Thursday, March 27, 2008

Black Box from Adam Air Crash at the Celebes Straits Revailed the "Human Error"

By Dita Alangkara (AP)
Published: 2008-03-25 05:15:02
Location: JAKARTA, Indonesia

An Indonesian pilot shouted "Pull up! Pull up!" seconds before his jetliner plunged into the sea last year, killing all 102 people on board, according to an investigation Tuesday that blamed his errors and a faulty navigation system for the disaster.

"This is really bad. It is starting to fly like a bamboo ship," said one of the two pilots before the Boeing 737 crashed, according to comments captured by the cockpit voice recorder. "This is crazy!"

Last week, the government revoked low-cost carrier Adam Air's operating license because of its poor safety record.

The National Transportation Safety Committee said 154 recurring defects in the plane's navigation system were reported in the months leading up to New Year's Day crash, and that the carrier failed to properly address those reports or train pilots to deal with them.

The plane was flying from the main island of Java to an airport in the east of Indonesia when it spiraled from the sky at a height of 33,000 feet. It took around two minutes to hit the sea, the report said.

Several days passed before fisherman and navy boats discovered wreckage from the plane floating on the ocean. Both flight data recorders were eventually recovered from the sea bed, but the plane's mostly intact fuselage remains there.

Initially, the pilots reported a problem with the navigation system, but they sounded unconcerned, even joking at times 20 minutes before it went down. In the course of trying to fix the problem, the jetliner's autopilot disengaged, causing the plane to bank to the right.

The pilots were apparently unaware they were now flying the plane and ignored "a number of initial alerts, warnings and changes to displays" indicating the jetliner's increasingly critical situation, the report said.

"The pilots did not detect and appropriately arrest the descent soon enough to prevent loss of control," it said, adding that they apparently had no training on what to do if the Inertial Reference System failed, nor if the autopilot unexpectedly disengaged.

They made several wrong decisions in the seconds after the autopilot was turned off, the report said.

The accident was one of a spate in Indonesia in recent years, including one involving the national carrier Garuda that killed 21, leading the EU to ban all Indonesian airlines and the United States to warn that they did not meet international standards.

Adam Air was one of dozens of new airlines to emerge in Indonesia after it deregulated its aviation industry in the 1990s. But trained aviation professionals, regulatory oversight and decent ground infrastructure are all lacking in the country, experts say.

The New Year's Day crash was not the first incident involving faulty navigation systems on Adam Air jets.

In February 2006, another of its Boeing 737s went missing for hours following a navigation and communications breakdown and eventually made an emergency landing hundreds of miles from its destination in eastern Indonesia.

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