Indonesian investigators launch another bid to find missing Lion Air recorder

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January 08, 2019
Lion Air recorder
Searchers sort through debris from the Lion Air crash. Photo: Seven News

Indonesia is resuming the search for the cockpit voice recorder from a Lion Air Boeing 737 MAX 8 jet that plummeted into the sea minutes after leaving Jakarta.

The head of Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Commission, Chief Soerjoanto Tjahjono,   told Reuters a ship would depart for the search area as early as today if the weather was good.

The news agency was told would have seven days using the naval ship KRI Spica to find the cockpit voice recorder.

The move comes after a 10-day search funded by Lion Air failed to find the missing black box.

READ Lion Air funds new search for cockpit voice recorder.

The airline used a specialized ship at a reported cost of $US2.8m to search a section of sea floor where the fuselage of Lion Air Flight 610 is believed to be buried in mud.

The October 29 Lion Air crash killed 189 and proved the deadliest in a year where the aviation industry’s safety record took a hit.

Investigators have retrieved the flight data recorder and issued a preliminary report on the sequence of events leading up to the crash.

The CVR is needed to give more insight into how the flight crew reacted to problems with the aircraft’s angle of attack sensors and stabilizer trim system.

A crew the previous night experienced similar problems but landed safely after shutting down the automatic trim system according to procedures.

However, the crew on the fatal flight appeared to fight the system until the end.

The renewed search comes as lawyers representing the family of the co-pilot have filed legal action in the US against manufacturer Boeing claiming wrongful death.

The lawsuit alleges that the aircraft’s sensors provided inaccurate information to the flight control system, improperly activating an anti-stall system that ultimately caused the aircraft to nose-dive into the ocean. It also claims Boeing failed to provide proper training to pilots regarding the 737 Max 8’s features.

A new addition to the MAX was a flight control law known as the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS).

MCAS was software introduced to take into account differences between the 737 MAX and its predecessor — such as the MAX’s greater power and different center of gravity — and ensure the new planes react to an aerodynamic stall in a manner consistent with their older counterparts.

The introduction of the software, which incrementally pushes down the nose in a stall, sparked controversy among pilots and some argued Boeing should have provided more information and training on the change.

Others contended the problems experienced by the Lion Air pilots were covered by long-standing procedures to deactivate a runaway stabilizer trim regardless of the cause.

READ The facts, the questions and the fiction of the Lion Air tragedy.

There have also been claims of maintenance lapses. The Wall Street Journal over Christmas reported that investigators had made a preliminary conclusion that the improper calibration of an angle attack sensor had touched off the sequence of events that led to the crash.

Lion Air has denied the maintenance claims.