JAKARTA (AFP) - The pilots of an Indonesian jet caused a 2007 crash which killed all 102 people aboard by accidentally disconnecting the plane's autopilot, investigators said Tuesday.
The two pilots for budget airline Adam Air were trying to fix a problem with the plane's navigation instruments when they disconnected the device and lost control of the Boeing 737-400, government investigators found.
The jet was carrying 96 passengers and six crew when it plunged into the sea off Sulawesi island on January 1, 2007.
"Without the autopilot, the plane went out of control, listing to the right and pitching down," investigator Santoso Sayogo told a press conference.
Data recovered from the "black box" flight recorder revealed the co-pilot shouted "pull up!" six times before the plane went down.
Other final comments from the pilots were "Do you see it's messed up?" and "it's starting to fly like a bamboo ship!", according to data recovered from the flight recorder.
It also revealed the pilots were concerned they were going off course, but did not send a distress call.
Transport Minister Jusman Syafei Djamal said Adam Air had registered 154 defects in the Boeing 737-400's navigation system in the three months before the crash, showing the planes were poorly maintained.
"The accident happened because of a combination of several factors, including the failure of both pilots to intensively monitor flight instruments, especially in the last two minutes of the flight," Indonesia's transport safety chief Tatang Kurniadi said.
Another investigator said the plane was travelling at 10 times the normal landing speed when it hit the water and would have broken up on impact. No bodies were ever recovered.
Indonesia imposed a three-month flying ban on Adam Air this month after uncovering "violations that could put passengers' safety at risk."
The move followed a series of incidents that raised doubts over the airline's safety record, most recently when an Adam Air Boeing 737-400 with 175 people on board skidded off the runway in foul weather this month.
Last year all Boeing 737-300 aircraft operated by the airline were grounded temporarily after the fuselage of one plane cracked on landing, and in 2006 a jet went missing for several hours, eventually landing many miles from its intended destination.
The three-month ban is part of a push by Indonesia's government to improve the country's air safety record following a series of fatal accidents blamed on lax enforcement of safety regulations, poor maintenance and a lack of investment in transport infrastructure.
Last March, 21 people were killed when a jet from national carrier Garuda skidded off a runway.
Shortly after that, the European Union banned all Indonesian airlines from its airspace over security concerns and the United States advised its citizens not to use them.
Djamal said the government had stepped up its monitoring of the country's airlines and was now conducting quarterly inspections as part of efforts to overturn the EU ban.
"We will provide feedback to the airlines to enable them to improve their safety procedures," he said.
"We will also impose an immediate operating ban if there is any indication that an airliner may be putting passengers' lives at risk."