Lion Air pilots struggled to control plane that crashed in Indonesia

In this Nov. 1, 2018, file photo, members of the National Transportation Safety Committee lift a box containing the flight data recorder from a crashed Lion Air jet onboard a rescue ship anchored in the waters of Tanjung Karawang, Indonesia. (AP Photo/Fauzy Chaniago, File)
Updated 28 November 2018

Lion Air pilots struggled to control plane that crashed in Indonesia

  • The latest version of Boeing’s popular 737 jetliner includes an automated system that pushes the nose down if a sensor detects that the nose is pointed so high
  • The new Boeing 737 MAX 8 plunged into the Java Sea on Oct. 29, killing all 189 people on board.

JAKARTA, Indonesia: Black box data show Lion Air pilots struggled to maintain control of a Boeing jet as its automatic safety system repeatedly pushed the plane’s nose down, according to a draft of a preliminary report by Indonesian authorities investigating last month’s deadly crash.
The investigators are focusing on whether faulty information from sensors led the plane’s system to force the nose down. The new Boeing 737 MAX 8 plunged into the Java Sea on Oct. 29, killing all 189 people on board.
Information from the Lion Air jet’s flight data recorder was included in a briefing for the Indonesian Parliament.
Indonesian authorities were due to release the findings Wednesday but not to draw conclusions from the data they present.
Peter Lemme, an expert in aviation and satellite communications and a former Boeing engineer, wrote an analysis of the data on his blog.
The MAX aircraft, the latest version of Boeing’s popular 737 jetliner, includes an automated system that pushes the nose down if a sensor detects that the nose is pointed so high that the plane could go into an aerodynamic stall.
Lemme described “a deadly game of tag” in which the plane pointed down, the pilots countered by manually aiming the nose higher, only for the sequence to repeat about five seconds later. That happened 26 times, but pilots failed to recognize what was happening and follow the known procedure for countering incorrect activation of the automated safety system, Lemme told The Associated Press.
Lemme said he was also troubled that there weren’t easy checks to see if sensor information was correct, that the crew of the fatal flight apparently wasn’t warned that similar problems had occurred on previous flights, and that the Lion Air jet wasn’t fixed after those flights.
“Had they fixed the airplane, we would not have had the accident,” he said. “Every accident is a combination of events, so there is disappointment all around here,” he said.
Boeing did not immediately respond to two emails and a phone call requesting comment. The company said last week that it remains confident in the safety of the 737 MAX and had given airlines around the world two updates to “re-emphasize existing procedures for these situations.”
Pilots at American Airlines and Southwest Airlines complained this month that they had not been given all information about the new system on the MAX. More than 200 MAX jets have been delivered to airlines around the world.
The Indonesian investigation is continuing with help from US regulators and Boeing. Searchers have not found the plane’s cockpit voice recorder, which would provide more information about the pilots’ actions


Philippines begins termination of US deal

Earlier, Duterte said he would give the US a month to restore Dela Rosa’s visa. (AP)
Updated 25 January 2020

Philippines begins termination of US deal

  • The move comes after Washington’s refusal to issue a visa to ally of President Duterte

MANILA: The Philippines has started the process of terminating the 1998 Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), which allows the deployment of US forces to the country to conduct military exercises, presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo announced on Friday.
The move comes one day after President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to do away with the agreement if the US did not reinstate the visa of his political ally and former police chief, Sen. Ronald dela Rosa.
Although in a speech on Thursday night the president said he would give the US one month to restore Dela Rosa’s visa before terminating the VFA, Panelo told reporters the process had already begun.
“The President feels that we cannot sit down and watch idly,” he said, adding he had relayed the matter to Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin.
Locsin, in a Twitter post on Friday, confirmed he had called Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana “to start the process of terminating the VFA.”
Lorenzana, in a statement on Friday evening, said that he would discuss with the president “the various scenarios concerning the possible termination of the VFA, and what future actions may be undertaken by the Department of National Defense (DND) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) regarding this matter.”
The defense chief said he could understand why the president was angered by the cancellation of Dela Rosa’s visa, over alleged extrajudicial killings in connection with the government’s anti-drug war.
“It is a direct affront to (the president) being the architect of the drug war upon his assumption of office,” the defense chief said.
He noted that Duterte ordered Dela Rosa when he was installed as police chief in 2016 to launch the drug war, and promised to back him. “He is just being true to his promise,” Lorenzana stressed.
Dela Rosa himself said details surrounding the revocation of his US visa remain unclear to him. He added that it “might be related” to the anti-drug war.
The Philippines Department of Justice said it was studying the “proper procedure to terminate the VFA.”
Responses from Philippine lawmakers have been mixed.
“In the absence of a Philippines Supreme Court ruling on the president’s power to unilaterally break a treaty or bilateral agreement like the VFA, without the consent of a 2/3 supermajority vote of the members of the senate, the president can do that without the senate’s approval or consent,” Sen. Panfilo Lacson said.
Sen. Francis Pangilinan said the VFA termination would work in favor of China, and so did not come as a surprise.
According to Lorenzana: “The termination of the VFA may be unilaterally initiated by the Philippines, and it is well within the right of the government to do so if it determines that the agreement no longer redounds to our national interest.
“Such a termination does not need the approval of the Philippine Congress. All that is required is that a notice of termination be served to the US government. The termination shall take effect 180 days after the date of the notice,” the defense chief stressed.