New details have surfaced over the previous flight of the crashed Lion Air-Jet, further challenging the claim of the Indonesian airline to resolve technical issues.
The brand new Boeing 737 MAX 8 crashed into Java Sea on Monday, just minutes after departure from the Indonesian capital of Jakarta. All 189 people were killed on board.
Herson, head of the Bali Nusa Tenggara airport authority, said the plane's pilot, who boarded the plane from Bali on Sunday, asked not to return to the airport long after take-off, but then reported that the problem had been resolved ,
Several passengers have described the problem as a terrifying loss of height.
Lion Air, a low-cost carrier that is Indonesia's largest domestic carrier, said the unspecified issue was resolved after the Sunday flight, but the fatal flight pilots made a request for "return to base not long after launch ".
"Shortly after requesting RTB, the pilot again contacted the control tower to inform that the plane was running normally and would not return to Bali's Ngurah Rai airport on Sunday," said Herson, who uses a single name, to The Associated Press.
"The captain said the problem was resolved and he decided to continue the trip to Jakarta."
Data from flight tracking sites shows that both flights had a very unpredictable speed and altitude after launch. However, the data recorded with the plane's "black box" flight recorders must be confirmed.
The Tempo News website in Indonesia published a minute-by-minute summary of the talks between air traffic control and Monday's deadly flight pilots who reported a "flight control problem" and whose altitude was uncertain.
Asked for the accuracy of the report, Haryo Satmiko, deputy head of the National Road Safety Committee, said he had "similarities" with the information "legally" obtained by the investigators.
Officials at a press conference on Thursday evening introduced one of the jet's two flight recorders, who was later confirmed as a flight data recorder. They said they would immediately try to download information and begin an analysis.
Progress hampered by damage to the black box
However, progress has been hampered by the fact that the black box was not fully intact, and special treatment is needed to ensure that its data is preserved. This is a process that continues according to the National Road Safety Committee.
The "crash-survivable memory unit" was opened and rinsed. Part of the wiring needs to be replaced. In addition, a new shell of Lion Air must be provided so that data can be downloaded.
"All the data we've received, including flight data and flight navigation, and from other sources as well – we find that there were actually problems with the aircraft," said Satmiko.
"We will prove more technical problems with the data recorded in the black box."
Satmiko said the investigators had already contacted the pilot of the plane's Sunday flight. The problems with it are "just as it is spread in the media and on the social media," he said, referring to passenger reports.
One of them, Diah Mardani, told a television program earlier this week that "after the launch, the plane suddenly fell, then ascended, then fell more heavily and was shaken."
"All the passengers started shouting," God is great, "she said.
"The atmosphere was very tense."
She said she was traveling with a group of more than 50 colleagues, and many cried with relief after landing in Jakarta.
A team from the US National Transportation Safety Board, including experts from Boeing, has joined the investigation in Indonesia. Indonesian investigators will also travel to the US to meet with the designers of the new Boeing jet.
The search off the coast of Jakarta continues
Hundreds of employees raided the sea on Friday for a fifth day of casualties and the fuselage of the plane.
Hundreds of employees and dozens of ships, including special-purpose vessels with sonar and other tracking technologies, are involved in search efforts in the seas northeast of Jakarta.
Four ping locators lowered into the sea to hear the black box's signal are now being used to locate the cockpit voice recorder after an additional unit from the US has contributed.
Since the beginning of the search, more than 60 body bags containing human remains have been sent to police experts for identification. Until Thursday, however, only one victim was identified and buried. Families on board have offered their DNA for testing.
Television stations broadcast video of aircraft debris on the seabed including an aircraft wheel.
Avi Riyanto, Department of Transportation Airworthiness Director, said he closely monitors the flights of other Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in Indonesia.
"The Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft currently in operation have been inspected and we will continue to monitor and monitor day by day, and if this turns out to be significant, we will conduct another inspection and ground it as needed."
The Lion Air crash is the worst air disaster in Indonesia since 1997, when 234 people died on a Garuda flight near Medan. In December 2014, an AirAsia flight crashed from Surabaya to Singapore into the sea, killing all 162 on board.
Indonesian airlines were denied flights to Europe in 2007 for security reasons, although in the following decade, several airlines were able to resume their flights. The ban was completely lifted in June. In 2016, the US lifted a decade-long ban.
Lion Air is one of the youngest airlines in Indonesia, but has grown rapidly and flies to dozens of domestic and international destinations. In Southeast Asia, a fast-growing region with more than 600 million inhabitants, it is expanding aggressively.