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 It started to taxi onto the runway but was retracted into a parking mode,” Satria told Arab News.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.


Days from summit, May takes Brexit battle to Brussels

Updated 3 min 39 sec ago
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Days from summit, May takes Brexit battle to Brussels

  • May hopes to wring out of Brussels a Brexit arrangement that she can sell to her Parliament
  • May and Juncker were expected to cover fishing rights and the movement of goods after Brexit, as well as the duration of the transition period and the British territory of Gibraltar

BRUSSELS: Theresa May briefly escaped the Westminster bear pit to bring her Brexit battle to Brussels on Wednesday, just four days before the divorce deal is to be signed.

After enduring another parliamentary grilling at prime minister’s questions in London, the British leader crossed the Channel and met EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

The pair shook hands and posed briefly for photographers before heading into talks in the Commission’s Berlaymont headquarters for what an EU spokesman had earlier called “afternoon tea.” 

Having seen off — at least for now —  a potential leadership challenge by hard-line Brexiteers in her own party, she hopes to wring out of Brussels a Brexit arrangement that she can sell to her Parliament.

The withdrawal treaty itself is all but final, and preparations are under way for a summit on Sunday to sign it, but there remains the matter of a parallel 20-page political declaration on future EU-UK ties.

European diplomats and EU officials have been in intense talks on the declaration this week. One of them told AFP that they now expect to publish it on Thursday morning, after May’s afternoon tea with Juncker.

Neither side has much wiggle room left to polish the text, but May must show that she has left nothing on the table if she is to convince British members of parliament to ratify the deal in the coming weeks.

May and Juncker were expected to cover fishing rights and the movement of goods after Brexit, as well as the duration of the transition period and the British territory of Gibraltar, which lies on an outcrop off Spain.

May faces pressure from her Northern Irish allies, who oppose a deal they say weakens British sovereignty in their province, and from Spain, which warned it might oppose the accord over Gibraltar.

Madrid wants a veto over applying any agreement on post-transition relations to Gibraltar, but May told MPs on Wednesday that Britain “will not exclude Gibraltar from our negotiations on the future relationship.”

There is frustration among some EU countries at Spain trying to play hardball so late in the game.

“We are following the latest developments with growing concern and incomprehension —  among the EU27 our Spanish friends are all alone on this,” an EU diplomat told AFP.

Two of May’s top ministers quit last week, including her Brexit secretary, while MPs from all parties came out against it — increasing the chances that Britain will crash out of the Union on March 29 without an agreement.

A minister who opposed Brexit and who returned to May’s cabinet in a reshuffle triggered by the resignations, tried to rule out this economically disruptive scenario.

“It is my view that the parliament, the House of Commons, will stop no deal ... There isn’t a majority in the House of Commons to allow that to take place,” Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd told BBC radio.

The withdrawal deal covers Britain’s financial settlement, expatriate citizens’ rights, contingency plans to keep open the Irish border and the terms of a post-Brexit transition.

Officials are now racing to agree the accompanying outline statement on the future trading and security relationship for after Britain leaves the EU’s single market and customs union in March.

Opposition to the agreement is also building in the pro-Brexit camp.

On Monday, MPs from Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) abstained on three budget votes in the Commons and voted against a fourth, despite their deal to back the government on finance matters.

Anti-Europe Conservatives have also savaged the divorce deal, which they say keeps Britain too close to the EU.

Rebels led by MP Jacob Rees-Mogg failed in their attempt to force an immediate confidence vote in May’s leadership, but warned they would keep trying.

The withdrawal agreement sets out plans for a 21-month transition after Brexit, in which Britain and the EU want to turn their outline agreement on the future relationship into a full trade deal.