This timeline shows exactly what happened on board the Lion Air Boeing 737 Max that crashed in less than 13 minutes, killing 189 people
- Lion Air flight JT 610, a Boeing 737 Max, crashed into the sea in October 2018. All 189 people on board died.
- The official crash report, released by Indonesia last week, gives a definitive timeline of what happened on the doomed flight.
- It shows that the pilots tried more than 20 times to stop the plane's computer forcing its nose down. But they could not bring it under control, and the plane crashed into the sea at 450mph.
- This is the full timeline of the fatal flight, according to investigators.
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
Lion Air flight JT 610 took off from Jakarta's Soekarno-Hatta International Airport at 6.20 a.m. on October 29, 2018. Less than 13 minutes later it smashed into the sea, killing everyone on board.It was the first of two fatal crashes for Boeing's 737 Max. A second crashed over Ethiopia in March 2019, leading to the grounding of the plane, and plunging Boeing into an ongoing crisis.Advertisement
The final report, released by investigators last week, pointed to flaws in Boeing's design of the plane, as well as mistakes by the airline and its staff.
The timeline it outlines shows the crew wrestling to control the plane as automatic anti-stall software, known as MCAS, overrode their instructions and pushed the nose down more than 20 times. It crashed into the Java Sea at around 450mph.Here is what happened on board:
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6.18 a.m.: JT 610 was given clearance to take off from Soekarno-Hatta International Airport. On board are 189 people: 181 passengers, 2 pilots, and 6 flight attendants.
6.20 a.m., 16 seconds: Unusual readings were recorded while still on the ground, less than 30 seconds before takeoff. Two displays in the cockpit recorded different wind speeds, while the plane's two angle of attack sensors, which measure its orientation in the air, disagreed by a substantial 21 degrees.Advertisement
6.20 a.m., 32 seconds: The plane experienced a "control column stick shaker" warning, which physically shakes the plane's controls to alert the pilots of a potential stall. It continued for most of the flight.
6.20 a.m., 37 seconds: The plane sounded a "takeoff configuration warning" — a generic alert which flags potential problems. The report says the captain queried the alert, but gives no further detail.Advertisement
6.20 a.m, 40 seconds: Takeoff. The captain is flying. Problems begin to come thick and fast.
6.20 a.m., 44 seconds: Sensors started recording two different airspeeds. The first officer asked the captain what the problem is, and if they should turn back. He did not respond.Advertisement
6.21 a.m., 12 seconds: The first officer told the captain that on-board sensors were giving two different altitude readings, more than 200ft apart. The captain spoke with an air traffic controller in the terminal, who said to climb higher.
6.21 a.m., 28 seconds: The first officer asked the controller to confirm the altitude of the plane. The controller said it was 900ft. On the plane, one display said 790ft, the other said 1,040ft.Advertisement
6.21 a.m., 37 seconds: The captain asked the first officer to run through a memorized checklist for what to do when the plane is giving unreliable airspeed readings. The first officer did not respond. The first officer suggested flying downwind, which the captain rejected.
6.21 a.m., 52 seconds: The first officer asked permission to move into a holding pattern, citing a "flight control problem." The controller did not respond to the holding pattern request, and later did not remember it being made.Advertisement
6.22 a.m., 4 seconds: After a suggestion from the first officer, the captain adjusted the plane's flaps from the "Flaps 5" setting, to the more flat "Flaps 1" setting. He then asked the first officer to take over the controls.
6.22 a.m., 15 seconds: The controller noted that the plane's altitude was decreasing, from 1,700ft to 1,600ft. The plane's controls still showed two different speeds.Advertisement
6.22 a.m., 24 seconds: The captain and controller agreed that the plane should climb to 5,000 feet. The plane still showed two different speeds.
6.22 a.m., 32 seconds: An alarm warned that the plane was flying at a steep angle. The black box showed the plane briefly banked to 35 degrees, as if to turn.Advertisement
6.22 a.m., 44 seconds: The plane, which appears not to have made it to the planned 5,000ft, instead rapidly descends 600ft. It has been in the air just two minutes.
6.22 a.m., 48 seconds: Sensors on the plane radically disagree about its angle of attack. One says the plane is flying with its nose pointing 18 degrees up, the other says it is flying with the nose 3 degrees down.Advertisement
Angle of attack sensors compare the angle of the wings to the direction of the plane, to establish the orientation of the plane in the sky. Angle of attack data is what triggers the MCAS system on a 737 Max — the faulty system which led to the crash.
6.23 a.m, 0 seconds: The plane warns of low speed. There are still contradictory readings of how fast it is actually going.Advertisement
6.23 a.m., 4 seconds: The control column stick shaker again warned of a possible stall. The plane warns of both too much speed and not enough speed.
6.23 a.m., 9 seconds: The captain asked the first officer for a memorized checklist of what to do, but gets no reply.Advertisement
6.23 a.m., 15 seconds: An automatic system on board the plane begins to force its nose down, activating for 11 of the next 17 seconds.
6.23 a.m., 39 seconds: The cockpit voice recorder picks up a sound of pages turning, suggesting the pilots looked at a manual. The captain turned the aircraft nose up.Advertisement
6.23 a.m., 48 seconds: The first officer gave the warning "flight control low pressure" — which appears to refer to pressure in the hydraulic systems that control the plane. Separately, an altitude warning sounds.
6.24 a.m., 5 seconds: The captain again asked for a checklist of what to do when the plane's airspeed recorders can't be relied on, but the first officer said he could not find it. The cockpit voice recorder again picked up the sound of pages turning.Advertisement
6.24 a.m., 52 seconds: The plane's flaps changed position, though the cockpit voice recorder did not any note any discussion about changing them. The controller gave instructions to change the plane's direction and altitude. The captain turned the plane's nose up.
6.25 a.m., 11 seconds: The plane's flaps changed position, again without discussion between the pilots.Advertisement
6.25 a.m., 27 seconds: The plane's MCAS system begins to activate. In six and a half minutes time it will have crashed the plane. First. it pushes the nose down for two seconds. The captain interrupted it, pushing the nose up for six seconds.
MCAS and its failings are now well-known in the aviation world. But many 737 Max pilots say they had no idea it even existed until after the crashes. It probably took the two Lion Air pilots totally by surprise.Advertisement
6.25 a.m., 40 seconds: MCAS activated six times in the next two minutes, pushing the plane's nose down until the captain interrupted it.
6.27 a.m., 3 seconds: The controller told the plane to change direction to avoid traffic in the air. The first officer, still reading the checklist for how to deal with bad airspeed readings, did not respond until the third time.Advertisement
6.27 a.m., 15 seconds: MCAS activated four more times in the next minute and was overridden by the captain again. The first officer said he would run a check based on the list he had been reading.
6.28 a.m., 18 seconds: The first officer called a flight attendant into the cockpit, and the captain then asked him to call for an airline engineer who was on board to come in. MCAS activated twice more, and the captain said: "Look what happened."Advertisement
6.28 a.m., 43 seconds: The controller gave more instructions for the direction and altitude of the plane, while a conversation between flight attendants "discussed that there was a technical issue in the cockpit.". MCAS activated three more times in less than a minute.
6.29 a.m., 37 seconds: The controller told the crew that his radar screen showed the plane descending, and the first officer responded to say that they were having a flight control problem and were flying the plane manually. MCAS activated twice more.Advertisement
6.30 a.m., 2 seconds: The first officer contacted a different air traffic controller, the one in charge of arrivals at Soekarno-Hatta airport. He said the plane was having a flight control problem. The controller told the plane to come back to the runway it took off from.
6.30 a.m., 6 seconds: MCAS activated three more times in less than a minute, with the captain overriding it.Advertisement
6.30 a.m., 48 seconds: The captain asked the first officer to take control. The first officer pushed the plane's nose up, and said 5 seconds later: "I have control."
6.30 a.m., 57 seconds: The captain asked the arrival controller for permission to land the plane at a different location, away from the airport, because of the weather. The request was approved.Advertisement
6.31 a.m., 8 seconds: The captain told the controller that he could not work out his altitude because the sensors were giving so many different readings. Seemingly flustered, he referred to the flight as number 650 instead of 610.
6.31 a.m., 15 seconds: The first officer repeatedly pointed the plane's nose up. MCAS activated twice in the next twelve seconds.Advertisement
6.31 a.m., 19 seconds: The captain asked the controller to clear all planes from 3,000 feet above and below the plane to avoid any collisions.
6.33 a.m, 31 seconds: The first officer twice told the captain that the plane was flying downwards. The second time, the captain said "it's OK." The plane was descending relatively gently, at around 1,920 feet per minute. MCAS activated again.Advertisement
6.31 a.m, 46 seconds: Only a few seconds later, the plane's rate of descent increases rapidly. Black box readings show it descending at more than 10,000ft per minute, giving them only seconds to avoid hitting the sea.
6.31 a.m., 51: Five seconds later, the plane warns of its rapid descent and the approaching sea. There is almost no time left.Advertisement
6.31 a.m, 53 seconds: MCAS activated for a final time. One second later, the flight record and cockpit voice recorder stop working. Air traffic control tries six times to contact the pilots, to no response. Other planes in the area are asked to try to see what happened.
7.05 a.m.: Around half an hour later, a tugboat found debris that was later found to be part of the plane. The crash is confirmed. There are no survivors.Advertisement
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