JT-610 Tragedy: Mistake Leads to Boeing and Lion Air

Penulis: Ameidyo Daud

Editor: Safrezi Fitra

Jum'at 16/11/2018, 16.59 WIB

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The crash of Lion Air flight JT 610 from Jakarta to Pangkal Pinang left some questions about what and who caused it. Allegations are now starting to lead to Lion Air and Boeing as the responsible parties.

President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) has ordered the National Transportation Safety Committee (KNKT) to immediately find the cause of the accident. On 29 October, the plane carrying 181 passengers and 8 crew members crashed into the sea near Karawang, West Java. All passengers and crew members are presumed dead.

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Jokowi also hopes that it will be the last accident in the Indonesian aviation world. This is why he demanded improvements in terms of passenger safety within the mass transportation sector. “I have asked KNKT to work quickly to find out the cause, so we could determine the next step,” he said last week.

Minister of Transportation Budi Karya Sumadi has also appointed Polana Pramesti Banguningsih as Director General of Civil Aviation on Monday (11/12). Polana replaced Agus Santoso, who retired since August 2018. After the inauguration, Budi immediately ordered Polana, who had served as Director of Aviation Navigation, to improve the aviation safety aspects. “It was followed by decisive action to make safety as the main concern,” Budi said.

A team of divers from the Indonesian Navy found a black box containing a Flight Data Recorder (FDR) and handed it over to the KNKT for inspection. The National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas) Head Muhammad Syaugi has officially stopped the search for victims of Lion Air flight JT610 since last week.

However, the cause of the accident is still unknown. Pilot association also does not want to rush to appoint who is wrong in this case. It still has to wait for the completion of the investigations conducted by KNKT and Transportation Ministry. According to the Chairman of the Indonesian Pilot Association Rama Nota, a pilot would follow the standard and only fly an airplane if it is feasible to fly. “By continuing to fly, hence it can be said that the pilot believes that all are safe in the assessment,” he said.

Several facts have been revealed. Before the plane crashed, the pilot of the Lion Air JT-610, Bhavvye Suneja, had asked permission to the Air Traffic Controller to return to Soekarno Hatta Airport. “He requested [to return] and was permitted,” AirNav Indonesia President Director Novie Riyanto said.

Regarding the issue of flight instruments, KNKT found a problem with the Angle of Attack (AOA) indicator on the Lion Air PK-LQP airplane. This indicator serves as a pointer to the plane’s tilt towards the incoming air flow. The problem with AOA is closely related to the damage to the airspeed indicator. In the last four flights, this plane has indeed experienced problems with the indicator. Various speculations then arise related to the cause of the accident.

Several facts have been revealed. Before the plane crashed, the pilot of the Lion Air JT-610, Bhavvye Suneja, had asked permission to the Air Traffic Controller to return to Soekarno Hatta Airport. “He requested [to return] and was permitted,” AirNav Indonesia President Director Novie Riyanto said.

Regarding the issue of flight instruments, KNKT found a problem with the Angle of Attack (AOA) indicator on the Lion Air PK-LQP airplane. This indicator serves as a pointer to the plane’s tilt towards the incoming air flow. The problem with AOA is closely related to the damage to the airspeed indicator. In the last four flights, this plane has indeed experienced problems with the indicator. Various speculations then arise related to the cause of the accident.

However, the Head of KNKT Soerjanto Tjahjono has not been able to confirm whether the damage to the speed indicator is the main cause of the Lion Air JT-610 accident. The data held by KNKT is not complete and still needs facts support from the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) data, which has not been found. In order to complete this data, the KNKT will interview the pilots and technicians who had previously flown or handled the plane. “Before getting factual data, we should not guess the cause,” he said.

In the investigation process, the Transportation Ministry had asked Lion Air to relieve Muhammad Asif from his duty as the airline’s Technical Director. This is to make it easy for KNKT to carry out its investigation. As his replacement, Lion Air appointed Muhammad Rusli as the Acting Technical Director. “We will follow the rules,” Danang told Katadata.

Although there has been no discourse regarding sanctions, Lion Group owner Rusdi Kirana said he and his airline are willing to accept sanctions if there were mistakes. He was also scolded by the families of the victims. This incident became a reason for them to shed resentment at the 'sin' of his airline. Johan Ramadhan, a family member of the victim with manifest number 122, even scolded Rusdi because Lion Air often stumbled on flight safety issues.

Johan saw no empathy from the airline after the crash of Lion Air flight JT-610, resulting in the death of 189 people. “I do not want to provoke, but I think Mr Rusdi Kirana have failed,” Johan told Rusdi, who only stood in silence during a press conference last week. Budi Karya, Soerjanto, and Syaugi also attended the press conference.