Indonesia jet had damaged airspeed indicator on last four flights, says official

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The special bulletin sent to operators was about a sensor problem flagged by Indonesian safety officials investigating the crash of a Lion Air 737 that killed 189 people last week.

Indonesian authorities have downloaded information from the flight data recorder that showed a cockpit indicator on the Lion Air jet was damaged for its last four flights.

The families have been asking why the plane, a two-month-old Boeing 737 MAX 8, was given flight clearance at all, given that it had reported technical issues the day before, on a flight from Bali to Jakarta, wherein it descended rapidly right after take-off, much to the terror of passengers on board. The person, who wished to remain unnamed, noted that when pilots are manually flying Boeing 737 Maxes, the jet is prone to automatically push down the nose if the plane determines that an aerodynamic stall is imminent. "Any action that the FAA would take regarding that incident would have to wait until we have findings", agency acting Administrator Daniel Elwell said Monday after a speaking engagement in Washington.

However, previous year Boeing had to briefly ground its 737 MAX fleet as discrepancies were found in its engines. The spokesman said the instruments were examined by a maintenance crew between the penultimate and final flights. It said the bulletin to airlines would alert pilots to follow existing procedures to address the issue.

"I'm still of the opinion that losing airspeed on the airplane shouldn't result in losing the airplane", Cox said. The committee said the pilots were dealing with an erroneous airspeed indication. Lion Air declined to comment.

"When you see recurring problems, it says the normal easy fixes aren't solving it", he said.

Search teams are also still trying to find the plane's cockpit voice recorder.

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The airline said at the time that it had 61 "firm orders" for the planes. Its flight crew had requested permission to return to the airport several minutes after taking off.

His agency was asking Boeing and U.S. authorities what action to take to prevent similar problems on this type of plane around the world, he added.

Divers still looking for the second box that records cockpit audio; Benjamin Hall reports on the latest in the investigation. "People panicked. It dropped about 400 feet", said Gaharu, adding that he had confirmed the height of the drop on a flight-tracking website. However, soon after takeoff, the jetliner entered into a nosedive at a speed of 600 miles per hour.

"Lion Air said the problem was fixed, is it true the problem was cleared?" asked Bambang Sukandar, who said his son was on the flight. Kirana and brother Kusnan Kirana founded Lion Air in 1999.

Speed-measuring systems consist of tubes and sensors that measure air pressure generated by the plane's movement and compare it with surrounding air pressure.

Investigators have not disclosed any reports of other airspeed failures on the aircraft.

Even if an angle of attack sensor on a jet is faulty, there's generally a backup system in place for the critical component, and pilots are trained to handle a plane safely if those sensors fail, airline safety experts said.

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