JAKARTA: Investigators of the Lion Air flight crash say the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft was deemed airworthy when it made its final take-off from Jakarta.
Officials clarified comments made at a news conference the day before, where some media reported the investigators had said the plane was not airworthy when it took off.
“The NTSC and the Head of Aviation Communication never stated that Lion Air, Boeing 737-8 MAX aircraft registered PK-LQP, was not airworthy,” said investigator Nurcahyo Utomo.
The issue of airworthiness is crucial because of concerns over technical issues with the new Boeing 737 MAX that crashed and questions over the airline’s safety procedures.
Black box data showed the pilots fought against an automated system that pitched a Boeing jetliner’s nose down repeatedly because of a faulty sensor until they finally lost control.
All 189 people aboard the flight died in the disaster.
The National Transportation Safety Committee investigators were reporting this week on data from the aircraft’s black boxes.
The preliminary report stopped short of placing blame for the crash.
The investigators say the cockpit voice recorder, which is still missing and being searched for, is needed to understand what exactly caused the jet to plunge in the Java Sea just 11 minutes after take-off.
Nurcahyo said the plane had experienced technical problems on four of the six flights before it crashed.
On its penultimate flight from the Balinese capital of Denpasar to Jakarta, as during the final one, pilots struggled to prevent an automatic safety feature from forcing the nose of the aircraft down due to problems with its sensors.
The report released on Wednesday noted that during the Denpasar to Jakarta flight a “stick shaker” activation – a warning signal to pilots – continued throughout the flight as the flight crew struggled and eventually succeeded to bring the aircraft under control.
“This condition is considered as an un-airworthy condition and the flight shall not be continued,” it said of that flight.
Nurcahyo said that based on maintenance records, flight engineers had made repairs and run tests as needed.
“Based on the test results, the aircraft was declared airworthy.
“Also when the plane departed from Jakarta, the aircraft was in airworthy condition,” he said.
Another investigator, Ony Suryo Wibowo, said there were special procedures to be followed when there are problems with an aircraft. — AP