Indonesian Authorities Issue Report On Lion Air Crash

Oct 25, 2019
Originally published on October 25, 2019 7:07 am
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Indonesia has released a final accident report on the crash last year of a Lion Air 737 MAX, a crash that killed all 189 people onboard. The report blames Boeing, the maker of the plane, but also faults the pilots and the ground crew. NPR's Scott Neuman reports.

SCOTT NEUMAN, BYLINE: An automated flight control system in the plane known as MCAS has been identified as the primary cause of the two crashes. But what is new in the report by Indonesia's equivalent of the NTSB is a disturbing sequence of events leading up to the accident.

The day before the crash, ground crew installed a faulty sensor on the plane, and investigators say it's likely it was never tested. That same day, the report says, a different flight crew experienced problems with the plane repeatedly nosing down but managed to regain control by powering off some systems and engaging the autopilot, which bypasses MCAS. It was a serious incident that should have grounded the plane, but investigators say the captain didn't report the problem to ground crew.

On the day of the crash, a new pilot and first officer encountered the very same problems. Investigators say the co-pilot was unfamiliar with procedures, that it took him four minutes to find a crucial checklist in the manual. Meanwhile, the pilot was struggling with the controls. The report says the pilot was forced to manually counteract the plane's nosing down more than 20 times. He finally turned over the controls to the co-pilot, who quickly lost control and the plane plunged into the sea.

After the release of the report, Boeing put out its own statement saying that since the twin crashes, it's been working with the FAA to correct the flight control system software, including fixes that will prevent the scenario that played out aboard Lion Air Flight 610. Scott Neuman, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.