The ill-fated Boeing 737 MAX 8 that departed from Jakarta on Monday morning with 189 passengers on board may have had a pre-existing problem, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
Just 13 minutes after takeoff, the plane “nosedived” into the sea just off the coast of the city, and so far there are 10 confirmed deaths, with everyone else on board presumed dead as search and rescue efforts continue.
But the plane, which was only added to Lion Air’s fleet in August this year, is now reported to have had issues on its previous flight the day before. Data stored from flight-tracking websites shows Flight JT610 was giving off erratic readings, showing the plane had lost and regained altitude more than once before it crashed into the ocean. This same pattern had occurred during the previous flight the aircraft took from Denpasar to Jakarta on Sunday.
Gerry Soejatman, an aviation analyst from the Indonesian Aviation Network, confirmed that the data on the sites had indeed come from the plane, saying it “showed the plane had a technical problem.”
“What it is we can only guess. We suspect that it is the Pitot static system, but this is just a guess based on the data. We know for certain that that is the data the plane transmitted, whether the data is accurate or not, we need to have a deeper look at it. The ground speed that it shows is accurate. Altitude is subject to further analysis. If there is a problem with the Pitot static steam, the altitude may be erroneous.”
The technical log of the Sunday flight also showed that instruments on the plane were “unreliable.”
The airline had admitted that there was a concern on the previous flight but assured everyone it had been corrected before the next flight. They have not responded to various questions regarding the logs that some media outlets have obtained.
Following the devastating accident, Lion Air chief executive Edward Sirait confessed the plane had had a “technical issue” on the flight from Bali but did not elaborate on what the problem was.
“If the plane was broken it would have been impossible to clear the plane to fly from Denpasar [in Bali, to Jakarta]…when we received the flight crew’s report, we immediately fixed the problem.”
One of the two pilots has been confirmed dead, along with a baby, among others. The passengers aboard the aircraft at the time of the accident included 178 adult passengers, eight crew, two babies, and one child.