Black box data from the doomed Lion Air flight that crashed in Indonesia last month, killing all 189 on board, shows the pilots struggled mightily to regain control of the Boeing 737, the New York Times reports.
From almost the moment it took off, “the pilots fought continuously until the end of the flight,” says an official with the crash investigation. Jagged lines in graphs contained in a preliminary report crash investigators are preparing to release Wednesday show the airplane’s nose being pushed down at least two dozen times, the pilots pulling it back up each time, before its final, fatal nose-dive into the Java Sea.
The black box data is consistent with the theory so far on what happened to Flight 610: Sensors on the fuselage sent incorrect information to the plane’s anti-stall system and, due to that erroneous information, the system forced the nose down again and again.
The maneuvering characteristics augmentation system, or MCAS, was a new computerized system installed on Boeing 737 Max planes, the latest generation of the 737; the automated system was meant to force a plane’s nose down if it went too high in order to prevent the plane from stalling.
But pilots have complained that Boeing did not warn them that, in case of a nose being forced down improperly, the MCAS requires a different response from pilots than the system used on older plane models. Boeing has said the problem could have been addressed using existing emergency procedures and insists 737 Max planes are safe, Bloomberg reports.
As for the potentially malfunctioning sensor, the doomed plane had experienced incorrect data readings on its three previous flights—even after the sensor was replaced, CBS News reports.
(After her fiancé went down with the plane, a poignant photo shoot.)