JAKARTA: Lion Air must improve its safety culture and better document repair work on its planes, Indonesian authorities said Wednesday, in preliminary findings into last month’s crash that killed all 189 people on board.
The Boeing 737 MAX vanished from radar about 13 minutes after taking off from Jakarta on 29th October, slamming into the Java Sea moments after it had asked to return to the capital. The transport safety agency did not pinpoint a definitive cause of the accident, with a final crash report not likely to be filed until next year. But its investigators said that Lion Air kept putting the plane back into service despite repeatedly failing to fix a problem with the airspeed indicator in the days leading up to the fatal flight.
The report also suggested the pilots struggled with the plane’s anti-stall system as they radioed in a request to return to Jakarta’s main airport. The findings will heighten concerns there were problems with key systems in one of the world’s newest and most advanced commercial passenger planes. Investigators have previously said the doomed aircraft had problems with its airspeed indicator and angle of attack (AOA) sensors, prompting Boeing to issue a special bulletin telling operators what to do when they face the same situation. An AOA sensor provides data about the angle at which air is passing over the wings and tells pilots how much lift a plane is getting. The information can be critical in preventing an aircraft from stalling.
Relevant: A crashed Lion Air jet should have been grounded over a recurrent technical problem before its fatal journey, Indonesian authorities said Wednesday, as details from the new jet’s flight data recorder suggested that pilots struggled to control its anti-stalling system. The preliminary crash report from Indonesia’s transport safety agency also took aim at the budget carrier’s poor safety culture but did not pinpoint a cause of the October 29 accident, which killed all 189 people on board. A final report is not likely to be filed until next year. The Boeing 737 MAX vanished from radar about 13 minutes after taking off from Jakarta, slamming into the Java Sea moments after pilots had asked to return to the capital. Investigators said Lion Air kept putting the plane back into service despite repeatedly failing to fix a problem with the airspeed indicator, including on its second-last flight from Bali to Jakarta. “The plane was no longer airworthy and it should not have kept flying,” Nurcahyo Utomo, aviation head at the National Transport Safety Committee, told reporters. The findings will heighten concerns there were problems with key systems in one of the world’s newest and most advanced commercial passenger planes. “But we don’t know yet whether it’s a Boeing or airline issue,” said aviation analyst Gerry Soejatman. Investigators have previously said the doomed aircraft had problems with its airspeed indicator and angle of attack (AoA) sensors, prompting Boeing to issue a special bulletin telling operators what to do when they face the same situation. The report confirmed that initial finding, saying the plane’s data recorder detected an issue with the AoA. It also said the plane’s “stick shaker” — which vibrates the aircraft’s steering wheel-like control yoke to warn of a system malfunction — was “activated and continued for most of the fight.” An AoA sensor provides data about the angle at which air is passing over the wings and tells pilots how much lift a plane is getting. The information can be critical in preventing an aircraft from stalling. The doomed plane’s flight data recorder showed that pilots had repeatedly tried to correct its nose from pointing down, possibly after erroneous data from AoA sensors was fed into a system that automatically adjusts some of its movements. Black box data showed the plane also had an airspeed indicator issue on multiple earlier flights, said investigators, who have yet to locate the cockpit voice recorder on the sea floor. The lion must take steps “to improve the safety culture” and bolster the quality of its flight logs, the transport agency said. “Airlines need to take paperwork seriously,” Soejatman said. “That didn’t cause the crash, but it can cause other problems in the environment they’re working in.” Despite a dubious safety record and an avalanche of complaints about shoddy service, the budget carrier’s parent Lion Air Group has captured half the domestic market in less than 20 years of operation to become Southeast Asia’s biggest airline. Indonesia’s aviation safety record has improved since its airlines, including national carrier Garuda, were subject to years-long bans from the US and European airspace for safety violations, although it has still recorded 40 fatal accidents over the past 15 years. The report stopped short of making any recommendations to Boeing but the US planemaker has come under fire for possible glitches on the 737 MAX — which entered service just last year. The APA, a US airline pilots’ union, said carriers and pilots had not been informed by Boeing of certain changes in the aircraft control system installed on the new MAX variants of the 737. “I am really surprised if Boeing has not shared all the flight performance parameters with pilots, unions, and training organizations,” University of Leeds aviation expert Stephen Wright told the Media, adding that “a deliberate omission would have serious legal ramifications”. In response to Wednesday’s report, Boeing said: “(The company) is taking every measure to fully understand all aspects of this accident, working closely with the US National Transportation Safety Board as technical advisors to support the NTSC as the investigation continues.” Several relatives of the crash victims have already filed lawsuits against Boeing, including the family of a young doctor who was to have married his high school sweetheart this month. Authorities have called off the grim task of identifying victims of the crash, with 125 passengers officially recognized after testing on human remains that filled some 200 body bags.
A relevant piece published earlier:
Huawei’s founder says world can’t live without it
BEIJING: The founder of Chinese telecom giant Huawei has hit back at US efforts to blacklist the company, saying defiantly that the world cannot do without Huawei and its “more advanced” technology.
“There’s no way the US can crush us,” Ren Zhengfei said in an interview with the BBC.
“The world cannot leave us because we are more advanced.”
Ren, 74, also denounced as “politically motivated” the December arrest of his daughter, Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou, who is accused of violating US sanctions against Iran and faces an extradition hearing in Canada next month.
“We object to this,” he said.
“But now that we’ve gone down this path, we’ll let the courts settle it.”
The normally media-shy Huawei founder has been forced to step into the limelight in recent months as the company has come under increasing pressure over espionage concerns and the US-led campaign to persuade other countries to ban its technology.
Last year, security concerns prompted Australia to ban Huawei equipment from its future 5G network.
New Zealand has also blocked its largest telecom carrier from using Huawei technology for the next generation network, while the Czech Republic has reportedly excluded it from a 20-million-euro ($22 million) tender to build a tax portal.
US prosecutors are also charging Huawei with stealing trade secrets, saying it offered rewards to employees for stealing technology from other rivals.
Ren shrugged off the growing pressure.
“If the lights go out in the West, the East will still shine,” he said. “America doesn’t represent the world.”
“Even if they persuade more countries not to use us temporarily, we can always downsize and become smaller.”
Russia to send tourists to near-Earth orbit on “space yacht”
MOSCOW: Russia is developing a “space yacht” that is able to take off from ordinary airfields like an aircraft to send tourists to near-Earth orbit, a chief designer of NPO Aviation and Space Technologies told Sputnik news agency.
A number of private companies are working on the unmanned spacecraft dubbed Selena Space Yacht with the support of the National Technology Initiative’s (NTI) AeroNet and SpaceNet working groups, designer Alexander Begak said in an interview.
“We have an opportunity to land on any airfield, the device lands like an airplane … We now calculate the optimal time for space travel, a comfortable flight path, because experience shows that people do not need to be in zero-gravity condition for as long as 10 minutes,” Begak said, adding that the development of the spacecraft began two years ago.
Three “space yachts” will be produced, with six passenger seats and one pilot seat each. Though the spacecraft will be unmanned, the pilot will be present for the convenience of passengers, Begak said.
The cost of the flight will be about 200,000-300,000 U.S. dollars per person.
Begak said that the first flights may start in five years.
South Korea ranks 7th in OECD’s science, technology capabilities scale in 2018
SEOUL: South Korea’s science and technology capabilities ranked seventh among other major economies in 2018, a state-run think tank said Monday.
The Korea Institute of S&T Evaluation and Planning (KISTEP) said its evaluation was compared against one done on the 34-member states of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) last year.
The evaluation was based on five categories: research environment, support from both the public and private sectors, quality of work carried out by scientists and engineers, the results of research and overall network capabilities, KISTEP said.
The United States came in first in 2018, followed by Switzerland, Japan, Israel, Germany and the Netherlands, according to the KISTEP.