A harrowing account of the Lion Air plane crash says the pilot wrestled with the controls to the last second

  • The pilot of the doomed Lion Air plane “continued to fight until the end of the flight” to control the plane, an official said.
  • Data retrieved from the plane’s flight recorder showed that the plane started to nosedive and the pilot was unable to control it manually.
  • Misleading data from one of the plane’s sensors caused the plane to stall midair and nosedive, the Indonesian government heard.
  • All 189 people on the flight died when the plane crashed into the sea.

The pilot of the doomed Lion Air plane wrestled with the controls until the last second to try and avoid the crash into the sea that killed 189 people.

Nurcahyo Utomo, the aviation head of Indonesia’s transportation safety committee, told the Indonesian parliament that the data retrieved from the plane’s flight controller showed the pilot “continued to fight until the end of the flight” to control the plane, The Australian newspaper reported on Friday.

The pilot tried to control the Boeing 737 Max aeroplane as it started to nosedive, but it became “increasingly difficult to control the aeroplane,” Nurcahyo said. The plane had been almost brand new.


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A chilling WhatsApp video shows passengers getting on the Lion Air flight that crashed into the sea, likely killing all 189 on board

The aircraft crashed into the sea at a speed of more than 400 mph in what was the worst airliner accident of 2018.

Erroneous readings on the plane’s indicators may have caused the crash, the Indonesian government said. Nurcahyo said that the pilot and co-pilot were receiving different airspeed readings.

The pilot was previously named as Indian national Bhavye Suneja, and his co-pilot was an Indonesian named Harvino. It is common for Indonesians to use only one name.

Misleading data from one of the plane’s Angle of Attack (AOA) sensors caused the plane to stall midair and nosedive, Nurcahyo said. The pilot wrestled with the steering wheel, but it became too heavy.

The AOA system pushes down the nose of the aircraft when sensors feel that the aircraft is facing up too much.

It can then force the plane downwards to avoid a stall, but at such a degree that pilots can’t pull the aircraft back to level.

Boeing, which made the Lion Air plane, issued a warning for its 737 MAX 8 and 737 MAX 9 airliners and the US Government issued an emergency airworthiness directive.


Read more:
The Lion Air Flight 610 crash is the worst airliner accident of 2018

Utomo also confirmed reports that the plane had experienced similar, out-of-control conditions on its previous flight. Lion Air had acknowledged a fault with the plane but said it was fixed it before fatal Flight 610.

US aviation groups, including the Federal Aviation Authority, say Boeing didn’t tell them about the new AOA sensors added to their 737 MAX aircraft.

Investigators are still searching for the cockpit voice recorder, which may offer more clues as to how the plane crashed.

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