Probe finds glitch in Lion Air’s airspeed indicator

Members of an Indonesian rescue team unload a pair of tires from the ill-fated Lion Air flight JT 610 on Monday, November 5. (AFP)
Updated 06 November 2018
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Probe finds glitch in Lion Air’s airspeed indicator

  • Plane had malfunctioned on previous four flights, investigators say
  • Victims’ families to be taken to crash site on Tuesday, nine days after the incident

JAKARTA: 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.
The incident which took place on October 29 resulted in the death of all 189 people on board.
The team from Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Committee (KNKT) said that they had arrived at the preliminary conclusions after sifting through details of the flight data recorder (FDR), or black box, which was found in the Java Sea, near Karawang, West Java, last week.
“We have started to examine the FDR and will continue to analyze it. We found the plane’s speed indicators was damaged on the previous four flights,” KNKT Chairman, Soerjanto Tjahjono, said during a press conference on Monday.
The KNKT added that the FDR's recordings were 69 hours from 19 flights and the last date of recording was from the date of the crash and corresponded with public data available on flight-tracking websites.
Tjahjono said that the KNKT has asked the United States’ National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and Boeing to take the necessary measures to deal with issues with the speed indicator. “It is to prevent a similar accident from happening again especially on the Boeing 737 Max, which has sold more than 200 units around the world,” Tjahjono said.
Anugrah Satria, one of the passengers on the flight from Denpasar to Jakarta on the night before the crash, said that it was obvious that the plane was experiencing some problems as the flight kept getting delayed. “We had to wait inside the aircraft for about 20 minutes with the air conditioner not working. It started to taxi onto the runway but was retracted into a parking mode,” Satria told Arab News.
He added that the seat belt sign was on the for the entire duration of the one and half hour flight.
“There was some unusual noise coming from the engine and I could hear it because I was sitting in the window seat of row 22 near the wings,” he said, adding that the plane’s landing in Jakarta was not smooth either and bounced slightly as the tires touched the runway.
The crashed aircraft was undertaking its JT610 flight from Jakarta to Pangkal Pinang, on the island of Bangka off Sumatra, on October 29.
As per reports, the pilots had requested to return to Jakarta, before losing contact with the air traffic controller, 13 minutes after it took off at 6.20am and after it had reached an altitude of 5,400 feet.
A search operation soon found the debris of the plane in the waters off Tanjung Pakis in Karawang, about 70 kilometers east of Jakarta.
At a meeting on Monday, to address the grieving families of the victims, Tjahjono said that the plane did not explode mid-air and was intact when it plunged into the sea, with its engine's turbines running at high speed.
Angry and distraught family members vented their frustration at the authorities for their lack of coordination and failure to provide information, with Muhammad Bambang Sukandar, the father of one of the victims, Pangky Pradana Sukandar, asking Rusdi Kirana, founder of Lion Air who was among the audience, to stand up. Kirana, who is also Indonesia’s ambassador to Malaysia, faced the angry audience, with his head slightly bowed and pressed his palms together without saying a word.
Another relative demanded that a detailed enquiry be conducted in the case which should continue even after the KNKT concludes its investigation or after the airline has compensated victims’ families. “This incident was caused by human error, whoever that is. It was pure negligence,” said another family member.
Indonesia's National Search and Rescue Agency, Basarnas, said that it had extended the search operations by three days until Wednesday.
Basarnas' chief, Muhammad Syaugi, reassured family members that the agency would continue to look for the remains of the victims. “We are trying the best we can with all we have... we are not giving up. Hopefully with the remaining time we can search until the 10th day,” a visibly emotional Syaugi said, as he choked and struggled to hold back his tears.
The search operation is also looking to retrieve a second black box, which contains the voice cockpit recordings from the cockpit. The Basarnas, on its part, has handed over more than 17 additional body bags to the police’s forensic team, adding to the 138 previously collected from the crash site. The forensic team said it had identified at least 24 victims as of Monday afternoon.


UK court rejects case brought by mother of Daesh 'Beatle'

Updated 48 sec ago
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UK court rejects case brought by mother of Daesh 'Beatle'

LONDON: The mother of one of the British Daesh militants suspected of murdering western hostages, lost a legal challenge on Friday that it was wrong for Britain to assist a US investigation which could lead to them facing the death penalty.
Britons El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Kotey — two of a notorious group of British fighters nicknamed “The Beatles” — are being held by Kurdish militia after being captured in Syria last year.
The United States wants to extradite them and Britain has said it will not stand in the way of any future US prosecution that would seek the death penalty, waiving a long-standing objection to executions.
Elsheikh’s mother, Maha El Gizouli, had sought a judicial review, saying it was unlawful for Britain’s interior minister to provide mutual legal assistance in a case which could lead to prosecutions for offenses which carried the death penalty.
Her lawyers said the minister’s actions were flawed, inconsistent with Britain’s unequivocal opposition to the death penalty and violated her son’s human rights. However, London’s High Court disagreed and dismissed her claim.
“My priority has always been to ensure we deliver justice for the victims’ families and that the individuals suspected of these sickening crimes face prosecution as quickly as possible,” Home Secretary Sajid Javid said.
“Our long-standing opposition to the death penalty has not changed. Any evidence shared with the US in this case must be for the express purpose of progressing a federal prosecution.”
The most notorious of the four of the so-called Beatles was Mohammed Emwazi, known as “Jihadi John,” who is believed to have been killed in a US-British missile strike in 2015.
He became a public face of Daesh and appeared in videos showing the murders of US journalists Steven Sotloff and James Foley, US aid worker Abdul-Rahman Kassig, British aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning, Japanese journalist Kenji Goto and other hostages.
“This group of terrorists is associated with some of the most barbaric crimes committed during the conflict in Syria,” Graeme Biggar, Director of National Security at Britain’s interior ministry, said in a written statement to the court.
Britain has said it does not want the men repatriated to the United Kingdom and their British citizenship has been withdrawn.
British prosecutors concluded they did not have the evidence to launch their own case against the men but US officials then expressed frustration with the British stance of seeking an assurance that US prosecutors would not call for the death penalty, court documents showed.
However, last June, British ministers and senior officials decided the best way of ensuring a prosecution and to protect US relations was to seek no such assurance in this case.
That decision provoked criticism from opposition lawmakers and from some in the government’s own party who accused ministers of secretly abandoning Britain’s opposition to the death penalty.