Indonesia is working to recover data from the crashed plane's black box (Photo: www.riauredaksi.com)
 
Hanoi (VNA) - Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Committee (NTSC) said on November 5 that a Lion Air plane that crashed into the Java Sea last week, killing all 189 onboard, had an air speed indicator problem on its fatal flight and on three previous journeys.

According to the NTSC, the black box data showed the plane had an air speed indicator issue on at least two other earlier flights before the Boeing 737 MAX 8 met with the accident on October 29.

"There were four flights in all that suffered a problem with the airspeed indicator," NTSC head Soerjanto Tjahjono told reporters.

When there was a problem, the pilot would write it down and the mechanic would do a repair and then the plane would be declared airworthy, he added.

The agency said it would probe what caused the indicator problem and whether proper repairs were done, including replacing the faulty component.

But, it did not give more details and did not speculate on how the indicator problem may have played a role in the crash, as it continues to mine the flight recorder - seen as key to answering why a nearly brand new plane fell out of the sky.

Earlier the same day, Indonesian Minister of Transport Budi Karya Sumadi announced that authorities plan to launch a special investigation into Lion Air's operations after its flight JT610 crashed last week.

The authorities will conduct a special audit of the crews' qualifications and staff communication, he told reporters, adding that this is a preventative measure and the accident is a very expensive lesson.

A week after the disaster, there is still no answer as to what caused the accident.  Meanwhile, authorities have extended their search as they collect more body parts and shattered debris from the spot where the plane crashed.

Scores of body bags filled with remains have been collected and sent for DNA testing, but so far just 14 people have been identified.

Divers have pulled the plane's flight data recorder from the water, but are still hunting for the cockpit voice recorder, a key device that could provide clues to what caused the almost brand-new plane to plunge into the sea.

The jet, a Boeing 737 MAX 8, was en route from Jakarta to Pangkakpinang in Bangka Belitung province off Sumatra island. It lost contact with air traffic control just 12 minutes after takeoff.

The incident was reported to be the first major accident involving a Boeing 737 Max – an updated version of the 737.

The Lion Air crash was the worst airline disaster in Indonesia since 1997, when 234 people died after a Garuda flight crashed near Medan.–VNA