Pilot complacency blamed for Indonesia jet crash that killed 62

Sriwijaya Air Flight 182’s engine control system malfunctioned minutes after takeoff, leading to a crash that killed all 62 people on board in January last year, Indonesian investigators concluded Thursday.

Pilots failed to control the Boeing Co. 737-500 when one of its automated engine throttle levers began losing power, causing the plane to roll onto its side and plummet into the Java Sea, the National Transportation Safety Committee said in its final report on the fatal January 9 flight.

“Complacency and confirmation bias led to limited monitoring” by the pilots, who failed to immediately rectify the situation, lead investigator Nurcahyo Utomo said at a briefing. The findings support the results of preliminary investigations.

The crash added to Indonesia’s poor aviation safety record. In 2014, an AirAsia jetliner carrying 162 people went down in the Java Sea, killing all on board, and then in 2018 a Lion Air crash in the same waters claimed 189 lives.

Existing problem

The investigation concluded that the autothrottle system command malfunctioned, causing the plane to turn left instead of to the right as intended, and the pilot was unable to recover the situation, the NTSB said. Maintenance records showed the problem was reported 65 times since 2013 and that the issue still existed on the final flight.

“Inadequate upset prevention and recovery training contributed to the inability of the pilot to prevent and recover from the upset condition,” Utomo said. The agency is recommending mandatory training to pilots nationwide, he said.

© 2022 Bloomberg

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