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Flying in the dark – Lion Air crash investigation update

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Flying in the dark – Lion Air crash investigation update | The Thaiger

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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North East

Opening of a rail service between Thailand and Cambodia in Sa Kaew

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Opening of a rail service between Thailand and Cambodia in Sa Kaew | The Thaiger

The Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha is leading a delegation to officiate at the opening of a new rail service between Thailand and Cambodia at Klong Luek railway station in Sa Kaew province. The Thai government funded the maintenance and restoration of the two kilometre rail track between Klong Luek station and Poipet station in Cambodia.

Rail services between Thailand and Cambodia were suspended for decades due to strained relationships between the two countries since the Cold War era. Although the relationship is much better these days there was little interest in the restoration of the rail link as people in both countries tended to prefer travel by road.

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Southeast Asia

Sea turtle returns to its nesting place – it’s now an airport!

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Sea turtle returns to its nesting place – it’s now an airport! | The Thaiger

by Philippine Daily Inquirer – Asia News Network

Without a choice, with nature instructing her to lay the eggs on the same spot she’d emerged as a baby turtle, the poor reptile made the runway its nest on Maafaru island.

“Despite the unfortunate circumstances that befell the turtle mother, she is reportedly in good health and was released back into the ocean by locals,” wrote local news website The Edition.

The incident has sparked fresh debates on the environmental and social costs of the Maldive’s tourism-propelled growth (sounds familiar?).

“The question remains on how much of Maldives’ biodiversity must be sacrificed in order to propel our country forward industrially and economically,” the website said.

The airport,  which has a 2.2 kilometre, 40 metre-wide runway, was inaugurated in August last year. The UAE-funded project was built on Maafaru, one of the inhabited islands of Noonu Atoll, which is a traditional nesting place of the marine turtles.

Once a green turtle hatches and heads into the ocean, it rarely returns to land. When they reach sexual maturity, they travel long distances to go back to their natal place to mate and lay eggs.

The green turtle (Chelonia mydas) is on the list of endangered species of animals by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Sea turtle returns to its nesting place - it's now an airport! | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: The Nation

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Southeast Asia

East Sulawesi rocked by 6.8 magnitude tremor – tsunami warning

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East Sulawesi rocked by 6.8 magnitude tremor – tsunami warning | The Thaiger

A strong 6.8 magnitude earthquake rattled eastern Indonesia yesterday triggering a tsunami warning, soon retracted, sending panicked residents fleeing to higher ground.

The quake struck off the east coast of Sulawesi island near where a 7.5 magnitude earthquake and tsunami around the city of Palu killed more than 4,300 people in September last year.

Indonesia’s disaster agency issued a tsunami warning for coastal communities in the island’s Morowali district, east Sulawesi, where residents were advised to move to elevated grounds. The warning was later lifted.

The tremor off the eastern coast of Sulawesi is on the other side of the island from last year’s disaster-hit Palu, where residents still felt the quake despite being hundreds of kilometres away.

The force of last year’s quake saw entire neighbourhoods levelled by liquefaction, a process where the ground starts behaving like a liquid and swallows up the earth like quicksand.

The sprawling Indonesian archipelago is dotted with more than 100 volcanoes, including one in the middle of the Sunda Strait between Java and Sumatra islands that erupted in late 2018 and unleashed a tsunami that killed more than 400 people.

SOURCE: The Nation | AFP

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