpit voice recorder, which is also often called a black box. It may further aid the investigation.
Boeing’s share price fell as a result of the crash. The manufacturer said it is “deeply saddened” by the event.
Tjahjono said that Indonesian investigators, Boeing, and the US National Transportation Safety Board would inspect Boeing 737 Max 8 planes in light of the airspeed indicator problem.