Lion Air plane not fit to fly, says safety agency

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The company, which has said procedures for preventing an anti-stall system activating by accident were already in place, said pilots of the previous flight had used that drill but noted the report did not say if pilots of the doomed flight did so.

An Indonesian policeman holds wreckage recovered from Lion Air flight JT610 which crashed into the sea, at Tanjung Priok port in Jakarta, Indonesia, October 29, 2018. Lion Air indicates it will comply with those recommendations.

Correcting the path of the plane would have required a multistep process, something that pilots and other aeronautics experts said may have been hard to remember and execute during a life-threatening emergency.

KNKT investigator Nurcahyo Utomo on Wednesday said the safety committee had not yet determined if the system was a contributing factor.

Nurcahyo said that the MCAS system had been activated and that it was a central focus of the investigation.

The aircraft maintenance log shows that since Oct 26, there had been six reports of problems, including faulty sensor readings.

The findings suggest the airline put the plane back into service despite being aware of problems on earlier flights.

New details of Flight JT610's final moments were also included in the report. His last words captured were "five thou", as he asked to be cleared to 5,000ft (1,500m).

Information retrieved from the flight data recorder showed the "stick shaker" was vibrating the captain's controls warning of a stall throughout most of the flight.

The report discussed Lion Air's maintenance practices and an anti-stall system in the aircraft; investigators said it was "too early" to identify a firm cause for the crash.

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Some pilots have also complained that they were not given all the relevant information about the differences between the latest anti-stall system, and older models, United States media report.

There was a discrepancy of 20 degrees between the angle of attack readings on the side of the pilot and that of the co-pilot. And that report sheds new light on the 13 minutes of chaos in the air.

This same issue had plagued the crew on Flight JT43, which made a rocky trip from Bali to Jakarta on Oct 28.

Boeing says the procedure for dealing with a so-called runaway stabiliser, under which anti-stall systems push the nose down even when the plane is not entering a stall or losing lift, had not changed between an earlier version of the 737 and the newly delivered 737 MAX. While maintenance workers checked various sensors, they didn't work on the angle-of-attack system, which would have been an obvious item to examine because it had been replaced in work on October 27 and could have been related to the plane's failures.

"This condition is considered un-airworthy" and the flight should have been "discontinued".

"As our customers and their passengers continue to fly the 737 MAX to hundreds of destinations around the world every day, they have our assurance that the 737 MAX is as safe as any airplane that has ever flown the skies", it said in a statement.

In the aftermath of the crash, pilots have expressed concern that they had not been fully informed about the new Boeing system - known as the maneuvering characteristics augmentation system, or MCAS - and how it would require them to respond differently in case of the type of emergency encountered by the Lion Air crew.

Lion must take steps "to improve the safety culture and to enable the pilot to make (a) proper decision to continue the flight", the safety agency said, adding that the carrier must ensure "all the operation documents are properly filled and documented".

Lion Air President Director Edward Sirait said the crashed jet was certified airworthy by technicians in its final two trips and the airline was concerned about some reports to the contrary.

Preliminary reports deal with facts surrounding an accident and an analysis will not come until the full report. That will take time still - KNKT said it plans to finish a complete study within 12 months of the accident.

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