Finnish University professor: Crashed Indonesian plane had known maintenance problems

Rescue officials walk past debris collected during the search operation for Sriwijaya Air flight SJ182 at the port in Jakarta on January 15, 2021, after the Boeing 737-500 crashed into the Java Sea minutes after takeoff on January 9. (Photo by Azwar Ipank / AFP)

According to a preliminary report released about the Sriwijaya Air Boeing 737-500’s crash on 9 January, the engine control system’s malfunction was highlighted but investigators said it was too early to pinpoint an exact cause.

Stephen Wright, professor of aircraft systems at Finland’s Tampere University said to The Malaysian Reserve that the aircraft had previously known maintenance problems immediately before the crash and repeated attempts to fix the system was a red flag and may be a key factor in the crash.

The 26-year-old Boeing 737-500, previously flown by US-based Continental Airlines and United Airlines, crashed minutes after taking off from Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Jakarta, the Indonesian capital. The aircraft plunged around 3000 meters into the sea and all 62 people aboard were killed in the crash, including six active crew members.

According to investigators, Indonesian pilots had reported multiple problems with an aging jet’s throttle system before the crash, and crews on previous flights had reported that the system was “unserviceable”. The aging Boeing had been repaired several times before the fatal crash, the report said.

Divers have recovered the plane’s flight data recorder but were still searching for the cockpit voice recorder (CVR), which tracks flight crew conversations and this is needed to see whether there are human factors involved.

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