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Flying in the dark – Lion Air crash investigation update

The Thaiger

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PHOTO: Komite Nasional Keselamatan Transportasi

As an investigation into the ill-fated JT610 Lion Air flight continues, questions are now being asked if the pilots actually knew how to fly the plane – that they may not have had full knowledge of the latest model, the Boeing 737 Max 8 jet.

A lawsuit against Boeing was filed last Thursday. The parents of one passenger are suing Boeing, claiming that the plane had an unsafe design. The suit alleges “Boeing failed to communicate a new safety feature that hadn’t existed in previous 737s”.

For its part, Lion Air’s operational director accuses Boeing of “withholding information” from the company’s pilots in the manuals about a safety feature that can automatically lower the airplane’s nose to prevent a stall.

But the Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg told Fox Business Network last week that information was available as part of the training manual. Then on Wednesday last week, a Boeing spokesperson stated in an email that the company could not “discuss specifics of an ongoing investigation” but claimed the company “provided two updates for our operators around the world that re-emphasise existing procedures for these situations.”

“We are confident in the safety of the 737 Max 8. Safety remains our top priority and is a core value for everyone at Boeing.”

Lion Air has had a patchy safety record exacerbating a ban from European and US airspace between 2007 and 2016. Those bans have since been lifted, with the international civil aviation organisation giving Lion Air its top rating in terms of safety this year. Aviation experts consider the purchase of the Max 8 fleet may have been a tangible part of that boost to a top safety rating.

Mary Schiavo, a CNN aviation analyst and the former inspector general of the US Department of Transportation, says one of the selling points of the Boeing 737 fleet is that pilots can move from one plane to another easily if they are already trained on one of the jets.

She also said that updating a manual can be a long process for manufacturers and airlines and that, in this situation, there may have been an oversight. Schiavo speculates that Boeing likely “assumed it would save the plane when it looks like it might have doomed the plane.”

A Federal Aviation Authority emergency directive sent to all Max 8 operators on November 7, in the wake of the Lion Air crash, explains that pilots can stop a malfunctioning automated system on those planes by pressing two buttons. The FAA bulletin said that “all carriers were to revise their manuals within three days”.

“This condition, if not addressed, could cause the flight crew to have difficulty controlling the airplane, and lead to excessive nose-down attitude, significant altitude loss, and possible impact with terrain.”

Last Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Southwest Airlines, a US budget carrier with a new fleet of MAX 8 planes, replaced two malfunctioning AOA (sensors that measure the plane’s angle related to airspeed) sensors, in the three weeks before the fateful Lion Air crash.

As of today, the flight’s cockpit voice recorder is still missing, thought to be buried in the mud at the ocean floor off Jakarta. The ‘ping’ to help locate the recorder went quiet about a week after the crash. The CVR would provide vital evidence into the pilot’s actions and conversations leading to the incident.

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Stranded Burmese permitted to return home

Sean Kelly

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Stranded Burmese permitted to return home | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Chaing Rai Times

Stranded Burmese people at Chiang Rai’s Mae Sai Tachileik border crossing in Northern Thailand have been allowed to return home to Myanmar.

The Burmese people, stuck in Thailand since borders were closed as a prevention in the spread of Covid-19, have been held in quarantine at Phra That Doi Wao temple in Mae Sai. Myanmar officials allowed them to cross the border after being cleared from Covid-19 infection but will require additional quarantine once back in Myanmar.

burmese people-Chiang Rai

A fleet of 23 trucks transported the nearly 200 Burmese from the temple to the Friendship Bridge connecting Mae Sai with Myanmar’s Tachileik province and are now in a quarantine facility in Myanmar where they will be observed for another 14 days.

SOURCE: Chiang Rai Times

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Pattaya police confiscate more than 750,000 smuggled face masks

Anukul

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Pattaya police confiscate more than 750,000 smuggled face masks | The Thaiger
FILE PHOTO: aec-tv-online2.com

Yesterday Region 1 police in Pattaya province seized 787,779 face masks and 10,000 litres of alcohol gel smuggled into the country from Vietnam. The smuggled goods were found in three houses in Samut Prakan, Nonthaburi and Don Muang.

The smugglers’ told police that they planned on selling the face masks for 14 baht per piece which would have potentially made them over 10,000,000 baht.

Pattaya police confiscate more than 750,000 smuggled face masks | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: Thai Residents

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Philippines

Philippine President Duterte: “Shoot them dead”

Greeley Pulitzer

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Philippine President Duterte: “Shoot them dead” | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Straits Times

The president of the Philippines is warning that those who violate his coronavirus lockdown could be shot. He also says abuse of medical workers is a “serious crime that will not be tolerated.”

In a nationally televised address, President Rodrigo Duterte said it’s crucial that everyone cooperates and follows home quarantine measures to try to slow the spread of Covid-19 and prevent the country’s fragile health system from being overwhelmed.

As of yesterday the Philippines had confirmed 96 coronavirus deaths and 2,311 confirmed cases since the breakout. New infections in the Philippines are now being reported in the hundreds every day.

“It is getting worse. So once again I’m telling you the seriousness of the problem and that you must listen. My orders to the police and military … if there is trouble and they fight back and your lives are in danger, shoot them dead. Is that understood? Dead. Instead of causing trouble, I will bury you.”

His confronting comments come after reports of a disturbance and several arrests on Wednesday of residents in a poor area of Manila who were protesting about government food aid. They also follow outrage among the medical community about social stigma and cases of hospital workers suffering violence and discrimination. Duterte says this “must be stopped.”

Activists criticise Duterte for his fierce rhetoric and say he’s inciting violence and vigilantism, citing his war on drugs, in which police and gunmen have killed thousands accused of using or selling drugs. Police say their actions in the anti-drug campaign have been lawful. Duterte’s office typically calls his remarks “hyperbole to underline his point.”

The Philippines’ national police chief yesterday said police understood that Duterte is demonstrating his seriousness about public order, and that no one will be shot.

SOURCE: Chiang Rai Times

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