Boeing’s first Max crash leaves Indonesia scouring sea for clues


More than a day after a brand-new Boeing Co. 737 Max jet flown by Indonesia’s Lion Air plunged into the Java Sea, the search for the plane failed to yield much as investigators continued the grim task of uncovering the cause of the deadly crash.
Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Board said in a statement on Tuesday that it’s scouring the likely location where the aircraft fell and sifting through debris to find the flight-data and cockpit-voice recorders documenting the aircraft’s final moments. The divers have yet to locate the fuselage or the tail. The accident — all 189 on board are feared dead — is the first for Boeing’s most-advanced 737, which began flying for airlines last year, and is the worst commercial aviation disaster in three years.
There were already hints of possible causes: a request by pilots to return to the airport, a maintenance issue on a previous flight and erratic air speed tracked before the jet’s final dive. But the limited and sometimes contradictory information about the flight doesn’t obviously match any previous accidents, said Steve Wallace, the former head of accident investigations at the US Federal Aviation Administration. “I have no most-likely scenario in my head for this accident,” Wallace said.
Indonesia’s rescue agency said 34 boats were deployed in the search, involving more than 800 military and civilian personnel. As of Tuesday, they had managed to collect more aircraft pieces, body parts and personal belongings, it said. The safety regulator said agencies in Argentina to Singapore and the US have offered assistance.
The crash is a setback for Indonesia’s efforts to improve air safety, after the country successfully lobbied to reverse a ban that had barred its carriers, including Lion Air, from flying to the European Union.
A team of investigators from the US National Transportation Safety Board, Boeing and engine maker CFM International — a joint venture of General Electric Co. and Safran SA — will assist a probe spearheaded by Indonesian authorities.
The two-month-old 737 Max 8, operating as Flight 610, took off from the capital Jakarta headed for the island tourist destination of Pangkalpinang. Air-traffic controllers lost contact 13 minutes later when the plane was at an altitude of about 3,000 feet, according to Indonesia’s National Search and Rescue Agency.

Lion Air plane’s final plunge topped 300 miles per hour

The Indonesian airliner that crashed in waters near Jakarta was plunging at hundreds of miles an hour in its final seconds, according to preliminary data transmitted by the plane that could aid investigators looking for a cause. Lion Air Flight JT610, a nearly new Boeing Co. 737 Max jet, went down from 4,850 feet (1,479 meters) altitude in just 21 seconds, according to data compiled by FlightRadar24, a flight-tracking system. The plane was carrying 189 people and all are feared dead.
The final data point obtained by FlightRadar24 showed the plane descending at 30,976 feet per minute, meaning it was moving downward at about 350 miles an hour. Such speeds are typical of mid-range flight speeds, but unheard of for a descent.

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