More details are emerging about problems with the previous day’s flight of the Lion Air Boeing 737-8 that crashed into the sea on Oct. 29, according to wire reports.
The aircraft – PK-LQP – flew from Bali to Jakarta the evening before the crash. The pilots on the aircraft during its Oct. 28 flight requested a return to the airport in Bali, Reuters reported, citing airport authorities. The pilots apparently gave the “pan-pan” radio alert that signifies urgency. However, the pilots canceled the request soon after and continued to Jakarta.
The next morning, PK-LQP crashed soon after takeoff from Jakarta on a flight to Pangkal Pinang. The pilots also requested a return to the departure airport on this flight, although they did not reveal what the problems were. All 189 people on board were believed to be killed.
While the cause of the crash is unknown, there has been increasing scrutiny of technical issues with the aircraft on the previous day. Passengers on the previous flight reported rapid altitude changes and other issues. Aircraft tracking websites have released data showing unusual altitude changes during both flights.
The airline has admitted there were technical issues with the aircraft during the flight the day before the crash, although it stressed these were resolved properly. An Indonesian safety official told media on Oct. 30 that “unreliable airspeed readings” were among the technical issues identified in the previous flight. Lion Air has since suspended its technical director and some technicians involved in the checks, at the direction of the transport ministry.
Photos of the maintenance log from Oct. 29 have been circulated online, and these show measures were taken to address altitude readings and other issues. The logbook scans have yet to be authenticated, however.
Identifying the causes of the crash will require analysis of flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder information. Divers retrieved one of these devices on Nov. 1, which is believed to be the flight data recorder.