Jillian Leonard, Web Manager
Jakarta – Two Captains, Harvino and Suneja, have 10,000 flight hours of experience together under their belts, have flown the plane that ultimately crashed and killed 189 people 10 minutes after departure.
On Oct. 29, the people of Indonesia faced a tragedy, flight JT610 to Pangkal Pingang, Indonesia had suddenly crashed into the water 21 miles away from the coast of the island of Java.
At 6:20 a.m., the flight departed. Ten minutes into the flight, already at 5,000 feet, the crew contacted air traffic control and asked to return to the airport. They lost contact a minute later which resulted in the plane suddenly and uncontrollably free falling from high above. The New York Times reported, “The plane slammed into the sea at such high speed that the jet fractured upon impact, in some cases disintegrating into a fine powder.”
Officials ruled that they expected no survivors in the crash. There were 189 people on the aircraft, including 178 adults, a child, two babies, six cabin crew, and the two pilots.
It is unclear as to why the aircraft crashed nose first into the sea. Some speculate that the data was faulty. “During the two days before Flight 610 began its final journey, there were repeated indications that pilots were being fed faulty data — perhaps from instruments measuring the speed and a key angle of the plane — that would have compromised their ability to fly safely,” The New York Times speculated. The model had a sensor that detected when the nose of the craft was too high. In older models, events like this would cause the plane to shut down. But with the Max 8 model, it should have automatically pulled the nose down to where it was safe. It is uncertain if the sensor data was incorrect, or if it simply just malfunctioned.
The lack of safety requirements and execution also contributed to the unfortunate crash. Lion Air has had safety issues over the past 18 years, as have other Indonesian airlines. Ten years ago, the European Union enacted a ban that was then lifted two years later, since Indonesia as a country showed signs of improving their safety policies. Even so, the issues still continued after the ban was lifted, as pilots complained about not enough pay and overtime. Those who confronted Lion Air on contract issues were arrested and are now in jail.
Investigators are exploring the idea the pilots could have been inadequately trained in how the older models differed to the Max 8 model. John Cox, former executive air safety chairman of the Air Line Pilots Association mentioned that, “Older versions of the Boeing 737 have a reputation among pilots for being easy to adjust the angle of the plane’s nose should a problem arise.”
“Even though Captain Suneja was an experienced aviator for his age, he would not have had time to fully familiarize himself with the latest version of Boeing’s workhorse jet,” The New York Times concluded. “And with only seconds to wrestle the plane out of its fatal plunge, he [Captain Suneja] never got that chance.”