The Lion Air jet that crashed into the Java Sea killing all on board last week experienced an airspeed indicator problem on at least its last four flights, black box data has revealed.
Soerjanto Tjahjono. head of Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Committee, said information recovered from the crashed airliner’s black box pointed to a persistent problem with the Boeing 737.
Mr Tjahjono and investigator Nurcahyo Utomo told a news conference on Monday night that the problem was similar on each of the four flights, including the fatal flight on October 29 that killed all 189 people passengers and crew.
The stunning revelation on comes after angry relatives confronted the airline’s co-founder at a meeting organised by Indonesian officials.
At the meeting, Mr Tjahjono said information downloaded from the flight data recorder was consistent with reports that the plane’s speed and altitude were erratic.
The Lion Air plane took off from Jakarta’s Soekarno Hatta airport at 6.20am on October 29 and lost contact with air traffic control about 13 minutes later as it crashed into the sea off Tanjung Karawang, about 70 kilometres east of Jakarta.
Searchers are still trying to locate the cockpit voice recorder (CVR), which investigators hope will shed light on the final minutes of the fateful flight and the cause for its crash.
Muhammad Syaugi, head of Indonesia’s search and rescue agency, Basarnas, was quoted by CNN as saying that after initially hearing a “ping” from the voice recorder on Sunday, diving teams could no longer detect a signal.
“We checked that spot, located around 50 meters from the location of finding the first black box. But we can’t find the CVR yet,” Mr Syaugi said.
Basarnas on Sunday announced the search operation to recover the plan’s wreckage had been extended until Wednesday as divers continue the hunt for more remains and the plane’s main fuselage.
So far, the operation has only managed to collect parts broken off from the aircraft’s main body, including the front and back tyres and two turbines.