Friday, November 02, 2018

Lion Air crash: Pilot on previous flight made distress call before continuing to fly

The pilot on the doomed Lion Air jet’s previous flight made a distress call to traffic controllers just minutes after takeoff but decided to push on anyway.

If he had turned back, things may have been different when the same jet took off and crashed on its next flight hours later, killing all 189 passengers on board.

The incident happened on a flight from Bali to Jakarta. But when the technical problems seemed to resolve, the flight continued.

The same Boeing 737 MAX jet then took off at 6.20am the next morning, bound for Bangka island, off Sumatra, and plunged into the sea 13 minutes later. Just before the crash, the pilot had made a request to return to base.

Herson, chief of the airport authority for the Bali-Nusa Tenggara area, told Reuters that after the initial call during the first flight on Sunday, the pilot updated the control tower to say that the plane was flying normally and he would not return to the airport as requested.

“The captain himself was confident enough to fly to Jakarta from Denpasar,” said Herson, who goes by one name, speaking by phone from Bali.

While the captain may have been confident, Lion Air has remained tight-lipped about the alert on the earlier flight, citing the ongoing crash investigation.
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