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UPDATE: Investigation into Lion Air crash – one week later

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UPDATE: Investigation into Lion Air crash – one week later | The Thaiger

A few key new facts have emerged in recent days as the search for the plane fuselage and the investigations continue…

• Lion Air Flight 610 was intact with its engines running when it crashed at high speed into the Java Sea

• Investigators have already determined that Flight 610 did not explode in the air and was in “good shape” when it entered the water

• Investigators have confirmed there was a technical problem with the new Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft on the day of the crash

• Diving teams could no longer hear any signal from the cockpit voice recorder

• The plane’s other ‘black box’, the flight data recorder, was located last Thursday

• The plane had only recorded 19 flights, including last Monday’s flight

• On the day before, a passengers says the same plane “dropped as if it was losing power. It dropped about 400 feet”

The Lion Air Flight 610 was intact with its engines running when it crashed headlong into the Java Sea last Monday off the coast of Jakarta. The claim comes from the head of Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Committee.

Soerjanto Tjahjono says that Flight 610 did not explode in the air and was in “good shape” before it literally fell out of the sky, killing all 189 people on board.

He was speaking with victims’ families today and claimed there were “technical problems” with the brand new Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft when it took off last week. He did not elaborate on his claims or where he received the information.

Authorities have already confirmed the same plane, on a Bali-Jakarta flight the day before the crash, had experienced technical issues, including a sudden loss of altitude which was recorded on the flight path. The loss of altitude occurred at approximately the same time after take-off – around 10 minutes.

Divers are continuing to comb the waters off Java island coast for the aircraft’s missing cockpit voice recorder (black box), which will likely shed vital clues on the plane’s final moments before it crashed.

The head of Indonesia’s Search and Rescue Agency says that after initially hearing a “ping” from the CVR on Saturday there has been silence ever since.

“We checked that spot, located around 50 metres from the location of finding the first black box. But haven’t been able to find the black box.”

The plane’s flight data recorder was recovered last Thursday and has already shown that the plane had only performed 19 flights, including its final flight. Aviation data experts from four countries are now going though the rest of the vital recorded data to piece together evidence about the doomed flight’s last minutes.

Analysts say finding the cockpit voice recorder is imperative and has implications for other airlines flying similar model 737s around the world.

The same Boeing 737 Max 8 jet had experienced a significant drop in altitude on a flight from Bali to Jakarta, according to passenger Robbi Gaharu.

“After 10 minutes in the air the plane dropped as if it was losing power. People panicked. It dropped about 400 feet. It felt like we were falling into “a really, really deep hole.” He says he was able to confirm the altitude drop on a flight-tracking website.

If you have story ideas, a restaurant to review, an event to cover or an issue to discuss, contact The Thaiger editorial staff.

Southeast Asia

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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Enterprising young Cambodian impresses with multi-lingual skills

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Enterprising young Cambodian impresses with multi-lingual skills | The Thaiger

Young vendors become very resourceful at extracting money from tourists. All in the quest of making an honest living and bringing some money to their families. This young boy seems to have knowledge of at least seven languages, obviously representing the most popular languages spoken by the tourists he speaks to during his daily rounds.

Netizens are impressed by his talents but some are saying that the boy has to develop this skill in order to survive. A translation follows some of the many languages he is able to use in his daily work. Let’s hope he gets the opportunity to use his skills in a prosperous career in the future.

We’ll take five of whatever you’re selling!

A video clip showing a Khmer boy showing off his linguistic talent while trying to sell souvenirs to a tourist in Cambodia is going viral on social media.

Posted by The Nation Bangkok on Sunday, November 11, 2018

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Southeast Asia

Two Khmer Rouge leaders sentenced to life in prison

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Two Khmer Rouge leaders sentenced to life in prison | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Pnomh Penh Post

A UN-backed court has found two leaders of Cambodia’s murderous Khmer Rouge regime guilty of genocide. The judgement comes four decades after the regime which oversaw what became known as the Killing Fields, was overthrown.

Most of the victims of the 1975-79 regime died of starvation, torture, exhaustion or disease in labour camps. Others were simply bludgeoned to death during mass executions, many in areas just out of the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh.

Up to 2.2 million people, a quarter of Cambodia’s population at the time, died during the four year rule of the Khmer Rouge.

The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), said Khmer Rouge “Brother Number Two”, 92 year old Nuon Chea and former President 87 year old Khieu Samphan were guilty of genocide against the Cham Muslim minority and Vietnamese people, and of crimes against humanity. The pair have been sentenced to life in prison.

They were already serving life sentences for 2014 convictions for crimes against humanity, in connection with the forced evacuation of Phnom Penh after the Khmer Rouge took power under their notorious leader Pol Pot in 1975.

There had been debate for years among legal experts at to whether the killings by the Khmer Rouge constituted genocide, as the vast majority of victims were fellow Cambodians.

The court found that during their rule, the Khmer Rouge’s policy was to target Cham and Vietnamese people to create “an atheistic and homogenous society without class divisions”, Judge Nil Nonn said in the verdict.

Hundreds of Vietnamese civilians and soldiers were also killed at the infamous S-21 interrogation centre, at a converted Phnom Penh school called Tuol Sleng, after being tortured to admit being spies. Tuol Sleng remains a gruesome tourist attraction and testament to the systematic torture and execution of those who ended up there during the brutal regime.

“The fate of all these prisoners was a foregone conclusion as they were all ultimately subject to execution.”

Both Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea appeared for the court session but Nuon Chea was excused after 40 minutes complaining of back pain. He continued to follow the proceedings from his cell.

Khieu Samphan, looking frail and gaunt. He stood in the dock with the help of prison guards when Nil Nonn read the verdict.

The court, a hybrid UN and Cambodian tribunal, was set up in 2005 to bring to justice “those most responsible” for the deaths under the Khmer Rouge. The court has convicted only three people.

Its first conviction was in 2010 when it sentenced Kaing Guek Eav, alias “Duch”, head of S-21 where as many as 14,000 people were tortured and executed, to life in prison.

Two other Khmer Rouge leaders, Ta Mok and Ieng Sary, were facing charges but died before the case was concluded. Pol Pot died in 1998.

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