Indonesia finds Lion Air jet's cockpit voice recorder, human remains in Java Sea

Jakarta/Chicago, Agencies | Updated : 14 January 2019, 03:17 PM
Indonesian Search and Rescue (SAR) members and police officers check belongings of Lion Air Flight JT 610 victims at Jakarta International Container Terminal (JICT) in Tanjung Priok, Jakarta, Indonesia, on Oct. 30, 2018. (IANS file photo)
Indonesian Search and Rescue (SAR) members and police officers check belongings of Lion Air Flight JT 610 victims at Jakarta International Container Terminal (JICT) in Tanjung Priok, Jakarta, Indonesia, on Oct. 30, 2018. (IANS file photo)

Navy divers have located the cockpit voice recorder of a Lion Air jet that crashed into the Java Sea in October, Indonesian officials said Monday, in a possible boost to the accident investigation. Ridwan Djamaluddin, a deputy maritime minister, told reporters that remains of some of the 189 people who died in the crash were also discovered at the seabed location. "We got confirmation this morning from the National Transportation Safety Committee's chairman," he said.

A spokesman for the Indonesian navy's western fleet, Lt Col Agung Nugroho, said divers using high-tech equipment found the voice recorder beneath 8 meters (26 feet) of seabed mud. The plane crashed in waters 30 meters (98 feet) deep.

The 2-month-old Boeing 737 MAX 8 jet plunged into the Java Sea just minutes after taking off from Jakarta on October 29, killing everyone on board.

The cockpit data recorder was recovered within days of the crash and showed that the jet's airspeed indicator had malfunctioned on its last four flights.

If the voice recorder is undamaged, it could provide valuable additional information to investigators.

The Lion Air crash was the worst airline disaster in Indonesia since 1997, when 234 people died on a Garuda flight near Medan. In December 2014, an AirAsia flight from Surabaya to Singapore plunged into the sea, killing all 162 on board.

Lion Air is one of Indonesia's youngest airlines but has grown rapidly, flying to dozens of domestic and international destinations. It has been expanding aggressively in Southeast Asia, a fast-growing region of more than 600 million people.

Last year, a lawsuit was filed in Chicago in December that blamed Boeing for the deadly Lion Air crash off the coast of Indonesia that killed all onboard, claiming the manufacturer's airplane was "unreasonably dangerous," a US law firm announced Wednesday.

The suit, which was filed on December 26 in the Midwestern city where Boeing is based, alleged the two-month-old plane's safety system improperly engaged and pilots were not adequately instructed by the plane manufacturer on how to respond.

Lion Air Flight 610 vanished from radar 13 minutes after taking off from Jakarta on October 29, crashing into waters off the north coast of Indonesia's Java Island and killing all 189 people onboard.

About 30 relatives of the crash victims have filed lawsuits against Boeing, alleging that faults with the new model 737 MAX led to the deaths.

The Chicago lawsuit was filed on behalf of the family of passenger Sudibyo Onggo Wardoyo, 40, of Jakarta.

"Not only did Boeing place sensors that provided inaccurate data, it also failed to provide the plane's pilots adequate instructions. It was like Boeing first blindfolded and then tied the hands of the pilots," the family's attorney Thomas Demetrio said in a statement.

The preliminary crash report from Indonesia's transport safety agency suggested that pilots struggled to control the plane's anti-stalling system immediately before the crash.

Boeing responded to the November report by pointing to the actions of the pilots and claiming an earlier flight on the same plane ended safely when pilots successfully dealt with erroneous sensor data.

"The 737 MAX is as safe as any airplane that has ever flown the skies," the manufacturer said in a statement.

First Published: Monday, January 14, 2019 10:45 AM
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