Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Parts from crashed Indonesian jet sent to US, UK for extra scrutiny

The Indonesian Boeing 737 crashed into the Java Sea shortly after take-off from Jakarta killing all 62 people on board.

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Indonesia’s air accident investigation agency has sent five components of the crashed Sriwijaya Air jet to the US and Britain for additional examination.

The 26-year-old Boeing 737-500 crashed into the Java Sea shortly after take-off from Jakarta on Jan 9, killing all 62 people on board.

The parts sent include the autothrottle that automatically controls engine power, the agency’s head said on Tuesday. He did not identify the other parts.

National Transportation Safety Committee (KNKT) chief Soerjanto Tjahjono told Reuters the components had been sent for examination to help find out why an autothrottle parameter had changed.

The plane’s flight data recorder (FDR) has been found and read by investigators but a maritime search is going on for the cockpit voice recorder’s (CVR) memory unit that Tjahjono said would help explain any human factors behind the crash.

“If we only have the FDR, we do not know why the parameter changed,” he said of the autothrottle. “We need confirmation from the components that we sent to the US and UK and the CVR.”

KNKT said last month it was investigating whether a problem with the autothrottle system contributed to the crash given an issue with it had been reported on a flight a few days earlier.

It is acceptable for a plane to fly with an autothrottle system that is not working because pilots can control it manually instead.

KNKT plans to issue a preliminary report into the crash soon, possibly on Feb 9, Tjahjono said.

Citing sources close to the investigation, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) last month reported the FDR data showed the autothrottle system was not operating properly on one of the plane’s engines as it climbed on departure from Jakarta.

Instead of shutting off the system, the FDR indicated the pilots tried to get the stuck throttle to function, the WSJ said. That could create significant differences in power between engines, making the jet harder to control.

Tjahjono said the WSJ report was incorrect and more information would be provided in the KNKT’s preliminary report.

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