Lion Air crash: Last four flights had airspeed indicator problems

Rusdi Kirana

All 189 passengers and crew are feared to have died when the plane crashed shortly after takeoff on October 29.

Investigators tasked with analyzing the data recovered from a crashed Lion Air jet's "black box" said on Monday that it had faced problems with its airspeed indicator during its previous four flights.

Indonesian investigators said this week the plane had an air-speed indicator problem on the doomed flight and on three previous journeys.

Rusdi Kirana, Lion Air's co-founder, was not invited to speak on Monday by Transport Minister Budi Karya Sumadi, who moderated the meeting between relatives and the officials who are overseeing the search effort and accident investigation.

The families have been asking why the plane, a two-month-old Boeing 737 MAX 8, was given flight clearance at all, given that it had reported technical issues the day before, on a flight from Bali to Jakarta, wherein it descended rapidly right after take-off, much to the terror of passengers on board.

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Lion Air confirmed to CNN that the same aircraft was used on that route, and Indonesian authorities confirmed that the pilot on the flight reported a problem with one of the plane's instruments. This issue is said to arise only during manual flight.

"When there was a problem, the pilot would write it down and the mechanic would do (a repair) ..."

Tracking company FlightRadar24 checked the records for that flight - JT43, which landed safely in Jakarta - and found irregularities in speed and elevation in the first 11 minutes in the air.

Meanwhile, authorities have extended their search as they collect more body parts and shattered debris from the spot where the plane crashed during a routine one-hour flight from Jakarta to Pangkal Pinang.

" 'Currently we are looking for the cause of [the] problem, ' he said".

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"Whether the trouble came from its indicator, its measuring device or sensor, or a problem with its computer". "These are the things we are trying to find out: what was the damage and how it was fixed".

Without an accurate airspeed reading, planes are at serious risk of crashing.

In 1996, an Aeroperu crash near Lima that killed 70 people was attributed to a maintenance error that left tape and paper covering sensors used to calculate airspeed and altitude.

Both flights crashed shortly after takeoff. "Cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder are both important to reveal the truth in this case".

Data transmitted from the plane and captured by flightradar24.com indicates that the plane continued flying at high speed away from the airport to which they meant to return, which Cox said seemed unusual. "Since the time of the crisis, I was never contacted by Lion Air".

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Lion's earlier admission that the jet had a technical issue - and the captain's request to turn back to the airport minutes before the crash - have raised questions about whether it had faults specific to one of the world's newest and most advanced commercial passenger planes.

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