Published: Sun, November 04, 2018
Global Media | By Garry Long

Pilot reported prior safety problem with crashed Lion Air jet

Pilot reported prior safety problem with crashed Lion Air jet

Indonesia stepped up a hunt for the black box of a crashed Boeing Co. jet after four days of scouring the sea only yielded a damaged flight data recorder, prolonging the mystery on what could have downed the Lion Air plane.

Forensic experts identified Jannatun Cintya Dewi as the first victim of the crash on Wednesday evening.

Divers were battling strong currents as they scoured the surface of the sea, and had widened the search area, pulling out heaps of debris, including life jackets and clothing.

The flight data recorder of Lion Air Flight JT610 was retrieved in good condition yesterday, raising hopes that it could help establish why the almost brand new plane crashed just minutes after take-off.

The disaster has reignited concerns about safety in Indonesia's fast-growing aviation industry, which was recently removed from European Union and USA blacklists.

"We strongly believe we've determined the coordinates of the JT 610 fuselage", he told reporters in Jakarta.

Investigators initially said the device found was likely the flight data recorder but noted late Thursday they were unclear which of the two was in hand.

"Today we will start diving [again] at the spot where we think the plane crashed", said Isswarto, commander of the Indonesian navy's search-and-rescue division.

The flight data recorder is expected to provide investigators with detailed information about the flight such as altitude, airspeed and heading.

Separately, the head of the National Transportation Safety Committee, Soerjanto Tjahjono, told reporters that pings detected by search teams are definitely from the aircraft's flight recorder due to their regular interval.

On Thursday, the authorities had announced to have recovered one of two black boxes, as well as a part of the landing gear of the aircraft.

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"The currents below the sea are still strong which makes it hard for divers, but they persistently faced it", he said.

Officials said the non-stop search effort has sent 48 body bags containing human remains to police identification experts.

Her father and others knelt by the grave, which was sprinkled with red, white and yellow flowers, and prayed.

The unnamed pilot made an urgent "Pan-Pan" call to signal technical problems with the aircraft, and requested to return to the airport.

The pilot on the earlier flight requested permission to turn back after take-off because of technical problems.

The plane was making a one-hour journey to the western city of Pangkal Pinang when it went down.

Danang Mandala Prihantoro, a spokesman for Lion Air, said Wednesday that the airline fired its technical director, Muhammad Asif, at the direction of the Ministry of Transportation. He said their aircraft maintenance engineer licenses have been suspended. It did not say how many technicians had been suspended.

A video purporting to show panicked passengers aboard an Indonesian Lion Air plane before it crashed into the sea has gone viral with millions of views on social media, and been reported as fact by multiple news outlets around the world.

In 2014, an AirAsia crash in the Java Sea during stormy weather killed 162 people. It is a small discount airline based in Indonesia. The ban was completely lifted in June this year.

Lion Air, Indonesia's biggest budget carrier, has been involved in a number of incidents including a fatal 2004 crash.

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