For relatives of Lion Air crash, Boeing’s comeback inspires primitive memories, business and economy

Medan, Indonesia—— When Indonesia announced that it would allow the Boeing 737 Max to fly in its airspace after nearly three years of ban, Anton Sahadi’s memories of Lion Air Flight 610 flooded.

“I was a little surprised when I heard that the ban was lifted,” Anton Sahadi said in The plane crashed into the Java Sea on October 29, 2018, Told Al Jazeera.

“I don’t understand why it must happen so quickly when we are still sad.”

After an extensive review of the aircraft and a series of improvement suggestions by the Indonesian National Transportation Safety Board, the Indonesian Ministry of Transportation approved the Boeing 737 Max flight at the end of last month.

The Lion Air crash that killed all 189 people on board and the Ethiopian Airlines crash less than five months later Global grounding of 737 Max aircraft causes Boeing stock price to plummetIndonesia was one of the countries that finally approved the aircraft to fly again after Indonesia lifted the ban. U.S., China, India, Europe, Malaysia, Singapore, Japan, and Australia.

Sahadi learned of a problem with Lion Air Flight 610 in a line of text at the bottom of a show watched on Indonesian TV on October 29, 2018.

There is breaking news: Flight 610 from Jakarta to Bangka Penang in Bangka Belitung Islands lost contact with air traffic control in just 13 minutes.

“My wife was in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, and she told me that her cousins ​​Riyan Aryandi and Ravi Andrian were flying to the same destination at the same time,” Sahadi said, describing how he drove to Jakarta in a panic. Gano Hatta International Airport broke the speed limit and arrived in record time.

“At some point, I saw a copy of the list and I knew they were indeed on the plane.”

Anton SahadiAnton Sahadi is one of those worried about the return of the Boeing 737 MAX to the Indonesian skies [Courtesy of Anton Sahadi]

The cause of the accident is unclear until Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crashed on March 10, 2019 on the way from Addis Ababa to Kenya, killing all 157 people on board. Flight 302 is also a 737 Max.

This Lion Air crash report The announcement was made nearly a year after the accident, which pointed the finger at the design of the aircraft.

“After our investigation, we found that there are several weaknesses that need to be fixed, especially MCAS,” Surjanto, head of the Indonesian National Transportation Safety Commission (NTSC), told Al Jazeera.

MCAS, or Maneuvering Characteristics Enhancement System, is a flight stabilization procedure implemented on newer models of Boeing 737 Max.

“If the aircraft enters a stall, the system will automatically prevent the stall from happening,” Surjanto said. “The goal of the system is good, but its weakness is that it does not clearly communicate what is happening to the pilot, which creates confusion.”

On Lion Air Flight 610, sensors on the outside of the aircraft incorrectly indicated that the nose of the aircraft was too high and the aircraft was at risk of stalling. This caused the MCAS to engage and force the aircraft’s nose down to avoid a potential stall.

Unsure of what happened, the pilot fumbled with the airplane’s manual before it crashed into the Java Sea to find a way to correct the airplane’s trajectory.

Victims of Lion Air crash Ravi Andrian was one of 189 people killed on Lion Air flight 610 [Courtesy of Anton Sahadi]

Sujanto, the head of NTSC, said that after the accident, getting the plane to take off again involves strict inspections and procedures.

“Flight software and pilot training have undergone a series of upgrades to ensure the maximum safety of the 737 Max aircraft,” he said.

Ethiopian Airlines has announced that it will lift its ban in February 2022.

A Boeing spokesperson told Al Jazeera that Indonesia’s decision marks an “important milestone for the safe return of the 737 MAX to service in Indonesia.”

“Boeing continues to work with regulators and our customers to get the aircraft back in service globally.”

The aircraft manufacturer stated on its website that MCAS has been updated so that it “operates only under abnormal flight conditions and now relies on two sensors to activate only once and never exceed the ability of the pilot to control the aircraft.”

‘Doubt or fear’

It is not yet clear how Indonesian customers will react to the return of the aircraft.

Jakarta aviation expert Gerry Soejatman told Al Jakarta: “Even if the 737 Max is considered safe, it is likely that the public is still skeptical or scared.”

Prior to the implementation of the ban, Indonesia’s national airline Garuda operated a 737 Max aircraft, but has stated that it does not intend to put it back into service after the debt restructuring activity, which reduced its current fleet from 142 to 66. .

According to Soejatman, Lion Air operates 10 737 Max aircraft, leaving the group no choice but to continue flying or abandon the entire fleet.

“It takes time, either people are no longer afraid, or the plane is returned to the lessor,” he said.

For the families of victims like Sahadi, doubts still exist. Although Ravi’s body was confirmed after the crash, Ryan’s body was never found.

“That’s difficult. We can’t bury him,” Sahadi said. “I hope the government will carefully verify everything and establish all appropriate procedures first.”

“I hope they don’t risk their lives for the sake of business.”