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In Lion Air Crash, Black Box Data Reveals Pilots’ Struggle to Regain Control

In Lion Air Crash, Black Box Data Reveals Pilots’ Struggle to Regain Control

Data from the jetliner that crashed into the Java Sea final month reveals the pilots fought to save the airplane virtually from the second it took off, because the Boeing 737’s nostril was repeatedly compelled down, apparently by an automated system receiving incorrect sensor readings.

The data from the flight information recorder, contained in a preliminary report ready by Indonesian crash investigators and scheduled to be launched Wednesday, paperwork a deadly tug-of-war between man and machine, with the airplane’s nostril compelled dangerously downward greater than two dozen instances through the 11-minute flight. The pilots managed to pull the nostril again up time and again till lastly shedding management, leaving the airplane, Lion Air Flight 610, to plummet into the ocean at 450 miles per hour, killing all 189 individuals on board.

The information from the so-called black field is in step with the speculation that investigators have been most centered on: {that a} computerized system Boeing put in on its newest technology of 737 to stop the airplane’s nostril from getting too excessive and inflicting a stall as an alternative compelled the nostril down due to incorrect data it was receiving from sensors on the fuselage.

In the aftermath of the crash, pilots have expressed concern that that they had not been absolutely knowledgeable in regards to the new Boeing system — generally known as the maneuvering traits augmentation system, or M.C.A.S. — and the way it will require them to reply otherwise in case of the kind of emergency encountered by the Lion Air crew.

“It’s all in step with the speculation of this downside with the M.C.A.S. system,” mentioned R. John Hansman Jr., a professor of aeronautics and astronautics and director of the worldwide middle for air transportation on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Boeing has mentioned that the right steps for pulling out of an incorrect activation of the system had been already in flight manuals, so there was no want to element this particular system within the new 737 jet. In an announcement on Tuesday, Boeing mentioned it couldn’t focus on the crash whereas it’s beneath investigation however reiterated that “the suitable flight crew response to uncommanded trim, no matter trigger, is contained in present procedures.”

A fuller account of issues with the sensors on the fuselage, known as angle-of-attack sensors, is predicted to be a part of a full report on the crash by Indonesian investigators. But a kind of sensors was changed earlier than the airplane’s next-to-last flight after the jet skilled malfunctioning information readings, investigators say.

“The pilots fought repeatedly till the tip of the flight,” mentioned Capt. Nurcahyo Utomo, the top of the air accident subcommittee of the Indonesian National Transportation Safety Committee, which is main the crash investigation.

Captain Nurcahyo mentioned that the M.C.A.S. system had been activated and is a central focus of the investigation.

Details of the black field information had been contained in a briefing for the Indonesian Parliament and had been first disclosed publicly within the Indonesian media. The information was subsequently posted and analyzed in a weblog submit by Peter Lemme, a satellite tv for pc communications knowledgeable and former Boeing engineer.

Much stays unknown in regards to the doomed flight, together with why a airplane that had encountered issues with the sensors was permitted to fly within the first place. Investigators have but to recuperate the cockpit voice recorder, which might present additional perception into the steps taken by the pilots and whether or not they adopted the right procedures. The pilot had handed management of the airplane to the co-pilot simply earlier than the airplane went into its remaining dive.

Despite Boeing’s insistence that the right procedures had been within the handbook, additionally known as the emergency guidelines, pilots have mentioned because the accident that Boeing had not been clear about one probably important distinction between the system on the brand new 737s and the older fashions. In the older variations, pilots might assist handle the issue of the nostril being compelled down improperly — a state of affairs generally known as “runaway stabilizer trim” — by pulling again on the management column in entrance of them, the pilots say.

In the most recent 737 technology, known as the Max, that measure doesn’t work, they mentioned, citing data they’ve obtained because the crash. The pilots on Lion Air Flight 610 seem to have forcefully pulled again on their management columns to no avail, earlier than the ultimate dive, in accordance to the knowledge from the flight information recorder.

Capt. Dennis Tajer, spokesman for the American Airlines pilot union and a 737 pilot, mentioned he couldn’t touch upon any facet of the investigation. But, he mentioned, “within the earlier mannequin of the 737, pulling again on the management column, Boeing says will cease a stabilizer runaway.”

Angle-of-attack sensors are essential in figuring out if a airplane is stalling.

It is just not clear whether or not the false information, which was on the pilot’s aspect of the airplane, was attributable to an issue with the sensor itself or with the pc that processes the sensor’s data. But hours earlier than the airplane took off on its remaining flight, it had additionally recorded issues with an angle of assault sensor because it traveled from the resort island of Bali to Jakarta.

On that next-to-last flight, the angle discrepancy between the 2 sensors was 20 levels, in accordance to officers from Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Committee.

On the ultimate flight, the discrepancy was additionally 20 levels, mentioned Captain Nurcahyo.

Plane crashes hardly ever could be blamed on a single, catastrophic malfunction. More typically, an issue spirals uncontrolled as upkeep crews fail to spot or handle an underlying challenge after which the flight crew takes a sequence of steps that lead to a deadly consequence.

Lion Air, Indonesia’s largest airline, has a notoriously flawed security document. Government investigators have accused the provider of ignoring their instructions to floor planes with confirmed issues.

The airplane that crashed on Oct. 29 had skilled days of incorrect information readings, in accordance to Indonesian officers. In truth, earlier than the penultimate flight, engineers had changed one of many angle-of-attack sensors.

Why the airplane recorded incorrect angle-of-attack information after the sensor had been modified is just not clear. Soerjanto Tjahjono, the top of Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Committee, mentioned that the alternative half was not new however was “serviceable” and had certification from the F.A.A. of the United States.

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