It was a tragedy that shook the nation. On the early morning of October 29, 2018, Lion Air flight 610 crashed into the waters off the coast of West Java, just minutes after take-off. All 189 people on board died in the crash. What followed in the coming days was confusion. Initially, authorities failed to understand how a new Boeing 737 Max 8 jet, with only 800 hours in its service, could have malfunctioned.
After months of investigation, recent information has begun to shed light on what could have happened just minutes before the flight. It was reported across media outlets that the black box recordings revealed the pilot and co-pilot were completely unaware of why the plane was not co-operating. The contents leaked by anonymous sources revealed that the pilot handed over the controls to the co-pilot while he flipped through the handbook in panic. Just minutes after that, the plane crashed into the water.
Addressing those claims, Nurcahyo Utomo, the lead investigator from the National Transportation Safety Committee ensured the public that nobody aside from their team had access to these recordings. He mentions how not even he personally nor Boeing or the Federal Aviation Administration had that data.
Indonesia's National Transportation Safety Committee sub-committee head for air accidents, Nurcahyo Utomo, holds a model airplane while speaking during a news conference on its investigation into the Lion Air plane crash on October 29, in Jakarta, November 28, 2018. /VCG Photo
I read in the media that the contents of the media were leaked and they put some statement on the news. Based on our understanding, the content of the CVR data and what was described in the media was different. So I can say that this information written in the media was not what was in the CVR it's based more on someone's assumption based on our preliminary report, said Nurcahyo.
However, when asked if those recording claims were false, Nurcahyo refused to say otherwise, stating that some media may have read or received correct information but had not reported it properly.
To avoid further confusions and speculations, the Indonesian authorities are refusing to make any comments regarding the status of the investigations. What is known is that they are working on releasing a full report based on their findings, including the cockpit voice recording and statements, as early as September of this year.
Lion Air flight 610's crash is Indonesia's deadliest after years. /CGTN Photo
Nurcahyo said that according to laws and regulations in Indonesia, any information related to the investigation will not be published to the public anytime before that.
Lion Air was a big disaster. Especially between 2017 and 2018, where there was no accident involving fatalities for aircraft in Indonesia of more than 5,700 kilograms. So the Lion Air accident was a shock to the world. After the accident, we collected some data and coordinated with Boeing and the Indonesian authorities. We have some suggestions for improvements. Today, Boeing 737 has been temporarily grounded and we will wait until its improvements.
Indonesia's national carrier Garuda Indonesia has now become the first airline to publicly confirm plans to cancel their order of a total of 49 of Boeing's 737 Max 8 jets, citing safety concerns.
Garuda Indonesia is the first airline to publicly cancel orders of the Boeing 737 MAX jets valued at six billion U.S. dolalrs. /CGTN Photo
Garuda Indonesia's CEO believes it is in their best interest to cancel those orders and ground the troubled jets in order to continue to gain trust among their passengers.
The orders were reportedly worth nearly six billion U.S. dollars. The U.S. Transport Department is also looking into auditing the certification of Boeing's 737 Max planes to make sure safety procedures are implemented properly.